Pope Francis spent Christmas night on the telephone with persecuted refugees in Kurdistan who've been targeted by terror group ISIS, telling them that they're "like Jesus on the night of His birth" because of the dangers they face. The Vatican leader attempted to offer the people comfort, and told them that they're "close to his heart."
"You are like Jesus on the night of his birth when he had been forced to flee. You are like Jesus in this situation, and that means we are praying even harder for you," Francis told the refugees in a telephone call to Father Benoca, the head of the Christian community in the Ankawa Refugee Center near Erbil.
"Dear brothers, I am very, very close to you with all of my heart. May the Lord caress you with His tenderness." more >>
Pope Francis has spoken out against the "sickness" of greed and lust for power at the Vatican in his annual Christmas speech, warning that senior officials forgetting the importance of serving God is a sign of "spiritual Alzheimer." The pope's direct words left many clerics at the gathering "uncomfortable," according to observers.
"A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service," Francis said on Tuesday in a half-hour speech before the Roman Catholic Curia, the church's central administration.
"Spiritual Alzheimer's disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the 'first love': this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one's own often imaginary views," Francis continued. more >>
Some voices in the Cuban-American community have expressed displeasure with Pope Francis due to his involvement in getting the United States to lift its embargo of the Republic of Cuba.
Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff in the Catholic Church's history, was a strong proponent of the United States lifting its restrictions on the Caribbean island nation.
In response to his connection to the U.S. normalizing relations with Cuba, some have vetted their frustration at the pope. more >>
Calling it the "most significant change" in foreign policy affecting U.S.-Cuba relations in more than five decades, President Barack Obama announced the beginning of an effort to "normalize relations" between the two countries Thursday and praised Pope Francis for his role in facilitating the release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years.
"Today the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba. In the most significant change in our policy in more than 50 years we will end an outdated approach which for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries," said Obama in a televised address to the nation.
Before getting into the specifics of the policy changes, however, Obama took time to praise Pope Francis for his role in the safe return of Gross to the U.S., which he said had been a "major obstacle" in the normalizing of U.S.-Cuba relations. Gross is a sub-contractor for USAID. more >>
WASHINGTON — Leaders from most of the world's major religious groups who gathered at the Vatican last month for a conference on marriage left optimistic that they can win their fight against the forces of the sexual revolution emanating from the West, Dr. Russell Moore said.
"One of the most important things that came out of the colloquium is a sense of optimism from the people there," explained Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in a Monday interview at his Washington, D.C., office. "Being in dialogue with people from all around the world, in almost every [religious] tradition, people who have almost nothing else in common, I think we all walked away with a sense that concern about marriage is much bigger and broader than what we would have previously assumed."
The purpose of the Humanum conference, also called The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium and held at the Vatican Nov. 17-19, was to bring representatives from the major religious groups around the world to discuss how proper understanding the complementarity of the male/female relationship can invigorate efforts to promote the social goods provided my marriage. more >>
Pope Francis expressed in a message at the major U.N. climate change summit in Peru this week that the consequences of environmental change represent a "serious ethical and moral responsibility," and warned that the time for action is running out.
Francis warned Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of the Environment of Peru and President-Designate of the conference, that neglect and inaction on the issue could have very serious consequences for the planet and humanity.
The Roman Catholic Church leader said that "we can find solutions only if we act together and agree." He urged a collective response that is free from political or economic influences, one that overcomes mistrust and promotes a culture of solidarity and dialogue. more >>