Pope Francis has been named "Man of the Year" by the July Italian edition of pop-culture magazine Vanity Fair. He even received praise as a "miracle of humility" from openly gay English singer Sir Elton John, who expressed hopes that the Vatican leader could reach out to people with HIV and AIDS.
"The Pope has only been in office for little more than a hundred days and he has already come top of the list of world leaders who have made history. But the revolution continues," wrote Vanity Fair.
Francis has proven to be a popular leader since being elected by the Roman Catholic Church earlier this year to replace the retired Pope Benedict XVI. Much like his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, the pontiff has chosen to live modestly, turning down many of the luxuries afforded to popes. more >>
The first Latin American pope recently released his first encyclical. "Lumen Fidei," written by both Pope Francis and predecessor Benedict XVI, reconciles faith and reason, calls the church to love, and affirms marriage as between a man and a woman. At the same time, it also focuses on preparing the Roman Catholic Church for a bright future.
Before leaving office in late February, Benedict XVI had begun drafting this third installment of a trio of encyclicals which focus on the three Christian theological virtues (found in 1 Corinthians 13:13): charity, hope, and faith. After Francis took the helm in March, he decided to the finish the final document and release it as his first letter to the Roman Catholic Church. He has acknowledged that "most of the work" was done by Benedict XVI and that he simply completed it.
The encyclical on faith focuses on Jesus Christ. Jesus is "the true sun," and "the morning star which never sets," guiding us to truth and love, it states. "The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence." more >>
Addressing pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Francis stressed that Jesus has called all of the faithful to spread the message of the Gospel urgently and with a sense of responsibility and humility.
"Jesus is not an isolated missionary, does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples," the pope said in his Angelus reflection, as quoted by The Vatican Today.
"He calls 72 others, and sends them into the villages, two by two, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near," Francis said, sharing from the Gospel of Luke. more >>
Pope Francis has released his first encyclical on theological thoughts, called "Lumen fidei" or "The Light of Faith," where he argues that faith without truth is an illusion, while truth without love is cold and oppressive. It completes a trilogy of papal teachings that was started by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with the first two focusing on the topics of charity and hope.
In a summary of the document, Vatican radio reported that "The Light of Faith," which is divided into four chapters, has the mission to show "how Faith in the Risen Christ can lead us beyond the narrow confines of individual existence into the all-inclusive community of God's love."
"Absorbed and deepened in the family, faith becomes a light capable of illumining all our relationships in society. As an experience of the mercy of God the Father, it sets us on the path of brotherhood," Pope Francis writes. more >>
The late Pope John Paul II has gone through one of the last hurdles before canonization, as a commission of cardinals and bishops met earlier this week and gave their consent for his sainthood. All that is left now is for Pope Francis to make a final decision.
"We should be very happy if it is confirmed," the Rev. Robert Necek told Polish TVN24. "This is the next and the last step towards canonization. It will be presented to Pope Francis and the pope will take the appropriate decision."
Necek serves as a spokesman for Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the former private secretary of the popular Polish pope, who has led the push for his canonization. more >>
Pope Francis told believers in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday that Jesus does not want selfish, "remote-controlled" Christians, but instead wants them to experience the freedom that comes from God.
"Jesus wants neither selfish Christians, who follow their egos and do not speak with God, nor weak Christians, without will: 'remote-controlled' Christians, incapable of creativity, who seek ever to connect with the will of another, and are not free," the leader of the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world, said, according to Vatican Radio.
The pope added that Jesus wants people to be free, a freedom which is found "in the inner dialogue with God in conscience." more >>