In his Angelus address on the Feast of St. Stephen, Pope Francis on Thursday focused on persecuted Christians around the world.
"We are close to those brothers and sisters who, like St. Stephen, are unjustly accused and subjected to violence of various kinds," Francis said on Thursday. "This happens especially where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or not fully realized."
The remarks came just a day after a Christian neighborhood market and Catholic church were bombed in Baghdad, Iraq, leaving 38 people dead. There have been growing concerns for the safety of Christians especially in the Middle East region. Notable world figures, including Britain's Prince Charles, have recently said that followers of Christ in the region are in danger of disappearing from Christianity's birth place. more >>
In a generous act of kindness, Pope Francis gave 2,000 unsuspecting immigrants, who stay at a shelter within close proximity to the Vatican, practical Christmas gift packages that included a signed card, postal stamps, a pre-paid international calling card, and a free day-pass for Rome's metro.
The immigrants stay at the Dono di Maria home that was founded by Mother Teresa 25 years ago under Pope John Paul II's blessing. Many of them arrived in Rome with little to no means, after fleeing from regions in Africa afflicted by armed conflict or from poverty and human trafficking in Asia and Eastern Europe.
"The Pope is very familiar with our work here and understands the realities that people face ... the guests were very happy," said Sister Michelle, the superior of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Rome, according to Catholic News Agency. more >>
America's oldest LGBT magazine has selected Pope Francis as its person of the year.
The Advocate claimed that rooted in its decision to pick the popular Christian figure was the belief that the Pope -- better than litigation and gay marriage cases -- could change the sentiments of the "remaining holdouts for LGBT acceptance in religion."
"The pope's impact isn't on whether we're deciding to sit in the pews, it's on the people who are already in the pews," Lucas Grindley wrote. "More so, it's on the devoted who are there every Sunday plus the middle of the week and who volunteer for charity work and who are sometimes our most ardent opposition." more >>
A leader of the Society of Jesus has commended fellow Jesuit Pope Francis for being named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2013.
Father Thomas H. Smolich, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference, said in a statement Wednesday that he "salutes" the pontiff for getting the honor.
"He knows how to translate what is in his heart into actions – whether it's washing the feet of Muslim prisoners on Holy Thursday to launching a global campaign to end world hunger to establishing a commission to address the clerical sexual abuse crisis," said Smolich. more >>
Pope Francis condemned the increasing inequality between the rich and the poor as well as society's exploitation and manipulation of nature in a lengthy message released ahead of World Peace Day on Jan. 1, 2014.
"It is a truly pressing duty to use the earth's resources in such a way that all may be free from hunger," Francis wrote in his message.
"It is well known that present production is sufficient, and yet millions of persons continue to suffer and die from hunger, and this is a real scandal. We need, then, to find ways by which all may benefit from the fruits of the earth, not only to avoid the widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs, but above all because it is a question of justice, equality and respect for every human being." more >>
The head of the Roman Catholic Church has been named TIME Magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2013.
In an announcement made by TIME on Wednesday morning, the Pontiff was given the honor for his impact on the global stage, stated TIME's managing editor Nancy Gibbs.