Two Italian priests and one Canadian nun have been freed from Cameroon after they were allegedly kidnapped by the terror group Boko Haram in April.
Father Giampaolo Marta, Father Gianantonio Allegri from the Diocese of Vicenza in northeast Italy and Canadian nun Gilberte Bissiere of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame were photographed Sunday being led to the Cameroon capital of Yaoundé, where they were scheduled to meet with the country's president, Paul Biya, later that day.
The three missionaries had been working in the country's parish of Maroua, near Nigeria's border, to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and improve local drinking water when they were kidnapped on April 4. Although no group has taken responsibility for the kidnappings, the Cameroonian government has accused Boko Haram of taking the three missionaries. The group of Islamic militants has taken responsibility for multiple kidnappings in the past year, including the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian school girls from Chibok, Nigeria, in April. more >>
Pope Francis slipped a Spanish version of the Lord's Prayer into Jerusalem's Western Wall during his visit to the Holy Land this week, according to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which published the note.
During his visit to Jerusalem this past Monday, journalists photographed Francis saying a quick prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City before slipping a note in between the stones of the wall, as is common tradition. After Francis departed from the Holy Land on Monday, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation published the contents of his note, handwritten on official papal letterhead and signed by the simple name "Francis."
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. Franciscus," the letter read, translated from its original writing in Spanish. more >>
Pope Francis said he will meet with victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic Church clergy for the first time in his papacy. A support group for victims, however, dismissed what it calls a "public relations" gesture, saying it doesn't address the real problems.
The Vatican leader said at an inflight news conference as he was returning to Rome from the Holy Land that priests abusing children is "such an ugly crime" and a "very grave problem," Catholic News Service reported.
"We must move ahead, ahead, zero tolerance," he stated, revealing that he would meet six to eight sex abuse victims from various countries, including Germany, the U.K. and Ireland. more >>
Pope Francis wrapped up his visit to the Middle East by making final stops in Bethlehem and Israel on Sunday and Monday, paying a special surprise visit to the Wall of Bethlehem that separates Israel from the West Bank and offering quick prayer while at the wall.
Francis reportedly stopped at the wall for four minutes, leaning his head in to touch the stone on the wall next to a graffiti message that read "Free Palestine." He also placed his hand on the wall to pray during the unexpected stop.
The wall, also known as the Israeli West Bank barrier, was built by Israel to separate itself from the West Bank and the Palestinian population. Father Federico Lombardi, a spokesperson for the Vatican, told The Guardian that even members of Francis' own entourage were unaware that the Pope would make his stop at the separation wall. more >>
To bridge rifts between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, Pope Francis met and prayed together with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I at the 12th century Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday.
Francis and Bartholomew embraced one another in the church's stone courtyard and recited the "Our Father" prayer together in the relatively neutral Italian after entering the church, according to The Associated Press.
The two leaders helped one another down the stone steps leading into the church, holding one another's forearms. Francis also bent down and kissed the hand of Bartholomew after the remarks by the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. more >>
Pope Francis warned at the Vatican on Wednesday that if humans destroy God's "greatest gift," which is creation itself, it will in turn destroy them.
"He urged people to nurture and safeguard Creation as God's greatest gift to us, because while God always forgives, Creation never forgives and – he warned – if we destroy Creation, in the end it will destroy us," The Vatican Radio reported on Francis' remarks.
The Vatican leader also reflected that the "gift of knowledge" should steer people away from wrong attitudes, such as "considering ourselves masters of Creation. Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude." more >>