After his five-hour visit to Greece, Pope Francis took three families of Syrian Muslim refugees, including six children, back to Rome aboard the papal plane on Saturday.
The pontiff met refugees in a fenced complex on the Aegean island of Lesbos in Greece, where adults and children broke down in tears before him, according to Reuters.
"The Pope has desired to make a gesture of welcome regarding refugees, accompanying on his plane to Rome three families of refugees from Syria, 12 people in all, including six children," the Vatican said in a statement. more >>
Pope Francis has warned that as Christians face severe persecution in countries where they are a minority, others are encountering what he calls "polite" persecution disguised as "culture, modernity and progress," where people see their rights to conscientious objection taken away.
The Roman Catholic Church leader said during mass on Tuesday that so called polite persecution does not occur over "confessing Christ's name, but for wanting to have and manifesting the values of the son of God."
"We see every day that the powerful make laws that force them to go on this path, and a nation that does not follow these modern, cultured laws, or at least does not have them in their legislation, are accused (and) are politely persecuted," he added, according to Catholic News Service. more >>
Pope Francis issued a subtle jab at the transgender movement in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, where he asserted that schools need to teach children to "accept" their natural bodies as they were "created," and to appreciate their bodies as "male and female."
As the fight to allow self-identifying transgender students into bathrooms and changing areas of the opposite sex spreads to school districts across the U.K. and the United States, the pontiff spoke out against encouraging students' who choose to identify with the opposite biological gender.
Pope Francis and other Catholic bishops are praying for the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, an Indian priest thought to have been crucified by the Islamic State last month, in hope that radicals will be moved to change their ways.
"Dear brothers and sisters, in the hope given to us by the Risen Christ, I renew my appeal for the freeing of all kidnapped persons in armed conflict zones," the pope told the crowds in St. Peter's Square on Sunday at the Vatican.
"In particular, I wish to remember Salesian priest Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted in Aden, Yemen last March 4," he added. more >>
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has made a number of statements backing Pope Francis' views on the dangers of global wealth and income inequality, ahead of his scheduled visit to the Vatican this week.
"The pope is right in saying all of us must address the grotesque income and wealth inequality we are seeing throughout the world," Sanders' campaign Facebook page wrote on Sunday.
"Pope Francis is right. It is a tragedy that so many men, women and children in this world are suffering. They are suffering because of social, environmental and economic injustice, and I look forward to addressing these issues when I visit Vatican City next week," another statement from Sanders read. more >>
Pope Francis has announced that later in April he will visit the Greek island of Lesbos, which some have described as a "warzone," in order to highlight his love and support for refugees fleeing war and persecution.
"It's very clear that the pope recognizes that there is a significant emergency going on," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said, according to Reuters.
"Just as he went to Lampedusa, which was then the front line of the Mediterranean route, now that there is this difficult, dramatic situation on the Aegean front, he naturally wants to be present to show a sense of solidarity and responsibility." more >>