Pope Francis started his nine-day tour of Latin America, his first as pontiff, on Sunday, arriving in Quito, Ecuador, where he said, "No one, save Jesus Christ, possesses his or her own light." During his trip, Francis is likely to focus on poverty and inequality as well as reiterate his concern for the environment.
"I have come as a witness of God's mercy and of faith in Jesus Christ," Francis said in his prepared remarks at the welcome ceremony Sunday in Quito.
Children in traditional dress greeted the pope at the Mariscal Sucre airport, and shook hands with many of them. more >>
Pope Francis compared the recent killing of Christians by terrorist groups such as ISIS to the persecution of the Christian church in the first century while celebrating the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul on Monday.
In his homily, Francis used a passage from the book of Acts to illustrate how the early Church was "besieged by persecution."
He said first century Christians were "harshly persecuted by Herod who 'laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church … proceeded to arrest Peter also … and when he had seized him he put him in prison." more >>
Close to 100 evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders in the U.S. have united in a message calling on Christians to act on their "moral obligation" to fight climate change, which they also called a pro-life issue, following on Pope Francis' environmental encyclical released last week.
"As Catholic and evangelical leaders, we are deeply inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical addressing our shared responsibility to be prudent stewards of creation. Pope Francis has issued a bold call to action, and the clock is ticking on a challenge that requires a collective effort in service of the global common good," the religious leaders said in a full-page advertisement on the back page of Politico.
"As citizens of the most powerful nation in human history, we have a unique responsibility to promote sustainable development, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and build a thriving culture of life that protects human dignity," they added. more >>
Some Christian gun owners disagree with Pope Francis' statement that people who manufacture or invest in weapons cannot call themselves Christians.
Francis issued his strongest condemnation of guns during his visit to the Italian city of Turin on Sunday, saying, "If you trust only men, you have lost."
He added: "It makes me think of people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn't it?" more >>
Pope Francis has spent time praying before the Shroud of Turin in a two-day visit to the city this weekend, joining hundreds of thousands who in the past two months have stopped to pay their respects to what some believe is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
Although the Vatican has never publicly declared whether it considers the shroud an actual relic belonging to Jesus, Francis told the audience at mass in Turin that the cloth is an "icon of love."
"The shroud attracts toward the face and the martyred body of Jesus and at the same time pushes us toward the face of those who suffer or are unjustly persecuted," he said, according to Catholic Herald. more >>
Several evangelical groups have praised Pope Francis' major encyclical on the environment released on Thursday, which warns that climate change is real and is impacting all of God's creation, including impoverished people in different corners of the world. Francis said that it's wrong to treat nature and other living creatures as "mere objects" for "human domination."
"We are grateful that the pope has joined with over 300 Evangelicals like Rick Warren, Rich Stearns, and Bill Hybels, and other Christian leaders who understand climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time and the greatest opportunity for hope. It's time to make hope happen by fueling the unstoppable clean energy transition, stopping the ideological battles, and working together," said in a statement Rev. Mitch Hescox, president & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network.
"Creating a new energy economy that benefits all and addresses climate change is not about a political party but living as a disciple of Jesus Christ. We urge all people of good will, especially fellow Christian conservatives, to read and study these timely words from Pope Francis." more >>