Pope Francis expressed his "deep pain and suffering" with priest sex abuse victims in his first meeting of the kind on Monday, asking them for forgiveness and condemning what he called a "sacrilegious cult" of abusers.
"This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation. It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God," the Roman Catholic Church leader declared.
"And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created. Childhood, as we all know, young hearts, so open and trusting, have their own way of understanding the mysteries of God's love and are eager to grow in the faith. Today the heart of the Church looks into the eyes of Jesus in these boys and girls and wants to weep; she asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left lifelong scars." more >>
A Massachusetts woman who nearly lost her faith over the sudden death of her 25-year-old son received a surprise phone message last week from a Vatican representative, which she believes to be Pope Francis, offering her a big "hug and blessing" in her difficult time.
FoxNews.com reported that the woman, Stephany Nicolo, received the message on her cellphone on Friday from a man who identified himself as a representative from the Vatican, who said that the Roman Catholic Church leader sends her a "big hug and a blessing" and will try to talk to her again.
Nicolo lost her son Eric on May 14 from an epileptic seizure, which left her devastated. The 58-year-old woman, a Roman Catholic, called the Vatican days following her loss. more >>
Pope Francis argued on Monday that the 21st century has seen more Christians under siege for their faith than during the time of the early church.
"There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians," said the pope during a mass in honor of Christian martyrs who were killed under Roman Emperor Nero. "Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an 'elegant' way, with 'white gloves:' that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries."
Pope Francis' words come at a time when Iraq's small population of Christians, which trace their roots back to the earliest days of Christianity, have had to flee their homes as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have taken over the city of Mosul. On Sunday, Nigerian Christians were once again targeted by the Boko Haram, which killed scores of worshippers and burned down four churches in a major attack in Kwada and Kautikari villages. more >>
Pope Francis may visit Texas during his U.S. trip next year, San Antonio's Archbishop suggested in a recent interview.
San Antonio's Archbishop, the Most. Rev. Gustavo Garcia-Siller, was recently discussing the topic of immigration with Fox 29 when the subject of Francis' possible 2015 trip to the states came up. Reports indicate that if Francis does visit the U.S., he may choose to see the steel border fence that separates the U.S. from Mexico in Arizona, just as he visited the security wall that separates Israel from Palestine during his recent trip to the Middle East.
When asked if he would possibly visit Texas, the archbishop told Fox 29: "It could be something that the Pope might consider to contemplate. Why not." more >>
Pope Francis' niece said in a recent interview that she considers herself to be spiritual, not religious, and she believes her uncle will renew the "outdated" Catholic Church.
Francis' niece, Cristina Bergoglio, made her recent comments while promoting her new art show in Miami, Florida. According to Local 10 News, the exhibit that features geometrical figures and landscape paintings will be on display at the Conrad Hotel in Brickell, a neighborhood in Miami. The paintings, being shown in a solo exhibit, are expected to fetch $4,075 to $27,160 each.
When asked by Local 10 News if she affiliates herself with any one religion, Bergoglio said that she considers herself to be spiritual instead of religious, and she believes her uncle will successfully renew an outdated Catholic Church. more >>
Pope Francis told the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at a meeting on Monday that their division is a "scandal and an obstacle to our proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the world," while both Church leaders expressed hopes to move forward in unity.
"We cannot claim that our division is anything less than a scandal and an obstacle to our proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the world," Francis told Welby according to Asia News. The Roman Catholic Church leader added: "The goal of full unity may seem distant indeed, [. . .] it remains the aim which should direct our every step along the way."
Francis added that although they share a "commitment to the great cause of reconciliation and communion between Christian believers," a problem is that "Our vision is often blurred by the cumulative burden of our divisions and our will is not always free of that human ambition which can accompany even our desire to preach the Gospel as the Lord commanded (Matthew 28:19)." more >>