Pope Francis announced earlier this week that he reached a social media milestone by amassing more than 10 million followers on Twitter.
"Dear Followers I understand there are now over 10 million of you! I thank you with all my heart and ask you to continue praying for me," said Francis in a tweet on Sunday.
The pope has nine different Twitter handles, each of them beginning with "Pontifex," and his words of encouragement and insight are published in a different language on each of them. Currently about 3.2 million people follow the pontiff's English language handle. more >>
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) monitored the phone calls of the future Pope Francis and other Vatican officials leading up to the papal conclave, according to an Italian magazine, though the spy agency has denied the report.
Panorama, an Italian weekly, reports that the agency monitored calls made by Catholic cardinals and bishops both before and during this year's papal conclave, according to The Telegraph. Calls to and from the place where Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, resided during the conclave were among those that were reportedly monitored.
The article also claims the NSA intercepted calls pertaining to the election of the head of the Vatican bank, among other things. The agency is said to have divided the information it intercepted from the Vatican into four categories: "leadership intentions," "foreign policy objectives," "threats to financial systems" and "human rights." more >>
WASHINGTON - One of Pope Francis' messages is that the world is becoming increasingly cold, not cold in the meteorological sense, but in a relational sense, George Weigel, distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, explained in his Tuesday address to the Catholic Information Center's second annual "Blessed John Paul II Award Dinner for the New Evangelization."
"Pope Francis has reminded us, as indeed his two noble predecessors reminded us, we're living in an increasingly cold world. Not cold because of Canadian air flows. But cold because of a tendency to measure human beings by their utility rather than their dignity. To walk past those who are 'other.' To fail to at least attempt to understand why others fail to perceive the world as we do," he said.
Culture is becoming "increasingly unreal," Weigel believes. In this "new gnosticism," "everything is plastic and malleable" and "anything goes." Citing examples of the right to life, from conception to natural death, and the redefinition of marriage, Weigel said that this culture "not only permits unreality but now is beginning to legally require it." more >>
Pope Francis has suspended German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, nicknamed "the luxury bishop" and the "bishop of bling" by German newspapers, following uproar over revelations that he spent over $42 million on a luxury residence.
"A situation has been created in which Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst currently cannot exercise his episcopal ministry," the Vatican press office said in a statement on Wednesday.
Pope Francis, who has led as an example of modesty and has called on church leaders to live humbly, has apparently been "continually, broadly and objectively informed" about the situation in the Diocese of Limburg, and has authorized the suspension with immediate effect. more >>
A Vatican official reiterated this week that divorced remarried Catholics are still banned from taking Communion.
In a lengthy essay published on Tuesday in the Vatican newspaper "L'Osservatore Romano," Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller acknowledged the tensions the church dealt with in choosing to stand by an earlier tenant.
"Today even firm believers are seriously wondering: can the Church not admit the divorced and remarried to the sacraments under certain conditions? Are her hands permanently tied on this matter? Have theologians really explored all the implications and consequences?" Müller, the Vatican's chief doctrine official, wrote. more >>
NEW YORK – Comedian Stephen Colbert cracked jokes at major Catholic figures such as Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Pope Francis during Thursday's Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, which raised $3 million in charity for children.
Colbert, a Roman Catholic who teaches Sunday school, declared himself "America's most famous Catholic" in his opening remarks, according to The Associated Press, then turned to Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
"I know what the cardinal is thinking: 'Stephen, pride is a sin.' Well, Cardinal, so is envy, so we're even." more >>