The Vatican gave VIP seats for a Pope Francis speech to an LGBT Catholic group from the United States that describes itself as "gay-positive" on Wednesday, reportedly the first time it has granted such a request.
"Pope Francis gives me hope," Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, told The Associated Press. "To me, this is an example of the kind of willingness he has to welcome those on the fringes of the church back to the center of the church."
Francis DeBernardo, the group's executive director, said that the group had tried under the previous two popes to get VIP seats during its pilgrimages to Rome, but the requests had not been granted. more >>
Pope Francis has come out and officially condemned the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians by terrorist organization ISIS on Tuesday.
"Be they Catholics, Orthodox, Copts, or Lutherans, it does not matter. They are Christians, their blood is the same, their blood confesses [their faith in] Christ," Francis said in a statement. "Today I read about the execution of those 21 or 22 Coptic Christians," he added. "Their only words were, 'Jesus, help me!' They were executed for nothing more than the fact that they were Christian. The blood of our Christian sisters and brothers is testimony that cries out."
ISIS released the video of the beheadings on Sunday, showing the 21 Christians who had been kidnapped in December and January. Egypt responded by bombing the group's camps in Libya and promised to eliminate ISIS' presence in the Middle East. more >>
HBO host Bill Maher has pointed out that Pope Francis has given his full backing for action on climate change that some claim would reduce the so-called negative human impact on the environment. The outspoken atheist has subsequently asked why former Pennsylvania Senator and GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a Roman Catholic, has not followed suit.
In a blog post for his "Real Time" show, Maher said "we've got the pope on board," concerning climate change action.
Pope Francis has said that making the choice to not have children is "selfish." The pontiff made the comments at a gathering at St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, and said that societies that have low birth rates are "depressed."
"If a generous family of children is viewed as if it were a burden, there is something wrong! As the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI teaches, but having more children cannot be automatically viewed as an irresponsible choice," Francis told the audience, according to Vatican Radio.
"The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished! Children learn to take charge of their family, they mature in the sharing of sacrifices, and they grow in appreciation of its gifts." more >>
Germany's controversial "bishop of bling" Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst has reportedly been handed a new job at the Vatican, where he will advise the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation on catechesis. The bishop, who spent $42 million on a luxury residence and caused an uproar for the Roman Catholic Church, was suspended by Pope Francis back in October 2013.
The National Catholic Register reported on Monday that the former bishop of Limburg is expected to begin his appointment in March. Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, had apparently informed Tebartz van Elst of the development back in December.
The bishop prompted outrage in Germany in 2013 when it was discovered that he spent over $42 million on a remodeling and building project in Limburg, including a free-standing bath, conference table and private chapel all worth millions. more >>
A number of members from the Vatican commission against sex abuse have reportedly spoken out against Pope Francis' recent comments saying that it's OK to spank children for discipline, and called on the pontiff to revise his comments.
"It might start off as a light tap, but actually the whole idea about hitting children is about inflicting pain," commission member Peter Saunders said at a press conference, The Independent reported on Sunday.
"That's what it's about and there is no place in this day and age for having physical punishment, for inflicting pain, in terms of how you discipline your children." more >>