"Tragically, the growing scourge of man's exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love," writes Pope Francis in his Jan. 1 World Day of Peace Message.
But as the message's title – "No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters" – indicates, the pope is reminding us of the Good News that Jesus has freed us from the slavery of personal sin and the structures of societal sin, and invites us to accept this divine freedom, to live it out in our lives, and to share it with all people.
However, instead of offering freedom and fraternity, the exploitation of countless human beings by many who hold power, "leads to contempt for the fundamental rights of others and to the suppression of their freedom and dignity," laments the pope. more >>
Investigators in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero have revealed that a Roman Catholic priest who was discovered dead on Christmas Day last week was strangled to death, and not shot, as initial reports had claimed. Pope Francis has condemned the murder, calling it "unjustifiable."
"There has been a poor handling of information, because Father Lopez Gorostieta did not die from a gunshot, he died of strangulation, according to the autopsy," Attorney General Miguel Angel Godinez said on Monday.
The man who attempted to assassinate former Pope John Paul II in 1981 visited the late pontiff's grave at the Vatican on Saturday, placed flowers on his tomb and also requested to meet with Pope Francis, Italian media outlets have reported.
Mehmet Ali Agca, now 56 years old, made an attempt ot the pope's life on May 13, 1981, by shooting the pope twice at close range while the pontiff was traveling in an open vehicle through St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City. Although the attack did not kill John Paul II, it left the pope critically wounded with one bullet going through his abdomen and another that just barely missed his heart.
Agca, who is originally from Turkey and was a member of the far-right neo-fascist group Grey Wolves, was initially given a life sentence for the assassination attempt. However, Agca only served 19 years in Italian prison before he was pardoned by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2000. more >>
A topless abortion activist with the words "God is Woman" written across her bare chest was arrested in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Thursday, after rushing the nativity scene and attempting to flee with a baby Jesus figurine.
Iana Zhdanova of FEMEN, a radical feminist organization from Ukraine that's based in Paris, stunned onlookers in Rome on Christmas Day when she stormed the nativity display wearing only jeans and sneakers. Video footage of the incident shows the blonde-haired activist proudly raising baby Jesus above her head and screaming an inaudible message to horrified onlookers before being apprehended by Vatican police.
The protest came shortly after Pope Francis unveiled the nativity while marking Christmas with a late-night mass in St Peter's Basilica. more >>
Pope Francis spent Christmas night on the telephone with persecuted refugees in Kurdistan who've been targeted by terror group ISIS, telling them that they're "like Jesus on the night of His birth" because of the dangers they face. The Vatican leader attempted to offer the people comfort, and told them that they're "close to his heart."
"You are like Jesus on the night of his birth when he had been forced to flee. You are like Jesus in this situation, and that means we are praying even harder for you," Francis told the refugees in a telephone call to Father Benoca, the head of the Christian community in the Ankawa Refugee Center near Erbil.
"Dear brothers, I am very, very close to you with all of my heart. May the Lord caress you with His tenderness." more >>
Pope Francis has spoken out against the "sickness" of greed and lust for power at the Vatican in his annual Christmas speech, warning that senior officials forgetting the importance of serving God is a sign of "spiritual Alzheimer." The pope's direct words left many clerics at the gathering "uncomfortable," according to observers.
"A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service," Francis said on Tuesday in a half-hour speech before the Roman Catholic Curia, the church's central administration.
"Spiritual Alzheimer's disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the 'first love': this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one's own often imaginary views," Francis continued. more >>