Pope Francis said that people cannot be Christians without the Church, explaining that Christian identity is rooted in it and that believers cannot stand alone.
"Our Christian identity is belonging to a people: the Church. Without this, we are not Christians. We entered the Church through baptism: there we are Christians," Francis said during Mass on Thursday, Vatican Radio reported.
"A Christian without a church is something purely idealistic, it is not real," the Roman Catholic Church leader argued. more >>
Orthodox Jews gathered at the site of the Christian Last Supper near Jerusalem on Monday ahead of a visit by Pope Francis, arguing that allowing Christians to worship at the site violates their beliefs.
Pope Francis is expected to hold a mass at the Last Supper site, known as the "Upper Room" on Mount Zion, when he visits Jerusalem from May 24-26. About 200 ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered near the site on Monday to protest Francis' planned mass, arguing that allowing the Vatican to hold a Catholic mass there denigrates the Jewish religion. Jews regard the site as being the Tomb of King David, as well as the site of a 16th Century mosque.
Pope Francis spent some time during Mass at the Vatican on Monday talking about alien life forms, and suggested that Martians, should they ever visit Earth, would be welcome to be baptized as well.
"If – for example – tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here ... Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them ... And one says, 'But I want to be baptized!' What would happen?" the Roman Catholic Church leader theorized, as reported by Vatican Radio.
In his speech focused on the question "Who are we to close the doors to the Holy Spirit?" he said that baptism is open to everyone, and reminded the audience of the words of Peter: more >>
Pope Francis recently called for a "legitimate redistribution" of wealth when meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, saying governments should work to end the "economy of exclusion" that plagues the poor and the middle class from rising up the economic ladder.
The pope made his comments while meeting with Ban Ki-moon and other United Nations agency heads meeting in Rome this week. He encouraged the United Nations to help the poor around the world by mobilizing a culture of generosity.
"I do not hesitate to state, as did my predecessors, that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level," Francis said. more >>
Death threats to Arabs and Christians written in front of a Roman Catholic Church office in Jerusalem ahead of Pope Francis' visit later this month have some officials alarmed, though a Christian persecution watchdog group said it is unlikely a direct attack on the pope will be attempted.
The Office of the Assembly of Bishops, Notre Dame of Jerusalem said that it found Hebrew writing on a column outside its building earlier this week, reading "Death to Arabs, Christians and all those who hate Israel." Heads of churches are preparing to respond.
Todd Daniels, International Christian Concern's regional manager for the Middle East, told The Christian Post in an email on Thursday that such threats and attacks are often carried out by Jewish extremists, and that Israeli security forces are taking the threat seriously. more >>
In a letter to Pope Francis, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church Tawadros II proposed making one date for Easter celebrations for all Christian Churches.
According to Fides News Agency, Tawadros II's letter was delivered to the Apostolic Nuncio to the Arab Republic of Egypt, His Exc. Mgr. Paul Gobel. The letter also marks the anniversary of the first meeting in the Vatican between the two popes.
Francis' representative has in turn invited a representative of the Coptic Church to the next Assembly of the Synod of Catholic Bishops, which is to be held in October. more >>