pope francis

Pope Francis meets U.S. President Donald Trump during a private audience at the Vatican, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandra Tarantino/Pool

Pope Francis urged U.S. President Donald Trump to be a peacemaker at their highly anticipated first meeting on Wednesday, and Trump promised he would not forget the pontiff's message. Under clear blue skies, Trump, who exchanged sharp words with the pope during the U.S. election campaign last year, received a tribute from the Swiss Guard in a Vatican courtyard when he arrived.

Ed Spivey Jr. 5-23-2017

Donald Trump, image via Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com; Pope Francis image via Nick McCready / Shutterstock.com

Today is the historic meeting between President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, part of the three-nation visit the White House staff has been planning for weeks, following the well-established and delicate protocols that ensure a smooth visit with foreign leaders, before it all goes to crap with an early-morning tweet. (Several White House staffers have reportedly developed numbness in their hands from keeping their fingers crossed for the first hundred days of the Trump administration. And in packing for this trip, those same staffers had to find space for the president’s extra shoes, since another one seems to drop almost every day.)

Image via Reuters/Gregorio Borgia/Pool

The fact that none of the five are Italian, and none hold Vatican positions, underscores Francis' conviction that the Church is a global institution that should become increasingly less Italian-centric.

 

Pope Francis speaks to reporters as he flies back to Rome following the visit at the Holy Shrine of Fatima in Portugal May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Tiziana Fabi/Pool

The pope's meeting with Trump could be potentially awkward given their diametrically opposed positions on immigration, refugees and climate change, which he told reporters on the plane "are well known".

Image via RNS/NJ Advance Media/Aristide Economopoulos

“Now think about it, especially right now, with apparent one-party rule in our government: Congress and the president could pass comprehensive immigration reform tomorrow if they wanted to,” Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark told an audience of journalists meeting in Brooklyn on May 17. “They could bring nearly 12 million people out of the shadows — if they wanted to."

Image via RNS/Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

President Trump will deliver an “inspiring yet direct” speech on the need to confront radical ideologies during his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia.

The speech will come during an afternoon lunch with leaders of more than 50 countries with mostly Muslim populations, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster announced on May 16.

On the day before the arrival of Pope Francis, a pilgrim carries a cross at the Catholic shrine of Fatima, Portugal May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

Pope Francis will make two Portuguese shepherd children saints this week, crowning a belief that started with reported visions of the Madonna 100 years ago which have turned the Shrine of Fatima into one of the most famous in Christianity.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

Nine Catholic organizations from around the world have announced they are divesting their savings from coal, oil, and gas companies, in a joint bid to fight climate change.

Religious orders and dioceses from the U.S. and Italy made the announcement on May 10, ahead of international negotiations due this month on implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Image via Reuters/Randall Hill (left) and Gregorio Borgia (right)

During his early morning visit to the Vatican, Trump will also meet the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who is responsible for the Holy See’s relations with states.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

The global growth of Islam, and in particular the rise of Islamic extremism, have forced recent popes to set out, with increasing urgency, a strategy for engaging the religion.

Image via RNS/Creative Commons/Bret Hartman/TED

The talk — a surprise for all in the audience — recapitulated the key themes of the Argentinian pope’s view of the human person: We are all related and interconnected; scientific and technological progress must not be disconnected from social justice and care for the neighbor; and that the world needs tenderness.

I am a scholar of modern Catholicism and its relations with the world of today. From my perspective, there are two essential elements of this talk that are important to understand: the message of the pope and his use of the media.

Pope Francis talks to journalists during a press conference on his return flight from Cairo to Rome April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Gregorio Borgia/Pool

Pope Francis said on Saturday a third country, such as Norway, should try to mediate the dispute between North Korea and Washington, to cool a situation that had become "too hot" and posed the risk of nuclear devastation. Francis said he believed "a good part of humanity" would be destroyed in any widespread war.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets Pope Francis upon his arrival to Cairo, Egypt April 28, 2017. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

Pope Francis, starting a two-day visit to Egypt, urged Muslim leaders on Friday to unite in renouncing religious extremism at a time when Islamist militants are targeting ancient Christian communities across the Middle East. Francis's trip, aimed at improving Christian-Muslim ties, comes just three weeks after Islamic State suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in two Egyptian churches.

Pope Francis gestures as he leaves at the end of the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, April 26. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis flies to Cairo on Friday, less than a month after church bombings killed 45 people in two Egyptian cities as part of a concerted campaign by Islamist militants to rid the Middle East of Christians. Home to some of the faith's earliest churches, the region's Christian communities have been in decline for decades, but wars this century in Iraq and Syria, and the emergence of Islamic State have put their future in doubt.

Nate Bacon 4-26-2017
Tatjana Splichal / Shutterstock.com

Tatjana Splichal / Shutterstock.com

FOR THE PAST three years, Pope Francis has convened leaders of grassroots movements from around the world to extend the church’s solidarity with the poor and vulnerable on three critical themes: land, work, and housing.

This winter, a regional gathering of the World Meeting of Popular Movements met in the United States for the first time. Seven hundred grassroots leaders, accompanied by 25 U.S. Catholic bishops, several international representatives, and a delegation from the Vatican, led by Cardinal Peter Turkson, met in Modesto, Calif., with the cardinal bearing a letter of support, invitation, and challenge from Pope Francis.

To the regular themes, U.S. leaders added racism and migration. Participants addressed the pain of exclusion from the perspective of undocumented domestic workers, residents of Flint whose water was contaminated, Standing Rock water protectors, and the unhoused, while also raising the hope of united, faith-rooted, nonviolent resistance.

Racial justice, in the U.S. and abroad, was a central theme. “Why is blackness a threat in America?” asked Rev. Traci Blackmon. “And how are we, as people of color, ever to be perceived as unarmed, and therefore nonthreatening, if our blackness is the weapon that you fear?” Blackmon said that oppression, dehumanization, and racism are rooted in the original sin of desiring to be God and seeking to create God in our own image. John A. Powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, added, “When you ‘other’ someone in an extreme way, then you treat them as a non-human.”

Images via RNS/Crown Publishing Group

Sister Joan Chittister opens her latest book with the story of Abba Zosimas, a fifth-century monk in Palestine. Abba Zosimas taught his followers, “The soul has as many masters as it has passions.” Chittister wants her readers to look “gently, kindly but clearly,” at those masters and passions in their lives, she said.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

Pope Francis used his traditional Easter Sunday message to call the bombing of a refugee convoy near Aleppo, Syria, a “despicable attack”, and urged world leaders to “prevent the spread of conflicts” despite mounting tensions in Syria and North Korea.

In his Easter blessing, known as “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”), the pope urged the faithful to remember “all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine, and oppressive regimes.”

Pope Francis washes the feet of some inmates at the Paliano prison, south of Rome, Italy April 13, 2017. Osservatore Romano/Handout via REUTERS

"We are all sinners. We all have defects," the pope told the inmates, in an improvised sermon broadcast by Vatican Radio.

By washing their feet, Francis told them, he was willing to do "the work of a slave in order to sow love among us". He urged them to help each other.

Two of the 12 are serving life sentences, and the others are due to be released between 2019 and 2073.

Pope Francis blesses with holy water as he leads the Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 9, 2017. Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile.
 
 

As a matter of policy, popes meet with any head of state who requests an audience, regardless of any differences they have.

Besides being leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the pope is a head of state. Such meetings allow for an exchange of views on world affairs and a chance for the pope to encourage ethical solutions to world problems.

Image via wlablack / Shutterstock

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the Vatican deputy secretary of state, told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper that the events on Sunday, however tragic, "could not impede the pope from carrying out his mission of peace."

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