pope francis

Huge Earthquake Hits Italy, Pope Leads Prayers for Victims

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Rescue efforts are underway to help people trapped or injured by the earthquake, which hit towns across central Italy, nearly 100 miles north of Rome and Vatican City. The quake is the deadliest for the country since a 2009 quake that hit L’Aquila and killed more than 300, also in central Italy. Rescuers are continuing to search for survivors.

Pope Francis, who was scheduled to give a speech to his general audience Wednesday, instead prayed with and for the people of Italy, reports Reuters.

Cardinal Burke: 'I Will Never Be Part of a Schism' Within Catholic Church

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Ever since Pope Francis was elected in March 2013, he has faced strong opposition from traditionalists unhappy with his push for church reforms — and the face of that opposition has often been Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American prelate who has worked in senior positions in Rome for most of the past decade.

Pope Francis Meets French President in Wake of Priest’s Slaying

French President Francçois Hollande leaves the Church of St. Louis of the French in Rome on Aug. 17. REUTERS/Remo Casilli 

Pope Francis met with French President Francois Hollande at the Vatican just three weeks after an elderly priest was brutally murdered by Islamist militants in northern France.

The Vatican said the meeting on Wednesday was private and released no further details of what was discussed.

Pope Francis Invites Syrian Refugees to Lunch in Vatican

Pope Francis sits with some Syrian refugees at the Vatican on Aug. 11, 2016. Photo courtesy of Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters

Pope Francis had lunch with 21 Syrian refugees at his private residence at the Vatican on Thursday, sending a powerful message to those in the West fervently opposed to welcoming those forced to flee the war-torn nation.

The Vatican’s chief media spokesman, Greg Burke, said the pope’s lunch guests included the Syrian families who returned to Italy with him from the Greek island of Lesbos aboard the papal plane after his official visit there in April.

American on Women Deacons Panel: 'I Feel Like I've Won the Academy Award'

Phyllis Zagano. Image via Hofstra University / RNS

The Vatican this week unveiled Pope Francis’ picks for a 12-member panel of scholars who will study the question of whether women were ordained as deacons in the early church, and whether they could be ordained in the Catholic Church today — a historic step, if it were to happen.

What will the commission, which will operate under the supervision of an archbishop from the Vatican’s doctrinal office, do?

Will the Catholic Church Have Women Deacons?

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The Vatican has confirmed that “after intense prayer and mature reflection, Pope Francis has decided to institute the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women.” A deacon is a minister of the Catholic Church who is ordained as a sacramental sign of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.”

If women are permitted to be deacons by the church, they can baptize as well as marry and bury. They can offer homilies. These are momentous steps.

Pope Francis Moves Ahead With Commission on Female Deacons

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During a meeting with hundreds of nuns back in May, Pope Francis surprised many both in and outside the Catholic Church by saying he’d like to consider the historical role of female deacons, or deaconesses, in the early church and whether the diaconate should be re-opened to women.

On Aug. 1, Pope Francis made good on his expressed interest by appointing a commission to study the question, reports CNN.

Franklin Graham Rebuts Pope on Islam: 'This Is a War of Religion'

Franklin Graham. Image via Paul Sherar / RNS

Pope Francis is once again making headlines for comments declaring, as he has before, that Islam is not “terroristic” and that all religions, including Catholicism, have “fundamentalist” splinter groups that can commit violence.

The pontiff made his comments during a flight back to Rome on July 31 from Poland, where he was presiding over the church’s triennial World Youth Day festival.

In Poland, Pope Francis Tries Countering Message of Religious Violence

Image via REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini / RNS

To outsiders, a massive rally of young Catholics waving flags and chanting “Francis” might seem like a strange spectacle far removed from today’s pressing concerns.

But in a world scarred by religiously-inspired violence and grappling with a global migrants crisis, the World Youth Day gathering in Poland that wrapped up on July 31 could be read as a powerful piece of counterprogramming.

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