pope francis

Pope Francis Opts for Honey Over Vinegar in Curia Address. But Will It Work?

Image via REUTERS / Alberto Pizzoli / Pool / RNS

A year after he delivered a blistering diagnosis of 15 “diseases” plaguing the Roman Curia, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s,” Pope Francis on Dec. 21 listed a 12-point “catalog of needed virtues” that the bishops and cardinals who run the Holy See should seek to follow.

African Catholics Embrace Jubilee Year As Time for Muslim Understanding

Image via REUTERS / James Akena / RNS

Francis marked the start of the jubilee on Dec. 8, when he opened the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The yearlong celebration calls on Catholics to reflect on the theme of mercy and forgiveness and showcase a more inviting faith. That theme resonates in Africa, home to about 200 million Catholics. A sizable part of this population is tormented by war, violence from Muslim extremists, HIV/AIDS, and poverty.

Mother Teresa Sainthood Set for September

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Religion News Service file photo

Pope Francis has given final clearance for Mother Teresa — called “the saint of the gutters” for her work with the poor in India — to become an official saint, a move welcomed by the archbishop of Calcutta as “a real Christmas gift” from the pontiff.

Francis took the step by signing a decree declaring that the inexplicable 2008 recovery of a Brazilian man who suddenly woke from a coma caused by a viral brain infection was due to the intercession of the Albanian nun, who died in 1997.

Pope Francis Warns Pilgrims: 'Don't Get Conned — Salvation Is Free!'

Image via REUTERS / Tony Gentile / RNS

Pope Francis is warning Catholics about con artists demanding money to pass through a holy door, such as the one opened in St. Peter’s Basilica and other churches for the Vatican’s jubilee year, telling them salvation cannot be bought.

“Be careful that there’s not someone a bit quick and too cunning that tells you that you must pay. No! You don’t pay for salvation. You don’t buy salvation. The door is Jesus, and Jesus is free!” the pope told crowds gathered Dec. 16 for his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Holy doors are being opened in cathedrals around the world as part of the jubilee year, which opened on Dec. 8 and runs until Nov. 20, 2016. The Catholic Church teaches that in making a pilgrimage through one such door, they evoke the passage from sin to grace.

Mexico Trip: Pope to Visit Ciudad Juarez Prison, Address Border Issues

People gather near a crime scene in Ciudad Juarez. Image via REUTERS / Jose Luis Gonzalez / RNS

Pope Francis will visit a prison and celebrate Mass in Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican border city plagued by violence in recent years, the Vatican has said in an announcement of details of the pontiff’s upcoming visit to Mexico.

The pope’s visit to Ciudad Juarez will conclude his six-day Mexico tour, starting on Feb. 12. The stop will draw attention to drug-related violence and the U.S. policy on migration.

While in the city on Feb. 17, Francis will tour a prison, meet with workers, and celebrate Mass at the fairgrounds close to the border. Around 220,000 people are expected to attend the Mass, with tickets offered to parishes on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border.

Vatican Told to Get Tough on Those Caught Laundering Money

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

A European financial crimes watchdog on Dec. 15 called on the Vatican to prosecute those caught money laundering, stating the Holy See must act to ensure the success of its financial reforms.

“There is a need now for the anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing system, to deliver effective results in terms of prosecutions, convictions and confiscation,” said the report by the Council of Europe’s Moneyval oversight agency.

Although the Holy See has adopted new legislation in recent years to tackle money laundering within the city-state, there have been no indictments or prosecutions as a result of the new rules.

Pope Calls on World Leaders to Implement Paris Climate Deal

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

Pope Francis hailed the “historic” climate change agreement signed in Paris, urging the international community to swiftly implement the deal.

Speaking to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square on Dec. 13, Francis called on world leaders to act on the unprecedented environmental agreement signed on Dec. 12 by nearly 200 countries.

“The conference on climate has just finished in Paris with the adoption of an agreement, defined by many as historic. Carrying it out will require a unanimous commitment and generous dedication on everyone’s part,” he said.

Catholics Shouldn't Try to Convert Jews, Says New Vatican Document

Image via REUTERS / Andrew Medichini / Pool / RNS

The Vatican has said that Catholics should witness to their faith but not undertake organized efforts to convert Jews, a significant step forward in the once tense relations between the two faiths.

The document released on Dec. 10 by the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews also pushed for greater efforts to fight anti-Semitism.

In its most explicit commentary on evangelization regarding Jews, the document said Catholics should take a different approach to Judaism than to other religions.

Weekly Wrap 12.11.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

This week's Wrap was guest curated by Sojourners contributor Adam Ericksen. Read along for his top stories and notes from the week!

There was a lot of negativity in the news this week, but mercy also filled the airwaves. In case you missed it, here’s a list of some merciful events from the week:

1. Pope Francis Opens the Door to ‘Year of Mercy’ in a Time of Fear

Sure, we have some differences, but we’re still crushing on the Pope. “To pass through the holy door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.”

Animal Images on St. Peter's Basilica Charm and Alarm

Screenshot via vatican / Youtube

An extraordinary illuminated projection of images of the natural world onto St. Peter’s Basilica on the evening of Dec. 8 drew thousands of awed spectators to the Vatican and delighted untold numbers more watching online and via widespread media coverage of the three-hour show.

But not everyone was happy with the spectacle, not by a long shot, as social media and conservative Catholic sites erupted with indignation.

“This has gone beyond ridiculous,” fumed a conservative blogger, the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, who called it “irreverent” to use a sacred space for a secular purpose.

“Why not rent out the Sistine chapel too, while they’re at it?”

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