World Youth Day
Pope Francis leaves on Monday, Oct. 31 for an overnight trip to Sweden, a historically Protestant country that today is one of the most secular in the world.
The visit is to mark the start of observances of next year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which traditionally dates from Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a German cathedral.
Pope Francis said those bombing civilians in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo will be “accountable to God” for their actions as he renewed his appeals for peace amid an intensifying civil war in that country.
It also emerged on Sept. 28 that the pontiff has asked a Catholic charity to auction the cars used on a recent trip to Poland and use the proceeds to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The pope’s emotional appeal for peace in Syria came during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square in which he voiced his heartfelt support and prayers for the people of Aleppo.
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.
With his open and easygoing manner, Pope Francis charmed the media as much as the faithful during his successful visit to Brazil, the first international pilgrimage of his pontificate.
But it was the pope’s remarks about gay priests, made during a free-wheeling press conference on the return trip to Rome, that drew the most headlines, raising questions about whether the pontiff was signaling a change in the church’s approach to this volatile issue.
When asked by reporters about rumors of a “gay lobby” of clergy in the Vatican who were exposing the Holy See to blackmail schemes and scandal, Francis at first joked that while there’s a lot of talk about such a lobby, “I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word ‘gay.’”
Then, in a more serious vein, he added:
“I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. … If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?”
A record-breaking three million Roman Catholics crammed Copacabana Beach Saturday night to hear Pope Francis encourage young people to build a better world.
The pope might have been talking about Fabio Mateus.
The 38-year-old married father of twin boys, made an extraordinary effort to see the pope. Saturday night he and millions of others slept on the beach following the vigil and watched the pink hue of dawn breaking on the Atlantic horizon.
Pope Francis announced Monday in an airborne news conference that he’s ‘not one to judge’ the sexual orientation of Catholic priests. On his journey home from Brazil, Pope Francis declared open-mindedness by sharing his support on behalf of the gay community. The Washington Post reports:
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis asked.
Read more here.
In one of the most inclusive gestures of his visit here, Pope Francis donned a headdress offered to him from an indigenous South American Indian at a ceremony in the city´s grand municipal theater.
The gesture was greeted with shouts of surprise initially. Then the audience of Brazilian politicians and business people erupted into roars of approval and thunderous applause.
It was a compelling moment. Moments earlier, the pope had spoken about the state´s responsibility to respect and encourage “peaceful coexistence between different religions.”
Pope Francis spent Tuesday resting following his arrival here in his first international trip as pope during which his car was mobbed by throngs of well-wishers who excitedly closed in on his convoy and prevented the pontiff from reaching his reception ceremony on time.
His arrival animated tens of thousands of young Catholics cramming the Rio city center, as they waved flags, chanted slogans, and swarmed the four-door Fiat he was riding in.
“It was so amazing when he was selected, we just couldn’t believe it. We cried and hugged one another,” Alicia Velazquez said. “I personally want to see if he’s still the same man as simple and humble whom we all knew. I have faith that he’s remained the same.”
Francis’ driver missed lanes that had been cleared on a boulevard, taking the car down a lane that was not lined with fencing and with no uniformed police in sight to control crowds.
Dozens of Vatican and Brazilian plain-clothes security officials had trouble keeping the crowds back but it did not appear to bother Francis. The bulletproof popemobile was left in Rome.
Francis rolled down his back-seat window, waved to the crowd, and touched those who reached inside. He kissed a baby a woman handed to him.
Six years ago, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires attended a gathering of Latin American bishops at the Marian shrine of Aparecida in Rio de Janeiro and called for the Roman Catholic Church to go toward the “outskirts, not only geographically but … existentially.”
Two years after the 2005 papal conclave where Bergoglio was the runner-up to Pope Benedict XVI, the speech helped raise his profile as a man to watch.
Next week, Bergoglio will return to Aparecida and Rio, this time as Pope Francis. Though he won’t visit his native Argentina, the visit will draw attention to Latin America’s first pope and his appeal for a poor church that eschews worldly power.
Following Pope Francis’ Twitter feed may be good for your soul — both in this life and the next.
The spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church plans to grant plenary indulgences by Twitter during the World Youth Day, which will be held July 23-28 in Brazil.
The indulgences, which Catholics believe can reduce the time a soul spends in purgatory, will be available to Francis’ nearly 7.5 million Twitter followers in all languages — if they tune in to World Youth Day broadcasts or take other spiritual actions. To get an indulgence, Catholics must have already had their sins absolved by a priest.
Though it is winter in Australia, the sun was shining on Sydney Harbor, one of the most beautiful urban landscapes in the world. With the dramatic architectural lines of the famous Sydney Opera House outlined against the sky-blue horizon and reflecting on the glistening sea, I couldn't wait to hop the ferry to Manley and from there walk to the crashing ocean to watch the surfers climb the waves. I love this place, and though I was suffering a bit of jet lag from the 18-hour trip from [...]