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Congo Brazzaville's Catholic newspaper, “La Semaine Africaine” reports this week that the Bishops of Congo Brazzaville, at the end of their Plenary Assembly, have released a pastoral statement calling on the people of the Republic of Congo to live their “Christian vocation as witnesses of God’s mercy to others.” This, the Bishops emphasise, “means showing God’s forgiveness, compassion, tenderness and love, to build a fairer Congo, where unity, reconciliation, dialogue, harmony and sharing take precedence over selfishness, hatred, rancour, vindictiveness and divisions,” the Bishops emphasise.The communique of the Bishops says that their plenary assembly focussed on the theme of mercy so that they could give special attention to the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. They urge the faithful to "take actions for peace and justice in Congo,” which according to the Bishops is a country increasingly, &...
(Vatican Radio) After arriving in Mexico City on Friday night, Pope Francis made a brief appearance outside the Apostolic Nunciature (Vatican Embassy), where he will be staying while in the Mexican capital.He told the people they “needed to rest” ahead of the weekend’s festivities, and accepted two white roses from well-wishers.He also led the crowd in a Hail Mary.Finally, he left them with these word: ``Look at the Virgin and remember these faces: The people who love us, those we love, those we do not like, those who do not like us, and are envious of us.''
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has a fortnightly telephone appointment with a youth prison in Buenos Aires, where he speaks to the young people incarcerated there.The head of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, revealed this during a press conference in Mexico City on Friday.When asked about the prison riot at Topo Chico prison in Monterrey, Mexico, which left 49 people dead, Fr. Lombardi said the event had “troubled the heart” of Pope Francis.Pope Francis is scheduled to visit a prison near the end of his visit to Mexico in the city of Juarez, which Fr. Lombardi said was still on the schedule, adding Pope Francis has a strong commitment to ministry to prisoners.“Not only has he visited penitentiaries in Rome, such as the Holy Thursday ceremony in Rebibbia, where he met with detainees” – Father Lombardi said – “Pope Francis also every 15 days carries out a telephone conversation with young prisoners in Buenos Aires.”
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis is in Mexico on his 12th Apostolic Journey, after meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba to sign a joint declaration.  The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, spoke with Veronica Scarisbrick about the Holy Father's meeting with the Patriarch and his arrival in Mexico.Listen to their conversation: Noting that the Pope and the Patriarch's encounter was private, Fr. Lombardi said the climate of the discussion was "very friendly, but 'friendly' is too little an expression for he says the encounter [began] with the Patriarch saying 'my brother' and ended with 'finally, finally we meet, you are my brother'. This means he was very happy and the Patriarch was also happy."He notes this will not be a unique episode but is merely the beginning of a closer relationship. "The Pope has said that they spoke about some concrete initiatives, but he has not ex...
(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has sent a message to the Latin-American meeting entitled  “Using the Encyclical Laudato si’ to Defend Our Territorial Rights, Our Land and Our Forests”. In his message, the Cardinal hopes that the encyclical Laudato si’ written by Pope Francis will, "be a valuable contribution to the work that you are undertaking." The meeting is taking place in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, from the 13 to the 14 February during the Papal visit.Below find the English translation of Cardinal Turkson's messageTo the participants in the Latin-American meeting “Using the Encyclical Laudato si’ to Defend Our Territorial Rights, Our Land and Our Forests”:In the name of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, I extend fraternal greetings to the indigenous communities, the popular movements and human rights organizations ...
(Vatican Radio) After leaving Havana, Pope Francis sent a telegram to Cuban President Raul Castro, thanking him for hosting him and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill for their historic encounter.Calling himself a missionary of mercy and peace, the Holy Father said the world "cannot cease to strive along the path of dialogue, encounter, and understanding, if we wish to achieve peace, reconciliation, and the coexistence of all people of goodwill". The full text of the telegram is below:Telegram Format of a letter addressed to the President of Cuba on the occasion of the Meeting of His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill12 February 2016MR PRESIDENT: ON MY WAY TO MEXICO FOR MY PASTORAL JOURNEY AS A MISSIONARY OF MERCY AND PEACE, I THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS HOSPITALITY DURING MY BRIEF STOPOVER IN CUBA, WHICH HAS GIVEN ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO  RECALL THE AFFECTIONATE AND WARM WELCOME THE CUBAN PEOPLE EXTENDED TO ME LAST SEPTEMBER.  ABOVE ALL,...
WASHINGTON-The Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, February 1, on behalf of USCCB, the Texas Catholic Conference and several Christian partners in support of a Texas law mandating health and safety standards protecting women who undergo abortions. Other groups joining the brief include the National Association of Evangelicals, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The case is Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, currently before the U.S. Supreme Court."There is ample evidence in this case that hospital admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center requirements protect women's lives and health," said the brief. "When such requirements are not enforced, abuses detrimental to women's lives and health arise."The brief noted that some abortion clinics have decla...
 WASHINGTON-Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York called on everyone "concerned about the tragedy of abortion" to recommit to a "vision of life and love, a vision that excludes no one" on January 14. His statement marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Cardinal Dolan chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops."Most Americans oppose a policy allowing legal abortion for virtually any reason - though many still do not realize that this is what the Supreme Court gave us," wrote Cardinal Dolan. "Most want to protect unborn children at later stages of pregnancy, to regulate or limit the practice of abortion, and to stop the use of taxpayer dollars for the destruction of unborn children. Yet many who support important goals of the pro-life movement do not identify as 'pro-life,' a fact which should lead us to examine how we present our pro-life vision to others.""Even as Americans rema...
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis told Mexico's political leaders on Saturday that they have a duty to provide their people with security, "true justice" and basic services as he plunged head-on into the drug-inspired violence, corruption and social ills that are tormenting the country....
Diplomats from a dozen countries, led by the United States and Russia, are struggling to make progress in Syria, even as fighting in the north sends tens of thousands fleeing and threatens a deepening humanitarian crisis. Next month, Syria's civil war will reach the end of its fifth year, and its consequences continue to reach new and disastrous levels....
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