Updates on Pope Francis and the Vatican

October 1, 2023 | 1:16pm
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Updates on Pope Francis and the Vatican
1 day ago

Leaders of various Christian denominations join an unprecedented ecumenical prayer at the Vatican in the presence of Pope Francis, ahead of the opening of a major Synod. 

Named "Together", the prayer vigil brought together about 20 religious leaders, including the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, and Anglican leader Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Also represented were leaders from the Pentecostal, Evangelical and Lutheran movements and others, joined by thousands of Christian pilgrims gathered at the Vatican's St Peter's Square. — AFP

2 days ago

Pope Francis will on Saturday elevate 21 clergymen from all corners of the world to the rank of cardinal -- most of whom may one day cast ballots to elect his successor.

The choice of the new "Princes of the Church", who include diplomats, close advisers and administrators, is closely watched as an indication of the future direction of the Catholic Church.

One of them could also one day become the successor to 86-year-old Francis, who has left the door open to resigning -- although he says he is not there yet. — AFP

September 23, 2023

Pope Francis on Saturday hammers home his message that European governments must do more to care for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, saying "those who risk their lives at sea do not invade, they look for welcome".

Closing a meeting of bishops and young people from around the Mediterranean, he added that migration is "a reality of our times, a process that involves three continents around the Mediterranean and that must be governed with wise foresight, including a European response". — AFP

September 4, 2023

Pope Francis capped the final day of his diplomatically tinged visit to Mongolia preaching charity, with a visit to a Catholic shelter for the homeless and domestic violence victims.

The visit to inaugurate "The House of Mercy", which also includes a clinic, in a poor area on the outskirts of the capital Ulaanbaatar suits the 86-year-old pope's longstanding practice of reaching out to marginalised, overlooked communities.

Francis' voyage to the Central Asian nation -- the first by a pope -- has been overshadowed by his overtures to its powerful neighbour China. — AFP

September 3, 2023

Pope Francis will show support for interfaith dialogue Sunday during his final full day in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, a visit that has seen him seek to build bridges with China.

The morning address, which unites 10 leaders of major religions in Mongolia -- a young democracy whose Constitution provides for religious freedom -- comes as the 86-year-old pope seeks to tacitly send the message the nation's neighbours, in particular China, that spirituality is healthy for societies and not a threat. 

During a gathering of Catholic missionaries Saturday at the city's Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Francis said governments had "nothing to fear" from the Catholic Church. — AFP

September 2, 2023

Pope Francis warns against corruption Saturday during an address to dignitaries in Mongolia, calling it "the fruit of a utilitarian and unscrupulous mentality that has impoverished whole countries".

In his first speech since arriving Friday in the capital of Ulaanbaatar, Francis said religions can "represent a safeguard against the insidious threat of corruption, which effectively represents a serious menace to the development of any human community". — AFP

September 1, 2023

Pope Francis arrives Friday in Mongolia, beginning the first papal visit to the vast Asian nation landlocked between China and Russia.

The 86-year-old pontiff's trip through Monday to the Buddhist-majority nation is a gesture of support for the tiny community of Catholics numbering about 1,400.

But the voyage -- Francis' second to the region in a year after a September trip to Kazakhstan -- is also geopolitically strategic. — AFP

August 26, 2023

Pope Francis on Saturday denounces "disinformation" and fake news spread in an effort to influence public opinion as journalism's principal offense.

"Disinformation is the first of the sins, the mistakes -- let's say -- of journalism," Francis tells Italian journalists at a Vatican gathering to bestow a journalism prize. 

Widely considered a savvy communicator himself, the pontiff returned to the term "sins" to list what he called the four misdeeds of the media, according to the Vatican's translated statement of his comments. — AFP

August 5, 2023

Tens of thousands of faithful cheer Pope Francis as he arrives Saturday in Fatima, a globally revered shrine devoted to the Virgin Mary, during a major Catholic youth jamboree being held in Portugal.

The crowd, estimated by authorities at 200,000, gathered in the vast square of the shrine of Fatima in central Portugal and applauded as the helicopter that brought the 86-year-old pontiff from Lisbon flew overhead.

Pilgrims shrieked and waved as the pope, wearing a white cassock, slowly drove past on his popemobile. — AFP

August 5, 2023

Pope Francis will make a lightning visit to the shrine of Fatima in central Portugal on Saturday as part of a major Catholic youth festival.

The 86-year-old pontiff, who arrived in Lisbon on Wednesday, will fly by helicopter to the town located 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of the Portuguese capital.

He will recite the rosary with sick and disabled youths at a shrine built on the very spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children in 1917. — AFP

August 1, 2023

The world's largest Catholic gathering, a week-long religious festival known as World Youth Day, kicks off in Lisbon on Tuesday, a day before Pope Francis arrives on his first foreign trip since recent surgery.

Around 300,000 people are expected to attend the opening mass at 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) at the hillside Eduardo VII park, which offers sweeping views of the Portuguese capital and the Tagus river. 

The 86-year-old pontiff is set to arrive in Lisbon on Wednesday morning to celebrate World Youth Day, a week of religious, cultural and festive events held about every three years in a different city. — AFP 

June 16, 2023

Vatican says that Pope Francis left hospital on Friday after undergoing a hernia operation and returned to the Vatican, where his health will be under increasing scrutiny ahead of a busy summer.

A smiling Francis left the Gemelli hospital in Rome at 8:45 am (0645 GMT) in a wheelchair, thanking the crowd of well-wishers outside.

Asked how he felt, he quipped "still alive!" — AFP

June 10, 2023

Pope Francis thanks those who have sent him get-well wishes following his hernia surgery, as the Vatican says he was back at work from his hospital room.

"I sincerely appreciate the prayers and numerous expressions of closeness and affection received in the past few days," the 86-year-old says on Twitter.

"I am praying for everyone, especially those who suffer. I ask you to keep me in your prayers," he says. — AFP

June 9, 2023

The Vatican says Pope Francis had a good second night in hospital after undergoing hernia surgery.

"Last night also went well," the Vatican press office says in a short note, adding that there would be a further update later.

Francis, 86, underwent a three-hour operation at the Gemelli hospital in Rome on Wednesday, and was said to be cheerful when he woke up. — AFP

June 8, 2023

Pope Francis, 86, spent a good first night in hospital after a three-hour operation in a Rome hospital to fix a painful hernia, the Vatican said Thursday.

"The night went well", the press office said in a short statement, adding that further details would be provided later.

The Argentine pontiff was said to have been awake and joking with his medical team Wednesday after the abdominal operation at the Gemelli hospital.

The pope, who underwent colon surgery in 2021, had been suffering from an incisional hernia on the site of a scar from a previous surgery, doctor Sergio Alfieri told reporters Wednesday. — AFP

June 7, 2023

Pope Francis will undergo an operation for an abdominal hernia on Wednesday at a Rome hospital, where he is expected to stay for "several days", the Vatican said.

The 86-year-old pope, who underwent colon surgery in 2021, is suffering from a hernia which is "causing recurrent, painful and worsening" symptoms, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

It followed a brief visit to the Gemelli hospital in Rome on Tuesday, during which the Vatican said he underwent "clinical tests". — AFP

June 6, 2023

Pope Francis visited a Rome hospital for a medical check-up on Tuesday, according to Italian media, just over two months after he was hospitalized with bronchitis.

The 86-year-old pope arrived at the Gemelli hospital's geriatric unit for tests at 10:40 am (0840 GMT) and left again at 11:20am, according to ANSA and AGI news agencies.

Neither the Vatican nor the hospital was immediately able to confirm the news to AFP.

June 6, 2023

Pope Francis was in a Rome hospital for a medical check-up Tuesday, according to Italian media, just over two months after he was hospitalised with bronchitis.

The 86-year-old pope arrived at the Gemelli hospital's geriatric unit at 10:40 am (0840 GMT) according to ANSA and AGI news agencies.

Neither the Vatican nor the hospital was immediately able to confirm the news to AFP. — AFP

May 27, 2023

The Vatican says Pope Francis returned to work Saturday after taking a day off with a fever, with the pontiff set to hold several private audiences.

The 86-year-old, who was hospitalized with bronchitis nearly two months ago, had a full calendar of meetings lined up, it said.

On Friday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni had said the Argentine pope was not holding audiences "due to a feverish state". — AFP  

May 13, 2023

Pope Francis intends to visit Portugal in August, the Vatican's secretary of state says during a pilgrimage to the shrine of Fatima in center of the country.

The Argentinian pontiff plans to attend World Youth Day, a global gathering of young Catholics, to be held this year in Lisbon from 1-6 August.

"You can't come to Portugal without coming to Fatima" and "all the popes have always paid a lot of attention to Fatima," Cardinal Pietro Parolin tells reporters during a visit to the town. — AFP

April 30, 2023

Pope Francis on Sunday called on Hungarians to be "open" toward migrants, as he wrapped up a three-day visit to the central European country whose nationalist premier has taken a staunch anti-immigration stance.

Tens of thousands thronged a central Budapest square to hear the pope lead an open-air mass during which he urged all, including "those with political and social responsibilities", to be more open.

"Let us encourage one another to be increasingly open doors," the 86-year-old Argentine pontiff said, adding it was "sad and painful... to see closed doors". — AFP

April 29, 2023

Pope Francis warns on Saturday against indifference while thanking Hungary for taking in Ukrainians despite the anti-refugee policies of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

On his arrival of the three-day visit Friday, the 86-year-old Argentine in his first speech to Orban and other government officials stressed "the need for openness towards others", warning against "withdrawing into oneself".

Hungary's government -- in a departure from its usual anti-refugee stand -- has welcomed those fleeing the war in neighbouring Ukraine. — AFP

April 29, 2023

Pope Francis calls for a recovery of the European spirit and a rejection of "adolescent belligerence" amid rising nationalism and war in Ukraine, during his visit to Budapest Friday.

The pontiff's three-day trip started with a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose nationalist views often clash with those of the pope.

The 86-year-old Argentine will only stay in the capital Budapest due to his fragile health, a month after being hospitalised for bronchitis. — AFP

April 26, 2023

Weeks after a health scare, Pope Francis heads to Hungary Friday to meet Ukrainian refugees and nationalist leader Viktor Orban, with whom he has not always seen eye to eye.

The 86-year-old pontiff spent three nights in hospital with bronchitis at the end of last month, a stay that fuelled concerns about his long-term health and future as head of the worldwide Catholic Church.

While in Budapest, he will as usual be accompanied by his doctor. His trip had already been adapted to account for his increasing use of a wheelchair, due to knee pain. — AFP

April 9, 2023

Tens of thousands of Catholics will gather in Saint Peter's Square on Sunday to hear Pope Francis give the Easter mass and the traditional blessing.

Francis, 86, has returned to his papal duties after a recent stay in hospital following a bout of bronchitis.

On Saturday evening, he presided over the Vigil mass in Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, a two-and-a-half-hour ceremony performed before 8,000 people. — AFP

April 1, 2023

Experts say Pope Francis's unexpected hospitalization this week raised fresh questions over his future, providing fuel for critics hungry for a new head of the Catholic Church.

Traditionalists have openly challenged the Argentine pontiff, who is considered by some Catholics to be undermining key doctrinal teachings with his liberal leanings and push for a more compassionate church.

Francis has reached out to gay believers, famously saying "Who am I to judge?" and has allowed divorced and remarried believers to receive communion in some cases. — AFP

April 1, 2023

Pope Francis leaves hospital Saturday after a three-night stay for a bronchitis infection, joking with wellwishers and journalists waiting for him outside that he was "still alive".

The 86-year-old pope, who was admitted to Rome's Gemelli hospital on Wednesday with breathing difficulties, got out of the car transporting him and smiled and joked with the crowd, before heading off to the Vatican to begin preparations for the most important week in the Christian calendar. — AFP

April 1, 2023

The Vatican says Pope Francis was set to leave hospital on Saturday after a three-night stay for treatment of bronchitis, and begin preparations for the most important week in the Christian calendar.

The 86-year-old pontiff was admitted on Wednesday to Rome's Gemelli hospital after complaining of breathing issues, but his condition improved after he was given antibiotics.

On Friday, the pope visited the children's cancer ward at the hospital, handing out chocolate Easter eggs and even baptising a weeks-old baby boy, according to a video published by the Vatican. — AFP   

Get the latest news about Pope Francis and the Vatican. 

Photo courtesy of AFP/Alberto Pizzoli

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