Pope phones theologian for favor: to prepare him, Curia for Easter

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis phoned a noted Italian theologian to ask him for a “favor” — to help him and Vatican officials prepare for Easter by leading an annual Lenten retreat, the theologian said. The pope calling his cellphone caught Servite Father Ermes Ronchi by surprise, he said, and “my first reaction was…

Pope: Prayers of the faithful, not clergy, can make miracles happen

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The prayers of the faithful, not the pope, bishops, priests or nuns, have the power to make miracles happen in the most impossible situations, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass. Saints, like St. Monica, have proven that lives can change if people pray courageously and believe that God “can do…

Comedian, cardinal, inmate present Pope Francis book on mercy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Arms flailing, the exuberant and perhaps hyperactive Italian actor and comedian Roberto Benigni described Pope Francis as a masterful minister of God’s mercy, which is always active and always on the move. Benigni brought the house down Jan. 12 during the presentation of the new book-length interview with Pope Francis, “The…

‘Soap opera’ love isn’t true love, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — True love comes from God and is expressed through his mercy and forgiveness, not through sentimental expressions that can easily vanish, Pope Francis said. Although many people use the word ‘love,’ “when used, it is not known what it exactly means,” the pope said in his homily Jan. 8 during his…

Video messages of pope’s prayer intentions will hit social media

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will deliver his monthly prayer intentions on video over social media as part of a Jesuit-run global prayer network. The new video messages, featuring the pope asking for prayers and action on various challenges facing the world today, will begin Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany of the…

Pope erects Syro-Malankara eparchy for U.S., Canada

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis erected a new Syro-Malankara eparchy for the United States and Canada. The pope also named Bishop Thomas Eusebios Naickamparambil, who served as the apostolic exarch for Syro-Malankaran Catholics in the United States, as its first bishop. The new diocese is called the Eparchy of St. Mary, Queen of Peace,…

Angelus: Church invites us to welcome the Word of salvation

(Vatican Radio) At St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis lead the faithful in the recitation of the Angelus on the first Sunday of the new year. Speaking on the day’s Gospel, the Holy Father noted the dramatic contrast between God’s gift of love in the Incarnation, and man’s failure to receive Him. The solemn opening of…

Mercy enlightens past year, gives hope for new year, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The gift of mercy is a light that helps Christians reflect on the past year and radiates hope at the start of the new year, Pope Francis said. While retracing the events of 2015 may recall moments of both joy and sorrow, it also offers a moment to understand the presence…

Singing does good for the soul, pope tells young choristers

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Singing is good for one’s soul and, as St. Augustine says, Christian life is not a sad path but a joyous one that is done “singing and walking,” Pope Francis said. “Remember this: Sing and walk,” the pope said Dec. 31 to 6,000 young choristers, their families, friends and choirmasters from…