Meeting reporters on plane, pope defends his teaching on social issues

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM CUBA (CNS) — Pope Francis defended his position on the economy, the environment and other social issues as faithful repetitions of the basic Catholic social doctrine. Speaking to reporters flying with him from Cuba to Washington Sept. 22, the pope was asked about comments, mainly from the United States, claiming…

Pope calls for ‘revolution of tenderness’ in Cuba

SANTIAGO, Cuba (CNS) — Pope Francis called Cuban to a “revolution of tenderness” as he celebrated Mass in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the country’s patroness. While only about 60 percent of Cubans are baptized Catholics, the little statue of Our Lady of Charity, discovered 400…

Parents of missing Mexican students travel to U.S. to appeal to pope

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Peasant farmer Emiliano Navarrete lost his son one year ago, in an attack on 43 teacher trainees in southern Guerrero state. He still holds out hope that his son, Jose Angel Navarrete, 18, and his classmates are alive, even though Mexican investigators insist the 43 young men were kidnapped and killed…

Pope visits Fidel Castro before formal meeting with Cuba’s president

HAVANA (CNS) — Although it was not part of his formal program, Pope Francis took time after Sunday Mass to visit Cuba’s ailing former leader, Fidel Castro. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said that after the Mass Sept. 20 in Havana’s Revolution Square, Pope Francis was driven to the ailing 89-year-old’s residence for the…

Cuban dissidents say they hope pope highlights human rights

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba (CNS) — A week before Pope Francis arrived here, the communist government agreed to pardon 3,522 prisoners, including elderly people and people under 20 with no prior offenses. It was seen as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the papal visit, one meant to signal the Cuban government has grown more…

Serve people, not ideology, pope tells Cubans at Havana Mass

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service As Cubans finally face the prospects of calmer relationships and greater ease of communication and commerce with the United States, Pope Francis told the Cuban people that love and service, not anyone’s ideology, are the keys to their happiness. “We do not serve ideas, we serve people,” the pope…

Cardinals with role in U.S.-Cuba deal present at Havana Mass

HAVANA (CNS) — Pope Francis, celebrating his first Mass in Cuba, was flanked by three cardinals who, with him, have been credited with helping seal the deal between the United States and Cuba to move toward normalizing relations. Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana was the host of the Mass Sept. 20 in Havana’s…

Pope arrives in Cuba calling for freedom, better U.S.-Cuba relations

HAVANA (CNS) — Pope Francis began his visit to Cuba praying for greater freedom for the island’s people and calling on U.S. and Cuban politicians to continue moving toward fully normal and neighborly relations. Meeting President Raul Castro and speaking before a small crowd at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport Sept. 19, Pope Francis said…

Vatican welcomes its first family of refugees following pope’s appeal

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Embracing Pope Francis’ request to sponsor a refugee family, the Vatican’s St. Anne parish has welcomed a family of four from Damascus, Syria. In an appeal Sept. 6, the pope called on every parish, religious community, monastery and shrine in Europe to take in a family of refugees, given the ongoing…

No one can pretend not to know Syrians, Iraqis are suffering, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Millions of Iraqis and Syrians are facing poverty and even death, neighboring countries are bearing more than their fair share of the burden of helping refugees, arms dealers are getting richer and the international community seems helpless, Pope Francis said. The “atrocities and unspeakable human rights violations, which characterize these conflicts,…