"It is fascinating to see how Pope Francis is encouraging, reviving and renewing the church," Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna said.
Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai said the Maronite Catholic church could not remain a bystander as Lebanon neared an "existential crisis."
"We must return to the achievements reached by the Lebanese people when they devised the original national pact," Rai said, referring to the 1943 agreement that laid the foundation of Lebanon as a multiconfessional state. "Coexistence lies in belonging to a civilized project that brings together Muslims and Christians."
Syrians fleeing to neighboring Jordan from the besieged central city of Homs said some people there are starving to death for lack of food.
"People are dying of hunger especially, babies and young children," said Um Mohamed, the mother of four children, who fled with her family to this northern Jordanian town in mid-2013 after her son was hit in the chest with shrapnel from an exploding bomb.
"There is no milk, no basics are available," she said, citing phone conversations with family members stuck in Homs.
Beginning in 2005, after decades of civil war in South Sudan, bishops of that country invited international religious communities to consider serving in South Sudan. Since that point, members of men’s and women’s congregations have been committed to a presence to support the church through the collaborative project, Solidarity with South Sudan, which prepares and supports people to respond to the immense needs there in health care, agriculture, education and parish ministry.
Pope Francis is considering a visit to South Korea this summer, and the activists of Korea’s Jeju Island are appealing for a solidarity appearance.
With news of Francis’ possible trip to South Korea, the activist website, Save Jeju Now, is urging people to send letters to the pope, asking him not only to visit Jeju Island, but also to preside over their daily Mass at the construction site of a future naval base. A sample letter to Francis states,
The report from the U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child raised concerns with a number of substandard policies, specifically regarding sexual abuse.
The Scottish Parliament has passed a bill that will allow same-sex marriages to be performed later this year, but religious organizations have the right not to perform them.
Members of the Scottish Parliament supported the legislation, 105-18, at the end of a debate Tuesday and applauded when the result was announced.
Lawmakers had rejected pleas from the Catholic church to oppose the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill and also resisted attempts to amend it.
On Feb. 22, Archbishop Loris Capovilla, 98, who has spent his life devoted to Blessed John XXIII, will become the oldest living cardinal.
Cardinal-designate Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul is a direct descendant of a man who died in 1850 in anti-Catholic persecutions.
The Queen of England will visit Pope Francis at the Vatican in April, Buckingham Palace announced.
A Feb. 4 statement said Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will meet the pope on April 3.
The queen and prince will visit Rome at the invitation of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, the statement said.
It said the royal couple would attend a private lunch hosted by the president at the presidential palace, then would have an audience with the pope at the Vatican.