National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Federico Lombardi

Vatican knew about theft of Michelangelo letters, refuses ransom demand

The Vatican on Monday said it has received a ransom demand to recover letters signed by Michelangelo, stolen from the Holy See nearly 20 years ago.

Two letters signed by Michelangelo, one written in its entirety by the Renaissance artist, were stolen from the Vatican's Fabbrica di San Pietro archive in 1997.

The thefts were kept secret until Sunday, when the Italian daily Il Messaggero revealed that the documents had been put up for ransom.

Vatican downplays report that it's under threat from Islamic terrorists

The Vatican on Monday rejected reports that it could be the next target of Islamist terrorists after last week's deadly attacks in France.

The move came as Pope Francis called for a "unanimous" global response to the Islamic State group as he left on his first official visit to the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Israeli state TV reported Sunday that U.S. intelligence services had warned the Vatican could be the next terrorist target, as international leaders joined an estimated 2 million people in a massive anti-terrorism rally in Paris.

Pope Francis offers Mass for victims of attack at Paris satirical newspaper

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The morning after 12 people were shot to death and 11 others injured at the Paris office of a satirical weekly newspaper, Pope Francis dedicated his early morning Mass to the victims and their families.

At the beginning of the Mass on Thursday, he told the small congregation that the attack Wednesday in Paris was a reminder of "the cruelty man is capable of. Let us pray at this Mass for the victims of this cruelty -- there are so many! And, we pray also for the perpetrators of such cruelty that the Lord will change their hearts."

Yazidis thank Pope Francis for his support at Vatican meeting

An estimated 5,000 Yazidi women are being held as slaves by militants from the Islamic State group, Pope Francis was told when he met a top-level delegation of Yazidi leaders Thursday at the Vatican.

The delegation was led by Tahseen Said Al Baig, the Yazidis' secular leader, and Sheikh Kato, the group's supreme spiritual leader, or "Baba Sheikh," the Vatican said in a statement.

Yazidi officials from northern Iraq, Georgia and Germany were also among the delegation that met the pope for 30 minutes inside the Apostolic Palace.

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