More than 800 Catholics were canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday at a mass held in St. Peter's Square.
The new saints, made up mostly of Italian martyrs who were killed during the 15th century for not converting to Islam, were the first men and women elected to sainthood under Pope Francis' papacy.
"Let us look on the new saints in the light of the word of God proclaimed, a word that invited us to be faithful to Christ, even unto martyrdom; a word that recalled to us the urgency and the beauty of bringing Christ and his Gospel to everyone; a word that spoke to us about the witness of charity, without which even martyrdom and mission lose their Christian savour," said Pope Francis. more >>
As Pope Francis delivered an Easter Sunday message of peace, the U.S. sent out fighter jets to the Korean peninsula for military drills amid rising tensions and the danger of war.
"Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow," Pope Francis stated, speaking in Italian. He was speaking in his first Easter Sunday address since being appointed leader of the Roman Catholic Church, greeting over 250,000 people from the central balcony at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to punish North Korea for its February nuclear test, imposing a fourth round of tougher sanctions on the Asian country.
The sanction vote came hours after the country threatened a preemptive nuclear attack against the U.S.
In a statement released by the Korean Central News Agency, considered to be a mouthpiece for the state, the country argued that the United States "is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war," adding that, in response, North Korea "will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country." more >>
Pope Benedict XVI, in his annual Christmas address to the world, spoke out against the slaughter of Syrians in the war-torn Middle Eastern country, prayed for world peace and called on China's new leaders to respect religion.
The pope also asked God to "grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path to negotiation," the Associated Press noted.
The 85-year-old pontiff addressed thousands of gatherers at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, and shared a Christmas message of hope and holiday greetings in 65 different languages. Reports noted that he looked weary, as less than 12 hours earlier he led a two-hour long Christmas Eve ceremony to welcome in the birth of Christ. more >>
Colombian rocker Juanes and Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra have donated $150,000 from their benefit concert in New York to the American Red Cross, for the victims of superstorm Sandy.
In a press release both artists, who were winners in the Latin Grammy Awards recently, said that "with so many people from these regions now facing immense hardships, we want to show our deep appreciation by utilizing our music to both raise spirits and more importantly, raise much-needed funds to help them through these times of great need."
Roger Lowe, Senior Vice President of Communications of the American Red Cross said that "the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy has affected millions of people, but thanks to the support of generous donors such as Juan Luis Guerra, Juanes and CMN, the Red Cross is there for them, providing immediate relief now, and staying on the job as people move toward recovery." more >>
An interfaith group that brings Christians and Jews together for common goals, including the support of Israel, announced on Friday that it will increase its funding of emergency aid for families in southern Israel. Rocket attacks on cities in southern Israel occurred this week and are said to be continuing as the IDF launches a wide assault on what it describes as "terror activity sites" and military infrastructure in Gaza Strip.
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) said that $2.7 million in funds will go to an emergency and security aid package that includes supplies for the people in communities under fire, including Netivot, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat, Sdot Negev, and Eshkol.
"With 20 percent of the nation's people in bomb shelters today, improving the security of the residents of the south is a vital priority for The Fellowship," said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and CEO of The Fellowship. "The untenable situation of more than 1 million residents living under constant threat of rocket fire must top the list of concerns of every friend of Israel. We are working hand-in-hand with the Israel Ministry for Home Front Defense and the IDF, and we will continue to cooperate to ensure the security of Israel's people." more >>