U.S. President Barack Obama met Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican, with reports stating that the world leaders held a 50-minute private talk.
"It is a great honor. I'm a great admirer," Obama told the Roman Catholic leader upon meeting him. "Thank you so much for receiving me." It was the first such meeting between the two leaders and their 50-minute conversation was considered an "extraordinarily long time," Catholic News Service reported.
Obama said that while the two had a "wide-ranging discussion," they focused on two concerns that the pope had: the poor and growing inequality, and conflict around the world. more >>
Atheist author and biologist Richard Dawkins, who was Prospect magazine's "world's top thinker" last year, has not been nominated for the title this year. Pope Francis, meanwhile, was nominated.
The magazine compiles a list of individuals they identify as "engaging most originally and profoundly with the central questions of the world today" and asks people from around the world to vote on the nominees.
Pope Francis canceled a tentative "Noah" meeting with actor Russell Crowe and director Darren Aronofsky over fears that the meeting would be leaked to the press. While the film executives behind the biblical epic have admitted at religious groups' insistence that "Noah" is only "inspired" by the Old Testament story, a photo op with the Pope could have functioned as a tacit endorsement.
The Pope was scheduled to meet with Crowe, Aronofsky, Paramount vice chair Rob Moore and a host of other creatives involved with "Noah" at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The execs and crew would have come to the papal general audience in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.
The Vatican said that proposed meeting would only happen if no one tweeted or reported about the event in advance, Aronofsky confirmed to Variety. Later on, the same issue caused the cancellation by the Pope and Vatican officials, who thought Crowe's appearance in St. Peter's Square would disrupt the event and cause a large commotion because of his celebrity status. more >>
The Pope stole a rosary cross off of a late much-admired priest once, he admitted on Thursday to some other Roman priests. The Pontiff was recounting an incident that happened back when he was still serving the ministry in Buenos Aires, but he didn't say exactly when the event occurred.
The Pope stole the rosary from "the great confessor" of Buenos Aires: he was an elderly priest who had heard the most intimate confessions of many important diocesan priests and even Pope John Paul II himself when he came to Argentina. However, when he came to pray at the man's casket, there were no flowers there.
"This man forgave all the sins of all the priests of Buenos Aires, but not a single flower?" Pope Francis said. He resolved to make the situation right, according to the Associated Press. more >>
While affirming traditional marriage, Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church may be open to supporting certain cases of civil unions, particularly when it involves benefits such as healthcare. He made the comments in an extensive new interview with an Italian newspaper on Wednesday.
"Matrimony is between a man and a woman," the pope said in an article by the Corriere della Sera, translated by Catholic News Service, but added that "diverse situations of cohabitation [are] driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care."
"It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety," the Vatican leader added. more >>
The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church has called on the people to be ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the country's freedom, as the threat of a Russian attack looms over the horizon.
"Ukraine, unfortunately, has been pulled into a military conflict. So far no one is shooting, so far people are not dying, but it is obvious that military intervention has already begun," Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych said in a statement over the weekend, Catholic News Service reported on Monday.
"Our people and our country are currently in danger," the archbishop added. "We must stand up for our country, to be ready -- if necessary -- to sacrifice our lives in order to protect the sovereign, free, independent, and unified state." more >>