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Papal sympathies to earthquake victims

Vatican (SE): In the wake of the tragic 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Tainan, Taiwan, on the weekend of February 6, a telegramme of condolence was sent on behalf of Pope Francis by Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.

It said the pope was saddened at the suffering caused and sent his prayerful condolences to the families of the dead and the injured, as well as the rescue workers and civil authorities.

 

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A long-awaited embrace

HAVANA (SE): The embrace that Christianity has waited over 1,000 years to see became a reality on February 12 in a hangar at José Marti Airport in Havana, Cuba, as Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow put their arms around each other in a reconciliatory gesture.

The two described their historic greeting as an end to a millennium of division due to human weakness and sin, contradicting  Christ’s prayer that they may be one.

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An unexpected blessing

ROME (SE): As Pope Francis stepped forward to impart the final blessing at a ceremony to mark the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on January 25 at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome, Italy, he called Anglican Archbishop David Moxon and the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop Gennadios, to his side to impart the blessing with him.

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Happy New Year to a great people

HONG KONG (SE): A greeting for the Lunar New Year from Pope Francis to the people of China was published on the online Hong Kong news site, Asia Times, on February 2, almost one week prior to the actual celebration of the beginning of the Year of the Monkey, which falls on February 8.

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Bottom line is mercy pope says in Lenten message

VATICAN (SE): We live in a time when the tempting apple offered to Adam and Eve appears to be rosier and juicier than ever.

Pope Francis says in his message for Lent, I desire mercy and not sacrifice: The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee, that a blindness resulting from a proud illusion of omnipotence reflects the same temptation the devil proposed in the Garden of Eden, “You shall be like God.”

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Tragedy at pope’s Mass not all doom and gloom

MANILA (UCAN): Jun and Judy Padasas will never forget the day Pope Francis came to the central Philippine city of Tacloban just over one year ago.

As the pope was blessing thousands of teary-eyed victims of Typhoon Haiyan on January 17, their 27-year-old daughter, Kristel Mae Padasas, died.

Padasas was waiting for the papal convoy to pass when a strong wind blew a large speaker stack on top of her, crushing her to death.

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Pope invited to Great Mosque of Rome

VATICAN (SE): A Muslim delegation formally invited Pope Francis to visit the Great Mosque of Rome, the largest outside the Islamic world. It would mark the first time a pope has visited the local mosque, which was opened in 1995.

Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, confirmed that the pope received the invitation on January during an early morning private audience at the Vatican with a five-person Muslim delegation.

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The maze of Vatican-China talks

HONG KONG (SE): Following the information maze on clandestine negotiations between Beijing and the Vatican is a risky journey.

In the last week of January, while UCAN reported the ambassador from Taiwan to the Holy See, Matthew Lee, as saying relations appear stalled, the Milan-based Corriere della Sera said a Beijing delegation was actually on Vatican soil and had brokered an agreement on the appointment of bishops.

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Obama quotes pope in State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON (SE): In his final State of the Union Address, the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, made reference to the words that Pope Francis addressed to the congress during his visit to Washington in September last year.

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Pope mends some fences at Rome’s synagogue

ROME (SE): Pope Francis stated categorically that the Catholic Church recognises the irrevocability of the Old Covenant and the constant and faithful love of God for Israel, during his first visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome on January 17.

Although Pope Francis is the third pope to visit the historic synagogue, with Pope John Paul II breaking the ice in 1986 and Pope Benedict XVI making a follow up trip in 2010, the visit was no pro forma affair.

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