Pope Hails ‘Hero’ Parents Who Flee Conflict With Children

Pope Francis celebrates the New Year's day mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on January 1, 2022. Tiziana FABI / AFP
Pope Francis celebrates the New Year’s day mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on January 1, 2022. Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

Pope Francis hailed parents who flee conflict to save their children as “heroes”, highlighting those “rejected at the borders of Europe”, in an interview published on Thursday.

“I think of many fathers, many mothers and many families that flee war, who are rejected at the borders of Europe and elsewhere, who experience situations of suffering and injustice and who no one takes seriously or willingly ignores,” he told Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano.

“I would like to say to these fathers, to these mothers, that for me they are heroes because I see in them the courage of those who risk their lives for love of their children, for love of their family.”

The Argentine pontiff, 85, is outspoken in his calls for support and understanding for migrants and asylum seekers.

He added: “I feel very close to the suffering of those families, of those fathers and mothers who are experiencing particular difficulty, worsened above all due to the (coronavirus) pandemic.”

“I think that not being able to feed one’s children, feeling the responsibility for the life of others, is suffering that is not easy to face. In this regard, my prayers, my closeness but also all the support of the Church is for these people, for these least ones,” he said.

Having Pets Not Kids Robs Us Of ‘Humanity’, Says Pope

Pope Francis holds his general audience at the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on January 5, 2022 (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

 

Pope Francis risked the ire of the world’s childless dog and cat owners Wednesday, suggesting people who substitute pets for kids exhibit “a certain selfishness”

Speaking on parenthood during a general audience at the Vatican, Francis lamented that pets “sometimes take the place of children” in society.

“Today… we see a form of selfishness,” said the pope. “We see that some people do not want to have a child.

“Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children. This may make people laugh but it is a reality.”

The practice, said the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, “is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity”.

Thus, “civilisation grows old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers”, the pontiff said at the Paul VI Hall.

Francis has been photographed petting dogs, allowed a baby lamb to be draped over his shoulders during Epiphany in 2014 and even petted a tiger and a baby panther.

But while his predecessor, Benedict XVI, was a cat lover, Francis is not known to have a pet at his Vatican residence.

Italy’s International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) said it was “strange to think that the pope considers the love in our lives limited quantitatively” while citing the sacrifices of volunteers who save the lives of animals.

“It is evident that for Francis, animal life is less important than human life. But those who feel that life is sacred love life beyond species,” said OIPA President Massimo Comparotto in a statement.

– Kids are hard –

In 2014, Francis told Il Messaggero daily that having pets instead of children was “another phenomenon of cultural degradation”, and that emotional relationships with pets was “easier” than the “complex” relationship between parents and children.

On Wednesday, while inviting couples who are unable to have children for biological reasons to consider adoption, he urged potential parents “not to be afraid” in embarking on parenthood.

“Having a child is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child, in denying paternity,” he said.

The Argentine pontiff has in the past denounced the “demographic winter”, or falling birth rates in the developed world.

Earlier this year, he criticised modern society, in which career and money-making trumps building a family for many, calling such mentality “gangrene for society”.

Pope Urges Peace At New Year, Says Hurting Women Insults God

Pope Francis celebrates the New Year's day mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on January 1, 2022. Tiziana FABI / AFP
Pope Francis celebrates the New Year’s day mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on January 1, 2022. Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

Pope Francis urged the world to “roll up our sleeves” for peace in a New Year’s message Saturday, while calling violence against women an affront to God.

Marking the 55th World Day of Peace, the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics devoted his Angelus address to encouraging a stop to violence around the world, telling the assembled crowd at Saint Peter’s Square to keep peace at the forefront of their thoughts.

“Let’s go home thinking peace, peace, peace. We need peace,” said the pope, speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace under sunny skies.

“I was looking at the images in the television programme ‘In His Image’ today, about war, displaced people, the miseries. This is happening today in the world. We want peace,” he added, referring to a religious broadcast on Italian state television.

READ ALSO: World Rings In New Year Under COVID Cloud

The pope — who turned 85 on December 17 — reminded the faithful that peace required “concrete actions,” such as attention to the most fragile, forgiving others and promoting justice.

“And it needs a positive outlook as well, one that always sees, in the Church as well as in society, not the evil that divides us, but the good that unites us!” he added.

“Getting depressed or complaining is useless. We need to roll up our sleeves to build peace.”

Francis, who in March begins the ninth year of his papacy, called violence against women an insult to God during a mass in honour of the Virgin Mary earlier Saturday in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

“The Church is mother, the Church is woman. And since mothers bestow life and women ‘keep’ the world, let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and to protect women,” he said.

“How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity.”

‘Uncertain, difficult times’

To mark the World Day of Peace, Francis recommended education, labour and intergenerational dialogue as building blocks for peace.

“Teaching and education are the foundations of a cohesive civil society capable of generating hope, prosperity and progress,” the pope wrote in a message published by the Vatican on December 21, noting that military spending had increased beyond Cold War levels.

“It is high time, then, that governments develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry,” wrote the pontiff.

The pope, who has spent much of his papacy highlighting economic inequality, the plight of migrants and the environment, returned to those themes following his Angelus prayer Saturday.

“We are still living in uncertain and difficult times due to the pandemic. Many are frightened about the future and burdened by social problems, personal problems, dangers stemming from the ecological crisis, injustices and by global economic imbalances,” said the pope.

“Looking at Mary with her Son in her arms, I think of young mothers and their children fleeing wars and famine or waiting in refugee camps.”

On New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis did not preside over vespers at St Peter’s Basilica as planned, instead turning the service over to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Giovanni Battista Re, the dean of the College of Cardinals.

The pointiff read the homily but spent most of the service seated on the sidelines.

The previous year, Francis was unable to celebrate New Year’s masses because of a painful sciatica.

On Friday, the Vatican cancelled the pope’s traditional visit to the Nativity Scene in Saint Peter’s Square over coronavirus concerns.

As elsewhere in Europe, Italy — and by extension the tiny Vatican City State — is facing a surge in coronavirus cases fuelled by the new Omicron variant.

 

AFP

Pope Calls For Humility In Christmas Eve Mass

Pope Francis holds a Holy Mass during the Christmas Eve mass at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, on December 24, 2021. PHOTO: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Pope Francis Friday called on the faithful to value the “little things in life” and show solidarity with the poor in his Christmas Eve mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Some 2,000 members of the public and 200 religious figures attended, wearing face masks and respecting social distancing as part of measures against the coronavirus, the Vatican’s press office said.

Those who had not managed to grab a ticket watched on huge screens outside St Peter’s Basilica.

The 85-year-old Argentinian pontiff recalled the shepherds in the tale of the nativity, who lived modestly and were witness to the birth of Jesus.

READ ALSO: Bethlehem Subdued For Second Pandemic Christmas

“That is where Jesus is born: close to them, close to the forgotten ones of the peripheries. He comes where human dignity is put to the test.”

Pope Francis holds a Holy Mass during the Christmas Eve mass at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, on December 24, 2021. PHOTO: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

He called for people to seek out “littleness” — in “our daily lives, the things we do each day at home, in our families, at school, and in the workplace”.

“Jesus asks us to rediscover and value the little things in life,” he said.

Francis, formerly the Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio, called for more solidarity with those living in poverty.

“On this night of love, may we have only one fear: that of offending God’s love, hurting him by despising the poor with our indifference,” he said.

It was the second such Christmas Eve mass during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, barely some 200 people — mostly Vatican employees — attended.

AFP

Pope Francis Appoints Nigerian Archbishop As Vatican’s Permanent Observer At The UN

Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu. Photo Credit: Antilles Episcopal Conference – AEC

 

Pope Francis has appointed Nigerian prelate and the Apostolic Nuncio to the Antilles, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, as the new Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office and Specialized Institutions in Geneva.

Archbishop Nwachukwu was also appointed the Permanent Observer to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Representative of the Holy See to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The 61-year-old Nwachukwu replaces Bishop Ivan Jurkovic, previously appointed nuncio in Canada.

The appointment was contained in a press release from the Office of the Secretariat of the Episcopal Conference of the Antilles dated Friday, December 17, 2021, where Archbishop Nwachukwu is currently serving as Nuncio.

“The Holy Father has appointed Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, titular of Acquaviva and until now apostolic nuncio in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Santa Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname, and apostolic delegate in the Antilles; and Holy See Plenipotentiary Representative at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations and Specialised Institutions in Geneva and at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Holy See Representative at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM),” the communique read.

The statement from the Episcopal Conference of the Antilles continued, “He sincerely appreciates your support during his mission in this region and requests that you accompany him with your prayers and friendship as he prepares to assume the new responsibilities.”

Archbishop Nwachukwu has previously been assigned as Apostolic Nuncio to Saint Lucia, Grenada, and the Bahamas on 27 February 2018; and Apostolic Nuncio to Suriname on 9 March 2018; and Apostolic Nuncio to Belize on 8 September 2018.

Pope Ends Visit To Greece Focused On The Plight Of Migrants

Pope Francis addresses a meeting at the Maronite Lady of Grace cathedral in Nicosia’s walled Old City with priests and members of the Maronite Christian community on the first stop in his visit to the predominantly Greek-Orthodox divided east Mediterranean island of Cyprus on December 2, 2021. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)

 

Pope Francis on Monday wraps up a landmark three-day visit to Greece which has been marked by his calls for better treatment of migrants in Europe and a visit to asylum seekers on the island of Lesbos.

After a last meeting with young people at a Catholic school, the pope is due to leave Athens to return to Rome at the end of the morning.

Since his arrival in Greece on Saturday, Francis has met with the head of the Greek Orthodox Church and visited the Mavrovouni tent camp on Lesbos, where he called the neglect of migrants the “shipwreck of civilisation”.

Following his visit to the migration flashpoint, he celebrated mass for some 2,000 faithful in Athens, where he urged respect for the “small and lowly”.

In 2016, Francis visited the sprawling Moria camp on Lesbos, when the island was the main gateway for migrants heading to Europe.

His visit to Mavrovouni was shorter than in 2016 but he was warmly welcomed by a crowd of migrants at the camp, which houses nearly 2,200 asylum seekers.

People later gathered in a tent to sing songs and psalms to the pontiff, who listened to them, visibly moved.

“I am trying to help you,” Francis told one group through his interpreter.

The Mavrovouni camp was hurriedly erected after Moria, then the largest such site in Europe, burned down last year.

– ‘Grim cemetery without tombstones’ –

In his speech, Francis warned that the Mediterranean “is becoming a grim cemetery without tombstones” and that “after all this time, we see that little in the world has changed with regard to the issue of migration”.

The root causes “should be confronted — not the poor people who pay the consequences and are even used for political propaganda”, he added.

According to the International Organization for Migration, 1,559 people have died or gone missing attempting the perilous Mediterranean crossing this year.

About 40 asylum-seekers, mostly from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, participated in an Angelus prayer in a camp tent with the pope, in the presence of Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, EU vice-president Margaritis Schinas and Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi.

“His visit is a blessing,” said Rosette Leo, a Congolese asylum seeker carrying a two-month-old baby as she waited in line for the ceremony.

However, Menal Albilal, a Syrian mother with a two-month-old baby whose asylum claim was rejected after two years on the island, said refugees “want more than words, we need help.”

“The conditions here are not good for a baby,” she told AFP.

“The Greek government should think about us, we’ve been here for two years without work or education,” said Francois Woumfo, from Cameroon.

The pope has long championed the cause of migrants and his visit came after he delivered a stinging rebuke to Europe which he said was “torn by nationalist egoism”.

Before arriving in Greece, the pope visited Cyprus, where authorities said that 50 migrants will be relocated to Italy thanks to Francis.

The 84-year-old pope is himself from a family of Italian migrants who settled in Argentina.

Pope Calls Neglect Of Migrants ‘Shipwreck’ On Lesbos Visit

File photo of Pope Francis addressing a meeting at the Maronite Lady of Grace Cathedral in Nicosia’s walled Old City. PHOTO: ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

 

Pope Francis on Sunday returned to the island of Lesbos, the migration flashpoint he first visited in 2016, calling the neglect of migrants the “shipwreck of civilisation”.

The pope has long championed the cause of migrants and his visit comes a day after he delivered a stinging rebuke to Europe which he said was “torn by nationalist egoism”.

“In Europe there are those who persist in treating the problem as a matter that does not concern them,” the pope said as he spent some two hours at Lesbos’ Mavrovouni camp where nearly 2,200 asylum seekers live.

On the second day of his visit to Greece, he met dozens of child asylum seekers and relatives standing behind metal barriers and stopped to embrace a boy called Mustafa.

People later gathered in a tent to sing songs and psalms to the pontiff.

Pope Francis warned that the Mediterranean “is becoming a grim cemetery without tombstones” and that “after all this time, we see that little in the world has changed with regard to the issue of migration”.

He said the root causes “should be confronted — not the poor people who pay the consequences and are even used for political propaganda”.

The European Union has been locked in a dispute with Belarus over an influx of migrants travelling through the former Soviet state seeking to enter Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in recent months.

Britain and France have traded barbs over the increasing number of migrants making the deadly Channel crossing to reach the UK in the wake of the November 24 mass drowning which claimed 27 lives.

“His visit is a blessing,” said Rosette Leo, a Congolese asylum seeker at the site.

 

 

– ‘Terrible modern Odyssey’ –

The temporary Mavrovouni tent camp was hurriedly erected after the sprawling camp of Moria, Europe’s largest such site at the time, burned down last year.

Greek authorities blamed a group of young Afghans for the incident and security was substantially enhanced for the pontiff’s visit.

The pope’s trip to Lesbos was shorter than his last as he will hold a mass for some 2,500 people at the Megaron Athens Concert Hall later Sunday.

In Cyprus, where the pope visited before Greece this week, authorities said that 50 migrants will be relocated to Italy thanks to Francis.

Greek officials have not ruled out the possibility that some migrants from Mavrovouni could accompany him back to Italy.

He took 12 Syrian refugees with him during his last visit to Lesbos in 2016.

 

 

– EU ‘torn by egoism’ –

At the start of his Athens visit on Saturday, Francis “today, and not only in Europe, we are witnessing a retreat from democracy,” , warning against populism’s “easy answers”.

In 2016, Francis visited Moria with Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and Archbishop Ieronymos II, head of the Church of Greece.

The Mavrovouni camp currently holds 2,193 people and has a capacity of 8,000, a facility official said this week.

Authorities insist asylum procedures and processing times are now faster.

With EU funds, Greece is building a series of “closed” facilities on Greek islands with barbed wire fencing, surveillance cameras, X-ray scanners and magnetic gates that are closed at night.

Three such camps have opened on the islands of Samos, Leros and Kos, with Lesbos and Chios to follow next year.

Once migrants receive asylum they are no longer eligible to remain in the camps with many then unable to find accommodation or work, drawing criticism from NGOS and aid agencies.

The groups have also raised concerns about the new camps, arguing that people’s movements should not be restricted as well as claiming Greek border officers have pushed back migrants.

Greece vehemently denies the claims, insisting its coastguard saves lives at sea.

The pope flew back to Athens after the visit and will return to Rome on Monday.

AFP

Pope ‘Greatly Concerned’ Over Lebanon Crisis

Pope Francis addresses a meeting at the Maronite Lady of Grace cathedral in Nicosia’s walled Old City with priests and members of the Maronite Christian community on the first stop in his visit to the predominantly Greek-Orthodox divided east Mediterranean island of Cyprus on December 2, 2021. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)

 

Pope Francis said Thursday he was “greatly concerned” over the situation in Lebanon, which is mired in its worst social and economic crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.

“When I think of Lebanon, I am greatly concerned for the crisis it is facing,” the pontiff during a visit to the nearby island of Cyprus, at the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in Nicosia.

“I am sensitive to the sufferings of a people wearied and tested by violence and adversity,” the pope said at his first stop after landing on the eastern Mediterranean island.

“I carry in my prayer the desire for peace that rises from the heart of that country.”

Lebanon is grappling with its worst-ever financial and economic crisis, with nearly 80 percent of the population estimated to be living below the poverty line.

A foreign currency crunch, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement, has seen the Lebanese pound lose 90 percent of its black-market value against the US dollar since the crisis started in 2019.

The majority-Greek Orthodox Republic of Cyprus is home to roughly 7,000 adherents to the Maronite church, an ancient Eastern Catholic faith. About 1,000 Lebanese travelled to Cyprus for the papal visit, officials in the Maronite Church said.

Pope On Cyprus Visit Urges European Unity Amid Migrant Influx

Pope Francis arrives at the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in Old Nicosia on his first stop following his arrival in Cyprus on December 2, 2021. – The pontiff, 84, is the second Catholic pontiff to set foot on the east Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which has a Greek Orthodox majority, after Benedict XVI visited in 2010.  (Photo by JOSEPH EID / AFP)

 

Pope Francis on Thursday urged unity as Europe faces an influx of refugees and migrants, speaking on the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus, a major destination for people fleeing war and poverty.

“We need to welcome and integrate one another and to walk together as brothers and sisters, all of us,” said the pontiff, 84, at the start of a five-day trip that takes him to Greece from Saturday.

The pope was set to underscore his message by taking 50 migrants now in Cyprus to Italy, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said, although the Vatican has yet to confirm the initiative.

Francis — on his 35th international trip since becoming pope in 2013 — is the second Catholic pontiff to visit Cyprus after Benedict XVI went in 2010.

Speaking in a Maronite church in Nicosia, the pope said “the presence of many of our migrant brothers and sisters” had made Cyprus “a true point of encounter between different ethnicities and cultures”.

The island’s experience served as a reminder to Europe that “we need to work together to build a future worthy of humanity, to overcome divisions, to break down walls, to dream and work for unity,” he said.

Later, in a meeting with Anastasiades, he cautioned against nationalist “walls of fear” in Europe and stressed the continent “needs reconciliation and unity”.

Cyprus, a country of one million people, is home to about 25,000 Catholics, including Maronites whose ancestors arrived from Syria and Lebanon and overseas workers from the Philippines, South Asia and African countries.

“We’re such a small minority so it’s great to feel that you belong to a greater family, the Catholic family,” said Eliana Maltezou, 38, holding her one-year-old son and waving a Cypriot flag.

– ‘Vulnerable and marginalised’ –

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish forces invaded and occupied its northern third in response to a coup sponsored by the Greek junta in power at the time.

Only Ankara recognises the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and tensions simmer between the two sides.

The division saw about 200,000 people, including many Maronites from the north, displaced from their homes.

Monica Despoti, 55, whose Maronite village Asomatos is in the north, said the pope’s visit meant “we’re very, very happy and we also have a hope that with his help we can go back to our motherland”.

The majority-Greek speaking south accuses the north of sending migrants across the UN-patrolled Green Line and also says it receives the highest number of first-time asylum seekers of any EU member country.

The pope, who has long called for better protection for migrants, in remarks ahead of the trip described the Mediterranean Sea as a “huge cemetery” for migrants who drowned.

At the church, the pope listened as Nyein Nyein Loo, of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition, spoke about the Christian community’s charitable work for migrants.

“Much of our work consists in defending the basic human rights of those in need and of migrant workers,” she said, detailing that many face “harsh and unfair treatment, including unpaid wages, excessively long working hours, verbal and physical abuse and other forms of discrimination”.

Before his departure from Rome, Francis met refugees from Syria, Congo, Somalia and Afghanistan who had come via the Greek island of Lesbos and now live in Italy.

On the plane, a journalist gave him framed fabric pieces of migrant tents from the French port of Calais with the message: “To all the exiled people who died on the Franco-British border.”

“It’s terrible,” the pope replied, visibly moved.

– ‘Terrible laceration’ –

According to Cypriot authorities, negotiations are underway with the Vatican to organise the transfer to Rome of several migrant families now in Cyprus.

That would repeat a gesture Francis made on Lesbos in 2016 when he returned to the Vatican with three Syrian Muslim families who had fled bombing in their homeland.

On Thursday evening, Francis visited Anastasiades for talks focused on the island’s painful division.

Francis said “the greatest wound suffered by this land has been the terrible laceration it has endured in recent decades. I think of the deep suffering of all those people unable to return to their homes and their places of worship.

“The way of peace, which reconciles conflicts and regenerates the beauty of fraternity, has a single word as its signpost. That word is dialogue.”

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, meanwhile, accused the south of seeking to use the trip to score “political goals against Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.

It was a “source of sorrow for us that Pope Francis will visit Greek Cyprus only,” he said.

“There are two peoples in Cyprus. Not only Christian Greeks but also Muslim Turks live in Cyprus. This is one of the basic realities of Cyprus.”

Migrants Should Not Be Instrumentalised, Says Pope

Pope Francis speaks to worshipers during the weekly general audience, at Paul-VI hall in the Vatican on November 3, 2021. Andreas SOLARO / AFP

 

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed sorrow over migrants who have died trying to reach Europe in search of a better life, saying they should not be “instrumentalised.”

“I think of those who died crossing the English Channel, those on the borders of Belarus, many of whom are children, and those who drown in the Mediterranean. There is so much sorrow when thinking about them,” the pope said during his Sunday Angelus prayer.

“I renew my heartfelt appeal to those who can contribute to the resolution of these problems, especially civil and military authorities, so that understanding and dialogue may finally prevail over any kind of instrumentalisation.”

The pontiff spoke after 27 people drowned in the Channel on Wednesday trying to reach Britain.

In Belarus, a migrant crisis has seen thousands of people, mostly Kurds from Iraq, stuck on the border as they try to enter EU member Poland.

The EU has accused Belarus strongman President Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the crisis in retaliation for EU sanctions against the ex-Soviet state, charges that Minsk has denied.

Pope Names Raffaella Petrini As First Woman To Head Vatican Governorate

Pope Francis speaks to worshipers during the weekly general audience, at Paul-VI hall in the Vatican on November 3, 2021. PHOTO: Andreas SOLARO / AFP

 

Pope Francis appointed a woman on Thursday to head up the governorate of the Vatican, as he forges ahead with a mission to achieve greater gender equality in the Church.

The pontiff appointed Franciscan sister Raffaella Petrini as the new secretary-general of the governorate, making her the first woman to ever hold the post.

Petrini, 52, who will be responsible for overseeing administrative operations, including the Vatican museums, post office, and police, becomes the highest-ranking woman in the world’s smallest state.

READ ALSO: Mexican President Slams COP26 ‘Hypocrisy’

The National Catholic Reporter online newspaper said the role is traditionally held by a bishop.

Francis, 84, has repeatedly said he wants women to play a greater role in the Roman Catholic Church.

In January he changed the law to allow them to serve as readers at liturgies, altar servers and distributors of communion — but stopped short of saying the change could one day open the door to female priests.

In February he broke with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

The pope created a commission in 2016 into the history of female deacons in the early year of the Catholic Church, in a move reformers hope could open the door to women taking up the role today.

After their findings were said by the pope to be inconclusive, he set up a fresh commission to look into the issue last year.

AFP

Biden Hails Pope Francis In Meeting Before G20

This photo was taken and handout by the Vatican Media on October 29, 2021, shows Pope Francis meeting with US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden (L) during a private audience at The Vatican,

 

 

US President Joe Biden said Pope Francis called him a “good Catholic” as they met Friday at the Vatican at the start of a European trip aimed at reasserting US international credentials.

The meeting at the Vatican lasted more than an hour — longer than Biden’s two predecessors were given — and came as Biden arrived in Europe ahead of a weekend G20 summit in Rome and UN climate talks in Glasgow.

Biden, only the second Catholic to hold his office, said Francis had expressed pleasure that “I was a good Catholic” in the talks, which sidestepped the controversial topic of abortion.

READ ALSO: Trials For COVID-19 Vaccine Pill To Begin In South Africa

The meeting kicks off Biden’s Europe trip, where he hopes to push his mantra that “America is back” after the Trump years.

The Vatican meeting was closed to the media but footage released by the Holy See showed a good-humoured gathering full of smiles, with Biden at points visibly moved, and elsewhere telling the pope “God love ya”.

He called the pontiff “the most significant warrior of peace I have ever met”, as he gave him a presidential coin recalling the regiment in which his son Beau Biden, who died from cancer in 2015, had served.

“I know my son would want me to give this to you,” Biden said.

The president, who is open about his faith and how it gives him strength, has already met Francis three times before but this was their first tete-a-tete since he entered the White House.

– ‘An honour’ –
Biden will travel to Glasgow for COP26 climate talks after the weekend G20 meeting.

Both Biden and the pope have been outspoken on the need to tackle global warming — Francis repeated his call for action in a BBC broadcast Friday — and this was a dominant theme of their talks.

“I thanked His Holiness for his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution, and lauded his leadership in fighting the climate crisis and ending the pandemic,” the president tweeted later.

He said the meeting, part of which was with his wife Jill, had been “an honour”.

The Vatican said they discussed climate change, the pandemic, and the issue of refugees and migrants, as well as “the protection of human rights, including freedom of religion and conscience”.

Following the meeting, Biden told journalists that the red-button issue of abortion was not discussed.

“We just talked about the fact that he was happy I was a good Catholic,” Biden said.

Biden supports the right to choose, while Francis, 84, has slammed terminating pregnancies as “murder”.

The pontiff has nonetheless distanced himself from a push by conservative US bishops to deny communion to politicians supportive of abortion rights — which would include Biden.

After the meeting, Biden headed for talks with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron, before the G20 kicks off on Saturday morning.

Shortly before leaving Washington, Biden unveiled a “historic” blueprint for remaking America’s economy, a $1.75 trillion Build Back Better social welfare package on which he has staked his domestic legacy.

He had hoped to secure the deal before leaving, but it has been dogged by weeks of internal party feuding — it remains to be seen if the revamped deal will gain the support of lawmakers.

– Bridge-building –
After Donald Trump’s bruising diplomacy, Biden is hoping to reassert US global leadership, including in speaking up for democracies against regimes such as China, and on climate change.

Ahead of the crucial COP26 summit starting on Monday, Biden said his new plan includes “the most significant investment to deal with the climate crisis ever” — $550 billion to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“America is back in a leadership position on climate in a way that will be broadly welcomed,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on the flight over.

But Biden will have some fence-mending to do after a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which irritated US allies, and a major spat over nuclear-powered submarines.

He will meet with French President Macron on Friday for the first time since the submarine row, in what Sullivan said was expected to be a “constructive and deeply substantial meeting”.