Entries in Vatican City (10)


Pope Francis Delivers Message of Mercy to Massive Crowd

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Before an astounding crowd of some 300,000 in and around St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis delivered his first angelus as pontiff on Sunday, urging the faithful to be merciful and forgiving.

Hours earlier, the humility and spontaneity of the 76-year-old Argentine was on display when he greeted onlookers near the edge of Vatican City.

As the pope was entering a mass in St. Anna Parish, he decided to stop and greet a crowd of people awaiting his arrival. Walking up to the crowd, Francis shook hands, held a baby, and even motioned for two priests he recognized in the crowd to bypass the barricades and approach him.

It was the latest sign of the informality of the new pontiff. In the days since he was selected by his fellow cardinals to lead the Roman Catholic Church, Francis has shunned the fancy red shoes of his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in favor of simple black shoes, declined a ride in a limousine in favor of a mini-van, and donned simple white robes and a wooden cross. The new informal style has been welcomed by followers and colleagues worldwide.

"I think just the way he is behaving is very discreet. It is very ordinary," Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa said. "It's very much like, 'I am the pope, but I can still sit down at any table with anybody. I can share my stories. I can talk about my life. I can share about my ministry.'"

In St. Peter's Square today, Americans in the crowd marveled at the pope's humility.

"He just seems very humble in the way that he presents himself," said Christina Senour, who now lives in Rome.

"It has really struck me that he is so without frills," added her brother-in-law, David Uebbing.

Uebbing's wife Jennifer predicted that the pope's displays of modesty will help the church grow.

"I think he's working very honestly and simply to transmit his humility to the world and to set an example, to say 'here is the church, it's not rich and grand and aloof, but it is down with the people and for the people,'" she said.

On Tuesday morning, Francis will return to the square for his papacy's inaugural mass.

Vice President Joe Biden is set to arrive in Rome Sunday afternoon to attend the mass. On Monday, Francis is scheduled to meet the president of his homeland, Christina Kirchner, whom he has criticized in the past.

Next weekend, Francis will meet with his predecessor, in a unique and historic meeting between the current pope and a fellow living pope.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia told reporters Sunday that Francis is delivering a similar message to that delivered by Benedict, who earlier this year became the first pope in nearly six centuries to resign.

"He's pronouncing the same message of God's mercy. That is what is so important," Rigali said of Francis. "But he is doing it in his way, just as Benedict did it in his way.

"We all have our gifts," he added.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio



Black Smoke Emerges from Sistine Chapel After Second Papal Vote

VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Black smoke emerging from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel Wednesday morning indicated that the 115 cardinal electors of the Roman Catholic Church failed to elect a pope in their second vote.

The cardinals started the conclave on Tuesday afternoon, but black smoke emerged from the chapel's chimney a few hours afterwards, signaling that no candidate had received the two-thirds majority -- 77 votes -- needed for election.

With such a wide open conclave, the failure to pick the next pontiff on the first day did not come as a surprise.

"As the votes go on, a certain clarity usually arrives," Fr. John Wauck, a U.S. priest living in Rome, told ABC News.  "No one said electing a pope was going to be easy."

However, a key cardinal from the United States voiced optimism that a decision would be made soon.  Before the conclave began, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a letter to his priests in New York that he believed a successor to the retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would be picked by Thursday evening.

Dolan himself is viewed as a potential candidate to become the next pope, as is fellow American Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston.  But there has never been an American pope or any pope from outside of Europe.  Other candidates viewed as potential frontrunners are cardinals Angelo Scola of Italy, Marc Ouellet of Canada, Peter Erdo of Hungary and Odilo Scherer of Brazil.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cardinals Prepare to Elect a New Pope

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Roman Catholic cardinals are scheduled to meet Monday in Rome to begin the process of selecting the next pontiff in the wake of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

The meeting will not be the official conclave, but simply a gathering to discuss preparations for the election of the next pope.  The preparations include the installation of a stove in the Sistine Chapel where the cardinals will hold the conclave behind locked doors.  The stove will be used to burn the ballots, with the smoke communicating the election results.

Most Vatican observers say the new pontiff will more than likely be a European because half of the electors involved in the process are from Europe.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Benedict XVI Begins Final Day as Pope

GABRIEL BOUYS,GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to resign in 600 years, will step down on Thursday to lead a secluded life of prayer, far from the grueling demands of the papacy and the scandals that have recently plagued the church.

Benedict, 85, will spend a quiet final day as pope bidding farewell to his colleagues that have gathered in Vatican City to see him depart.  His first order of business Thursday morning is a meeting with the College of Cardinals in the Clementine Hall, a room in the Apostolic Palace, where Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, is set to speak, but not Benedict.

Despite the historical nature of Benedict's resignation, not all cardinals are expected to attend the event.  With their first working meeting not until Monday, only around 100 cardinals are set to be in Vatican City on Thursday, the Vatican press office said.  Those who are there for Benedict's departure will be greeted by seniority.

In the evening, at 5:00 p.m. local time, Benedict will leave the Vatican palace for the last time to head to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence outside of Rome.  Before his departure, the German-born theologian will say some goodbyes in the Courtyard of San Damaso, inside the Vatican, first to his Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and then to the Swiss Guards who have protected him as pontiff.

From there, it is a short drive to a heliport for the 15-minute flight via helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, just south of the city.  Benedict will not be alone on his journey; he will be accompanied by members of the Pontifical Household, such as two private secretaries, the head of protocol, his personal physician and his butler.

Once Benedict lands in the gardens at Castel Gandolfo, a group of dignitaries, such as the governor of the Vatican City state Giovanni Bertello, two bishops, the director of the pontifical villas, and the mayor and parish priest.  Off the helicopter and into a car, Benedict will head to the palace that he will call home for the coming months.  From a window of the palace, Benedict will make one final wave to the crowd at the papal retreat.

It is there, at 8:00 p.m., that Benedict's resignation will take effect once and for all.  Once the gates to the residence close, the Swiss Guards will leave Benedict's side for the last time, as their time protecting the pontiff comes to an end.

In his final address to the faithful as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Benedict on Wednesday said his decision to resign was "the fruit of a serene trust in God's will and a deep love of Christ's Church."  

Before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, Benedict said he was "deeply grateful for the understanding, support, and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but also throughout the world."

The date of the conclave to determine Benedict's successor has yet to be determined.  In one of his last moves as pope, Benedict issued a decree permitting the cardinals to convene the conclave before the March 15 date that would have been required under the old rules.

Benedict is eventually planning to move to a monastery inside Vatican City once work there is finished, but until then, he will call home the palace at Castel Gandolfo.  He will be known as "pope emeritus" and don brown shoes given to him on his trip to Mexico, rather than the red ones he wore as pontiff.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


The Vatican No Longer Accepting Credit Cards

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(VATICAN CITY) -- For those hoping to visit The Vatican in Rome, keep your plastic to yourself: the symbolic seat of the Catholic Church is going cash-only.

The decision was implemented after a lengthy review by the Italian Central Bank, which declared Vatican City -- the independent city-state in Rome that's home to the Pope -- is unable to comply with a program meant to curb money laundering.

According to the BBC, Pope Benedict vowed greater transparency in Vatican finances after the Vatican's official bank, the Institute for Works of Religion, was implicated in major money laundering scandals.

The measure means purchases of entry tickets, trinkets and other souvenirs from Vatican gift shops -- as well as church donations -- must be conducted using cash until Vatican City is determined to be in compliance.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Kateri Tekakwitha Becomes First American Indian Saint

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(VATICAN CITY) -- Kateri Tekakwitha was named the first Native American saint on Sunday by Pope Benedict XVI in a ceremony held in St. Peter’s Square.

Some 80,000 people came to the open-air ceremony as the 17th century Mohawk-Algonquin woman and six others were canonized.

The canonization ceremony happened at the same time the world’s bishops descended on the Vatican to discuss ways to revive faith in parts of the world where it is falling by the wayside.

Among some of the select faithful who were chosen to receive communion from the pope was Jake Finkbonner.  The Washington boy was near death for months with a flesh eating bacteria, but made a miraculous recovery that the Vatican credited to Tekakwitha.

The Vatican said it believes that the prayers Finkbonner’s family directed to Tekakwitha were responsible for bringing the boy back from the brink of death.

Finkbonner cut his lip during the last minute of a Boys & Girls Club basketball game in 2006.

“I was running down court with the ball, I stopped in front of the hoop to shoot when I was pushed from behind,” Jake wrote on his website.  ”I flew forward and hit my mouth on the base of the portable basketball hoop.”

Two days later, he wrote,  he was in the hospital with a strep bacteria infection that had spread across his face, head and chest.

“It’s a bacteria that can cause severe infections in unusual circumstances but most of us don’t ever have any problems with it,” said Dr. Christopher Ohl, a doctor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical.  “But if all of the circumstances come together and the setting is just right, it can get in through the skin and cause a severe infection.”

Ohl said the chance of survival for people with the bacteria is roughly 50-50.

At the urging of the family’s priest, the Finkbonners began praying to Tekakwitha, who converted to Christianity when she was 18 and became a fervent follower.

Her face was scarred by smallpox as a child, but it is claimed that the scars disappeared after she died in 1680 at the age of 24.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pope Benedict's Butler Arrested

L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Pool/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Benedict XVI's butler was arrested on Saturday after being suspected of leaking hundreds of Vatican documents to the press earlier this year.

According to the Italian news agency ANSA, Paolo Gabriele, has been under surveillance for several weeks. The Papal Spokesman, Frederico Lombardi, confirmed to the Italian media on Friday that a suspect was found "in illegal possession of confidential documents," but at the time of the press conference, Gabriele’s name was not mentioned.

In January of this year, hundreds of documents were leaked to the Italian media. The incident has since been dubbed “Vatileaks.” These documents contained several letters to the Pope and other officials at the Vatican, and contained allegations of corruption in the management of Vatican City.

Gabriele, 40, is not a clergy member. He has worked for Pope Benedict since 2006, and is one of seven people who have access to the Pope’s private apartments where the documents were kept.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pope Calls for Peace, Coexistence in Christmas Mass

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Christmas at the Vatican on Saturday, where he conducted Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

He called on Catholics to remember that Christmas marks the birth of Christ, and urged peace around the world, particularly in the Middle East.

"May the light of Christmas shine forth anew in the Land where Jesus was born, and inspire Israelis and Palestinians to strive for a just and peaceful co-existence," Benedict said.

He also hoped this season would bring consolation to Christians in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

The pope criticized China for imposing limits on religious freedom among Catholics in the country.

He greeted the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square, before dining at the Vatican with some of Rome's homeless.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Vatican Makes Plee for Iraq to Protect Christians

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- The Vatican has made an appeal to the Iraqi government following several attacks on Christians in Baghdad, according to ANSA reports.

At least six are dead and dozens more were left injured during bombings Wednesday that targeted the homes of Christians.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, has asked that the Iraqi government protect Christians in light of the recent attacks, as well as the suicide bombing of a church on Oct. 31 that left 52 people dead.

Bertone said the violence has lead to a growing exodus of Christians from countries in the Middle East.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Pope Says New List of Cardinals Reflects 'The Universal Nature of the Church'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Benedict XVI named 24 new cardinals Wednesday morning in Vatican City.  In announcing their names, the pope said he did so "with joy," and that the list reflects the universal nature of the Church." 

The cardinals, he said, "come from various parts of the world, have different duties in the service of the Holy See, in direct contact with God's people as fathers and pastors of particular churches."

The pope also gave a reminder that "the cardinals have the duty to help the successor of Peter the Apostle in fulfilling his mission."

He invited the faithful present in St. Peter's Square Wednesday morning to "pray for the new cardinals, asking for the special intercession of the Holy Mother of God, so that they might fruitfully carry out their ministry in the Church."

The newly appointed cardinals will receive their rings in a two-day ceremony in Rome on Nov. 20-21.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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