Pope Francis back from Ariccia with new seeds planted

Rome, Italy, Feb 27, 2015 / 06:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After a weeklong spiritual retreat outside of Rome, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the priest who led the reflections, saying that although it’s not always easy to preach to priests, seeds have been planted. “On behalf of all of us, I too would like to thank the father for his work among us during the spiritual exercises,” Francis said after his return to Rome Feb. 27. “It’s not easy to give … [Read more...]

Turkish border closed as Christian hostages in Syria spike to 250

Rome, Italy, Feb 26, 2015 / 07:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The number of ISIS hostages in Syria has increased to at least 250 after continued attacks on Christian villages, and civilians fleeing to the Turkish border have been stranded when not allowed to cross. “There are 200 families who were running away and trying to escape to Turkey, but the border is closed for Syrians. No Syrian can cross into Turkey,” Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo told CNA Feb. 26. Archbishop Hindo … [Read more...]

Ancient Roman pilgrimage revs-up spiritual aspect of Lent

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2015 / 03:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- For pilgrims in Rome, Ash Wednesday marked not only the start of the Church’s Lenten season, but also a traditional Lenten pilgrimage that helps offer a more spiritual outlook on the journey toward Easter. “It’s incredible. It’s an experience I never thought I would be able to have. It’s still hard to believe – I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not just back in the states, I’m not … [Read more...]

Vatican: Pope’s ‘Mexicanization’ comment not intended to offend

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2015 / 11:02 am (CNA).- The Vatican on Wednesday issued a statement clarifying a private comment made by Pope Francis to a friend warning that his native Argentina was in danger of a “Mexicanization” by drug traffickers. “The Pope did not in any way intend to offend the Mexican population, for whom he holds special affection, nor to underestimate the commitment of the Mexican government in its fight against narco-trafficking,” Vatican spokesman … [Read more...]

Vatican retirees needn’t worry for their pensions

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2015 / 02:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Thanks to a two-year increase to retirement age and other financial interventions, the Vatican's pension fund is consistent and the the funding ratio of the pension fund is 95 percent, the Holy See stated Feb. 20. The release was issued “since for some months, and amplified by press reports, alarming data has been circulating regarding the situation of the Vatican Pensions Fund and on the sustainability of honouring the … [Read more...]

Patriarch urges prayer after at least 90 Christians kidnapped in Syria

Rome, Italy, Feb 24, 2015 / 06:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With reports circulating saying that ISIS forces have kidnapped at least 90 Christians from villages in northeast Syria, Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan said prayer is the only possible response. “Let’s pray for those innocent people,” Patriarch Younan told CNA over the phone from Beirut Feb. 24. “It’s a very, let’s say, very ordinary thing to have those people with such hatred toward … [Read more...]

Swiss Guard: We are ready to defend Pope from ISIS

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2015 / 02:17 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard says the group of soldiers charged with protecting the Pope is on high alert and ready to act if any threat from ISIS materializes. “We are ready to intervene. Our job is security. and as gendarmes we are well organized. We are ready if anything happens,” said Cristoph Graf. At age 54, Graf is married with two children. Yet he and the other members of the Swiss Guard are willing … [Read more...]