Pope tasks Christians on true meaning of Christmas

Pope Francis, on Sunday, at the Catholic festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, urged Christians to reflect on the “true” meaning of Christmas.

Francis made this call during his Sunday Angelus message at the Vatican City.

“Next Sunday will be Christmas Day. In the coming week, please, let’s try to find a moment to stop, be a bit quiet, and imagine the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph on their way to Bethlehem,’’ he said.

“Imagine their journey, their hardship but also their joy, their anxiety about finding a place to stay, their worry, and so on.

“Nativity scenes can help us a lot with this. Let’s try to experience the true Christmas, the Christmas of Jesus,’’ he added.

The Catholic Church has often complained about the increasing commercialisation of Christmas, which is also a secular holiday that most people associate with shopping for the exchange of gifts and big family meals.

In 2011, Francis predecessor, Benedict XVI, said in a Christmas Eve Mass: “Today, Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn, calls us to humility and simplicity’’.

Francis, who turned 80 on Saturday, also thanked all the people, who had sent him birthday wishes.

President Buhari congratulates “caring” Pope Francis on 80th birthday.

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Pope Francis as he turned 80. The President joined the Roman Catholic Church in particular and Christendom in general in celebrating the milestone in the life of the Pontiff, who he said, has shown uncommon humility, generosity and love for humanity.
In a statement signed by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, and made available to newsmen yesterday, the President said Pope Francis has lived, preached and demonstrated the tenets of the Christian faith, like Saint Francis of Assisi, who influenced the world around him by caring for the weak, the poor and helpless.

Buhari, the statement said, assured that the teachings of His Holiness on peace, love and tolerance in a world embroiled in conflicts would not be lost on leaders and will continue to resonate through many generations.
He prayed that the Almighty God grants Pope Francis longer life and good health, as he serves God and humanity, the statement said.

Pope turns down early 80th birthday wishes, says, “They bring bad luck”

Pope Francis on Wednesday quipped that people should not send him early birthday wishes because, in his native Argentina, doing so brings bad luck.


Francis turns 80 on Saturday. For the occasion, the Vatican has opened seven email accounts that can receive birthday messages in Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, German and Polish.


“I thank you all for the wishes for my upcoming birthday, thanks a lot.


“But let me tell you something that will make you laugh: In my country early birthday wishes bring bad luck,’’ the pontiff said during his weekly audience.


Meeting the faithful in the Vatican’s Paul VI’s hall, Francis was presented with a cake from a woman.


It had two lit candles, one in the shape of an “8” and another in the shape of a “0” the pope blew them out.

Women Will never Be Catholic Priests – Pope Francis

Pope Francis on Tuesday said that women will never serve as Catholic Priests.

GUARDIAN UK reports that the declaration is not a change in stance for the Argentinian pope, who has always said the door was closed on women being ordained as priests.

When pressed on the matter by a journalist, the Pope said, “Saint Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands, this stands,” Francis said in his initial response, referring to a 1994 document stating that women could never join the priesthood.

“But for ever, for ever? Never, never?” the reporter asked in a follow-up question, as the papal delegation flew back to Rome from Sweden on Tuesday.

Francis replied: “If we read carefully the declaration by St John Paul II, it is going in that direction.”



Pope Heads To Sweden To Commemorate Martin Luther

Pope Francis goes to Sweden on Monday to help start commemorations of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation, a trip that has won him praise from Lutherans but criticism from Catholic conservatives.

Martin Luther, a German, started the Reformation in 1517 when he wrote 95 theses criticizing the Catholic Church for corruption in Rome, including the buying of ecclesiastical privileges, nepotism, usury and the selling of indulgences.

It led to a violent, often political schism throughout Europe and Christianity, prompting among other things the 30 Years’ War, the destruction of English monasteries, and the burning of numerous “heretics” on both sides.

Francis is traveling to the southern Swedish city of Lund, where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947, for a joint service with Lutherans to launch Reformation commemorations that will continue throughout the world next year.

On Monday Francis and Lutheran leaders will hold an ecumenical prayer service in Lund’s Lutheran cathedral and another inter-religious event in nearby Malmo.

Last January, Francis, who is keen to continue Catholic-Lutheran dialogue, asked Protestants and other Christian Churches for forgiveness for past persecution by Catholics.

Conservative Catholics believe their Church has conceded too much to Lutherans and should not be taking part in any event that praises Luther.

Read More: reuters

What Nigerian Government Should do For 21 Released Chibok Girls – Pope Francis

Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, has identified one more thing the federal government should do to get the Chibok Girls back to normal life.

The pope emphasized that the girls need experts to rehabilitate them.

The Pope, who was represented by the President of Pontifical Mission Societies (Nigeria), Rev. Fr. George Ajana, said this during this year’s World Mission Sunday at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Abuja.

The Pope stated, “The release of the 21 Chibok girls is victory, it is a very good sign and we are thanking God for it that some of the Chibok girls were released. Nigerians have been celebrating all this while, the church joins them in the celebration and we are one with them. So, we, first of all, thank God that a few of them, just 21 were released.

“The Chibok girls need medical assistance; the government is doing that already. They have been taken to the hospital. I think they will need psychological rehabilitation. The government needs to bring in experts to stabilize them because they must have gone through a lot of trauma.

“Now, coming back, I don’t think they will be their normal selves any longer. So, the Chibok girls need to be psychologically brought back to their real life. And we need to pray for them; the church will be very happy to do that.”

Pope Slams Transgender Teachings, Says It’s Against Nature

Pope Francis reaffirmed his disagreement with teaching gender identity in schools on Sunday, after earlier calling it a “war against marriage.”

On a return flight to Rome at the end of a three-day trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Pope recounted a meeting with a French father whose young son wanted to be a girl after reading about it in a textbook.
“This is against nature,” he said. “It is one thing when someone has this tendency … and it is another matter to teach this in school.”
“To change the mentality — I call this ideological colonization,” the Pope said.
The Pope said he still spends time with transgender people, leading them closer to God.
In August, the Pope called the teaching of gender identity theory “terrible.”
“Today, in schools they are teaching this to children — to children! — that everyone can choose their gender,” Pope Francis said.
New Ways Ministry, a Catholic LGBT advocacy group, criticized those remarks.
“The pontiff’s remarks are further evidence that church officials need desperately to educate themselves about the lives and experiences of LGBT people,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry.
“Nobody chooses a gender identity. They discover it.”
Read More: cnn

Those Bombing #Aleppo ‘Must Answer To God’- Pope

Pope Francis has decried the bombing of Aleppo in Syria, saying those responsible for killing civilians will have to answer to God.

Speaking at his public audience in St Peter’s Square in Rome, he called it “an already martyred city, where everybody is dying”.

Russian-backed Syrian government forces have launched a fierce campaign to take back rebel-held parts of Aleppo.

Airstrikes continued to hit the besieged northern city overnight.

Pope Francis urged all sides to “commit themselves with all their strength to protect civilians”.

“This is an imperative and urgent obligation. I appeal to the consciences of those responsible for the bombings, who will one day will have to account to God,” he said.

Read More: BBC

Emir Sanusi Meets Pope Francis In Italy

The Emir of Kano His Highness M. Sanusi II, met with His Holiness Pope Francis yesterday in Assisi, Italy….The Pope Francis who took part in the final meeting of the World Day of Prayer for Peace on Tuesday, 20 September -was very excited to meet the Islamic leader.

The World Day of Prayer for Peace has concluded the 3-day event which saw the participation of over 450 religious leaders of different faiths who gathered to pray for peace and strengthen dialogue in the spirit of Assisi.

Islam Is Not Terrorism – Pope Francis

Pope Francis has said that Islam can not be equated with terrorism and warned that Europe was pushing its young into the hands of extremists.


“It’s not true and it’s not correct (to say) Islam is terrorism,” he told journalists on Sunday aboard the papal plane during the return journey from a trip to Poland.


“I don’t think it is right to equate Islam with violence”.


Francis defended his decision not to name Islam when condemning the brutal jihadist murder of a Catholic priest in France in the latest of a string of recent attacks in Europe claimed by the Islamic State group.


“In almost every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists. We have them too.”


“If I have to talk about Islamic violence I have to talk about Christian violence. Every day in the newspapers I see violence in Italy, someone kills his girlfriend, another kills his mother-in-law, and these are baptised Catholics.”

The pontiff was speaking after Muslims attended Catholic mass in churches around France on Sunday in solidarity and sorrow following the murder of the priest, whose throat was slit at the altar of his church.


In an echo of remarks made during his five-day trip to Poland for a Catholic youth festival, Francis said religion was not the driving force behind the violence.


“You can kill with the tongue as well as the knife,” he said, in an apparent reference to a rise in populist parties fuelling racism and xenophobia.


He said Europe should look closer to home, saying “terrorism… grows where the God of money is put first” and “where there are no other options”.


“How many of our European young have we left empty of ideals, with no work, so they turn to drugs, to alcohol, and sign up with fundamentalist groups?” he asked.

SHOCKING!! [Video] Pope Francis Falls Over During Mass In Front Of Worshippers

This is the moment Pope Francis fell over during Mass in front of a television audience of millions while visiting Poland’s holiest site.

The 79-year-old Pontiff stumbled at the altar and had to be helped to his feet as he celebrated a Mass at the at the Jasna Gora Monastery in the southern city of Czestochowa.

He was at the monastery, home to an ancient Catholic icon believed to work miracles, ahead of a trip by tram to meet young pilgrims from the world over.

Pictures captured the moment Pope Francis fell over during Mass in front of a television audience of millions while visiting Poland's holiest site 

Pictures captured the moment Pope Francis fell over during Mass in front of a television audience of millions while visiting Poland’s holiest site

The 79-year-old pontiff stumbled at the altar and had to be helped to his feet as he celebrated a mass in the souther city of Czestochowa

The 79-year-old pontiff stumbled at the altar and had to be helped to his feet as he celebrated a mass in the souther city of Czestochowa

Pictures show him tumbling to the floor next to steps leading to the altar and being helped to his feet by Vatican Master of Ceremonies, Guido Marini.

Francis suffers from sciatica, a medical condition in which pain sometimes shoots down the leg from the lower back. He was uninjured and finished the Mass in front of a television audience of millions.

The Pontiff, in Krakow to headline an international Catholic youth extravaganza, travelled to the southern city to pray before the legendary Black Madonna and say mass.

Security was tight at the hill-top shrine following a series of attacks in Europe, with a highly visible police and army presence on the roads leading into the city, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were gathered.

Francis hopped in an open-topped pope mobile for a tour through the cheering crowds.

‘We slept so little, but it’s worth it, what an atmosphere!’ said pilgrim Kate Tor, whose young sons were among the thousands of children who had camped out on the sweeping avenue leading to the monastery.

Teenagers still wrapped in sleeping bags, elderly couples perched on folding chairs outside tents and families with Francis-themed balloons were serenaded by the Argentine pope’s favourite tango music before his arrival.

Pictures show him tumbling to the floor next to steps leading to the altar and being helped to his feet by Vatican Master of Ceremonies, Guido Marini

Pictures show him tumbling to the floor next to steps leading to the altar and being helped to his feet by Vatican Master of Ceremonies, Guido Marini

The pontiff, in Krakow to headline an international Catholic youth extravaganza, travelled to the southern city to pray before the legendary Black Madonna and say mass

The pontiff, in Krakow to headline an international Catholic youth extravaganza, travelled to the southern city to pray before the legendary Black Madonna and say mass

Ambulances and fire-engines were on standby with Polish officials taking no chances with security following the jihadist murder of a priest in a French church on the eve of the five-day trip to celebrate the 2016 World Youth Day.

Arriving on Wednesday, the Argentine said the world was at war but argued that religion was not the cause, insisting the way for people to ‘overcome fear’ was to provide asylum to those fleeing war and persecution.

He was set to lead a mass to mark the 1050th anniversary of Poland’s Catholic faith at the monastery.

The Black Madonna has been venerated since 1711, when the bubonic plague decimated Warsaw’s population but stopped dead when it reached the Jasna Gora monastery in the south of the country.

Since then the figure, which legend has it was painted by Saint Luke the apostle, has been hailed as miraculous.

The Pope was helped to his feet and was uninjured despite the tumble. He went on the finish Mass, which was aired to millions on television

The Pope was helped to his feet and was uninjured despite the tumble. He went on the finish Mass, which was aired to millions on television

Francis fell onto his back on to the carpeted floor and had to be quickly helped to his feet by those around him this morning

Francis fell onto his back on to the carpeted floor and had to be quickly helped to his feet by those around him this morning

Francis fell onto his back on to the carpeted floor and had to be quickly helped to his feet by those around him this morning

Two scars on the Madonna’s face were reportedly inflicted during an attempted robbery in 1430, with the petrified thieves turning tail and fleeing when blood poured from the torn painting.

Francis will return to Krakow after the mass, where he will be presented with the keys to the city by the mayor, before jumping on to a tram which will whisk him to the sprawling Blonia meadow for his first big WYD event.

Some 15 disabled youngsters and their families will take the tram with the pontiff to the welcome ceremony, where hundreds of thousands of people will have spent the day being entertained by singers and dancers.

The pontiff had called for a minute’s silence Wednesday evening for a Polish volunteer, Maciej Szymon Cieslam, who was to have travelled with him on the tram, but had died at the start of the month after a battle with cancer.

At his first evening appearance at the window of the archbishop’s palace in Krakow, he told the thousands of youngsters gathered below that Ciesla was getting ready to party with them at the WYD in spirit.

‘Now go and do your duty, make noise all night long!’ he finished with a grin.

Watch video below:

Source – dailymail.co.uk

Pope Says Church Does Not Want ‘Dirty Money’

The Catholic Church does not want people to donate “dirty money” earned by abusing low-paid workers, Pope Francis said on Wednesday.

“Some donors come to the Church offering profits from the blood of people who have been exploited, mistreated, enslaved with badly paid work,” Francis said during his regular weekly audience with pilgrims at the Vatican.

“I will say to them: ‘Please take your money away, burn it’,” said Francis, who has made safeguarding the poor and cleaning up Vatican finances central tenets of his papacy.

“The people of God… do not need dirty money, they need hearts that are open to God’s mercy,” he said.

The pope has branded money “the dung of the devil” and condemned the evils of unbridled capitalism, prompting criticism from some U.S. business leaders.

Francis has increased the power of the Vatican’s financial intelligence authority (AIF) but the European finance watchdog Moneyval said last year the Holy See still needed to be much more aggressive in prosecuting financial crimes.

Credit: Yahoo

Pope Francis To Appear In A Hollywood Movie ‘Beyond The Sun’ ,The Vatican Confirms

Pope Francis is set to feature in a movie ‘Beyond the Sun’ which will make him officially the first Roman Catholic pope to play himself in a big screen production. The movie will be a family adventure story where children from different cultures emulate the apostles while searching for Christ in the world around them,according to AMBI Pictures,the makers of the film.

The idea for the film came from the Holy Father, who approached the filmmakers at AMBI Pictures, asking them to produce a movie that could effectively portray Gospel passages & parables to children

All proceeds from “Beyond the Sun” will go to El Almendro and Los Hogares de Cristo, charities in
Argentina that provide support for at-risk children and young adults in need. AMBI pictures co-founder Andrea Iervolino said in a statement that working with the Holy Father will be a highlight of his career. “Our excitement and gratitude toward His Holiness, Pope Francis participating in this film is beyond words.

“This is not just a movie for us, it’s a message, and who better to have on your side to deliver an important societal and spiritual message than the Pope.”

According to the Vatican,the pope won’t act in the movie, but video clips of the pope will be shown in the movie. Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigan? of the Vatican stated “video clips of the Pope could appear in the film.” ”The Pope is not an actor”

Vatican: Iran Must join Fight Against Terrorism

Pope Francis held talks with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, at the Vatican Tuesday, calling on Tehran to play a key role in stopping the spread of terrorism as Iran tries to improve its image in the global arena following an agreement on its nuclear program.
Hassan Rouhani made the first state visit to Europe by an Iranian president in almost two decades this week, following the lifting of sanctions against his country.

The pontiff warmly clasped the hand of President Hassan Rouhani in the first official call paid on a pontiff by an Iranian president since 1999. They held 40 minutes of private talks before Rouhani met with other top Vatican officials.

The talks “delved into the conclusion and application of the nuclear accord, and the important role that Iran is called upon to play, together with other countries of the region, was highlighted,” the Holy See said.

It added that that role should “foster adequate political solutions to the issues plaguing the Middle East, fighting the spread of terrorism and arms trafficking.”
The “cordial” talks also stressed common spiritual values, the statement said.

Usually it’s the pope who asks his audience to pray for him. This time, after the two men spoke with the help of Italian and Farsi language translators, it was the guest who asked the pope for prayers. “I ask you to pray for me,” Rouhani said.

The Vatican meeting was a key part of the Iranian effort to take a more prominent place on the world stage after the nuclear deal with Western powers.

Iran, which agreed to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for an end to economic sanctions, is eager to carve out a bigger role in mediating Middle East conflicts. Francis’ papacy has emphasized mediation and conflict-resolution, including his role in helping Cuba and the United States to normalize their relations.

Rouhani heads to France today on his four-day European trip seeking to boost Iran’s image abroad as well as to rehabilitate economic ties with a continent that had been a big trade partner before the sanctions.

Francis gave Rouhani a medal depicting St. Martin giving his cloak to a poor man in the cold, describing the saint’s act as “a sign of unsolicited brotherhood.”
Rouhani brought a gift of a hand-made rug that he said was made in the Iranian holy city of Qom.

Before going to the Vatican, Rouhani told a forum of business leaders in Rome that “Iran is the safest and most stable country of the entire region.”
Italy also sees Iran as a potential peacemaker in Syria’s civil war, as the Italian government fears the warfare will further destabilize Libya — just across the Mediterranean from southern Italy — fuel terrorism and jeopardize energy security.

“Italy has always backed the role of Iran as a regional player in resolving tensions in the area, starting with the Syrian crisis,” Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said after meeting his Iranian counterpart, according to his office.

Rouhani has described the political talks leading to the nuclear deal as a potential blueprint for pursuing peace in the Middle East.

Pope Meets Muslims In Mosque In Besieged Area Of Central African Republic

Pope Francis ventured into one of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods on Monday to beg Christians and Muslims to end a spiral of hate, vendetta and bloodshed that has killed thousands over the past three years. Under heavy security, Francis crossed into the PK5 neighborhood where the city of Bangui’s Muslims have been unable to leave for months because of the armed Christian militia fighters who surround the capital city’s perimeter. The pope traveled in his open-air vehicle through the neighborhood despite the security risks. Armed U.N. peacekeepers stood guard in the minarets of the mosque.

Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace.

Pope Francis, after a speech by Imam Tidiani Moussa Naibi, one of the local religious leaders trying to foster dialogue.

About 200 men seated inside the mosque welcomed Francis, who sat on a sofa. In comments to the chief imam, Francis insisted that Muslims and Christians are brothers and must behave as such. Francis removed his shoes, bowed his head and stood silently at the mihrab, or area of the mosque that faces the holy Muslim city of Mecca. The pope’s visit to the mosque marked the highlight of his three-nation African tour, with previous stops in Kenya and Uganda.

Credit: Yahoo

‘Church Is For Love’, Gay Ugandans Send Message To Pope

It is a weekend of anticipation for Uganda’s LGBTI community. For them, the doors of the church have long been closed. So when Pope Francis’ long-awaited first visit to Africa as leader of the Catholic Church brings him to Kampala on Friday, they hope that he comes bearing a message of tolerance after years of persecution, violence and, at times, death.

It is an issue that has divided the more conservative African church leaders, eager to retain a rapidly growing Catholic population, and a seemingly progressive pontiff.

Frank Mugisha is one of Uganda’s most prominent LGBTI activists and the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda. A practising Catholic, he tells Al Jazeera’s Priyanka Gupta, that the pope’s visit has brought both hope and disappointment.

He said, The Catholic Church in Uganda has been in alliance with all the other churches in condemning and discriminating against LGBTI persons. The language that preachers use and the anti-gay statements make people who are even in the closet feel discriminated against.

Church is a place for love, for refuge and for peace and support, but that support is not given to them. They feel they have been let down by the church a lot.

Ugandans are very Christian and very religious. Eighty percent of our population is Christian. If you belong to the society, you need to belong to the church. But LGBTI persons can’t. Some of them haven’t been able to reconcile their faith and their sexuality and cannot go to the church.”

Credit: Aljazeera

Pope Humbles African Leaders With Mobile Car As Politicians Arrive In Luxurious Whips

In actions and words on his first tour of the world’s poorest continent, Pope Francis has sent a message to African leaders that they could do with less pomp and a bit more humility.

In a region where presidents speed past slums in cavalcades of luxury vehicles and the public complain about corruption in high office, the pope was cheered as he drove in a small Honda and told national leaders to act with integrity.

Kenya’s prolific Twitter users were quick to notice the contrast. “Thieving politicians arrive in their SUVs and Mercs to listen to @Pontifex who will arrive in a Honda. Shameless ‘leaders’,” wrote @Kunj_Shah.

Francis, who has spurned many of the institutional perks of the Vatican, shunned the armored cars with tinted glass driven by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his entourage.

Nor did he follow the example of visitors like U.S. President Barack Obama, who turned up in Nairobi in July for an official visit with an army of security personnel and a bullet-proof limousine, dubbed “the Beast”.

Instead, the pope waved to rapturous crowds from his white popemobile with open sides despite pouring rain and was ferried around Nairobi in the Honda that local media said cost a modest 1.5 million shillings ($14,700).

“The pope is down to earth,” said Lucy Musyoka, 48, who braved a downpour to attend open-air Mass in a sodden Nairobi University sports field. “It is good for our leaders to notice.”

“They like the wealth of the world but they can’t understand the people of our country,” she said. “It is vanity.”

Credit: Reuters

Huge Crowds As Pope Celebrates First Mass In Africa

Pope Francis held his first open-air mass in Africa on Thursday with huge crowds hailing heavy rains as “God’s blessing” as they sung and danced in the Kenyan capital.

 Thousands of people queued through the night braving torrential downpours to take part in the historic mass, the first celebrated by Francis on African soil.

The 78-year-old pontiff received a tumultuous welcome as he arrived in an open-topped Popemobile, smiling and waving as worshippers cheered, ululated and raised their hands in the air.

At least 200,000 people crammed into the park at the University of Nairobi, Kenyan media said, in the pope’s first major public appearance on a six-day trip which will also take him to Uganda and Central African Republic (CAR).

“It is beautiful,” beamed a nun called Sister Rachel. “We all sat through the rain and were not worried.”

“This is a very important moment in my life because I’ve never had the chance of attending a papal mass,” said another pilgrim called Paul Ndivangu who arrived three hours before dawn after travelling 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the northern town of Nyeri.

Credit: AFP

Pope Hints Central African Republic Visit Could Be Cancelled

Pope Francis indicated on Sunday that his planned visit to the Central African Republic this month could be cancelled if violence between Christians and Muslims there worsens.

Speaking to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, he called for an end to the “cycle of violence” in the country he is scheduled to visit Nov. 28-29 as part of a trip that will also take him to Kenya and Uganda.

Francis spoke of the “trip I hope to be able to make to that nation”. He has previously simply said he would go.

A senior Vatican source said the phrasing was chosen because of the violence in the capital Bangui, where the pope is scheduled to visit a mosque in one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods.

“If the situation worsens, he will not be able to go and he is aware of that,” the source said.

Credit: Reuters

Pope Secretly Met Kim Davis Over Gay Marriage Licenses

Pope Francis secretly met a Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and gave her words of encouragement, her attorney said.

Mat Staver, attorney and founder of the Liberty Counsel, told CBS News on Tuesday night that the pope met Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her husband at the Vatican embassy in Washington last Thursday during his visit to the United States.

Vatican chief spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said he would neither confirm nor deny the report and that there would be no further statement. This was unusual for the Vatican, which normally issues either denials or confirmations.

The report of the meeting came after Francis largely avoided the contentious issue of same-sex marriage during his historic visit to the United States, where he addressed Congress, met with the homeless and urged the country to welcome immigrants.

The pope, speaking to reporters as he returned home from his 10-day trip to the U.S. and Cuba on Monday, said government officials had a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty if they felt it violated their conscience.

Staver, whose client was jailed for five days in September for refusing to comply with a judge’s order to issue the licenses in line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, told CBS his team did not want to disclose the meeting until now to avoid interfering with the pope’s broader message during his visit.

Read More: yahoo

See What Michelle Obama & Daughters Wore To Welcome Pope

Pope Francis’s touch down in Washington, D.C. may have been the biggest thing in the news Tuesday evening, but personally, I couldn’t take my eyes off off Michelle Obama, and the flaw-free outfit she’d chosen to wear for the highly photo-documented occasion.

To greet the Pope at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Obama, joined by her husband, Barack, and daughters, Malia and Sasha, dressed as appropriately and as lovely as we’ve come to expect. Her dress, by devout Catholic designer Carolina Herrera, was a baby blue, fit-and-flare, wool crepe number, with short sleeves, a ‘60s-esque high cowl neck, and matching skinny belt.

Read More: Yahoo

See Program For Pope’s Arrival In DC, White House Set For Event (PHOTOS)

First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, seems more excited than anyone about the arrival of his holiness, Pope Francis.

She shared pictures of venue arrangements and how the White House has been prepping for the big event. Here are photos she shared on Instagram, including the program for the event:






Hollywood Actress Alleges That Pope Francis Will Be Assassinated This Week

Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon has alleged that Pope Francis will be assassinated this week during his upcoming visit to the U.S. if the security operative do not act fast to avert the murder.

The head of the Catholic Church is set to make his first official trip to the country later this week, starting his tour in Washington, D.C. before heading to New York and Philadelphia.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has already promised to step up security in the Big Apple to make sure the pontiff is kept safe during his visit, but Sarandon fears the Pope may still come to harm.

She tells the New York Daily News, “I think they’re going to assassinate him. I think he’s done some
major, major cleansing of the whole system … I love this pope. He’s humble … He doesn’t live in the palatial whatever. I think he’s a pope of the people.”

De Blasio previously said of the security arrangements for Pope Francis’ visit, “[There is] a great partnership between the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI. We’re ready. We have the personnel, we have the equipment, we have the planning.”

Read Pope’s Opinion About “Fake Friends”

Pope Francis says he has felt “used” by people claiming to be his friend since he became pontiff, in a radio interview touching on the personal side of his papacy.

 “I never had so many quote-unquote ‘friends’ as now. Everyone is the pope’s friend,” Francis said in a telephone interview with radio station Milenium in his native Argentina.

“I have felt used by people who presented themselves as my friends and whom I hadn’t seen more than once or twice in my life. They have used that to their own benefit. But it’s an experience we all go through,” he told Argentine journalist Marcelo Gallardo, a real-life friend since the days when the pope was bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires.

“Friendship in the utilitarian sense — let’s see what advantage I can gain by getting close to this person and becoming friends — that pains me,” he told Gallardo in the interview, broadcast Sunday.

“Friendship is something sacred. The Bible says to have one or two friends.”

Read MoreYahoo

Pope Francis Makes Divorce Easier For Catholics

Pope Francis announced new procedures on Tuesday to make it easier for Roman Catholics to obtain marriage annulments, a change intended to streamline a process long criticized by many Catholics as too cumbersome, complicated and expensive, The New York Times reports.
Under the new rules, the process will be much faster for cases in which a couple is not contesting the annulment.
Such cases had required two separate judgments from a diocesan tribunal. Now, the process, overseen by local bishops, will require only one judgment. Moreover, the new rules require that the hearing process be held within 30 days of application, eliminating a longer waiting period.
Francis is also instructing Catholic bishops to be more welcoming to divorced or separated Catholics “who have abandoned the church.” Local dioceses will be asked to establish commissions to reach

out to couples seeking annulments.

Francis outlined the new rules in two papal letters, known in Latin as Motu Proprio, or personal administrative decrees. In speeding up the annulment process, Francis is trying to make the church more merciful and responsive to the needs of Catholics, yet he does not want to appear to be encouraging divorce.
Francis wrote that his new rules “do not favor the nullity of marriages, but the expedition of trials, as well as a just simplification.”
The Catholic Church is a misogynist tribe that officially defines women as inferior. This new supposedly forward-thinking chieftain has no…
Divorce is a topic that has long splintered many of the Catholic faithful from the church. Under church law, marriage is indissoluble, and divorce is not recognized. Yet many Catholics are divorced, especially in the Western world, and the divide between reality on the ground and church dogma has alienated many.
Many Catholics had been watching closely to see how Francis would address the issue of annulments as part of a broader debate about whether the church should allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments such as communion.
The church has long offered an annulment process in which a marriage can be declared invalid if the husband or wife can prove the union failed to meet certain requirements. In August 2014, Francis appointed a commission to study the best way to overhaul the annulment process.
The new rules allow local bishops to establish tribunals to hear annulment cases. The tribunals should consist of three members, ideally clerics, although the rules allow a bishop to appoint up to two lay members of the diocese to a tribunal.

Migrant Crisis: Pope Francis Calls On All Catholic Parishes In Europe To Take In Refugees

Pope Francis in his last Sunday address called on every European parish to host one refugee family each in a goodwill gesture that will begin in the Vatican state.

“I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to take in one family of refugees,” he said.

The Pontiff added that it is not enough to say “have courage, hang in there” to the refugees making the dangerous journey into Europe. He also said that two parishes in the Vatican will each take in a family of refugees in the coming days.

Pope Francis said the call to action is a “concrete gesture” to prepare for the extraordinary Holy Year on the theme of mercy, which will begin on December 8.

The call goes out to tens of thousands of Catholic parishes in Europe. There are more than 25,000 parishes in Italy alone, and more than 12,000 in Germany, where many of the refugees are hoping to settle. His Sunday’s comments come as Europe battles the worst refugee crisis since World War 11.

Over 350,000 refugees have already crossed into Europe and around 200,000 more are expected to arrive.

Pope Urges European Parishes To Host One Migrant Family Each

Pope Francis has appealed to every European parish and religious community to take in one migrant family each, in a gesture of solidarity. “I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to take in one family of refugees. “The Vatican’s two parishes would take in a family of refugees each in the coming days.

“Taking in migrant families was a “concrete gesture” to prepare for the extraordinary Holy Year on the theme of mercy which is due to begin on Dec. 8,’’ he said. A report on Monday from the Vatican City, noted that Francis made the appeal, at the St. Peter’s Square,Vatican, after his Sunday address, adding that he too would start in the tiny Vatican state where he lives.

Read Morevanguardngr

Pope Urged To Condemn Gay Unions As Unnatural

Nearly half a million Catholics have signed a petition urging Pope Francis to condemn same sex unions as unnatural and rule out allowing divorced believers who remarry to receive communion, organizers claim.

The Filial Appeal on the Future of the Family, launched by a group describing itself as an alliance of lay Catholics and pro-Life organisations, has also secured the backing of more than 100 senior clerics, including many bishops from the developing world and American cardinal Raymond Burke, an arch-conservative who has been sidelined within the Vatican hierarchy since Francis was elected two years ago.

According to the Appeal’s website, more than 462,700 people had, by Thursday, signed the petition, which urges Francis to uphold traditional teaching ahead of an October synod which will review how the Church relates to gay and divorced followers.

The petition claims that a first synod held last year had caused, “widespread confusion arising from the possibility that a breach has been opened within the Church that would accept adultery — by permitting divorced and then civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion — and would virtually accept even homosexual unions when such practices are categorically condemned as being contrary to divine and natural law.”

Read More: ngrguardiannews

Glamour Model Stopped From Seeing Pope Because She Wasn’t Wearing A Bra

A controversial glamour model was escorted from a public gathering to see the Pope because she was wearing a revealing top without a bra. Busty Victoria Xipolitakis, 29, from Argentina, wore just a tiny white top under blue dungarees during her attempt to get an audience with Pope Francis in Asuncion, Paraguay when he visited.

But when guards noticed what she was wearing and the public began yelling insults, security and police officer quickly escorted her away. The controversial pin-up is no stranger to attracting attention and has already been involved in two other scandals this year. See a fuller photo after the cut. Bad girl.

Sometimes It Can Be Morally Necessary For Parents To Separate – Pope Francis

Pope Francis says it may be “morally necessary” for some troubled families to split up so that the weaker partner or the children can be protected. He said this today June 24th while addressing Catholic faithfuls ahead of a global meeting on family life in October. He said;

“There are cases in which separation is inevitable. Sometimes, it can even be morally necessary, when it’s about shielding the weaker spouse or young children from the more serious wounds caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation”

He went on to say that after separations, it is important that the couple is counseled so that the ‘child does not become daddy or mummy’s hostage”. He noted that there are many families with ‘irregular situations’ in the world.

Read Pope’s Message To Buhari, Other World Leaders

Pope Francis on Thursday urged the world to act quickly to prevent “extraordinary” climate change from destroying the planet and said wealthy countries must bear responsibility for creating the problem and for solving it. In a radically worded letter addressed to every person on the planet, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics blames human greed for the critical situation “Our Sister, mother Earth” now finds itself in.

“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her,” he writes in his long-anticipated Encyclical on the environment.

Arguing that environmental damage is intimately linked to global inequality, he goes on to say that doomsday predictions can no longer be dismissed and that: “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”

Green activists hailed the charismatic Argentinian pontiff’s widely-trailed intervention as a potential game-changer in the debate over what causes global warming and how to reverse it. “Everyone, whether religious or secular, can and must respond to this clarion call for bold urgent action,”said Kumi Naido, the International Executive Director of Greenpeace.

Environmentalists hope the pope’s message will significantly increase the pressure for binding restrictions on carbon emissions to be agreed at global talks in Paris at the end of this year. But even before the official publication, climate change sceptics had dismissed the document’s argument that the phenomenon is primarily man-made and that humanity can reverse it through lifestyle changes including an early phasing-out of fossil fuels.

“I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope,” US presidential candidate Jeb Bush said on the eve of the release in comments that underlined the depth of opposition in the United States to a binding agreement to curb greenhouse gases.

Read More: vanguardngr

Pope Hails Bravery of Nigeria Priests Against Boko Haram

Pope Francis on Tuesday hailed the bravery of Nigerian priests who have stood strong in the face of Boko Haram violence and worked to build bridges with the Muslim community.

“How can we fail to remember the priests, religious men and women, missionaries and catechists (lay teachers) who, despite untold sacrifices, never abandoned their flock, but remained at their service,” the Argentinian pope said in an open letter.

“I wish here to express my heartfelt thanks to you, because in the midst of so many trials and sufferings the Church in Nigeria does not cease to witness to hospitality, mercy and forgiveness,” he said.

Read More: Yahoo

Angelina Jolie Met the Pope, Screened ‘Unbroken’ in Vatican City

Angelina Jolie received the rare honor of a private visit with Pope Francis on Thursday morning. The actress–turned–director was invited to the Vatican to screen her new film Unbroken, about former Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini. Though the 78-year-old pope wasn’t able to attend the screening, he did have a brief meeting with Jolie, who brought her daughters Shiloh and Zahara, her brother James Haven, and an interpreter.  (Brad Pitt was reportedly unable to accompany his wife due to a last-minute schedule change.) According to Business Insider, Jolie kissed the pontiff’s ring and received a rosary from him. “To be invited to screen Unbroken at The Vatican is an honor and a tribute to Louie’s legacy as a man of faith and someone who exemplified the power of forgiveness and the strength of the human spirit,” Jolie said in a statement released by Universal Pictures. The screening itself took place on Thursday at the Casina Pio IV and was attended by about 25 Vatican City residents, according to E Online.

Read More: yahoo.com

The Hut

Jake Okechukwu Effoduh Represented Nigeria at the World Economic Forum Meeting at the Vatican. He shares his experience from his meeting with the Pope.

The Hut

by Jake Okechukwu Effoduh.

Insight from the World Economic Forum meeting at the Vatican

 There is a common Igbo[1] proverb that says, ‘A man who does not leave his hut will bring nothing in.’[2] This saying describes a person with self-interest who is only concerned about the business in his hut and does not see the need to go or look outside. The hut represents a mindset. It is a way of thinking, that restricts not only the individual, but also their family and community at large.

Reflecting on this proverb reveals the potential of an increasing value to an individual and the community at large when a person is willing to go outside and bring more people in. The notion of: ‘with more people in the hut, the food gets smaller for everyone’ is a deceitful concept because with more people let inside, there will be more food. There are more resources outside therefore, more people coming in, means more resources and capacities.

“Whoever looks into a mirror in order to improve himself hasn’t really changed”. The capitalist world has looked at businesses in the same mirror for many years and the image it creates is a widening gap between the rich and the poor. Perhaps it is time to look, maybe not at the mirror anymore, but the window – to see who is outside the hut and if possible open the doors to let them in.

This reason why the World Economic Forum called together 80 leaders from around the world was to explore ways of overcoming social and economic exclusion. The event was a result of the collaboration between the Holy See (Pontifical Council for the Laity) and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, and it took place on the 18th and 19th of November 2014 in Rome, Italy. The meeting was inspired by the teachings of Pope Francis contained in the book, Evangelii Gaudium[3] and his message to participants at the Annual Meeting 2014 in Davos-Klostiers[4]. His Holiness states that, ‘Business is – in fact – a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life’[5].

Jake Okechukwu Effoduh Speaking With Chidiogo Akunyili, The Senior Manager Africa Of The Global Shapers Community As Well As, Mauro Ometto, A Global Shaper Of The Rome Hub.

Jake Effoduh Speaking With Chidiogo Akunyili, The Senior Manager Africa Of The Global Shapers Community As Well As, Mauro Ometto, A Global Shaper Of The Rome Hub.










Today, half of the largest 100 economies are companies[6]. The governments who are meant to be custodians of the ‘greater meaning’ are now losing economic power to the Fortune 500s. Businesses are more interested in profits than the ‘greater meaning in life’ and this has dragged the world to an extreme poverty trap. With a billion and a half of the world’s population living in slums, the current social inequality has resulted into a global economic dysfunction. Economic and social inequalities are the root causes of social evil. This is evidenced by Oxfam’s statistics revealing that more than half of the world’s population owns the same wealth as the richest 85 persons[7]. In other words, 85 individuals in a world of 7 billion are living in huts that can accommodate half of the world.

Participants at the Vatican meeting comprised of World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers, Young Global Leaders and Social Entrepreneurs communities. Also present were representatives from the Holy See, senior business leaders and global experts on inequality and social inclusion. We examined the drivers of inequality and explored novelties from the private and public sectors, and civil society that can help build more inclusive, entrepreneurial economies that are based on the principles of love and respect for all.

The outcome of the meeting was the creation of a new social contract for all human progress, which will provide essential resources for economic engagement, ensure well-functioning institutions, rights and responsibilities, and enable all global citizens to lead purposeful lives. The three areas to enable the realization of a new global mindset are: personal transformation, organizational transformation and cultural transformation.

Jake Effoduh Discussing With A Caucus Group As They Draft The "New Social Contract"

Jake Effoduh Discussing With The Caucus Group As They Draft The “New Social Contract”









On personal transformation: The Pope made it clear that people can make relevant contribution by placing their expertise at the service of those who are still in poverty; “The vocation of an entrepreneur is a noble work when it is led by a quest towards the broader meaning of life[8].” One hut can change the mindset of an entire community. One person can make the difference. Professor Klaus Schwab is one person. He founded the World Economic Forum in 1971[9] through inspiration from his own book, Moderne Unternehmensführung im Maschinenbau[10] – in which the stakeholder principle was first ever defined[11]. He is the same person who created the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship[12] in 1998, at a time when nobody knew what social entrepreneurship was! Two heads may be better than one, but one head is enough to inspire and commit others to improving the state of the world. Schwab’s ideology is that even if one hut (or stakeholder) may be too small, one must realize that there are those who do not have huts – and they constitute one and a half billion people.

The purport of organizational transformation is to create a new language in organizations. The language of using long term dynamism to meet short term goals; the language of leadership not rulership; the language of owning the responsibility for social transformation and human development. We have to evacuate ourselves from the circular economy of “take-make-waste” to “take-make-retake-remake-retake-remake.” Capitalism in its current model is unequivocally broken and it is going to get worse if we don’t incorporate ecological boundaries as well as the need to embrace equality in humanity. We need a world of plenty and not plenty for a few. Therefore there is need for organizations to transform their mindsets. It’s not about making profits but about making people.

Cultural transformations will only fruition with acceptance. We must work towards a system that embraces all people from all backgrounds, ensuring that each individual and group has the ability to contribute to a prosperous, purpose-driven world to their highest potential. They say what a man can do; a woman can do better. But why do women constitute 70% of the world’s poorest?[13] Anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation have an especially strong correlation with GDP per capita[14]. But do we need a business case before we advance equality? Living by the culture of your hut is like looking into the mirror to improve yourself. Stepping outside your hut will give you an opportunity to have a better perspective. Stereotypes must be unlearned.


The Podium









The new mindset is about recognizing the human dignity. It is about selflessness and sacrifice. It is ensuring that institutions exist for common good and stewardship. Businesses must be capable of feeling emotion, compassion and humanity. ‘How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?’[15]

The Qur’an instructs us to ‘give them [the poor] of the wealth of God, which He has given you’.[16] The bible says ‘whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed’[17]. Charity is a necessity in life because some of us are tested by being rich and some of us are tested by being poor, but charity is not enough. The new mindset goes beyond the thinking that the poor cannot help themselves, or that they have no capacity. Our role in helping the poor is not likened to filling up empty vessels but to ensure that the vessels are uncovered to all their potentials. There is no dignity in giving another man bread, if you are capable of teaching him how to make bread.

Social and economic exclusion is not our inescapable destiny. We can make what seems inevitable, intolerable. We need to change the mentality of “we can’t fix this world” to “we can’t have this world like this” Hence the reason why the pope calls us to action, with a sense of urgency: ‘to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it’[18].


Cross Section of Participants

At The Plenary With Participants





Speaking With Experts On Inclusion


Jake Okechukwu Effoduh is one of the 4,401 Global Shapers: A Community of exceptional young individuals under the age of 30, initiated by the World Economic Forum with currently 359 independent hubs worldwide. Jake Okechukwu is the Deputy Curator of the Abuja Global Shapers Hub, one of the 5 existing hubs in Nigeria. He was invited to The Forum’s meeting at the Vatican where he worked with a selected caucus to draft the new social contract; a framework for meeting the challenge to overcoming social and economic exclusion in the world. It was submitted to, and accepted by His Holiness Pope Francis I. Email: effoduh@gmail.com


  • [1] A tribe from the South- Eastern region of Nigeria and one of the major spoken languages in Nigeria.
  • [2] Akporobaro F.B.O and Emovon J.A Nigerian Proverbs: Meaning and Relevance Today Nigeria Magazine, Lagos, (1994), p. 113.
  • [3] His Holiness, Pope Francis I ‘Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops, Cergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World’ accessed 7th December 2014.
  • [4] The Vatican, ‘Message of Pope Francis to the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum on the occasion of the Annual Meeting 2014 at Davos-Klosters’ (17 January 2014) Vatican.
  • [5] Ibid.
  • [6] Michael Posner, former U.S Under Secretary of State, Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, July 2012
  • [7] Oxfam International, “Number of billionaires doubles since financial crisis as inequality spirals out of control”, accessed 7 December 2014.
  • [8] Ibid. (n3).
  • [9] The history of the World Economic Forum, accessed 7 December 2014.
  • [10] Meaning “Modern Management in Mechanical Engineering”
  • [11] This concept states that the management of an enterprise is not only accountable to its shareholders but must also serve the interests of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers and, more broadly, government, civil society and any others who may be affected or concerned by its operations.
  • [12] http://www.schwabfound.org
  • [13] Carly Fiona on ABC’s “This Week” January 12th 2014. accessed 7 December 2014.
  • [14] The Williams Institute, ‘The Relationship between LGBT Inclusion and Economic Development: An Analysis of Emerging Economies’ (2014) P.2.
  • [15] Ibid. (n3), P. 53.
  • [16] The Holy Quran, Verse 24:33.
  • [17] The Holy Bible; Proverbs 19:17.
  • [18] Ibid. (n4).

Pope Francis: Church Must Find Ways of Welcoming Divorced Catholics, Gays

Pope Francis said the Catholic Church must find ways of welcoming divorced and gay Catholics as part of a yearlong debate by the church’s leadership that has already exposed a split within its ranks.

In an interview with Argentine newspaper La Nación published Sunday, the pontiff addressed the turmoil his 20-month papacy has stirred with more tradition-minded groups in the church, saying it was a “good sign” that there isn’t “hidden mumbling when there is disagreement.” The pope also announced that a reorganization of the Vatican bureaucracy won’t be completed next year and said he would add visits to both Latin America and Africa to his travel schedule next year.

The comments on gays and divorced Catholics were the pope’s first public remarks since the end of the synod, or meeting of bishops, in October on problems facing the family. That meeting of nearly 200 bishops opened discussion on a range of problems affecting Catholic families, with the goal of providing better solutions on issues such as gay unions, divorce, poverty, domestic violence and polygamy.

However, sharp disagreement emerged on the church’s approach to divorced Catholics and gays. One group of bishops called for open support of gay couples and pushed for the possibility of allowing remarried Catholics to receive communion. Currently, the church denies communion to Catholics who have remarried, unless their first marriage is annulled.

Those positions—which, according to senior Vatican clerics, enjoy the support of the pope—sparked fierce opposition from more tradition-minded bishops.

Credit: Yahoo News

Pope Calls on Muslim Leaders Worldwide to Condemn Terrorism

Pope Francis on Sunday called on Muslim leaders to issue a global condemnation of terrorism, saying it would help to dispel the stereotype that equates Islam with terror.

Speaking to reporters aboard the plane as he returned from Turkey, where he condemned Islamic State insurgents several times, Francis said he made the suggestion in private talks on Friday with the country’s president, Tayyip Erdogan.

“I told the president that it would be beautiful if all Islamic leaders, whether they are political, religious or academic leaders, would speak out clearly and condemn this, because this would help the majority of Muslim people,” Francis said in answer to a reporter’s question.

“But this must come from the mouths of their leaders, from religious leaders, academic leaders, intellectuals and political leaders,” he said.

Catholic Church officials have urged Islamic leaders to speak out more forcefully against Islamic State, but the pope’s words on the plane were his most comprehensive so far.

He called for “a global condemnation (of terrorism), including from Muslims, who have their own identity and say ‘we are not that, the Koran is not that’,”.

He said he understood how Muslims were offended by the stereotype that equates Islam with terrorism.

“They say: ‘No, we are not this, the Koran is a book of peace, it is a prophetic book of peace. This is not Islam,’” he said.

Credit: Reuters

The World’s Most Powerful People

No one would call Vladimir Putin, the most powerful man in the world for the second year running, a good guy. In 2014 he strong-armed his way into possession of the Crimea and waged an ugly proxy war in neighboring Ukraine, during which an almost certainly Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile downed a civilian jetliner. But as the undisputed, unpredictable head of an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped state, no one would ever call him weak.

 Our annual ranking of the World’s 72 Most Powerful People (one for every 100 million people on the planet) is based on voting by a panel of FORBES editors, who consider things like financial resources, scope of action and the number of people they impact.

This year there are 12 newcomers, including Narendra Modi, the new Indian prime minister, at No. 15; Alibiba founder—and China’s richest man—Jack Ma (No. 30); and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the bloodthirsty Islamic State (No. 54). The top five positions are unchanged from last year, with Barack Obama remaining in second place ahead of China’s Xi Jinping.

This year’s list features 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of some $48 trillion — including the three most powerful people, Putin, Obama and Xi, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China. The 39 CEOs and chairs here control over $3.6 trillion in annual revenues. Among them are 14 founders, including the newest billionaires on the list, Alibaba’s Ma and  Tencent’s Ma Huateng (No. 53). Speaking of, this year’s class has 28 billionaires with a cumulative personal net worth valued in excess of $790 billion.

Here, a quick peek at the Most Powerful People in the World 2014:

Newcomers: Among the 12 newcomers are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi  (No. 15), Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon (No. 29), Egypt President Abdel el-Sisi (No. 51) and Mary Barra, GM CEO (No. 62). Alexey Miller, CEO of Russian gas giant Gazprom, makes a return appearance at No. 47, after dropping of the list in years past. Miller is one of a few of Putin’s inner circle who was not placed on the U.S. and Western economic sanctions list.

Credit: Yahoo News/ Forbes

We don’t need Vatican’s Affirmation, says Gay Catholic Congregation

After Roman Catholic bishops meeting at the Vatican failed to agree on the issue of homosexuality in the church, Pope Francis appeared barely able to contain his frustration, cautioning the bishops Saturday not to cling to doctrine with “hostile rigidity” and saying the next day that “God is not afraid of new things.”

Back in the U.S., Catholics in one particular congregation were even more vocal.

“I think what we should do is to stop calling the American bishops ‘bishops,’ and start calling them homophobes,” said the Rev. Joe Akus, a priest who ministers to a congregation called Dignity, a network of LGBTQ Catholics with dozens of branches and thousands of members across the country.

The two-week long conference of bishops, known as a synod, was convened to discuss a range of issues facing Catholic families. In a dramatic development midway through the assembly, a draft statement was released supporting almost-revolutionary acceptance of gays, rather than condemnation, acknowledging the “gifts” they had to offer the church.

However, following alarm expressed by conservative bishops, the language was watered down to say that “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and sensitivity,” while reaffirming that marriage is only between a man and woman. That revised paragraph failed to garner enough support to be included in the synod’s final document, though there will be another conference of bishops held on the topic a year from now, in which the debate is likely to be rekindled.

“We are paying attention (to the synod) because there is the hope that a change in at least approach will help people who are afraid, and we don’t want people to be afraid–of being gay, of being Catholic, and especially of being gay and Catholic,” said Akus. “But for us here, we’re gonna do what we’re gonna do, and what we’ve been doing here at Dignity New York for the past 42 years.”

Read More on: www.cbsnews.com