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Pope calls for World Day of the Poor at close of mercy jubilee

In a document closing the jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis called for an annual “World Day of the Poor” to underline the church’s solidarity with the world’s suffering, and extended special faculties to forgive the sin of abortion. The pope’s document, Misericordia et Misera (Mercy and Misery), proposed ways to keep the spirit of mercy alive in all aspects of the church’s life, from the confessional to its social programs. The World Day of the Poor would be celebrated in November (on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time in the church’s liturgical year.) Pope Francis said it would help Catholics “reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel” and recall that God will judge people o

The pope’s plea against an ‘epidemic of animosity and violence’

Pope Francis created 17 new cardinals Saturday and urged them to counter the “epidemic of animosity and violence” that is spreading in the world. The pope’s message reflected his vision of a church that is more merciful than judgmental, but it also appeared to be aimed at a wider audience – including the United States. In particular, the pope described how easy it is for immigrants to be marginalized and turned into the “enemy.” “Little by little, out differences turn into symptoms of hostility, threats and violence,” he said. “In God’s heart there are no enemies. God only has sons and daughters. We are the ones who raise walls, build barriers and label people.” The pope emphasized that the

Pope calls out critics on pastoral mercy, ecumenism

Another day, another interview with Pope Francis. This one, in the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, focused on ecumenism, and the pope took the opportunity to defend his bridge-building efforts with other Christian churches. He also delivered a rebuke to those who have recently critiqued his document, Amoris Laetizia, for its opening on the question of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. Critics, he said, don’t really understand the church’s role in the world. “The church exists only as an instrument for communicating to people the merciful design of God,” he said. That was clearly enunciated by the Second Vatican Council in its document on the nature of the church, he said.

New cardinals and a soon-to-be octogenarian pope

This week Pope Francis is creating 17 new cardinals, including 13 under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in the next conclave. Next month, the pope celebrates his 80th birthday. The 80-year mark has sometimes been floated as a default age for papal retirement, but there is certainly no sign that the Argentine pope has any intention of resigning his office. Francis has said he doesn’t like the idea of an age limit for the papacy, which he believes enjoys a “special grace.” At the same time, he has said Pope Benedict’s resignation in 2013 (at the age of 85) should not be considered an exception in the modern church. It’s become increasingly clear that in choosing new cardinals, Fra

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