Vatican News

Pope signs up as first World Youth Day pilgrim

Pope Francis officially opened registration for the 2016 World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland at the weekend.

Joined by a young man and a young woman, the Pope was handed a tablet where he launched the online registration.

“There, I am registered!” he said to cheers from the pilgrims and visitors. “Through this electronic device I have registered as a pilgrim to this day. Celebrated during the Year of Mercy, this day will be, in a certain sense, a jubilee of the youth, called to reflect on the theme: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will find mercy’,” the Pope said.

Francis invited the youth of world to participate, either by going to Poland or in their own communities.

Fresh plea for kidnapped Jesuit in Syria

Pope Francis has renewed his appeal for the release of Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit priest kidnapped two years ago in Syria. The Italian priest, who worked in Syria for the past 30 years, was kidnapped in July 2013 by the so-called Islamic State. Fr Dall’Oglio engaged in Christian-Muslim dialogue, notably through the monastic community he founded north of Damascus and was vocal against government repression.

In his Sunday angelus address, the Pope pointed to the second anniversary of the abduction and called for his freedom. “I make a heartfelt and urgent appeal for the freedom of this esteemed religious man,” he said.

The Pope also remembered Metropolitans Mar Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, who were abducted in April 2013 near Aleppo.

Vatican calls for progress to two-state solution

The Vatican has said it hopes a recent agreement with Palestinians can help pave the way for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine in the Holy Land.

Speaking at a United Nations Security Council debate on issues facing the Middle East, the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the UN  Archbishop Bernardito Auza said “the international community, which seems to have become accustomed to these conflicts, has not yet succeeded in working out an adequate response”.

Archbishop Auza recalled the agreement reached between the Holy See and the State of Palestine in June. He said he “hopes that this agreement may in some way be a stimulus to the achievement of the two-state solution, bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict that continues to cause suffering on both parties, and that the agreement may offer, within the complex reality of the Middle East, a good example of dialogue and cooperation”.

The June agreement cemented the Vatican’s long-standing recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Mayors for equality

After decades of world leaders trying to set global goals to address climate change and extreme poverty, city mayors gathered at the Vatican to pledge they will take real action and lead the fight on their streets.

Pope Francis told the mayors that they were important because they were at the “grassroots” and could make concrete changes and put pressure on leaders above them.

The Pope spoke briefly off-the-cuff in Spanish July 21 after more than 60 mayors attended a day-long workshop on modern slavery and climate change.