This week Pope Francis is making his first trip to Africa in his as leader of the Catholic church. While mass excitement is building in the three host countries, Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic (CAR),among people of all religions not everyone is in the mood to celebrate.
On June 18, Pope Francis issued Laudato Si, the first ever encyclical about ecology, which promises to be a highly influential document for years to come. The encyclical, which is the most authoritative teaching document a Pope can issue, delivered a strong message addressing the moral dimension of the severe ecological crisis we have caused with our “throwaway culture” and general disregard for our common home, the Earth.
Judging by his recent public pronouncements - including on reproductive health, biodiversity, the creation of a Palestinian state, the political legitimacy of Cuba and now climate change – Pope Francis may upstage more than 150 world leaders when he addresses the United Nations, come September.
My country, the Philippines, is one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Even though we are among those countries that hardly contributed emissions and benefited least from burning fossil fuels, we find ourselves at the frontline of the climate crisis.
Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Latin America are taking the first steps towards grouping together in order to bolster their search for justice – a struggle where they have found a new ally: filmmaking.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups in Central and Eastern Europe, which still faced mixed prospects as they fight for rights and acceptance, are now taking some heart from the “failure” of a referendum in Slovakia, a member of the European Union.
I recently visited Assisi, the home of St. Francis and St. Clare, two great spirits whose lives have inspired us and millions of people around the world.
The migration crisis involving thousands of Central American children detained in the United States represents the loss of a generation of young people fleeing poverty, violence and insecurity in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, the countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America where violence is rife.
A mix of conservative Catholicism and nationalism has become the predominant view in Polish public debate, with some worrying effects.
"No one can stop me from working for migrants' rights, because no one is above my own conscience," said Mexican Catholic priest Alejandro Solalinde.
“The rivalry between our countries is over: if the pope is Argentine then God is Brazilian,” Francis joked when journalists asked him why he was so beloved in this country, where millions came out to see him, despite the historic football rivalry between South America’s two giants.
Pope Francis' first overseas trip, to Brazil, the country with the largest number of Catholics in the world, was marked with setbacks, disorganisation and lack of infrastructure for an event that brought half a million pilgrims to the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Human rights groups are calling for the Committee on the Rights of the Child to bring the Mexican state to account, as it has done in other countries, for failing to investigate widespread reports of sexual abuse of minors in Catholic institutions.
The Catholic Church has become sclerotic and is afraid of facing the issues of post-modernity, Brazilian theologian Frei Betto says, although he hopes that Francis, the first Latin American pope, will inspire it to renew its emphasis on social issues and the defence of the poor.
Conservative sectors in Nicaragua have launched an offensive against the Comprehensive Law Against Violence Toward Women, seeking amendments including an obligation for women victims to negotiate with their abusers, human rights groups reported.
For homeless youth, life on the streets is brutal. They experience sky-high rates of mental health problems, substance abuse and sexual assault. But despite the fact that it costs just under 6,000 U.S. dollars to permanently end homelessness for one youth, too little is being done to help them.
Jorge Bergoglio begins his papacy as Francis I facing the challenge of a Catholic Church caught up in a burdensome contradiction with modern society, because of its negative attitude to sexuality and women.
The new pope’s choice of the name Francis, to honour the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment, has awakened the hopes of ecologists and others who are concerned about rampant consumerism and the deterioration of the planet.
Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, a leading exponent of liberation theology, the progressive current in the Latin American Catholic Church, does not believe reports that depict the new Pope Francis as collaborating with Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.
Argentine archbishop Jorge Bergoglio was selected as pope at a time when the Roman Catholic Church in this South American country is facing a rebellion by priests and laypersons who reject the role of the church leadership during the 1976-1983 dictatorship and the lack of reparations for past omissions and complicities.
No one would expect a Pope elected by an extremely conservative conclave to implement revolutionary reforms within the Catholic Church. Still, many see in the newly elected Pope Francis some signs of change.