TIME Armenia

German President Enrages Turkey by Referring to 1915 Armenian ‘Genocide’

German President Joachim Gauck delivers a speech at the Berlin Cathedral Church in Berlin, Germany, April 23, 2015
Michael Sohn—AP German President Joachim Gauck delivers a speech at the Berlin Cathedral Church in Berlin, Germany, April 23, 2015

"The fate of the Armenians stands as exemplary in the history of mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide"

German President Joachim Gauck on Thursday angered Turkey by labeling the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 as a “genocide” ahead of Friday’s centennial commemoration of the event, which took place during World War I.

A day before the German parliament debates using the term “genocide” for the Armenian massacre, Gauck said, “The fate of the Armenians stands as exemplary in the history of mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide, which marked the 20th century in such a terrible way.”

However, the contentious term has sparked outcry within Turkey, which has a significant Armenian minority and officially contends that both sides suffered a heavy death toll during the war. The successor state of the Ottoman Empire, as the territory was known during 1915, has never formally acknowledged the Armenian massacre as a genocide.

On Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Dautoglu urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to exclude the genocide label in parliamentary debates. “To reduce everything to a single word, to put responsibility through generalizations on the Turkish nation alone … is legally and morally problematic,” he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Armenian deaths “our shared pain” and offered to establish a joint historical commission to examine the deaths, but fell short of acknowledging the events as a “genocide.”

“[U]sing the events of 1915 as an excuse for hostility against Turkey and turning this issue into a matter of political conflict is inadmissible,” Erdoğan said in a statement.

Pope Francis recently provoked the ire of Erdoğan for labeling the 1915 Armenian killings as the “first genocide of the 20th century.”

TIME europe

Pope Francis, U.N. Chief to Meet Next Week on Migrant Crisis

Pope Francis attends the weekly general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican on April 22, 2015.
Vandeville Eric—Sipa USA/AP Pope Francis attends the weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on April 22, 2015

The U.N. Secretary-General will meet with Pope Francis next week to discuss the growing migrant crisis

(UNITED NATIONS) — The U.N. secretary-general is urging European leaders to act swiftly to address the growing migrant crisis during their emergency summit Thursday, and he says he will discuss the issue in his audience with Pope Francis next week.

Ban Ki-moon’s letter to European Council president Donald Tusk urges European Union leaders to consider the U.N. refugee chief’s proposals for a stronger EU search and rescue operation and more legal migration channels.

“We all have a moral imperative to act swiftly,” Ban says in the letter obtained by The Associated Press. He says the “ruthless smuggling” of desperate people will continue along Europe’s southern borders will continue without political solutions to crises in the Middle East and Africa.

Ban told reporters he and Francis will discuss how to work together on it.

TIME Religion

A Bishop’s Resignation Puts All Eyes on Chile

Catholic Bishop Charged
Tammy Ljungblad—AP Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph appears during a bench trial Sept. 6, 2012 at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, Mo.

The Vatican’s announcement that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri, was just one line, released in Tuesday’s daily press bulletin. The only reason given was a provision of canon law that allows bishops to resign early due to illness or another grave cause. But everybody knew the real punch: this was the first time a pope took public action against a priest who covered up sexual abuse.

Today’s Francis fever and sky-high favorability ratings makes it easy to forget just how deeply the story of priestly sexual abuse has defined the Catholic Church in recent decades. The legacy of the scandals in the United States alone is beyond weighty — a 2004 USCCB report detailed the severity of the crisis nationwide — more than 4,000 priests faced more than 10,000 allegations of child sexual abuse from 1950-2002, with half the alleged victims between the ages of 11-14. Dioceses have shelled out millions, and in some cases hundreds of millions, of dollars to settle cases.

For many victims and Vatican watchers, Tuesday’s announcement was a long time in coming, especially since Francis made it clear from the beginning that his papacy would have a zero-tolerance policy. In February 2014, Catholics petitioned Pope Francis to take disciplinary action against Finn. Pope Francis launched an investigation into Finn in September, and in November, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who leads the Church sex abuse commission, said that the Vatican needed to “urgently” address Finn’s case. This past weekend, Irish abuse survivor and member of the sex abuse commission Marie Collins told the Catholic news site Crux, “I cannot understand how Bishop Finn is still in position, when anyone else with a conviction that he has could not run a Sunday school in a parish. He wouldn’t pass a background check.”

It is one thing for Francis to accept the resignation of a bishop who mishandled abuse allegations. It is another for him to appoint and defend one who has long been associated with similar scandal. Protests erupted in January when Francis announced he was appointing Bishop Juan Barros to lead a Chilean diocese. Barros has long been accused of covering up the sexual abuse committed by his mentor, Rev. Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican found guilty of in 2011. Members of the sex abuse commission have been speaking out in concern in this case as well. “It goes completely against what he (Francis) has said in the past about those who protect abusers,” Collins told the AP last month. “The voice of the survivors is being ignored.”

The Vatican made clear its position on the Barros appointment three weeks ago in another one-sentence statement: “The Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment.”

The lesson of Kansas City is that the Vatican takes covering up abuse seriously. Chile is the next test.

TIME Cuba

Pope Considering Cuba Stop During U.S. Trip but No Decision

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 15, 2015
Andrew Medichini—AP Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on April 15, 2015

Pope Francis has been credited with having helped the U.S. and Cuba reach their historic rapprochement

(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis is considering adding a stop in Cuba to his U.S. trip in September but no decision has been made, the Vatican said Friday.

Francis has been credited with having helped the United States and Cuba reach their historic rapprochement by writing to the leaders of both countries and having the Vatican host their delegations for the final negotiations.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Francis “is considering the idea of a Cuba leg” but that discussions with Cuba are at an early stage. He said it’s too early to say that a decision has been taken or that there is an operational plan underway.

The possibility of a Cuban stop was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Francis is scheduled to visit three U.S. cities in the last week of September. He will address Congress and meet with President Barack Obama at the White House, address the U.N. in New York and attend a church rally for families in Philadelphia.

If a Cuba stop is confirmed on either end of the U.S. trip, Francis would become the third pope to visit the island nation after the historic 1998 visit of St. John Paul II during which he said Cuba should “open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba.”

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI followed up with a 2012 trip during which he voiced the Vatican’s long-standing position that the U.S. embargo was unjust and only hurt the most vulnerable on the island.

Francis also has spoken out against the U.S. embargo while also condemning socialism.

Francis’ personal intervention in the U.S.-Cuban thaw was one of the most tangible signs that he wants the Vatican to be a greater player in international diplomacy. A more controversial intervention was his recent declaration that the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago was “genocide.”

TIME Vatican

Vatican to Host Summit on Climate Change

Pope Francis leads general audience in Vatican City
Baris Seckin—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Pope Francis arrives at St. Peter's square on April 15, 2014 to lead his weekly general audience in Vatican City, Vatican on April 15, 2015.

The move is part of Pope Francis's environmental strategy

The Vatican will host a summit on climate change and sustainability efforts later this month, officials announced on Tuesday.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will give the opening address of the “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity” event, and faith and science leaders will give speeches and participate in panels. The goal of the summit is to highlight “the intrinsic connection between respect for the environment and respect for people—especially the poor, the excluded, victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, children, and future generations,” according to the Vatican’s website.

The summit is part of a larger effort by Pope Francis to bring the Catholic Church into the conversation about sustainability and the environment. The Holy See will write a papal letter to bishops this summer about the Vatican’s position on climate change—a fitting mission for a Pope whose namesake, Francis of Assisi, is the patron saint of the environment.

TIME Vatican

Pope Francis’ Old iPad Sold for $30,500 at Auction

"May you do something good with it," the Pope said

An iPad that once belonged to Pope Francis sold for $30,500 at an auction benefiting a school in Uruguay on Tuesday.

Despite the steep going price, school officials said they repeatedly failed to sell the Apple device through famed auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s before turning to local house Castells, NBC News reports.

The iPad is inscribed with the message “His Holiness Francisco. Servizio Internet Vatican, March 2013″ and includes a certificate signed by Fabian Pedacchio Leaniz, the Pope’s secretary.

Uruguayan priest Gonzalo Aemilius, who donated the iPad to the Francisco de Paysandu high school, said that Pope Francis told him, “May you do something good with it,” when he handed it over.

[NBC News]

TIME Vatican

Pope Francis Says Church Must Listen to Women

Pope Francis blesses the faithful during his weekly general audience at the Vatican on April 15, 2015.
Vincenzo Pinto—AFP/Getty Images Pope Francis blesses the faithful during his weekly general audience at the Vatican on April 15, 2015.

Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square that the difference between men and women was "not for opposition or subordination, but for communion and creation"

Pope Francis believes “more weight and more authority must be given to women,” both in the Church and in society, he said Wednesday.

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope stressed the need for women to not only be heard but also given a “recognized authority.”

He added that this reflected the way Jesus treated women and encouraged people to work “with more creativity and boldness” toward giving women the recognition they deserve.

“We have not yet understood in depth what things the feminine genius can give us, that woman can give to society and also to us. Perhaps to see things with different eyes that complements the thoughts of men,” he said.

The 78-year old Pope also touched upon questions of gender in modern society, saying that gender theory “aims to erase sexual difference” and that the removal of the difference is “the problem, not the solution.” Instead, he said men and women are meant to be complementary and he encouraged them to “treat each other with respect and cooperate with friendship.”

TIME Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ Latest Mission: Stopping Nuclear Weapons

Pope Francis attends a private audience with President of Slovakia Andrej Kiska at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, Vatican, on April 9, 2015.
Getty Images Pope Francis attends a private audience with President of Slovakia Andrej Kiska at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, Vatican, on April 9, 2015.

The U.S. State Department is revving up its efforts to work with the Holy See

The Vatican has long opposed nuclear weapons, but Pope Francis is making the cause one of the top diplomatic priorities of his two-year-old papacy.

In December, the Vatican submitted a paper calling for total nuclear disarmament to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. In January, Pope Francis touted nuclear disarmament as a major goal alongside climate change in his speech to the Vatican’s diplomatic corps. And on Easter Sunday, he publicly prayed that the prospective multi-nation deal to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program would be “a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”

Many observers expect the Pope to raise the topic in his speech to the United Nations in September, especially as that event also commemorates the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s historic U.N. speech calling for “never again war, never again war.”

“Pope Francis has recently pushed the moral argument against nuclear weapons to a new level, not only against their use but also against their possession,” Archbishop Bernedito Auza, the Holy See’s Ambassador to the U.N., says. “Today there is no more argument, not even the argument of deterrence used during the Cold War, that could ‘minimally morally justify’ the possession of nuclear weapons. The ‘peace of a sort’ that is supposed to justify nuclear deterrence is specious and illusory.”

The Vatican push on nuclear weapons comes as the United States is in the final stages of negotiating a deal with Iran and as 190 parties that have supported the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty prepare for its five-year review. The upcoming NPT RevCon, as the U.N. treaty review conference is called, is the first NPT review during the Francis papacy, and Francis’ voice is already adding moral and political weight to the conversation. The Holy See, a party to the Treaty, has opposed the possession and use of nuclear weapons since the beginning of the nuclear age.

The Holy See is “very concerned,” Auza adds, about nuclear-capable states’ commitment to disarmament, arguing that the central promise of the treaty remains unfulfilled. “The fact that nuclear-possessing States not only have not dismantled their nuclear arsenals but are modernizing them lies at the heart of nuclear proliferation,” he says. “It perpetuates the ‘injustice’ in the NPT regime, which was supposed to be temporary while nuclear disarmament was in progress…. how could we reasonably convince the pre-NPT non-nuclear countries not to acquire or develop nuclear arms capabilities? Now, the real and present danger that non-state actors, like terrorist and extremist organizations, could acquire nuclear weapons ‘in the black market’ and ‘not-so-black market,’ ‘in the back alleys’ and ‘not-so-back alleys’ should terrify us all.”

On Thursday, two events on opposite sides of the planet signaled Pope Francis’ diplomatic reach ahead of the NPT review. In New York at the United Nations’ headquarters, the Holy See’s Mission to the U.N. and the Global Security Institute hosted a conference of diplomats and interfaith partners to promote the abolition of nuclear weapons. At the Vatican, a United States diplomatic delegation was courting Catholic Church leaders on President Obama’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller has picked up on the Vatican’s keen interest in nuclear disarmament and has made it a priority to engage the Holy See. Gottemoeller first visited the Vatican in January to discuss arms control and nonproliferation issues with several counterparts. In late March, the State Department invited the Holy See to participate as an observer in its new disarmament verification initiative, the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification. This week, Gottemoeller returned to the Vatican with Madelyn Creedon, the Department of Energy’s principal deputy administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, for a two-day diplomatic visit.

Gottemoeller’s efforts have centered on briefing the Vatican on the United States’ disarmament agenda. She has been working to reach highest-level counterparts, as well as technical experts and non-governmental experts. “President Obama from the very beginning of his term in office has been very clear that his goal is to proceed with nuclear disarmament,” she says. “People think sometimes that that is just a kind of propaganda slogan out there without a lot of ‘there’ there, so I wanted to make sure that our Vatican counterparts knew the degree to which the President’s Prague initiative has become substantively a very significant part of our national policy.”

The United States knows the political capital Pope Francis holds when it comes to national and international decision-making. Most notably, the White House credited Francis for his role in brokering the U.S.-Cuba deal in December. “I think there is a huge moral impact of the Vatican on issues that relate to nuclear weapons deterrence and the disarmament agenda overall,” Gottemoeller says. “I see it is as a confluence of interest in a very positive sense. … You can’t just wave a magic wand and make nuclear weapons go away. It takes hard work and it takes a lot of very practical steps, but we can get there, and that is the President’s message. I just hope that we will be met by patience from the community trying to work on these issues.”

For Francis, nuclear disarmament—like most everything—must be viewed from the position of the poor instead of the position of the powerful. Inequality and nuclear power are interwoven. “Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations,” Pope Francis wrote to the Vienna Humanitarian Conference in December. “To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has also been deepening its theological and political attention to disarmament. Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, spoke at the Holy See’s U.N. panel. During the NPT RevCon, the USCCB plans to sponsor an event with the Kroc Institute on evolving Catholic perspectives from nuclear deterrence to disarmament. Stephen Colecchi, director of the USCCB’s Office of International Justice and Peace, says that the USCCB is trying to move the Holy See’s moral discussion forward in the U.S.—the USCCB had a close relationship with the Administration during the time of the New START Treaty, and has continued the dialogue with Gottemoeller, who is Catholic. “We certainly urge the United States to work with Russia and we have been urging them to separate the issue of the day, which is Ukraine, from the issue of the decades, which is nuclear disarmament,” Colecchi says. “Deterrence is even less stable in a multipolar world. We might ask, Are nations, including our own, serious about nuclear disarmament if they are modernizing nuclear weapons systems?”

After a period of denuclearization in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, several states in the developing world went nuclear and events recently have further undermined the NPT. U.N. Ambassador Libran Cabactulan of the Philippines—who was the president of the previous NPT RevCon—flew in from Manila to speak at the Holy See’s event at the U.N. on Thursday. “Nothing has been achieved. Nothing much,” Cabactulan told the U.N. gathering, describing the progress of disarmament in the last five years. “What perhaps I achieved, that was calling more on temporal power, and maybe I failed, because in the order of things it’s the tally sheet, what has been done. And that is why I am gratified…to have spiritual leaders.”

Ambassador Antonio Patriota, permanent representative of Brazil to the United Nations, believes that Francis’ position will resonate during the NPT review conference. “He himself coming from South America, we feel that he has a very deep understanding of the challenges posed by inequality,” Patriota says. “His words carry quite a bit of political weight. It is a powerful message from man of high moral standing in a time when leadership is scarce.”

TIME Books

7 Inspirational Messages From Pope Francis for Easter

Loyola Press

Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

From the Pope's new book, Walking With Jesus

The most important event in the Catholic liturgy is this weekend, and Pope Francis has a new book coming out as an Easter present to his flock. The book is a collection of various sermons and speeches he has given in the last two years, on topics ranging from wisdom to poverty. Here are seven thought-provoking excerpts from Walking With Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church, out Sunday.

On faith:

In many areas of our lives we trust others who know more than we do. We trust the architect who builds our home, the pharmacist who gives us medicine for healing, the lawyer who defends us in court. We also need someone trustworthy and knowledgeable where God is concerned. Jesus, the Son of God, is the one who makes God known to us.

-From the encyclical Lumen Fidei, June 29, 2013

On knowledge:

[O]ur own knowledge and self-awareness are relational; they are linked to others who have gone before us: in the first place, our parents, who gave us our life and our name. Language itself, the words by which we make sense of our lives and the world around us, comes to us from others, preserved in the living memory of others. Self-knowledge is only possible when we share in a greater memory.”

-From the encyclical Lumen Fidei, June 29, 2013

On consumerism:

When we look only for success, pleasure and possessions and we turn these into idols, we may well have moments of exhilaration, an illusory sense of satisfaction, but ultimately we become enslaved, never satisfied, always looking for more. It is a tragic thing to see a young person who “has everything” but is weary and weak.

-From the Message for the 29th World Youth Day, Jan. 21, 2014

On compassion:

We have to learn to be on the side of the poor and not just indulge in rhetoric about the poor! Let us go out to meet them, look into their eyes, and listen to them. The poor provide us with a concrete opportunity to encounter Christ himself and to touch his suffering flesh.

-From the Message for the 29th World Youth Day, Jan. 21, 2014

On illness:

Jesus in fact taught his disciples to have the same preferential love that he did for the sick and suffering, and he transmitted to them the ability and duty to continue providing, in his name and after his own heart, relief and peace through the special grace of this sacrament [of the anointing of the sick]. This, however, should not make us fall into an obsessive search for miracles or the presumption that one can always and in any situation be healed. Rather, it is the reassurance of Jesus’ closeness to the sick.

-From a general audience, Feb. 26, 2014

On marriage:

It is true that there are so many difficulties in married life, so many, when there is insufficient work or money, when the children have problems—so much to contend with. And many times the husband and wife become a little fractious and argue between themselves. They argue, this is how it is, there is always arguing in marriage, sometimes even the plates fly. Yet we must not become saddened by this; it is the human condition. The secret is that love is stronger than the moment when they are arguing, and therefore I always advise spouses, do not let a day when you have argued end without making peace.

-From a general audience, April 2, 2014

On communication:

[C]ommunication is ultimately a human rather than a technological achievement. What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding? We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and listen.”

-From the Message for the 48th World Communication Day, Jan. 24, 2014

 

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TIME faith

Pope Francis Told to ‘Eat Less Pasta’ by Doctors

Pope Francis leads a Chrism mass for Holy Thursday on April 2, 2015 at St. Peter's basilica in Vatican.
Andreas Solaro—AFP/Getty Images Pope Francis leads a Chrism mass for Holy Thursday on April 2, 2015 at St. Peter's basilica in Vatican.

He's gained some weight in recent years

Infallibility, it appears, does not extend to the papal waistline.

Pope Francis is being warned by Italian doctors to “eat less pasta, walk more often, and lose a little weight to take some strain off his aching back,” according to the ANSA news agency.

Doctors told ANSA “that changing his eating habits, including fewer carbs and pasta only a few times per week, is needed to counter a weight gain noticed in recent years.”

The workaholic 78-year-old Francis, who’s not been shy about his love of pizza and who typically rises at 4:30 a.m. to start his busy days, also admitted in his Holy Thursday homily that he’s just exhausted.

“The tiredness of priests. Do you know how often I think about this weariness which all of you experience?” Francis said at St. Peter’s Basilica, according to another ANSA report. “I think about it and I pray about it, often, especially when I am tired myself.”

Francis was elected in March 2013, after his predecessor, Benedict, took the unprecedented step of retiring from the papacy. And last month, Francis suggested he, too, had retirement on his mind when he told the Mexican broadcast outlet Televisa that he felt his papacy would last only “four or five years … I do not know, even two or three. Two have already passed. It is a somewhat vague sensation.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

 

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