TIME Vatican

Pope Declares ‘Zero Tolerance’ Sex-Abuse Policy

Pope Francis prays as he holds an envelope before placing it in one of the cracks between the stones of the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem on May 26, 2014 Andrew Medichini—AP

Pope Francis plans to meet with sex-abuse victims next month

Pope Francis announced on Monday that he would meet with a group of sex-abuse victims at the Vatican. He declared that there would now be a “zero tolerance” policy for any members of the clergy who sexually violate children. The Pope went on to reveal that three bishops are under investigation by the Vatican for abuse of children (or for aiding in the systemic cover-up).

The Pope has previously been criticized by victims of assault for not reaching out to them. He has spent time with those who have suffered, but not at the hands of the church. The Pope plans to meet with six victims early next month and attend Mass with them.

‘‘On this issue we must go forward, forward. Zero tolerance,’’ Francis said to a group of reporters as he returned from his trip to the Holy Land. He called abuse of children an “ugly” crime that betrays God, according to the Associated Press.

[AP]

TIME Pope Francis

Pope Makes Mideast Leaders a Peace Offer They Couldn’t Refuse

Francis' invitation to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to pray together at the Vatican exploits their one shared desire: To avoid painful specifics

By inviting the president of Israel and the head of the Palestinian Authority to his Vatican home for a “prayer for peace,” Pope Francis picks up where Secretary of State John Kerry left off—using moral suasion to bring the two famously recalcitrant sides together in the same room. But in this case, Francis is leaving out the Israeli leader who matters most.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as head of government, is the key decision-maker in any peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Yet the Pope’s invitation from a Bethlehem mass on Sunday was extended not to Netanyahu but to Shimon Peres, the famously dovish 90-year-old statesman whose seven-year term in the largely symbolic office of president expires in two months.

Peres readily accepted the Pope’s invitation to travel to the Vatican for “a heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace,” as Francis put it. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said a quick yes, too. That puts together in a room two men of peace who routinely voice the need for a two-state solution to the as-yet-intractable conflict–and who, according to contemporaneous news reports, met discreetly several times in 2011.

As Peres tells it, he and Abbas came within a whisker of fashioning an agreement that would have resolved the matter by agreeing on the terms for fashioning a state called “Palestine” beside Israel.

But Netanyahu forbad Peres from closing the deal, according to Peres, who recounted the tortured history earlier this month to an Israeli television station, shortly after the apparent collapse of the Kerry negotiations.

And while there is nothing at all wrong with prayer, least of all for peace, the Pope’s invitation truly was one that neither side could refuse. The Israelis and Palestinians have been talking so long about peace – 20 years now, since the breakthrough known as the Oslo Accords that introduced then then-exciting idea of sitting down face-to-face with the enemy – that to be seen rejecting talks is to be viewed as the villain.

Both sides have strong incentives to be perceived as inclined toward an agreement, and both sides have strong incentives to avoid the particulars required to produce one. Which is why an invitation to keep things as vague as praying for peace is something of a godsend, especially coming from the most charismatic religious figure in the world. Where’s the downside in that?

None that’s apparent. But only a fool would rule out this Pope. After barely a year in office, the Argentine Francis has shown himself nothing if not a man of this world, shrewd, and deeply committed to challenging the status quo. It was en route through Bethlehem to the mass where he delivered his seemingly airy invitation that Francis made his unscheduled, quietly thrilling stop at the Separation Barrier. He prayed in silence, and briefly touched his head against the gritty concrete, possibly the way a ram does, in warning.

 

TIME Jordan

Pope Calls for Peace in Syria During Historic Holy Land Trip

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Pope Francis leaves the Amman stadium after celebrating a mass on May 24, 2014 in the Jordanian capital. Patrick Baz—AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis commended Jordan's commitment to "lasting peace for the entire region" during his first trip to the Holy Land as pope

Pope Francis called for a peaceful end to Syria’s three-year-old civil war during a Saturday stop in Jordan on his first Holy Land trip as pope.

“This great goal urgently requires that a peaceful solution be found to the crisis in Syria, as well as a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said alongside Jordan’s King Abdullah II in remarks that departed from the script, Reuters reports.

The pope also commended Abdullah for his efforts in seeking “lasting peace for the entire region.” Millions of Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan and other nearby countries during Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 160,000 people so far.

Pope Francis also addressed the conflict during Friday mass at the International Stadium in Amman.

“Peace is not something which can be bought; it is a gift to be sought patiently and to be ‘crafted’ through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives,” he said.”I also embrace with affection the many Christian refugees from Palestine, Syria and Iraq: please bring my greeting to your families and communities, and assure them of my closeness.”

Christians in the area hope Pope Francis’ visit will bring hope to the region’s declining Christian minority.

[Reuters]

TIME Pope Francis

Pope Francis Kicks Off Holy Land Visit in Jordan

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Pope Francis blesses the crowd before celebrating a mass at the Amman stadium in the Jordanian capital on May 24, 2014. Khalil Mazraawi—AFP/Getty Images

The Pontiff's historic, three-day journey to the Middle East begins with a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman. In a papal first, he is traveling with both a rabbi and an imam

Pope Francis arrived in Amman, Jordan on Saturday morning, kicking off a jam-packed three-day trip to the Holy Land.

In his first official visit to the region, the Pontiff will meet with King Abdullah II, then celebrate mass at the International Stadium, visit the site of Jesus’ baptism, and meet with refugees from neighboring Syria and Iraq. On Sunday, he will take a helicopter to Bethlehem in the West Bank, then head to Jerusalem later that night.

As TIME’s Elizabeth Dias writes, the Pontiff’s reputation as a trend-bucker will be on display throughout the trip. He has refused to use a bulletproof car and is traveling with an imam and a rabbi, marking the first time an official papal delegation has included members of other faiths.

The Pope’s visit is under particular scrutiny from Palestinians, many of whom are Christian, who are hoping that he will spotlight the Israeli occupation. Francis has emphasized that the pilgrimage to the region is for “strictly religious” purposes, but his decision to fly directly into the West Bank rather than go through Israel’s security barrier from Jerusalem has already drawn note.

“We feel he has been able to speak about the poor in Latin America,” Naim Ateek, an Anglican priest, told TIME ahead of the trip. “Now we would like to see him speak about the oppressed in Palestine.”

Christians in the region are also hoping that the Pope’s visit might rejuvenate the dwindling minority of Christians in the region.

But the Pope, who was TIME’s Person of The Year in 2013, is set to meet with representatives of many faiths and groups. He is expected to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

TIME World

Pope Francis Says He Would Baptize Martians If They Asked

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Andreas Solaro / AFP / Getty Images

And then he'd probably take a selfie with them afterwards

In a homily delivered Monday, Pope Francis said he’d totally baptize Martians if they showed up at the Vatican demanding to be baptized.

He was trying to illustrate the point that everyone has the right to receive the Holy Spirit — even aliens from faraway planets.

If tomorrow, for example, an expedition of Martians arrives and some of them come to us … and if one of them says: ‘Me, I want to be baptized!’, what would happen?” the pontiff said, according to AFP.

He defined these hypothetical beings as “green men, with a long nose and big ears, like children draw.” For extra emphasis, he added, “Who are we to close doors?”

TIME Vatican

Pope Francis to World: Redistribute The Wealth

Pope meets Ban Ki-moon in Vatican
Pope Francis meets UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and members of UN System Chief Executives Board for the biannual meeting on strategic coordination in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on May 9, 2014. Osservatore Romano/EPA

Pope Francis reaffirmed his plea on Friday for world leaders to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor during an address before top U.N. officials and called for a global initiative to reduce the income gap

Pope Francis on Friday renewed his call on global leaders to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.

Francis made his plea during an address to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other U.N. leaders gathered in Rome for an audience with the pope, CBS News reports.

Railing against an “economy of exclusion,” Francis called for a state-led global initiative to close the widening gap between rich and poor through redistribution.

Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustices and resisting the economy of exclusion, the throwaway culture and the culture of death which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted,” Francis said.

The comments were in keeping with the Pope’s previous critiques of income inequality at the World Economic Forum in January and in a private March meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Pope and Ban skirted the issue of an ongoing U.N. investigation into the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse cases and briefly touched upon the Catholic church’s stances on birth control and abortion.

[CBS News]

TIME Vatican

Vatican Reveals It Punished Thousands of Priests For Sex Abuse

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The Vatican's Ambassador to the United Nations Monsignor Silvano Tomasi (R) gestures next to Vatican Secretary of State Professor Vincenzo Buonomo (L) during a hearing before the United Nations (UN) Committee Against Torture on May 5, 2014, in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI—AFP/Getty Images

The Vatican's ambassador released comprehensive figures during the second day of grilling by a U.N. committee that monitors an international convention against torture, claiming to have defrocked hundreds and sanctioned thousands of priests in the last decade

The Vatican on Tuesday revealed a rare, year-by-year tally of how many priests it had disciplined over the past decade for alleged sexual abuses against children.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a Vatican ambassador, revealed to a United Nations committee that the Vatican had defrocked a total of 848 priests and sanctioned another 2,572 over the last 10 years, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A U.N. committee charged with monitoring an international convention against torture has been investigating whether the Vatican’s senior officials are liable for the abuses, and whether it constitutes torture under the terms of the treaty.

[WSJ]

TIME Vatican

Papal Commission Wants Abusive Priests Held to Account

A church commission investigating child sex abuse called for the establishment of "clear and effective protocols" for dealing with the problem and says that all clerics proven guilty of sex abuse or negligence will be held accountable, regardless of rank

A commission set up to advise Pope Francis on the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church will recommend that negligent and accused church officials be held accountable no matter their rank, a cardinal said Saturday.

“Our concern is to make sure that there are clear and effective protocols to deal with superiors in the church who have not fulfilled their obligations to protect children,” Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley said. Accountability should apply to “every one in the church regardless of what their status is … both for those who perpetrate the crime of sexual abuse and those who are negligent in child protection.”

The eight-person commission, made up of four men and four women, met for the first time since the commission’s March formation, Reuters reported. The commission said in a statement that it sees “ensuring accountability in the Church as especially important.”

The commission will draw up protocols for the pope to consider in order to address the frequent cases of child abuse over the years within the church. In many cases, bishops have protected accused priests by moving them between parishes rather than handing them over to the police or defrocking them.

Pope Francis asked for forgiveness last month for the “evil” committed by priests who have molested children.

[Reuters]

 

 

TIME

Thousands Gather for Canonization Mass

800,000 people descended on St. Peter's Square Sunday to bear witness to Popes John XXIII and John Paul II becoming saints

TIME TIME 100

The Most Surprising Photos of Pope Francis

In his short time in the papacy, TIME 100 honoree Pope Francis has led by example, attending to the poor, embracing the sick and washing the feet of the less fortunate

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