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In front of a crowd of thousands yesterday, Pope Francis delivered an Easter message of peace while praying for those suffering from violence around the world. He asked God to "help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.” He also individually prayed for the people of Syria, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Iraq, Venezuela, South Sudan and Ukraine, who are all embroiled in on-going conflicts. Pope Francis reminded believers on Easter, that part of the calling of Christians is "leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life's troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast" ... Discuss

 

While speaking to the organization, the International Catholic Child Bureau, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the child abuse scandal at the hands of priest that has rocked the church and devastated victims around the world. He was quoted on Vatican Radio saying,

I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests—quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests—to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children. The church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children.

Though they are some of the most strong words used by the Pope when addressing the priest abuse, some groups say that without more action, the apology is not enough. The group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has told CNN and The Daily Beast that they believe that the Vatican—and a commission started by Pope Francis to address the abuse—could be doing more to prevent on-going abuse, improve transparency and punish those responsible ... Discuss

 

Pope Francis continued to break with typical papal protocol this weekend, shocking a congregation in St. Basilica by confessing his sins to a priest in front of the church. After concluding his sermon—which dealt with the sinfulness of man and importance of confession—Pope Francis surprised those in attendance by walking to a confessional booth and kneeling in front of the ordinary priest. According to the AP, “Francis, solemn-faced, then rose and started hearing confessions himself” ... Discuss

 

For the first time since Pope Francis has been the leader of the Catholic Church, he is meeting with President Obama. The president was invited to the Vatican to discuss a variety of issues with the pope today, and though Obama has expressed admiration for Pope Francis, there’s speculation that the meeting may become touchy at times.

Officials from both sides have said that the conversation will be focused on topics of shared values and priorities, but prior to the visit, Vatican Radio—which, according to USA Today “is considered an official organ of communication for the church“— released a story addressing U.S. policy issues at odds with Vatican teaching. It said that the meeting "will take place in the content of a complex phase of the administration's relations of the Church of the United States, marked, in particular, by controversy on the implementation of health care reform having to do with the rules on mandatory health care coverage of sterilization, contraception, and abortion; and on other issues at the center of the public debate in the United States, such as the legalization of homosexual marriages” ... Discuss

 

Fortune magazine has released their list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” and none other than Pope Francis ranked at No. 1. Though the criteria of the rankings weren’t totally clear, the magazine does make a pretty compelling case for most of the individuals that made their list. Along with several semi-famous CEOs and politicians, business mogul and philanthropist Warren Buffet, actress and activist Angelina Jolie, U2 frontman and anti-AIDS crusader Bono and Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi were also among the figures honored ... Discuss

 

Despite an offer for a private screening, Pope Francis has not watched Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic Noah. He did however finally meet the director and star Russell Crowe, offering a blessing to the filmmaking team. The group was invited to an “invitation-only section of St. Peter’s Square” where they briefly met with Pope Francis and stayed to hear his message to the crowd gathered at the Vatican. For weeks, Crowe had been lobbying the pope on Twitter to watch the film, but even though that seems unlikely, Crowe was appreciative for the encounter, tweeting that it was “a privilege” to be introduced Pope Francis in person and hear him speak ... Discuss