Pope Francis didn’t need big special effects or slapstick humor to create the Super Bowl’s best—and most important—commercial. The YouTube video features the Pope giving a brief but powerful message about humanity:

Great sporting events like today's Super Bowl are highly symbolic, showing that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace.

By participating in sport, we are able to go beyond our own self interest—and in a healthy way—we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity and respect the rules.

May this year’s Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity to the world.

On Friday, Pope Francis sent incoming President Donald Trump a letter, letting him know that he is praying for him, and asking God to grant him wisdom and strength. He wrote,

Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America.

I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office.

At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation's commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.

Under your leadership, may America's stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door. With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity.

On inauguration day, he also tweeted a call to unity, reminding followers however, that it does not come from “human efforts":


This week, Pope Francis addressed the Christian communities around the world who face persecution for their beliefs. Speaking at St. Peter’s Square, he specifically mentioned Christian communities in Iraq who have been targeted by ISIS, saying

This was an example of fidelity to the Gospel. Despite trials and dangers, they courageously show that they belong to Christ … Today, we want to think of them and be close to them with our affection, our prayers and even our tears.

The pope added, “There are more Christian martyrs today than in the first centuries.” His statements echo recent research that has found that Christians are the persecuted group in the world, and regularly face executions, imprisonment and torture at the hands of radical Islamic groups like ISIS and regimes like that of North Korea and Iran. Discuss

Pope Francis hosted some special guests for lunch on Thursday. According to the Vatican, the pontiff dined with 21 Syrian refugees who have relocated in Italy from a refugee camp in Greece—some of whom were given a ride on the pope’s private plane back in April.

It sounded like a pretty touching scene. Along with dining with the Syrian families, the pope exchanged gifts with the children: He brought them toys, and they made him drawings. Discuss

In an address to reporters this weekend, Pope Francis said that the Church must apologize for how it has treated some marginalized groups in society. He singled out the gay community in his statements, while also addressing the poor, children who have been forced into labor and women.

During the interview with reporters, the pope was asked if he thinks Christians should apologize for traditionally being "very negative" about the LGBT community, especially in light of the horrific tragedy in which 49 people were killed at an Orlando gay nightclub. He was asked if this type of attitude is partly to blame for feelings of hatred against the LGBT community.

The pope said,

I will repeat what the catechism of the Church says, that they should not be discriminated against, that they should be respected, accompanied pastorally.

He added,

I think that the Church not only should apologize ... to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by [being forced to] work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons."

The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times—when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners!

Pope Francis thinks culture has a marriage problem. Responding to a question from an audience member at a conference, the pope addressed what was called a “crisis of marriage.” The leader of the Catholic church said that people today—particularly young people—don’t understand real biblical commitment.

We live in a culture of the provisional … It’s provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null. Because they say ‘yes, for the rest of my life!’ but they don’t know what they are saying. Because they have a different culture. They say it, they have good will, but they don’t know …

It’s a social issue, and how do we change this? I don’t know.

Though commenting on culture’s broad idea of commitment isn’t all that controversial, suggesting that the majority of Catholic marriages are invalid, has raised some eyebrows and caused a significant blowback among some leaders. Ross Douthat, a well-known Catholic writer for The New York Times called his statements “extraordinary, irresponsible and ridiculous.” The editor of the Catholic magazine First Things, Matthew Schmitz, said the pope was flatly "wrong and irresponsible” to call marriages “null.”

In a written transcript of the audio, the Vatican also reportedly changed the words “the great majority” to “some.” Discuss