When Pope Francis visits New York City this week, he’ll have a special meal waiting for him—a custom pope pizza pie. Though it’s unclear exactly where he’ll partake in a New York slice, his friend Father Hernán Paredes has told reporters that he plans on enjoying some ‘za with the pope, and at least one pizzeria is pulling out all the stops in order to draw his business. The New York Post took these images of a intricately topped pie at Bleecker Street Pizza, which uses a variety of ingredients to create an edible version of the pope’s likeness. It almost looks too good to eat. Almost. Discuss

In his 184-page papal encyclical released today, Pope Francis had harsh words for how humanity has treated the earth. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he wrote. "Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain." Encyclicals—papal letters that represent some of the Catholic church’s most important documents—are typically addressed directly to the Catholics around the globe. But this year, the pope had a larger audience in mind, saying the letter was addressed to “every person living on this planet.”

The pope took more than a year to write the encyclical, which was released in at least five languages and cites research from dozens of scientists and scholars. In it, he acknowledged that humans are primarily at fault for the large change in global temperatures. He argued that climate change is having serious consequences, including hurting the poor, and that developed countries have a responsibility to help less developed countries take steps to fight climate change. Slowing down the destruction of the earth will take a “bold cultural revolution,” he argued, which will require people in all areas of society to combat consumerism and structural injustices and practice responsible stewardship.

"We are not God," he wrote, "The Earth was here before us and has been given to us" ... Discuss

Pope Francis is continuing his personal outreach to the homeless around Vatican City. The pontiff ordered a new, 30-bed homeless shelter to be built in the Vatican. As The Washington Post notes, it’s just the first in a series of actions to care for the homeless he’s undertaken since becoming pope: He’s installed free showers in Vatican City; paid for homeless individuals to visit the Shroud of Turin; arranged private museum tours; and even provided free shaves and haircuts ... Discuss

Pope Francis may be 77 years old, but he still believes that his message to younger generations about technology is an important one. During a sermon in Germany, the pope called the Internet a "gift from God,” but warned of the dangers of wasting your life playing with the latest gadgets, adding, “Our life is made up of time, and time is a gift from God, so it is important that it be used in good and fruitful actions.”

Maybe many young people waste too many hours on futile things … chatting on the Internet or with smartphones, watching TV soap operas, and (using) the products of technological progress, which should simplify and improve the quality of life, but distract attention away from what is really important.

The pope, who is active on Twitter himself, did praise the power of the Internet, but said it should be “a network not of wires but of people" … Discuss

While driving through a rural Italian village, Pope Francis shocked locals standing on the side of the road, by stopping his motorcade to meet a young disabled woman. The family of the woman—who was connected to a breathing machine on a stretcher—had placed signs near the highway, reading, “Please Pope stop here to see an angel who has been waiting for you. Please come and bless little Roberta." Pope Francis kissed the woman on the forehead, before shaking hands and greeting her friends and family who were their waiting with her. As the Catholic News Agency notes, a friend of Roberta’s, who witnessed the Pope’s interaction with the woman, posted on Facebook, “It was very emotional to see how Pope Francis greeted Roberta … there are gestures in life that are worth more than speeches, much more than you would think … Pope Francis is unique” ... Discuss

His Vatican reforms, teachings on helping the poor and emphasis on humility have made Pope Francis a popular figure, but a new poll has found that little has changed when it comes to actual behavior of the Catholic Church at large.

The Pew Research Center poll found that while 85 percent of American Catholics have a favorable view of Pope Francis, there has been no discernible rise in the number of Catholics who attend mass or confession. Even the overall number of people who identify as Catholic has remained pretty flat. Read More