Fr Stephen Smuts

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Vatican Denies Report Pope Francis Has A Brain Tumor

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This in via Reuters: 

Pope Francis speaks as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

The Vatican denied on Wednesday an Italian media report that Pope Francis has a benign brain tumor.

“The circulation of entirely unfounded news regarding the health of the Holy Father by an Italian newspaper is gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention,” chief Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

“Furthermore, as is clearly evident, the pope is carrying out his very intense activity in a totally normal way,” he said.

Francis later held his weekly general audience before tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square and was due to return to a three-week gathering of Roman Catholic bishops from around the world, which he has been attending daily.

The newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale, a national paper based in central Italy, reported on its front page on Wednesday that a Japanese doctor and his team had secretly flown from Tuscany to the Vatican on a helicopter bearing the Vatican’s white-and-yellow flag to examine the pope “some months ago”.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 21, 2015 at 14:41

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New York Post Changes Its Name To: New York Pope

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Albeit for just a day.

The New York Post has become The New York Pope…

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

September 26, 2015 at 23:02

Pope Francis Addressed the U.S. Congress Today

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And you can read or listen to his full address here.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face…

Pope Francis addressing the U.S. Congress - AP

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

September 24, 2015 at 19:46

Middle East Patriarchs Meet Diplomats : Call for Wiping Out Terrorists

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Via OCP News:

BEIRUT (CNS) — Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of the Middle East denounced attacks on Christians and called upon the international community to work toward eradicating terrorist groups.
The patriarchs met Aug. 27 at the Maronite Catholic patriarchate at Bkerke, north of Beirut, for a special summit to address the crisis in the region. They were later joined by the United Nations’ special coordinator in Lebanon and the ambassadors of the five permanent member-countries of the U.N. Security Council.
“The very existence of Christians is at stake in several Arab countries — notably in Iraq, Syria and Egypt — where they have been exposed to heinous crimes, forcing them to flee,” the patriarchs said in a statement after the summit and meeting with diplomats.
They lamented the indifference of both Islamic authorities and the international community over attacks against Christians, who have been in the region for 2,000 years.
“What is painful is the absence of a stance by Islamic authorities, and the international community has not adopted a strict stance either,” the patriarchs said.
“We call for issuing a fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) that forbids attacks against others,” they said.
“The international community cannot keep silent about the existence of the so-called ISIS,” the patriarchs said, referring to the Islamic State. “They should put an end to all extremist terrorist groups and criminalize aggression against Christians and their properties.”
The prelates’ meeting was a follow-up to their first summit Aug. 7. It also follows a trip by several of them to Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, to give moral and spiritual support to the flood of Iraqi minorities driven from the Ninevah Plain by the Islamic State militants.
The prelates stressed the need for cutting off the sources of terrorism and called on the world’s major powers to deprive extremist groups of resources by compelling countries financing them to stop their support.
Solutions to the Islamic State crisis must involve “dealing with the reasons that produced the miseries in the Middle East,” and harmony must be restored between the components of these countries, they said.
“The international community must act and eradicate” the Islamic State, the patriarchs said. “This is required from the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council.”
“We must stop using extremists, terrorists and mercenaries and (stop) supporting, financing and arming them,” they said.
They also stressed “the necessity of working to liberate the towns of Ninevah and facilitate the return of the displaced to their homes, in addition to ensuring the security of these towns with local and international guarantees to prevent displacement.”
The patriarchs denounced the “bleeding” that continues in Syria and said the conflict there must be solved by “dialogue and through a political solution.” They criticized the international community for not resolving the April 2013 kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops in Syria.
The prelates applauded the region’s Christians, who “are committed to the values of the Gospel and the teachings of Christ” exemplified in their relationships with others, “including their Muslim brothers, who live with them in the same nations.”

Read on here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 30, 2014 at 14:09

Vatican Rejects Reports About Papal Assassination Plans

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Italian press report has claimed that Islamist terrorists were preparing to assassinate Pope Francis – Vatican spokesman Lombardi: “The Vatican does not harbor special concerns in this direction”

Vatican City ( The Vatican has denied a report according to which Islamist terrorists were preparing an assassination attempt on Pope Francis. This lacks foundation, in the words of Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi. “There is nothing to be taken seriously. The Vatican does not harbor special concerns in this direction,” as the media quoted him on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Italian daily newspaper “Il Tempo” spread rumors, that fighters of the terrorist militia “Islamic State” were planning an attack on the Pope. Referring to Israeli sources, it was said that their leader, the self-styled “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had ordered attacks in Europe and in particular against Francis as “the greatest representative of the Christian Religion” and “support of false truth”.

Currently, the jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq, are coming to Italy, militia mingled with the numerous refugees coming across the Mediterranean. Last week the Italian media reported that Italy is reinforcing its security measures. But a concrete suspicion of terrorism did not exist.

During the general audience on 13 May 1981 in St. Peter’s Square Ali Agca, surrounded by about 15,000 people, made ​​an attempt on John Paul II. The Pope barely survived.  There is still nothing certain known about the actual motivations and instigators of the Turkish-Muslim assassin. This assassination-Shirt by Pope John Paul II. (Rome Reports, Eng.)



Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 27, 2014 at 21:39

Pope Francis Donates $1 Million to Iraqi Refugees

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has given $1 million as a personal contribution to help Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq who have been forced from their homes, according to his personal envoy to the country.
Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, visited Erbil as Pope Francis’ envoy from Aug. 12-20.
Erbil, where more than 70,000 Christians have fled from the Islamic State, is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan and is within 50 miles of territory held by the Islamic State.
Cardinal Filoni met in private with Pope Francis the day after he returned to Rome and spoke to CNA Aug. 22.
Cardinal Filoni said he carried with him one-tenth of the Pope’s contribution and that “75% of the money was delivered to Catholics and the remaining 25% to the Yazidi community.”
The Islamic State is a recently established caliphate that has persecuted all non-Sunnis in its territory, which extends across swaths of Iraq and Syria.
“Pope Francis gave me a humanitarian mission, not a diplomatic mission, and this is what I always emphasized to Iraqi authorities,” Cardinal Filoni said.
The Pope’s decision to send a personal envoy to Iraq, the cardinal said, “meant to me that, if he had been able to go, he would have.”
Cardinal Filoni recounted that Pope Francis entrusted him with letters for Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and Iraqi President Fuad Masum, presenting him “as his personal envoy and expressing his concern for what Christians and minorities in general are suffering, because they have been uprooted from their lands and persecuted.”
The Islamic State has forced more than 1.2 million Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims from their homes in Iraq, under threat of death or heavy fines if they do not convert.
In the face of such violence, Cardinal Filoni said intervention to stop the aggressor is a legitimate option.
“The Church does not back any war. The right to defend one’s self is legitimate. But our Christians in Iraq have no arms. Therefore, it is necessary that someone — in this case, the legitimate authorities of the country — should defend minorities, especially those most in danger.”

Read more here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 25, 2014 at 20:50

North Korea Fires Projectiles As Pope Makes Historic South Korean Visit

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In the Huff Po:

North Korea fired three short-range projectiles into the sea less than an hour before Pope Francis arrived Thursday for the first papal visit to South Korea in 25 years, South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

The apparent test firing was conducted from Wonsan on the North’s east coast and flew about 220 kilometers (135 miles), according to a ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office policy. North Korea has a long history of raising itself to the top of its neighbors’ and Washington’s list of concerns.

North Korea this year has conducted an unusually large number of missile and artillery test firings. Pyongyang has expressed anger over ongoing annual military drills between the United States and South Korea.

Early Thursday, on a dispatch carried by Pyongyang’s official news agency KCNA, North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea urged Seoul to scrap the joint U.S.-South Korea drills expected to start in coming days.

The type of projectile has yet to be determined. North Korea did not declare a no-sail zone before firing the projectiles.



Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 14, 2014 at 11:42


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