News / Europe

    Pope: Church Must Help Poorest, Not Dissect Theology

    Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with faithful on the occasion of a Pentecostal vigil St. Peter Square at the Vatican, May 18, 2013.
    Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with faithful on the occasion of a Pentecostal vigil St. Peter Square at the Vatican, May 18, 2013.
    Reuters
    Pope Francis shared personal moments with 200,000 people on Saturday, telling them he sometimes nods off while praying at the end of a long day and that it “breaks my heart” that the death of a homeless person is not news.
     
    Francis, who has made straight talk and simplicity a hallmark of his papacy, made his unscripted comments in answers to questions by four people at a huge international gathering of Catholic associations in St. Peter's Square.
     
    But he outdid himself in passionately discussing everything from the memory of his grandmother to his decision to become a priest, from political corruption to his worries about a Church that too often closes in on itself instead of looking outward.
     
    “If we step outside of ourselves, we will find poverty,” he said, repeating his call for Catholics to do more to seek out those on the fringes of society who need help the most, he said from the steps of St. Peter's Basilica.
     
    “Today, and it breaks my heart to say it, finding a homeless person who has died of cold, is not news,” he said. “Today, the news is scandals, that is news, but the many children who don't have food - that's not news. This is grave. We can't rest easy while things are this way.”
     
    The crowd, most of whom are already involved in charity work, interrupted him often with applause.
     
    “We cannot become starched Christians, too polite, who speak of theology calmly over tea. We have to become courageous Christians and seek out those [ho need help most],” he said.
     
    To laughter from the crowd, he described how he prays each day before an altar before going to bed.
     
    “Sometimes I doze off, the fatigue of the day makes you fall asleep, but he [God] understands,” he said.
     
    Crisis of values

     
    Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, said the world was going through not just an economic crisis but a crisis of values.
     
    “This is happening today. If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say 'what are we going to do?' but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that's nothing. This is our crisis today. A Church that is poor and for the poor has to fight this mentality,” he said.
     
    Many in the crowd planned to stay in the square overnight to pray and prepare for Francis' Mass on Sunday, when the Catholic Church marks Pentecost, the day it teaches that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles.
     
    On Saturday morning, Francis met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed Europe's economic crisis.
     
    Apparently responding to his criticism of a heartless “dictatorship of the economy” earlier in the week, Merkel, who is up for re-election in September, later called for stronger regulation of financial markets.
     
    On Thursday, Francis appealed in a speech for world financial reform, saying the global economic crisis had made life worse for millions in rich and poor countries.

    You May Like

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    Numerous national election surveys show former secretary of state defeating presumptive Republican nominee with tough talk to halt illegal immigration and temporarily block Muslims from entering country

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora