Pope Francis Condemns the Death of George Floyd

Pope Francis is speaking out against racism…

During a speech from the Vatican on Wednesday, the 83-year-old Argentine pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church, whose full name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, condemned the death of George Floyd

Pope Francis

He directly addressed “brothers and sisters in the United States,” saying he has “witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days,” following the officer-involved death of Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minnesota.

“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,” he said. “At the same time, we have to recognize that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating.”

Floyd died in policy custody last week after a white officer knelt on his neck, sparking protests across the United States – most of them peaceful. Some demonstrations have turned violent and looting has been seen in cities nationwide. 

The Pope said nothing is gained by violence and much is lost. 

He also lead a prayer for Floyd “and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”

“Let us pray for the consolation of their grieving families and friends and let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn. May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, intercede for all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world. May God bless all of you and your families,” he prayed.

Maxwell Leads Congregation in Song at Cornerstone Baptist Church on Easter Sunday

Maxwell is celebrating Easter in big way…

The 43-year-old half-Puerto Rican R&B crooner surprised members of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Bed-Stuy, New York with an extra special Easter celebration on Sunday.

Maxwell

Maxwell, a Brooklyn native, lead the congregation with a passionate performance of Andraé Crouch’s “Let the Church Say Amen.”

In a video posted to Maxwell’s Twitter account, the singer, who was raised a devout Christian, can be heard preaching, “No matter where we go, whatever songs we write, it always comes back to God.”

Hayek Receives Olive Medal of Peace from Pope Francis

Salma Hayek has been extended a new olive medal…

Pope Francis has honored the 49-year-old Mexican actress, awarding her the Olive Medal of Peace at a Vatican event to promote the Scholas Occurrentes foundation.

Salma Hayek

In addition to Hayek, Richard Gere and George Clooney and Salma Hayek with the Olive Medal of Peace in an event.

Hayek and her fellow honorees have agreed to work as ambassadors for the foundation’s arts projects, said The Hollywood Reporter.

According to its website, Scholas is an International Organization founded in 2013 and operating under the auspices of the Vatican, which “connects technology with arts and sports in order to promote social integration and the culture of encounter for peace.”

Hayek was joined by husband Francois-Henri Pinault and daughter Valentina.

“Important values can be transmitted by celebrities,” said Lorena Bianchetti, an organizer of the event.

Pope Francis Opens Instagram Account

Pope Francis is expanding his social media network…

The 79-year-old Argentine pontiff, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has joined Instagram gaining 325,000 followers in a matter of two hours.

Pope Francis

In his first post on the photo-sharing application, the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, who holds the username @Franciscus, wrote “I am beginning a new journey, on Instagram, to walk with you along the path of mercy and the tenderness of God I want to walk with you along the way of God’s mercy and tenderness.”

He also shared an image of himself kneeling, bedecked in his white robe with the caption “Pray for me” in nine languages.

Pope Francis

Instagram is the second social media channel that the beloved Catholic leader has joined.

In 2013, Pope Francis took over both the Papacy from Pope Benedict XVI and his Twitter account (@Pontifex), which has 8.89 million followers.

He also shared the news of his most recent account on Twitter, informing his followers, “I am beginning a new journey, on Instagram, to walk with you along the path of mercy and the tenderness of God.”

Pope Francis to Make Cameo Appearance in Faith-Based Film “Beyond the Sun”

Pope Francis is ready for his close-up…

The 79-year-old Argentine pontiff, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is set to appear in the family adventure film Beyond The Sun from AMBI Pictures.

Pope Francis

It’s the first time in cinematic history that the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church will play himself in a big screen feature.

The casting came about after the pope asked the filmmakers to make a movie for children that communicates the message of Jesus.

All profits from the faith-based film will be donated to two charities, El Almendro and Los Hogares de Cristo, which help aid at-risk children and young adults in need, and are located in the Pope Francis’ home country.

The inspirational story of Beyond The Sun is based on the Gospels and told in several tales. It will focus on children from different cultures who emulate the apostles while searching for Jesus in the world around them. The filmmakers say it is intended to “spiritually engage and encourage audiences of all ages to transmit Jesus’ words, to understand them and integrate them to live a better life, make good choices and help others.”

Graciela Rodriguez wrote the screenplay. The producers are currently out to directors.

“Our excitement and gratitude toward His Holiness, Pope Francis participating in this film is beyond words. This is not just a movie for us, it’s a message, and who better to have on your side to deliver an important societal and spiritual message than the Pope… This movie will provide funds to support extremely worthwhile causes that we take very seriously. This message and cause are very dear to the entire AMBI family and we are honored and inspired by the level of collaboration from the Vatican,” says AMBI Group co-founders Andrea Iervolino.

Principal photography is slated to begin in early 2016 in Italy.

Pope Francis to Visit Colombia in 2017

Pope Francis is planning to visit Colombia next year…

The 79-year-old Argentine pontiff, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, will travel to the South American country in 2017, the president of Colombia’s Episcopal Conference, Luis Augusto Castro, announced after meeting with the pontiff at the Vatican.

Pope Francis

“The conclusions (of the meeting) are not so extraordinary but they are certain. The first is that the pope will definitely go to Colombia. He simply reaffirmed his pleasure at visiting us in Colombia,” he said.

He said the second conclusion of the meeting is that the Pope’s visit to the Latin American nation “will only be possible in the first or second quarter” of 2017, because “his agenda this year is full.”

Castro added that “the pope wants to meet with the largest possible number of Colombians who want to hear him and be with him.”

“We’re not going to pick a sanctuary in some little private place. No. He wants to be accessible to the greatest number of Colombians possible,” he told the press.

He added that it is “almost certain” he will visit Quibdo in the western province of Choco.

“He wants to meet with ethnic minorities, with those of African descent. So I believe that is settled. The rest has to be worked out,” said the head of the Episcopal Conference, who is also the archbishop of Tunja.

“The Pope wants to do so much; he told us he also wants to visit other places. He said ‘Brazil is waiting for me and Argentina is yelling.’ But Colombia is the priority,” he laughed.

As for the peace process between the Colombian government and the guerrillas, Castro Quiroga said “the pope is very interested in the matter,” but “the peace process won’t influence his visit.”

Taking part in the papal audience besides Castro were the archbishop of Bogota, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez; Msgr. Oscar Urbina Ortega, the archbishop of Villavicencio and vice president of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia; and the secretary general of the conference, Jose Daniel Falla Robles, bishop of Calama and auxiliary bishop of Cali.

Juanes to Perform for Pope Francis at World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia

Juanes is about to have an experiencia religiosa

The 42-year-old Colombian superstar will perform for Pope Francis as part of the World Meeting of Families on September 26.

Juanes

The event, which takes place every three years, will mark the first time Pope Francis visits the United States during his papacy.

Juanes joins a roster that includes Andrea Bocelli and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

“Our most important mission in this voyage of life is learning how to love, and what better way to do it than through family,” said Juanes. “I’m deeply honored to sing for Pope Francis.”

The World Meeting of Families is a triennial event that seeks to strengthen family bonds globally. In choosing who would perform at the Festival, the notion was to “bring together performers that represented the world,” said executive director Donna Crilley Farrell.

Performing for the pope has been a big goal for many acts through the years, particularly acts from predominantly Catholic Latin America.
Those who’ve performed for popes in recent memory include Gloria Estefan (for Pope John Paul II in 1995), Argentina’s Diego Torres (In 2003 for John Paul II) and Mexico’s Lucero (also for Pope John Paul II in 1997).

Last year, Argentine Martina Sotessel, who plays Violetta in the popular music-minded Argentine soap opera, sang for Pope Francis in Rome.

Pope Francis is the Subject of an Upcoming Biopic

It may be easy to learn more about Pope Francis’ story without flipping a single page…

Entitled Llamenme Francisco, an upcoming biopic is currently being filmed in Buenos Aires. It will trace the life of Jorge Mario Bergoglio from his youth in the Argentine capital all the to his election as Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Pope Francis
“We want to tell the human journey of this man who today is the greatest spiritual leader of our time,” Italian director Daniele Luchetti said during the presentation of the project.

Llamenme Francesco begins in 1963 with Bergoglio in his late 20s, depicts his life during turbulent times in Argentina, including the 1976-1983 military dictatorship and the country’s devastating 1998-2002 economic depression, and charts his rise to archbishop of Buenos Aires and eventually the papacy.

The Spanish-language film will look back at Bergoglio’s youth, showing “his path, his doubts, his mistakes, his strong points,” Luchetti said.

Rodrigo De la Serna, an Argentine actor best known for his role as Alberto Granado, future revolutionary Che Guevara’s traveling companion, in The Motorcycle Diaries, will star as the young Bergoglio in what he calls a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Argentine actress Mercedes Moran, for her part, will portray Esther Ballestrino, an exiled Paraguayan communist who – despite their differences – strikes up a friendship with Bergoglio during the dictatorship.

“The figure of the pope takes on a very human and very real dimension, and the film provides … a look at a really special historical period for us,” Moran said.

Chilean actor Sergio Hernandez, who depicts Bergoglio in the latter stages of the film, said his role is “a really big challenge.”

Argentina’s Martin Salinas wrote the screenplay, which is based on the bestselling book Francisco. El Papa de la gente by his countrywoman, journalist Evangelina Himitian.

Pope Francis Attracts Record-Breaking Crowd in the Philippines

There’s no denying Pope Francis’ influence in the Philippines…

The 76-year-old Argentine pontiff attracted an estimated 6 million people, who braved steady rain on Sunday to catch a glimpse of the leader of the Catholic Church at Manila’s Rizal Park, on his final full day in the island nation.

Pope Francis in Manila

The turnout breaks the record set by the last pontiff to say mass in the same venue – Pope John Paul II in 1995, when five people million attended, according to the Vatican.

Pope Francis dedicated his final homily of his tour to the young and urged protection for children so they aren’t tempted by sin or the devil or distracted by “promises of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes.”

“We need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to a life on the streets,” he said.

The Mass took place on the third and final day of the pope’s visit to the Philippines, whose roughly 80 million Catholics comprise about 7% of the world’s total.

The pontiff arrived Sunday on a popemobile based on the design of a jeepney, the modified U.S. Army World War II jeep that is a common means of public transport in the Philippines, wearing the same plastic yellow rain poncho handed out to the masses during his visit to the central Philippine city of Tacloban a day earlier.

The pontiff was forced to cut his trip short to Tacloban — hard-hit by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 — ahead of the approaching Tropical Storm Mekkhala. About 150,000 people, including survivors of the typhoon and of the earthquake on the island of Bohol that killed more than 200 people in October 2013, braved the approaching storm to attend Mass with the pope.

The pope’s tour, which also took him to Sri Lanka, was his second trip to Asia in five months, in a nod to the region’s growing importance for the Catholic Church as it faces declining support in Europe and the United States.

It was also the fourth papal visit to the Philippines, and the rapturous reception given to him throughout his stay cemented the nation’s status as the Church’s Asian role model.

Pope Francis: The Most Admired Living Latino in the World

Pope Francis is the most admired Latino in the world…

The 78-year-old Argentine pontiff of the Catholic Church appears on Gallup’s poll of the most admired living men and women on the planet.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis, who was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, comes in at No. 2 on the list of the most admired living men with 6% of the count, behind President Barack Obama with 19%.

Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor in March of that year.

Throughout his public life, both as an individual and a religious leader, Pope Francis has been heralded for his humility, his concern for the poor and his commitment to dialogue as a way to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, beliefs and faiths.

Pope Francis is the only Hispanic person to appear on either list.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile takes the top spot on the list of admired living women for the 13th year in a row. Oprah Winfrey ranks second.