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  • There’s the sound of shuffling feet as a procession of black-robed women viewed from behind move swiftly through the shabby ruins of their convent on the way to prayer. Seven times a day, lined against two walls facing one another, they chant the daily Office. Their voices are strong, collectively beautiful, praising God and revealing not a clue of the terrible, almost unimaginable, suffering they have endured. It is Poland in 1945, the Germans have been driven out by the advancing Russian...

  • Since there has been so much conversation around Pope Francis' comments about the church offering an apology to the L.G.B.T. community I thought I would offer a little context.

    First, Pope Francis was responding to a question that referenced a comment, from a few days ago, by Cardinal Reinhold Marx, president of the German bishops' conference, who himself said that he felt the church should offer an apology since it had marginalized that community....

  • Pope Francis touched on a wide range of topics in a 57-minute press conference on the four-hour flight back from Yerevan to Rome, ranging from his views on Brexit to whether the church should say sorry to gay people for having marginalized them, and from whether Martin Luther should be rehabilitated now, 500 years after the Protestant Reformation, and whether there are now two popes in a shared papacy.

    Asked whether the church should say sorry to gays for the way it has marginalized...

  • Pope Francis is forging a new road to Christian unity through powerful gestures of humility, while waiting for formal agreements to be reached. He made one such gesture on his last day in Armenia at the end of the Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All the Armenians, Karekin II, by asking the patriarch for his blessing.

    Concluding the homily delivered during the liturgy, Francis turned to Karekin II and said, “Now, Your...

  • Ever since he arrived in Armenia on Friday, June 24, Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized the need to work for reconciliation and peace in this tinderbox region of the Caucasus, where opposing political and economic interests are laying siege to peace, with some also supplying arms for conflict.

    At the end of his second day here, participating in a major ecumenical event for peace in the main square of Yerevan attended by some 50,000 Armenians, including many young people, he...

  • Pope Francis celebrated his only public Mass in Armenia on the second day of his visit here, for some 50,000 faithful, in the Republic Square of Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city, which was hit by an earthquake almost 30 years ago.

    Throughout his foreign journeys, Francis has always sought to visit the places of suffering and meet the survivors or relatives of the victims of natural or man-made disasters. So too here in Armenia, after praying at the...

  • After praying at the national memorial to the victims of Armenian genocide, in Yerevan, on Saturday morning, June 26, Pope Francis wrote the following poignant words in the Golden Book:

    Here, I pray, with sorrow in my heart, that never again may there be tragedies like this one, and that humanity does not forget and knows how to win over evil with good.

    May God grant to the beloved Armenian people and to the whole world...

  • Twilight stretches out over an eternity during the summer solstice in the North Country of Minnesota, where I found myself this past week on a pilgrimage of sorts to Bob Dylan country. Work had brought me to Minneapolis, his brief collegiate home , and so I extended my visit for two days to fulfill a desire two decades old and drive to...

  • In a keynote speech to the authorities and the diplomatic corps on his first day in Armenia, Pope Francis recalled “the genocide” of the Armenians 100 years ago and commented that “it is so sad” that then, as with “two others” since then, “the great international powers looked the other way.” Francis delivered the last speech at the presidential palace, after paying a courtesy visit on the president.

    His use of the word “genocide” surprised journalists travelling with him as it was...

  • In the first of his six speeches during his three-day visit to Armenia, Pope Francis not only recalled the history of the world’s first Christian nation and how “faith in Christ is part of its identity,” he also emphasized that by working to reach “full unity” between the Armenian Apostolic and Roman Catholic Churches they are together giving an example to a world “marked by divisions and conflicts” that “divergences” can be settled “by dialogue and appreciation of all that unites us.”...