catholic church

Roman Catholic prelates in Michoacan state at last have drawn a line against local gangsters, and the officials nurturing them, further entangling what already was one of Mexico's more intractable knots of violence. But most of the Church hierarchy still seems reluctant to take a strong stand. The bishops have jumped in as the homegrown Knights Templar gang squares off against civilian militias, rival gangsters and thousands of federal troops across the Pacific Coast state.

When Matteo Ricci walked the streets of Beijing more than 400 years ago, he was a celebrity. The Jesuit was the first Westerner to enter the gates of the Forbidden City. He impressed the emperor by predicting solar eclipses. He created an enormous map that gave Ming dynasty Chinese a sense of the rest of the world for the first time. He spoke and read Chinese well enough to translate Euclid.

Half a year into his tenure, Pope Francis has proved to be very, very good at generating headlines.

Catholics worldwide held a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria joined by Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians, with Pope Francis set to host a mass vigil on Saturday. Francis has called for a "cry for peace" to rise up around the globe and has said he will attend the four-hour prayer session in St Peter's Square. Earlier in the week he wrote to leaders of the G20 leading world economies urging them to "lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution".

Pope Francis isn’t eating much today—he’s fasting and praying for Syria, and hundreds of thousands of Christians across the globe are joining him. Today, during a five-hour evening prayer service for Syria in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis challenged the tens of thousands gathered there to rethink approaches to conflict as the fighting in Syria escalates and as the United States and France contemplate a military strike.

Pope Francis called for "mutual respect" between Christianity and Islam and an end to "unfair criticism" in a personal message on Friday congratulating Muslims on the feast of Eid al-Fitr. "We are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values," he said in a statement distributed by the Vatican press office.

Pope Francis celebrated the last Mass of his trip to Brazil on Sunday before more than a million people gathered on the beach in this city, the national flags of Catholics from around the world hoisted in the air as a chorus of Brazilian priests belted out songs before the multitude. It was a vibrant display of the Vatican’s ambition of halting the losses of worshipers to evangelical churches and the rising appeal of secularism.

With all eyes on Brazil during the Pope’s visit, protests are planned in Rio throughout the week to reiterate demonstrators’ grievances, including insufficient but expensive public transportation, government spending on mega-events like the World Cup, and political corruption. A protest took place in Rio the first day of the Pope’s visit, when around 2,000 people demonstrated outside of the governor’s palace where the Pope had attended an event.