POPE FRANCIS INAUGURATES A NEW CYCLE OF STUDIES AT THE PONTIFICAL LATERAN UNIVERSITY. The courses are dedicated to ecological and environmental issues, in conjunction with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and UNESCO. In his speech, the Pontiff underlined that the complexity of the ecological crisis requires responsibility, concreteness, and competence. In the presence of Patriarch Bartholomew I and Audrey Azoulay, Director of UNESCO, Pope Francis issued a stark warning: As the COP26 conference draws nearer, he said, there is the awareness that “the harm we are doing to the planet is no longer limited to climate damage, water, and soil, but now threatens life itself on earth.” In the face of this, he underlined, “it is not enough to repeat statements of principle that make us feel good.” No, he added, “the complexity of the ecological crisis, in fact, demands responsibility, concreteness, and competence.” Pope at Lateran: Damage to earth threatens life itself – Vatican News

PAPAL LETTER TO LATERAN UNIVERSITY CHANCELLOR. Pope Francis has penned a letter to Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, Grand Chancellor of Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, on the establishment of a cycle of studies in Ecology and the Environment: Care of our Common Home and Protection of Creation, Pope Francis noted that in being called to educate in responsibility towards the gifts of creation, “the Church also fulfils her commitment in forming the true meaning of every action aimed at preserving, protecting and guaranteeing life on and of the earth”. Pope: Environmental studies are beneficial to all – Vatican News

POPE RECEIVES OUTGOING GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on her farewell visit to the Italian capital Rome, was received by Pope Francis and later met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher. “During the cordial discussions, appreciation was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations and the fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Germany,” the Press Office said in a communique. The two sides then reviewed “matters of mutual interest in the international and regional spheres, agreeing on the advisability of relaunching cooperation to address the multiple crises underway, with particular reference to the consequences of the health emergency and migration”. More on Merkel: Pope receives in audience outgoing German Chancellor Merkel – Vatican News

FRANCIS MEETS ST. IRENAEUS WORK GROUP. Pope Francis met with members of the St. Irenaeus Joint Orthodox-Catholic Working Group, gathered together in Rome for its annual session. He expressed gratitude for their theological work in the service of communion between Catholics and Orthodox faithful, and highlighted the importance of cultivating a unity “enriched by differences that will not yield to the temptation of a bland uniformity.” Francis then announced his intention to declare Irenaeus a Doctor of the Church with the title Doctor unitatis – Doctor of Unity. Pope: Ecumenical dialogue must be grounded in a reflection of synodality – Vatican News

POPE FRANCIS ATTENDS AN INTERNATIONAL MEETING FOR PEACE AT COLOSSEUM. The St. Egidio Community has held a two-day peace meeting in Rome that was attended by numerous faith leaders from across the globe. The 35th International Meeting for Peace concluded on Thursday evening with a prayer for peace at the Colosseum that was attended by Pope Francis. Held on the theme, “Peoples as Brothers, Future Earth,” the event saw the participation of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Hebraism, Buddhism, Tenrikyo, Hinduism, and Sikhism. Pope Francis wrapped up the Prayer for Peace meeting attended by hundreds of people from various faith traditions. Ahead of a moment of silence for the victims of all wars, the Pope offered the concluding address for the event, asking God to “demilitarize the human heart.” He opened his address praising the many people who traveled to Rome this week to show that prayer is a “quiet source of strength which brings peace and disarms hate-filled hearts.” Pope prays for peace with faith leaders: ‘Demilitarize our hearts!’ – Vatican News