Pope Francis leaves nuns a voicemail

Pope Francis Holds Weekly Audience

On December 31st at 11.45am, Pope Francis called up the small community of the Carmelite nuns of Lucena (Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain), but they didn’t pick up the phone.  Their once-large community has now dwindled to a mere five nuns, three of which are from Argentina, which is also the pope’s home country. He left them a voicemail in Spanish which said:

“What are the nuns doing that they can’t answer [the phone]? I am Pope Francis, I wish to greet you in this end of the year, I will see if I can call you later. May God bless you!”

Listen to it here in Spanish.  According to ABC,  he managed to get a hold of them at 7:15 pm and convey his good wishes for the new year.

Funny stories from around the world

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Venezuela gets tough on hair thieves: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro calls on the police to act against gangs who are stealing women’s hair.

Forty pythons found in Canada motel: Canadian animal welfare officers in Brantford, Ontario, rescue 40 distressed pythons from plastic storage bins in a motel room.

Isolated Peru tribe ‘asks for food’: Members of one of the most isolated tribes on Earth have briefly emerged from the Peruvian jungle to ask for food, activists say.

Wayward China toilet users face fine: Public toilet users in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen are to be fined if they cannot urinate accurately in city facilities.

‘Alien’ gargoyle on ancient abbey: A gargoyle on a historic 13th Century abbey causes a social media sensation with its resemblance to the monster from the Alien films.

Woman settles $105,000 parking fine: A Chicago woman settles $105,000 (£67,540) in parking fines assessed after her car was abandoned at an airport in 2009, local media report.

Widower’s love song makes top 10: A 96-year-old who wrote a touching love song to his late wife enters the top 10 on the US iTunes chart.

Queen’s limousine auctioned for £40k: A car that was once owned and driven by the Queen sells for £40,500 at auction.

Men’s height ‘up 11cm since 1870s’: The average height of European men has risen by almost 11cm since the mid-19th century, experts have found.

NZ man escapes ‘stalking’ crocodile: A New Zealand tourist has returned to safety after being menaced by a large crocodile off Western Australia for two weeks, a report says.

Man buys tweet to complain about BA: A disgruntled customer has used the same social media ad tools as BA to complain about lost luggage.

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Pope Francis gifted 20-year-old car: An Italian priest gives Pope Francis a 20-year-old white Renault 4 to drive himself around Vatican city.

Bulgarian man swims lake tied in bag: A Bulgarian man has swum more than 2km (1.25 miles) tied up in a bag in a bid to set a Guinness World record, event organisers say.

Pope Calls for Day of Fasting and Prayer for Syria

Pope Francis

On Sunday, Pope Francis announced that the 7th September would be a day of fasting and prayer for Syria, a nation embroiled in a horrific civil war that has left hundreds of thousands dead.  Instead of his typical religious-themed sermon or Bible lesson, during his weekly message the Pope talked almost entirely about the conflict in the country.

Though he said he is praying for a peaceful resolution to the war without further military intervention, the Catholic Church leader spoke out against the recent chemical weapons attack that killed at least 1,400 people outside Damascus:

“With utmost firmness, I condemn the use of chemical weapons. I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart.”

He warned that “violence brings on violence” and told leaders that “There is the judgment of God and also the judgment of history, upon our actions, from which there is no escaping.”

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Compare & Contrast: St. Peter’s Square in 2005 and 2013

It’s amazing to see how much technology changes even in a few years, check of the 8 year difference in the two papal announcements.  This Instragram photo shared by the Today Show highlights the contrast of St. Peter’s Square surrounding the new Pope.

It is amazing:

TodayShow-Instagram-St-Peters-Square

The change from one person in the crowd with a camera phone, to a sea of people with smartphones and tablets.  What I find interesting, is that everyone is taking a picture of the same thing.  Why would we need so many pictures of the same thing – so many of which will be poor quality shots?  I think it says something about our desire to capture our own experiences.

Funny stories from around the world

Some more funny and random headlines from around the world:

Franciscan Friars want you to text your prayers

HOLY NAME PROVINCE TEXT A PRAYER

Just a month after Pope Benedict XVI launched his official Twitter account, other representatives of the Catholic faith are giving new meaning to the term, “religious text.”

The Holy Name Province, self-described as the largest group of friars in the USA, announced that they are now accepting prayer intentions via text.

Called “Text a Prayer Intention to a Franciscan Friar,” the program encourages participants to text the word “PRAYER” to 306-44, according to a release. Senders will then receive a welcome message inviting them to submit their prayer intentions. After they are sent in, participants will receive another text confirming that their prayer has been received and will be prayed for.

Father David Convertino, executive director of development for the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, said in a statement:

“With technology changing the way we communicate, we needed to offer people an updated way to ask for prayers for special intentions and needs either for themselves or others”

I see this as a great use of technology, an organisation which has existed for years, which many would see as irrelevant offering a connection in a thoroughly credible manner. Do you think text messaging is a good way for religious bodies to connect with their followers? Discuss in the comments below.