Pope Francis

COMMENTARY

It’s one of those photos that cries out for a thought bubble.

During Pope Francis’ visit to Bolivia yesterday – the second stop on the Pope’s three-country tour of South America this week – left-wing President Evo Morales offered him an unusual crucifix that depicts Jesus nailed to a hammer and sickle. That is, Jesus laid out on the international symbol for communism.

Francis reportedly muttered to Morales, "Eso no está bien." Translation: We are not amused.

Mario Mendoza Cabrera / AP

Argentine-born Pope Francis knows it’s not enough to be the first Latin American pontiff. He also has to make that mean something.

So far he has. He’s condemned the region’s still epic inequality, he's tried to mediate the unholy mess in Venezuela – and most famously he's brokered a rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba that could thaw a century of bitter mistrust between Washington and Latin America.

Today on WLRN-Miami Herald News, you heard:

Halfway through a two-week assembly on family issues for Catholic bishops, the Vatican has released a report that's unusually conciliatory toward gays and nonmarital unions, both long considered contrary to church doctrine.

Alison McKellar / Flickr

In the 1980s, it was hard to find a scarier place than El Salvador. Crushing poverty and right-wing death squads. Civil war and left-wing guerrillas.

The flashlight in that darkness was Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero.

In his last Christmas Eve homily, Romero urged El Salvador’s reactionary oligarchs to find the infant Jesus on the nation’s streets – among the hundreds of thousands of children “who go to bed with nothing to eat, who sleep covered by newspapers in doorways.”

haitilibre.com

Pope Francis didn’t have to say it. He let the timing say it for him.

The pope this week named Haitian Bishop Chibly Langlois as one of 19 new cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. In the process, he all but declared a shift in clerical power on the large Caribbean island of Hispaniola. And he may also have delivered a rebuke to the Dominican Republic, the country that shares that isle with Haiti, and to the D.R.’s controversial cardinal, Nicolás López.

L'Osservatore Romano

They say Americans will do anything for Latin America except read about it. But even gringos couldn’t ignore the noise next door in 2013.

Seemingly overnight, Brazil experienced violent anti-government unrest – then just as quickly it became the spokesnation for a world outraged by the U.S. surveillance overreach exposed by Edward Snowden.

The Vatican said Monday that it has set April 27, 2014, as the date that popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be "raised to sainthood."

Their canonization will come on "the Second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy," the Holy See added.

While the recent World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro were a success for Pope Francis, they certainly weren't for the city government. Accusations of disorganization and transport failures have left residents wondering if Rio is really ready to host both the World Cup and the Olympics.

This post last updated at 11:30 a.m. EDT

Millions of faithful thronged Brazil's Copacabana Beach to hear Pope Francis deliver Sunday Mass, the culmination of the Latin American pontiff's first papal trip abroad.

Francis, speaking from a massive stage erected on the beach, urged those gathered for World Youth Day's concluding Mass to spread the Gospel "to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent."

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