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  • Pope names woman president to papal academy, confirms papal liturgist

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis named British sociologist and professor, Margaret Archer, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. She is the second female president of the papal academy and succeeds U.S. law professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon, who served two five-year terms as head of the academy from 2004 to 2014.

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  • From Buenos Aires to world stage: Pope shines spotlight on trafficking

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, the future pope dragged the hidden problem of human slavery into broad daylight. He held annual open-air Masses in the city's Constitution Square for and with victims of human trafficking -- many of them children accompanied by their enormous burlap sacks stuffed with recyclable cardboard.

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  • Pope declares by decree three new saints for the Americas

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Without a canonization ceremony, Pope Francis declared three new saints for the Americas, pioneers of the Catholic Church in Brazil and in Canada. Pope Francis signed decrees April 3 recognizing: St. Jose de Anchieta, a Spanish-born Jesuit who traveled to Brazil in 1553 and became known as the Apostle of Brazil; St. Marie de l'Incarnation, a French Ursuline who traveled to Quebec in 1639 and is known as the Mother of the Canadian Church; and St. Francois de Laval, who arrived in Quebec 20 years after St. Marie de l'Incarnation and became the first bishop of Quebec.

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  • Pope: Cross isn't an ornament, Christianity isn't a do-gooder's guide

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christianity isn't a philosophy or guide to survival, good behavior and peace, it's a relationship with a real person who died on the cross for our sins, Pope Francis said. "Christianity can't be understood without understanding this deep humiliation of the son of God, who abased himself, becoming a servant to the point of his death and death on the cross" in order to serve humanity, the pope said.

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  • Memories of genocide drive Rwandans in rebuilding their nation

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Every time Nathalie Piraino returns home to Rwanda, she sees a country advancing economically and politically and where the development of people, especially women, is foremost. She also has found that memories from her homeland's genocide 20 years ago remain vivid, not forgotten.

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  • Pope to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass at center for elderly, disabled

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper at a Rome rehabilitation facility for the elderly and people with disabilities. He will preside over the Holy Thursday evening Mass and foot-washing ritual at the Father Carlo Gnocchi Foundation's Our Lady of Providence Center on the outskirts of Rome, the Vatican announced April 8.

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  • Vatican accepts resignation of Germany's 'Bishop Bling'

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has accepted the resignation of a German bishop who was at the center of controversy over expenditures for his residence and a diocesan center. Following a diocesan investigation, the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops studied the audit's findings and accepted the resignation of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg. Auxiliary Bishop Manfred Grothe of Paderborn was appointed to serve as apostolic administrator of Limburg in the meantime, the Vatican announced March 26.

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  • Pope says married couples called to be icons of God's love

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Through the sacrament of matrimony, married couples are called to be living icons of God's love in the world, Pope Francis said; and when they fight -- and all couples do -- they don't have "to call the United Nations," but find simple words and gestures to say they are sorry.

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  • Pope confirms heads of Vatican curial agencies

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis confirmed the head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and named among its new members Australian Cardinal George Pell, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, and Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis.

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  • Bless me, Father: Pope leads by example, goes to confession

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Leading a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis surprised his liturgical adviser by going to confession during the service. After an examination of conscience March 28, the pope and 61 priests moved into confessionals or to chairs set up against the walls to offer the sacrament to individual penitents.

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  • Stairway to heaven: Vatican backs effort to restore Holy Stairs shrine

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Just like someone gently unwrapping a present, a restorer carefully peeled back a thin wet veil of paper from a black sooty wall to see what was hidden underneath. From behind the layers of grime and dirt emerged the frescoed images of a fallen Roman column, a flock of fluffy sheep and a pink sunset sky over a forgotten ancient city.

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  • Pope to Mafiosi: Turn away now from the road to hell

    ROME (CNS) -- Surrounded by survivors of innocent people killed by the Mafia, Pope Francis made an emotional appeal to Italian gangsters to give up their lives of crime and avoid eternal damnation. "Men and women of the Mafia, please change your lives, convert, stop doing evil," the pope said at a prayer vigil March 21. "I ask on my knees and for your own good.

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  • Vatican, Anglicans, Muslims sign accord against human trafficking

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican, the Anglican Communion and a leading Muslim institution signed a historic agreement to work together to end human trafficking worldwide by 2020. The new accord, signed during a Vatican news conference March 17, launched the beginning of the Global Freedom Network, which hopes to expand to include all the world's major faiths.

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