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  • Living memories: On DVD, council fathers share impact of Vatican II

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A pivotal moment in the modern history of the Catholic Church came to life on screen with a new documentary about the Second Vatican Council. With archival footage and exclusive interviews with prelates who attended the council sessions between its opening in 1962 and closing in 1965, the film pieces together firsthand accounts of that historic era and its impact on the church today.

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  • Vatican to Offer Haircuts for Homeless

    Vatican City (ZENIT) -- Last November, the Holy See announced that they would be opening three showers under the colonnades of St. Peter's Basilica for the homeless. Now they will also open a barber shop and offer haircuts and shaves free of charge for homeless people.

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  • CRS examines sex ed publication alleged to violate church teaching

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic Relief Services is investigating an allegation that a publication it used in connection with a program in Rwanda violates church teaching on human sexuality. A statement from the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and develop agency said that former and current staff are being questioned about the publication to determine how or if it was used in the small African nation in 2009 and 2010.

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  • Pope to dads: Play with your kids, be strong, loving, moral role models

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When their lives are all work and no play, men turn their children into "orphans" who lack a father to guide them, show them love and teach them values, Pope Francis said. "They are orphans in a family because their fathers are often absent, also physically, from home, but above all because when they are home they don't act like fathers, they don't dialogue with their children, they don't fulfill their role as educators, they don't give their children, by way of their example and their words, those principles, values and rules of life that they need like bread," he said.

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  • Persecuted for faith, Christians are united in bloodshed, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians are united in bloodshed as they suffer from violence and persecution in various parts of the world, Pope Francis told Christian leaders. Today's martyrs are men and women, who through their witness to Jesus, are "persecuted and killed because they are Christian," the pope said Jan. 25 during an ecumenical prayer service marking the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

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  • Sainthood cause for Focolare founder formally begins

    FRASCATI, Italy (CNS) -- Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, "lit a new light in the church's journey toward unity," Pope Francis said. In a message to hundreds of people gathered in the cathedral of Frascati Jan. 27 for the formal opening of Lubich's sainthood cause, Pope Francis expressed his hope that "the shining example" of her life and activity would strengthen Focolare members' faith and commitment to building up the unity of the church and friendly relations with members of other religions.

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  • Chiara Lubich: A Life Dedicated to Peace and Dialogue

    Rome (ZENIT) -- This afternooon’s celebration in the Cathedral of Frascati marks a great feast. Following the celebration of Vespers, Bishop Raffaello Martinelli will open the process of the Cause of Beatification of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, who died at the age of 88 on March 14, 2008. Emotions are running high among members of the Movement since the announcement of her cause's opening by Lubich's successor and current president, Maria Voce.

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  • St Bakhita's Feast Set as International Day of Prayer to Stop Human Trafficking

    Washington (ZENIT) -- The feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, Feb. 8, has been designated as the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. Last year, the U.S. bishops’  Committee on Migration designated the date as an annual day of prayer for survivors and victims of human trafficking. Later that year, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General at the Vatican, announced that the 2015 event will also be observed internationally.  

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  • Just as Mary gave the world Jesus, women hand on faith, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Why is it that mostly women are the ones who hand down the faith generation after generation, Pope Francis asked. "Quite simply because it was a woman who brought us Jesus. It's the path Jesus chose. He wanted to have a mother" and chose to come to the world through Mary, the pope said Jan. 26 during Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

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  • Pope signs decrees in sainthood causes, including for U.S.-born priest

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz, a U.S.-born priest who ministered in South Korea, heroically lived the Christian virtues, according to a decree signed by Pope Francis; the decree is an initial Vatican step in the sainthood process for the priest, who founded the Sisters of Mary of Banneux and the Brothers of Christ.

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  • Pope says marriage annulment process should be free of charge

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Addressing the Vatican tribunal primarily responsible for hearing requests for marriage annulments, Pope Francis said all annulment processes should be free of charge. "The sacraments are free. The sacraments give us grace. And a matrimonial process pertains to the sacrament of matrimony. How I wish that all processes were free," the pope said Jan. 24, at a meeting to inaugurate the Roman Rota's judicial year.

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  • Key Messages of Pope Francis Asia trip

    Rome (ZENIT) -- In his visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, Pope Francis left behind in his speeches and homilies a number of important points worth reflecting on. In Sri Lanka interreligious relations was a key point. On his arrival at the airport he said that it was important that all the religions work together in overcoming past civil conflict and rebuilding the country.

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  • Pope says respect for religion should limit freedom of expression

    ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNS) -- Commenting on recent killings by Islamist terrorists at a Paris newspaper, Pope Francis condemned killing in the name of God, but said freedom of expression should be limited by respect for religion and that mockery of faith can be expected to provoke violence.

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  • Philippine trip highlights pope's tenacity, attention to details

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- New situations are opportunities to learn new things, even about the 78-year-old Pope Francis. After two days of watching the pope tenaciously keep his appointments in the Philippines despite pouring rain Jan. 17-18, one lesson is that the papal wardrobe needs to be expanded to include rain gear.

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  • Full text of Pope's in-flight interview from Manila to Rome

    Aboard the papal plane (CAN/EWTN News) - Below is a full transcript of the discussion between Pope Francis and journalists during Monday's flight: Pope Francis: First of all I greet you: good day, thank you for your work. It was challenging, and as we say in Spanish, "pasado per agua" (it rained on the parade). It is beautiful, and thank you very much for what you have done.

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  • Pope names former top prosecutor to head board for clergy abuse appeals

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis named the Vatican's former chief prosecutor of clerical sex abuse cases to head his new doctrinal team dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. Auxiliary Bishop Charles J. Scicluna, 55, of Malta was appointed president of the new board of review within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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  • Nigerian bishop calls for Western intervention to stop Boko Haram

    ROME (CNS) -- Underlining the failure of the Nigerian government to stop the violent rampage of Boko Haram, a Catholic bishop has called for Western military intervention. The Muslim militant group's increasingly deadly assaults and expanded recruitment from countries across North Africa mean "a concerted military campaign is needed by the West to crush Boko Haram," said Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, capital of the troubled Borno state.

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  • Philippine students inspired by pope's words about emotions, feelings

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Young people drew inspiration from an encounter with Pope Francis at the University of Santo Tomas. Rain started to fall the moment the pope took the stage before a sea of young people in bright-colored T-shirts, but the 30,000 students and youth leaders remained rooted in their sections, listening to the pope urging them to cry, to love and to think, feel and act.

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  • Filipinos bring Santo Nino statues for blessings from Pope Francis

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- The record-breaking papal Mass in Rizal Park coincided with one of the most popular feast days in the Philippines: Santo Nino Day, or the feast of the Holy Child Jesus. Many of the more than 6 million people who walked along the closed-off roads surrounding the park Jan. 18 held Santo Nino statues of various sizes. Their goal was to get their doll-like figurines blessed by Pope Francis.

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  • China's Deficit of Freedom

    Rome (ZENIT) -- Chinese Communist Party repression has intensified under the current leadership, but this has led to a situation where coercion is provoking increased resistance. This is the point made by a report published a few days ago by Freedom House.

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  • Pope thanks Catholics for helping Haiti, says much more left to do

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis thanked Catholics worldwide for helping people in Haiti recover from a devastating earthquake, but said "there is still much work left to do." Marking the fifth anniversary of the magnitude 7 earthquake that destroyed large parts of Haiti Jan. 12, 2010, the pope met with international and church-based agencies, bishops and religious involved in offering assistance to those affected by the tragedy. The Haitian government maintains that 316,000 people were killed, more than 300,000 were injured and 1.5 million were displaced.

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  • Markets cannot be the answer to economic inequities, pope says in book

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The world cannot wait for an economic system that will cause poverty to fix itself, Pope Francis said. "Markets and financial speculation cannot enjoy absolute autonomy," he said. There must be "programs, mechanisms and procedures aimed at a better distribution of resources, job creation and the integral advancement of those who are excluded," he said in a recently published interview.

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  • Sri Lankans work to finalize the little details for Pope Francis' visit

    COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNS) -- Hours before Pope Francis was to arrive in Sri Lanka, people in Colombo were busy with final preparations. While Sri Lankan and papal flags fluttered along the 20 miles of road from the international airport to downtown Colombo, giant posters of Pope Francis were put up around the city.

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  • Pope's Closing Mass in Philippines Expected to Draw 6M to 7M

    Rome (ZENIT) -- Organizers for the Pope's trip to the Philippines next week are expecting 6 million to 7 million people at the closing Mass on Jan. 18. So many people are expected to troop to Luneta (Rizal) Park during the Closing Mass of the apostolic visit of Pope Francis that it will break the record 5 million-crowd set during the 1995 Papal Mass of Pope John Paul II.

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  • Abandoned, disabled Haitian children baptized into the Christian family

    CROIX-DES-BOUQUETS, Haiti (CNS) -- Young Patrick and Mika have seen more than their share of suffering. Found unclothed, nonverbal, and malnourished roaming in a cemetery in 2010, Patrick was taken to the General Hospital of Port-au-Prince, where he was nursed to good health. But, despite the care and because of the pervasive influence of the practice of voodoo, Patrick was chained to a radiator every night out of fear he would jump out of a window.

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  • Pope names 15 new cardinal electors, most from global south

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Underscoring the geographical diversity of his selections, Pope Francis named 15 cardinal electors "from 14 nations of every continent, showing the inseparable link between the church of Rome and the particular churches present in the world."

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  • Indian priest, 'miracle son,' eager for canonization of Blessed Vaz

    PILAR, India (CNS) -- Sri Lankan Catholics are looking forward to Pope Francis' canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz Jan. 14, but the enthusiasm and eagerness of Father Cosme Jose Costa stands apart. "It is Blessed Joseph Vaz's intercession that saved my life, and I look forward with deep gratitude (to) this great event," said Father Costa, a 76-year-old member of the Society of Pilar based in Goa, Blessed Vaz's home state.

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  • Vatican conference to show Haiti 'not forgotten' after quake

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Nearly five years after a massive earthquake struck Haiti, the small Caribbean country and its people still are only limping along. In an effort to reactivate interest and commitment to reconstruction efforts there, the Vatican is organizing a one-day international conference in Rome Jan. 10.

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  • Elderly Christians Expelled From Iraqi Village for Refusing to Convert to Islam

    Rome (ZENIT) -- Ten elderly Chaldean Christians and Syrian Catholics who refused to convert to Islam were expelled from Mosul. According to Fides News Agency, the group of elderly people were welcomed in Kirkuk on January 7th, after spending two days in villages occupied by the Islamic State. One of the survivors recalled taking refuge in Mosul after they were expelled from their village.

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  • Pope offers Mass for victims of Paris attack

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The morning after 12 people were shot to death and 11 others injured at the Paris office of a satirical weekly newspaper, Pope Francis dedicated his early morning Mass to the victims and their families.

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  • Pope Reflects on Attack in Paris During Morning Mass in Santa Marta

    Vatican City (ZENIT) -- Pope Francis has condemned the terrorist attacks that killed 12 people in Paris yesterday. At this morning’s daily Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father decried, “The attack yesterday in Paris makes us think on so much cruelty - human cruelty - to so much terrorism, be it isolated terrorism, be it State-sponsored terrorism.”

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  • Vatican sending $3.5 million to help church response to Ebola

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is helping Catholic dioceses and agencies step up the fight against Ebola and is urging other donors to help. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace announced Jan. 7 that the Holy See would be making a "financial contribution" to support church-sponsored assistance to those affected by the Ebola outbreak. Vatican Radio reported the sum would be $3.5 million.

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  • Cardinals dedicate new wing of U.S. seminary in Rome

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Five cardinals dedicated a new wing of the U.S. seminary in Rome, its first major addition in more than 60 years. Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who as secretary of state is considered the highest Vatican official under the pope, led the dedication ceremony of the building at the Pontifical North American College Jan. 6.

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  • Vatican secretary of state expects pope to visit New York, Washington

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican secretary of state said he expects Pope Francis to visit New York City and Washington, D.C., during his September trip to the United States. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who as secretary of state is considered the highest Vatican official under the pope, spoke to reporters Jan. 6, following a ceremony to dedicate a new building at the Pontifical North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome.

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  • European Aging Report

    Rome (ZENIT) -- In 2012, the European Council asked the Economic Policy Committee for an update on the age-related expenditure projections by the autumn of 2014, to take into account new population projections by Eurostat, the statistics agency of the European Union.

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  • Pope warns Vatican officials of 'spiritual Alzheimer's,' other ills

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' Christmas greeting to the Vatican bureaucracy this year was an extended warning against a host of spiritual ills to which he said Vatican officials are prone, including "spiritual Alzheimer's," "existential schizophrenia," publicity-seeking, the "terrorism of gossip" and even a poor sense of humor.

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