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  • Vatican report calls U.S. women religious to continued dialogue

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A massive, detailed Vatican-ordered investigation of U.S. communities of women religious ended with a call to the women themselves to continue discerning how best to live the Gospel in fidelity to their orders' founding ideals while facing steeply declining numbers and a rapidly aging membership.

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  • Pope names second abuse survivor, global experts to protection panel

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis expanded his papal commission on child protection to include a second survivor of abuse and more experts from around the world. The Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Pope Francis established one year ago, adds four more women and four men from five continents to the now-17-member body.

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  • Pope to create new cardinals in February

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will create new cardinals Feb. 14, following a two-day meeting of the world's cardinals that will discuss reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, among other issues. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, made the announcement Dec. 11. The names of the new cardinals are likely to be announced in mid-January, he said.

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  • 'Happy' about warming of U.S.-Cuba relations, pope praises diplomacy

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis expressed his joy over the historic turning point in U.S.-Cuba relations as the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic ties after half a century. "Today we are happy because we have seen how two peoples who were distanced for so many years took a step toward each other yesterday," he told a group of new ambassadors.

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  • Though painful at times, visitation was positive, speakers say

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The apostolic visitation of U.S. communities of religious women, though initially met with some resistance, ended up promoting a greater sense of unity in the church and helped the women become more aware of how God is working in their lives, said the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

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  • New pope, new leadership changed tone of visitation of U.S. religious

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- During the process of the apostolic visitation of communities of U.S. religious women, a shift in tone took place. The Vatican's final report on the visitation, released Dec. 16, made observations, not accusations. Instead of giving the women instructions, it made suggestions -- mostly encouraging them to continue discernment about their identity, vocations promotion and formation, fidelity to Christ and the church, community life and cooperation with the wider church, including local bishops.

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  • Marriage: A Unique Relationship

    Rome (ZENIT) -- In May next year Ireland will vote on a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage. The bishops of Ireland have recently published a pastoral statement which said that “to redefine the nature of marriage would be to undermine it as the fundamental building block of our society.”

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  • Announcing new series of talks about family, pope reviews synod

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The October extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family was not the scene of "a clash between factions, but of a debate among bishops," a work that will continue with the 2015 general synod "for the good of families, the church and society," Pope Francis said.

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  • Preparing for Christmas one papal homily at a time

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As Advent got underway, Pope Francis included in his morning Mass homilies specific graces Catholics should pray for as they prepare for Christmas. In the chapel of his residence Dec. 2, Pope Francis ended his homily by telling the small congregation, "Let us ask the Lord during this Advent time to draw us closer, closer to his mystery and do so on the path that he wants us to take: the path of humility, the path of meekness, the path of poverty, the path of recognizing we are sinners."

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  • Vatican sends bishops preparatory questionnaire for 2015 family synod

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To help set the agenda for the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the family, the Vatican is sending the world's Catholic bishops' conferences a list of questions on a range of topics, including matters of marriage and sexuality that proved especially controversial at the 2014 family synod.

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  • Sacramental marriage brings grace to share God's love, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With the strength of the grace that comes from the sacrament of marriage, Catholic families are called to proclaim God's love to the world, Pope Francis said. God's love gives birth to the family, and that love must be "the center of all its human and spiritual dynamism," the pope wrote in a letter Dec. 9 to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which will sponsor the Sept. 22-27 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.

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  • Church is 'mother' when it offers mercy, tenderness, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As his international Council of Cardinals began a three-day meeting to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis said having a perfect organizational chart for the church won't guarantee that the church fulfills its mission of bringing people to Christ.

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  • English cardinal: Young Africans being seduced into modern slavery

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Young Africans are being seduced into modern slavery by the promise of a dream that never comes true, an English cardinal told a conference on human trafficking. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said "there seems to be no enticement that isn't being used" by human traffickers to entrap children.

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  • Pope Francis calls for solidarity in creating a world without nuclear weapons

    VIENNA (CNS) -- Pope Francis called on world leaders, activists and people of faith to pull together to rid the world of the threat of nuclear weapons. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, read the pope's statement in Vienna Dec. 8 at the opening of Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

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  • Autism Speaks: 'Catholic Church Can Be a 'Big Help' in Understanding Autism'

    VATICAN CITY, December 03, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The co-founders of Autism Speaks have expressed how the Vatican's "embracing" of people with autism is moving and is what this Pope is all about. While attending the Vatican's first-ever conference on autism, Bob Wright, the former head of NBC Universal, and his wife Suzanne Wright, both of whom are Catholics, spoke on autism and what their organization is doing to support families and encourage research.

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  • Mary, The Woman Who Does Not Fear Sin

    ROME, December 05, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The Bible states that it is the woman who will crush the serpent's head, and, in the Gospel, the evangelist Luke writes: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women: (Luke 1:26-38).

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  • Pope prays in Istanbul mosque, rallies local Christians

    ISTANBUL (CNS) -- A day after hearing Turkish leaders demand the West show more respect for Islam, Pope Francis prayed alongside a Muslim cleric inside Istanbul's most famous mosque. At the Blue Mosque, Istanbul's grand mufti Rahmi Yaran led Pope Francis to the mosque's "mihrab," a niche indicating the direction to the holy city Mecca. He explained that the name is related to that of Jesus's mother, Mary, who is revered by Muslims.

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  • In Turkey, Pope Francis got a look at Christianity on the margins

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ankara and Istanbul were gray and cold, at least compared to Rome, during Pope Francis' Nov. 28-30 visit to Turkey. And the general reception, outside of the pope's official meetings, was hardly warmer. There were none of the enthusiastic crowds that usually greet him on his trips, no masses waving signs of welcome along his motorcade route or behind police barriers at the stops.

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  • Pope urges Muslim leaders to condemn violence done in name of Islam

    ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM ISTANBUL (CNS) -- Pope Francis called on political and religious leaders across the Muslim world to condemn violence done in the name of Islam. The pope said he told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Nov. 28 that "it would be beautiful if all Islamic leaders -- whether they be political leaders, religious leaders, academic leaders -- would say clearly that they condemn (terrorism), because that will help the majority of Islamic people to say, 'that's true,'" and show non-Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace.

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  • Vatican to release findings of investigation of U.S. women religious

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The final report of a five-year, Vatican-ordered study of communities of women religious in the United States will be released by the Vatican Dec. 16. The top two officials of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and three leaders of women's congregations were to take part in the presentation, according to Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, head of Canada's Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and assistant to the Vatican spokesman.

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  • Ignoring God, not glorifying him, leads to violence, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- It is the complete disregard for God, not his glorification, that leads to violence in this world, Pope Francis said. That is why people of faith, particularly Christians and Muslims, must work together for peace, and governments must guarantee full religious freedom for their citizens and religious communities, he said Dec. 3 at his weekly general audience.

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  • Aceh Catholics say Shariah expansion has had little impact on them

    BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (CNS) -- An expansion of Islamic law, Shariah, to include non-Muslims has had little impact on Catholics in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province. "Until now no Catholic has been punished for violating Shariah Law. And I hope that doesn't change in the future," Father Hermanus Sahar, pastor of Banda Aceh's Sacred Heart Catholic Church, told Catholic News Service. However, he said he does caution female parishioners about dress.

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  • God reveals himself to humble hearts, says pope

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God reveals himself to humble and meek hearts, said Pope Francis at morning Mass. "Many can know science, theology as well. But if they do not do this theology on their knees, that is, humbly, like the little ones, they will not understand anything. They will tell us many things, but they will not understand anything," he said Dec. 2 in his homily during the Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives.

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