Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis will send high-level observers to the pan-Orthodox council meeting in Crete as a sign of respect, support and encouragement of the Orthodox Church.

VATICAN CITY – After making a personal donation and asking Catholic parishes throughout Europe to take up a special collection for victims of the war in Eastern Ukraine, Pope Francis has set up a predominantly Ukrainian committee to distribute the funds and has asked that they go to projects suggested first of all by the assemblies of Ukraine's religious leaders.

ROME – Thousands of permanent deacons and their wives began their Year of Mercy celebration by cutting straight to the heart of what it means to be a deacon, how the ministry impacts their families and the challenge of explaining their vocation to others, including bishops and priests.

VATICAN CITY – The ecumenical commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017 can be a time to celebrate the fact that Christians are no longer "on the path of separation, but that of unity," said Cardinal Walter Kasper, former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

VATICAN CITY – Governments work best when they are secular, not confessional, but they must give ample space for people to express their religious beliefs, including by respecting the right of conscientious objection, Pope Francis told the French Catholic newspaper La Croix.

VATICAN CITY – After some news outlets reported the Pope was considering ordaining women deacons and comments were made about women deacons leading to women priests, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi clarified the Pope’s comments May 13.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis told the heads of women's religious orders from around the world that he would set up a commission to study the New Testament deaconesses and he also insisted more can and should be done to involve lay and consecrated women in church decision-making at every level.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is funding a job-creation program for Iraqi refugees in Jordan, a country that is hosting close to 1.5 million refugees, but is struggling to provide work for them.

VATICAN CITY – The Catholic Church is not a fancy medical clinic for the rich, but a "field hospital" that – often literally – provides the only medical care some people will ever receive, Pope Francis said.

VATICAN CITY – The tears shed by men, women and children around the world each day cry out for mercy, compassion and consolation, Pope Francis said during a special Year of Mercy prayer service for those who weep.