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Pope Francis criticized for defensive comments on abuse scandal

The Vatican is trying to reassure Catholics and the public that Pope Francis takes the clerical sex abuse crisis seriously in the wake of defensive comments Francis made this week, the first serious bump in the road for a Pope approaching the first anniversary of his election with sky-high approval ratings.

Vatican medical experts OK reported miracle attributed to archbishop

PEORIA, Ill. - A seven-member team of medical experts convoked by the Vatican reported there is no natural explanation for the survival of a child delivered stillborn and whose heart did not start beating until 61 minutes after his birth.

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Pope to Rome pastors: Do you cry for your people?

VATICAN CITY - Because his cassock doesn't have a breast pocket, Pope Francis said he wears a cloth pouch under his white robes to carry the crucifix he took from a deceased priest.

Use Lent to shed apathy to sin, poverty, indifference to God, pope says

VATICAN CITY - Lent is a time to shed lazy, un-Christian habits and snap out of one's apathy toward people harmed by violence, poverty and not having God in their lives, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis, in interview, suggests church could tolerate some civil unions

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis suggested the Catholic Church could tolerate some types of nonmarital civil unions as a practical measure to guarantee property rights and health care. He also said the church would not change its teaching against artificial birth control but should take care to apply it with "much mercy."

The opportunity presented by Lent

Perhaps we haven’t considered Lent in terms of opportunity. Most of us picture opportunity knocking in the form of a new job, a surefire investment, a vacation, an adventure. Fasting, penance, charity, prayer are given to us as duties, obligations, tasks.

Cardinal outlines possible paths to Communion for divorced, remarried

VATICAN CITY - The Catholic Church needs to find a way to offer healing, strength and salvation to Catholics whose marriages have failed, who are committed to making a new union work and who long to do so within the Church and with the grace of Communion, Cardinal Walter Kasper told the world's cardinals.

Pope urges sympathy, outreach to couples whose marriages fail

VATICAN CITY - Those who recognize marriage as a sacrament, a divine blessing and a reflection of God's love for humanity should have even greater sympathy for husbands and wives whose relationships have failed, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis says Church needs better bishops

VATICAN CITY - In another strongly worded message to the Catholic hierarchy, Pope Francis told the Vatican body that vets nominees for bishops that they need to find him better candidates to send to dioceses around the world.

Vatican theologians OK alleged miracle attributed to Pope Paul VI

ROME - Vatican theologians have given their approval to a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope Paul VI, moving him a step closer to sainthood.

Benedict rejects rumors on why he resigned as “simply absurd”

VATICAN CITY - As the anniversary of his surprising resignation approaches, Pope Benedict XVI has rejected as “simply absurd” the speculation that he was forced to step down, and he said he still wears the distinctive white papal cassock for “purely practical reasons.”