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Mob threats aside, Pope Francis will pray with victims of organized crime

ROME - The Vatican said March 17 that Pope Francis will preside over a prayer vigil dedicated to victims of mob violence in Italy and their families.

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Cardinal Dolan: Pope Francis opened door to gay civil unions debate

NEW YORK - Cardinal Timothy Dolan said March 9 that Pope Francis is asking the Catholic Church to look at the possibility of recognizing civil unions for gay couples, although the Archbishop of New York said that he would be “uncomfortable” if the Church embraced that position.

Pope names cardinals, lay experts to new Council for the Economy

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis appointed an international group of eight cardinals -- including U.S. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston -- and seven lay experts in the fields of business, management and finance to be the first members of the Vatican's new Council for the Economy.

In South Korea in August, Pope will meet Asian youths, beatify martyrs

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis will travel to South Korea in August for Asian Youth Day and to preside over the beatification of a large group of Korean martyrs, the Vatican spokesman said.

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.