Faith

VATICAN CITY -- Increasing vocations to the priesthood, improving the way laypeople and priests work together and ensuring that service, not power, motivates the request for ordination are all possible outcomes of a major symposium being planned by the Vatican in February 2022.

Vatican statistics show continued growth in number of Catholics worldwide

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VATICAN CITY -- The number of Catholics and permanent deacons in the world has shown steady growth, while the number of religious men and women continued to decrease, according to Vatican statistics.

Pope Francis approves pay cuts for cardinals, top management, religious at Vatican

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VATICAN CITY -- With the need to reduce costs and make sure employees are not laid off, Pope Francis has approved pay cuts for cardinals, clergy, religious and upper management officials who work in the Roman Curia and other Vatican entities.

Vatican ends practice of private Masses in St. Peter's Basilica

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican is putting an end to the practice of priests going into St. Peter's Basilica early every morning to celebrate their own Mass at a side altar with just an altar server.

Vatican says no blessing of gay unions

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VATICAN CITY -- While homosexual men and women must be respected, any form of blessing a same-sex union is "illicit," said the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Vatican says general absolution still permissible during pandemic

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VATICAN CITY -- Offering general absolution to the faithful without having them personally confess their sins first may still be done in places seeing serious or increasing levels of coronavirus infections, a Vatican official said.

Benedict XVI discusses his resignation, Francis' trip to Iraq in interview

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VATICAN CITY -- Although it took obvious effort to pronounce each word and sometimes his secretary repeated what he said to make it clear, retired Pope Benedict XVI spoke to an Italian newspaper about his retirement and about Pope Francis' planned trip to Iraq.

Vatican official insists religious services are 'essential services'

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VATICAN CITY -- For believers, the ability to practice their faith and receive spiritual guidance are "the highest of essential services," and pandemic practices over the past year have shown they are not automatically super-spreader events, the Vatican foreign minister said.

Cardinals Sarah, Comastri retire from Vatican posts

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of 75-year-old Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, and 77-year-old Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica and vicar for Vatican City State.

Vatican mandates COVID vaccine for employees

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VATICAN CITY -- As a last resort, the Vatican may sanction employees who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine for non-medical reasons, according to a new Vatican decree.

In Iraq, Pope Francis hopes to encourage Christians, build bridges to Muslims

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AMMAN, Jordan -- On his historic visit to Iraq in March, Pope Francis hopes to encourage his Christian flock, badly bruised by sectarian conflict and brutal Islamic State attacks, while building further bridges to Muslims by extending fraternal peace.