Faith

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI held up the life of a young virgin and martyr as an example to seminarians of the total commitment to Christ required by young men seeking to enter the priesthood.

The Pope also said that a solid cultural background and intellectual understanding of faith was essential in the formation of priests as spreaders of the word of God.

As Tet nears, migrants return to Vietnam, get chance to renew faith

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HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam - Catholic migrant workers based in Laos are returning home to be with their families in time for the Tet New Year holidays and, for many, the trip will offer a chance to renew their faith.

Others, however, even within Vietnam, will not make the traditional journey to be with their family for the lunar new year, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

Paul Le Quoc Hai, a Catholic who works as a carpenter in Laos' Khammouan province, said he will take advantage of this Tet holiday to get his two children baptized.

Pope urges agreement between Christians on ethical questions

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI said Christians of all denominations should come to agreement on ethical matters, especially regarding human life, family and sexuality.

The Pope, in a meeting Jan. 19 with an ecumenical group of Catholic and Lutheran leaders from Finland, said that differences among Christians regarding the "proper understanding of human nature and its dignity" had grown in recent years.

Christian divisions, including on morality, weaken witness, pope says

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VATICAN CITY - Divisions among Christians, including on moral issues, weakens their credibility and their ability to respond to the spiritual yearning of many men and women today, Pope Benedict XVI said.

While "there is more that unites us than divides us" on the basic tenets of faith -- belief in Christ, the son of God and savior of humanity -- "divisions remain and regard many practical and ethical questions, giving rise to confusion and mistrust, weakening our ability to transmit the saving word of Christ," Pope Benedict said Jan. 18 at his weekly general audience.

Pope prays for migrants, refugees seeking a better life

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VATICAN CITY - The millions of refugees and migrants in the world are not numbers but people in search of a better life for themselves and their families, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"They are men and women, young and old, who are looking for a place they can live in peace," the Pope said Jan. 15, which the Vatican marked as the World Day for Migrants and Refugees.

Eucharist gives strength to those who are weak, weary, lost, pope says

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VATICAN CITY - The Eucharist sustains those who are tired, worn out or lost in the world and transforms human sin and weakness into new life, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Speaking at his weekly general audience Jan. 11, the Pope focused on Jesus and the Last Supper, where he instituted the Eucharist, "the sacrament of his body and blood."

"Jesus' gift of himself anticipates his sacrifice on the cross and his glorious resurrection," the Pope said.

Pope baptizes 16 infants, says sacraments help parents raise kids right

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI baptized 16 infants and told their parents and godparents that prayer and the sacraments will give them the strength and guidance they need to promote a child's true well-being.

Presiding over the annual liturgy in the Sistine Chapel Jan. 8, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Pope said the sacraments and putting one's trust in God through prayer offer "that light of truth" that illuminates the right path to take in their child's education and upbringing.

Vatican to issue recommendations for celebrating Year of Faith

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VATICAN CITY - In an effort to help Catholics have a better and correct understanding of their faith and become authentic witnesses to Christ, the Vatican is issuing a list of pastoral recommendations for celebrating the Year of Faith.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will release a "note" Jan. 7 outlining the aims of the special year and ways bishops, dioceses, parishes and communities can promote "the truth of the faith," the congregation said in a written statement Jan. 5.

Pope, at audience, reflects on meaning of Christmas, Epiphany

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VATICAN CITY - At Christmas, the human dream of being like God started to become a reality -- not through any human efforts, but through God sending his son to be born on earth to redeem humanity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Addressing an estimated 7,000 people gathered for his weekly general audience Jan. 4, the pope encouraged Christians to continue living the joy and mystery of Christmas as they prepare for the feast of the Epiphany, celebrated at the Vatican Jan. 6, and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which the pope planned to celebrate Jan. 8 by baptizing babies in the Sistine Chapel.

John Paul’s childhood Jewish friend dies

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ROME - Jerzy Kluger, known as Blessed John Paul II’s lifelong Jewish friend and one who had a deep impact on the late pope’s commitment to improved Catholic-Jewish relations, died in Rome Dec. 31 at the age of 90.

Kluger and the pope were raised in Wadowice, Poland, and attended elementary school there together. Most of Kluger’s family died during the Holocaust, but he managed to survive, eventually settling in Rome.

During the Second Vatican Council, when the future pope came to Rome as an auxiliary bishop of Krakow, Poland, he and Kluger were reunited. They maintained their friendship through the years, and Kluger was a frequent guest at the Vatican after the pope was elected in 1978.

In message for World Day of the Sick, pope stresses value of anointing

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VATICAN CITY - Anointing of the sick is not a minor sacrament, said Pope Benedict XVI, but one that "deserves greater consideration today" because of its spiritual benefits to both minister and recipient.

The Pope's words appeared in a message for the 2012 World Day of the Sick, released by the Vatican Jan. 3. The day itself is celebrated annually Feb. 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.