Faith

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.

Pope says Christians look to new year with hope, commitment to peace

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VATICAN CITY - Christians should look toward the New Year with hope and a commitment to working for justice and peace, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"God is love, he is just and peaceable, and anyone wishing to honor him must first of all act like a child following his father's example," the pope said Jan. 1 during a Mass marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God and World Peace Day.

The pope ended 2011 by celebrating an evening prayer service Dec. 31 in the basilica and offering God thanks for the past year. The next morning, he celebrated Mass in St. Peter's and recited the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Pope, at audience, encourages parents to teach children to pray

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VATICAN CITY - If children do not learn to pray from their parents, it will be difficult for them to ever learn to communicate with God naturally, simply and deeply, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"In the family, children from the tenderest age can learn to perceive the sense of God thanks to the teaching and example their parents give of living in the presence of God," the Pope said at his weekly general audience Dec. 28.

Pope to ‘the city and the world’: God extends his hand to hurting humanity

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VATICAN CITY — Tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square this morning for Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas Day talk and blessing “urbi et orbi” (“to the city and the world”).

Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope said Jesus “is the hand that God extends” to humanity, which is afraid, uncertain and troubled. All people have to do, he said, is stretch out their hands and ask for help.

He offered special prayers for people who are suffering from natural disasters, war or political instability and tensions, including in the Holy Land, where Christ “chose to come into the world.”

Under a deep blue, sunny sky, the crowd that flocked to the square enjoyed the music of military bands while waiting for the pope and pressed around the Nativity scene in the center of the square.

Christmas Eve at the Vatican

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VATICAN CITY — The Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square was unveiled this afternoon with a focus on Mary, the Mother of God. There were traditional Christmas songs played during the event and Pope Benedict appeared at his studio window to light a “candle of peace,” setting the tone for tonight’s Midnight Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Here is the full text of the pope’s homily from tonight’s Mass:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Nigerian Christmas is defined by faith, family

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“Are you coming home for Christmas?”

“No, Uncle Buga, not this time.”

“Do you realize,” he said to me sounding emotional, “that you have not been home for Christmas since you left the country?”

Pope advances sainthood causes of Marianne Cope, Kateri Tekakwitha

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI advanced the sainthood causes of Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.

He also formally recognized the martyrdom of 64 victims of the Spanish Civil War and advanced the causes of 18 other men and women.

During a meeting Dec. 19 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed the decrees recognizing the miracles needed for the canonizations of Blesseds Marianne and Kateri.