VATICAN CITY -- Seeing and growing closer to God require purifying one's heart from the sins and prejudices that distort reality and blind people to God's active and real presence, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- Defending life is not an abstract concept but a duty for all Christians and it means protecting the unborn, the poor, the sick, the unemployed and migrants, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- Mercy, which is at the heart of the Christian life, is not a one-dimensional virtue but instead is the acceptance of God's love and the giving of that love to others, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- Amid a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus epidemic, Pope Francis soldiered on with his weekly general audience and called on people to not forget those who suffer from war and violence.

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VATICAN CITY -- Recognizing and repenting for one's own sins and errors is difficult, but essential, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- People who recognize and embrace their spiritual poverty will inherit the kingdom of God, not those who place their trust in the comforts of this world, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- The beatitudes are a path to joy and true happiness mapped out by Jesus for all of humanity, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- Showing hospitality makes a person a better human being and a better Christian and is an important part of promoting Christian unity, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- Christians survive trials and tribulations with the help of their faith in Christ and pay it forward by being compassionate toward others who suffer, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- Putting up a Nativity scene before Christmas is a reminder to stop and remember what Christmas is really about and to prepare one's heart like a manger for the coming of Christ, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- There always will be martyrs among Christians in the world, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis scolded people who consider themselves practicing Christians, but who turn to fortunetelling, psychic readings and tarot cards.

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis led prayers for the people of Albania after the country was struck by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake.

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VATICAN CITY -- Christians who preach the Gospel must see people who do not know Christ as children of God and not as nonbelievers worthy of hostility and contempt, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY -- The Holy Spirit guides the Catholic Church's mission, pointing the way to evangelize new lands and opening people's hearts to be transformed by Christ, Pope Francis said.

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