Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

ROME -- No one is so far from God that Christ cannot bring them back, Pope Francis told members of the Diocese of Rome's new pastoral teams responsible for outreach.

VATICAN CITY -- Giving the Ratzinger prize to a philosopher from Canada and a Scripture scholar from Burkina Faso, Pope Francis said they demonstrate that "in the variety of cultures, diverse across time and space, one can and should always seek the way to God and the encounter with Christ."

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis' top aide made no secret of what will be on the pope's mind when he visits Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, Nov. 24: "the total elimination of nuclear weapons."

ROME -- In what he said was his first visit to the catacombs, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the feast of All Souls with special words of remembrance for Catholics who still today must worship in secret.

VATICAN CITY -- The early November feasts of All Saints and All Souls are reminders that God's church exists both on earth and in heaven and that all the faithful, living and dead, can and should pray for each other, a top Vatican official wrote.

VATICAN CITY -- The saints were flesh-and-blood people whose lives included real struggles and joys, and whose holiness reminds all the baptized that they, too, are called to be saints, Pope Francis said.

VATICAN CITY -- Members of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon asked that women be given leadership roles in the Catholic Church, although they stopped short of calling for women deacons.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis apologized that two men entered a church near the Vatican, took controversial statues and tossed them into the Tiber River.

VATICAN CITY -- Too often Catholics know what is going on in their neighbor's house but pay little or no attention to the normal spiritual struggles going on in their own hearts and souls, Pope Francis said.

VATICAN CITY -- Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna said that as a European member of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, his first task is to listen and his second task is to examine ways his lifestyle and that of his community contribute to the suffering of the Amazonian people.