VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis was scheduled to meet Cuban President Raul Castro at the Vatican May 10, less than five months ahead of the pontiff's visit to the island nation.

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VATICAN CITY - Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy" is more than a literary masterpiece, it is an invitation "to rediscover the lost or obscured meaning of our human path and to hope to see again the glowing horizon on which the dignity of the human person shines in its fullness," Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY - The dignity of human life, family, marriage and sexuality are "urgent" issues that "cannot be silenced or ignored for fear" of threatening ecumenical achievements, said Pope Francis during an audience with Archbishop Antje Jackelen of Uppsala, Sweden.

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Despite growing resistance from some Native Americans and U.S. Catholics, the Vatican on May 2 will host an event to celebrate the life of Junípero Serra, the Spanish missionary priest whom Pope Francis plans to canonize during his upcoming American tour.

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WASHINGTON - Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, offered teasing bits of insider information about Pope Francis' upcoming encyclical on the environment, on what he might say in the United States in the fall, and on what it was like to be in the conclave that elected Francis.

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VATICAN CITY - Promoting sustainable development and mitigating climate change will take more than just global policies and agreements, it will also take a strong, unified stance from the world's religions, the secretary-general of the United Nations said at the Vatican.

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TLALNEPANTLA, Mexico - The president of the Latin American bishops' conference called Pope Francis' planned visit to Cuba an opportunity for the Church to play a larger role in a country experiencing reforms and re-embracing institutionalized religion.

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PHILADELPHIA - Advance preparations for the wildly popular Pope Francis, due in Philadelphia five months from now, might rival the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis will visit Cuba in September before his trip to the United States.

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VATICAN CITY - The poor, migrants in search of a better life and the unemployed want what all human beings want: life, dignity and a chance to earn a decent living, Pope Francis said in several speeches urging compassion and assistance by both governments and individuals.

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VATICAN CITY - Just as the people they preach to must be reawakened to God, so to must the Church’s pastors — right up to those holding the highest positions in the Church — a Carmelite priest told Pope Francis and members of the Curia at their recent retreat.

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Earlier this year, I had a “dilemma.” There were five retreats happening in the same month — some landing on the same weekends. Which retreat should I go on? There was a Chinese Catholic students’ retreat, a quad university chaplaincies including my alma mater, one with the University of Toronto, another one on discernment and the silent retreat with the York University chaplaincy. In the end, I chose the days of discernment retreat. Funny enough, I ended up making a decision to go on a retreat to learn how to make better life decisions.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis mourned the deaths of all those killed in extremist and ethnic violence in Kenya, and admonished the perpetrators to "come to their senses and seek mercy."

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April 16, 2015

Called to mercy

“A little mercy,” Pope Francis once said, “makes the world less cold and more just.”

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The Vatican is set to host a major conference on climate change this month that will feature leading researchers on global warming and an opening address by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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