QUITO, Ecuador - Although still thousands of miles from his birthplace in Argentina, Pope Francis made a homecoming of sorts July 5 when he landed in Ecuador, greeted by cheering crowds and the sights and sounds of South America.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis will depart July 5 on a much-anticipated trip to Latin America, seen as a homecoming for the Argentine pontiff and likely to draw attention to key challenges in the region.

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Pope Francis met Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, while outside in St. Peter’s Square anti-abortion protesters drew attention to one of the most controversial topics up for discussion between the two leaders June 5.

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VATICAN CITY - Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, to be beatified in San Salvador May 23, has become a symbol of Latin American Church leaders’ efforts to protect their flocks from the abuses of military dictatorships.

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NEW YORK - It used to be that just saying the words “liberation theology” around Catholics was enough to start a schism-level fight, or at least raise a red flag in Rome.

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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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VATICAN CITY - Preceded by a procession of flags from the nations of the Americas and the recitation of the rosary in Spanish, Pope Francis and thousands of Catholics from across the Atlantic celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Vatican.

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Latin American Church leaders apologized for historical complicity with colonial atrocities in the Amazon and called for a Church with an "Amazonian face" in a pastoral letter issued as negotiators from around the world met for a climate summit here.

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A relaunched corporate social responsibility policy for Canadian mining companies has Development and Peace hopeful that Canadian companies will be held accountable for their environmental, labour and community investment records in Latin America, Africa and Asia. 

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - Latin Americans said the election of the first Pope from the region is recognition of the role the global South plays in the Church's future.

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LIMA, Peru - When Venezuela's bishops spoke out against postponing the inauguration of ailing President Hugo Chavez, the president's supporters accused them of meddling in politics, while government opponents praised their comments.

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WASHINGTON - In a country that has seen more than 50,000 deaths in six years, it took the finding of 49 headless bodies, some also missing arms or legs, to shock Mexican officials.

The discovery of the bodies, on a road about 120 miles from the United States, highlighted a problem addressed recently during a spring meeting at the World Bank headquarters in Washington.

Outgoing World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick warned that the violence doesn't solely threaten Latin American citizens. It also poses a security threat to the United States, he said.

"The U.S. (needs) to take it seriously as a nation," he said, addressing an audience gathered for a forum on "Reducing Murder Rates in Central America: Searching for Solutions."

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - On a Friday in mid-March, Dominican police were called to a three-story hotel that sits off a major highway in a busy neighborhood here.

Inside, they found a grisly crime scene: a woman, strangled to death, and the 37-year-old man who'd killed her hanged dead with the bed sheets.

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