VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis today waded into the controversy of the wave of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, calling for an end to racism against migrants and pushing the United States to offer greater protection for young children entering the country illegally.

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MEXICO CITY - A priest in north central Mexico has been stripped of his position by the Vatican and faces criminal charges in connection with alleged sexual abuse of a teenage boy.

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MEXICO CITY - Fr. Andres Larios once supported the highly effective self-defense groups, which formed to fight off drug cartels carrying out various crimes in Mexico's western state of Michoacan. He lent them spiritual support, endorsed their activities and let them ring the church bells to call the community to meetings or warn of pending dangers.

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SALTILLO, Mexico - Although church-state relations have thawed in the past 25 years, Saltillo Bishop Raul Vera Lopez said he remains dissatisfied with government restrictions on religion.

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MEXICO CITY - Ana Rita Valero received an unlikely request in 2008. Valero, an anthropologist and president of the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was asked by an official with the Mexican consulate in Shanghai to send two large images of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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MEXICO CITY - A Catholic-run shelter serving the masses of migrants stealing rides on trains passing through the rail yards north of Mexico City closed its doors July 9 after enduring endless quarrels with its neighbors.

Local media reported that the St. Juan Diego shelter stopped accepting migrants after a meeting with neighbors, who earlier had closed the facility in a symbolic gesture and posted signs advising migrants to move along. The newspaper Reforma, citing police reports, said that a conflict among neighbors, shelter operators and migrants outside of the facility came prior to the closure.

Shelter director Father Alexander Rojas told the newspaper that he was acting on the instructions of his superior, Bishop Guillermo Ortiz Mondragon of Cuautitlan.

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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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MEXICO CITY - The Vatican has accepted the resignation of Bishop Onesimo Cepeda Silva of Ecatepec.

Bishop Cepeda, who submitted his resignation when he turned 75, in accordance with canon law, counted billionaires among his best friends and became one of the most polemic people in Mexican public life for his perceived relationships with the political elite.

He transitioned from an early career in banking to being bishop of Ecatepec, a sprawling suburb on the northeastern fringes of Mexico City housing the armies of maids, gardeners and construction workers who commute long distances to work in the nearby capital.

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WASHINGTON - The timing of Pew Hispanic Center's report saying Mexican migration to the U.S. had leveled off or reversed course ensured that it would get prominent play April 23 and 24.

Coming just two days before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Arizona v. United States over that state's law cracking down on undocumented immigrants in the state, the report was cited widely in stories providing context for the supposed effect of such laws.

But while the dense, 42-page Pew Hispanic report points to a clear shift in migration patterns for Mexicans, its discussion of the possible causes for that change is far less clear.

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MEXICO CITY - The Mexican Senate narrowly approved a constitutional provision providing "freedom of religion," days after Pope Benedict XVI completed a visit to the country marked by an outpouring of enthusiasm and affection.

The Senate approved changes to Article 24 of the Mexican Constitution March 29, guaranteeing freedom of religion and making it possible to lift restrictions on religious groups to hold services outside of authorized churches without first seeking government permission. Earlier in the day, the Senate approved changes to Article 40 of the constitution by including the word "secular" as one of the descriptions of the Mexican state.

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LEON, Mexico - Pope Benedict XVI thanked Latin America's bishops for their hard work in a troubled region and urged them to continue the evangelization campaign he launched with them at their first meeting five years earlier.

The Pope spoke during a vespers service at Leon's cathedral March 25, the second and last full day of his visit to Mexico. The congregation included about 130 Mexican bishops, along with representatives of other national conferences in the Latin American bishops' council, CELAM.

Pope Benedict said the bishops deserved the "gratitude and admiration" due to "those who sow the Gospel amid thorns, some in the form of persecution, others in the form of social exclusion or contempt." He also recognized that they suffered from shortages of money and personnel and "limitations imposed on the freedom of the church in carrying out her mission."

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SILAO, Mexico - Arriving in Mexico on his second papal visit to Latin America March 23, Pope Benedict XVI said he came as a "pilgrim of faith, of hope, and of love," promoting the cause of religious freedom, social progress and the Catholic Church's charitable works.

Bells tolled and the assembled crowd cheered as Pope Benedict XVI appeared through the door of his Alitalia plane at Guanajuato Internal Airport in central Mexico. He was greeted by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and other dignitaries, including Archbishop Jose Martin Rabago of Leon and Archbishop Carlos Aguilar Retes of Tlalnepantla, president of the Mexican bishops' conference and the Latin American bishops' council, CELAM.

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LEON, Mexico - Thousands of Catholics formed a human wall lining parts of the highway and boulevards leading into and through this industrial city of shoe factories and tanneries in anticipation of Pope Benedict's arrival March 23 -- his first visit to Mexico since being elected in 2005.

Many dressed in white T-shirts and waved Vatican flags as they waited in the hot sun. Others chanted support slogans and screamed as motorists honked horns while passing. Some even began lining up in the predawn hours.

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LEON, Mexico - Pope Benedict XVI will address the pressing issues of poverty and insecurity during his visit to Mexico, along with orienting Catholics toward a missionary mentality, the president of the Mexican bishops' conference said on the eve of the pontiff's arrival.

"Without doubt, he will express preoccupation with the situations the country is experiencing," Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla told Catholic News Service March 22.

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MEXICO CITY - A strong earthquake shook southern and central regions of Mexico March 20, but it had little impact on the region Pope Benedict XVI will visit.

"Everything is fine here," said Father Jorge Raul Villegas, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Leon, which will host Pope Benedict March 23-26.

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