MANILA, Philippines - Although it was not called a welcoming ceremony, Pope Francis was greeted by government and church officials and an exuberant crowd Jan. 15 at Manila's Villamor Air Base.

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The pastoral visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines, which culminates Jan. 18 at an outdoor Mass expected to draw more than four million people, is being dubbed as a “mercy and compassion visit,” said Faye Arellano of Toronto.

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MANILA, Philippines - Father Matthieu Dauchez knows the children he works with are not the only poor people in the Philippines, but that has not stopped him from lobbying loudly and praying constantly that Pope Francis will stop by.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Pope Francis told Sri Lankans seeking reconciliation after two-and-a-half decades of civil war that, before they can forgive each other, they must repent of their own sins.

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MANILA, Philippines - Long before Pope Francis left the Vatican for his January trip to Asia, Jesuit Father Emmanuel "Nono" Alfonso and his colleagues were already working on the "what's next" part of hosting a papal trip.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Arriving in Sri Lanka, a country recovering from two-and-a-half decades of ethnic and religious civil war, Pope Francis said reconciliation would require its people to explore their painful recent history and accept persistent differences within their multicultural society.

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VATICAN CITY - The Vatican rejected reports that it could be the next target of Islamist terrorists after last week’s deadly attacks in France.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Hours before Pope Francis was to arrive in Sri Lanka, people in Colombo were busy with final preparations.

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NEW DELHI - Sri Lankan church officials confirmed that Pope Francis' January trip to the country is on schedule, despite calls by Catholic clergy and organizations to postpone the visit because it is being politicized as the country prepares for a presidential election.

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