VATICAN CITY - With the opening the Holy Door at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Pope Francis declared that the time for tenderness, joy and forgiveness had begun.

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VATICAN CITY - On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis announced that he would travel to the Marian shrine in Mexico City and pray to Mary so that Christian communities "may become oases and rivers of mercy."

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Pope Francis on Sunday opened the Holy Door for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which officially began last week.

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The daily pilgrimage of every prisoner takes on new meaning this year, thanks to Pope Francis and the Jubilee Year of Mercy that began on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8. From now until the end of November 2016, each time a prisoner walks across the threshold of his jail cell mercy and relief from the pain of sin awaits.

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Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Saturday evening, saying Mary “has experienced the divine mercy, and has hosted the very source of this mercy in her womb: Jesus Christ.”

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VATICAN CITY - As reformed rules for marriage annulment cases came into effect, Pope Francis said the new norms are to be adhered to in order to help bring healing to failed marriages.

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VATICAN CITY - The Catholic Church needs the extraordinary Holy Year to become an effective witness of God's divine mercy, Pope Francis said.

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VATICAN CITY - Concluding the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the opening of the Holy Door, Pope Francis prayed that through Mary, Christians may recognize the victory of divine mercy over sin.

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VATICAN CITY - On a cloudy, damp morning, Pope Francis' voice echoed in the atrium of St. Peter's Basilica: "Open the gates of justice." With five strong thrusts, the pope pushed open the Holy Door, a symbol of God's justice, which he said will always be exercised "in the light of his mercy."

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis will open the Catholic Church’s jubilee on mercy on Tuesday, a nearly year-long event that is expected to bring millions of pilgrims to Rome despite security concerns and logistical challenges.

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VATICAN CITY - Heads of states at the U.N. climate change conference in Paris must do everything possible to mitigate the effects of both climate change and poverty "for the good of our common home," Pope Francis said.

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December 6, 2015

My encounter with Dante

When the 750th birthday of Dante Aligheri (1265-1321) was celebrated in Italy in May, Pope Francis invited Catholics all over the world to take up and read one of the cornerstone works of Western and Christian civilization, The Divine Comedy, as an act of preparation for the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy which launches Dec. 8.  Francis says Dante “is a prophet of hope, herald of the possibility of redemption, liberation and the profound transformation of every man and woman, of all humanity.”

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Papal bulls are serious, powerful documents that once commanded the kings and queens of Europe. It was a papal bull that started the Crusades.

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VATICAN CITY - Whether in Rome or at home, Catholics will have a variety of ways to take part in the Year of Mercy.

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TORONTO - Growing up, Fr. Hector Vila never dreamed of visiting the Yukon. But now the Redemptoris Mater priest from Peru can’t stop thinking about making his first trip to northern Canada.

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