VATICAN CITY - The world continues to be silent in the face of widespread persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, Pope Francis said.

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Speaking out on one of the most contentious issues of his papacy, Pope Francis issued a powerful call for the Church to embrace Catholics who have divorced and remarried, telling a gathering at the Vatican Aug. 5 that such couples “are not excommunicated, and they absolutely must not be treated that way.”

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VATICAN CITY - The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See believes Pope Francis is not traveling to the United States in September to scold anyone, but to challenge the country's people to live up to their ideals.

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Pope Francis is shunning the expansive papal summer palace in Castel Gandolfo for the third time since 2013, a choice that is causing frustration among locals who rely on the tourists a papal visit brings.

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VATICAN CITY - Trusting in God's infinite mercy, people should not be afraid or embarrassed to go to confession, Pope Francis said.

"There are people who are afraid to go to confession, forgetting that they will not encounter a severe judge there, but the immensely merciful Father," Pope Francis told thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square Aug. 2 for the midday recitation of the Angelus prayer.

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Pope Francis’ unprecedented encyclical on climate change was forceful. Many Catholics, myself included, were pleased to see the Pope address this complex but increasingly important issue.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

The pollster Gallup reports Pope Francis’ popularity in the United States has dropped significantly over the past year, fueled by his writings and teachings surrounding the environment, capitalism, income inequality and other issues.

Published in Robert Brehl

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis was the first pilgrim to sign up for World Youth Day to be held in Krakow, Poland, launching the opening of registration.

Published in World Youth Day 2016

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has welcomed the election of a new patriarch for the Armenian Catholic Church, extending what is known as "ecclesial communion" to Patriarch Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan of Cilicia, who was elected by his fellow Armenian bishops July 24.

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VATICAN CITY - Returning to the Vatican in the midst of a heat wave after an eight-day, three-country trip to South America, Pope Francis took the kind of vacation he said he prefers: what has become known as a "staycation."

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VATICAN CITY - The Vatican has banned an Italian journalist from the papal plane during Pope Francis’ trip to the United States as punishment for his newspaper’s role in breaching the embargo on the pontiff’s hotly anticipated encyclical.

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NAIROBI, Kenya - Pope Francis’ announcement that he will visit East and Central Africa in November has resounded in churches here, with Catholic bishops greeting it as an opportunity to boost the faith in the region.

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PHILADELPHIA - The first stop for Pope Francis when he visits Philadelphia the morning of Sept. 26 will be the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul to celebrate a special Mass for the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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WASHINGTON - Standing beside a statue by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz called Homeless Jesus, Msgr. John Enzler pledged to spend a night with the city’s homeless before Pope Francis’ visit in September.

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Growing conservative disaffection with Pope Francis appears to be taking a toll on his once teflon-grade popularity in the United States, with a new Gallup poll showing the pontiff’s favourability rating among all Americans dropping to 59 per cent from a 76-per-cent peak early last year.

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