The Vatican last week released the Pope’s encyclical on the environment and while many pundits suggested the Catholic Church and its spiritual leader should butt out of ecological politics and economics, the Pope’s hard-hitting missive about our endangered planet got a relatively positive review.

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VATICAN CITY - It took place in silence and lasted only a few minutes, but Pope Francis' time of prayer and contemplation before the Shroud of Turin was marked with gestures of reverence and tenderness.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis on June 19 criticized world powers for their failure to find a solution to the Syrian conflict, saying the country’s Christians had been united by “the blood of the martyrs” lost in war.

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MEXICO CITY - Pope Francis aims to touch the hearts of people so that they act to stem climate change and change their lifestyle to reduce negative impacts on the planet in his encyclical on the environment, said a priest at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.

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[Read the Pope's encyclical on the environment here.]

VATICAN CITY - The earth, which was created to support life and give praise to God, is crying out with pain because human activity is destroying it, Pope Francis says in his long-awaited encyclical, Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home.

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WASHINGTON - Long before Pope Francis' encyclical on care for creation was released, it was providing a boost for a group of women struggling to keep the negative influences of modern-day life from erasing valued Mexican traditions and treasured cultural practices along the Mexico-Texas border.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis said people who shut out refugees should seek forgiveness June 17, after clashes on Italy’s borders as European countries try to push back against a wave of migrants fleeing by boat from Libya.

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VATICAN CITY - Appealing to the entire world, Pope Francis urged everyone to read his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation and to better protect a damaged earth.

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The most anticipated papal encyclical in history has anticipated itself. What an angry Vatican spokesman called an “intermediate draft” of the letter from Pope Francis on the environment was leaked by an Italian magazine three days before its official launch.

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A new survey finds U.S. Catholics — like most Americans — are divided along political lines when it comes to the cause and urgency of climate change. And Pope Francis, in a leaked copy of a hotly anticipated encyclical, goes straight at it.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis said planning for a possible visit to Colombia would be accelerated by a peace agreement in the country, said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, following his meeting with the pontiff at the Vatican June 15.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stressed the importance of children having heterosexual parents June 14, just a day after Rome’s gay pride march demonstrated the changing attitudes about same-sex couples outside the Vatican walls.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Pope Francis accepted the resignations June 15 of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche of St. Paul and Minneapolis and named coadjutor Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of Newark, New Jersey, a canon lawyer, to be apostolic administrator of the Minnesota archdiocese.

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Now is the time Catholics need to prepare for a new urgency and a new way of thinking about our tradition and the natural world. We have to claim a new or renewed intimacy with creation.

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VATICAN CITY - People must change their lifestyles and attitudes to help defeat hunger, Pope Francis said June 11, a hint of what may be coming in his much-anticipated environmental encyclical next week.

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