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TRAVESIO, ITALY - It’s not every Sunday you’re escorted to Mass by a procession. Upon arriving in Travesio in northern Italy, a marching band and about a dozen people carrying banners representing various comunes (or municipalities) in the region come into view. As they lead us through the winding streets to the parish of St. Quirino for a Mass celebrated by the regional bishop, we wave back at onlookers. With a backdrop of bells ringing atop the stone tower beside the church, it’s time for the celebration to begin. 

Published in Travel

ROME - Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith and then spared after an international campaign, left Italy on July 31 on a flight for the United States, where she plans to build a new life.

Published in International

ROME - As the Catholic Church wrestles with changing community attitudes on key social issues, a new Italian survey finds more support for abortion, gay rights and euthanasia than for cosmetic surgery.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - His voice breaking with emotion, Giovanni Traettino, a Pentecostal pastor in southern Italy and longtime friend of Pope Francis, welcomed the Pope, "my beloved brother," to his partially built church in Caserta.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - The godfather who stands up for a child's baptism one day and spends the rest of the week running a brutal crime ring unfortunately is not the stuff of movies.

Published in Features

VATICAN CITY - It began with the murder of an innocent three-year-old boy who burned to death in his grandfather’s car in a Mafia ambush in January. Pope Francis was so shaken by the death of Nicola “Coco” Campolongo that he spoke out against the ferocity of the crime and those behind it.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - Although Pope Francis planned to make a short, private visit to Caserta in southern Italy specifically to visit a Pentecostal pastor he knows from Argentina, the 200-km trip has taken a new form — two forms, to be exact.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - A bishop in Calabria has ordered an end to all religious processions in his diocese after 30 men carrying a large statue of Mary and hundreds of people accompanying the statue paused and bowed in front of the house of a presumed mafia boss.

Published in International

ROME - Only two weeks after Pope Francis announced he was excommunicating the Mafia, a religious procession in southern Italy has provoked uproar after paying homage to a convicted mobster.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - The tragic deaths of thousands of men, women and children who die while searching for a better future should trigger compassion and action, not indifference, Pope Francis said.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis will travel to the heartland of the Italian mafia for the first time June 21, visiting the southern town where a three-year-old was murdered in a local drug war earlier this year.

Published in Vatican

ROME - Italy’s Catholic bishops have condemned a court ruling that lifts a ban on married couples using sperm donors for artificial insemination, likening the move to playing God.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - The conductor Zubin Mehta performed with an Italian orchestra at the Vatican Feb. 4, in a concert honoring Pope Benedict XVI and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

Published in International

ROVERETO DI NOVI, Italy - Fear and anxiety are natural responses to the terror and destruction wrought by a natural disaster, but God's love is rock solid, providing certainty and solace for all victims, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Upon this rock, with this firm hope, one can build and one can rebuild," he said to more than 2,000 Rovereto di Novi residents -- many of whom were rendered homeless and jobless by two earthquakes in May.

"Remain true to your vocation as fraternal and supportive people, and tackle everything with patience and determination, fighting the temptations that unfortunately come with these moments of weakness and need," he said June 26.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - Catholics who dedicate themselves to special prayers and efforts to promote the holiness of Christian families can receive special indulgences during the World Meeting of Families May 30-June 2 in Milan.

Pope Benedict XVI authorized the indulgences for those who, "truly repentant and motivated by charity, dedicate themselves to the sanctification of the family," said a decree published May 25 by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, which deals with indulgences.

Published in Vatican