OTTAWA - A popular American psychologist and author told an Ottawa audience he hopes bishops attending this month’s Synod on the Family in Rome will address the importance of strong fathers in the family.

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The Synod on the Family is not about communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, or how to reach out to gay Catholics, or even celibacy of priests. It’s about the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis reminded 318 delegates as they began closed door discussions on family issues.

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VATICAN CITY - Showing mercy and accompanying people who are living in situations that go against church teaching entail helping to steer them in the direction that God wants, said two synod participants.

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VATICAN CITY - Ghanaian Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle defended African bishops’ role in the Vatican’s meeting on family issues, stating they were not in Rome to block progress but to present their own views.

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VATICAN CITY - Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said the Synod on the family must recognize global diversity while staying true to Church doctrine.

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VATICAN CITY - Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life.

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The world Synod of Bishops on the family is not a parliament where participants will negotiate or lobby, Pope Francis said, but it must be a place of prayer where bishops speak with courage and open themselves to “God who always surprises us.”

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VATICAN CITY  — In a world filled with challenges to marriage and family life, the Catholic Church is called “to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love,” Pope Francis said at the Mass opening the world Synod of Bishops on the family.

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For the fourth time since 2008, I will spend a good part of the month of October in an “upper room” at the Vatican, seated among the fathers (elders) — and several “mothers” — of the Church listening to people who love the Church and care about her future. Presiding over the important gathering known as a “Synod” is the Bishop of Rome, also known as Vicar of Christ, Successor of St. Peter or simply: “the Pope.”

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis planned two gatherings of the Synod of Bishops to focus on the family and urged participants to use the year between the assemblies as a time for "true spiritual discernment" with both study and prayer.

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PHILADELPHIA - Pope Francis urged the hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families to serve and care for each other as freely as God loves the human family.
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PHILADELPHIA - A re-energized Pope Francis delighted tens of thousands of people crowded onto a thoroughfare in the city center on Saturday, delivering a folksy, off-the-cuff riff on family life that came late in the evening, and at the end of a long day of speeches and festivities that by any measure should have left the 78-year-old pontiff drained.

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SANTIAGO, Cuba - Pope Francis ended his trip to Cuba by blessing the city of Santiago de Cuba and telling Cubans to treat family as an "opportunity" rather than a problem.

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VATICAN CITY - More than 360 participants, including 18 married couples from around the world, were expected to attend October's Synod of Bishops on the family.

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TORONTO - One hundred more families, three-million more dollars and an infinite well of compassion will be the Archdiocese of Toronto’s response to photos of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s tiny, lifeless body lying on a Turkish beach.

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