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Mar 28, 2013

Pope includes women for first time in Holy Thursday rite

ROME (Reuters) – Two young women were among 12 people whose feet Pope Francis washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison on Holy Thursday, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite.

The pope travelled to the Casal del Marmo prison on Rome’s outskirts for the traditional Mass, which commemorates Jesus’s gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.

Mar 28, 2013

Pope urges Catholic priests to help poor, shun careerism

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Beginning a busy program of Easter events, Pope Francis on Thursday urged Catholic priests to devote themselves to helping the poor and suffering instead of worrying about careers as Church “managers”.

Francis’ homily at his first Holy Thursday service as Roman Catholic leader was the latest sign since his surprise election two weeks ago of his determination that the 1.2 billion-member Church should be closer to the poor.

Mar 24, 2013

New pope cites grandma’s folk wisdom at his first Palm Sunday

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The new pope began Holy Week on Sunday with a sermon invoking the folk wisdom of his grandmother, further emphasising a new-look papacy that aims to be closer to the people.

Leading his first major service since his election, Pope Francis addressed a vast crowd gathered for Palm Sunday with simple language, urging them to shun corruption and greed and reach out to “the humble, the poor, the forgotten”.

Mar 23, 2013

Pope, former pope meet in first such encounter in 600 years

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (Reuters) – A reigning pope and ex-pope faced each other for the first time in at least 600 years on Saturday when Pope Francis traveled south of Rome to meet his predecessor, “pope emeritus Benedict XVI”.

Francis, who was elected on March 13, arrived by helicopter at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo for a meeting and lunch with Benedict, who has been living here since he abdicated on February 28.

Mar 22, 2013

Pope urges dialogue with Islam, more help for the poor

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged the West on Friday to intensify dialogue with Islam and appealed to the world to do more to combat poverty and protect the environment.

Speaking in Italian, the new pontiff said richer countries should fight what he called “the spiritual poverty of our times” by re-forging links with God.

Mar 21, 2013

Argentine Nobel peace laureate Esquivel defends pope

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel defended Pope Francis on Thursday against accusations he failed to speak out against repression during the 1976-83 military dictatorship in their native Argentina, saying he preferred “silent diplomacy”.

Links between some high-ranking Roman Catholic clergymen and the U.S-backed military regime that kidnapped and killed up to 30,000 leftists between 1976 and 1983 tarnished the Church’s reputation in Argentina and the wounds have yet to heal.

Mar 20, 2013

Pope urges religions, those with no church to ally for justice

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged members of all religions and those belonging to no church on Wednesday to unite to defend justice, peace and the environment and not allow the value of a person to be reduced to “what he produces and what he consumes”.

Francis, elected a week ago as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, met leaders of non-Catholic Christian religions such as Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists, and others including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.

Mar 20, 2013

Pope sets tone for humbler papacy, calls for defense of the weak

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis set the tone for a new, humbler papacy at his inaugural Mass on Tuesday where he called for the Church to defend the weak and protect the environment.

Addressing up to 200,000 people including many foreign leaders gathered under bright sunshine in St. Peter’s Square, the Argentine pope underlined his central message since he was elected by a secret conclave of cardinals last Wednesday – that the Church’s mission was to defend the poor and disadvantaged.

Mar 19, 2013

Pope tours square in open vehicle to greet crowd before mass

ROME (Reuters) – Pope Francis toured a crammed St. Peter’s Square in an open white jeep on Tuesday to greet a huge crowd gathered for a Mass to inaugurate his papacy, which has already fanned hope for a renewal of the scandal-plagued Roman Catholic Church.

In another sign of the informality that is already a mark of his papacy, Francis abandoned the bullet-proof popemobile frequently used by his more formal predecessor Benedict, to tour the sprawling square in bright sunshine.

Mar 18, 2013

Papal inaugural Mass will straddle religion and politics

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican was preparing for a huge crowd for Pope Francis’s inaugural Mass on Tuesday, an event straddling religion and politics that will bring together European royalty, heads of state and world spiritual leaders.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to cram St. Peter’s Square and surrounding streets for the Mass to formally install Francis as the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.