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Pope: Don’t miss Christ this Christmas; take time, be ready, let him in

The Christmas tree and Nativity scene decorate St. Peter's Square at the Vatican after a lighting ceremony Dec. 19. New LED lighting was also unveiled on the facade and dome of the basilica during the ceremony. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service 

VATICAN CITY — God is knocking to come into people’s lives, so be attentive, humble and courageous to let him in, Pope Francis said.

“When we feel in our heart: ‘I want to be good, to be better … I feel sorry for what I’ve done …’ This is Christ who is knocking,” he said before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square Dec. 21. Continue reading

 
‘Questionable’ financial activities leave Franciscans in serious debt
U.S. Franciscan Father Michael Perry, minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, embraces Pope Francis during his 2013 visit to Assisi, Italy. Ineffective budgetary oversight and "questionable" financial activities have plunged the Order of Friars Minor into significant debt and an extremely serious financial situation, Father Perry said. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

U.S. Franciscan Father Michael Perry, minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, embraces Pope Francis during his 2013 visit to Assisi, Italy. Ineffective budgetary oversight and "questionable" financial activities have plunged the Order of Friars Minor into significant debt and an extremely serious financial situation, Father Perry said. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service 

VATICAN CITY — Ineffective budgetary oversight and “questionable” financial activities have plunged the Order of Friars Minor into significant debt and an extremely serious financial situation, its minister general said.

Following an internal investigation into the order’s finances, U.S. Franciscan Father Michael Perry, the superior, announced to all members of the order that its general curia “finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave,’ financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt.” Continue reading

 
‘Happy” about warming of U.S.-Cuba relations, pope praises diplomacy

Pope Francis leaves the general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service 

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis expressed his joy over the historic turning point in U.S.-Cuba relations as the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic ties after half a century.

“Today we are happy because we have seen how two peoples who were distanced for so many years took a step toward each other yesterday,” he told a group of new ambassadors. Continue reading

 
Vatican releases pope’s Christmas season schedule

Col. Daniel Anrig, commander of the Swiss Guard, walks alongside the popemobile as Pope Francis leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 3. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Catholic News Service 

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ 2014-15 Christmas season celebrations will include exactly what he did a year earlier. Releasing the pope’s schedule Dec. 10, the Vatican said he would:

– Celebrate Christmas Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 24. Continue reading

 
Pope calls for more ‘integration’ of divorced Catholics, gays

Pope Francis meets Mozambique's President Armando Emilio Guebuza in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Dec. 4. (CNS photo/Evandro Inetti, pool)

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service 

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church must consider various ways to integrate the divorced and civilly remarried in the life of the church — not merely allowing them to receive Communion, but letting them serve as eucharistic ministers and godparents — and to make it easier for Catholic families to accept their homosexual members.

The pope also said he would travel to three Latin American countries and several African countries in 2015, and that major reforms of the Vatican bureaucracy, including the possible appointment of a married couple to head a new office, will not be ready before 2016. Continue reading

 
Support Catholic religious in their mission, ministries, pope says

Pope Francis leaves the general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — During the Year of Consecrated Life, all Catholics are called to thank God for the gifts members of religious orders have given the church and the world, to join them in prayer and find practical ways to support them and their ministries, Pope Francis said.

“Let them know the affection and the warmth which the entire Christian people feels for them,” the pope said in a letter issued for the special year, which opened Nov. 30 and will close Feb. 2, 2016, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Continue reading

 
Some see unity vision reignited by pope, patriarch’s gestures in Turkey

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople kisses Pope Francis as they embrace during an ecumenical prayer service in the patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul Nov. 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Tom Tracy
Catholic News Service 

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CNS) — After watching firsthand as Pope Francis bowed his head for a blessing from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during the pope’s Nov. 28-30 trip to Turkey, an American-born Orthodox priest felt a joyful disbelief.

“I couldn’t sleep that night,” said Orthodox Father Emmanuel Lemelson, an American priest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who was part of the official Orthodox delegation during the papal visit to Turkey. Continue reading

 
Pope names Milwaukee auxiliary bishop to head Gary Diocese

Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop Donald J. Hying has been named by Pope Francis as the Bishop for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. (CNS photo/courtesy Catholic Herald)

By Catholic News Service 

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Donald J. Hying of Milwaukee as bishop of Gary, Indiana, and accepted the resignation of Bishop Dale J. Melczek, who has headed the diocese since 1996. Continue reading

 
Pope, creating six new saints, uses newly abbreviated formula

Priests from India wait for the start of the canonization Mass of six new saints celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service 

VATICAN CITY — Using a newly simplified rite, Pope Francis proclaimed six new saints and praised them for the love and self-giving with which they served God and built up his kingdom by serving the poor and needy.

Creating the two Indian and four Italian saints Nov. 23, the feast of Christ the King, the pope said, “They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbor,” dedicating themselves, “without holding back, to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims.” Continue reading

 
Church is a mother without borders, welcoming migrants, pope says
Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 12. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-AUDIENCE Nov. 12, 2014.

Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 12. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service 

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church “is a mother without limits and without borders,” welcoming and assisting all of God’s children, particularly those fleeing violence, oppression and poverty, Pope Francis said.

Addressing the 300 participants in the Vatican-sponsored World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, the pope said the church’s concern for the whole person motivates its material aid to immigrants and refugees, its offer of legal assistance and, especially, its pastoral outreach and offer of the sacraments. Continue reading