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December 11, 2013 | By Michael McGough
As pro-Western and pro-Russian Ukrainians battle over the future orientation of their country, there is a world figure who could offer an important symbolic gift to European-minded Ukrainians: Pope Francis. Stalin supposedly dismissed the importance of the Roman Catholic Church by asking: “How many divisions does the pope have?” But before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has kept a wary eye on the Vatican's activities, particularly in connection with the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine.
December 5, 2013 | By Tom Kington
ROME - In his first formal response to one of the biggest challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis is establishing a commission to look at how the church can better protect children from sexual abuse by its priests. The group's formation was announced Thursday by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, and instantly denounced as inadequate by organizations representing victims of sex abuse by priests. At a Vatican news conference, O'Malley said the panel would look at pastoral responses to child abuse, not just judicial ones, but said it would be largely up to individual Catholic jurisdictions around the world to decide how to go about stopping the scourge and disciplining those responsible.
December 4, 2013 | By Patrick Kevin Day
There are few Roman Catholics more prominent in the media than Stephen Colbert, so it makes sense that the "Colbert Report" host would jump all over reports that Pope Francis sneaks out of the Vatican at night, disguised as a regular priest, to minister to the homeless. "He's a vigilante vicar," Colbert declared of the reports, which the pope himself will not confirm. "Coming to the help of those in need? He's the Batpope!" And now that you mention it, he kind of is like Batman.
December 3, 2013
Re "Pope's manifesto calls for decentralized church," Nov. 27 Contrary to Pope Francis' comments, capitalism has done more to empower people and raise living standards than any other force in history. As Milton Friedman pointed out years ago: "The only cases in which the masses have escaped from … grinding poverty … in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it's exactly in the kind of societies that depart from that.
December 3, 2013 | By Amy Hubbard
Pope Francis, well-known do-gooder, may be doing even more good under a secret guise. Super Pope. No, he's not really a superhero, although his fans -- Catholic and non-Catholic among them -- find much to admire. But the pope may be dressing as a regular ol' priest at night to sneak out of the Vatican with a sidekick to mingle with the poor -- giving them money or just hanging out to let them know he's there for them. When he was an archbishop, his nighttime visits to the poor, the elderly and the sick of Buenos Aires were documented.
December 2, 2013 | By Daniel Rothberg
During a four-hour visit to a church near Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis shared with parishioners some of the finer points of his résumé, including a stint working as a bouncer. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported that the pope told a group of parishioners at the church of San Cirillo Alessandrino about his earlier jobs, which also included sweeping floors and running laboratory tests, according to a report from the Catholic News Service. Many were quick to note that nightclub bouncers are not exactly known for the inclusiveness that has marked Pope Francis' reputation during his first year.
December 2, 2013 | By Batsheva Sobelman
JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a 25-minute audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday, the first meeting between the two leaders. Netanyahu presented the pontiff with a Spanish translation of "The Origins of the Inquisition," a book written by the Israeli leader's late father, Ben-Zion Netanyahu , an acclaimed historian known widely for his research on the topic. "To his Holiness Pope Franciscus, a great shepherd of our common heritage," Netanyahu inscribed on the inside cover.
November 26, 2013 | By Michael Hiltzik
Here's a denunciation of the financial system and income inequality that people all over the world will find hard to overlook, or ignore. Its author is Pope Francis, and the text is from his apostolic exhortation published this week , which addresses in part what he calls "a socioeconomic system...unjust at its root. " Selections from paragraphs 53-60. No further commentary required:  "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality.
November 26, 2013 | By Tom Kington
ROME - Eight months into his headline-grabbing papacy, Pope Francis issued a wide-ranging manifesto Tuesday in which he sharply criticizes the excesses of capitalism and says he wants a decentralized Roman Catholic Church that is "bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets. " Francis' 84-page Apostolic Exhortation, titled "The Joy of the Gospel," gathers together a number of the causes he has championed in speeches and homilies since being elected in March, including the need for "a conversion of the papacy," to reverse the "excessive centralization.
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