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On Christmas, pope looks to forgotten conflicts and underlying causes

Pope Francis’ urbi et orbi blessing on Christmas day checked the expected boxes of global trouble spots, but added several other areas of tragic suffering that often don’t make the nightly news. Most of the coverage focused on the pope’s comments about Jerusalem: “On this festive day, let us ask the Lord for peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land. Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two States within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders.” President Trump recently announced that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israe

Vatican tightens rules on relic distribution, veneration

The Vatican this month issued tighter norms governing how relics are obtained, authenticated and venerated by the faithful. It might seem an arcane topic to many Catholics, but the Vatican takes it seriously, especially in an age in which relics can be bought and sold online and are vulnerable to other forms of abuse. The rules were published by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the Vatican agency that oversees canonizations, and confirms two trends at the Vatican: greater control over validating relics of saints, and discouragement of cutting up saints’ bodies. The congregation also emphasized that relics are not to be displayed in “profane” places, a concern that has increased in recent

Pope Francis takes aim at Vatican officials who 'betray trust'

Pope Francis’ annual Christmas speeches to the Roman Curia have become famous for their honest – some would say brutal – critiques of infighting, careerism and selfishness found in the top tier of the Vatican’s bureaucracy leadership. This year, the pope set his sights on in-house critics and “those who betray the trust put in them,” in particular Vatican officials who, when they find themselves sidelined from power, go around complaining of a “pope kept in the dark.” He urged the Roman Curia members to rise above the “unbalanced and debased mindset of plots and small cliques,” saying it represents a “cancer” inside the church and undermines the Curia’s role of service to the universal churc

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