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Queen Elizabeth to visit Pope Francis at Vatican on April 3

The Queen of England will visit Pope Francis at the Vatican in April, Buckingham Palace announced.

A Feb. 4 statement said Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will meet the pope on April 3.

The queen and prince will visit Rome at the invitation of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, the statement said.

It said the royal couple would attend a private lunch hosted by the president at the presidential palace, then would have an audience with the pope at the Vatican.

St. Louis Ukrainian Catholics pray, worry as unrest unfolds in homeland

Olga Shulga said her father has never lived in fear. So when she learned he had joined the protesters in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, she wasn't all that surprised.

Shulga and her husband, Alex, members of St. Mary's Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Parish in St. Louis, are among those prayerfully watching as the unrest continues to unfold in Ukraine.

Scottish Catholic agency will not have to consider same-sex adopters

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A Catholic adoption agency in Scotland has won an appeal that allows it to remain functioning without assessing gay couples as possible adopters and foster parents.

The ruling Friday by the Scottish Charity Appeals Panel means that Glasgow-based St. Margaret's Children and Family Care Society has become the only Catholic adoption agency in Britain to stay open as an agency operating in accordance with the teachings of the church on marriage and human sexuality.

Sisters in Vietnam help the poor enjoy a happier lunar new year

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Thanks to the efforts of local Catholic sisters in Vietnam, HIV/AIDS patients and others in need find simple pleasures during the festival of Tet (Lunar New Year). This help comes during an especially difficult time for many Vietnamese recovering from an economic downturn in 2012.

Hai Quyen (real name withheld) in her winter clothes enthusiastically clapped in time to the music, repeating words of the song Xuan Da Ve (Spring Just Comes) while watching traditional dances performed by a group of nuns.

White Army could be wild card in South Sudan's cease-fire, says priest

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A Catholic priest who fled the recent fighting in South Sudan remains hopeful that a cease-fire will hold but worries that an ethnic militia called the White Army may refuse to stop fighting.

"They aren't an organized force, so they may attack again because they don't understand," Fr. Edward Joseph Deng told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from Juba, the capital of South Sudan. "The rebel soldiers will stop if they're given that order, but the White Army could do anything."

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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