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Pope Francis meets scandal-scarred French President Francois Hollande

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French President Francois Hollande, embroiled in a controversy surrounding an alleged affair with an actress, met Friday with Pope Francis, who was unusually somber in his public appearance with the scandal-scarred French leader.

There was no official comment about what the two men discussed in their private 35-minute meeting, but the pontiff -- known for his friendly and informal style -- appeared more stern and serious than usual as he sat across an ornate desk from Hollande.

Vietnamese Catholics remember Paracel war martyrs

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After 40 years of near-silence, Catholics and retired government officials have expressed gratitude to former South Vietnam’s soldiers who died in the war against the Chinese invasion of the Paracel Islands.

“Today we gather together here to commemorate, express our deep gratitude to and pray for soldiers who sacrificed their lives to defend our nation in the sea war against the Chinese invasion of the Paracel Islands in 1974,” said Fr. Joseph Maria Le Quoc Thang, secretary general of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace.

Vatican Radio director takes bishops to Facebook

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Bishops in the Philippines are stepping into social media. During workshops preceding their semiannual assembly and with the help of Paulist nuns, Seàn-Patrick Lovett is training Philippine bishops to tell stories and engage people using tools like Facebook and Twitter.

Lovett is vice president of the Center for Research and Education in Communication and director of Vatican Radio's English program and has been giving the same seminar to bishops in various countries.

New Chilean cardinal hopes to serve with humility, simplicity

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Cardinal-designate Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago, Chile, said he would serve the church with "humility and simplicity" when he is elevated to cardinal in February.

The cardinal-designate also said although his name had been circulated as a potential candidate, the announcement that he was chosen along with 18 others by Pope Francis was "unexpected."

Antilles cardinal-designate wants to remain 'country parish priest'

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Even as he prepares to receive a red biretta from the hands of Pope Francis, Cardinal-designate Kelvin Felix hopes he can continue his ministry as a "country parish priest."

But he admitted he may have a few new assignments from Pope Francis.

The Dominica-born prelate, ordained in 1956, is the first cardinal to be named from the Antilles bishops' conference, based in Trinidad and Tobago.

Ireland plans to reopen Embassy to Holy See, but no date set

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Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin welcomed an Irish government decision to reopen a Vatican Embassy just over three years after closing it.

Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore announced Tuesday that Ireland was preparing to open a scaled-back embassy but gave no date for the reopening.

Gilmore came under sharp criticism in November 2011 when he announced that the embassy would close and a diplomat based in Dublin would represent Ireland at the Vatican.

Ukraine church urges return to peace amid spiraling street violence

The head of the Ukrainian Catholic church appealed for calm as violence worsened between police and pro-European Union demonstrators in Kiev, Ukraine.

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, said Tuesday that he was dismayed and saddened by as violence escalated for the third consecutive day in and around Kiev's Maidan -- or Independence -- Square.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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