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Brazilian president says pope will visit Rio, Aparecida in July

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Pope Francis confirmed he would be in Rio de Janeiro in July for World Youth Day and, she said, he also told her he intended to visit Brazil's National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the pope and Rousseff spent 15 minutes speaking alone Wednesday before the dozen members of her delegation joined them.

Salvadoran clergy hopeful for canonization of Oscar Romero

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Salvadoran clergy are hopeful that the canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero, killed while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980, during El Salvador's civil war, will move forward under the church's first Latin American pope.

"We are in the best of circumstances. The time is ripe for a final verdict," Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador told Catholic News Service, referring to Pope Francis, who as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, until he was elected pope March 13.

Francis temporarily reappoints curial heads, mulls new appointments

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Although the early reaction to Pope Francis has been tremendously positive, it's largely based on matters of style and personality. The extent to which his expressed dream of a "poor church for the poor" will be translated into a program of governance remains to be seen.

So far, there have been two hints that the new pope sees himself as a genuine reformer, not just in words but also in deeds.

Just in time for Passover, Israel braces for locust invasion

With Passover just three weeks away, the timing of a massive infestation of locusts in Egypt is striking many Israelis as downright biblical.

Millions of the grasshopper-like insects swarmed Israel's southern neighbor, damaging crops. Some have since made their way to southern Israel.

On the eve of Passover, which this year begins at sundown March 25, Jews around the world will recall the Exodus story and the 10 plagues that befell Egypt.

Venezuelan president changed nation, had rocky relations with bishops

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Hugo Chavez, a socialist president who transformed Venezuela while acting as chief protagonist in what was one of the worst Catholic church-government relationships in Latin America, died Tuesday. He was 58.

Chavez died of complications from a respiratory infection almost two years and four surgeries after his cancer diagnosis was made public. He flew to Cuba for his fourth surgery in early December and developed post-surgical complications, including bleeding and a lung infection, doctors said.

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July 18-31, 2014

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