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Vatican

At Mass near John Paul's tomb, pope focuses on experiencing God's love

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Surprising pilgrims at Blessed John Paul II's tomb, Pope Francis made an early morning visit to St. Peter's Basilica and celebrated Mass with the mostly Polish pilgrims.

More than 100 priests and pilgrims were gathered Thursday at the basilica's Chapel of St. Sebastian for a morning Mass near Blessed John Paul's tomb. Pope Francis arrived unannounced to preside at the liturgy and prayed for the late pope's intercession to help today's Christians be strong, not weak in their faith.

Vatican not worried about possibility U.S. monitored its calls

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The Vatican has no evidence its calls were monitored by the U.S. National Security Agency and, even if they were, "we have no concerns about it," the Vatican spokesman said.

Asked about the possibility that the NSA's electronic eavesdropping program had monitored Vatican calls, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi told reporters Wednesday, "We have no evidence of this."

Francis gets down to business on reform

Pope Francis recently described reform in the church as a two-step process. First, he said, one has to get the "attitudes" right, then policies and structures will follow.

If much of his first eight months in office has been about projecting new attitudes, Oct. 1-3 may be remembered as the moment when stage two kicked in and the pope got down to business.

Over those days, Francis joined the first meeting of his new Council of Cardinals, a body of eight prelates from around the world intended to bring the voices of local churches into decisions made in Rome.

Pope decides to hold 2014 Lenten retreat away from Vatican

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"As a good Jesuit," Pope Francis knows it is best not to try to make a retreat where one lives and works, so he has decided the annual papal Lenten retreat with Roman Curia officials will be held outside Rome, a Vatican spokesman said.

The annual retreat will take place March 9-14 at the Pauline Fathers' retreat and conference center in Ariccia, a town about 20 miles southeast of Rome, said Passionist Fr. Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office.

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July 18-31, 2014

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