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Vatican

Pope cites three lessons from Mary: Be joyful, help others, never give up

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When a mother has a birthday, children send their greetings and love, so make sure to do the same thing on the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Pope Francis said.

The liturgical feast day Monday "would be her birthday. And what do you do when your mom has a birthday? You send her greetings and best wishes," the pope said, after praying the Angelus with people gathered Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

The pope asked people to say "a Hail Mary from the heart" and to not forget to tell her "Happy Birthday!"

Pope says war is senseless slaughter, can always be avoided

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War is just "senseless slaughter" and should never be seen as inevitable or a done deal, Pope Francis said.

"War drags people into a spiral of violence which then proves difficult to control; it tears down what generations have labored to build up, and it sets the scene for even greater injustices and conflicts," he said in a written message to a world summit of religious leaders.

"War is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable. Another way can always be found: the way of dialogue, encounter and the sincere search for truth," he wrote.

Catholic church must welcome 'unconventional couples,' top Italian bishop says

The Catholic church should make "unconventional couples" feel at home instead of making them targets of "de facto discrimination," the leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis said this week.

"Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice," said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, an apparent reference to divorced and remarried Catholics.

Pope Francis' 2015 World Peace Day message to focus on human trafficking

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Human trafficking destroys the lives of millions of children, women and men each year, making it a real threat to peace, the Vatican said as it announced Pope Francis' 2015 World Peace Day message would focus on the phenomenon.

"Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters" will be the theme for the Jan. 1, 2015, commemoration and for the message Pope Francis will write for the occasion, according to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

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