National Catholic Reporter

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Italy

Children need heterosexual parents, Pope Francis says after gay pride march

Pope Francis on Sunday stressed the importance of children having heterosexual parents, just a day after Rome's gay pride march demonstrated the changing attitudes about same-sex couples outside the Vatican walls.

Addressing around 25,000 followers from the diocese of Rome, the pope said the differences between men and women are fundamental and "an integral part of being human."

The pope likened a long-lasting marriage to a good wine, in which a husband and wife make the most of their gender differences.

Pope Francis helps homeless, poor in Rome make pilgrimage to Shroud of Turin

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With financial assistance from Pope Francis, a Rome parish led 50 homeless and poor people on a pilgrimage to see the Shroud of Turin on Thursday and has provided the money needed for another Rome parish to do the same a week later.

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, said the pope supported the pilgrimages particularly as part of the preparation for his own trip to Turin June 21-22 to venerate the shroud, which has been on public display since late April.

Pope to Franciscans: Stay true to charism, keep people's respect

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Pope Francis urged Franciscan friars to hold true to their charism of fraternity, humility and poverty and not lose the respect they have earned over the centuries for living up to those ideals.

The more one feels small before God and in need of his mercy, "the closer we are to salvation; the more we are convinced of being sinners, the more we are willing to be saved," he said in an audience Tuesday with 200 Franciscan leaders.

Pope Francis' visit to Turin will highlight shroud, young people, marginalized

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Pope Francis will spend two days in Turin to venerate the Shroud of Turin; meet young people, workers, juvenile detainees, immigrants and the sick; and visit with his Italian relatives from northern Italy.

The papal visit June 21-22 also will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco, a 19th-century priest from the Turin region who was a pioneer in vocational education, worked with poor and abandoned children and founded the Salesians, a religious order specializing in youth work.

Italy and Vatican on guard after threat from Islamic State

The Italian government is on high alert after threats from the Islamic State called Italy "the nation signed with the blood of the cross."

Italy is one of a handful of major Western counties that has not been victim of a large-scale terror assault since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.

Italian officials fear extremists could enter the country amid the growing tide of refugees arriving by boat from North Africa. About 500 extra troops have been stationed to guard symbolic targets in Rome and monitor the streets of the capital for suspicious activity.

Pope calls for solidarity with migrants after deadly sea crossing

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Pope Francis once again urged solidarity with migrants who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea for Europe, and assured prayers for the victims of a deadly crossing in early February.

During his general audience Wednesday, the pope called for a spirit of solidarity with migrants "so that no one lacks necessary aid."

He said he was following the news coming out of Lampedusa "with concern." Lampedusa is a southern Italian island that serves as a port of entry for many of the migrants illegally entering Europe by sea.

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