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Pope Francis

Study finds massive 'Francis effect' in Italy

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One of Italy’s best known sociologists of religion says more than half the country’s pastors report an increase in attendance at Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation that they attribute to a “Francis effect,” and that “hundreds of thousands” of Italians have returned to the practice of the faith because of the new pope.

“It’s a massive, and even spectacular result,” said Massimo Introvigne, one he believes cannot be attributed to a passing “media honeymoon.”

From Benedict to Francis, the perils of papal interviews

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Rome – Many things may have changed in the transition from Benedict XVI to Francis, but recent experience suggests that at least one point has remained almost entirely the same: the difficulty of releasing a blockbuster papal interview in a way that doesn’t make somebody unhappy.

Three years ago, a mini-brouhaha erupted over Benedict’s book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, in which the pontiff said that in some cases the use of condoms, especially in the context of AIDS, may be “a first step in the direction of a moralization.”

Pope Francis and a church that changes

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The first months of any papacy are carefully scanned by many to see just what they say about how the new pope, who represents the world's some 1.2 billion Catholics, might change (or at least subtly alter) the direction of the church.

Pope Francis, of course, has already left many breadcrumbs for interpretation -- from feet washing to apparent reform of the so-called Vatican bank.

Pope Francis: Saints John XXIII & John Paul II

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In a brilliant move to unify the church, Pope Francis approved the canonization of Pope John XXIII and John Paul II. Pope Francis realized that most Catholics like both popes, but some liberal Catholics love John XXIII and think John Paul was too authoritarian. On the other hand, some conservative Catholics love John Paul and think that John XXIII pushed the church into chaos.

With the joint announcement, Pope Francis is saying we do not have to choose between popes; we can honor and revere both as holy men who served the church well in their times.

With sainthood decree, Francis stokes John XXIII comparisons

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News Friday that Pope Francis has unexpectedly approved sainthood for his predecessor John XXIII, the pope who sparked wide changes in the church in the 1960's, may again stoke comparisons the two pontiffs, who are both noted for a certain jovial, reform-minded style.

Days after Francis' March election as Bishop of Rome, some noted church historians were already asking if he'd act as John XXIII, a beloved figure among some U.S. Catholics for his decision to open a 1962-65 worldwide meeting of bishops to consider nearly all aspects of the faith.

Highlights from Pope Francis’ first encyclical

VATICAN CITY -- Less than four months after being elected, Pope Francis published his first encyclical on Friday (July 5).

But the 82-page “Lumen Fidei,” (“The Light of Faith”)  is only partially Francis’ work. As Francis himself told a group of cardinals and bishops in May, the encyclical was written “with four hands” together with retired Pope Benedict XVI.

Three things to learn about Francis from his sainthood surprise

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We used to call John Paul II the “pope of surprises,” but Francis clearly has demonstrated that he’s more than capable of pulling a rabbit out of the hat himself. Today’s surprise announcement that John Paul II will be canonized along with John XXIII seems to tell us at least three things worth knowing about the new pontiff.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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