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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!"

Church cracks down on Catholics ensnared in murderous code of revenge

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Hidden beneath Albania's long legacy of interreligious harmony and peace lie the turmoil and bloodshed of an ancient vigilante code that affects thousands of families, many of them Catholic.

Called "blood feuds," they stem from a traditional Albanian code or "kanun" that sanctions murder to restore a family's honor after a member experiences an affront, injustice or killing.

The feud can start with a quarrel or offense, which then triggers the murder of any male member, even teenagers, in the perpetrator's family.

Pope Francis' one-day trip expected to give Albanians hope, healing

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Pope Francis' choice of Albania as the destination of his first international trip in Europe reflects his trademark pastoral approach: Head to the peripheries, bring healing to the suffering.

But his Sept. 21 visit to the poor, Muslim-majority nation also will highlight, to a world increasingly torn apart by sectarian strife, a hopeful example of Muslims and Christians living in harmony.

Force alone cannot stop 'religious cleansing' in Mideast, custos says

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Although Christians, Muslims and Jews have struggled for hundreds of years to live peacefully alongside each other in the Middle East, "we have never seen the kind of 'religious cleansing' we are witnessing today," said the head of the region's Franciscans.

"All religious communities must raise their voices against this abomination" being carried out, particularly in Iraq and Syria, by terrorists calling themselves the Islamic State, said Franciscan Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land.

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September 12-25, 2014

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