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Pope sends envoy to Iraq to deliver message of support and aid embattled Christians

Pope Francis is dispatching Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to northern Iraq, where Islamist militias have sent thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fleeing for their lives, the Vatican said Friday.

The Vatican announced the appointment of Filoni, a former papal nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, only a day after the pope launched a fresh appeal for the welfare of Christians affected by the violence there.

Vatican: Abandoned Down syndrome baby is victim of 'throwaway' culture

The Vatican warned Wednesday that the alleged rejection of a baby born with Down syndrome to a surrogate mother in Thailand shows how babies have become consumer products for sale.

Surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua, a 21-year-old street vendor, made headlines around the world after claiming she is caring for 7-month-old Gammy, who also has a congenital heart defect, because his biological parents from Australia abandoned him in Thailand.

Pope says memorize the beatitudes, assess your care for the needy

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Christians should memorize not only the Ten Commandments but also the beatitudes, which Jesus taught as the path to true happiness, Pope Francis said.

At his weekly general audience Wednesday, the pope said he was so serious about the need for Christians to know the text of the beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-12 -- "Blessed are the poor in spirit ..." -- that he would read each one out loud and have the crowd repeat it.

More than 6,000 people filled the Vatican audience hall and its atrium for the pope's first general audience after a monthlong break.

To live in evangelical poverty, learn finance, Vatican tells religious

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Taking a vow of poverty does not and should not mean living in ignorance of the economic realities connected to community life and a mission of serving the world in the name of the church, Vatican officials wrote in a letter to members of religious communities.

"Gratuity, fraternity and justice" are the basic principles essential to "an evangelical economy of sharing and communion," said the prefect and secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Compassion, sharing, Eucharist: Steps on the path to heaven, pope says

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Going forward for Communion at Mass, Catholics must do so with a desire to imitate Jesus' compassion for others and with a commitment to sharing what they have, Pope Francis said.

"One who goes to the Eucharist without having compassion for the needy and without sharing is not right with Jesus," the pope said Sunday before reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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