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Vatican statistics show modest, steady church growth worldwide

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The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests and permanent deacons rose slightly in 2013 while the number of men and women in religious orders declined, according to Vatican statistics.

For the second year in a row, the number of candidates for the priesthood also decreased.

The numbers come from the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which was completed in February and published in March. The yearbook reported worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2013.

Blood of Naples' patron liquefies during Pope Francis' visit to cathedral

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At the end of Pope Francis' spontaneity-filled meeting with priests, seminarians and religious in the cathedral of Naples, the vial of dried blood of the city's patron saint appeared to miraculously liquefy.

After Pope Francis blessed the congregation with the reliquary holding the vial, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples announced, "As a sign that St. Januarius loves the pope, who is Neapolitan like us, the blood is already half liquefied."

Pope Francis erects diocese of Nogales, Mexico, just south of U.S.

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Pope Francis has erected a diocese in northern Mexico, located along the border of Arizona.

The diocese of Nogales is in the northern part of Sonora state and includes territory from the archdiocese of Hermosillo, Mexico, the Vatican announced Thursday.

The pope appointed Bishop Jose Leopoldo Gonzalez Gonzalez, 60, to head the new diocese. He had been auxiliary bishop of the Guadalajara archdiocese.

Pope Francis calls death penalty 'unacceptable,' urges abolition

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Pope Francis came out squarely against the death penalty once again, calling it "unacceptable" regardless of the seriousness of the crime of the condemned.

Pope Francis met with a three-person delegation of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty on Friday and issued a letter on the occasion urging worldwide abolition.

Citing his previous messages against the death penalty, the pope called capital punishment "cruel, inhumane and degrading" and said it "does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge."

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August 28-September 10, 2015

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