National Catholic Reporter

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Vatican City

Maturing in faith means not just asking God for favors, pope says

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The journey of faith always begins a little selfishly, seeking from God healing or help with a problem, but Christian maturity is allowing oneself to be purified and to arrive at the point of recognizing Jesus as savior, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass on Thursday in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives, Pope Francis commented on Gospel stories that recount how the crowds flocked to Jesus hoping for healing.

Poverty stems from unjust economic system, not big families, pope says

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Families who have lots of children do not cause poverty, Pope Francis said.

The main culprit is "an economic system that has removed the human person from its focus and has placed the god of money" as its priority instead, he said Wednesday.

The pope dedicated his general audience talk to a review of some of the highlights from his Jan. 13-19 visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Speaking to an estimated 7,000 people gathered in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope recalled his second apostolic journey to Asia after visiting South Korea in August.

Pope Francis to moms: It's OK to breast-feed in public

While baptizing 33 babies in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, Pope Francis urged mothers to breast-feed their infants if they were hungry.

"Mothers, give your children milk -- even now," Francis said. "If they cry because they are hungry, breast-feed them, don't worry."

The pope departed from his prepared text, which included the phrase "give them milk," and inserted the Italian term allattateli, which means "breast-feed them."

The celebration took place to mark the day Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the waters of the Jordan River.

Catechism, yoga, Zen cannot open people's hearts to God, pope says

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Courses in yoga, Zen meditation, even extensive studies in church teaching and spirituality can never free people enough to open their hearts to God and his love, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

Only the Holy Spirit can "move the heart" and make it "docile to the Lord, docile to the freedom of love," the pope said Friday at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The pope looked at how Jesus' disciples could fail to recognize and be open to the Lord's miracles, like his walking on water, the multiplication of the loaves and encountering him on the road to Emmaus.

Pope Francis offers Mass for victims of attack at Paris satirical newspaper

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The morning after 12 people were shot to death and 11 others injured at the Paris office of a satirical weekly newspaper, Pope Francis dedicated his early morning Mass to the victims and their families.

At the beginning of the Mass on Thursday, he told the small congregation that the attack Wednesday in Paris was a reminder of "the cruelty man is capable of. Let us pray at this Mass for the victims of this cruelty -- there are so many! And, we pray also for the perpetrators of such cruelty that the Lord will change their hearts."

Yazidis thank Pope Francis for his support at Vatican meeting

An estimated 5,000 Yazidi women are being held as slaves by militants from the Islamic State group, Pope Francis was told when he met a top-level delegation of Yazidi leaders Thursday at the Vatican.

The delegation was led by Tahseen Said Al Baig, the Yazidis' secular leader, and Sheikh Kato, the group's supreme spiritual leader, or "Baba Sheikh," the Vatican said in a statement.

Yazidi officials from northern Iraq, Georgia and Germany were also among the delegation that met the pope for 30 minutes inside the Apostolic Palace.

Vatican to send $3.5 million to help church response to Ebola

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The Vatican is helping Catholic dioceses and agencies step up the fight against Ebola and is urging other donors to help.

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace announced Wednesday that the Holy See would be making a "financial contribution" to support church-sponsored assistance to those affected by the Ebola outbreak. Vatican Radio reported the sum would be $3.5 million.

Pope Francis: A world without mothers would be inhumane, lacking tenderness

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Mothers are indispensable to society and the church, showing the world what it means to generously give oneself for others, to respect life and to display tenderness and moral strength even in times of trouble, Pope Francis said.

Speaking to some 4,000 people gathered indoors for his general audience Wednesday, the pope continued his series of talks about the family, but also gave a second talk about beauty and harmony when he thanked a group of circus performers at the end of the audience.

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