National Catholic Reporter

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Vatican City

Pope Francis broaches a rare topic: abortion

Pope Francis reiterated his strong opposition to abortion on April 25, saying it "compounds the grief of many women" already succumbing to what he called the "pressures of secular culture."

The pope's remarks, to a group of bishops from South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland, represented a departure of sorts for Francis, who has kept a relative silence on the issue as he tries to redirect the church's energies toward combating poverty and income inequality.

Francis: Bishops, lay people 'all on the same level'

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Making remarks to a new Vatican council to review the central church's economic and administrative structures Friday, Pope Francis stressed that the council's eight cardinals and seven lay members should work together as equals.

The seven lay members, Francis said, "represent various parts of the world and contribute with their experience to the good of the church and its particular mission."

"The laity are full members of the new council: not members of the second class, no!" Francis said. "All on the same level."

Sunday's canonization rite short, with saints made at same time

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The sainting of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II will happen at the same time Sunday morning, when Pope Francis decrees it to be so at a Vatican ceremony expected to attract near one million people.

The ceremony -- expected to start at about 9:30 AM in Rome (3:30 AM Eastern) -- will itself be relatively short, expected to last around three hours.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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