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Vatican City

Hope and hard work: U.S. priest trusts Christian unity is possible

The issues dividing Christian communities have changed over the past 50 years, but a Philadelphia archdiocesan priest working in ecumenical dialogue at the Vatican is confident that Christian unity is possible.

"We are people of hope. We trust we have the same Scriptures, the same belief in Christ," said Msgr. Gregory Fairbanks, an official at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Pope: Christianity means giving witness to Christ every day

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Christianity is not a school of ideas or a collection of beautiful temples and lovely art; it is a living people who follow Jesus and give witness to him every day, Pope Francis said.

"Am I a Christian giving witness to Jesus or am I a simple numerary of this sect," unable to let the Holy Spirit "drive me forward in my Christian vocation?" he asked in his homily at Mass Tuesday in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

"A Christian who doesn't give witness is unfathomable," he said, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

Vatican statistics report church growth remains steady worldwide

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The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests, permanent deacons and religious men all increased in 2012, while the number of women in religious orders continued to decline, according to Vatican statistics.

The number of candidates for the priesthood also showed its first global downturn in recent years.

The statistics come from a recently published Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2012.

Vatican to UN: Don’t equate sexual abuse of minors with torture

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As Vatican representatives prepare to testify before a United Nations inquiry into torture next week, a senior official warned investigators that it would be "deceptive" to link torture with the pedophilia scandals that have swept the Catholic church.

The Vatican's chief spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, said Friday that the Convention Against Torture, endorsed by the Vatican in 2002, was one of the most important in the U.N.'s ambit.

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.

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