National Catholic Reporter

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Vatican City

Go directly to confession, don't wait, pope says at audience

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If you haven't been to confession recently, don't wait, Pope Francis told people at his weekly general audience. One may walk into the confessional with a heavy heart, but forgiveness brings freedom and lightness.

"If a lot of time has passed, don't lose even one more day. Go," the pope said Wednesday, promising that "the priest will be good. Jesus will be there and he's even nicer than the priest."

"Be courageous. Go to confession," the pope told an estimated 20,000 people at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Pope names new members of Congregation for Eastern Churches

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Pope Francis confirmed the top leadership of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and named among its new members Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Byzantine Archbishop William Skurla of Pittsburgh.

The Vatican announced Wednesday that the pope confirmed Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri as prefect and Archbishop Cyril Vasil as secretary of the congregation, which assists the Eastern Catholic churches throughout the world and the Latin-rite Catholic dioceses of the Middle East.

Pope renews Argentine passport, identity card

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Pope Francis is the sovereign of Vatican City and has a Holy See passport. But even dressed in papal white, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is an Argentine citizen with a brand new passport and national identity card.

"The pope wanted to continue having normal Argentine documents," said Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. "This doesn't mean that he isn't also the head of state of Vatican City and the pontiff."

German cardinal, author of book on mercy, to address world's cardinals

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Retired German Cardinal Walter Kasper, a theologian who has been searching for a new pastoral approach to divorced and remarried Catholics for more than 20 years, was scheduled to address the Feb. 20-21 meeting of the College of Cardinals in preparation for the Synod of Bishops on the family.

Pope Francis has said that the situation of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics will be one of the key topics of discussion at the extraordinary synod he has scheduled for Oct. 5-19.

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