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Vatican City

Church is essential for faith; there are no 'free agents,' pope says

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Christians are not made in a laboratory, but in a community called the church, Pope Francis said.

At his weekly general audience Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks about the church, telling an estimated 33,000 people that there is no such thing as "do-it-yourself" Christians or "free agents" when it comes to faith.

Every Christian, he said, can trace his or her faith back to parents, grandparents, teachers or friends. "I always remember the nun who taught me catechism. I know she's in heaven because she was a holy woman," he said.

Pope condemns mafia, says members are excommunicated

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In the stronghold of an Italian crime syndicate believed to be richer and more powerful than the Sicilian Mafia, Pope Francis said, "Those who follow the path of evil, like the mafiosi do, are not in communion with God; they are excommunicated!"

During a Mass Saturday in the southern region of Calabria, Pope Francis made clear that even if the mob families continue to go to Mass and decorate their homes and hideouts with religious pictures, they have cut themselves off from communion with the church and with God.

Support missions, enter 'flood of joy' of sharing God's love, pope says

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Engaging in or supporting missionary activity allows Christians to enter the "flood of joy" that comes from experiencing God's love and sharing it with others, Pope Francis said.

"The Lord's disciples persevere in joy when they sense his presence, do his will and share with others their faith, hope and evangelical charity," the pope said in his message for World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated Oct. 19.

Pope appeals for peace in Iraq, announces plans to visit Albania

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Pope Francis expressed his fears over increasing violence in Iraq and prayed for peace, security and reconciliation in the country.

He also announced he would be visiting Albania Sept. 21 to encourage the Catholic minority there and the people "who long suffered as a result of the ideologies of the past."

Pope: Corruption is easiest 'sin at fingertips' of anyone with power

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For everyone who has any kind of authority over others, the one sin "at your fingertips" is the sin of corruption, Pope Francis said.

And "the martyrs of corruption" -- those who end up paying the price for the politicians, financiers and church officials who abuse their power -- are the poor and the marginalized, he said during his early morning Mass Monday in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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