NATION/WORLD

For an international group of researchers and scholars, serving at the pleasure of popes had meant producing lots of papers on important topics. But with Pope Francis, they are moving from publication to advocacy.

God's plan for fruitful, everlasting unions between a man and woman has been lost in a world filled with skepticism, distrust and hostility, Pope Francis said.

The pope, who is preparing an encyclical letter on the environment, made his remarks at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square April 22 — Earth Day.

With so many women and men being killed because of their faith in Christ, the church today is a church of martyrs, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

The canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra will give the United States its first Hispanic saint, which should help more Americans realize that the country was settled by both Hispanics and Anglos, said the secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Compelling as events in Acts are, however, the book represents more than a collection of historical stories. An underlying purpose binds its many parts together.

Cardinal Francis E. George, the retired archbishop of Chicago who was the first native Chicagoan to head the archdiocese, died April 17 at his residence after nearly 10 years battling cancer. He was 78.

Paul Cartier is used to putting in long days balancing roles as an organist for a New York parish and two professional sports teams plus 15 hours weekly as a volunteer commissioner, firefighter and emergency medical technician, but he's still in sports heaven despite a recent 19-inning Yankees game.

From Easter to Pentecost -- and especially during the Marian month of May -- Catholics recite the "Regina Coeli" prayer "with the emotion of children who are happy because their mother is happy" that Jesus has risen from the dead, Pope Francis said.

The Vatican approved new statutes and bylaws for the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious, ending a seven-year process of investigating the group and engaging in dialogue with its officers to ensure greater harmony with church teaching.

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