Praying for vocations means understanding church’s needs, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While vocations to the Catholic priesthood and religious life are declining in developed countries around the world, prayers for vocations should not try to "convince" God to send more workers for the church but seek to better understand the needs of its people, Pope Francis said.

UPDATE: Pope meets U.S. leaders patiently building ‘culture of solidarity’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis told a group of U.S. community organizers that their work was "atomic," Jorge Montiel said, "I thought, 'Oh, you mean we blow things up?' "But instead, the pope spoke about how the groups associated with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation in the United States take issues patiently, "atom by atom," and end up building something that "penetrates" and changes entire communities, said Montiel, an IAF organizer in Colorado and New Mexico.

Praying for unity, pope welcomes head of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis prayed that Catholics and members of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church would recognize the wounds of division they have inflicted on Christ's body, the church, and come to celebrate the faith together.

Pope prays for those affected by quake in Morocco, urges solidarity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called for solidarity and concrete assistance for all those affected by a devastating earthquake in Morocco. At least 2,100 people were killed and more than 2,400 people were injured after an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck central Morocco near Marrakech Sept. 8 after 11 p.m. local time. The World Health Organization estimated more than 300,000 people have been affected in the region.

God elects some in order to better reach everyone, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God chooses certain people not to exclude others, but always to include everyone by way of the missionary and social outreach of his disciples, Pope Francis said." This is an important warning for our times, in which ever-increasing currents of separation dig ditches and build fences between individuals and between peoples to the detriment of the unity of humanity, which suffers as a result, and of the body of Christ," he said at the Vatican Sept. 7.

Message from ‘heart of Asia’: Pope’s words go beyond Mongolian borders

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Being a Catholic does not destroy or replace a person's culture, and wanting to share the Gospel message does not mean wanting to take someone's allegiance away from their nation. Visiting Mongolia Sept. 1-4, Pope Francis encouraged the nation's tiny Catholic community to grow in faith and charity, but the visit also was designed to reassure the government that it has nothing to fear from the Catholic missionaries who arrived in the country in 1992.

Jesus is the answer to human longing, pope says at Mass in Mongolia

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (CNS) -- Like the land struck by a "zud," the human heart has a thirst and longing that can be alleviated only by the God of love, Pope Francis told Mongolians gathered for Mass in Ulaanbaatar's Steppe Arena. Countless generations of Mongolians have feared the "zud," an extreme weather event of drought or impenetrable ice, that decimates herds and flocks.

Adoration awakens love for the poor, commitment to justice, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the eyes of the world it would appear "absurd" to begin helping the poor and struggling for justice by spending time in adoration before the Eucharist, Pope Francis said, but that is precisely what an Italy-based religious order has been doing for 100 years.

Synod is ‘truly important’ for the church, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis asked a group of Italian journalists to shun fake news and a love of scandal, including when covering the Catholic Church and the upcoming assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

NEWS BRIEF: Bishop Dolan returns from historic 12-day USCCB trip to Africa

Bishop John Dolan returned Tuesday from his 12-day trip to Africa as a member of the USCCB subcommittee on the “Church in Africa.” Bishop Dolan made visits to Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya to review programs supported by the USCCB, his first-ever trip to Africa.  He was joined by Fritz Zuger, a consultant to the subcommittee, on their three nations visit in Africa.