Pope writes to children about mission, invites them to Vatican in November

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Peering just over the windowsill of Pope Francis' studio above St. Peter's Square, five children aged 7-10 joined the pope to announce a special gathering of children at the Vatican in November. "As you can see, beside me today are five children who represent the five continents," Pope Francis said Oct. 1 after reciting the Angelus. "I would like to announce along with them that on the afternoon of Nov. 6, in the Paul VI Hall, I will meet with children from all over the world."

Hundreds stand in line to greet new cardinals from the “peripheries”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- One consequence of Pope Francis choosing new cardinals from the "peripheries" is that friends, family and fans of the newly elevated are just as shocked and surprised as the new cardinals are themselves to have been given the honor. "I never dreamed this would happen," Eugene Kurisinkal of Johor Bahru, Malaysia, said, wiping tears from his eyes, pointing to his uncle, Malaysian Cardinal Sebastian Francis of Penang. "We were at his episcopal ordination" in 2012 and thought that was going to be the high point of ceremonial celebrations of his 71-year-old uncle's lifelong ministry serving in Malaysia, he told Catholic News Service.

Pope’s choices for next WYD celebrations are focused on hope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As Catholic young people around the world prepare for the Holy Year 2025, Pope Francis has asked them to focus on hope. Before the Jubilee of Young People, which will be part of the Holy Year celebration, and the next international celebration of World Youth Day in 2026 in Seoul, South Korea, dioceses around the world are to celebrate World Youth Day on a local level on the feast of Christ the King.

God has the same love for all, pope says at Angelus

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People often are tempted to think their relationship with God is some kind of commercial transaction where they buy God's grace with their hard work, Pope Francis said. Another temptation is to judge others and presume that they have not worked as hard to deserve God's love, the pope said Sept. 24 as he commented on the day's Gospel reading before reciting the Angelus prayer with some 18,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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.