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Pope leaves for Lenten retreat during anniversary week

Pope Francis left the Vatican on Sunday for a six-day spiritual retreat southeast of Rome as the holy season of Lent begins and he marks his first anniversary as pontiff this week. Before leaving, Francis gave the traditional Sunday Angelus blessing to the faithful gathered in Saint Peter's Square, urging them to resist temptation and focus on the essential things of life. "We must get rid of idols, of vanities, and build our lives on the essentials," said the Argentine pope, who was elected to succeed retiring pontiff Benedict XVI a year ago Thursday.

Positive vibes surround Pope Francis on Twitter

Pope Francis is among admirers on Twitter where positive comments about him outweigh negative ones by a ratio of five to one, according to a Pew Research Center study released Thursday. The Washington-based think tank, in a statement, said it analyzed eight million tweets that made reference to the pope. Most were neutral in tone, it said, but of those with "a discernable tone," 84 percent were positive and only 16 percent were negative.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI says his resignation valid

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI on Wednesday rejected as "simply absurd" the notions that his resignation might not be valid and that the Vatican hierarchy was now divided between loyalty to him and to Pope Francis. "There is no doubt at all on the validity of my renunciation," Benedict said in an unprecedented letter published in the La Stampa daily, after it had written to him with questions about when he stepped down in 2013.

Quebec Archbishop Gerald Lacroix inducted as cardinal at Vatican ceremony

VATICAN CITY - Quebec Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix was formally inducted as a cardinal on Saturday at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Lacroix was one of 19 men selected by Pope Francis to take on the senior ecclesiastical post. Retired Pope Benedict XVI was also on hand for the ceremony. Lacroix said he is honoured by the appointment. "It's a sunny day, and there is sun in my heart for the people who are with me here today," Lacroix said after the ceremony.

Ex-pope Benedict in rare public appearance at cardinals ceremony

Former pope Benedict XVI, who retired last year, made a rare public appearance on Saturday at a ceremony lead by his successor Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica to appoint new cardinals. Benedict, who lives in a monastery inside the Vatican walls and had sworn to remain "hidden from the world", joined the cardinals in the front row of the basilica for the ceremony to create 19 new "princes of the Church."

Ex-pope Benedict in rare public appearance at cardinals ceremony

Former pope Benedict XVI, who retired last year, made a rare public appearance on Saturday at a ceremony lead by his successor Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica to appoint new cardinals. Benedict, who lives in a monastery inside the Vatican walls and had sworn to remain "hidden from the world", joined the cardinals in the front row of the basilica for the ceremony to create 19 new "princes of the Church." ide/yad

Pope agrees to Sri Lanka trip, honours Korean martyrs

Pope Francis on Saturday turned his focus to Asia, announcing a possible trip to Sri Lanka and approving the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs. The beatification ceremony for Paul Yun Ji-chung and his 123 fellow martyrs -- who were killed for their Catholic beliefs between 1791 and 1888 -- will take place in South Korea on August 15, the Vatican said in a statement. The ceremony could well be attended by the pontiff himself after the Vatican last month said Francis was considering a trip to South Korea to coincide with Asian Youth Day in mid-August.

Pope agrees to Sri Lanka trip, honours Korean martyrs

Pope Francis on Saturday turned his focus to Asia, announcing a possible trip to Sri Lanka and approving the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs. The beatification ceremony for Paul Yun Ji-chung and his 123 fellow martyrs -- who were killed for their Catholic beliefs between 1791 and 1888 -- will take place in South Korea on August 15, the Vatican said in a statement. The ceremony could well be attended by the pontiff himself after the Vatican last month said Francis was considering a trip to South Korea to coincide with Asian Youth Day in mid-August.

Pope Benedict a year on: quiet life after making history

Those who have seen Benedict XVI since he retired agree: the former pontiff appears to have got a weight off his mind, leaving the complexities of Vatican politics behind for a simple life of prayer and piano. One year on from the resignation announcement on February 11, the German pontiff who held the reins of the Church during an eight year, scandal-hit papacy appears to have been largely forgotten by the public.

Pope Benedict a year on: quiet life after making history

Those who have seen Benedict XVI since he retired agree: the former pontiff appears to have got a weight off his mind, leaving the complexities of Vatican politics behind for a simple life of prayer and piano. One year on from the resignation announcement on February 11, the German pontiff who held the reins of the Church during an eight year, scandal-hit papacy appears to have been largely forgotten by the public.
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