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Pope Francis makes good first impression on U.S. Catholics - poll

By Mary Wisniewski CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pope Francis, formally installed on Tuesday as head of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, has made a good impression so far in the United States among Catholics and non-Catholics, though few Americans knew much about him, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed. Of those who are aware of the new pope, 85 percent of all U.S. adults surveyed had a favourable view of him, including 94 percent of Catholics, according to the poll. ( http://link.reuters.com/pyn76t )

Pope Francis wants Church to be poor, and for the poor

By Philip Pullella and Catherine Hornby VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, giving his clearest indication yet that he wants a more austere Catholic Church, said on Saturday that it should be poor and remember that its mission is to serve the poor. Francis, speaking mostly off-the-cuff and smiling often, made his comments in an audience for journalists where he explained why he chose to take the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, a symbol of peace, austerity and poverty.

Pope urges leaders of crisis-hit Church not to be discouraged

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Friday urged leaders of a Roman Catholic Church riven by scandal and crisis never to give in to discouragement and bitterness but to keep their eyes on their true mission. "Let us never give in to the pessimism, to that bitterness, that the devil places before us every day. Let us not give into pessimism and discouragement," he told cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel to greet him.

New pope? Unbelievers shrug, carp, titter

By Alastair Macdonald LONDON (Reuters) - When a new man takes over the leadership of more than a billion people, it's hardly surprising it was big news on Thursday. But, hold the front page - this isn't Pope Francis. As in some other places where the Roman Catholic Church carries little weight, 1.3 billion Chinese paid scant attention to the Vatican; media in China focused rather on Communist party chief Xi Jinping's confirmation as head of state in Beijing.

African, Asian Catholics see Pope Francis as force for renewal

By Marina Lopes and Manuel Mogato MAPUTO/MANILA (Reuters) - Catholics in Africa and Asia on Thursday greeted the election of Pope Francis from Argentina as a historic breakthrough that would pump the developing world's vital energy into a struggling Church and amplify the voice of the planet's poor. While there was disappointment that Pope Benedict's successor did not come from the African or Asian continents, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's Third World origins spurred hopes of a kindred spirit among Catholics from Manila to Maputo.

New pope must deal with divided church in United States

By Mary Wisniewski CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pope Francis will face a divided Church in the United States, with the faithful at odds over issues like contraception, same-sex marriage and married priests. Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was chosen to lead the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday. He took the name Pope Francis.

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The Roman Catholic Church: facts and figures

The Catholic Church has around 1.2 billion members around the world, a million men and women of the clergy and around 3,000 ecclesiastical divisions, according to the latest figures from the Vatican. The increase in baptisms from 2009 to 2010 was particularly high in Africa with a rise of 6.14 million, followed by the Americas with 3.99 million and Europe with 894,000 more Catholics. The number of Catholics per priest has increased to 2,900, also indicating a decline in vocations. The only decrease in that proportion was in Asia.

Poland agrees new funding scheme for Catholic priests

The Polish government and Poland's powerful Roman Catholic church agreed in principle Thursday to cut a portion of public subsidies for priests and give taxpayers more choice in funding them. The change comes amid the rise of a new anti-clerical party and growing public pressure to loosen the traditionally tight ties between church and state here as more liberal influences flood in from western Europe. Under the new scheme, taxpayers will be able to donate 0.5 percent of their taxes to a church or religious community of their choice.
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