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Pope statue unveiled in Italian potato field

The first-ever statue of Pope Francis has been unveiled in a potato field near Naples -- an unorthodox homage to the fact that the Argentine pope's ancestors were farmers in northern Italy. The statue will be presented to the pope next month by Italian actor Barbato De Stefano, who comes from the village of Cicciano where it was presented and has financed the project. "The poverty of my village is a treasure for the community in which I was born and grew up," said De Stefano, who praised the pope's own modest demeanour saying he had "pierced people's hearts".

Juan Martin del Potro meets with pope at Vatican

Rome, May 15 (EFE).- Argentine tennis star Juan Martin del Potro, who is taking part in this week's Rome Masters event, met Wednesday with Pope Francis I at the Vatican. "Today I was able to meet and talk with Pope Francis I at the Vatican. It was a unique experience for me. I'll never forget it," the 2009 U.S. Open champion, who describes himself as a devoted Catholic, said on Twitter. The 76-year-old Francis, the first pope from the Americas, was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires and was formerly the archbishop of the Argentine capital.

Pope to visit Brazil slum, meet prisoners, on first trip

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis will visit the poor in a favela and meet young prisoners when he travels to Brazil on his first international trip as pontiff in July, the Vatican said on Tuesday. Francis, who has said he wants to make concern for the poor a hallmark of his papacy, will visit the Manguinhos slum in Rio de Janeiro on the fourth day of his July 22-29 trip to the world's largest Catholic country.

Pope condemns Bangladesh 'slave labour' after tragedy

Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned as "slave labour" the conditions for hundreds of workers killed in a factory collapse in Bangladesh and urged political leaders to fight unemployment in a sweeping critique of "selfish profit". The pope said he had been particularly struck by a headline saying workers at the factory near Dhaka were being paid just 38 euros ($50) a month. "This is called slave labour!" the pope was quoted by Vatican radio as saying in his homily at a private mass in his residence to mark May Day.

Pope Francis, Mexican leader on TIME 100 list

New York, Apr 18 (EFE).- Pope Francis and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are among the newcomers in the 2013 edition of TIME magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world, joining household names such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Jay-Z. Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became pontiff last month after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Peña Nieto, a former state governor, was sworn-in last Dec. 1 as Mexico's head of state.

Pope choses eight cardinals to advise him, study reforms

Pope Francis on Saturday set up a group of eight cardinals from every continent to advise him about governing the church and study administrative reforms, the Vatican said. Francis, the former Argentine cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, was elected by a conclave of cardinals exactly a month ago amid expectations that he would undertake such reforms. jlv/lc/yad

Argentine priest defrocked for backing gay marriage

A priest in the pope's native Argentina who endorsed the gay marriage law approved here in 2010 has been expelled from the church, his local archbishop's office said Friday. The offensive against the legislation was led by Jorge Bergoglio, then the archbishop of Buenos Aires and now Pope Francis. Father Jose Nicolas Alessio, who served in the central province of Cordoba and was first suspended in 2010, and now been defrocked altogether, expressed bitter disappointment.

Pope speaks in Spanish for 1st time at public audience

Vatican City, Apr 10 (EFE).- For the first time during one of his Wednesday public audiences, Pope Francis spoke in Spanish, the language he used along with Italian to greet the roughly 40,000 people from all over the world who came to St. Peter's Square for the traditional weekly meeting with the faithful. Since his election to the papacy on March 13, Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio has only spoken in public in Italian, with the exception of the day on which he greeted reporters from all over the world who were covering the conclave, when he uttered a single phrase in Spanish.

Pope appoints new Buenos Aires archbishop

Pope Francis made his first clerical appointment on Thursday, assigning the bishop of Santa Rosa in Argentina to take over his former post as archbishop of the large diocese of Buenos Aires.Archbishop Mario Poli, 65, steps into the shoes of former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the top Catholic Church figure in Argentina.Poli worked alongside Bergoglio in the Argentine capital - which numbers 2.5 million faithful - from 2002 to 2008, after he was appointed auxiliary bishop by Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI.The pair are said to be close.The world’s first

Giant photo of Pope Francis placed on Buenos Aires building facade

Buenos Aires, Mar 28 (EFE).- The municipal government of this capital on Thursday placed a gigantic photograph of Pope Francis on the facade of one of its buildings in homage to the man who was archbishop of Buenos Aires prior to his March 13 election as pontiff. The image, with the caption "The city celebrates Pope Francis with pride and joy," measures 88 meters wide by 34 meters high (286 x 111 feet). The image, made of cloth, was placed over the facade of the Plata Building near the emblematic Obelisk of Buenos Aires.
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