Pope Francis

Pope in Cuba begs Colombia, rebels to end conflict

Fresh off his personal appeal to the U.S. and Cuban leaders to end their half-century of estrangement, Francis issued his plea to Colombia's warring factions from Revolution Plaza at the end of his Sunday Mass. Cuba has hosted peace talks for more than two years between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and representatives of Bogota.

Francis said the talks face a "crucial" moment.

Pope urges Cubans to care for others without judgment

Pope Francis delivered the message as he opened his visit to the country amid great hopes that the key role he played in bringing about detente with the U.S. will result in changes on the island.

Pope offers solidarity with Cuba, highlights Hispanics in US

He will be offering a show of solidarity with Cubans and making clear that Hispanics in the United States are the bedrock of the American church.

The visit boasts several firsts for history's first Latin American pope: Francis will become the first pope to address the U.S. Congress and he will also proclaim the first saint on U.S. soil by canonizing the controversial (and Hispanic) missionary, Junipero Serra.

Cubans hope pope will accelerate warming with US

He wrote that "the church offers a path forward to peace, justice and true liberty," and added, "Not everything will be the same after he leaves."

Millions of Cubans hope those prove true when their author flies into Havana on Saturday as Pope Francis.

Across the island, Cubans are excitedly looking at the pope's 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States through the lens of his role as the mediator of detente between the two countries. 

Pomp and protocol await Pope Francis on White House visit

The extraordinary gesture on Sept. 22 is just the beginning of the pomp and protocol that Washington will put on display to welcome the popular leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and the head of Vatican City on his first U.S. visit.

The next day, Francis will be just the third pope to visit the White House, being greeted as most heads of state are, with his car pulling slowly up the South Lawn's driveway to the spot where a red carpet will be rolled out and Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be waiting.

Cuba releasing 3,522 prisoners ahead of pope's visit

The Council of State announced in state media Friday morning that the prisoners to be freed include a mix of women, people younger than 20, inmates suffering from illnesses and people whose terms were coming to an end next year.

The government won't release people convicted of serious crimes like murder, child sexual abuse or violations of state security. The final category is often applied to people considered political prisoners by Cuban and international human rights groups.

Pope to visit Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic

The Vatican on Thursday confirmed the Nov. 25-30 trip.

Francis had previously said he hoped to visit the three countries but that organizational problems had held up final confirmation.

Francis is heading to Cuba and the United States next week. With the Africa trip, he will have visited all continents except Oceania in his first three years as pope.


Obama to greet Pope Francis upon arrival in Washington

The White House says the Obamas will make the rare trip to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, just outside Washington, on Sept. 22 to formally welcome Francis on his first-ever U.S. visit.

The pontiff is scheduled to arrive in Washington after stops in Cuba.

In the U.S., Francis will meet privately with Obama, becoming just the third pope to ever visit the White House.

On Sept. 24, he heads to the Capitol to become the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of Congress.

Pope to release new annulment procedures Tuesday

Francis will release the new rules after a Vatican-appointed commission of canon lawyers spent the past year studying ways to simplify the process while safeguarding the principle of the indissolubility of marriage, the Vatican said.

Catholic doctrine holds that a church marriage is forever. An annulment is a judgment by a church tribunal that the marriage had some inherent defect from the start. Reasons vary, including that the couple never intended their marriage to last or that one of the spouses didn't want children.

Pope: Vatican will shelter 2 families fleeing war, hunger

Francis cited Mother Teresa, the European-born nun who cared for the poorest in India, in making his appeal in remarks to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square.

"Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeting death by war and by hunger, and who are on a path toward a hope for life, the Gospel calls us to be neighbors to the smallest and most abandoned, to give them concrete hope," Frances said.