Catholic Church

All 31 active bishops in Chile offered to resign Friday, following a meeting that Pope Francis called to examine the Chilean clergy's failure to protect children from pedophiles.

The bishops started the conference by thanking the pope for his "brotherly correction" and the victims of sexual abuse for their bravery and perseverance in coming forward. Their statement was read aloud to the press in Spanish and Italian.

In January, Pope Francis traveled to South America to spread peace and hope. Many cheered him on, but he also wound up causing emotional pain when he dismissed accusations that Chilean clergy had covered up sexual abuse.

In the weeks that followed, the Vatican's leading sex crimes investigator looked into the allegations, and the pope did an about-face: He acknowledged making mistakes.

Now, Francis has been apologizing and listening to some of those he offended most.

A magistrate in Australia has ordered Cardinal George Pell, one of the Vatican's senior-most officials, to stand trial on sexual abuse charges involving allegations from multiple individuals dating back decades.

Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged in the church's long-standing sex abuse scandal.

Every Sunday when he is at the Vatican, Francis ends his remarks to the crowd in St. Peter's Square with a typical Italian saying: "Have a good lunch and arrivederci."

It's that common touch that has so endeared the Argentine-born pope to millions of people across the world, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, since his election five years ago, on March 13, 2013. But in recent months, Francis has also become the target of criticism on various fronts, and the image of him as charismatic reformer has suffered some hits.

Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who was gunned down by a right-wing death squad in 1980 at the start of the country's civil war, will be canonized as a Roman Catholic saint, the Vatican said in a statement Wednesday.

Romero, who had denounced a crackdown on leftist opponents of the country's military government, was killed while celebrating Mass in March 1980. He will be made a saint along with Pope Paul VI, whose canonization was announced last week.

Caught in a renewed firestorm of controversy, Pope Francis apologized for remarks he made last week defending a Chilean bishop accused of covering up decades of sexual abuse. But the pontiff held fast in his support of the bishop, maintaining his innocence.

Pope Francis has accused victims of sexual abuse in Chile of slander, saying their attacks on a bishop who's accused of covering up the abuse amount to "calumny." The remarks triggered anger and demonstrations in Chile, where several churches have been firebombed in the past week.

Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET

Pope Francis, arriving in Chile to begin a three-day visit, opened his trip by asking for forgiveness over a local priest-abuse scandal that has left the country reeling — and prompted a less-than-warm reception for the Argentine-born pontiff.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Sister Margaret Ann greets her students as they’re dropped off to school in the morning.

She helps open car doors, gushes over a student’s cute dog and warns a group heading to the Everglades on a field trip to be on their best behavior because alligators are nothing to play with.

Cardinal George Pell, an advisor to Pope Francis, has returned to his home country of Australia to face allegations of sex abuse in years past.

Australia announced the charges against Pell late last month. Pell says he is innocent and promises to fight the charges. He has taken a leave of absence for the trial, but says he plans on returning to his powerful post in the Vatican.

Police in the Australian state of Victoria have announced charges of sexual abuse against one of the Vatican's most powerful cardinals.

"Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offences and there are multiple complainants relating to those charges," Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told reporters on Thursday.

Mothers should feel comfortable breast-feeding infants in public, Pope Francis said on Sunday, even if they are in one of the most sacred spaces in Catholicism.

Speaking at an annual ceremony to commemorate the baptism of Jesus, the pope addressed the families of 28 infants who were to be baptized in the Sistine Chapel. Some of the babies began to wail as the ceremony wore on, according to Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis gave the traditional Christmas Day blessing on Sunday, calling for peace in Syria and other countries "scarred by war."

An estimated 40,000 tourists and Romans gathered in St. Peter's Square to hear the message, which was delivered from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, "Urbi et Orbi": to the city and the world.

The pope offered his message of peace to the "war-torn land of Syria, where far too much blood has been spilled." He said it is time that weapons "be still forever," so that "civil coexistence" might be restored to the country.

Lisann Ramos

Cuban exiles are celebrating loudly all over South Florida after hearing of Fidel Castro’s death. But the joy is more subdued at Ermita de la Caridad in Coconut Grove.  

For decades, the church has been a gathering place for Cuban exiles in Miami.

Today some churchgoers are here to ask for forgiveness, for rejoicing the death of the dictator.

The church’s rector Father Fernando Heria is prepared to offer it.

Pope Francis has declared that abortion, which remains a "grave sin" in the eyes of the Catholic Church, can be absolved by ordinary priests for the foreseeable future — instead of requiring the intervention of a bishop.

The change was implemented on a temporary basis, for one year only, as part of the Catholic Church's "Year of Mercy," which began last December and ended on Sunday.

In a letter released on Monday, the pope announced that the change was being extended indefinitely.

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