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Pope meets Castro ahead of Cuba visit

Pope Francis has met with Cuban President Raul Castro today, ahead of his planned visit to the island nation later this year.

Pope Francis has met with Cuban President Raul Castro Credit: REUTERS/Gregorio

The pope granted Castro a rare Sunday audience at the Vatican as the Cuban President passed through Rome on his way back from Moscow.

Although the issues discussed by the Pope and Castro during their meeting were not disclosed the pontiff could be heard telling his visitor there was a "need to work together to fight poverty around the world" during a subsequent photo call.

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Turkey recalls Vatican ambassador over Pope's Armenian 'genocide' comments

Turkey has recalled its ambassador to the Vatican following controversial remarks from Pope Francis during a Mass to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenians massacre.

During the service, the Pope described the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians as "the first genocide of the 20th century".

Turkey has long refused to call the event a genocide and has insisted that the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

Pope prays for an end to the persecution of Christians

Pope Francis used his Easter Sunday address to pray for an end to the persecution of Christians, commemorating the students massacred in Kenya.

Pope Francis waves at the end of the Easter mass in St. Peter's Square. Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi

The Pope delivered a mostly sombre "Urbi et Orbi" message: "We ask Jesus, the victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence - and there are many."

Crowds gathered at the Vatican despite the rain. Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi

The pope spoke as churches in Kenya, where al Shabaab gunmen massacred nearly 150 people, turned to armed guards to protect their congregations.

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Crowds gather in the rain for Pope's Easter address

Roman Catholic crowds have gathered in St Peter's Square despite the rain to listen to Pope Francis' Easter address.

Pope Francis tweeted 'Christ is risen! Christ is alive and journeys with us!' Credit: APTN
A sea of umbrellas were out as the Pope addressed the Roman Catholic crowds. Credit: APTN
Pope Francis' Easter address was delivered to thousands of people. Credit: APTN

Pope Francis condemns FGM and domestic violence

Pope Francis condemned violence against women and girls. Credit: Evandro Inetti/Zuma Press/PA

Pope Francis has condemned female mutilation and domestic violence against women,calling them degradations that had to be combated.

"The many forms of slavery, the commercialisation, and mutilation of the bodies of women, call out to us to be committed to defeat these types of degradation that reduce them to mere objects that are bought and sold," he told a meeting on women's issues hosted by the Vatican's Council for Culture.

Pope Francis also denounced domestic violence.He said: "Although it is a symbol of life, the female body is unfortunately attacked and disfigured, even by those who should be its protector and life companion".

Pope Francis to visit Bosnian capital of Sarajevo

Pope Francis has said he would make a one-day trip to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo in June, his latest visit to a country where Islam is the dominant religion amid growing persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

Pope Francis to visit Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Credit: PA

After the weekly Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square, the pope told pilgrims he would go to Sarajevo on June 6 to encourage "reconciliation, peace, inter-religious dialogue and friendship".

It will be the first papal trip to Sarajevo in 18 years. Pope John Paul II ignored apparent assassination threats to visit the war-torn city in 1997, when he urged greater dialogue between Bosniak Muslims, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs.

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