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Vatican supports military force against Islamic State

Islamic State has attacked minority groups including Coptic Christians. Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

The Vatican's ambassador in Geneva has said the use of force could be necessary to protect minority groups from Islamic State (IS) aggression if a political solution cannot be achieved.

In an interview with US Catholic website Crux, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the jihadists, who have declared a cross-border caliphate after seizing land in eastern Syria and northern Iraq, were committing "genocide" and must be stopped.

He said: "What's needed is a coordinated and well-thought-out coalition to do everything possible to achieve a political settlement without violence, but if that's not possible, then the use of force will be necessary."

Archbishop Tomasi's words follow repeated condemnations of IS by Pope Francis, who condemned the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya in February and has said it is "lawful" to stop an unjust aggressor.

Haircuts for Rome's homeless at the Vatican

Two homeless women sit on a bench in Rome Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianch

Homeless people in Rome will soon be able to go to St Peter's Square for haircuts, shaves and showers.

The head of Pope Francis' charity office said new facilities will open in mid-February.

It is being reported that barbers and hairdressers will volunteer their services on Mondays, the day their shops are traditionally closed in Italy.

They are said to have already donated chairs, mirrors and scissors.

The Pope's almoner Bishop Konrad Krajewski came up with the idea of building showers in St. Peter's Square last year after a homeless person told him that it was harder to find places to wash than to eat in the city.

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Pope launches scathing Christmas attack on the Vatican

The Pope has launched a scathing attack on Vatican bureaucracy accusing the clergy running the Holy See of a dangerous lust for power.

Pope launches scathing Christmas attack on the Vatican Credit: Reuters

Francis' annual Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See saw the pontiff give a tirade of criticism as part of his ongoing crusade to reform the church.

The Pope offered a catalog of 15 "Vatican illnesses." These included "feeling immortal", "spiritual Alzheimer`s", "existential schizophrenia" and the "terrorism of gossip."

It appeared that his critique was not well received by the gathered clergy as the tirade was met with only muted applause.

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Hundreds of thousands gather at St Peter's Square

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square for a historic day of four popes with Francis and Benedict XVI honouring their predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II and declaring them saints in the first ever canonisation of two pontiffs.

Hundreds of thousands pack the square at Vatican City. Credit: RTV

Polish pilgrims carrying the red and white flags of John Paul's homeland were among the first to press into the square well before sunrise, held back by human chains of neon-vested civil protection workers trying to maintain order.

Polish pilgrims carrying flags and banners wait for a canonisation ceremony Credit: Reuters
A bishop uses his mobile phone to take photographs as he arrives for the canonisation ceremony Credit: Reuters

Crowds gather for Vatican canonisation of Popes

Crowds expected to reach a million people have begun gathering in Saint Peter's Square and nearby streets of Rome to watch the Vatican canonise two Popes.

A million people are expected to gather, Credit: Reuters
Saint Peter's Square in Rome. Credit: Reuters
Saint Peter's Square. Credit: Reuters

One million to watch Vatican declare two Popes saints

Up to one million people are expected in Saint Peter's Square and nearby streets of Rome to witness the canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II, two of the great popes of the 20th century.

A faithful holds up roses as she takes part in a vigil outside the Sant'Agnese in Rome. Credit: Reuters/Yara Nardi

John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and set up the modernising Second Vatican Council, and John Paul II, the Pole who reigned for nearly 27 years and played a leading role on the world stage, will be declared saints by Pope Francis.

Francis' own huge popularity has added extra appeal to the unprecedented ceremony to raise two former leaders of the church to sainthood. But while both were widely revered, there has also been criticism that John Paul II, who only died nine years ago, has been canonised too quickly.

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