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Vatican doves attacked during Pope's prayers

A seagull attacked a dove released by Pope Francis during prayers in Saint Peter's Square Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

A crow and a seagull attacked doves released by the Pope in front of tens of thousands of onlookers in St Peter's Square.

Two doves were released by the Pope and two children Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The two doves, released as a gesture of peace, were descended upon during an Angelus prayer conducted by Pope Francis.

Pope Benedict 'defrocked nearly 400 priests for abuse'

Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children according to a document obtained by the Associated Press.

Pope Benedict XVI Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi/Kai Pfaffenbach/Files

The statistic, which relates to 2011 and 2012, emerged in the testimony of the Vatican's UN ambassador in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, before a UN committee.

The Holy See has had to defend itself before the UN human rights committee this week following reports of widespread child abuse in the Catholic Church.

Previously, the Vatican has only revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received.

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Vatican tweets 'Perfect Day' tribute to Lou Reed

The Vatican's culture representative, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, has tweeted a verse from Lou Reed's song 'Perfect Day' in tribute to the US singer who died on Sunday.

The song has been interpreted as a reference to drug-taking, but the 71-year-old minister, who is the same age as Mr Reed was when he died, later clarified that he was not condoning any references to drugs.

Balloons fill the Vatican as Pope hosts young believers

Colourful balloons and soap bubbles have filled St. Peter's Square as Pope Francis preached to a notably younger audience at the Vatican.

The balloon-carrying children were among thousands of families who gathered in St. Peter's Square. Credit: Vandeville Eric/ABACA/Press Association Images
The weekend marked a family pilgrimage to the Tomb of St. Peter as Pope Francis invited all generations to unite and rejoice in their faith. Credit: Vandeville Eric/ABACA/Press Association Images
The younger members in the audience also rejoiced in the visual wonder of the soap bubbles. Credit: Vandeville Eric/ABACA/Press Association Images

John Paul II and John XXIII to become saints in April

Pope John Paul II, the Polish pontiff who led the Catholic Church for 27 years and witnessed the fall of communism and Pope John XXIII, who called the reforming Second Vatican council, will be declared saints on April 27, Pope Francis has announced.

Pope John Paul II photographed in 1992. Credit: REUTERS/Luciano Mellace

The announcement of the date for the canonisations had been expected since July when Francis approved a second miracle attributed to John Paul, opening the way to the fastest canonisation in modern times.

Pope John XXIII photographed during his coronation ceremony in 1958. Credit: Reuters

He also approved sainthood for John, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and who oversaw sweeping reforms to modernise the Church, even though he has only been credited with one miracle since his death.

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Pope Benedict breaks silence to deny abuse cover-up

Seven months after leaving the papacy, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI broke his self-imposed silence as he denied covering up for sexually abusive priests and defended Christianity to non-believers.

Pope Benedict released a letter to one of Italy's best-known atheists in the first work published by Benedict since he retired and his first-ever denial of personal responsibility for the sex scandal.

Pope Benedict has not spoken out publicly since he left St Peter's in February. Credit: Vandeville Eric/ABACA/Press Association Images

What made the letter published in La Repubblica even more remarkable was that it appeared just two weeks after the new pontiff, Pope Francis penned a similar letter to the newspaper's atheist editor.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the appearance of the letters was pure coincidence.

Pope names Archbishop Pietro Parolin as his 'deputy'

Archbishop Pietro Parolin has been named as Vatican prime minister

Pope Francis has named Archbishop Pietro Parolin as his secretary of state, Vatican prime minister and chief aide - a role often called the "deputy pope".

The veteran diplomat's appointment ends the era Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone, who was widely blamed for failing to prevent ethical and financial scandals.

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