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FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2019 file photo, residents gather outside the Catholic church of Novo Cruzador, Brazil, after attending a prayer led by missionary Antelmo Pereira on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. Roman Catholic priests, on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, along with deacons and bishops across the Amazon voiced surprise, resignation and reluctant acceptance of Pope Francis' refusal to allow married men to be ordained priests, lamenting that their faithful will continue to be deprived of Mass and subject to competing evangelical churches that have made impressive inroads in the region.  (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, File)

Amazon's Catholics mull church future after pope's letter

Feb. 14, 2020 12:04 AM EST

Roman Catholic priests, deacons and bishops across the Amazon voiced surprise, resignation and reluctant acceptance of Pope Francis' refusal to allow married men to be ordained priests, lamenting that their faithful will continue to be deprived of Mass and subject to competing evangelical churches that have made...

FILE - In this file photo dated Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva celebrates after scoring a goal during a friendly soccer match in Guararema, Brazil.  Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has met with Pope Francis at the Vatican and received a papal blessing, with the encounter being posted on his social media accounts, Thursday Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine, FILE)

Ex-Brazilian leader da Silva meets the pope, gets blessing

Feb. 13, 2020 2:56 PM EST

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met Thursday with Pope Francis at the Vatican, received a papal blessing and said the two discussed prospects for a “more just and fraternal world." Da Silva posted photos of the encounter on his Twitter and Facebook accounts...

Pope Francis reads his message during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope avoids question of married priests in Amazon document

Feb. 12, 2020 6:53 PM EST

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis refused Wednesday to approve the ordination of married men or women as deacons to address a shortage of priests in the Amazon, sidestepping a fraught issue that has divided the Catholic Church and emboldened his conservative critics. In an eagerly awaited document, Francis...