Catholicism

The Vatican was a sea of red vestments Saturday, as Pope Francis formally elevated 20 new cardinals. In a solemn ceremony known as a consistory, the second in Francis' two-year-old papacy, he presided over nearly the entire College of Cardinals at St. Peter's Basilica.

On his return trip from Asia, Pope Francis made strong statements supporting the church's ban on artificial means of birth control. He also said Catholics should practice "responsible parenthood" and don't have to breed "like rabbits."

Speaking with reporters on a flight Monday from the Philippines to Rome, Francis encouraged the use of church-approved contraception.

Pope Francis gave majority Buddhist Sri Lanka its first Catholic saint today during a seaside ceremony before thousands of people who packed the oceanfront of the capital, Colombo.

Francis is in Asia on a six-day tour intended to build the Roman Catholic Church's following on a continent that holds 60 percent of the world's population but only 12 percent of Catholics.

As church bells rang, the pope canonized Joseph Vaz, a priest who worked against the persecution of Catholics by the island's 17th-century Protestant Dutch rulers.

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  Last week at the Vatican, more than 250 bishops from across the world got together in a Papal Synod to debate the future of how the Catholic Church ministers to and envisions the family. The Church reflected on how doctrine could better reflect practical realities. The divorced, those co-habitating without marriage and gay Catholics were communities that saw a rare opening for a revision in how the Papacy  perceives them. 

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

A synod of Catholic bishops gathered at the Vatican has decided to eliminate a landmark opening to gays that had appeared in an interim summary of discussions made public earlier this week that had appeared to signal a possible shift in the tone of the church.

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