Pope Francis

Pope Francis canonized two new saints Saturday at the beginning of a Mass in Fátima, Portugal.

Francisco and Jacinta Marto were small children in Fátima on May 13, 1917, when they said they saw a vision of the Virgin Mary while they were tending sheep. The farm town became an important Catholic shrine as a result of the children's visions, drawing pilgrims from around the world.

The annual TED conference is known for featuring impressive speakers. Attendees at this year's event in Vancouver have seen Serena Williams and Jorge Ramos, futurists and artificial intelligence experts, health activists and the ACLU's executive director.

But on Tuesday evening, one unannounced speaker took the audience by surprise: Pope Francis.

The pope was on a big screen rather than onstage, and his address had been recorded and edited earlier in April, but still: even for non-Catholics, the bishop of Rome has a certain gravitas.

Pope Francis has declared that abortion, which remains a "grave sin" in the eyes of the Catholic Church, can be absolved by ordinary priests for the foreseeable future — instead of requiring the intervention of a bishop.

The change was implemented on a temporary basis, for one year only, as part of the Catholic Church's "Year of Mercy," which began last December and ended on Sunday.

In a letter released on Monday, the pope announced that the change was being extended indefinitely.

Pope Francis arrived in Sweden on Monday for services marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that split Lutherans and Catholics.

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