Pope Francis

Pope Francis will canonize Spanish missionary Junipero Serra during his visit to the U.S. later this year, the Vatican says, affirming a plan that has drawn criticism over Serra's role in the California mission system of the 18th century.

After announcing his decision in January, Francis didn't wait for the traditional approval of a second miracle before moving ahead with canonizing Serra, whom the pope has praised for his zeal.

Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio

The migration of minor children from Central America into the United States is one of the most painful problems facing us, as a community, said a leading advisor to Pope Francis, who is supposed to visit the U.S. Capitol in September and is expected to talk to lawmakers about a number of issues. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of the Honduras visited San Antonio this week and talked about what Central American children were going through.

The influx of minor children from the Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala is a migration issue the cardinal holds close to heart. He is Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, the capital of the Honduras.

Cardinal Maradiaga said he believed drug lords organized the migration to divert attention from their activities. “I am convinced this was organized by the drug lords. They were paying coyotes in order to move so many children at once, in order to attract [attention] to this problem and to leave other places free for their traffic.”

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

Pope Francis today touched off a diplomatic dispute between the Turkey and the Holy See when he referred to the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I as "genocide."

That view, long disputed by Turkey, caused Ankara to summon the Vatican envoy and to recall its own ambassador to the Roman Catholic Church.

"Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it," Francis said at Mass Sunday in the Armenian Catholic rite in St. Peter's Basilica.

Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service (Jeon Han) / Wikimedia Commons

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday honored the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians by calling it “the first genocide of the 20th century” and urging the international community to recognize it as such, a politically explosive declaration that will certainly anger Turkey.

Francis, who has close ties to the Armenian community from his days in Argentina, defended his pronouncement by saying it was his duty to honor the memory of the innocent men, women, children, priests and bishops who were “senselessly” murdered by Ottoman Turks.

“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” he said at the start of a Mass Sunday in the Armenian Catholic rite in St. Peter’s Basilica honoring the centenary. In a subsequent message directed to all Armenians, Francis called on all heads of state and international organizations to recognize the truth of what transpired and oppose such crimes “without ceding to ambiguity or compromise.”

Pope Francis, in his annual Urbi et Orbi ("To the City [Rome] and to the World") Easter address at St. Peter's Basilica, praised the framework agreement on Iran's nuclear program and expressed concern about bloodshed in Africa and the Middle East.

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