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The Associated Press | January 22, 2014 11:50 AM EST | AP

Anti-abortion march includes thousands of Catholic students

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of high school and college students from Catholic schools around the country are in Washington to demonstrate against abortion on this 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.

March for Life President Jeanne (JEE'-nee) Monahan says many of them traveled hundreds of miles on buses and slept overnight on gym floors to march from the Washington Mall to the Supreme Court on one of the coldest days of the year.

Wednesday's march follows a Catholic youth rally and Mass celebrated by Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl (wurl). The Archdiocese of Washington says it's meant "to encourage the youth participating in the national March for Life in their witness as disciples of Christ and promoters of the Gospel of Life."

Monahan says the young marchers' enthusiasm inspires her to lead them through what was forecast to be snow and sub-zero wind chills.


Obama to meet with Pope Francis in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican as part of a European trip scheduled for March.

The White House says Obama "looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality" during their meeting.

Obama had an audience with the previous pope, Benedict XVI, in 2009. At that time, the Vatican underscored the deep disagreement between them on abortion.

The March 27 meeting with Francis will follow a nuclear security summit hosted by the Netherlands and an economic summit in Belgium.


Baptists to pay $12.5 million in sex abuse case

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida jury has awarded $12.5 million in damages to a young man who was sexually abused by a Baptist minister when he was a child.

But an attorney for the Florida Baptist Convention said on Tuesday that the organization would appeal the ruling from a jury in Lake County, northwest of Orlando. Attorney Gary Yeldell says the convention is confident that an appellate court will overturn the ruling. He says the minister was an independent pastor and not supervised by the convention.

The jury verdict was returned on Saturday.

An attorney for the man, who is remaining anonymous, says the jury understood the "devastating" impact of the abuse.

The young man is now in his 20s and attending college.


Chicago archdiocese hid decades of child sex abuse

CHICAGO (AP) — Internal documents reveal how the Archdiocese of Chicago tried for decades to contain a mounting scandal over child sexual abuse by priests.

That includes moving accused priests from parish to parish and assigning others to watch them around children. Many went on to abuse again.

Former Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin often approved the reassignments.

The documents were turned over to victims' attorneys and were posted online Tuesday. They cover only 30 of the at least 65 clergy for whom the archdiocese says it has substantiated claims of child abuse.

Victim attorneys say they show that the archdiocese concealed the abuse for decades.

Cardinal Francis George says the disclosures are an attempt at transparency and a means to help victims heal. He also has apologized to victims and area Catholics.


Holy See: Interreligious dialogue needed for Syrian peace

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations says interreligious dialogue must be part of the Syrian peace process.

In a U.N. speech, Archbishop Francis Chullikat noted that the millions of refugees displaced by the violence in Syria and other parts of the Mideast include Christians whose roots in the region go back nearly 2,000 years. The Holy See's permanent U.N. observer lamented what he called "a worrying exodus" of Christians who are being targeted "by fundamentalist and extremist forces."

Chullikat called for interfaith dialogue to bring about reconciliation and restore Syria's historic religious pluralism.

He said Pope Francis, "as a witness to peace," intends to make his visit to the Holy Land in May a "pilgrimage of prayer."