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On March 18 Vatican officials confirmed a papal visit to Armenia was “being studied” but denied that it had already been set for June 22-26. • The John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City is launching a research program to pursue treatments for a variety of rare, genetic illnesses that afflict millions of Americans. • On March 17 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that atrocities carried out by the Islamic State group against Yazidis, Christians and other minorities constituted genocide, the first such U.S. declaration since Sudan’s Darfur crisis in 2004. • On March 18 three Franciscan friars—Robert D’Aversa, 69, Anthony Criscitelli, 62, and Giles Schinelli, 73—were arraigned on child endangerment and conspiracy charges related to their supervision of a sexual predator who may have molested more than 100 children in Pennsylvania. • In what may be his first public comments about his successor, Pope Benedict XVI said in an interview published in March that Pope Francis “finds himself in full accord” with St. John Paul II’s “profound” concept of the centrality of mercy in the church—“a sign of the times…that the idea of God’s mercy is becoming ever more central and dominant.”

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Pope John Paul II prays in 1993 at the Hill of Crosses in Siauliai, Lithuania. Pope Francis will make the same three-nation visit, stopping at a number of the same places as his saint-predecessor. (CNS photo/Arturo Mari, L'Osservatore Romano) 
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Kevin and Sarah Leopold attend a Sept. 14 prayer vigil with their son Ambrose at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. The vigil was in response to recent clerical sexual abuse scandals. (CNS photo/Gina Christian, catholicphilly.com)
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about refugees as he makes a statement to the media Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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