• Dragon and lion dancers perform amidst exploding firecrackers in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 at Manila's Chinatown district in Manila, Philippines. This year is Year of the Monkey in the Lunar calendar. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Chinese visit temples, fairs to ring in Year of the Monkey

    BEIJING (AP) — Chinese and others around Asia flocked to temples and fairs to pray for good health and fortune on Monday, the first day of the Lunar New Year.

  • In this Jan. 16, 2016 photo, Tzotzil Indians participate in the procession in honor of the Christ of Esquipulas in Chajtoj, Chiapas state, Mexico. Pope Francisí visit to the heavily indigenous Mexican state of Chiapas appears aimed at celebrating the regionís ìIndian church,î a mix of Catholicism and indigenous culture once considered a thorn in the side of standard liturgy by the Vatican. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

    Pope Francis visit to celebrate Mexico’s indigenous church

    SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) — Pope Francis’ visit to the heavily indigenous Mexican state of Chiapas appears aimed at celebrating the region’s “Indian church,” a mix of Catholicism and indigenous culture once considered a thorn in the side of standard liturgy by the Vatican.

  • Christian group says China charges pastor with embezzling

    BEIJING (AP) — A Christian rights group says a pastor in a Chinese province where authorities have been cracking down on churches has been charged with embezzling funds.

  • Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope, Russian Orthodox patriarch to meet in historic step

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet in Cuba next week in a historic step to heal the 1,000-year-old schism that divided Christianity between East and West, both churches announced Friday.

  • In this Thursday, Feb. 3, 2016 photo, visitors stand next to a religious ornament with the "manji" symbol, which comes from the ancient Sanskrit and is widely used for centuries to denote Buddhist temples on maps and elsewhere, at a temple in Tokyo. As Japan gears up to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and caters to a surging influx of foreign visitors, the country faces a cultural dilemma: Should it stop identifying Buddhist temples on maps with the traditional "manji" symbol that is often confused with a Nazi swastika? (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

    Japan may change temple map icon to avoid Nazi confusion

    TOKYO (AP) — As Japan gears up to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and caters to a surging influx of foreign visitors, the country faces a cultural dilemma: Should it stop identifying Buddhist temples on maps with the traditional “manji” symbol that is often confused with a Nazi swastika?

  • Saudi official says kingdom ready to send troops to Syria

    CAIRO (AP) — A Saudi military spokesman said Thursday the kingdom is ready to send ground troops to Syria to fight Islamic State group provided coalition leaders agree during an upcoming meeting in Brussels.