For the first time in history a former head of state, Guatemala's Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, is on trial for genocide in the country where the crime occurred. Two hundred thousand died over 36 years of armed conflict in the Central American nation, mostly Maya indigenous noncombatants at government hands. The unfolding judicial process has global repercussions, strengthening possibilities for prosecution of other prominent human rights cases.
When Benedict XVI announced his resignation Feb. 11, he filled front pages across his German homeland as media commentators assessed his eight-year pontificate and tributes came in from public figures.
Yet some say enthusiasm for the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger never reached a high level in Germany, where relations between the pope and his own countrymen always remained complex.
"I think many Germans had trouble from the outset with the idea of a German pope," said Stefan Forner, spokesman for the German church's Berlin archdiocese.
Authorities say thieves in search of money to fund a drug habit murdered Father Jose Flores Preciado, an octogenarian known for hearing afternoon confessions in the cathedral of the coastal state of Colima.
The Diocese of Colima and its leader, Bishop Jose Amezcua Melgoza, responded with a call for silent marches Feb. 17 and 18 -- heeded by an estimated 10,000 residents in three cities hit hard by Mexico's crackdown on drug cartels and organized crime.
The German bishops have announced that Catholic hospitals can provide emergency contraceptives to rape victims, as long as the pills do not stop the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Zanzibar's bishop said priests and other clergy in his diocese are terrified after a priest was murdered outside his parish church in what is seen by many as a terrorist attack.
"We are very afraid," Bishop Augustine Shao said, noting that clergy "were warned of attacks" before and after the Feb. 17 murder of 56-year-old Fr. Evaristus Mushi.
Mushi's car was followed by two men on motorcycles who blocked his way, shot and killed him, Shao said in a telephone interview Thursday from Zanzibar, a group of Indian Ocean islands that is part of Tanzania.
Sarkiss Rshdouni escaped the fighting in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo months ago but cannot shake memories of what he witnessed.
"I was with a friend when I heard gunshots," said Rshdouni, who is among hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the war in his homeland. "It was fast -- second by second, the sound was getting closer. I saw mass shooting, people running."
Aleppo is home to more than 80 percent of Syria's Armenian community, and those who are still there remain at the center of the battle for control of the country.
Viewpoint: The war in Mali is not a result of the perfidy of Islamist extremists or another case of a dysfunctional African state.
Archbishop Charles Brown, apostolic nuncio to Ireland, was chosen to restore trust in Irish leadership after decades of clerical scandals and cover-ups.
Several years ago in Cairo, President Barack Obama spoke to an overflow crowd at Al-Azhar University.
"So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity," he said. "This cycle of suspicion and discord must end."
While the Catholic church and the United Church of Canada aren't about to agree about same-sex marriage (Catholic against, United in favor), the official Roman Catholic Church/United Church of Canada Dialogue has found significant common ground in their theologies, liturgies and pastoral approaches.