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Germans look back on Benedict's papacy with mixed emotions

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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.

Catholic leaders take cautious steps in addressing Mexican violence

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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.

Bishop in Zanzibar says church workers terrified after priest's murder

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.

Armenia struggles to absorb Christian refugees from Syria

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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.

Late Ambassador Chris Stevens and his family an example of selfless foreign service

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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."

Brazilians look forward to greeting new pope at World Youth Day

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Hundreds of thousands of pre-Lenten Carnival-goers diverted their attention from the festivities to pay attention to the news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation.

National television networks halted their coverage of the four-day festival Monday to dedicate most of the morning broadcasts to the news coming from the Vatican and reactions from Brazilians.

Organizers of the World Youth Day 2013, set for July 23-28 in Rio de Janeiro, said plans will continue as scheduled even though the identity of the new pope would not be known for several weeks.

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