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Pope appoints 35 clergy members, including Dolan, as synod members


VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez and 35 other cardinals, bishops and priests to serve as full members of the Synod of Bishops.

The papal appointees, whose names were announced Tuesday, will join more than 200 other synod members who were elected by their national bishops' conference, serve as the head of a Vatican office or were elected by the Union of Superiors General, the organization for the heads of men's religious orders.

The synod is scheduled for Oct. 7-28 at the Vatican to explore the theme, "New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith."

Twelve cardinals, including Australian Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, and diocesan bishops from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe also were named synod members by the pope.

The prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, and the president of the Communion and Liberation movement, Fr. Julian Carron, were among the papal appointees, as were the superiors general of three religious orders of men: the Camillians, the Schonstatt Fathers and the Carmelites.

Pope lifts up the other face of the Middle East in Lebanon


Beirut, Lebanon — Some papal trips are important for their substance, while others matter more for their symbolism. Benedict XVI’s Sept. 14-16 outing to Lebanon fell into that second category, showing the world a different face of the Middle East in a moment of mounting violence and deep doubts about the future of the Arab Spring.

As Lebanon’s Daily Star put it, the trip came off as a “symbol of tolerance” in a region whose profile is more often that of fundamentalism, terrorism, and sectarian strife.

Benedict arrived on the very day that the recent bout of anti-American and anti-Western violence reached its peak, and while a bloody civil war in neighboring Syria continued to rage — neither of which were on the horizon when plans for the trip were originally crafted.

Lawyer leaves Vatileaks accused's defense team over strategy differences


VATICAN CITY -- Carlo Fusco, the lawyer for the papal assistant charged with stealing Vatican documents, has left his client's defense team, citing a difference over defense strategies.

Fusco told news agencies Thursday that he and Paolo Gabriele, who was arrested in May and formally charged with aggravated theft Aug. 13, spoke at length Aug. 23 and, in the end, "Paolo and I continued to have differences over the strategy to use."

"Whoever succeeds me will do what he thinks is best, obviously," Fusco said. "I'm sorry to leave, but I could not continue. There were just too many differences," he told the Italian agency AdnKronos.

Fusco and Gabriele have been friends since childhood and the lawyer began representing him almost immediately after Gabriele's arrest. A Vatican court said police found letters, documents and objects taken from Pope Benedict XVI's office in Gabriele's Vatican apartment.

Pope greets new NAC seminarians; they respond with song


Wearing new clerical suits, the 62 new students at the Pontifical North American College received a personal greeting from Pope Benedict XVI, to which they responded in song.

"Dear seminarians, use your time in Rome to conform yourselves more completely to Christ," the pope told the young men Aug. 26 after reciting the Angelus with them and hundreds of other visitors in the courtyard of the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo.

Statistically speaking: Vatican numbers hint at fading faith practice


VATICAN CITY -- The percentage of Catholics practicing their faith is declining almost everywhere around the globe. Almost all bishops report it, but it's difficult to prove statistically.

Each year, the Vatican's own statisticians compile mountains of data about the number of Catholics, baptisms, priests and religious, weddings and annulments in each diocese and country.

Vatican magistrates order trial for papal assistant accused of theft


VATICAN CITY -- Vatican magistrates have formally indicted Pope Benedict XVI's personal assistant, Paolo Gabriele, on charges of aggravated theft and have indicted a computer technician from the Vatican Secretariat of State on minor charges of aiding Gabriele after he stole Vatican correspondence.

New gung-ho archbishops known for aggressive style



Marine Capt. Lloyd W. Williams famously demurred when advised to pull back during a skirmish with numerically superior German forces in June 1918, at the peak of the First World War. His immortal reply, which became the motto of the Marines' Second Battalion, was: "Retreat? Hell, we just got here!"

If he were around today, the feisty Williams might well appreciate the way the Catholic church seems to be picking its bishops.

In the teeth of a perceived war on religion in America, the church is sending clear signals that it has no intention of backing down. Over the last six months, three of the country's most important dioceses have been entrusted to prelates known for aggressively defending church positions on hot-button issues such as gay marriage and abortion, with the July 27 nomination of Salvatore Cordileone as the new archbishop of San Francisco as the latest example.

LCWR past presidents reflect on Vatican mandate


ST. LOUIS -- As representatives of Catholic sisters from across the country gathered here Tuesday for a meeting expected to formulate a formal response to harsh critique from the Vatican, current and past presidents of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious met in closed session to share experiences and lay a foundation for that response.



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