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Pope confirms Bertone as Vatican secretary of state


VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has reconfirmed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as Vatican secretary of state, praising the Italian prelate's capability, humanity and sense of faith.

As required of all Vatican department heads, Cardinal Bertone had offered his resignation when he turned 75 last December. He was named head of the Secretariat of State in 2006.

'The Simpsons' and the Vatican press



Oddball combinations never fail to amuse. On their own, neither poodles nor break dancing constitute a novelty, but find a break-dancing poodle and YouTube awaits. In the same spirit, a recent paean to “The Simpsons” in L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, sparked chuckles around the world.

After all, Homer Simpson is the postmodern everyman who once mused, “What’s that religion with all the well-meaning rules that don’t work out in real life? ... You know, Christianity.” For the Vatican’s in-house organ to pay tribute on the show’s 20th anniversary is, therefore, noteworthy.

Pope defends outreach to Anglicans

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI defended his plan to make it easier for Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, saying that it served the “ultimate purpose” of dialogue between the two denominations.

The pope spoke on Friday, Jan. 15, at a special plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic church's highest doctrinal authority.

Pope welcomed to Rome synagogue despite tensions


Heading into Pope Benedict XVI’s much-anticipated Jan. 17 visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome, one towering question loomed. What impact would the recent move towards sainthood for Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff whose alleged “silence” on the Holocaust has long fueled controversy, have on the broader Jewish-Catholic relationship?

In the wake of the visit on Sunday, two answers seem equally clear:

  • One, fraternal relations between Jews and Catholic will survive the latest round of tensions over Pius XII, with the enthusiastic welcome given to Benedict XVI as proof of the point.

  • Two, those tensions also aren’t about to disappear.

This was only the second papal trip to the Rome synagogue, after John Paul II’s groundbreaking visit in April 1986. Benedict was greeted warmly, including an emotional reunion with the former Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaf, who hosted John Paul twenty-four years ago.

A time to act for Catholic-Jewish reconciliation


Editor's note: Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome Jan. 17. It will be only the second such occasion after the groundbreaking visit by Pope John Paul II in 1986. The visit coincides with the Italian Catholic church's celebration each Jan. 17 of a day for Catholic-Jewish dialogue. The visit is being watched especially close after a year of tension relations between Catholics and Jews.

The recent decree by Pope Benedict XVI advancing the sainthood of Pope Pius XII is another serious blow to Catholic-Jewish relations. Pius’ record during the Shoah remains a legitimate historical question and is, as well, the subject of a long-time emotional disagreement between some in the Vatican and Jewish leaders.

Pope meets, forgives Christmas Eve attacker


VATICAN CITY -- As a sign of his forgiveness, Pope Benedict XVI met with the woman responsible for knocking him down during a Christmas Eve Mass, a papal spokesman said.

The pope met with Susanna Maiolo after leading his weekly general audience Jan. 13 in the Vatican's Paul VI hall, Father Federico Lombardi said in a written statement.

French seminary trains for Orthodox resurgence

EPINAY-SOUS-SENART, France -- Inside a plain stone building that was once a Catholic convent in the center of town, a dozen black-robed seminarians struggle over French theological phrases.

The nuns are long gone, their Catholic crucifixes replaced by Russian icons and incense that form the trappings of a bold experiment: the Russian Orthodox Church's first seminary outside the former Soviet Union.

Officially launched in November, the small Paris-area school nurses big ambitions: to train a new generation of Orthodox priests capable of serving Russia's growing Diaspora. Even more, the school hopes to foster exchanges between Europe's Christian East and West; and, more specifically, help nurture warming ties between Moscow and the Vatican.

Papal secretary visits pope's Christmas attacker


VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI's personal secretary visited the woman responsible for knocking the pope down during a Christmas Eve Mass.

Msgr. Georg Ganswein, papal secretary, visited Susanna Maiolo at the psychiatric hospital in Subiaco, outside of Rome, where she was transferred Dec. 25.

The papal secretary made the private visit to Maiolo "to show her the Holy Father's interest in her situation," the papal spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said in a written statement Jan. 3.



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November 21-December 5, 2014


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