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Vatican

Vatican downplays charges of financial 'corruption'

VATICAN CITY -- Insisting on the Holy See's continuing commitment to transparency and rectitude in economic affairs, the Vatican's spokesman downplayed references to "corruption" in a letter apparently sent to Pope Benedict XVI by a Vatican official who is now apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, criticized as "partisan," "partial and banal," an Italian television news program, which, on Jan. 25, broadcast portions of letters addressed to Pope Benedict and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State.

The letters were apparently signed by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano and written when he was the secretary general of the commission governing Vatican City.

One of the letters, dated April 4, 2011, said that when Archbishop Vigano took office almost two years earlier, he discovered a "disastrous situation" of "chaotic management" and overspending on contracts.

The letter also complained of a "media campaign" launched by opponents of the archbishop's efforts at reform, and implored the pope not to remove him from his job, "even for promotion to a more important post."

Curial horror greeted John XXIII's announcement of ecumenical council

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VIEWPOINT

This is the first of an occasional series of articles about the Second Vatican Council that will appear this year in NCR leading up to 50th anniversary of the council's opening on Oct. 11, 2012. In October, NCR will publish a special edition devoted solely to the council's 50th anniversary. Read more about it here.

Wednesday, the Catholic church should have celebrated -- but didn't -- an important anniversary, the day 53 years ago when Pope John XXIII invited 18 Curia cardinals to accompany him to a ceremony at St. Paul Outside the Walls. It was the feast day of St. Paul, who is believed to have been executed in Rome about 67 A.D. and buried where the basilica named after him now stands.

It was also the final day of the Octave for Christian Unity, an objective close to the pope's heart. Presumably because of the attendance of so many Vatican higher-ups, the ceremony lasted longer than usual. The result was that the content of the carefully timed announcement the pope made to the cardinals had been released to the media before the cardinals were told.

Pope: Eucharist gives strength to those who are weak

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VATICAN CITY -- The Eucharist sustains those who are tired, worn out or lost in the world and transforms human sin and weakness into new life, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Speaking at his weekly general audience Jan. 11, the pope focused on Jesus and the Last Supper, where he instituted the Eucharist, "the sacrament of his body and blood."

"Jesus' gift of himself anticipates his sacrifice on the cross and his glorious resurrection," the pope said.

He offers his life before it is taken from him on the cross and as such "transforms his violent death into a free act of giving himself for others. Violence immediately is transformed into an active, free and redemptive sacrifice," the pope said.

The pope said that, at the Last Supper, Jesus prayed for his disciples, especially Peter, warning him, according to the Gospel of Luke, that "Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat." But Jesus prayed that his disciple's faith would not fail and that Peter, who would betray Jesus, would return to strengthen the others' faith, the pope said.

Pope tells diplomats that economy needs 'new rules'

VATICAN CITY -- The world economy needs "new rules" to overcome the current financial crisis and to ensure that "all can lead a dignified life," Pope Benedict XVI told Vatican diplomats on Monday (Jan. 9).

Benedict's New Year's address to diplomats accredited to the Holy See traditionally presents the Vatican's views on global affairs. The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 179 countries, and is a permanent observer at the United Nations.

The pope called the effects of the financial crisis "grave and disturbing," and said that many people, especially the young, feel "disoriented and frustrated in their aspirations for a serene future."

"We must not lose heart, but instead resolutely rediscover our way through new forms of commitment," he said.

Benedict also highlighted violations of religious freedom and persecutions against Christians, including recent attacks against churches in Nigeria. He also noted some "encouraging signs" on religious freedom, including a European court ruling that allows crucifixes to remain in Italian schoolrooms.

Five things to know about the newest cardinals

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Naming new cardinals is among the more important acts of any papacy, because the cardinals form the "electoral college" that will pick the next pope. That’s arguably even more significant this time around, given that Benedict XVI will turn 85 in April -- and although there’s no sign of any health crisis, at that age it’s natural to begin thinking about what might come next.

Bishop resigns after disclosing he is father of two children

VATICAN CITY -- Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala has resigned after disclosing to superiors that he is the father of two children.

The Vatican announced the bishop's resignation Jan. 4 in a one-line statement that cited church law on resignation for illness or other serious reasons.

U.S. Catholic ordinariate for former Anglicans formed

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WASHINGTON — Pope Benedict XVI established a new nationwide U.S. ordinariate Jan. 1 for U.S. Anglicans (Episcopalians) who wish to become Catholic. He named Fr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, a Catholic theology professor in Houston and former Episcopal bishop, as its first head.

The new Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter will be based in Houston, according to Jan. 1 announcements released in Rome and Washington.

Dolan among those named to Vatican communications council

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VATICAN CITY -- U.S. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Australian Archbishop Mark B. Coleridge of Canberra and Goulburn, and Greg Erlandson, president of the Catholic Press Association, were named by Pope Benedict XVI to help advise the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The Vatican released the names of the new appointments Thursday.

Ten bishops were named new members of the council; among them are Archbishop Dolan, who is president of the U.S. bishops' conference and a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, and Archbishop Coleridge, who is a member of the Synod of Bishops and Pontifical Council for Culture.

Among the 11 new consultors or advisers to the communications council are: Erlandson, who is president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor; Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano; Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, the editor of the influential Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica; and Dominican Sister Dominica Dipio, who is a filmmaker and head of the department of literature at Makerere University in Uganda.

Dates set for pope's visit to Mexico

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MEXICO CITY -- A spokesman for the Mexican bishops' conference confirmed details of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to Mexico originally published by the newspaper Reforma, which reported the papal visit would occur March 23-26.

The spokesman, Father Manuel Corral, stressed that details of the visit "are not official," although he said the pope would only visit the state of Guanajuato and its environs in west-central Mexico. Father Corral said specific details of the visit would likely be made public before the end of the year.

Reforma, citing comments from the president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, reported that Pope Benedict would celebrate Mass March 25 at the Parque Guanajuato Bicentenario in Silao, near the city of Leon and 220 miles northwest of Mexico City.

Pope Benedict also is expected to visit Cuba during his trip, the first to both countries since he was elected in 2005.

Pope pins financial mess on 'crisis of faith'

VATICAN CITY -- Europe's economic and financial crisis is the consequence of an "ethical crisis" and a "crisis of faith," Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday, resulting in the triumph of selfishness over social responsibility.

Benedict made his remarks in his annual Christmas speech to the Roman Curia, the Catholic church's central administration at the Vatican.

The pope acknowledged that "such values as solidarity, commitment to one's neighbor and responsibility toward the poor and suffering are largely uncontroversial," but said the "motivation is often lacking ... to make sacrifices."

While the remedy for selfishness lies in "proclamation of the gospel," the pope said Europe is now undergoing a crisis of faith evident in the troubles of the Roman Catholic Church.

"Regular churchgoers are growing older all the time and ... their number is constantly diminishing," and "recruitment of priests is stagnating" while "skepticism and unbelief are growing."

Benedict drew a contrast between Europe's anemic religious life and Africa's "joyful passion for faith," which he experienced last month during a three-day visit to the West African country of Benin.

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