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Vatican

Statistically speaking: Vatican numbers hint at fading faith practice

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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

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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

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Analysis

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

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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.

Papal book completed; cardinal says new encyclical also possible

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has finished the third volume of his opus, "Jesus of Nazareth," and perhaps also will publish an encyclical letter during the upcoming Year of Faith, said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.

The cardinal, Pope Benedict's top collaborator, told reporters Aug. 1 that the pope had finished his manuscript on Jesus' infancy and childhood.

Knights' praised in papal message

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VATICAN CITY -- The Knights of Columbus "have worked tirelessly" to help U.S. Catholics recognize and oppose efforts to "redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom," said a message signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.

The theme chosen for the Knights' Aug. 7-9 convention in Anaheim, Calif., "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land," is a reminder not only of "the great biblical ideals of freedom and justice which shaped the founding of the United States of America, but also the responsibility of each new generation to preserve, defend and advance those great ideals in its own day," the cardinal wrote.

The message, conveying Pope Benedict XVI's prayers for the Knights' annual gathering and his thanks to the fraternal organization, was published at the Vatican Aug. 2.

Writing on behalf of the pope, Cardinal Bertone thanked the Knights for helping Catholics "recognize and respond to the unprecedented gravity of these new threats to the church's liberty and public moral witness."

Papal book completed, new encyclical possible

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has finished the third volume of his opus, "Jesus of Nazareth," and perhaps also will publish an encyclical letter during the upcoming Year of Faith, said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.

The cardinal, Pope Benedict's top collaborator, told reporters Aug. 1 that the pope had finished his manuscript on Jesus' infancy and childhood.

"It is a great gift for the Year of Faith," the cardinal told reporters in Les Combes di Introd, a village in Italy's northwestern Alps where Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict have vacationed in the past.

The first volume of "Jesus of Nazareth," covering the period from Jesus' baptism to his Transfiguration, was published in 2007. The second volume, looking at his passion and death, came out in 2011.

In a statement Aug. 2, the Vatican press office said the book is being translated into a variety of languages from the German original. "It is hoped that the book will be published simultaneously in the most widely spoken languages; this will require a certain amount of time to ensure the accurate translations of a text that is important and long-awaited."

Verdict on Vatican transparency offers criticism, praise

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Given the Vatican's traditional obsession with secrecy and autonomy, the report of the first independent, secular evaluation of the Vatican on financial transparency made news less for how the Vatican scored than the fact that it took the test in the first place.

Results of the highly anticipated evaluation were released July 18 by Moneyval, the Council of Europe's anti-money-laundering agency.

New Vatican doctrinal chief talks about SSPX, LCWR discussions

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VATICAN CITY -- Asked about how he would handle the most controversial cases he inherited, the new head of the Vatican's doctrinal office said, "For the future of the church, it's important to overcome ideological conflicts from whatever side they come."

German Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller, named prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in early July, told the Vatican newspaper that the congregation's discussions with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X and with the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious would focus on the fact that being Catholic means believing what the church teaches.

Although he has been a member of the congregation for five years, Muller told L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that it would take him some time to get up to speed on all of the details of the congregation's work.

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July 18-31, 2014

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