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Vatican treads carefully on Egyptian violence

VATICAN CITY -- Treading carefully on a subject that has proved diplomatically volatile for the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI lamented Sunday’s (Oct. 9) killing of two dozen Christian protesters in Egypt.

“I am profoundly saddened by the episodes of violence that took place in Cairo last Sunday,” Benedict said on Wednesday (Oct. 12), referring to clashes between Coptic Christians and government security forces that led to the deaths of at least 25 protesters.

The pope voiced his pain at “attempts to undermine peaceful coexistence” between Egypt’s Christian minority and Muslim majority, and called for “true peace, based on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of all citizens.”

“I support the efforts made by the civil and religious authorities in Egypt to foster a society in which everyone’s human rights are respected, in particular those of minorities,” Benedict said, without mentioning the religious affiliation of the protesters.

Pope condemns attack on Christians in Egypt

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VATICAN CITY -- Condemning an attack on unarmed Christians in Egypt, Pope Benedict XVI said that during the country's transition to democracy, all of its citizens and institutions must work to guarantee the rights of minorities.

At the end of his weekly general audience Oct. 12, Pope Benedict said he was "profoundly saddened" by the deaths Oct. 9 of at least 26 people, mostly Christians, after peaceful protesters were attacked by gangs, and then a speeding military vehicle ran into them and officers fired on the crowd. Hundreds of people were injured.

The pope said Egypt, which has been transitioning to democracy since the February ousting of President Hosni Mubarak, has been "lacerated by attempts to undermine peaceful coexistence among its communities."

Safeguarding harmony and cooperation is essential for a future of true democracy, he said.

The pope asked Catholics to pray that Egypt would "enjoy true peace based on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every citizen."

Schismatics discuss demands; future unclear

VATICAN CITY -- Leaders of an ultra-traditionalist group that’s in schism with the Roman Catholic Church met to consider the Vatican’s conditions for reconciliation, but failed to announce a decision or say when they would do so.

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) will respond to the Vatican’s conditions “in a reasonable time,” its leaders said, after they met on Friday (Oct. 7).

Bishop Bernard Fellay, the SSPX’s superior general, received the “doctrinal preamble” at a meeting in Rome last month. The document’s contents remain confidential, but the Vatican has indicated it includes a mandate to accept at least some of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the pope’s teaching authority in the decades since.

Founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the SSPX is the largest and most vocal group of ultra-traditionalist Catholics who reject the modernizing reforms ushered in by Vatican II, including the council’s teachings on religious freedom and subsequent changes to the Mass.

New nuncio is no stranger to politics

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Pope Benedict XVI’s choice as his new ambassador to the United States will find a badly polarized society in America, with contentious national elections in 2012 already heating up and no sign that the nasty divisions in Catholic opinion that erupted last time around have been smoothed over.

As strange as it sounds, Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, assuming he gets the job, may just be glad for the break from politics.

Benedict XVI trying to meet the other Germany halfway

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Pope Benedict XVI has gone home to Germany twice before, but it is always been, in a sense, on his turf. The first German pontiff in 500 years was surrounded by throngs of pumped-up young believers for World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005, and he took a trip down memory lane to ultra-Catholic Bavaria, where the young Joseph Ratzinger grew up, in 2006.

Vatican gives traditionalists doctrinal statement to sign

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican has given the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X a formal "doctrinal preamble" listing several principles they must agree with in order to move toward full reconciliation with church.

U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the statement to Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the society, Sept. 14 during a meeting at the Vatican that lasted more than two hours.

Muslim students invite pope to Bali conference

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VATICAN CITY -- Leaders of Indonesia's largest Muslim student group came to the Vatican to extend an invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to speak at a conference in Bali in 2012.

The leaders of the Indonesian Islamic Student Association, or Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam, met Sept. 10 with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, reported Fides, the Vatican's missionary news agency.

Int'l Criminal Court urged to investigate Vatican officials

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Lawyers today filed a petition with the International Criminal Court on behalf of clergy sex abuse victims urging an investigation of high-ranking Roman Catholic Church leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, charging that the widespread sexual abuse by priests in various countries and the handling of those cases by bishops and authorities in the Vatican constitute widespread human rights abuses.

The communication filed with the court in Hague in the Netherlands is comparable to the filing of a complaint with a district attorney’s office in the United States, said Pamela C. Spees, senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York based organization that has its roots in the Civil Rights era and that seeks to use law to effect social change.

Pope links British riots to ëmoral relativismí

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI linked last month’s riots in England to the corrosive effects of “moral relativism,” and warned that preserving social order requires government policies based on “enduring values.”

Benedict made his remarks on Friday to Britain’s new Vatican ambassador, Nigel M. Baker, at a meeting in the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome.

The moral basis of government policies is “especially important in the light of events in England this summer,” Benedict said, in an apparent reference to riots in London and other English cities last month, which left five people dead and caused at least 200 million pounds ($320 million) in property damage.

“When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism ... tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others,” the pope said.

Benedict called on government leaders to foster the “essential values of a healthy society, through the defense of life and of the family, the sound moral education of the young, and a fraternal regard for the poor and the weak.”

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