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Vatican

Vatican courts tackle petty, serious crimes

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ROME -- From picked pockets to a 1998 double murder and suicide, the Vatican legal system has dealt with a vast array of crimes and misdemeanors over the decades.

Now it has begun a formal inquiry into the case of the pope's personal assistant who has been implicated in the media-blitzed "VatiLeaks" scandal. Paolo Gabriele, the pope's valet since 2006, was arrested May 23 by Vatican security for having unauthorized documents in his possession.

As the case unfolds in the coming weeks, many may wonder how the Vatican City State's unique judicial system works.

Its legal foundations are rooted in the Code of Canon Law, papal decrees, the Lateran Pacts, and Italian and Roman municipal laws.

Of the half-dozen different tribunal systems at the Vatican, just one deals specifically with the maintenance of law and order in the 108-acre country. The other systems tackle ecclesial matters.

Vatican academy mulls how pro-life is pro-life enough

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Analysis

In the normally tranquil world of the Vatican, where keeping up at least the appearance of unity is a fine art, the Pontifical Academy for Life has long been something of an outlier. There, internal tensions have a habit of erupting into full public view.

The latest such row, featuring a public call from academy members for its papally appointed leadership to resign, pivots in part on the question of just how “pro-life” is pro-life enough to faithfully represent Catholic teaching.

Also at stake is whether affording a Vatican platform to people who don’t completely share Catholic positions risks blurring the church’s message -- or whether refusal to engage in such dialogue betrays, as one Vatican cardinal has asserted, an insecure, “fundamentalist” position.

Founded by Pope John Paul II in 1994, the Pontifical Academy for Life is essentially a Vatican think tank composed of roughly 70 academics, medical experts and activists. It’s led by a bishop appointed by the pope, along with a small staff of Vatican personnel, and coordinated by a six-member governing council.

Vatican pledges to restore trust, transparency in search for truth

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican said it is committed to restoring a sense of trust and transparency as it seeks the truth behind leaks of letters written by Vatican officials to each other and Pope Benedict XVI.

Paolo Gabriele -- the pope's private assistant accused of having a cache of illicitly obtained Vatican documents -- was still under arrest and would face his first round of formal preliminary questioning by Vatican judges "later this week or early next week," Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said Tuesday.

The spokesman confirmed that an unspecified number of other individuals also had been questioned by Vatican police recently, a process that could be expected to continue, but no one else had been charged or arrested.

Gabriele has been able to meet and speak with his lawyers and his wife regularly, and is "very serene and calm," said his chief counsel, Carlo Fusco, in a written statement released Monday.

Lombardi said Monday the Vatican "is committed to seeking to restore as soon as possible a climate of transparency, truth and trust."

Pope appoints North Dakota bishop to Denver, Maine bishop to Buffalo

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UPDATED 3:20 p.m. CST WASHINGTON -- Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, N.D., as the new archbishop of Denver and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Portland, Maine, to head the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y.

The pope also accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, who is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope.

The latest on Vatican scandals

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To say that the Vatican seems in turmoil would be putting things mildly, with two stunners in the arc of twenty-four hours last week: The announcement that the president of the Vatican Bank has been unceremoniously fired, and the revelation that a longtime personal servant of Benedict XVI has been identified as the alleged "deep throat" behind the torrid Vatican leaks scandal.

Director of Vatican Bank resigns under pressure

VATICAN CITY -- In an unprecedented move, the board of the Vatican Bank on Thursday forced its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, to resign.

According to a Vatican statement, the bank's supervisory council unanimously passed a no-confidence motion in Gotti Tedeschi for his "failure to fulfill various primary functions of his office." Carl A. Anderson, the supreme knight of the U.S.-based Knights of Columbus, is one of the council's four members.

Vatican publishes rules for verifying visions of Mary

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VATICAN CITY -- To help bishops determine the credibility of alleged Marian apparitions, the Vatican has translated and published procedural rules from 1978 that had previously been available only in Latin.

The "Norms regarding the manner of proceedings in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations" were approved by Pope Paul VI in 1978 and distributed to the world's bishops, but never officially published or translated into modern languages.

However, in the last three decades, unauthorized translations have appeared around the world, according to U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The doctrinal office "believes it is now opportune to publish these 'Norms,' providing translations in the principle languages" so as to "aid the pastors of the Catholic Church in their difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or, more generally, extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin," the cardinal wrote in a note dated December 2011.

Pope tells U.S. bishops to build church unity

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI urged American Catholics to strive for greater unity, especially among ethnic groups and between bishops and religious orders, in order to carry out the church's mission in an increasingly hostile society.

The pope made his remarks May 18 in a speech to U.S. bishops from the Chaldean, Ruthenian, Maronite, Ukrainian, Armenian, Melkite, Syriac and Romanian Catholic churches, who were making their periodic "ad limina" visits to the Vatican.

They were the last of 15 groups of U.S. bishops to make to make "ad limina" visits since November 2011, reporting on the status of their dioceses to Pope Benedict and holding discussions with Vatican officials.

In his speech, Pope Benedict called for greater "Catholic unity" to counter the "forces of disaggregation within the church which increasingly represent a grave obstacle to her mission in the United States."

The pope echoed his earlier warnings to other U.S. bishops about the dangers of secularization and state curbs on religious freedom.

Open letter to the U.S. bishops: Let's not be a laughingstock, OK?

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Commentary

Back in the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas warned his fellow scholars about taking positions that brought ridicule upon the church. "Ne fides rideatur," he said. Literally, "Don't let the faith be laughed at."

Last week, we learned the U.S. bishops were launching an investigation into the supposedly subversive activities of our Catholic Girl Scouts. According to The Associated Press, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, Ind., and his fellows on the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth will be looking into the Scouts' "possible problematic relationships" with groups like Doctors Without Borders, the Sierra Club, and Oxfam International "because they support family planning."

Year after removing bishop, pope names new head of Toowoomba diocese

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VATICAN CITY -- More than a year after Pope Benedict XVI removed Bishop William Morris as head of the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia, the pope named the vicar general of the Diocese of Parramatta to succeed him.

Msgr. Robert McGuckin, 68, a canon lawyer and director of the Institute of Tribunal Practice at the Catholic Institute of Sydney, was named head of the diocese May 14.

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July 18-31, 2014

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