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Vatican

Vatican imposes new controls on charity federation

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ROME -- After moving last year to block the reelection of the first lay woman to head Caritas Internationalis, the Rome-based confederation of Catholic charitable agencies around the world, over an alleged “lack of coordination” with papal aides, the Vatican today imposed sweeping new rules that effectively tightens its control over Caritas' finances and global operations.

Among other points, the rules require the top officials of Caritas to make promises of loyalty before a Vatican official, including "Christian obedience" to church leaders.

Aside from its direct importance for Catholic charities, today’s Vatican move is also interesting for the recently decreed overhaul of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious in the United States, the country’s main umbrella group for superiors of women’s orders.

Like LCWR, Caritas Internationalis is a juridical person under church law recognized by the Vatican. The new rules are thus a further indication that the Vatican is in earnest about tightening its grip over groups that enjoy official status and, in some sense, represent the church.

Pope donates $250,000 to Anglican ordinariate

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ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI donated $250,000 to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham to help support its clergy and work.

The gift "is a clear sign of (the pope's) personal commitment to the work of Christian unity and the special place the ordinariate holds in his heart," said Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Vatican nuncio to Great Britain.

The ordinariate made the announcement in a press statement May 1.

"The gift will help establish the ordinariate as a vibrant part of the Catholic Church in England and Wales," the statement said.

The ordinary, Msgr. Keith Newton, said, "This gift is a great help and encouragement as we continue to grow and develop our distinctive ecclesial life, whilst seeking to contribute to the wider work of evangelization."

Pope Benedict established the ordinariate to welcome former Anglicans into the Catholic Church. The structure provided a way for entire Anglican parishes or groups to become Catholic while retaining some of their Anglican heritage and liturgical practice.

Has the 'real Ratzinger' come out to play?

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ROME -- When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the papacy in April 2005, the popular forecast called for stormy weather ahead. This was, after all, the Vatican enforcer who had been leading a “smack-down on heresy since 1981”, in the words of T-shirts and coffee mugs marketed by a Ratzinger fan club. His rise elicited dread in some quarters and joy in others, but virtually everyone agreed big things were in the works.

Pope names retired cardinals to investigate source of leaks to media

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI named the members of a papal commission he established in March to investigate a series of leaks of letters exchanged among Vatican officials and between the officials and the pope himself.

Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, 82, a former president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, will lead the commission. The two other members are 88-year-old retired Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; and the retired archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, 81.

The commission of cardinals "will act at all levels on the strength of its pontifical mandate" to investigate the "recent leaks of reserved and confidential documents on television, in newspapers and in other communications media" and "bring these episodes fully to light," said a Vatican press release Wednesday.

The commission met for the first time Tuesday, the statement said, "to establish the method and timetable for its activities."

Sartain: Reform of US nuns group an opportunity for dialogue

VATICAN CITY -- A newly announced reform of an association of women's religious congregations in the U.S. offers the sisters and their bishops an opportunity to communicate and work together more closely, said the archbishop named by the Vatican to oversee the reform process.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle spoke to Catholic News Service in Rome April 22, a day after arriving for a periodic "ad limina" visit to the Vatican.

A pope of ironies in Cuba and Mexico

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Analysis

Although Pope Benedict XVI’s March 23-28 outing to Mexico and Cuba officially constituted one voyage, in reality it was a tale of two trips. In Cuba, the pontiff was at his most political, engaging in a delicate and controversial tête-à-tête with the Castro regime; in Mexico, Benedict instead focused on the pastoral, featuring a gentle debunking of clericalism.

Benedict’s six-day journey, which took him to the León archdiocese in Mexico and Santiago and Havana in Cuba, was the 23rd foreign outing of his papacy, but his first to Spanish-speaking Latin America. (The pontiff visited Brazil in 2007.)

At Holy Thursday Mass, pope criticizes dissent from church teachings

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VATICAN CITY -- During a Mass in which priests renew their promises of fidelity to Christ, Pope Benedict XVI firmly criticized dissent from church teachings and disobedience of God's will as illegitimate pathways toward reform and renewal.

Surrounded by more than 1,600 priests, bishops and cardinals, the pope cautioned against calls for women's ordination, saying such campaigns seemed more "a desperate push" to fulfill one's own preferences rather than a sincere attempt to conform one's life more closely to Christ.

Cuban dissidents attend Mass, hold protest, day before pope's arrival

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HAVANA (CNS) -- The eyes and the prayers of parishioners in Havana's St. Rita of Cascia Church were focused on the 19 catechumens who will be baptized at Easter. Only the large group of reporters was fixated on the 35 women dressed all in white sitting near the front.

But after the Mass March 25, while parishioners visited with each other and with their pastor, the Ladies in White -- the "Damas de Blanco" -- recited the Hail Mary in the back of the church, and then began their weekly protest march along the main street outside.

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September 12-25, 2014

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