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Vatican

Pope names bishop once accused of improprieties to Vatican council

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a German bishop who had been accused of financial irregularities and hitting children to the Vatican's health care council.

Retired Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg was named a member of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry on Wednesday.

It is the 70-year-old bishop's first appointment as a member of a Vatican dicastery. He served as the bishop of Augsburg and the German Military Ordinariate until he resigned in 2010.

Mixa's resignation was accepted a few weeks after he offered it, after accusations surfaced that he had hit children during his time as a priest in charge of a children's home near Augsburg. He originally denied the claims, then admitted that he had perhaps "boxed the ears" of some of his wards.

Mixa also faced accusations of misappropriation of funds from the children's home.

German prosecutors also investigated Mixa for alleged sexual abuse of a minor when he was bishop of Eichstatt from 1996 to 2005, but dropped the investigation for lack of evidence.

Pope to find mixed political messages in Mexico trip

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SILAO, Mexico (RNS) Pilgrims ply a winding mountain to the summit of the Cerro del Cubilete in the western state of Guanajuato, visiting a statue of "Christ the King" erected as an act of defiance during a period of church-state conflict.

The Cristo Rey, as it is known, stands as a reminder of the Roman Catholic rebels who fought forces of an anti-clerical central government during the Cristero Rebellion of the 1920s, when churches and seminaries were shut down and the Catholic Church lost its legal standing and the right to own property.

Vatican announces investigations into document leaks

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has established a commission to investigate a series of leaks of letters exchanged among Vatican officials and between the officials and the pope himself.

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Vatican substitute secretary of state, said March 16 that the papal commission would try "to shed light on the whole affair," while a Vatican tribunal would look into taking legal action against those who gave the documents to reporters, and the Vatican Secretariat of State would carry out an administrative review of every Vatican office.

While some of the leaked letters are gossipy, others include allegations of serious financial misconduct.

The leaks being investigated by the Vatican began in January with the publication of letters written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano when he was secretary-general of the Governor's Office of Vatican City State. The archbishop, who now is nuncio to the United States, warned of corruption, abuse of power, a lack of transparency in awarding contracts and opposition to financial reforms.

Vatican exhibits spotlight the Bible, Vatican archive

VATICAN CITY -- Christian history buffs have a lifetime of treasures to explore in Rome, including two new exhibits that opened Feb. 29 at the Vatican.

"Lux in Arcana" puts on display for the first time documents from the storied Vatican Secret Archive, including the records of Galileo Galilei's heresy trial and a letter to the pope signed by clergy and members of the English Parliament seeking an annulment for King Henry VIII so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

Pope Benedict XVI denounces cultural shift toward gay marriage in U.S.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI on Friday denounced the "powerful political and cultural currents" that are working to "alter the legal definition of marriage" in the United States.

The pope's condemnation of same-sex marriage came in an address to a delegation of bishops from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, headed by Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Maryland legalized gay marriage March 1 and Minnesota will be one of five states to vote on the issue in the coming months. Minnesota's bishops are campaigning for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Benedict stressed that "sexual difference cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage," and called on the church to continue its "reasoned defense of marriage."

The pope also echoed bishops' concerns over their battle with the Obama administration on the contraception mandate. "Threats to freedom of conscience, religion and worship" in the United States, he said, "need to be addressed urgently."

Pope: Lent should be time of grace, defeating temptation

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VATICAN CITY -- The 40 days of Lent are a time of spiritual renewal in preparation for Easter, but they also are a time to recognize that evil is at work in the world and even the Catholic Church faces temptations, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope explained the meaning of Lent during his weekly general audience on Ash Wednesday.

Like the people of Israel during their 40-year exodus and like Jesus during his 40 days in the desert, the Catholic Church and its members experience the grace of God, but also are besieged by evil around them and are tempted by power and selfishness, the pope said.

Jesus, before beginning his public ministry, withdrew to the desert for 40 days. Fasting, "he nourished himself on the word of God, which he used as a weapon to defeat the devil," the pope said.

Pope Benedict said experience of God's grace and of temptation is not unique to modern Catholics or to the church.

Pope creates 22 new cardinals, including three from U.S., Canada

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI created 22 new cardinals from 13 countries -- including three from the United States and Canada -- placing red hats on their heads and calling them to lives of even greater love and service to the church.

The churchmen who joined the College of Cardinals Feb. 18 included Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and former archbishop of Baltimore; and Thomas C. Collins of Toronto.

Cardinal-designate Dolan leads cardinals' reflection on evangelization

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VATICAN CITY -- Secularism has had an easy time spreading through many traditionally Christian cultures because so many Christians do not know their faith and do not grasp the truth it teaches, Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York told the College of Cardinals.

While the New York prelate did not downplay the challenges the church faces in reviving the faith of its members and bringing the Gospel to those who have never heard it, he delivered his assessment Feb. 17 with his characteristic smile and broad gestures, telling Pope Benedict XVI and the cardinals that evangelization requires joy and love.

The head of the Archdiocese of New York was asked to give the main address on evangelization and missionary activity at a meeting of the pope with the cardinals and cardinals-designate, who were to be inducted into the College of Cardinals Feb. 18.

The meeting was attended by 133 prelates, including at least 20 of the 22 who were to receive their red hats from the pope the following morning.

Pope urges support for large families

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI called on governments and communities to help large families, saying children represent hope and the well-being of every nation.

"There is no future without children," he said at the end of his general audience Wednesday in a greeting to members of an Italian association of large families.

"In today's social context, a family made up of many children constitutes a witness of faith, courage and optimism," he said.

"I hope that adequate social and legislative measures are promoted that safeguard and sustain large families, which represent richness and hope for the whole country," he said.

In his catechesis, the pope continued a series of talks on prayer by highlighting some of Jesus' prayers during his crucifixion.

Jesus' willingness to forgive his tormenters and executioners is an invitation to all Christians to forgive those who cause harm or are in the wrong, the pope said.

People should pray for those who have done them wrong with "the same attitude of mercy and love that God has for us," he said.

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September 12-25, 2014

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