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Rome

A lot rides on new Vatican Bank appointment

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Conventional wisdom about Benedict XVI holds that he's a strong teaching pope but weak on the business management side, reflected in the "Vatileaks" mess and other internal breakdowns. Yet defenders argue he's actually been a reformer, perhaps nowhere more so than on Vatican finances.

The next few days seem likely to bring one final twist to the story, with the naming of a new president for the embattled Vatican Bank.

Benedict's post-papal life thanks to nuns

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Famously, the papacy of Benedict XVI has had a rocky relationship with religious women, especially in the United States. An apostolic visitation of women's orders in America was initiated in 2008, and in 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decreed a sweeping overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

His post-papal life, however, will in a certain sense be thanks to the nuns.

On Ash Wednesday, Benedict starts framing his legacy

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Having established Feb. 28 as the end of his papacy, Benedict XVI now has two weeks to leave a final imprint on the church, conscious that every word he says for the next two weeks and every act he performs will be among his last.

One has to imagine that Benedict will use these opportunities to stress a few themes particularly dear to his heart, which will both help sum up his own papacy and, perhaps, help sketch a path for his successor.

In effect, the pope's record over the next two weeks amounts to a final chance to frame his own legacy.

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July 18-31, 2014

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