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Pope Benedict XVI promotes personal secretary to head of household

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday promoted his personal secretary to head of the papal household, giving Msgr. Georg Gaenswein even larger influence in organizing the aging pontiff's schedule and meetings.

Gaenswein has been Benedict's closest aide since his election in 2005, and also served as secretary when then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the Vatican's doctrinal office.

The German-born Gaenswein was appointed prefect of the papal household, replacing American Archbishop James Harvey, who was recently made a cardinal.

With @Pontifex, pope reaches out to new kind of followers

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To celebrate the launch of his new Twitter account, Pope Benedict XVI will tweet the answers to a handful of questions from his followers.

The pope's rare question-and-answer exchange on the social media site shows the church doesn't just want to teach the truth, but also to listen to others, said Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The archbishop and other Vatican officials spoke at a news conference Monday to reveal the pope's new Twitter account @Pontifex.

Vatican blasts media coverage of pope's latest book

The Vatican on Thursday blasted the press for focusing too narrowly on whether animals were present when Jesus was born, saying media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's new book on Jesus' childhood missed the book's key message.

Writing on the front page of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper, Spanish theologian Jose Maria Gil Tamayo labeled the "media confusion" as another "symptom" of the "widespread and silent marginalization of God" in contemporary society.

Vatican says it hasn't lost the gay marriage fight

Despite recent setbacks in the United States and Europe, the Catholic church is not losing the fight on gay marriage, the Vatican semiofficial newspaper claimed Friday.

On the contrary, according to an article in L'Osservatore Romano by historian Lucetta Scaraffia, the church has emerged in recent years as the only institution on the global stage that's capable of resisting the forces that threaten to "break up ... human society."

Pope sends $1 million in aid for Syria, cardinal delegate to Lebanon

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Instability and increasing violence in Syria have prompted Pope Benedict XVI to cancel the planned visit to the war-torn nation by a delegation of cardinals and bishops.

Instead, the pope announced Wednesday, he has sent a smaller group to Lebanon to deliver a $1 million donation and boost the church's humanitarian response to the crisis.

The pope also appealed for dialogue to end the Syrian conflict, saying: "We have to do everything possible because one day it could be too late."

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September 12-25, 2014

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