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Pope Francis urges peace in conflict zones in Christmas address
25 December 2018 - The Pope has used his annual Christmas message to appeal for peace in conflict zones including Yemen and Syria. 'My wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity. Fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture,' Pope Francis said on Tuesday (25 December). His address also alluded to worldwide tensions over migration, saying that God wanted 'love, acceptance, respect' throughout all humanity. (more)

Pope's Christmas wish: World fraternity despite differences
25 December 2018 - Pope Francis offered a Christmas wish for fraternity among people of different nations, cultures, faiths, races, or ideas, describing the world's differences as a richness, not a danger, and championing the rights of religious minorities. (more)

Pope expands efforts to help needy with a health station
22 December 2018 - The Pope's official almsgiver has opened a health station beneath St. Peter's Square to serve the homeless, expanding Pope Francis' efforts to care for the needy living close to the heart of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican said Saturday (22 December) that the Mother of Mercy health office is Pope Francis' latest gift to the homeless. (more)

Pope to address oil majors in Vatican climate conference
1 June 2018 - The Vatican will host executives of the world's top oil companies for a conference next week on climate change and the transition away from fossil fuels, a Vatican source said on Friday (1 June). Pope Francis, who wrote a major document on protection of the environment from global warming in 2015, is expected to address the group on the last day of the June 8-9 conference. (more)

Vatican celebrates big bang to dispel faith-science conflict
8 May 2017 - The Vatican Observatory has invited leading scientists and cosmologists to talk black holes, gravitational waves, and space-time singularities as it honors the late Jesuit cosmologist considered one of the fathers of the idea that the universe began with a gigantic explosion. The Tuesday-Friday conference honoring Monsignor George Lemaitre is being held at the Vatican Observatory... Lemaitre's theory was known as the 'primeval atom,' but it is more commonly known today as the big-bang theory. (more)

Vatican and Rome's Jewish Museum team up for menorah exhibit
21 February 2017 - Rome's Jewish community and the Vatican have teamed up to produce an exhaustive exhibition on the menorah* . . . an enduring symbol of Jewish culture and religion, in a collaboration that leaders of the two communities described as a further step in solidifying their ties. 'This is a historic event,' Ruth Dureghello, the president of Rome's Jewish community, said at a news conference on Feb. 20. The menorah has connections to Rome, she added, 'so such an important exhibit could only start here.' Jews and Catholics have a long history of mutual suspicion and conflict, but relations between the two religions have been increasingly positive [in the last fifty years]. The exhibit, 'Menorah: Worship, History, Legend,' which includes about 130 artifacts, will open in May and will be presented at the Vatican Museums and at Rome's Jewish Museum. (more)

Vatican says it has high hopes of better ties with China
27 August 2016 - The Vatican is hopeful it can improve ties with China after decades of tension, the Roman Catholic Church's highest-ranking diplomat said on Saturday, adding that warmer relations would benefit the whole world. Beijing severed links with the Vatican in 1951 shortly after the Communist Party took power and launched a crackdown on organized religion. After decades of mistrust, Pope Francis is pushing to improve relations and his secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sounded upbeat about the chances of success. (more)

Vatican to digitalize manuscripts relating to Persian Gulf
4 June 2016 - The Vatican has signed an agreement with Qatar to digitalize Vatican manuscripts relating to the Persian Gulf and other Islamic regions. The agreement was signed Saturday following a private papal audience with Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser, the president of the Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. The documents are among 8,000 manuscripts in the Vatican Library that are part of a digitalization project. (more)

Pope embraces Al-Azhar imam in sign of renewed relations
23 May 2016 - Pope Francis on Monday embraced the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the prestigious Sunni Muslim center of learning, reopening an important channel for Catholic-Muslim dialogue after a five-year lull. As Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib arrived for his audience in the Apostolic Palace, Francis said that the fact that they were meeting at all was significant. After the audience, el-Tayyib travels to Paris to open a Muslim-Catholic conference on East-West relations. (more)

After 1,000-year split, Pope and Russian Patriarch embrace in Cuba
12 February 2016 - Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill embraced on Friday in a historic meeting. Nearly 1,000 years after the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity split apart, the meeting at an airport terminal in Cuba was the first ever between a Roman Catholic Pope and a Russian Orthodox Patriarch. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

Vatican feuds, fiefdoms, betrayals, await next pope
21 February 2013 - If evidence was ever needed that the next pope must urgently overhaul the powerful Vatican bureaucracy called the Curia, the scandal over Pope Benedict XVI's private papers is Exhibit A. The pope's own butler stole sensitive internal letters to the pontiff and passed them off to a journalist, who then published them in a blockbuster book. The butler did it, he admitted himself, to expose the 'evil and corruption' in the Vatican's frescoed halls that he believed was hidden from Benedict by those who were supposed to serve him. And if that original sin weren't enough, the content of the leaks confirmed that the next pope has a very messy house to clean up. The letters and memos exposed petty wrangling, corruption, and cronyism at the highest levels of the Catholic Church. Ordinary Catholics might not think that dysfunction in the Apostolic Palace has any effect on their lives, but it does: The Curia makes decisions on everything from bishop appointments to church closings to marriage annulments and the disciplining of priests. Papal politics plays into the prayers the faithful say at Mass. Donations the faithful make each year for the pope are held by a Vatican bank whose lack of financial transparency has fuelled bitter internal debate. (more)

Corruption scandal shakes Vatican as internal letters leaked
26 January 2012 - The Vatican was shaken by a corruption scandalafter an Italian television investigation said a former top official had been transferred against his will after complaining about irregularities in awarding contracts. The show 'The Untouchables' showed what it said were several letters that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who was then deputy-governor of Vatican City, sent to superiors, including Pope Benedict, in 2011 about the corruption. Vigano, currently the Vatican's ambassador in Washington, said in the letters that when he took the job in 2009 he discovered a web of corruption, nepotism, and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to outside companies at inflated prices. In one letter, Vigano tells the pope of a smear campaign against him (Vigano) by other Vatican officials who wanted him transferred because they were upset that he had taken drastic steps to save the Vatican money by cleaning up its procedures. Despite his appeals to the pope that a transfer 'would be a defeat difficult for me to accept', Vigano was named ambassador to Washington in October of last year. (more)

Italy corruption scandal spreads to touch Vatican
21 June 2010 - One of Italy's most prominent Catholic cardinals and a former minister have been put under investigation as a corruption scandal that has tainted the government spread to touch the Vatican. Magistrates told Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe and Pietro Lunardi, former infrastructure and transport minister in the centre-right government, were being investigated for aggravated corruption, judicial sources said. The corruption scandal exploded in February when police arrested four people including Angelo Balducci, the former head of the government department that oversees public works and a construction consultant to Sepe's missions department. Balducci and the others were accused of orchestrating a web of corruption and kickbacks among constructors, architects, and civil servants who managed tens of millions of euros of public works contracts. (more)

Israel's highest Jewish body severs Vatican ties
28 January 2009 - Israel's chief rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican on Wednesday to protest a papal decision to reinstate a bishop who publicly denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. The rabbinate also cancelled a meeting with the Vatican set for March. The Vatican and the rabbinate launched formal relations in 2000 when Pope John Paul II visited Jerusalem. Since then, delegates from the Holy See and the rabbinate have met twice a year to discuss religious issues. This is the first time ties have been severed. The Vatican and the state of Israel have had their own relationship since establishing diplomatic ties in 1993. (more)

US envoy urges Vatican to promote biotech crops
12 November 2005 - The new US ambassador to the Holy See urged the Vatican to promote the potential of biotech crops, citing a 'moral imperative' to investigate the possible benefits of agricultural technology to feed the world's hungry. While much of Europe has been skeptical or opposed to biotech crops, Washington has found a welcome ear in some Vatican circles. (more)

Vatican denounces some Israeli retaliation
28 July 2005 - Responding to Israeli criticism, the Vatican said Thursday it hasn't condemned every strike by Palestinian militants against the Jewish state because Israel's military response to the attacks has sometimes violated international law. Largely good relations between the Vatican and Israel in recent years were strained this week by Israeli outrage that Pope Benedict XVI failed to condemn terror against Israelis in recent remarks. (more)

Catholic church abuse scandal may cost $3B
12 July 2005 - The chairman of the Catholic lay reform group called Voice of the Faithful predicted that the abuse scandle caused by clergy will eventually cost US dioceses $2 billion to $3 billion. (more)

Electronic spying threatens Vatican secrecy
11 April 2005 - Computer hackers, electronic bugs and supersensitive microphones threaten to pierce the Vatican's thick walls next week when cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel to name a papal successor. As revelations of the proceedings could prove embarrassing to the Vatican, the Holy See will reinforce its own experts with Italian police and private security contractors. (more)


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