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Pope praises efforts to ban death penalty

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI gave a special greeting of encouragement to delegations meeting in Rome — including a group from Illinois — to promote the abolition of the death penalty.

During his weekly audience Nov. 30 at the Vatican, Pope Benedict said he hoped the work of the delegations would “encourage political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a number of countries to eliminate the death penalty” and promote progress in penal law that speaks equally to “the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.”

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Step out of the pope- mobile, please

November 30th, 2011 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Pope Benedict XVI greeted with a smile the news that a German citizen had filed a complaint against him for not wearing a seat belt in his popemobile.

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said Nov. 30 that the complaint was not being taken seriously at the Vatican.

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Vatican to herald Christmas with carols this year

November 29th, 2011 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , , ,

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VATICAN CITY —The Vatican is planning to sing its way into the Christmas season this year, with a chorus and orchestra leading Christmas carols at the annual unveiling of its Nativity scene.

The hourlong evening ceremony Dec. 24 will feature traditional Christmas songs in several languages, performed by a 100-person choir and orchestra in St. Peter’s Square.

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Pope urges world pact on climate change

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI urged international leaders to reach a credible agreement on climate change, keeping in mind the needs of the poor and of future generations.

The pope made the remarks at his noon blessing at the Vatican Nov. 27, the day before officials from 194 countries were to begin meeting in Durban, South Africa, to discuss the next steps in reducing greenhouse gases and stopping global temperatures from rising.

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Pope defends efforts to deal with sex abuse with transparency

November 28th, 2011 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In a speech to U.S. bishops, Pope Benedict XVI defended the church’s “honest efforts” to confront the priestly sex abuse scandal with transparency, and said its actions could help the rest of society respond to the problem.

While the church is rightly held to high standards, all other institutions should be held to the same standards as they address the causes, extent and consequences of sexual abuse, which has become a “scourge” at every level of society, the pope said Nov. 26.

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Pope expresses concern for Africa’s educational crisis

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In his document on the church in Africa, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the educational crisis on the continent, calling high illiteracy rates “a scourge on par with that of pandemics.”

“True, it does not kill directly, but it contributes actively to the marginalization of the person — which is a form of social death — and it blocks access to knowledge,” the pope said.

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Vatican paper says Bard of Avon was a secret Catholic

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VATICAN CITY — There is “little doubt” that William Shakespeare was a Catholic who was forced to hide his faith in Protestant England while leaving hints about his faith throughout his vast body of work, said an opinion piece in the Vatican newspaper.

Taking a cue from renewed speculation about Shakespeare’s true identity sparked by the film “Anonymous,” L’Osservatore Romano wrote, “There may be questions regarding his identity, but not his religious faith.”

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Destroying human embryos can’t be justified, says pope

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In rejecting research using embryonic stem cells, the Catholic Church is not trying to impede science or delay treatment that can save lives, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The church’s opposition to the use and destruction of embryos flows from the conviction that all human life is sacred and that destroying the most defenseless will never lead to a true benefit for humanity, the pope said Nov. 12 to participants in a Vatican-sponsored conference on research using adult stem cells.

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Pope to outline church’s pastoral direction in Africa

November 10th, 2011 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: , , ,

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Next week Pope Benedict will travel to Benin, Africa, where he's expected to highlight is pastoral plan for the continent. Above, African bishops process out of the Synod of Bishops for Africa at the Vatican i 2009.CNS

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI is making his second trip as pope to Africa in mid-November, spending three days in Benin and presenting an important document on the future of the church on the continent.

Benin is a small West African nation with little international influence. But its 150-year history of Christianity, its multi-ethnic and multifaith identity, and its struggles for social justice make the country an ideal platform for the pope’s message.

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Vatican teams with company to discuss adult stem-cell research

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — New biotechnologies raise questions in the fields of medicine, economics, ethics and philosophy, and the Vatican plans to look at all of them during a three-day conference devoted to adult stem-cell research, officials said.

The Pontifical Council for Culture partnered with NeoStem, Inc., a U.S. company researching and marketing adult stem-cell therapies, to sponsor the Nov. 9-11 international conference, “Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture.”

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