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  • VATICAN, August 9, 2010 (CNS) -- Permitting girls to serve at the altar marked the end of a form of inequality in the church and allowed girls to experience the formative power of directly assisting with the mystery of the Eucharist -- the core of the Christian faith, said the Vatican newspaper.

    Assisting the priest during Mass is both a service and a privilege and represents "a deep and responsible way to live one's Christian identity," said an article published Aug. 7 in L'Osservatore Romano.

  • VATICAN, April 12, 2010-- Vatican officials have rebutted allegations that the future Pope Benedict XVI stalled on a priestly sex abuse case in 1985, and said critics have misunderstood the fundamental church procedures in use at the time.

    The Associated Press reported that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger resisted pleas to defrock Father Stephen Kiesle, a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children. It cited a letter from Cardinal Ratzinger, who was head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, advising further study of the case for "the good of the universal church."

  • VATICAN, Feb. 11, 2010-- The fact that human beings must endure illness, grow old and experience pain in body and spirit is a mystery that all the major religious seek to understand, said speakers at a Vatican conference.

    Representatives of various faiths who gathered at the Vatican Feb. 9 to discuss the nature of illness and the care of the sick also agreed that faith and spirituality help people find meaning in human suffering and that faith offers a comfort that physical or medical solutions cannot provide.

  • VATICAN, Jan. 26, 2010-- Pope John Paul II always took penitence seriously, spending entire nights lying with his arms outstretched on the bare floor, fasting before ordaining priests or bishops and flagellating himself, said the promoter of his sainthood cause.

    Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator of the late pope's cause, said Pope John Paul used self-mortification "both to affirm the primacy of God and as an instrument for perfecting himself."

  • VATICAN CITY, December 28, 2009--Dominican Father Edward Schillebeeckx, a theologian whose work had a huge impact on the Dutch church, died at the age of 95 Dec. 23 in Nijmegen, Netherlands, where he lived since 1957.

    The Dominican taught in the department of dogmatic and historical theology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, now known as Radboud University Nijmegen, from 1957 until his retirement in 1983. He served as theological adviser to the Dutch bishops during the Second Vatican Council and was seen as the main inspiration behind the Dutch catechism for adults.

  • CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, August 26, 2009-- Pope Benedict XVI urged world leaders to address global environmental issues "with generous courage" and reminded them that the world's resources are to be shared by all, including poorer countries.

    The pope, speaking Aug. 26 at the summer papal residence outside Rome, addressed his remarks to representatives of governments and international agencies who will attend a high-level United Nations summit on climate change in September.

  • VATICAN, August 3, 2009-- Pope Benedict XVI deplored the killing of eight Christians in Pakistan by a Muslim mob and urged the minority Christian community not to be deterred by the attack.

    The Christians, including four women and a child, were either shot or burned alive Aug. 1 when a crowd attacked the eastern Pakistani town of Gojra, setting fire to dozens of Christian homes. Authorities said tensions were running high in the area, fueled by a false rumor that a Quran, the sacred book of Islam, had been desecrated.

  • VATICAN, July 29, 2009-- Pope Benedict XVI will focus on the connection between protecting the environment and working for peace in the message he will publish for World Peace Day in 2010, the Vatican said.

    The theme the pope has chosen for the Jan. 1 celebration is "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Safeguard Creation," the Vatican announced July 29.

    The Vatican said the pope intends to discuss the fact that in a globalized world there is a strict connection between protecting the environment and promoting peace.

  • ROME, May 7, 2009-- The newly premiered movie "Angels and Demons" is little more than "harmless entertainment," with many factual errors and little cultural value, according to the Vatican newspaper.

    Two dispassionate articles in L'Osservatore Romano May 7 may disappoint the film's promoters, who had sought a conflict with the Vatican of the type that surrounded "The Da Vinci Code" in 2006. Both films are based on books by author Dan Brown.