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VATICAN CITY - The Vatican Secretary of State blamed an ongoing scandal over leaked Vatican documents on unethical journalists and a spirit of hostility toward the Catholic Church.

"Many journalists play at imitating Dan Brown," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in an interview with the Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana. "They continue to invent fables or repeat legends."

Cardinal Bertone made his remarks as Vatican judges were investigating leaks to Italian journalists of dozens of documents, including letters to the pope and encrypted cables from Vatican embassies around the world, several of which hint at power struggles among officials of the Holy See.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, met for more than two hours with officials of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith June 13.

The Vatican did not immediately issue a statement on the meeting, part of ongoing talks aimed at reconciling the breakaway group with the Catholic Church. The society's founder, the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who rejected some teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the modernizing reforms instituted in its wake, was excommunicated for ordaining Bishop Fellay and three other bishops without papal permission in 1988.

In April, Bishop Fellay submitted to the Vatican his second official response to a "doctrinal preamble" outlining what the Vatican said were "some doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity" to the formal teaching of the church, presumably including the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

The bishop's reply was studied by the cardinal-members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, ultimately, by Pope Benedict XVI.

The cardinals and the pope had studied Bishop Fellay's first response, which was submitted in January, and later issued a statement saying his position "is not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems that are at the basis of the fracture between the Holy See and the society."

While Bishop Fellay has been generally positive about the possibility of reconciliation with Rome, leaked letters show that the society's three other bishops have had serious reservations about the process.

In May, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said, "In consideration of the positions taken by the three other bishops of the Society of St. Pius, their situation will have to be treated separately and individually" from the effort to reconcile with the SSPX as a whole and with Bishop Fellay.

"It is not that this is a process that necessarily will reach a solution that embraces all the positions" found among all the SSPX members, Father Lombardi said in May.

Pope Benedict's latest efforts to bring about reconciliation with the traditionalist group began when he lifted the excommunications incurred by Bishop Fellay and the other SSPX bishops after they were ordained without papal permission. The pope also established a Vatican committee for doctrinal talks with society representatives in 2009 and drafted the "doctrinal preamble" to explain the "minimal, essential" elements on which the society would have to agree for full reconciliation, Father Lombardi had said.

When the Vatican's doctrinal discussions with the society began in 2009, both sides said the key issues to be discussed included the concept of tradition in general, as well as the Second Vatican Council's teaching on the liturgy, the unity of the church, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue and religious freedom.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican is in line to control the new Internet address extension ".catholic" and decide who is allowed to use it.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit corporation that coordinates the assignment of Internet domain names and addresses around the world, announced the Vatican's formal application  June 13 in London.

Published in International

WASHINGTON - The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith warned June 4 that Mercy Sister Margaret Farley's 2006 book, "Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics," contains "erroneous propositions" on homosexual acts, same-sex marriage, masturbation and remarriage after divorce that could cause confusion and "grave harm to the faithful."

In a notification signed by U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada and approved March 16 by Pope Benedict XVI, the congregation said the book "is not in conformity with the teaching of the church" and "cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue."

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - Some might find the Vatican an unlikely teacher of business management, especially these days, given the ouster of the Vatican Bank's president for negligence and a leaked document scandal alleging corruption and incompetence in the Holy See.

But according to one former Swiss Guard, the years he spent protecting Blessed John Paul II yielded life-changing lessons for a career in business.

Published in Features

VATICAN CITY - To help bishops determine the credibility of alleged Marian apparitions, the Vatican has translated and published procedural rules from 1978 that had previously been available only in Latin.

The "Norms regarding the manner of proceedings in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations" were approved by Pope Paul VI in 1978 and distributed to the world's bishops, but never officially published or translated into modern languages.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - The Italian television journalist who set off the "VatiLeaks" controversy by releasing private letters to Pope Benedict XVI and between Vatican officials has published a large collection of leaked documents in a new book called "Your Holiness."

In a statement May 19, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, called the publication of the letters for commercial gain a "criminal act" and said the Vatican would take legal action.

"The latest publication of documents of the Holy See and private documents of the Holy Father can no longer be considered a questionable -- and objectively defamatory -- journalistic initiative, but clearly assumes the character of a criminal act," Father Lombardi said.

Published in Features

VATICAN CITY - Reconciliation talks between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X have not reached their conclusion but will continue, the Vatican said May 16, after members of its doctrinal congregation examined the latest communication from the head of the breakaway traditionalist group.

"Some observations were formulated which will be kept in mind in further discussions," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, following a meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Published in International

ROME - Much of the recent news from Rome deals with matters that, though important, will have minimal effect on the life of the Church as a whole. The negotiations with the Society of St. Pius X, the admission of former Anglicans to full communion, even the doctrinal assessment of one of the leadership associations of American women religious — all of these items are at the margins, rather than the centre, of the universal Church. The Society of St. Pius X has a significant presence in only a few countries, the former Anglicans in even fewer and the congregational leadership subject to doctrinal assessment represents an aging and rapidly diminishing component of American religious life.

Yet one recent piece of news is potentially of great significance for the daily life of the Church throughout the world. The Holy See announced last week reformed statutes for Caritas Internationalis, the global umbrella group of various Catholic development agencies.

Published in Fr. Raymond de Souza

VATICAN CITY - In an effort to boost recruitments through more modern methods of outreach, the Pontifical Swiss Guard has opened a page on Facebook.

Facebook.com/gsp1506 was launched May 4 "to open a window" and better inform young people about the "Guardia Svizzera Pontificia," said the guard's commander, Col. Daniel Anrig.

Published in Features

VATICAN CITY - A Vatican decree established new statutes and norms for Caritas Internationalis, giving Vatican offices, including the Secretariat of State, greater authority over the work of the Vatican-based umbrella group of Catholic aid agencies.

The decree strengthens the roles Vatican offices and the Pope play in working with the charity confederation, including naming and approving new board members and approving its texts, contracts with foreign governments and financial transactions.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - Ten years after a historic papal response to clerical sex abuse, the Vatican urged priests to strive for greater holiness in their own lives so that they might effectively minister to others and reverse the tide of atheism.

In its annual letter to priests for 2012, the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy focused on Blessed John Paul II's 2002 Holy Thursday letter to clergy, in which the late pope responded to the growing revelations and scandal of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - The co-founder of Wikipedia told a Vatican audience that his online encyclopedia could contribute to peace by promoting "a more thoughtful world," even as the site was under fire for how it referred to those who oppose and support legalized abortion.

Jimmy Wales, who co-founded Wikipedia in 2001, was invited to address the annual assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The meeting at the Vatican April 27-May 1 focused on Blessed John XXIII's 1963 encyclical "Pacem in Terris" and continuing challenges to promoting peace and justice in the world.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - The global financial crisis and the worldwide recession it triggered have demonstrated that allowing financial markets to self-regulate does not serve national interests and the good of the international community, a Vatican official said.

"The international community cannot let the financial system continue being a source of global economic instability; it must urgently take measures to prevent the outbreak of other financial crises in the future," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to U.N. agencies based in Geneva.

The archbishop made his comments April 22 during a top-level meeting of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, which was being held in Doha, Qatar. His office distributed the text of his speech April 25.

Published in Features

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI named the members of a papal commission he established in March to investigate a series of leaks of letters exchanged among Vatican officials and between the officials and the Pope himself.

Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, 82, a former president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, will lead the commission. The two other members are 88-year-old retired Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; and the retired archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, 81.

Published in International