VATICAN CITY - Vatican judicial authorities are investigating the former president and former treasurer of its Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in a case involving the financing of remodelling work on the Vatican apartment where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone lives.

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VATICAN CITY - The Italian cardinal who served as the Vatican’s No. 2 official under Pope Benedict XVI has rejected allegations that he mishandled 15 million euros ($20 million) from Vatican bank accounts.

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VATICAN CITY - The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is establishing an office to promote the development and use of appropriate liturgical art, architecture and music.

The new office was approved in early September by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state; final arrangements and the designation of personnel are being made, said Marist Father Anthony Ward, undersecretary of the congregation.

The office will provide advice, encouragement and guidance, he said, but it will not attempt to impose specific styles.

"The church has always adopted local artistic, architectural and music styles," Father Ward told Catholic News Service Nov. 14. At the same time, as the Second Vatican Council taught, "it always has emphasized Gregorian chant as the homegrown music of the Latin rite."

While the Pontifical Council for Culture promotes efforts in the area of sacred art and music, the congregation's new office will focus specifically on art, architecture and music used for Mass and other formal moments of prayer.

The Second Vatican Council document on the liturgy said, "The church has not adopted any particular style of art as her very own; she has admitted styles from every period according to the natural talents and circumstances of peoples, and the needs of the various rites."

It called for the preservation of the great liturgical art of the past and the encouragement of modern artists to create pieces appropriate for Catholic worship, "provided that it adorns the sacred buildings and holy rites with due reverence and honor."

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VATICAN CITY - A papal delegation of bishops will travel to the capital of wartorn Syria in late October to show solidarity with victims and encourage peace negotiations.

"In the certainty that the only possible solution to the crisis is a political solution, and bearing in mind the immense suffering of the population, the fate of displaced persons, and the future of that nation, it has been suggested that our synodal assembly express its solidarity," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, who announced the visit at the world Synod of Bishops.

Syria's civil war has left thousands dead and has displaced hundreds of thousands of refugees since March 2011.

The cardinal said that Pope Benedict XVI had instructed a delegation of six bishops and a priest to express, on behalf of the Pope and the synod, "our fraternal solidarity with the entire population"; "our spiritual closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters"; and "our encouragement to all those involved in seeking an agreement that respects the rights and duties of all, with particular attention to the demands of humanitarian law."

Bertone gave no date for the trip, but said it would take place next week, after completion of the "necessary formalities" with the papal nuncio and the "local authorities" in Damascus.

He also mentioned that the delegation would bring a "personal offering from the synod fathers as well as from the Holy See," which the Vatican press office later confirmed would take the form of a financial contribution.

Members of the delegation will be New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Bishop Fabio Suescun Mutis, the military ordinary of Colombia, Bishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Phat Diem, Vietnam, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for relations with states, and Msgr. Alberto Ortega, an official of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Dolan, chairman of the board of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, said he was "honoured" that the Pope had chosen to send him to Syria.

"There can be no question but that the violence in this strife-torn country is causing immense suffering," Dolan said, "and it is the hope of the bishops of the synod that this display of pastoral concern on the part of Pope Benedict might help draw the world's attention even more closely to this unspeakable tragedy."

Another synod member, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., said that one purpose of the visit will be "to look, to listen, to try to see and understand better what is going on and how the Church can be helpful."

"But it's also a way of saying to people that we are concerned, that we are here in solidarity with you," said Kicanas, chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services, which is aiding Syrian refugees in neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

"We hope to make known to the international community what the situation is and that the international community must step up and address this very serious situation," the bishop said.

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