VATICAN CITY - In part to avoid giving the impression that becoming a cardinal is a sacrament or quasi-sacrament, Pope Benedict XVI will use a revised, streamlined prayer service to create 22 new cardinals in February.

"The rite used up to now has been revised and simplified with the approval of the Holy Father Benedict XVI," the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported Jan. 7.

The paper said there would not be a "ring Mass" the day after the consistory; the new cardinals will receive their red hats, their cardinal rings and the assignment of their titular churches in Rome during the same ceremony Feb. 18.

Calm and collected: Amid crisis, Vatican diplomacy shows 'maturity'


VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI's early January address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, an annual tradition that reaffirms the Holy See's commitment to its relations with foreign states, comes after an especially trying year for Vatican diplomacy.

In November, the Irish government announced that it would close its embassy to the Holy See, to continue relations through an ambassador based in Dublin. The move was ostensibly to cut costs, but its timing, closely following harsh criticisms of the Vatican's record on clerical sex abuse by the Irish prime minister and other officials, strongly suggested that it was really a political rebuke.

U.K. Bishops plan to use London Olympics to renew interest in Catholic faith


MANCHESTER, England - British bishops plan to use the 2012 London Olympic Games to renew interest in the Catholic faith, with initiatives ranging from fighting human trafficking and homelessness to promoting youth ministry and ecumenical dialogue.

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales is also preparing resources for liturgies and holy hours and will post them on the Internet before the July 27-Aug. 12 games.

22 new cardinals named by Pope Benedict


VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI named 22 new cardinals, including one from Canada and two from the United States, and announced a consistory for their formal induction on Feb. 18.

Among those named were Archbishop Thomas C. Collins of Toronto; Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York; and Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, a former archbishop of Baltimore who now serves as grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.

The pope's nominations included 10 Roman Curia officials and 16 Europeans, confirming a trend in his cardinal appointments since his election in 2005.

Honduran priest files charges against police for alleged beating


TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - A Honduran priest known for his work on behalf of human rights and the environment said he and two of his brothers were beaten by police as they rested along a roadside on a trip to visit their parents the day after Christmas.

Father Marco Aurelio Lorenzo told reporters of the ordeal in early January after filing a criminal complaint against eight police officers in the prosecutor's office in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, the Latin American Herald Tribune reported Jan. 5.

Haitian quake survivors leaving camps for a place they can call home


WASHINGTON - It took almost two years, but Haitian earthquake survivor Sonya Mallebranche has a place she can call home again.

It's only three rooms, making it less than perfect, Mallebranche admits, especially for four adults and three toddler grandchildren. But Mallebranche, 51, finds it far better than living in a tattered tent in the fetid, dusty camp known as Petite Place Cazeau alongside hundreds of others displaced by the powerful Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that leveled much of the region around Port-au-Prince.

Ten years after abuse scandal, Boston cardinal reflects on its impact


BOSTON - "Our Church will never forget the clergy sexual abuse crisis," said Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston in a document marking the 10th anniversary of the abuse scandal that first rocked the archdiocese in January 2002, the reverberations of which continue to be felt.

"The traumatic and painful days we experienced 10 years ago rightfully forced us to address the issue honestly and implement many necessary changes," said O'Malley in the 2,500-word document, "Ten Years Later — Reflections on the Sexual Abuse Crisis," released Jan. 4.

L.A. Auxiliary Bishop resigns after disclosing he is father of two children


VATICAN CITY - Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala has resigned after disclosing to superiors that he is the father of two children.

The Vatican announced the bishop's resignation Jan. 4 in a one-line statement that cited church law on resignation for illness or other serious reasons.

Bishops accuse Nigeria of collusion, fraud over removal of fuel subsidy


LAGOS, Nigeria - A group of Nigerian bishops accused the government of selfishness, collusion and fraud and said removal of a fuel subsidy showed "insensitive timing."

"Must the poor suffer to make the rich smile? It may not be fair to blame the ... government alone for all the woes of Nigeria, but this government must take full responsibility for the insensitive timing and execution of this policy on fuel subsidy," said the statement, signed by Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan, president of the Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Christmas a day of tears and sorrow


ABUJA, NIGERIA - Christmas was a day of joy but also a day of tears and sorrow for Nigerian Christians. As the world celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace, the Nigerian Church was struck by senseless violence that wiped away entire families and slaughtered scores of worshippers at three churches: St. Theresa’s parish in the town of Madalla, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in Jos, and the church in Gadaka.  

I could have been among the victims but for divine providence. Until last April, when I was appointed as an assistant chaplain at the University of Abuja, I did weekend pastoral ministry at St. Theresa’s parish. But for that appointment I would have been in St. Theresa’s on Christmas day.

Catholics work to provide housing for Filipinos displaced by flooding


MANILA, Philippines - Catholic agencies and officials in the Philippines are working to provide housing for victims of recent flooding that left more than 1,200 people dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said it would seek funding for the construction of 1,000 houses and 400 permanent homes in Cagayan de Oro, another 400 transitional homes in Iligan, and 200 other temporary shelters in Dumaguete.