Well, I've survived the first cut to get media accreditation to observe Pope Benedict XVI during his first visit to the United States, April 15-20, 2008. Come Tuesday, April 15, when Pope Benedict arrives at Andrews Airforce Base at roughly 4 p.m., I will be present in the U.S. capital city, well briefed and prepared to report.

This itself is no mean feat. Some 5,000 people applied to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for accreditation. I made it through the first cut. Now it's a bit of a waiting game to find out which of the Pope's dozen or so events I will be able to attend. The media folks at the USCCB are doing a bit of triage as they try to squeeze as many of us demanding journalists and observers into the actual space available at each venue. I pity them.

Zimbabwe anxiously awaits election results


{mosimage}CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Anxiety is growing in Zimbabwe, where the results of March 29 elections are not yet known and the opposition has claimed a resounding victory over President Robert Mugabe, church officials say.

Lobby seeks tobacco-free Vatican City


{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Papal visits tend to bring out special interest groups, and one already has surfaced in the United States.

Physicians and Nurses Against Tobacco, a Rhode Island-based organization, is asking Pope Benedict XVI to support its campaign for a tobacco-free society.

Obama’s race speech sets new tone


{mosimage}WASHINGTON  - Sen. Barack Obama's speech on race March 18 at Philadelphia's National Constitution Centre may or may not significantly affect his prospects for being elected president in November, but either way it charted a new course for how race can be discussed in the United States.

Muslim writer’s public conversion upsets scholars


{mosimage}ROME - The Muslim-born journalist baptized by Pope Benedict XVI at the Easter Vigil said he wanted a public conversion to convince other former Muslims not to be afraid of practising their new Christian faith.

Violence won't solve Tibet problems, says Pope


{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI asked that dialogue and tolerance replace the tensions and violence that recently erupted in Tibet.

May Easter rituals deepen faith: Pope


{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI said he hoped the church's Holy Week and Easter rituals would help deepen all Catholics' conversion to Christ and their solidarity with those who suffer.

Focolare founder Chiara Lubich dies


{mosimage}ROME  - Chiara Lubich, the 88-year-old founder and perpetually smiling symbol of the Focolare movement, died early March 14 in her room near the Focolare headquarters in Rocca di Papa, south of Rome.

Galileo to make Vatican return


{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Four centuries after he was called by church officials to retract theories deemed suspect of heresy, the 17th-century Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei will be returning to Vatican City.

Pope condemns killing of Iraqi archbishop


{mosimage}VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI called the kidnapping and death of an Iraqi archbishop "an act of inhuman violence that offends the dignity of the human being and seriously harms the ... co-existence among the beloved Iraqi people."

Rev. Ian Paisley to resign in Northern Ireland


{mosimage}DUBLIN, Ireland - Although some Catholics still remember the Rev. Ian Paisley's diatribes against Catholics, other praised the progress of the Protestant minister who became the highest official in the Northern Ireland government.