VATICAN CITY - The Italian bishops' conference released its first ever set of guidelines for handling accusations of clerical sexual abuse, urging bishops to cooperate with civil authorities, but also making it clear that bishops in Italy have no legal obligation to report suspected cases to police.

Bishop Mariano Crociata, general secretary of the bishops' conference, presented the guidelines to reporters May 22 and told them that 135 cases of clerical sexual abuse of minors had been reported between 2000 and 2012.

Published in International

BOLOGNA, Italy - Church agencies stepped up efforts to support local parishes providing assistance to nearly 5,000 people left homeless by a magnitude 6 earthquake in northern Italy.

Caritas Italy, part of the Catholic church's international aid network, was among the first agencies to respond May 20 by sending staff to the affected communities about 22 miles north of Bologna.

The Italian government was assessing damage May 21 and considered declaring a state of emergency.

Published in International

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minnesota - Friends and parishioners of St. Pius X Church in White Bear Lake reflected on the lives of Jerry and Barb Heil at an evening prayer service Jan. 18.

On Jan. 19, divers resumed the search for 21 people still missing after a Costa Concordia cruise ship cruise ship crashed into the Italian coast Jan. 13. The Heils are the only Americans who remained unaccounted for among the more than 4,200 passengers. Eleven people died.

Published in International