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Once people start to believe change is possible, 
the drive to achieve it accelerates.
                                          _  Patrick Edgar, ARCC President
Some things we have been reading  
Cardinal George Pell tells child abuse royal commission Catholic Church made 'enormous mistakes'
Dan Smith       Feb.29, 2016
The Catholic Church made "enormous mistakes" and "let people down" in its handling of child sexual abuse by priests, Cardinal George Pell told the child abuse royal commission on Monday.
. . . .
He said he was "not here to defend the indefensible", and admitted children at the time were unlikely to be believed if they had come forward with allegations of abuse.

When asked if the general attitude of the church was to not believe a child, he said it "certainly was much, much more difficult for the child to be believed then ... the predisposition was not to believe".

"...Too many of them certainly were dismissed and sometimes they were dismissed in absolutely scandalous circumstances," he said.
. . . .
Cardinal Pell was called to give evidence about two case studies - number 28 about the Diocese of Ballarat and number 35 about the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

The time frame for the case studies stretches from the 1960s through to the 1990s.

Case Study 28 deals with the response of the Christian Brothers in Victoria to allegations of child sexual abuse involving six brothers, all of whom spent time working at schools in the Diocese of Ballarat.

When asked if he had been approached by students with complaints of inappropriate touching by teachers or principles, Cardinal Pell said he could not recall any examples.
. . . .
The royal commission has also heard evidence from Gerald Ridsdale, a former Ballarat priest who was convicted of 138 offences against children, involving 53 victims.
His nephew David Ridsdale told the royal commission he phoned Cardinal Pell in 1993 to tell him his uncle was abusing him, but the priest tried to silence him.

"I have just re-read the file of Ridsdale. The priest. Ex-priest. And the way he was dealt with was a catastrophe," Cardinal Pell told the commission.

"A catastrophe for the victims and a catastrophe for the church. If effective action had been taken earlier, an enormous amount of suffering would've been avoided."

But when asked about rumours of abuse, Cardinal Pell said: "In those days, if a priest denied such activity, I was very strongly inclined to accept the denial."
Australian sex abuse victims journey to Vatican
      Feb.27, 2016
Australian child sex abuse victims on Friday began a journey half way around the world to watch the Vatican's Australian-born finance director testify in Rome about his knowledge of child molestation within the Catholic Church.
. . . 
A crowdfunding page set up by a local radio station has raised A$204,000 to fly 10 victims and five counseling and medical support staff to Rome.

"It's about being in that room and bearing witness, which for us is re-empowering and helping heal the community," Peter Blenkiron, 53, who was abused at the age of 11 by a Christian Brother at his school, told Reuters.
Victoria Police investigating Cardinal Pell
Lucie Morris Marr       Feb.20, 2016
A Victoria Police taskforce has been ­investigating allegations that Cardinal ­George Pell sexually abused between five and 10 boys.

Detectives from Sano Taskforce have compiled a dossier containing allegations that Cardinal Pell committed "multiple ­offences" when a priest in Ballarat and when archbishop of Melbourne.
It has been alleged the 74-year-old, now in charge of finances at the Vatican in Rome, sexually abused minors by "both grooming and opportunity''.

The allegations span four decades, with the Ballarat-born cardinal accused of abusing children - now adults aged in their late 20s to early 50s - between 1978 and 2001.

Legal sources have told the Herald Sun that more than a dozen detectives from Sano Taskforce - set up to probe allegations arising from the child abuse royal commission - have worked for the past year on the investigation, interviewing ­"numerous" alleged victims.
French cardinal under fire for dealings with priest charged with abuse
CNS       Feb.23 2016
French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon is facing questions about how he dealt with a priest who faces abuse and rape charges.

On Jan. 27, proceedings opened against Father Bernard Preynat, charged with "sexual aggression and rape of minors" between 1986 and 1991 at Lyon's Saint-Luc parish, where he ran a large Catholic Scout group over two decades.

French newspapers said the priest had been moved to a new parish in Neulise after his crimes were reported to Lyon Cardinal Albert Decourtray, who died in 1994. Father Preynat was removed from parish work last August.
. . . .
In a Feb. 10 interview with France's Catholic La Croix daily, Cardinal Barbarin admitted he had heard about Father Preynat's activities "around 2007-2008," but taken no action after the priest assured him he had committed no further offenses.
. . . .
The Lyon archdiocese spokesman, Pierre Durieux, told CNS Feb. 22 that Cardinal Barbarin had agreed to cooperate with police and judicial investigators concerning the case, and would not be commenting further pending Father Preynat's trial.
Best Picture win for 'Spotlight' is fitting humiliation for church
NCR Editorial Staff      Feb.29, 2016
With "Spotlight" awarded the Oscar for best motion picture, the public humiliation for the Catholic church is now as thorough as one might expect in a culture where what is on screen is often the most persuasive element in fashioning public opinion.

In the case of priests sexually abusing children and bishops and others hiding their crimes, the biblical resonance might now finally be felt: the first have been ushered, publicly, to their place in the last seats. The last have been made first -- and given a special place (even on stage with Lady Gaga). No longer need victims hide or fear to explain themselves. The mighty, indeed, have fallen from their thrones; the humble have been exalted.
. . . .
The movie powerfully illustrates what the church utterly failed to realize about itself: that the act of abuse, horrible as it is in any circumstance, was magnified in its unspeakable specifics because an all-male, celibate culture was so protective of its own status and privilege, so closed in on itself, that it was deaf to the searing pleas of children, parents, congregations and the few souls within its ranks who dared to speak the truth.
. . . .
Most of all, it took the courage of victims who came forward and withstood the often withering arrogance of bishops and their lawyers who tried to dismiss the disturbing truth.
Much remains to be done at multiple levels, especially in assuring survivors of paths to healing. But for those who, for very understandable reasons, might never sit with the millions of words that have been written about the scandal, the miles of documents that have been unearthed, nor hear the endless hours of testimony accrued over three decades, "Spotlight" provides a way to quickly grasp the essential reality of this chapter of church life.
Synods should get more input from lay faithful, church experts say
Carol Glatz   Feb.18, 2016
An assembly of bishops at the Vatican should have more input from the lay faithful, said church experts attending a seminar hosted by the head of the Synod of Bishops.

A renewed understanding of the role of the people of God and their bishops "warrants considering not just the bishop of Rome (the pope) and the episcopate in the synodal process, but also the lay faithful," said a communique issued by the synod's secretary general, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.

The communique, released by the Vatican press office Feb. 17, provided a brief summary of the conclusions reached by a seminar held Feb. 6-9 at the Vatican. Sponsored by the synod's secretary-general, the gathering looked at the Synod of Bishops as being at the service of a "synodal church."

Participants, who included professors and experts in ecclesiology and canon law from all over the world, reflected on Pope Francis' call "to overcome self-referentiality in the ordained ministries in order to go back to seeing bishops as those" who each represent their local diocese and together represent the entire church, the statement said.

This rediscovery of the bishop's relationship to the local and universal church and the role of the lay faithful requires rethinking ways lay Catholics can play a bigger part in the entire synodal process -- in preparing for a synod, in the actual gathering and in implementing final decisions, it said
St. Louis archbishop urges cutting ties with Girl Scouts
Nancy Cambria      Feb.21 2016
St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson has issued a letter calling on parishes to seek alternatives to Girl Scouts, arguing that the program and related organizations conflict with Roman Catholic teaching.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis isn't directly kicking Girl Scout troops and activities off church properties, but is suggesting they and their cookies may no longer be welcome in the fold.
. . . .
The letter said issues such as reproductive rights and abortion separate the church from Girl Scouts and related organizations.
Vatican to Trump: Don't lecture the pope on immigration
 Crux Staff       Feb.17, 2016
Pope_ Trump
A Vatican spokesman took on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump Tuesday night, calling Trump's criticism of Pope Francis over his pro-immigrant stance "very strange" and suggesting Trump could use a dose of global perspective.
Speaking during the pontiff's Feb. 12-17 trip to Mexico, and just before the pope was scheduled to say Mass at the US/Mexico border, the Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters the pope's concern for the human dignity of migrants and refugees is universal.
"The pope always talks about migration problems all around the world, of the duties we have to solve these problems in a humane manner, of hosting those who come from other countries in search of a life of dignity and peace," Lombardi said.
. . . .
Lombardi was responding to a recent interview with Trump in which the GOP front-runner criticized Pope Francis' scheduled stop at the border in Ciudad Juárez, immediately adjacent to El Paso.
Trump's spat with the pope will cost him in New York and elsewhere
Rex Smith      Feb.23 2016
. . . 
People ought to know whose turf they're treading upon when they offer up opinion. It's there, I think, that people reach differing perspectives on this week's dispute between developer-turned-politician Donald Trump and Pope Francis. Your view probably depends on what ground you think the billionaire and the pontiff are standing upon.

Were Trump and the pope talking about politics? There, The Donald is dominant these days. Or were they discussing morality and, specifically, Christianity? Even Donald Trump, he of the towering ego, might not want to presume himself superior to Francis in that realm. Or maybe, astonishingly, he does.
Francis signals opening on contraceptives in deadly Zika cases
Joshua J. McElwee       Feb,18, 2016
Pope Francis has signaled an opening on the use of contraceptives by Catholics, indicating that attempting to avoid pregnancy in the face of circumstances like the spread of the deadly  Zika virus may not always be considered evil.
In a press conference aboard the papal flight to Rome from Mexico, the pontiff was asked if the grave nature of the virus -- which is linked to serious birth defects and is spreading quickly -- might make abortion a "lesser evil" for a mother faced with the choice of having a malformed child.
While the pope firmly rejected the use of abortion, he said that avoiding pregnancy through contraception is not always evil, mentioning that Pope Paul VI had allowed women religious facing horrific situations of violence in Africa to use 
Faith, hope and secularity: Ireland on brink of change as church power wanes
Harriet Sherwood      Feb.17 2016
Mike McKillen was delighted to have his granddaughter's help in digging the garden. But as a small creature wriggled out of the damp earth, the retired science professor was less pleased to be told by five-year-old Cara: "God made this worm."
. . . .
Cara and thousands of other Irish children have little choice but to be educated by the Catholic church, which runs more than 90% of Ireland's primary schools. But with an increasingly liberal and secular population, the church's control over such huge parts of Irish society is weakening.

Ireland's last census, in 2011, showed a big rise in the numbers of non-Catholics. Although those identifying themselves as Catholic were still the vast majority of the 4.5m population, more than 6% - 277,000 people - described themselves as atheist, agnostic, lapsed or of "no religion". The number was an increase of almost 50% since the previous census in 2006; the next census, due in April, is expected to show an even bigger rise.

Migration has also led to significant increases in the numbers identifying as Muslim, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Hindu and Buddhist.
. . . .
The church's unyielding views on marriage, divorce, baptism, contraception, abortion and homosexuality are increasingly being challenged or simply ignored.

Yet as the power of the pulpit wanes, particularly with the millennial generation, Catholic influence on the state endures. Despite an astonishing , making Ireland the first country in the world to endorse marriage equality through a referendum, the church still holds sway in spheres such as education and reproductive rights.
. . . .
Non-Catholic parents whose children are admitted to church-run schools have a legal right to withdraw their sons and daughters from daily religious education, or "faith formation" as it is known. But often such children are simply sent to the back of the classroom to read a book. And, in many schools, religious belief permeates other subjects, including science, geography, history and art.
. . . .
A , carried out on behalf of Equate, which is campaigning for reform of the school system, found that almost two-thirds of respondents back change. Almost half - 46% - would not choose a Christian school for their child if they had a choice, and one in five is aware of someone who has baptised their child in order to secure a school place. There was little difference in the responses of those living in towns and cities and those in rural areas, undermining claims that pressure for reform is confined to more liberal and diverse places such as Dublin.
. . . .
Last month, the United Nations committee on the rights of the child called on the Irish government to take concrete measures to increase the availability of non-denominational or multi-denominational schools and to eliminate discrimination in schools admissions, the latest in a long string of UN bodies to demand change.

The UN has also called for a repeal of Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion in almost all cases, known as the "eighth amendment". Opinion polls in Ireland have consistently shown majorities in favour of allowing abortion in circumstances such as rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality. A poll in November found 56% of respondents in favour of the referendum.
Francis issues blunt warnings, broad vision in manifesto to Mexican bishops
Joshua J. McElwee        Feb.13, 2016
Pope Francis has given one of his most direct and blunt outlines for what he expects from Catholic bishops, forcefully telling the Mexican episcopate what they should and should not be doing -- warning them against words that are "empty figures of speech" and inaction that "squanders" their country's history.

In a detailed 41-minute address to the country's bishops Saturday, the pontiff also offered a comprehensive vision for the future of Mexico. Plotting a path away from recent drug violence and political corruption, the pope called on the bishops to help build a society of solidarity and integration of cultures.

At times giving the bishops specific directions on how to respond to their country's challenges, Francis infused his address with rich references to the country's cultural history and to the struggles Catholics faced under governments of the 19th and 20th centuries.
. . . .
Addressing the continuing violence of the Mexican drug trade, estimated to have killed tens of thousands in the past decade, Francis was the most blunt.

"I urge you not to underestimate the moral and antisocial challenge which the drug trade represents for Mexican society as a whole, as well as for the church," he told the bishops.

"The magnitude of this phenomenon, the complexity of its causes, its immensity and its scope -- which devours like a spreading cancer -- and the gravity of the violence which divides with its distorted expressions, do not allow us as pastors of the church to hide behind anodyne denunciations," the pope forcefully said.
. . . .
Francis also repeated his call against clericalism in the church, stating: "It is necessary for us pastors to overcome the temptation of aloofness and clericalism, of coldness and indifference, of triumphalism and self-centeredness."
Francis flashes anger at pushy crowd in Mexico
Crux Staff      Feb.17, 2016
He's known for being humble and kind, but when Pope Francis was pulled by over-enthusiastic fans in Mexico - causing him to fall onto a handicapped child in a wheelchair - he lost his cool.

The episode came on Tuesday evening after the pontiff watched a colorful performance by young dancers and singers in the western city of Morelia. On his way out, Francis stopped to greet people along a barrier, particularly a person in front in a wheelchair.

As he reached back to shake hands, some overly eager people grabbed and pulled on his sleeve, causing him to topple forward on top of the handicapped person.

"Don't be selfish," he said to the crowd after he got up. But then he was pulled a second time, and he got a quite cross look on his face, saying more sternly, "Don't be selfish, don't be selfish."
Joint Declaration  of Pope Francis  and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia  (12 Feb) to sign an historic joint declaration.

The declaration calls for peace in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine and urges Europe to "maintain its faithfulness to its Christian roots."
Frncis _ Kirill
Head of Ukrainian Catholic Church skeptical of papal-Orthodox declaration
Mark Pattison      Feb.18, 2016
The joint declaration signed Feb. 12 in Cuba between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has met with a tepid reaction from Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
In general it is positive," he said in a Feb. 12 interview with Ukrainian Father Ihor Yatsiv and translated from Ukrainian.

"In it are raised questions, which are of concern to both Catholics and Orthodox, and it opens new perspectives for cooperation. I encourage all to look for these positive elements. However, the points which concern Ukraine in general and specifically the (Ukrainian church) raised more questions than answers."

One positive is that the Russian Orthodox "no longer seem to object to our right to exist. In reality, in order to exist and to act, we are not obliged to ask permission from anybody," Archbishop Shevchuk said. The joint declaration says that "the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist" and to do what is necessary to minister to their faithful.

On the other hand, he added, "this text has caused deep disappointment among many faithful of our church and among conscientious citizens of Ukraine. Today, many contacted me about this and said that they feel betrayed by the Vatican, disappointed by the half-truth nature of this document, and even see it as indirect support by the Apostolic See for Russian aggression against Ukraine. I can certainly understand those feelings."

He said, "I encourage our faithful not to dramatize this declaration and not to exaggerate its importance for church life. We have experienced more than one such statement, and will survive this one as well."
Mount St. Mary's board apologizes, continues support for president
Christopher Gunty    Feb.77, 2016
The Board of Trustees of Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md., issued an apology to the university community after a controversy erupted over a discussion about student retention university President Simon Newman had with some faculty members, and after some faculty members were dismissed in the aftermath.
. . . .
The statement said the board expects to take two weeks to gather information and asked for patience and prayers during the process. The board promised to keep the community informed and offered an email address for members of the community to offer suggestions on healing the university.

The controversy at Mount St. Mary's began last fall. After Newman was installed over the summer, he made steps this fall to address areas of concern at the university, which is located near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.

In October, the university announced changes to employee health benefits and cuts in retirement benefits.

Also in the fall, the university president worked with faculty and staff to identify 20 to 25 freshman students who were not likely to succeed at the school, so that they could be dismissed from the school before they paid a lot of tuition or incurred significant student debt. Critics charged that the move also would improve the school's posted retention rate, if the students were dismissed before an important deadline for reporting enrollment statistics.

The Mountain Echo student newspaper reported that Dr. Greg Murry, director of the Veritas Symposium at Mount St. Mary's, was part of a small group of faculty discussing the plan with Newman.

During the course of the conversation, Newman was reported as saying, according to Murry, "This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can't. You just have to drown the bunnies." The Echo said another faculty member present confirmed the conversation.

As the fallout from the situation expanded, two faculty members were dismissed and a professor was removed as provost, though he kept his teaching position.
Catholic Priest goes berserk, beats septuagenarian to coma for using juju to attack him at altar
       Feb.17 2016
Worshipers at St Dominic's Catholic Church, Adazienu in Anaocha local government area of Anambra State were shocked to their shells last weekend, when a US-based Catholic priest, Rev Father Mike Steve Ezeatu attacked a 70 year old man after mass and beat him to coma.
. . . .
First son of the victim, Ebuka Nwolisa who spoke to journalists narrated that his father was about to leave the compound of Ifedigbo in Ugweni Ojii, where the funeral mass of one late Ifeoma Ifedigbo had just been celebrated by Ezeatu, when he was called back by the priest.

"I think my father went because we are related to the priest, and they know each other, he may be calling him to give him special blessing, but what he got was beating. The only saving grace he had was that I was not around, that was why he got way with his action."

Another eyewitness, Mr Arinze Ezeatu, who is a younger brother of the priest said, Father Mike complained that the old man was releasing evil powers at him while he was at the alter celebrating mass, and that was the reason for his action
Ballarat bishop 'didn't know how' to handle abuse allegations
Margaret Paul       Feb.25, 2016
The former bishop made his much-anticipated appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse via videolink from the nursing home in which he now lives.

Until now Bishop Mulkearns had been excused from giving evidence because he was too sick.

Asked if he referred paedophile Gerald Ridsdale for help because he knew he was abusing children, he said yes.

Bishop Mulkearns told the hearing he never asked priests directly if they were abusers but instead got reports from psychologists.

He conceded the only reason he sent priests off for treatment was because he believed they had been offending.

"I didn't really know what to do or how to do it," he said.

He apologised on Thursday for the way he handled complaints of abuse in his diocese.

He told the Royal Commission he retired in 1997 because he did not feel he was "handling himself very well".

"There were problems with the priests in the diocese and I didn't seem to be handling them as well as I should have," he said.
Victoria Police investigating Cardinal Pell
Lucie Morris Marr      Feb19, 2016
A Victoria Police task force has been ­investigating allegations that Cardinal ­George Pell sexually abused between five and 10 boys.

Detectives from Sano Taskforce have compiled a dossier containing allegations that Cardinal Pell committed "multiple ­offences" when a priest in Ballarat and when archbishop of Melbourne.

It has been alleged the 74-year-old, now in charge of finances at the Vatican in Rome, sexually abused minors by "both grooming and opportunity''.

The allegations span four decades, with the Ballarat-born cardinal accused of abusing children - now adults aged in their late 20s to early 50s - between 1978 and 2001.
Ex-priest sentenced to 20 years for child exploitation
Lucas Rodgers       Feb.17, 2016
A former priest with ties to Montgomery and Chester counties was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in federal prison for child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Mark Haynes, 56, of West Chester ,was a parochial vicar at Sts. Simon and Jude Parish in Westtown for about a year, until the time of his arrest, in February 2015.

Haynes pleaded guilty on June 8, 2015 to using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual conduct, transfer of obscene material to a minor, distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and destruction or concealment of evidence.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick ordered 10 years of supervised release, a fine of $15,000, and a $700 special assessment.

Around 2010, Haynes posed as a 15-year old girl named "Katie" on a teen pen pal site on Instagram.

As "Katie," Haynes would meet young teenage girls online, engage in sexual chats, and send them child pornography photos and videos in an attempt to entice them to take and send sexually explicit pictures of themselves. Haynes is also charged with distributing other images and videos of children being sexually assaulted over the Internet in 2014.
Shocking": Suspension lifted against former Greenbush, MN priest convicted of sexual abuse
Neil Carlson      Feb.19 2016
Shocking", that's how a former, Clay County prosecutor describes the decision by the Catholic Church, to lift the suspension of a former northwestern Minnesota priest.

Sixty-one-year old Father Joseph Jeyapaul, plead guilty and was convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct, involving a teenage girl at Greenbush, Minnesota.

Now, he's back in his native country of India, and the Church has lifted its suspension against him, which could allow him to work in the church again.
Father Joseph Jeyapaul pled guilty to 4th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct for abusing a teenage girl at his residence, next to the Catholic Church in Greenbush, Minnesota.

Jeyapaul wound up serving 4 years in prison, before being sent back to his native Country of India, where now, church officials have lifted a suspension against him. It will be decided in May, whether Jeyapaul will begin working in the church again.

Heidi Davies, Former Clay Co. Prosecutor: "It's shocking really, because we sent him back as a sex offender. I did check with the Investigator this morning, and he said nobody from the Catholic Church contacted him. They didn't do anything in the way of contacting law enforcement or me to learn anything about him or his case."
A community hopes for closure after arrest of priest in 1960 killing of beauty queen
Lynn Brezosky       Feb.20 2016
A greeter at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Peter Pranis straightens with pride when asked about the stately brick sanctuary, its bell tower rising above downtown and its panels of stained glass that soften the rays of the harsh South Texas sunlight.

But when asked about what allegedly happened in the basement of the church rectory 56 years ago, his tone flattens to a near whisper.
. . . .
Earlier this month, long after many parishioners had lost hope of a resolution in the high-profile case, authorities in Arizona arrested a former priest and charged him with Garza's death. John Feit, now an old man at 83, is being held on a $750,000 bond while awaiting an extradition hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
Diocese of Lafayette announces new bishop, the Most Rev. J. Douglas Deshotel
Billy Gunn       Feb.17, 2016
The Diocese of Lafayette announced Wednesday morning that the Most Rev. J. Douglas Deshotel has been appointed as bishop of the diocese, succeeding Bishop Michael Jarrell.

Deshotel is a native of Basile and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Dallas in 1978. He was ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Dallas in 2010 and will continue to serve there until his installation as the seventh bishop of Lafayette.
Stephen Weighs In On Trump vs. Pope
Mysterious death of Pope Francis aide alarms Vatican
Lindsay Putnam          Feb.27, 2016
Pope Francis's secretary, 34-year-old Miriam Wuolou of Eritrea, was found dead earlier this week - and the Vatican is crying foul.'

Wuolou's body was discovered in her Rome apartment by police after her brother raised concern that she wasn't answering her phone. She was seven months pregnant and suffered from diabetes, which can prove dangerous - even fatal - during pregnancy.

The Vatican, however, has called for an investigation into the woman's death. Police have interviewed her brother, her ex-husband and her most recent boyfriend, who is believed to be a policeman employed by the Vatican, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reports.
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