Pope Benedict wants to see Fidel Castro on Cuba trip: source

(Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the XXI International Havana Book Fair in this picture released by Cuban website Cubadebate in Havana February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Courtesy of Cubadebate/Alex Castro)

Pope Benedict wants to see Fidel Castro on his trip to Cuba next month but the meeting will depend on the health of the communist country’s revolutionary leader, a senior Vatican official has told Reuters.  The official, speaking of the sidelines of a ceremony after the pope elevated new cardinals, said the status of the meeting was still pending.

“It will depend on his health,” the prelate said on Saturday. At present, the pope is only scheduled to meet Fidel Castro’s younger brother, President Raul Castro, 80, whose formal title is president of the Council of State and president of the Council of Ministers.

Raul Castro is due to welcome the pope at Santiago de Cuba on March 26, hold private talks with him in Havana on March 27, and see the pontiff off when he leaves Havana for Rome on March 28. There is no mention of Fidel Castro on the official program.

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Pope puts his stamp on Catholic Church’s future with 22 new cardinals

(Incoming new Cardinals at a consistory in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 18, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

Pope Benedict, putting his mark on his Church’s future, on Saturday inducted 22 men into the exclusive group of cardinals who will one day elect one of their own to succeed him as leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics.

Among the most prominent in the group is New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is already being touted by some Vatican experts as a possible future candidate to become the first American pope. Benedict, who turns 85 in April and is showing signs of his age, elevated the men to the highest Church rank below him at a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica known as a consistory.

New York is not today’s Sodom and Gomorrah – new NYC cardinal Dolan

(New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan leads a mass at St. John Lateran's Basilica in Rome February 15, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who will become a cardinal this weekend, has said  that part of his new job will be to convince the Vatican that his city is not a modern-day version of the Biblical cities Sodom and Gomorrah.

“New York seems to have an innate interest and respect for religion and I’m going to bring that up because I don’t like that caricature that New York is some neo-Sodom and Gomorrah” he told reporters after celebrating Mass on Thursday in Rome’s Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica.

Vatican paper brands leakers irresponsible wolves who can’t scare Pope Benedict

(Saint Francis of Assisi tames the Wolf of Gubbio/Bybierre)

The Vatican newspaper on Wednesday suggested those responsible for revealing sensitive internal documents alleging corruption and a cover-up were irresponsible, undignified “wolves,” the latest twist in what has become known as “Vatileaks.” But an editorial in L’Osservatore Romano, while renewing criticism of some media handling of the scandal, also said that the Catholic Church should see the current image crisis as a chance to purify itself.

It was the latest chapter in a saga in which the Vatican has had to scramble to deal with what one spokesman called its own version of “Wikileaks” and what the Italian media have dubbed “Vatileaks.” It also coincided with the publication of new leaks about the Vatican bank.

The editorial was ostensibly to mark the 30th anniversary of the arrival in Rome from Germany of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected pope in 2005, to take up the powerful post as head of the Vatican’s doctrinal enforcer.

“Monsignors’ mutiny” revealed by series of embarrassing Vatican leaks

(Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican is seen during an heavy snowfall February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi)

Call it Conspiracy City. Call it Scandal City. Call it Leak City. These days the holy city has been in the news for anything but holy reasons.

“It is a total mess,” said one high-ranking Vatican official who spoke, like all others, on the condition of anonymity.

Iran’s President Ahmadinejad wants Pope Benedict to visit Tehran

(Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds up copies of the Koran (L) and the Bible as he addresses the 65th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar )

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like Pope Benedict to visit Iran, Tehran’s ambassador to the Vatican has said.

“If the pope decides to come, we will welcome him in an excellent way, and, as far as the government is concerned, we will welcome him with enthusiasm,” Ali Akbar Naseri told reporters  on Wednesday. Benedict has a standing invitation to visit the Islamic Republic but has so far not accepted.

Denial no option in Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals: Vatican official

(Statues are seen covered in snow at St. Peter's Square in Vatican February 4, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

The Roman Catholic Church has sometimes been in denial over the sexual abuse of children by clergy but must now move forward to face up to the scandal, the Vatican’s top official for the issue said on Friday. In an interview with Reuters Television, Monsignor Charles Scicluna said he hoped a major symposium on pedophilia to be held next week in Rome would encourage Church leaders from around the world to listen more to the victims.

“Denial is a very primitive way of coping with very sad things,” said Scicluna, whose formal title is Justice Promoter. “I don’t think that denial will ever be a good response. I will not deny that we have been in denial. I think that people know that. But people need to know that we have to move forward from that very primitive coping mechanism. It doesn’t work,” he said.

Vatican whistle-blower begged to continue his anti-crony crusade, letter shows

(Road signs are seen in front of Saint Peter's Basilica from the Vatican Gardens at the Vatican May 31, 2010. REUTERS/Max Rossi )

A senior Vatican official who was transferred after he exposed a web of corruption begged to be allowed to continue his crusade and denounced a “vulgar and insolent” cleric behind a plot to destroy him, according to a leaked letter on Friday.

The letter from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who is now the Vatican’s ambassador to Washington, will increase consternation in the Vatican which has been put on the defensive by the growing scandal.

Corruption scandal shakes Vatican as internal letters on crony contracts leaked

(??The Vatican flag outside the Holy See's nunciature, or embassy, in Washington, 26 January 2012. REUTERS/?Yuri Gripas)

The Vatican was shaken by a corruption scandal Thursday after an Italian television investigation said a former top official had been transferred against his will after complaining about irregularities in awarding contracts.

The show “The Untouchables” on the respected private television network La 7 Wednesday night showed what it said were several letters that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who was then deputy-governor of Vatican City, sent to superiors, including Pope Benedict, in 2011 about the corruption.

Pope Benedict names new cardinals who’ll choose successor, mostly Europeans

(A priest holds a tray of four-cornered cardinal's biretta hats during a ceremony installing new cardinals at the Vatican March 24, 2006. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

Pope Benedict, increasing the chances the next pontiff will be a conservative European, has named 22 new cardinals, the red-hatted “princes of the Church” who are his closest aides and will one day choose his successor. Eighteen of the new cardinals will be eligible to enter a secret conclave to elect the next pope from among their own ranks, and of those, 12 are Europeans, bringing the number of “cardinal electors” from the continent to 67 out of 125.

The pope is a conservative on matters of faith and sexual morals such as birth control, homosexuality and the ban on women priests. Each time he names cardinals he puts his stamp on Roman Catholicism’s future by choosing men who share his views.