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Jun 5, 2014

Pope fires entire board of Vatican financial watchdog

VATICAN CITY, June 5 (Reuters) – Pope Francis sacked the
five-man board of the Vatican’s financial watchdog on Thursday -
all Italians – in the latest move to break with an old guard
associated with a murky past under his predecessor.

The Vatican said the pope named four experts from
Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and Italy to replace
them on the board of the Financial Information Authority (AIF),
the Holy See’s internal regulatory office. The new board
includes a woman for the first time.

May 29, 2014

Israeli and Palestinian presidents to meet at Vatican on June 8

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet at the Vatican and pray for peace together at an unprecedented gathering on June 8, the Vatican said on Thursday.

In one of his boldest political gestures since his election in March, 2013, Pope Francis invited the two leaders to come to the Vatican and hold a joint prayer meeting with him during the pontiff’s trip to the Holy Land last week.

May 27, 2014

Pope to hold first meeting with sexual abuse victims

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Monday that he will have his first meeting with a group of sex abuse victims at the Vatican early next month and said he would show zero tolerance for anyone in the Catholic Church who abused children, including bishops.”Sexual abuse is such an ugly crime … because a priest who does this betrays the body of the Lord. It is like a satanic Mass,” he said in some of the toughest language he has used on a crisis that has rocked the Church for more than a decade. “We must go ahead with zero tolerance,” he said, adding that three bishops were currently under investigation.

Francis said he would meet with eight victims and Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, who is head of a commission set up to study ways of dealing with the crisis.

May 26, 2014

Pope navigates minefield of symbols in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Pope Francis, at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visited on Monday Israel’s “Memorial to the Victims of Terror”, a day after praying at an Israeli security wall abhorred by Palestinians.

The impromptu visit to the monument appeared to be an attempt to appease his Israeli hosts following the surprise stop at the hulking concrete barrier, daubed with anti-Israeli graffiti, which separates Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

May 26, 2014

Pope wraps up Middle East visit with Jerusalem whirl

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Pope Francis completes a tour of the Holy Land on Monday, paying homage to Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust and looking to affirm Christian rights at a disputed place of worship in Jerusalem.

After visits to Jordan and the Palestinian Territories – including praying at the wall dividing Bethlehem from Jerusalem, Francis spends the third and final day of his trip in the latter with a slate of political and religious encounters and visits to some of the most sensitive holy sites in the world.

May 25, 2014

Pope Francis lands in politically sensitive West Bank

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) – Pope Francis arrived in the West Bank on Sunday to start the most delicate part of his stay in the Middle East, with visits to the Palestinian Territories and Israel, where his every word will be scrutinized.

Church officials say his three-day tour of the region, which started on Saturday in Jordan, is purely focused on religious issues. However, the dividing lines of the generations-old Middle East conflict will be impossible to ignore.

May 24, 2014

Pope launches Holy Land visit with Syria peace appeal

AMMAN (Reuters) – Pope Francis called for urgent steps to end Syria’s three-year-old civil war as he arrived in neighboring Jordan on Saturday, starting a Middle East trip aimed at bringing hope to the region’s dwindling Christian population.

Addressing Jordan’s King Abdullah at the start of his first visit as pope to the Holy Land, Francis praised the Western-backed kingdom for its efforts to “to seek lasting peace for the entire region”.

May 22, 2014

Pope’s Mideast trip a delicate dance around politics

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – With a Rabbi and a Muslim leader in tow, Pope Francis makes his first visit to the Middle East on Saturday, a delicate mission to push his vision of inter-religious dialogue as a vehicle for peace in the region.

But, in a region where religion and politics are inextricably intertwined, the three-day trip to Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Israel will set the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on a diplomatic tightrope.

May 20, 2014

Nuns, backed by pope, warn of human trafficking at World Cup

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Roman Catholic nuns backed by Pope Francis on Tuesday raised the alarm over increased risks of human trafficking, exploitation of workers, forced prostitution and sexual tourism at the soccer World Cup in Brazil next month.

The nuns, whose campaign is also backed by the U.S. embassy to the Vatican, announced an international campaign called “Play in Favour of Life – Denounce Human Trafficking,” on the risks they say will be associated with the June 12 – July 13 tournament.

May 19, 2014

Vatican Bank reforms prompt jump in reports of suspicious activity

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Reports of suspicious financial transactions at the Vatican leapt to 202 in 2013 from six the previous year, its Financial Information Authority (AIF) said on Monday, attributing the rise to keener vigilance prompted by reforms at the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank.

Since 2010, the Vatican has been enacting new legislation to bring its bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), in line with international standards on financial transparency money laundering.