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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.

May 19, 2014

Women in love with priests ask pope to make celibacy optional

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Twenty-six women who say they are in love with Roman Catholic priests have written to Pope Francis urging him to make celibacy optional.

The women, who all live in Italy, described the “devastating suffering” caused by the church’s ban on priests having sex and marrying.

May 15, 2014

Pope shuns bulletproof vehicles for Middle East trip, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis is shunning bulletproof vehicles during his trip to the Middle East this month, insisting that he use a normal car and be allowed to be as close to people as possible, the Vatican said on Thursday.

The Vatican, briefing reporters on the trip, also confirmed that a rabbi and an Islamic leader will accompany Pope Francis on his trip to the Middle East in a gesture of the importance he attaches to inter-religious dialogue.

May 10, 2014

Late Pope Paul VI to move closer to sainthood

VATICAN CITY, May 10 (Reuters) – The late Pope Paul VI, who
led the Roman Catholic Church during one of its most turbulent
modern periods and enshrined its opposition to contraception,
will move a step closer to sainthood in October, the Vatican
said on Saturday.

Pope Francis, who last month declared saints of two of his
predecessors, will beatify Paul, declaring him a “blessed” of
the Church, at a ceremony on October 19.