Vatican News


Historians, diplomats cast doubts on KGB plot
Mar 04 2007
BUCHAREST, Romania – Historians and communist-era diplomats have cast doubts on a former Romanian general’s claim that he helped with a KGB plot to portray Pope Pius XII as a Nazi sympathizer in order to weaken the Catholic Church. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, a Romanian intelligence chief under dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, said that between 1960 and 1962 he recruited three Romanian spies to disguise themselves as priests and gain access to the Vatican Secret Archives. Their objective was to steal documents for the KGB, the former Russian secret police and intelligence agency, so the documents could be manipulated as evidence against Pope Pius, who died in 1958, said Mr. Pacepa.

U.S. needs diplomats who know religion, Iran
Feb 27 2007
WASHINGTON – Diplomats who understand the religious sensibilities of Iran are needed to act as translators between Iranian and American officials to resolve peacefully the dispute over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, said the executive director of Pax Christi USA. “We have seen no evidence in this (U.S.) administration to practice any skilled” diplomacy, Dave Robinson told Catholic News Service after a Feb. 26 press conference by U.S. Christian leaders who had returned that morning from a weeklong trip to Iran. Pax Christi USA is affiliated with Pax Christi International, a Vatican-recognized Catholic peace movement.

Cardinal says China, Vatican must negotiate
Feb 18 2007
HONG KONG – Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong has reiterated the need for negotiations to resolve the issue of Catholic bishops’ ordinations in mainland China and to find a bilaterally acceptable way of normalizing relations. Cardinal Zen said illegitimate episcopal ordinations have created new obstacles for the dialogue between China and the Vatican and the normalization of their relations, and he called for an approach acceptable to both sides.

Italian bill proposes rights for unwed couples
Feb 18 2007
VATICAN CITY – An Italian legislative proposal that would grant some legal rights to unwed couples – including same-sex partners – has set the stage for a major church-state showdown. On one side is a wide spectrum of Italian social and political forces, including many lay Catholics, who say the bill would end discrimination against unwed couples in areas of health care, pensions, housing and employment. On the other side is the Italian bishops’ conference, which has argued that the law would undermine marriage and the traditional family. Some bishops have warned Catholic legislators that they are duty-bound to vote against the proposal.

Chinese Catholics hope cathedral will boost evangelization
Feb 17 2007
GUANGZHOU, China – Local and foreign Catholics expressed hope that a newly renovated Gothic cathedral in southern China would boost evangelization. Local media coverage of the cathedral’s official reopening should make more people aware of the cathedral’s existence and boost evangelization, Guangzhou resident Han Weizhou told UCA News, an Asian church news agency. Mr. Han, who attended the Feb. 9 Mass celebrating the formal opening of Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Guangzhou Diocese, said he feels the cathedral is a more comfortable place to worship now that it has been renovated. He said he was amazed each time he looked around at the new altar, furniture, stained-glass windows and other changes.

Lithuanian bishops try to keep open American parishes
Feb 06 2007
VILNIUS, Lithuania – Lithuania’s Catholic bishops said they would try to do everything within their authority to help keep open Lithuanian-American churches in the United States. “Lithuanian bishops cannot directly deal with the issues of the parishes that are in the territory of another bishops’ conference, but will seek in their own turn that those parishes are not closed,” said the statement, released after the bishops’ meeting in mid-January.

Pope’s asides might be changed in official texts
Feb 04 2007
VATICAN CITY – Rarely is a general audience talk interrupted by spontaneous applause, and Pope Benedict XVI seemed as surprised as anyone when the clapping began in the Vatican’s audience hall. The pope had been talking about the church’s early times, and he set aside his text to drive home a point: The apostles and first disciples weren’t perfect, but had their own arguments and controversies. “This appears very consoling to me, because we see that the saints did not drop as saints from heaven. They were men like us with problems and even with sins,” he said Jan. 31.

Bishop bucks Vatican on marriage
Jan 29 2007
MEXICO CITY – A Mexican bishop is bucking Vatican orders to erase a phrase in his pastoral plan that notes the desire among his indigenous communities that married permanent deacons be ordained priests. The phrase is not fanning the hopes of a married priesthood, but simply reporting the feelings of many indigenous Catholics, said Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal de Las Casas in Mexico’s Chiapas state.

Decisions on dying: Italian case shows complexity
Jan 28 2007
VATICAN CITY – The death of an Italian muscular dystrophy patient who had his respirator disconnected is fueling a complex and significant discussion among top church officials. Piergiorgio Welby, who was paralyzed and kept alive by a breathing machine for nine years, pleaded for months for the device to be turned off. He said medical technology was only artificially postponing his death. In late December, a physician granted his request, and Mr. Welby died shortly afterward.

Armenian Catholics in Iraq get new archbishop
Jan 27 2007
VATICAN CITY – For the first time in more than five years, the tiny Armenian Catholic community in Iraq has its own archbishop. The Vatican announced Jan. 26 that Pope Benedict XVI had given his assent to the Armenian Catholic bishops’ election of Father Emmanuel Dabbaghian, 73, as the Armenian Catholic archbishop of Baghdad. The post had been vacant since the October 2001 retirement of Archbishop Paul Coussa at the age of 84.