Documents released by the Associated Press suggest that from 2011 to 2012 Pope Benedict worked to defrock nearly 400 priests on claims that the men molested children - news that comes in the aftermath of the U.N.'s harsh critique of the Catholic Church's handling of the global sex abuse scandal on Thursday.
The reports also demonstrate a shift in the Church's approach towards handling sex abuse cases, which historically were dealt with by switching the parish where the priest served, rather than involving local law enforcement or Vatican tribunals.
But in 2001, former Pope Benedict, then a cardinal, mandated that accused priests be put on trial in church tribunals, with a maximum penalty of being defrocked. more >>
President Barack Obama is "looking forward" to meeting in the near future with Pope Francis, a White House spokesman confirmed after Secretary of State John Kerry hinted at the possibility.
"I do not have any more details for you on that – timing or location – except to say that the president very much looks forward to a meeting," White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a briefing on Tuesday, according to Reuters. He added that the U.S. president is "certainly aware of and paying attention to the work being done by the pope and the Vatican."
The White House confirmation followed a remark by Kerry during his visit to the Vatican on Tuesday to discuss Middle East peace efforts with Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin. more >>
A Roman Catholic Archdiocese plans to release its files on priests under its jurisdiction reported to have committed sexual abuse.
In a January edition of the Chicago Archdiocese's newspaper Catholic New World, Cardinal Francis George wrote that the files on 30 priests will be released as part of a legal settlement.
"All these incidents were reported over the years to the civil authorities and claims have been mediated civilly. Almost all of the incidents happened decades ago, perpetrated by priests whom neither I nor many younger clergy have ever met or talked to," wrote George. "Nevertheless, the publication puts the actions of these men and the archdiocese itself in the spotlight. Painful though publicly reviewing the past can be, it is part of the accountability and transparency to which the archdiocese is committed." more >>
Pope Francis described as "frightful" the fate of aborted children and lamented the "throwaway culture" of the world where even human beings are discarded, in a strong message to diplomats on Monday.
In his message to the Vatican diplomats, Francis stressed that peace is threatened by the denial of human dignity, whether it's in the form of ignoring hungry children or aborting or selling them.
"It is frightful even to think there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day; children being used as soldiers, abused and killed in armed conflicts; and children being bought and sold in that terrible form of modern slavery which is human trafficking, which is a crime against humanity," the Vatican leader told more than 180 ambassadors at the Holy See. more >>
The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear oral arguments challenging a 2007 Massachusetts law that prohibits pro-life advocates from approaching abortion clinic workers and potential clients past a regulated "buffer zone."
Currently, pro-life advocates are barred from standing within 35 feet of the front door of abortion clinics in Massachusetts. Outside some abortion facilities in the state, a painted yellow line clearly marks the parameters allocated for protesters who face potential arrest if they cross that barrier.
In the case, McCullen v. Coakley, the Court is being asked to decide whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit was right in upholding the state's law that makes it a crime for pro-life advocates to "enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk" within 35 feet of an entrance, exit or driveway to an abortion facility. more >>
Pope Francis got hit with both praise and criticism this past weekend for baptizing the child of parents considered "unmarried" by the Catholic Church and encouraging mothers to breastfeed in the Sistine Chapel.
Among the 32 babies baptized in the Sistine Chapel by Pope Francis on Sunday was 7-month-old Giulia Scardia, according to a Reuters report.
Little Giulia's parents were not married in a traditional church service but a civil service in a town hall. That type of marriage is traditionally not recognized by the Catholic Church. more >>