US President George Bush will receive a special welcome at Vatican City

Vatican City, Jun. 9, 2008 ( - Pope Benedict XVI will extend an unusual courtesy to US President George W. Bush when the American leader visits the Vatican on Friday.

The Vatican has announced that the Holy Father will meet with Bush in St. John's Tower, an ancient building in the far corner of the Vatican gardens. After their private talk there, the two will walk through the gardens to the Lourdes grotto there.

Ordinarily the Pope receives foreign officials in his library on the second floor of the apostolic palace. Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the unusual arrangements for the June 13 meeting reflected the Pope's wish to repay Bush for the warm reception he enjoyed at the White House during his visit to the US in April.

This will be the 3rd meeting between Pope Benedict and President Bush in just more than one year. Prior to their April meeting in Washington, the American leader had visited Pope Benedict at the Vatican last June, for the first formal meeting between the two since the Pontiff's election in 2005. This is likely to be their last meeting before President Bush leaves office in January 2009.


Vatican to open the first Catholic Church in Saudi Arabia

Rome, Italy, Mar.19, 2008 ( - The Vatican is in negotiations with Saudi Arabia to open the first Catholic Church in the country in modern times, the Telegraph reports.

Archbishop Mounged El-Hachem, the papal envoy to Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates, said that talks had started a few weeks ago after King Abdullah’s November visit with Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop El-Hachem said a church in Saudi Arabia would be an important sign of “reciprocity” between the two faiths.
At present all Saudi citizens are required by law to be Muslim.  The Mutaween, the kingdom’s religious police, strictly prohibits the practice of non-Muslim religions.

The last Christian priest was expelled from the kingdom in 1985. 

Catholic relations with other Muslim countries are improving.  On Sunday, Qatar saw its first Catholic church open.


Vatican tightens standards for sainthood

Vatican City, Feb. 13, 2008 ( - The Vatican will advise bishops around the world this next week to be more rigorous in their selection of the candidates they propose for sainthood, ANSA reports.

A 20-page document to be presented in the Vatican on February 18 will ask bishops to show “greater sobriety and rigor” in accepting requests to begin inquiries into a prospective saint’s life.

Initial investigations into the life of a proposed saint take place in the diocese where he or she died.  The local bishop must begin the inquiry and oversee the first phase, which produces a dossier of evidence to be sent to Rome. 

The dossier is then examined by Vatican officials, who decide whether the candidate merits official recognition.  If found meritorious, candidates are then declared “servant of God,” after which they can be beatified, and given the title “Blessed,” after further examination.   Beatification is the last step before canonization, in which the candidate is proclaimed a saint and model for the whole Church.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins said the new document would “respond better to the new spirit introduced by Benedict XVI.”  Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized a clear line between beatification and canonization.  Unlike Pope John Paul II, who also presided over beatifications, Pope Benedict only officiates at canonization ceremonies and delegates beatifications to cardinals.

The new restrictions are expected to diminish the number of candidates proposed to the Vatican for recognition.

Some critics accused Pope John Paul II’s pontificate of recognizing too many saints, saying the quantity helped devalue canonizations. 

Cardinal Martins rejected the notion that the Church became a “saint factory” under Pope John Paul II.  He said those who claimed this understood “nothing about saints.”

Last December, Pope Benedict said saints help make the Church’s message “more credible and attractive,” and that the legacy of the saints “purifies and elevates the mind.”

Source: CNA

German company's gift of solar system for Vatican

Vatican City, Dec.08, 2008 ( - Paul VI HallA German solar company has given Pope Benedict XVI an electricity-generating solar rooftop for the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall.

Bonn-based SolarWorld is donating approximately 2,000 solar modules to be installed on the audience hall roof to provide what it claims will be “the very first solar power ever generated in the Vatican”.

The solar system will produce some 315,500 kilowatt-hours of power a year, offsetting some 315 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, it said.

Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere and is seen as a major cause of global warming.

The company said it had read reports over the summer that the Vatican was planning to cool and heat its large Paul VI audience hall with solar panels.

Its chief executive, Frank Asbeck, contacted the Vatican and offered to provide the solar project as a gift.

“With our gift we are paying tribute to the German Pope,” the company said. “We support the commitment of the Catholic Church to a responsible use of the resources of creation,” Mr Asbeck said in the statement.

The company said the Holy See had recently accepted the gift on behalf of the Pope.

Mr Asbeck said making the donation was “an obvious thing to do because Pope Benedict had lived in our Bad Godesberg Rhine quarter during his time in Bonn. We therefore feel very closely attached to him.”

Just a few years after Pope Benedict , then-Fr Joseph Ratzinger, received a doctorate and a licentiate in theology from the University of Munich, he lectured at the University of Bonn from 1959 to 1969.

The company said the solar modules would be installed this summer by the company’s engineers. 

Source: totalcatholic

Vatican condemns the assassination of Benazir Butto, Al Quaeda claims responsiblity for her killing

Vatican City, Dec.28, 2007 (CINS/Agencies) - Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated last night shortly after she addressed a rally in Rawalpindi. A three-day mourning period has been declared in Pakistan.

Vatican Called Benazir Bhutto's assassination "terrible and tragic".

Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombardi told that the attack on former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Butto shows how extremely difficult it is to pacify a nation so wrought by violence,he also added that the killing made the peace more distant.

Bishop Anthony Lobo of Islamabad-Rawalpindi,Secretary General of Catholic Bishops Coneference of Pakistan condemned the attack as a dastrdly act and a terrible tragedy for Pakistan.

Terrorist organisation al Qaeda has claimed that they killed former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto on Thursday because she was close to the US and had vowed to finish mujahideens.

she will be buried at her native village Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Larkana District of Sindh, near her father's grave today evening. 

Benazir Bhutto served as Pakistan's prime minister twice between 1988 and 1996. In mid-October, she returned to Pakistan after an eight-year exile. A suicide attacker killed more than 140 people during her homecoming celebration. Benazir Bhutto's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was Pakistan's first popularly elected prime minister. He was executed in 1979 after being deposed in a military coup.

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