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Philip Pullella

Pope meets Abbas, calls for Palestinian state

Pope Benedict went to the West Bank on Wednesday, offering Vatican support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Pope says young inheriting scarred, squandered earth

Pope Benedict on Thursday told a huge gathering of young people that they were inheriting a planet whose resources had been scarred and squandered.

Pope speaks out on church’s sex-abuse scandal

Pope Benedict, celebrating a stadium Mass for 45 000 people, acknowledged on Thursday that the United States paedophile priests scandal caused ''indescribable pain and harm'' to victims but asked Catholics to love their pastors. ''No words of mine can describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse,'' he said.

Vatican lists ‘new sins’, including pollution

Thou shall not pollute the Earth. Thou shall beware genetic manipulation. Modern times bring with them modern sins. So the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of ''new'' sins such as causing environmental blight. The Vatican opposes stem-cell research that involves destruction of embryos and has warned against the prospect of human cloning.

Italy dissolves Parliament, election looms

Italy's president dissolved Parliament on Wednesday and the caretaker government prepared to call a snap election, likely in mid-April, that could mark a return to power of media magnate Silvio Berlusconi. President Giorgio Napolitano's bid for cross-party support to reform Italy's messy voting rules before a fresh election met stiff resistance from Berlusconi.

Make space for God, Pope says in Christmas sermon

Pope Benedict led the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics into Christmas with a midnight mass on Tuesday, urging people to find time and space for God, the needy and the suffering. Benedict, marking the third Christmas season of his reign, said a solemn mass for about 10 000 people inside St Peter's Basilica on a chilly night.

‘Deranged’ man tries to jump on Pope’s jeep

A 27-year-old German man described by the Vatican as ''clearly deranged'' leaped over a barricade on Wednesday and tried to jump on to Pope Benedict's open-topped jeep. The man took the pope's bodyguards by surprise in St Peter's Square, coming within a metre of the pontiff in an episode that brought back memories of the assassination attempt against his predecessor.

Provenzano Code: Mafia’s answer to Dan Brown

If you thought cracking The Da Vinci Code was tough, try unscrambling The Provenzano Code, the cryptic cypher of the Mafia's ''boss of bosses''. Numbers, alphabet letters, Bible quotations, references to Jesus -- they are all in a new book by Sicilian magistrate Michele Prestipino.

Pope was opposed to ‘wrong prophet’ Bob Dylan

Pope Benedict was opposed to Bob Dylan appearing at a youth event with the late pope John Paul in 1997 because he considered the pop star the wrong kind of ''prophet'', Benedict writes in a new book issued on Thursday. Benedict makes the disclosure in a new book of memoirs about his predecessor, who died in 2005.

Pope holds out olive branch to Muslim envoys

Pope Benedict will meet Muslim ambassadors to the Vatican and Italian Islamic leaders on Monday to try to calm lingering anger over his use of a medieval text that says their religion was spread by violence.

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