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Papal Trip to Cuba?
April 17, 2015. The Vatican's spokesperson has announced that Pope Francis is considering a trip to Cuba. If the visit takes place it would be before or after his trip to the U.S in September. The process however, is still in its beginning phases, so no official decision has been made. 
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Dates of papal trip to Latin America released
April 16, 2015. The Vatican has announced the dates of Pope's upcoming trip to Latin America. He will visit Ecuador from July 6 to 8. After, he will be in Bolivia from July 8 to 10. He will then go to Paraguay until July 12. 
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Pope's Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations
April 14, 2015. In his message for the event, which will be held on April 26, Pope Francis considers the meaning of "vocation.” He writes that it means to respond to God's call. That is, "allowing him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind” so that we can find Jesus Christ, "the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness.”

The title of the message is: "Exodus, a fundamental experience of vocation.”

Read the full text here.
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New vicar apostolic in Venezuela and bishop in India

April 7, 2015. Pope Francis has appointed Ernesto José Romero Rivas, O.F.M. to be Vicar Apostolic of Tucupita (Venezuela). The Pope has also appointed Vincent Aind to be Bishop of Bagdogra (India).

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New Prefect in the Congregation for Catholic Education
March 31, 2015. Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, as the new Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. He also also appointed Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki as a member of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. 
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New bishop in Mozambique
March 30, 2015. The Pope has appointed Alberto Vera Aréjula, a Spanish missionary, to be Auxiliary Bishop of Xai-Xai in Mozambique.
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New Eparchy and new Exarchate in India
March 26, 2015. The Pope has created the Eparchy of St. John Chrysostom in Gurgaon of the Syro-Malankara Church (India). He has also appointed its first bishop, Jacob Barnabas Aerath. Additionally, Pope Francis created the new Apostolic Exarchate of St. Ephrem of Khadki of the Syro-Malankara Church (India). He appointed the first Exarch, Bishop Thomas Mar Anthonios Valiyavilayil.
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New bishop in Ecuador
March 24, 2015. Pope Francis appointed Victor Bertram Wick Enzler to be bishop of Santo Domingo (Ecuador). Until now, he served as auxiliary bishop of Guayaquil, also in Ecuador.

Church abuse analyst: 400 priests defrocked is due to stricter Vatican norms

2014-01-21

The Vatican made history when its delegation appeared before a United Nations committee to explain their efforts in tackling sex abuse. It was the first time it took questions from an outside group about what it has done to protect children.

FR. HANS ZOLLNER S.J.
Director, Center for Child Protection (Gregorian University)
"In some way, the Holy See has shown that it is committed to the process, committed to the convention it has signed, and is willing to follow also.”

Father Hans Zollner, is the director the Gregorian University's Center for Child Protection. Since 2012, when they organized a symposium on the topic, his center has been at the forefront of sex abuse prevention across parts of the globe.

He said the testimony before the UN Commission for the Protection of the Child shows the Vatican's willingness to clarify its stance, and to make up for past errors when handling abuse cases. 

FR. HANS ZOLLNER S.J.
Director, Center for Child Protection (Gregorian University)
"It's very difficult to convey to the public that when  you talk about the Church you talk about two entities: the Vatican City and the local churches that have to be in accordance with the global law, but they have to take responsibility about what happens at the local level.”

Under the Church's global law, sexual abuse of a child is a crime. But accusations must be dealt with at the local level, before making their way to the Vatican.

According to officials statistics, in 2011 and 2012, about 400 of the cases that made their way to the Vatican ended up with the priests being defrocked, or removed from the priesthood. 

FR. HANS ZOLLNER S.J.
Director, Center for Child Protection (Gregorian University)
"They concerned those priests whose trials had been going on for years, most of them. And whose cases refer back up to 50, 60 years back.” 

Fr. Zollner attributed those cases to the norms implemented in the past three years, to make Church legislation stricter. But he recognized that there is still much more the Church can do, especially in the area of prevention. 

The Pope's new commission, which Cardinal Sean O'Malley announced back in December, is expected to play a big role in that process. However, the Vatican still has not released the exact details of the commission's work, and who will be a part of it.


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