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Rome Reports

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Best of 2011. March: Pope publishes new book

The pope then met with the executive director of the UN?s World Food Programme. They mostly spoke about the humanitarian crisis at that time in Libya.

It was in March when the only Catholic minister in Pakistan?s government was assassinated. Shahbaz Bhatti died at 42. He was in charge of the country?s religious minorities. He had received several death threats after trying to repeal the blasphemy law in Pakistan, the law ;which provides the death penalty against anyone who insults Islam or the prophet Mohammed.

In March, Cardinal Marc Ouellet introduced the second volume of Pope?s book “Jesus of Nazareth”. The writing reflects on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. For it?s release, 1.2 million copies were published in 7 languages. ;

In preparation for Easter, the pope and cardinals from the Curia took in a spiritual retreat. The priest and Carmelite François-Marie Lethel was responsible for preaching the meditations. The common thread was one of the great events of the year in the Vatican.

Fr. François-Marie Lethel

Preacher for Papal Spiritual Exercises

We had to present these spiritual exercises as a preparation for the big event of the year, the beatification of John Paul II.”

Near the end of the month, Benedict visited the Ardeatine Caves near Rome, where the German army shot 335 civilians in 1944. For this historic visit, he was accompanied by the Chief Rabbi of Rome. Benedict called the massacre a “grave offense to God.”

Benedict XVI

What occurred here on March 24, 1944 was a grave offense to God because it is deliberate violence of man against man.”

Toward the end of the month, the pope blessed the new parish of St. Corbinian at Infernetto in Rome. The church is located in the south of the city in an area called “Infernetto,” where the city?s coal used to be produced. The parish is named after the patron saint of the pope?s home country of Germany, as a gift from Rome to the German bishops. ;