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Pope Benedict XVI, speaking to reporters during his return trip to Rome March 23, said he felt a great sense of family and respect for the sacred during his weeklong trip to Africa and thanked everyone involved in the visit, including the journalists who covered it. • Durban Cardinal Wilfrid Napier expressed "shock and regret" that the Dalai Lama, Tibets exiled spiritual leader and head of its self-proclaimed government-in-exile, was denied a visa to attend a meeting in South Africa. The South African government said it refused the Dalai Lama a visa because it wanted the meeting to stay focused on South Africa and not on Tibet. • The Cuban government has given the go-ahead for renovations of four Catholic churches in Havana, using funds provided by the Australian office of Aid to the Church in Need. • New Mexico repealed the death penalty March 18, after Gov. Bill Richardson had a change of heart about his long support for capital punishment. • Over 300 people attended the official re-opening of Saint David Church in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans in March. The church had been closed for nearly four years because of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Mary Ann Glendon (right), former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will receive the University of Notre Dames Laetare Medal at commencement ceremonies May 17. • An estimated 92,000 inactive Catholics in the Phoenix Diocese have come back to the church in the last year thanks in large part to a groundbreaking television advertising campaign called Catholics Come Home. • U.S. Jesuit Father Thomas H. Green, the author of acclaimed books on spirituality such as "Weeds Among the Wheat," "When the Well Runs Dry: Prayers Beyond the Beginnings" and "Darkness in the Marketplace," died March 13 in Manila. He was 76.

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