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Pope Benedict XVI has written a letter to the world’s bishops defending his decision to lift the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius X and acknowledging that the controversy was “a misadventure that was for me unforeseeable,” according to reports in the Italian media.• The shooting of a policeman in Northern Ireland was denounced by Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore, a Catholic, and his Church of Ireland counterpart, who said there is “no going back” to the days of violence that killed more than 3,500 people over 30 years. • Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia said March 9 that President Obama’s executive order reversing the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research represents “a sad victory of politics over science and ethics.” • A bill proposed in the Connecticut state legislature that would have given laypeople financial control of their parishes in Connecticut was withdrawn by its sponsors on March 10 in the wake of heated controversy. • Peter Bray, F.S.C., assumed his position in March as the eighth vice chancellor of Bethlehem University, which is administered jointly by the Vatican and the Christian Brothers.

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