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More than 2.3 million pilgrims attended audiences or celebrations with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican during 2012. • “Bold steps” are necessary to counter the “rising tide of aggressive posturing” between the United States and Iran, wrote Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, on Dec. 18 in a letter to National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon. • Lee Young-chan, a Jesuit priest jailed because of his support for campaigners against the construction of a military base on Jeju Island off the coast of Korea, was released on bail on Dec. 26. • Pope Benedict visited his former butler, Paolo Gabriele, in his cell in the Vatican police barracks, personally telling the butler he was forgiven and was being pardoned after his conviction for leaking Vatican documents. • Members of the Religion Newswriters Association picked the U.S. Catholic bishops’ opposition to a federal mandate for contraception coverage in health plans as the No. 1 religion story of 2012 and chose Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York as the year’s top newsmaker in their annual poll. • In his New Year’s message, Caracas Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino asked Venezuelans to pray for President Hugo Chavez in his continuing battle with cancer.

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Pope John Paul II prays in 1993 at the Hill of Crosses in Siauliai, Lithuania. Pope Francis will make the same three-nation visit, stopping at a number of the same places as his saint-predecessor. (CNS photo/Arturo Mari, L'Osservatore Romano) 
Francis is visiting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to help mark their centennial of independence from czarist Russia.
Edward W. Schmidt, S.J.September 20, 2018
Kevin and Sarah Leopold attend a Sept. 14 prayer vigil with their son Ambrose at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. The vigil was in response to recent clerical sexual abuse scandals. (CNS photo/Gina Christian, catholicphilly.com)
The U.S. bishops’ Dallas Charter to protect minors is working. Its principles should be applied to all Americans who work with children.
Stephen J. RossettiSeptember 20, 2018
To be a voice for victims of clerical sexual abuse, Father Brendan McGuire realized he had to come to terms with the abuse he suffered at the hands of a priest when he was 18. It was a secret he had held for 35 years.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about refugees as he makes a statement to the media Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The announcement that the United States will cap its intake of refugees at 30,000 was swiftly denounced by Catholic leaders.
Brandon SanchezSeptember 20, 2018