As Pope Benedict begins a historic visit to the United States, he was received with very hard knocks by respected Christian commentator, Jacob Prasch, based on the stinking pedophilia cases the Church had been quagmire with in the United States. In one of his previous assignments at the Vatican, the then Archbishop Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) had signed the directive that priests and nuns who had sexually abused young people attending their parishes must be protected at all costs. Such priests and nuns were merely moved to new locations where they repeated over and over again their sexual crimes against innocent little children who had sought spiritual succor from the catholic church. So widespread is the practice that right now, as many as 177 out of the 179 dioceses of Roman Catholic church in the USA were found culpable in court of protecting child molesting clergy. And in just one week, the archdioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego had to pay $790 million to victims just forced closure and merger of several parishes – at times with dramatic responses from the Parishioners who resist (see an example at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/nyregion/10church.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin), there is also the declining enlistment of Nuns and Priests (BBC News, Feb 5). Hence the catholic church is finding itself having to fall back more and more to her old, time- tested traditional measures.
In the latest efforts to shore up the attendance figure to the Marian shrine at Lourdes, Pope Benedict XVI has, last December, offered relief from purgatory to Roman Catholics who travel to Lourdes this year – the 150th anniversary of the appearance of an apparition in that little French village. In the words of the Vatican, Pilgrims to the shrine will receive "plenary indulgences" from the Pontiff, which the Church says reduce the time spent being "washed" of sin after death. For those who cannot make the journey to France, the Pope will also grant indulgences to Catholics who pray at places of worship dedicated to the Madonna of Lourdes from Feb 2 to Feb 11. See Original Report at
Reports about apparitions of Mary (supposedly the mother of the Lord Jesus) are rife among catholic faithful. Please see CA! Vol 4 No 5 to learn the truth about Marian apparitions. Meanwhile, the London Daily Telegraph (March 16) has reported that at least 50 people have lost their sight in India after they persistently stared at the sun hoping to see an image of the “Virgin Mary”.