Roman Women Are Converts to Convents

TELEGRAPH, Nov. 28 — Growing numbers of educated Italian women are throwing away their high heels and lipstick and opting for the austere life of nuns in closed convents, according to the London Telegraph.

At a conference organized by the Vicariate of Rome and Italy's Union of Superiors of Women Religious, it was found that 550 women in Rome chose to withdraw to cloisters this year compared with 350 two years ago.

“They are realizing that what the world has to offer to them is not all it is made out to be,” said Sister Pieremilia Bertolin, the secretary general of the union. “They are starting to reason with their heads and not just believing the messages advertising throws at them.”

Pope Says More Must Be Done to Stop Bloodshed

AKI, Nov. 28 — Pope Benedict XVI said “stronger international resolve” is needed to halt the bloodshed in Sudan's ethnically troubled Darfur region, according to the international news agency.

The Pope made the appeal during a Vatican audience with the Cardinal of Khartoum, Gabriel Zubeir Wako. “The horror of events unfolding in Darfur, to which my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II referred on many occasions, points to the need for a stronger international resolve to ensure security and basic human rights,” Benedict XVI said.

The Holy Father welcomed the recent enactment of Sudan's new Constitution — the result of a peace accord between Khartoum's Muslim authorities and the mainly Christian and animist former rebels in the country's south — as an opportunity and duty for the Catholic Church to “contribute significantly to the process of forgiveness and national reconstruction.”

He told Cardinal Wako, “Though a minority, Catholics have much to offer through interreligious dialogue as well as the provision of greatly needed social services. I encourage you therefore to take the necessary initiatives to realize Christ's healing presence in these ways.”

Vatican Examines Possible Miracle by John Paul II

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Nov. 29 — Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz said a Church tribunal will focus on a possible miracle performed by Pope John Paul II in France as the Vatican pursues the late Pope's case for beatification, Associated Press reported.

Archbishop Dziwisz, who was personal secretary to John Paul, told reporters in Rome that “there are no problems with miracles because there are many, but they have picked one because they don't need more.”

The process was “proceeding very well,” he said, and could be over as soon as March, the Ansa news agency reported.

The archbishop added, “There are many testimonies; we must choose the most accurate ones to show the personality of John Paul II.”

Vatican Defends Singer's Ban

REUTERS, Dec. 2 — The Vatican defended its decision to exclude Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury from its Dec. 3 Christmas concert, saying she had threatened to promote the use of condoms to fight AIDS during the show, according to Reuters.

The concert is a traditional fund-raiser for charities. It is not attended by the Pope but is attended by dozens of cardinals and other top Vatican officials.

It is then broadcast on Italian television on Christmas Eve.

“The Vatican decided to exclude Daniela Mercury from the cast not because of her convictions about contraceptives even if they are not in agreement those of the Catholic Church,” said Father Giuseppe Bellucci, a priest who organized the show. “She was excluded because she had announced that at the concert she would openly promote the use of condoms to fight the plague of AIDS.”