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GroundTruth: Jason Berry on reporting on the Catholic Church

GlobalPost's Jason Berry talks about what it's like to report on the Catholic Church in a time of turmoil.

Germany's Catholic Church calls off sex abuse investigation

The German Catholic Church has dropped an inquiry it ordered into alleged sexual abuse, amid allegations of censorship by independent investigators.

Growing scandal could bring down the second most important person in the Vatican

The Vatican is in the midst of an unprecedented series of scandals after the leak a huge treasure trove of suppressed documents given to a notorious investigative journalist last year. Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, should probably be worried — he's thought to be target of the leaks.

Nicki Minaj looks like a fool, Catholic League says

The Catholic League asks if Nicki Minaj is possessed.
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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Singer Nicki Minaj arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
The recording artist brought a fake pope as a date to the Grammys. The Catholic League is not pleased.
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German bishops give up erotic books

German bishops have pledged to sell off the national Catholic church's stake in a publisher that makes "erotic literature."
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Acceptable reading for bishops. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images)

German bishops were left hot under the dog collar after it emerged last month that a publisher co-owned by 12 of Germany's Catholic dioceses was a prolific producer of "erotic fiction."

The German Bishops' Conference has now ordered executives at the Weltbild publishing company to sell their stake "without delay," the church authority said in a statement on Tuesday.

The bishops referred to "media that contradicted the ideals of the shareholders," by which they presumably mean the more than 2,500 titles that until recently appeared in the "erotic" section of Weltbild's website.

They're hardly books you'd expect to find next to The Lives of the Saints. According to The Local, titles included "Boarding School for Sluts" and "The Lawyer's Whore."

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Pope visits Benin, birthplace of voodoo, on second Africa trip (VIDEO)

Pope Benedict XVI, starting his second trip to Africa, is to meet with both Roman Catholic leaders and voodoo chiefs while on a three-day visit to Benin.
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Agbotabatoh Dah Deh, a Benin resident caretaker of the Temple of Pythons, a centre of voodoo, holds a python around his neck in front of the temple, on November 16, 2011 in Ouidah, 25 miles from Cotonou. Pope Benedict XVI makes his second visit to Africa as pontiff when he arrives in Benin on November 18, 2011, and he will meet a situation where Catholic and traditional beliefs exist side-by-side and often mix. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Pope Benedict XVI, making his second visit to Africa, departed for Benin on Friday where he is to meet with both Roman Catholic leaders and voodoo chiefs.

Agence France-Presse reported that the Temple of Pythons, a voodoo temple that houses some 30 snakes, stands directly across from the Catholic basilica that the pontiff will visit. 

In Benin, considered the home of voodoo, "Catholic and traditional beliefs exist side-by-side and often mix," AFP said.

Voodoo (also spelled Vodon, Vodoun or Voudou) is practiced in other West African countries, including Ghana, Togo, and parts of Nigeria. Voodoo is also famously associated with Haiti, but according to National Geographic, "the roots of the voodoo religion" are in Togo and Benin.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, Pope Benedict recently addressed a group of bishops from Angola and the tiny African island nation of Sao Tome, who were visiting Rome:  

Benedict lamented that “the hearts of the baptized” in Africa “are torn between Christianity and traditional African religions.” In particular, the pope pointed to “the marginalization and even murder of children and elderly people, condemned by the false diktats of witchcraft.”

On the Pope's previous visit to Africa, in 2009, he caused a global outcry by saying that condoms were making the HIV/AIDS crisis worse.

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In Brazil, a turn to new faith, or none at all

RIO DE JANIERO — No other socio-economic measure in the past two decades has changed so dramatically as the country’s religious composition.

Madrid flooded by Catholic youths for week-long Pope festival

As a special festival blessing, Catholic priests have been empowered to forgive the sin of abortion during the week-long festivities in Madrid.

Irish take pride in fight with Vatican

DUBLIN — Recall of Vatican nuncio signifies a low point in relations between Rome and one of the world’s traditionally most fervent Roman Catholic nations.

Calling out the Vatican

DUBLIN — "The law of the land should not be stopped by a collar or a crozier," said Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
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