Benedict XIV's announcement he'll be stepping down this month as pope came as a shock to people in his home country, Germany. The German government quickly expressed its respect for the resigning pontiff's work.
Senior political leaders in Berlin have welcomed US President Barack Obama's NSA speech as an important first step. But many have expressed skepticism that Washington will follow through with broad surveillance reform.
Pope Francis has called for a fair and lasting solution to "the complex political and social situation in the Middle East" during a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has invited the pope to Israel.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to use talks in the UN Security Council to agree on a prompt international reaction to last week's alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.
Germany's Bishop of Limburg has flown to Rome to take up his controversial case at the Vatican. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst is accused of lavish spending in the renovation of his residence.
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