As conditions on the ground deteriorated, a papal delegation that was scheduled to visit Damascus, Syria, was postponed indefinitely on Oct. 23. • Flooding at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes on Oct. 20 temporarily closed much of the popular French pilgrimage site. • Three Assumptionist priests were taken at gunpoint from their home at Our Lady of the Poor Parish in the village of Mbau in the embattled North Kivu province of Congo on Oct. 19 and have not been heard from since. • “In the north of Mali, all Christians were forced to flee,” reports Laurent Balas, a missionary priest of the White Fathers, after Islamic militias seized much of the territory. • Claudio Sciarpelletti, the computer technician at the Vatican secretariat of state accused of aiding and abetting the pope’s butler in stealing confidential Vatican correspondence, was scheduled to be tried at the Vatican on Nov. 5. • Bishop Richard Williamson of Great Britain was expelled from the Society of St. Pius X on Oct. 24 because he refused “to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors,” following his sharp criticism of the society’s doctrinal discussions with the Vatican.
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