THE VATICAN puts the official figure of Lefebvre dissidents now back in the Holy See's fold at 20, all French Benedictines.
The deserters of the Econe, Switzerland, headquarters of excommunicated traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, have already signed a formal act of submission to the Pope and have pledged in addition to mediate for the Vatican in a bid to win new "re-converts."
This week the special commission announced under the "protocol of peace" formulated by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and rejected last May by Lefebvre, will meet to assess the schism provoked by the June 30 ordination of dissident rebel bishops.
The commission will have a permanent base at the Vatican in rooms now vacated by the Marian year organising committee. THE VATICAN'S home ground now ranks ninth in the world for the number of card-carrying Communist Party members.
Italy, with 1,590,000 Communists, follows Czechoslovakia on the list but beats even Bulgaria with only 923,000. Most Communists are Chinese (44 million) and Soviet (18.5 million).
But, for the first time, the number of party members throughout the world has dropped from 89.8 million in 1987 to 88.6 million so far this year.
TO SHORTEN the wait for official results of date tests on the Shroud of Turin, an exhibition on ten years of research into the famed linen's origins has opened in Rome.
The exhibition, The Shroud Report, comprises of 150 photographs and a series of illustrations released for public display for the first time by a group of United States researchers. They had begun their examinations of the cloth, held to be the burial wrap of Christ, in 1978.
SICILIAN police arrested four church art thieves some four hours after they stripped a chapel of ten 18th century oil paintings worth a total of about £1 million.
The gang, two middle-aged butchers, a bricklayer and a 26 year old beach lifeguard had raided the church at six in the morning and hid the paintings in a "safe house" attic.
But by ten am all four were in jail. . . because during the robbery one had dropped his driving licence.