Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba last month in what marked only the second papal visit to the island. President Raul Castro and Fidel Castro met with Benedict, 84, who also presided over Mass in Revolution Plaza-the same place Pope John Paul II spoke during the 1998 historic first papal visit to the communist country. Benedict used his address to denounce Cuba's religious intolerance and to call on the government to allow greater religious freedom.
Acts 29 Network president Mark Driscoll announced his resignation from the church-planting ministry he co-founded to make way for new leadership under Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Texas. Citing "a season of pruning," Driscoll also stepped down as a council member of the Gospel Coalition so he can focus his energies on closer-to-home ministries, including his Seattle-based Mars Hill Church. Driscoll will remain on the Acts 29 board, where he said Chandler will receive his continued support.
Chinese authorities finally permitted relatives of Gao Zhisheng to visit the imprisoned Chinese human-rights lawyer last month after he spent more than two years isolated in police custody. During the heavily monitored March 24 visit, Gao's brother and father-in-law were able to see Gao through a glass window and talk with him using a prison phone. In December authorities said Gao, whom police first arrested in 2006 for "subversion of state power," would spend another three years in jail for violating probation rules.
A U.S. soldier died last month saving an Afghan child from being run over by a military vehicle. Sgt. Dennis Weichel, 29, had been herding a group of children out of the way of a military convoy when a boy darted back into the road. Weichel, a Rhode Island National Guardsman, pushed the boy out of the way before the vehicle struck him. The father of three later died from his injuries.
Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, whose trademark three-finger picking style revolutionized banjo playing, died March 28 at age 88. In 1948, Scruggs teamed with Lester Flatt to form the Foggy Mountain Boys, who later became a sensation with their rendition of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" for The Beverly Hillbillies theme song.
Pakistani acid attack victim Fakhra Younus, 33, committed suicide on March 17 after undergoing more than three dozen surgeries over the last 12 years to repair the extensive damage to her face and body. Younus alleged that her ex-husband Bilal Khar attacked her in 2000 after she left him because he was physically and verbally abusive. A court later acquitted him of the charges-an outcome some people said was due to his father's political connections.