Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 week 3 days ago
For centuries, popes sponsored the work of artists such as Michelangelo, Raffaello, or Bernini, who went on to create some of their masterpieces within the very walls of the Vatican.Yet over time, the marriage between art and faith grew stale — the Vatican’s culture minister even called it a “divorce” — with the Roman Catholic Church finding itself estranged from the art world it did so much to create.Now, in a bid to revive its ancient tradition of arts patronage, the Holy See will participate with its own pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, a leading international arts festival.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 week 4 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Gains in Asia and Africa are making up for losses in Europe among the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, according to Vatican statistics released Monday, signaling a shift of the church’s center of gravity toward the Global South that was heralded by the election of the first Latin American pope.Data published in the 2013 Statistical Yearbook of the Church also show that while the number of priests in the Americas and in Europe is declining compared to the overall Catholic population, those losses were offset by increasing ranks of permanent deacons.There are now about 41,000 permanent deacons worldwide, a 40 percent increase over the past decade. The vast majority of them — 97.4 percent — live in the Americas or in Europe.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 weeks 23 hours ago
Pope Francis on Friday met with Pope Tawadros II, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, an encounter that brought the number of popes within the Vatican walls to three this week.Benedict XVI, the emeritus pope, returned to the Vatican on May 2, two months after his resignation, while Tawadros is only the second Coptic pope to visit the Vatican, after the historic visit of Pope Shenouda III to Pope Paul VI in 1973.Tawadros — on his first foreign trip since he was elected in November — is staying at the Vatican’s guesthouse where Pope Francis is also living. Benedict is now living in a revamped convent a 5-minute walk away, but there were no plans for the two men to meet.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 weeks 2 days ago
American anti-abortion leaders will be in Rome on Sunday to participate in Italy’s third March for Life and lend their expertise to the nation’s small anti-abortion movement as it tries to learn from its American counterpart.Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, and Lila Rose of Live Action will be among those who will march through central Rome on Sunday morning, from the Colosseum up to Castel Sant’Angelo, a few hundred meters from the Vatican.While the annual March for Life in Washington — which celebrated its 40th anniversary in January — attracts hundreds of thousands of people and heavy media coverage, in Europe anti-abortion movements have often kept a lower profile and haven’t been able to shape social discourse as in the United States.Polls regularly show high levels of support for abortion rights throughout Europe. A January poll by Eurispes found that 64 percent of Italians favor legalizing abortion pills.In Italy, abortion is currently legal in hospitals up to the third month of pregnancy.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 3 weeks 3 days ago
More than two months after his resignation, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will return to the Vatican on Thursday to live in a small convent that has been recently renovated for his needs.Benedict’s return will face the Vatican with the unprecedented situation of a reigning pope and a retired pope living a short distance from each other.The potential difficulty is compounded by the fact that Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, will move in with the former pope while he continues to serve as Pope Francis’ Prefect of the Papal Household, charged with setting his schedule and audiences.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 4 weeks 3 days ago
When you’re the pope, few things matter as much as what you say and, especially, where you say it.From the pulpit of St. Peter’s Basilica or an outdoor altar erected in St. Peter’s Square, popes can command global media attention. Pope Francis, however, has settled in with a smaller congregation for his homilies that’s more in keeping with his low-key style.Every day at 7 a.m., Francis celebrates Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican’s hotel-style guesthouse he has chosen to call home instead of the luxurious papal apartments. His brief, colorful homilies are delivered to small groups of Vatican workers, from policemen to doctors and bank employees.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 5 weeks 1 day ago
Vatican employees won’t receive the special bonus they are traditionally awarded when a new pope is elected, the Vatican confirmed on Thursday, under orders from Pope Francis to give extra money to charity instead.“On account of the difficult situation of the general economy, it seemed neither possible nor opportune to burden Vatican institutions with a considerable unforeseen extraordinary expense,” the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in an emailed statement.In place of the employees’ bonus, Pope Francis ordered Vatican officials to make a donation to some “charitable organizations.”The money will be drawn from the pontiff’s personal charity budget “as a sign of the church’s attention for the many people who are suffering” from the global economic slowdown, Lombardi said.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 5 weeks 5 days ago
Nearly a year after the Vatican announced a makeover of the largest umbrella group for American nuns, Pope Francis has directed that the overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious continue.The decision, while not entirely unexpected, could nonetheless bring an end to Francis’ honeymoon with the many American Catholics who had viewed the crackdown on nuns as heavy-handed and unnecessary.Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met on Monday with the LCWR’s leadership for the first time since Francis’ election on March 13.According to a Vatican statement, during a recent discussion of the case with Mueller, Francis “reaffirmed the findings” of the Vatican investigation and the “program of reform” for LCWR that was announced on April 18, 2012.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 6 weeks 3 days ago
Wading into one of the most controversial fields of modern medicine, the Vatican is pushing adult stem cell research as ethical and scientifically more promising than embryonic stem cell research.That’s despite assertions from many in the scientific community that that it’s important to pursue all types of stem cell research, including embryonic, to maximize chances of finding cures for diseases.Harvesting embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of fertilized embryos — which are considered nascent human life in Catholic doctrine. Adult stem cells can be safely taken from adult human beings.The Vatican started promoting adult stem cells in 2011, when its Pontifical Council for Culture launched a collaboration with U.S. bio-pharmaceutical company NeoStem.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale, David Gibson 6 weeks 5 days ago
Pope Francis has won widespread acclaim thus far in his nascent papacy with popular gestures like washing the feet of juveniles during Holy Week and refusing many papal perks. But now comes the hard part of his new job: reforming the Vatican.The Roman Curia, as the central administration of the Catholic Church is known, has been riven by scandals and allegations of infighting and careerism, which helped undermine Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s reign and reportedly pushed him to resign.The dysfunction was so bad that reforming the Curia became a rallying cry for many cardinals at the conclave that elected Francis. But will he deliver on the promise of reform?
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 7 weeks 2 days ago
Pope Francis on Wednesday said women play a “fundamental role” in the Catholic Church as those who are mostly responsible for passing on the faith from one generation to the next.While the new pope stopped far short of calling for women’s ordination or giving women more decision-making power in the church, his remarks nonetheless signaled an openness to women that’s not often seen in the church hierarchy.“In the church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord,” the Argentine pontiff said during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 7 weeks 5 days ago
The Vatican on Friday dismissed criticism of Pope Francis’ decision to wash the feet of two women during a Maundy Thursday Mass at a Rome youth prison.The move has come under fire from Catholic traditionalists who say that the rite is a re-enactment of Jesus washing the feet of the 12 apostles before his death, and thus should be limited only to men.Traditionally, popes have washed the feet of 12 priests during a solemn Mass in Rome’s St. John Lateran Basilica.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 8 weeks 1 day ago
Pope Francis on Thursday washed the feet of 12 young inmates, including two girls and two Muslims, during a Maundy Thursday Mass at a youth detention center in Rome.The Argentine pontiff, who has shown an eagerness to break with tradition in the two weeks since his election to the papacy on March 13, chose to celebrate the rite in the Casal del Marmo prison in northwest Rome, rather than in the traditional venue of the St. John Lateran Basilica.Francis has repeatedly stated his desire to bring the papacy and the church closer to the poor and the marginalized.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 8 weeks 2 days ago
In his first general audience since his election to the papacy, Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Catholics to leave their comfort zone to search for “lost sheep.”As the Catholic Church prepares for Easter and celebrates the rites of Holy Week, Francis told around 20,000 people in St. Peter’s Square to avoid “a tired and routine way of living the faith,” and resist “the temptation to withdraw into pre-established patterns that end up closing our horizon” to God.“We must not be content to remain in the enclosure of the 99 sheep; we have to step outside, to search for the lost sheep,” he added, referring to a parable of Jesus.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 8 weeks 3 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Shunning the spacious papal apartment used by his predecessors, Pope Francis has chosen to continue living in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been staying since the beginning of the conclave.The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, explained on Tuesday that Francis will live “until further notice” in a suite in the Santa Martha Residence, a modern Vatican guesthouse for priests and bishops who work in the Roman Curia or who are visiting the Vatican for meetings and conferences.Francis made his intentions clear on Tuesday morning, while celebrating Mass in the residence’s chapel for its permanent guests, who occupy about half of the residence’s 130 or so rooms.The pontiff’s choice is a consequence of his desire to adopt a “simple” living arrangement that allows him “to live in community” with other priests and bishops, Lombardi explained.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 9 weeks 1 day ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Friday called for more intense dialogue between religious leaders, particularly Muslims, as he tries to recalibrate relations between the world’s two largest religious groups.Speaking in the Vatican’s majestic Sala Regia, the Argentine pontiff said that part of his mission is to connect “all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister.”In a meeting with Vatican diplomats and foreign leaders, Francis also reaffirmed the church’s commitment to protect the poor and the environment, an early theme in his young pontificate.“Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up,” the pope said.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 9 weeks 4 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued a powerful call for the protection of the environment and of society’s most vulnerable during his formal installation Mass at the Vatican, while qualifying his papal power as a “service” to the church and to humanity.The pope on Tuesday celebrated a solemn Mass in St. Peter’s Square in front of an estimated 200,000 people, as well as political and religious leaders from all over the world.During the Mass, Francis received the symbols of his papal authority over the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics: the pallium, a lamb’s wool stole that recalls Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and the “ring of the fisherman.”In keeping with the low-key style that has been the hallmark of his pontificate so far, Francis presided over a somewhat simpler, and definitely shorter, rite than the one that marked the start of Benedict XVI’s reign in 2005.Francis was slowly driven around a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square in an open-top car, shunning the bulletproof, air-conditioned popemobile preferred by his predecessors. At one point, he asked to stop the car and got out to bless a disabled person.In his homily, delivered in Italian, Francis described the church’s mission as “respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.”
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 10 weeks 2 days ago
Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as Pope Francis I on Wednesday, after only two days of voting in the conclave tasked with choosing a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.According to anonymous reports of the 2005 conclave, he was the leading contender against then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI. Bergoglio, 76, has served as the archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998 and was made a cardinal in 2001. He is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to rise to the papacy.In his first address to the huge crowd that had gathered in St Peter’s Square, Francis asked for the prayers of “all men and women of good will” to help him lead the Catholic Church.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 10 weeks 3 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Black smoke from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel signaled that the first day of the conclave ended without the election of a new pope.Even if the first-round outcome was largely expected, thousands of people on Tuesday braved the inclement Roman weather to wait for the result of the vote. They slowly filled up St. Peter’s Square as the evening progressed, with their eyes fixed on the small chimney.Cries of disappointment erupted from the crowd when the black smoke appeared instead of the white smoke that would herald a successful election.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 10 weeks 4 days ago
VATICAN CITY — The doors of the Sistine Chapel closed behind the cardinals on Tuesday, marking the official start of the conclave that will elect the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.The 115 cardinal-electors walked in procession into the Sistine Chapel, singing hymns and invoking the Holy Spirit, before filing under Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” and taking a solemn oath of secrecy on everything that will happen during the conclave.At the end of the oath-taking ceremony, the master of papal ceremonies, the Rev. Guido Marini, ordered the “extra omnes” (Latin for “everybody out”).Cardinals will be sequestered inside a Vatican residence until a candidate receives the two-thirds majority needed for election to the papacy.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 10 weeks 4 days ago
As the Vatican prepares for the opening of the conclave today to elect a new pope, officials announced that the personal secretary of former Pope Benedict XVI will return to Rome for the first time since Benedict’s resignation on Feb. 28.The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed on Monday that Gaenswein will be one of the senior Vatican officials to take part in the solemn procession of cardinals into the Sistine Chapel that will open the conclave on Tuesday afternoon.Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who was Benedict’s closest aide when he was pope, moved with Benedict to the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo when the retired pope left the Vatican on Feb. 28.His presence will once again highlight the unprecedented situation — and potential complications — of having a retired pope still living just as cardinals gather to elect his successor.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 10 weeks 4 days ago
As if the task of choosing the Vicar of Christ and the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics wasn’t daunting enough, the voting must also take place under the gaze of Michelangelo’s brilliant but imposing frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.That’s what the late Pope John Paul II decreed when he rewrote the conclave rules in 1996, and so it shall be starting today — and for however many days it takes the 115 cardinal-electors to choose a successor to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who retired last month.In the Sistine Chapel, “everything is conducive to an awareness of the presence of God, in whose sight each person will one day be judged,” John Paul II wrote in his 1996 Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis,” which regulates papal elections.
Posted by David Gibson, Alessandro Speciale 11 weeks 21 hours ago
VATICAN CITY — The conclave to pick a new pope will begin on Tuesday the Vatican said on Friday, resolving an open question that had dogged the cardinals meeting here over the past week.The cardinals will celebrate a special Mass “pro eligendo Romano Pontifice” — for the election of the Roman Pontiff — in St. Peter’s Basilica on Tuesday morning, and in the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave, the Vatican said.The date was set by the cardinals gathered in a late-afternoon session on Friday. They were scheduled to vote on the decision, but there was no word on how many supported the Tuesday start date or how many preferred an earlier or a later date.In one of his last acts before resigning on Feb. 28, Pope Benedict XVI amended the law regulating papal elections to allow cardinals to move up the beginning of the conclave, which would normally not be able to start until at least 15 days after a pope dies or leaves office.Because Benedict resigned — the first pope to do so in 600 years — and announced his plans on Feb. 11, the cardinals did not have to focus on a funeral, as they did when John Paul II died in April 2005. They also have had nearly a month to think about a successor.As a result, many believed the cardinals did not need to wait long after Benedict’s resignation took effect to begin the conclave itself.
Posted by David Gibson, Alessandro Speciale 11 weeks 2 days ago
Tensions among the Roman Catholic cardinals meeting here to choose a new pope appeared to escalate on Wednesday as the American prelates in Rome canceled their daily press briefing under pressure from colleagues who are frustrated over news coverage of their secret talks.The cardinals also announced that they still had not been able to agree on a start date for the conclave, in which 115 electors will cast their ballots for a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.The effort to control the flow of information from the daily pre-conclave “General Congregation” meetings marked a sharp reversal from the unprecedented openness that had characterized this first papal conclave of the digital age.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 11 weeks 4 days ago
Roman Catholic cardinals on Monday met for the first of a series of closed-door meetings in the run-up to the conclave that will elect the successor to former Pope Benedict XVI.But as cardinals filed into a Vatican conference room under the gaze of dozens of cameras, church officials said 12 voting prelates still haven’t arrived in Rome, pushing back the possibility of an early start to the conclave.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 12 weeks 1 day ago
VATICAN CITY — The papacy of Benedict XVI came to a quiet end at 8 p.m. on Thursday, making him the first pope in 600 years to voluntarily leave office.While there was no formal ceremony to mark the historic passage, the end of Benedict’s papacy and the beginning of the “sede vacante” interim period was clear when the Swiss Guards left their post at the gate of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.The Swiss Guards are charged with protecting the pope. When Benedict ceased to be pope, his security was no longer in their hands. At the Vatican, officials sealed the pope’s apartment as prescribed by church law, and will destroy the pope’s ring and official seal in the coming days.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 12 weeks 2 days ago
In his final public address, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday forcefully defended his decision to resign while trying to reassure Catholics still reeling from the shock of his unprecedented move.For the first time since his stunning announcement on Feb. 11, the 85-year-old pope explained at length his decision to become the first pope in six centuries to resign. His tenure officially ends Thursday at 8 p.m. local time.Benedict admitted that his resignation is a “grave” and “novel” act but, he added, his choice had been made “with profound serenity.”“Loving the church means having the courage to make difficult, agonizing choices, having ever before oneself the good of the church and not one’s own,” he said.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 12 weeks 4 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI will be known as “Pope Emeritus” after his retirement on Feb. 28, and will continue to wear white vestments, the Vatican announced on Tuesday.Ever since Benedict’s surprise announcement that he would become the first pope in 600 years to resign, there had been wide speculation about seemingly small issues, such as what he would be called or whether he would retain the title of “pope.” Such details, however, carry great symbolical value within the tradition-bound Roman Catholic Church.The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, told reporters that Benedict will continue to be called “His Holiness” and that his title will be “Pope Emeritus” or “Emeritus Roman Pontiff.”He said Benedict had decided the issue himself, after consultations with experts.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 13 weeks 1 day ago
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Wednesday confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI is considering changes to church law regulating the election of a new pope, but stopped short of saying whether voting could start earlier than currently planned.Pope John Paul II’s 1996 Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” regulates what happens between the death or resignation of a pope and the election of his successor.It stipulates that the conclave of cardinals must begin 15 to 20 days after the end of the previous pontificate.But after Benedict’s surprise announcement that he will resign on Feb. 28, several voices within the church have asked for an earlier start to the voting to shorten the time the Catholic Church is left without a leader.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 13 weeks 4 days ago
VATICAN CITY — As of 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, Pope Benedict XVI will no longer be pope and the Vatican will go into “sede vacante” mode — a Latin expression that means that the seat of St. Peter is vacant.So who’s in charge until a new pope is chosen? The “interregnum” between two popes is governed by ancient rituals and by institutions half forgotten even within the Vatican.But it is also the only time that the Catholic Church comes close to vaguely resembling a democracy, with the College of Cardinals acting somewhat like a Parliament with limited powers as it prepares to choose the new pontiff in a closed-doors conclave.
Posted by David Gibson, Alessandro Speciale 14 weeks 4 days ago
Pope Benedict XVI’s sudden announcement that he would resign by the end of the month took the church and the world by surprise, in large part because it was a move without precedent in the modern world.But what comes next is as old and familiar as the papacy itself: Speculating about who will succeed to the Throne of St. Peter.Indeed, within months of Benedict’s own election in 2005, church insiders and online oddsmakers were trying to figure out who might be next, given that Benedict — now 85 — was already aging, increasingly frail, and had himself declared that he did not expect his reign to be a long one.So what will happen when the world’s cardinals gather before the splendor of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope? Who are the “papabile,” as the Italians say, the “pope-able” cardinals?Will the conclave make the epochal break with the European monopoly and pick a cardinal from Latin America or Africa? The Catholic Church is booming in the Southern Hemisphere, as opposed to Europe and North America, where it is on life-support or barely treading water.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 14 weeks 4 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI will soon become the first pope to resign since 1415, short-circuiting many of the initial stages of electing a new pope. But the Vatican says the transition to a new papacy shouldn’t be all that different from normal.Of course, the traditional rituals associated with confirming the death of a pope and planning his funeral will not be necessary. But the process outlined below, rife with secrecy and tradition, will largely follow centuries-old protocol.
Posted by Kevin Eckstrom, Alessandro Speciale 14 weeks 5 days ago
Following is a brief explanation of the process used in a conclave to elect a new pope.Q: Who governs the church until a new pope is elected?A: Day-to-day operations are handled by the Vatican curia, the central bureaucracy. All prelates who head Vatican agencies resign after the death or resignation of a pope. Provisions are made to oversee the papal household, the spiritual needs of Romans and to grant absolutions.Q: What does the word “conclave” mean?A: The word comes from the Latin, “with a key,” referring to the tradition of locking the doors until cardinals elect a winner.Q: Who is eligible to be elected pope?A: Technically, any baptized male Catholic is eligible, provided he is not married and in good standing with the church. Since 1378, however, new popes have come from within the College of Cardinals.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 14 weeks 5 days ago
VATICAN CITY — In a move that took the world by surprise, Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday that he will become the first pope in 600 years to resign, with plans to step down on Feb. 28.“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” Benedict told cardinals as they gathered in Rome for the proclamation of new saints.Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said preparations for the conclave that will elect Benedict’s successor are in the early stages.A papal election could be expected “within 10 to 15 days,” he said. “We should have a new pope by Easter.”
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 15 weeks 1 day ago
VATICAN CITY — A top Vatican official blamed the media for “derailing” his recent remarks on possible legal protections for unmarried couples, while reaffirming his support for British and French bishops who have been vocal opponents of same-sex marriage.Speaking at a Vatican press conference on Monday, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, had acknowledged that nations could find “private law solutions” to protect the rights of unmarried couples — including, potentially, gay and lesbian couples.Paglia also said the church should support the repeal of laws that criminalize homosexuality in various countries.His remarks were widely repeated, with some interpreting it as a softening of the Vatican’s stance just as bishops in France and Britain are furiously opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 16 weeks 3 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has asked the Vatican’s highest appeals court to consider reviewing church rules on marriage annulments — a statement that may signal a change in tone more than a change in substance.Speaking on Jan. 26 to the members of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, Benedict said that “lack of faith” on the part of the spouses can affect the validity of a marriage.While the Catholic Church forbids remarried divorcees from taking Communion, church tribunals can declare a marriage void if it can be demonstrated that some key elements — such as a commitment to have children — were missing in the first place.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 17 weeks 2 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Lutheran leaders have warned the Vatican that the creation of a structure to welcome conservative Lutherans into the Catholic Church would harm dialogue and damage ecumenical relations.In 2009, Pope Benedict created a special church structure, called an ordinariate, to allow disgruntled Anglicans to convert to Catholicism while maintaining bits of their traditions and culture.Ordinariates have been created in the U.S., England and Australia, attracting hundreds of conservative Anglicans who oppose female and gay bishops and who seek greater lines of authority.In recent weeks, senior Vatican officials publicly suggested the creation of a similar structure for disaffected Lutherans; the idea was first floated last October by Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Vatican chief ecumenist.According to Catholic media reports, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, who heads the Vatican’s doctrinal office, said on Jan. 11 that if Lutherans asked for the creation of an ordinariate, the Vatican would consider their request.Mueller’s words were swiftly rebuked by the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. “The creation of such a special structure would have deep ecumenical repercussions,” he warned on Jan. 18.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 19 weeks 4 days ago
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican reaffirmed its commitment to dialogue with Jews on Monday after the head of a traditionalist breakaway group called them “enemies of the Church.”The Vatican chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that it was “meaningless” and “unacceptable” to label Jews as “enemies” of the Catholic Church.“Both Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II personally engaged in dialogue with Jews,” he said. As a sign of their commitment, Lombardi noted the two popes’ visits to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site, and to synagogues in Rome and elsewhere.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 21 weeks 2 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Paul VI, who guided the Catholic Church through a tumultuous period of change in the 1960s and 70s, took a crucial first step toward possible sainthood when Pope Benedict XVI last week recognized his predecessor’s “heroic virtues.”Paul VI is now considered “venerable” in the Catholic Church, and needs the Vatican to recognize a miracle due to his intercession in order to be beatified, or declared “blessed.” A second miracle would then elevate him to sainthood.Giovanni Battista Montini (1897-1978) was elected to the papacy with the name of Paul VI in 1963. He oversaw the implementation of the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 25 weeks 5 days ago
VATICAN CITY -- Their lives steeped in intrigue, treason and lust, and set against a backdrop of luscious Italian landscapes and Renaissance masterpieces, the Borgias are probably the most famous -- or infamous -- family in the long history of the papacy.Now, a new Italian book wants to dispel, at least in part, the “black legend” surrounding a dynasty that bore two popes as well as cardinals, poets, and warriors.Journalist and historian Mario Dal Bello drew on documents from the Vatican Secret Archive to write his new book, I Borgia: La leggenda nera, or The Borgias: The Black Legend.For five centuries, the Borgias have attracted writers, painters and playwrights. They have been the subject of hundreds of movies and TV productions, most recently Showtime's popular series, The Borgias.“It's easy to understand why: sex, blood, poison, power,"" Dal Bello said. "This is already fiction material."
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 29 weeks 3 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Exactly 500 years ago, on Oct. 31, 1512, Pope Julius II led an evening prayer service to inaugurate the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's newly-finished vault frescoes.But as Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance masterpiece, the Vatican said the growing number of tourists who visit the historic site every year might eventually lead to limiting access to the chapel to help preserve the frescoes from human-born problems and pollutants.“We could limit access, introducing a maximum number of entries,” wrote Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semi-official newspaper. “We will do this, if the pressure from tourism were to increase beyond a reasonable level and if we were to fail in resolving the problem efficiently.”Paolucci stressed, however, that in his opinion such measures will not be necessary “in the short to medium term.”
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 32 weeks 4 days ago
VATICAN CITY — Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council revolutionized life inside the Roman Catholic Church, hundreds of bishops from around the world are gathered in Rome to confront an external threat: a mounting tide of secularization.The Synod of Bishops on “New Evangelization” brings together 262 top church leaders for a three-week summit at the Vatican, joined by lay experts and representatives of other Christian groups.In a wide-ranging speech aimed at setting the tone for the bishops' discussion, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl called on Christians to “overcome the syndrome of embarrassment” about their faith with a more assertive offense against the “tsunami of secular influence” that is sweeping away “marriage, family, the concept of the common good and objective right and wrong.”Wuerl has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the “relator general” of the synod, with the key task of summing up the main points of the bishops' discussions.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 33 weeks 6 days ago
The Vatican's newspaper has declared the controversial “Jesus wife” papyrus fragment “a fake."L'Osservatore Romano on Friday (Sept. 28) devoted two articles to Harvard professor Karen King's claim that a 4th century Coptic papyrus fragment showed that some early Christians believed that Jesus was married.The announcement of the discovery on Sept. 18 made headlines worldwide but was met with skepticism by scholars who questioned the authenticity of the fragment.In the Vatican daily, a detailed and critical analysis of King's research by leading Coptic scholar Alberto Camplani is accompanied by a punchy column by the newspaper’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, who is a historian of early Christianity.Vian writes that there are “considerable reasons” to think that the fragment is nothing more than a “clumsy fake.” Moreover, according to Vian, King's interpretation of its content is “wholly implausible” and bends the facts to suit “a contemporary ideology which has nothing to do with ancient Christian history, or with the figure of Jesus”.“At any rate, it's a fake,” he concludes.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 34 weeks 1 day ago
Pope Benedict XVI has reportedly told the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) that they must accept the Second Vatican Council, a move that might seal the fate of years of negotiations to bring the group fully back into the Catholic fold.The Italian religion news portal Vatican Insider reported on Sept. 27 that SSPX Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais revealed at a conference in France on Sept. 16 that Benedict wrote a letter “with his own hand” to the group's superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay.According to Tissier de Mallerais, Benedict stated in the June 30 letter that the SSPX, “in order to be truly reintegrated into the Church,” must “truly accept the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar Magisterium.”Vatican sources confirmed the report's accuracy.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 34 weeks 1 day ago
The Vatican's most sensational trial since the end of the Inquisition might end fairly quickly — and with a surprisingly light sentence.Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict's former personal butler, goes to trial on Sept. 29 for stealing the pontiff's private papers and leaking them to the press. His crime proved a global embarrassment for the Vatican, revealing infighting and allegations of corruption among the secretive top echelons of the Catholic Church.But, according to professor Giovanni Giacobbe, a Vatican prosecutor, a conviction carries a maximum jail term of only four years in the lenient legal system of the world's smallest state.Gabriele was arrested by Vatican police on May 23, and will be tried for “aggravated theft” together with Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer technician at the Vatican's Secretariat of State who has been charged with aiding and abetting Gabriele.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 34 weeks 2 days ago
Just one week after Pope Benedict XVI ended his successful visit to Lebanon, the country's most senior Catholic leader called for a United Nations resolution “that will ban denigrating religions.”Meanwhile in Pakistan, the country's only Catholic cabinet member, Minister of Harmony Paul Bhatti, this week told an interfaith gathering in Lahore that he will press U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to pass a UN resolution that condemns "defamation and contempt against religions." Bhatti said "we must not allow anyone to break our harmony" between Christians and Muslims.Both moves are understandable in light of increasingly popular efforts in predominantly Muslim countries to outlaw blasphemy or defaming religion. But they could prove problematic for the Vatican as it fights to protect the rights of Christian minorities around the world.The debate suggests a widening gap between the Vatican's official position, which opposes such measures, and the day-to-day reality of Catholic leaders on the ground, who often feel compelled to support Muslim efforts to protect religious tenets and religious figures from defamation.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 35 weeks 5 days ago
BEIRUT — As violent protests against an anti-Islam film spread to much of the Muslim world on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Lebanon to a warm welcome from Christian and Muslim leaders.The pontiff's appeal for peace and reconciliation in the region, however, stood in jarring contrast with violent clashes in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, which left one dead and 25 injured. Landing at Beirut's airport in the early afternoon, Benedict praised Lebanon as an example of "coexistence and respectful dialogue between Christians and their brethren of other religions." Without referring expressly to the unrest, the pope warned that the country's "equilibrium" is "extremely delicate."
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 36 weeks 2 days ago
The Vatican confirmed on Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon will go ahead as planned, despite growing tension in the region after the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya by a mob enraged by an anti-Islam film.The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican was closely monitoring developments in the region but there were no signs of specific security concerns for Benedict's trip so far.Benedict is scheduled to leave Friday for a three-day visit to Lebanon despite rising instability spilling over from a deadly civil war in neighboring Syr
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 41 weeks 3 days ago
ROME — Even in the heartland of global Catholicism, a life-size Madonna on a street wall is an uncommon sight — especially if you leave the cobblestone alleyways of the historic center for the drab concrete of the city's former industrial districts.But bringing sacred art back to Rome's run-down streets is exactly what a street artist known as Mr. Klevra has set out to do.Mr. Klevra, a 34-year old Italian artist and a committed Catholic, paints Madonnas and other saints on thin paper posters and then glues them onto walls under the cover of darkness."I love the adrenaline of putting up the paintings while hiding from the police," he said. "I love the randomness of having your art torn down after five minutes or see it stay in its place for years and years.''Mr. Klevra is his artist's name — like many street artists, he doesn't give out his real name, and prefers to keep his identity secret, even shielding his face from cameras.In his paintings, he combines the millennia-old techniques of Eastern Orthodox iconography with modern tools such as spray paint and Uni Posca pens. Pop culture references sometimes find their way into his work, such as a Madonna with the motto "Only after disaster can we be resurrected,'' a line from American author Chuck Palahniuk's novel, Fight Club.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 47 weeks 1 day ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday recognized Archbishop Fulton Sheen's "heroic virtues," moving the popular radio and TV evangelist one step closer to sainthood.Sheen is now "venerable" in the Roman Catholic Church and, if the Vatican recognizes that a miracle has been operated through his intercession, he would be declared "blessed," the last step before sainthood.