Rosie Scammell is a British journalist with extensive experience reporting for leading international news organizations. She has been based in Italy since 2012 and covers the Vatican for RNS.
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Vatican Looks to Reform Its Media Operations, Add Multimedia
The Vatican is dragging its media machine into the 21st century, promising to promote social media and streamline its fragmented services with the help of a former BBC executive.
Lord Christopher Patten, former chairman of the BBC Trust, on May 27 outlined reform plans nearly a year after being appointed chief of the pope’s media committee.
Addressing journalists at St. Patrick’s church in central London, Patten highlighted “wasteful” duplications of media services at the Vatican and said modernization was imperative.
Pope Francis Urges Couples to ‘Work on Love’ and Take Their Engagement Seriously
The wedding season is in full swing, and Pope Francis used the occasion on May 27 to warn couples not to marry too quickly, while also reaffirming the Vatican’s opposition to gay nuptials.
Addressing crowds of followers at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff urged couples to take their engagement seriously.
“Betrothal is, in other words, the time in which two people are called to work on love, a shared and profound task,” he said.
Australians Push for Vatican Cardinal to Testify on Abuse
More than 55,000 people have signed a petition calling for Cardinal George Pell to return to his native Australia and face a government commission on child sex abuse, after allegations that he tried to bribe the victim of a pedophile priest.
Addressed to Pope Francis, the Change.org petition calls for Pell — the Vatican’s financial chief and former archbishop of Sydney — to answer questions from Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle Boosts His Profile Again with Charity Post
Caritas Internationalis, the global Catholic charitable organization, has elected Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as its new president, just months after the up-and-coming prelate welcomed Pope Francis to the Philippines.
Tagle, sometimes dubbed “the Asian Francis,” was elected on May 14 by delegates attending Caritas’ general assembly in Rome. He is the first Asian president of the organization and takes over from Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, another Francis confidant, who served two terms as Caritas chief.
Italians Help Flood of Refugees in Pope Francis' Vision of a 'Church for the Poor'
Sitting outside the central train station here in eastern Sicily, a 16-year-old who would only give his name as “Simon” hunched his knees up to his chest and wrapped himself up into a ball. With little spoken English, the teenager from Eritrea has taken to miming the way he traveled across the Mediterranean.
He was one of around 325 migrants crammed into an overcrowded boat that left Libya earlier this month, only to lose power a few hours into the journey.
New Palestinian Saints Highlight Region’s Beleaguered Christians
Pope Francis will bestow sainthood on two Palestinian nuns on May 17, a move that’s being seen as giving hope to the conflict-wracked Middle East and shining the spotlight on the plight of Christians in the region.
Sisters Maria Baouardy and Mary Alphonsine Danil Ghattas are due to be canonized by the pontiff along with two other 19th-century nuns, Sister Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve, from France, and Italian Sister Maria Cristina dell’Immacolata.
The coming canonizations have been described by the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, as a “sign of hope” for the region.
Vatican Blasts Muhammad Cartoons as Pouring ‘Gasoline on the Fire’
The Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper blasted a series of cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as “blasphemous” but also condemned the “mad and bloodthirsty” extremists who opened fire at a Texas exhibit of the cartoons.
The front page article in L’Osservatore Romano likened the exhibit in Garland, Texas, to pouring “gasoline on the fire” of religious sensitivities and was critical of its sponsors, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and professional provocateur Pamela Geller.
Vatican Drops Image of Bound Woman after Complaints
Following complaints, the Vatican’s cultural office has removed an image of a naked female torso bound in ropes that was used to advertise a women’s conference.
The Pontifical Council for Culture had chosen a photograph of the 1936 “Venus Restored” sculpture, by the late American artist Man Ray, as befitting for its Feb. 4-7 conference titled “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference.”
But the choice of a sculpture bound in ropes to discuss women’s emancipation was deemed inappropriate in some quarters. The Pontifical Council’s president, Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, initially defended the choice. Ravasi was seen as a contender going into the conclave that elected Pope Francis two years ago.
“Cardinal Ravasi has chosen not to remove the image as it speaks clearly for one of the central points of the document: many women, alas, are still struggling for freedom (bound with rope), their voices and intellect often unheard (headless), their actions unappreciated (limbless),” according to a statement that appeared alongside the controversial image.
Vatican Knew about Theft of Michelangelo Letters, Refused Ransom Demand
The Vatican on March 9 said it has received a ransom demand to recover letters signed by Michelangelo, stolen from the Holy See nearly 20 years ago.
Two letters signed by Michelangelo, one written in its entirety by the Renaissance artist, were stolen from the Vatican’s Fabbrica di San Pietro archive in 1997.
The thefts were kept secret until Sunday, when the Italian daily Il Messaggero revealed that the documents had been put up for ransom.
Responding to the news on Monday, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said a nun had long since reported the theft.
“More recently Cardinal Comastri, the actual president (of the archive), received a proposal to recover, at a certain price, such documents,” Lombardi told Vatican Radio.