pope benedict xvi

Pope Kicks Off Reform Mission in Meeting with Vatican Department Heads

Pope Francis met for three hours with the heads of all Vatican departments on Tuesday, Sept. 10, signaling his desire to introduce more collaboration and transparency in the traditionally secretive and top-heavy governance style of the Catholic Church.

About 30 people attended, including the heads of the Vatican’s eight congregations and 12 councils, as well as top officials from the church’s tribunals and from the administration of Vatican state.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s outgoing secretary of state, also participated, in one of his last official engagements before his successor, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, takes over on Oct. 15.

Benedict XVI: ‘God Told Me’ to Resign

Pope Benedict XVI leaves Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican Dec. 24. Photo via RN

Pope Benedict XVI leaves Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican Dec. 24. Photo via RNS.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy because “God told me” to, according to a report by a Catholic news agency.

The Zenit news agency reported on Monday that Benedict decided to step back as a result of what he described as a “mystical experience” that shouldn’t be confused with a vision.

That experience sparked an “absolute desire” to dedicate his life exclusively to prayer, in a solitary relationship with God, Benedict reportedly said.

U.S. Nuns Strike a Positive Note on Vatican Investigation

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, LCWR’s apostolic delegate, is seen at the g

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, LCWR’s apostolic delegate, is seen at the group’s annual assembly Aug. 13. Photo via RNS.

U.S. Catholic nuns — accused by Rome of “radical feminism” for advocating social justice at the expense of issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and euthanasia — responded to a Vatican knuckle rapping with a brief, conciliatory statement on Monday.

After its four-day annual assembly, the board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 80 percent of the nation’s 57,000 sisters, emphasized the positive, and remained tight-lipped about negotiations to resolve the investigation.

Study Shows Minorities Most Likely to Favor Longer Lives

Chart from Pew Research Center's “Living to 120 and Beyond." Photo via RNS.

Chart from Pew Research Center's “Living to 120 and Beyond." Photo via RNS.

Noah’s grandfather Methuselah lived to the ripe old age of 969 and Moses reached 120, but most Americans would be happy to make it into their 90s, according to a new study.

Black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics are the most likely religious groups to say “radical life extension” — living to age 120 or more — would be good for society, according to a new Pew Research Center study, “Living to 120 and Beyond,” released Tuesday.

The speculative “Living to 120 and Beyond” survey comes against the backdrop of U.S. Census Bureau projections that suggest by 2050, one in five Americans will be 65 or older, and more than 400,000 will be 100 or older.

Pope Francis Says He Won’t Judge Gay Priests

Pope Francis announced Monday in an airborne news conference that he’s ‘not one to judge’ the sexual orientation of Catholic priests. On his journey home from Brazil, Pope Francis declared open-mindedness by sharing his support on behalf of the gay community. The Washington Post reports:

 “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis asked.

Read more here.

 

Pope Francis: Christianity is Incompatible with Anti-Semitism

Photo courtesy RNS.

Pope Francis waves from the popemobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Photo courtesy RNS.

In his first official meeting with a Jewish delegation, Pope Francis on Monday reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s condemnation of anti-Semitism and vowed to further deepen Catholic-Jewish relations.

“Due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!” he told a delegation of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, the Vatican’s official partner for interfaith dialogue with the world’s Jews.

In his speech, Francis stated that the church condemns “hate, persecution, and all manifestations of antisemitism.”

Benedict and Francis: How Much Difference is There?

Photo courtesy RNS/CatholicVote.org.

A meme comparing Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. Photo courtesy RNS/CatholicVote.org.

As a millennia-old institution, the Vatican is accustomed to change at a glacial pace. But in the eyes of many outside the church — and even of some within it — the arrival of Pope Francis on the throne of St. Peter seems to have started nothing short of a revolution.

Even Francis himself, in his speech to Rome’s diocese on Monday, said that Christians not only can, but should, be “revolutionaries.”

Now, 100 days into his pontificate, a debate is brewing in Rome over whether Francis has set a distinctly different course from his predecessor, or whether the visible differences in style and personality between Francis and Benedict XVI mask a deeper theological and ideological continuity.

International Criminal Court Dismisses Abuse Claims Against the Vatican

 Photo Courtesy RNS.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests president Barbara Blaine is asked to leave St. Peter’s square. Photo Courtesy RNS.

A campaign to hold former Pope Benedict XVI responsible for crimes against humanity floundered on Thursday as the International Criminal Court in The Hague threw out a case filed by victims of clergy sex abuse.

The case had been presented in September 2011 by SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, accusing the pope and other senior Vatican officials of failing to stop abusive priests.

According to a SNAP statement, the court’s prosecutor’s office said on May 31 that the file presented against leaders of the Roman Catholic Church does not meet the “preconditions of the court” and thus “do not appear to fall within the (court’s) jurisdiction.”

5 Things We've Learned From Pope Francis' First 100 Days

Photo courtesy RNS.

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter’s Square. Photo courtesy RNS.

When Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world in February in becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years, he left behind a Roman Catholic Church weakened by scandals, beset by infighting and suffering from a general sense of isolation from the modern world.

Three months after the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis, much of the gloom seems to have lifted.

St. Peter’s Square is again a magnet for legions of pilgrims, and the communications problems that dogged Benedict’s papacy have receded. Francis’ simpler, direct style, together with his focus on the poor and the marginalized, has captivated the world.

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury to Meet for the First Time

Photo Courtesy RNS.

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Photo Courtesy RNS.

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will meet in Rome on Friday for the first time since the two men took office in March.

Francis was inaugurated as the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics on March 19, while Welby officially took over as Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion on March 21.

Some hope the meeting could put Anglican-Catholic relations on a firmer footing.

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