pope benedict xvi

Expectations High for Summit between Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin. RNS, courtesy Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons

Next week’s summit between Pope Francis and Russian President Vladmir Putin may be the most important meeting between a pontiff and a visiting head of state in nearly a quarter of a century, with war-torn Syria expected to be the top priority.

Francis has met with more than a dozen heads of state or government as pontiff, and Putin has met with both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II. But this meeting stands out.

It’s been just four years since full diplomatic ties were re-established between Russia and the Holy See, set against a backdrop of centuries of tension between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Vatican to Display Bones of St. Peter for First Time

A statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. RNS photo by David Gibson

The Vatican said it would display for the first time bones believed to be the mortal remains of St. Peter, the leader of Jesus’ 12 apostles, to mark the end of the Year of Faith on Nov. 24.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, wrote in Monday’s editions of L’Osservatore Romano, that the Catholic faithful making a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb to mark the end of the Year of Faith will enjoy “the exposition … of the relics traditionally recognized as those of the apostle who gave his life for the Lord on this spot.”

Fisichella was referring to the long-held belief that Peter was crucified upside down and died in either A.D. 64 or 67 on the spot now marked by the Clementine Chapel inside the basilica that bears his name.

Report Says U.S. Tapped Cardinals’ Phones Ahead of Conclave

Cardinals attend Mass at St. Peter’s before the conclave on March 12, 2013. Via RNS/Courtesy BostonCatholic via Flickr.

The National Security Agency spied on cardinals as they prepared to select the new pope — perhaps including even Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who emerged from last spring’s conclave as Pope Francis, a leading Italian news magazine reported in Wednesday’s editions.

The news magazine Panorama said the same NSA eavesdropping program that angered leaders in Germany, France, Spain, and Mexico also listened in on calls to and from the Vatican, including the phones in the Santa Marta guesthouse that housed Bergoglio and the rest of the College of Cardinals.

Pope Francis still lives in the guesthouse, but the magazine did not speculate whether the phones there were still tapped.

Pope Francis Breathes New Life into Cardinal Bernardin’s Contested Legacy

Pope John Paul II elevated Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago to cardinal in a Feb. 2, 1983 consistory. RNS file photo

The election of Pope Francis in March heralded a season of surprises for the Catholic Church, but perhaps none so unexpected – and unsettling for conservatives – as the re-emergence of the late Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin as a model for the American Catholic future.

While there is no indication that Francis knows the writings of Bernardin, who died in 1996, many say the pope’s remarks repeatedly evoke Bernardin’s signature teachings on the “consistent ethic of life” – the view that church doctrine champions the poor and vulnerable from womb to tomb – and on finding “common ground” to heal divisions in the church.

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.”

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