pope benedict xvi

Christian Piatt 04-20-2012
Catholic nun photo, Elena Ray/Shutterstock.com

Catholic nun photo, Elena Ray/Shutterstock.com

It’s not exactly headline-worthy news that many Catholics actually hold personal beliefs that don’t line up with church doctrine. It does get a little more interesting, however, when an umbrella group for 57,000 American nuns is called to the carpet for straying from Church teaching.

Reportedly, the nuns are promoting ideas on issues like abortion and homosexuality, among others in their programs that the Church condemns.

The ladies in black and white have gotten into some hot water with the Vatican, whose representatives claim the nuns are practicing “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

Annalisa Musarra 04-20-2012
L'Osservatore Romano Vatican-Pool/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI meets with former Cuban President Fidel Castro llast month. L'Osservatore Romano Vatican-Pool/Getty Images

Following Pope Benedict XVI's recent trip to Cuba, U.S. Catholic bishops are pushing the State Department to lift the 50-year Cuban embargo in order to improve religious liberty and human rights for the Cuban people. 

In a Tuesday (April 17) letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, the chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, pressed the Obama administration to pursue “purposeful engagement rather than ineffective isolation” with Havana.

VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims in St. Peter's square on April 18. VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

As Pope Benedict XVI marked his seventh anniversary as pope on Thursday (April 19), many Catholics were wondering if the pontiff is finally becoming the papal enforcer that some feared – and others hoped – he would be when he was elected to lead the church in 2005.

The questions were prompted by this week’s announcement that Benedict had signed off on a crackdown on the organization representing most of the 57,000 nuns in the United States, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination.

But does this latest move indicate that the man once known as the Grand Inquisitor is returning to form, or that a new wave of dissent is emerging?

Alessandro Speciale 04-18-2012

A senior Vatican official on Tuesday (April 17) called for stronger protection for conscientious objection for both the Catholic Church and individual Catholics when they are faced with laws that conflict with their “moral norms.”

Speaking at Italy's Catholic University in Milan, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, former governor of the Vatican City State, waded into the fight between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Obama administration over mandatory insurance coverage for contraception, saying the mandate raises "serious problems of conscience” for Catholic institutions and citizens.

Alessandro Speciale 04-16-2012
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Regina Coeli prayer on April 15. ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI turned 85 on Monday (April 16) amid renewed speculation about his declining health and possible resignation.

The German-born pope has appeared tired and fatigued in recent months and admitted at a morning Mass to being in “the final leg of the path of my life." But on Sunday, he signaled his resolve to carry on with his duties as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, asking the faithful to pray that he have the “strength” to “fulfill his mission.”

This week will mark a double milestone for Benedict, with Thursday being the seventh anniversary of his election as pope.

Alessandro Speciale 04-02-2012
Franco Origlia/Getty Images

The Colosseum during the Way Of The Cross procession presided by Pope Benedict XVI Good Friday 2010. Franco Origlia/Getty Images

An elderly married couple asked by Pope Benedict XVI to write the texts for the traditional Stations of the Cross procession on Good Friday (April 6) at the Colosseum in Rome has chosen to tackle family problems such as marital infidelity and divorce.

Danilo Zanzucchi, 92, and his wife, Anna Maria, 83, who have been married for nearly 60 years and have five children, are the founders of the “New Families” group, an offshoot of Focolare, a Catholic movement.

Alessandro Speciale 03-28-2012
JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI waves after celebrating a mass at Revolution Square in Havana on March 28. JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI ended his three-day visit to Cuba on Wednesday (March 28) with an appeal for more religious freedom for the Catholic Church, ahead of a highly anticipated meeting with the island's historic leader, Fidel Castro.

And while he stopped short of openly criticizing the island's communist regime during the trip, Benedict nonetheless said Cuba needed "change" and a "renewed and open society."

The pope celebrated Mass on Wednesday in Havana's Revolution Square for about 300,000 people, according to the Vatican's top spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

Cuban President Raul Castro was in attendance and joined in the crowd's applause when the pope entered the stage.

Duane Shank 03-27-2012
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana on Tuesday. ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI’s 3-day visit to Cuba began Monday, when President Raul Castro greeted the pontiff at the airport of Santiago de Cuba. The arrival was fairly quiet, but the evening Mass in Santiago’s plaza was attended by an estimated 200,000 Cubans. The pope's long-awaited visit attracted news coverage from around the world, mostly focusing in the pope’s message. 

Alessandro Speciale 03-27-2012
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI greets Cuban President Raul Castro in Revolution Square on March 26. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

VATICAN CITY--Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Monday (March 26), renewing the Catholic Church's pledge to "work tirelessly to better serve all Cubans" as the island strives to "renew and broaden its horizons."

Benedict landed in Santiago de Cuba, east of Havana, arriving from Mexico for the second leg of his weeklong visit to Latin America. President Raul Castro came to personally greet the German pope before Benedict was scheduled to celebrate Mass in the city's Revolution Square.

In his speech during the airport welcome ceremony, Benedict said he carried with him "the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans," including those of "prisoners and their families."

Duane Shank 03-27-2012

Quote of the day.
"We still give food to people even when they say they don't want to pray." Paul Brock, founder of the non-profit Community Provisions of Jackson County, IN, which had its emergency food assistance from the federal government suspended due to volunteers asking recipients if they would like to pray.
(USA Today)

1. Pope Benedict arrives in Cuba in footsteps of John Paul.
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Monday in the footsteps of his more famous predecessor, gently pressing the island’s longtime communist leaders to push through “legitimate” reforms their people desire, while also criticizing the excesses of capitalism.
(AP/Chicago Sun-Times)

2. Santorum fails to capture Catholic vote.
Mr. Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, has trailed Mr. Romney among Catholics in 10 of the 12 states in which Edison Research conducted exit polls that asked about religion.
(New York Times)

3. Supreme Court begins review of health-care law.
The Supreme Court opened its historic review of the national health-care overhaul Monday with an indication that it will be able to decide the constitutional question of whether Congress exceeded its powers despite arguments that the challenge was brought too soon.
(Washington Post)

4. Five Supreme Court takeaways.
The first of three days of arguments dealt only with a highly technical piece of the health care law, but it provided some clues about how the rest of the week’s arguments might go. Among the Day One takeaways:
(Politico)


5. Poll finds support in U.S. for Afghan war drops sharply.
The survey found that more than two-thirds of those polled — 69 percent — thought that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. Just four months ago, 53 percent said that Americans should no longer be fighting in the conflict, more than a decade old.
(New York Times)

6. Leaders warn over nuclear threat.
World leaders call for closer co-operation to tackle the threat of nuclear terrorism at a summit on nuclear security in Seoul.
(BBC)

7. Annan says Syria accepts peace plan, fighting enters Lebanon.
Syria has accepted a ceasefire and peace plan drawn up by U.N. and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, his spokesman said on Tuesday, even as Syrian troops thrust into Lebanon to battle rebels who had taken refuge there.
(Reuters)

8. U.S., Australia to broaden military ties.
The United States and Australia are planning a major expansion of military ties, including possible drone flights from a coral atoll in the Indian Ocean and increased U.S. naval access to Australian ports, as the Pentagon looks to shift its forces closer to Southeast Asia,
(Washington Post)

9. Arab spring leads to wave of Middle East state executions.
Middle Eastern countries have stepped up their use of capital punishment, executing hundreds of people as rulers across the region seek to deter the wave of uprisings sweeping the Arab countries.
(Guardian)

10. Oil clashes along Sudan borders.
Clashes break out in oil-rich border areas between Sudan and South Sudan in what is described as the biggest confrontation since the South's independence last July.
(BBC)

David Agren 03-22-2012
Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, Bill Perry, Shutterstock.com

Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, Bill Perry, Shutterstock.com

SILAO, Mexico--Pilgrims ply a winding mountain to the summit of the Cerro del Cubilete in the western state of Guanajuato, visiting a statue of "Christ the King" erected as an act of defiance during a period of church-state conflict.

The Cristo Rey, as it is known, stands as a reminder of the Roman Catholic rebels who fought forces of an anti-clerical central government during the Cristero Rebellion of the 1920s, when churches and seminaries were shut down and the Catholic Church lost its legal standing and the right to own property.

The statue towers over a park where Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass for 300,000 Catholics on Sunday (March 25).

"It offers a great platform for the vindication of the church in its confrontations with the state," said Victor Ramos Cortes, a religion expert at the University of Guadalajara. "The symbolism is perfect."

RNS photo courtesy House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

Lori testifies on contraception mandate. RNS photo courtesy House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

 

BRIDGEPORT, Conn.--If there is any Catholic bishop in the U.S. who probably didn't need a bigger platform, it would be William E. Lori, who was named Tuesday (March 20) by Pope Benedict XVI as the next archbishop of Baltimore.
 
For the past decade, Lori has led the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut's Fairfield County, but in recent months he's become the public face of the hierarchy's new signature issue: the fight for "religious freedom."
 
In political terms, Lori has been tasked with coordinating the bishops' opposition to the White House's birth control mandate as well as opposing gay marriage and a host of other hot-button controversies.
 
Last September, Lori was tapped to lead the bishops' new Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty in order to sharpen the bishops' message and raise their profile after years of playing defense in the clergy sexual abuse scandals.
 
In recent months, Lori has testified in Congress three times, and the bishops' fight with the White House has dominated the headlines and even seeped into the 2012 presidential race.
Alessandro Speciale 03-19-2012
Cathedral of San Cristobal, Pedro Salaverría, Shutterstock.com

Cathedral of San Cristobal, Pedro Salaverría, Shutterstock.com

VATICAN CITY--Two weeks before Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to touch down in Cuba, a small group of protesters occupied a church in central Havana, asking that a message with their requests be delivered directly to the pope.

Their action was swiftly condemned by church authorities as "illegitimate and irresponsible." The group remained in the church for two days, and only left Thursday (March 15) after being assured by a top church leader that they could return home without police interference.

The episode illustrates the challenges that Benedict will find in Cuba during a March 23-29 trip that will also include a stop in Mexico. But it also highlights the good relationship that the Catholic Church has built in recent years with the island's communist regime.

The trip will be the pontiff's second visit to Latin America, which is home to almost half of the world's Catholics. Benedict visited Brazil in 2007.

During his trip, the pope will meet political leaders from both countries and, according to the Vatican's top spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, he might even have a brief encounter with longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, though it is not on the official agenda yet.

Michael O'Malley 03-16-2012
Cleveland church photo, Jennifer Stone, Shutterstock.com

Cleveland church photo, Jennifer Stone, Shutterstock.com

Bishop Richard Lennon on Wednesday (March 14) received the official Vatican decrees that overturn his closings of 13 Catholic parishes, the diocese said, kicking off a 60-day period for him to decide whether to appeal.

"The process to review these rulings will now be undertaken with my advisers," the bishop wrote in a three-sentence statement posted on the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland's website.

The 13 churches -- out of 50 closed between 2009 and 2010 in a diocesewide downsizing -- had appealed to the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, arguing they were self-sustaining communities that shouldn't be closed.

Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Alan Gross' wife Judy Gross and daughter Nina Gross. Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

WASHINGTON--Pope Benedict XVI will use his upcoming trip to Cuba to press for the release of Alan Gross, a Jewish man who has languished in a Cuban jail for more than two years, according to Gross' supporters.

That's the latest Ronald Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, said he has heard through Vatican back channels.

In recent weeks, the council has circulated a petition asking the pope to intercede on Gross' behalf when he visits the island on March 26-28.

"He represents humanitarianism and cherished values, and hopefully his presence could help lead to Alan Gross' release," Halber said.

Alessandro Speciale 03-08-2012
Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI waves from his papamobile, arriving for his weekly audience on March 7. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY — Despite differences over women's ordination and a controversial Vatican initiative to woo back disgruntled Anglicans, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will pray together in Rome on Saturday (March 10).

The heads of the Roman Catholic Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion will celebrate vespers to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the Camaldoli monastery in Italy, which is revered by both Catholics and Anglicans.

Benedict and Williams are scheduled to have a private meeting on Saturday morning.

Alessandro Speciale 03-08-2012
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican | Honza Hruby, Shutterstock.com

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican | Honza Hruby, Shutterstock.com

VATICAN CITY — The secretive hackers group Anonymous targeted the Vatican website on Wednesday (March 7), cutting off access from users for several hours and disabling internal mail servers.

In a statement posted on several blogs in Italian, the group said the attack was a response to the Catholic Church's "doctrines," its "absurd and anachronistic precepts," and the "crimes" of the sexual abuse scandal and cover-up.

The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the attack against the Vatican website came from Anonymous. He said Vatican technicians were "actively working to restore the website's functionality."

Alessandro Speciale 02-04-2012

VATICAN CITY — Ten years after the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in the United States, Catholic bishops from all over the world will meet next week at a Vatican summit aimed at preventing abuse and protecting children.

The conference, "Towards Healing and Renewal," will be held on Feb. 6-9 and is organized by the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome.

The Vatican's top spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told reporters on Friday (Feb. 3) that the summit enjoys the "full support and participation" of the Vatican's highest offices, but Pope Benedict XVI is not expected to attend.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's chief abuse prosecutor, said the protection of children must become "a permanent principle and concern" in every decision of the church.

"There cannot be a distinction between the good of the church and the protection of youth," he said Friday.

Duane Shank 01-26-2012
Pope Benedict XVI's profile picture from his Twitter account @PopeBenedictXVI

Pope Benedict XVI's profile picture from his Twitter account @PopeBenedictXVI

In his message for the 2012 celebration of World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI praised the benefits of social media, while also cautioning against its dangers.

the Web Editors 12-14-2011
Osama bin Laden in 1997. Image via Wiki Commons http://bit.ly/pJ0ufx

Osama bin Laden in 1997. Image via Wiki Commons http://bit.ly/pJ0ufx

Each year, members of the Religion Newswriters Association, the world’s premier association dedicated to helping journalists write about religion, vote on what they believe are the top religion stories of the year. 

This year, more than 300 religion journalists cast their ballots in an online survey conducted Dec. 10-13, choosing the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2 in a covert operation in Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA operatives ordered by President Barack Obama as the top story of 2011.

See the complete list of RNA's top religion stories of the year inside.

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