pope benedict xvi

Rebel Nuns: When the Faithful Stop Obeying

St. Peter's Cathedral, Rome, Italy. Photo by Grant Faint / Getty Images
St. Peter's Cathedral, Rome, Italy. Photo by Grant Faint / Getty Images

It seems the Sisters of North America are calling the Vatican out. When criticized by Vatican officials for taking a position too far left of center on a number of social issues, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious responded by calling the Vatican’s criticisms unsubstantiated and flawed.

But the rhetoric didn’t stay at the topical level. LCWR president Theresa Kane said (according to a Huffington Post report), "It is a matter of the men in the Vatican still thinking they can control the women. ... They don’t realize that we have moved to another whole point of tremendous equality and mutuality. And that we have much to say about our future and what’s going on.”

The Catholic Church, and the Pope in particular, embrace a number of socially redeeming virtues; equality and mutuality between the genders are not two of them.

What’s at Stake in Pope Benedict XVI’s Visit to Philadelphia

Pope Benedict XVI photo by Natursports / Shutterstock.com
Pope Benedict XVI photo by Natursports / Shutterstock.com

Nearly lost amid ongoing reports about the Vatican leaks scandal, Rome’s battle with American nuns, the American bishops’ battle for religious freedom, and the priest on trial in Philadelphia, was the news that, by the way, Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit Philadelphia.

Benedict made the announcement at the end of his visit to Milan on June 3 for the church’s triennial World Meeting of Families. The next meeting would be in Philadelphia in 2015, he said, and he planned to be there, “God willing.”

True, the trip won’t happen until 2015, and it may well not happen at all — Benedict would be 88 by then. Even if there's a new pope in 2015, the City of Brotherly Love is still almost assured of getting a papal visit — new popes like to underscore continuity, and respect the plans their predecessors had in place.

In a larger sense, the visit would be about more than promoting family life, and in many ways it's related to other Catholic issues now dominating the headlines. Here’s why.

Vatican ‘Moles’ Say Pope’s Butler Didn’t Act Alone, Vow More Leaks

Despite the arrest of Pope Benedict XVI's butler two weeks ago, leaks of confidential documents continue to dribble out of the Vatican as “moles” vow to continue their action until the pope's two closest aides are sacked.

The Italian daily La Repubblica on June 3 published a short handwritten note by Pope Benedict himself that was leaked from the Vatican. La Repubblica also said it had received two letters by the pope's personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, but chose not to publish their contents.

Vatican Official Calls Leaked Documents an ‘Immoral,' ‘Brutal’ Attack

Martin Ezequiel Gardeazabal / Shutterstock.com
Pope Benedict XVI last May in St. Peter's Square. Photo by Martin Ezequiel Gardeazabal / Shutterstock.com

The Vatican's No. 3 official on Tuesday (May 29) condemned the theft and publication of secret papal documents as an “immoral act of unheard-of gravity.”

In an interview published on the front page of L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy See's semiofficial newspaper, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who is the deputy to Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, also described the publication of an unprecedented number of leaked Vatican documents in recent months as a “brutal” attack against Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI Gives Direction to U.S. bishops on Hot-Button Issues

Photo by Martin Ezequiel Gardeazabal / Shutterstock.com
Pope Benedict XVI last May in St. Peter's Square. Photo by Martin Ezequiel Gardeazabal / Shutterstock.com

Over the course of the last six months, Pope Benedict XVI delivered five major speeches to small groups of American bishops who were in Rome for their "ad limina" visits, which are required once every five years.

The ad limina visits are the way the pope and and Vatican departments keep tabs on bishops from around the world. They are also an occasion for the pope to address the major issues faced by a local church.

In his speeches, Benedict often echoed bishops' concern about religious freedom and the challenges confronting the American church. In his last address, on May 22, he warned bishops of the “threat of a season in which our fidelity to the Gospel may cost us dearly.”

Vatican Settles with Benetton Over Pope-Kissing Ad

The Vatican announced on Tuesday (May 15) it had settled a lawsuit against Italian clothing group Benetton for using an image of Pope Benedict XVI in one of its advertisement campaigns.

The image had been modified to show Benedict kissing Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed El-Tayeb, imam of Cairo's renowned al-Azhar Mosque.

The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the image was "offensive" and stressed that the Benetton group had agreed to remove the pope's images from its campaign, and to ask third parties to do the same.

Pope Finds Kindred Spirit in German ‘Feminist’ Saint

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
German composer and abbess of St Rupert's Mount, Hildegard von Bingen. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Here are two things that don't typically go together: Pope Benedict XVI and feminist culture.

Yet they both share a veneration for Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th-century German nun who was the first woman to be officially recognized as a “prophetess” by the Roman Catholic Church.

On Thursday (May 10), Benedict ordered Hildegard, who died in 1179, to be inscribed “in the catalogue of saints,” thus extending her cult “to the universal church.”

Pope Wants Catholic Colleges to Ensure Faculty is Faithful to Church Doctrine

Fordham University. Image via Wiki Commons/ http://bit.ly/JlQ9Nt
Fordham University. Image via Wiki Commons/ http://bit.ly/JlQ9Nt

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday (May 5) called on Catholic colleges and universities in the United States to do more to affirm their "Catholic identity," particularly by ensuring the doctrinal orthodoxy of their faculty and staff.

Speaking to a group of bishops from Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming, who are in Rome on a regularly scheduled visit, Benedict said there has been a "growing recognition" on the part of Catholic colleges of the need to "reaffirm their distinctive identity."

But "much remains to be done," the pope said, singling out the church law requirement that Catholic theology teachers "have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority," usually the local bishop.

What To Do About “Radical Feminist Nuns”

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.”

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