On Monday, Oct. 31, in Sweden, Pope Francis will take part in an ecumenical service commemorating the beginning of the Protestant Reformation’s 500th year.
It is stunning to think the start of this momentous anniversary features a visit from the Roman pope.
And it raises a question: Does the Reformation still matter?
In 2013, Francis provoked an outcry from economic conservatives with the release of his apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel),” which was widely seen as his personal manifesto. In it, Francis said the world could no longer trust “the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market,” and called for ecclesiastical renewal and compassion for the poor.
Cox, who taught at Harvard for 50 years, dedicated his latest book to the pope because they share a concern about what Francis called a “deified market” that’s creating “new idols.”
Catholics can be cremated under certain conditions, the Vatican has said, but loved ones should not scatter the ashes at sea, or on land, or into the wind, nor should they keep them in mementos or jewelry.
Instead, say new guidelines released on Oct. 25, the remains should be stored “in a sacred place” that “prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten” and “prevents any unfitting or superstitious practices.”
Many have accused the Catholic Church of being complicit in the government-sanctioned violence, and the Argentinian Pope Francis has been criticized for being silent in the face of such atrocity. But today’s statement says the decision to release the archives came at the pope’s direction.
The move is noteworthy, given that many of the records would traditionally never be made public, while others would not typically be released for decades. The break with tradition, according to the statement, comes “in the service of truth, justice and peace.”
The Indian branch of the Catholic social welfare organization Caritas has announced plans to fight discrimination and recruit transgender people — a striking step for an official church organization.
Caritas India announced the decision earlier this month after holding internal talks about adopting a more inclusive policy. But officials stressed that doesn’t mean it supports gender change.
Italian Cardinal Elio Sgreccia was the first to publicly sound the alarm, saying the proposal to open an outlet of the global fast-food chain, below a Vatican-owned building where several cardinals live, was a “controversial, perverse decision.”
In an interview published over the weekend in La Repubblica, Sgreccia said the proposal was “not at all respectful of the architectural and urban traditions” of a destination — just a block from St. Peter’s Square — that draws thousands of pilgrims and tourists a day from around the world.
He also said serving burgers and fries in the neighborhood was unacceptable because McDonald’s cuisine breached Italian taste.
The Rev. Arturo Sosa, 67, is Venezuelan and was chosen in a secret ballot by 212 electors at the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in Rome, after a lengthy four-day voting process.
The order’s vicar, the Rev. James E. Grummer, announced on Oct. 14 that Sosa had won a majority of votes and proclaimed him superior general of the order, the first Latin American to hold the post, much as Pope Francis, also a Jesuit, is the first Latin American elected to the papacy.
There’s barely a sound and the corridors are still empty when the neatly dressed Crea suddenly flicks a switch to reveal walls lined with Renaissance frescoes and priceless tapestries.
It’s a stunning moment, and Crea, who holds the title of “clavigero,” or chief key keeper at the Vatican Museums, never tires of it. He manages a dedicated team that opens and closes some 300 rooms every day.
Pope Francis has made an impassioned plea to the international community to protect the world’s “invisible and voiceless” child migrants who fall prey to prostitution, human trafficking, and forced labor when they travel far from home.
In a strongly worded statement released ahead of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees [on Jan. 15], Francis said immigration is “growing into a tragic situation of global proportions" and children are being exploited by the “unscrupulous” as they flee violence and poverty.
With these picks, the third round of cardinal appointments Francis has made since he himself was elected pope in 2013, he did a number of nontraditional things that have become almost customary for him:
First of all, he moved the church’s center of gravity further away from the Old World and toward the “peripheries,” as he says, by selecting more cardinals (six total) from Africa, Asia, and Oceania than from Europe (five).
The bullet-ridden body of the Rev. Jose Lopez Guillen was found Sept. 24 on the highway outside Puruandiro in the western state of Michoacan, [Mexico], a region plagued by violent conflict. The 43-year-old cleric had been abducted from his home in nearby Janamuato five days earlier.
“He was an engaging personality,” said Maria Solorio, a regular at Lopez’s church. “He was an excellent priest and very devoted to the community. … What happened to him was a great injustice.”
Peres, who was 93, was the last major surviving founder of Israel, and evolved from a hawkish defender of the Jewish state to a champion of the two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians would co-exist in peace.
Religious leaders remember him for reaching out to people he once considered his enemies.
Pope Francis said those bombing civilians in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo will be “accountable to God” for their actions as he renewed his appeals for peace amid an intensifying civil war in that country.
It also emerged on Sept. 28 that the pontiff has asked a Catholic charity to auction the cars used on a recent trip to Poland and use the proceeds to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The pope’s emotional appeal for peace in Syria came during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square in which he voiced his heartfelt support and prayers for the people of Aleppo.
Pope Francis met with refugees and leaders of religious faiths including Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus who joined him for a day of prayer for peace in Assisi, home of his namesake, the 12th-century friar St. Francis.
But it was the migrants he invited to join him for lunch on Sept. 20 who captured the headlines and illustrated the tangible impact of war and conflict.
Pope Francis told a group of recently appointed bishops that the world “is tired of charming liars” and that they should embody mercy in their dioceses and not be whiners who promote their own “vain crusades.”
The pontiff also told them to be wary of seminarians “who take refuge in rigidity” of practices. “There’s always something ugly behind it,” he said.
Francis made his remarks Sept. 16 in a speech to newly appointed bishops who have been taking part in an annual Vatican orientation course on their new job.
Centuries ago, of course, the love lives of the popes — and cardinals and various powerful prelates — became a source of constant fascination and scandal. In these days of great anxiety in the church about the role of gays and gay rights, leaking stories about papal crushes can also be useful for signaling that a pope is straight, and not just straight but also virile and seriously attractive to women, an attraction he naturally must renounce.
But it’s still a balancing act — trying to advertise a pontiff’s shared humanity with the flock while not encouraging prurient speculation.
Mother Teresa, the tiny nun who devoted her life to the poor, was declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican as he celebrated her “daring and courage,” and described her as a role model for all in his year of mercy.
At least 120,000 people crowded a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square for the canonization of the acclaimed nun who may have worked in the slums of Kolkata but was a force to be reckoned with by political and religious leaders around the world.
We are at a moment when prayer is often viewed as a cop-out for policy action. The distaste for prayer in our political arena was most visible in the New York Daily News cover story “God Isn’t Fixing This,” following the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting in December. The cover story called the politicians’ prayer tweets “meaningless platitudes” in the face of their inaction.
In light of this frustration with the political posturing of prayer, how might we see the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation as a meaningful action toward climate justice?
Pope Francis has welcomed a groundbreaking deal reached between the Colombian government and rebels that promises to end more than 50 years of violent conflict.
According to a statement released Aug. 31 by the secretariat of state, the pope was “pleased to learn that negotiations have been finalized” after intense discussions.
Pope Francis is the king of Twitter and other social media outlets but he’s still not on Facebook, the most dominant digital platform in the world.
Will that change following his meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Aug. 29?