The Papacy 2013 -2014

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27 December
Pope Francis’s edict on climate change will anger deniers and US churches
Pontiff hopes to inspire action at next year’s UN meeting in Paris in December after visits to Philippines and New York
He has been called the “superman pope”, and it would be hard to deny that Pope Francis has had a good December. Cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in the thawing relations between the US and Cuba, the Argentinian pontiff followed that by lecturing his cardinals on the need to clean up Vatican politics. But can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?
It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.
Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,” Bishop Marcelo Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”
Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology.
According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.
25 December
How Pope Francis’ upbringing shaped his role as reformer
(PBS Newshour) From his simple lifestyle to his active engagement in diplomacy, Pope Francis has distinguished himself as the leader of the Catholic Church. Jeffrey Brown talks to Austen Ivereigh, author of a new biography, “The Great Reformer,” about the ways the pope’s upbringing in Argentina informed his papal priorities, and his efforts to clean up the Vatican.
22 December
Pope addresses curiaPope Francis sharply criticises Vatican bureaucracy
Addressing the Curia on Monday, Pope Francis said some power-hungry clerics were guilty of “cold-bloodedly killing the reputation of their own colleagues and brothers”.
(BBC) Pope Francis has sharply criticised the Vatican bureaucracy in a pre-Christmas address to cardinals, complaining of “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “the terrorism of gossip”.
He said the Curia – the administrative pinnacle of the Roman Catholic Church – was suffering from 15 “ailments”, which he wanted cured in the New Year.
Pope Francis – the first Latin American pontiff – also criticised “those who look obsessively at their own image”.
He has demanded reform of the Curia.
There was silence at the end of the Pope’s speech.
Pope lambasts Vatican bureaucrats
Catholic hierarchy suffers from many ills including ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’, says pontiff (Financial Times)
5 December
Pope Francis: ‘All Animals Go To Heaven’
Pope Francis has declared that all animals go to heaven during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.
The Pope made these remarks after he received two donkeys as early Christmas presents. During his discussion, Pope Francis quoted the apostle Paul as he comforted a child who was mourning the death of his dog.
Francis quoted Paul’s remarks as, “One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all God’s creatures.”
Pope Benedict said that animals “are not called to the eternal life.” In a book that Pope Benedict wrote about the childhood of Jesus, he claimed that there was no mention of animals in any of the Gospels. In fact, he stated that the presence of animals in Nativity scenes is based on myth. (The Guardian) It’s a dog’s afterlife: Pope Francis hints that animals go to heaven — The pontiff’s remarks were interpreted by some as bringing ‘hope of salvation … to animals and the whole of creation’
8 November
Pope demotes outspoken American conservative cardinal
Pope Francis on Saturday demoted an outspoken conservative American cardinal who has been highly critical of the pontiff’s reformist leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, 66, was removed as head of the Vatican’s highest court and appointed to the ceremonial post of chaplain of the charity group Knights of Malta.
Burke, who until Saturday was the highest-ranking American in the Vatican, gave a series of recent interviews criticizing the pope and had emerged as the face of conservative opposition to Francis’ reform agenda.
28 October
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God isn’t ‘a magician with a magic wand’
(The Independent) Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope made comments which experts said put an end to the “pseudo theories” of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator – arguing instead that they “require it”.
“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” Francis said.
He added: “He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfilment.
“The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.
“Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
18 October
Conservatives 1 – Progressive Pope 0 – and we were so hopeful!
Catholic Church scraps welcome to gays in family document
Divorced, civilly remarried Catholics still can’t receive communion
Catholic bishops have scrapped their landmark welcome to gays, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families. … It appeared that the 118-62 vote on the gay section might have been a protest by progressive bishops who refused to back the watered-down wording. The original draft had said gays had gifts to offer the church and their partnerships, while morally problematic, provided gay couples with “precious” support.
New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, said it was “very disappointing” that the final report had backtracked from the welcoming words contained in the draft. Nevertheless, it said the synod’s process “and openness to discussion provides hope for further development down the road, particularly at next year’s synod, where the makeup of the participants will be larger and more diverse, including many more pastorally-oriented bishops.” (PBS Newshour) Catholic bishops nix pro-gay language from synod document in sign of split
13 October
Vatican synod: Victory for Pope Francis on gay issues
(BBC) Halfway through the Vatican synod on the family, Pope Francis has scored a first quiet victory.
He has convinced many Catholic Church leaders to moderate their formerly strongly critical language about gay unions, and to admit that homosexuals may have “gifts and qualities to offer”.
The tone of a preliminary position paper drawn up by about 200 bishops after a week of closed-door discussions shows compassion and understanding not only towards people in single-sex unions, but also to heterosexual couples who live together without marrying and divorced couples who enter a second marriage without bothering to obtain a Church annulment.
The bishops made it clear that there can be no change in basic Catholic teaching on the permanence of the marriage bond, and insist that a valid marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
But Pope Francis’s change of emphasis on concentrating upon positive rather than negative aspects of human sexuality seems to have won over many bishops attending the synod.
21 June
Pope: All mobsters excommunicated from Catholic Church
9CBS NEWS0 Pope Francis journeyed Saturday to the heart of Italy’s biggest crime syndicate, met the father of a 3-year-old boy slain in the region’s drug war, and declared that all mobsters are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
Calabria is the power base of the ‘ndrangheta, a global drug trafficking syndicate that enriches itself by extorting businesses and infiltrating public works contracts in underdeveloped Calabria.
During his homily at an outdoor Mass, Francis denounced the ‘ndrangheta for what he called its “adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”
“Those who go down the evil path, as the Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated,” he warned.
31 May
Christian Leaders May Return to Nicaea: What Does It Mean?
In 2025, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians could go back to the place where early followers of Jesus tried to create a consensus among all of Christendom.
(The Atlantic) Mark your calendars: In 2025, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians may return to Nicaea, the spot in modern-day Turkey where Christianity was literally defined. In 325, early followers of Jesus came together to figure out what it means to be a Christian; the goal was to create theological consensus across all of Christendom. This was way before the faith sub-divided into East vs. West, Catholics vs. Protestants, Southern Baptists vs. Primitive Baptists—these were the early days of the religion, when it still seemed like it could be observed as one, united faith. The council’s effect on Christianity was huge; for one thing, most Bible-school students still learn some version of the Nicene Creed, the profession of Christian faith.
26 May
Pope Francis at Bthlehem barrierPope Francis performs ‘balancing act’ of agendas on Middle East visit
(PBS Newshour) Juggling the political and religious rivalries between Israel and the Palestinians during his trip to the Middle East, Pope Francis called on Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres to join him at the Vatican for prayer and reflection. Jeffrey Brown gets insight into how the Pope navigated his trip from Nicholas Casey of The Wall Street Journal, reporting from Jerusalem.
In One Photo, the Pope Does What Many World Leaders Haven’t Had the Guts For
The pontiff’s three-day visit to the Holy Land and surprising, unscheduled prayer at the [Bethlehem] barrier also comes just weeks after U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down again. During the trip, Pope Francis also made an appeal to both sides to overcome their differences and end the conflict that he said was “increasingly unacceptable.”
Referring directly to “the state of Palestine,” the pontiff also made another unprecedented call by inviting President Mahmoud Abbas and President Shimon Peres to Rome.
“In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace,” Pope Francis said at the open-air Mass in Bethlehem.
According to their respective staff, they both accepted and will go to the Vatican next month.
26 April

The day of four popes: Pope Francis declares John XXIII and John Paul II saints as Benedict looks on

Two 20th-century popes who changed the course of the Catholic Church became saints Sunday as Pope Francis honoured John XXIII and John Paul II in a delicate balancing act aimed at bringing together the conservative and progressive wings of the church.
As if to drive the message of unity home, Francis invited retired Pope Benedict XVI to join him on the altar of St. Peter’s Square, the first time a reigning and retired pope have celebrated Mass together in public in the 2,000-year history of the church.
Fr. Raymond J. de Souza: Why it makes sense for Popes John Paul II and John XXIII to be canonized on the same day
John XXIII, enormously popular in Italy and around the world as the “Papa Buono” (the “Good Pope”), called the Second Vatican Council, which began in 1962. He would not live to see it through, but it was the most significant ecclesiastical event since the Council of Trent in the 16th century.
He was beatified by John Paul II in 2000, but there has not been a second miracle. Francis took the decision to canonize him nevertheless, and to do so with John Paul II.
There are two possibilities most often offered for this decision. John Paul’s biographer, George Weigel, suggests Francis wishes to canonize the “bookends” of Vatican II – the pope who called it and the pope who authoritatively interpreted it. In elevating them together, Francis wants to hold up Vatican II and its authentic meaning for the Church.
It seems to me a more plausible reason for Francis’ decision is he prefers to balance John Paul by including John XXIII in the same ceremony, even if the latter has not met the usual requirements.
Two Popes: One halo
By Alan Hustak
(Ville-Marie Online) Two saintly popes will be canonized on Sunday in a ceremony that is seen as intended to heal the rift between progressives and traditionalists in the Church.
The two men, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli and Karol Wojtyla, had decidedly contradictory personalities and approaches.
John XXIII, known as the “good Pope,” decreed in his encyclical Pacem in Terris that Catholics are free to worship God in accordance with “the right dictates of their own conscience.”
John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor countered with his argument that conscience must be properly formed, and that certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine had been distorted.
Both popes have their own constituencies.
NICOLE WINFIELD and DANIELA PETROFF: Saintly popes mended Catholic-Jewish relations
(AP) Pope John XXIII and John Paul II helped change nearly 2,000 years of Catholic antagonism toward Jews with their personal and professional words and deeds. Here’s a look at what they did, and why it matters.
Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, was the Vatican’s envoy to Greece and Turkey during Second World War and saw the Holocaust up close. He is credited with having saved tens of thousands of Jews fleeing from Eastern Europe by arranging for exit visas and forging birth certificates.
John Paul, born Karol Wojtyla, grew up in Wadowice, Poland, a town near Krakow and not far from the Auschwitz concentration camp. Wadowice was known for its large Jewish population, and young Wojtyla had many Jewish classmates. He remained a lifelong friend with one, Jerzy Kluger, who survived the Holocaust while most of his family perished, and settled in Rome after the war. Kluger was a frequent guest at the pope’s dinner table.
Popes And Saints: Everything You Need To Know About Canonization In 17 Historical Facts, e.g. Of the 266 popes, 83 (including John XXIII and John Paul II) have been made saints; almost all of them were canonized in the first millennium of Christianity.
20 April
How much change can Pope Francis bring to the Catholic Church?
(CBS) Francis is a traditional man who doesn’t come from the Roman tradition, or even the European one. In fact, much of his appeal is based on the fact he is an outsider, who has no stake in the mess at the center of the Church.
Francis’ problem is the Vatican. He was elected by cardinals to fix this place — its bureaucratic jealousies, its financial corruption, its sense of isolation from the real world where the Church should be doing its work.
And it’s still Francis’ problem, because there are parts of this place that don’t want to be fixed.
Already there is grumbling that Francis doesn’t understand how the Church’s powerful administrative structure — the Roman Curia — really works; that he doesn’t value the Cardinals who run its various departments or appreciate the work they do.
28 March
Obama and Pope FrancisObama says talk with Pope Francis focused on plight of poor, wars
(WaPost) The meeting lasted less than an hour. But the encounter has been charged with the politics of the world’s most powerful nation and one of its most influential religious movements, and by a pair of men who have sought to change the public character of the institutions they run.
Obama said that “the bulk of the time was spent discussing two central concerns” — the plight of “the poor, the marginalized and growing inequality” and the challenge of war in the world today. He said the talk underscored that although political leaders must find solutions, Francis has the power to focus public attention on the importance of resolving these issues.
“We spent a lot of time talking about the challenges of conflict and how elusive peace is around the world,” Obama said, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, an issue of particular interest to the pope, who is scheduled to visit the Middle East in late May; the unrest in Syria and Lebanon; and the persecution of Christians.
22 February
Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Canadian cardinal, installed at Vatican
Archbishop of Quebec, Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, among 19 cardinals installed by Pope Francis at Vatican ceremony
The other newly installed cardinals hail from countries including Italy, Germany, Britain, Nicaragua, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Chile, Burkina Faso, the Philippines and Haiti.
16 January
Pope moves aggressively to fix Vatican bank, shows he’s prepared to damn any deals made by Benedict
The latest evidence of Francis’s business-like approach to Vatican reform came Wednesday evening, when he took the broom to the Vatican bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR). Out went four of the five cardinals who sat on the Commission of Cardinals, the body overseeing the bank whose duties include appointing the bank’s president, approving strategy and acting as a link to the lay board of superintendence.
One of the five casualties was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was the Vatican’s all-powerful secretary of state under Benedict. His mandate and the mandates of the three others who were shown the door were confirmed by Benedict only 11 months ago, an indication that Francis is prepared to move aggressively to fix what is broken and damn any deals made by his predecessor. Another victim was Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, who until last year employed Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, an accountant who is on trial for allegedly trying to smuggle almost €20-million in cash into Italy from Switzerland.
12 January
Pope makes Quebec archbishop Canada’s fourth cardinal
(Globe & Mail) Archbishop Lacroix is one of the first 19 clergymen Pope Francis has chosen to become cardinal as the Catholic leader looked outside of Europe to pick his closest advisers.
The Pope is putting his imprint on the Catholic Church. Half of the new cardinals are non-Europeans, and four are from Latin America. On the fourth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti, the pontiff also appointed the first cardinal from that country, underscoring his attentiveness to the poor.
The selection of Archbishop Lacroix, which the Pope announced from his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, seems a logical choice. There are only three cardinals in the country, and two of them are now removed from their Canadian archdiocese. Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, 77, retired in 2012 as archbishop of Montreal, while Cardinal Marc Ouellet is now working in Vatican City. Only Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins remains on the ground in his archdiocese in Toronto.
1 January
Pope urges world to accept diversity as sober messages replace New Year’s revelry
Pope Francis, laying out his hopes Wednesday for 2014, urged people to work for a world where everyone accepts each other’s differences and where enemies recognize that they are brothers.


Pope Francis Person of the Year

TIME: Pope Francis, The Choice

Pope Francis named Time’s Person of the Year
(Reuters) – Time magazine named Pope Francis its Person of the Year on Wednesday, crediting him with shifting the message of the Catholic Church while capturing the imagination of millions of people who had become disillusioned with the Vatican.
This is the third time the magazine has chosen a pope as its Person of the Year. Time gave that honor to Pope John Paul II in 1994 and to Pope John XXIII in 1963.
The Argentine pontiff … beat former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and gay rights activist Edith Windsor for the award. Other finalists included Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz from Texas.
25 December
Atheists, work with us for peace, Pope says on Christmas
(Reuters) – Pope Francis, celebrating his first Christmas as Roman Catholic leader, on Wednesday called on atheists to unite with believers of all religions and work for “a homemade peace” that can spread across the world.
Speaking to about 70,000 people from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the same spot where he emerged to the world as pope when he was elected on March 13, Francis also made another appeal for the environment to be saved from “human greed and rapacity”.
The leader of the 1.2 billion-member Church wove his first “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and world) message around the theme of peace.
Who Am I to Judge? A radical Pope’s first year.
by James Carroll
(The New Yorker) “Who am I to judge?” With those five words … Pope Francis stepped away from the disapproving tone, the explicit moralizing typical of Popes and bishops. This gesture of openness, which startled the Catholic world, would prove not to be an isolated event. In a series of interviews and speeches in the first few months after his election, in March, the Pope unilaterally declared a kind of truce in the culture wars that have divided the Vatican and much of the world.
2 December
Pope Francis and Catholicism’s long ignored progressive tradition
(The Broadbent Institute) The wrath of the biblical prophets was often directed at those who enjoyed the inequality of their riches while ignoring the needs of the vulnerable at the other end of the economic scale. One of the earliest of such prophets was Amos, who condemned those who oppress the poor and crush the needy. According to biblical scholar Walter Bruggeman, Amos was protesting against the “self-indulgent economy of the urban elite.” In statements made both before and after he became Pope, it is clear that Pope Francis sees the prophetic tradition as integral to his understanding of what it means to be a good pastor of the flock.
In a published inter-religious dialogue with Rabbi Abraham Skorka (also of Argentina) in 2010, the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, lamented that although many people are aware of the Catholic Church’s condemnation of communism, not enough are aware of its condemnation of economic liberalism, and particularly what he called “the wild economic liberalism we see today.” The future Pope Francis was calling attention to a long established, but also long ignored dimension of Catholic social teaching. This dimension continues to be marginalized notwithstanding the fact that even Pope Benedict continued that tradition.

Hans Küng on the need for a “Vatican Spring” (long, fascinating interview with Michael Enright (CBC | The Sunday Edition)

Why the first Jesuit pope is a big deal
(WaPost) Jesuits are bound by oath not to seek higher office in the Roman Catholic Church, and now one of them has been elected to its highest office: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Pontifex Maximus. Pope Francis, the first Jesuit to become pope, not only represents a paradox for the papacy, but also the larger history of the Society of Jesus, as the Jesuits are formally known. The Economist explains — Who are the Jesuits, exactly? Accurate, but short on details and disappointingly uninformative

Holysee-arms-A.svg Jorge Mario Bergoglio — A Latin response to Latin America
(The Guardian via Other News) Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has not become the first non-European Pope in 12 centuries through accident either; or indeed because his genetic origins are Italian. The most powerful religious order in the world has not survived by being sentimental. The 115 cardinals of this year’s electoral college displayed a sharp understanding of geopolitics and assessment of where they believe lies their true challenge in the foreseeable future. Observers, including sympathetic ones, tend to transfer their own concerns to the Vatican. It was thus widely inferred by the commentariat after the sudden abdication of Benedict that the new Pope would be chosen on the basis of his ability to address contemporary concerns like the ban on abortion, or gender equality in the clergy, or the horrifying abuse of children by priests who are required to be celibate. Instead, we have a Pope who is deeply conservative on such social issues. The Vatican views child abuse as a problem, not a plague. As defenders of the status quo point out, this crime is limited at best to just 4% of the priesthood. It is therefore something that the church can deal with without upgrading a dilemma to a crisis.
The Vatican, in my view, sees the coming decade as a historic opportunity to negate a far greater threat.
Latin America is home not only to the largest bloc of Roman Catholics, but has also seen the rise of a radical New Left . … Would it be a stretch to assume that the first Latin American Pope’s true calling is to destabilize Cuba and challenge the New Left in Latin America? [Emphasis added]

5 November
Inside the Mind of Pope Francis
A recently translated book by the former archbishop of Buenos Aires and current pontiff reveals a religious leader who understands the limits of religion.
(The Atlantic) In On Heaven and Earth, a series of conversations with Rabbi Abraham Skorka of Argentina translated in April, [Jorge Mario Bergoglio—now better known as Pope Francis—] asserts that Christianity must understand the needs of humans. He rejects attempts to impose dogmatic principles onto human life, and thinks that the Church must be sensitive, and even sometimes deferential, to cultural change. Indeed, he notes, “religion has a right to give an opinion as long as it is in service to the people.” In so arguing, he presents a vision of Catholicism that is both deeply principled and unabashedly heterodox.
23 October
Pope removes Germany’s ‘luxury bishop’ from diocese
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg spent $44M on renovating residence
(CBC) Pope Francis expelled a German bishop from his diocese on Wednesday pending the outcome of a church inquiry into his 31 million-euro ($44-million Cdn) new residence complex.
14 October
The ‘Luxury Bishop’, the bath, and the €31m palace: Free-spending German cleric summoned to Vatican
(The Independent) As a concession to belt-tightening, the decision by a sybaritic German bishop to take a budget airline flight to Rome, is looking like too little, too late.
The general opinion among Catholic officials and the flock of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst is that rather than fly cattle class last weekend, the priest should have thought about his expenditure several years ago.
This might have stopped him spending €350,000 (£300,000) on walk-in wardrobes for his palatial home in the ancient town of Limburg near Frankfurt. It is this lavish expenditure that the man – known by locals as “the Luxury Bishop of Limburg” or simply the “Swanky Bishop” – came to the Vatican to answer for yesterday.
9 October
Like an Offshore Paradise: Vatican Moves to Close Dirty Accounts
Insiders have told SPIEGEL that over 300 million euros ($407 million) was still in accounts held by over 1,000 people. “The vast majority of this” is apparently illicit earnings, the sources say. It’s now clear that in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica, tax haven-esque things are happening. For decades, transfers have been made near the Apostolic Palace that hardly differ from business as usual on the Cayman Islands. In essence, the Vatican Bank has become an offshore paradise.
(Spiegel) More than 1,000 customers who have no business holding accounts at the Vatican Bank have parked more than 300 million euros there, money the institution’s officials suspect is illicit. They are now calling for the funds to be removed.
… specialists from abroad have also been hired to determine who is actually behind the deposits at the Vatican Bank and what is transpiring on the individual accounts. According to the bank’s statutes, the financial institution of the church-state is charged with providing a home for funds belonging to members of the clergy and religious orders. As the auditors of the Vatican Bank dug deeper into the nature of the accounts, however, it became increasingly clear that a large number of individuals — who actually shouldn’t even be allowed to have accounts at the Vatican Bank — highly appreciate its discreet business practices.
The church-state has sought the aid of a consulting firm as part of a change in strategy in which it is moving away from secrecy and toward more integrity and transparency. In fact, the Vatican has been troubled by affairs surrounding its bank ever since the Commission for Works of Charity was established in 1887. This served to protect church assets from the Italian state’s appetite for expropriation. Over the decades, this financial institution, which was later rechristened as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), appears to have been involved in a number of shady deals: There have been allegations of Sicilian mafia money laundering, stock market manipulation and illegal transactions worth billions funneled through the bank.
30 August
Pope Francis takes a selfie, solidifies Catholic Church’s newly cool image
Pope Francis: bringing the Catholic Church into the 21st century. Who wouldn’t “like” that?
Since when has the Pope been so cool? Since he became Pope Francis, actually. And he’s constantly painting a better image of himself and, by extension, the Catholic Church.
This week, he was caught taking selfies with Italian teens. (Sidenote: Maybe that’s why “selfie” was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online this week?)
To be clear, this is historic. No other Pope has ever taken a selfie of any kind – ever.
24 August
‘It’s the pope’: If you send a letter to Pope Francis, he just might give you a call back
A word of warning to those who write personal notes to Pope Francis: He might just call you back.
Francis has charmed the masses with his informal style, simplicity and sense of humour — and a handful of strangers have gotten the treatment up close, receiving papal phone calls out of the blue after writing him or suffering some personal tragedy.
After another random phone call from the pope this week, Italy’s leading Corriere della Sera daily offered etiquette tips for the lucky recipients, proposing conversation starters and no-go areas on its front page Friday.
8 August
Pope Francis tightens Vatican bank controls
The Pope has stepped up the fight against corruption at the Vatican by strengthening supervision of financial transactions at its internal bank.
Pope Francis issued a decree designed to combat money-laundering and prevent any financing of terrorism.
It is the latest move to stamp out abuses at the Vatican bank, which handles funds for the Catholic Church.
7 August
Catholic Right, Traditionalists Lament Pope Francis Papacy
The risks for Francis in disappointing Catholic conservatives are high given their disproportionate presence in the pews and in the upper echelons of the church.
(RNS) For more than three decades, the Vatican of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI operated on a version of the conservative maxim, “No enemies to the right.”
While left-wing theologians were silenced and liberal-to-moderate bishops were shunted aside in favor of hard-liners, liturgical traditionalists and cultural conservatives were diligently courted and given direct access to the apostolic palace.
But in a few short months, Pope Francis has upended that dynamic, alienating many on the Catholic right by refusing to play favorites and ignoring their preferred agenda items even as he stressed the kind of social justice issues that are near and dear to progressives. (7 August)
29 July
Pope Francis on gays: ‘Who am I to judge?’
(Public Radio International) Pope Francis I surprised reporters aboard the papal aircraft over the weekend with comments in support of gay people. The Pope also spoke in support of women, but also said he has no plans to extend their rights to be ordained as priests within the church. (30 July)
Pope Francis’s final mass in Brazil ‘attended by 3m’
Pontiff wraps up first overseas trip as head of Catholic church with address to worshippers on Copacabana beach in Rio
Pope Francis wrapped up a triumphant first overseas trip as pontiff with a Sunday mass on Copacabana beach attended by three million worshippers, according to Rio authorities’ estimates.
In the evangelical, simple and radical style that has characterised his week-long visit to Brazil, Francis made an appeal to pilgrims to return to their home countries and revitalise the Catholic church.
He urged followers to be more active in their faith by reach out to “to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent”. (BBC) Pope Francis in Brazil: Pilgrims pack Copacabana beach
25 July
Thousands meet Pope Francis at Copacabana beach event
(BBC) Pope Francis has visited Copacabana beach, in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, to hold the greeting ceremony for World Youth Day.
After arriving by helicopter, the pope drove along the 4km of the beach, stopping many times to greet the crowd.
An estimated 1m pilgrims attended the event, following a papal visit to a shanty town, or favela.
Pope scolds rich, demands social justice in visit to Brazil slum
(Reuters) – Pope Francis on Thursday issued the first social manifesto of his young pontificate, telling slum dwellers in Brazil that the world’s rich must do much more to wipe out vast inequalities between the haves and the have-nots.
The pope also urged Brazil’s youth, who have taken part in recent protests showing discontent with the status quo, to keep alive their “sensitivity towards injustice” and be a catalyst in the fight against corruption.
23 July
Pope Francis greeted by ecstatic crowds following arrival in Brazil
Worshippers flock round pope’s car on drive from airport while protests break out elsewhere in response to presidential meeting
5 July
John Paul II Cleared For Sainthood By Pope Francis
Pope Francis on Friday cleared two of the 20th century’s most influential popes to become saints, approving a miracle needed to canonize Pope John Paul II and waiving Vatican rules to honor Pope John XXIII.
To anyone who has been paying attention, Francis’ decision to canonize John Paul and John XXIII should come as no surprise: The Jesuit was made a cardinal by John Paul and is very much a pope of the Second Vatican Council, the ground-breaking church meetings that brought the Catholic Church into the modern world. John XXIII opened Vatican II a year before his death in 1963.
1 July
Vatican Bank Director, Deputy Resign Amid Scandal
(TIME) The director of the embattled Vatican bank and his deputy resigned Monday following the latest developments in a broadening finance scandal that has already landed one Vatican monsignor in prison and added urgency to Pope Francis’ reform efforts. … The group of five cardinals overseeing the IOR accepted the resignations of Cipriani and Tulli and tapped the IOR’s current president, German financier and aristocrat Ernst von Freyberg, to serve as interim director, a Vatican statement said.
29 June
Exit Monsignor Cinquecento
(The Economist) Monsignor Scarano was one of three people arrested by Italian police on June 28th in an affair that has turned an unsettling spotlight on the Holy See’s financial institutions just days after Pope Francis began a clean-up of the Vatican’s scandal-plagued “bank”, the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR). …
Two days before Monsignor Scarano was jailed, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had set up a commission of inquiry into the IOR with powers to override its secrecy rules. The members of the commission include three cardinals, a senior Vatican official and the former American ambassador to the Holy See. Though awkward for the Vatican, the latest case will strengthen Pope Francis’s arm as he sets about trying to reform one of the darkest corners of his domain—a source of repeated embarrassment to his predecessors since 1982 when the IOR was caught up in the fraudulent collapse of Banco Ambrosiano. The bank’s chairman, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging dead beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London. Prosecutors in Rome subsequently concluded he was killed by the Sicilian Mafia, but no one has ever been convicted of his murder.
27 June
Q&A: “Pope Francis Will Have to Open Up Church Debate on Burning Issues”
(IPS) – The Catholic Church has become sclerotic and is afraid of facing the issues of post-modernity, Brazilian theologian Frei Betto says, although he hopes that Francis, the first Latin American pope, will inspire it to renew its emphasis on social issues and the defence of the poor.
Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo, known as Frei Betto, hopes that Pope Francis will encourage young people to dream again, commit themselves to social issues and believe in utopias, when he visits Brazil Jul. 22-29.
Q: Do you think a reform of the Catholic Church is possible? What, in your view, are the most sensitive challenges the church faces?
A: [The] Pope  will have to open up debate within the Catholic Church on urgent, burning issues that have long been kept on ice: an end to mandatory celibacy, ordination of women to the priesthood, condom use, biogenetics and the reform of the Roman Curia.
31 May
Vatican Bank President Ernst von Freyberg’s Priority Is Clean Up Reputation Of Institute for Religious Works
(HuffPost) In an interview Friday with Vatican Radio, Von Freyberg said he had hired a leading anti-money laundering consultancy and a New York law firm to ensure that the bank complied with anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing standards. He also hired some public relations experts.
28 May
Who’s in charge?
Vatican Clarifies Pope’s ‘Atheist’ Remarks
Shortly after Pope Francis gave an homily in which he said even atheists who do good are redeemed, a statement from a Vatican spokesman clarified the pope’s remarks.
Just one day after the pope’s now famous words in Rome on May 22, a Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica released a statement quoting a section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that says people who reject the teachings of Jesus Christ cannot attain salvation.
The Vatican’s statement seemed to attempt to do damage control for Francis’ remarks, emphasizing that his job is more to speak well than to provide an indisputable interpretation of the Bible.
“[Pope Francis] is first and foremost a seasoned pastor and preacher who has much experience in reaching people,” the statement said. “His words are not spoken in the context of a theological faculty or academy nor in interreligious dialogue or debate.”
22 May
Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics
Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists.
During his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome, Francis emphasized the importance of “doing good” as a principle that unites all humanity, and a “culture of encounter” to support peace.
13 April
Pope Francis calls on international group of cardinals to help reform Vatican bureaucracy
(AP via National Post) “The Roman Curia retains all its fundamental functions helping the pope in the daily governance of the universal church,” Lombardi told Vatican Radio. “The naming of this group adds to this, in a certain sense integrates it, with a universal point of view and voices from different parts of the world.”
The members of the panel include Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican city state administration — a key position that oversees, among other things, the Vatican’s profit-making museums. The non-Vatican officials include Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo; Sean Patrick O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston; George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; and Oscar Andres RodrDiguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who will serve as co-ordinator.
Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, bishop of Albano, Italy will be the panel secretary.
O’Malley, a Capuchin friar, has spent his career cleaning up churches from sexually abusive priests. Pell was outspoken in the run-up to the conclave about the need for reform in the bureaucracy. Maradiaga heads the church’s Caritas International charity federation and is a rare moderate in the College of Cardinals who hasn’t shied from criticizing the failings of the curia.
10 April
Pope Francis and Argentina’s ‘disappeared’
(BBC) The election of Pope Francis has thrown a spotlight on his conduct as a priest under Argentina’s military dictatorship in the late 70s and early 80s, and in particular at what point he found out about one of the country’s most shameful episodes.
… lurking beneath the surface are pressing concerns that threaten to dog Jorge Mario Bergoglio from his time as Jesuit superior and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina.
Within 24 hours of the white smoke from the Sistine Chapel, allegations emerged that he withdrew protection from two of his fellow Jesuits during the early years of the brutal military dictatorship of 1976 to 1983, which resulted in their captivity and torture.
27 March
Pope Francis shuns papal apartment for Vatican guesthouse
(The Telegraph) Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the Pope would live in the residence “until further notice”, adding: “I can’t make long-term predictions, but for now it seems he is experimenting with this type of simple living. It is still a period of getting used to things. Certainly in this phase he has expressed the desire to stay where he is.”
Underlining his new, informal style, the Pope is said to sit down to meals wherever he can find a space in the residence’s dining room, rather than insisting on a reserved spot or preferential treatment.
Pope Francis, already renowned for his modest tastes, has shunned the official papal apartment in favour of a room in a Vatican guesthouse.
25 March
Speculation That Benedict Has Terminal Illness
(Newsmax) Many have been remarking on how much frailer Benedict XVI appears in images of him meeting Pope Francis. He seems even thinner, more gaunt and much weaker than he did just less than a month ago.
This will naturally lead to speculation that the Pope Emeritus is not as well as it seems and may be suffering from a serious illness. His rapid weight loss (he shed 22 pounds over the past year) has led some to believe he is suffering from cancer.
Even before he announced his resignation Feb. 11, doctors at the Vatican — though not his own personal physician — were openly wondering if he may have some serious ailment and might only have months to live.
None of this contradicts his motives for resigning from the papacy: the reasons he gave, that he was too old and frail to effectively handle the papacy of today, still stand.
But if indeed he does have a terminal illness, it would make his move to the converted monastery in the Vatican grounds all the more rational.
18 March
Joe Schlesinger: Can humility alone reshape the modern papacy?
Pope Francis’s tall order: the star-power standards of John Paul II
(CBC) Pope Francis has a hard act to follow. No, not the reign of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, but that of John Paul II whose charisma transformed the contemporary papacy.
If Francis is to revitalize the Catholic Church and shake up the stifling Vatican bureaucracy that has helped mire it in scandal, he will have to establish himself, as the Polish pope did, as a compelling figure with an ardent global following. …
his fight against poverty could bring him a worldwide reputation for a benevolent heart that could reassure the millions of Catholics who’ve been faltering in their faith that their church has not lost the core of compassion on which it was founded.
15 March
Focus on mission, stay true to the cross, pope tells cardinals
(Reuters) Setting out a clear and forceful moral tone in the early days of his papacy, Francis on Thursday told the cardinals they must stick to the faith’s Gospel roots and shun modern temptations, otherwise the Church risked becoming just another charitable group without its divine mission. … some of the background to the surprise vote has already trickled out, confirming that cardinals wanted a pastoral figure to revitalize the global Church but also someone who would get the dysfunctional Vatican bureaucracy in order.
French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard told reporters: “We were looking for a pope who was spiritual, a shepherd. I think with Cardinal Bergoglio, we have this kind of person. He is also a man of great intellectual character who I believe is also a man of governance.”
13 March
Pope Francis’ first day on the job: A return to his hotel for bags, prayer like a pilgrim
The carping begins
Why Pope Francis May Be a Catholic Nightmare
He may seem like a humble reformer, but Cardinal Bergoglio is the last thing the Vatican needs.

Newsmax: White Smoke Over Vatican Signals Election of New Pope

Argentina’s Bergoglio elected as new pope
(Reuters) – Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected in a surprise choice to be the new leader of the troubled Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday, and said he would take the name Francis I.
Pope Francis, 76, appeared on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica just over an hour after white smoke poured from a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel to signal he had been chosen to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
Francis becomes the 266th pontiff in the Church’s 2,000-year history at a time of great crisis and difficulty. Although a conservative he is seen as a reformer and was not among the small group of frontrunners identified before the election.
Argentina’s Pope Bergoglio a moderate focused on the poor
(Reuters) – The first Latin American pope, Argentina’s Jorge Bergoglio is a moderate known for his strong negotiating skills as well as a readiness to challenge powerful interests. … Described by his biographer as a balancing force, Bergoglio, 76, has monk-like habits, is media shy and deeply concerned about the social inequalities rife in his homeland and elsewhere in Latin America.
Paris Match: Comment le nouveau pape a choisi son nom

St Peter's SquarePhoto by Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

(Slate) Holy Smoke! Meet Pope Francis. He Has One Lung, Loves the Bus, and Hates Gay Marriage
… He’s the first Jesuit pope in the church’s history, and he’s the first to hail from the Americas …. Perhaps fittingly, as his lack of a roman numeral would imply, he’s the first pope to assume the name of Francis. … Like many Latin American cardinals, Bergoglio has previously placed an emphasis on social justice and poverty work. Still, he is nonetheless seen by most as a theological conservative, like the man he is replacing. Unsurprisingly—but still noteworthy—is the fact that he waged an ultimately unsuccessful push to prevent Argentina from becoming the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage, and declared that allowing gay couples to adopt children was discrimination against children.
12 March
Black smoke signals no pope elected at first conclave vote
After praying for divine guidance, the red-hatted cardinals took a solemn vow, in Latin, never to divulge any details of their deliberations. They then secluded themselves behind the chapel’s heavy wooden doors.
No conclave in the modern era has chosen a pope on its first day, and some cardinals speculated this week that it might take four or five days to pick the man to replace Pope Benedict, who unexpectedly abdicated last month.
The so-called “Princes of the Church” will spend the night in a Vatican hotel before returning to the frescoed Sistine Chapel on Wednesday to continue their votes, with two rounds set for the morning and two for the afternoon.
10 March
Power Struggle on Reforming Vatican Bank
(NYT) the specter of financial scandal presents a special challenge for Benedict’s successor, who must modernize the Roman Catholic Church’s finances or risk the Vatican’s access to the global banking system, undermining its moral authority and its financial stability.
Ahead of the conclave, the cardinals were briefed on the Vatican’s finances and have been debating whether a member of the Vatican hierarchy or an outsider would be better at imposing order after a papacy bedeviled by crises of governance.
The obscure world of Vatican finances
Legacy of infighting amid demands for more financial transparency
(CBC) There’s no question that Italian and European authorities are upping the pressure on the Holy See to force the Vatican Bank to comply with international money-laundering regulations.
Last month, Italy ordered its own banks not to do business in the Vatican, saying it lacked adequate oversight and meaningful anti-money-laundering controls. The decision briefly led to a suspension of debit and credit card processing at the Vatican’s busy museums.
8 March
Pope: Runners and riders
Who will succeed the Pope? The process is under way to elect a successor to Benedict XVI, and here are 10 of the candidates in the running to lead the Catholic Church.
Cardinals set Tuesday as start date for conclave
(AP) — … even without a front-runner, there are indications they will go into the conclave Tuesday [March 12] with a good idea of their top picks. … the College of Cardinals [has] been meeting all week to discuss the church’s problems and priorities, and the qualities the successor to Pope Benedict XVI must possess. … has exposed sharp divisions among cardinals about some of the pressing problems facing the church, including governance within the Holy See itself.
7 March
Vatican welcomes last cardinal, setting stage for conclave
(CBC) The last cardinal who will participate in the conclave to elect the next pope arrived in Rome on Thursday, meaning a date can now be set for the election. But it’s not clear when that decision will come.
RELATED: How will the new pope be chosen?
Thursday afternoon, U.S. Cardinal Roger Mahony tweeted that the discussions were “reaching a conclusion.”
“Setting of date for conclave nearing. Mood of excitement prevails among Cardinals,” he wrote.
Once the conclave starts, there is very little time for discussion. Cardinals take two votes in the morning, two votes in the afternoon — all of them conducted in silent prayer, not chatter, amid the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. As a result, setting the date for the start of the conclave is akin to setting the deadline for when pre-conclave deliberations effectively finish. …
For the fourth day in a row, discussions on Thursday included questions about the Holy See’s administration and its relationships with dioceses around the world amid complaints that the Holy See doesn’t communicate well, internally or externally.
RELATED: Michael Valpy: The long odds against a Canadian pope
The problems of the Holy See’s internal governance have been a constant theme of deliberations this week as cardinals — especially from the United States — have sought information about allegations of corruption, turf wars and cronyism that were exposed by the leaks of papal documents last year.
5 March
Papal contender says issue of women in church ‘secondary’
Canadian cardinal weighs in on controversial issues within Catholic Church during CBC exclusive interview
Quebec papal contender says church learned from its mistakes Not all would agree
Canadian cardinal discusses criticism over sex scandals in CBC exclusive interview
“I think the protocols that have been set up are effective if they are followed, but in general, you know you may have some cases, but in general it is very much respected and carefully treated,” said Ouellet. Peter Mansbridge interview with Cardinal Ouellet
Le cardinal Ouellet aurait négocié la démission du cardinal O’Brien
(La Presse) Le cardinal Ouellet aurait … aidé le Vatican à négocier avec le cardinal O’Brien une entente en vertu de laquelle il prendrait docilement sa retraite pour éviter de plonger l’Église catholique dans l’embarras.
The surprisingly effective medieval security of a papal election
(Foreign Policy) This week, Catholic Church cardinals are convening the first meetings in the shadowy process that will select the next pope. It’s been widely reported that the church is looking to move quickly in replacing Benedict XVI — who will now take on the title emeritus pope (seriously) — in order to have a new pope in place by the Easter holidays. …
With mandated vows of silence and the near-total isolation of voting cardinals, the conclave stubbornly retains a degree of secrecy that is proudly out of step with today’s emphasis on transparency. The cardinals will huddle behind closed doors, casting ballot after ballot until they reach the two-thirds majority necessary to select God’s new representative on earth. …
Foreseeing the legion of hackers who would like nothing more than to poke around and maybe even influence a papal election, Bruce Schneier, who blogs about security technology, considered whether it would be possible to “hack” a papal election.  The answer is a resounding no. First, the entire process is analog — no computers involved at any point. So any attempt to influence or tamper with votes would have to happen within the conclave. But the only people allowed inside are voting cardinals and a small group of assistants. As the cardinals all know each other, the likelihood of getting an imposter inside the proceedings is virtually impossible (a too-short cassock gave away yesterday’s impostor). Vote tampering, meanwhile, is also seemingly impossible, as the votes and ballots are all checked by randomly selected cardinals prior to each vote. The process is elaborate and, after all, has been refined over millennia. 

pope shoes

4 March
Mother Teresa Humanitarian Image A ‘Myth,’ New Study Says
(HuffPost) The research paper claims that the celebrated nun had 517 missions in 100 countries at the time of her death, but that the majority of patients were not cared for properly and many were left to die, according to the university website. In addition, the Vatican is said to have ignored a doctor’s assertions when it concluded that a Mother Teresa miracle healed a woman who had tuberculosis and an ovarian cyst (See Comment below)
28 February
Opinion: Next Pope must reconnect with ‘fallen’ Catholics or face shrinking Church
(National Post) Benedict has appointed about half of the cardinals. So, the chances of them choosing a welcoming, 21st Century (beyond tweeting) pope are slim to none. But, as a cultural Catholic with much respect for priests, nuns and lay folks who walk Jesus’ talk on the poor and social justice, I harbor hope.
Look, I’m not saying that a more open pope will get people like me back. It just doesn’t help knowing you’ve been written off. Benedict reconciled himself to a smaller but more conservative Church.
This will surely be prophesy if the Church continues to wield so selectively its most useful tool. Reconciliation.
Vatican Sources: Power Struggle Continues, Cardinals Intent on “Governing Reformer” as Pope
The heated power struggle that marked the period leading up to Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he would resign continues in full fury. Cardinals will soon meet in conclave (possibly next week) to choose his successor and decide on a clear path forward for the Church.
LIGNET first reported on this power struggle as key to understanding the full context of Benedict’s resignation, noting the scandals at the Vatican Bank and allegations of sexual misconduct at the highest levels of the Church hierarchy played a role in the Pope’s decision to have a younger successor deal with these weighty problems.
Since LIGNET’s intelligence briefing of February 20 on these matters, the Italian and international press have reported numerous new allegations. Vatican sources tell LIGNET that some of these are true and some are false, but what is indisputable is that many of the press stories have been generated from within the Vatican itself. The Holy See is filled with internal strife and the press, eager to publish lurid stories of intrigue and conflict, has been used as a tool by competing sides to influence the selection of the next Pope.
The stage has been set for a truly momentous gathering to choose the next Pope
25 February
Benedict bids emotional farewell
(Foreign Policy) Bidding farewell in his last public address as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI conceded that his term had at times been marked by “choppy waters,” the most direct reference offered by the pope in reference to the sex scandals that blossomed under his watch.
Addressing a packed crowd of more than 100,000 in St. Peter’s Square, the scene in the Vatican was emotional. Several cardinals, in town ahead of the papal conclave and seated to the pope’s right, could be seen dabbing at tears. In his address, Benedict compared his time in office to the voyage of St. Peter and the apostles across the Sea of Galilee, saying God had given him “many days of sun and light breezes.” “But there were times when the waters were choppy and, as throughout the history of the church, it looked as if the Lord was sleeping,” Benedict said. “But I have always known that the Lord was in that boat, that the boat was not mine or ours, but was his and he will not let it founder.”
25 February
Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigns as Archbishop
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, is stepping down as leader of the Scottish Catholic Church.
He will not take part in electing a new pope, leaving Britain unrepresented [emphasis added].
22 February
China tensions await new pope
(Financial Times) Beijing and Vatican tussle over bishop appointments, as police crack down on underground churches and dissident clergy are imprisoned

With the shocking news that for the first time in 600 years a Pope has resigned, leaving the Church without its Leader for at least a month, it is obvious that the papacy will be a hot topic, although the behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings will remain just that.
The importance of the forthcoming election extends far beyond the Vatican and internal debate about teachings of the Church, liberation theology and social justice into the much broader realm of geopolitics as is indicated by the initial world-wide news coverage and conjecture.

17 February
Inside the Conclave: Finding a New Pope
How will the next pope be chosen? John L. Allen reports on what insiders say will influence the decision.
(The Daily Beast) A conclave, the event in which cardinals of the Catholic Church elect a pope, is the world’s oldest democratic institution. Centuries ago, when kings and emperors were determined by dynastic succession, the Church was using that quintessential democratic instrument: the secret ballot.
To be sure, however, it can’t help but seem a strange version of democracy in the 21st century. For one thing, a conclave entrusts the choice of leadership for an institution with 1.2 billion members to just over 100 electors. For another, cardinals are all male, they come mostly from Europe and North America, and their average age is just over 72. Yet today, the majority of Catholics are women, two-thirds live in the developing world, and the Church’s greatest growth is in areas where membership is strikingly young.
The incumbent pope names all the cardinals, so the deck is stacked in favor of continuity. Papal transitions thus are usually about shifts in tone, not substance; the singer changes, rarely the song. There’s no charged ideological debate, and issues matter less than personalities. No matter what happens when 117 cardinals gather in Rome in mid-March to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church almost certainly won’t overturn its bans on abortion and gay marriage, or suddenly ordain women to the priesthood.
15 February
Beyond the self-effacing facade, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet is a cardboard cutout of Benedict XVI
(National Post) With Canadians in charge of the International Space Station and the Bank of England, the prospect one should also sit on St. Peter’s throne as Bishop of Rome and Pope to the world’s Roman Catholics no longer seems so far-fetched.
If early front-runner Marc Cardinal Ouellet does become the first non-European pope since an eighth-century Syrian, his papacy will reflect both the Church’s slow shift away from Europe, and the persistence of Benedict XVI’s dogmatic theology.
Benedict XVI: the revolutionary Pope? Resignation seen as ‘eruption of modernity’
(The Independent) Certainly the Catholic church faces far greater challenges than ever before, and Benedict seems to have realised he was no longer up to it. The church is deeply entangled with the national politics of countries as diverse as China, Russia, Israel and Brazil, and the paedophilia scandal is still a running sore. The “Vatileaks” scandal last year, in which a large amount of secret Vatican correspondence was leaked to the Italian media, exposed the pope as politically weak and at the mercy of his more cunning appointees. As Pope John Paul II grew old and sick he simply delegated most aspects of the job, but Benedict could not reconcile himself to a mental abdication of this sort. He preferred simply to call it a day.

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet waves as he arrives for a meeting at at the Vatican on Thursday.

Marc Ouellet: Canadian pope prospect who says top job would be a ‘nightmare’
Is the cardinal, whose views on abortion and same-sex marriage have caused a storm, the right man to lead the Catholic church?
(The Guardian) He testified before the Canadian senate, urging legislators to vote against legalising gay unions, which he described as “pseudo-marriage, a fiction”. He decried a “culture of death” that had taken hold in his home province that included the acceptance of abortion and support for doctor-assisted suicide.
But Ouellet’s infamy came from remarks at a 2010 anti-abortion rally when he said even women impregnated after having been raped should be denied abortion. “There’s already a victim. Should we be making another one?” he asked. “Taking the life of another is always a moral crime.”
12 February
The World from Berlin: ‘It Is Good that Benedict Is Gone’
(Spiegel) Pope Benedict XVI is nothing if not conservative. He spent the last eight years battling against relativism and individualism — before breaking with tradition and taking a step that no pope has made for over 700 years. German commentators say his papacy failed to introduce much-needed reforms.
Ex-Benedict: Will he still be infallible? Will he get a pension? All your papal questions, answered.
11 February
E.J. Dionne Jr.: Pope Benedict’s legacy is one of paradox
(WaPost) Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit inspires the papal conclaves that choose successors to St. Peter. In prompting this much-needed debate now rather than hanging onto office and presiding as his energies failed him, Benedict has made what can be seen as an inspired decision that will give the church a chance to confront its crises — and its opportunities.
Pope Benedict XVI’s shock resignation breaks ‘600-year taboo’
Pope Benedict, whose eight-year rule was characterised by theological conservatism and what critics said was complicity in the cover-up of clerical sexual abuse, blames health problems
(The Guardian) “The pope has just broken a taboo by breaking with several centuries of practice,” Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, told journalists, hailing the move as a “liberating act for the future”.
The dramatic move – almost entirely unexpected – paves the way for a successor to be chosen by Easter. Whoever is named the next pope by a conclave next month will inherit a church struggling with many of the same controversies that blighted Benedict’s papacy, from clerical sex abuse to fears over inadequate money laundering controls. Pope’s resignation: reaction around the world
(CNN) Shock as world reacts to Pope’s resignation
The Catholic Church’s new Pope will be African according to odds from Irish bookmaker
Nigerian and Ghana cardinals are the favorites to succeed say oddsmakers
Benedict XVI and the Perks of Being an Ex-Pope
With his early exit, Benedict may salvage an uncertain legacy. Plus, he could get a hand in picking his successor. Barbie Latza Nadeau reports from Rome on the palace intrigue ahead.
(The Daily Beast) In many ways, by resigning instead of allowing nature to take its course, Pope Benedict XVI has ensured a very different legacy from the scandal-laden one he would have left had he died like his predecessor, John Paul II. This is a papacy that has borne the brunt of a decades-old church pedophile scandal in which Benedict has been criticized for not doing enough. Nicknamed God’s Rottweiler, he has also brought some scorn on himself, criticizing the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings as “evil and inhuman” and positioning himself as a staunch critic of homosexuality, calling gay and lesbian unions the potential “self-destruction of the human race.”
The Vatican under Benedict was also deeply dented when the pope’s butler Paolo Gabriele was convicted of stealing private papers and leaking them to the press. The documents, which were published in the bestselling book His Holiness, hinted at a divided church in which Benedict XVI seemed either oblivious or unwilling to make tough decisions. By resigning, he has just avoided the potential criticism that comes with public papal funerals and hours of nonstop televised commentary on his legacy. As it stands, he will stay in office until the end of the month, enjoying the respect that his office requires.
He will also avoid the dreaded papal death watch, which he witnessed firsthand when his predecessor, John Paul II, died in 2005 after the world had watched his decline due to Parkinson’s disease. He can also ensure some control over who replaces him. His spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said Benedict XVI would not be directly involved in choosing his predecessor—he is too old to vote. But he could wield influence in other less-direct ways.
But, of course, there is hardly a precedent here. The last time a pope resigned was in 1415, under much different circumstances. This time, the church will have to make up the rules as it goes along.

pape-benoit-xvi-vatican-2005Pope Idol: Who Will Rule Rome Next?
Pope Benedict XVI, 85, announced his resignation Monday, leaving the Catholic Church with less than a month to find someone to fill his popemobile. While bookies have their money on an African or Latin American pope this time around, an American (and even a Canadian!) could prove to be wildcards. The Daily Beast picks the 11 most likely candidates to succeed the Holy Father. [and failed miserably to pick the right one]

2 Comments on "The Papacy 2013 -2014"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm ·

    Jesuit trivia sent along by an Alberta friend:
    — the 1814 Norwegian constitution banned them from that country (along with Jews & other monastic orders), a ban only revoked in 1956, & they were banned from Switzerland in 1847 following the Sonderbund War (a brief civil war prompted by seven Catholic seeking to secede), a ban not lifted until 1973;
    — the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel that honours the “Righteous among the Nations”, i.e. non-Jews who saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust, contains the names of no fewer than 14 Jesuits;
    — the Jesuits have long been big on education; to this day their efforts in this field are guided by the 1599 document that goes by the truncated name of Ratio Studiorum;
    — in the late 1500’s Jesuits founded the Japanese city of Nagasaki & ruled it for a decade as a Portuguese colony that served as an entry point for Portuguese imports. And in 1945, when an atomic bomb was exploded there, two-thirds of all Japanese Catholics still lived there;
    — eight Jesuit priests are said to have lived in a house in Hiroshima in 1945, one mile of the detonation point of its atomic bomb, the only one in the district not to be flattened by the blast, & to have survived unharmed & to have lived normal lives thereafter (which some have compared to the Bible story in Daniel 3 about three men ordered thrown into a furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, only to survive unscathed).

  2. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm ·

    RE Mother Teresa Humanitarian Image A ‘Myth,’ New Study Says (See March 4 above) . The findings of the research team vindicate Christopher Hitchens’ relentless criticism of Mother Teresa as in his October 2003 piece for Slate: Mommie Dearest — The pope beatifies Mother Teresa, a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.

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