A fortnight hence in the Vatican, 2,600 bishops of the Roman Catholic Church will meet in a gathering so rare that only 20 others like it have been convened in the 20 centuries of Christian history. The purpose of the Second Vatican Council is what His Holiness Pope John XXIII, who has the Catholic prelate's traditional wariness of words that suggest drastic change, calls an aggiornamentoa modernization.
Lech Walesa, the fly, feisty, mustachioed electrician from Gdansk, shaped the 20th century as the leader of the Solidarity movement that led the Poles out of communism. It is one of history’s great ironies that the nearest thing we have ever seen to a genuine workers’ revolution was directed against a so-called workers’ state.
In November 1989 word went out that Mikhail Gorbachev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, would stop in Rome en route to a summit meeting with President George Bush. In Rome he would have an audience with Pope John Paul II.
Even before the sun had risen, the crowd attending the beatification of Pope John Paul II had overfilled the square around the St. Peter’s basilica.
At first glance, the surprising news on Tuesday that Pope Benedict XVI has created a new structure to welcome some disenchanted Anglicans into the Roman Catholic fold it was accompanied by a joint statement from his counterpart, the Archbishop of Canterbury might look like a happy reunion.
Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints Sunday, including a 19th-century priest who worked with ostracized leprosy patients in Hawaii before contracting the disease himself and dying from it.
The sight was jarring Friday: Pope Benedict XVI at the Park East Synagogue just before the start of the Jewish Sabbath.
Pope Benedict XVI’s trip this week to the United States will include high-profile visits to the White House, United Nations and Ground Zero. But no matter what political issues or media angles may be buzzing before take-off, the Vatican tends to stress the pastoral aspect of any papal journey. The six-day itinerary is above all stacked with church services, baseball stadium masses and Catholic institutional encounters to allow the pontiff to tend to his flock, and to the priests and bishops who do the ministering when he’s back in Rome
The Catholic Church were presented with a public relations powder keg last March when news broke that a nine-year-old Brazilian girl underwent an abortion after she’d been raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather. Catholics from Sao Paolo to Paris were outraged after the swift public declaration by the local archbishop, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, that the girl’s family, as well as the doctors who performed the abortion, were automatically excommunicated. Monsignor Rino Fisichella, a solidly traditionalist Rome prelate considered close to Benedict, tried to soften the Church’s approach on the Brazilian case by writing in the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that the girl “should have been defended, hugged and held tenderly to help her feel that we were all on her side.” Two weeks ago, the Vatican announced that Sobrinho, who had been serving past retirement, was stepping down
Body language says a lot about a world leader’s audience with the Pope. During his 2007 visit to Pope Benedict XVI’s private library, President George W.