Mary Ann Glendon is the eighth Ambassador of the United States to the Holy See, and by most measures she's probably the nominee least in need of on-the-job training. Glendon is a veteran Vatican insider, having represented the Holy See at the 1995 Beijing conference of the United Nations on women, and having served as president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences -- the first woman to head a pontifical academy. A professor at the Harvard Law School, she's also an expert on international legal theory.
All Things Catholic
Prior to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States, some handlers worried that the American media would impose the sexual abuse crisis as the trip's dominant storyline. As it turns out, those fears were misplaced -- the media didn't impose the crisis upon the pope, he imposed it on us.
As Pope Benedict XVI's arrival in the United States approaches, the media is chock full of pieces outlining the challenges the pope faces in America, and trying to anticipate what he might do or say to address them. Perhaps it's fitting that the last word before the curtain goes up, however, should belong to Benedict himself.
Editor's Note: Just as today's column was being posted, John Allen filed the following report on his daily news journal: Vatican fence-mending campaign with Jews picks up steam.
Rarely does an Easter Vigil Mass become a news event, but this year's edition in St. Peter's Basilica certainly got the world's attention. The reason: One of seven new Catholics personally baptized by Pope Benedict XVI happens to be an Egyptian-born Italian journalist and convert from Islam, widely regarded as the successor to Oriana Fallaci in terms of visceral protest against Muslim extremism.
This week's column is intended as a "one-stop-shopping" guide to the April 15-20 visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States. There's a lot of material, and it may be best read in chunks rather than at one sitting. I hope it proves a useful overview not just of the highlights of the pope's schedule, but also the trip's background and context.
On Tuesday I was in Dayton, Ohio, where the University of Dayton put together a panel to discuss my argument that "evangelical Catholicism" constitutes a mega-trend in Catholic life. Aside from me, the panelists were William Portier, who holds the Mary Ann Spearin Chair in Catholic Theology at the University of Dayton; and David J. O'Brien, Loyola Professor of Roman Catholic Studies at the College of the Holy Cross.
Over a six-day stretch from last Wednesday through this Tuesday, I gave five presentations in four cities. The series kicked off last week when I served as the closing act at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C. (I was publicly blessed at the end by Msgr. Ray East of St. Teresa of Avila Parish -- and when you're blessed by the dynamic Msgr. East, let me tell you, you feel it.)
In ancient Rome, the office of "tribune" was created to represent the common people, the plebeians, over against the patrician magistrates, meaning the elite ruling class. Over time the office basically lost this founding ideal, but the idea of a "tribune" as a voice for the common person still survives in other contexts -- for example, in its widespread use as a name for newspapers.