Given that the 2008 American presidential campaign is now in full swing, with the formation of exploratory committees and announcements-of-intent-to-announce, perhaps it's not too early to begin thinking about the next papal election either.
All Things Catholic
In most quarters, when something goes wrong with a bishop’s appointment, there’s a natural tendency to blame the pope. After all, since the 19th century, the appointment of bishops in the Western church has been the near-universal prerogative of the Roman pontiff, so the buck stops on his desk. (The fact that the pope did not directly appoint most bishops prior to the 19th century is, alas, a subject for another time).
In 1998, Pope John Paul II issued a document titled Ad Tuendam Fidem, which generated no small amount of discussion by underlining a second category of infallible teachings, i.e., doctrines not formally revealed but regarded as necessary to safeguard and defend revelation. In an accompanying commentary, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger cited the ban on women priests and the invalidity of Anglican ordinations as examples.
Last week, I presented a draft list of ten “mega-trends” which I believe are shaping the future of the Catholic church, and asked for reader reaction. I was stunned by the response. In addition to the public comments on the NCR site, I received scores of personal messages, most of them deeply thoughtful and well-informed. Though I can’t respond personally, please know that I am grateful, and I hope my forthcoming book is equal to the quality of your contributions.
Christmas is a season of giving, and in a rather self-serving application of that spirit, this week I'm asking readers to give me something. Specifically, I'm asking for reactions to my list of the 10 most important "mega-trends" in Catholicism today, which appears below.
When Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople met recently, the encounter was spun in a variety of ways: As an effort to reunite Eastern and Western Christianity; As an attempt to forge a united Christian front vis-à-vis Islam; Even as a bid to pool resources to combat runaway secularism in Europe.
Whatever one makes of Pope Benedict XVI’s shift from a “red light” to a “yellow light” on Turkey’s candidacy for the European Union, it was actually not the most jarring discontinuity between Joseph Ratzinger the cardinal and Benedict the pope during the Turkey trip.
Editor's Note: John Allen provided daily coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's Nov. 28-Dec. 1 visit to Turkey, which can be found under the Daily News and Updates section of this web page.
As Benedict XVI's Nov. 28-Dec. 1 trip to Turkey draws near, one concern both in the Vatican and at the Phanar, the headquarters of the Patriarch of Constantinople, is that the post-Regensburg emphasis on Christian/Muslim relations will overshadow the ecumenical thrust of the pope's visit, intended to cap several decades of rapprochement between Rome and the "first among equals" in the Orthodox world.
In a week in which the Vatican has offered us a hum-dinger instance of a public relations gaffe, this is probably an opportune moment for some reflections on church communications.