Italian authorities froze some $30 million in assets of the Vatican Bank Sept. 20, and placed the bank’s president and general director under investigation for alleged violations of anti-money-laundering protocols.
VATICAN CITY -- In June, Pope Benedict XVI announced he was establishing a major Vatican agency to deal with "new evangelization" in traditionally Christian countries.
The pope's initiative was seen as a bold stroke in the church's ongoing effort to engage the modern world. But three months later, the project is still stuck in the slow wheels of Vatican bureaucracy.
Officially, in fact, the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization doesn't yet exist. Although the pope proclaimed its formation and then named its president, Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the office will formally be launched only with publication an apostolic constitution, in which the pope will lay out the council's structure and tasks.
In the meantime, Archbishop Fisichella is in a kind of limbo.
"We're hoping it will come around the end of September. I don't know any more than that. We need to be patient with the bureaucracy here," he said.
The pope keeps mentioning the importance of the new council. Most recently, he urged British bishops to "avail yourselves of its services."
VATICAN CITY -- The president of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, has been placed under investigation by Italian magistrates in a money-laundering probe, the Italian state television RAI reported.
RAI, citing judicial sources, said the move followed the seizure Sept. 20 by Italian treasury police of 23 million euros (US$30 million) that had been deposited in a Rome bank account by the Vatican bank.
LONDON -- In his final act before departing the U.K. for Rome, Pope Benedict XVI has challenged the Catholic church to “humbly” present itself as a model for all society in the protection of children and young people from abuse.
It marked the fourth time the pontiff has addressed the sexual abuse crisis during his Sept. 16-19 trip to Scotland and England. The crisis has not taken on the same dimensions here as in the United States, Ireland, Germany, and other countries, but it nevertheless formed an important subtext to the trip.
This was the first time the pope has explicitly suggested that the experience accumulated by the Catholic church over the last decade could be a model for the wider world.
London -- On day three of Pope Benedict XVI’s four-day visit to the United Kingdom, the pontiff has once again used strong language on the sexual abuse crisis, expressing “deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes.”
The pontiff said he feels "shame and humiliation" because of the scandals, and called upon Catholics to express "concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests."
Cardinal John Henry Newman will be beatified at a Mass Sept. 19 presided over by Pope Benedict XVI. It will be the first time Benedict has presided over a beatification ceremony, indicating the great reverence in which Newman is held.
Pope Benedict XVI is midway through his trip to the United Kingdom, and so far reaction has been all over the map, from wild enthusiasm among devotees, to overt hostility among determined protestors, to benign indifference in a broad swath of secular society. Of course, the pope always evokes a range of opinions, but they’re rarely on full public view as they are here.
LONDON -- In the old days, the normal Vatican pattern was that the pope would say or do something controversial, and then his aides would try to calm the waters. It’s a measure of how out of sorts the Vatican’s communications enterprise has been that these days, things seem to work exactly the other way around.
The pattern of the pope cleaning up a mess created by other top church officials was first glimpsed in Portugal, after senior Vatican personnel had publicly compared criticism of the pope to anti-Semitism and “petty gossip.” Benedict XVI changed the tone by insisting, in comments to reporters aboard the papal plane, that the real problem was not outside attacks but sin inside the church.
That papal course correction continued on day one of his four-day trip to the United Kingdom.
Read the full report here: Pope on crisis: 'We weren't fast enough'
John Allen will be filing reports throughout the Papal visit to the U.K. Sept. 16-19. Stay tuned to NCR Today for updates.
There is stark irony in the words Pope Benedict XVI chose when he announced last February his plan to visit England this year and there pronounce John Henry Newman as among the “blessed,” just one step from canonization as a saint. He cited Newman as an example for all the world of opposition to dissent. “In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises,” said the pope, “it is important to recognize dissent for what it is and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.”
A thoughtful recent piece in The Economist asserted that Catholicism’s response to the sexual abuse crisis in Europe has been clumsy in countries where the church is accustomed to unchallenged power, while it’s been “much more intelligent, and appropriately humble ... in places where the church was used to fighting in a noisy democratic space.”