Nearly lost amid ongoing reports about the Vatican leaks scandal, Rome's battle with American nuns, the American bishops' battle for religious freedom, and the priest on trial in Philadelphia, was the news that, by the way, Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit Philadelphia.
ROME -- A misunderstanding of the Second Vatican Council has led some Catholics to think that eucharistic adoration and Corpus Christi processions are pietistic practices that pale in importance to the celebration of Mass, Pope Benedict XVI said.
"A unilateral interpretation of the Second Vatican Council has penalized this dimension" of Catholic faith, which is to recognize Jesus truly present in the Eucharist and worthy of adoration, the pope said June 7 during a Mass marking the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
The evening Mass outside Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran preceded a moment of silent adoration and the pope's traditional Corpus Christi procession with the Eucharist through the streets of Rome.
In his homily, the pope told the thousands of people gathered on the basilica lawn that it is important to recognize the centrality of the celebration of Mass, the moment in which the Lord gathers his people, nourishes them and unites them to himself in offering his sacrifice.
VATICAN CITY -- Paolo Gabriele, the papal assistant, has been accused of aggravated theft, a crime that under Vatican laws is punishable with a prison term of 1 to 6 years, a Vatican judge said.
Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, the judge, said under the terms of the Vatican's 1929 treaty with Italy, a person found guilty and sentenced to jail time by a Vatican court would serve his term in an Italian prison.
The judge also said that while Gabriele remains detained in a 12-foot-by-12-foot room in the Vatican police station, he was allowed to attend Mass June 3 in an unspecified "Vatican church." Two gendarmes accompanied Gabriele to the church, but he was not required to wear handcuffs, the judge said.
The judge briefed reporters June 5 on how the Vatican criminal justice system works, particularly in view of the investigation currently under way regarding Gabriele and his alleged involvement in the publication of hundreds of private letters and notes to or from Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican officials.
VATICAN CITY -- Over the course of the last six months, Pope Benedict XVI delivered five major speeches to small groups of American bishops who were in Rome for their "ad limina" visits, which are required once every five years.
The "ad limina" visits are the way the pope and and Vatican departments keep tabs on bishops from around the world. They are also an occasion for the pope to address the major issues faced by a local church.
In Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," the narrator yearns for a "surcease of sorrow" for his lost Lenore. It's an apt allusion to open a report on the Vatican these days, gripped by scandals surrounding leaked documents, the abrupt firing of a Vatican Bank president once hailed as a great reformer, and the arrest of the pope's butler.
In Italian, the presumed gang of insiders behind the leaks is known as corvi, which can be translated either as "crows" or "ravens."
The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has sharply criticized Just Love, an award-winning book on sexual ethics by Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley, a prominent Catholic theologian at Yale University.
"Among the many errors and ambiguities in this book are its positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage," the congregation's five-page "Notification" said.
In those areas, it said, the author's position "contradicts" or "is opposed to" or "does not conform to" church teaching.
Made public Monday but dated March 30, the Notification was approved by Pope Benedict XVI and signed by U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation, and Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, its secretary.
Farley said, "Although my responses to some particular sexual ethical questions do depart from some traditional Christian responses, I have tried to show that they nonetheless reflect a deep coherence with the central aims and insights of these theological and moral traditions."
I have received the official Notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published in Rome, June 4, 2012. By it, I understand that my book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, has been judged to contain positions that are not in conformity with the hierarchical teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
I appreciate the efforts made by the Congregation and its consultants, over several years, to evaluate positions articulated in that book, and I do not dispute the judgment that some of the positions contained within it are not in accord with current official Catholic teaching. In the end, I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.
The following reactions by theologians and other academics to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith's “Notification” regarding Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley's Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics were gathered by the Yale Divinity School for distribution to the media:
Harold Attridge, Dean of Yale Divinity School
Professor Emerita Margaret Farley has long been a revered figure at Yale Divinity School. She has inspired generations of students, both men and women, to take seriously the task of theological ethics, by examining the logic of our moral judgments in the light of scripture, tradition, and human experience.
Her work on sexual ethics, Just Love, is an award-winning example of that enterprise, recognized by Christians of many traditions as a thoughtful attempt to wrestle with some of the most divisive social issues of our time.
ROME -- From picked pockets to a 1998 double murder and suicide, the Vatican legal system has dealt with a vast array of crimes and misdemeanors over the decades.
Now it has begun a formal inquiry into the case of the pope's personal assistant who has been implicated in the media-blitzed "VatiLeaks" scandal. Paolo Gabriele, the pope's valet since 2006, was arrested May 23 by Vatican security for having unauthorized documents in his possession.
As the case unfolds in the coming weeks, many may wonder how the Vatican City State's unique judicial system works.
Its legal foundations are rooted in the Code of Canon Law, papal decrees, the Lateran Pacts, and Italian and Roman municipal laws.
Of the half-dozen different tribunal systems at the Vatican, just one deals specifically with the maintenance of law and order in the 108-acre country. The other systems tackle ecclesial matters.
In the normally tranquil world of the Vatican, where keeping up at least the appearance of unity is a fine art, the Pontifical Academy for Life has long been something of an outlier. There, internal tensions have a habit of erupting into full public view.
The latest such row, featuring a public call from academy members for its papally appointed leadership to resign, pivots in part on the question of just how “pro-life” is pro-life enough to faithfully represent Catholic teaching.
Also at stake is whether affording a Vatican platform to people who don’t completely share Catholic positions risks blurring the church’s message -- or whether refusal to engage in such dialogue betrays, as one Vatican cardinal has asserted, an insecure, “fundamentalist” position.
Founded by Pope John Paul II in 1994, the Pontifical Academy for Life is essentially a Vatican think tank composed of roughly 70 academics, medical experts and activists. It’s led by a bishop appointed by the pope, along with a small staff of Vatican personnel, and coordinated by a six-member governing council.