A Roman Observer: For his first column, Robert Mickens, a longtime Vatican observer, tells us what to expect when the synod on the family opens this weekend.
Pope Francis warned against the abandonment and neglect of the elderly, calling it a "hidden euthanasia" rooted in today's "poisonous" culture of disposal and an economic system of greed.
In the presence of his predecessor, Pope Francis also thanked retired Pope Benedict XVI for staying to live at the Vatican and being like "a wise grandfather at home."
"A people who don't take care of their grandparents and don't treat them well is a people with no future. Why no future? Because they lose the memory [of the past] and they sever their own roots," he said.
The Vatican formally criticized a U.N. committee's "grave misunderstanding" of state sovereignty and reiterated its concerns over "controversial new expressions" that threaten the unborn and religious freedom.
By insisting the Holy See should enforce the compliance of Catholics all over the world with international treaties signed by the Vatican, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child "offers a controversial new approach to 'jurisdiction,' which clearly contradicts the general understanding of this concept of international law."
A new papal commission is looking at how Vatican media outlets can better communicate the church's message "of healing, of love, of hope, and of generosity of spirit," the panel's leader said.
The group is drawing up "proposals that will recognize the particular importance of what the church is communicating and the way in which it can best communicate that message in the 21st century," said British Lord Chris Patten, commission president.
Excitement and anticipation for this synod have been high, partly because of a survey the Vatican sent to the world's bishops last year.
For years, they have been invisible and often afraid to identify themselves. But the women sometimes dubbed "God's rivals" are no longer willing to remain silent.
Twenty-six Italian women who are married to or in relationships with Catholic priests want clerical celibacy to be overturned by the world's bishops when they meet in Rome for their global synod on the family in October.
Just Catholic: Pope Francis has made it pretty clear: He wants more women involved in things churchy. Two prelates seem to have gotten the memo.
The International Theological Commission is composed of theologians from all over the world who advise the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A new group of theologians has been appointed to the commission, including five women.
I normally do not reply to attacks in the media, but Sandro Magister is a respected Italian conservative with very good sources in the Vatican, so I want to correct a reference he made to me.
In his column "The Betting is Open on the Next Synod," he wrote:
The fact that the "reactionaries" Caffarra, Scola, and Aguilar have been invited to take part in the synod by Francis himself has significantly chilled the enthusiasm for the current pope.
Pope Francis named five women - a record - to the International Theological Commission. Before now, there have never been more than two women on the commission at a time.