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UPDATED: Scholars ask pope to slow Pius XII's canonization

WASHINGTON -- Nineteen Catholic scholars of theology and history are asking Pope Benedict XVI to slow the process of the sainthood cause of Pope Pius XII.

Saying that much more research needs to be done on the papacy of the mid-20th century pope, the scholars said in a Feb. 16 letter to Pope Benedict that "history needs distance and perspective" before definitive conclusions can be reached on the role of Pope Pius during World War II and the Holocaust.

Leading the effort are Servite Father John Pawlikowski, professor of ethics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and Holy Cross Father Kevin Spicer, associate professor of history at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.

"We're not on a bandwagon to stop his eventual canonization," Father Pawlikowski told Catholic News Service Feb. 18. "We're saying allow some time."

Father Pawlikowski said the scholars, known widely for their research and expertise on the Holocaust, wanted to express their concerns in a respectful manner to the pope.

Vatican's rock top-10: Beatles, U2, Pink Floyd

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican newspaper has come up with a "semi-serious" list of 10 essential rock and pop albums, including works by the Beatles, U2, Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd.

The list was offered in a tongue-in-cheek article Feb. 14 as an alternative to the music of Italy's biggest pop music festival, which was to begin two days later. The "10 albums worth taking to a desert island" were listed in the chronological order of their release:

Self-mortification must be moderate, monitored

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VATICAN CITY -- Reacting to a report that Pope John Paul II practiced self-mortification, including flagellation, experts in spirituality said ascetical practices are part of the Christian tradition, but should be used in moderation and under the guidance of a mature spiritual director.

"Union with the redeeming suffering of Christ comes through accepting the trials and suffering of life or, like in the case of Pope John Paul II, with the voluntary choice of physical suffering," said Cardinal Georges Cottier, theologian of the papal household under the late pope.

Vatican preparing documents on prayer, brothers

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VATICAN CITY -- Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, told Vatican Radio Feb. 2 that his office was working on two documents: a joint document with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments on the importance of prayer in the life of religious; and a document highlighting the importance of religious brothers in the church.

Church takes Gospel values to public debate

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VATICAN CITY -- Catholic teaching and the truths of the Gospel have a right to be heard in public debate, especially in a country where so many people claim to be Christian, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops of England and Wales.

However, the church must recognize dissent within its own ranks and not accept it as being part of a balanced discussion, he said Feb. 1 in an address to bishops who were making their "ad limina" visits.

The meeting with the bishops, who were at the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses, took place as Pope Benedict prepares to visit Great Britain in September.

Pope John Paul practiced self-mortification

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II always took penitence seriously, spending entire nights lying with his arms outstretched on the bare floor, fasting before ordaining priests or bishops and flagellating himself, said the promoter of his sainthood cause.

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator of the late pope's cause, said Pope John Paul used self-mortification "both to affirm the primacy of God and as an instrument for perfecting himself."

Pope confirms Bertone as Vatican secretary of state

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has reconfirmed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as Vatican secretary of state, praising the Italian prelate's capability, humanity and sense of faith.

As required of all Vatican department heads, Cardinal Bertone had offered his resignation when he turned 75 last December. He was named head of the Secretariat of State in 2006.

'The Simpsons' and the Vatican press

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Analysis

Oddball combinations never fail to amuse. On their own, neither poodles nor break dancing constitute a novelty, but find a break-dancing poodle and YouTube awaits. In the same spirit, a recent paean to “The Simpsons” in L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, sparked chuckles around the world.

After all, Homer Simpson is the postmodern everyman who once mused, “What’s that religion with all the well-meaning rules that don’t work out in real life? ... You know, Christianity.” For the Vatican’s in-house organ to pay tribute on the show’s 20th anniversary is, therefore, noteworthy.

Pope defends outreach to Anglicans

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI defended his plan to make it easier for Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, saying that it served the “ultimate purpose” of dialogue between the two denominations.

The pope spoke on Friday, Jan. 15, at a special plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic church's highest doctrinal authority.

Pope welcomed to Rome synagogue despite tensions

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Heading into Pope Benedict XVI’s much-anticipated Jan. 17 visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome, one towering question loomed. What impact would the recent move towards sainthood for Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff whose alleged “silence” on the Holocaust has long fueled controversy, have on the broader Jewish-Catholic relationship?

In the wake of the visit on Sunday, two answers seem equally clear:


  • One, fraternal relations between Jews and Catholic will survive the latest round of tensions over Pius XII, with the enthusiastic welcome given to Benedict XVI as proof of the point.

  • Two, those tensions also aren’t about to disappear.

This was only the second papal trip to the Rome synagogue, after John Paul II’s groundbreaking visit in April 1986. Benedict was greeted warmly, including an emotional reunion with the former Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaf, who hosted John Paul twenty-four years ago.

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