Naming new cardinals is among the more important acts of any papacy, because the cardinals form the "electoral college" that will pick the next pope. That’s arguably even more significant this time around, given that Benedict XVI will turn 85 in April -- and although there’s no sign of any health crisis, at that age it’s natural to begin thinking about what might come next.
VATICAN CITY -- Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala has resigned after disclosing to superiors that he is the father of two children.
The Vatican announced the bishop's resignation Jan. 4 in a one-line statement that cited church law on resignation for illness or other serious reasons.
WASHINGTON — Pope Benedict XVI established a new nationwide U.S. ordinariate Jan. 1 for U.S. Anglicans (Episcopalians) who wish to become Catholic. He named Fr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, a Catholic theology professor in Houston and former Episcopal bishop, as its first head.
The new Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter will be based in Houston, according to Jan. 1 announcements released in Rome and Washington.
VATICAN CITY -- U.S. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Australian Archbishop Mark B. Coleridge of Canberra and Goulburn, and Greg Erlandson, president of the Catholic Press Association, were named by Pope Benedict XVI to help advise the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The Vatican released the names of the new appointments Thursday.
Ten bishops were named new members of the council; among them are Archbishop Dolan, who is president of the U.S. bishops' conference and a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, and Archbishop Coleridge, who is a member of the Synod of Bishops and Pontifical Council for Culture.
Among the 11 new consultors or advisers to the communications council are: Erlandson, who is president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor; Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano; Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, the editor of the influential Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica; and Dominican Sister Dominica Dipio, who is a filmmaker and head of the department of literature at Makerere University in Uganda.
MEXICO CITY -- A spokesman for the Mexican bishops' conference confirmed details of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to Mexico originally published by the newspaper Reforma, which reported the papal visit would occur March 23-26.
The spokesman, Father Manuel Corral, stressed that details of the visit "are not official," although he said the pope would only visit the state of Guanajuato and its environs in west-central Mexico. Father Corral said specific details of the visit would likely be made public before the end of the year.
Reforma, citing comments from the president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, reported that Pope Benedict would celebrate Mass March 25 at the Parque Guanajuato Bicentenario in Silao, near the city of Leon and 220 miles northwest of Mexico City.
Pope Benedict also is expected to visit Cuba during his trip, the first to both countries since he was elected in 2005.
VATICAN CITY -- Europe's economic and financial crisis is the consequence of an "ethical crisis" and a "crisis of faith," Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday, resulting in the triumph of selfishness over social responsibility.
Benedict made his remarks in his annual Christmas speech to the Roman Curia, the Catholic church's central administration at the Vatican.
The pope acknowledged that "such values as solidarity, commitment to one's neighbor and responsibility toward the poor and suffering are largely uncontroversial," but said the "motivation is often lacking ... to make sacrifices."
While the remedy for selfishness lies in "proclamation of the gospel," the pope said Europe is now undergoing a crisis of faith evident in the troubles of the Roman Catholic Church.
"Regular churchgoers are growing older all the time and ... their number is constantly diminishing," and "recruitment of priests is stagnating" while "skepticism and unbelief are growing."
Benedict drew a contrast between Europe's anemic religious life and Africa's "joyful passion for faith," which he experienced last month during a three-day visit to the West African country of Benin.
Despite reports to the contrary, sources say there’s no particular Vatican concern about the new archbishop of Manila, the Philippines, over an article he contributed more than a decade ago to a controversial history of the Second Vatican Council. The article had not been part of the official documentation considered before his appointment.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI advanced the sainthood causes of Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
He also formally recognized the martyrdom of 64 victims of the Spanish Civil War and advanced the causes of 18 other men and women.
During a meeting Dec. 19 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed the decrees recognizing the miracles needed for the canonizations of Blesseds Marianne and Kateri.
Before a date is set for the canonization ceremonies, there must be an "ordinary public consistory," a formal ceremony opened and closed with prayer, during which cardinals present in Rome express their support for the pope's decision to create new saints.
Blessed Marianne, who worked as a teacher and hospital administrator in New York, spent the last 30 years of her life ministering on the Hawaiian island of Molokai to those with leprosy. She died on the island in 1918 at age 80 and was beatified in St. Peter's Basilica in 2005.
WASHINGTON -- Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Cuba in the spring will have multiple layers of meaning for the church and for Cuban society, said a U.S. archbishop who pays close attention to Cuba.
VATICAN CITY -- In a sitting room where lace doilies top every table, Jesuit Fr. Robert F. Taft's gray sweater and wooden cane add to the impression that he's a refined retired professor.
But then he shared what he believes is the line his former students quote most: "There are two things you do not do alone: liturgy and sex."
The world-renowned liturgical scholar was interviewed Dec. 13 as he prepared to return to the United States after more than 46 years in Rome.
Students and friends share his pithy quotes with relish and his graduate summer school students at the University of Notre Dame even published a collection of them several years ago.
"They're totally spontaneous. It's not like I sit in my room before class thinking, 'What wisecrack can I throw at them today?' It just happens," he said.
Taft, who said he's "on the top of the heap" when it comes to knowledge of the Byzantine liturgy, officially retired as a professor at Rome's Pontifical Oriental Institute in 2002. He is scheduled to move to the Jesuit retirement center in Weston, Mass., just after Christmas and will celebrate his 80th birthday Jan. 9.