ROME -- When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the papacy in April 2005, the popular forecast called for stormy weather ahead. This was, after all, the Vatican enforcer who had been leading a “smack-down on heresy since 1981”, in the words of T-shirts and coffee mugs marketed by a Ratzinger fan club. His rise elicited dread in some quarters and joy in others, but virtually everyone agreed big things were in the works.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI named the members of a papal commission he established in March to investigate a series of leaks of letters exchanged among Vatican officials and between the officials and the pope himself.
Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, 82, a former president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, will lead the commission. The two other members are 88-year-old retired Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; and the retired archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, 81.
The commission of cardinals "will act at all levels on the strength of its pontifical mandate" to investigate the "recent leaks of reserved and confidential documents on television, in newspapers and in other communications media" and "bring these episodes fully to light," said a Vatican press release Wednesday.
The commission met for the first time Tuesday, the statement said, "to establish the method and timetable for its activities."
VATICAN CITY -- A newly announced reform of an association of women's religious congregations in the U.S. offers the sisters and their bishops an opportunity to communicate and work together more closely, said the archbishop named by the Vatican to oversee the reform process.
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle spoke to Catholic News Service in Rome April 22, a day after arriving for a periodic "ad limina" visit to the Vatican.
Although Pope Benedict XVI’s March 23-28 outing to Mexico and Cuba officially constituted one voyage, in reality it was a tale of two trips. In Cuba, the pontiff was at his most political, engaging in a delicate and controversial tête-à-tête with the Castro regime; in Mexico, Benedict instead focused on the pastoral, featuring a gentle debunking of clericalism.
Benedict’s six-day journey, which took him to the León archdiocese in Mexico and Santiago and Havana in Cuba, was the 23rd foreign outing of his papacy, but his first to Spanish-speaking Latin America. (The pontiff visited Brazil in 2007.)
VATICAN CITY -- During a Mass in which priests renew their promises of fidelity to Christ, Pope Benedict XVI firmly criticized dissent from church teachings and disobedience of God's will as illegitimate pathways toward reform and renewal.
Surrounded by more than 1,600 priests, bishops and cardinals, the pope cautioned against calls for women's ordination, saying such campaigns seemed more "a desperate push" to fulfill one's own preferences rather than a sincere attempt to conform one's life more closely to Christ.
HAVANA (CNS) -- The Cuba that Pope Benedict XVI visited March 26-28 is a country where the Catholic Church enjoys significantly more freedom and official recognition than it did when Blessed John Paul II made the first papal visit to the island in 1998.
SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba -- Celebrating an outdoor Mass on his first day in Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the struggles of the country's Catholics after half a century of communism and described human freedom as a necessity for both salvation and social justice.
HAVANA (CNS) -- The eyes and the prayers of parishioners in Havana's St. Rita of Cascia Church were focused on the 19 catechumens who will be baptized at Easter. Only the large group of reporters was fixated on the 35 women dressed all in white sitting near the front.
But after the Mass March 25, while parishioners visited with each other and with their pastor, the Ladies in White -- the "Damas de Blanco" -- recited the Hail Mary in the back of the church, and then began their weekly protest march along the main street outside.
GUANAJUATO CITY, Mexico (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI greeted Mexicans who lost loved ones in some of the country's most notorious crimes, events that horrified Mexico and generated international headlines.
They were among people the pope greeted privately March 24 following his public appearance in the city of Guanajuato. No details were provided, although the office of President Felipe Calderon issued a list of the eight attendees and crimes that affected them.
SILAO, Mexico (CNS) -- Celebrating Mass in the Catholic heartland of Mexico, Pope Benedict XVI told a nation and a continent suffering from poverty, corruption and violence, to trust in God and the intercession of Mary to help them bring about a "more just and fraternal society."
"When addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us," the pope said in his homily during the outdoor Mass at Guanajuato Bicentennial Park March 25, the second full day of his second papal visit to Latin America. "We must have recourse to the one who alone can give life in its fullness, because he is the essence of life and its author."