Cardinal John Henry Newman will be beatified at a Mass Sept. 19 presided over by Pope Benedict XVI. It will be the first time Benedict has presided over a beatification ceremony, indicating the great reverence in which Newman is held.
Pope Benedict XVI is midway through his trip to the United Kingdom, and so far reaction has been all over the map, from wild enthusiasm among devotees, to overt hostility among determined protestors, to benign indifference in a broad swath of secular society. Of course, the pope always evokes a range of opinions, but they’re rarely on full public view as they are here.
LONDON -- In the old days, the normal Vatican pattern was that the pope would say or do something controversial, and then his aides would try to calm the waters. It’s a measure of how out of sorts the Vatican’s communications enterprise has been that these days, things seem to work exactly the other way around.
The pattern of the pope cleaning up a mess created by other top church officials was first glimpsed in Portugal, after senior Vatican personnel had publicly compared criticism of the pope to anti-Semitism and “petty gossip.” Benedict XVI changed the tone by insisting, in comments to reporters aboard the papal plane, that the real problem was not outside attacks but sin inside the church.
That papal course correction continued on day one of his four-day trip to the United Kingdom.
Read the full report here: Pope on crisis: 'We weren't fast enough'
John Allen will be filing reports throughout the Papal visit to the U.K. Sept. 16-19. Stay tuned to NCR Today for updates.
There is stark irony in the words Pope Benedict XVI chose when he announced last February his plan to visit England this year and there pronounce John Henry Newman as among the “blessed,” just one step from canonization as a saint. He cited Newman as an example for all the world of opposition to dissent. “In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises,” said the pope, “it is important to recognize dissent for what it is and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.”
A thoughtful recent piece in The Economist asserted that Catholicism’s response to the sexual abuse crisis in Europe has been clumsy in countries where the church is accustomed to unchallenged power, while it’s been “much more intelligent, and appropriately humble ... in places where the church was used to fighting in a noisy democratic space.”
Aug. 15 marked the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which set out his vision for the renewal of Catholic universities and colleges. The anniversary passed quietly, with little of the controversy that greeted the release of the document in 1990.
SEOUL -- Tomorrow, Sept. 1, the Korean Catholic church holds a big event, the "Congress of Catholic Laity in Asia." Some 200 clergy, religious and laity from various countries in Asia will take part in the week-long event, along with some 200 local Catholics. As a layperson in the local church, I am delighted and welcome the congress with my whole heart.
Friends and foes alike of Pope Benedict XVI concur that he's got an image problem. Where they place the blame for it may differ, but the fact itself seems clear: From a PR point of view, this is a pontificate defined by its train wrecks.
Cataloguing those train wrecks is the burden of a valuable new book by two of the best Italian vaticanisti going: Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale and Paolo Rodari of Il Foglio, both of whom also operate widely read blogs -- "Palazzo apostolico" for Rodari and "Sacri palazzi" for Tornielli. Their work is titled Attacco a Ratzinger: Accuse e scandali, profezie e complotti ("Attack on Ratzinger: Accusations and Scandals, Prophecies and Plots"), published in Italian by Piemme.
The book came out in Italy on Tuesday, and one hopes an enterprising publisher in the States will bring out an English translation quickly. (Let me volunteer here and now: I'd be happy to put together a preface introducing the book, and its authors, to an English-speaking audience.)
Literature about the Vatican already contains a number of popular subgenres, such as papal biographies and potboiler novels (think Shoes of the Fisherman). Now an additional category probably should be added to the list, based both on the number of examples and their proven capacity to titillate: the “gay priest exposé.”
Saying he hopes to offer the Vatican a "different picture" of women religious in the United States, Rome's new number two official for religious life says he suspects the choice of an American for that job, and one known to be sympathetic to women religious, may reflect awareness of "just how badly" a controversial Vatican investigation of women's orders has been received.