VATICAN CITY -- In a quiet modification of a traditional format, the Vatican has dropped most of the individual private meetings between Pope Benedict XVI and bishops making their "ad limina" visits to Rome.
The Vatican is legendary for thinking in centuries, which may help explain why a document on the vocation to the religious brotherhood that in some ways has been in the works for a quarter century remains largely in the planning stages today.
When that document from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, better known as the Congregation for Religious, eventually appears, certainly no one can accuse them of having rushed into it.
VATICAN CITY -- Treading carefully on a subject that has proved diplomatically volatile for the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI lamented Sunday’s (Oct. 9) killing of two dozen Christian protesters in Egypt.
“I am profoundly saddened by the episodes of violence that took place in Cairo last Sunday,” Benedict said on Wednesday (Oct. 12), referring to clashes between Coptic Christians and government security forces that led to the deaths of at least 25 protesters.
The pope voiced his pain at “attempts to undermine peaceful coexistence” between Egypt’s Christian minority and Muslim majority, and called for “true peace, based on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of all citizens.”
“I support the efforts made by the civil and religious authorities in Egypt to foster a society in which everyone’s human rights are respected, in particular those of minorities,” Benedict said, without mentioning the religious affiliation of the protesters.
VATICAN CITY -- Condemning an attack on unarmed Christians in Egypt, Pope Benedict XVI said that during the country's transition to democracy, all of its citizens and institutions must work to guarantee the rights of minorities.
At the end of his weekly general audience Oct. 12, Pope Benedict said he was "profoundly saddened" by the deaths Oct. 9 of at least 26 people, mostly Christians, after peaceful protesters were attacked by gangs, and then a speeding military vehicle ran into them and officers fired on the crowd. Hundreds of people were injured.
The pope said Egypt, which has been transitioning to democracy since the February ousting of President Hosni Mubarak, has been "lacerated by attempts to undermine peaceful coexistence among its communities."
Safeguarding harmony and cooperation is essential for a future of true democracy, he said.
The pope asked Catholics to pray that Egypt would "enjoy true peace based on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every citizen."
VATICAN CITY -- Leaders of an ultra-traditionalist group that’s in schism with the Roman Catholic Church met to consider the Vatican’s conditions for reconciliation, but failed to announce a decision or say when they would do so.
The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) will respond to the Vatican’s conditions “in a reasonable time,” its leaders said, after they met on Friday (Oct. 7).
Bishop Bernard Fellay, the SSPX’s superior general, received the “doctrinal preamble” at a meeting in Rome last month. The document’s contents remain confidential, but the Vatican has indicated it includes a mandate to accept at least some of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the pope’s teaching authority in the decades since.
Founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the SSPX is the largest and most vocal group of ultra-traditionalist Catholics who reject the modernizing reforms ushered in by Vatican II, including the council’s teachings on religious freedom and subsequent changes to the Mass.
Pope Benedict XVI’s choice as his new ambassador to the United States will find a badly polarized society in America, with contentious national elections in 2012 already heating up and no sign that the nasty divisions in Catholic opinion that erupted last time around have been smoothed over.
As strange as it sounds, Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, assuming he gets the job, may just be glad for the break from politics.
Pope Benedict XVI has gone home to Germany twice before, but it is always been, in a sense, on his turf. The first German pontiff in 500 years was surrounded by throngs of pumped-up young believers for World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005, and he took a trip down memory lane to ultra-Catholic Bavaria, where the young Joseph Ratzinger grew up, in 2006.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict has named Italian Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza to be the new nuncio to the Czech Republic, transferring him from his post as ambassador to Ireland.
The Vatican announced the change Sept. 15; it had been rumored for months.
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican has given the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X a formal "doctrinal preamble" listing several principles they must agree with in order to move toward full reconciliation with church.
U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the statement to Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the society, Sept. 14 during a meeting at the Vatican that lasted more than two hours.
VATICAN CITY -- Leaders of Indonesia's largest Muslim student group came to the Vatican to extend an invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to speak at a conference in Bali in 2012.
The leaders of the Indonesian Islamic Student Association, or Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam, met Sept. 10 with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, reported Fides, the Vatican's missionary news agency.