In an unusually detailed response to recent criticism from the Irish government, the Vatican insisted today that it did not subvert efforts by the Irish bishops to report sexually abusive priests to the police, saying that claims to the contrary by Ireland’s Prime Minister are “unfounded.”
LONDON -- From time to time in the church, developments come down the pike that stir up enormous reaction at first, but that, over time, never quite seem to produce the earthquakes that breathless commentary predicted.
Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 decision to revive the Latin Mass is arguably one such case, as is a 2005 Vatican document barring homosexuals from seminaries. Both became an instant cause célèbre, yet, at least so far, most people would say that neither liturgical practice nor seminary formation has been truly turned on its head.
In the U.K., some observers believe a similar point might be made about the recent creation of a new structure, called an ordinariate, to welcome groups of former Anglicans into the Catholic fold.
When it was unveiled two years ago, supporters hailed the ordinariate as a way to end the ecumenical logjam between Rome and Canterbury. Critics predicted it would corrode relations with Anglicans, and that it would drive Catholicism to the right by embracing Anglicanism’s most determined opponents of women clergy and homosexuality.
VATICAN CITY -- When it comes to sex education programs, the Catholic Church is painted as old-fashioned and callous about teen pregnancy and disease. But governments that mandate sex education in the schools are fooling themselves about its effectiveness, the Vatican newspaper said.
Writing on the front page of L'Osservatore Romano Aug. 30, Lucetta Scaraffia looked specifically at New York City, where students in middle school and high school will be required to attend a semester-long course in sex education.
Scaraffia, a professor of contemporary history at Rome's La Sapienza University and a frequent contributor to the Vatican newspaper, said that "to avoid religious controversy, chastity will be cited among birth control methods and teachers will have to speak about sex with some caution" in the New York courses.
Still, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York criticized the mandatory program as usurping the rights of parents to educate their children in line with their beliefs and values, she said.
When the Vatican released documents in mid-August related to the case of Fr. Andrew Ronan, a Servite priest who was laicized in 1966 and died in 1992 and who now figures in a sex abuse lawsuit in Oregon, it amounted to a historic turn: the first time the Vatican has opened up its files in response to a court order.
In a move some theologians say undermines the credibility of the leading English-language Catholic theological journal, the Vatican has pressured it to publish a scholarly essay on marriage, unedited and without undergoing normal peer review.
The essay, which appeared in the June 2011 issue of the quarterly Theological Studies, published in Milwaukee under the auspices of the Jesuits, upholds the indissolubility of marriage. It was a reply to a September 2004 article in which two theologians argued for a change in church teachings on divorce and remarriage.
The Vatican has been pressuring the editors at Theological Studies since not long after the publication of the 2004 essay, according to theologians not connected to the journal or to the Jesuit order. The Vatican aim is to weed out dissenting voices and force the journal to stick more closely to official church teachings.
VATICAN CITY -- The head of a group of traditionalist Catholics will meet with the Vatican Sept. 14 to continue a series of doctrinal discussions.
The Vatican confirmed Aug. 23 that Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, will travel to Rome in mid-September to meet with U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
A paradox was alive in the streets of Madrid as hundreds of thousands of World Youth Day pilgrims shared the sidewalks with local protesters frustrated over Spain's hosting -- and, some believed, funding -- of the weeklong event in a time of economic turmoil.
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO MADRID (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI described the World Youth Day celebrations as a "waterfall of light" that refreshes, nourishes and strengthens young Catholics and, therefore, can bring hope to the world.
Responding to four questions during the flight from Rome to Madrid Aug. 18, the pope told reporters that Blessed John Paul II was inspired when he instituted World Youth Day, and the celebration has brought much good to the church and the world, even if the results aren't always evident immediately.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the final stage of the apostolic visitation of U.S. women's religious communities, the Vatican congregation overseeing the study not only is facing mountains of paper, but must try to rebuild a relationship of trust with the women, said the congregation's secretary.
U.S.-born Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said, "I believe a visitation has to have a dialogical aspect, but the way this was structured at the beginning didn't really favor that."
Hidden among the paving stones of St. Peter's Square there is a simple clock and calendar. All you need is a sunny day.
The 83-foot stone obelisk in the middle of the square acts as a sundial that can accurately indicate midday and the two solstices thanks to a granite meridian and marble markers embedded in the square.