President Obama met one-on-one with Pope Benedict today at the Vatican where the two men exchanged the greetings as the president was escorted into Benedict's private apartment. The two leaders then went into the Papal Library where Obama sat on one side of wooden desk and Benedict sat on the other.
WASHINGTON -- By publicly criticizing a seven-year-old document, two U.S. bishops’ committees have drawn new attention to Catholic-Jewish relations.
Until now the 2002 document, titled “Reflections on Covenant and Mission,” has received relatively little attention outside the rather narrow community of theologians who actively engage in dialogue.
A Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation of the Legionaries of Christ and their institutions will begin July 15, and the papal delegates carrying out the investigations will include U.S. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver.
In a written statement sent to Catholic News Service July 8, the Legionaries' headquarters in Rome said the Vatican had set the date for the start of the visitation and named the five prelates appointed by the Vatican to carry out the visits.
It said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told the order that Archbishop Chaput will conduct investigations of the Legionaries' centers and institutions in the United States and Canada while Mexican Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi of Tepic will cover Mexico and Central America.
It said Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alessandria, Italy, will cover Italy, Israel, South Korea and the Philippines; Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Concepcion, Chile, will visit centers and institutions in South America; and Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao, Spain, will cover all of Europe, excluding Italy.
Pope Benedict XVI's new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), breaks new ground on such topics as microfinancing, intellectual property rights, globalization and the concept of putting one's wealth at the service of the poor, according to Catholic scholars and church leaders.
In interviews with Catholic News Service and in statements about the encyclical released July 7 at the Vatican, commentators said the more than 30,000-word document takes on a variety of issues not previously addressed in such a comprehensive way.
"I was surprised ... at how wide-ranging it is," said Kirk Hanson, a business ethics professor at Santa Clara University in California and executive director of the Jesuit-run university's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. "It's not just an updating of 'Populorum Progressio'" ("The Progress of Peoples"), the 1967 social encyclical by Pope Paul VI, he added.
Hanson said he also was struck by Pope Benedict's concept of "gratuitousness" or "giftedness," which reminds people "not to consider wealth ours alone" and asks the wealthy to "be ready to put (their money) in service for the good of others."
Barack Obama is headed to Rome to visit with the Holy Father. If in place of the in-flight movie, the president reads the Holy Father’s latest encyclical, Caritas on Veritate, he will be inspired in two ways.
First, he will see how natural is his collaboration with the Holy See in support of economic and social reforms, be they to restore fairness to the market or to provide access to healthcare.
Second, he will be reading a papal document that because of Benedict’s expected, and I daresay fulfilled, freedom to speak in a spiritual idiom far broader than that of public policy and everyday politics, the justifications for the reforms the president and his like-minded international counterparts seek lie in the truth of the human person and not just Pareto optimal moves measured by cost-benefit or other economic analysis. Obama will be asked to see the ultimate antidote to a sick economy as love or what Benedict styles as the “the gratuity of gift.”
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican City State reported a deficit of $22 million for 2008 as a consequence of the "global economic-financial crisis," the Vatican announced July 4.
Blending a call for increased aid to developing nations, support for a world government with “real teeth,” alarm at the “unregulated exploitation” of the environment, and staunch opposition to population control programs, Pope Benedict XVI today sketched what he called a “Christian humanism” for the globalized age in his long-awaited social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”).
To be sustainable, Benedict argues, economic policies must be rooted in a comprehensive vision of human welfare, including spirituality – as opposed to a “technocratic” approach, or one driven by “private interests and the logic of power.”
Read the full story here: Pope proposes a 'Christian humanism' for the global economy
NCR senior correspondent, John L. Allen Jr. has been in Rome for the last week. He filed a number of stories over the weekend, that you may have missed if you weren't watching this Web site closely. Allen wrote about a Catholic backlash to tough Italian immigration laws, the pope's message to G8 leaders and what he called "Obama charm offensive ahead of pope meeting."
Below are links to all these stories:
On July 10, President Obama and his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, will meet for the first time. They will like each other and find much in common. It is reasonable to suppose that their conversation will be framed as much by the Holy Father's recent encyclical writing as by the president’s policy initiatives.
A lot has happened in papal politics since Henry IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, stood barefoot and hatless at the gates of Canossa castle begging pardon from Pope Gregory VII. That was 932 years ago while popes were slugging it out with temporal rulers like Henry over who had the right to appoint bishops.
As current practice shows, the popes won that protracted battle but eventually lost the war over the control of worldly affairs. Though the popes can exert moral influence, they lost the ability to direct international affairs a long time ago (“how many divisions does the pope have,” Stalin famously quipped).
Benedict XVI, therefore, lacks anything like the clout of Gregory VII. Unable to dish out many favors, however, he might seek a big one from Barak Obama when the President comes calling in July. Obama could be seen as good medicine for a struggling papacy: a popular, gregarious young politician who has won widespread admiration and popularity, some of the very things Benedict needs to prop up a sagging reign.