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.
Lawyers today filed a petition with the International Criminal Court on behalf of clergy sex abuse victims urging an investigation of high-ranking Roman Catholic Church leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, charging that the widespread sexual abuse by priests in various countries and the handling of those cases by bishops and authorities in the Vatican constitute widespread human rights abuses.
The communication filed with the court in Hague in the Netherlands is comparable to the filing of a complaint with a district attorney’s office in the United States, said Pamela C. Spees, senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York based organization that has its roots in the Civil Rights era and that seeks to use law to effect social change.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI linked last month’s riots in England to the corrosive effects of “moral relativism,” and warned that preserving social order requires government policies based on “enduring values.”
Benedict made his remarks on Friday to Britain’s new Vatican ambassador, Nigel M. Baker, at a meeting in the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome.
The moral basis of government policies is “especially important in the light of events in England this summer,” Benedict said, in an apparent reference to riots in London and other English cities last month, which left five people dead and caused at least 200 million pounds ($320 million) in property damage.
“When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism ... tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others,” the pope said.
Benedict called on government leaders to foster the “essential values of a healthy society, through the defense of life and of the family, the sound moral education of the young, and a fraternal regard for the poor and the weak.”
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.