The Common Good

Blog Posts By Alessandro Speciale

Posted by David Gibson, Alessandro Speciale 1 year 40 weeks ago
Tensions among the Roman Catholic cardinals meeting here to choose a new pope appeared to escalate on Wednesday as the American prelates in Rome canceled their daily press briefing under pressure from colleagues who are frustrated over news coverage of their secret talks.The cardinals also announced that they still had not been able to agree on a start date for the conclave, in which 115 electors will cast their ballots for a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.The effort to control the flow of information from the daily pre-conclave “General Congregation” meetings marked a sharp reversal from the unprecedented openness that had characterized this first papal conclave of the digital age.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 41 weeks ago
Roman Catholic cardinals on Monday met for the first of a series of closed-door meetings in the run-up to the conclave that will elect the successor to former Pope Benedict XVI.But as cardinals filed into a Vatican conference room under the gaze of dozens of cameras, church officials said 12 voting prelates still haven’t arrived in Rome, pushing back the possibility of an early start to the conclave.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 41 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — The papacy of Benedict XVI came to a quiet end at 8 p.m. on Thursday, making him the first pope in 600 years to voluntarily leave office.While there was no formal ceremony to mark the historic passage, the end of Benedict’s papacy and the beginning of the “sede vacante” interim period was clear when the Swiss Guards left their post at the gate of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.The Swiss Guards are charged with protecting the pope. When Benedict ceased to be pope, his security was no longer in their hands. At the Vatican, officials sealed the pope’s apartment as prescribed by church law, and will destroy the pope’s ring and official seal in the coming days.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 41 weeks ago
In his final public address, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday forcefully defended his decision to resign while trying to reassure Catholics still reeling from the shock of his unprecedented move.For the first time since his stunning announcement on Feb. 11, the 85-year-old pope explained at length his decision to become the first pope in six centuries to resign. His tenure officially ends Thursday at 8 p.m. local time.Benedict admitted that his resignation is a “grave” and “novel” act but, he added, his choice had been made “with profound serenity.”“Loving the church means having the courage to make difficult, agonizing choices, having ever before oneself the good of the church and not one’s own,” he said.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 42 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI will be known as “Pope Emeritus” after his retirement on Feb. 28, and will continue to wear white vestments, the Vatican announced on Tuesday.Ever since Benedict’s surprise announcement that he would become the first pope in 600 years to resign, there had been wide speculation about seemingly small issues, such as what he would be called or whether he would retain the title of “pope.” Such details, however, carry great symbolical value within the tradition-bound Roman Catholic Church.The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, told reporters that Benedict will continue to be called “His Holiness” and that his title will be “Pope Emeritus” or “Emeritus Roman Pontiff.”He said Benedict had decided the issue himself, after consultations with experts.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 42 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Wednesday confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI is considering changes to church law regulating the election of a new pope, but stopped short of saying whether voting could start earlier than currently planned.Pope John Paul II’s 1996 Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” regulates what happens between the death or resignation of a pope and the election of his successor.It stipulates that the conclave of cardinals must begin 15 to 20 days after the end of the previous pontificate.But after Benedict’s surprise announcement that he will resign on Feb. 28, several voices within the church have asked for an earlier start to the voting to shorten the time the Catholic Church is left without a leader.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 43 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — As of 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, Pope Benedict XVI will no longer be pope and the Vatican will go into “sede vacante” mode — a Latin expression that means that the seat of St. Peter is vacant.So who’s in charge until a new pope is chosen? The “interregnum” between two popes is governed by ancient rituals and by institutions half forgotten even within the Vatican.But it is also the only time that the Catholic Church comes close to vaguely resembling a democracy, with the College of Cardinals acting somewhat like a Parliament with limited powers as it prepares to choose the new pontiff in a closed-doors conclave.
Posted by David Gibson, Alessandro Speciale 1 year 44 weeks ago
Pope Benedict XVI’s sudden announcement that he would resign by the end of the month took the church and the world by surprise, in large part because it was a move without precedent in the modern world.But what comes next is as old and familiar as the papacy itself: Speculating about who will succeed to the Throne of St. Peter.Indeed, within months of Benedict’s own election in 2005, church insiders and online oddsmakers were trying to figure out who might be next, given that Benedict — now 85 — was already aging,  increasingly frail, and had himself declared that he did not expect his reign to be a long one.So what will happen when the world’s cardinals gather before the splendor of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope? Who are the “papabile,” as the Italians say, the “pope-able” cardinals?Will the conclave make the epochal break with the European monopoly and pick a cardinal from Latin America or Africa? The Catholic Church is booming in the Southern Hemisphere, as opposed to Europe and North America, where it is on life-support or barely treading water.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 44 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI will soon become the first pope to resign since 1415, short-circuiting many of the initial stages of electing a new pope. But the Vatican says the transition to a new papacy shouldn’t be all that different from normal.Of course, the traditional rituals associated with confirming the death of a pope and planning his funeral will not be necessary. But the process outlined below, rife with secrecy and tradition, will largely follow centuries-old protocol.
Posted by Kevin Eckstrom, Alessandro Speciale 1 year 44 weeks ago
Following is a brief explanation of the process used in a conclave to elect a new pope.Q: Who governs the church until a new pope is elected?A: Day-to-day operations are handled by the Vatican curia, the central bureaucracy. All prelates who head Vatican agencies resign after the death or resignation of a pope. Provisions are made to oversee the papal household, the spiritual needs of Romans and to grant absolutions.Q: What does the word “conclave” mean?A: The word comes from the Latin, “with a key,” referring to the tradition of locking the doors until cardinals elect a winner.Q: Who is eligible to be elected pope?A: Technically, any baptized male Catholic is eligible, provided he is not married and in good standing with the church. Since 1378, however, new popes have come from within the College of Cardinals.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 44 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — In a move that took the world by surprise, Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday that he will become the first pope in 600 years to resign, with plans to step down on Feb. 28.“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” Benedict told cardinals as they gathered in Rome for the proclamation of new saints.Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said preparations for the conclave that will elect Benedict’s successor are in the early stages.A papal election could be expected “within 10 to 15 days,” he said. “We should have a new pope by Easter.”
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 44 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — A top Vatican official blamed the media for “derailing” his recent remarks on possible legal protections for unmarried couples, while reaffirming his support for British and French bishops who have been vocal opponents of same-sex marriage.Speaking at a Vatican press conference on Monday, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, had acknowledged that nations could find “private law solutions” to protect the rights of unmarried couples — including, potentially, gay and lesbian couples.Paglia also said the church should support the repeal of laws that criminalize homosexuality in various countries.His remarks were widely repeated, with some interpreting it as a softening of the Vatican’s stance just as bishops in France and Britain are furiously opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 45 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has asked the Vatican’s highest appeals court to consider reviewing church rules on marriage annulments — a statement that may signal a change in tone more than a change in substance.Speaking on Jan. 26 to the members of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, Benedict said that “lack of faith” on the part of the spouses can affect the validity of a marriage.While the Catholic Church forbids remarried divorcees from taking Communion, church tribunals can declare a marriage void if it can be demonstrated that some key elements — such as a commitment to have children — were missing in the first place.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 46 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — Lutheran leaders have warned the Vatican that the creation of a structure to welcome conservative Lutherans into the Catholic Church would harm dialogue and damage ecumenical relations.In 2009, Pope Benedict created a special church structure, called an ordinariate, to allow disgruntled Anglicans to convert to Catholicism while maintaining bits of their traditions and culture.Ordinariates have been created in the U.S., England and Australia, attracting hundreds of conservative Anglicans who oppose female and gay bishops and who seek greater lines of authority.In recent weeks, senior Vatican officials publicly suggested the creation of a similar structure for disaffected Lutherans; the idea was first floated last October by Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Vatican chief ecumenist.According to Catholic media reports, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, who heads the Vatican’s doctrinal office, said on Jan. 11 that if Lutherans asked for the creation of an ordinariate, the Vatican would consider their request.Mueller’s words were swiftly rebuked by the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. “The creation of such a special structure would have deep ecumenical repercussions,” he warned on Jan. 18.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 49 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican reaffirmed its commitment to dialogue with Jews on Monday after the head of a traditionalist breakaway group called them “enemies of the Church.”The Vatican chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that it was “meaningless” and “unacceptable” to label Jews as “enemies” of the Catholic Church.“Both Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II personally engaged in dialogue with Jews,” he said. As a sign of their commitment, Lombardi noted the two popes’ visits to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site, and to synagogues in Rome and elsewhere.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 1 year 50 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Paul VI, who guided the Catholic Church through a tumultuous period of change in the 1960s and 70s, took a crucial first step toward possible sainthood when Pope Benedict XVI last week recognized his predecessor’s “heroic virtues.”Paul VI is now considered “venerable” in the Catholic Church, and needs the Vatican to recognize a miracle due to his intercession in order to be beatified, or declared “blessed.” A second miracle would then elevate him to sainthood.Giovanni Battista Montini (1897-1978) was elected to the papacy with the name of Paul VI in 1963. He oversaw the implementation of the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 3 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY -- Their lives steeped in intrigue, treason and lust, and set against a backdrop of luscious Italian landscapes and Renaissance masterpieces, the Borgias are probably the most famous -- or infamous -- family in the long history of the papacy.Now, a new Italian book wants to dispel, at least in part, the “black legend” surrounding a dynasty that bore two popes as well as cardinals, poets, and warriors.Journalist and historian Mario Dal Bello drew on documents from the Vatican Secret Archive to write his new book, I Borgia: La leggenda nera, or The Borgias: The Black Legend.For five centuries, the Borgias have attracted writers, painters and playwrights. They have been the subject of hundreds of movies and TV productions, most recently Showtime's popular series, The Borgias.“It's easy to understand why: sex, blood, poison, power,"" Dal Bello said. "This is already fiction material."
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 6 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — Exactly 500 years ago, on Oct. 31, 1512, Pope Julius II led an evening prayer service to inaugurate the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's newly-finished vault frescoes.But as Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance masterpiece, the Vatican said the growing number of tourists who visit the historic site every year might eventually lead to limiting access to the chapel to help preserve the frescoes from human-born problems and pollutants.“We could limit access, introducing a maximum number of entries,” wrote Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semi-official newspaper. “We will do this, if the pressure from tourism were to increase beyond a reasonable level and if we were to fail in resolving the problem efficiently.”Paolucci stressed, however, that in his opinion such measures will not be necessary “in the short to medium term.”
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 9 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council revolutionized life inside the Roman Catholic Church, hundreds of bishops from around the world are gathered in Rome to confront an external threat: a mounting tide of secularization.The Synod of Bishops on “New Evangelization” brings together 262 top church leaders for a three-week summit at the Vatican, joined by lay experts and representatives of other Christian groups.In a wide-ranging speech aimed at setting the tone for the bishops' discussion, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl called on Christians to “overcome the syndrome of embarrassment” about their faith with a more assertive offense against the “tsunami of secular influence” that is sweeping away “marriage, family, the concept of the common good and objective right and wrong.”Wuerl has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the “relator general” of the synod, with the key task of summing up the main points of the bishops' discussions.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 11 weeks ago
The Vatican's newspaper has declared the controversial “Jesus wife” papyrus fragment “a fake."L'Osservatore Romano on Friday (Sept. 28) devoted two articles to Harvard professor Karen King's claim that a 4th century Coptic papyrus fragment showed that some early Christians believed that Jesus was married.The announcement of the discovery on Sept. 18 made headlines worldwide but was met with skepticism by scholars who questioned the authenticity of the fragment.In the Vatican daily, a detailed and critical analysis of King's research by leading Coptic scholar Alberto Camplani is accompanied by a punchy column by the newspaper’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, who is a historian of early Christianity.Vian writes that there are “considerable reasons” to think that the fragment is nothing more than a “clumsy fake.” Moreover, according to Vian, King's interpretation of its content is “wholly implausible” and bends the facts to suit “a contemporary ideology which has nothing to do with ancient Christian history, or with the figure of Jesus”.“At any rate, it's a fake,” he concludes.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 11 weeks ago
Pope Benedict XVI has reportedly told the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) that they must accept the Second Vatican Council, a move that might seal the fate of years of negotiations to bring the group fully back into the Catholic fold.The Italian religion news portal Vatican Insider reported on Sept. 27 that SSPX Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais revealed at a conference in France on Sept. 16 that Benedict wrote a letter “with his own hand” to the group's superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay.According to Tissier de Mallerais, Benedict stated in the June 30 letter that the SSPX, “in order to be truly reintegrated into the Church,” must “truly accept the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar Magisterium.”Vatican sources confirmed the report's accuracy.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 11 weeks ago
The Vatican's most sensational trial since the end of the Inquisition might end fairly quickly — and with a surprisingly light sentence.Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict's former personal butler, goes to trial on Sept. 29 for stealing the pontiff's private papers and leaking them to the press. His crime proved a global embarrassment for the Vatican, revealing infighting and allegations of corruption among the secretive top echelons of the Catholic Church.But, according to professor Giovanni Giacobbe, a Vatican prosecutor, a conviction carries a maximum jail term of only four years in the lenient legal system of the world's smallest state.Gabriele was arrested by Vatican police on May 23, and will be tried for “aggravated theft” together with Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer technician at the Vatican's Secretariat of State who has been charged with aiding and abetting Gabriele. 
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 11 weeks ago
Just one week after Pope Benedict XVI ended his successful visit to Lebanon, the country's most senior Catholic leader called for a United Nations resolution “that will ban denigrating religions.”Meanwhile in Pakistan, the country's only Catholic cabinet member, Minister of Harmony Paul Bhatti, this week told an interfaith gathering in Lahore that he will press U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to pass a UN resolution that condemns "defamation and contempt against religions." Bhatti said "we must not allow anyone to break our harmony" between Christians and Muslims.Both moves are understandable in light of increasingly popular efforts in predominantly Muslim countries to outlaw blasphemy or defaming religion. But they could prove problematic for the Vatican as it fights to protect the rights of Christian minorities around the world.The debate suggests a widening gap between the Vatican's official position, which opposes such measures, and the day-to-day reality of Catholic leaders on the ground, who often feel compelled to support Muslim efforts to protect religious tenets and religious figures from defamation.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 13 weeks ago
BEIRUT — As violent protests against an anti-Islam film spread to much of the Muslim world on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Lebanon to a warm welcome from Christian and Muslim leaders.The pontiff's appeal for peace and reconciliation in the region, however, stood in jarring contrast with violent clashes in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, which left one dead and 25 injured.    Landing at Beirut's airport in the early afternoon, Benedict praised Lebanon as an example of "coexistence and respectful dialogue between Christians and their brethren of other religions."    Without referring expressly to the unrest, the pope warned that the country's "equilibrium" is "extremely delicate."  
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 13 weeks ago
The Vatican confirmed on Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon will go ahead as planned, despite growing tension in the region after the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya by a mob enraged by an anti-Islam film.The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican was closely monitoring developments in the region but there were no signs of specific security concerns for Benedict's trip so far.Benedict is scheduled to leave Friday for a three-day visit to Lebanon despite rising instability spilling over from a deadly civil war in neighboring Syr
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 18 weeks ago
ROME — Even in the heartland of global Catholicism, a life-size Madonna on a street wall is an uncommon sight — especially if you leave the cobblestone alleyways of the historic center for the drab concrete of the city's former industrial districts.But bringing sacred art back to Rome's run-down streets is exactly what a street artist known as Mr. Klevra has set out to do.Mr. Klevra, a 34-year old Italian artist and a committed Catholic, paints Madonnas and other saints on thin paper posters and then glues them onto walls under the cover of darkness."I love the adrenaline of putting up the paintings while hiding from the police," he said. "I love the randomness of having your art torn down after five minutes or see it stay in its place for years and years.''Mr. Klevra is his artist's name — like many street artists, he doesn't give out his real name, and prefers to keep his identity secret, even shielding his face from cameras.In his paintings, he combines the millennia-old techniques of Eastern Orthodox iconography with modern tools such as spray paint and Uni Posca pens. Pop culture references sometimes find their way into his work, such as a Madonna with the motto "Only after disaster can we be resurrected,'' a line from American author Chuck Palahniuk's novel, Fight Club.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 24 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday recognized Archbishop Fulton Sheen's "heroic virtues," moving the popular radio and TV evangelist one step closer to sainthood.Sheen is now "venerable" in the Roman Catholic Church and, if the Vatican recognizes that a miracle has been operated through his intercession, he would be declared "blessed," the last step before sainthood.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 24 weeks ago
The sexual abuse scandal has tarnished the image of the priest and contributed to a crisis of priestly vocations in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said on June 25, while also faulting a widespread “secularized mentality” and parents' ambition for their children, which leaves “little space to the possibility of a call to a special vocation.”The “Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry” were prepared over the last seven years by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.The document says candidates to the priesthood shouldn't be accepted if they show “signs of being profoundly fragile personalities,” and says future priests should learn the “importance” of their future commitments, “in particular with regard to celibacy.”
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 26 weeks ago
Leaders of an umbrella group that represents the majority of U.S. nuns met with top Vatican doctrinal officials on June 12 in an atmosphere of “openness and cordiality,” according to a Vatican statement.Still, the Vatican made clear that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious — which represents most of America's 57,000 nuns — "remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See" and appeared to offer little wiggle room in its crackdown on the nuns' leaders.The meeting was called after the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a "doctrinal assessment" this spring that criticized the LCWR for not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, women priests and abortion.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 28 weeks ago
Despite the arrest of Pope Benedict XVI's butler two weeks ago, leaks of confidential documents continue to dribble out of the Vatican as “moles” vow to continue their action until the pope's two closest aides are sacked.The Italian daily La Repubblica on June 3 published a short handwritten note by Pope Benedict himself that was leaked from the Vatican. La Repubblica also said it had received two letters by the pope's personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, but chose not to publish their contents.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 28 weeks ago
A long-simmering conflict between the Vatican and American nuns erupted again on June 4 when the Vatican's doctrinal office issued a scathing critique of a popular book on sexual ethics by Sister Margaret A. Farley, one of the first Catholics to teach at Yale Divinity School.After two years of study, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a “notification” on Farley's “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” saying it contradicts Catholic doctrine on key issues such as gay marriage, homosexuality and divorce.Coming just days after U.S. nuns rejected the Vatican's reasoning for a wholesale makeover, and a year after U.S. bishops sanctioned another nun theologian, the condemnation of Farley is the latest example of what critics see as a top-down attempt to muzzle women's voices and an obsession on sexual ethics.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 28 weeks ago
The Vatican's No. 3 official on Tuesday (May 29) condemned the theft and publication of secret papal documents as an “immoral act of unheard-of gravity.”In an interview published on the front page of L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy See's semiofficial newspaper, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who is the deputy to Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, also described the publication of an unprecedented number of leaked Vatican documents in recent months as a “brutal” attack against Pope Benedict XVI.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 29 weeks ago
The Vatican has published rules to evaluate the authenticity of the dozens of apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported each year.The “Norms Regarding the Manner of Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations” have been in use since 1978, but until now had been available only in Latin, never officially published and only circulated among bishops and specialists.The Vatican document has now been translated into English and other languages to aid bishops in the “difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or ... extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin,” Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Vatican doctrinal office, wrote in a companion letter last December that was published only recently on the Vatican website.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 29 weeks ago
Over the course of the last six months, Pope Benedict XVI delivered five major speeches to small groups of American bishops who were in Rome for their "ad limina" visits, which are required once every five years.The ad limina visits are the way the pope and and Vatican departments keep tabs on bishops from around the world. They are also an occasion for the pope to address the major issues faced by a local church.In his speeches, Benedict often echoed bishops' concern about religious freedom and the challenges confronting the American church. In his last address, on May 22, he warned bishops of the “threat of a season in which our fidelity to the Gospel may cost us dearly.”
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 30 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican's doctrinal office said “further discussions” will be needed with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) in order to heal a decades-long split within the Roman Catholic Church.Cardinals and bishops from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met on Wednesday (May 16) to discuss the response of the SSPX Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, to a Vatican reconciliation proposal delivered last September.According to a Vatican statement, members of the Vatican doctrinal office drafted a series of “observations” that “shall be taken into consideration in further discussions between the Holy See and the SSPX.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 30 weeks ago
The Vatican announced on Tuesday (May 15) it had settled a lawsuit against Italian clothing group Benetton for using an image of Pope Benedict XVI in one of its advertisement campaigns.The image had been modified to show Benedict kissing Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed El-Tayeb, imam of Cairo's renowned al-Azhar Mosque.The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the image was "offensive" and stressed that the Benetton group had agreed to remove the pope's images from its campaign, and to ask third parties to do the same.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 31 weeks ago
Here are two things that don't typically go together: Pope Benedict XVI and feminist culture.Yet they both share a veneration for Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th-century German nun who was the first woman to be officially recognized as a “prophetess” by the Roman Catholic Church.On Thursday (May 10), Benedict ordered Hildegard, who died in 1179, to be inscribed “in the catalogue of saints,” thus extending her cult “to the universal church.”
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 31 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday (May 5) called on Catholic colleges and universities in the United States to do more to affirm their "Catholic identity," particularly by ensuring the doctrinal orthodoxy of their faculty and staff.Speaking to a group of bishops from Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming, who are in Rome on a regularly scheduled visit, Benedict said there has been a "growing recognition" on the part of Catholic colleges of the need to "reaffirm their distinctive identity."But "much remains to be done," the pope said, singling out the church law requirement that Catholic theology teachers "have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority," usually the local bishop.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 32 weeks ago
Proponents of euthanasia and aborting chronically ill fetuses use the same arguments that were once used by the Nazis to promote their eugenics program of mass extermination, according to the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper.The article appears on the front page of Saturday's (May 5) issue of L'Osservatore Romano and is signed by Lucetta Scaraffia, an Italian historian who is a frequent contributor to the Vatican paper.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 32 weeks ago
Under new rules announced on Wednesday (May 2), the Vatican will more closely oversee the operations of Caritas Internationalis, a global confederation of 162 national Catholic charities. The decision comes after the Vatican last year vetoed the re-election of the organization's then-secretary general, Lesley-Anne Knight, complaining of a lack of coordination with Vatican officials.The new rules issued by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, will require all Caritas Internationalis officials make a formal promise of fidelity to church teachings and leaders.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 34 weeks ago
A senior Vatican official on Tuesday (April 17) called for stronger protection for conscientious objection for both the Catholic Church and individual Catholics when they are faced with laws that conflict with their “moral norms.”Speaking at Italy's Catholic University in Milan, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, former governor of the Vatican City State, waded into the fight between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Obama administration over mandatory insurance coverage for contraception, saying the mandate raises "serious problems of conscience” for Catholic institutions and citizens.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 35 weeks ago
Pope Benedict XVI turned 85 on Monday (April 16) amid renewed speculation about his declining health and possible resignation.The German-born pope has appeared tired and fatigued in recent months and admitted at a morning Mass to being in “the final leg of the path of my life." But on Sunday, he signaled his resolve to carry on with his duties as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, asking the faithful to pray that he have the “strength” to “fulfill his mission.”This week will mark a double milestone for Benedict, with Thursday being the seventh anniversary of his election as pope.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 37 weeks ago
An elderly married couple asked by Pope Benedict XVI to write the texts for the traditional Stations of the Cross procession on Good Friday (April 6) at the Colosseum in Rome has chosen to tackle family problems such as marital infidelity and divorce.Danilo Zanzucchi, 92, and his wife, Anna Maria, 83, who have been married for nearly 60 years and have five children, are the founders of the “New Families” group, an offshoot of Focolare, a Catholic movement.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 37 weeks ago
Pope Benedict XVI ended his three-day visit to Cuba on Wednesday (March 28) with an appeal for more religious freedom for the Catholic Church, ahead of a highly anticipated meeting with the island's historic leader, Fidel Castro. And while he stopped short of openly criticizing the island's communist regime during the trip, Benedict nonetheless said Cuba needed "change" and a "renewed and open society." The pope celebrated Mass on Wednesday in Havana's Revolution Square for about 300,000 people, according to the Vatican's top spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. Cuban President Raul Castro was in attendance and joined in the crowd's applause when the pope entered the stage.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 37 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY--Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Monday (March 26), renewing the Catholic Church's pledge to "work tirelessly to better serve all Cubans" as the island strives to "renew and broaden its horizons." Benedict landed in Santiago de Cuba, east of Havana, arriving from Mexico for the second leg of his weeklong visit to Latin America. President Raul Castro came to personally greet the German pope before Benedict was scheduled to celebrate Mass in the city's Revolution Square. In his speech during the airport welcome ceremony, Benedict said he carried with him "the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans," including those of "prisoners and their families."
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 39 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY--Two weeks before Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to touch down in Cuba, a small group of protesters occupied a church in central Havana, asking that a message with their requests be delivered directly to the pope. Their action was swiftly condemned by church authorities as "illegitimate and irresponsible." The group remained in the church for two days, and only left Thursday (March 15) after being assured by a top church leader that they could return home without police interference. The episode illustrates the challenges that Benedict will find in Cuba during a March 23-29 trip that will also include a stop in Mexico. But it also highlights the good relationship that the Catholic Church has built in recent years with the island's communist regime. The trip will be the pontiff's second visit to Latin America, which is home to almost half of the world's Catholics. Benedict visited Brazil in 2007. During his trip, the pope will meet political leaders from both countries and, according to the Vatican's top spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, he might even have a brief encounter with longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, though it is not on the official agenda yet.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 39 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — A Vatican department has withdrawn its support from a soccer tournament that pits teams from Rome's seminaries against each other because it has lost its "educational" value.     Sixteen teams from Rome's seminaries and religious orders compete against each other in the Clericus Cup tournament, including the "Martyrs" from the Pontifical North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome, which placed fourth in 2011.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 40 weeks ago
Pope Benedict XVI on Friday (March 9) denounced the "powerful political and cultural currents" that are working to "alter the legal definition of marriage" in the United States.The pope's condemnation of same-sex marriage came in an address to a delegation of bishops from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, headed by Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis.Maryland legalized gay marriage March 1 and Minnesota will be one of five states to vote on the issue in the coming months. Minnesota's bishops are campaigning for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.Benedict stressed that "sexual difference cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage," and called on the church to continue its "reasoned defense of marriage."
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 40 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — Despite differences over women's ordination and a controversial Vatican initiative to woo back disgruntled Anglicans, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will pray together in Rome on Saturday (March 10).The heads of the Roman Catholic Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion will celebrate vespers to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the Camaldoli monastery in Italy, which is revered by both Catholics and Anglicans.Benedict and Williams are scheduled to have a private meeting on Saturday morning.
Posted by Alessandro Speciale 2 years 40 weeks ago
VATICAN CITY — The secretive hackers group Anonymous targeted the Vatican website on Wednesday (March 7), cutting off access from users for several hours and disabling internal mail servers. In a statement posted on several blogs in Italian, the group said the attack was a response to the Catholic Church's "doctrines," its "absurd and anachronistic precepts," and the "crimes" of the sexual abuse scandal and cover-up. The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the attack against the Vatican website came from Anonymous. He said Vatican technicians were "actively working to restore the website's functionality."