All Things Catholic

Understanding the Vatican's transparency test


Recently, two Italian newspapers reported that the Vatican will fail an upcoming transparency test by European anti-money-laundering experts while a third claimed the Vatican will pass. While such conflicting accounts are hardly new, the twist is that all three stories contained virtually identical information.

The difference wasn't the data, but the spin.

Exclusive interview: Levada talks LCWR, criticism in the States


Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Vatican's ultra-powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is a devoted disciple of his boss and mentor, Pope Benedict XVI, in virtually every way save one. While the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was a celebrity as a Vatican official, Levada, who turns 76 today, keeps a much lower profile, preferring to operate behind the scenes.

Levada rarely gives interviews, and when he does, it's because he has something to say, not because he simply enjoys the exercise.

Benedict in Milan, Vatileaks, LCWR and Farley


In moments of crisis, there's a natural desire among many Catholics to rally around the flag, meaning to show support for the church and the pope. It's not about denial, because Catholics are nothing if not sober realists about the church's failures. It's instead about saying to the world that despite it all, there's still something positive about the church that commands grassroots loyalty.

That instinct seemed to be the principal subtext to Benedict XVI's June 1-3 outing to Milan.

Three tensions beneath the latest Vatican dispute


One should not make too much of a recent contretemps at the Pontifical Academy for Life, because it's not really as if the fate of the Vatican hangs in the balance. Yet the dust-up is nevertheless worth pondering, primarily because it captures three recurrent tensions in Catholic life, with consequences far broader than the immediate future of one pontifical body. After a brief review of the controversy, I'll unpack each.

A poll average from Rome on the next pope


Right now, the “next pope” conversation isn’t creating much buzz. There’s no sign of a health crisis around Benedict XVI, and Catholic attention around the world is focused on more local matters: the LCWR crackdown in the States, the disciplining of liberal priests and calls for Cardinal Sean Brady to resign over the sex abuse crisis in Ireland, a political scandal involving Communion and Liberation in Italy, and so on.

Yet with an 85-year-old pope beginning to show his age, speculation about who might come next is always in the background, even if it’s on a low boil.

Recognize martyrs around the world by canonizing one of their own


Once again, Christians found themselves on the firing line last Sunday, with 19 people killed in Nigeria and one in Kenya in attacks on three churches. Those atrocities, alas, have rated no more than a blip on the global radar screen, largely because such things have become chillingly familiar.

The consensus estimate is that about 150,000 Christians are today killed around the world every year, either out of hatred for the faith or for works of charity inspired by the faith. That translates into one victim every three and a half minutes. In effect, we are witnessing the rise of an entire new generation of Christian martyrs.

Every time something like this happens, the Vatican, to its credit, is usually quick to speak out. Again this time, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, denounced the "horrible and despicable acts" in Kenya and Nigeria and urged the populations to resist a "vicious circle of homicidal hatred."

Yet more and more, an unavoidable question looms: Isn't there something the Vatican could do beyond issuing statements?

Benedict XVI a pope of ironies


For Benedict XVI, this has been a week of milestones. The pontiff turned 85 on Monday, making him the oldest pope in the last 110 years and one of just six to reign past 85 in the last half-millennium. On Thursday, Benedict also marked the seventh anniversary of his election to the papacy in April 2005.

It's been a week for remembrance of things past in another sense, too.


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In This Issue

June 16-29, 2017