Pope John Paul reported closer to 'venerable'


VATICAN CITY -- The cardinal- and bishop-members of the Congregation for Saints' Causes voted unanimously Nov. 16 to recommend that Pope Benedict XVI formally recognize that Pope John Paul II heroically lived the Christian virtues, Italian newspapers reported.
tThe Vatican did not deny or confirm that the vote took place because the process is supposed to be secret until Pope Benedict signs the decree recognizing the heroic virtue of his predecessor and declares him venerable.
tPope Benedict generally signs a dozen or more decrees three times a year: in April, in June or July and in December.
tMembers of the saints' congregation meet regularly to study the life stories, eyewitness testimony and other documentation promoting the causes of proposed saints. The information is contained in a "positio," or position paper, prepared by the promoter of the individual's cause.
tWhen the cardinals and bishops are satisfied that the "positio" is complete and demonstrates that the sainthood candidate lived an extraordinarily holy life, they recommend the pope sign the first decree.

Hope among thorns



In the English Catholic church, cardinal archbishops of Westminster tend to punch above their weight. One of those who punched hardest was Basil Hume. It was to this Benedictine monk that the nation came to look for spiritual leadership, and that same quality was recognized internationally -- including by the American and European bishops.

Hume received a number of invitations from the United States. The last one asked him to address a meeting of the bishops’ conference in Tucson, Ariz., in June 1999. Shortly before, in April, he learned that he had advanced cancer, so would not be able to go. Instead he videotaped what he wanted to say, and it was played to the bishops’ assembly on June 18, the day after his death. This last testament from beyond the grave is as pertinent now as it was then.

Traditional Anglicans hope for Easter reunion

OTTAWA -- The primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion said he hopes churches take action to enter into full communion with the Catholic church before Easter.

Archbishop John Hepworth said he reacted "with overwhelming joy" to the apostolic constitution published Nov. 9 establishing the structure for Anglicans to be in full communion with the Catholic church.

Nostalgia is not a path to the future



It has been an open secret that powerful forces in the church’s leadership have strongly opposed the reforms set in motion by the Second Vatican Council and have worked quietly yet assiduously during the past 40 years to roll back what has been accomplished. The regression is usually couched in Orwellian churchspeak, which lavishes praise on the council even as its intentions are reversed. Or sometimes in this parallel universe the argument is made that nothing really happened during the gathering of the world’s bishops over a four-year period to redirect the church and its mission.

The Vatican angles in rightist waters



After Pope Benedict XVI’s offenses to Jews and Muslims, to Protestants and to reform-oriented Catholics, it is now the turn of the Anglican Communion, which encompasses some 77 million members and is the third-largest Christian confession after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches. Now that he has brought back the extreme anti-reformist faction of the Society of Pius X into the fold, Benedict hopes to fill up the dwindling ranks of the Catholic church with Anglicans sympathetic to Rome. Their conversion to the Catholic church is supposed to be made easier: Anglican priests and bishops shall be allowed to retain their standing, even when married. Traditionalists of the churches unite under the cupola of St. Peter’s.

Burke's influence is set to grow



Archbishop Raymond Burke’s Oct. 17 appointment to the powerful Congregation for Bishops offers an illustration of how in the Vatican, even the ordinary can be extraordinary.

The appointment means that the 61-year-old Burke, a frequently polarizing figure during his 12-year run as a bishop in the United States, is now in a position to put his stamp on the next generation of Catholic bishops all over the world.

Cardinal Franc RodÈ statement on Apostolic Visitation


The following statement was issued by the Vatican Press Office Nov. 3, 2009:


Since the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious was first announced in January 2009, there has been great interest in the study that the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) has undertaken to look into the fundamental aspects of women religious in the United States. This Apostolic Visitation hopes to encourage vocations and assure a better future for women religious. Having read many news accounts and received various inquiries, I offer the following in response.

For many years this dicastery had been listening to concerns expressed by American Catholics – religious, laity, clergy and hierarchy – about the welfare of religious women and consecrated life in general, and had been considering an Apostolic Visitation as a means to assess and constructively address these concerns.

Cardinal RodÈ defends apostolic visitation of US nuns


Cardinal Franc Rodé, head of the Vatican office overseeing religious orders, said he requested an apostolic visitation of women's religious orders in the United States to help the sisters and to respond to concerns for their welfare.

"This apostolic visitation hopes to encourage vocations and assure a better future for women religious," the cardinal said in a statement released Nov. 3 by the Vatican.

Cardinal Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said his statement was in response to "many news accounts" and inquiries about the visitation, which was announced in January.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York posted an article on his blog Oct. 29 listing what he called examples of anti-Catholicism in The New York Times, including an Oct. 21 column regarding the apostolic visitation.

African synod heard the cry of women, laity


Should historians in the future rummage through the final documents of Vatican synods, they will find tepid accounts, blandly written and largely cleansed of the motivating tensions and contentious discussions of the moment.

We expect the same of documents that ultimately will be compiled and then stashed as a result of the recently completed Synod on Africa. The sad consequence, if past experience is any indication, is that the life in evidence at the synod, the energy bubbling up from this somewhat newly minted and wildly growing version of an old, old church, will be ignored. Much of that life issues from the questions being raised about the future, about the empowerment of women, about a larger role for laity. It is the result of the kind of back-and-forth that disturbs the Vatican’s meta-narrative, a vision of calm continuum that needs only to be reinforced.

Women may come out winners in the Synod for Africa


Coverage of the final conclusions from the Synod for Africa so far has focused mostly on the African bishops’ stinging rebuke of corrupt politicians -– in effect, telling them to repent or get out. In all honesty, however, there’s relatively little the Catholic church can do, at least in any direct sense, to control the behavior of national leaders in Africa or anywhere else.

Proof of the point is that the first Synod for Africa in 1994 issued a similar call for more ethical governance, and it’s not clear that such statements have changed very much.

There is a fair bit that Africa’s bishops can do, however, to shape the life of the Catholic church on the continent, and that may be where the synod’s concluding message, as well as the 57 propositions for action submitted to Pope Benedict XVI, have their most immediate impact.

On that front, if there's one big idea that seemed to surface, it was a call to take women more seriously -- in society, and also in the church.

In keeping with the candor exhibited throughout the synod about the church’s need to confront its own failures, the bishops called for:



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    May 19-June 1, 2017