Decoding the Vatican

  • Cardinal Mueller's "manifesto"

    Saying church leaders have allowed the spread of “doctrinal confusion,” German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller has published a “manifesto of faith” that reasserts traditional church teaching on several issues, including a ban on Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.Although Mueller does not specifically mention Pope Francis, the text is clearly aimed at the more flexible stance taken by the pope and some progressive bishops. Two years ago, Mueller was let go by...  Read More...

  • Pope Francis adding frequent flyer miles at record pace

    When he was elected in 2013 at the age of 76, Pope Francis was not expected to be a globe-trotting pope. After all, this was a man who, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, traveled infrequently to Rome because he considered such trips an extravagance.But in Panama last week, the pope logged his 26th foreign trip – and he shows no sign of slowing down. He plans to make four more trips before the middle of this year, including a February visit to the United Arab Emirates, the first by a pope to t...  Read More...

  • Pope says no to wholesale change on priestly celibacy, but sees room for exceptions

    Pope Francis has offered some clarity about how far he’ll go on the issue of married priests.Speaking to reporters aboard his flight from Panama to Rome Jan. 27, the pope said he did not agree with those who want to make priestly celibacy “optional” throughout the Latin-rite church.The pope was asked whether he could envision the Catholic Church adopting the practice of Orthodox Churches, in which priestly candidates can choose whether to marry or remain celibate – a choi...  Read More...

  • New role of laity is key issue in sex abuse summit

    There are signs that Vatican officials preparing the February summit on sex abuse hope the event will launch a new role for Catholic laity.That would be a significant development in a scandal that, as Pope Francis himself has said, has been perpetuated by clericalism.At first glance, the Feb. 21-24 summit looks like another “bishops monitoring the bishops” event. But planners have quietly taken steps to involve lay experts, and are signaling a more open approach to lay authority and ...  Read More...

  • Tweets, clicks and photostreams

    Pope Francis’ love-hate relationship with social media was on display this month.On Jan. 20, appearing before pilgrims at his weekly blessing, he tapped a tablet to launch a “Click to Pray” app that allows people to share prayer intentions and (virtually) pray with each other. The pope called social networks “a resource of our time” that gives people a way to “share values and projects.”But a few days later, the 82-year-old pope sounded a different tune ...  Read More...

  • Vatican official says pope's outreach to divorced Catholics well-received

    A leading Vatican official says opposition to Pope Francis’ outreach to divorced and remarried Catholics comes from a minority that is tied to a vision of the church that “never existed.”Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, made the comments in an interview published in the British magazine The Tablet Jan. 25.   Read More...

  • Transparency must be tackled at Vatican abuse summit, moderator says

    The moderator of the Vatican’s upcoming summit on sex abuse has underlined several crucial themes for the four-day meeting, including the need for greater accountability and transparency by bishops.Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the former Vatican spokesman tapped by Pope Francis to chair the Feb. 21-24 summit, said past cover-ups by church officials have been the cause of “evil and tragedy.”He made the comments in an article published in late January by “La Civilt&agra...  Read More...

  • A night to remember

    Five years ago...   Read More...

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John Thavis

John Thavis is a journalist, author and speaker specializing in Vatican and religious affairs. He is known in the trade as a “Vaticanista,” a calling that became clear only after a circuitous career path.

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John Thavis was in Rome during the recent papal resignation and conclave, and is available to media for interviews about the pope and the Vatican.

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