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A medal with an illustrious past

This week I was in Windsor, Ontario, the guest of Assumption University, which awarded me the Faith and Culture Gold Medal for 2013. Father Tom Rosica, founder and head of the Salt + Light Television network, presented the medal and introduced a lecture I gave on the Vatican and modern communication. The first thing to say is that the more I learned about this award and its past recipients, the more I was humbled by joining their company. Established in 1941 to highlight the accomplishments of lay Christians, the medal has been conferred on Jacques Maritain, Dorothy Day, Marshal McLuhan, Barbara Ward, Jean Vanier, Henry Ford II and Malcolm Muggeridge, among many others. In the “it’s a small

‘We live in a world … where money worship reigns’

According to an Italian bishop, Pope Francis intends to issue an encyclical on poverty and social justice, titled “Beati Pauperes” (“Blessed Are the Poor.”) The theme is certainly on the new pope’s mind. From today’s papal talk to the Pontifical Council for Migrants: “In a world where there is so much talk about rights, it seems that the only thing that has rights is money. Dear brothers and sisters, we live in a world where money commands. We live in a world, in a culture, where money worship reigns.” Bishop Luigi Martella of Molfetta wrote on his website about his recent meeting with Pope Francis, in which the pope spoke about concluding an encyclical begun by his predecessor and issuing o

‘The Lord has redeemed all of us … even the atheists’

One of the hallmarks of Pope Francis’ still-young pontificate is its emphasis on non-exclusivity. He seems convinced that the church, in what it says and does to promote the Gospel, must broaden its appeal and expand its dialogue with others. At this morning’s morning Mass in the Vatican guest house, the pope elaborated on that theme, saying that “doing good” is a principle that provides a meeting ground between Christians and non-Christians – even atheists. “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class!” the pope sa

The pope’s financial gospel and the Vatican bank

UPDATE: Yesterday it was the church and wealth. Today Pope Francis took aim at the shortcomings of the global economic system. Addressing several new ambassadors to the Vatican, the pope said: “The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal. The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces man to one of his needs alone, namely, consumption.” The full test is here, and well worth reading. Yesterday, he spoke about the church and money. “When a priest, a bishop

Cardinal O’Brien to leave Scotland for period of penance, Vatican announces

The Vatican announced today that Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, after admitting improper sexual conduct, would be leaving Scotland for several months of “spiritual renewal, prayer and penance.” “Any decision regarding future arrangements for His Eminence shall be agreed with the Holy See,” the Vatican statement said. The terse Vatican announcement provided no details about where the Scottish cardinal would be residing, but the wording appeared to indicate that Pope Francis wants close follow-up on a scandal he inherited. Cardinal O’Brien, 75, was recently photographed while moving his personal belongings into a church-owned cottage in Dunbar on the North Sea, where he planned to reside. Wi

A Vatican cardinal pulls back the curtain

UPDATE: The Vatican on Tuesday issued a statement saying that Cardinal Braz de Aviz and Cardinal Muller had met Monday and “reaffirmed their common commitment” to the program of changes foreseen for the LCWR. The statement blamed the media for its suggesting there was a divergence between the doctrinal and religious congregations at the Vatican “in their approach to the renewal of religious life.” Whatever spin the Vatican chooses to put on this, Cardinal Braz de Aviz was clearly criticizing the process by which the LCWR review was handled. He made it equally clear that he would support the doctrinal congregation’s conclusions. This is from the Vatican statement today: Recent media commentar

Benedict may have some feline company in the Vatican

It looks like Pope Benedict will be able to enjoy the company of cats in his retirement home inside the Vatican. This curious photo, made available by the Vatican newspaper, shows a black-and-white spotted cat ranging through an area next to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where the retired pope took up lodgings today. The Vatican Gardens is said to have a number of stray cats roaming the grounds, and they will find a friend in the former pope. As a cardinal, he famously fed the stray cats in the Borgo neighborhood where he lived, according to Vatican officials. As pope, we were told he never kept a house cat, but from was rumored to have fed the cats in the Vatican Gardens. Maybe this one is

The Vatican has a retired pope in residence

When Pope Benedict announced that after retirement he planned to live in a monastic setting inside the Vatican, I was one of those who saw potential problems in the arrangement. Too much contact and cooperation between the former pope and the current pope would give the impression of a “tag team” pontificate, I thought. On the other hand, with Benedict living practically next door, Pope Francis might feel compelled to ask his advice on important issues – and if so, would the new pope feel free to reject that advice and go his own way? Today, as Pope Benedict moves into his Vatican rooms, I’m less inclined to worry about all that. It seems clear that the two men will indeed be communicating.

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