The Blog

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‘Who am I to judge?’ marks new tone on homosexuality

It’s amazing how five simple words – “Who am I to judge?” – can change perceptions and open doors. The words came from Pope Francis to reporters on his plane back to Rome following a weeklong trip to Brazil, and the topic was homosexuality. The pope’s remarks were telling, both for what he said and what he didn’t say. I was not on the plane, but my former colleague Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service was on board: “A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will – well, who am I to judge him?” the pope said. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn’t this (homose

A pope who likes to shake things up

What to make of a pope who tells young Catholics to go back to their dioceses and “make a mess!” Or, allowing for ambiguity in translation, “stir up trouble!” or “shake things up!” However the words were rendered into English, one thing was clear: Pope Francis believes that the old ways of the church are not enough in today’s world, that it needs new approaches, a shake-up – which of course is what the pope is trying to do at the Vatican, as well. Here’s how the Vatican officially translated the pope’s remarks, delivered off-the-cuff to Argentinian pilgrims at World Youth Day in Brazil: “I want you to make yourselves heard in your dioceses, I want the noise to go out, I want the church to go

"Here there are many ‘masters’ of the pope"

It’s clear to everyone by now that Pope Francis likes to pick up the phone and call old friends. Argentine journalist Jorge Milia was on the receiving end of a recent call from his former teacher, Jorge Bergoglio, and Milia’s report on that conversation makes for fascinating reading. (Hat tip here to my Italian colleague Lucio Brunelli.) Milia recounts that in their phone conversation, Pope Francis spoke endearingly about Pope Benedict, whom he calls “el viejo” — literally, “the old man,” but a term that carries with it affection and respect. “Today I was with el viejo, and we talked a lot. It’s a pleasure for me to exchange ideas with him…. You can’t imagine the humility and wisdom of this

Pope Francis takes aim at the ‘globalization of indifference’

Pope Francis made his first papal trip this morning, a brief stop on the Italian island of Lampedusa, an immigration portal and a place where many immigrants’ hopes have ended in tragedy, disappointment or detention. He said Mass for a huge crowd of people, and his homily introduced a concept we’ll probably hear more about in months and years to come – the “globalization of indifference.” His text is well worth reading. Here is the main part: Immigrants dying at sea, in boats which were vehicles of hope and became vehicles of death. That is how the headlines put it. When I first heard of this tragedy a few weeks ago, and realized that it happens all too frequently, it has constantly come bac

A pair of popes headed toward sainthood

Today, the popes came in pairs. First, Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict met in the Vatican Gardens, where together they blessed a new statue of St. Michael the Archangel – a project approved by Benedict and brought to conclusion under Francis. Next, the Vatican released what was termed Pope Francis’ “first encyclical,” Lumen Fidei (“The Light of Faith”), a text that was written primarily by Pope Benedict before his retirement. Although signed by Francis, the encyclical is clearly Benedict’s in style and substance. And then the Vatican confirmed canonization plans – not only for Blessed Pope John Paul II, which had been expected, but also for Blessed Pope John XXIII. It’s not yet certai

Is the Vatican bank irreformable?

The abrupt resignations of two top officials of the Vatican bank signaled a new chapter – and a new challenge – in Vatican financial reform. Late Monday, the Vatican announced that the director, Paolo Cipriani, and the deputy director, Massimo Tulli, were resigning “in the best interest of the institute and the Holy See.” The move was remarkable because it showed the Vatican reacting in real time to a breaking scandal. Three days earlier, Italian police arrested Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, an accountant in a Vatican investment office, on suspicion of smuggling tens of millions of euros into Italy from Switzerland. Msgr. Scarano didn’t work at the Vatican bank, but he had at least one account there

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