The Blog

Click on titles below to read the entire post, access the archive, and make comments.

Two popes, two saints, two questions

Pope Francis today chose April 27, 2014, as the canonization date for Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, a move that sets the stage for one of the most unusual and significant events of modern church history. Proclaiming as saints two of his predecessors taps into some deep populist sentiments among Catholic faithful. Yet it also raises questions about the saintmaking process and the relationship between sainthood and papal performance. The date chosen by Pope Francis makes sense. From a practical point of view, it gives Polish pilgrims in particular an opportunity to travel to Rome at a time of year when roads will presumably be free of snow and ice. April 27 is also Divine Mercy Sunday, wh

Interview offers a 360-degree look at Pope Francis

In a wide-ranging interview with Jesuit publications, Pope Francis said today’s church needs to “heal wounds” by proclaiming the Gospel and moving away from the “small-minded rules” that have sometimes dominated its message. The interview, published in the United States by America magazine, is well worth reading in its entirely. It gives a more complete picture of the Argentine pope, including his spirituality, his goals as pope and some interesting self-criticism. Asked what the church needs most today, the pope said it was “the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity.” “I see the church as a field hospital after battle.It is useless to as

In letter to newspaper, Pope Francis broadens dialogue with non-believers

Pope Francis’ skills as a communicator were on display today in two very different forms, one that made headlines and one that moved people to tears. The headline in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica, “Dialogue open with non-believers,” ran above a lengthy papal letter — under the simple byline “Francesco” – addressed to the newspaper’s director, Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who had posed several questions for the new pope earlier in the year. In effect, Francis laid out a road map for dialogue with all those who do not find themselves in the Christian faith, a dialogue the pope said should be “open and without preconceptions.” After explaining how his own faith was rooted in a personal encou

As pope meets Curia, new secretary of state makes waves

As Pope Francis presided over a meeting of Roman Curia department heads today, his new pick for Secretary of State was making news on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Archbishop Pietro Parolin, in an interview with the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, said among other things that the church’s tradition of priestly celibacy was not dogma and was therefore open to discussion. And he said that while the church was not a democracy, it needs to reflect the democratic spirit of the times and adopt a collegial way of governing. Neither statement is exactly groundbreaking, but the fact that the new secretary of state feels free to make them says a lot about the current atmosphere in the Vatic

Pope rejects pursuit of military solution in Syria as Vatican convenes diplomats

I’m at the Vatican this week, where Syria is the number one topic of discussion and concern. We just learned that in a letter sent yesterday to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pope Francis urged international leaders to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution” in Syria. It was the latest in a series of Vatican statements signaling opposition to President Obama’s planned attack on Syrian government forces and urging instead a renewed international-backed effort at diplomacy and negotiation. The pope wrote to Putin because the Russian leader is chairing a G20 summit that Obama is attending, but also perhaps because Russia has been a supporter of the Syrian regime headed by Basha

Cruising the Mediterranean, landing in Rome

Your blogger has been missing in action lately, but I have a good excuse. I’ve been lecturing on board the Prairie Home Companion 2013 Cruise from Barcelona to Venice, speaking daily about the Vatican, the new pope, life in Rome and other Italian topics on which I’m the designated house expert. (I know, it’s a tough gig, but somebody’s got to do it.) I’d never been on a cruise ship before, and I have to say this one was a winner. Garrison Keillor, who did two shows every evening in the main showroom, loaded the boat with so much entertainment that it was hard to know where to turn. Richard Dworsky led the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band. Guitarists Pat Donohue and Dean Magraw, mandolinist Peter Ost

© 2020 by John Thavis - All Rights Reserved