Originally published 02/26/2013
George Weigel’s new book, Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church (Basic Books), seems destined to be a reference point in the papal interregnum that begins at 2 p.m., New York time on February 28, and well into the new pontificate. I caught up with Weigel, who has been in Rome since Ash Wednesday, to pose some questions about the conclave, the state of the Church, and the analysis of Evangelical Catholicism:KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: By Pope Benedict XVI publicly acknowledging problems inside the Vatican is he giving guidance to the cardinals gathering in Rome this week?
Originally published 02/21/2013
DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland ignored the mistreatment of thousands of women who were incarcerated within Catholic nun-operated laundries and must pay the survivors compensation, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Tuesday in an emotional state apology for the decades of abuses in the so-called Magdalene Laundries."By any standards it was a cruel, pitiless Ireland, distinctly lacking in a quality of mercy," Kenny said, as dozens of former Magdalenes watched tearfully from parliament's public gallery overhead.Kenny told lawmakers his government has appointed a senior judge to recommend an aid program for the approximately 1,000 women still living from the residential workhouses, the last of which closed in 1996. He also pledged government funding for the erection of a national memorial "to remind us all of this dark part of our history."...
Originally published 02/13/2013
Garry Wills is the author, most recently, of “Why Priests? A Failed Tradition.”THERE is a poignant air, almost wistful, to electing a pope in the modern world. In a time of discredited monarchies, can this monarchy survive and be relevant? There is nostalgia for the assurances of the past, quaint in their charm, but trepidation over their survivability. In monarchies, change is supposed to come from the top, if it is to come at all. So people who want to alter things in Catholic life are told to wait for a new pope. Only he has the authority to make the changeless church change, but it is his authority that stands in the way of change.Of course, the pope is no longer a worldly monarch. For centuries he was such a ruler, with all the resources of a medieval or Renaissance prince — realms, armies, prisons, spies, torturers. But in the 19th century, when his worldly territories were wrested away by Italy, Pope Pius IX lunged toward a compensatory moral monarchy.
Originally published 02/12/2013
It’s difficult to pinpoint a precise moment when the office of the pope began to lose its vast political power, which had long placed the Holy See above even the kings and emperors of Europe, but has since declined to the point that now-retiring Pope Benedict XVI found few political accomplishments in his reign. But one day that stands out is Dec. 2, 1804.A few weeks earlier, French voters had overwhelmingly approved a referendum elevating Napoleon Bonaparte from first consul to emperor, the beginning of the end of France’s democratic revolution. His coronation was to proceed in the manner of all Catholic monarchs, who still ruled most of Europe: he would kneel before the pope, then Pius VII, to receive a crown and blessing. The symbolism of the coronation reflected centuries of European political tradition, in which the Catholic church formally conferred royalty with the divine blessing that was thought necessary to rule; the church, in its power, had at times competed openly with those same monarchs....
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