By Brian Bethune - Monday, February 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
Brian Bethune on the papal contenders
Maclean’s writer Brian Bethune is in Rome for the conclave. Watch Macleans.ca for his reports.
For all his forewarning, Pope Benedict XVI, whose eight-year pontificate has been one long series of surprising moments, managed to stun the world once again. And once the Roman Catholic Church absorbed the news that its supreme pontiff was abdicating—an announcement fitly followed, only hours later, by a bolt of lightning striking the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica—it was clear that Benedict had set the stage for the most wildly unpredictable papal election in centuries.
It’s never been easy to guess in advance how 100 or so men, huddled in the Sistine Chapel under Michelangelo’s famous ceiling, would vote. Now, the uncertain effects of the Church’s changing demographics, the protracted lead time to the electoral conclave, the precedent of the resignation itself and the unsettling presence of an ex-pope responsible for elevating to the College of Cardinals many of the same men who will choose his successor, have sent Vatican watchers scrambling. And as they try to reassess their established ranks of papabiles—literally, “pope-ables,” those reckoned to stand an electoral chance—only one name seems to emerge in every serious list’s top three: Canada’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet, former archbishop of Quebec City and now, as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, one of the most powerful men in the Church.
By Bookmarked and Brian Bethune - Friday, February 8, 2013 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Eugenio Pacelli, who reigned over the Roman Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, is easily the most controversial pope of the past two centuries. What Ventresca, a historian at the University of Western Ontario, calls the “Pius war” has raged since Rolf Hochhuth’s 1963 play The Deputy excoriated Pius for essentially remaining silent in the face of the Holocaust. That destroyed the pontiff’s once-sterling reputation for having done what he could behind the scenes for persecuted Jews. The bitter debate over whether he did all he could has never really stopped since, fuelled by Pius’s ongoing canonization process. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI, a German who reveres Pius for his personal Christian virtues and who is appreciative of the fact that Pius deeply admired German culture, declared his predecessor to be venerable, one step removed from beatified status, the final rung before full sainthood.
With the full archive of his pontificate yet to be opened to scholars, so much uncertainty still swirls about Pius that those interested in his wartime record, Jewish and Catholic alike, are troubled by the inexorable canonization process. Despite Ventresca’s dismay at the way the Pius war deflects attention from the two-thirds of an important pontificate—it was Pius who decoupled the Church from colonialism, in part by appointing Third World cardinals—the historian knows his biography will be judged by how he judges Pius during the Holocaust. Continue…