By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 0 Comments
Brian Bethune’s latest from Rome
Conventional wisdom holds that cardinal electors will always shy away from an American pababile for fear of too close a bond with the last superpower. But maybe that’s only an excuse, and what really irritates them is that unstoppable American openness with the media, a certain national problem with keeping secrets.
Then again, maybe cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York already knew he didn’t have a chance to be pope when he sent that cheerful letter to all the priests of his diocese, predicting a new pontiff by Thursday and an “inaugural mass on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, the patron of the Church Universal, a holiday, and Father’s Day here in Italy.” He also thinks ”the gentle Roman rain” which has half-drowned the rest of us on a couple of occasions ”is a sign of the grace of the Holy Spirit coming upon us.”
The Americans have actually been a blinding ray of sunshine here, willing to answer questions and openly acknowledge problems the Church has to face; at least they were, until shut down last week by a Vatican bureacracy that encourages prelates to think twice before reponding to, ”What is your name?” In that regard, perhaps the more things change…
Early this morning an elderly cardinal, freed not just from the burden of voting but the close observation of Swiss Guards, wandered the streets near Saint Peter’s Square in full scarlet regalia, accompanied by only one young monsignor, and happily posing for photos with the the African streetsellers who stopped him. He did, however, respond to all questions about his name with, ”Espagna.” The cardinal was strangely reminiscent of an equally elderly man at the square last night, who shrugged when asked who should be pope, but had a firm opinion–written on a banner–as to what the new papal name should be: Francesco I Papa.
By Brian Bethune - Monday, February 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM - 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 Jane Switzer - Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 1:30 PM - 0 Comments
Many want priests to marry and women to be ordained
Irish Catholics may embrace the idea of a more progressive church, but Pope Benedict isn’t willing to budge. Almost nine in 10 believers, 87 per cent, think priests should be allowed to marry, according to a new survey by Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests, and 77 per cent say women should be ordained. The survey results came on the heels of a rare rebuke by the pontiff of priests who question the church’s hard-line stance.
Earlier this month, Benedict denounced the “call to disobedience” by a dissident group of Austrian priests known as the Pfarrer Initiative. The group, led by the Reverend Helmut Schüller, advocates for the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women. Speaking from the altar at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Pope asked rhetorically, “Is disobedience a path of renewal for the church?” Apparently it depends on whom you ask. The Catholic Church “has changed time and again over the centuries,” says Rev. Schüller. “It is our hope that that can happen again.”
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 17, 2010 at 12:33 PM - 0 Comments
Controversy continues to swirl around Pontiff’s visit to U.K.
Police in London have arrested six men in connection with an alleged plot against Pope Benedict XVI. Officials haven’t released much in the way of details, only that the men are between the ages of 26 and 50, and were arrested under the terrorism act. The visit has been a lightning rod for controversy ever since it was announced, with the record of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, as well as the Vatican’s policies on contraception and homosexuality, emerging as flashpoints. “We have complete trust in the police,” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said about the arrests. “The police are taking the necessary measures. The situation is not particularly dangerous. The Pope is happy about this trip and is calm.”
By Michael Friscolanti - Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 9:25 AM - 41 Comments
Benedict faces tough questions about the Church’s sex abuse scandal
Two Sundays before Easter, Pope Benedict XVI sent a 4,700-word “pastoral letter” to the Roman Catholic faithful of Ireland. Read in full from the pulpits of every church in the country, the note was the Vatican’s official response to two Irish investigations, which revealed—yet again—that pedophile priests had preyed on helpless children, and that certain self-serving bishops had moved heaven and earth to cover up the truth.
The Pope apologized directly to victims and their families, saying he is “truly sorry” for “these sinful and criminal acts.” He admitted that “grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred,” but assured his flock that “the Church has done an immense amount of work in many parts of the world in order to address and remedy” past mistakes. Benedict’s letter also spoke directly to the guilty priests, known and unknown. “I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow,” he wrote. “God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing.”
The question now is whether the Pope is prepared to do the same: give an account of his actions—and conceal nothing.
By Katie Engelhart - Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 1:20 PM - 8 Comments
Only the Pope can allow married priests who convert
A Prince Edward Island man is set to become the province’s first married Catholic priest. Martin Carter, a former Anglican clergyman, will be admitted to the Catholic priesthood in August. Currently, the Roman Catholic Church does not support the ordination of married men. P.E.I. Bishop Vernon Fougere explains that Carter, who is married and has three sons, “had to petition the Holy Father—the Pope—for permission”; the whole process took almost four years. And Fougere stressed that Carter’s case was exceptional: “In the Catholic Church, we do not ordain married men. [This] does not mean that permission will be given tomorrow to every married man to be ordained.”
Still, Timothy Scott, a Catholic priest who is also president of St. Joseph’s College in Edmonton, says that the ordination of married men has been happening for 15 or 20 years—but “quietly.” And, Scott says, there’s a catch. The exception to the Church’s rule of celibacy for priests is only made for men who were priests or ministers in other Christian denominations—Anglican or Lutheran, for example—and then converted to Catholicism. A man who is born Catholic and later marries can never become a priest. “It’s a bit confusing,” he concedes. And every case needs the approval of the Vatican. Continue…
By John Geddes - Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 4:20 PM - 3 Comments
In a show about 100 years in the artistic life of Rome, one master prevails over all others
Walking into the first room of a big art show, the gallery-goer naturally looks around for the block of text on the wall that introduces the artist or group of artists, and sets the stage for their moment in art history. But that’s not how the National Gallery of Canada’s big summer draw, From Raphael to Carracci: The Art of Papal Rome, is organized. Each room is devoted, not to an artist, but to a different 16th-century pope. The first belongs to Julius II, who commissioned Saint Peter’s Basilica and whose patronage began the work of making Rome glorious in the Renaissance and beyond. At least, the text stencilled neatly on the wall says it’s his room. Anyone who looks at the art, though, will come away divided as to whether it’s really ruled by Michelangelo or Raphael. These rivals are gloriously represented in Julius II’s room, and experiencing the competitive tension between them at close quarters is one of the great pleasures of this engrossingly varied exhibition, which runs in Ottawa until Sept. 7.
In a recent stroll through his show, David Franklin, the gallery’s chief curator, declared Raphael the hands-down winner. Franklin lingered over a Michelangelo drawing in red chalk—a famous study for the Sistine Chapel of an improbably brawny female—and declared it a singularly beautiful dead end. “The flex and torsion are just extraordinary; I’m not sure they had the bodybuilding apparatus in 1510 to get that musculature,” he says, then adds: “This is sort of a cul-de-sac in art history, because nobody can really learn from this, in the sense that nobody can match it.” Where Michelangelo’s drawing is impossible, Raphael’s portrait of Bindo Altoviti, casting a melting gaze from across the room, is imploring. “The elegance of it,” Franklin says, “is a stylistic moment that Raphael is bringing to Rome.”