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 Brian Bethune - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Nuns, who’ve been critical of the Church’s teaching feel blindsided by the move
The mills of the Vatican grind slowly. So when the Roman Catholic Church delivered a critical assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious—an umbrella group whose 1,500 members represent 80 per cent of the 55,000 nuns in America—after considering it for two years, nuns said they felt blindsided. Some, like Sister Simone Campbell, thought the Vatican was miffed over “our health care letter.” She was referring to the standoff between the U.S. government and Catholic bishops over Barack Obama’s health care regulation requiring Catholic institutions to provide employee insurance that covered contraceptives. Dozens of nuns, many of them LCWR members, had signed a letter in support of the measure.
Although the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church’s chief doctrinal enforcement body, did not specify the health care issue, many observers read it into the “major areas of concern” the CDF identified. Those included various LCWR stances “not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, and LCWR members criticizing male-only priesthood. The rebuke to the LCWR may be only the Vatican’s first move in reining in American nuns. A much wider ranging Church examination into all women’s religious orders in the U.S., which began in 2006, delivered its report to the pope in December, but the results haven’t yet been made public.
By macleans.ca - Friday, January 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM - 0 Comments
Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins received the call from the Vatican via his BlackBerry
Toronto archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins has become only the sixteenth Canadian cardinal of the Roman Catholic church, the CBC reports. Cardinals are the closest aides to the Pope. Archbishop Collins, 64, is one of 22 new cardinals named. They will be officially installed in a ceremony known as a consistory to be held on Feb. 18 at the Vatican. Collins will continue as archbishop of Toronto, but will now add frequent trips to Rome. “The role of cardinal is one of service for the wider church — that of course is a great honour and responsibility,” said Collins. “I love being a priest, I love being a bishop — it’s just an awesome experience to receive that call from the Lord.” Collins received the call via a message on his BlackBerry telling him to call the Pope’s representative. The new appointments bring the total number of cardinals to 214, of whom 125 are under the age of 80. Those under 80 are responsible for choosing a new pope, if necessary.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 14 Comments
He didn’t foresee the long-running sex abuse scandal suddenly igniting, but the Pope showed surprising openness in dealing with it
There is always, in the spiritual and political life of the Roman Catholic Church, a fire smouldering somewhere: minority Christians under persecution here, an abortion initiative in a Catholic country there, rebellious laity, scandalous clergy. So Pope Benedict XVI had no particular reason, on New Year’s Day, to foresee that the long-running clerical child sexual abuse scandal would suddenly burn white-hot, and spread far outside the confines of his Church. But as the penitential season of Lent began in February, hundreds more victims surfaced with their harrowing stories, not only in Ireland and the U.S., the epicentres of the scandal, but across Europe, including Benedict’s native Germany.
This time it was more than the original crimes that angered the faithful and outsiders alike. The focus was increasingly on the cover-up—the swearing of victims to secrecy, the shuffling of pedophile priests to fresh starts (and fresh opportunities) in unsuspecting parishes—and the way that cover-up touched the papacy itself. Questions were raised in the media and among Catholics about Benedict’s role, before he became pope, in determining the Vatican’s treatment of predatory clergy, a response widely condemned as ineffectual at best and criminally negligent at worst. Benedict found himself launched on an annus horribilis that would prove as awful as any experienced by a pope in modern times.
By Scott Feschuk - Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 102 Comments
FESCHUK: In the throes of a serious shortage, the Church tries out some new strategies
Looking for work? Seeking a new challenge? Now may be the perfect time to consider a career in the exciting ﬁeld of demon exorcism.
The U.S. Roman Catholic Church is in dire need of dedicated professionals with the courage and theatrical overacting required to cast out evil spirits from the bodies of the faithful. American bishops even held a conference last weekend in Baltimore to train clergy on the tactical points of coaxing a demon from its human host. That’s one souvenir conference tote bag we’d all like to have: Exorcism 2010—The power of Christ compels you . . . to support our sponsors!
The New York Times summed up the Church’s predicament: “There are only a handful of priests in the country trained as exorcists, but they say they are overwhelmed with requests from people who fear they are possessed by the Devil.”
You can imagine the mishaps that ensue. When a newbie exorcist is pressed into action before he’s ready, it’s easy to panic and grab the wrong magical weapon. Note to rookies: a silver bullet kills a werewolf, garlic wards off vampires and a Big Mac lures Kirstie Alley down from a tree. You want the crucifix, the holy water and, if Hollywood has taught us anything about exorcisms, a few Wet-Naps to clean yourself up afterwards.