Dec. 6, 2013
Vatican Tannenbaum: how 'branches green' show other shades of meaning
If Germans are known for being punctual, it turns out even their trees show up early. This year's Vatican Christmas tree from Bavaria's Bohemian Forest was scheduled to arrive on the feast of St. Nicholas, Dec. 6, but appeared instead on Dec. 5.
Nov. 27, 2013
To go forth in evangelization, Pope Francis confronts the enemy within
In contrast to earlier apostolic exhortations that focused on themes raised in a world Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis devotes much of his first exhortation to the shortcomings of the church itself.
Nov. 22, 2013
With document on evangelization, pope makes real authorial debut
Pope Francis has already published an encyclical. But in the opening paragraphs of "Lumen Fidei," released in July, he explained that the text was essentially the work of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to whose words Pope Francis had merely "added a few contributions" of his own.
Nov. 14, 2013
Year of two popes leaves indelible mark on Year of Faith
If the church’s soon-to-close Year of Faith has succeeded, as organizers say it has, the credit ultimately lies less with its special projects and events than with the historic papal transition that occurred in its course.
Nov. 7, 2013
From New Jersey to the Vatican, opening a dialogue with the Gospel
Mentoring inner-city youths is hardly the most obvious way to prepare for working at the Vatican, but Father Geno Sylva says the lessons he learned in a low-income New Jersey community have served him abundantly well in his current job as an official at the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
Oct. 31, 2013
Keeping the habit: Franciscans look to counter culture's impact
Pope Francis frequently denounces two aspects of modern culture: the way it encourages people to throw away whatever or whoever they no longer find useful and the belief that nothing lasts forever, not even love.
Oct. 24, 2013
New U.S. envoy to Vatican: Areas of agreement bigger than differences
Disagreements need not hinder the Vatican and the Obama administration from collaborating on a broad range of peace and justice issues, said the new U.S ambassador to the Holy See.
Oct. 18, 2013
Celluloid heaven: how popes took church, Gospel to the big screen
The Catholic Church has a history of taking on major technological innovations that promote mass communication, such as the printing press in the 15th century and radio and television in the 20th. In fact, one of the very first motion picture films ever made was an 1896 reel of Pope Leo XIII.
Oct. 11, 2013
How Catholic universities can be models of authentic higher education
The seven pontifical universities of Rome started their academic year Oct. 7, welcoming thousands of new and returning students from around the world.
Oct. 3, 2013
In interviews, Pope Francis crafts a new genre of papal language
Pope Francis has given three wide-ranging interviews in two months, drawing headlines and heated discussion with frank statements on sexual and medical ethics, Christian dialogue with nonbelievers, and reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, among other topics.
Sept. 27, 2013
For a 21st-century pope, some 12th-century management advice
As Pope Francis prepares to meet Oct. 1-3 with the eight cardinals he has chosen to advise him on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy and governing the universal church, he might do well to consider some medieval advice for facing his modern challenges.
Sept. 20, 2013
Hidden away behind pope's summer residence is land of milk and honey
Vincenzo Scaccioni, the head of agricultural operations at the pontifical villa of Castel Gandolfo, oversees 26 employees who work on the villa's 74 acres of gardens and 62 acres of farmland.
Sept. 13, 2013
Under Pope Francis, liberation theology comes of age
The news that Pope Francis had a meeting with 85-year old Father Gustavo Gutierrez, who is widely considered the father of liberation theology, has excited interest far beyond the Vatican's walls.
Sept. 6, 2013
For the pope, making peace is now part of the job
Pope Francis is leading the Catholic Church on an extraordinary campaign to prevent President Barack Obama's proposed military strike on Syria.
Aug. 29, 2013
Lasting bonds: Vatican invites extended families to join pilgrimage
As part of the Year of Faith, the Vatican wants to celebrate bonds that last a lifetime.
Aug. 21, 2013
Beauty and beer: Monks' outreach is part of new evangelization
Even before Pope Benedict XVI set up an office for new evangelization and called a world Synod of Bishops, a new group of Benedictine monks was using Latin and liturgy to reach out to those whose faith was weak or nonexistent. Now they've added beer to the blend, and people are flocking to their monastery.
Aug. 15, 2013
Castel Gandolfo: Town struggling to overcome total pope-dependency
While the shores of Lake Albano are speckled with swimmers and sunbathers, the historic center of Castel Gandolfo has been quiet this summer -- too quiet for many.
Aug. 9, 2013
Pope Francis discovers charismatic movement a gift to the whole church
As the church continues to lose members in the region with the world's largest Catholic population, the charismatic movement stands out as a source of hope, not only for fending off the formidable competition of Pentecostal Protestantism but for raising morale among the faithful as a whole.
Aug. 2, 2013
Against the tide: the pope rallies a counterculture
Throughout Pope Benedict's eight-year pontificate, secular media outlets routinely portrayed him as backward or bigoted for his defense of traditional Catholic teaching, particularly on moral questions. By contrast, it is hard to imagine any pope today enjoying better press than Pope Francis.
July 26, 2013
Ships at Holy See: how popes once navigated more than spiritual waters
One could say it all started with St. Peter's fishing boat. One day, that humble vessel turned into a powerful pontifical fleet, particularly during the life of the Papal States.
July 17, 2013
Pope on the road: Vatican does detailed planning but expects surprises
While Pope Francis' July 22-28 visit to Brazil has been planned almost down to the minute, the papal spokesman is certain it will be "a bit of an adventure."
July 12, 2013
Pilgrim of the poor: Pope prepares to return to his home continent
As he brings his message of social justice to Latin America and beyond, Pope Francis manifestly does so in the belief that as the church draws closer to the poor, the poor draw it closer to God.
July 5, 2013
Seven encyclicals that shook the church
Although many encyclicals are remembered only by scholars, the messages of others have continued to resonate within the church and beyond.
June 28, 2013
Pilgrims' progress: Apostles' tombs have been popular for millennia
As Catholics prepared to celebrate the June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul -- co-founders of the church in Rome -- the Vatican opened a new archaeological site, which reveals fresh details of the extensive and popular devotion to St. Paul throughout history and how the early church handled the deluge of visitors.
June 20, 2013
Swiss Guard service: Good preparation for cop job or priesthood
Being a papal protector is a great gateway into the priesthood.
June 13, 2013
What the pope's leaked comments really tells us about the church
A report that Pope Francis privately acknowledged the existence of a "gay lobby" inside the Vatican offers a sensational example of his unvarnished speaking style and a reminder of the challenge that style poses for the papacy in the age of digital communications and vanishing privacy.
June 6, 2013
At the Vatican, a missionary serves the world's displaced
Father Frans Thoolen finally has the world's attention. Working with his colleagues behind the scenes, he has helped provide the foundation of the Holy See's response to the international refugee crisis.
May 31, 2013
Keeping up with Francis: The nuances of Vatican communications
Of the various innovations that Pope Francis has already introduced into the way a pontiff lives and works, one of the most significant is his celebration of weekday morning Masses with invited guests.
May 24, 2013
Gauchos and God: Pope draws life lessons from Argentine cowboy culture
"The gaucho culture is an attitude toward life, and I believe Pope Francis is highlighting precisely this aspect in his current mission," said Roberto Vega Anderson, an Argentine gold- and silversmith who is the curator of a newly opened exhibit at the Vatican.
May 17, 2013
Vatican Legal: Church teaching doesn't change, but church laws can
Like any society, the Catholic Church has laws, and while the tenets of its faith do not change, its laws do need to be adapted to the changing situations in which its members try to live out their faith.
May 10, 2013
Under soot: Spring cleaning means sometimes finding forgotten gems
A little bit of spring cleaning or a much needed renovation can turn up the most unexpected things -- especially if you're sprucing up or digging through the Vatican.
May 3, 2013
St. Mary Major: monument to Mary as protector of the church
The first of Rome's four major basilicas to receive a visit from Pope Francis after his election was not St. Peter's but the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the oldest church in the West dedicated to the mother of Jesus.
April 25, 2013
Human evolution: Science, faith explore the mysterious emergence of man
In its continuing dialogue with world-renowned scientific experts, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences brought together evolutionary biologists, paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, neuroscientists, theologians and philosophers to discuss the major physical and cultural changes that occurred during mankind's evolution.
April 18, 2013
Battle with the devil: Pope Francis frames the fight in Jesuit terms
In the teaching of Pope Francis, the devil has a more dastardly agenda than just convincing people to break one of the Ten Commandments; "the enemy" wants them to feel weak, worthless and always ready to complain or gossip.
April 12, 2013
St. Paul Outside the Walls: monument to a church of evangelization
The Apostle Paul, whose tomb lies under the basilica's main altar, brought the Gospel to peoples across the central and eastern Mediterranean.
April 5, 2013
St. John Lateran: Symbol of church's coexistence with secular power
Since his first public remarks on the night of his election March 13, Pope Francis has impressed many observers with a marked preference for describing himself not as the pope but as the bishop of Rome -- a role he was scheduled to assume in a special way April 7 by celebrating his first Mass in the city's cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
March 29, 2013
Looking out for No. 2: Who will be Vatican secretary of state?
Of the several widely acknowledged priorities in the run-up to the conclave that chose Pope Francis, none was more prominent than a need to reform the Roman Curia.
March 21, 2013
Table time: Pope discusses, prays, dines with Orthodox representatives
Pastors and theologians involved in ecumenical dialogue emphasize the importance of "table time" -- sharing meals -- along with serious theological discussions, shared prayer and joint action.
March 8, 2013
Universal priest, prophet and king: Next pope faces global challenges
In practically everything he does, the pope has special responsibility for preserving and building unity among members of the largest, most widespread and ethnically diverse organization on earth.
March 1, 2013
Between popes, a time of speculation and suspense
The period immediately following a pontificate is one of excited speculation, more or less loose, about the identity of the next pope.
Feb. 22, 2013
Papal biographer: Fixing Vatican bureaucracy is a top job for next pope
Threats to religious freedom around the world, the human costs of globalization, media transformed by the revolution in information technology are some of the challenges for the next pope. But he might also have an urgent task at home: reforming the Roman Curia.
Feb. 15, 2013
Pope Benedict's resignation and the mystery of the missing encyclical
Pope Benedict XVI's historic decision to resign at the end of February has astonished and perplexed the world in many ways, not least because of what might be called the mystery of the missing encyclical.
Feb. 8, 2013
Theologian: American youth a ravaged but promising mission field
As discouraging a picture as Pia de Solenni paints of today’s American socio-cultural landscape, she insists that all this represents a momentous opportunity for Catholic evangelization.
Jan. 31, 2013
Why not women priests? The papal theologian explains
Despite recent disciplinary actions against advocates of women’s ordination, some Catholics persist in asking why, as traditional distinctions between the sexes break down in many areas of society, the Catholic clergy must remain an exclusively male vocation, and what this suggests about the church's understanding of women's worth and dignity.
Jan. 24, 2013
Cardinal Stafford: 40 years after Roe, 'I weep for the United States'
Forty years of legalized abortion have profoundly demoralized American society, not only weakening respect for human life but undermining marriage, parenthood and individuals' sense of duty to others, said Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, a former archbishop of Denver and former head of two Vatican offices.
Jan. 18, 2013
Vatican mummy health check: It's never too late for an endoscopy
Mummies in the Vatican Museums received "more medical attention now than when they were alive."
Jan. 11, 2013
When the pope administers the sacraments
For most Catholics, receiving any sacrament from the pope would be a special event, yet such opportunities are necessarily rare. On what occasions does the pope personally administer the sacraments and to whom?
Jan. 2, 2013
Silence and song: Youths make ecumenical New Year's pilgrimage to Rome
Even with 45,000 people -- mostly young adults -- gathered in St. Peter's Square, one could hear the sound of splashing water from the square's two decorative fountains.
Dec. 28, 2012
Agenda for a year of faith: looking ahead at Pope Benedict's 2013
Here are 10 papal events to watch for in the news during the coming year.
Dec. 20, 2012
Elite Vatican squad scales high spots to keep basilica spic and span
Twice a year, typically before Christmas and Easter, a select team of Vatican workers breaks out its polyester dusters, vacuum cleaner and bronze polishing fluid to clean Gian Lorenzo Bernini's 100-foot-high, 63-ton masterpiece.
Dec. 13, 2012
In 2012, pope called for liberty, identity, evangelization
Ten highlights of the pope's year.
Dec. 7, 2012
Caritas leader: Pope's letter gives bishop strong role in social action
Since its release Dec. 1, Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic letter on the "service of charity" has provoked widespread speculation on how it might affect Catholic charitable agencies in their fundraising, hiring and selection of projects.
Nov. 30, 2012
Is capitalism Catholic? A priest defends free-market economics
A U.S. priest says free-market economics is compatible with Catholic social teaching.
Nov. 21, 2012
Papal penmen: Pope Benedict's literary predecessors
The Nov. 21 publication of "Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives," which completes Pope Benedict XVI's popular three-volume series on the life and teachings of Christ, is the latest reminder of the author's prolific output, now amounting to more than 60 books.
Nov. 16, 2012
By the numbers: Consistory to expand variety in College of Cardinals
Headlines in most Italian newspapers the morning after Pope Benedict announced the new cardinals all pointed out the absence of new Italian or new European cardinals.
Nov. 9, 2012
Four years later, Vatican takes a different approach toward Obama
The day after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, hailed his election as a "choice that unites." Four years later, the Vatican's reaction to Obama's re-election had a markedly different tone.
Nov. 1, 2012
Respect and difference: interreligious dialogue since Vatican II
While some Catholics still look on other religions with disdain, other Catholics seem to believe Vatican II taught that all religions were equally valid paths to God and to the fullness of truth. A Vatican official says both extremes are wrong.
Oct. 26, 2012
Misreading of Vatican II dampened missionary zeal, theologian says
On the subject of the Second Vatican Council, Ralph Martin is nothing if not an enthusiast. But in at least one crucial area, he says, the council's expectations have been gravely disappointed.
Oct. 19, 2012
Kateri and Jake: American Indians are joined in sainthood cause
Jake Finkbonner knows what it's like to have kids tease him because of the way he looks, but one of his heroes also grew up being teased.
Oct. 12, 2012
Fifty years later, a bishop remembers Vatican II
Bishop William J. McNaughton, 85, attended all four sessions of Vatican II from 1962 to 1965, missing only two days because of illness.
Oct. 4, 2012
Cardinal Wuerl: Synod strives to turn back 'tsunami of secularism'
Although Vatican II was faithful to the church's traditional doctrines, the cardinal said, implementation of the council's teachings in the 1960s and 1970s coincided with a "current of secularism sweeping the Western world," especially Europe.
Sept. 27, 2012
New world evangelization: Synod's agenda includes America
Looking ahead to the world Synod of Bishops, which meets at the Vatican Oct. 7-28, several U.S. participants spoke with Catholic News Service about the obstacles that the new evangelization faces in their country and some of the particular strengths that the church brings to the task.
Sept. 20, 2012
A Vatican Latin expert finds new uses for an ancient language
When Msgr. Daniel B. Gallagher was a microbiology major at the University of Michigan, his growing curiosity about the "deep questions" led the pre-med student to take philosophy and other humanities courses on the side. By the time he graduated, he had discerned his vocation to the priesthood and also discovered the appeal of Latin.
Sept. 14, 2012
Church studies: Vatican fosters research, welcomes scholars
No one should be surprised by the range of the Vatican's scholarly interests or its interest to scholars. After all, one church historian noted, Jesus was interested in everything about human life and the world, and St. Paul's letters show he not only preached to the ancient Greeks, he knew their culture and philosophy.
Sept. 6, 2012
Papal imprint: Benedict's teachings are leaving mark on future priests
Blessed John Paul II famously inspired a generation of vocations to the priesthood -- to the point that many new ordinands came to be known as "John Paul II priests." Now Pope Benedict XVI is making his mark on a new generation of future priests.
Aug. 30, 2012
For Pope Benedict in Lebanon, the pastoral is political
When Pope Benedict XVI travels to Lebanon Sept. 14-16, his purpose will be above all pastoral, and, as usual for papal trips, most of his remarks will focus on the spiritual. Yet the concerns of Christians in the Middle East are in many respects inseparable from politics.
Aug. 24, 2012
Smartphones down: A real pilgrimage takes time, reflection
Father Caesar Atuire is not naive enough to ask his pilgrims to leave their smartphones at home. However, the CEO of a Vatican-related pilgrimage agency does ask his pilgrims to at least look at the holy sites -- perhaps even say a prayer -- before clicking and capturing the moment in a photo, text message, Tweet or Facebook post.
Aug. 17, 2012
Statistically speaking: Vatican numbers hint at fading faith practice
The percentage of Catholics practicing their faith is declining almost everywhere around the globe. Almost all bishops report it, but it's difficult to prove statistically.
Aug. 9, 2012
Sacred duty: Saints show that church is holy despite failings
Catholic devotion to the saints appears to be alive and well, and Pope Benedict XVI continues to proclaim new saints at a regular pace.
Aug. 2, 2012
Art and the meaning of life: Priests help visitors to Vatican Museums
The Catholic Church teaches that beauty can be a path to God, and in an attempt to make that path easier for visitors to follow, the Vatican Museums have assigned two priests to guide the searching. Or just to talk.
July 26, 2012
Fast vs. facts: Vatican spokesman tries to quickly help media get truth
Throughout history, the Vatican has dealt with so many accusations and scandals, one would expect the Holy See to have a well-oiled PR machine primed to deal with the constant media onslaught. Well, better late than never.
July 20 2012
What Catholics can learn during Islam's holy month
According to the Vatican's point man for dialogue with Islam, Ramadan is an opportunity for Catholics to learn from Muslims' example of obedience to the Almighty -- and thereby strengthen their own Catholic faith.
July 13, 2012
As pope's vacation begins, taking stock of his work year
Every year about this time, American legal journalists review the recently ended Supreme Court term, trying to identify trends and themes that cut across the court's most important rulings. As it happens, the court's October-through-June term coincides almost exactly with what we might call the papal year.
July 6, 2012
For Cardinal Burke, restoring tradition is a work in progress
Five years after Pope Benedict XVI lifted most restrictions on celebration of the Tridentine Mass, a senior Vatican official says that much work remains to make the traditional liturgy fully accessible to the faithful, and to bring its influence to bear on the form of the Mass most Catholics attend.
June 29, 2012
Something you can bank on? Vatican financial body works to revamp image
In an effort to shed a decades-long image of secrecy and suspicion, the Vatican bank has been investing heavily in building a new image of transparency and legality.
June 22, 2012
Space School: Vatican Observatory supports rising stars in astronomy
This summer’s group of students was chosen from 150 applicants from all over the world.
June 15, 2012
Mass confusion: Misunderstanding at root of 'liturgy wars'
Half a century after the start of the Second Vatican Council, the reform of the liturgy initiated there has not lost its power to stoke controversy.
June 8, 2012
Blessed John XXIII's hometown was a school of humility and hard work
A comment Blessed John XXIII once made to Queen Elizabeth II of England epitomizes the disarmingly humble yet charismatic personal style he brought to the papacy and reflects the importance he placed throughout his life on his modest upbringing.
May 31, 2012
The human factor: Scandal highlights devotion, excess at Vatican
Depending on what commentary one reads, recent leaks of internal Vatican memos and private letters to Pope Benedict XVI are the work either of praiseworthy whistle-blowers or criminal moles.
May 25, 2012
Business acumen: How one Swiss Guard found inspiration in late pope
Some might find the Vatican an unlikely teacher of business management. But according to one former Swiss Guard, the years he spent protecting Blessed John Paul II yielded life-changing lessons for a career in business.
May 17, 2012
We are family: Pope to give Catholic families hope in troubled times
Pope Benedict XVI will meet with the world's families at a time when the institution of the family is under threat and many are still struggling with a worldwide economic crisis and a lack of cultural and societal support.
May 10, 2012
Half a century later, still answering Fatima questions
A small but highly dedicated group of people believes the Vatican is still hiding a portion of the third secret of Fatima.
May 4, 2012
At 96, Blessed John XXIII’s secretary tells tales of his famous boss
Archbishop Loris F. Capovilla has outlived his former boss by nearly half a century, but remains an indefatigable custodian of his legacy.
April 27, 2012
New generation, old rite: the enduring appeal of Catholic tradition
Of all the Catholic Church's modernizing reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council, none was more evident to ordinary members of the faithful than changes to the liturgy. Most embraced or accepted these changes, but a minority persisted in their devotion to the traditional Tridentine Mass.
April 20, 2012
Religious liberty: Why a battle 1,700 years ago is relevant today
For Vatican historians, the roots of a Christian idea of religious liberty go way back: in fact, back 1,700 years to the Emperor Constantine's victory on Rome's Milvian Bridge and to his conversion.
April 12, 2012
As a man grows older: Papal milestones prompt celebration, speculation
Pope Benedict XVI's 85th birthday, April 16, and the seventh anniversary of his election, April 19, are obviously occasions for wishing the pope well and reflecting on the events of his reign thus far. Inevitably, however, these milestones also prompt speculation about what Vatican officials and observers refer to diplomatically as "papal transition."
April 4, 2012
Can business lead to holiness? Promoting virtue in the executive suite
In an effort to help businesses stay strong and healthy, and avoid the occupational hazards of greed, overwork and exploitation, the Vatican's justice and peace council has released a handbook for business educators and entrepreneurs.
March 29, 2012
Patience, progress: Differing opinions on dealing with Cuba's regime
The Cuba that Pope Benedict XVI visited March 26-28 is a country where the Catholic Church enjoys significantly more freedom and official recognition than it did when Blessed John Paul II made the first papal visit to the island in 1998. But in other dimensions of human rights, the reform record of the Cuban regime has been less encouraging.
March 21, 2012
The cry of the poor: Pope likely to repeat criticism of Cuba embargo
The Vatican's position on economic embargoes -- not just the embargo against Cuba -- has been repeated many times.
March 16, 2012
Tapping on heaven's door: Seminarian keeps a foot in the dance world
David Rider still does the occasional barrel roll, but now he usually does it wearing a Roman collar. He's kept his tap shoes since entering the seminary, but his goal has changed dramatically.
March 9, 2012
In Mexico and Cuba, papal trip to highlight local and regional issues
Pope Benedict's trip to Mexico and Cuba March 23-28 will be a relatively brief one, consisting of a little more than two days in each country. Yet his visit is bound to highlight a wide range of prominent issues affecting an entire continent of crucial importance to the Catholic Church.
March 2, 2012
God's Word: New exhibit shows Bible's evolution, beauty, perseverance
Desecration, censorship, the ravages of time and even nesting mice have been unable to destroy the word of God, handed down for millennia by people of faith.
Feb. 22, 2012
Chapter and verse: Pope uses Bible reflection to address 'his' priests
Speaking 38 minutes without a prepared text, Pope Benedict XVI gave priests of the Diocese of Rome a look not only at how he approaches Scripture, but also at his priorities and personality.
Feb. 17, 2012
Of cardinal importance: new princes of the church on their role
Practically everyone knows two things about cardinals -- that they wear red hats and elect the pope. But what other purpose do these men serve in the Catholic Church?
Feb. 10, 2012
Don't wait for explosion: Speakers say church must prevent abuse
The take-away message from a Vatican-backed symposium on clerical sex abuse was clear: Victims, truth and justice come first. And the church can no longer wait for a crisis to erupt before it begins to address the scandal of abuse.
Feb. 2, 2012
Creating cardinals: Ceremony features something old, new, borrowed, red
Something old, something new, something borrowed and something red will be part of the mix Feb. 18 when Pope Benedict XVI creates 22 new cardinals.
Jan. 27, 2012
Half a century after Vatican II, a year of faith and debate
Because Vatican II was one of the monumental events in modern religious history, its golden anniversary will naturally be the occasion for numerous commemorative events, including liturgical celebrations, publications and academic conferences.
Jan. 20, 2012
Cutting-edge science: the church and the study of human anatomy
Many readers of the Vatican's official newspaper might have been taken by surprise in mid-January by an article effusively praising a well-known exhibition of "plastinated" human bodies, which was making an extended stop in Rome.
Jan. 13, 2012
Making the old new: Vatican encourages a recovery of 'apologetics'
In the Catholic Church, it's true that everything old can be new again, and the Vatican wants one of those things to be the art of "apologetics" -- dusted off and updated to respond to new challenges, including those posed by militant atheists.
Jan. 6, 2012
Calm and collected: Amid crisis, Vatican diplomacy shows 'maturity'
Pope Benedict XVI's early January address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, an annual tradition that reaffirms the Holy See's commitment to its relations with foreign states, comes after an especially trying year for Vatican diplomacy.
Dec. 29, 2011
Pope's 2012 to include synod, international trips, canonizations
The 2012 highlights are only a small part of the pope's day-to-day schedule, which includes hundreds of meetings, speeches, messages and liturgies.
Dec. 22, 2011
For pope, 2011 was year of evangelization, travel and technology
The year 2011 saw two of Pope Benedict's favorite themes come into clearer focus: new evangelization and religious liberty. Increasingly, he has linked the two topics, telling bishops that both tasks require courageous truth-telling in sometimes hostile environments.
Dec. 15, 2011
Of liturgy and life: Jesuit scholar reflects on his 46 years in Rome
He’s a world-renowned liturgical scholar, but students and friends constantly share his pithy quotes.
Dec. 9, 2011
Indelible faith: Israeli ambassador shares research on pilgrim tattoos
A conference in Rome explored the history of tattoos, the use of permanent body markings in a variety of cultures, tattooing techniques, social and religious attitudes toward tattooing, and the tradition of pilgrim tattoos both in Jerusalem and in Loreto, Italy.
Dec. 2, 2011
Vatican II treasure hunt: Committee seeks bishops' notes, diaries
The Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences is asking church archivists, and even the family members of deceased Vatican II council fathers, to look through their papers to find reflections that can add a personal touch to the historical research already conducted on the official acts of the council.
Nov. 22, 2011
Pope's critique of global economic system resurfaces in Africa
The pope has consistently taken a wary and critical view of the global economic system and the disparities it has generated.
Nov. 17, 2011
Vatican financial document took complex route to delivery
Speculation that the authors of a Vatican document on the global economy had done an "end run" to avoid the pre-publication scrutiny of top Vatican officials turned out not to be true, but the episode illustrated that the editing and approval procedures at the Vatican are less than transparent and far from uniform.
Nov. 9, 2011
In Benin, pope to outline church's pastoral direction in Africa
Pope Benedict XVI is making his second trip as pope to Africa in mid-November, spending three days in Benin and presenting an important document on the future of the church on the continent.
Nov. 3, 2011
Mission to the Vatican: Diplomats find unique challenges at Holy See
Ambassadors to the Holy See resident in Rome are a relatively small group of women and men with backgrounds ranging from professional diplomacy and politics to medicine and even theology -- Catholic, Orthodox or Islamic.
Oct. 28, 2011
'Ad limina': US bishops set to begin round of consultations in Rome
U.S. bishops are preparing to make their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican, an intense series of encounters that will bring many of them face-to-face with Pope Benedict XVI for the first time.
Oct. 21, 2011
'Ad limina' change means not all bishops meet privately with pope
In a quiet modification of a traditional format, the Vatican has dropped most of the individual private meetings between Pope Benedict XVI and bishops making their "ad limina" visits to Rome.
Oct. 14, 2011
Assisi III: Pope puts his own mark on prayer summit's third edition
Slowly and carefully, the Vatican is setting the stage for the third edition of the interreligious "prayer for peace" encounter in the Italian pilgrimage town of Assisi.
Oct. 6, 2011
Keeping it real: Preserving native art requires respect for cultures
CT scans, neutron particle accelerators and other high-tech tools as well as traditional techniques are being used to restore ceremonial and sacred objects.
Sept. 30, 2011
Dead wrong: Catholics must no longer support capital punishment
The Catholic Church's position on capital punishment has evolved considerably over the centuries. And as a result, "it is not a message that is immediately understood -- that there is no room for supporting the death penalty in today's world," said a Vatican's expert on capital punishment and arms control.
Sept. 23, 2011
In centuries-old buildings, some Vatican workers have techie paradise
Looking at the centuries-old buildings and palaces, not many people would know that the Vatican has become a techie paradise, a wonderland of modern equipment and know-how.
Sept. 16, 2011
Church and state: Why can't they be friends?
Pope Benedict XVI has made the dangers of secularism a major theme of his pontificate. And it's a battle both sides take seriously.
Sept. 8, 2011
Hotline to heaven: how relics connect people to community of saints
A saint's lock of hair, bone shards, a vial of blood, even a severed hand whose discolored fingers curl in a macabre way are venerated by many members of the Catholic Church. Others may just get the heebie-jeebies and wonder why holy people's body parts are even put on display.
Sept. 1, 2011
The Vatican and 9/11: Commitment to dialogue, cooperation set the tone
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States horrified the pope and Vatican officials, who unequivocally condemned terrorism and offered prayers for the dead, the survivors and the rescue workers.
Aug. 24, 2011
'Spiritual Communion': Youths learn a traditional concept the hard way
More than a million young Catholics, denied the chance to receive the Eucharist at the closing Mass for World Youth Day, learned the hard way about a venerable Catholic tradition: "spiritual Communion" or the "Communion of desire."
Aug. 19, 2011
Let's see some ID: New evangelization office targets Catholic identity
The head of the new office says it is easier to proclaim Christ to those who have never heard of him but much more difficult to evangelize those who presume to have the faith or who have left.
Aug. 12, 2011
WYD and vocations: Young want to be heard, invited, challenged
While the Catholic Church seeks to help earthlings reach their true home in heaven, too often it treats its younger members as if they were from another planet, a top Vatican official said.
Aug. 5, 2011
High noon: How the sun and moon guided prayer times and liturgy
Hidden among the paving stones of St. Peter's Square there is a simple clock and calendar. All you need is a sunny day.
July 29, 2011
WYD pilgrims' task: Help pope revive faith in Spain
Pope Benedict XVI will visit Spain in late August, celebrating the youthfulness and vigor of Catholic faith in a country where the Catholic majority often seems to have little or no impact on modern public life.
July 22, 2011
Pope Benedict's WYD: Space made for silence, solemnity
Pope Benedict XVI has put his own stamp on the church's celebration of World Youth Day, and it's especially clear in the gathering's moments of prayer.
July 14, 2011
Blogging for clarity: Fides launches site for Chinese Catholics
Sometimes the need for delicacy in handling politically sensitive situations conflicts with the need of the faithful to have clear guidance. That's what seems to be going on with the Vatican's China policy.
July 7, 2011
Balancing act: Juggling demands of dialogue, proclaiming Catholic faith
After Pope John Paul II invited religious leaders to Assisi in 1986 and 2002 to pray for peace, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger raised questions about the danger that people would misread the gatherings as some kind of Vatican statement that all religions are equal. So why is another meeting planned for October?
July 1, 2011
Conclave conjecture: Milan appointment triggers 'papabile' speculation
What distinguishes Cardinal Angelo Scola is that he is very much in line with the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI. Like the pope, he is a respected theologian who sees a crisis of values in modern society.
June 24, 2011
Nuclear physicist or priest? How one man chose God over gamma rays
Raised Catholic by Jewish and Catholic parents, Msgr. Robert L. Stern loved his faith but never planned on becoming a priest.
June 17, 2011
On world stage and behind closed doors, Vatican works diplomatic levers
Vatican City is the world's smallest state, but it's still considered a diplomatic nerve center, a place where the universal church meets global politics.
June 10, 2011
Water fight: A new Catholic issue emerges in Italy
A referendum in Italy has spotlighted an emerging social justice issue for the Catholic Church: access to safe water as a basic human right.
June 3, 2011
Calming the waters: New Vatican official tries different approach
As the head of the Vatican office that oversees the world's religious orders, 64-year-old Brazilian Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz inherited an inbox full of tensions and an assignment that in some ways resembled a battleground.
May 27, 2011
Evangelization's source: Pope's journey to Croatia highlights family
The focus of Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Zagreb, Croatia, June 4-5 will be on the family and building a community with Christian values.
May 20, 2011
Doctrinal congregation: Small Vatican office has broad reach
As two recent documents illustrate, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith keeps an eye on almost everything coming out of the Vatican.
May 13, 2011
Fiesta in Madrid: Preparations heating up for World Youth Day
With fewer than 100 days to go, preparations for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid are heating up and organizers are promising a "fiesta," adding a Spanish flavor to the traditional opportunities for prayer, friendship, music and religious education.
May 6, 2011
Tweets at St. Pete's: What happens when bloggers and the Vatican meet
At a landmark "Blog Meet," the pontifical councils for culture and for social communications brought together 150 bloggers from all parts of the world May 2 to get a sense of their hopes and concerns
April 29, 2011
Heavenly hosts: Popes aren't automatically saints
Considering the fact that they are elected to lead people in prayer, mission and good works, surprisingly few popes have been beatified or canonized, especially in the last 500 years.
April 22, 2011
Beauty workshop: Artisan nuns use sacred art to bring people to God
The slight differences between a beatification and a canonization are easy to miss, especially when one pope beatifies another pope.
April 15, 2011
Holy confusion? Beatification, canonization are different
The slight differences between a beatification and a canonization are easy to miss, especially when one pope beatifies another pope.
April 8, 2011
Immigration crisis in Italy puts church teaching to the test
Church leaders’ moral advocacy has provoked criticism and even derision among some Italians, who have suggested that the Vatican and other religious institutions be the first to open their doors to the wave of immigrants.
April 1, 2011
Exorcist boot camp: Church leaders call for more training against evil
A call to arms -- to take up the weapons of the rosary and prayer -- rang out at a recent international conference on exorcism in Rome.
March 25, 2011
Bad bookworms: Precious library collection on Christian East risks ruin
The Pontifical Oriental Institute has the best general collection in the world on Eastern Christianity. But the library's oldest and most valuable collections are in a serious state of degradation.
March 18, 2011
Dancing with the saints: Retreat master says that's the key to Lent
The saints aren't just people to turn to when something is lost or a situation seems hopeless; they are examples to follow in prayer and in efforts to reform and renew the church, said the priest who was preaching Pope Benedict XVI's Lenten retreat.
March 11, 2011
Sleuth and lawyer: Vatican trains people in the art of saint making
Being the point person for promoting a sainthood cause requires the combined qualities of a private investigator, a theologian, a lawyer, a historian and a medical examiner.
March 4, 2011
Bible to Boardroom: Catholics make spiritual values their business
When Catholic business leaders and experts gathered for a recent Vatican meeting, they were asked to take part in an unusual thought experiment.
Feb. 25, 2011
Pope John Paul II beatification strikes special chord among Romans
Church officials say that Romans, in fact, may represent the biggest group at the beatification, for a very good reason: For them, Pope John Paul was not only a pope but also a pastor.
Feb. 18, 2011
On 80th birthday, Vatican Radio rides wave of digital technology
Eighty years ago, a persistent pope and a scientific pioneer teamed up to create Vatican Radio, launching an evangelization tool that reached virtually every corner of the globe.
Feb. 10, 2011
Catholic-Orthodox relations: Ukrainian archbishop has important role
The election of a new archbishop for a church with 6.5 million Catholics could hold the key to determining if or when Pope Benedict XVI may meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.
Feb. 4, 2011
Pope's prayers: Could Internet increase spread of intentions?
If the pope used Twitter or Facebook to rally people together to pray for one intention, how many millions of prayers could be raised to heaven within minutes?
Jan. 28, 2011
'Bunga bunga': Vatican tiptoes around latest Berlusconi scandal
The uproar over the latest sex scandal involving Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has found Vatican and other church leaders mostly keeping mum, hesitant to be perceived as meddling in politics.
Jan. 21, 2011
Is seeing believing? How the church faces claims of Marian apparitions
More than 1,500 visions of Mary have been reported around the world, but in the past century only nine cases have received official church approval as being "worthy of belief."
Jan. 14, 2011
Gun control: Church firmly, quietly opposes firearms for civilians
The Catholic Church's position on gun control is not easy to find; there are dozens of speeches and talks and a few documents that call for much tighter regulation of the global arms trade, but what about private gun ownership?
Jan. 7, 2011
Back to Assisi: Pope Benedict to commemorate event he skipped
Pope Benedict XVI said he would go to Assisi in October to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's interreligious prayer for peace, but he did not actually say anything about praying with members of other religions.
Dec. 30, 2010
A 'routine' year: Pope's 2011 calendar holds full slate of events
Perhaps 2011 will mark the Year of Business as Usual for the German pontiff, who turns 84 in April.
Dec. 23, 2010
Vatican emerges from WikiLeaks as a key player on global scene
If there's one clear conclusion that can be drawn from the Vatican-related WikiLeaks disclosures, it's that the United States takes the Vatican and its diplomatic activity very seriously.
Dec. 17, 2010
In 2010, pope faced tough challenges inside and outside the church
Pope Benedict XVI will look back on 2010 as a challenging year for the priesthood and a time of trial for Christian minorities.
Dec. 10, 2010
Vatican Christmas: It may be short on snow, but it's big in spirit
While snowfall is a rarity and Santa Claus is seldom seen, Christmas at the Vatican is truly unique.
Dec. 3, 2010
WikiLeaks: Fallout is more dribble than storm, say Vatican officials
WikiLeaks' release of classified U.S. documents is unlikely to ever develop into a flood capable of eroding decades of U.S. diplomatic efforts, some Vatican officials and watchers said.
Nov. 24, 2010
Into the 'Light': Pope Benedict comes into clearer focus in new book
"Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times" explains papal decisions and offers unexpected insights, leaving the German pontiff in much clearer focus.
Nov. 19, 2010
Cardinal Levada says Vatican preparing new guidelines to fight abuse
The Vatican is preparing a document for all bishops' conferences offering guidelines for a "coordinated and effective program" of child protection and for dealing with allegations of clerical sexual abuse, said Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Nov. 18, 2010
Not cleared for landing: Ecumenical flight still far from destination
For years, Christian leaders have recognized a waning enthusiasm for ecumenism, but now they are warning that too many Christians assume their divisions and differences just don't matter.
Nov. 11, 2010
Bible school: Pope encourages devoted, reasoned approach to Scripture
In his apostolic exhortation, "Verbum Domini" ("The Word of the Lord"), the pope encouraged Catholics to embrace and value each of the ways God tries to speak to humanity.
Nov. 5, 2010
Less is more: Vatican meeting cuts the speeches
By Vatican standards, it's a small revolution: A pontifical council is holding a major assembly without prepared speeches.
Oct. 28, 2010
Pilgrim pope: Journey to Spain to highlight traditional and modern faith
Pope Benedict XVI has said he's heading to Spain Nov. 6-7 as a pilgrim, and the trip will give him an opportunity to participate in the most popular foot pilgrimage in Europe, the "camino" or journey to Santiago de Compostela.
Oct. 21, 2010
Europeans, Vatican officials dominate new cardinal selections
People expecting the cardinal selections to further globalize the College of Cardinals were no doubt disappointed. Fifteen of the 24 new cardinals are European -- 10 from Italy -- and 14 are current or former officials of the Roman Curia.
Oct. 15, 2010
Building bridges: Muslims, Jews, Christians join forces for peace
Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders came together in Rome to share success stories and break bread together at a daylong meeting as bishops from the Middle East gathered across the river at the Vatican for a special synod on the pastoral challenges in the region.
Oct. 7, 2010
The printed word: Meeting looks at challenges for Catholic press
Pope Benedict XVI, meeting Catholic journalists and communications professionals Oct. 7, said that despite the "multiplication of antennas, dishes and satellites," the printed word is still essential for communication, especially for a church community that draws its inspiration from Scripture.
Oct. 1, 2010
Unity and identity: Synod aims to bolster Middle East church presence
The Vatican is setting the stage for another Synod of Bishops in mid-October, this one aimed at turning a spotlight on the Christian communities of the Middle East.
Sept. 24, 2010
Waiting game: New Vatican evangelization agency has yet to materialize
The pope's initiative establishing a major Vatican agency to deal with "new evangelization" in traditionally Christian countries was seen as a bold stroke in the church's ongoing effort to engage the modern world. But three months later, the project is still stuck in the slow wheels of Vatican bureaucracy.
Sept. 17, 2010
Scraping the surface: Vatican pilgrimage journeys to heart of beauty
What do Renaissance masters have to teach today's women about feminine beauty? One Vatican official thinks quite a bit.
Sept. 10, 2010
Mini-Vatican: In Britain, pope will travel with team of top aides
This "mini-Vatican" is small enough to fit on his chartered jet, but diverse enough to respond to challenges in strategic areas -- including diplomatic crises, security breaches, liturgical snafus, reporters' questions and even medical emergencies.
Sept. 3, 2010
Farewell to arms: Former papal militia serves church with new mission
A small cadre of men wearing sleek, dark blue suits and red ties with thin, yellow stripes keep their eyes on pilgrims streaming through St. Peter's Basilica. The men, who help maintain order and decorum in the basilica, especially during papal ceremonies, are local volunteers for a charitable organization whose history is rooted in the papal army.
Aug. 27, 2010
Planning, protocol and pluralism: British ambassador prepares for pope
Francis Campbell, the British ambassador to the Vatican, for the past year has had what he described as being almost another full-time job: preparing for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Great Britain Sept. 16-19.
Aug. 20, 2010
Dress Codes: Aide deciphers papal apparel for nonliturgical events
In what can seem like a page of dos and don'ts from Emily Post, an assistant for papal ceremonies spelled out in the Vatican newspaper current norms on how popes should dress for a nonliturgical event.
Aug. 13, 2010
Ancient church is home parish for Vatican police, firefighters
The Swiss Guards have the colorful uniforms and the heroic legends, but the Vatican police and firefighters have the ancient church.
Aug 6, 2010
Sounds of silence: Restored Vatican Library ready for scholarly hush
Scholars have not had access to the library's 1.6 million books, hundreds of thousands of manuscripts, or its coin and medal collections since 2007, when the absolute-silence rule in the library's reading rooms was replaced with the ruckus of jackhammers, drills and cement mixers.
July 30, 2010
Conversion: Ancient prison went from pagan to sacred Christian site
Tradition holds that St. Peter was jailed in Rome's maximum security Mamertine Prison before he was crucified upside down and buried on the hill where St. Peter's Basilica was later built. And now after recent excavations in Rome's oldest prison, archaeologists say they have uncovered evidence that, while not providing direct proof, does support that belief.
July 22, 2010
At church's universal center, there's more news than sex abuse
A small article in the Vatican's missionary newsletter, Fides, about a recent meeting in China was hardly a blip on the radar. But it was a reminder that for much of the universal Catholic community, church life is not all sex abuse, all the time.
July 16, 2010
Two halves of a whole: Raphael's designs, tapestries reunite
The Vatican Museums and London's Victoria and Albert Museum will exhibit side-by-side some of Raphael's enormous tapestries for the Sistine Chapel and his preparatory paintings. The joint initiative is meant to coincide with Pope Benedict XVI's first visit to the United Kingdom in September.
July 9, 2010
In with the new: Vatican's artistic landscape keeps changing
Commissioning another statue for Vatican City might sound like overkill in a place where thousands of sculpted figures crowd the landscape. But the Vatican is on a campaign to fill every niche.
July 2, 2010
Long, hot summer: Vatican faces external and internal challenges
The mood at the Vatican this month is anything but serene. Pope Benedict XVI and his key advisers are facing a series of external and internal conflicts that threaten to make this a long, hot summer of problem-solving and strategizing.
June 25, 2010
The family tree: Catholics need to strengthen their Middle East roots
The special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which will convene at the Vatican in October, obviously will be an opportunity for the region's bishops to share ideas on how to strengthen their communities and their witness. But the synod also will be a chance for Catholics around the world to get back to their roots as well.
June 18, 2010
Off the cuff: tracking the pope's words on celibacy
Throughout his five-year pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has made some of his most interesting comments off the cuff, often during question-and-answer sessions with priests. His late-night meeting with 10,000 priests was a good example.
June 11, 2010
Knights of Columbus and Rome: Looking back at 90 years of friendship
When the inside history of U.S.-Vatican relations is finally written, one of the more surprising chapters might be the role played by the Knights of Columbus.
June 4, 2010
Men in black: Year for Priests highlights need for holy ministers
Catholics expect a lot from their priests, and Pope Benedict XVI is no exception.
May 28, 2010
Evangelization: In with the 'new,' while maintaining the old
Even as the Vatican prepares to add an agency to promote "new evangelization," the traditional forms of "old evangelization" -- missionary outreach in non-Christian lands -- are alive and well around the world.
May 21, 2010
Musical notes: Vatican, Russian Orthodox try new path toward harmony
After years of tense relations and painstaking theological dialogue, the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church are hoping music and art can create an atmosphere more conducive to their efforts to promote Christian unity.
May 14, 2010
The Inquisition and the Index: Vatican records shed light on dark legend
The Roman Inquisition and the Index of Forbidden Books obviously do not represent the brightest chapters in Catholic history, but newly published documents from Vatican archives should help scholars distinguish between the truth and the dark legends.
May 7, 2010
Fatima debate: Some say 'third secret' is still secret
Ten years after the Vatican divulged one of the church's best-kept secrets -- the third part of the message of Fatima -- a small band of skeptics and critics are still questioning the official explanation.
April 30, 2010
Self-examination: Catholic communicators look to address scandal
Communicators met in Rome for some self-examination about coverage of the clergy sex abuse scandal. "The pope's not the head of Toyota. He's not going to give a press conference and apologize for brake failure," said one journalist.
April 23, 2010
Octogenarian plus: At 83, things are getting busy for Pope Benedict
At an age when most church officials have long retired, over the next six months the German pontiff will make six trips, preside over dozens of public liturgies, close the Year for Priests, chair a Synod of Bishops on the Middle East and keep up a steady stream of audiences, both public and private.
April 16, 2010
At Vatican, frustration and some optimism over abuse scandal
Fresh developments in the continuing storm over clerical sex abuse illustrate a chronic Vatican problem as well as some reasons for guarded optimism about the future.
April 9, 2010
Friendly shores: Rousing welcome expected to greet pope in Malta
When Pope Benedict XVI lands in Malta for a two-day trip April 17 he is expected to receive the same warm and hospitable welcome as St. Paul enjoyed when the apostle and his companions washed up on the Mediterranean island 1,950 years ago.
April 1, 2010
Pope's Way of the Cross: 2010 service focuses on essentials of faith
Instead of sharp commentary on current social ills or controversies, the meditations for Pope Benedict XVI's Way of the Cross service this year were a pared-down catechesis on the essentials of the Christian faith.
March 25, 2010
Recalling a time of grace around Pope John Paul II's death
The church is preparing to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, an event that stirred intense emotion, expressions of faith and worldwide attention in April 2005.
March 19, 2010
Priesthood: Children's book presents it as vocation for 'normal guys'
At the Vatican, the Year for Priests is being marked with serious academic conferences and solemn liturgies, leading up to a huge gathering of priests from around the world in June. Father Jeffrey F. Kirby has participated in some of the big Vatican events, but he really marked the Year for Priests by co-authoring a children's book.
March 12, 2010
Keeping Mum: Preserving the past while still uncovering its mysteries
The Vatican Museums had a rare opportunity to unravel some of the secrets inside a 2,000-year-old Egyptian mummy.
March 5, 2010
No greater love: Speakers say celibacy mirrors Jesus' love for all
Exceptions to celibacy for priests in the Roman Catholic Church can be puzzling, including for young priests enthusiastic about their vocation.
Feb. 26, 2010
From Holy Spirit to team spirit: Clericus Cup inspires ethical play
Now in its fourth season, the Clericus Cup continues to challenge players to put their Christian values on the line every game and offer the world a more ethical role model in sportsmanship.
Feb. 19, 2010
Crisis management: For Vatican, it's up to the Irish to heal scandal
For Vatican and Irish participants, the two-day meeting on the handling of priestly sex abuse cases was a major accomplishment, combining a frank admission of mismanagement with truly collaborative discussions on how to avoid such mistakes in the future. But for much of the wider public, especially in Ireland, the meeting fell short of expectations.
Feb. 12, 2010
Sainthood scoop: Book on the "real" John Paul II snubbed at Vatican
When it was unveiled in late January, the insider book about the "real" Pope John Paul II looked at first glance like the Vatican's own effort at a pre-beatification biography.
Feb. 05, 2010
Shroud of Turin: Image provokes prayer, curiosity, scholarly disputes
The Shroud of Turin, which many Christians believe to be the burial cloth of Jesus, goes on public display this spring, at a time when experts are debating new claims about the 14-foot-long piece of linen.
Jan. 29, 2010
Language lessons: New media test Vatican's digital fluency
The Vatican Web site remains largely a repository of printed texts, displayed on pages designed to look like parchment. And despite more than a decade of discussion about making the site interactive, www.vatican.va continues to provide information in one direction only: from them to you.
Jan. 22, 2010
Stay or go: Christians in Mideast battle tough choices amid violence
A recent preparatory document for an October Synod of Bishops for the Middle East made a forceful appeal to the Christian minority there to resist emigration and to openly give witness to the Gospel values of hope, joy, justice and forgiveness in their native communities. But like most commandments -- that's easier said than done.
Jan. 15, 2010
For Pope Benedict, a different shade of green
Over the last few months, Pope Benedict XVI has opened a wider dialogue on the subject of environmental protection, and in the process put a sharper focus on an issue that's become central to his pontificate.
Jan. 8, 2010
A tightrope act? Pope prepares to visit Rome synagogue
As the pope prepared to travel from the Vatican to Rome's main synagogue Jan. 17 no one pretended the journey was going to be easy.
Dec. 30, 2009
Papal calendar for 2010 includes synod, saints, shroud
As Pope Benedict XVI says goodbye to 2009, his 2010 calendar is already being filled.
Dec. 17, 2009
Inside and outside the Vatican, 2009 was busy year for pope
Looking back on 2009, it's difficult to imagine a busier year for 82-year-old Pope Benedict XVI.
Dec. 11, 2009
Ecumenical allies? Orthodox, Catholics take aim at European secularism
For years, the Vatican has suggested that a promising area of ecumenical cooperation was a joint struggle by Christian churches against the moral and social challenges posed by a predominantly secular society. Now the Russian Orthodox Church has come forward to propose such a strategic alliance.
Dec. 4, 2009
Not so secret: New book features 105 documents from Vatican archives
Despite the aura of mystery surrounding the archives, the Vatican actually encourages academics to research its holdings and has worked with a Belgian publishing house to bring 105 of the most important, or curious, documents to the public.
Nov. 24, 2009
Fresh palette: Artists say they’re ready to support church’s mission
Ask and you shall receive. The art world is ready to collaborate with the church in creating inspirational modern art, said some artists who took part in a landmark meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.
Nov. 20, 2009
Glass half full: Anglican leader, Vatican official assess ecumenism
Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, said the ecumenical situation really is that of a "glass half full," and he held his water glass up to emphasize the point.
Nov. 13, 2009
Married priests? For the Vatican, still an exception to the rule
The question of priestly celibacy is one that keeps bubbling to the surface at the Vatican, most often in the theoretical discussions of synods of bishops but more concretely in a new papal document on Anglicans coming into the Catholic Church.
Nov. 6, 2009
Reconcilable differences: The church reaches out to modern arts
Once made in heaven, the marriage between art and the church has long been on the skids. "We are a bit like estranged relatives; there has been a divorce," said one Vatican official.
Oct. 30, 2009
Catholic blogosphere: Council looks at promoting charity, truth online
A recurring theme during a meeting of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was what constitutes Catholic communications and what, if anything, can be done about those who use the word Catholic to describe themselves while using all sorts of nasty adjectives to describe anyone who doesn't agree with them.
Oct. 23, 2009
Key post: US archbishop will help shape the world's episcopate
Pope Benedict XVI's naming of U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke to the Congregation for Bishops was a small but significant appointment that could have an impact on the wider church for many years to come.
Oct. 16, 2009
Ecumenical quality control: Cardinal reviews 40 years of dialogue
When Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican's chief ecumenist, tried to harvest the fruits of 40 years of dialogue with the mainline Protestant churches, he did it by the piece, not the bushel.
Oct. 9, 2009
Synod spotlight: African cardinal finds candor brings complications
The idea of an African pope captures public imagination, and Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana has discovered that it also brings its own set of problems.
Oct. 2, 2009
Charity in action: Impact of new saints continues in United States
Both Blessed Damien de Veuster and Blessed Jeanne Jugan, who will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI Oct. 11, are important figures for U.S. Catholics and reflect the pope's priority on the faith as charity in action, especially toward society's outcasts and forgotten.
Sept. 25, 2009
Curtain's up on Africa: Scripted synod -- but maybe some improv
A Synod of Bishops is a little like a short-run Broadway play, and after four years of preparation the curtain is about to go up on the African synod at the Vatican.
Sept. 18, 2009
'Nulli secundus': Recovering U.S. priest leaves hole in Latin office
Over the last four decades, even as Latin declined as the common language of the church, the Vatican's Latin section has continued to translate and publish virtually everything that comes off the pen of the pope and much more -- everything from congratulatory letters to papal bulls.
Sept. 11, 2009
Vatican's got game: The Holy See's sports hall of fame is revealed
No one would ever mistake St. Peter's Square for Giants Stadium. But for centuries, the Vatican has hosted countless competitions and dozens of high-caliber athletes -- most of them lay employees, some of them monsignors and popes.
Sept. 4, 2009
War of words: Berlusconi, Boffo, beauties and bishops
An unusually acrimonious fight has erupted this summer between the Vatican and the government of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, fueled by growing unease over Berlusconi's personal life and some of his government's policies.
Aug. 28, 2009
War and remembrance: Vatican highlights Pope Pius XII's peace efforts
Like much of Europe and the world, the Vatican was marking the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II with an act of remembrance -- the dramatic and unheeded warnings issued by Pope Pius XII to world leaders in the weeks and days leading up to the war's outbreak.
Aug. 21, 2009
Media watchdog: Pope takes wary approach to communications explosion
Two pages on communications were barely noticed in this summer's encyclical, which focused on economic issues, but they underscored the pope's cautionary and critical approach to today's media revolution.
Aug. 14, 2009
Justice starts at home: Vatican job norms reflect church teaching
When Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his new encyclical that efficiency and profit cannot be the only things motivating an ethical employer, he was speaking for himself as well.
Aug. 7, 2009
Pilgrimage priest's checklist: Mass kit, jet fuel price, exchange rate
Meet the chief executive officer of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, the Vatican-related agency that assists pilgrims visiting Rome. It also organizes spiritual journeys to the Holy Land, to the Marian shrines at Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal, to Santiago di Compostela in Spain, and to sites in Turkey related to the life and mission of St. Paul.
July 31, 2009
From rugs to riches: Vatican storage, repair department has it all
When 30,000 chairs have to be set up in St. Peter's Square for an outdoor Mass, when a new bishop comes to town and needs to furnish an empty Vatican apartment, when a chair needs reupholstering, new drapes must be sewn or a bare office wall could use a piece of artwork ... who're you going to call? The "Floreria."
July 24, 2009
Indiana Jones and the Christian catacombs? Not quite
Sometimes a job is just a job, even when from the outside it looks like it involves the stuff of an Indiana Jones movie. But sometimes the upkeep and preservation of 140 Christian catacombs from the third and fourth centuries scattered all over Italy produces a "wow" moment.
July 17, 2009
Vatican dress code: Do's and don'ts for presidential, pilgrim attire
Even the most seasoned president, prime minister and ambassador must struggle with deciphering proper protocol. But women, whether they are government leaders or the first lady, have to grapple with a lot more when they meet the pope.
July 9, 2009
Presidents and popes: Obama is 12th US president to visit Vatican
While the gifts presidents and prime ministers give popes are quite varied -- but tend heavily toward old books, statues and vases -- Pope Benedict always gives heads of state a gold medal marking the current year of his pontificate.
July 2, 2009
Out with a bang: Vatican closes Pauline year with a few surprises
Talk about a grand finale. The Vatican waited until the last day of the year of St. Paul to wow the world with two surprising scientific findings: the presumed bones of the apostle and the oldest known portrait of the saint.
June 26, 2009
At end of jubilee year, figure of St. Paul stands in clearer focus
After 12 months of special liturgies, conferences, Bible reflections, indulgences, concerts and pilgrimages, the Year of St. Paul has left the Apostle a more clearly defined figure on the Catholic landscape.
June 19, 2009
Off the radar: Pope's teaching ministry finds little echo in media
News coverage of Pope Benedict XVI tends to leap from big event to big event, so perhaps it's no surprise that after his Holy Land pilgrimage last month the German pontiff has fallen off the mainstream media radar.
June 12, 2009
Year for Priests: Pies, prayers not enough; clergy need love, support
Each and every one of the world's 408,000 priests should feel loved, respected, valued and supported in his vocation to bring the Gospel to an increasingly secular -- but still open -- world, said the cardinal overseeing the Vatican's clergy congregation.
May 29, 2009
Bin there, done that: Vatican making great strides in recycling
Surrounded by a city that just started a pilot recycling program in one small neighborhood, the Vatican's efforts to separate and recycle its garbage reportedly are making great strides.
May 21, 2009
Good reviews: Vatican newspaper sees Obama's start in positive light
In a season of tension between the U.S. Catholic hierarchy and President Barack Obama, the Vatican newspaper has offered some unexpectedly upbeat reviews of the president's first four months in office.
May 8, 2009
Visit to Israel: Leaders know, appreciate pope's teaching on Judaism
As Pope Benedict XVI prepared to visit Israel, Jewish leaders involved in dialogue appeared to be hopeful and not particularly wary about what the pope would say. On the other hand, many members of the Jewish community and Catholics sensitive to their feelings appeared to be holding their breath.
May 1, 2009
Pros and cons of genetic modification: Not your typical food fight
In an effort to find out whether genetically modified organisms harm human health or not, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences will be holding a study week in mid-May to hear what the scientific community has to say.
April 24, 2009
Bird's-eye view: Children's book portrays personal side of pope
Published with the Vatican's blessing, it's the latest effort to humanize a pope who may seem a remote figure to many people around the world -- and even to some inside the Vatican.
April 17, 2009
For pope, St. Francis offers conversion lesson for modern times
The pope has found in St. Francis something that goes beyond the saint's popular image as the patron of peace, the environment and animals. For him, St. Francis offers a model of radical conversion to Christ.
April 8, 2009
Eastern meditation: Pope's Way of the Cross adopts an Asian viewpoint
This year's meditation for Pope Benedict XVI's Good Friday Way of the Cross has a distinctly Asian perspective, referring to Hindu scriptures, an Indian poet and Mahatma Gandhi.
April 3, 2009
For Pope John Paul II, beatification process may be on final lap
The fourth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II April 2 was marked by a sense of anticipation following reports that the late pontiff would be beatified on the fifth anniversary next year.
March 27, 2009
Peace tools: Caritas provides nuts and bolts of conflict resolution
The object of this arm-wrestling game is to get as many points as possible by pushing your partner's fist down on the table -- but it doesn't matter how many points your partner gets. The game, called Popeye, is one of scores of activities that make up a new Web tool kit created by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based umbrella organization for 162 national Catholic charities around the world.
March 20, 2009
Papal prayer space: Restored Pauline Chapel ready for inauguration
After more than four years in office, Pope Benedict XVI finally will be able to preside over his first event in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
March 13, 2009
Splendidly pure: Receiving indulgences in the year of St. Paul
As spring started showing its colors in Rome, many of the pilgrims coming out of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls were glowing -- and not only because the sun was shining brightly.
Mar. 6, 2009
Focusing on Africa: Papal trip to highlight challenges, possibilities
Pope Benedict XVI opens a new chapter in his papal travels when he visits Cameroon and Angola in mid-March, a trip designed to highlight the church's message of hope on a continent beset by problems.
Feb. 27, 2009
Church leaders explore ways to slow Christian exodus from Middle East
The need to find ways to stop the slow, yet steady departure of Christians from the Middle East has come into greater focus recently.
Feb. 20, 2009
Chain of command: Miscues highlight need for curial consultation
A pair of recent miscues at the Vatican has prompted questions about how papal decisions are made and criticism of the apparent lack of consultation inside the Roman Curia.
Feb. 13, 2009
Marking its 80th, Vatican celebrates its growth into nationhood
The smallest nation in the world is celebrating a relatively young 80th birthday this year.
Feb. 6, 2009
Remembering the Holocaust: A scientific fact, a religious obligation
When Pope Benedict XVI publicly distanced himself from the Holocaust-denying views of traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson and the Vatican Secretariat of State called on the bishop Feb. 4 to publicly disavow his views, they were not simply responding to a public uproar.
Jan. 29, 2009
Vatican and traditionalists: A story whose end has not been written
Even inside the Vatican there are questions about what the pope's lifting of excommunication for four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X really signifies for the short term and the long term.
Jan. 26, 2009 (UPDATED)
Great expectations: World issues dominate Vatican hopes for Obama
The Vatican has struck a predominantly positive tone as it opens relations with the administration of President Barack Obama, emphasizing hopes for cooperation on issues of peace and social justice.
Jan. 16, 2009
Once controversial, U.S.-Vatican relations mark silver anniversary
The Vatican and the United States quietly celebrated a silver anniversary in mid-January, marking 25 years of formal diplomatic relations.
Jan. 9, 2009
Beyond the veil: Debate continues on why number of nuns is declining
Statistics leave no doubt that the number of women religious has dropped sharply over the last 50 years, but there is an ongoing debate over the reasons for the decline.
Jan. 2, 2009
Galileo's jubilee: Vatican takes part in star-studded celebrations
As more than 130 countries celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, the Vatican also turned its gaze toward the heavens.
Dec. 22, 2008
Pope gives Curia treats, heavy 2008 analysis to chew on for Christmas
Pope Benedict XVI gave his Roman Curia officials the traditional bottle of "spumante" and panettone cake for Christmas, and he added a gift they can chew on for days: a seven-page speech on the Holy Spirit's presence in the church events of 2008.
Dec. 19, 2008
Continuity you can count on: Curial nods reflect past relationships
With a series of recent appointments and several more expected in coming months, the Roman Curia's "Team Benedict" is finally coming into focus.
Dec. 12, 2008
Pope's busy year highlights three themes: St. Paul, Bible, U.S. trip
Amid the hundreds of papal meetings and events, three themes stood out in special focus as 2008 drew to a close.
Dec. 5, 2008
Point of pride: Glendon glad to have served as Vatican ambassador
When Mary Ann Glendon leaves her post as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Jan. 19, she'll end a term that was the briefest on record yet one of the most active.
Nov. 26, 2008
Papal product placement: Building credibility, boosting sales
The pope is one of the most respected and admired figures in the world, and millions of people watch or attend his many public and televised events throughout the year. In the eyes of many advertising executives, that kind of exposure makes the pope and the Vatican heaven for product placement.
Nov. 21, 2008
‘Love in Truth’: Honing the idea that charity is litmus test of faith
To three very different audiences in November, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the indispensable connection between the Gospel and social justice.
Nov 7, 2008
A 'chance' meeting: Refining evolutionary theory
For some, the basic principles of creation and evolution are like oil and water -- they just don't mix. But recent popes often have spoken out, assuring Catholics that while faith and science do operate within different scopes of study they can and must form a complementary and harmonious partnership.
Oct. 31, 2008
Unforgettable: Popes remain influential figures after their deaths
A confluence of anniversaries this fall has turned the Vatican's attention to deceased popes, who still loom large in the church's living memory.
Oct. 24, 2008
Catholics, Muslims to open new chapter in dialogue
Vatican and Muslim representatives are set to open a new chapter of dialogue in an encounter that is expected to touch on common spiritual principles and perspectives on human rights. It will be the first meeting of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, formed in the wake of widespread Muslim indignation over Pope Benedict XVI's speech in Regensburg, Germany, in 2006.
Oct. 17, 2008
Views from the pews: Bible survey shows who likes their homilists
Catholics and Protestants in the Philippines and the United States gave very high marks to their preachers and homilists, while survey respondents in France and Hong Kong were not impressed at all.
Oct. 10, 2008
No promises: Pope praises Pius XII, but sainthood cause still on hold
Among the thousands who crammed into St. Peter's Basilica for a Mass commemorating Pope Pius XII, many were hoping for an announcement about his beatification, a step toward sainthood. That didn't happen.
Oct. 3, 2008
Tiny nun takes on tall task of defending Pope Pius XII
Nearly 50 years after the death of Pope Pius XII, one of his strongest supporters thinks the beatification of this controversial wartime pontiff may be just around the corner.
Sept. 26, 2008
What would Jesus do? Scholars look at morality in the Bible
In their new document, "The Bible and Morality," the scholars on the Pontifical Biblical Commission said biblical morality is not so much a set of dos and don'ts as it is a set of principles meant to help Christians grow in perfection and contribute to establishing God's kingdom on earth.
Sept. 19, 2008
Mixed reviews: Implementation of Tridentine ruling frustrates some
A year after Pope Benedict XVI opened the way to wider use of the Tridentine Mass, implementation of the papal directive is drawing mixed reviews from its target audience.
Sept. 12, 2008
St. Paul alive: Scholars tell how his Christian teaching applies now
By proclaiming a year dedicated to St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI has brought attention to a figure who often has been off the church's radar.
Sept. 5, 2008
At the Vatican, not all voices are created equal
A provocative article on whether brain death is true death has illustrated once again that the Vatican speaks with many voices, not all of them equal.
Aug 29, 2008
Pastoral challenge: Encouraging French Catholics to make room for God
Pope Benedict XVI's September visit to France will be a trip to the heart of an increasingly de-Christianized Europe, an area where, as he once put it, the "great churches seem to be dying."
Aug 22, 2008
John Paul I: The smiling pope who connected with everyday Catholics
Thirty years ago Aug. 26, a conclave of 111 cardinals elected Italian Cardinal Albino Luciani as Pope John Paul I, the "smiling pope" whose brief pontificate left a lasting impression.
Aug 15, 2008
Whistle while you wait: Vatican employees have heavenly health system
In a country with socialized medicine, the Vatican's health service "is what we were striving for," said a Vatican employee.
Aug 8, 2008
Comfort zone: Pope's dialogues with priests flow freely
Over the last three years, the "real Benedict" has emerged most fully in a series of semiprivate encounters with an audience the pope feels at home with -- groups of priests.
Aug 1, 2008
Summer reading: Darwin, design and divine intervention
A series of articles on creation, intelligent design and Darwinism made reading the Vatican newspaper seem like taking a crash summer course in Evolution 101.
July 25, 2008
'It's not easy being green,' but it's part of God's plan, says pope
Visiting Australia in July gave Pope Benedict XVI an opportunity to develop further his creation morality, which he first explained in the northern Italian Alps a year ago.
July 18, 2008
Vatican Library: Sounds of rustling pages turn to clanging scaffolds
At the Vatican Library, the sounds of silence will continue to be drowned out by the buzz of busy workers until massive renovation on one wing of the 16th-century building is completed in 2010.
July 11, 2008
Crime and punishment: Vatican City tackles vast array of crimes
From picked pockets to a 1998 double murder and suicide, the Vatican legal system has dealt with a vast array of crimes and misdemeanors over the decades.
July 3, 2008
Move to fingerprint Gypsies reminds many of Italy's darker days
In mid-April Silvio Berlusconi was elected prime minister of Italy in a campaign focused on increasing security and fighting crime, particularly by cracking down on illegal immigration.
June 27, 2008
Pope turns spotlight on St. Paul as model for modern Christians
Pope Benedict XVI is known to the world as the successor of St. Peter, the first pope. But for the next 12 months he'll be turning the spotlight on St. Paul, the church's archetypal missionary.
June 20, 2008
Environmental exegesis: Two sets of commandments
Anytime there's mention of a new Ten Commandments at the Vatican, journalists start salivating. So the buzz was high when a new "Decalogue for the Environment" was promised in early June.
June 13, 2008
Lambeth Conference: Time of reckoning for ecumenical dialogue
This summer’s once-a-decade Lambeth Conference marks a potentially defining moment for the worldwide Anglican Communion.
June 6, 2008
Macroeconomics: A Vatican view on finer points of global food crisis
As world leaders were meeting in Rome to work out a response to the global food crisis, the Vatican weighed in on two levels -- morality and macroeconomics.
May 30, 2008
Ten texts help crack pope's pontificate, mission, ministry
If there's one thing people learned about Pope Benedict XVI during his U.S. visit, it's that he's got content. His talks and sermons were minilessons on the faith and its relationship with the world, blending the advice of a pastor with the reflections of a theologian.
May 23, 2008
World’s busiest pharmacy? Vatican drugstore offers cut-rate prices
From a simple storeroom for the pope’s pills to a bustling drugstore open to the public, the Vatican pharmacy has come a long way in 134 years.
May 16, 2008
Keeping the faith: Muslim immigrants integrate with Christians' help
An Italian political science professor says Muslims "value the fact that Christian schools teach the existence of God, they teach respect for family values, they teach good morality and appropriate behavior."
May 9, 2008
Pacing the pontiff: Pope's seclusion is prudence, not disappearing act
Every pontificate has its rhythm, and sometimes Pope Benedict XVI's seems to have more than one.
May 2, 2008
Not an easy read: Survey indicates Bible hard to understand
The Bible: Most people in Europe and North America have one and some of them actually read it, but more than half of them say it is difficult to understand.
Apr. 25, 2008
Young man dedicates years to walk the world for Christian unity
While the church officially dedicates a week every year to pray for Christian unity, one young man has dedicated two years to try to heal divisions by walking across the world.
Apr.18 , 2008
Retired Vatican envoy from tiny San Marino helped heal world
Little did this pre-eminent surgeon from the tiny Republic of San Marino know that becoming an ambassador to the even smaller Vatican City State would give him a new platform from which to heal the world.
Apr.11 , 2008
No free-for-all: Papal visits follow tight framework
When Pope Benedict XVI sits down with interreligious leaders in Washington April 17, the participants will follow a set program that leaves little room for surprises.
Apr. 4, 2008
A work for eternity: Scribes give pope volume of illustrated Bible
It's being called the Sistine Chapel of calligraphy. The Saint John's Bible will be the first handwritten and illuminated Bible penned with ancient methods since the invention of the printing press, according to its creators.
Mar. 28, 2008
Tobacco-free zone? Pope urged to stomp out butts in Vatican City
The Vatican used to be known as a safe haven for cigarette smokers. That changed dramatically in 2002, when Vatican City prohibited smoking in offices and public places, but a U.S. group wants smoking restricted further.
Mar. 20, 2008
In U.S., pope likely to address provocative, fundamental themes
People speculating on what Pope Benedict XVI will say in the United States in April would do well to look at what he said at the Vatican on Palm Sunday.
Mar. 14, 2008
U.S. ambassador expects pope’s April visit to be thought-provoking
Americans who listen carefully will discover in the pope a “world-class intellectual who can speak in terms that are simple and clear and readily accessible,” said the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
Mar. 7, 2008
After four centuries, Galileo to return to the Vatican
Four centuries after he was called by church officials to retract teachings deemed suspect of heresy, the 17th-century Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei will be returning to Vatican City.
Feb. 29, 2008
Ambiguities cloud moral, medical issues as end of life nears
Many Catholics still need to learn about the church’s teachings on end-of-life issues, such as when it might be morally acceptable to reject or terminate life-prolonging treatments, said some participants at a Vatican-sponsored congress.
Feb. 22, 2008
Reversing a crisis: Pope offers encouragement to religious orders
When Pope Benedict XVI met with the superiors of religious orders recently, most media coverage focused on the pope’s description of the “difficult crisis” facing religious life, but he offered encouragement and some advice for the future.
Feb. 15, 2008
Don't jump the gun: Norms for saints' causes call for careful study
In a new set of rules encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican is requiring dioceses to be more meticulous and objective when they prepare local sainthood causes.
Feb. 1, 2008
Evolution and creation: a recurring papal theme, often misunderstood
A recent article in the Vatican newspaper was another element of a debate that has kept percolating to the surface under Pope Benedict XVI.
Jan. 25, 2008
All ecumenism is local: Christian unity begins at the grass roots
In Rome, like in any other diocese, the search for Christian unity is fueled by the prayers and friendships of neighbors and their local pastors.
Jan. 18, 2008
Do the homework: University fiasco shows scholars miss pope's point
It was a first, at least in modern times: In Rome, the center of the Catholic world and the capital of Catholic Italy, a pope felt unwelcome to give a speech at the public university.
Jan. 10, 2008
New photo resource provides interesting peek into Vatican's past
Scholars, history buffs and the public at large will now be able to peek inside some of the Vatican's historical black-and-white photograph collection.
Jan. 4, 2008
Charity begins at home: Pope visits Vatican shelter, greets residents
Pope Benedict XVI’s 45-minute visit Jan. 4 to the Vatican’s shelter for the poor and homeless was distinctly simple and low-key.
Dec. 27, 2007
Pope's calendar in 2008 confirms life doesn't slow down after 80
With three foreign trips, a world Synod of Bishops on the Bible, an important dialogue with Muslims, and an encyclical and a new book in the works, 2008 is shaping up as perhaps the busiest year of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate.
Dec. 21, 2007
Evangelize: For pope, to know Gospel means to know Christ personally
In a year-end meeting with the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI looked back on 2007 and identified a crucial theme: the need to evangelize.
Dec. 14, 2007
Travels, consistory, writings keep Pope Benedict busy in 2007
Pope Benedict XVI never gives the impression of being overburdened, yet a look back at 2007 reveals a long list of papal activities and achievements.
Dec. 7, 2007
Will new director take Vatican Museums far from the madding crowd?
Perhaps even more than Michelangelo’s frescoes or the statue of Laocoon, the discouragingly long entrance line -- often stretching half a mile -- has become the modern emblem of the Vatican Museums.
Nov. 30, 2007
With ritual but no pomp, Jesuit election not unlike papal conclave
While lacking the media attention and the pomp of a papal conclave, the election of the superior general of the Jesuits, known as the black pope, has its own rigid rules and ritual.
Nov. 21, 2007
Sizing up Catholic schools: a partnership between religious, laity
A transformation has occurred in Catholic schools over the last 50 years, and the Vatican took its measure at a recent press conference for a new Vatican document.
Nov. 16, 2007
Creating cardinals: Pomp, circumstance and giving input to the pope
The ceremony to create the cardinals takes only an hour or so, but the celebratory and consultative events that surround it last four days.
Vatican ambassadors: Potpourri of insiders, politicians, scholars
Many countries' embassies to the Vatican have a priest on staff to help advise their ambassador on pontifical protocol and all things Catholic, but most of them could learn a few things from Mary Ann Glendon, the Harvard law professor President George W. Bush nominated as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.
God and geeks: Vatican astronomer hunts for faith in Silicon Valley
If hard empirical evidence is what makes a techie brain tick, then how is he or she able to justify or believe in something as scientifically unprovable as God or as mind-boggling as transubstantiation?
Oct. 26, 2007
Enough, already! Vatican official says Templars book nothing new
It was billed as the Vatican's effort to "come clean" and reveal secret documents about the mysterious Knights Templar, the medieval crusading order that has inspired ancient legends and modern novels. But after seeing exaggerated press reports for two weeks, Bishop Sergio Pagano apparently had had enough.
Oct. 19, 2007
'Google-generation' seminarians minister with MySpace and more
An ocean away from family and friends, some U.S. seminarians at the Pontifical North American College in Rome are bridging the divide with online communities and digital means of communication such as Skype, instant messaging, Facebook, MySpace and more.
Oct. 12, 2007
No signs of clogging: Saint-making pipeline’s flow never slowed
When Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, one of his first decisions was to stop presiding over beatification ceremonies, but that has not slowed the number of people being declared blessed.
Oct. 5, 2007
Extreme makeover: Vatican newspaper's survival depends on its revival
The recent change at the helm of the Vatican newspaper marks an effort to revive a publication that has gone from glory days to malaise.
Sept. 28, 2007
Has the German pope re-Italianized the Roman Curia?
A string of Vatican appointments has left Italian prelates in high places.
Sept. 14, 2007
Consistory, book, encyclical to help keep pope busy this fall, winter
After a three-day trip to Austria in early September, Pope Benedict XVI is putting away his traveling shoes and settling in for a long fall and winter at the Vatican.
Sept. 7, 2007
For Pope Benedict, it's elemental: Safe water is of grave importance
When Pope Benedict XVI turns on the tap in his Vatican apartment, it's a reminder that potable water is a precious resource in today's world.
Aug. 31, 2007
Pilgrim globe-trotters: Modern jet-setters or old-fashioned trekkers?
The sky was no longer the limit when a Rome travel agency started offering specially chartered flights exclusively for globe-trotting pilgrims.
Aug. 24, 2007
Castel Sant’Angelo: Dank dungeon for common criminals
For the first time in a decade, summer tourists could make their way down steep stone steps deep into the dark, dank interior of a papal fortress and crawl into prison cells that housed countless common criminals as well as Rome’s errant elite.
Aug. 17, 2007
Catholic-Jewish relations: Bumps in the road should not slow journey
Summer brought a few bumps in the road of generally good Catholic-Jewish relations, bumps almost certainly caused inadvertently.
Aug. 10, 2007
At the helm: British woman steers worldwide Caritas aid network
The fact that Lesley-Anne Knight, secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, is certain to be one of the few women in the room at many meetings does not seem to bother her or fire her up; it simply makes sense.
Aug. 3, 2007
Vatican publishing house: New page, new director, new ideas
With a new director at the helm, the Vatican publishing house is turning a new page. Salesian Father Giuseppe Costa, the recently appointed head of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, said he wants to beef up the availability of Vatican publications around the world and expand the Vatican's offerings on art and culture. "
July 26, 2007
Ecology: Key to teaching young people about Christian morality
Pope Benedict XVI believes ecology could hold the key to teaching young people about Christian morality.
July 19, 2007
Vaticanstate.va: Navigating the world’s smallest country
-- Seven weeks after Pope Benedict XVI praised Vatican civil servants for their work in “our little state, from the most visible to the most hidden,” the state unveiled its own Web site.
July 13, 2007
This summer, Vatican tradition brings flurry of decisions, documents
Before Pope Benedict XVI took off for his summer vacation in the Italian Alps, he engaged in a time-honored Vatican tradition: clearing his desk.
July 6, 2007
Rushed scholars grumble over Vatican Library's reconstruction closure
Pope Benedict XVI was only one of hundreds of scholars making a rushed visit to the Vatican Library before it closes for a three-year emergency reconstruction project.
June 29, 2007
Politics, Communion, Catholic teaching: A tale of two politicians
How the church is treating former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani may seem like a double standard to some, but others say it's a bit more complicated than that.
June 22, 2007
In Assisi, Pope Benedict follows in John Paul's footsteps
Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to Assisi was an emblematic event, demonstrating once again that this pontificate is more about continuity than revolution.
June 15, 2007
Scala Santa chapel: Under the soot and grime, a visual treasure
When a Vatican-led team of art restorers started scrubbing and scrutinizing what was underneath centuries of soot and grime caked on the ceiling and walls of a major shrine in Rome, they made a spectacular discovery.
June 7, 2007
Cool under pressure: Papal guards handle many pilgrims discreetly
Pope Benedict XVI's security guards are known for composure under pressure, and they showed it when a deranged German tried to jump onto the pope's jeep at a general audience.
June 1, 2007
Benedict and Bush: Meeting to highlight shared values, objectives
U.S. President George W. Bush is coming to the Vatican for his first formal audience with Pope Benedict XVI, a meeting seen on both sides as immensely important.
May 25, 2007
Going green: Vatican expands mission to saving planet, not just souls
A giant rooftop garden of solar panels will be built next year on top of the Vatican's Paul VI audience hall, creating enough electricity to heat, cool and light the entire building year-round.
May 17, 2007
Middle Eastern diplomats learn Vatican's unique, complex global role
The Vatican opened its doors to 18 diplomats from countries with significant Muslim populations attending a May 7-27 introductory course on the Vatican, Vatican diplomacy and the Vatican's approach to Catholic-Muslim and intercultural dialogue.
May 11, 2007
Fatima: The secret's out, despite claims to the contrary
Despite claims there are still secrets connected to the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Benedict XVI and his secretary of state said the entire message has been published and has been interpreted accurately.
May 4, 2007
Unlike pesky paparazzi, pope's photographers snap coolly, with class
Vatican photographers stand out from other media shutterbugs, not just because they're always dressed in ironed dark suits and ties, but because, coolly clicking away, they are the ones standing right next to the pope.
April 27, 2007
Mirroring wider debate, Vatican seminar on global warming gets heated
Despite being held in a cool, climate-controlled conference room, some early discussions at a Vatican-sponsored seminar on global warming and climate change got pretty heated.
April 20, 2007
Minority view: Participants publish their side of brain death debate
Breaching normal protocol, several participants in a 2005 Vatican-sponsored conference over the ethics of declaring someone brain dead have published the papers they delivered at the debate.
April 13, 2007
Pope Benedict at 80: Blowing on the coals of faith
When Pope John Paul II turned 80, there was speculation that he might resign. In contrast, Pope Benedict XVI's 80th birthday finds him with wind in his sails.
April 5, 2007
Writer of Vatican's Way of Cross reflections awed over responsibility
It's not every day a person gets a call from the Vatican, and most people would be bowled over when it happens.
March 30, 2007
Tridentine Mass: Pope looks for bridge to tradition
Sometime soon, Pope Benedict XVI is expected to broaden permission to use the Tridentine Mass, a long-standing request of traditionalists who favor the rite used before the Second Vatican Council.
March 23, 2007
‘Great support and open ears’: U.S. peace activists visit Vatican
Three U.S. Catholic peace activisits who visited the Vatican were not sure what kind of reception they’d get, but after a week of talks and meetings, they left feeling like they’d received a sympathetic hearing.
March 16, 2007
Two inside views of late pope's life don't make for redundant reading
As Pope John Paul II's sainthood cause rolled forward, two people close to him have offered quite different insider accounts of his life and times.
March 9, 2007
Delicate balance: Church assists Chinese without appearing powerful
While local government officials in some parts of China arrest Catholics, authorities in other areas of the country are tolerating, or even encouraging, Catholic charitable activity.
March 2, 2007
Women chip Vatican's glass ceiling with increased numbers, influence
The pope's Lenten retreat chapel offered a snapshot of a Vatican reality: The number of women working in the Roman Curia has steadily increased but, with rare exceptions, they have not broken through to the upper levels.
Feb. 23, 2007
Spiritual exercise: Pope clears calendar for annual Lenten retreat
The pope's weeklong Lenten retreat not only shut down the normal business of his pontificate, but also place the pope in the unusual position of doing all the listening and none of the talking.
Feb. 16, 2007
Church-state showdown: Italian bill proposes rights for unwed couples
An Italian legislative proposal that would grant some legal rights to unwed couples -- including same-sex partners -- has set the stage for a major church-state showdown.
Feb. 9, 2007
People person: Vatican's No. 2 man keeps high public profile
Historically, a Vatican secretary of state communicates in discreet, closed-door conversations and not via talk radio. But five months into his new job, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone already has signaled that he's going to be different.
Lost in translation: Pope's asides might be changed in official texts
On some occasions, the pope's words have been deliberately tweaked by his own aides.
Jan. 26, 2007
Decisions on dying: Italian case highlights complex issue
The death of an Italian muscular dystrophy patient who had his respirator disconnected is fueling a complex and significant discussion among top church officials.
Jan. 19, 2007
Divine dullness: Usual images of heaven don't impress Christians
A recent sermon by the papal preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, took aim at John Lennon's famous line, "Imagine there's no heaven," saying it represented an empty, secularized vision of human destiny, but an Italian biblicist has approached the question from a different angle.
Jan. 12, 2007
Publish or perish? Church struggles to judge communist collaborators
The resignation of a Polish archbishop over spying revelations has highlighted a tension between judgment and forgiveness in the church, one that has taken on new meaning in post-communist Europe.
Jan. 5, 2007
Doctor, lawyer: Ambassadors to Vatican have diverse backgrounds
At first glance, the ambassadors accredited to the Vatican seem to be a group of elegant, older men gracefully ending their diplomatic careers in a posting filled with pomp and circumstance.
Dec. 22, 2006
2007 promises a world of busyness for Pope Benedict
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A new Vatican calendar features photos of Pope Benedict XVI relaxing, but the pope's own agenda for 2007 leaves little time for repose.
Dec. 21, 2006
Vatican soccer bug revealed: Staff tourneys, clerical cups, avid fans
A disease few talk about lies within the Vatican's walls: soccer fever. Several cardinals have been afflicted, and many of the city-state's Italian staff automatically were born with the soccer-mania bug.
Dec. 13, 2006
Year in review: 2006 saw acceleration of Benedict's papacy
For what was supposed to be a pared-back papacy, it was a busy 12 months.
Dec. 8, 2006
Vatican officials gauge life span, geographic reach of Turkey visit
Buoyed by Pope Benedict XVI's successful visit to Turkey, Vatican officials
are trying to gauge its long-term effect on ecumenical and Catholic-Muslim
dialogue in other parts of the world.
Nov. 30, 2006
Learning curve: Pope Benedict's approach to media, speeches evolving
Understanding and effectively communicating the pope's thinking in a world of 24-hour instant news is not easy, Pope Benedict acknowledged to journalists shortly before they all flew to Turkey.
Nov. 21, 2006
Papal trip to Turkey: Key questions test Benedict's pontificate
The Nov. 28-Dec. 1 trip was first envisioned as an ecumenical event, but interreligious issues have taken center stage.
Nov. 17, 2006
Poking fun at the pope: Satire sparks debate over limits of humor
Italians have a long history of satirizing the papacy, but recent gibes at Pope Benedict XVI and his personal secretary have ignited a national debate over the limits of humor.
In scientific predictions, the only certainty is nothing is certain
the Vatican, in an effort to remind science of the impact its predictions have on the public, hosted a meeting on the limits and accuracy of predictability in science.
Nov. 3, 2006
What's in a name? In Italy, probably a saint
Perhaps it is not so unusual that the Vatican, surrounded by Italy, named a parking garage after a saint. Besides, 21,000 Italian companies are named after saints.
Oct. 27, 2006
L'Osservatore Romano: 145 years as 'genuine face of the church'
The Vatican's semiofficial newspaper was born during a highly tumultuous time for the Papal States and is now a forceful champion of human rights.
Oct. 20, 2006
When building St. Peter's, great minds did not always think alike
Backbiting, criticism and running to the pope to tattle occurred repeatedly during the 120 years it took to build the world's largest church.
Oct. 13, 2006
Papal minibooks: Portable, affordable and rapidly disappearing
Pope Benedict XVI's writings are finding their way into bite-sized volumes that are enjoying unusual popular success, according to the Vatican publishing house.
Oct. 6, 2006
Is interreligious dialogue slowing? Vatican emphatically says no
The president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said the Vatican's commitment to interreligious dialogue not only continues, but "it is even stepping up."
Sept. 29, 2006
Building winners: Vatican works to put values back in sports
In an effort to help parents, coaches, athletes, schools, parishes and sports associations, the Vatican has published a book aimed at "rehumanizing" a sports world that tends to glorify winning at all costs to the detriment of players and spectators.
Sept. 22, 2006
Pope's blunt approach to dialogue strains existing interfaith bridges
Two of Pope Benedict XVI's three foreign trips this year have generated interreligious incidents that quickly overshadowed the main message of the papal visits.
Sept. 15, 2006
Vatican resuscitates issue of whether brain death means total death
After years of study and debate, the question of whether an individual declared brain-dead is really dead has been resuscitated once again.
Sept. 8, 2006
'Sala Stampa' style change: From toreador to low-key mathematician
At the Vatican press office, the Italian mathematician has replaced the Spanish bullfighter.
Sept. 1, 2006
New beginnings: Italian cardinal to take over as secretary of state
It's arguably the pope's biggest appointment to date, and it reunites him with a man who for many years was his No. 2 at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Aug. 25, 2006
Photographs and memories: Moving a piece of ecumenical history
"It's goodbye to an era," said the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity about the historic office's move to new quarters at the Vatican.
Aug. 18, 2006
Experts hope to get derailed Catholic-Orthodox dialogue back on track
Theological dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox churches has been derailed for six years. In mid-September, 60 ecumenical experts will try to get it back on track.
Aug. 11, 2006
'Pre-seminary' houses altar boys for St. Peter's Basilica
During the 2005-06 academic year, 21 altar boys, ages 11-18, ate, slept, studied and occasionally created chaos at the St. Pius X Pre-seminary inside the Vatican walls.
Aug. 4, 2006
Mideast war brings pope's foreign policy agenda into clearer focus
To the surprise of some, the Vatican's Middle East policies under Pope Benedict XVI look just like the policies of Pope John Paul II.
July 28, 2006
U.S. priests working at the Vatican call quiet Villa Stritch home
U.S. diocesan priests working at the Vatican hang their collars at the Villa Stritch, a complex with two apartment buildings surrounded by green lawns and an unusual silence for the city of Rome.
July 21, 2006
Customer service: Vatican operators staff switchboard 24/7
Even though it receives almost 2,000 calls a day, the Vatican is not about to outsource its small team of switchboard operators to answering machines or the labyrinth of automated phone menus.
July 14, 2006
'Go, Pope. Go!' Popes move by foot, train, plane or car
If children's author P.D. Eastman had written a sequel to his book "Go, Dog. Go!" about dogs on the move, it could have been about the many ways the pope gets around and would be called "Go, Pope. Go!"
July 7, 2006
Religious freedom: human right, not a bargaining chip
When Pope Benedict XVI invokes "reciprocity" in asking Muslim nations to respect the religious freedom of Catholics, he is stating an expectation, not bargaining or making a threat, a Vatican diplomat explained.
June 30, 2006
Do not forget: Book aims to dispel unease after pope's Birkenau talk
Amid lingering questions and even disappointment about Pope Benedict XVI's remarks at the Nazis' Birkenau death camp, the Vatican has published a book that attempts to place the speech in a wider context.
June 23, 2006
Bearded deities and stone Buddhas: Ethnology museum features Asia
To the surprise of some, the Vatican Museums do not just display frescoes of saints and statues of Christ; they also house an enormous collection of religious and ceremonial objects from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania.
June 16, 2006
Sex, marriage: Pope discusses love, Vatican official discusses sin
The difference in tone between Pope Benedict's June discourse on married love and an aide's subsequent document on modern sins against the family did not go unnoticed.
June 9, 2006
Six popes later, Vatican security chief turns in his jogging shoes
Camillo Cibin holds the world record for miles jogged alongside a moving popemobile. But he made his last run around St. Peter's Square May 31.
June 2, 2006
Ecumenical plate-spinner: Cardinal coordinates dozens of dialogues
Ecumenism is a work in progress, which explains why Cardinal Walter Kasper's days are never dull.
May 26, 2006
Survival tips for religious orders: Get newcomers, keep members
While the numbers game is certainly a concern for religious orders struggling to keep their convents, monasteries, schools and other institutions staffed and afloat, Pope Benedict XVI and some superiors general say the real concern is quality when it comes to religious life.
May 19, 2006
Legislating conversions: Weighing the message vs. the person
While Vatican officials have expressed concern about the lack of religious freedom in some countries, they are also concerned about how some religious groups abuse liberties by evangelizing in aggressive or deceptive ways.
May 12, 2006
Vatican weighs in on U.S. reaction toward Iranian, Palestinian issues
Two topics looming large in the world arena -- the Hamas-led Palestinian government and Iran's nuclear program -- are drawing close attention these days from the Vatican's foreign policy experts.
May 5, 2006
The numbers game: Stats give picture of Pope John Paul's pontificate
Statistics released recently by the Vatican complete a by-the-numbers portrait of Pope John Paul II's pontificate, covering the period from 1978, the year of his election, through the end of 2004, three months before he died.
April 28, 2006
Sense of urgency: Pope Pius XII supporters await progress on cause
With the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII coming up in two years, supporters of his sainthood cause are growing a little impatient.
April 21, 2006
St. Peter's Basilica: 500 years represent masterpiece of art, faith
1506 was a big year for the Vatican: The Swiss Guard was formed, the Vatican Museums were founded and the first stone was laid for the new Basilica of St. Peter.
April 11, 2006
Way of the Cross: Simple service at Colosseum has global reach
In the shadows of Rome's torch-lit Colosseum April 14, Pope Benedict XVI will lead the first Way of the Cross service of his pontificate.
April 7, 2006
At Vatican Museums, a new way of looking at old things
The problem with being a 500-year-old museum is that the science of collecting and displaying pieces has changed dramatically.
March 31, 2006
The Way of Beauty: Can it lead people to God?
More than 40 cardinals, bishops, religious and lay experts in culture revisited the perennial questions surrounding the nature of beauty at a Vatican conference.
March 24, 2006
In Rome, media finds Boston cardinal wields wicked sense of humor
Always looking for the big scoop, television and print media made a surprising discovery when they covered Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley receiving his red hat in a March 24 consistory at the Vatican.
March 17, 2006
Impatient patient: Doctor says JPII often wanted to put off treatment
As a medical patient, Pope John Paul II was cooperative, insisted on being fully informed, but very often put off treatment if there was a chance it would take him away from his pastoral commitments.
March 10, 2006
Clear the calendar: For pope, everything stops for Lenten retreat
For 51 weeks each year, the pope preaches, teaches, meets and writes -- even when on vacation. But during the first full week of Lent, he clears his schedule and goes on retreat.
March 3, 2006
Pope Pius XI saw (radio) wave of the future
With Christ, the word was made flesh; with Vatican Radio, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the pope's words were made trans-Atlantic and truly universal.
Feb. 23, 2006
Cardinal trends: Pope's picks boost Asian, U.S., European presence
Pope Benedict XVI's first group of cardinal appointments sent signals about the direction and priorities of his papacy.
Feb. 16, 2006
New cardinals? Rome buzzes with excitement as rumors fly
Sometime this year -- perhaps as early as March -- Pope Benedict XVI is expected to create his first batch of cardinals, a prospect that has already generated a buzz of excitement in Rome.
Feb. 10, 2006
Turkish troubles: Vatican works to reinforce Christian-Muslim harmony
The killing of an Italian missionary priest has raised fears that Turkey, long one of the more moderate Muslim countries, could become a new home for Islamic fanaticism.
Feb. 3, 2006
Chair of St. Peter: Bishop's teaching seat, not king's throne
The 110 wax candles used once a year to light up a sculpture behind the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica have led some people to think the Vatican really has a feast day for a chair.
Jan. 27, 2006
Pope's first encyclical underlines 'back to basics' theme of papacy
Instead of fine-tuning the church's rules and precepts, the pope is working on the foundations. Telling people that God loves them is step one. Asking people to consider the implications of that love in their own lives is step two.
Jan. 20, 2006
God is love: Simple papal message reflects basics of faith
Even before the release of Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical in late January, it was clear that the theme -- "God is love" -- reflected an emerging focus of his papacy's first year.
Jan. 13, 2006
To-do lists, pay stubs: Archive details St. Peter's construction
For every sack of cement that was purchased, for every block of stone quarried and hauled to Rome, architects in charge of building St. Peter's Basilica 500 years ago filled out and filed away receipts and penned detailed notations in thick, bound ledgers.
Jan. 6, 2006
No place like home: Papal apartment gets extreme makeover
When he was elected last April, Pope Benedict XVI inherited the papal apartment on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace, but it wasn't until Christmas that the pope could really call it home.
Dec. 22, 2005
Year-end wrap-up: Pope reflects on a historic 2005
In a personal look at the year in review, Pope Benedict XVI barely mentioned his own election -- a demonstration of the humility he has shown from the beginning of his pontificate.
Dec. 16, 2005
Diplomats try to decode hints from pope's World Peace Day message
Pope Benedict XVI released his first World Peace Day message in December, and members of the diplomatic corps promptly began parsing the text for policy hints and directions under the new pope.
Dec. 9, 2005
Media empire: Vatican moves from pen and parchment to DVDs, Web
Popes used to communicate by pen and parchment, but today, Pope Benedict XVI's teachings and speeches are flashed around the world in real time on the Internet, and he is the star of the Vatican's own Web site.
Dec. 2, 2005
Closing the doors of limbo: Theologians say it was hypothesis
An international group of Vatican-appointed theologians is about to recommend that the Catholic Church close the doors of limbo forever.
Nov. 23, 2005
Benedict's papacy: Running on all cylinders, but still gearing up
Seven months after the pope's election, the Vatican was humming with internal policy meetings, public conferences, document preparation and liturgical celebrations.
Nov. 18, 2005
Papal premiere: Yet another pope movie gets Vatican screening
It isn't every day that a pope gets to watch himself in a supporting role in a major movie. Pope Benedict XVI did, and his character even prompted the biggest applause line at the world premiere screening of "John Paul II."
Nov. 11, 2005
Designer God? Vatican experts debate fine points of evolution
The intelligent design debate visited the Vatican in November, provoking some inflated newspaper headlines and a bit of theological fine-tuning by Pope Benedict XVI.
Nov. 04, 2005
Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book
Galaxy-gazing scientists surely wonder about what kind of impact finding life or intelligent beings on another planet would have on the world. But what sort of effect would it have on Catholic beliefs?
Oct. 28, 2005
Rigor mortis? At synod, bishops give lip service to Latin
Latin limped through another synod in October, as bishops paid lip service to the assembly's official language but did their real communicating in the vernacular.
Oct. 21, 2005
Now what? As synod ends, will pope be 'all write' with propositions?
The Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist gave Pope Benedict XVI something he's probably not eager to receive: the raw material for a new document. He said bluntly in mid-October that writing more documents was not the mission of his pontificate.
Oct. 14, 2005
Rising stars: Synod a good spot to watch ecclesial careers
Traditionally, the Synod of Bishops has been a good place to watch ecclesial careers on the rise. The church's future all-stars are often found in the lineup of top synod positions and among the small number of papal appointees to the assembly.
Oct. 07, 2005
Deja vu: First week of synod follows patterns from past
The first week of this fall's Synod of Bishops followed a long-standing tradition: Bishops from all over the world gave speeches all over the map, while the media focused on a few hot-button issues.
Sept. 30, 2005
Quiet as a tomb no more: Vatican hopes crowds visit sarcophagi museum
A Vatican Museums gallery housing mammoth, carved marble sarcophagi depicting scenes from the Bible is hoping to come back to life.
Sept. 23, 2005
Seamless web: providing papal security with reasonable public access
Vatican and Italian security forces provide "impeccable security for a person who wants to be open and near the people," one Italian state police official said about the effort to protect Pope Benedict XVI.
Sept. 16, 2005
Church and politics: Throughout the world, variations on a theme
The theme of church and politics was a big part of last year's U.S. presidential election campaign, but a recent look around the globe shows the United States holds no monopoly on the issue.
Sept. 9, 2005
What's the buzz? At Vatican, officials wait for curial changes
When Pope Benedict XVI returns to the Vatican at the end of September, he'll find his "in" basket full and the rumor mill humming.
Sept. 2, 2005
Help wanted: Britain's search for Vatican envoy causes minor ruckus
The British government caused a stir this summer when it put out a "want ad" in some major newspapers looking for "a high caliber individual" to fill a vacancy at its Embassy to the Vatican.
Aug. 26, 2005
Shared Communion: Brother Roger's death spotlights perennial issue
The death of Brother Roger Schutz prompted an outpouring of sympathy on the part of many Catholics and expressions of ecumenical appreciation from Vatican officials, but it also highlighted a perennial and neuralgic issue in ecumenical dialogue: the Catholic Church's rules against shared Communion.
Aug. 19, 2005
Move over James Dean: Some holy heroes are rebels with a cause
Pope Benedict XVI is continuing the challenge his predecessor posed to young people across the world -- that they should not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium.
Aug. 12, 2005
Pontificating with priests: Marx, vocations and papal infallibility
As he showed during his summer vacation, Pope Benedict XVI likes to talk, especially when he knows his audience is on the same wavelength and receptive to the nuances of his thinking.
Aug. 5, 2005
Lay movements have an old friend in new pope
One of the first meetings Pope Benedict has convoked on his own initiative -- rather than confirming a gathering originally planned under his predecessor -- is a Pentecost 2006 encounter with lay-movement representatives.
July 29, 2005
Reading the signs: Archbishop Romero's backers are smiling in Rome
In a city where small signs often are read as serious signals, supporters of the canonization of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar A. Romero were smiling this summer as his sainthood cause looked ready to advance.
July 22, 2005
Long lines, short prayers await visitors to Pope John Paul II's tomb
More than three months after the pope's April 2 death, the Vatican is still running a separate line just for visitors to his tomb.
July 15, 2005
Pilgrimage on wheels: Hop on, hop off to see Rome's Christian sites
The Vatican and the city of Rome have joined forces to showcase Rome's Christian heritage by offering a bus dedicated to visiting some of the city's major spiritual sites.
July 8, 2005
Fine-tuning synod: New procedures, but bishops won't make decisions
Most bishops around the world agree that something has to be done with the Synod of Bishops. But those hoping the synod would become a decision-making body rather than an occasion for offering advice to the pope may be disappointed.
July 1, 2005
Artwork in new catechism selected for one reason: to transmit faith
Pope Benedict XVI believes classical works of Christian art can educate people in the faith and lead them to deeper prayer just as the images did hundreds of years ago. When he released the "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church" June 28, he said the 14 works of art in the book were not meant to be decorative but to illustrate its doctrinal content.
June 24, 2005
No glory for little-known Vatican agency that funds Eastern churches
The Vatican agency that coordinates funding to Eastern Catholic churches is much like the backstage manager of a big Broadway show: far from the limelight.
June 17, 2005
Vatican hopes defeat of Italian referendum isn't pyrrhic victory
The defeat of an Italian referendum on artificial procreation went into the church's win column, but Vatican officials realize it was a small victory on an ever-widening battlefield.
June 10, 2005
Not many sound bites: New pope's discourses defy simplistic headlines
As one veteran reporter recently lamented, Pope Benedict XVI is hard to write about because short citations don't do justice to his complex arguments.
June 3, 2005
Treasure hunt: Queues of collectors seek first Pope Benedict stamps
When exclusive sets of stamps marking the start of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy went on sale, two lines of collectors snaked underneath the colonnade heading for two tiny Vatican post offices.
May 27, 2005
Church gambles in call to boycott Italian reproduction referendum
The church in Italy has taken a big gamble by calling on Catholics to boycott a June 12-13 referendum that would repeal certain restrictions on artificial reproduction and embryonic research.
May 20, 2005
In first month, Benedict places distinctive mark on papacy
He began under the sign of continuity, but in his first month Pope Benedict XVI has already placed his own distinctive mark on the papacy.
May 13, 2005
For Anglican-Catholic unity, new pope offers mix of hope, concerns
With the election of Pope Benedict XVI, new questions arose about the future of Anglican-Roman Catholic efforts to promote unity, mainly based on statements he had made in his role as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
May 6, 2005
Papal priorities: Sainthood causes getting a new look at the Vatican
Whether the Catholic Church and the pope himself should be proclaiming so many men and women blessed or saint appears to be an area where Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI would differ.
April 29, 2005
Pope hopes to make Christ's light shine, but spotlight's on him
Pope Benedict XVI began his papacy by declaring that his task was to make shine not his own light, "but that of Christ," but cheering crowds, a curious press and excited church officials have kept the spotlight on the 265th pontiff.
April 22, 2005
Memorabilia -- tasteful to tacky -- fill souvenir shops near Vatican
Dozens of souvenir shops around the Vatican, most of them still brimming with merchandise plastered with Pope John Paul II's face, were gearing up as well for Pope Benedict XVI.
April 15, 2005
Conclave countdown: In information vacuum, no shortage of scenarios
With cardinals, for the most part, maintaining a blackout on interviews with the press, leaks and rumors filled the news vacuum before the conclave began.
April 8, 2005
Pope shared special relationship with reporters -- and they with him
For those journalists who have followed this pontificate from start to finish, the world suddenly seems a dimmer place.
April 1, 2005
As pope falls silent, other Vatican officials give their views
Attentive listeners during Holy Week found that the cardinal stand-ins for the ailing pope were not just relaying papal messages, but were pronouncing their own strong views on social and ecclesial issues.
March 24, 2005
For ailing pope, a picture is worth a thousand words, Jesuit says
While the pope's tendency toward silence after undergoing a tracheotomy Feb. 24 has been a blow to Vatican Radio, Pope John Paul has not hidden from the Vatican television cameras, said Father Federico Lombardi.
March 18, 2005
Moms' moral dilemma: When preserving life may mean death
Some Catholic women may have felt they were prescribed a hard pill to swallow when the Vatican openly praised an Italian woman who refused cancer treatment so she could carry her weeks-old embryo to term, but theologians say pregnant women always have the right to undergo treatment.
March 11, 2005
With formality or familiarity, tens of thousands e-mail pope
People are offering prayers for the pope's health, expressing hope that he would be released soon from the hospital, but also asking to be remembered in his prayers.
March 4, 2005
Sacred sleuth: Archeologist believes he has found St. Paul's tomb
A Vatican archeologist believes he has rediscovered the tomb of St. Paul, buried deep beneath the main altar of the Rome basilica dedicated to the apostle.
Feb. 24, 2005
Papal hospitalization: a case study in openness for Vatican officials
In a week that saw the release of a papal apostolic letter pledging the church's commitment to openness with the media, very little information was provided to the press or the public when the pope was readmitted to the hospital.
Feb. 18, 2005
Secrets, superstitions, sainthood: Cardinal talks of Sister Lucia
When Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos -- the last of three Fatima visionaries -- was buried in mid-February, a surprising number of people believed still-secret secrets of Fatima were buried with her.
Feb. 11, 2005
Less is more: For many, pope is still leading, but in a different way
Pope John Paul II's 10-day hospitalization for breathing problems has raised new questions about the ability of a pope to govern from a sick bed as well as his own recent focus on the special forms of Christian witness offered by the sick and the elderly.
Feb. 2, 2005
For Pittsburgh newlyweds, a series of unfortunate events
The pope's Feb. 1 hospitalization and the cancellation of his Feb. 2 weekly general audience were particular blows for Americans Valerie Pajak and Gus Glyptis.
Jan. 28, 2005
Reviewing the abuse norms: U.S.-Vatican talks expected to be positive
Two years after adopting special norms for dealing with priestly sex abusers, U.S. bishops and Vatican officials are sitting down in early February to review how the new policies have worked and to consider possible revisions.
Jan. 21, 2005
Despite reassurances, minority Christians in Iraq are afraid
Each time a church in Iraq is attacked or a religious figure is threatened or kidnapped, most church leaders there quickly explain that the incident does not signal an assault against Christianity. Still, Christians there are afraid.
Jan. 14, 2005
Police predicament: Teens, not terrorists, are biggest threat to pope
For the Italian police who help ensure the security of Pope John Paul II, overly enthusiastic teens are more of a real threat than terrorism.
Jan. 7, 2005
International Scrooges? Some feel wealthy countries too miserly
Some church leaders agree with a high-ranking U.N. official, who said the world's wealthiest countries penny-pinch when it comes to funding poor countries.
Dec. 30, 2004
"Angels and Demons" tour: a novel approach to Rome
The day is fast approaching when tourists circling Rome might be seen with their noses stuck between the pages of a Dan Brown novel rather than a Fodor's guide.
Dec. 22, 2004
In looking back, pope says he hopes future leads to Christian unity
As Pope John Paul II looked back at 2004, important ecumenical events seemed not to satisfy him but to sharpen his desire to lead the way to unity among Christians.
Dec. 17, 2004
In Italy, it's been a rough year for the baby Jesus
The new trend toward hiding some of the religious manifestations of Christmas is upsetting Italian church leaders and some Vatican officials.
Dec. 10, 2004
In consultations with U.S. bishops, pope emphasizes healing, holiness
In a series of "ad limina" talks this year, Pope John Paul II has encouraged U.S. bishops to regroup pastorally after the sex abuse scandal and recover their prophetic voice on moral and social issues.
Dec. 3, 2004
Immaculate Conception: Church marks anniversary of difficult dogma
Some Vatican officials say that while Marian devotion remains strong in the church, the Immaculate Conception is a complex concept that has interested theologians more than the ordinary faithful.
Nov. 24, 2004
Changes, challenges: African church blueprint is work in progress
It came as a bit of a surprise when the pope announced that he was calling a new African synod of bishops to deal with new pastoral and social challenges on the continent.
Nov. 19, 2004
Vatican exhibit shows art of ancient world not all black and white
A Vatican Museums exhibit will probably shock as many viewers as it pleases.
Nov. 11, 2004
Moral support: Despite criticism, pope met with Arafat 12 times
Pope John Paul II considered Yasser Arafat the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people and thought his long struggle for a Palestinian homeland merited moral support.
Nov. 5, 2004
Pope's 'electoral college' has moral values, no exit polls
Non-Americans at the Vatican are often perplexed by the U.S. electoral system. But whenever the next papal conclave is held, the shoe will be on the other foot: Church leaders will be called on to explain one of the oldest and most arcane systems of voting in the world.
Oct. 29, 2004
Compendium of social doctrine: It's a compass, not a catechism
The new "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church" is meant to be a companion volume to help navigate the church's catechism, Vatican officials said.
Oct. 22, 2004
Papal primacy: Land mine on the path to Catholic-Orthodox unity?
At the invitation of Pope John Paul II, Catholic and Orthodox scholars -- officially representing their churches -- rolled up their sleeves and started to tackle the historically explosive question of the Petrine ministry and how it is exercised in the modern church.
Oct. 15, 2004
Political priorities: In Catholic Italy, abortion is not an issue
When Italy's most politically active Catholics met in early October, Pope John Paul II sent them a message urging greater church influence on such issues as the family, the media, economic justice and globalization, but he did not mention abortion.
Oct. 8, 2004
'Memory and Identity': In new book, pope looks back at 20th century
As the 84-year-old pontiff's verbal powers of communication have shrunk, his written production seems to be increasing.
Oct. 1, 2004
For papal eyes only: Vatican to restore frescoes in Pauline Chapel
Just 10 years after the monumental makeover of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican's art historians, chemists and technicians are dragging out their notes, tools and scaffolding once again to restore another set of Michelangelo's masterpieces -- his last major frescoes.
Sept. 24, 2004
Creative tension: omnipotence of God vs. dynamism of a universe
A recent Vatican document analyzed evolution in the light of faith, stepping into an area that has long been a religious and scientific minefield.
Sept. 17, 2004
Vatican dismay: Memo on politicians touches nerve in U.S. campaign
When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent out a brief memo in June about politicians and Communion, he probably never imagined it would ignite a heated discussion about Catholics and voting.
Sept. 10, 2004
Back to basics: Pope begins renewed focus on Eucharist
After an intense quarter-century of teaching, writing and traveling, Pope John Paul II is going back to the basics with a renewed focus on the Eucharist.
Sept. 3, 2004
Not on the radar: No one at Vatican asks about Bush, Kerry
With a tight race for the White House under way, U.S. bishops visiting the Vatican found it a bit strange than no one asked them for their opinions on who the next president will be.
Aug. 25, 2004
U.S. Catholics hoped Kazan icon would get to Russia
For Americans who had a hand in geting the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan back to Russia, its transfer was a prayer answered and a dream denied.
Aug. 20, 2004
From Canterbury to Rome: Pilgrims rediscover ancient Francigena Way
Most of the ancient roads to Rome have become busy thoroughfares or superhighways swarming with speeding Fiats and Alfa Romeos. But one route still remains largely unspoiled by today's traffic, instead dotted by an occasional cow or a moped.
Aug. 13, 2004
Blackouts to vaccinations: Book records year's activities at Vatican
The "inside story" about the Vatican and its operations is reported, bound and put on sale each summer in the "Attivita della Santa Sede" ("The Activity of the Holy See").
Aug. 6, 2004
New Vatican office aims to promote culture of sport
With little fanfare, the head of the Vatican's new office dedicated to "Church and Sport" is off and running.
July 30, 2004
Hammers and security radios: At St. Peter's, workers must multitask
St. Peter's Basilica may be one of the few places in the world where a man aspiring to a position as a carpenter has a better chance of being hired if he can speak more than one language.
July 23, 2004
Is blue blood bad for holiness? Monarchs rarely make the cut
Even with Pope John Paul II's record number of canonizations and beatifications, one category of Catholics has been represented rarely in the past 400 years: monarchs
July 16, 2004
Vatican conference underscores universal issues of tourism industry
While Pope John Paul II was vacationing in the Italian Alps and long lines of tourists were waiting to clear security to get into St. Peter's Basilica, a Vatican office held an international meeting on tourism.
July 9, 2004
As some U.S. dioceses face financial crisis, Vatican has own problems
The Vatican is highly unlikely to start selling its paintings or statues in order to rescue a diocese from financial ruin.
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