Tag: papal

Amoris Laetitia backgrounder

Friday, 8 April, 2016 0 Comments

Pope Francis to make key marriage pronouncement” is how the BBC puts it in the run up to today’s publication of Amoris Laetitia, the Apostolic Exhortation about Catholic teaching on the family. The text, rumoured to be 250-pages long and divided into 300 points, will be presented by Cardinals Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, and Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, at a press conference in Rome. Scheduled to begin at 11:30 Central European Time, the event will be broadcast live via the Vatican’s Television Centre.

Where did the BBC gets its headline? The document has been surrounded by secrecy, with no leaks to the media before its presentation. This makes Amoris Laetitia unusual, seeing that Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, was published by the Italian magazine l’Espresso three days ahead of the official presentation.

What can we expect? The focus will be on the “many new situations requiring the Church’s attention and pastoral care.” In other words, partners living together before marriage, communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and homosexual unions vs. heterosexual marriage, to name just three areas of contested cohabitation that are facts of 21st century life. The Guardian has already pre-empted liberal disappointment: “Pope Francis to dismay reformists with ‘modern families’ document.” Francis wouldn’t be Francis, however, if he didn’t have a surprise or two up the sleeve of the papal cassock.


The BBC wants white smoke — now!

Wednesday, 13 March, 2013 0 Comments

The black smoke was barely visible when the BBC headlined the result thus: “Cardinals deadlocked over next Pope.” The use of “deadlocked” there shows how absurd the media coverage of the conclave has become. How quickly people forget that the conclave of 1740, which ended with the election of Pope Benedict XIV, lasted from February 18 until August 17, a total of 181 days. In case the BBC does not understand what’s going on in Rome, this morning’s black smoke indicates that there have been three ballots so far without anyone getting the required 77 votes.

Along with impatience, the other hallmark of mainstream media coverage of the conclave has been the tireless output of stories about Vatican scandals and political intrigue. This has to be done to fill the industry’s maw, but it distracts from the bigger picture, namely that the Catholic Church is the world’s largest non-governmental organization, and its work in promoting international understanding, working for peace, and caring for the poorest of the poor is vital to global well-being. Sure, it is not always perfect in the pursuit of its aims, but it is fully engaged in parts of the world where states have failed.

The constant coverage of scandal and intrigue in the Vatican has become a staple of journalism today, but the Catholic Church cannot be reduced human weakness and power politics. For believers, the church is a divine as well as a human institution, one that is devoted to bringing peace and justice to the world. That’s why the election of a new Pope matters to non-Catholics as well as to Catholics. Given the importance of their task, the BBC should allow the Cardinals to take their time in making their choice. The confident prediction here is that we will have a new Pope tomorrow.

BBC News


Conclave watch: Italian job or Asian pivot

Tuesday, 19 February, 2013 1 Comment

After seeing the last two pontificates going to a Pole and a German, the Italians are said to be eager to see one of their own wearing the Ring of the Fisherman. The Ring of the Fisherman In all discussions, three names dominate: Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, and Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan. Of the three, Cardinal Scola, 71, is said to have the most impressive CV. If, however, someone younger is needed, Francesco Moraglia, the Patriarch of Venice, is waiting in the wings, He’ll be 60 in May, but the problem is that he’s not a cardinal. Of course, nothing prohibits the election of someone who is not part of the Sacred College, but tradition is central to the rites of the Catholic Church.

If youth is an issue, and Benedict XVI has certainly put the matter of age into play by way of his renunciation of the Papacy, conclave historians will note that Karol Wojtyla was a mere 58 when he became John Paul II. That being the case, it may well be worth keeping an eye in the coming weeks on a young cardinal who has enhanced his theological credibility by helping to author the huge history of Vatican Council II. As well, his doctrinally correct pastoral work is said to be pleasing to Benedict XVI and his simple lifestyle and outreach to the poor have impressed the faithful. Step forward, archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

Backgrounder: He’s 56 and he’s got 118,000 likes on Facebook. More importantly, he’s from the Philippines, which is the only Asian nation with a Catholic majority. Rome would like to see that state of affairs change in our life time and just as the USA is said to be pivoting towards Asia, the Vatican is aware that the Pacific and not the Atlantic will be the decisive ocean in the 21st century. Cardinal Tagle might just be the person to lead the new wave of evangelization, about which we’ll have more here on Friday.