By means of the decision to elect a non-European, the Catholic Church has clearly accepted and given prominence to the fact that the center of gravity of world Christianity has shifted to the global south. Although popes from Poland and Germany were already a step away from Italy, the new step is away from Europe entirely, to the regions where the masses of Christians live.
It is astonishing that a bishop of the poor has been selected, who as a Jesuit would have been expected to be a closet liberal among the cardinals but by means of the selection of his papal name has indicated that his vow of poverty has programmatic significance. At the Catholic synod meetings last year I got to know him as a modest, humble, and friendly man who uses public transportation and goes without a palace or chauffeur. These are difficult times for all those in the Curia who have tolerated dirty church finances.
We have to expect that the new Pope, perhaps along with Cardinal Turkson from Ghana, who leads the Vatican Commission "Justitia et Pax" (Justice and Peace), will get more strongly involved in social questions. The election of a relatively old man, who is only a little younger than Cardinal Ratzinger was at the time of his election, may mean that he is a transitional figure, though he seems to be healthier than Benedict XVI was at the time of his election. more >>
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina will be the new pope with the name Pope Francis. One hundred and fifteen cardinals locked away in the Sistine Chapel announced to the world Wednesday that a new pope had been selected when thick white smoke could be seen billowing out from the chapel's chimney. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was selected and took the name Francis.
He is the first pope elected from Argentina and was the runner up to Pope Benedict XVI. Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, is revered for being a man of the people and for his continued commitment to social justice. He chose to live in a small apartment, rather than in the luxurious bishop's residence, and is still seen using public transportation.
As the cardinals entered the second night of the conclave, many were not expecting a decision so soon, given that there was no clear front runner going into the papal elections. more >>
Catholic cardinals gathered Tuesday before they retired behind the closed doors of the Sistine Chapel. The process of selecting who will lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics took place, with black smoke indicating that they have not yet selected the new Pope.
Because the cardinals could not come to an agreement Tuesday, puffs of black smoke were seen from the chapel's chimney- the black smoke signaled a failed vote, and eventually, white smoke will signal that a pope has been chosen. All of the cardinal's ballots are destroyed to maintain the integrity of the conclave.
Italy has the largest portion of cardinals within the conclave with 28. The United States is second with 11 in the College of Cardinals. For this conclave, there are 48 countries represented, which is among the most diverse in history. more >>
C.J. Mahaney has announced that he is stepping down as president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) with the closure of his office to make way for an executive director during the church group's organizational restructuring.
"As that new polity takes effect, I will be transitioning from the role of President, and the Executive Committee will recommend an individual for confirmation by the Council of Elders to serve in the newly formed role of Executive Director," Mahaney wrote last week in a blog post at SGM's website.
"In October, I informed the Board of Sovereign Grace that I was withdrawing my name from consideration for Executive Director as I don't think my gifts and sense of call are the best fit for certain aspects of this new role," he added, revealing that he made the same announcement to SGM pastors in November at an annual pastors conference. more >>
Episcopalians in South Carolina who remain loyal to The Episcopal Church reaffirmed their ties to the denomination in light of their diocese leadership breaking away over theological differences.
At the Annual Diocesan Convention held Friday and Saturday in Charleston, representatives from The Episcopal Church in South Carolina voted to make their governing documents conform with those of the national denomination.
TEC in SC representatives also elected trustees and ecclesiastical court members. An estimated 250 people representing 10 parishes, 11 missions, eight "continuing parishes and missions," and six worship communities were present. more >>
In a recent interview, former church leader Rob Bell sought to clarify the reason why, in late 2011, he left Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., arguing that he was not driven out by his congregation over his controversial book Love Wins. Rather, he and his wife felt they had a new spiritual calling awaiting them in California.
A November 2012 piece in The New Yorker implied that Bell and his wife, Kristen, had an immense fallout with the Mars Hill Bible congregation after the release of his book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, which questioned the existence of a literal and eternal hell and the evangelical teaching that only those who believe in Jesus Christ go to heaven.
The New Yorker article claims that Bell lost members of his congregation numbering in the thousands as a result of his controversial book. more >>