Pope Francis is making headlines again for recently sending out a "modern family" survey to bishops around the world to ask what church leaders think about hot button issues such as gay marriage and surrogate mothers, among other topics relating to family life.
The survey has been sent to every nation's conference of bishops and asks questions on topics ranging from birth control and surrogate motherhood to gay marriage and inter-religious unions, as well as divorce, premarital cohabitation, and single-parent families. The questionnaire states that it is addressing "many new situations requiring the Church's attention and pastoral care," including some "concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago have arisen today as a result of different situations, from the widespread practice of cohabitation [...] to same-sex unions."
"The social and spiritual crisis, so evident in today's world, is becoming a pastoral challenge in the Church's evangelizing mission concerning the family," the Vatican survey reads, according to BBC News. more >>
Despite speculation by the media and a number of Catholic scholars that Pope Francis could name the Church's first female cardinal next February, the Vatican has rebuked those claims, saying that the unprecedented event will not take place.
"This is just nonsense . . . It is simply not a realistic possibility that Pope Francis will name women cardinals," Fr. Federico Lombardi, a senior Vatican spokesman told The Irish Times.
"Theologically and theoretically, it is possible," he added. "Being a cardinal is one of those roles in the church for which, theoretically, you do not have to be ordained but to move from there to suggesting the pope will name women cardinals for the next consistory is not remotely realistic." more >>
A bill meant to expand anti-discrimination employment policy to include gays and transgendered individuals may see its defeat in the House of Representatives.
After the United States Senate voted to end cloture and bring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to the floor, House Speaker John Boehner expressed his opposition. Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker Boehner, stated in an email to Politico that the Republican-controlled House will oppose the bill should it pass the Senate.
"The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs," wrote Steel. more >>
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a resolution Thursday calling on President Barack Obama to fully explain the National Security Agency's spying activities in relation to Pope Francis and the Vatican.
"Do we want to be the country that is spying on the pope? For goodness sake, what good is that?" Paul said in a Fox News interview about 30 minutes after he submitted his resolution.
The accusation that the NSA has been spying on the pope came this week from an Italian publication. The NSA reportedly monitored phone calls made by cardinals and bishops before and after the papal conclave that chose Pope Francis. more >>
Pope Francis announced earlier this week that he reached a social media milestone by amassing more than 10 million followers on Twitter.
"Dear Followers I understand there are now over 10 million of you! I thank you with all my heart and ask you to continue praying for me," said Francis in a tweet on Sunday.
The pope has nine different Twitter handles, each of them beginning with "Pontifex," and his words of encouragement and insight are published in a different language on each of them. Currently about 3.2 million people follow the pontiff's English language handle. more >>
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) monitored the phone calls of the future Pope Francis and other Vatican officials leading up to the papal conclave, according to an Italian magazine, though the spy agency has denied the report.
Panorama, an Italian weekly, reports that the agency monitored calls made by Catholic cardinals and bishops both before and during this year's papal conclave, according to The Telegraph. Calls to and from the place where Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, resided during the conclave were among those that were reportedly monitored.
The article also claims the NSA intercepted calls pertaining to the election of the head of the Vatican bank, among other things. The agency is said to have divided the information it intercepted from the Vatican into four categories: "leadership intentions," "foreign policy objectives," "threats to financial systems" and "human rights." more >>