In a post-secular world, and a post-Christian America, it seemed we might be past the time of towering faith figures and transnational, transcendent religious leaders. Enter Pope Francis-the pontiff formerly known as Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio - who is a religious rock star in a way many thought was impossible. Pope Francis has found a broad, welcoming audience in the United States, and American Catholics have found a new hope for their Church.
While evangelicals do not share Catholics' interest in the flourishing of the Catholic Church, evangelicals still have a stake in his popularity and success. The rise of Pope Francis suggests to evangelicals that even in this new century, Christians can have a faithful presence and influence in American public life.
Francis' popularity is driven by his pastoral, inclusive, and humble approach to the Pontificate. He has eschewed the worldly perks of some of his predecessors, opting for a simpler wardrobe and a less luxurious home and car. He has reached out to unexpected people: the Muslim girl whose feet he washed, the meetings and meals he has held with the homeless and those at the margins, his interview with atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari, his encouragement to mothers to breastfeed in church, and his words of humility on the topic of gay priests. more >>
Former Pope Benedict XVI is "at peace," both with himself and the Lord after stepping down from his high-ranking post a year ago, his closest adviser said in a recent and rare interview.
"Pope Benedict is at peace with himself and I think he is even at peace with the Lord," Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who currently works for both the pope emeritus and the current Pope Francis, told Reuters in a rare interview.
"I am certain, indeed convinced, that history will offer a judgment that will be different than what one often read in the last years of his pontificate," Ganswein added. The archbishop currently works as Benedict's secretary as well as the head of Pope Francis' household, and therefore has regular contact with both Catholic leaders. The archbishop has been Benedict's close adviser since before his election to pope in 2005 and still takes daily walks with the former leader each afternoon. more >>
Names of over 100 priests and employees of a Missouri archdiocese that have credible accusations of sexual abuse against them have been released to a person suing the institution.
In response to an order from the Missouri Supreme Court, the Archdiocese of St. Louis turned over the list of individuals and complaints Wednesday to the plaintiff of a lawsuit leveled against them. The move came as the state's highest court denied a writ by the archdiocese to keep the records private for the sake of all involved, according to a statement.
"The archdiocese had litigated to protect the privacy rights of all involved, including victims who had no connection to current litigation and who had come forth confidentially regarding their reported allegation," reads the statement in part. more >>
Pope Francis met Thursday with Notre Dame leaders and asked the Catholic University to defend the Church's freedom. The meeting came after Notre Dame again asked a court for an injunction against the Obama administration's birth control mandate. A federal court last year ordered the school to begin paying fines if it did not comply.
"'Missionary discipleship,' ought to be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities," Francis said. " ... Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church's moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors."
Francis also warned that there are efforts to dilute the witness of the Catholic Church. more >>
An animal rights group has launched an online petition calling for the head of the Roman Catholic Church to stop releasing doves in light of a recent incident.
Posted by Chris Wolverton on Care2, the petition was created after a recent release of doves at the Vatican ended with birds of prey attacking them.
"Domesticated doves are easy targets for other birds due to their white color and inability to recognize predators and flee. The Pope's intentions in releasing the doves were innocent, but after witnessing the gruesome aftermath he needs to end the practice," reads the petition in part. more >>
Pope Francis, the humble yet wildly popular leader of the Roman Catholic Church, will be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine's Feb. 13 issue.
The cover article, "Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin'," which was published Tuesday on Rolling Stone's website, addresses everything from Francis' rise to the papacy to his widely discussed comments about homosexuality and economics.
The lengthy piece, written by Mark Binelli, also discusses the pope's leadership approach and the humility that has made him endearing to so many. more >>