Pope Francis Says There Is a ‘Gay Lobby’ in the Vatican. What Does that Mean?

Pope Francis rocked a lot of folks with his frank admission that there is a ‘gay lobby’ in the Vatican.

The information we have about what he said does not come from an official Vatican statement, or recorded remarks. He made the comment in an audience with the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious. Our source for the Holy Father’s specific words comes from notes made by those in attendance.

According to those notes, he said,

“Truthfully, there are saintly people in the curia, but there is also a current of corruption, it’s true. There’s talk of the ‘gay lobby’ and it’s true it’s there. We have to see what we can do about it.”

The reaction from the public has been somewhat muted, although I’ve seen the usual nonsense accusing the Holy Father of being “homophobic” and “anti-gay.”

In truth, I don’t know what all this means, and I would guess that no one except the Pope and perhaps a few insiders do. What, for instance, does “gay lobby” mean? And what does “corruption” mean?

I’m not being naive. I don’t know. “Gay lobby” seems to imply more than just homosexual priests who are friends with one another, especially when it’s linked to concerns about “corruption.”

I am glad that Pope Francis is being open about these things. Corruption of any sort thrives on secrecy. The more open he is, the better the chance that the problems will be solved.

Rumors have swirled for quite some time about some sort of dark goings on in the Vatican. Pope Emeritus Benedict dealt with a problem concerning leaks of private documents, which I’ve never really understood, either. It might make more sense if I knew what the leaked documents contained.

These hints of stories that are not properly reported set us all up to imagine what we want.

Personally, I choose not to imagine anything, but to wait and see what shakes out over time.

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Video: Pope Emeritus Benedict’s Return to the Vatican

Pope Emeritus Benedict returned to the Vatican today.

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict will live a short distance to one another. I’ve read reports that the Pope Emeritus’ brother will probably live in the same building with him. Ironically, even though two popes will be in residence at the Vatican, the Papal Apartment will be empty.

The video below shows his arrival, as well as a retrospective about the day he left the papacy. The video of the Pope Emeritus and Pope Francis praying together are from Pope Francis’ earlier visit with his predecessor.

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Pope Emeritus Benedict Returns to the Vatican


Pope Emeritus Benedict will return to the Vatican today. 

According to a CNA article, he will live in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, “where he will live a life of prayer and meditation. The monastery contains a chapel, a choir room, a library, a semi-basement, a terrace and a visiting room.

From CNA:

.- Benedict XVI will return to the Vatican on May 2 by helicopter, coming back the same way he left just two months ago when he resigned as Pope.

The return of a former Pope is something that has no historical precedent, making everything a new one for the Vatican’s staff.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican’s press office, told CNA April 30 that “there will be someone there to welcome Benedict XVI” but he is not yet sure who that will be.

The former Pope will arrive by helicopter around 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon, and after a brief greeting will head to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, where he will live a life of prayer and meditation. (Read the rest here.)

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Name That Photo: Flying Hats and the Papacy

What’s your caption for this duo of Holy Fathers and their flying hats?

Benedict loses hat

 

Pope loses hat

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Pope Emeritus Benedict Relieved to Have Weight of the Church Off His Shoulders

Pope Emeritus Benedict is “relieved” to be free of the “weight” of the Church, his brother says.

Father Georg Ratzinger told the Daily Telegraph that his younger brother is happy in his retirement. The former Pope Benedict spends his days in prayer, reading and playing the piano.

He still “suffers the Church,” but enjoys not have the full weight of it “on his shoulders,” Fr Ratzinger said.

Fr Ratzinger traveled from Germany to Italy for the Pope Emeritus’ 86th birthday.

It is a miracle that these two brothers still have one another at this age and that they are both able to travel and enjoy their lives, including celebrating birthdays.

I wish them peace and happiness in this twilight of their lives.

From National Post:

ROME — The former Pontiff, Pope Emeritus Benedict, is “relieved” to be free of the responsibility of running the Catholic Church, his elder brother has said, but he insisted that Benedict was not suffering from illness.

Father Georg Ratzinger, himself a priest, told The Daily Telegraph his younger brother was “very happy” to be living at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer retreat south of Rome that he moved to after stepping down in February, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years. Fr. Ratzinger, 88, who travelled from Germany to celebrate Benedict’s 86th birthday on April 16, said his brother “still suffers the problems of the Church, but is really relieved to no longer have the weight of the Church on his shoulders”.

… Speaking by telephone from his house in Bavaria, Mr Ratzinger denied the pope emeritus was suffering from major ailments. “He is now very old, he does not have any particular illness, but he is weakening due to his age,” he said.

 Since relinquishing the responsibility of overseeing the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, Benedict has spent his time praying, reading and playing the piano at Castel Gandolfo, which is situated on the rim of a volcanic lake, surrounded by acres of private gardens and Roman ruins. (Read the rest here.) 

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Conversion Story: The Story of How a New York Jew Wrestled with Christ and Became Catholic

 

I needed this.

I’ve been affected by the events of this week like everyone else. In addition to that, there’s been death and sadness closer in at my parish. Everything bugs me this week.

Right in the midst of my anomie comes this conversion story. Conversion to Christ is birth, re-birth, being born again. It is a person stepping in one move from death to life.

This particular conversion story describes something a little bit like the conversion I experienced in that it was instantaneous. God does that with some people. It’s as if He points His finger and says “You.”

When that happens, there is no denying the reality of it. I guess you could ignore it and say no, but you’d have to lie to yourself in a big way to do it.

This particular conversion story, is titled “The Story of how a New York Jew wrestled with Christ and became Catholic”. It describes the instantaneous and unbidden conversion of Roger Dubin. God said “You” to Mr Dubin in an airport while he was watching the announcement of Pope Benedict’s election as pope in 2005.

I won’t tell you more because it would spoil the story. I’ll put an excerpt below with a link to the rest. I hope it cheers your day as it did mine.

From The Catholic World Report:

On April 2, 2005, there came the news of the death of Pope John Paul II. I’d always admired the pope for his courage in confronting the horrors of communism, and for aligning with President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher in a united front that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. Yet as a spiritual leader he meant nothing to me.

Nevertheless, Barbara and I found ourselves becoming involved in the events and the funeral as they unfolded on television. Even the typically skewed commercial coverage couldn’t disguise the tributes from all corners of the globe, and the love for the pope and grief at losing him from Catholics and people of every faith. At some point in the two weeks following, Barbara—a long-lapsed Protestant who’d never lost her regard for Christianity—turned to me and said, “You’ve got to get religion, Roger. You’ve been drifting way too long.”

Early on the morning of April 19, I left on a business trip, first taking the commuter flight from Prescott, our home since 2001, to the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. There was a wait before my next flight to the west coast, so I stopped for coffee, and soon after I arrived at the gate, the white smoke appeared over the roof of the Sistine Chapel on the television monitor. Sipping my cappuccino, I watched with a large group of travelers, interested—as a news hound mostly—in who’d been chosen. From my casual observation, however, quite a few in the crowd were Catholics, and far more invested in the outcome than I.

When the announcement was made that Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected, people around me seemed to register either shock or joy. I had a pretty good sense of the reason for the split. In the days following Pope John Paul’s passing, I’d noted the avuncular and, to all appearances, mild-mannered cardinal playing a high-profile role in the funeral and related proceedings. I’d also heard quite a bit of commentary about his staunchly conservative stance as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, set in contrast to the “modernization” and “progress” many were hoping for and demanding. That hoary theme, complete with groan-inducing code words and liberal shibboleths straight out of American politics, brought on a depressing sense of déjÀ vu. “God’s Rottweiler,” some even called him, a denigration that struck me as both outrageous and naïve, though I knew almost nothing about him.

I’d been a senior corporate executive for many years, I’ve had my own consulting business since 1996, and I understood that the cardinal, like the centurion in Matthew 8:9, was “ a man under authority.” Which meant that whatever he’d done to garner his reputation had been undertaken with the guidance and approval of his boss. Yet the criticism fell on him, which also told me he was a loyal lieutenant, willing to do his superior’s will and take the hit himself without complaint. People who viewed it otherwise, I grumbled, likely had an axe to grind, or were reluctant to criticize Pope John Paul, or were simply fools.

That’s not very charitable, I admit. But remember, I was nowhere near being “Christian” in my judgments at the time. (Actually, I’m still nowhere near where I should be, yet I’m trying.) How often I’ve marveled since then at Pope Benedict’s kindness to everyone,even as he took on the agonizing work of expunging the “filth” from the Church and laying the foundation for renewal. How often I’ve wished I could feel his Christian charity towards the enemies within. But the rockiest rise on the road to becoming Christian, at least for someone like me, is learning to love as Pope Benedict loves—especially those whom you’d much rather smack upside the head and who richly deserve far worse. I suspect I’ll be wrestling with that one for a long time.

So there I was at the gate—standing now, with just a few minutes left before I’d need to board my flight. If I had to miss the introduction of the new pope, it was no big deal, though I was vaguely hoping I wouldn’t. And then Pope Benedict XVI walked onto the balcony. The camera zoomed in, his eyes seemed to look right at me and through me, and that’s the exact instant my conversion happened. (Read the rest here.)

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Popes Benedict and Francis: Differences in Style, Continuity in Teachings and Faith

Pope Francis is an outgoing informal man, while Pope Emeritus Benedict is shy and introverted. But don’t let those differences in style confuse you. Both are holy men of fidelity to the truth of our Catholic faith. To learn more, watch the video below.

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Is the Shroud of Turin the Burial Cloth of Christ?

I first read about the Shroud of Turin when I picked up a book about it in the library. I was deep in my anti-religion period at that time, struggling to find arguments against the existence of God.

I read most of the atheist literature, both of that time and of earlier decades. I wanted to be convinced. But the things I read just weren’t all that convincing. Since I’m neither a scholar nor an intellectual, I usually employ a vacuum cleaner approach to learning about a subject that interests me.

I read everything I can get my hands on, then track down the original sources that the first books referenced and read them. It’s a process that can go on for a while. I plumbed through atheist thinking all the way to its bottom in my search to prove there was no god and found nothing but the authors themselves.

I’m not a scholar or an intellectual, but I’m also not flat-footed stupid. The arguments by the old atheists are like the arguments of the new atheists. They don’t hold up if you think about them. Most of them are self-refuting. In fact, based on the books by the so-called “new atheists” that I’ve read, I don’t see their thinking as thinking. It’s just a rehash of what has been said before, topped off with insult and rudeness.

I did not want to believe in god back in those days. I was so cynical about god and so disappointed in him and his people that I would have preferred it if I had been able to not believe in him in some absolute and rock solid way. I wanted to cast god and what I saw as his failure out with the orange peels and old paycheck stubs in my trashcan. He seemed as spent and meaningless to me as they were.

However, reading atheist thought was not a convincing exercise. If my understanding of god made me cynical about him, my exposure to the thoughts of those who denied him actually made his existence sound almost unavoidably possible.

One thing that sharpened my understanding was my propensity to go back and forth. I would read the arguments against, then read the documents these arguments were critiquing.

I invariably found that those arguments against that I had read were based on partial quotes taken out of context and given meaning they did not mean, or facts that were likewise taken out of context and given meaning they did not mean. Atheist arguments fell apart when I traced them back to their original sources.

I had never heard of the Shroud of Turin when I plucked that book off the library shelves. i didn’t expect to be impressed by the book. But, well, my vacuum cleaner mind sweeps up everything, including the trivial. I took it home, and since it was a short book, read it before bed that night.

The book was written by one of the members of a group of scientists who had examined the Shroud in the 1970s’ STURP investigation. It didn’t claim the Shroud was the burial cloth of Christ. It simply described the experiments. The thing about the book that impressed me the most is that I didn’t see any hint that its author was lying. I didn’t know what to make of the Shroud itself. But I felt that if the author of this book was telling the truth — and I thought he was — then the Shroud was a lot more than a fake miracle made with pigeon’s blood and a shadow box.

I returned the book to the library and thought no more about Shroud until I heard that carbon dating experiments indicated that it was a fake from the Middle Ages. I had experienced my conversion to Christ between when I read the book and when these results were announced. But that wasn’t why the carbon dating results perplexed me. I believed almost immediately that the results were inaccurate.

I felt this way because I still believed that the author of that original book I had read was telling the truth about his experiments on the Shroud. I just didn’t see how the artifact described in that book could be a Medieval forgery. Forgeries of that era were crude compared to the Shroud on so many levels. In fact, the Shroud would have been a poor forgery by the standards of that day, with its faint negative image. From what I’d read, you can’t even really see the thing until you see it as a negative from a camera. And the anatomical details, including those of the damage done to the man in the Shroud’s body went way beyond what a Medieval forger would need or even have the knowledge to fake.

Add to that the simple fact that no one could figure out how to re-create the Shroud using the tools of any century, much less tools from the technologically weak past of 800 years ago, and I simply did not believe that the carbon dating results were accurate. I didn’t think they were forged or deliberately falsified. I didn’t think the protocols used in doing the dating had been bad. But I still didn’t think things added up.

All this led me, for the first time, to stop and think, Is this cloth really the winding sheet of Christ? Is the face on that cloth the face of the Lord Jesus as He lay in the tomb?

The thing that brought me to this question was that I thought I could see the logic behind obscuring the truth about a genuine Shroud from a Divine viewpoint. I think proof of this simple type would obviate faith for a lot of people. It could also lead many of us to fall into superstitions about the Shroud instead of a dynamic faith in Christ.

These thoughts went through my mind and then I stopped speculating and went on with my life. I didn’t need the Shroud to prove anything to me. The conversion experince I’d had was enough proof for my lifetime.

When I first read that Pope Benedict XVI had granted a televised viewing of the Shroud on Holy Saturday March 30, I thought it was nice. Then, the Pope resigned and everything he had done or said seemed outlined in high-lighter for me. I read a lot about him, and during the reading I learned that Pope Benedict had come just about as close as he could to saying that he believed the Shroud was genuine without actually using those precise words. I also kept seeing comments about “new evidence.”

Ok, I thought. New evidence. What is it? I’m still trying to get sufficient information to answer that question. I need more information than a scientist would, simply because it takes more information for me to understand what I’m reading,.

All I know for sure is that Pope Benedict seemed to be leaning heavily toward a belief that the Shroud is genuine and that Pope Francis, while more circumspect, did not gainsay him. 

I don’t think it matters whether you believe that the Shroud is the burial cloth or not. The only danger would be if  you fell off the horse and started regarding it as an idol and a superstition. Faith in Jesus does not need the Shroud; not if you’ve encountered Him personally.

On the other hand, it is tantalizing. I look at the photos of the man in the Shroud, at his torn body and the obvious torture he suffered, and then I contrast that with the serene expression on his face. I can look at that face for quite a while and, despite it’s swollen eye and battered condition, I never see anything but peace.

Who are you? I wonder.

So far at least, there is no answer.

 

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Pope Will Lead Stations of the Cross for Christian Unity in the MIddle East

Preparing for good friday stations of the cross

Pope Francis will lead the Stations of the Cross tonight in the same Coliseum where early Christians were once martyred. 

The “games” that were fought there, in which gladiators fought to the death, ended due to the rise of Christianity and the respect for human life that it teaches. Pope Francis will lead those present in prayers and reflections written by Middle Eastern Christians. He will do this for the purpose of focusing our attention on the persecution Christians face in that part of the world.

I can think of no better way to make the point that following Christ is the way of the Cross than these prayers in this location. The symmetry is profound.

According to a CNA/EWTN article, the reflections will focus on ongoing violence in the MIddle East and Christian unity, as well as the abuse of women and children and the promotion of abortion. Six of them were written by representatives of six rites of Catholicism in Lebanon. The other eight were written by six different Catholic youth groups, a special needs group and a non-governmental organization.

From CNA/EWTN:

.- 
Pope Francis will celebrate the Way of the Cross at the Coliseum on Friday evening, a solemn tradition that takes place by candle light every year.

Benedict XVI asked Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai to choose a group of Lebanese to write the 14 meditations for the Way of the Cross and to supervise them. His wish was to raise awareness and increase prayers for the Arabic Christians living in the Middle East, following his visit to Lebanon in September 2012 … The meditations focus on ongoing violence in the Middle East and Christian disunity, as well as the abuse of women and children and the promotion of abortion.

Six of the reflections were written by representatives from the six rites of the Catholic Church in Lebanon: Latin, Maronite, Melkite, Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean. The remaining eight were composed by six different Catholic youth groups, a special needs group and a non-governmental organization … The young people who helped write the reflections arrived in Assisi from Lebanon on March 26, and they will later make their way to Rome. (Read more here.) 

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Shroud of Turin to be Broadcast Live Holy Saturday March 31

Shroud face

Pope Benedict XVI authorized the televised showing of the Shroud of Turin before he left office. The Shroud will be televised next Saturday, which is Holy Saturday.

The Shroud of Turin has been the subject of intense discussion for hundreds of years and still fascinates both believers and unbelievers worldwide. A radio carbon dating several decades ago indicated that the Shroud dates from the middle ages. However, this finding has been challenged based on the way the samples for the dating were taken and the possibility of a corrupt sample having been used that would have given inaccurate results.

No one knows exactly were the Shroud came from. Many people, including Pope Benedict himself, feel that the Shroud was the burial cloth of Christ. Others dismiss it as a fraud. One thing is certain and that is the Shroud is an inexplicable artifact that defies simple explanations. Even the most dedicated opponents of the idea that the Shroud is the authentic burial cloth of Christ are unable to explain how it was made. 

Shroud fully body

The most challenging aspects of the Shroud are how was it made and why a medieval forger would do something so complex and difficult in the first place. Also, the anatomical facts of the figure on the Shroud are consistent with what a real crucifixion would do rather than what people in the Middle Ages thought.  

I’ve read several books about the Shroud, but I have never seen it. I’m like a lot of people who find it fascinating and wonder if it really is the burial cloth of Christ. 

I don’t know if the televised viewing will be available here in Oklahoma, but if it is, I plan to record it so I can watch it later. 

Here’s the story from Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) As part of the Year of Faith a conference gets underway here in Rome (Friday) tomorrow entitled “The Shroud and the New Evangelization. The two day event is being sponsored by the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum and will feature speakers including Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

The conference will deliver a programme presenting the shroud of Turin, which is believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, as a sign of faith that speaks to contemporary society.

“The message is this, the shroud is a sign, a sign that speaks to contemporary man and so I think in this year of faith this Holy Shroud has something to tell us in a very graphical view,” says Father Rafael Pascual LC, Director of the Science and Faith Institute at the Regina Apostolorum.

He told Lydia O’Kane that the face Jesus left us is one of suffering but also of love and donation. Listen RealAudioMP3

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