John Allen’s Vatican Round Up

John Allen is one of the world’s top “Vaticanistas”. He seems to know everybody and like a church mouse, gets into every corner of the church to feast–not on moldy hymnbooks, but on tidbits of news and morsels of information from the engine room of the church.

Here is Allen’s usual concise and objective reporting from the Vatican this week includes his analysis of Pope Francis’ selections to serve on the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Yet one should never forget that beneath that simple exterior lies the mind of a brilliant Jesuit politician. Some Argentines believe he may actually rival Juan and Evita Perón for the title of best set of political instincts the country ever produced.

That savvy was on display again Saturday, when Francis rolled out the initial members for a new Vatican commission to lead the charge in the fight against clerical sexual abuse.

The choice of five laypeople  (of which four are women) to serve with three clergy is an excellent way forward. I have written a piece for Aleteia which analyzes this smart move. Watch out for it on Monday.

Allen also reports on the continued high level discussion on the question of divorced and remarried Catholics, Pope Francis’ upcoming meeting with President Obama and he remarks on the death of a stalwart Chinese cardinal,

One of the more heroic figures in recent Catholic history died this week. Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang of Shanghai spent 20 years in a prison work camp, from 1958 to 1978, for his stubborn refusal to renounce his loyalty to the Bishop of Rome, and faced various forms of harassment and intimidation for the rest of his life.

He died this week at 95, still unrecognized by Chinese authorities as a legitimate Catholic bishop. The local faithful were pressured to keep his funeral rites low-profile, or risk being detained.

At the moment, the man Rome regards as Fan’s successor in Shanghai, Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, is under house arrest and has limited contact with the outside world. Like Fan, Ma has refused to take his cues from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the state-imposed body that styles itself as an autonomous Catholic church but which is actually under the thumb of the state.

Read Allen’s full article here.