Suffering Servant: Did Benedict Actually Resign?

Pope Emeritus on Bench with Cat

This whole piece by John L. Allen is fascinating, but scroll down to the question:Did Benedict resign?Yet another point of interest from the recent press conference came when Francis took a question about papal resignation. He didn’t reveal his own plans, saying only that he’ll do “what the Lord tells me,” but did insist that he believes Benedict XVI historic decision to step down is not an “isolated case.”In that connection, an essay on Tuesday by longtime Vatican watcher Vittorio … [Read more...]

“the usual efforts at Church reform are useless…”

The English writer and mystic Caryll Houselander is one of those people whose work I keep meaning to read, because every time I am exposed to even a little of her thinking, I'm intrigued and want more -- she always puts me a bit in mind of Heather King.At the Philanthropy Daily blog, Scott Walter serves up a dose of Houselander that packs a relevant wallop: Pope Francis’ election reminded me of a passage in Houselander's letters.She's writing to a Mr. St. George about [a man whose t … [Read more...]

Did Mahony Crib a Joseph Notion from a Patheos Blogger?

sede vacante

Perhaps not. But I can't help wondering about it.On February 27, Joanne McPortland of Egregious Twaddle wondered whether a Pope Joseph I, inaugurated on the Feast Day of the Patron of the Universal Church might not be a wonderful thing for the church:. . .if I were to whisper my wish, which is all any of us could do, I would hope the Spirit and the College of Cardinals would be leaning toward someone who combines the best of my two favorite popes:—a man with the openness to the w … [Read more...]

Do Catholics Overvalue Pomp and Ceremonials?

sealing papal apartments

Here we see the Camerlengo, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, sealing the papal apartments, because we currently have no pope.I saw someone on twitter comment that the sealing -- with the wax, as is traditional -- was all part and parcel of our church's "medieval" mindset, and it annoyed me, because it is a kneejerk (and false) bit of approved grousing, put on for show; or because the commenter is too lazy to actually think but wants to play to an audience (the curse of social media, to which we … [Read more...]

Benedict’s Action is an Unexpected American Consolation

castel gandalfo

Earlier today the Guardian UK asked me if I could rustle up a quick piece on what sort of legacy America could claim from Benedict. I thought about that a bit -- the American character, our cultural affinity for work and winning, and this is what I wrote:. . .not for nothing is the stereotypical American described as "optimistic, work-obsessed and materially prosperous". We are accustomed to identifying ourselves not by who we are, but by what we do. And we really are, by and large, … [Read more...]

Talking Benedict, Sede Vacante and Conclave on the Radio


If you're able to listen, either on the radio or streaming on your computer, there will be what Mark Shea calls a "gaggle" of Patheos bloggers participating in a "roundtable" discussion of the day, from the Pope's final words to his empty seat to the conclave and our thoughts on it, such as they are.We'll be together on A Closer Look with Sheila Liaugminas at from 6-7 PM Eastern as she hosts Shea, Father Michael Duffy (yes, I know, he needs to write more) Kathy Schiffer, Tom McDonald … [Read more...]

With less than a day remaining of Benedict XVI’s pontificate…

Benedict's last night

(AP Photo/Source)Tonight, no lightning strikes; mere hours away from the of Benedict's pontificate, a bright beam shines from the heavens and the absence of gloom almost gives a shiver: a light shines in the darkness, a light ever-ancient, ever-new.Since the day and night have left us thoughtful and -- the effect of our happy sadness -- a little dreamy, I thought I'd give you a few particularly nice, or particularly interesting pieces about the Once and Future pope.First the Once: … [Read more...]

“I will not forget the lessons you have taught me…” – UPDATES


You all know I am not a sentimentalist.I'm always suspicious of emotionalism and of course, tough-as-nails, right? But I am human! And this video which Kevin Knight put up at New Advent got me all verklempt!It's just priests, saying thank you to Pope Benedict. But it's very moving.And with this sort of thing, that so few of us even knew about, it's like, "yeah...thank you for that, too!"UPDATE I: And a video of young people saying thank you, too!UPDATE II: Fresh off of … [Read more...]

Benedict’s hope lies in the reach of a monk’s prayers…UPDATES

Subiaco Cave

(Subiaco Cave, where St. Benedict of Nursia lived)My piece at First Things this week looks at the point and the lesson behind Pope Benedict's embrace of monasticism over his remaining time on the papal throne:The failure is heard in the shrieks of pain, ignorance, and hatred directed at the Church throughout the chambers of mainstream and social media; it is seen in the faithful priests and laypeople who read one awful headline after another and continue on, but with increasingly … [Read more...]

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter; Who Knew? – UPDATED

chair st peter

Because The Catholic Answer publishes only six times a year, when I wrote this piece ostensibly about this Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, I of course had no idea that our current Peter would be days away from humbly leaving the Throne in order to take on a life of prayer and penance, for the life of the church, and for the world.Excerpted here, and definitely not swaggering:Perhaps because they were a generation raised in economic privation and then tested by war, these men projected … [Read more...]