Dueling saints from the Second Vatican Council?

History will show St. John XXIII was a pastor with an "exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit," while St. John Paul II will be known "as the pope of the family."That was as close as Pope Francis came to providing the sound bite all the so-called Vatican experts were waiting to hear during the historic St. Peter's Square rites in which he -- with the retired Pope Benedict XVI looking on -- elevated to sainthood two popes who did so much to shape modern Catholicism.The media mantra called … [Read more...]

Commandments for believers who blog

Popes rarely produce viral sound bites, but legions of Catholic bloggers continue to pass around a quote from Pope Benedict XVI in which he openly blessed the passion that drives them to their keyboards."Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for 2000 years," he said, in a 2010 Vatican address easily found at YouTube. The goal is to live in the "digital world with a believer's heart, helping to give a … [Read more...]

Polish visions behind Vatican rites

To grasp the full symbolism of the Vatican rites in which a million or more Catholics celebrated the beatification of Pope John Paul II, it helps to understand the visions recorded decades earlier in the diary of Sister Mary Faustina Kowalksa.Popes come and popes go. But the lives of this Polish nun and this Polish pope may be helping to reshape a crucial piece of the Catholic year -- the celebrations that follow Easter, the high point of the Christian year.It was in 1937 that Sister … [Read more...]

Young Catholics wrestle with truth

In one of the defining works of his historic papacy, Pope John Paul II argued that if people -- believers and nonbelievers alike -- want true freedom and peace, they must accept the reality of "universal and unchanging moral norms.""When it is a matter of the moral norms prohibiting intrinsic evil, there are no privileges or exceptions. ... Before the demands of morality we are all absolutely equal," wrote the pope, in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor ("The Splendor of Truth")."In … [Read more...]

2005: Is terrorism ‘religion’ news?

The suicide bomber struck at a sandwich stand in the busy outdoor market of the Israeli coastal city called Hadera, killing five people and wounding dozens more.Islamic Jihad claimed credit for the blast, which came a month after Israel's September exit from Gaza. Israeli leaders quickly released a statement noting that this attack followed remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Jewish state should be "wiped off the map."The bomber was a Palestinian. News reports did not … [Read more...]

A mystical spark from Poland?

It was in 1931 that a young Polish nun began seeing visions that would touch the life and death of Pope John Paul II and, perhaps, offer a glimpse of the end of all things.Sister Faustina Kowalska reported seeing a merciful Jesus, with beams of red and white light shining from his heart.In her diary, the cloistered mystic described a 1935 vision in which she was told the write down this prayer as protection from divine judgment: "Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and  … [Read more...]

Pope John Paul II: What’s the lead?

Theologian George Weigel needs a Global Positioning System transmitter on his wrist so journalists can keep track of him.As author of the 1008-page "Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II," his life has been hectic since the news flash that the shepherd of the world's 1 billion Catholics had been rushed to hospital, gasping for breath.Weigel said a network-news reporter recently called and asked, " 'Where are you going to be tonight, in case something happens to the pope?' Well, I … [Read more...]

Watching Billy and the pope

The old voice was shaky and the pre-recorded tape was poor, but the Rev. Billy Graham's words hit home during the recent Nashville tribute to June and Johnny Cash."Millions admired him and adored him, but only a few got into John and June's inner spiritual life," said Graham, who shared many a crusade stage with Cash. "He and June are in heaven, and we are looking forward to seeing them relatively soon."The words "relatively soon" did not require explanation.Another American giant will almost … [Read more...]