The National Catholic Review

Vatican Dispatch

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  • January 2, 2017

    Pope Francis enters the new year enjoying good health and, it seems, extraordinary inner peace. On March 13 he begins the fifth year of his ministry as successor to St. Peter. While the Jubilee of Mercy was an action-packed year for him, 2017 promises to be no less so.

    When a close friend recently suggested that he should slow down, Francis calmly responded that at his stage of life one has to move even faster. Though his agenda has been only partially defined at the time of this...

  • December 19-26, 2016

    For some years now there has been talk of a “reform of the reform” of the liturgy promulgated by Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council. Such talk became more vocal following Pope Benedict XVI’s decision in July 2007 to restore the “extraordinary” rite alongside the “ordinary” one. Moreover, more recently some prelates, including Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, have given credence to this possibility and...

  • December 5-12, 2016

    Pope Francis responded to several questions in the fascinating conversation with Antonio Spadaro, S.J., that introduces the new 1,000-page book Nei Tuoi Occhi È La Mia Parola, comprising his principal homilies and talks as archbishop of Buenos Aires. Two relate to the liturgy: how he prepares his homily, and why he says it is “an error” to speak of “the reform of the reform” of the liturgy. I will focus on the first here and the second next week...

  • November 28, 2016

    When Pope Francis flew to Sweden on Oct. 31 to participate in the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Marcelo Figueroa, 59, a member of the Evangelical Church in Argentina and an old friend, was on the plane too. He was there as the recently appointed director of a new and original Argentine edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican daily, that will bring the pope’s words to his homeland every week.

    For Mr. Figueroa, the pope’s participation in...

  • November 21, 2016

    Are Vietnam and the Holy See close to establishing diplomatic relations? This question is being asked after a joint working group established in 2009, whose goal is the establishment of such relations, met for the sixth time on Oct. 24 through Oct. 26 in the Vatican. It will meet again in Hanoi next year.

    The meeting attracted little attention because the media is focused on a possible Sino-Vatican breakthrough agreement regarding the appointment of bishops and related matters,...

  • November 14, 2016

    In his first meeting with the press on March 16, 2013, Pope Francis told journalists, “How I would like a church which is poor and for the poor!”

    Since becoming pope, he has never ceased to look for ways to make that wish come true, starting with what he calls “the conversion of the papacy.” He began on the night of his election in the Sistine Chapel’s “Room of Tears” by refusing to accept the ermine-trimmed red velvet mozzetta, gold pectoral cross and red shoes prepared for the new...

  • November 7, 2016

    Sometimes Pope Francis’ actions are even more eloquent than his words. His decision to create three new American cardinals—Blase J. Cupich, Kevin J. Farrell and Joseph W. Tobin—is a case in point. It was a pondered decision, the fruit of months of prayerful reflection, consultation and discernment. It contained a clear message to the Catholic Church in the United States and, more specifically, to its bishops.

    To grasp the full dimensions of that message, it is essential to read...

  • October 31, 2016

    Pope Francis has his eyes fixed on Asia, where he sees the possibility of a new springtime for the church. He is seeking to normalize relations with China and has already made two journeys to this continent, where two-thirds of humanity lives, visiting South Korea (2014), Sri Lanka and the Philippines (2015). He is planning to return a third time in 2017 to visit India and Bangladesh.

    He broke this news on the flight from Azerbaijan to Rome on Oct. 2, saying it was “almost certain.”...

  • October 24, 2016

    Has there been a power shift in the Vatican under Pope Francis? Has the Secretariat of State lost its traditional role as the pope’s main adviser, being replaced by the council of cardinals that Francis established soon after his election? Where will power lie once the reform of the Roman Curia has been completed?

    These questions are being asked in the Vatican today as the council of cardinal advisers plays a highly significant role in advising, offering suggestions or making...

  • October 3, 2016

    In a June 14, 2013, report on the war in Syria, the BBC raised a fundamental question: “Who is supplying weapons to the warring sides in Syria which has kept the conflict going?” More than three years later that remains a key question that demands an honest answer, but it is not being given one. Why?

    The conflict, which began in March 2011 in the context of the Arab Spring protests, has already caused an estimated 400,000 deaths, forced 4.5 million of its 22 million citizens to leave...