• Pope Francis urges the world not to fear China, voices respect 'with a capital R’

    Pope Francis urges the world not to fear China, voices respect 'with a capital R’

    • Feb 2, 2016

    ROME — Pope Francis’ soft spot for China is well known, and he has made it evident yet again by granting an exclusive interview to an Asian newspaper urging the world not to fear China’s growing power and conveying a message of friendship to President Xi Jinping. In the interview,

  • In 2016, Francis may be a pope in search of a partner

    In 2016, Francis may be a pope in search of a partner

    • Jan 3, 2016

    ROME – When a strong pope with a clear social agenda intersects with a world leader who shares the same basic outlook, and one who’s willing to put elbow grease behind it, sometimes history can change. With the support of King Philip II of Spain, for instance, St. Pius V

  • China increases its crackdown on Catholics

    China increases its crackdown on Catholics

    • Dec 20, 2015

    As the ranks of Catholics in China have swelled, so, too, have government efforts to corral the trend — through heavy-handed crackdowns and police surveillance, if rarely by actual physical assault. This attempt at state control extends to the appointment of clergy, as the case of Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma

  • A dose of caution about China’s ‘opening’ to the pope

    • Aug 17, 2015

    ROME — While there are many aspects of the papacy and the Vatican that have been turned on their head in the Pope Francis era, at least one thing appears basically the same: The Vatican’s China policy, which is still premised on patient constructive engagement rather than confrontation. That’s arguably

  • Whoa — Chinese TV reports favorably on the pope’s comments

    • Aug 17, 2015

    ROME — In a rarity that may suggest an opening in Vatican/China relations, Chinese TV networks dedicated airtime to the pope Saturday, reporting Francis’ words on a tragedy that rocked the coastal city of Tianjin, where a chemical plant exploded late last week leaving more than 100 people dead. According

  • The Top 5 over-covered Vatican stories of 2014

    • Dec 28, 2014

    ROME — Typically my final column of the year is devoted to under-covered Vatican stories from the past 12 months, on the premise that the Vatican doesn’t get the same attention in the American press as the White House or Congress, and so important developments often slip through the cracks.

  • Deal with it: Francis is the pope

    • Dec 13, 2014

    British writer and veteran Catholic professional Austen Ivereigh has a terrific new book out called The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope. Among other things, he’s masterful in explaining how navigating the ideologically charged period of Argentina’s “Dirty War” prepared the pontiff to try to hold

  • Pope continues press for closer ties with China

    • Sep 17, 2014

    ROME — Pope Francis reportedly has invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit him in the Vatican, continuing a press for closer ties with Beijing that has become one of the diplomatic cornerstones of his papacy. According to news reports, Francis extended the invitation in a handwritten letter delivered by