- May 8, 2021
We live in a time of instant opinion, in which perspective is generally the first casualty of war. Nevertheless, here’s a bit of perspective anyone who follows Vatican news and the Catholic scene ought to try to keep in mind: The papacy, as it’s come to be understood, is an impossible gig.
Let’s face it: The Italians in the College of Cardinals still are on their home field; everyone else is playing a road game.
A surprise trip by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to his native Bavaria to be with his dying brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, seems to be firing fevered political and religious imaginations.
Many of the fundamental historical questions surrounding the Protestant Reformation remain open, and one little-known 16th century Italian scholar might be a key to finding answers. Onofrio Panvinio was an Augustinian friar who traveled across Italy to search out the documentation surrounding the history of the papacy.
My experience over more than 20 years is that an informal version of “Pope Simulator” – admittedly without a slick graphics interface – is already the favorite indoor sport of the Catholic Church, and has been ever since I can remember.
Weeks after its release on HBO, Paolo Sorrentino’s “The New Pope” series is already sparking blowback for the opening scene, during which a group of young nuns dance provocatively in sexy white nighties beneath a giant crucifix in an old monastery in Venice.
Look around at the lineup at an Oct. 3-6 summit at Rome’s Gregorian University on “Child Dignity in the Digital World,” and it’s a host of experts from the biggest outfits in their various fields — Harvard, Interpol, Facebook, UNICEF, Microsoft, and so on. It’s the cream of the crop, and it’s another illustration of the Vatican’s unique power to convene, since basically nobody can say no to an invite from the pope.
Pope Francis has revived what has been called a “noble tradition” of asking cardinals to inform him when they leave town and where they’re going. This show of papal muscle comes after the pope wrote a letter asking for obedience to a rioting diocese in Nigeria and the tensions with the Knights of Malta.