Category: Vatican

pope-francis-unPope Francis has made support for migrants and refugees a priority of his pontificate, and has encouraged nations to adopt an open-door immigration policy. But few countries, especially in Europe, appear interested in adopting his approach, underscoring just how limited an influence the pope has on foreign policy.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighting the pope’s inability to strongly affect geopolitical affairs quotes Kishore Jayabalan, director of Acton Institute’s Rome office and a former Vatican policy analyst:

The film “Spotlight” won 2016 best picture and original screenplay Oscars but Acton Institute co-founder and President Rev. Robert A. Sirico “eviscerated the Academy for embracing ‘Spotlight’ while it celebrated a child molester in its own ranks,” according to the Hollywood gossip site TMZ. The interview was picked up by which reported that “while Sirico agreed the film ‘underscores the great shame’ of the chapter in the Church’s history, he hammered the industry for standing by confessed child sex abuser Polanski.” Brietbart added this transcript of the TMZ video:

“What is lamentable to me, particularly in the kind of celebration over this … is that it [Spotlight] covers a scandal that took place in the very year that the Academy … itself awarded an award to Roman Polanski, who is a child molester,” said the priest and commentator. He added: “There is just this contradiction … the church needs to, and I think has done many things to repent, of the heinous crime of child abuse. I wonder if the rest of our society, particularly Hollywood and the school system, and many other secular institutions would follow along.” (more…)

Gty_pope_sanders_mm_150922_16x9_992Since the mid-1800s every pontiff—from Pius IX to Benedict XVI—has forthrightly condemned socialism. But could that trend be broken with Pope Francis? Could he be a closet socialist?

Bernie Sanders seems to think so. In a recent interview Sanders was asked whether he thought Francis shared the senator’s socialist views:

“Well, what it means to be a socialist, in the sense of what the pope is talking about, what I’m talking about, is to say that we have got to do our best and live our lives in a way that alleviates human suffering, that does not accelerate the disparities of income and wealth,” Sanders tells Rosica, head of the Canadian Catholic network Salt and Light, in an interview that will be broadcast Tuesday.

We are living in a world where greed has become, for the wealthiest people, their own religion, Sanders said.

“When [Pope Francis] talks about wealth being used to serve people, not as an end in itself, I agree with that,” Sanders said.


Sanders noted the pope’s critique of trickle-down economics.

“[H]e believes that in democratic societies, government itself should play a very strong role in protecting the most vulnerable people amongst us,” Sanders said. “That is a direct critique of conservative politics, and of course he’s going to be attacked for that.”

Sanders isn’t the first to make this claim. After the pontiff’s trip last summer to Latin America, Bolivia’s president Evo Morales told the Associated Press after the visit that he thought that the Pope’s “emphasis on a world without exclusion amounts to socialism”:

francis-kirillLast Friday, for the first time in history, a Roman Catholic pontiff and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church met face to face.

According to Vatican Insider, Metropolitan Hilarion said in a press conference prior to the event that the historic meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow and the Pope “had been in the making for about 20 years” but was speeded up by the “Christian genocide” being caused by terrorists. (You can read an explainer about it here.)

The two leaders concluded the meeting in Cuba by signing a joint declaration that covers persecution, religious freedom, poverty, the family, and much more. The full text of the declaration is below:

francis-and-krill-mugs-duo.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxWhat’s going on?

Tomorrow, for the first time in history, a Roman Catholic pontiff and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet face to face. According to the joint press release of the Holy See and of the Patriarchate of Moscow:

The Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12. Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where the Pope will make a stop on his way to Mexico, and where the Patriarch will be on an official visit. It will include a personal conversation at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, and will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration.

The meeting is scheduled to last about two hours. Cuba’s President Raúl Castro will join the two religious leaders during the exchange of gifts.

Why are they meeting? 

According to Vatican Insider, Metropolitan Hilarion said in a recent press conference that the historic meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow and the Pope “had been in the making for about 20 years” but was speeded up by the “Christian genocide” being caused by terrorists. In the face of what is going on and is “causing concern” to both Churches, the two spiritual leaders simply “had to meet.”

Vladimir Legoida, head of the Synodal Department for Church-Society Relations and the Mass Media, said the meeting is called for by the need to exert joint efforts in giving help to Christian communities in the Middle East countries.

Although many problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church remain unresolved, the protection of Christians in the Middle East against the genocide is a challenge that requires urgent united efforts.…The exodus of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa countries is a catastrophe for the whole world.

Why are they meeting in Cuba?

dignitatis_humanaeFifty years ago today, on December 7, 1965, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis humanae). This document produced by the Second Vatican Council clarified the Catholic Church’s views on religious liberty, changed the way the Church interacted with states, and helped foster ecumenical relations with other faith traditions.

Since the release of Dignitatis humanae, the importance of defending religious freedom has become even more necessary. As Archbiship Charles J. Chaput has said, “In some ways, the [Declaration on Religious Freedom] is the Vatican II document that speaks most urgently to our own time. The reason is obvious. We see it right now in the suffering of Christians and other religious believers in many places around the world.”

Here are six key quotes from the document:

In his book Living the Truth, the German Thomist Josef Pieper presents the following thesis:

All obligation is based upon being. Reality is the foundation of ethics. The good is that which is in accord with reality. He who wishes to know and to do the good must turn his gaze upon the objective world of being. Not upon his own “ideas”, not upon his “conscience”, not upon “values”, not upon arbitrarily established “ideals” and “models”. He must turn away from his own act and fix his eyes upon reality.

I can think of no other passage so contrary to the spirit of our age. This spirit has been made evident in the reaction of our political and religious leaders to the November 13 ISIS terrorist attacks and the November 30-December 11 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

That these events took place in the city most representative of Western thought from the time of St. Thomas Aquinas through that of René Descartes and then of Jean-Paul Sartre shows how the West has gone from being a Christian to a modern and finally to a post-modern society. These are characterized by three distinct types of rationalism: one based on the complementarity of the Christian faith and reason, another on the scientific method and empirical observation, and the last of which is a virtual denial of reason and reality as such. It has left society without the resources necessary to defend itself from enemies domestic and foreign. (more…)