Posts tagged with: rome

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, April 11, 2013

While the Acton Institute has a network of international affiliations around the globe (in places like Brazil, Austria, and Zambia), we only have two offices: our primary headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Istituto Acton, our office located in Rome, Italy.

Having an office in Rome provides a base camp for Acton’s work around Europe. But it also gives Acton, as co-founder and executive director Kris Alan Mauren once explained, a vantage point from which to keep close watch on the international happenings of the Catholic Church. Although located in Italy, it’s just a short stroll from our Rome office to one of the most peculiar countries on the globe: Vatican City.

If like me you’re a curious Protestant (or just an underinformed Catholic) you’ve probably wondered what exactly is Vatican City: Is it a city, a state, a religious nation? The video below provides an entertaining explanation to that questions and others you may have about the world’s smallest state. (For example, if Michael Severance was arrested for jaywalking in that country, I now know who’d arrest him. Answer: The VC police, who work for the King of Vatican City and could throw him in the VC jail.).
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Michael Severance, operations manager of the Istituto Acton in Rome, recently wrote an article for the World Catholic Report explaining why Pope Francis was a historic choice and examining  what we can expect from his papacy.

He points out that “this past week proved a historic week of firsts:”

We now have the first Jesuit pope. And the first pope named Francis. He is the first non-European pope since Gregory III, an eighth-century Syrian. And we now have the very first pope from the Americas.

We have also witnessed a pope who is shunning what some critics perceive as Vatican tinsel and niceties during these economic hard times.

Francis has refused to ride in the pope’s private car (preferring the shuttle bus) or to wear red shoes and a fur-lined cape, or mozzetta, opting for ordinary black shoes and a white cassock.

This is the first time in a very long while that we have listened to a pope who readily quips in public and frequently includes off-script interjections to prepared remarks—at his first Mass with his brother cardinals, then a second time during his first press conference with journalists on Saturday, then a third time during his Sunday sermon at the Vatican parish of St. Anne, and again only a few hours later at his noontime Angelus, when he preached from his apartment above St. Peter’s Square. Not even John Paul II was at such ease with humor and his own words so early on in his pontificate.

Since Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was somewhat unknown before he was elected Pope, Severance has compiled a brief profile of Pope Francis, focusing the pope as a pastor, thinker, and advocate for the poor. (more…)

Francis_installationKishore Jayabalan, Director of Instituto Acton in Rome, joined host Michael Patrick Shiels on Michigan’s Big Show to discuss the mood in Rome on the day of Pope Francis’ Installation Mass. The theme of the day, according to Jayabalan, was one of “quiet, faithful, obedient service.” The Vatican estimates that between 150,000 and 200,000 people turned out for the event.

Listen to the full interview here:

Billy Graham meets John Paul II in 1981.

Billy Graham meets John Paul II in 1981.

Carl Trueman of Westminster Seminary makes some salient points about why Protestants should pay any attention at all to the doings in Vatican City (HT: Justin Taylor):

Some may wonder what the point of reflecting on Rome is for a Protestant. At least threefold, I would respond. First, Protestants benefit from a conservative papacy: on public square issues such as abortion, marriage and religious freedom, the RCC has a higher profile and more power – financial, legal, institutional – than any Protestant group. We all benefit from the cultural and legal power of the RCC in these areas. Second, your neighbours probably do not distinguish between Christian groups. A sleazy, morally corrupt RCC is like a sleazy, morally corrupt televangelist ministry: we are all marked with the same brush in the public eye and our task of evangelism becomes that much harder. Third, RC authors often offer more penetrating insights into secular culture than their evangelical equivalents. Comparing George Weigel to Rob Bell in such circumstances is akin to comparing Michelangelo to Thomas Kinkade.

Therefore, while I have very serious theological disagreements with Catholic authors, I would suggest that they by and large offer well-argued, well-written and insightful commentaries on the state of the world in a way that is rare in evangelical circles. One can learn a lot from watching a great mind wrestle with a problem, even when one deems the conclusion erroneous; there seems little to be gained from watching a mediocre mind playing ping-pong with the same.

Trueman goes on to discuss the example of George Weigel in more detail. Read the whole thing.

For more on Protestantism and contemporary politics, I reviewed Trueman’s Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative in the Summer/Fall 2010 issue of Religion & Liberty, “On the Place of Profits and Politics.”

Rev. Robert A. Sirico on Pope Francis IActon Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico has been in Rome all week for the Papal Conclave, and joined host Hugh Hewitt on The Hugh Hewitt Show yesterday afternoon to discuss the new pontificate of Pope Francis. What kind of a man is Pope Francis? What will his priorities be for his pontificate? What is his view on markets? All these questions and more are explored in the conversation.

Listen to the full interview here:

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Surprise was the reaction in Rome on hearing of the elevation of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, to the Papacy. My colleagues in Rome told me that the Plaza was unusually quiet as the people tried to figure out what was going on.  I guess the Cardinals showed that they elect the pope on their own terms, and now everyone is wondering who Pope Francis is, how he will lead, and what will characterize his pontificate.

Intra and Extra: Challenges for the Pope in the Church and the World

The Pope’s main role is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In his first homily as Holy Father he asserted just this. “We can walk as much as we want,” he said  “we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a compassionate NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ.”  He also has a Church to govern—and he’ll face serious challenges on both fronts.  On the inside, the Church continues to reel from scandals and abuse. The curia needs to be reformed and the bureaucracy cleaned up. On the outside, Pope Francis faces a growing and hostile secularism, religious persecution from a number of fronts, dwindling number of believers in traditionally Catholic lands, including Latin America, and increasing ignorance of the basic tenets of Christianity. But there are also some real positives. The Church continues to grow in the Global South—especially in Africa and Asia. Belief is still high in Latin America, though many Catholics are leaving for the Pentecostals or evangelicals. Among U.S. Catholics, Hispanics are now the majority.  And while the Church in the West may be getting smaller, it is also more vibrant and serious. Younger Catholics are orthodox and evangelical, and dissenters like Hans Kung are aging and less influential each day. Pope Francis also has the advantage of following Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose interpretation of Vatican II and whose intellectual and spiritual guidance set out a framework for the New Evangelization.

Francis brings several important things to his papacy. The most obvious are that he is a Latin American, and not a member of the Roman Curia. The Curia needs reform, and being an outsider with experience of diocesan dysfunction will serve him well. Further, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires he not only dealt with extreme poverty, corruption, lack of rule of law, and social and economic volatility that is common in the developing world, he also has had to contend with virulent and aggressive secularism that is common in the West.  He has been a fearless defender of human life and family, has called abortion the “death penalty for the unborn,” and has been unafraid to clash with political leaders over corruption, reminding them that social corruption is rooted in personal sin.

He also brings a long record of engagement with the poorest of the poor. (more…)

Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Instituto Acton in Rome, Italy, joined France 24 News today to discuss the pontificate of Pope Francis I as he assumes his new office of leadership.

Director of the Istituto Acton in Rome, Kishore Jayabalan, and Acton Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, were recently featured on Ave Maria’s Al Kresta in the Afternoon to discuss the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope Francis.

Jayabalan was in St. Peter’s Square for the announcement and he says that the mood in Rome was quite different than it was in 2005.  Despite the thousands of people in the square, it was very quiet; most people were very surprised by the selection.  Kresta points out that Bergoglio “understands the importance of identifying with the people” and Jayabalan believes that the new pope will get “back to the basics of Christianity” and “recover the true spirit of Christianity.”

Listen to the full interview here:

Gregg was also in the middle of the action in Rome. He describes Bergoglio as “simple,” “very spiritual,” and a “solid theologian.”

Listen to his comments here:

Please note that the clip does not end prematurely; Gregg did not return to the show after the break.

Late last week, director of the Acton Institute’s Rome office spoke on Ave Maria’s Al Kresta in the Afternoon. Since the conclave to elect a new pope is set to start on Tues.  March 12, Jayabalan and Al Kresta discuss the potential candidates for pope and the mood in Rome. Jayabalan lists some of the qualifications the new pope should possess then suggests Cardinals from around the world who possess the best experience and skills.

Some of the Cardinals that Jayabalan and Kresta mention are:

  • Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan.
  • Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He was previously archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada.
  • Cardinal Odilo Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo.
  • Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney,
  • Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archpriest of the Church of Saint Felix of Cantalice at Centocelle and de facto Primate of the Philippines.
  • Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, de facto primate of Sri Lanka.
  • Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, current Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. He was previously Archbishop of St. Louis
  • Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York. He also currently serves as the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and was granted the titular position as Cardinal Priest of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario in Rome.
  • Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston.

Listen to the full interview and hear the different qualifications of each of these Cardinals mentioned.

ROME — For all the ‘Vaticanisti’ (journalists specializing in the Vatican) sitting around Rome and interviewing one another for the last several weeks, the wholesale consumption of high blood pressure medication took a precipitous drop on the announcement Friday afternoon that the Conclave to elect the new pope would occur on Tuesday, March 12, one day later than I had predicted several weeks ago.  Now is the lull before the storm. A Mass praying for the election of the pope will be followed by the first voting session of the Conclave in the early evening.

With many media outlets waiting for that date to be announced, the remaining hotel rooms left in Rome will be gobbled up, and by Monday evening we can expect an influx of the rest of the 5000 journalists accredited to the Holy See to cover the event.

It is difficult not to compare the lead up to this Conclave to the last one I had the opportunity to witness eight years ago.  Then, of course, one of the monumental figures of the twentieth century had passed from the scene after a long and highly visible bout with Parkinson’s disease.  By the time I had arrived to provide commentary at the BBC location above St. Peter’s Square, the body of John Paul II was being translated (an elegant way of saying the body was ‘moved’) from the Apostolic Palace where the pope lived and died, to beneath the Bernini colonnades in the center of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was a slow, mournful and moving sight.  By the time the body of the Polish pope was laid in state at the foot of the papal altar lines, long line, began forming down boulevard leading to the basilica.  The crowds would grow in the following days to estimates ranging from three to four million pilgrims to pay the last respects the John Paul II. (more…)