VATICAN CITY (RNS) Ahead of his formal installation as pontiff on Tuesday (March 19), Pope Francis is sending clear signals that he intends to lead a papacy markedly different from his predecessor -- and perhaps different from that of any other pope in modern times.
When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, the surprising choice cast a pall over the liberal wing of the flock and left conservatives giddy with the prospect of total victory.
Ratzinger had for decades served as the Vatican’s guardian of orthodoxy, the man known as “God’s Rottweiler,” and his vocal fans were crowing about the glorious reign to come.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland resigned on February 25 in the wake of explosive charges that he had made “inappropriate” sexual advances to four men, three of them priests and one now a former seminarian, starting in the 1980s.
Pope Benedict XVI's sudden announcement that he would resign by the end of the month took the church and the world by surprise, in large part because it was a move without precedent in the modern world.
But what comes next is as old and familiar as the papacy itself: Speculating about who will succeed to the Throne of St. Peter.
The nation's Catholic bishops on Thursday (Feb. 7) rejected the Obama administration's latest proposals to broaden accommodations for religious groups in regulations that require insurance companies or employers to provide free birth control coverage.
Retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony has been stripped of his official duties in an unusual public rebuke by his successor that followed the release of thousands of pages of internal church documents showing how Mahony and aides for years conspired to cover up the sexual abuse of children by clergy.
The Obama administration on Friday (Feb. 1) sought to placate religious groups by broadening religious exemptions and giving faith-based organizations more room to maneuver around its controversial contraception mandate, but the new rules offer no loopholes for privately owned businesses.
Four decades after Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, many opponents of the decision are in a celebratory mood while those backing abortion rights are glum, feeling that momentum is turning decisively against them.
Yet in reality, little has changed in the fiercest and most protracted battle of the nation's bitter culture war.
A presidential inauguration is by tradition the grandest ritual of America's civil religion, but President Obama took the oath of office on Monday (Jan. 21) in a ceremony that was explicit in joining theology to the nation's destiny and setting out a biblical vision of equality that includes race, gender, class, and, most controversially, sexual orientation.
When thousands of abortion opponents gather on Friday (Jan. 25) on the National Mall for their annual protest march, they will be united in their fierce passion for ending a procedure that the Supreme Court legalized 40 years ago in the controversial Roe v. Wade decision.
The evangelical pastor chosen by President Obama to deliver the benediction at his inauguration ceremonies withdrew on Thursday (Jan. 10) following a furor over a sermon from the mid-1990s in which he denounced the gay rights movement and advocated efforts to turn gays straight.
The White House’s novel online system for allowing citizens to petition the administration on any number of causes has led to such efforts as these: petitions to secede from the U.S.; a petition for Vice President Joe Biden to star in a reality show; and a petition for the government to disclose its secret archives on extraterrestrials.
The Harvard Theological Review is postponing publication of an article on the papyrus fragment in which Jesus seems to refer to his wife, raising further doubts about a discovery that sparked immediate curiosity when it was announced last September.
Chicago Cardinal Francis George has launched a last-ditch campaign to convince the lame-duck Illinois legislature not to legalize same-sex marriage, saying that government "has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible."
At its heartwarming core, Christmas is the story of a birth: the tender relationship between a new mother and her newborn child.
Indeed, that maternal bond between the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus has resonated so deeply across the centuries that depicting the blessed intimacy of the first Noel has become an integral part of the Christmas industry.
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI launched his own Twitter feed this week (Dec. 3) to worldwide media coverage – it's hard to resist the story of an octogenarian pontiff mixing it up with the digerati – and to considerable acclaim from church insiders.
Nothing can rile churchgoers more than tweaking the liturgy, so it was no surprise that sharp protests accompanied the introduction of a new translation of the Catholic Mass last year. But a survey shows that worshippers have by and large accepted – and even welcomed – the changes.
After November's presidential vote, Catholics could cite ample evidence for their renewed political relevance while dispirited evangelicals were left wondering if they are destined to be yesterday's election news. Yet their roles in American spiritual life may be reversed.