Church and Papacy

Photo of Pope Francis by European Parliament at flickr.com
How many conspiracy theories about Pope Francis have you heard? It’s likely that you have come across at least one, and if your natural reaction was to dismiss it out of hand, perhaps you’ve missed a trick.  The author of a new book on the Pope’s ‘not-so-cultured despisers’ argues that such narratives have a sociological significance and require our attention if we are to understand the phenomenon of Pope Francis. Surely nobody following Church...
On 1 January, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It may seem like a simple or even obvious name to give to Mary, but the controversies that beset the development of this particular devotion reveal otherwise. Dorian Llywelyn SJ explores the enduring significance of this ancient feast, the title of which ‘contains the whole mystery of the Incarnation.’ Manchester University’s John Rylands Library is the home of a fragment of Egyptian papyrus. ‘Rylands...
The Good Samaritan
‘This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one.’ So wrote Pope Francis in a letter in which he stated his intention to allow all priests to grant absolution for abortion, and to validate absolutions granted by priests of the Society of St Pius X, during the Jubilee Year. Both such decisions registered as ‘scandalous’ in some quarters – but mercy is scandalous, says James Keenan SJ, precisely because it excludes no one. How and why has the Church practised this mercy...
Handprints around a globe
What does our belief in ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church’, which we profess in the Nicene Creed, really mean? It expresses a desire for unity across space and time, which is what God wills for humanity, says Timothy Radcliffe OP. ‘At the heart of the Catholic tradition is a profound longing for a Church that is one and universal.’ We live in a society in which competition is omnipresent. Competition fuels progress and keeps us on our toes. Political parties...
Symbols of world religions
The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions was promulgated fifty years ago, on 28 October 1965. Michael Barnes SJ explains why the process of Nostra Aetate’s development is as important as the text itself. ‘Perhaps more than any other document, and despite its obvious weaknesses, it encapsulates the extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit that characterised the Council’. I sit down to write this article fifty...
Photo of Pope Francis
When Pope John Paul II visited Chile in 1987 he was welcomed as a ‘messenger of life, pilgrim of peace’ – Nathan Stone SJ remembers it well. How did Pope Francis live up to these same accolades on his visit to Cuba and the United States? I was there in April 1987 when Pope John Paul II visited Chile. It was quite the affair. Chile was small, far away and off the beaten track. Whenever an international figure of any stature came to town, it was a big deal, but John Paul was the Vicar of...
Photo of Pope Francis
In recent decades, the dynamics within the Catholic Church in America have grown increasingly to resemble those that define the U.S. political scene, writes Vincent Rougeau. Pope Francis’ refusal to align himself with either liberals or conservatives on his recent visit was a challenge to all those who accept such divisions, inside and outside of the Church. A five-year-old girl breaking through security to offer Pope Francis a letter and a t-shirt was probably the most iconic image...
Picture of Pope Francis
On Friday 25 September, Pope Francis will address the UN General Assembly in New York, whose members will be discussing many of the issues that the pope addressed earlier this year in Laudato si’. Climate scientists Ottmar Edenhofer and Christian Flaschland give a detailed analysis of the ground-breaking encyclical, its place in church tradition and its dialogue with current climate science. How is Pope Francis challenging the Church and the world? Pope Francis’ long-awaited...
Wedding rings
Earlier this week, Pope Francis issued two letters which initiated significant reforms to the marriage annulment process in the Catholic Church. Brendan Callaghan SJ situates these motu proprio letters in their pastoral context in order to think about their likely effects. What has – and has not – been changed, and why?                           ...
Photo of animal dominoes
Faith-based discussions about ecological issues often revolve around a theme of stewardship, but Pope Francis has taken a different approach in his encyclical, says Henry Longbottom SJ. How does the ecological conversion to which Laudato si’ calls us compare with a movement in secular philosophy which advocates an environmental virtue ethics? There's a striking absence of ‘stewardship’ language in Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato si’. The term,...

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