Pope Francis’ chief alms-giver has announced new plans to install free showers in the public restrooms in Vatican City as a service to the homeless. Monsignor Konrad Krajewski explained that the new facilities in St. Peter’s Square were inspired by an encounter with a homeless man. The homeless gentleman declined Krajewski’s invitation to a fancy dinner on his 50th birthday because he said that he smelled bad, and there was no place for homeless individuals like him to wash. According to some reports, the facility will also provide members of the homeless community with fresh towels and clean undergarments ... Discuss
Just weeks after a group of Cardinals ended a contentious gathering to discuss the Catholic Church’s views on family issues like divorce, co-habitation and same-sex relationships, the Vatican will host another marriage-themed summit. Leaders from across the religious spectrum—including pastor Rick Warren, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission head Russell Moore, a senior leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, the Muslim president of the Tawasul Cultural Center in Egypt, World Sikh Council’s Manmohan Singh, Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright and about two dozen others—will meet for two days later this month at the “International Interreligious Colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman.”
According to RNS, the idea is for the Vatican to “seek common ground with religious leaders” on the issues that have caused some division among Catholic officials. The meetings organizers say their goal is to "examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society” ... Discuss
After two weeks of meetings, Catholic bishops did not come to an agreement on a revised official stance on homosexuality. The church leaders also failed to come to a consensus on whether or not remarried Catholics—who had been divorced—could receive communion. The bishops were called to the historic synod by Pope Francis after new polls revealed that the Vatican’s views of family life were seen as dated. However, despite heated discussions that led some to believe that major shifts in how the church actively ministered in the LGBT community were coming, no significant new agreements were forged. Even a revised report on the meetings—which removed several statements from an earlier report that contained positive language concerning gays and lesbians—did not receive a two-thirds vote of support from the group of bishops.
The latest version of the report said that same-sex couples were not “"God's design of matrimony and the family," but cautioned, “Nonetheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy.” It’s unclear how close the bishops are to revising their position on allowing remarried divorced church members to receive Holy Communion, as the report only said that they will continue to examine the issue. Following the synod, Pope Francis gave a speech, saying, “The Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.” The more than 200 bishops will meet again next fall to discuss similar issues ... Discuss
An interview with Pope Francis conducted by the founder of the Italian La Repubblica newspaper is making some serious waves. During a conversation with editor Eugenio Scalfari, the Pope reportedly said his advisors have told him that about 2 percent of Catholic Clergy are pedophiles, adding, "Among the 2% who are pedophiles are priests, bishops and cardinals. Others, more numerous, know but keep quiet. They punish without giving the reason. I find this state of affairs intolerable."
The Vatican, however, has taken issue with the article, noting that Scalfari doesn’t record interviews, and instead reconstructs them from memory afterward. Church officials say the three-page interview isn’t Pope Francis’ exact words and specifically disputes that he said that that cardinals were among the 2 percent of clergy that are pedophiles. Pope Francis was also quoted as saying that the crimes were “a leprosy in our house,” and vowed continued action against it. The headline for the piece read, "Pope says: Like Jesus, I shall use a stick against pedophile priests" ... Discuss
For the first time ever, victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priest were invited to the Vatican to meet with the pope. In addition to asking for forgiveness directly for the “sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you,” Pope Francis also acknowledged that the church leadership structure, which has been widely criticized for how they handled abuse cases, was also in the wrong. “I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made.” Though some have praised Pope Francis’ willingness to meet with victims, the outreach director of the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priest (SNAP), told The Daily Beast that if the Vatican does not punish the abusive priests and do more to prevent abuse (along with their list of demands), than they aren’t going far enough. “If it’s not preventing abuse, it’s probably meaningless or almost meaningless" ... Discuss
Though the big news from the Vatican this weekend was the canonization of both John XXIII and John Paul II, it was Pope Francis who also made headlines for comments he gave before the event. On Friday afternoon, Pope Francis met with a group of bishops from Africa and spoke out about controversial issues including divorce and abortion. Though he’s been vocal about the church’s opposition to abortion before (he recently called it an “unspeakable crime”), in many occasions, the pope has focused more on issues like poverty and service than controversial ones. He told the bishops:
Abortion compounds the grief of many women who now carry with them deep physical and spiritual wounds after succumbing to the pressures of a secular culture which devalues God’s gift of sexuality and the right to life of the unborn … The rate of separation and divorce is high, even in many Christian families, and children frequently do not grow up in a stable home environment. We also observe with great concern, and can only deplore, an increase in violence against women and children … All these realities threaten the sanctity of marriage, the stability of life in the home and consequently the life of society as a whole.