SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Christopher R. Altieri

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January 16, 2020
One line in Pope Francis’s “State of the World” address to diplomats last week really stood out, regarding the disaster that struck Notre-Dame on April 15, 2019. “The fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris,” Pope Francis said, “showed how even what seems so solid can be fragile and easily destroyed.” It would be easy to
January 13, 2020
The Vatican’s communications outfit scrambled on Monday to catch up with a media storm surrounding news two priests have written a book defending the Pope’s own stated position on a hot-button issue. Yes, you read that correctly: “Two priests have written a book defending the Pope’s own stated position on a hot-button issue.” When you
January 09, 2020
Pope Francis delivered his annual “State of the World” speech to diplomats accredited to the Holy See on Thursday morning, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. At once topical and thematic, the speech usually serves as a sort of “editorial” look back at the year that was, and an opportunity
January 09, 2020
An apostolic letter which tweaked the role of the dean of the College of Cardinals was one of two moves at the end of 2019 which made it clear to Vatican watchers that Francis is thinking seriously about the papal succession. The other was the Pope’s decision to bring Cardinal Tagle from Manila to Rome,
January 09, 2020
When Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle takes the reins at the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples this month, he will face a host of challenges. Some of them will be local, but they will all be global in scope. It will be a difficult undertaking and he will be on a steep learning curve. Propaganda
January 08, 2020
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, is in a tough spot. Appointed apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo after the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone, Bishop Scharfenberger is the public face of the Church in a place riddled with scandal and in dire need of urgent repair. But he apparently has little power to effect reform and little information with
January 08, 2020
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, is in a tough spot. Appointed apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo after the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone, Bishop Scharfenberger is the public face of the Church in a place riddled with scandal and in dire need of urgent repair. But he apparently has little power to effect reform and little information with
January 02, 2020
As the year 2020 opens, the Church appears to have entered into the slogging phase of its leadership crisis. Part of that is due to what one might call “scandal fatigue” – the sense that no wickedness, incompetence or rot has the power to surprise once discovered. It is also partly due to the nature
December 19, 2019
If you have a little time this season, consider picking up and reading – really reading – Pope Francis’s apostolic letter Admirabile signum, on the meaning and importance of the Nativity scene. It may be the best piece of writing he’s produced in his entire pontificate. Admittedly, there is a certain workmanlike quality to the
December 18, 2019
By now, readers will have heard that Pope Francis has issued a rescript lifting the so-called “pontifical secret” under which the Church has until now conducted investigations and canonical trials related to sexual abuse and cover-up, sexual violence, and other similarly grave crimes against minors and vulnerable adults. The pontifical secret remains in force over
December 18, 2019
By now, readers will have heard that Pope Francis has issued a rescript lifting the so-called “pontifical secret” under which the Church has until now conducted investigations and canonical trials related to sexual abuse and cover-up, sexual violence, and other similarly grave crimes against minors and vulnerable adults. The pontifical secret remains in force over
December 15, 2019
A piece by veteran Vatican beat journalist Francis X Rocca ran on the front page of the Wall Street Journal late last week, reporting that only a small fraction of the Holy See’s annual Peter’s Pence collection — roughly 10 per cent — goes directly to papal charities, while roughly two thirds of the collection
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