Week in Review

The best of the web

Highlights from the week online

Sodano: influential and controversial
“When it comes to Vatican scandals, a few names tend to surface every time a new crisis comes to light,” wrote Elise Harris at Crux. “At the top of most lists would be Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, easily among the most influential Vatican officials over the past three decades.”

Numerous times, she said, Sodano’s namehas been attached to accusations that he either defended an abuser or tried to cushion their fall.

Cardinal Sodano served as secretary of state for nearly 20 years under John Paul II and briefly under Benedict XVI; now, aged 90, he is still a powerful figure at the Vatican as Dean of the College of Cardinals.

The most recent allegations against Sodano, who has long had “a penchant for being at the centre of controversy”, she wrote, came in the extraordinary statement from Archbishop Viganò in August. He accused Sodano (and others) of covering up the sexual misconduct of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. “Speaking through his secretary, Sodano declined a Crux request for comment,” she wrote.

The family of the Church in Vietnam
“It is more difficult to be a bishop or a priest in Europe than in Vietnam,” said Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao of Xuân Lôc in an interview at asia­news.it. “Here, if we are attacked, the community defends us. The Church is like a family of God.”

About seven per cent of the population of Vietnam is Catholic, and the seminary that Bishop Dao led from 2009 to 2016 has more than 450 seminarians today.

The Church is accepted by the authorities, Bishop Dao said. “Overall, the Church of Vietnam is perceived as a factor of reconciliation, especially because of our presence among the weakest.”

How genuine are the nails Helena found?
Can we prove that any of the Holy Nails are genuine, asked Thomas L McDonald at ncregister.com. The nails of the Crucifixion, among other relics, were discovered by Emperor Constantine’s mother St Helena in AD326 to 328. Even if we can’t prove that they are genuine relics of Christ, “we can certainly come close to proving they are the relics recovered by St Helena.

“There are perhaps 36 nails in various churches with claims to be the real thing. Obviously, they can’t all be, but it’s possible that they’re not all blatant frauds either,” McDonald wrote.

Archaeological evidence discovered in Jerusalem in 1968 suggests what a 1st-century crucifixion involved: a single iron nail, six inches long, with four sides, driven through both heel bones. This helps to evaluate alleged relics: the Holy Nails in Notre Dame and other places appear too short, the wrong size or not old enough. Those in Rome, Siena and Milan are more credible.

With all the claimants, he said, “It’s important to note that these may not be ‘fakes’ but rather partial or third-class relics. They may contain pieces of the real nails or have been touched to a real nail, and when this detail was lost to history they became ‘genuine nails’.”


✣ A Catholic group has created its own version of Pokémon Go, two years after the launch of the phenomenally successful game for mobile phones. Instead of searching for different Pokémon creatures, players of Follow JC Go capture saints and other biblical characters.

Ricardo Grzona, executive director of the Foundation Ramon Pane, told Crux: “Never has the Church had a project like this. This is a Catholic app with the most advanced technology there is. Everything today, language and relations, among young people, goes through smartphones.”

Grzona said they “wanted to be there and propose to them an educational video game, that is religious and interactive, and with which they can form evangelisation teams”.

✣ A painting of Jesus was the only thing to survive a blaze that destroyed the 150-year-old First Baptist Church in Wakefield, Massachussetts after a lightning strike. The painting is a source of strength to the parishioners. One, Maria Kakalowski, told Boston 25 News that she saw it “as a sign and a reminder that Jesus, the Christ that we serve is still alive and even though our church building is gone our church is here and the God we serve is still here.”

The Church started with two women, the Blessed Mother and St Elizabeth
Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles

Francis may have natural sympathy for communists because for him, they are the persecuted
Cardinal Joseph Zen
New York Times

The most disturbing of times in the… Church for 50 years
Cardinal Nichols on the ‘summer of shame’
The Tablet

Next time it will all be in Latin!
Cardinal Baldisseri on synod translations
Pseudonymous journalist Xavier Rynne II

Statistic of the week


Increase in the Church’s population from 2015 -16
Source: Vatican