Reuters blog archive
from Thinking Global:
I have covered far happier times for the Vatican. I reported on John Paul II’s pilgrimage through his native Poland some three decades ago, and I have been thinking about this while watching the Catholic Church’s 115 cardinal electors pray for divine inspiration on this historic day in Rome’s Sistine Chapel.
The cardinals will need every ounce of God’s help to determine who among them has the leadership and managerial wherewithal to both fix their scandal-ridden church and inspire a needy world. They can take some solace from the 1978 papal conclave held after John Paul I’s sudden death following just 33 days in office.
Electors then took eight ballots and two days to select Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, then the archbishop of Krakow, as the first non-Italian pope since 1523 and a man who over time would become one of the great leaders of the 20th century. John Paul II was beatified in 2011, in no small part for the role he played in liberating his homeland and ending Communist rule over most of Eastern Europe.
No elector then could have known the chain of events he had set in motion. Consider, I filed the dispatch below to my editors at the Wall Street Journal from Czestochowa, Poland, where the pope had come to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the icon of the Black Madonna. The Black Madonna had been acclaimed for everything from stopping Swedish invaders to healing the disabled, and John Paul II credited her with saving his life after he took an assassin’s bullet two years earlier. I wrote:
The euro zone’s big four meet in Rome with Germany's Angela Merkel likely to come under pressure from Italy's Mario Monti, Spain's Mariano Rajoy and France's Francois Hollande to loosen her purse strings and principles.
Monti, with Hollande’s backing, has suggested using the euro zone rescue funds to buy Spanish and Italian bonds but Berlin is not keen and there are good reasons why it might not work, not least the ESM’s preferred creditor status which means that if it piled in, private investors may flee knowing they would be paid back last in the event of a default.
Italian police have found a fitting temporary home for an accused jewellery robber whose priestly disguise failed to help him slip past their dragnet.
An unconventional new statue of the late Pope John Paul II, showing a giant hollowed out figure, has attracted harsh criticism from experts and the Vatican newspaper. The inauguration of the imposing bronze sculpture by Oliviero Rainaldi outside Rome's central rail station was meant to round off celebrations to mark the beatification of John Paul, which moves him a major step closer to sainthood.
The late Pope John Paul moved a major step closer to sainthood on Sunday at a ceremony that drew about a million and half people, the largest crowd in Rome since his funeral six years ago. "From now on Pope John Paul shall be called 'blessed,'" Pope Benedict, wearing white and gold robes, proclaimed in Latin, establishing that his predecessor's feast day would be October 22, the day of the inauguration of John Paul's pontificate in 1978.
For Janusc Skibinski, there was only one place to be on the day the late Pope John Paul took the last step before sainthood. The Polish customs agent drove his family 29 hours from their hometown on the border with Belarus and queued with hundreds of thousands of people through the night so he could make it into St. Peter's Square for the beatification of Poland's most famous native son.
In the sleepy town of Wadowice in southern Poland, they are sprucing up the main square and renovating the house where its most famous son, the late Pope John Paul II, was born as Karol Wojtyla 91 years ago. Wadowice, its streets decked out with stalls hawking kitsch papal memorabilia, hopes John Paul's beatification on May 1 -- the last step before sainthood -- will lure even more pilgrims to the modest two-storey house which is now a museum.
The Vatican has urged the faithful not to let reports of huge crowds or unscrupulous hoteliers deter them from coming to Rome for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul on May 1. "I invite everyone to come. Rome is ready. Don't be afraid of coming or of inviting people," said Father Caesar Atuire on Tuesday.
What's a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn doing helping to raise money for a Catholic hospital owned by the Vatican in a city where until 1870 the papacy required Jews to live in a ghetto? If that nice Jewish boy is Woody Allen, the conundrum is resolved by a four-letter word: Jazz.
German-born Pope Benedict prayed on Sunday at the site where Nazis killed 335 Italian men and boys and denounced one of the worst atrocities of World War Two as "the most horrendous form of evil". Benedict visited the Ardeatine Caves on Rome's southern outskirts and prayed there together with Rome's chief Rabbi Riccardo di Segni. Seventy-five of the victims were Jews.