FaithWorld

Pope Francis seeks to align Catholic Church hierarchy with the pews

(Pope Francis celebrates mass at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, July 28, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Some say his trip last week to Brazil, capped by a Mass for 3 million on Copacabana Beach, and the 80-minute, unfiltered news conference on the plane back to Rome, were the real start of Pope Francis’s pontificate.

During the flight, he fielded 21 questions on subjects ranging from scandals at the Vatican bank to women in the Church to why he carries his own briefcase. But perhaps the comments that revealed most about the type of Church he envisions came in response to a question about gays in the Vatican.

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he said, pointing out that the Church’s Catechism says homosexuals should not be marginalized, and should be treated with respect and integrated into society.

It was the first time any pope had uttered the word ‘gay’ in public – using it five times – and was another sign that he has his ear closer to the ground than his predecessor Benedict, whom he succeeded as head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics in March.

Pope Francis won’t judge gays, admits not all saints at Vatican, opposes women priests

(Pope Francis talks with journalists as he flies back to Rome after his visit to Brazil July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Luca Zennaro/Pool)

Pope Francis has said gay people should not be marginalised but integrated into society, in some of the most conciliatory remarks by a pontiff on the issue of homosexuality. In a broad-ranging 80-minute conversation with journalists on the plane bringing him back from a week-long visit to Brazil on Sunday night, he also said he could not judge gay priests, an emotive topic that divides Catholic opinion. But the 76-year-old Argentine did reaffirm Church teaching that homosexual acts are a sin.

Francis also stressed the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests was definitive, although he would like them to have more leadership roles in administration and pastoral activities. And he expressed pain over scandals at the Vatican bank during a remarkably forthright press conference, his first since being elected in March to replace Benedict XVI.

Code words and safe phones: anatomy of a Vatican money smuggling plot

(Stacks of Euro banknotes in a bank in Bern August 15, 2011. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener )

To most people, a book is a book. But to Monsignor Nunizio Scarano, a Vatican official arrested on charges of money smuggling, a “book” was a code word for one million euros in cash, a report by the judge on the case said.

“Encyclopaedia,” and “bookmarks” were among other code words that Scarano, who had close connections to the Vatican bank, used in phone conversations with secret service agent Giovanni Zito and broker Giovanni Carenzio, it said.

Jews tell pope of concern over moves to make Pius XII a saint

(Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff, appears in an undated file photo from the archives of Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano.  REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

A Jewish leader expressed concern to Pope Francis on Monday over attempts to make a saint of World War Two-era Pope Pius XII, who has been accused of turning a blind eye to the Holocaust.

Francis made no mention of his wartime predecessor during his talks with members of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), but the pontiff repeated the Roman Catholic Church’s condemnation of anti-Semitism.

Vatican contests charges against WWII Italian official praised for saving Jews

(A street named in honour of Giovanni Palatucci in Caggiano, Italy, 23 Oct 2006/Viaggiatore)

The Vatican newspaper said on Saturday a decision by scholars to brand a wartime Italian previously praised for saving Jews as a Nazi collaborator was part of an attempt to smear the Catholic Church during the papacy of Pope Pius XII.

An article, titled “To Strike at the Church of Pius XII” and written by historian Anna Foa, said the decision to re-classify Giovanni Palatucci, a Catholic, as a collaborator was at best hasty and more study was needed.

Pope Francis ‘snub’ of concert stuns cardinals and sends them a signal

(An empty papal throne is pictured as Archbishop Rino Fisichella (standing at right) reads a message from Pope Francis before a RAI National Symphony Orchestra concert in Paul VI hall at the Vatican June 22, 2013. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito)

A last-minute no-show by Pope Francis at a concert where he was to have been the guest of honor has sent another clear signal that he is going to do things his way and does not like the Vatican high life.

The gala classical concert on Saturday was scheduled before his election in March. But the white papal armchair set up in the presumption that he would be there remained empty.

Pope Francis laments ‘gay lobby’ and corruption in Vatican – report

(Pope Francis adjusts his skullcap as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

Pope Francis has acknowledged the existence of a “gay lobby” and a “stream of corruption” in the Vatican, according to reports in Catholic media not denied by the Vatican.

The pope made the remarks last week in Spanish during a private meeting with representatives of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious (CLAR), according to the Chilean Catholic website “Reflection and Liberation”.

Italian professor says has found world’s oldest complete Torah in Bologna

(A scroll identified by Italian professor Mauro Perani as the world’s oldest complete scroll of the Torah is seen in Bologna, Italy,  May 29, 2013.
REUTERS/Mauro Perani/Handout via Reuters)

An Italian professor said on Wednesday he has identified what he believes is the world’s oldest complete scroll of the Torah, containing the full text of the first five books of Hebrew scripture.

Mauro Perani, professor of Hebrew at the University of Bologna, said experts and carbon dating tests done in Italy and the United States dated the scroll as having been made between 1155 and 1225.

Vatican marks anniversary of the 1972 attack on Michelangelo’s Pieta

(A combo photo shows a detail view of the damaged Michelangelo’s Pieta and it after restoration works at the Vatican. Musei Vaticani/Handout via Reuters)

Forty-one years ago, a crazed Hungarian named Laszlo Toth jumped an altar railing in St. Peter’s Basilica and dealt 12 hammer blows to Michelangelo’s Pieta, severely damaging the Renaissance masterpiece.

To mark the attack on May 21, 1972, the Vatican Museums held a day-long seminar on Tuesday on the statue, the incident, and what subsequently became one of the most delicate and controversial art restorations in history.

Church must help the poorest, not discuss theology over tea, Pope Francis says

(Pope Francis speaks as he leads a Pentecost vigil mass in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 18, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Pope Francis shared personal moments with 200,000 people on Saturday, telling them he sometimes nods off while praying at the end of a long day and that it “breaks my heart” that the death of a homeless person is not news.

Francis, who has made straight talk and simplicity a hallmark of his papacy, made his unscripted comments in answers to questions by four people at a huge international gathering of Catholic associations in St. Peter’s Square.