Visiting synagogues is not getting any easier for Pope Benedict.
Today’s meeting with Rome’s Jewish community was the third time he has entered a synagogue, which is a kind of a papal record considering that his predecessor Pope John Paul — probably the first pope to do so since Saint Peter two millennia ago — made only one such visit himself.
Deep splits have appeared in Italy’s Jewish community just before Pope Benedict makes his first visit to Rome’s synagogue, with at least one senior rabbi and one Holocaust survivor announcing a boycott. The row revolves around the pontiff’s decision last month to raise nearer to sainthood wartime Pope Pius XII, who many Jews say did not do enough to help Jews facing persecution by Nazi Germany, a position the Vatican rejects.
Our photographers in Haiti have produced many sad images of the widespread death and destruction from Tuesday’s massive earthquake, some of which are collected in a slideshow here. Following are shots of the Roman Catholic cathedral in Port-au-Prince in ruins. Among the dead in the quake was Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, who the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano reported was found lifeless “under the rubble of the archbishop’s residence.”
The question of how many Anglicans will join the Roman Catholic Church has been hanging in the air since Pope Benedict made his offer last October to take in Anglican groups that cannot accept reforms such as ordaining women bishops. The largest figure mentioned is the 400,000-strong membership of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a traditionalist group that is not actually a member of the Anglican Communion that most Anglicans belong to. It is sometimes presented as a bloc whose transfer will be an important event.
By Aidar Buribayev
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, would be willing to meet Pope Benedict after disputes with Catholics in Ukraine are resolved, Archbishop Hilarion, the Church’s external relations head, has said. A meeting with the pope would begin to heal the 1,000 year-old-rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in 1054 amid disputes over doctrine and papal authority that remain unresolved.
A highly-publicised visit by Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn to the disputed Roman Catholic shrine of Medjugorje seems to have deepened the divide between Catholics who fervently believe the Virgin Mary appears to visionaries there and those who suspect the Bosnian pilgrimage site may be a hoax.