FaithWorld

from The Human Impact:

New Pope praises women, Italian president ignores them

“Women are the witnesses of the Resurrection and they have a paramount role,” Pope Francis said on Wednesday in his address to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

The evangelists did no more than write down what the women saw on the day of Christ’s resurrection, the pope - former cardinal Jorge Bergoglio - told the cheering crowd. He also said that women play a special role in the Church: they “open the doors to the Lord,” the Italian daily La Repubblica reported.

It was an important statement by the newly elected head of the Catholic Church – a tribute to the fair sex and a recognition of the key role women can and should play in the religious sphere of life.

A recognition of women’s importance was, however, distinctly lacking in Rome last week when President Giorgio Napolitano failed to name a single woman to join two working groups, dubbed the “wise men”, he set up to try to find a way out of Italy’s political gridlock.

Both public opinion and the Italian media rebuked Napolitano – a very balanced, diplomatic politician who once headed the Communist party – for his, in my view, quite appalling decision.

from Breakingviews:

Vatican bank struggles to be cleansed of past sins

By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The failure of the Vatican bank to comply with the basic rule of the Sacrament of Penance is odd. The Holy See’s financial arm has been seeking absolution for past sins for two years, but remains reluctant to confess to what it did wrong. Of all institutions, it should understand that one cannot go without the other.

According to Italian newspapers, JPMorgan Chase is closing the account of the bank formerly known as Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) because of concerns about a lack of transparency. The move comes a few weeks after the U.S. State Department added the Vatican to the list of countries it considers vulnerable to money laundering.

Police send “holy” Roman robber to Queen of Heaven jail

(A prisoner stares out of a window at Regina Coeli jail in Rome August 4, 2006/Dario Pignatelli )

Italian police have found a fitting temporary home for an accused jewellery robber whose priestly disguise failed to help him slip past their dragnet.

Police said they tracked down and arrested the 37-year-old male suspect by reviewing closed circuit television footage around Via del Corso and Via Condotti, the swanky shopping district near the Spanish Steps, after a July 4th hold-up at one of Rome’s most prestigious jewellery shops.

Rome’s Pope John Paul statue slammed by critics, including Vatican daily

(A statue representing Pope John Paul II is unveiled outside Rome's Termini train station on May 18, 2011/Tony Gentile)

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 statue is a representation of the pope opening his cloak with a welcoming, outstretched arm. But the four meter (yard) high figure provoked dismay and angry reactions from newspapers and art critics, who say it fails to capture the essence of the man.

Freudian take on Vatican life makes Cannes film festival smile

(Director Nanni Moretti (C) and cast members Margherita Buy (R) and Michel Piccoli pose as they arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Habemus Papam" (We Have A Pope) in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2011/Eric Gaillard )

(Director Nanni Moretti (C) and cast members Margherita Buy (R) and Michel Piccoli pose as they arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Habemus Papam" (We Have A Pope) in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2011/Eric Gaillard )

The Vatican got a dose of Freudian analysis at Cannes on Friday with “Habemus Papam,” a gentle Italian comedy about a newly elected pope who gets cold feet when the weight of his responsibility dawns on him. The film by Italian director Nanni Moretti drew laughter and healthy applause from critics on day three of the Cannes film festival, where the official selection of movies has so far leaned in the direction of dark realism and social commentary.

Farcical and humane, Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope) casts wide open the door of the notoriously secretive Holy See, as red-robed cardinals converge in a locked chamber to elect a pope under the expectant gaze of millions of Catholics. When the votes are counted and white smoke billows from the Vatican’s dome, the pope-elect played by French actor Michel Piccoli, 85, is led to a balcony to address the faithful — only to freeze up before his momentous task, paralyzed by anxiety.

Santa Croce fresco restoration like “looking angels in the eye”

(Santa Croce Church is seen in Florence February 26, 2010. Restorers using ultra-violet rays have rediscovered rich original details of Giotto's paintings in the Peruzzi Chapel in Florence's Santa Croce church that have been hidden for centuries. The aim of the study, partly funded by a grant from the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles, was to gather information on the 170 square metre (1,830 square feet) chapel to use as a road map and "hospital chart" for a future restoration. Picture taken February 26, 2010. To match EXCLUSIVE: ARTS-ITALY/GIOTTO REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

(Santa Croce Basilica in Florence, Italy, February 26, 2010/Alessandro Bianchi )

For lovers of Italian art, it’s as close as you can come to ascending a stairway to heaven and looking angels in the eye. For the first time after a major restoration, the scaffolding that has shrouded the 850 sq m (9,150 sq ft) of frescoes of the Capella Maggiore in Florence’s famed Santa Croce Basilica will not be dismantled immediately.

Instead, for about a year, a small number of visitors will be able to don hard hats and clamber up the clanking steps to admire the 600-year-old frescos of Agnolo Gaddi, the last major “descendant” of the Giotto school, from close up.

Vatican invites all to John Paul beatification, cites “ethical” Rome hotel prices

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(Catholic pilgrims hold up photos of the late Pope John Paul in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican January 16, 2011/Giampiero Sposito)

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.

The Vatican has begun the countdown to what will be the biggest event in the Italian capital since the death of the charismatic and highly popular pope in 2005, when millions of people came to view his body or attend his funeral. Vatican officials expect at least 300,000 people — including tens of thousands from his native Poland — to come to Rome for the three days of events during which he will be declared a “blessed,” the last step before sainthood.

Italy blocks EU religious persecution text ignoring Christians

copts

(Christians protest against what they say is the failure of authorities to protect them, in Cairo January 3, 2011/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

The European Union failed to agree on a statement against the persecution of religious minorities on Monday after Italy objected to the omission of any reference to the protection of Christians. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said a draft proposed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers expressing concern about increasing numbers of attacks on places of worship and pilgrims showed an “excess of secularism”.

“The final text didn’t include any mention of Christians, as if we were talking of something else, so I asked the text to be withdrawn, so in fact it has been withdrawn,” he told reporters.

Tullia Zevi, historic Italian Jewish leader, dies at 92

rome synagogueTullia Zevi, one of the historic post-war leaders of Italy’s Jews and the only woman to ever hold the post of president of the country’s Jewish communities, died Saturday at the age of 92, her family said.

Zevi, who had been in failing health for some time and was a prominent figure in Christian-Jewish dialogue, died in a Catholic hospital just across the River Tiber from the Rome neighborhood that is still known as “The Ghetto.”

During her long career she also held senior positions in the World Jewish Congress and European Jewish Congress.

Pope puts his stamp on Catholic Church future with new cardinals

consistory 1 (Photo: Pope Benedict leads the consistory in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican November 20, 2010/Tony Gentile)

Pope Benedict installed 24 new Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world on Saturday in his latest batch of appointments that could include his successor as leader of the 1.2 billion member church.

Twenty of the new cardinals are under 80 and thus eligible under church rules to take part in the conclave that chooses a successor after the death or resignation of the current pope.

The new cardinals include Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C., who, as a senior figure in the American capital, will likely play a leading role in the U.S. church’s response to the sexual abuse scandal.