By Elisabetta Povoledo and Alan Cowell, NY Times

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

ROME — Citing advanced years and infirmity, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Roman Catholic world on Monday by saying that he would resign on Feb. 28 after less than eight years in office, the first pope to do so in six centuries.

After examining his conscience “before God,” he said in a statement that reverberated around the world on the Internet and social media sites, “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.

A profoundly conservative figure whose papacy was overshadowed by clerical abuse scandals, Benedict, 85, was elected by fellow cardinals in 2005 after the death of John Paul II. Read the full article at nytimes.com.


By Tom Heneghan, Reuters

Germany’s Catholic Church may approve some so-called morning-after pills for rape victims after a leading cardinal unexpectedly announced they did not induce abortions and could be used in Catholic hospitals.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, an ally of German-born Pope Benedict, changed his policy after two Catholic hospitals refused to treat a rape victim because they could not prescribe the pill, which is taken after sex to avoid pregnancy.

The Catholic Church firmly opposes abortion and artificial birth control. Many Catholics see all emergency contraceptives as abortion-inducing drugs banned by this policy, but Meisner said some prevent fertilisation and could be used in rape cases.

“The German Bishops’ Conference is holding a regular meeting in two weeks and the issue will certainly be on the agenda,” Cologne archdiocese spokeswoman Nele Harbeke said on Monday.

“The bishops’ conference must in principle agree on a common line.”

Meisner, 79, has in the past rejected emergency contraceptives as producing a “just-in-case abortion”.

Read the full article at reuters.com.


By Michael Martinez, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) — In what activists describe as unprecedented, the Catholic archbishop in Los Angeles has relieved a retired cardinal of his public and administrative duties for his mishandling of “painful and brutal” allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of the Los Angeles Archdiocese disciplined his predecessor, the now retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, after a California judge forced the archdiocese to release about 12,000 pages of church documents revealing how it handled allegations of abuse.

There were 192 priests and bishops named in litigation, the archdiocese said.

“The cases span decades,” Gomez said in a statement Thursday.Some go back to the 1930s. The documents were released on the archdiocese’s website.

“But that does not make them less serious. I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” he said. Read the full article at cnn.com.


By Steve McSwain, Huffington Post

I was reading recently of the bravery of the Irish Catholic priest, Fr. Tony Flannery, who, at 66, is being threatened by the Vatican.

No! I thought. The Vatican never threatens anyone!

LOL!

The history of Christianity, and not just in Catholicism but in all Christian denominations, is similar. The Church has found that it thrives best not in a world it sacrifices itself to redeem — not in a world it lays down its life in order to give life to others — but, instead, it survives best by demanding coercion, by making itself into a “god” and insisting this God can only be known “our” way; by making its beliefs into an idol that the faithful must bow the knee. The church has found that, by drawing lines in theological and doctrinal sands, battle lines between “us,” the theologically “correct” and “them,” the doctrinally “wrong,” that, by doing so, the church wins.

But does it really?

Of course, it does not, as history has repeatedly demonstrated. Unfortunately, however, history, at least as far as the church is concerned, has never been a very good teacher for church leaders.

For all the good the church has done, and it has done much good, the history of Christianity is in large measure the history of madness. This morning’s story is simply another case-in-point.

Last year, for example, the Vatican suspended Flannery’s ministry. And, today, Flannery is being threatened with charges of “heresy” and possible “excommunication” from the church.

Why?

Read the full article at Huffington Post.