By Fr. Albert Cutié

Fr. Albert Cutié

Fr. Albert Cutié

Pope Francis is inspiring! Since his first appearance on the balcony of St. Peter’s in the Vatican to the recent visit to Brazil, we have all been moved in countless ways by the new Bishop of Rome’s simplicity, directness and affable style. Almost every person or religious leader I have spoken with – from various faith traditions and denominations – shares these impressions. There is no doubt that the new Pope has won many hearts.

In a spiritual landscape filled with “Prosperity Gospel” preachers and theology, Pope Francis offers us an authentic Christian witness which is so needed today and echoes those popular prophetic words from the Hebrew Scriptures, “…to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). His demeanor and style very clearly proclaim that money and power are not gods.

In his welcoming statements in Brazil, this message of humility was reaffirmed when he said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but I bring with me the most precious gift: Jesus Christ!” It is apparent that his unassuming nature is not for public relations purposes and it is certainly not for show; it is the way he has always chosen to live as a follower of Jesus, a priest and bishop and now he has brought those personal attributes to the papacy. That is refreshing! Read More…

By Nicole Winfield, Huffington Post

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Monday that Pope Francis supports the Holy See’s crackdown on the largest umbrella group of U.S. nuns, dimming hopes that a Jesuit pope whose emphasis on the poor mirrored the nuns’ own social outreach would take a different approach than his predecessor.

The Vatican last year imposed an overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious after determining the sisters took positions that undermined Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality while promoting “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” Investigators praised the nuns’ humanitarian work, but accused them of ignoring critical issues, including fighting abortion. Read the full article at

By Juan M.C. Oliver 

Juan Oliver

Juan Oliver

On March 13, as Cardinal Tauran named the new pope, I posted on Facebook, “It´s Bergoglio!” An old friend and wag immediately posted back, “Is that a wine or an olive oil?”

With everyone else I started trying to find out more about the new pope. Yet the image of wine and oil stayed with me since, for one thing, wine and oil are featured in the biblical story of the Good Samaritan — of how an outsider was the only one to care for a wounded man left on the street, pouring wine and oil on his wounds, not his priest, not his deacon, not his compatriots.

The Roman Catholic Church lies wounded by the side of the street. For too long its Curia, the Roman bureaucratic administration has passed by it and looked the other way, living in a culture of closets, secrecy and intrigue, sworn to omertá — the mafia’s code of silence. It’s a very sick puppy.

The outsiders who might come to the help of a wounded church are kept at bay systematically. In the last 30 years over 150 top notch theologians have been silenced, nuns are kept in their place, when not investigated, and Dignity, the association of Catholic LGBT people, can no longer meet in Catholic churches.

Can we expect the new pope to be the Samaritan? Will Francis be a bracing, cleansing wine, washing the filthy wounds? Will he be the oil that softens tissues and prevents scars? Read More…

By Hans Küng

Hans Küng

Hans Küng

The Arab Spring has shaken a whole series of autocratic regimes. With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, might not something like that be possible in the Roman Catholic Church as well — a Vatican Spring?

Of course, the system of the Catholic Church doesn’t resemble Tunisia or Egypt so much as an absolute monarchy like Saudi Arabia. In both places there are no genuine reforms, just minor concessions. In both, tradition is invoked to oppose reform. In Saudi Arabia tradition goes back only two centuries; in the case of the papacy, 20 centuries.

Yet is that tradition true? In fact, the church got along for a millennium without a monarchist-absolutist papacy of the kind we’re familiar with today.

It was not until the 11th century that a “revolution from above,” the “Gregorian Reform” started by Pope Gregory VII, left us with the three enduring features of the Roman system: a centralist-absolutist papacy, compulsory clericalism and the obligation of celibacy for priests and other secular clergy. Read the full article at