Lead Story Archives

Major stories that get to the pith of the situation.

Mamberti on the Freedom of the Church (2013)

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti speaks to the United Nations in New York.

Two years ago, Cardinal-designate Dominique Mamberti on January 16, 2013, granted an important interview to Vatican Radio which is published on the Vatican’s website. The interview is a thoughtful discussion of freedom for the Church and for Christian belief in an increasingly secular society, in light of cases then before the European Court of Human Rights. […]

Cardinals: Defenders of the Faith

Pope John Paul II and Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

The new cardinals chosen by Pope Francis are pastors of rapidly growing flocks in many “peripheral” regions of the world. But they are not “progressives.” Rather, they are staunchly orthodox men of Christian faith who are leading the Church into her future — which may not include the traditional “heartland” of the Church. In much of the secular […]

All eyes on Francis

Pope Francis is neither "left" nor "right", but centered on the experience of God's mercy and the forgiveness of human sins. This is what he is attempting to teach by his words and deeds.

What is he doing, and what will he do next? As the Synod opens, the world watches… People around the world are watching what Pope Francis is saying and doing, and trying to understand what it means. A friend called me recently from Switzerland: “What do you make of this alleged ‘irritation’ of the Pope […]

The Veil of Manoppello – An Unexpected Bridge to Judaism?

The Veil of Manoppello.

Welcome to Manoppello.  Rabbi Gabriel Hagaï: Thank you, Paul. You are Gabriel Hagaï, a Rabbi from Paris. Could you tell us a little bit more about your life? Well, I was born in Paris, but lived most of my life in Jerusalem, more than 20 years. I married there and all of my children were […]

Is Rome Pushing the Russian Patriarch “Into Putin’s Arms”?

A battlefield in Ukraine.

A British priest who is a leading scholar in the field of ecumenism, writing in The Catholic Herald of London, has sug­gested that Rome may be missing an opportunity to work closely with the Russian Orthodox Church, and in so doing may be pushing Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill “into Putin’s arms.” The article was published […]

Francis and Hilarion United Against War

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of World War I's beginning, Pope Francis issued a cry against war.

It’s time to stop war, fighting and conflicts, which do nothing but kill and maim, leaving children unexploded ordnance for toys and lives without happiness, Pope Francis said at the end of July in a dramatic Sunday noon appeal from the window of the Apostolic Palace. “Never war!” he said. “Never war! I think most […]

Pope Francis leads the way for Israel and Palestine

Pope Francis tells presidents that "only God can bring peace to the Holy Land".

Praying for peace in the Holy Land alongside leaders of long-antagonistic nations, Pope Francis called on God to act where human efforts had failed, to end what he described as violence inspired by the devil. “More than once we have been on the verge of peace, but the evil one, employing a variety of means, […]

Two views of the encounter – President Obama and Pope Francis

Pope Francis received the US President on March 27 for 52 minutes. What did the two men discuss? Stories differ..

Following the 52-minute meeting (it went almost twice as long as expected) between Pope Francis and US President Barack Obama on March 27, two conflicting versions about what was said emerged, the President’s and the Vatican’s. And even several days after the meeting, it is still not clear which version more closely corresponds to the […]

Pope appeals for end to violence in Ukraine

In Ukraine, what started as demonstrations have quickly evolved in violent confrontations.

After months of protests, a dramatic change in Ukraine. At a high price — more than 77 people killed. Now Russia is moving. Can further bloodshed be avoided? After a day and a night of violent confrontations on February 18-19, leading to the deaths of at least 77 people, Pope Francis and Ukrainian Church leaders […]

The Thousands of Jews Saved in Churches and Convents

The front page of a newspaper close to the German SS during World War II denounces the protection received by Jews in Milan's Catholic convents.

The controversy over the “silence” of Pius XII is being reignited. But the facts speak for themselves. The Catholic Church gave refuge to a great number of Jews. With a commentary by the Italian Jewish historian Anna Foa. Fresh from a mid-January visit to Jorge Mario Bergoglio, his longtime friend and soon to be his […]

What is at Stake


A world without God, without absolute moral values rooted in divine revelation, irrevocably turns into the realm of the rule of slavery and lawlessness. … The Russian Church, which has paid in millions of lives for the godless Soviet experiment, can and must testify before the adherents of militant secularism to the fact that a […]

Power Grab

Kirsten Sandberg, center, chairperson of the U.N. human rights committee on the rights of the child, talks to committee members Maria Herczog, right, and Benyam Mezmur during a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, February 5, 2014. A U.N. human rights committee denounced the Vatican on Wednesday for adopting policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, and urged it to open its files on the pedophiles and the churchmen who concealed their crimes. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

A United Nations committee today, in a 15-page report, denounced the Vatican’s record in allegedly not protecting children from priestly sexual abuse, then went on to question the freedom of the Catholic Church to create and live by her own canon law, asking  the Church to change her laws and adopt a secular sexual morality […]

Shuffle of Bishops, Non-renewal of Burke and Rigali, Raise Eyebrows


Pope Francis did not renew the memberships of some well-known cardinals to the Congregation for Bishops, which is in charge of the choices of bishops worldwide. The reasons are not yet clear, but observers are watching closely, and commenting… Pope Francis has Vatican-watchers turning somersaults as they parse his every decision in an attempt to […]

Nineteen New Cardinals announced on Feast of the Baptism


Pope Francis today in Rome at his noon Angelus announced the names of 19 new cardinals, 16 “electing” cardinals under the age of 80, and three “honorary” cardinals above the age of 80, and so not eligible to vote in a Conclave. The ceremony to create these news cardinals will be in Rome on February 22, Feast of […]

Year’s End


Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour… —Epistle reading for December 31, from the First Letter of St. John, 2:18-21 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, […]

Letter #107: Christmas Eve, Pope Francis meets with Pope Benedict

It is a lovely, cool December evening in Rome, the eve of Christmas. Cold, but not bitter cold. And still clear, not raining. Pope Francis will soon celebrate the birth of Jesus, 2013 years ago, above the tomb of Peter, in the great basilica.   It is a quiet evening… a “silent” night…   The […]

Non-renewal of Burke and Rigali raises eyebrows

Official Portrait of Cardinal Burke. source

Pope Francis has Vatican-watchers turning somersaults as they parse his every decision in an attempt to gauge the direction he may lead the Church.   Today those somersaults almost became back-flips, as a re-shuffling of the membership of the Holy See’s Congregation for Bishops — which chooses all Catholic bishops for the Latin rite around […]

Pope to Visit Holy Land in May

Patriarch Twal makes the announcement; Koch in Moscow meets Kirill Latin-rite Patriarch Faoud Twal of Jerusalem yesterday confirmed that Pope Francis does plan to visit the Holy Land in May. But the present schedule of the two-day trip — the shortest by a Pope in modern times — has disappointed Israeli authorities, an Israeli newspaper […]

Pope’s Birthday

Pope Francis turned 77 years old today, December 17.   And he wanted the celebration to be like a family birthday party. To this end, he asked his “hands,” the man who visits the poor of wrong on the Pope’s behalf, to invited 4 homeless men, who sleep under archways in the streets near the […]