Expectations were running high on the eve of President Barack Obama’s first meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican. Sources said they were hopeful the two leaders would focus on the issues that unite rather than on those that divide, issues relating to peace, poverty, immigration and the importance of good cooperation between the Church and the Administration in the USA.
When President Barack Obama and Pope Francis sit down Thursday, March 27, at the Vatican, the meeting may well offer a vision of what could have been for Democrats and the Catholic church over the last six years: a leader of the state and a leader of the church working on the many issues where they agree while working through the issues where they don't.
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:21
Since March 2013, when radical Islamic rebels—many of them foreign fighters—overthrew an already fragile and corrupt government, the Central African Republic has been in turmoil, with clashes between militant factions leaving hundreds of men, women and children dead. The violence reached its peak in late December and triggered the intervention of both French and African troops.
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the election of Pope Francis as the Bishop of Rome, Catholic leaders nationwide have reflect on his papacy thus far, noting his call for every Catholic to evangelize.
“In a certain sense, by his style of interviews and public statements, he kind of throws the ball back in our court as well – and I don’t mean bishops, I mean all the faithful,” Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb. told CNA March 6.
After a year that included the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and a series of celebrated innovations by Pope Francis, it is hard to imagine 2014 at the Vatican could be nearly as eventful. Of course, the biggest stories are likely to be those that come by surprise, but in the meantime, here are developments bound to loom large in Vatican news over the coming year:
What is your understanding of the Ukrainian crisis? That the Ukrainian people rebelled against an arrogant and authoritarian president, Viktor Yanukovich, who tried to quell the protests, killing dozens in the process and getting himself ousted in the end. Russia got all hot and bothered and invaded the Crimea out of spite. The impression you will have got from all of this is that the people want Ukraine to join the EU, while Yanukovich and Moscow above all are opposed to this. The end.
King Abdullah's visit to Indonesia this week carries more political implications than the usual visits he had had to other South Asian countries. The Islamic dimension in the trip was very visible since the 241 million Indonesians identify more with the king due to his being a descendant of the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed, sanctified by tens of millions of Sufists.
Pope Francis has placed reform of the Vatican as a top priority of his papacy. Whether or not he will succeed remains to be seen.
There are at least three things necessary to successfully reform an institution: changing its culture, appointing key people who support the reform, and putting in place structures, policies, and procedures to concretize the reform.
The theological dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox Churches which was launched with the aim of achieving full sacramental communion, risks stalling permanently. One of the main reasons for this would appear to be the divisions that exist between the Orthodox Churches and those influential circles within the Orthodox faith–the Patriarchate of Moscow above all–that are refusing to recognise one universal primate as the leader of the Church, founded on a shared and canonical and ecclesial tradition.