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.
Introducing a two-day meeting of the world’s cardinals on the family and the Church’s pastoral approach to marriage, Pope Francis stressed that the church’s pastoral approach to helping couples must be “intelligent, courageous and full of love.” “We are called to make known God’s magnificent plan for the family and to help spouses joyfully experience this plan in their lives, as we accompany them amidst so many difficulties,” he said.
The turbulent week of reforms begins on Monday: Eight counsellor cardinals are to meet with the Pope from Monday February 17 to Wednesday February 19, coordinated by Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga. The order of the day includes the first concrete proposals for the future organisation of the Vatican Congregations and the Secretary of State, topics already discussed at previous meetings, but also the beginning of a long and arduous examination of the Pontifical Councils.
For decades, the Christians in the Middle East remained "the invisible or neglected victims" throughout the region, and in best cases the United States only made humble interest in indigenous Christians who lived in the Middle East for centuries whether in Palestine, Syria, Iraq or Egypt. They currently suffer from problems and threats that force them in most cases to pack their bags and leave home.
Fifty years ago on January4, 1964, Paul VI's visit to the Holy Land began, and then concluded on the evening of the Epiphany with the embrace and lights of one million Romans' enthusiastic and moving welcome home of their bishop. The visit lasted a few short hours but it changed the face of the papacy. Since then, the successors of the Apostle Peter have resumed all over the world the path that the fisherman from Galilee and the first followers of the Teacher of Nazareth had obscurely taken, trusting only in his word.
“The Pope is the Holy See’s number one diplomatic “agent”. He proved himself to be a vigorous diplomat in the Syrian crisis. This made him an authoritative and sought-after voice internationally,” the Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin said during an interview with Italian Catholic news daily Avvenire.