One of the first official acts of the newly installed Pope Francis was to reach out to the Jewish community of Rome, as his predecessor Pope Benedict had done, and he is being greeted warmly by many Jewish leaders worldwide. For most of the last 1,500 years, though, Catholic-Jewish relations have not been so warm. In fact, there was a time when the Catholic Church was rocked with a scandal: It was alleged that the Pope himself was Jewish.
Rome -- "May God forgive you." That's Cardinal Timothy Dolan's translation of a joke that Pope Francis told the College of Cardinals a day after being elected the 267th pontiff.
Habemus Papam! We have a pope! That was the word, or rather the words, from St. Peter's Basilica on Wednesday, and it wasn't just a worldwide church that had awaited the news, but the world itself. And the news was good, as in the Good News. For suddenly the air in Rome and far beyond seemed filled with a hope that was almost palpable.
The age old answer to the question, “Is the Pope Catholic?” is, “Yes.” But the answer to the question, “Is the Pope capitalist?” is, “Probably not.”
Church-state separation never seems more a reality in America than when the media begin to appraise both the qualifications for a new pope and the challenges he -- whoever "he" turns out to be -- must face.
How are American newspapers and networks covering the Conclave? Poorly, if at all.
The wire services routinely refer to Benedict XVI, now the pope emeritus, as the first pontiff to abdicate in 800 years. But few of the news stories go into just who this earlier pope was, and why he chose to end his papacy. Which is understandable. The big story of 1294 is scarcely breaking news today. But it's a pity more attention isn't paid to the abdication of Celestine V, now St. Celestine, aka Celestino. Because history can prove instructive.
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