Helping the poor has been his life mission. But can he reform the Church?
The Catholic world got a surprise yesterday: Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio, S.J. was on everyone’s short list in 2005 but, at age 76, most commentators assumed he was too old to assume the papal throne, especially after Pope Benedict XVI resigned citing the effects of old age. Then came the second surprise: Bergoglio chose the name Francis, the first time a pope has chosen the name of Catholicism’s favorite saint. READ MORE >>
A short conclave increases the odds the archbishop of Milan will be pope
It is no surprise to seasoned Vatican watchers that, as of this morning, we have only witnessed black smoke pouring from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel after three ballots. It was amusing, in its way, to see Chris Cuomo spend several minutes on CNN analyzing whether the smoke was darker this morning than last night. But the real question is: What does the black smoke mean? READ MORE >>
He's seen as a doctrinaire conservative. But he had a progressive streak, too.
Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he's resigning the papacy this month stunned the Catholic world. Already, speculation about his successor has begun in the media and, more importantly, among the 118 cardinals who have a vote in the forthcoming conclave. Those cardinals will begin their search for a new pope by making an assessment of the existing one. READ MORE >>
ROSS DOUTHAT’S ANALYSIS of religion in America is more sophisticated than the analysis of, say, Rick Santorum—but not by much. There are many ways to be simplistic and coarse. In contending against what he sees as an America afflicted with too many heresies, Douthat’s book, like Santorum’s speeches, is riddled with mistakes of fact and interpretation that would make any learned person blush. READ MORE >>
The 2012 GOP nominating contest has witnessed the final triumph of an unlikely figure. I say “unlikely” because his name hasn’t been invoked much (if at all) by any of the candidates, nor has he been mentioned frequently by the press in its campaign coverage. What’s more, he died in 2007. Yet when historians someday go looking for the intellectual and ideological father of the Obama-era GOP, I suspect they will fixate on one figure above all others: the Reverend Jerry Falwell. READ MORE >>
IN THE EARLY HOURS of March 10, 1824, Ann Mattingly, the sister of the mayor of Washington, D.C., lay on her sick bed, consumed with cancer. Her back was ulcerated. She had an incessant cough that sometimes gave way to fits so violent that they were “followed by puking large quantities of corrupted blood.” The smell her body gave off was so horrible that her family members found it “extremely unpleasant and offensive to the smell to pass by her door.” READ MORE >>