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February 27, 2013

The last few weeks have been quite eventful for us Catholics. Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing that he would be stepping down as head of the 1.2 billion-member Catholic Church.

His decision has thrust the papacy and Catholicism in general into the cultural spotlight and has provoked the ire of many Fundamentalists, who have long been scandalized by the adulation Catholics pay to the man we call "Holy Father."

The recent images of massive throngs of...

February 20, 2013

The Inquisition!

The Holy Office!

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith!

Whichever name it has used, this is the arm of the Vatican that oversees the doctrinal integrity of the Faith. It watches, with eagle eyes, the goings on of theologians and other suspects around the world.

Its staff is omnipresent, with sub-offices in every country and in most major dioceses. Its minions send daily reports to headquarters, where countless clerical workers do nothing...

February 19, 2013

The world's media have a habit of seeing papal elections through the lens of secular politics. It's understandable to a degree, but how many reporters have noticed that so few of the much ballyhooed "front runners" or "papabile" candidates have ever actually been elected pope? Modern exceptions to this might be Giovanni Montini (Paul VI) and Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI). But the Vaticanologist maxim "He who enters the conclave with a white hat emerges with a red one" usually carries the...

February 14, 2013

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush is the senior religion editor for the Huffington Post and a minister in the American Baptist church, a theologically liberal mainline denomination. In a February 11 article he reflects on the papacy of Benedict XVI, whom he doesn’t much approve of.  

From the first, Raushenbush says, he knew that Benedict “was going to continue the more...

February 11, 2013

In the coming days there will be plenty of comments about Pope Benedict XVI's stunning announcement. Some of those comments will appear in the Catholic Answers Blog. For now, let me make a few points:

1. Yes, popes can renounce the Petrine office. A few popes have done so, the most famous being St. Celestine V in 1296. (More on him another time.)

2. Benedict XVI hasn't "resigned," as that word commonly is used. A resignation implies informing one's superior about one's decision...