5 results
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 18, 2013

I love reading conversion stories. I've read so many of them that I sometimes don't remember exactly what a convert said about his journey, only that he entered the Church. That's the case with a story I remember reading years ago, probably in an anthology of conversion stories. I don't remember a lot of the details, only an extraordinary tale of answered prayer.

This convert had attended a famous Protestant seminary in the U.S., one which had been seeing a surprising number of its...

February 12, 2013

It was about six o'clock in the morning, Pacific Time. I was jolted awake by a chime from my phone indicating an incoming text message. Since to be awakened first thing in the morning by your phone never means good news, I stumbled from bed and stared blearily at my phone. Once my mind started processing, shock seeped in:

Just heard on the news that the pope is stepping down at the end of the month for health reasons.

The colleague who had sent the...

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...

February 7, 2013

On this day in 1878 Bl. Pius IX died. Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferreti was the second-longest reigning pope in history, after St. Peter. He oversaw the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (1854), and became the "prisoner of the Vatican" when the Papal States fell to the army of the new Italian state. He was beatified in 2000. He commonly is said to have been a liberal when he ascended the papal throne in 1846 but became a conservative as he aged....