On women clergy, Pope Francis fears ”disease” of clericalism

On women clergy, Pope Francis fears ”disease” of clericalism

  On the way back from Sweden, Pope Francis appeared to suggest that the Church's ban on women priests is "forever." What that doesn't address is where he may come down on women deacons, which seems harder to handicap -- but the right place to start is his aversion to clericalism. During his customary in-flight news conference at the end of his trip to Sweden yesterday, Pope Francis took a question on women priests and not only reiterated, as he has several times in the past, that St. Pope John Paul has already said no, but he appeared to suggest that the Church’s “no” is forever. “If we read carefully the declaration of St. John Paul II, it goes in that direction,” Francis said. What that response didn’t address, however, is the more interesting question currently percolating about women clergy, which is the matter of whether women can, and should, be ordained as deacons. I say it’s more “interesting” largely because Francis’s answer is...
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Pope speaks on refugees, women priests, Protestants, and more

Pope speaks on refugees, women priests, Protestants, and more

  Pope Francis on Tuesday said that fear is a poor adviser for countries struggling to set policies for immigrants and refugees, suggested that Catholicism's ban on women priests is "forever," and also confirmed that the Vatican will participate in talks to try to address Venezuela's tensions under President Nicolas Maduro. In considering how many migrants and refugees a country should take, governments should have an “open heart” but also exercise prudence in working out how many it’s capable of integrating, Pope Francis told journalists on his return flight from Sweden Tuesday. Francis also answered questions on women priests, the Vatican’s role in the Venezuelan crisis, his relationship with evangelicals, as well as secularization. Responding to a Swedish journalist who asked him about countries which shut their borders to migrants, he said “in theory” a country should never refuse to take refugees, but the obligation was not to only to receive them but to integrate them into society. He said as an...
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Pope’s Sweden trip a lab experiment in Catholic-Lutheran cooperation

Pope’s Sweden trip a lab experiment in Catholic-Lutheran cooperation

  Although the main event of Pope Francis's Sweden visit on Monday and Tuesday are the two commemorations with global Lutheran leaders, the Lutheran-Catholic relationship on the ground reflects both cooperation and major differences, despite the fact that if all Sweden’s 115,000 Catholics turned up in Rome, they’d struggle to fill St. Peter’s Square. Because Pope Francis’s Sweden visit on Monday and Tuesday will be mainly focused on the joint global Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the Protestant Reformation in Lund, it is all too possible to overlook the country’s tiny but growing Catholic community, and its relationship to the majority Lutherans. (Just how tiny can be pictured: If all Sweden’s 115,000 Catholics, less than one percent of its population, turned up in Rome, they’d struggle to fill St. Peter’s Square.) It’s so easy to forget the Catholic footprint in Sweden, in fact, that for months after the papal visit was announced- the first in 30 years - the pope wasn’t even scheduled to say...
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Pope in Sweden could break ground on inter-communion, bishop says

Pope in Sweden could break ground on inter-communion, bishop says

  The English bishop William Kenney is a key figure in the official Catholic-Lutheran dialogue, and will be with Pope Francis in Sweden at the end of the month. He believes unity is a matter of decades away, and it's possible that Francis may use the trip to make a gesture on inter-communion. To describe English bishop William Kenney as an “auxiliary of Birmingham” doesn’t capture the depth and range of his longstanding roles in pan-European church bodies - for two terms, for example, he was president of Caritas Europe, and he played a key role in organizing relief efforts for former Soviet countries following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Next week he will be part of a small, inner core at the joint Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation for which Francis will be going to Sweden. It’s the first visit by any pope to Scandinavia since John Paul II’s 1989 visit, which Kenney, incidentally, coordinated. A fluent Swedish-speaker...
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