The religion beat has been dominated by pope news over the last week and there's sure more to come as we inch close to Pope Benedict XVI's last day in office on February 28. In case you've got lost in the flurry of pope news, here are just a few of the weekend's headlines.
-- Will there be an early conclave? Maybe. Maybe not. Some cardinals, such as New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Paris' Archbishop André Vingt-Trois, have come out against the idea that's being floated of an early election of the new pope (h/t @Tornielli via @roccopalmo).
-- How about a pope from the U.S.? Dolan says people who think he will become the first American pope are smoking dope (NY Post).
-- At National Catholic Reporter, Vatican scribe John Allen, Jr. is penning a daily profile of each of the papabili (men who could be the next pope). His first piece is on Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. Separately, Allen also notes that the Italian press is buzzing over Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley.
-- Washington Post's Jason Horowitz takes a step away from the "next pope" predictions to dive into VatiLeaks and "a fractured Vatican full of rivalries."
-- Italian Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, one of the 117 who will elect the new pope, says fellow Cardinal Roger Mahony should take a hint and not show up for the papal conclave. Thousands of personnel files released last month by the Los Angeles archdiocese pointed toward Mahony covering up child abuse by priests during his leadership (La Repubblica via Global Post).
-- China's reaction to the pope's resignation offers an insight into the nation's unusual relationship with the church. It allows Catholics to worship, but they can only publicly do so in state-run churches that do not answer to the Vatican. Agence-France Press takes a look.
-- Closer to home, Frank Bruni says that most American Catholic's don't really care about what the pope and the Vatican have to say.
-- Benedict's official biographer claims the pope went blind in the left eye and had lost weight from the pressure of the papacy (International Business Times).
-- The pope's on his weeklong Lenten retreat, but that doesn't mean the news stops. This time, he's being aided by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi of Italy, who is leading the retreat and tweeting from it (Ravasi is one of many picks among church observers for the next pope).
-- Just in case you were wondering: the cardinals who will elect the new pope are banned from tweeting the process.
-- At USA Today, Mary Johnson, a former sister with the Missionaries of Charity, says the pope was revolutionary because "he treated the papacy not like a sacrament or a monarchy, but a job."
-- Bill Keller says the church is not just a church, but a troubled "a closely held conglomerate" that needs a "serious relaunch" now that it's "C.E.O" is stepping down. Some Catholics, as you can imagine, are not happy with the description (NY Times).
-- Nobody knows what Benedict will be called once he's no longer pope (h/t @roccopalmo) and it's also unclear what name the new pope will take. But Jimmy Akin, who runs www.popenamesbook.com (he also wrote an e-book by that name) has some interesting observations. Here's a snippet: there have been 265 popes but only 81 names used for them.
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