When you walk through the Vatican Museums, one of the things that you likely won't notice on the way to the Sistine Chapel is a wall made of windows and large doors tucked behind a gift shop that have the seal of Pope Benedict XVI above them.
While the culture wars are usually attributed to the Christian right, the U.S. Catholic bishops are in many ways responsible for starting the culture wars that have polarized society and paralyzed our political process. Today, the Catholic bishops have a chance to back down from the culture wars they started. The question is: will they?
Even though he is the mighty "sovereign pontiff," he also knows he cannot just simply impose touchy pastoral shifts overnight without harming the Church's unity. As a former archbishop coming from "the end of the world," the Argentinian pope does not want Rome to solely decide.
The news media is always rife with stories about foreign countries exporting hate and animosity to the United States, but we hear very little regarding those who promote peace and religious harmony, such as Albania. The Pope's visit focused on the harmonious co-existence between Muslims and Christians in the country.
NBA and college basketball great Jimmy Walker once said to me, 'Ray, you were one of the best outside shooters in college basketball and the highest vote getter in Boston history, when you were Mayor of Boston, so now that you are out of politics and sports, does all that excitement and meaning in life come to an end? Basketball is over for me, so what happens next?'
Pope Francis' best asset is his lasting popularity outside his own Church. His limits are his own physical capacity. He told reporters he gave himself "two or three years" before death. He does not rule out retirement before then.
Proselytizing limits the wildly beautiful story of God and God's people into a sample script. I agree we need more conversions in this world, but at least as many conversions need to take place within the Church as outside of it.
As I write this, the House has still not managed to pass a bill to deal with the border crisis. They've been trying for a few days now, but have been locked in a serious battle between Tea Party hardliners and Republicans from more moderate districts.
In John 17, Jesus said, "I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in m...
This anonymous little store will endure as the truest testament of what was there and all that was lost. It stands as the purest expression of memory possible: A memory encased in continuing function at the service of architecture and its modern demands.
Biblically informed observers observe that there is something biblically-nuanced about movements which, though obscure and once-powerless, are now changing the Christian Church in European and other parts, while the big and powerful churches rarely prosper. Yes, how ironic.
At all levels, the visit of Pope Francis to Jordan and Palestine was a huge success. For about 26 hours, everything was implemented as planned. And the few unplanned moments worked out quite well, leaving indelible memories and images.
Pope Francis has shown us a faithful, peaceful approach to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. All of us can follow his example. We are all Pope Francis now. It is up to all of us.
Pope Francis' trip to Israel beginning on May 25 is clearly an important visit, as any papal appearance is. Its greatest importance may lie in the fact that it reflects the normalization of relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel, not to mention Catholic-Jewish relations more broadly.
We have seen a great shift in this Vatican's tone. But what have we not seen? We have not seen the shift fully extend to the women of the church.
Who would have imagined that the third pope in 15 years will be visiting Israel -- the nation state of the Jewish people -- and Palestine and Jordan? This would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago.