Until the man we know as Pope Francis came more prominently into view, the West could have been characterized (unfairly, it turns out) as hobbled by a taste for certainty, an unduly literal apprehension of the expressions of faith, and a profoundly proscriptive moralism.
Pope Francis continues to radically refocus the Catholic Church and, even as a non-Catholic, I am beginning to view him as a personal pastor.
In saying "I have never been a right-winger" in the same interview in which he's criticizing the church for being too "obsessed" with gay marriage and abortion, Francis is hitting at those Catholic leaders who use gay rights and abortion to wield political power, putting them on notice.
I've been wandering from Afghanistan to Mali, trying to visit as many living and dead Sufi masters -- and shrines -- as I possibly can. But perhaps no place excited me more than the splendid shrine of John the Baptist in the Umayyad Mosque of Syria.
Our most recent trip to Italy included a stop in Rome where we had a day planned to take in the Eternal City's most treasured sites. And we spent way too much time distracted by the somewhat odd souvenir tributes to the new Pope.
Apparently, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI recently told this to a friend, according to the unnamed source, and as reported by the Catholic news agency, Zenit. Benedict says that a mystical experience of hearing God's "voice" is the primary reason he stepped down this past winter.
If any effective way of settling disputes or preventing bloody conflict in the future is to come about, the whole structure of the UN needs to be changed.
Could President Obama's second term be marred by further revelations stemming from the NSA scandal?
It does appear that Pope Francis has, to date, reflected the "culture of solidarity" he called for in Brazil, but does this really mean that we are looking at a potentially different Catholic church?
As a Catholic nun for seven years I saw the power of the Catholic Church in making and breaking rules, baptizing and excommunicating members, and throwing a heap of guilt on those poor souls that miss their mark of perfection.
We are "gravely disordered," "afflicted with evil tendencies," our relationships constitute a "troubling moral and social phenomenon," and "a destruction of God's work," which "threatens human dignity and the future of humanity itself," but the Church somehow deeply respects us?
If we do choose to praise Pope Francis, we shouldn't see this as a divergence from his previous comments, because much of Pope Francis' teachings preach inclusion for those on the margins, whether the poor, or uneducated, and now the sexually marginalized.
In his visit to the favela, speaking to the poor, the pope also used some words dear to me--"social justice," "solidarity," "inequalities"--that I believe are at the heart of what we need to be thinking about as Christians in the modern world.
Pope Francis I arrived in Brazil Monday to begin the first trip to Latin America of the first Latin American pope. Whatever your views on his mission, it is a historic visit, with potentially broad implications for the region.
Matthew Fox offers advice to Pope Francis on dozens of hot-button issues that were mostly silenced by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Imagine an issue that you might care about and it is here. Birth control. Pre-marital sex. Ordaining women. Looking to more than the Bible and Church tradition (nature, science, creative arts, imagination) for God's revelation.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) will investigate widespread sexual assault against children by Catholic clergy. "We ...