The Popes: With Some Notes On Church History
The pope is responsible for the approval of bishops, amounting to hundreds appointed worldwide every year.
Recent popes have also mounted frequent pilgrimages abroad. John Paul has been the most well-traveled, visiting countries, and was the first in millennia to visit a synagogue and the first ever to enter an Islamic mosque. The next pope is expected to continue efforts accelerated by Pope Benedict to address the child sex abuse scandal.
Many of the abuse cases date to decades ago, but new accusations and charges of cover-up continue to plague the church. A number of church observers have said reform efforts should focus on establishing a mechanism for holding bishops accountable for their role in the scandals.
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Gaillardetz of Boston College says the demands of running the church are beyond the capacities of the pope and his Curia. How you hold that diversity together is an incredibly difficult challenge. The next pope will be arriving midway through the "year of the faith" designed to reinforce church doctrine. But opinion surveys in recent years have shown divisions among Catholics over questions related to adjusting traditional beliefs as well as the proportion of church focus on social justice and right-to-life issues.
In the past fifty years, experts say, popes have taken a more outspoken stance on global issues.
Other popes have spoken out regularly on environmental stewardship, alleviating poverty, capitalism and inequality, and defending human rights. Pope Benedict gave particular attention to defending religious freedom, telling the UN General Assembly in PDF : "The full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order.
The next pope will continue to face challenges to protecting church interests, including friction between the church and authorities in places like China and Vietnam, competition by Christian Pentecostalism in Latin America, and ongoing concerns about freedom to worship in Muslim states, especially amid the turmoil created by the Arab Spring uprisings in the Mideast and North Africa.see
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How do U. Catholics view the church and what they wish to see in a new pope? This Pew Center on Religion study examines the issues. The National Catholic Reporter published a series in January looking at the issue of ordaining women as clergy in historical context. George Weigel, a distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writes for the publication First Things about distinguishing " authentic Catholic reform from ersatz Catholic reform.
Examine the trove of documents on church positions produced by the Second Vatican Council. Backgrounder by Jonathan Masters August 12, In Brief by Brad W.
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Where did the Roman Catholic Church come from?
This publication is now archived. How is the pope elected? More on: Religion Vatican City There have been papal conclaves in times of crisis before, such as in and on the brink of world wars, but rarely has a papal succession occurred with such internal scandal, says Rev.
What are the main election criteria for the cardinals? Who are leading candidates to become pope?
More on: Religion Vatican City The pope also has authority over the functions of the church, including oversight of the Roman Curia, the collection of departments overseeing such areas as Catholic education, spiritual orders, interreligious affairs, and the Secretariat of State foreign policy. What are the modern foreign policy duties of the pope? Additional reading How do U.
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Pope urged to reflect on condom use
Declan Butler. The election of conservative Joseph Ratzinger as Pope has led many to predict that the Roman Catholic Church, which forbids the use of condoms, will not consider lifting the ban to prevent the spread of disease. But there is some chance that the Pope could entertain debate on the issue. Ratzinger was a top official in the Vatican when discussion on condom use reopened within the past few years, says Plumley. And although the Church's teachings on human-embryo research and contraception are governed by dogma, it does not have an official opinion on the use of condoms as a means to prevent disease, according to Maurizio Calipari, a bioethicist at the state's Pontifical Academy for Life.
Ratzinger developed a reputation as an 'enforcer' while heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body that succeeded the Roman Inquisition.