It marked the third consecutive year that the pope has slammed the highest levels of the Catholic Church’s administration in his annual holiday greeting at the Vatican.
CHR Comment: The pope’s comments perhaps illustrate his rising frustration as he attempts reforms. Conservative Catholics are not accepting Francis’s modernism; liberal Catholics are waiting for more substantial changes and not receiving them.
Source: Pope: Resistance to Vatican reform inspired by devil
One school reveals depth of affection and connection to the pope.
CHR Comment: Catholic students in Massachusetts are naming their high school after Francis. The article comments on how many Catholics favor Francis while having negative views of their church body.
Source: Youth puts its faith in Francis
(RNS) Ever since Pope Francis was elected, he has faced strong opposition to his push for church reforms — and the face of that opposition has often been Cardinal Raymond Burke.
CHR Comment: Burke’s change in service has raised questions about the relationship between this conservative American Cardinal and Pope Francis.
Source: Cardinal Burke insists he is serving Francis, not opposing him | Religion News Service
Pope Francis set up a commission Tuesday to study the role of female deacons in the Catholic Church.
CHR Comment: The topic came up in May. This announcement makes the study official.
Source: Pope sets up commission to study women deacons
Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop to lead Germany’s Limburg diocese, ending a more than two-year hiatus after he removed the previous bishop amid an uproar over his costly new residence.
CHR Comment: One wonders how so much money could be spent without someone noticing earlier.
Source: Pope appoints successor to German ‘bling bishop’ – The Washington Post
In a groundbreaking statement about homosexuality, Pope Francis says Christians and the Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from gay people and others they have offended or treated poorly in the past.
CHR Comment: This article seems biased or poorly written. For example, the headline suggests that the Pope was speaking for all Christians. The actual quotation from Francis in the article speaks on behalf of Roman Catholicism and the doctrine in its official catechism. One also wonders about the description of Francis’s statement in 2013; as stated in the article, it might be interpreted to imply that God created human beings with a predisposition toward homosexuality, which would conflict with Catholic teaching about the purposes of marriage and family.
Source: Pope Francis says Christians should apologize to gay people
Pope Francis said Thursday that the great majority of sacramental marriages today are not valid, because couples do not enter into them with a proper understanding of permanence and commitment.
CHR Comment: I waited to collect this story because it seemed incredible when I first read about it. I was sure there would be a follow up story. Now it is available. Pope Francis initially said that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null.” He has officially changed the transcript of his comments to say that “a portion of our sacramental marriages are null.” The article includes further comments about waiting to get married until couples have matured. However, the practice he describes in Argentina seems to assume that pre-marital sex is a given and not much of an issue. So where do Roman Catholic Christians go from here?
The second link below is to commentary from an American professor of canon law. Stay tuned on this issue.
Source: Updated: Most marriages today are invalid, Pope Francis suggests :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
When Pope Francis announced his willingness to appoint a commission to study whether women can serve . . . .
CHR Comment: Charlotte Allen summarizes the historic service of women deacon(s/nesses) in view of Pope Francis’s announcement about a possible commission to study whether there might be modern deaconesses. Allen points out that deaconess service was not like that of the male deacons. They mostly did charitable work and served other women, especially at Baptism and in nunneries.
A root of such service may be connected with the enrollment of widows as described in 1 Timothy 5 where older women whose families could not support them were supported by the church while also serving. They are described as abiding in prayer and performing good works (vv. 5, 10).
Source: The True History of Women Deacons | Charlotte Allen | First Things
Pope Francis said he wants to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons, a step that could for the first time open the ranks of the Catholic Church’s all-male clergy to women.
CHR Comment: The word “deacon” literally means “servant,” and was variously used in the Scriptures and in church history. The article explains that currently ordained Roman Catholic deacons are allowed to preach at Mass but cannot consecrate the Sacrament. Whether women deacons would have the same office and service as the male deacons would be part of the study. In any case, “deacon” has meant many things over the centuries.
Source: Pope Francis: Let’s study possibility of ordaining women deacons
Pope Francis lays out his case for emphasizing the merciful face of the Catholic Church in his first book as pontiff, saying God never tires of forgiving and actually prefers the sinners who repent over self-righteous moralizers who don’t.
CHR Comment: Based on reviews, Pope Francis is clear that he believes God is merciful and that Christians should also be merciful. However, the book is not clear on another point of doctrine that is essential to that emphasis. It does not provide clear answers about sin, or at least about certain controversial topics. If the doctrine of sin remains unclear, then the doctrine of repentance and forgiveness remains unclear. If forgiveness is unclear, people may be left in self-righteousness or uncertainty and the result is not mercy but malaise. More to come on all this, to be sure.
The second review posted below includes some direct quotations of the book. His comments on the issues of corruption are most interesting.
Source: Francis lays out case for mercy in 1st book as pope – The Washington Post
USA Today Review with Quotations