catholic church

[From the Archives] It may now be time to swing for the fences and for Washington to increase quiet coordination with the Vatican.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition coalition representatives agreed Tuesday to hold talks on ending two months of anti-government protests that have left 39 people dead in their oil-rich nation.

Pope Francis on Sunday named his first batch of cardinals, choosing 19 men from Asia, Africa and elsewhere, including Haiti and Burkino Faso, to reflect his attention to the poor. Francis made the announcement as he spoke from his studio window to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square. Sixteen of the appointees are younger than 80, meaning they are eligible to elect the next pontiff, which is a cardinal’s most important task. The ceremony to formally install them will be held Feb. 22 at the Vatican.

The Vatican announced Tuesday it would host a workshop early in the new year to brainstorm peaceful solutions to the ongoing civil war in Syria.The Vatican has invited leading figures including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to brainstorming sessions on Jan. 13.

On the cusp of the New Year 2014, I went to St. Peter’s Square to see and hear perhaps the only person in the world -- not counting Justin Bieber, Rihanna or the boys in One Direction -- able to draw an eager outdoor crowd of 100,000 on a chilly, drizzly, gray December afternoon. It was Pope Francis’ first Christmas Day speech to the city and the world, and what I witnessed was a leader aware that he lives in an era of rampant digital disruption.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas urged Christian pilgrims from around the world to visit the Holy Land to mark the visit of Pope Francis, set for 2014, in a Christmas message on Monday. The pontiff is to make a brief visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories from May 25, his first to the Holy Land, Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot said last week.

The Catholic Church’s crisis in clergy child sexual abuse is rooted in a de facto immunity enjoyed by bishops and cardinals, regardless of their negligence. The soft-glove approach to accountability by John Paul II and Benedict XVI stemmed from a theological concept, apostolic succession, which sees every bishop as a spiritual descendant of Jesus’s apostles. Somewhere along the way, apostolic succession erased the memory of Judas, the betrayer.

Pope Francis is once again shaking things up in the Catholic Church. On Tuesday, he issued his first “apostolic exhortation,” declaring a new enemy for the Catholic Church: modern capitalism. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” he wrote.