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Pope Benedict before his throne in the Vatican.
Pope Benedict XVI will be the first pope to abdicate his throne in six-hundred years.
  • By the end of this month, Pope Benedict XVI will be gone. His reign wasn't shaping up to be much in the way of greatness, but recent events suggest the final verdict may be quite worse. The latest rumors swirling about the Vatican:
    Italy's Repubblica newspaper ran a series of unsourced stories this week about the alleged contents of a secret report prepared for the pope by a commission of three cardinals who investigated the so-called Vatileaks scandal last year.

    Paolo Gabriele, the pope's butler, was convicted of stealing personal papal documents and leaking them to the media. He was jailed and later pardoned by the pope.

    The documents alleged corruption in the Vatican and infighting over the running of its bank, which has been at the heart of a series of scandals in past decades.

    On Friday the Vatican denied Italian media reports that Benedict's decision to send a senior official to a new post in Latin America was linked to the secret report about leaked papal papers.

    True or not, Benedict's papacy is tarnished by a bunch of other scandals, many of which have their roots during the reign of his hallowed predecessor. Historians outside of Rome's own may reevaluate Pope John Paul II's legacy as the Mother Church's current hierarchy was almost exclusively created by him. That is the same hierarchy that has been mired in scandal for decades, the same one that produced Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI.
  • National Catholic Reporter's John R. Allen, Jr., writes in his publication:
    Among many cardinals, it's become a fixed point of faith that the Vatican is long overdue for a serious housecleaning, and certainly the furor unleashed by the La Repubblica piece is likely to strengthen that conviction.

    Another news report Friday suggested Benedict XVI may authorize sharing the three cardinals' report with the other members of the college to help guide their deliberations about what, and who, the Church needs to move forward.

    Allen goes on to write that he believes that Benedict lacked energy required to clean house and that this played a role in his resignation.
  • Catholic membership at the beginning of 2012 reach a total 1.2 billion, a record. Contrary to popular belief, membership in the Church is not shrinking overall. But it is shrinking in the Western world, North America and Europe. Over 75% of the world's Catholics live outside of Europe. Yet, the Church's top ranks remains overwhelmingly European. Since the 1960's, the Church's fastest growing membership demographic is Africans, followed by Asians, although this has slowed since the death of John Paul II.
  • The Church's decline in the West has not abated as the institution becomes increasingly conservative, doctrinally and politically. The Church and its allies wage all its battles on the conservative side of social issues, contributing great wealth to the anti-marriage equality and assisted suicide movements. The Knights of Columbus, a key ally loyal to the American Bishops and Cardinals, contributes millions to fighting marriage equality.

    But the Church does not, as a rule, use its wealth to fight poverty in the public policy sphere. For that, it limits itself to a charitable role only. So it appears one area of Church doctrine, personal behavior is worth fighting for in the public arena. But the other area of Church doctrine, which lends itself to a social democratic view of dividing the spoils of civilization, gets almost no political support.

    Perhaps if the Church in the West started fighting on the social justice side of Church teaching, they'd get some new people in the pews.

  • I'll enjoy reading the links you post in today's open thread. Discussion welcomed.

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