“The Conclave is very much a struggle for the institutional heart of the Church”

No white smoke yet White smoke from the papal conclave.  The successor to Benedict XVI will need the support of two thirds of the 115 cardinals present – the Guardian is live-blogging events.  And, as the BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt reminds us, the choice is not the one some might wish it to be.  From Gavin Hewitt During Monday afternoon one of the most powerful brokers in the Vatican hierarchy returned to the sensitive subject of the Vatican Bank. Cardinal …

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Pope Benedict XVI: “with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome”

For anyone seriously concerned with his “legacy”, the surprise announcement by Pope Benedict XVI, of his intention to renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome “as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours”, deserves a more considered approach.  For example, following on from his initial response, at the Telegraph Blogs Damian Thompson reproduces the Catholic Herald’s “10 reasons why Catholics should give thanks for the Pope’s ministry”.  As Damian Thompson adds,  I don’t expect non-Catholics, or even all Catholics, to agree with …

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FMdFM: “It was important that we were there and right that we were there…”

The First and deputy First Ministers continue their evasive response to criticism of their failure to accept their invitation to attend Pope Benedict XVI’s official welcome on the first-ever papal state visit to the UK. One’s clinging to his political psychosis/comfort blanket, the other’s claiming they were double-booked.  That’s why you have junior ministers, guys. As for the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister’s claim that he “also [has] some grounds for believing [a Papal visit to Ireland] could happen as soon as 2012”.  What grounds would …

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Pope’s visit and “historical ignorance—that great anaesthetic of all debate in England”

We’ve had a few emotive posts on the Pope’s – in the end – fairly quiet and unobtrusive visit to Britain. Ironically, his visit to the British parliament was shunned by both First and deputy First Ministers for different reasons. Brian says it’s because Britain is a civil nation. Well that depends on which way you look at things. Bagehot’s Notes gets closest to contextualising the terse and downright rude reception given the Pope by some of Britain’s foremost public commentators: …

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OFMDFM’s dilemma

Nevermind the Presbyterian moderator, at least he’s going to be there.  Our own little Process™ might have got a special mention as Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Edinburgh today on his first ever state visit to the UK, but no-one from the Northern Ireland Executive was there to hear it – despite an invitation being sent to the Office of the First and deputy First Ministers. Apparently that’s what happens when you can’t meet the Pope/Queen without meeting the Queen/Pope… Adds  An otherwise somewhat unbalanced BBC report notes …

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“I wonder if he has been dropped because he is an embarrassment.”

The last minute substitution of one of Emperor Pope Benedict XVI’s team to visit the UK has been, officially, blamed on ill health.  The Telegraph’s “blood crazed ferret” Damian Thompson has welcomed the news that a moderate theologian, the 77-year-old Cardinal Walter Kasper, will not be part of the semi-state visit. But I doubt the reference to “aggressive new atheism” had anything to do with it.  After all, Benedict’s been there before. Here’s a rough translation from a FOCUS magazine report In the …

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Don’t go back to the bad old days

The question discussed by BBC NI religion presenter Will Crawley of whether the Irish Presbyterian moderator should attend on the Pope  reminds me of the stern warning issued  by the Skibbereen Eagle in west Cork in the 1850s, Skibereen  has its eye on the Czar.”  Not many outside Skib noticed until the headline  became a cute byword for inflated self importance.     But it sure takes you back to the old days.   Paisley  can’t  resist reliving the glory of those flour sacks  at the back …

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“verdict against Galileo was rational and just…”

Galileo Galilei didn’t invent the telescope.  But he was convicted of heresy by the Catholic Church.  I’ve mentioned his trial before.  And Pope Benedict XVI’s argument that the “verdict against Gaileo was rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives of political opportunism.” [Adds As tierney comments below, I should have noted that Benedict is quoting the philosopher P Feyerabend] Today Will Crawley noted the arguments of a Fr Ernan McMullin On today’s Sunday Sequence, Fr Ernan McMullin, …

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“Knowledge is power”

He might not be a young-Earther, but he’s not at all happy with the modern age. Pope Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical – “‘SPE SALVI facti sumus’ – in hope we were saved” – earns him a front page report in today’s Irish Times. The report identifies the key theme in the encyclical, which ploughs a familiar furrow, “Man cannot be redeemed by science”. Benedict points the finger of blame for, among other things, the French Revolution, Marxism and the Russian …

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