Paul Wilkes: When in Rome
From John Paul II's funeral to Benedict XVI's election, Beliefnet's correspondent reports on the momentous events in Rome.
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This dramatic transformation of a doctrinal watchdog into a gentle pastor has the Catholic world -– and the entire world -– wondering what to make of Benedict XVI. Do his words signal a new, more dynamic and open Catholic Church or, like the blossoms, the flashy onset of still another predictable season?
Many say we should wait and see and, of course, that is what we must do. But let me offer a way to do that. I want to put before you a series of questions, a series of litmus tests, so that we can better evaluate this man -– with the incredibly difficult job he has –- in the months ahead.
Print out this list and tack it onto on your bulletin board or attach it to the refrigerator with a magnet. Every once in a while, take a look. I assembled these questions after consulting a wide range of Catholics -- priests, an advertising executive, a CPA, a former writer for a diocesan paper, an executive at one of our major TV networks, a diocesan staff person, a dozen others.
What do you think? What are your impressions and questions?
Anatomy of an Election
What went on inside the papal conclave that stunned the world not only by acting quickly, but by choosing a conservative loyalist to virtually step into the footprints of the conservative John Paul II?
Someday we may know the full story, gleaned from words spoken openly or leaked inadvertently by one or some of the 115 cardinals of the Catholic Church who were sequestered in the Sistine Chapel and vowed to secrecy—under the pain of excommunication—not to reveal any of proceedings.
But after talking to Vatican insiders and others with years of access to the Curia, and after piecing together shreds of evidence from interviews with church leaders and other experienced Vatican watchers, here is this reporter’s reconstruction of what may have occurred.