Top 10 neglected Vatican stories of 2007
John Allen of National Catholic Reporter summarizes what he feels were the ten most neglected stories concerning the Vatican in 2007. Here is a snippet:
The story has not gotten the play it should and is well worth the read...
4) A pope of hope: Despite his erstwhile reputation as an Augustinian pessimist, Benedict XVI struck two major blows for hope in 2007. In April, the International Theological Commission, acting on his recommendation, suggested that limbo (a destination for unbaptized babies in the afterlife) could be set aside in favor of hope for their salvation. In December, Benedict issued his encyclical Spe Salvi (“Saved by Hope”), offering a positive spin on eschatology. The Last Judgment, for example, is not a threat of damnation, but a promise that justice will eventually prevail in a world in which evil too often goes unchecked.
3) Redefining dialogue with Islam: In October, 138 Muslim scholars, jurists and clerics, representing all major Islamic traditions, wrote to Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders, suggesting that love of God and of neighbor represent a common theological ground. While Benedict appreciated the gesture (in mid-November, he proposed a meeting with the signatories to be organized by Jordan’s Prince Ghazi), he and his top lieutenants have signaled that they’re less interested in theological exchange than in working with Muslims on practical diplomatic, social and cultural matters -- beginning with religious freedom, and especially the status of Christians in majority Muslim states.
2) A double play for Catholic identity: In July, Benedict XVI authorized wider celebration of the old Latin Mass, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith asserted that Catholicism remains the lone “true church.” Both were victories for efforts to buttress traditional Catholic identity. On the ground, however, Benedict’s Latin Mass motu proprio has not yet been the revolution some anticipated. A November New York Times survey found that while some younger Catholics appear drawn to the old rite, new interest has surfaced in just one or two parishes in each of the 25 largest archdioceses in America.
1) Christ at the core: For Benedict XVI, 2007 was clearly a Christological year. In his book Jesus of Nazareth, in his speeches in Brazil, in the Vatican’s notice on Jesuit theologian Jon Sobrino, in Spe Salvi, and in countless other venues, Benedict hammered home his core message to the modern world: A just society cannot be built without reference to God, and only in Christ is the full reality of God made clear. Preaching Christ is thus not a distraction from building a better world; it is building a better world. Perhaps that’s why Benedict was often invisible to global newspapers; a pope talking about Christ may seem the ultimate in “dog bites man” stories, but it was nonetheless Benedict’s clear idée fixe.