Pope Francis, in another step towards greater equality for women in the Roman Catholic Church, on Monday changed its law to allow them to serve as readers at liturgies, altar servers and distributors of communion. In a decree, the pope formalized what already has been happening in many countries for years. But with the change in the Code of Canon Law, conservative bishops will not be able to block women in their diocese from those roles.
The Vatican has urged Catholics to get vaccinated against coronavirus and said it is “morally acceptable” to take vaccines that use cell lines from aborted fetuses. Cells derived from fetuses aborted decades ago have been used by some researchers working on vaccines against Covid-19. The use of such vaccines “does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive”, a note said.
Pope Francis has named 13 new cardinals, including Washington DC Archbishop Wilton Gregory. The 73-year-old will become the first African-American prelate to wear the coveted red hat. The selection of Mr Gregory won praise from LGBTQ advocates in the US, days after the pontiff voiced support for civil unions for gay couples. The pope said the 13 will officially be elevated to their new status in a ceremony on 28 November.
Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples in a documentary that aired in Rome on Wednesday. “Homosexuals have a right to be part of the family,” the pontiff said in “Francesco,” a documentary about his life. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
Pope Francis said the beatification of an Italian computer whiz-kid was a sign to young people that “true happiness comes from putting God first”. Carlo Acutis, who is on a path to sainthood after being beatified in the Umbrian town of Assisi, helped spread Roman Catholic teaching online before his death from leukaemia aged 15 in 2006. He is the youngest contemporary person to be beatified.
Pope Francis declined to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his trip to Rome on Wednesday so as to avoid being used as a tool for President Trump’s reelection, according to Vatican officials. Pompeo visited Rome on Wednesday to push back against the renewal of a 2018 deal between China and the Vatican. Pompeo is not part of the Trump reelection campaign.
The powerful head of the Vatican’s saint-making office, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, resigned suddenly Thursday from the post and renounced his rights as a cardinal amid a financial scandal that has reportedly implicated him indirectly. Becciu, the former No. 2 in the Vatican’s secretariat of state, has been reportedly implicated in a financial scandal involving the Vatican’s investment in a London real estate deal that has lost the Holy See millions of euros in fees paid to middlemen.
Nearly three years after the release of a damning national report into child sexual abuse, the Australian government has published dozens of previously redacted pages of text relating to Cardinal George Pell. The commission found that, as early as 1973, the former Vatican Treasurer “was not only conscious of child sex abuse by clergy but that he also had considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it.”
In a nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis celebrated Easter in virtual solitude on Sunday, calling for the world to come together in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The world is “oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family,” Francis said. In the midst of that suffering, Francis said, the message that Christ has risen is “the contagion of hope.”
Pope Francis has addressed the mystery of why he withdrew his hand from worshippers’ kisses, explaining it was a “simple question of hygiene”. Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the Pope was worried about germs when meeting Catholics last Wednesday. Conservative critics rounded on the pontiff, accusing him of shunning the centuries-old tradition. Video showing Pope Francis pulling away his hand from people attempting to kiss him went viral.