Benedict XVI

The Catholic Church associates the image of fire with the final purification known as purgatory. Why does it do this? Is there a scriptural basis for this image? Also, what kind of fire is this? In past centuries, many theologians have speculated that it might be a form of material fire. Although that has been […]

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Benedict XVI’s resignation may have been the first papal resignation in hundreds of years, but it didn’t come completely out of the blue. He’d already indicated that he had been thinking about the subject of resignation. What is less well known is that other recent popes had been thinking about it, too. A lot of recent […]

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As we look forward to the coming conclave, it’s natural to ask, “How long will it last?” Nobody knows at this point, but it’s possible to get a sense by looking at history. Here are some surprising things you may not have known.   Birth of the Conclave In the history of the papacy there […]

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Many people have been talking about a woman who calls herself “Maria Divine Mercy.” She has made dramatic claims in the form of alleged private revelations. She claims to have predicted Pope Benedict’s resignation in advance. She also claims that he will be the last pope on earth, that the next pope to be elected […]

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It’s common for Catholics to say that a newly elected pope is “God’s choice” or that, the Holy Spirit chooses the new pope. There’s a sense in which this is true. But does that mean that we can just sit back and assume the ideal candidate will be elected? If so, why do we need […]

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Pope Benedict’s resignation has stirred up a good bit of discussion of the so-called “Prophecy of the Popes,” attributed to St. Malachy of Ireland (1094-1148). The prophecy is a list of 112 mottoes that allegedly describe the popes stretching from St. Malachy’s time to the end of time. Supposedly, Pope Benedict is identified with #111, […]

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There haven’t been that many popes who have resigned, and none of them offer an exact parallel to the case of Pope Benedict. However, there is one pope–St. Celestine V–who is by far the closest parallel. Who was he? Why did he resign? And what does his strange case tell us about Pope Benedict’s decision […]

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On June 10, 2004, Pope John Paul II announced a special Year of the Eucharist, which would begin in October of that year and last until October 2005. It was not the first special year that John Paul II proclaimed. In fact, it followed close on the heels of the Year of the Rosary (2002-2003), […]

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In the wake of Pope Benedict’s announcement that he is resigning from the papacy, I thought I would speak with the historian Dr. Andrew Jones about the history of papal resignations. While it hasn’t happened often in history, there have been popes who have resigned before, and their resignations (technically, their renunciations of the papacy) […]

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Yesterday I was interviewed by KPBS–the local PBS affiliate–on the resignation of Pope Benedict and the upcoming conclave. It was a brief segment–just five minutes, and they told us in advance that they were going to ask like six questions in that five minutes, so we have to be really concise. What I was most […]

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