Shrine to Migrants in St. Peter's Square

Last month, in honor of  the Vatican’s World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis unveiled a three-ton shrine to migrants in St. Peter’s Square. Lumpen and inert, the addition is no surprise. Less and less is art conceived or promoted in terms of aesthetic value. It has become a form of advocacy journalism. Even in the Vatican, a repository of centuries of cultured achievement, political significance is the primary measure of artistic significance. St. Peter’s spanking-new monument squats in proximity to the luminous twin fountains by Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Continue Reading

Coverage of Pope Francis by the mainstream Catholic press is barely worth reading. It confuses the papacy—most especially, this particular pontificate—with the Church itself. Scrap the dominant Catholic punditry. Ignore anodyne broadcasts from the Vatican Press Office. Get your goods from somewhere off the ghetto newsstand. Go some place where insight into the character of this pontificate is not befogged by misplaced deference or courtier’s ambition. One place to go is Daniel Williams’ blog Next War Notes. Williams is the author of the recently published Forsaken: The Persecution of Christians in Today’s Middle East (2016). Continue Reading

One thing for which we can be grateful to Pope Francis: His pontificate puts paid to the superstition that our popes are chosen by the Holy Spirit. That could only be believable if we are willing to say that the Spirit operates like a one-eyed Odin, setting his dogs loose at conclaves. On Rorate Caeli this morning is a pronunciamento by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin. It had appeared in La Repubblica on November 16, after the atrocity in Paris. Continue Reading