When it came to assuring a favorable reception of the recent Vatican document on church law governing clerical sex abuse, the inclusion of a provision listing forbidden ordinations of women among grievous crimes was a stroke of genius. Keep that person at work, and we can look forward to similar brilliant moves. ROME, August 30 Pope Benedict XVI capped his impassioned address yesterday on the moral obligation to prevent global warming with a severe condemnation of clown Masses. The two items were juxtaposed, a Vatican official later explained, because the Holy Father considers them both questions of environmental pollution. LONDON, September 19 Preaching today at the beatification of John Henry Newman, one of the giants of modern Roman Catholic theology and spirituality, Pope Benedict XVI seized the opportunity to remind divorced and remarried Catholics that they were barred from receiving Communion unless they abstained from sexual relations.UNITED NATIONS, December 16 Diplomats here were puzzling over the Pope Benedicts World Peace Day message, released to world leaders yesterday. Why, it was being asked, should a solemn statement on the limits of military means to combat terrorism also include effusive praise of Natural Family Planning and an appeal to worshipers not to create a tumult at Mass during the Greeting of Peace?
Peter Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal and religion writer for the New York Times, is a University Professor Emeritus at Fordham University and author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America.