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By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Aug 10, 2004

It's an enduring source of frustration for us at CWN that the best English-language reporter at the Vatican works for the National Catholic Reporter. But the fact is that if you don't read John Allen's weekly "Word from Rome," you miss quite a bit.

This past Friday's "Word" begins with a very good treatment of the threat on Iraqi Christians, and follows with a discussion of how the debate over "inclusive language" has again slowed the progress of producing a new English translation of the Missal. In between, Allen makes this provocative observation: the pope ages, more and more of his capacity to make decisions at the level of detail is indeed slipping away, but it is not transferred to any single eminence grise. Instead it gets fractured across a number of senior aides, mostly in their areas of competence.

And if you're looking for a general primer on Vatican affairs, it's tough to beat Allen's new book, All the Pope's Mencover

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Aug. 11, 2004 5:54 PM ET USA

    Dear Phil, Judging from recent articles and lack of any "substantial" actions by the Vatican it would seem we are moving back to the "watch-the Pope" mode again I am not into this, and have not been for perhaps the last 15-20 yrs However, from a human behavior stand-point, I find the phenomena quite fascinating, although distressinjg. Thje Pope has his place, to be sure, but we are called to primarily follow Jesus, to "watch " Him The only answer I can come up with is codependency