Action Alert!

Quick hits: encouraging trend in France, interviewing Ratzinger’s interviewer, the Pope’s governing style

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 13, 2017

  • There are very encouraging developments in the public life of France, from a Catholic point of view, observes Samuel Gregg in a First Things essay. The presidential candidacy of Francois Fillon, who unabashedly appeals to Catholic principles, is confirmation of a revival in Catholic influence that was first evident with the Manif pour tous, the enormous grassroots movement that mobilized in opposition to the legal acceptance of same-sex marriage. In a year when populism has been producing surprise results, the success of Fillon’s appeal to Catholicism points toward a different sort of nationalism: a recovery of the sense that France is a Catholic nation, the “eldest daughter of the faith.” Gregg sees the trend as largely due to the influence of the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, whose leadership produced a powerful cadre of priests and laymen who “refuse to behave in accord with the expectations of the heirs of Voltaire and Rousseau who have been running French culture since the end of World War II.”

  • Peter Seewald has produced four book-length interviews with Pope-emeritus Benedict, most recently Last Testament, which was begun while the German Pontiff was still in office and completed after his resignation. The tables are turned as Seewald himself answers questions from Catholic World Report. He reveals that the former Pontiff was at first opposed to the idea of a post-retirement book, but eventually was persuaded to go ahead with the project—on the condition that Pope Francis approved it (which he obviously did). Seewald makes a strong case that Pope Benedict was “one of the most misunderstood personalities of our time.”

  • There’s controversy aplenty at the Vatican these days, regarding the governing style of Pope Francis. Veteran Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister takes a very critical look at the Pope’s abrupt firing of three respected officials at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and suggests that the Pontiff now plans to push the Congregation for Divine Worship to undo the work of Pope Benedict XVI, over the objections of the prefect, Caridnal Robert Sarah. John Allen of Crux takes a somewhat more sanguine view of the Pope’s management , but he too notices that the Holy Father has made no effort to ease the concerns of his critics. It’s not government-by-consensus so much as a “damn-the-torpedoes” approach, Allen remarks.

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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