St. Peter Loses a Hand

INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS, March 14 — A medieval statue of St. Peter at the Vatican has been vandalized, according to Independent Catholic News.

The 13th-century sculpture at St. Peter's was damaged when a vandal knocked off its left hand holding the keys. The sculptor, Arnolfo di Cambio, was also the creator of the better-known bronze statue of the first pope inside the basilica. The hand had been damaged once before, and the missing hand is an 18th-century restoration.

News reports of the theft have circulated widely, with headlines such as “St. Peter Loses Keys to Kingdom.”

Rome vs. Washington

THE SPECTATOR(London), March 15 — London Spectator columnist Gerald Warner analyzes the Vatican's opposition to America's newest war, noting that while the Pope opposes the war on both moral and humanitarian grounds, something deeper underlies Rome's fear of a new secular empire.

Warner writes: “Despite Islam's fierce hostility to Catholicism, the societies it controls exhibit many values whose abandonment by the materialist Western world is deplored by the Pope. Close-knit family life, in which women's role — although unacceptably circumscribed — is closer to the Marian model of womanhood than to the extreme feminism of urban America; daily life revolving around regular prayer and, in season, fasting; even the misplaced fanaticism of Muslim fundamentalists, reflecting a certainty and a spirit of martyrdom long departed from his own Church — much of this, with heavy qualification, must strike a sympathetic chord with the pontiff. Nor can he have any illusions about the kind of society that America would like to substitute. McDonald's burger bars, rap music, sexual license, individualism demolishing family life and consumerism banishing all sense of religion: Those forces have conquered Catholicism in the West — should the Pope take comfort from a similar overthrow of Islam?”

Warner suggests that with “the liquidation of the legacy of the Russian revolution in 1990, the removal of the Marxist distraction has brought the Church back into confrontation with the heritage of the French Revolution.”

He concludes: “Although Vatican rhetoric is resolutely internationalist, nothing could more menace the Church than eventual world government, predicated on some syncretic religion and employing anti-hate laws to suppress public expression of uncompromising Catholic orthodoxy.”

Vatican Garage Obstructed by Nero's Secretary

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Australia), March 12 — A reminder of Rome's pagan past now obstructs the Holy See's quest for parking, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

It seems Roman tombs dating from the reign of Nero have been found on the site the Vatican had designated for an underground garage and archaeological concerns have stalled construction.

The tombstone of Nero's secretary, along with well-preserved Roman remains, now stands in the way of the 300-space garage, which was started late last year, but Church officials are now reconsidering the whole idea.

“Of course, no one will destroy any archaeological finds,” responded Msgr. Francesco Marchisano, who heads the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology.

Such finds, the paper noted, block many attempted projects in the ancient city.