Pope Will Consider Increasing Women’s Role

ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 2 — Noting that women’s “charisma” had always played an important role in the Church, Pope Benedict XVI said he will consider increasing women’s “institutional” role, Associated Press reported.

The Holy Father made the comments in response to a question by a clergyman during an audience with Rome’s parish priests, the Apcom and ANSA agencies said.

The Pope mentioned Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Catherine of Siena, among others, when extolling the gifts women have always brought to the Church. He did not specify what type of institutional roles he had in mind. He did reiterate the Church’s teaching that the priesthood is open to men only (Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1577).

Prime Minister Defuses Papal Audience Spat

REUTERS, March 7 — Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will not attend a meeting of European politicians with Pope Benedict this month after the Vatican was unfairly accused by opposition leaders of meddling in politics, Reuters reported.

In order not to cause uproar over meeting with Pope Benedict so close to the April 9-10 elections, Berlusconi said the meeting was only for European members of parliament.

Some leaders of opposing parties feel that Pope Benedict is playing a more active role in domestic politics than his predecessor John Paul II, and fear that if the Vatican takes sides ahead of April it could prove decisive in a close race.

Therefore, Berlusconi said, “I will not be going to [visit] the Pope. The visit involves only the European parliamentary delegation of which I am not a part. Therefore it is not on my schedule.”

“But,” he added, “I’m going to win the elections just the same.”

Can the Holy Father Help Fight Terrorism?

TIME, March 2 — Using the news that the Soviet Union was the hand behind the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II as a backdrop, the magazine took a look at the papacy’s unique power — and its perceived limitations.

Eleven months to the day since John Paul’s death, and with the fight against communism now replaced by the War on Terror, John Paul’s successor faces a wholly new, more explosive political challenge.

Rather than facing a godless society’s attack on the freedom to believe, Islamic terrorism presents a warped interpretation of a competing faith.

Still, the Holy Father is not shying away from the challenge, the magazine stated. While he is trying to reach out to moderate Muslims, he is also using increasingly tough language in condemning faith-based terror.

On Feb. 27, after attacks on churches and mosques in Iraq and Nigeria, Benedict told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square: “God, the Creator and Father of all, will call to account even more severely those who spill the blood of their brother in his name.”

As with his predecessor, the preacher’s message is clear.

Benedict: Ecclesial Movements Are a Valuable ‘Resource’

AGI, March 10 — Pope Benedict intends to encourage ecclesial movements in their charisms just as Pope John Paul II did, reported the Italian news service.

The Holy Father called the movements “a resource, since they play a vital role in revitalizing people’s awareness of their baptismal commitment.”

The Pope’s statement was contained in a message sent to the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, who presided over the first Meeting of Ecclesial Movements in Latin America March 9-12.

Just as Pope John Paul extolled movements as a new springtime in the spirit of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict said they are encouraged to “share in a brotherly way the wealth of their spirituality and experience to contribute to giving greater vigor to Christian life in this part of the world in which the Church places so many of its hopes.”