Pope Francis

Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Oscar Romero and The Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice By Matt Eisenbrandt University of California Press (226 pp, $37.95) For those old enough to remember it, the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero on March 24, 1980 still resonates as one of the late twentieth century’s […]


The scene: A sitting room in the papal residences of Domus Sanctae Marthae, The Vatican  The ambience: Warm, dim lighting. In the middle of the room between two comfy chairs is a coffee table bearing a plate of fruit, cheese and bread, two wine glasses, and a ceramic decanter filled with the finest Malbec. Pope Francis: My […]


First, all you snickering cynics out there—including my fellow Catholic atheists and otherwise gay brethren—let’s not make fun of what rhymes with “relatio.” Instead, let’s take the Vatican document released today, relatio post disceptationem (Report After Debate), seriously and at face value. One of the report’s 58 sections, “Welcoming homosexual persons,” has prompted the usual […]

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For the Joseph Ratzinger legacy file, here’s some fun news out of Berlin: a Roman Catholic prelate appointed by Pope Benedict is on the hot seat after reports that he approved renovations for his residence amounting to €31 million (US $42 million), and that a state prosecutor in Hamburg has charged him with lying in […]


Earlier this year when I signed the book deal for The Trial of Pope Benedict, I was convinced that this would be the end of all my writing about popes—and the Roman Catholic Church, for that matter. The book was intended as a kind of closure: my one and only statement about an institution I […]

Catholic Women: Doormats for Christ

Following my last post about Pope Francis’s surprising outreach to gay Catholics, a couple of friends weighed in on Facebook to argue in defense of a group whose victimization by the Church has been inestimably worse: women. Although the blog—inspired by comments Francis had made during his press conference on the way home from Brazil—was focused […]

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Gay-friendly pope? Let’s hope.

The announcement that Pope Francis has extended an olive branch to gay priests and the LGBT community in general should be seen as a major development in the Roman Catholic Church—although how much change it will actually lead to remains very much in doubt. The comments by Francis occurred during an 82-minute press conference aboard […]

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Daniel Gawthrop tells all on “The God Show”

If they ever make a movie, “The Vatican”, the promo text goes, you know who may play the villain? Pope Benedict XVI. Veteran U.S. radio broadcaster Pat McMahon interviews Daniel Gawthrop about his new book, The Trial of Pope Benedict. Their free-wheeling discussion covers everything from the promise of Vatican II to the Great Disillusionment, from closeted gay […]

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Francis Mania and the Papal Publishing Fest

Some people think my book on Joseph Ratzinger, being launched this week, was quick off the draw—arriving in stores only four months after its subject surrendered the papacy. But The Trial of Pope Benedict has nothing on the “instant book” phenomenon surrounding his successor. Within weeks of Jorge Bergoglio becoming Pope Francis, at least half […]

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Pope Francis: The First Ninety Days

So, just how “progressive” is Pope Francis, really? So progressive, apparently, that he has been compared to the ill-fated John Paul I: he of the long forgotten, 33-day papacy in 1978 and the mysterious, did-they-or-didn’t-they-poison-him demise. “If I was Pope Francis,” wrote one blogger on June 3, “I’d be hiring a food tester right about […]

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