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March 26th, 2010
11:31 AM ET

Video: Vatican on the defense

CNN

CNN's Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen says the Catholic Church is fighting to preserve the pontiff's moral authority.


Filed under: Pope Benedict
March 17th, 2010
02:31 PM ET

Why pope is at center of media storm


John L. Allen Jr.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst

From a distance, it may be difficult to understand why Pope Benedict XVI finds himself at the center of a media storm this week since it pivots on a single case of an abuser priest in Germany almost 30 years ago.

Yet the story could have profound implications not only for the pontiff himself, but also for the Catholic Church's ability to emerge from the sex abuse scandals that have plagued it for the last decade.

The Catholic Church in Germany is in the middle of a mushrooming crisis, with more than 300 allegations of sexual abuse against priests, nuns and other church personnel having surfaced over the last month, often involving charges from decades ago.

The pope is himself a German, and over the weekend the crisis was directly linked to him for the first time through reports about a priest who served in the Archdiocese of Munich in southern Germany during the time Benedict was archbishop there from 1977 to 1982.

Keep reading...


Filed under: Pope Benedict
May 14th, 2009
01:51 PM ET

"Every picture tells a story, especially with the pope"

Pope Benedict leaves the Church of Nativity in his pope mobile after celebrating Mass Wednesday in Bethlehem.

Pope Benedict leaves the Church of Nativity in his pope mobile after celebrating Mass Wednesday in Bethlehem.

John L. Allen Jr.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst

For some time now, people have asked why someone doesn’t give the Vatican some PR help. This afternoon, someone finally did – and it was a Jew to boot.

The setting was an inter-faith meeting in Nazareth, the traditional hometown of Jesus and his parents, Joseph and Mary, in the Galilee region of northern Israel. The event brought Pope Benedict XVI together with local leaders of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Druze faiths.

As it turned out, the event produced arguably the best visual of the pope’s week-long trip to the Middle East. At the end of the brief session, Alon Goshen-Gottstein, a Jew who runs an inter-faith center in Jerusalem, led the assembly in a rousing song he had composed specially for the occasion. It was titled “Salaam, Shalom, Lord Grant Us Peace.”

As the song went on, the religious leaders on stage began to join in, including the pontiff himself. At the end, the rabbis, sheikhs, bishops, and other spiritual leaders rose from their seats and held hands, as the word for peace in various languages was belted out in the hall. Benedict was standing in the center of the group, singing and holding hands with a rabbi and a Druze sheikh.

FULL POST

May 13th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Pope in the Middle East – Who is he there for?

John L. Allen Jr.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst
Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories

Perceived injustices often produce one of two effects in people. It can either breed determination to rise above one’s circumstances, or it can leave someone angry and disillusioned. Two vignettes from around the edges of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Aida refugee camp in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank illustrate each option.

I was in the Aida Palestinian refugee camp just north of Bethlehem on the West Bank today to cover the pontiff’s visit, a highlight of day five of his week-long visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Aida was opened shortly after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and is today home to around 5,000 Palestinians, most of whom were driven from homes in and around the city of Jerusalem. This sprawling cluster of concrete structures abuts a 30-foot-tall “security barrier,” or wall, erected by Israel as a buffer between itself and the Palestinian Territories. Officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, which supports several activities in the camp, say it’s badly over-crowded.

Sofia Ramadan, 15, is one of the voices I met today. She grew up in the Aida camp, and attended the school whose courtyard hosted today’s papal event. She was part of a dance troupe which performed for the pope and for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Middle East • Pope Benedict
May 9th, 2009
05:53 PM ET

Why the pope's shoes are raising eyebrows

Pope Benedict XVI visits the King Hussein Bin Talal mosque Saturday in Amman, Jordan.

Pope Benedict XVI visits the King Hussein Bin Talal mosque Saturday in Amman, Jordan.
The pope looks out from Mount Nebo, where the Bible says Moses looked over to the promised land.

The pope looks out from Mount Nebo, where the Bible says Moses looked over to the promised land.

John L. Allen Jr.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst

Amman, Jordan

The last time a pope’s shoes were in the news, it was shortly after Benedict XVI’s election four years ago. A rumor made the rounds that the new pope had replaced the scuffed loafers of his predecessor, John Paul II, with stylish new Prada footwear – a rumor, by the way, eventually denied by the Vatican.

Today in Jordan, the pope’s shoes raised eyebrows for another reason … specifically, because he didn’t take them off.

The setting was the Hussein bin Talal Mosque in the Jordanian capital of Amman, the second mosque Benedict has visited as pope. (He went to the famed Blue Mosque in Instanbul, Turkey, in 2006.) It was only the third time a pope has ever entered a mosque, with the first coming with the late Pope John Paul II in Damascus, Syria, in 2001.

Because these events are so rare, and in light of other episodes in which perceived slights to Muslim sensitivities have had lethal consequences, the day’s symbolism was closely scrutinized. When discerning eyes realized that the pontiff had not taken off his shoes before entering the mosque, which is widely considered a sign of respect in the Islamic world, heart-rates went up in fear that the pope had committed a gaffe that might unleash new tensions.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Middle East • Pope Benedict
May 8th, 2009
02:43 PM ET

The Pope in the Middle East – and the Cosmos

Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks with Pope Benedict XVI at the international airport in Amman on Friday.

Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks with Pope Benedict XVI at the international airport in Amman on Friday.

John L. Allen Jr.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst
Amman, Jordan

For reporters covering the foreign travels of Pope Benedict XVI, head of the Roman Catholic Church and arguably the most important religious leader in the world, the hardest part of trying to handicap these events is knowing which pontiff will show up.

Will it be the Benedict of Regensburg, Germany, in 2006, who delivered a speech linking Muhammad to violence that set off a firestorm of protest all across the Islamic world? Or will it be the Benedict of highly successful expeditions to Turkey in 2006 and the United States in 2008, where the pontiff turned in bravura performances that went a long way toward healing wounds and improving his public image?

After four years as pope, Benedict XVI has shown a host of impressive qualities: theological brilliance, personal humility, and a teacher’s aptitude for clarity. His track record at public relations, however, is spottier, making any turn on the public stage something of a roll of the dice.

FULL POST


Filed under: Global 360° • Middle East • Pope Benedict • Religion
November 26th, 2013
09:57 PM ET

Pope Francis' new vision for the Church

Pope Francis is challenging church leaders to shift their focus back to the poor. In the first major document he’s written since becoming pontiff, Pope Francis writes:

"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security."

That's basically a call for leaders to get their shoes muddy and get involved in the lives of their parishioners, rather than spending too much time parsing church doctrine. CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen has more.

One of the most powerful images of Pope Francis' papacy is his embrace of a severely disfigured man. It has become a symbol of the pontiff’s compassion for all people, and it changed the life of the man he hugged. Ben Wedeman has his story.
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Filed under: John L. Allen Jr. • Pope Francis • Up Close
April 14th, 2008
12:22 PM ET

Pope's visit: Behind the scenes on 'Shepherd One'

Pope Benedict XVI

When Pope Benedict XVI touches down at Andrews Air Force Base tomorrow for the start of his April 15-20 pastoral visit in the United States, TV and radio commentators setting the scene are likely to refer to his plane as “Shepherd One.” The implied comparison to the U.S. President’s “Air Force One” is clever, but, alas, largely misleading.

In truth, there is no “papal plane” in the sense of a jet owned by the Vatican and used exclusively for papal travel. Instead, the pope flies on a regular commercial jet belonging to Alitalia, the Italian national airline, chartered by the Vatican for the period of a given trip. The pilots and crew are all Alitalia personnel.

Most of the passengers aboard the papal plane are actually journalists, representing a cross-section on the world’s major secular and Catholic media outlets. This time, 70 journalists are accompanying Pope Benedict to the United States, a figure which includes print reporters, TV and radio correspondents, producers, cameramen and photographers.

Journalists pay top dollar to fly with the pope – the roundtrip airfare this time is roughly $4800, comparable to a full-fare business class ticket for what usually amounts to economy class accommodations.

FULL POST


Filed under: John L. Allen Jr. • Pope Benedict
March 14th, 2013
10:18 PM ET

Pope Francis' humble style will set tone

Rev. Rosica and CNN’s Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen reflect on the meaning behind the new pope's gestures and words on the first day of his papacy.

To learn more about Pope France, read The AC360 411: Meet Pope Francis

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Filed under: Religion • The Pope
March 13th, 2013
11:04 PM ET

Pope Francis' 'shift in tone'

Rev. Beck believes Pope Francis is a man of the people who will connect with members of the church. CNN’s Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen says the pope has demonstrated leadership through service. Anderson Cooper asked them both how those characteristics will help the pope lead the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world.

For more on Pope Francis, watch Historic experience for Vatican interns

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Filed under: Religion • The Pope
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