Edward Pentin

Stories by Edward Pentin

  • Growing Christian Presence in Persian Gulf

    The Persian Gulf is not an obvious destination for the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet when Bahrain's King Hamad met with Pope Benedict earlier this month in Rome, he extended a personal invitation to visit. If Benedict takes him up on the offer, he'll become the first pontiff to set foot in Arabia.What would make that trip so dramatic is the region's reputation for religious intolerance. Bahrain's new hospitality shows that attitudes are changing. And the explanation lies in demographics. The kingdom and its neighbors are hosts to booming new Christian populations, thanks to the region's insatiable hunger for guest workers. Foreign laborers now represent 35 percent of Bahrain's inhabitants. The number is 60 percent in Kuwait and 80 percent in the United Arab Emirates, and almost half of the 35 million people on the Arabian Peninsula are now foreign-born. A large proportion of them hail from Christian areas such as the Philippines and southern India. As a result, Christians...
  • Vatican Sex Sting

    An after-hours office meeting between a young man and a top Roman Catholic official has prompted a fresh inquiry into gay priests. What the investigation could mean for the Holy See.
  • Q&A: Ireland's President Sees a Bright Future

    In recent weeks, Ireland has served up a slew of political surprises. On May 24, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern was voted back into government for a record third term. Sixteen days earlier, longstanding Roman Catholic and Protestant adversaries stepped away from sectarian conflict to form a power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland.Mary McAleese, the president of Ireland and a devout Catholic, spoke to Edward Pentin during a visit to the Vatican about these historic developments, her hopes for the Ahern government, her family’s flight from Belfast because of “the troubles” and her efforts to bridge the sectarian divide. Excerpts: ...
  • French Nun Says Pope Cured Parkinson's

    It’s been a highly guarded secret for the past year: the identity of a French nun said to have been miraculously cured through the intercession of the late Pope John Paul II. Now, though, the mystery is over.Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a nurse at the Sainte Felicite maternity hospital in Paris, decided to come clean on Friday with her remarkable story—a day after Le Figaro revealed her identity. Speaking to reporters from the headquarters of her religious order in Aix-en-Provence, southeast France, she said she was mysteriously cured of Parkinson’s disease—literally overnight. If the church declares the cure a miracle, John Paul will very likely be beatified, or made “Blessed” in the coming years—a major step to sainthood. Roman Catholics place great importance on Blesseds and Saints because they believe they give glory to God and provide role-models for the faithful. Catholics also believe these men and women of holiness are confirmed in heaven, meaning that anyone can pray to them...
  • 'People Will Love Him'

    As the Vatican's Undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Father J. Augustine Di Noia has worked closely with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger for the last four years. Di Noia, whose responsibilities involve helping to protect and clarify the doctrines and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, spoke to NEWSWEEK's Edward Pentin in Rome about the style and personality of the new Pope Benedict XVI. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: What is your reaction to the selection of Joseph Ratzinger as pope?Father J. Augustine Di Noia: I am absolutely ecstatic. It was clear after [Ratzinger] gave the funeral mass for John Paul II and the mass before the beginning of the conclave that he had moved into another realm. He had moved into this new role. This was also a very quick election and shows that the cardinals probably realized this, too.You know him well from working closely under him. Could you give us some insight into what he is like as a person?He has a beautiful personality. When...
  • 'A Man of God'

    Could the Roman Catholic Church soon have an African pope? When the conclave of cardinals meets in Rome next week to elect a new pontiff, many analysts expect them to choose someone from Europe. But if they do opt for a candidate from the developing world, there is one name that comes up repeatedly: Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria.Known as an able pastor and a keen defender of Catholic doctrine, Arinze is also an expert in dialogue with believers of other faiths, particularly Muslims--a vital attribute in a world in which radical Islam is in the ascendant. Still, the chances of Arinze, 72, being selected as pope are slim. While the number of African Catholics is growing, many cardinals are thought to believe that it is "too early" for a pontiff from a continent that was only fully introduced to Christianity until a century ago. Still, conclaves are widely known to produce surprises, the most famous one being, of course, Karol Wojtyla--who went on to become Pope John Paul II...
  • Decoding Opus Dei

    In Dan Brown's best-selling thriller, "The Da Vinci Code," Opus Dei is depicted as a dark and mysterious cult within the Roman Catholic Church, a secretive society of men and women who have sought political power to further the interests of a wealthy elite. Yet the true nature of Opus Dei, Latin for the "Work of God," is more prosaic, say those who have studied the organization.Founded in 1928 by Spaniard Josemaria Escriva, who was made a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002, the 85,000-member organization has a simple aim: to provide a structure for lay Catholics so they can better live their journey of faith while fully immersed in the world. For a few celibate members, that road includes self-mortification, wearing a strap with spikes on it. But it is not, they say, of the exaggerated and bloody sort depicted in Brown's book.John Allen, the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, is the author of a new book on the mysterious organization due to be published by...
  • 'Slivers of Good News'

    Regarded as one of the foremost commentators on U.S. foreign policy, Michael Novak is the author of 25 influential books on the philosophy and theology of culture. In his most recent book "The Universal Hunger for Liberty, Why the Clash of Civilizations is Not Inevitable" (Basic Books, 2004) Novak, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, sets forth a new model for facing the challenge of a post 9/11 world. His goal: an alternative to multiculturalism in which globalization is centred around "cultural humility, respect for the regulative ideal of truth, respect for the dignity of the individual person, and human solidarity."A devout Catholic and lifelong Democrat, Novak has, in latter years, become a neo-conservative and a proponent of the Bush doctrine. Novak spoke to NEWSWEEK's Edward Pentin in Rome this week about prospects for democracy in the Middle East, religiosity in George W. Bush's second term, Pope John Paul II and the resurgence of pro-life issues in...
  • The Media Pope

    In 1996, Weeke became something of a newsmaker herself when a Turkish journalist called her to say he was at the Vatican with the mother of Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who tried to assassinate the pope in 1981. The pontiff agreed to see the woman, and Weeke arranged to have the meeting recorded. "It was very moving," she recalls.After retiring from the Holy See in 2001, Weeke pored through 4.5 million photographs of the pope's first 25 years as pontiff to select images for an anniversary book published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She still works as a media consultant on film productions and television programs about the Vatican. Weeke recently reminisced to NEWSWEEK's Edward Pentin about her work with the pontiff and his relations with a media-driven world.NEWSWEEK: How well did you get to know the pope through your work? Marjorie Weeke: It's very hard for anyone who works for him to say you know him quite well as it sounds arrogant and people say, "Oh yes, he's my...
  • TIP SHEET

    Food: The Thrill Of The HuntIt's mushroom season in Europe, and time for fungi fanatics to hit the woods. Martin Lewy, a mycology enthusiast who runs mycologue. co.uk, says mushroom hunters must endure mud, insects, nettles and competing foragers--human as well as animal--for the thrill of the conquest. Early morning is the best time to go: arm yourself with a small sharp knife and a breathable bag or wicker basket. But how to know what's safe to eat? Consult field guides like "Start Mushrooming" or "Collins Guide: Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain and Europe." The British Mycological Society (www.britmycolsoc.org.uk) offers programs and organized hunting trips. And fungi.com provides advice and a wide range of products. Tip Sheet's top picks for picking:Czech Republic: An estimated 70 percent of Czechs head to the forests this time of year. Most keep their favorite spots secret, but the best hunting is said to be in the west. Prague celebrates the harvest with the world's largest...