TIME The Vatican

Pope Francis Comic Books Now On Your iPhone

Pope Francis comic books are now in app form.
Pope Francis comic books are now in app form. Master New Media S.r.I.

A new app spreads the Pope's word to kids

Who needs apostles when you can have app-postles?

The people who introduced Pope Francis comic books to Italy last November released an app version of the product on Sunday. Now, young Catholics across the world can read comic books featuring Pope Francis’ most famous words and interactions and even color the scenes in themselves.

Both the original comic books and the app are designed to spread the Christian lessons of the Pope to kids in a fun and engaging way. But you’ll have to shell out $2.99 to color in the Pope’s cross on your iPad.

TIME faith

Remember Benedict the Meek

Pope Benedict XVI during his general audience in aula Paolo VI at the Vatican, on July 27, 2012. Evandro Inetti—Zuma Press

As we celebrate Pope Francis, remember that a year ago today, Pope Benedict XVI performed the greatest papal act in the history of the Catholic Church.

A few weeks ago, TIME named Pope Francis its 2013 Person of the Year. And rightfully so: Francis’s nearly 11-month papacy has revolutionized the Catholic Church and its standing in the world. By his words and actions — including rejecting the apostolic palace, washing the feet of Muslim women, and saying that gay people are loved by God and have a place in the Church — Francis the Rebel has made it cool to be Christian again.

If the Church is indeed undergoing a revolution, it is important to note that Francis himself did not fire the first shot. That feat belonged to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who a year ago today announced his stunning decision to voluntarily renounce his office.

By renouncing the throne of Saint Peter, it was Benedict — not Francis — who performed the greatest act of papal humility in 2013, and perhaps the greatest act of papal humility during the two millennia history of the Catholic Church.

Benedict’s lesson for his Church and the world was clear: I love you. I choose you. You matter to me more than anything else.

But if you read the media accounts of Benedict and Francis today, the story could not be more different. Benedict is often portrayed as the anti-Francis.

In Rolling Stone’s recent cover story on Pope Francis, Mark Binelli lays into Benedict, whom he refers to as a “dour academic” and a “staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares.”

Binelli’s mean-spirited antics were rightly rejected by Francis’s spokesman, Jesuit Father Frederico Lombardi, and prominent Catholic voices including American priest Father James Martin. Francis himself has high praise for his predecessor, whom he calls “a man of courage and humility.”

But, sadly, these false caricatures of Benedict still get wide play in popular culture. As we mark the year anniversary of his resignation, it’s time to set the record straight: Benedict — like Francis — is a humble man who has faithfully served God and the Church.

Benedict came into office during a strange and difficult time for the Catholic Church. The introvert pope had to replace the rock star Pope John Paul II during a time of great trial for the universal Church, which had been rocked by the sex abuse scandal in the United States and throughout the world.

Amidst the difficulties, Benedict attempted to re-center the Church around Jesus Christ. And when the dust settled, Benedict appeared to do the job well. The man who was once dubbed by the media as “God’s Rottweiler” during his years leading the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, perked the ears of people across the world with his eloquent writings about the purpose of living, the dignity of all persons — especially the poor and marginalized — and the great contributions religion can make in a pluralistic society.

To the surprise of many, Benedict’s teachings came back again and again to the central theme of God’s love. In his first encyclical, he wrote that being a Christian “is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

And though his papacy was marred by public relations nightmares, when he himself spoke, people responded. Of particular note were his highly successful apostolic trips to the United States in 2008 and to the United Kingdom in 2010. Upon his departure from England, Prime Minister David Cameron said Benedict had compelled the increasingly secular English society “to sit up and listen.”

And Benedict too was a reformer. Several of the changes for which Francis is being credited, including addressing the sexual abuse scandal in a substantial way and overhauling the leadership of the Vatican Bank, began under Benedict’s watch.

But of course, Benedict’s greatest act for the Church was his last action. In a world obsessed with the cult of personality and power, he reminded us that the greatest among us are the ones who give it all up for the sake of others.

There’s no question that Francis is shaking up the Church in new and profound ways. But for those who thank God for the Francis Revolution that has taken hold of the Catholic Church, it’s now time too to thank its soft-spoken founder: Benedict the Meek.

Christopher Hale is a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. He helped lead national Catholic outreach for President Obama’s re-election campaign. You can follow him on Twitter @chrisjollyhale.

TIME The Vatican

U.N. Slams Vatican Over Child Abuse Cover-Up

Vatican Pope
Cardinals attend Pope Francis' inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, in 2013. Andrew Medichini / AP

Damning report criticizes the Vatican's handling of child sex abuse cases, but the Vatican says it regrets UN interference

The United Nations agency for children’s rights issued a deeply critical report Wednesday slamming the Vatican for policies that it says enabled priests to rape children, and urging them to remove suspected child abusers from the clergy. The Vatican hit back at the U.N., calling parts of the report an attempt to “interfere” with Catholic Church teaching.

The Committee’s recommendations, which are non-binding, included opening up the Holy See’s internal investigations to the public and members of the civil society. It also asked the church to “immediately remove all known and suspected child abusers from assignment” and to empower children enrolled in Catholic schools to be aware of sexual abuse so they could protect themselves.

“The Committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators,” read the report.

The Holy See said in a statement it regretted some of the concluding observations made by the U.N. Committee and reiterated its commitment to children’s rights. It said some of the U.N.’s recommendations were “an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person” and “ the exercise of religious freedom.”

The report is the follow-up from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s investigation into the Holy See’s record on children’s rights. Vatican officials faced an unprecedented public grilling by the U.N. last month for the decades-long sexual abuse of minors by members of the church, reports Reuters.

Though Pope Francis set up a commission last year into the sexual abuse of minors by priests, the U.N. has demanded that the Church take further steps by handing over its internal case files to authorities, something the Vatican has been reluctant to do.

[Reuters]

TIME Television

Kyle Chandler Gets New Netflix Series

"The Wolf Of Wall Street" New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals
Kyle Chandler at Ziegfeld Theater on December 17, 2013 in New York City. Taylor Hill—FilmMagic

Welcome back to TV, Coach Taylor

The man who played Coach Taylor is finally headed back to the small screen. Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler has been cast in the lead role of a new Netflix series, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

Chandler will star as a family man who must struggle with long-buried secrets when his black sheep brother returns to town. The show is to be produced by the creators of FX show Damages.

Since Friday Night Lights ended in 2011, Kyle Chandler has had a string of roles in critically-acclaimed movies including The Wolf of Wall Street, Zero Dark Thirty, Argo and Super 8.

The actor had been due to return to TV in Showtime’s The Vatican — a drama about the Catholic church in which he was to star as a cardinal — but the cable channel didn’t pick up the show after watching a pilot directed by Ridley Scott.

[THR]

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