Catholicism

Seton Healthcare Family Archives Division

The Daughters of Charity came to Austin in 1902, in response to a letter writing campaign by a group of local women. Their mission: to build and operate a first-class medical facility.

At the time, Austin’s existing hospital was decidedly less than first-class.

Sometimes great change can be revealed in small gestures. This week Pope Francis knelt on the stone floor of a detention facility in Rome to wash and kiss the feet of 12 young inmates.

Other popes have carried out this rite on Holy Thursday. It is a ceremony to emulate the way Jesus washed the feet of his 12 apostles at the Last Supper, just before he was tried and crucified.

But previous popes have washed the feet of priests in Rome's grand, golden St. John Lateran Basilica. Pope Francis went to a penitentiary to wash the feet of prisoners.

With less silk, lace and gold than many of his predecessors displayed, Pope Francis on Tuesday was inaugurated at a Holy Mass in St. Peter's Square during which he appealed to world leaders to be protectors of the poor and the environment, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells our Newscast Desk.

courtesy flickr.com/postmoderngirl/

The eyes of much of the world were on the Vatican this afternoon for the announcement that a new pope had been elected.

Pope Francis of Argentina is the first pope from the Americas. Here in Austin, Bishop Joe Vasquez says that origin suggests someone with a perspective popes of the past have not had.

The world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics have a new spiritual leader, and for the first time it is someone from the Americas.

As afternoon turned to evening in Vatican City on Wednesday, a little after 7 p.m. local time, white smoke rose from a chimney above the Sistine Chapel and bells rang through St. Peter's Square — the traditional signals that the church's cardinals have chosen a new pope.

Update at 6:41 a.m. ET. The Smoke Is Black:

Smoke just started pouring from a special chimney above the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City — and its dark color means the 115 cardinals meeting inside the chapel have not yet agreed on a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

If all has gone as planned inside the chapel, where the cardinals are meeting in secret, they have now cast three ballots and no one name has been written on at last two-thirds of the slips of paper. It takes two-thirds — 77 votes — to become leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Roman Catholic cardinals are in "no rush" to set the date for the start of their conclave that will choose the next pope, a Vatican spokesman told reporters Tuesday.

As they begin the process that will lead to selection of the next pope, the Roman Catholic Church's cardinals must first decide just when to officially start deciding, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reminds us from Rome this morning.

(We last updated the top of this post at 2 p.m. ET.)

Precisely on time, under dark skies but with the lights of cameras from news outlets around the world illuminating the scene, Swiss Guards on Thursday closed the doors of the palazzo at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome — marking the official end of Pope Benedict XVI's time as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

For the first time in about 600 years, a pope has voluntarily stepped down. His final moment as leader of the church came at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET).

When Pope Benedict XVI steps down at the end of the month, he will be remembered for his efforts to strengthen the Catholic Church's core beliefs and for his powerful and eloquent encyclicals, but also for a mixed record in handling the sexual abuse scandal.

(Most recent update: 2:50 p.m ET.)

For the first time in nearly 600 years, a pope is resigning from his post as leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday morning that he is stepping down effective Feb. 28.

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

A small band of Austinites braved the rain this afternoon to rally in support of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, one of the largest organizations of Catholic nuns in the U.S.

Eight protesters assembled outside of St. Mary's Cathedral in downtown Austin, holding signs reading "In solidarity with Women Religious" and "I stand with LCWR." Similar protests were scheduled in other cities today, including Dallas and New York.

On April 18, the Vatican issued a report chastising the LCWR for an insufficiently hardline stance on homosexuality that places it “outside the Church’s teaching,” and “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”