Several developments of interest came from the Vatican last week:
As reported by AP, Pope Benedict XVI met in the Vatican prison on Saturday with his former butler Paolo Gabriele and granted him a pardon. Gabriele had been sentenced to 18 months in jail for stealing the Pope's private correspondence, some of which were published in a best-selling book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi. (See prior posting.)
On Saturday, the Vatican announced the appointment of Boston canon lawyer Rev. Robert W. Oliver as promoter of justice for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, the Vatican office charged with protecting church doctrine. As reported by the Boston Globe, this makes Oliver the Vatican's chief prosecutor of priests charged with sexual abuse of minors. He succeeds Monsignor Charles Scicluna who has been named auxiliary bishop in Malta. The director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests criticized Oliver's appointment, saying that he lacks credibility because he never publicly called for the ouster of Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law.
On Friday, the Pope delivered his Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia. (Full text). As reported by Catholic World, while the Pope's extensive remarks were widely headlined as an attack on same-sex marriage, in fact he spoke in broader philosophical terms. Focusing on "a new philosophy of sexuality" in the western world, he said in part:
According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society.... People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.... When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God....