VATICAN CITY — The Vatican's top astronomer has some assurances to offer: The world won't be ending on Dec. 21, despite predictions to the contrary.
The Rev. Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, wrote in last Wednesday's Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that "it's not even worth discussing" doomsday scenarios based on the Mayan calendar that are flooding the Internet ahead of the purported Dec. 21 apocalypse.
Thousands of faithful Catholics carry torches in a procession in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on Oct. 11, 1962, the opening day of the historic Second Vatican Council. Over a three-year period, more than 2,000 bishops from around the world issued 16 landmark documents, which championed a more inclusive, less hierarchical and open church.
Credit Raoul Fornezza / AP
Pope John XXIII waves a hand in blessing during the opening day of Vatican II, on Oct. 11, 1962. The newly elected pope surprised many Catholics by convening the gathering, the first of its kind in nearly a century.
Credit Jim Pringle / AP
Pope John XXIII is carried on a portable throne down the aisle in St. Peter's Basilica on Oct. 11, 1962. Despite the pontiff's call for openness, certain issues — such as priestly celibacy — remained off-limits.
At Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, 50 years ago this week, the newly elected pontiff stunned the world by calling the first Catholic Church Council in nearly a century — the Second Vatican Council, or what's known as Vatican II.
Pope John XXIII called for the institution's renewal and more interaction with the modern world.
As a result of Vatican II, the Catholic Church opened its windows onto the modern world, updated the liturgy, gave a larger role to laypeople, introduced the concept of religious freedom and started a dialogue with other religions.
Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 3:50 pm
Culture warriors on the left and right would be wise to carefully examine a new survey from the Pew Research Center showing that a growing number of Americans are moving away from religious labels.
The study, titled "Nones" on the Rise, indicates that 1 in 5 Americans now identifies as "religiously unaffiliated," a group that includes those who say they have no particular religion, as well as atheists and agnostics.