What to Expect in 2016: The Top Ten Predictable Church Stories


07 Jan What to Expect in 2016: The Top Ten Predictable Church Stories

While it’s impossible to predict most of what will happen in 2016 — not least because Pope Francis likes to improvise — some of the main Catholic stories this year are already in the diary. These are my ‘top ten’ for 2016:

1.) The Pope’s ‘first book’  — at least, the first one he has authored as pope — is inname of God is mercyreality a dialogue with Vaticanist Andrea Tornielli, which draws on Pope Francis’s life as a priest and bishop to discuss the theme of mercy. At 176 pages, The Name of God is Mercy is not long and whether it contains newsworthy revelations is not yet clear, but it’s sure to be talked about. Out on 12 January.

2.) Spotlight, the much-talked about movie documenting theBoston Globe‘s exposure of the clerical sex abuse crisis in 2001, hits UK screens on 29 January. Whether or not it

Spotlightpulls in the crowds to multiplexes, the searing story of collusion and cover-up in Boston’s Catholic establishment is sure to reawaken discussion of a pain that hasn’t gone away. (See CV Comment here).


3.) Pope Francis’s trip to Mexico on February 12-17 is one of only two big papal journeys (the other is to Krakow – see below) the Vatican has announced for this year. Mexico is a key country — the world’s second largest Church

Mexico logo(after Brazil) and still one of its most aggressively secularist states. Francis is sure of a hero’s welcome, but how the trip is read north of the Rio Grande may turn out to be more important, especially when Francis addresses immigration at Ciudad Juárez on the US-Mexico border. Before then there is a huge Mass at the Basilica of Guadalupe, a visit to Chiapas in the south (where indigenous people have long been at odds with the central state) and Morelia, a city in the grip of narco violence. For drama, pictures and words, Mexico is set to be one of the papal set-pieces of 2016.

4.) The apostolic exhortation on the family — which could well be called ‘The Joy of the Family’, as some cardinals suggested at the last synod — is likely to be out in the first half of 2016, possibly before Easter. The synod fathers expressly handed over to Francis the task of resolving deep-seated disagreements that appeared during that process, and this first updating of church teaching on the family since St John Paul II’sFamiliaris Consortio in 1981 will be one of the most closely-read (and hotly debated) papal documents in recent times.

5.) Shake-up in Vatican communications. After finances, communications are the next stage in the curial reform. Just before Christmas, it was announced that Greg

Greg Burke, the new vice-director of the Holy See press office

Burke, an American layman, would be taking the number two job in the Holy See Press Office, and a new director for Vatican’s TV Centre (CTV) was appointed. They are the first moves ordered by the powerful new Secretariat for Communications, head by former CTV boss Msgr Dario Viganò, which will shortly be moving its office into the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, which in turn is likely to be closed down sometime this year. Expect a raft of further announcements in 2016 that will aim to unify and consolidate the Vatican’s overlapping and fragmented media outlets.


Read the entire article here.

Austen Ivereigh