CWNews posted over 7,100 stories during the calendar year 2005: an average of over 25 new headlines (including our valuable "News Bytes") every weekday.
Among the most memorable stories of the past year were:
- The death of Pope John Paul II. (Pope John Paul II has died) Never before have so many millions, from all around the world, watched the final hours of a man's life with such concern, affection— and, in the end, outright awe. Within hours of his death, devoted followers were calling for the quick beatification of the beloved Polish Pope. (Prayers for the Pope come from around the world)
- The election of Pope Benedict XVI. (Ratzinger Elected Pope - Benedict XVI) With John Paul II dead, attention remained fixed on Rome, as the cardinals gathered to elect the 265th Pope. (Toward the conclave #8: eligible candidates for the papacy) The reasons not to choose Cardinal Ratzinger were obvious: his age, his health, his controversial image. Yet by the time the conclave opened, the German cardinal's status as the leading figure in the Catholic Church was undeniable, and the cardinals wasted little time reaching their decision. The early public statements by the Pope Benedict gave the world a glimpse of the new Pontiff's plans. (The new Pope's agenda #4: ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue)
- In November the Vatican ended weeks of intense media speculation, with an Instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education teaching that homosexual men should not be admitted to priestly training. (Vatican document bars gay seminarians) Because the document aroused a lively debate, and many efforts to explain away the Vatican's stance, CWN compiled a special dossier on the document, its contents, and its implications.
- The appointment of Archbishop William Levada as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (US archbishop to head Vatican doctrinal congregation) The first key appointment by Pope Benedict was a shock. (Archbishop Levada: the Pope's surprising choice) As head of the Vatican's top doctrinal agency, and Archbishop Levada had suddenly become the most influential American prelate in history.
- The Synod on the Eucharist. (The synod: from opening to conclusion) More than 250 bishops gathered in Rome to discuss "the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church." For three more weeks, in October, every day produced an interesting new story from Rome.
- The death of Terri Schiavo. (The Death of Terri Schiavo) In a frightening new step toward the "culture of death," American courts allowed the starvation of a woman who was, by the most reliable accounts, neither suffering nor close to natural death.
- Vatican talks with Beijing. (China, Taiwan, and the Vatican: assessing new rumors) During the year there were dozens of stories about unofficial efforts to close the diplomatic gap between the Holy See and the Chinese government. Unfortunately, every headline hinting at a warmer relationship seemed to be balanced by another report of persecution against the underground Church. (Vatican protests violence against Chinese Catholics)
- World Youth Day. (Cologne WYD opens: "At last the day has arrived!") Since its inception, World Youth Day had been closely connected with Pope John Paul II. And with this year's event taking place in Cologne, in the heart of secular Europe, there were some questions whether the event could be as energetic as past gatherings. (Background: the state of Catholicism in Germany) But Pope Benedict proved that he, too, can generate enormous crowds, and spur the enthusiasm of young Catholics with his own style. . (Pope Benedict arrives in native Germany) The event closed with the Pope's confirmation that the next World Youth Day will be held in Sydney, Australia. . (Sydney officially named host for next WYD)
- Spain's drive toward secularism. (Pope, Spanish royals meet amid Church-state tensions) The policies of a new Socialist leadership brought the Spanish government into frequent clashes with the nation's Catholic hierarchy. Spanish citizens took to the streets in massive public demonstrations against new policies allowing abortion, embryo research, and same-sex marriage. (Bishops fully support pro-family rally in Spain) To date their efforts have been unsuccessful, but organizers vow that they will put together a movement to restore pro-life and pro-family principles in Europe.
- The Ukrainian Catholic Church moves headquarters to Kiev. (Ukrainian prelate defends controversial move to Kiev) In August, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the head of the largest Eastern Church in full communion with Rome, carried out his controversial promise to move his see from Lviv to the nation's capital, Kiev, despite the adamant objections of Russian Orthodox leaders. Cardinal Husar explained that the move is a natural step toward establishing a nationwide patriarchate, embracing Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic believers. The move, officially recognized by the Vatican in December, could be a watershed point in ecumenical dialogue. (Vatican recognizes Ukrainian prelate's move to Kiev)
- Vatican-Israeli relations. (Progress reported in Vatican-Israeli negotiations) Negotiators for the Holy See and the Israeli government continue to discuss a juridical accord that is now 10 years overdue, with Vatican officials showing mounting impatience with their Israeli counterparts. Diplomatic tensions mounted during the summer, when an Israeli foreign-ministry spokesman denounced Pope Benedict for allegedly failing to condemn Palestinian terrorism. After a testy exchange of public statements, that dispute was calmly resolved. (Dispute with Vatican resolved, Israeli envoy reports) But when he met in November with Israel's President Moshe Katsav, the Pontiff continued to press for completion of the diplomatic agreement. (Pope meets Israeli leader, presses for pact )
- The new Pope's vision. (Pope meets Curia, surveys 2005 ) Just before Christmas, in a traditional meeting with the leaders of the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict delivered an important address, which— although it was largely ignored by the media, in the flurry of pre-Christmas preparations— contained a surprising, critical reappraisal of Vatican II. In his first months in office Pope Benedict has established a quiet, confidential style. (The (very) private life of Benedict XVI ) But his first encyclical, expected soon, could offer the best key to understanding his pontificate. (Pope's first encyclical expected in January)