197 episodes

Each week, Colleen Dulle goes behind the headlines of the biggest Vatican news stories with America’s Rome correspondent Gerard O’Connell. They'll break down complicated news stories that have a whole lot of history behind them in an understandable, engaging way. Colleen and Gerard will give you the inside scoop on what people inside the Vatican are thinking, saying—and planning.

Inside The Vatican America Media

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.7 • 212 Ratings

Each week, Colleen Dulle goes behind the headlines of the biggest Vatican news stories with America’s Rome correspondent Gerard O’Connell. They'll break down complicated news stories that have a whole lot of history behind them in an understandable, engaging way. Colleen and Gerard will give you the inside scoop on what people inside the Vatican are thinking, saying—and planning.

    Interview: What does a U.S. ambassador to the Holy See do?

    Interview: What does a U.S. ambassador to the Holy See do?

    Pope Francis dedicated his entire Angelus address this past Sunday, Oct. 2, to denouncing the war in Ukraine. Recent weeks have seen the Ukrainians pushing back Russian forces on the ground, while Russian president Vladimir Putin has escalated his threats, claiming that four Ukrainian regions now belong to Russia, and that Russia will take any attempt to reclaim them as a threat to its territorial integrity. Putin said that in the face of such a so-called invasion, Russia would respond by all means necessary–including using nuclear weapons.

    The Vatican has responded to the war so far by advocating peace and focusing on sending humanitarian aid. But the pope’s response has been criticized on the world stage for being too soft on Russia; for example, after he said that NATO had been “barking at Russia’s gate” before the invasion, or when he prayed for a Russian civilian killed by Ukrainian forces, who had in turn been used for Russian propaganda.

    This week on Inside the Vatican, host Colleen Dulle interviews Joe Donnelly, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See—President Biden’s representative to the Vatican. We talk about the anguish the pope is clearly feeling over Ukraine, and how Ambassador Donnelly navigates working with the Vatican, even when its approach and goals differ from those of the United States.

    Links from the show:

    Gerard O’Connell | Interview: U.S.-Vatican Ambassador Joe Donnelly on Ukraine, China and his meeting with Pope Francis

    Colleen Dulle | Review: When popes play peacemaker (Review of God’s Diplomats)

    Gerard O’Connell | Pope Francis makes dramatic appeal to Putin: Stop the war in Ukraine

    Victor Gaetan | What critics of Pope Francis’ NATO comments don’t understand about Vatican diplomacy
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    • 23 min
    Synod reports from all over the world are in. What happens next?

    Synod reports from all over the world are in. What happens next?

    With reports from at least 112 of the 114 bishops’ conferences around the world, the Synod on Synodality has entered its next phase as 35 laypeople, priests and bishops meet in Frascati, Italy, to discern the outcome of the worldwide listening process that started last October. 

    On “Inside the Vatican” this week, veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell reveals some of the highlights of his interview with Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops. (The interview was conducted for an upcoming deep dive episode on the synod which will be released on your “Inside the Vatican” podcast feed next month.) 

    “The Pope is very keen that the synods and the synod process is not hijacked by pressure groups,” Gerry said. “In fact,” Gerry tells host and producer Colleen Dulle, “the cardinal said to me… I said, ‘Are you afraid of pressure groups: people with an agenda who want to get it through these?’ And he said, ‘I’m not afraid of these, but I hope if it’s going to be hijacked, it’s going to be hijacked by the Holy Spirit.’”

    This week, Pope Francis also announced the first in what is expected to be a series of major personnel changes in high-ranking positions at the Vatican. Cardinal José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, a 56-year-old Portuguese prelate, is the first head of a newly created Vatican department known as the Dicastery for Education and Culture, combining what were previously two separate departments. 

    Cardinal Tolentino is a lauded poet, author and theologian in his native Portugal. He has received numerous literary prizes and academic accolades and rose to prominence in the Vatican when the pope invited him to preach the Lenten retreat for Vatican staff in 2018. “Pope Francis is clearly a big fan of this cardinal,” Colleen tells Gerry. Though, she adds, “I think that he is more popular in other parts of the world than in the United States.” 

    “It's a perfect fit in many ways,” says Gerry of Pope Francis’ appointment of Cardinal Tolentino to the new culture and education department. “He is a polyglot and he really has an open vision, and he is completely on the page of Pope Francis.… a church that is open, that is inclusive, that is not condemnatory, that's trying to encourage, not to discourage, that's trying to open doors, not to close doors.”

    Links from the show:
    Pope Francis names Portuguese cardinal new head of Vatican office for Culture and Education
    Italy could elect its first woman prime minister—and its most right-wing government since becoming a republic
    Videos from inside the Frascati Synod meeting
    Exclusive: Cardinal Grech on drafting the first global synod synthesis—and what’s in store for phase 2
    Cardinal Grech: The synod ‘needs time’ on the question of married priests
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    • 31 min
    Why one Kazakh bishop denounced Pope Francis’ participation in interfaith meeting

    Why one Kazakh bishop denounced Pope Francis’ participation in interfaith meeting

    Pope Francis was in Khazakstan last week for a major Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions—although his visit was overshadowed in the press by criticism from a Khazak bishop, Athanasius Schneider, who said the meeting was “dangerous” and could come off as the pope supporting “a supermarket of religions,” “undermin[ing] the uniqueness and absoluteness of Jesus Christ as savior.”
    Meanwhile, the Khazak government rolled out the red carpet for the pope, who was the first to attend the international congress, although John Paul II and Benedict XVI had been invited in past years. The nation’s foreign minister also signed an agreement with his Vatican counterpart to make it easier for Catholic missionaries to enter the country.
    On “Inside the Vatican” this week, veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell and host Colleen Dulle give an update on what happened at the meeting, and why Bishop Schneider disapproved of it.
    In the second part of the show, the hosts turn to Ukraine, where Pope Francis’ almoner, or almsgiver, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, came under fire while delivering aid in a war zone near Zaporizhzhia. He emerged unscathed and was able to bring food, other aid, and rosaries blessed by the pope to the soldiers and civilians there.
    Colleen and Gerry discuss the aid the Vatican has provided to Ukraine and examine how Pope Francis parsed the morality of delivering arms to Ukraine when speaking with a German journalist over the weekend. How do his comments advocating self-defense square with his past denunciations of the arms trade?

    Links from the show:
    Pope Francis in Kazakhstan: ‘How many deaths will it take’ for peace to prevail in Ukraine?
    ‘There is only one true religion’: Kazakh bishop says his criticisms of Pope Francis’ interfaith outreach are a sign of collegiality
    Pope Francis, asked about Ukraine, says nations can buy weapons for self-defense under right moral conditions
    Review: When popes play peacemaker
    Gunmen fire upon Cardinal Krajewski in Ukraine
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    • 28 min
    Queen Elizabeth II’s connection to five popes

    Queen Elizabeth II’s connection to five popes

    Queen Elizabeth II died last week, Sept. 8, after 70 years on the throne. She was 96 and was England’s longest-reigning monarch. And while most people, when asked to describe the relationship between the papacy and the British monarchy, would likely think of the Henry VIII affair, in reality the relationship between the two heads-of-state-slash-heads-of-churches is quite cordial.

    On “Inside the Vatican” this week, host Colleen Dulle and veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell discuss Queen Elizabeth II’s relationship with the five popes she met as queen, her role as a religious leader, and what we can expect in terms of Vatican relations from the reign of King Charles III.

    Up next, Pope Francis traveled to Kazakhstan this week for an international congress of the leaders of world and traditional religions—that is, the world’s major religions and some that have a more regionally-specific history, like Indigenous religions. The pope is expected to use his speech at the congress and his meetings with other religious leaders to make the case for peace, a poignant message in a nation that borders Russia.

    Colleen and Gerry discuss the political buzz around the visit, as well as the history of the nation’s tiny Catholic minority. Gerry gives his impressions of the country from 2001, when he covered Pope John Paul II’s visit there just ten days after the September 11 attacks on the United States, and explains how Pope Francis’ message of interreligious cooperation has extended even farther than past popes’.

    Finally, Gerry and Colleen look at the pope’s health: After canceling his scheduled visits to Lebanon and South Sudan, and not traveling to Ukraine as he had hoped to do, why has the pope decided to make this trip?

    Links from the show:
    Queen Elizabeth turned privilege into a life of Christian service
    What Catholics need to know about Kazakhstan before Pope Francis’ visit
    Pope Francis heads to Kazakh interfaith congress—without hope for a meeting with Patriarch Kirill
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    • 27 min
    Should we be canonizing recent popes?

    Should we be canonizing recent popes?

    Pope Francis called all the world’s cardinals to the Vatican to discuss the reform of Roman offices, called dicasteries. The meeting follows the release of “Praedicate Evangelium,” a document issued earlier this summer outlining new structures and processes for the Catholic Church’s central offices. 
    This week on “Inside the Vatican,” hosts Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell share what went on in the cardinal’s two-day meeting in Rome, and also look into the recent beatification of Pope John Paul I, who led the church for a mere 33 days before his sudden death. 
    While the cardinals were still in Rome, Gerry took the opportunity to talk with many of them about what unfolded in their closed meeting with the pope and after meeting many of their brother cardinals for the first time. 
    Gerry also shares details of his exclusive interview with Cardinal Robert McElroy, the bishop of San Diego, who is now the newest prelate from the United States, and the key themes he saw emerging from the meeting. Colleen stresses the importance of knowing, as a lay person, what happens at these meetings inside Vatican walls. “I think it's helpful for us to know that these conversations that we've been having and that anybody who's following this synodal process are having, about this tension between synodality and hierarchy,” Colleen tells Gerry. “Those conversations are also being had among the Cardinals in the halls of the Vatican.”
    In the final half of the show, Gerry sets the scene for the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul I that took place at a ceremony in St, Peter’s Square this past Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. Blessed John Paul I was the last Italian pope to be elected over a period of 400 years. Gerry shares a few personal anecdotes about the man who was affectionately known as “the smiling pope,” and what it was like to be there at his installation.
    This week’s show closes with a discussion about the politics and economics of saint-making. And given the controversies that have arisen since the rapid canonization of Pope John Paul II and the subsequent release of the McCarrick report—which reveals that the polish pope knew about some of the accusations of abuse against Mr. McCarrick—Colleen, again, asks an important question: “Should we really be canonizing these recent popes?” 

    Read more:
    Exclusive: Cardinal Robert McElroy’s first interview since receiving the red hat
    Cardinal McElroy on Curia reform, Vatican finances and the Pope Francis resignation rumors
    Pope Francis beatifies John Paul I, the ‘smiling pope’ who governed the church for 33 days in 1978

    Book recommendation: 
    The September Pope, Stefania Falasca, Our Sunday Visitor, 2021
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    • 33 min
    Pope Francis didn’t resign this week (though some expected him to)

    Pope Francis didn’t resign this week (though some expected him to)

    “Inside the Vatican” is back from summer break this week, just as the Vatican wraps up an unusually jam-packed late August. On August 27, Pope Francis created 20 new cardinals, 16 of whom will help choose his successor. On the podcast, host Colleen Dulle and veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell recap the appointments and what makes the solemn ceremony relatively simple by Vatican standards.

    Most of the world’s cardinals came to Rome for the creation of the new cardinals, and stayed for meetings with the pope on Monday and Tuesday to discuss his reform of the Roman Curia that went into effect in June. Although no reporters were allowed inside the meeting, Gerry shares what he learned from several participants about what happened.

    In between these two important events, Pope Francis flew by helicopter to the central Italian city of L’Aquila, which has not fully recovered from an earthquake that killed nearly 300 people in 2016. The pope met with the families of those who had died, before visiting the tomb of Celestine V, the first pope to voluntarily resign.

    The visit to Celestine’s tomb, combined with the unusual meeting with the cardinals, had led some to assume Pope Francis could resign this week. Gerry explains that, while he doesn’t believe Francis intends to follow in Celestine’s footsteps and resign yet, Francis has become the first pope in more than 700 years to follow Celestine’s lead in opening the Holy Door of the L’Aquila basilica for a special feast of forgiveness known as the “Celestinian pardon.”

    Read more:
    Podcast: Is Pope Francis preparing for the next conclave?
    Meet the 16 New Cardinal Electors
    Pope Francis creates 20 new cardinals including Robert McElroy of San Diego
    Pope Francis prays at tomb of Celestine V, urges mercy and humility
    Pope Francis tells College of Cardinals to ‘speak freely’ at first meeting since 2014
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    • 31 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
212 Ratings

212 Ratings

Patrick8645 ,

Informative and thoughtful

They choose the most important stories, and they’re not afraid to choose topics which make people uncomfortable.

sisyphus216 ,

Essential

I listen to every episode (started during RCIA) and I find it incredibly helpful in following the latest news from the Vatican. The inter generational respect and teamwork between Colleen and Gerard is really wonderful as well.

66TRC ,

An unbalanced assessment

Each time I think I will subscribe to “America,” I either hear or read something so off putting and disingenuous that I don’t.
In your March 10 podcast, Ms Dulle repeats her doubt about the truthfulness of Pope Benedict VXI’s assertion that he and his staff erred rather than lied about the pontiff’s presence at the meeting. It seems reasonable to blame his aged infirmity on a mistake and on his trust in his staff to properly assist him in this matter.
I don’t give the Holy Father a pass. He made a serious mistake and apologized for it. But context matters. Mr O’Connell repeatedly tried to impress upon Ms Dulle the good that the Pope had done about the clergy sex abuse scandals, considering the hundreds of priests he removed from the priestly office for their abuse or the very supportive letter Benedict received from Pope Francis, but it seemed that she would not relent. Difficult not to wonder if she has an underlying bias against Benedict and his “conservative” pontificate.
Amazingly, Ms Dulle relied on a discredited anti-Catholic organization (SNAP) to buttress her case, a reliance that unquestionably and therefore ironically weakens it.
I don’t fault Ms Dulle for any righteous anger she might feel about the scandal, because we should all feel that way. But we need a more balanced assessment of the case, and we didn’t get it from her.

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