The New Yorker

The Chaos in Italy, thenewyorker.com, May 7, 2013

It would be a mistake to give too much weight to the desperate act of Luigi Preiti, the troubled, unemployed man who allegedly shot at and wounded two police officers in front of Palazzo Chigi, the official residence of Italy’s Prime Minister, late last month. And yet it is hard not to see something symbolic…

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Inaugurating Pope Francis

While the new Pope, Francis, has made a point of emphasizing simplicity—rather than wearing the usual gold ring, he has insisted on one made of silver—today he gave way to Vatican tradition and formally assumed his office following most (but not all) of the elaborate ceremonial script worked out in minute detail over more than a thousand years. Even within this deeply traditional institution, the script has changed, sometimes quite substantially.

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Pope Francis Against the Roman Curia

  A cautiously bold move. Or, perhaps, a boldly cautious move. In choosing the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the cardinals of the Catholic Church are trying to indicate that they are open and listening to calls for change, while hewing carefully to their traditions and the conservative doctrine of the past two Popes. We…

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Maybe Italy’s Politicians Aren’t Crazier Than Ours

Published at The New Yorker The results of the last Italian election are baffling, if not incomprehensible, to most foreign observers: as one American friend put it, a majority of Italians voted either for a comedian (Beppe Grillo) or a clown (Silvio Berlusconi). A center-left coalition won a narrow plurality in the lower house of…

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