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30/01/2008 02.35
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Posted today on the preceding page:

Pope's telegram of condolence for the death of Archbishop Christodoulos , head of the Greek Orthodox Church - Cardinal Poupard will represent Benedict at the funeral services in Athens on Thursday.

'On the importance of alms-giving' - Cardinal Cordes presents the Pope's Lenten Message for 2008 at
a Vatican news conference.

Hold-overs from the Sapienza episode:
More details on Minister Amato's advice - Translated from La Stampa and Italia Oggi....
and Nobel laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini denies news reports she would have signed the professors
protest letter - Osservatore Romano has to publish her denial as the erring newspapers have not done so.


Translated from PETRUS:

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 29 - Pope Benedict XVI has chosen French Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, the Biblicist whom he made a cardinal in the first consistory of his Pontificate, to preach the spiritual exercises for the Pope and the Roman Curia during the traditional retreat at the start of the Lenten season, according to the French online agency, I-Media.

Vanhoye, 84, is a Jesuit scholar who is a specialist in the New Testament.

Previous preachers chosen by Benedict XVI in the first two retreats of his Pontificate were also retired prelates - Cardinal Marco Ce, emeritus Patriarch of Venice, in 2006, and Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, emeritus Archbishop of Florence, last year.

[Equally noteworthy was the Pope's choice of Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hongkong to write the meditations and prayers for the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday.]

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 30/01/2008 07.50]
Versione aggiornata della TNMTestimoni di Geova Online...99 pt.17/12/2017 11.24 by Anthony.Sidra
Gemma Favia (Uno Mattina Caffè)TELEGIORNALISTE FANS FORU...37 pt.17/12/2017 09.33 by Birkir65
Roma - CagliariSenza Padroni Quindi Roma...27 pt.17/12/2017 11.47 by jandileida23
30/01/2008 13.18
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30/01/2008 13.32
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A full translation of the Holy Fahter's catechesis today has been posted in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS.

The Holy Father today resumed his catechetical cycle on the Fathers of the Church with his third catechesis on St. Augustine, before some 6,000 people at Aula Paolo VI.


Here is how he synthesized today's lesson in English:

As we continue our catechesis on Saint Augustine of Hippo, I wish today to consider some of the teachings of this great Doctor of the Church.

A passionate believer, he recognized the importance of bringing together faith and reason. It was he who taught that we should believe in order to understand, and understand in order to believe. God makes himself known to our reason, although he always transcends what we can know through reason alone.

As Augustine beautifully expressed it, God is “more intimately present to me than my inmost being” and “higher than the highest element in me.”

Saint Augustine taught that by belonging to the Church, we are so closely united to Christ that we “become” Christ, the head whose members we are. As our head, Christ prays in us, yet he also prays for us as our priest, and we pray to him as our God.

If we ask what particular message Saint Augustine has for the men and women of today, it is perhaps his emphasis on our need for truth.

Listen to the way he describes his own search for God’s truth: “You were within me and I sought you outside, in the beautiful things that you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you. You called me, you cried out and broke open my deafness. I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for you.”

Let us pray that we too may discover the joy of knowing God’s truth.



Augustine taught that
faith and reason must be harmonised

The following report has been adapted from AsiaNews.

Vatican City, Jan. 30 - "I believe in order to understand" and "to lead men back to the hope of finding the truth" - Benedict XVI reiterated these phrases from Saint Augustine today, resuming his catecheses on Bishop of Hippo and addressing a theme especially dear to him, the relationship between faith and reason.

"These themes are not to be opposed to one another, but must always go together", in order to be able to arrive at the truth.

It was the third of his weekly catechesis devoted to St. Augustine, whose intellectual and spiritual journey, he said, represents "a model of the relationship between faith and reason, a central theme for the equilibrium and destiny of every human being" and "the two forces that lead us to knowledge".

Benedict pointed out that Augustine had rejected the faith as an adolescent, "because he did not see its reasonableness, and it was not an expression of his reason", meaning truth.

"His search for the truth was so radical that he could not be satisfied with philosophies that did not arrive at God...not only (as) a cosmological hypothesis...(but) a God who gives life".

Thus, Augustine's belief that faith and reason are the two forces required for understanding, is shown by the famous phrases in which he expresses "this coherent synthesis between faith and reason: 'believe in order to understand', but also and inseparably, 'understand in order to believe'".

The Pope said those two phrases express "the synthesis in which the Catholic Church sees the expression of its own journey", that "God is not far from our reason and from our lives...(but) on the contrary, he is close to every human being, and he is as close to man's heart as to his reason".



The Pope greets a group of Orthodox priests.

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Lella has posted a schedule of telecasts with the Holy Father in the month of February, and although it refers to programming on Italian TV, they do give us the times, dates and places of the events, so we can follow through CTV online or any transmissions in our respective localities:


Friday, February 1
at Rome's Major Seminary
(Last year, the Holy Father had a very stimulating Q&A session
with the seminarians on this occasion)

Saturday, February 2
17:30 HOLY MASS for the Religious of the Diocese of Rome
St. Peter's Basilica
(Not celebrated by the Pope, but he will address the assembly
after the Mass)

Sunday, February 3
11:55 ANGELUS at St. Peter's Square

Wednesday, February 6
10:25 GENERAL AUDIENCE at Aula Paolo VI
Basilicas of St. Anlsem and St. Sabina

Saturday, February 23
of the Diocese of Rome on the issue of education

NB: The ANNUAL LENTEN SPIRITUAL EXERCISES for the Holy Father and the Roman Curia will take place from February 10-17. During this time, there will be no audiences nor public events for the Pope .




The Vatican today announced that Pope Benedict XVI has named Mons. John Tong Hon, 69, as the new Bishop Coadjutor for the Archdiocese of Hongkong.

As such, he would be in line to succeed Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze Kiun as Archbishop of Hongkong. Until now, Mons. Tong was an auxiliary bishop.

It is presumed that Tong's appointment had been anticipated to the government in Beijing by the Vatican. Since Hongkong came back under Chinese rule in 2000 after the end of British colonial rights, it has had a special autonomous status.

Cardinal Zen, now 76, asked Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 to be allowed to retire, but instead the Pope named him a cardinal and asked him to stay on.

The diocese of Hongkong has a population of 6,882,000, of which 344,166 are Catholics. It has 283 priests, 8 permanent deacons, and 811 religious.

Pope names Hong Kong bishop

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 30 (ap) - The Pope on Wednesday named a Hong Kong bishop to eventually succeed Cardinal Joseph Zen, the leading proponent for religious freedom in China.

Pope Benedict XVI nominated Monsignor John Tong Hon, a Hong Kong auxiliary bishop, as coadjutor bishop, meaning he will take over as head of the Hong Kong diocese upon Zen's retirement.

Zen is 76, a year past the normal retirement age for bishops, but there has been no word on when he would step down. Last March, he said the pope had rejected his request to give up his duties as a bishop so he could concentrate on working to restore ties between the Vatican and Beijing.

Zen has been an outspoken champion of religious freedom, at times drawing the ire of China's Communist authorities.

Bishop Tong, 68, was born in Hong Kong. He serves as an adviser to the Vatican's office for missionary work and is a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.



VATICAN CITY, Jan. 30 - In another pontifical act announced today, teh Holy Father reorganised the Greek-Catholic Slovak Church, making in a "sui iuris" Metropolitan Church and adopting the following provisions:

- Elevating the eparchy of Presov for Catholics of Byzantine rite (Catholics 137,203, priests 259, permanent deacons 1, religious 111) to the status of metropolitan see and promoting Bishop Jan Babjak S.J. of Presov to the office of metropolitan archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Hazin nad Chirochou, Slovakia in 1953, he was ordained a priest in 1978 and consecrated a bishop in 2003.

- Elevating the apostolic exarchate of Kosice for Catholics of Byzantine rite (Catholics 81,132, priests 161, permanent deacons 3, religious 65) to the status of eparchy, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Presov, and appointing the current exarch, Bishop Milan Chautur C.SS.R., to the office of eparchal bishop.

- Erecting the eparchy of Bratislava for Catholics of Byzantine rite, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Presov, and appointing Fr. Peter Rusnak, pastor of the Greek-Catholic parish of the Exaltation of the Cross in Bratislava and proto-preist of the proto-presbyterate of the same name, as first bishop of the new eparchy. The bishop-elect was born in Humenne, Slovakia in 1950, and ordained a priest in 1987.


This item makes me realize I know very little of the Oriental Churches and their individual structures!

It is significant that according to a new interview with L'Osservatore Romano editor Giovanni Maria Vian, he says that the two specific instructions he got from the Pope about the newspaper was 1) to provide more information and reportting about the Oriental Churches; and 2) to have more women writing for the newspaper. I will post the interview with Vian when I have translated it.

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The Pope's Lenten message
on almsgiving and charity
once again surprises -
and clears away cliches

Translated from the
1/30/08 issue of


Like one who goes the opposite way while the crowd is rushing in the other direction, showing his face to those carried along by the current, he arouses perhaps in those who see him something great - a desire, a memory. Such is the Christian in today's world. [Especially and above all, Benedict, one should say!]

One can see this well in Benedict XVI's Message for Lent this year.

While everyone is talking about the economic crisis, the difficulty of earning enough, of wastefulness in politics and the astronomical cost of living, here is ther Pope talking about almsgiving. Once again, catching everyone off-guard, but also reminding everyone of something essential.

Without the essential, in fact, every concern, no matter how legitimate and just - such as making ends meet - risks being transformed into a near-pathological anxiety attack for both individuals and society.

Therefore, while everyone is preccupied about having enough money, the Pope speaks to us of giving alms - the gesture which one does to help the poor and to remind ourselves that we are not the masters of life and its goods.

Also, to remind us of that extraordinarily simple truth what we often forget: it is better to give than to receive. Which is to say that the human being is made to love.

Without the joy of giving, a society will not succeed even in facing the needs of development and growth. Almsgiving is a realistic gesture, and it should not be exceptional.

It is realistic because the needs of the poor around us are such that our claims and lamentations in their behalf often sound downright unworthy.

And it is a non-exceptional gesture because it should take place, as the Gospel tells us, without the left hand knowing what the right is doing.

The Pope, after reminding us that everything good comes to us so we may help others, also points to the risk of what I would call 'giving for show' - the tendency in this society of image to use even an act of almsgiving as a tool for self-promotion.

The Pope makes it clear, with his calm firmness, that true charity means an interior, and therefore, discreet attitude of conversion or turning to Christ. Giving alms with the heart swollen with vainglory is not what the Gospel means. To be charitable is not philanthropy trumpeted to the four winds.

Jesus, in citing an example of charity does not cite any exceptional feat of philanthropy, but rather, he points to the widow who gives her last coin to the temple. She offers all of herself to God, whereas many philanthropists give what they can well spare from their excessive wealth, and sometimes, only on condition that they should get a lot of publicity for it.

The Pope, in his message, also reminds us of the many among us, who discreetly, often anonymously, help their neighbor. The Italy of the needy, of the true indigents, of whatever race, owes its subsistence much more to so many ordinary people like the 'poor widow' than it does to institutions and to philanthropies with TV spots.

With a healthy dose of realism, Cardinal Cordes, presenting the Papal message yesterday, pointed to the fact that in the church organizations dedicated to charity, the percentage of contributions that goes to administrative costs ranges between 3-9%, where in many philanthropic institutions, this can take up as much as 50%.

Lately, even some prominent men of culture have asked themselves what it means to help one's neighbor. Piero Citati, a great writer, who is a leading voice for a major secular (and secularist) daily newspaper,
wrote about his normal gestures of almsgiving - not out of vainglory, but to show how simple acts can help create one's quality of life and spirit - in the most refined intellectual as with the most illiterate person.

Indeed, the Lent that Pope Benedict writes about is a proposal to everyone. Lent is when we find that we are all poor, we are all needy, mendicants to Christ, for ourselves and for each other.

Avvenire, 30 gennaio 2008

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Translated from ASCA:

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 30 (ASCA) - Next week, L'Osservatore Romano will come out with a distinct new graphic look, according to Giovanni Maria Gian, who has been is editor since the end of October 2007.

Meeting with Luigi Accattoli of Corriere della Sera, Vian also tried to evaluate his first three months at the helm of what is traditionally considered 'the voice of the Pope'.

Vian said the newspaper would continue to be guided by journalistic rigor and moderation, which have marked its history and which have been particularly emphasized in the last few months.

However, he said, it will take a bit more time to launch the newspaper's new online site, which had been announced late last year by the Vatican Secretary of State. The site would enable all the contents of each issue to be available online.

Vian estimates the daily paid circulation of the newspaper at 10,00-12,000, but its total regular readership would come to around 100,000 counting the weekly editions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, and a monthly edition in Polish.

About this data, which have always been a 'punctum dolens' (sore point), to use Vian's own term, he says the Pope's newspaper is showing signs of recovery.

"It's too early to tell, because it's only been 3 months," he said, "but maybe, even because of promotions, new subscriptions are coming in, right now, at least ten a day.

Vian points out he even got a letter from a new subscriber who said he happened to see a copy in a small hotel up in the north of Italy.

But he says realistically, "The 'new' Osservatore will need some time to become known, and I think that will boost circulation even more."

Vian reiterated that the new orientation of the newspaper has been to show 'greater international breadth' in political and religious reporting, as well as twice more space dedicated to 'culture' in general.

He also made clear that even if "the Pope is really the publisher", Osservatore is not an official organ, in the sense "that it does not receive any instructions from the Curia nor does it need to have any article cleared for approval"

However, he admits that "there is certainly a working relationship and daily contact with the offices of the Secretariat of State".

He also said that the Pope, who had lunch with Vian and his deputy editor Carlo Di Cicco a few weeks ago, had only given them two instructions at the beginning, conveyed through Cardinal Bertone: "A particular attention to the Oriental Churches, even those that are not Catholic; and more articles contributed by women.

This last request was definitely needed by a newspaper in which, until then, no woman had taken part.

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ROME, Jan. 30 (Apcom) - "From the political point of view, the case about La Sapienza is closed, and that's the way it should be (but) between believers and non-believers, there should always be reasonable confrontation and dialog," said Mons. Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

He and Giuliano Ferrara, editor of Il Foglio, participated tonight in a debate on the text prepared by Pope Benedict XVI for La Sapienza University, at the Catholic University of Rome.

"On the day the visit was cancelled, I said it was an ugly page for Italian culture," Ravasi said. "I am a very curious person, so I often read interventions and books by atheists. But what I don't understand is why they never want to hear the opinion of others who do not think like them, and because of this, I call on them to open up to friendly confrontation and dialog."

Thus, for Mons. Ravasi, "Even if the case is closed from the political point of view, what should not be closed is the need to continue dialog and not let it die off."

And he cited the discussion he had with Ferrara, a so-called 'devout atheist' who happens to share many of the positions of the Catholic Church on social issues.

Ravasi said, "Let us carry on with dialog, and as I often say, it should not be a duel of arms but a duet, voices which together produce harmony, but separately, are simply strident. I would love to discuss the Pope's text even with a complete atheist."

The University's Aula Magna was crowded with students, professors and even some political personalities, like Catholic Senator Paola Binetti, usually labelled 'theo-dem', for an evening of elevated discussion.

"The Pope's text is a challenge, as well as an embrace and a beneficial trauma," Ferrara said, "a speech by a super-professor who knows better than anyone else what a university should be. A useful address which should have been heard live from the Pope."


What kind of newsmen do they assign to these events anyway? Even a student apprentice should do a better report than this. There was little of 'elevated' or even substantive discussion in the news item, considering the caliber of Ravasi and Ferrara!


And while we are on the Sapienza case and on media inadequacy - or incompetence - here's something from Sandro Magister's blog today:

Creative journalism: Latest targets are
Mons. Betori and Rita Montalcini

Translated from

On Tuesday, Jan, 29, the Permanent Council of the Italian bishops conference (CEI) issued its final communique on the winter session they held last week.

Compared to when Cardinal Camillo Ruini was CEI president, the final communique was somewhat less of a recapitulation of the opening address given by his successor Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

In any case, Ruini is not really leaving the scene. The Permanent Council named him president, for the next five years, of the newly-constituted Committee for the Cultural Project.

In the news conference that accompanied the release of the final communique, the secretary of the CEI, Mons. Giuseppe Betori, responded this way to questions about the government crisis:

"We have no preference for one or other institutional, constitutional or electoral solution, as long as democracy is respected. ... The President of the Republic has all our esteem and he will surely make the most appropriate decision, obviously within the possibilities which are allowed to him... I hope that all political leaders may place the common good ahead of partisan interests."

From these statements, almost all the media deduced the peremptory news that "the bishops are in favor of a transitional government."

Astounding? Not much. The very same day, L'Osservatore Romano featured another such pearl on its front page under the heading "Declaration of Nobel laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini: 'I never would dream of aligning myself against the Pope'.

[Magister then reproduces the news item which we posted in translation on 1/29.]

Benedict XVI was right, in his recent message for the World Day of Social Communications, to say that the media "often seem not only to represent reality but also to shape it." [Or invent it, is more like it].

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In its 1/31/08 issue, L'Osservatore Romano features this lengthy article by a Chinese bishop commenting on the Pope's Letter to the Catholics of China last June 30, 2007. Here is a translation:

Impressions of Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi
commenting on Pope Benedict's letter
to the Catholics of China

n his address to the Roman Curia last December 22, Pope Benedict XVI recalled, among other highlights of 2007, the Letter which he addressed to the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China. We are presenting here the 'impressions' written by Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, the Jesuit emeritus Bishop of Kaohsiung.


By Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, SJ
Emeritus Bishop of Kaohsiung

Pope Benedict XVI, the day after his election as the Successor to Peter, Prince of Apostles, when he received the greetings from every single cardinal, told me: "My heart feels sincere affection adn a great closeness for the Church in China,"

Because of his interest and love for the Church in China, the Pope, since he was elected, has continually committed himself to finding a way to resolve the numerous difficulties of the Church in China.

In January 2007, he convoked a conference with the participation of important prelates of the Holy See, representatives of the Chinese bishops, experts in theology and canon law, etc., to discuss these difficulties.

The Pope took part in the final session and announced that he would write a letter to the Catholics of the People's Republic of China [which will be referred to in the rest of this text as the Pope's Letter].

This Letter was dated May 27, 2007, Solemnity of Pentecost, and was officially made public on June 30. After having red it , I wish to convey my impressions.

Explaining the truth
and insisting on the truth

The first impression that I had was the clear explanation that the Pope offers about the truth, and his insistence on the truth. The Pope explains very clearly the truth of the Catholic faith on the nature, the mission and structure of the Church, as the universal Church declares it to be.

For two thousand years, the universal Church, both the clergy and the faithful in the local churches, has believed that the Church was instituted by Jesus as a community: : it is one, holy, catholic and apostolic (as the Creed says and No. 5 in the Pope's Letter).

In this Letter, the Pope particularly highlights 'unity' and the apostolic succession through the Catholic hierarchy. Other particulars on this aspect will be explained here later.

The Pope explains that the Catholic Church is 'one'. The roots of this unity are not only the faith itself and Baptism, but above all, the Eucharist and the Episcopate (cfr No. 5 of the Pope's Letter; also, see the Vatican-II dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium on the Church, No. 26), and the unity of the Episcopate, of which, "the Roman Pontiff, as Successor of Peter, is its perpetual and visible principle and foundation," continues throughout the centuries through the apostolic succession (ivi, No. 23).

Precisely for this reason, the Pope cites Lumen gentium from Vatican-II to underscore that "the bishop is the visible principle and foundation of unity in the local Church that is entrusted to his pastoral ministry."

But in every local Church, so that it can be fully a Church, the supreme authority of the Church must be present, that is, the episcopal college together with its head, the Roman Pontiff, and never without him.

That is why the ministry of the Successor of Peter belongs to the essence of every local Church 'from within' (Pope's Letter, No. 5).

The Holy Father explains the common faith of the universal Church and every local church: it is the faith transmitted by the apostles. If this faith is denied or an element of it is lacking - for instance, communion, unity, the bishops' authority, the Supreme Pontiff ans his universal ministry in the Church, etc - then it cannot e called the true Catholic Church.

From this, we see quite clearly that a structure and organization of the Church, joined with an external force, especially a structure and an organization that is placed above that of the hierarchy, are in opposition to the fundamental faith of the Catholic Church.

Forgiveness, communion and unity

The Pope understands well the history of the Church in China, especially the tribulations of the last fifty years, during which many bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, in order to maintain the correct religious faith, suffered hard persecution, which came to bloodshed and martyrdom: they are admirable.

But the members of the Church are human beings with human weakness: of course, there are those who have persevered in their faith, and with the grace of God, underwent martyrdom in a heroic way, but there are also those who yielded to human weakness, because "there is always the danger, in world events and even in the weaknesses of the Church itself, of losing the faith" (Pope's Letter, No. 6).

These 'lapses' of the faith happen during persecutions in all ages. When the persecution becomes less serious, or even when there is no longer any persecution, the Christian faithful within a local Church have to face the question: How shall we treat them - the 'lapsed' ones?

Naturally, there is a tension between the 'faithful' and the 'lapsed': they suspect and despise each other, they exchange accusations and they hide divisions among them (cfr Pope's Letter, No. 6); humanly speaking, it is demandingly laborious to overcome this difficulty.

The persecuted Church of Rome in the early years, gave a =n excellent example to all local Churches: beyond eliminating the extreme attitudes of the Novazioni and the Donatists, it encouraged the faithful to have a Christian heart full of indulgence to forgive and accept the 'lapsed ones' who repented and wished to return to the Church, the merciful Mother.

The Holy Father knows that 'forgiveness and acceptance' are the pre-conditions to communion: "An authentic communion cannot be expressed without anguished efforts for reconciliation" (Pope's Letter, No. 6).
For this reason, the Holy Father encourages the 'loyal faithful' of the Continent, emphasizing that "the purification of memory, forgiveness of those who have done wrong, forgetting the wrongs undergone, and re-pacifying hearts in love - all to be done in the name of Jesus who was crucified and resurrected, can lead to overcoming personal positions or visions born from painful and difficult experiences (Pope's Letter, No. 6).

Those who purposely want to destroy the Church use the 'divide and conquer' strategy of the old Roman Empire in all times and places. What they want to see is tension, conflict, disharmony, division, with each one treating each other as enemies within the Church itself.

Now it is time that everyone gets rid of past motives and wrongs, to live in the present moment and cooperate harmoniously to propel the ship of the Church forward, helping it to take to the open sea and cast the nets for fishing (cfr Lk, 5,4): "Now the fields are ripe for harvest" (Jn 4,35).

We must reap, uniting our efforts: many dioceses in the mainland are cooperating well enough in evangelization and i pastoral care; and in such a way they have produced many fruits in recent years. It is good news for the Pope and the universal Church.

Consultation and respect

The Church as well as the Government wish to serve the people" the very existence of these two units are intended for the well-being of the people. The field of service for the Church encompasses the religious, ethical and moral affairs of men; that of the Government has to do with the social order, security, the means of living, health care, etc.

The Pope respects the right of the government of a State; at the same time, he protects the rights of God and of his Church, citing Jesus's words: "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God that which is God's" (Mt 22,21).

The greater part of the world's democratic countries adn the great religions all accept the 'policy of separation between political and religious realities". Although the rights and duties of both parties are very clear, nevertheless there are areas of overlap which are not clear. In this case, both parties should consult each other sincerely, as, for example, on the question of dividing some provinces or dioceses according to administrative circumscription.

However, there are some questions regarding the nature of the Church, as, for instance, "the principles of independence and autonomy, of self-government and democratic administration of the Church" (Art. 3, "Statues of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association"), which plainly destroy the nature of the Church, which is 'one' and 'communion'. The Holy Father says this is "irreconcilable with Catholic doctrine" (Pope's Letter, No. 7).

Regarding the well known issue of the nomination of Chinese bishops, No. 9 of the Pope's Letter explains with precision: "The Pope, when he granted the apostolic mandate for the ordination of a bishop, exercises his supreme spiritual authority: authority and intervention, which remain in the strictly religious field. It does not involve any political authority, which would interfere unduly in the internal affairs of a State and violate its sovereignty."

The Pope recalls that "the nomination of pastors for a specific religious community is intended - even in international documents - a constitutive element of the full exercise of the right to religious freedom. The Holy See would like to be completely free in nominating bishops" (ivi).

The Holy Father also expresses a wish: "I hope that an agreement can be found with the Government to resolve some questions regarding the choice of candidates for the episcopate, the publication of such nominations, as well as the recognition - with its civilian effects where necessary - of the new bishop by the civil authorities" (ivi).

The Holy See, in the light of the principle of mutual respect, wishes to consult the Government on some practical problems without destroying the fullness of the Catholic faith.

Wish and benediction

In this letter, Pope Benedict XVI expresses his own great admiration and gratitude for those who have been 'loyal' to the Church "without yielding to compromises, at times even at the price of great suffering"; at the same time, he sees in them a luminous hope for the Church in China (Pope's Letter, Note 1).

Benedict XVI understand well and shares , together with these 'faithful', some thoughts and attitudes which took shape during a long period of persecution. But these things have passed. He presents them with a request: "The purification of memory, forgiveness for those who did wrong, forgetting the wrongs undergone adn the re-pacification of hearts in love, to be realized in the name of Christ who was crucified and resurrected, can lead to overcoming personal positions or visions, born of painful or difficult experiences, but they are urgent steps to be taken in order to increase and manifest the bonds of communion among the faithful and the Pastors of the Church in China (Pope's Letter, No. 6).

It must be noted that the Pop0e uses the pronoun 'we' in a special way in this Letter, to show his identification with and great love for the persecuted 'faithful'.

As for the 'lapsed' ones who fell out during the persecution, Benedict XVI loves them equally with the heart of a father and wishes that they may return to the Church, the merciful mother. He hopes that the 'faithful' may help them to return soon, pardon and accept them, so that they may be 'one flock and one shepherd' (Jn 10,16).

"Other Pastors, instead, under the impulse of particular circumstances, have agreed to receive episcopal ordination without the pontifical mandate, but, afterwards, have asked to be welcomed in communion with the Successor of Peter and with their other brothers in the Episcopate. The late Pope, considering the sincerity of their sentiments and the complexity of the situation ... granted them full and legitimate exercise of episcopal jurisdiction" (Pope's Letter, No. 8).

With sincerity, the Holy Father also highlights one thing in this Letter: It is a pity that some bishops, who have already been legitimized by the Pope, have not dared to officially declare their legitimate identity to their priests and consecrated persons . This has created a great problem of conscience in the affected dioceses: they do not trust each other, and division results among them.

In the Letter, the Pope encourages these bishops to declare themselves and reveal to their priests and faithful their identity as pastors legitimized by the Holy See, asnd he hopes that their clergy and their faithful may accept and obey them (cfr Pope's Letter, No.8).

In the Letter, the Pontiff expresses his own interest, love, encouragement, comfort, concern, expectation adn hope about the Church - namely, the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful - of the Chinese mainland. He also imparts his heartfelt Apostolic Blessing to the Church in China.

This Letter by the Pope is a purely pastoral letter. Benedict XVI, not only with the identity and authority of a great theologian, but also as the Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church, explains the nature, the structure, the doctrine, the mission - in short, the important 'ecclesiastical dogma' that has been believed and professed by the Church in 2000 years.

I hope that this Letter may clarify many misunderstandings and let people know that the Church can absolutely not descend to compromises in matters of the faith and religious doctrine; but the Church and some of its members or other interested persons can discuss the technical aspects that do not involve doctrine.

The aim of this letter was principally to provide some directional principles on doctrinal, pastoral, evangelical and spiritual aspects of the Church in China.

I hope that the readers can read this Letter of the Universal Pastor of the Church with good will and sincerity, and with a devout heart, meditate on it attentively and put it into practice.

At the end of this Letter, the Pope offered a beautiful gift to the people of China: the date of May 24, feast of Our Lady Help Of Christians, has been declared a day on which all Catholics throughout the entire world may be united in prayer for the Church in China.

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The Holy Father met today with
- Bishops of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine on ad-limina visit.
- Participants in the Plenary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Address in Italian.



VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2008 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is being held this week in the Vatican.

The Pope recalled how last year the congregation published "two important documents presenting ... certain clarifications necessary for the correct functioning of ecumenical dialogue, and of dialogue with the religions and cultures of the world".

The first of these documents, "Responses to some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church", confirms that "the one and only Church of Christ has subsistence, permanence and stability in the Catholic Church and, consequently, that the unity, indivisibility and indestructibility of the Church of Christ is not invalidated by separations and divisions among Christians".

The Holy Father went on to note how the document calls attention "to the difference that still persists between the different Christians confessions, as concerns their understanding of 'being Church' in a strictly theological sense.

This, far from impeding true ecumenical commitment, will be a stimulus to ensuring that discussion of doctrinal questions is always carried out with realism, and with complete awareness of the aspects that still divide Christian confessions", he said.

The Pope then referred to the other document published by the congregation last year, the "Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelisation", issued in December.

"Faced with the risk of persistent religious and cultural relativism", he said, this document "stresses that the Church, in a time of dialogue between religions and cultures, is not dispensed from the need to evangelise and undertake missionary activity among peoples, nor does she cease asking mankind to accept the salvation that is offered to everyone. The recognition of elements of truth and goodness in other religions of the world, ... collaboration with them in the defence and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of universal moral values, cannot be understood as a limitation to the Church's missionary task, which involves her in the constant announcement of Christ as the way, the truth and the life".

Benedict XVI invited the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to give particular attention to "the difficult and complex problems of bioethics".

In this context, he indicated that the "Church's Magisterium certainly cannot and should not intervene on every scientific innovation. Rather, it has the task of reiterating the great values at stake, and providing the faithful, and all men and women of good will, with ethical-moral principals and guidelines for these new and important questions."

"The two fundamental criteria for moral discernment in this field", he added, "are: unconditional respect for the human being as a person, from conception to natural death; and respect for the origin of the transmission of human life through the acts of the spouses".

The Pope highlighted "new problems" associated with such questions as "the freezing of human embryos, embryonal reduction, pre-implantation diagnosis, stem cell research and attempts at human cloning".

All these, he said, "clearly show how, with artificial insemination outside the body, the barrier protecting human dignity has been broken. When human beings in the weakest and most defenceless stage of their existence are selected, abandoned, killed or used as pure 'biological matter', how can it be denied that they are no longer being treated as 'someone' but as 'something', thus placing the very concept of human dignity in doubt".

The Holy Father highlighted how "the Church appreciates and encourages progress in the biomedical sciences, which opens up previously unimagined therapeutic possibilities".

At the same time, he pointed out that "she feels the need to enlighten everyone's consciences so that scientific progress may be truly respectful of all human beings, who must be recognised as having individual dignity because they have been created in the image of God".

In this context, he concluded by ensuring participants in the plenary assembly that study of such themes "will certainly contribute to promoting the formation of consciences of many of our brothers and sisters".



VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, led a news conference at the Holy See Press Office this morning to present the First World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, to be held in Rome from 2 to 6 April.

Cardinal Schioenmborn, who will be the president of the Congress, was joined by Fr. Patrice Chocholski, co-ordinater general, and Mauro Parmeggiani, secretary general of the vicariate of Rome.

It is a good sign, said Cardinal Schonborn, that the First World Congress on Mercy should open on 2 April, third anniversary of the death of John Paul II, because "that great and unforgettable Pope, from his boyhood on, remained fascinated by the secret of divine mercy. In the year 2002, at the inauguration of a magnificent shrine to divine mercy at Krakow-Lagiewniki, Poland, he said: 'There is no source of hope for human beings, save the mercy of God'".

Hence "the congress in Rome must clearly show that mercy is the central core of the Christian message", the cardinal said. "This message promotes peace in the world, between peoples and religions. It helps people to discover the true face of God, but also the true face of man and of the Church.

"Many believers", he added, "consider it a special sign that John Paul II died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, which he himself had introduced during the Holy Year 2000, ... and which is closely associated with the figure of Faustina Kowalska, whom John Paul II proclaimed as a saint on 30 April of that same year".

The archbishop of Vienna recalled how during the saint's life (1905-1938) the message of divine mercy was "a special support and an inexhaustible source of hope ... for all the Polish people. This message is more necessary than ever in our own times, as the daily news constantly confirms".

"In 2004 John Paul II appealed to the entire Church to be 'witness to mercy'", said the cardinal. "While at the Regina Coeli prayer on 3 April 2005 he would have said: 'Love changes hearts and brings peace. How great is the need for mercy in the world'. Death prevented that great Pope from pronouncing those words, but the message has lost none of its validity or relevance".

Cardinal Schonborn concluded: "The message of John Paul II and of Faustina Kowalska is not some abstract principle, it has a name and a face: Jesus. ... "Looking to Christ', that is the heritage of John Paul II, it was also the theme of Benedict XVI's visit to Austria last year, and will be the nucleus of the First World Apostolic Congress on Mercy".


From the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, translated:


On February 6, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, there will be a prayer assembly in the form of the Roman 'Stations" presided by the Holy Father Benedict XVI.

The cermonies will take place, as follows:

At 16:30, Prayer at the Church of Sant'Anselmo on the Aventine Hill, to be followed by the penitential procession towards the Basilica of St. Sabina led by the Pope.

Participating in the procession will be cardinals, archbishops, bishops, the Benedictine monks of Sant'Anselmo, the Dominican fathers of Santa Sabina and the faithful.

At the end of the procession, at the Basilica of Santa Sabina, the Pope will preside at the Eucharistic celebration, with the blessing and imposition of ashes.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 03/02/2008 17.47]
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Here's the translation of an Apcom report quoting from an editorial in the current issue of the Rome-based Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica. I was hoping Sandro Magister already had the full editorial, but on his blog today, he has something else from the magazine, but more on that later:

The La Sapienza episode:
A failure of Italian democracy

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 31 (Apcom) - "Our democracy has shown itself unable to handle not even such a relatively minor conflict but has yielded to the intolerant [elements of society]"

The case of the cancelled papal visit to La Sapienza University is not closed, obviously, because this time, it is the topic of an editorial in the current issue of La Civilta Cattolica, the bi-weekly Jesuit magazine whose articles are screened by the Vatican Secretary of State.

'The Pope did not go to La Sapienza' is the title of the editorial which refers to the episode as 'unpleasant'.

The editorial recounts the episode by taking off from the Angelus of January 20 and expresses regret that such an episode should have taken place in a university.

"Unfortunately," says the editorial, "a little blaze that has never quite gone out in Italy has emerged from the ashes, which this time seems to be growing daily: anti-clericalism and radical secularism."

"The La Sapienza episode," it goes on, "has brought discredit to authentic secularity, making seculars appear to be intolerant and incapable of dialog." In this sense, "one cannot be silent about the democracy in force today in Italy (which) has shown itself unable to handle even such a relatively minor conflict (and) has yielded to the intolerants."

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EWTN Special Programming

Go to the link above if you watch Papal events on EWTN.
It states that the Holy Father will "preside" at the Mass on the Feast of the Presentation - but of course that could mean that he will preside, but someone else will celebrate.

The time of the Ash Wednesday Mass [which was also shown last year] is given below and is East Coast time - so calculate accordingly,and be redy with the video!!!!

Luff - Mary x
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The writer is one of Italy's most veteran and reputable Vatican correspondents, so even if this article may sound like a gossip column, D'Anna does have contacts, and these 'indiscretions', as the Italian media call this kind of informal reporting, are not likely to be unfounded.

Whispers across the Tiber
By Antonio D'Anna
Affari Italiani, 1/31/08

While the political crisis of the Prodi government awaits resolution, the Vatican, too, is waiting but without taking sides, as the secretary of the Italian bishops conference, Mons. Giuseppe Betori, made clear to newsmen this week.

"The Church should not, does not nor intend to take any partisan sides," he said at the conclusion of the CEI Permanent Council's winter session, he called on all politicians "to place the common good above everything rather than partisan interests", and that the Italian bishops "do not have any preferences for any particular institutional, constitutional or electoral solution, as long as it respects democracy."

But meanwhile, the Curial machine is undergoing some adjustments.

A Vatican source told us, "The principal aim is the communications capabilities of the Holy See."

More specifically, "There is now a will to reply to attacks which were ignored in the past... (and) this had caused quite a lot of hand-wringing. But these things always happen in a transition between Pontificates."

In this case, the source said, "Benedict XVI has a new mentality: he wants a Church that does not scandalize the greater majority of 'ordinary' faithful - that's why his zero tolerance for pedophilia and other sexual offenses by the clergy;and why he stresses evangelical poverty - look at his Lenten message on almsgiving, with the parts about diplomatic necessities made secondary."

Insofar as diplomacy goes, it seems Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun of Hongkong has raised some handwringing as well in the Secretariat of State. One of the most militant advocates for human rights, Zen is hardly pleasing to the Chinese authorities, and veterans at State are concerned.

"It's not that he does it purposely, but since he has been friends with Joseph Ratzinger for over 20 years, he gets some sort of 'preferential treatment' - and he can always count on being received in the papal apartments without any difficulty."

So it appears that Zen speaks, the Pope listens, and the Secretariat of State comes to hear about it only later. Which, they claim at State, creates some difficulties. [What difficulties! It is not as if the Pope and the cardinal go ahead and do something official unilaterally without going through the right diplomatic channels. They're simply doing away with unnecessary preliminary protocol to meet as friends - and at their age, they're certainly entitled to.]

And what about the CEI? At their offices, some are saying "It is time to go beyond the policies of Cardinal Ruini", because his successor Cardinal Bagnasco has been just as firm as Ruini ever was about defining where the Church stands on social issues that impact on the Church's doctrine.

But instead, the permanent Council has just named Ruini president for a five-year-term of the new committee for the 'Cultural Project', Ruini's own pet project when he was CEI president.

Its main initiative is to propose concrete steps which will keep the Church position on public issues alive and clear in the public consciousness, especially on issues that have to do with anthropological issues (bioethics and human rights) and the search for truth. Something Ruini managed to do very well during his 15 years at the helm of the CEI.

Finally, on Friday, Feb. 1, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will celebrate Mass for the 40th anniversary of the Sant'Egidio Community, which was born on Feb. 8, 1968 in the Chiesa Nuova of Rome, at the initiative of students from the Virgil Lyceum.

From its first project to provide after-school centers for children in the poor areas of the Roman suburbs, Sant'Egidio today has 50,000 members in 70 countries, and a website in 25 languages.

Acting as sort of a 'parallel diplomacy' for the Holy See - besides its commitment to the suburban poor around the world - it has been acting as a 'mediator' for years with China, where Catholics faithful to Rome were considered to be rendering fealty to a 'foreign head of state' in the Pope.

It is not easy to bring 10 million out of the shadows of persecution and violence, but hope is, after all, a theological virtue. Which the Sant'Egidio Community has never been short of. Best wishes to them.

Affari Italiani, 31 gennaio 2008

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Here is the Osservatore Romano report on the Ravasi-Ferrara colloquium at Catholic University that was so inadequately reported earlier.

'Truth is the food of reason':
A colloquium on the Pope's
La Sapienza discourse

By Roberto Sgaramella
Translated from the
2/1/08 issue of


It was a very well-attended event with professors, students and politicians at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome on Wednesday afternoon.

The attraction: a colloquium on the address Pope Benedict XVI never delivered at la Sapienza University. The moderators: Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Giuliano Ferrara, editor of Il Foglio newspaper and one of Italy's most prominent 'devout atheists'.

Hosting the event and making the introductions was Lorenzo Ornaghi, rector of Rome's Catholic U, who recalled the years spent by Mons. Ravasi in Milan as Prefect of the historic Ambrosian Library, as well as the 11th anniversary of Ferrara's newspaper.

Ornaghi also said that a second similar colloquium will be held at the Catholic University campus in Milan on February 4, with the participation of Giorgio Israel, professor of mathematics at La Sapienza; Salvatore Veca, professor of political philosophy at the University of Pavia; and Serena Vitale, professor of Russian language and literature at the Catholic University of Rome.

The rector said that he was most struck by the Pope's discussion of the nature and mission of a university, especially as it applies to the Catholic University in which the word 'Catholic' is used in both senses.

Likewise, Ornaghi found the concluding part of the Pope's discourse very relevant to every university:

The danger for the Western world - to speak of this alone - is that man today, especially considering the greatness of his knowledge and power, surrenders when faced with the question of truth. This would mean that reason ultimately folds up from the pressure of interests and the attractiveness of utility, being forced to recognize it as the ultimate criterion....

If however, reason, solicitous of its presumed purity, becomes deaf to the great message that comes from the Christian faith and its wisdom, it would wither up like a tree whose roots no longer reach the waters that give it life. It would lose its courage for the truth and will stop being great - it would diminish.

Applied to our European culture, this means: if reason wishes to self-construct itself circumscribed by its own argumentation and that which convinces it for the moment, and - preoccupied with its secularity - cuts itself off from the roots through which it lives, then it does not become more reasonable and pure, but will decompose and break up.

Ornaghi said that this defined the role of the university, not only as a place for teaching, study and research, but as an institution that is constructive not destructive.

"Resounding, dazzling, intellectually ironic," Ferrara said of Benedict's opening paragraphs, notwithstanding the 'embarrassing' circumstances that had kept the Pope from delivering the address himself.

All in all, he said, it was an address worthy of a great professor, a great theologian, a great philosopher and man of science - understanding science to refer not only to theology.

It was a great discourse on freedom and reason in a place that had, for a moment, abandoned the secular principles of freedom of expression and respectful accommodation of all views.

And so, Ferrara said, it was appropriate that the Pope began by rendering homage to the secular university and its autonomy. The Pope was speaking as Bishop of Rome, and therefore, overseer and pastor of a community of believers who live in this world, of a pilgrim Church on a journey that is in this world but not of this world.

Therefore, Ferra said, this was evidently not just an address from one professor to other professors. It is a discourse by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, speaking precisely in this capacity to a secular institution in its autonomy and respecting its nature 'that should exclusively be bound only to the authority of truth'.

The Pope expresses the great essence of the faith: to believe in the true man and true God, his message and his resurrection. And that is why Benedict XVI also presents himself as a 'voice of mankind's ethical reason".

Benedict cites John Rawls, a contemporary philosopher who excludes the possibility of assimilating integrally the complex of religious faith into public reason, but also warns that neither can public reason do without 'the historical fund of human wisdom' found in religion, the Church and the community of faith.

Ferrara also spoke about how the Pope points out that the dispute regarding theory and praxis most importantly concerns society in how to give the right form to human freedom - "how to find juridical regulations that constitute an ordering of freedom, of human dignity and of human rights."

In this connection, Benedict cites Juergen Habermas, who says that "the legitimacy of a Constitution as a premise for legality, comes from two sources: from the egalitarian political participation of all citizens, and the reasonable form in which political conflicts are solved."

And this 'reasonable form', he continues, "cannot just be a battle for arithmetical majority, but should be characterize itself as a 'process of argumentation that is sensitive to the truth..."

The Pope notes that this is "well said, but very difficult to transform into political praxis" since "the representatives of that public 'process of argumentation' are - we know - predominantly the political parties as responsible agencies for the formation of political will".

Archbishop Ravasi said he felt 'embarrassed' to take his turn after Ferrara's presentation which had centered on the substance of the text. Nevertheless, he said he would speak about the concept of the university as being "linked exclusively to the authority of truth".

The Pope had said that the intimate origin of the university was in that 'desire for knowledge that is inherent in man' - a point that is valid for believers as for non-believers; that Socrates had led the way for the "dissolution of the fog of mythological religion" so that Christianity, in turn, would discover "that God who is creative Reason and at the same time God-Love."

Ravasi said: "Even the non-believer knows that there is an (intellectual) itinerary that is not that of formal reason, not rationality in the traditional sense".

A person who is enamored, he said, lives an experience that has a profound logic analogous to that of poetry; that the logic of love is the culmination of a process in that reaching out for knowledge that is not identifiable by creative reason alone; that, therefore, the truth must be conquered both through creative reason as well as the reason of love.

Ravasi cited Hobbes who wrote in Leviathan,"Auctoritas, non veritas, facit legem", in referring to the positivism of legislative law. But, he said, the Pope reminds us that "truth is never only theoretical", that "St. Augustine, in making a correlation between the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount and the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11, said there was a reciprocity between scientia and tristitia. Simple knowing, he said, makes us sad. In fact, whoever sees and learns just what is happening in the world, ends up being sad."

Thus, Ravasi said, the importance of Veritas and Amor (truth and love), truth and goodness - the characteristics of the Christian message. Truth which nourishes both logical reason as well as love.

That is why, he said, the Pope analyzed the medieval university with its four basic faculties - medicine, law, philosophy and theology - which together comprised the diversity and complexity of reality, with a horizontality and verticality that must always intersect to crate the concept of truth.

L'Osservatore Romano - 1 febbraio 2008
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Pope defends bioethics teaching

The intrernational media has given wife play to the Pope's address yesterday to the CDF because it contained buzzwords like 'embryo' and 'stem-cell research'. But this gets his teaching more attention, so thank God!

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 31 (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday defended the Vatican's right to speak out on bioethics, including its opposition to artificial procreation methods and embryonic stem cell research.

He also dismissed criticism that the Roman Catholic Church blocks scientific progress.

"Church teaching certainly cannot and must not weigh in on every novelty of science, but it has the task to reiterate the great values which are on the line and to propose to faithful and all men of good will ethical-moral principles and direction for new, important questions," Benedict said.

Benedict brushed off those who criticize the church "as if it were an obstacle to science and to humanity's true progress."

The pope singled out as "new problems" the freezing of embryos, selecting which embryos should be implanted after testing them for defects, research on embryonic stem cells and attempts at human cloning.

He decried them as proof that "the barrier protecting human dignity has been broken."

Benedict was addressing a meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a powerful Vatican office which safeguards doctrinal orthodoxy. He headed that office before being elected pope in 2005.

Pope says some science
‘shatters’ human dignity

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 31 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict XVI said on Thursday that embryonic stem cell research, artificial insemination and the prospect of human cloning had “shattered” human dignity.

In an address to members of the Vatican department on doctrinal matters, Benedict said the Church had a duty to defend the “great values at stake” in the field of bioethics.

The speech was the latest in a series in which the conservative Pope has told his listeners that scientific progress should not be accepted uncritically.

Benedict, who headed the same department for years before his election in 2005, said the Church was not against scientific progress but wanted it based on “ethical-moral principles”.

He said this included total respect for the human being as a person “from conception until natural death”, and respect for the natural transmission of life through sexual intercourse.

Practices like freezing embryos, suppression of embryos in multiple pregnancies, embryonic stem cell research, the prospect of human cloning and artificial insemination outside the body had “shattered the barriers meant to protect human dignity”, he said.

“When human beings in the weakest and most defenceless state of their existence are selected, abandoned, killed or used as pure ‘biological material’, how can one deny that they are being treated not as ‘someone’ but as ‘something’,” he said.

Such practices “questioned the very concept of the dignity of man”, he said in the speech to the department known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of embryos. Scientists hope to use stem cells to transform medicine, providing regenerative treatments for injuries and seeking new insights into diseases like cancer and Aids.

The Pope said the Church “appreciates and encourages” research on stem cells that come from other parts of the body and do not involve embryos or their destruction.

He rejected accusations from critics who say the Church is an obstacle to science and human progress.

But the headline for this is misleading, as usual:

Vatican: Church must not
meddle in science, says Pope

Vatican City, 31 Jan. (AdnKronos Intl) - Pope Benedict XVI has said that the Catholic church should stay away from intervening on every scientific innovation but that scientific progress must respect human dignity.

"The church's magisterium certainly cannot and should not intervene on every scientific innovation," the pontiff said.

"Rather it has the task of reiterating the great values at stake and providing the faithful, and all men and women of goodwill, with ethical-moral principles and guidelines for these new important questions."

The Pope was speaking on Thursday during a session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which is being held in the Vatican this week.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith oversees Catholic doctrine. It was founded in 1542 by Pope Paul III to promote and safeguard the doctrine of the church.

Benedict XVI headed that office until 2005 when he became the Pope.

During Thursday's congregation, the Pontiff explained how the church should not become involved in every scientific issue.

"The two fundamental criteria for moral discernment in this field, are unconditional respect for the human being as a person, from conception to natural death; and respect for the origin of the transmission of human life through the acts of the spouses," he said.

Pope Benedict also outlined "new problems" such as the freezing of human embryos, embryonal reduction, pre-implantation diagnosis, stem cell research and human cloning.

The pontiff said that human dignity had been compromised and he harshly criticised the practice of in-vitro fertilisation, which places the concept of human dignity in doubt, since the Church identifies that life begins at conception.

Pope condemns human cloning
and stem cell research

The Daily Mail (UK)
Feb. 1, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI has issued a forceful condemnation of human cloning and destructive experimentation on embryos.

The leader of the world's billion Roman Catholics said scientists were guilty of offences against human dignity by treating embryos simply as "biological matter".

The Pontiff's words comes as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill passes through Parliament with the aim of legalising the creation of human-animal hybrids for research and so-called "saviour-siblings" to provide matching transplant tissue for sick children.

The Bavarian-born Pope, 80, said it was impossible for the Roman Catholic Church to intervene on every innovation because scientific advances were moving so quickly.

But he said the Church had moral objections to a range of "new problems" which included the freezing of human embryos, designer babies, stem cell research and attempts at human cloning.

All these, he said, "clearly show how, with artificial insemination outside the body, the barrier protecting human dignity has been broken".

"When human beings in the weakest and most defenceless stage of their existence are selected, abandoned, killed or used as pure 'biological matter', how can it be denied that they are no longer being treated as 'someone' but as 'something', thus placing the very concept of human dignity in doubt?" he said.

He told members of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he used to head before he became Pope, that it was necessary for Catholics to respect for the origin of the transmission of human life through the acts of the spouses.

He said that the Church appreciates and encourages progress in the biomedical sciences, which opens up previously unimagined therapeutic possibilities.

At the same time, he the Pope said that the Church must enlighten consciences "so that scientific progress may be truly respectful of all human beings, who must be recognised as having individual dignity because they have been created in the image of God".

Pope: In vitro fertilization
breaches human dignity

Vatican City, Jan. 31 (dpa) - Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday said the practice of in vitro fertilization - when human egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside a woman's womb - had "breached the barrier that safeguards human dignity."

The pontiff made the remark in a speech to members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's watchdog on moral and religious teachings.

Benedict, referring to a 1987 document issued by the Congregation - which he headed at the time as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - said the church in its criticism of in vitro fertilization (IVF) had anticipated several subsequent bio-ethical problems.

The document, titled Donum Vitae (Gift of Life), holds that IVF is morally wrong because it replaces the "natural" sexual union between husband and wife.

It also condemns the practice because it often results in the destruction of some embryos - a violation of human life which the church identifies as such from conception.

IVF had ushered in new "connected "problems said Benedict, such as the freezing of human embryos and the practice of selecting or discarding them based on scientific tests, stem cell research and cloning.

"When human beings in the most vulnerable state of their existence are selected, abandoned, killed or treated as 'biological matter,' how can it be denied that they are being treated like 'something' rather than 'someone' and thus question the very concept of human dignity," the pontiff said.

Benedict said "the Church appreciates and encourages progress in the biomedical sciences, which opens up previously unimagined therapeutic possibilities."

But he added that it was also the church's duty "to enlighten everyone's consciences so that scientific progress may be truly respectful of all human beings."


On another bioethical issue, here is a curious item from Malta:

Bishop seeks Pope’s guidance
on what to say about condoms

Malta Today
Jan. 27, 2008

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech has asked Pope Benedict XVI to guide him in reacting to press reports and fiery opinion columns in the wake of his explosive claims that condoms were not safe in early December.

The Vatican has not yet replied to his letter sent more than a month ago but the Gozitan bishop confirmed on TVM last Tuesday he asked the head of the Roman Catholic Church to supply him with answers when faced by an onslaught of accusations of twisting scientific facts.

MaltaToday Midweek had devoted its main story on 5 December to Grech's statement that condoms did not protect people from AIDS, as he had said in a homily delivered at the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary the day after World AIDS Day. Mgr Grech had also said nobody could vouchsafe that contraceptives guaranteed safe sex.

“Nobody can say that the use of the condom is a guarantee of safe sex. It’s a fact that the Church’s proposal is interesting a lot of people because the argument in favour of the condom is riddled with deception, and this can be proved with scientific arguments, not just ethical ones.”

Speaking on TVM’s current affairs programme presented by Reno Bugeja, Mgr Grech confirmed he had sent a letter to the Pope in the wake of the “criticism towards this truth about condoms”.

“I sent a note and I haven’t received a reply yet,” he said.

He reiterated that condoms were evil and that it was a fallacy to promote them as a safe sex option.

In the same week last December, Health Minister Louis Deguara had declared his clear stand in favour of a condom vending machine at the university campus.

Also, material distributed by the Health Promotion Department against AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections states clearly that the condom is one of the most effective means to prevent illness and pregnancy.

The same information material shows that other contraceptive methods do not protect from AIDS. In fact, a contraceptive method advocated by the Church – fertility awareness methods – gives no protection at all and is only 75 to 80% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Another method, called coitus interruptus or the withdrawal method, is only 75 per cent effective and also offers no protection from AIDS and infections.

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Pope confirms Catholicism as 'one true church';
bioethics document underway

Rome, Jan. 31, 2008

In an address to members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith currently meeting in Rome for their plenary assembly, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed recent Vatican declarations on Catholicism as the “one true church” and the necessity of seeking converts to the faith, and also offered a preview of a coming document on bioethics.

Pope Benedict made the comments this morning in an audience for members of the doctrinal congregation in the Sala Clementina, inside the Apostolic Palace.

In late June, the congregation issued a document on the famous phrase from the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) that the one church of Christ “subsists in” the Catholic church. In essence, the congregation asserted that the phrase means the Catholic church alone possesses the fullness of what it means to be a church.

During the council, some analysts interpreted the phrase “subsists in” as a departure from the traditional claim that the Catholic church is the lone “true” church. When the doctrinal congregation issued its clarification, some leaders of other Christian denominations warned of negative ecumenical fallout.

It’s a critique which Benedict obviously does not accept, insisting that the clarification is actually “necessary for the correct development of ecumenical dialogue.”

“Far from impeding authentic ecumenical dialogue,” Benedict said, “it will be a stimulus, so that the debate on doctrinal questions is always marked by realism and full awareness of the aspects that still separate the Christian confessions.”

“To cultivate a theological vision that regards the unity and identity of the church as attributes ‘hidden in Christ', so that historically the church would exist only in multiple ecclesial confessions, reconcilable only in an eschatological perspective, would generate a slowdown and ultimately paralysis in ecumenism itself,” the pope said.

Benedict also defended a recent doctrinal note on evangelization, asserting that the quest for explicit conversion to Christ remains an essential duty of the faith.

“The recognition of elements of truth and goodness in the religions of the world,” he said, “and of the seriousness of their religious efforts, dialogue with them and a spirit of collaboration for the defense and promotion of the dignity of the person and universal moral values, cannot be understood as a limitation on the missionary duty of the church, which compels it to incessantly announce Christ as the way, the truth and the life,” he said.

In remarks to the pope at the beginning of the audience, American Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, confirmed that his office is preparing a new document on bioethics as a follow-up to the 1987 text Donum Vitae.

Levada mentioned cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the situation of frozen embryos as issues to be addressed in that document.

Levada’s reference to frozen embryos suggests that the congregation may take up the controversial question of so-called “embryo adoption,” which has been much debated in pro-life circles in recent years. Essentially, one side believes that even though these embryos should never have been created, now that they exist, women should be encouraged to bring them to term, allowing them to develop as human beings. Another party, however, regards that as cooperation in a fundamentally immoral act, and worries that promoting adoption may simply encourage artificial creation of embryos.

In his comments, Benedict said two basic values must be affirmed in bioethics debates:

• Unconditional respect for the human person from conception to natural death
• Respect for the originality of the transmission of human life through the acts proper to a married couple

The pope then ticked off a set of contentious issues: the freezing of human embryos, embryo ‘reduction,’ pre-implantation diagnosis, embryonic stem cell research and attempts at human cloning.

“When human beings in the weakest and most vulnerable state of their existence are selected, abandoned, killed or utilized as mere ‘biological material,’ how can one deny that they’re being treated not as a ‘someone,’ but as a ‘something,’ thus calling into question the very concept of the dignity of the human person?” the pope asked.

Benedict said that the church encourages scientific progress, but also considers it a duty to inform consciences about ethical safeguards to ensure that science promotes human dignity rather than compromising it.

The second item, reported in the VIS story used in THE POPE'S DAY post yesterday, is not properly NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT, but I will keep it here anyway.

On Schönborn and the Divine Mercy devotion

Though it doesn’t get a lot of press, one of the more successful movements at the Catholic grassroots over the last several decades has been the phenomenal worldwide spread of devotion to the Divine Mercy of Jesus, associated with the early 20th century Polish sister and visionary St. Faustina Kowalska.

Divine Mercy might have remained a largely localized bit of Polish piety, were it not for the fact that the late Pope John Paul II saw it as the key to resolving the problem of evil in the 20th century and worked tirelessly to promote it, beatifying and canonizing Kowalska and even consecrating the entire world to Divine Mercy.

From John Paul’s point of view, the fact that this contemporary revelation of God’s mercy came in the run-up to World War II, to a Pole just a few miles from Auschwitz, carried obvious fingerprints of divine providence.

Given the Pope’s deep personal bond to Faustina, devotees were moved by the fact that he died in April 2005 on the vigil of the feast of Divine Mercy that he himself had instituted.

As a result of John Paul’s personal backing, the Divine Mercy devotion has become one of the most rapidly growing bits of spiritual practice in Catholicism.

In Rome, for example, the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia was dedicated to the Divine Mercy devotion by John Paul, and today it’s routinely packed with devotees from across the world. (As Fr. Mauro Parmeggiani of the Rome diocese has noted, churches near St. Peter’s generally suffer from the competition, but not Santo Spirito.)

If more proof is needed, I offer the fact that on my last trip out to rural Western Kansas to visit my 93-year-old grandmother, I spotted a large billboard along the I-70 with the now-ubiquitous image of Jesus with rays of red and white radiating from his heart, under the slogan “Jesus, I Trust in You.” (As a footnote, it’s located not far from the locally famous billboard reading “One Kansas farmer feeds 129 people, plus you.”)

In another sign that the devotion has arrived, Rome will host an international congress on the Divine Mercy movement from April 2-6, 2008, just before Pope Benedict XVI’s April 15-20 trip to the United States.

The ecclesiastical sponsor of the congress is Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who offered a briefing on the event today in the Press Office of the Holy See.

Faustina's message "is a word for our times, for the real world,” Schönborn insisted. “It’s not just a particular devotion for a given zone.”

Schönborn underlined John Paul’s memorable phrase about the urgency of the Divine Mercy message in his 2005 book Memory and Identity: “The only limit imposed upon evil,” the pope wrote, “is ultimately divine mercy.”

I somewhat playfully asked Schönborn if Kowalska’s message might have some relevance for American political debate, where, in a culture of attack ads and zingers, mercy seems more often honored in the breach than the observance.

“It would be interesting to conduct an electoral campaign under the profile of divine mercy,” Schönborn joked. “Maybe you can propose that for the United States.”

Finally, as Schönborn had announced that a memorial Mass marking the third anniversary of John Paul’s death would be celebrated during the congress, I asked if any part of him hopes that this occasion might also become the late pope’s beatification Mass.

“It’s not up to us,” he replied. “We’re hoping for it [the beatification], waiting for it, as I think people are throughout the world. We will continue to pray for it. But whether you’re the Vicar of Christ or not, Heaven has its own timeline.”

By way of background, St. Faustina Kowalska was born in Poland in 1905 and died in 1938. She believed that Jesus appeared to her in 1931with a message of mercy for all humanity.

Her spiritual director commissioned an artist to render a painting of Jesus as he appeared in her visions, which has become the well-known image of Jesus with two rays of light streaming from his heart.

The red ray represents the blood that flowed from Christ’s side when struck with a spear on the cross, the white the water.

Her 600-page diary of the visions is known as Divine Mercy in My Soul. She devised various prayers and spiritual acts to support this devotion before dying in 1938.

Faustina has long been an important figure in the life of John Paul II. As an underground seminarian during World War II, he was influenced by Kowalska’s diary. When he became archbishop of Krakow, he began the process of her beatification, which he brought to fruition as pope.

Despite its wide global success, the Divine Mercy devotion is not without its critics. Some see Faustina’s quasi-apocalyptic insistence on human unworthiness as excessive. Others object to the way the Pope placed the divine mercy feast on the second Sunday after Easter, hence “disrupting,” according to some liturgists, the Easter season. (Especially given that Easter is supposed to be about the joy of resurrection, not our constant need for mercy). Still others say the Pope shouldn’t use his office to foist his personal spirituality on the rest of the church.

One interesting footnote is that for almost 20 years, from 1959 to 1978, Faustina’s diary was officially banned by the Holy Office, today’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Working from what is today recognized as a faulty Italian translation of her diary, the Holy Office decided that Faustina’s private revelations were quirky and effectively silenced her movement.

It was thus a minor bit of defiance for Polish Archbishop Karol Wojtyla to open canonization proceedings on October 21, 1965, for someone whose lifework was still officially censored in Rome.

The Vatican’s ban on Divine Mercy Devotion was finally lifted on April 15, 1978, and in short order, Wojtyla became Pope. His 1980 encyclical Dives in Misericordia is heavily influenced by Kowalska’s experience.

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A good illustration of the new orientation in 'the Pope's newspaper' under its new editors are two articles in today's issue on Rabbi Neusner, whose book on Jesus played an important part in Pope Benedict's JESUS OF NAZARETH. The previous editors never saw fit to write about Neusner.

Neusner photographed by TIME in May 2007 at his home in Rhinebeck, New York.

Interview with Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner-
A true Israelite in conversation with Jesus

By Andrea Monda
Translated from the
2/1/08 issue of


If the Pope could have delivered his address at La Sapienza University on January 17, Rabbi Jacob Neusner would have been one enthusiastic listener.

In particular, the Pope's exhortation to have 'the courage of truth' which was addressed to professors and university students would have had the applause of this rabbi, emeritus professor of Bard University, who has dedicated all his life to the study of Sacred Scriptures.

"Benedict XVI has enriched the life of the various religious communities in underscoring the claim of truth made by the different religions and the importance of a confrontation with the truth and in the truth," Neusner told Osservatore Romano.

"For too long, many have feared facing the question of who is 'just' in the eyes of God, fearing that any religious questions could only lead to intolerance. Pope Benedict has had the courage to face religious differences and (even as Joseph Ratzinger) to explain, case by case, every position and counter-position. This has allowed a redefinition of how the various religions should relate to each other. His lecture at Regensburg was an act of courage."

Jacob Neusner is not simply a 'fan' of the Pope, but a fervent orthodox Jew who is rather a 'fan' of truth and the search for truth. That is precisely why it the then Cardinal Ratzinger became an admirer of the intellectual and scientific work of this American rabbi.

Their history is not recent but dates back 15 years. Neusner, born 1932 in Hartford, Connecticut, and refined exegete of sacred Hebrew scripture - he has published more than 900 books on the Torah,
Mishnah, the Talmud and its Midrash - was a distinguished professor of the history and theology of Judaism at Bard in New York state, when he published a slim but 'explosive book in 1993, A Rabbi talks with Jesus, which was read by then Cardinal Ratzinger with great appreciation.

Last year, the day after the publication of Benedict XVI's JESUS OF NAZARETH, Jacob Neusner became known worldwide overnight, which made many publishers - including San Paolo in Italy - to re-issue a book that had all but disappeared from bookstores.

Indeed, reading it, one can understand the fascination it raised in a reader like Joseph Ratzinger. Neusner's book is a daring intellectual provocation - proposed, however, with such limpidity and honesty, that the provocation becomes a very valuable stimulus to a profound and far from banal interrogation.

Although Neusner's investigation does not lead him to profess Christianity, it is clear how the attitude of the rabbi in 'interrogating' the son of Mary must have pleased the future Pope.

In fact, Neusner considers with great seriousness the Jesus of the Gospels and the truth contained in his message, grasping that in this case, the message and the messenger are one and the same, that Christianity is not a moral doctrine or a philosophical theory but the encounter with the person of Christ.

That, of course - stated many times by Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, as also at the start of Deus caritas est - reflects how Neusner carries on his dialog with Jesus.

After having read his book, we sought out Rabbi Neusner, who welcomed a frank and open encounter to discuss how and why a rapport was born between a Jewish American rabbi and a German theologian who is now the Pope.

"In many of his discourses, Benedict XVI, a theologian Pope, has not been sparing of criticism for theology and theologians. The risk among theologians, he says, is that of arrogant pride, whereas a theologian should be humble, and good theology should be, as he recently described it, 'a theology on its knees'.

"It is the same position I took when, in Chapter 2 of my book, I said that I wanted to encounter Jesus without the 'filter' of theology, simply going by the Gospel, particularly that of Matthew, just as the 'simple' faithful do - the people, not the academic specialists in the universities.

"In other words, I wanted to take the Gospel seriously, not as a text to analyze, but as a 'performative' text - a term the Pope uses in Spe salvi - that is, a text written not to inform but to change the life of whoever reads it.

"The Gospel must be read not to receive information but 'transformation'. Such is the foundation of the religious life. The heart of it all is how to encounter God, and therefore, sacred texts are also fundamental for the act of worship, for adoration."

Neusner says he does not want discussions that keep to abstractions, as for instance, the supposed 'individualism' of the Christian faith in comparison with the largely communitarian dimension of the Jewish faith - an aspect that recurs in Neusner's work. So he wants to make clear the context of his 'investigation' into Jesus:

"I meet Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, and later, I ask him is his teachings in the Sermon correspond to the teachings of Moses on Mount Sinai. So the abstract aspects of individualism contrasted with the communitarian aspect are presented and illustrated in this context."

He points out that this can be seen as a criticism of so-called 'reformed Judaism' as well as some Protestant currents in Christianity.

"The prophets and rabbinical tradition emphasize the obligations of the individual toward his community: he is subject to the alliance between God and his community. But the reformed Christian churches and reformed Judaism emphasize instead the individual and his introspective conscience, contrary to classical Judaism and Catholicism which emphasize the obligation of the individual to the community in order to maintain a social order of justice and equity."

Neusner's insistence on the concrete makes him point out the risk of abstraction, and so one of the questions he poses in the dialog with Jesus is the abstraction of addressing a world beyond, an eschatology that will take place out of this world.

"If the purpose of the commandments in the Torah is the purification of man's heart - which may sound like an abstract concept," he explains, "these very commandments are concrete and specific. The religious obligations that we fulfill with our concrete actions embody the religious truths that we affirm abstractly. To keep and observe the Torah in our daily life means to manifest the principles of our religion."

The dialog that this Jew carries on with Jesus is a tightly reasoned, even severe, confrontation, and illustrates the dialog that can be carried on - as Ratzinger and Neusner have for 15 years now - in reciprocal faithfulness and trust, with esteem, and above all, in a common harmony of true and profound hope.

"In Chapter 9 of my book," Neusner points out, "I affirm something which I believe firmly: For a Jew, despair is a sin. Therefore, I greeted with joy the Pope's second encyclical dedicated to hope. I think there can be hope for dialog, with a respect for our differences, between Jews and Christians - a dialog of respect, of moving ahead, and of common prayer, which can lead to peace."

Once again, Neusner hastens to present this thought embodied concretely, citing an example of such dialog and common prayer: "John Paul II represented a great blessing for mankind in affirming the integrity of man against the disheartening and reductive doctrines of communism and materialism. More than other personalities in his time, he distinguished himself by fighting for the dignity of man, and in this way, he was a Pope for all men."

L'Osservatore Romano - 1 febbraio 2008)

I will post the second article as soon as I have translated it.

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The Holy Father met today with
- Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

- Prelates of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine on ad-limina visit, Group 2. Address in Italian.

- In the late afternoon, he went to the Lateran for Vespers and the annual Papal visit to Rome's major
seminary. (Photo courtesy of LutheranGuest who has posted a series of video-caps from the event in PICTURES AND VIDEOS)

A first in 70 years:
Ukrainian Bishops' ad-limina visit


VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2008 ( Benedict XVI welcomed bishops of the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, expressing his joy that their Churches have "rediscovered freedom."

The bishops visited the Pope in the Vatican today for their five-yearly visit, the first they have been able to make in 70 years.

The Holy Father expressed his joy at having the opportunity to welcome the bishops, who had thus far been prevented by "serious and objective reasons" from making this joint pilgrimage to the Holy See.

"Now that your Churches have rediscovered their complete freedom," he said, "you are here to represent your communities, reborn and vibrant in the faith, which have never ceased to feel their full communion with Peter's Successor. You are welcome, dear brothers, in this house in which intense and incessant prayers have always been said for the beloved Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine."

Referring to the bishops' reports on the situation in their country, the Pontiff said he had noted with interest their commitment "to constantly promote, consolidate and verify unity and collaboration within your communities, so as to be able to meet the challenges that face you as pastors and that are the focus of your concerns and your pastoral programs."

Benedict XVI praised the prelates' "generous efforts and tireless testimony" in their dealings "with your people and the Church," reminding them that in their missionary and pastoral duties "priests are of indispensable assistance."

Hence, the Pope invited the bishops to ensure that priests, "in the various initiatives of 'aggiornamento,' do not follow the novelties of the world but present society with the responses that only Christ can give to the hopes for justice and peace in the human heart."

The Holy Father also stressed the importance of making increased efforts to provide priests with courses of spiritual exercises, formation and theological and pastoral renewal, "if possible also in collaboration with the Latin episcopate, each respecting its own traditions. It cannot be denied that such collaboration between the two rites would lead to greater harmony of heart among those who serve the one Church."

"I am certain that, with such an inward attitude, any misunderstandings will be more easily resolved, in the awareness that both rites belong to the one Catholic community and that both have full and equal citizenship in the one Ukrainian people," he added.

In this context, the Pontiff recommended that the Greek-rite prelates "meet regularly, for example once a year, with the Latin bishops."

The Holy Father then went on to consider the difficulties faced by Ukrainian bishops "as regards the responsible obedience of male and female religious, and their cooperation in the needs of the Church. With the magnanimity of pastors and the patience of fathers, exhort these brothers and sisters tirelessly to defend the 'non-secular' nature of their vocation" and "faithfully to observe their vows [...] so they can provide the Church with the particular testimony that is asked of them."

On the subject of ecumenism, the Bishop of Rome recognized that "real and objective obstacles persist. However," he said, "it is important not to lose heart in the face of the difficulties, but to continue along the journey that began with prayer and patient charity." He also noted how, "for centuries in Ukraine, Orthodox and Catholics have sought to create a daily, humble and serene dialogue that embraces many aspects of life."

"Before anything else, what must be promoted is the ecumenism of love" which, the Pontiff said, "accompanied by coherent actions, creates trust and causes hearts and eyes to open. By its nature, charity promotes and illuminates the dialogue of truth."

Benedict XVI concluded his talk by giving thanks to God "for the rebirth of your Church after the dramatic period of persecution. On this occasion I feel the need to assure you that the Pope carries you all in his heart, he accompanies you affectionately and supports you in your difficult mission.

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There has been no lack of continuing commentary on Spe salvi in the Italian media - I just have not had time to translate even the ones that 'deserve' translation. But now, ZENIT has come out with a lengthy interview with Fr. James Schall, who is perhaps the best 'analyst' of Benedict's thought today, and does not hesitate to qualify him with phrases like "the most intelligent voice in the modern world today.

Fr. Schall points to
Pope's insights into true hope

By Carrie Gress

WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 31, 2008 ( Even though the modern world talks of the hope in terms of progress and social justice, these concepts are "inhuman" aberrations of the true meaning of the theological virtue, says Father James Schall.

The Jesuit professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University is the author of The Order of Things, and Another Sort of Learning, both published by Ignatius Press.

In Part 1 of this interview with ZENIT, Father Schall comments on how Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Spe Salvi, defends the theological virtue of hope by showing that without God human fulfillment and happiness is impossible.

Why do you think that this consideration of the theological virtue of hope is particularly timely?
We might state the issue briefly, but with some irony, by saying that in fact the secular world is itself full of "hope." However, the intellectual origins or implications of the ideas it uses for hope are no longer recognized.

The modern words used instead of hope are "progress," or "making the world safe for democracy," "social justice," or the "scientific" eradication of suffering and evil. The theological background for this "secularization" of hope comes from Joachim of Fiore and Francis Bacon, among others.

The modern idea of hope always means dissatisfaction with the present in the light of some presumed future that is not only better, but is the man-made answer to what we mean by complete happiness.

Even the word "education" has overtones of hope. Stress on education as a solution also has a Socratic background. Socrates evidently thought that at the origin of all the human disorder we find "ignorance."

Thus, education, both general and universal, comes to be considered a universal "cure" for the moral disorders manifest in human nature wherever and whenever it appears in our experience. If we can just eliminate "ignorance," it is "hoped," we will eliminate evil.

This view clearly presupposes that we know and define properly the nature of the evil that we seek to eliminate. Perhaps no ideology is more stubborn than this educational one. The fact is that it is not primarily ignorance that causes evil. Education as an ideology always refuses to face the core problem of evil, its relation to free will, virtue and grace.

Aristotle was clear that, while intelligence was indeed a major factor, there was a recurring element of "wickedness" in human nature. The most intelligent and well-educated were often the ones closest to the greatest evil.

The classical tractates on tyranny always presupposed this relationship of the greatest evil to the greatest finite intelligence, angelic or human. Lucifer is one of the most intelligent of the angels, which is why he is so dangerous.

Following Augustine and Aquinas, we understand the place of will, free will, in our lives. Evil is not located outside of us. Aristotle had recognized that virtue and vice are acquired habits based on repeated choices. We do not become virtuous or vicious simply by knowing what virtue or vice is. We have to "do" them repeatedly.

Behind this emphasis on will, we find the doctrine of original sin with its relation to pride.

My point here is simply this: The billions of dollars of wealth that sundry modern states and private charities pour into education in order to improve the world are almost always justified by a version of hope that essentially maintains that what causes human ills is lack of knowledge. Since the whole story of human disorder includes more than knowledge, we must recognize that this modern enthusiasm for "knowledge alone" betrays utopian overtones of a this-worldly solution of ultimate human problems.

The point is not to abandon the valid aspect of education in our lives. No religion -- or philosophy -- is more dedicated to intelligence than Catholicism. The point is to put it in proper order. We should seek and know the truth. But it does not automatically follow that those who seek education necessarily choose to live by the truth.

What this Pope is able to do, in an almost revolutionary manner, is to sort out the unrecognized theological strands of hope that exist within the secular order.

Modernity's very search for its own self-sufficiency is charged with Christian overtones that exist in the culture, but are not recognized. One of the results of the loss of faith, itself a choice, is the sense of no longer knowing how Christian themes were implicit in the culture.

Students and faculties today, including often those in Catholic institutions, have little notion of the Christian origins and limits of their favorite enthusiasms. Ever since we stopped studying heresies as heresies, we have often adopted them in enthusiastic terms whose origins we no longer recognize. There is not only ignorance, but a willed ignorance.

We do not want to know that our most basic desires are best explained by a reasoned faith, which we have uncritically, without examination and virtue, rejected as untenable.

You have made a connection between Eric Voegelin's phrase "immanentize the eschaton" and the encyclical. What does this phrase mean? How do what connection do you see?
Eric Voegelin was a German political philosopher who came to the United States during the Nazi period. He had begun a distinguished academic career in Germany that he continued at Louisiana State and Stanford Universities. His voluminous and profound writings are published by the Louisiana State University Press and the University of Missouri Press.

After long studies in philosophy, language, scripture, history and theology, Voegelin concluded that the main motivating force behind modern philosophic movements was their effort literally to achieve the transcendent goals found in classical philosophy and Christianity, such as heaven, happiness, but within this world. He called these efforts at systems "ideologies." He explained that their effort was to "immanentize the eschaton."

Realist philosophy and Christian theology are not, in this sense, "ideologies," though this is what they will often be called in universities. This is why, from a Catholic view, the defense of philosophy and revelation as such is so important. Their realism is what distinguishes them from ideologies.

Neither philosophy nor revelation is merely a projection onto reality of humanly concocted ideas that have no further justification other than the construct in the mind of some thinker now transformed into political action.

The word "eschaton" refers to the last things. We traditionally call them: death, purgatory, hell, and heaven. We will quickly notice that these are the four things to which Benedict XVI addresses himself in Spe Salvi.

We are so used to writing off any serious consideration of these topics that we can't easily appreciate the depth of what the Pope is about. As I often like to point out, Catholicism is an intellectual religion. We had better be prepared to understand why.

I know the expression "immanentize the eschaton" sounds formidable. It is something only a German academic mind could drum up, I suppose. But it is apt. It has the advantage of accurately identifying what is going on in the modern mind as it seeks to find a human meaning outside of a realist philosophy to which revelation is addressed in a coherent fashion.

In other words, it means that modern thought does not escape Christianity even when it tries to do so. What it does is to strive to relocate it within the world as a rejection of Christianity.

The brilliance of the Pope's encyclical is that he is also a German philosopher and reads German philosophy. He knows that the great German thinkers, upon whom, in fact, most of modern thought depends, simply bring back in Christian ideas, only now in some distorted form. They try to locate "eternal life" down the ages. They try to escape death by projecting ages of man to 200 years. They try to imitate paradise by ecological fantasies of eternal earth.

Can you briefly philosophic sketch how our contemporary world has distorted the vision of man? How does this idea of "progress" fit into the Pope's analysis?
In the beginning, modern ideology often proposed a humanism that was supposedly independent of revelation. Now, classical philosophy is independent of revelation, even though, as the Pope said in the Regensburg Lecture, already in the Old and the New Testaments we find ideas of philosophy and revelation that are directly related to each other, the principle ones being the notions of truth, love, being and happiness.

What revelation argues in the face of modern thought and politics is that "humanism" has gradually become more and more "inhuman." Chesterton often predicted this would happen.

The concepts of the length of human life in terms of years, of love in terms of sex, of happiness in terms of individual creation of its own ends are aberrations, much like those found in Book Five of Plato's Republic, which in the name of justice sought to eliminate the family and to produce perfect children by a combination of genetics and state education.

"Progress" is an idea coming from post-Enlightenment thought. J.B. Bury's famous book The Idea of Progress reads like a book on salvation history. I like your expression, "How our contemporary world distorted the vision of man."

The theological virtue of hope, the subject of this encyclical, is precisely the virtue that most directly involves modern philosophy whose main claim to fame is that it can in fact produce a better "humanism." Taking it at its own word, the Pope systematically shows that without God it is impossible, really, to give actual human men and women any hope for themselves and their kind.

The Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body, something that has intimations in Aristotle's notion of friendship, is the only real doctrine that addresses itself to the salvation of each individual in his own particular being, but within the notion of a community of love and friends, which is what we all want.

What we hope for in the Christian sense is precisely that we see God "face to face." We already seek to know one another '"face to face." There is no guarantee that this condition can ever be realized outside of the hope that God exists and has saved us. We must include our sins and destiny.

The Pope re-establishes the importance of purgatory as a sensible position precisely because he knows, as we do, that few of us die with absolutely pure souls. There is nothing irrational about this much-maligned doctrine that alone addresses the fact of sins of the past and their proper atonement.

One almost has to laugh at this encyclical that boldly takes the eschatological doctrines -- heaven, hell, death, purgatory -- and shows us that they have direct meaning on our lives and culture.

The encyclical is called "hope" but it is also "bold." It is bold precisely because it is intelligent and aware of the meaning of modern ideologies. Modern thought is, as was much of ancient thought after the Resurrection, an effort to avoid the truth of revelation. We cannot ever prevent anyone from rejecting this truth. Nor do we want to do so. This is what free will is about. The truth of God and of his purpose for man in the world must be chosen as well as understood.

What "Spe Salvi" does is spell out in lines too clear to miss the implications of rejecting the "eschaton" as it is presented in Christian faith. It is no doubt true that these doctrines must be understood accurately.

Much of the heresy in history arises from a misunderstanding of what is actually taught. This encyclical is a representation of what is actually taught. This is why it is so astonishing and revolutionary in itself.

Our eyes have not seen what our ears have heard because we do not want to receive what we are as a gift. We want to make what we are. And when we do, we find that we create mostly monsters. The Pope also sketches the monsters in this encyclical.


ROME, FEB. 1, 2008 ( The greatest embarrassment to the world today is that the most intelligent voice it confronts is coming from the papacy, says Father James Schall.

In Part 2 of this interview with ZENIT, Father Schall comments on how Benedict XVI serves both the mind and soul through his explanation of the last things in his recent encyclical, Spe Salvi.

In paragraph 15 of Spe Salvi, there is a rich comparison of a monastery and a soul. What is the Holy Father trying to illustrate through the use of this imagery?
A passage of Josef Pieper, originally based in Aquinas, if not in Aristotle and Plato, addresses this same question. The passage is found in Josef Pieper - an Anthology, called "The Purpose of Politics." It is only a couple of paragraphs long.

I always point students to it as the most central of all passages about politics and political philosophy. It basically says both that you cannot understand politics without understanding the transcendent order, and that you cannot have a healthy society in which there is only politics.

Pieper writes, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas: "'It is requisite for the good of the human community that there should be persons who devote themselves to the life of contemplation.' For it is contemplation which preserves in the midst of human society the truth which is at one and the same time useless and the yardstick of every possible use; so it is also contemplation which keeps the true end insight, gives meaning to every practical act of life" ("An Anthology," 123). This passage is also behind much of what the Pope writes on natural law as the yardstick and measure of human actions.

One can state the issue succinctly: No political order can be itself healthy unless it has within it those who are not devoted to politics. This is not in any way a denial that politics are important, but it is a denial that they are the most important things in a society. Indeed, a society that makes politics the most important thing is already a totalitarian society, as Aristotle had already implied.

When the Pope treats this issue in Spe Salvi, he refers to the monastic tradition and to Augustine. The Pope is careful to relate how this contemplative life is not opposed to any proper understanding of the temporal life of this world. He is even attentive to the relation of work to contemplation. Indeed, the elevation of work to a dignity and not a slavery or oppression had to do with the Benedictine notion of "pray and work."

The Pope cites a certain pseudo-Rufinus who says basically what Pieper did: "The human race lives thanks to a few: Were it not for them the world would perish." This is a remarkable statement indeed. It not only shows the absolute need of someone who constantly within society shows others that there is something more than this world, but it shows the importance of contemplation itself in keeping our mind straight.

The delicate relation of will and mind is a central drama of philosophy and revelation. This is why it has always been said that the great disorders of soul, as well as the great movements for good, begin in the heart of the dons, academic and religious, long before they appear in the public order. Again this is what "immenantize the eschaton" means.

What are your thoughts about the Pope's role as a universal voice in the world today, not just for Catholics?
Briefly, the Pope is the only universal voice in the world today. This is the uncanny genius of founding the Church on the Rock of Peter. What is most embarrassing to the world today is that the most intelligent voice it confronts, or deliberately refuses to confront, is that coming from the papacy.

We can spend all sorts of time digging up scandals in the Church or things the papacy should have done but did not. What we cannot do is read the basic documents of the Church, particularly those of the recent popes, and claim that they do not strike at the very roots of all that is disordered in all of the public order of the world, not just the West, but Islam, China, India and the rest.

Within Christianity there is a mission to the world. However slowly it has developed and for what reasons it has taken so long we can speculate.

What this encyclical does is to show that the movements within modern philosophy and in other religions have certain intelligible purposes that need to be addressed in terms of Christian hope. This encyclical is not merely addressed to Western culture.

What Benedict XVI has shown in Deus caritas est, as well in this encyclical, is that we can hope for both a better world and for eternal life, but that we cannot confuse one with the other.

Another remarkable thing about this document, I think, is how it takes the classic transcendental notions -- one, true, good, being and beauty -- to show how they each can really exist in a concrete way. None are really abstractions.

Charity is not something we can export to the government. Justice is something that is present everywhere. Beauty is the great Platonic category, yet it needs to be grounded in what is good and true.

The encyclical ends with a discussion of suffering and its relation to all of these issues. It is a remarkable section. It is here where the Pope cites the German philosophers who recognize finally that we must deal with evil and justice even in the past, and that it cannot be really dealt with except through the doctrine and reality of the final judgment and the resurrection of the body. Indeed, following Plato himself, it cannot be dealt with outside of the real meaning of forgiveness and vicarious suffering.

So the Pope's role as a universal voice is one that keeps present within the world that which we need to know about who we really are.

We need to know about judgment, suffering and hell. We need to know that if we deny the doctrine of hell, our ideologies will simply reinvent it in this world as something that is really inhuman. The hell of revelation is simply the logical consequences of what we really mean by the wrong use of free will, without which we could not exist.

Suffering, as revelation tells us, is the product of sin and death. Efforts to deny sin and death usually produce something worse. Nonetheless, we should seek to reduce pain and suffering in this world. This is one of the by-products of an understanding of everlasting life from revelation, namely, a more complete understanding of the imperfections of this world.

In the end, we have hope because we can first understand what it ultimately means. For this we must thank this Pope who explains to us what the last things really are and how we are to understand them and, yes, attain them. This service to the mind is also a service to our souls.

02/02/2008 13.38
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Surprisingly, the never-delivered Papal lecture at La Sapienza University has become the subject of many more public colloquia and discussions in the past two weeks than the Regensburg lecture ever was.

Perhaps, it was the international dimension and inflammatory atmosphere generated by Regensburg that inhibited a similar discussion, but except for Cardinal Ruini who gave an excellent analysis of the Regensburg lecture for the clergy of Rome a couple of months after the furor had died down, there were few universities in Italy that took advantage of the Regensburg lectio magistralis that, from the beginning, struck me as something that should be required reading for every university student. And so should the Sapienza lecture.

Of course, the Sapienza lecture, besides being more fundamental in its concepts of the university, also touches the nerve of Italian public life directly, in pointing out what authentic secularity is and should be, in a society that seems to pride itself in how secular it can be.

Besides the two public colloquia organized earlier this week by Catholic University at its campuses in Rome and Milan, now it's the turn of the University of Bologna.

'Scientific arrogance is
the antechamber to totalitarianism'

By Fabio Ruggiero
Translated from the
2/2/08 issue of


What do concepts like secularity, freedom, confrontation and culture mean today in Italy? This was discussed yesterday at the University of Bologna in a public meeting entitled "Benedict XVI and La Sapienza: A lesson not to be lost".

Reflections on the lectio magistralis prepared by the Pope but not delivered, for the inauguration of the academic year at La Sapienza University.

The encounter, promoted by the Istituto Veritatis Splendor - which was established at the initiative for Cardinal Giacomo Biffi and presided today by his successor, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra - and by the Centro Culutale Enrio Manfredini, with the prompt participation of many other Catholic organizations, is only one of several such discussions these days on the Sapienza lecture which has involved numerous intellectuals, as well institutions of learning and culture.

Participating in Bologna were Pier Ugo Calzolari, Rector Magnificus of the University of Bologna; Giorgio Israel, professor of mathematics at La Sapienza; and Mons. Lino Goriup, episcopal vicar for culture and communications in the Church of Bologna.

The moderator was Ivo Colozzi, professor of sociology at the University of Bologna. He read a letter sent by the Archbishop of Bologna, who was unable to attend because of prior commitments.

In his letter, Cardinal Caffarra, after thanking the organizers and participants in the program, recalled in particular how the Pope, in his Magisterium, constantly advocates the unlimited use of reason.

"There is in this appeal a conjunction of theoretical issues and pastoral concern, which it is useful to examine," Caffarra wrote.

The invitation not to allow reason to imprison itself within verifiable phenomena is an invitation to every man not to give up looking for an answer to any sensible question; not to be content with 'fragments' nor even the sum of certain elements, but to seek the ultimate truth and a radical sense of the whole. This is man's 'extreme desire'. as Descartes said in his Discourse on method.

"The difficulties in this search," Caffarra continued, "are at the same time a sign of human grandeur and misery. As Hegel wrote: 'A mended sock is better than a torn sock, but that is not the case for one's conscience."

Continuing the analogy, Caffarra noted that "even if lacerated reason does not find the thread to mend it, the tearing that it undergoes within the fabric of the finite would nevertheless allow a possibility for the Infinite to enter it."

Caffarra also cited Dant - "You were not made to live as beasts but to follow virtue and knowledge" - and addressed himself to the youth and students present, exhorting them: "Do not smother any question that arises from your heart. Let the search for truth and the possession of it become your purest joy."

Perhaps Albertus Magnus gave the most beautiful definition of a university, he continued: "In dulcedine societatis quarere veritatem - the sweetness of a shared quest for the truth. This, dear young people, is what I wish for all of you."

In his intervention, Calzolari called attention to the value as well as limitation of science, the risk of positivist reductionism, and the meaning of secularity rightly understood, while deprecating the 'cultural provincialism ' that characterized 'the rather sad episode of the cancelled visit to La Sapienza', as well as the tone that some newspapers used in the following days to defend a poorly understood notion of cultural autonomy in a university.

The rector remarked on the rational inconsistency of those who maintained the impossibility of discussion with anyone, like the Pope, who, in their view, claim to already be in possession of truth. He said such argumentation was a true and proper logical short-circuit which, if carried to the extreme, could lead to a sort of 'secular inquisition' which is profoundly illiberal.

The Sapienza episode had shown all too sadly, Calzolari said, how the ill-prepared secularist conscience has lost its orientation, forgetting that the principle of autonomy necessarily postulates a confrontation with the other - which is the principle of dialog.

Calcolari continued: "The fact seems to escape many of them that secularity is the product of Christian culture. and that science had, in the Franciscan friar William of Occam, an even more passionate advocate than Galileo himself.

For his part, Mons. Goriup took pains to demonstrate the originality of the Pope's approach and analysis of his theme.

Benedict XVI begins his reflections by examining why he was invited and why he had accepted. As Bishop of Rome, he addresses his own authoritative words to believers in Christ; but as witness for a venerable tradition of science and knowledge, embodied by the Catholic Church, he also presents himself as the representative of a rational 'human knowledge' - the reference comes from Plato's Apologia - which, illumined by the central message of Revelation - the Incarnation of the divine Logos in Jesus Christ - can rightfully make itself the voice for a universal demand of the human heart, and propose itself as a teacher of life and thinking.

Mons. Gosiup subsequently established a suggestive relationship between the text prepared for La Sapienza and the address the Pope made at the University of Pavia during his visit last April. On that occasion, too, the Pope urged the academic world to recover the sense of a passionate and assiduous quest for the truth about life.

"To make it impossible to listen to the intellectual and intelligent propositions of the Church," Goriup concluded, "is to lose the occasion for a valuable reminder to widen the horizons of reason, which will otherwise end up by losing its way if it encloses itself and the world within the limits of predictability and repeatability."

The last speaker was Giorgio Israel, mathematician and Jewish intellectual who teaches at La Sapienza and who has been attacked by secularists for his defense of the Pope.

Prof. Israel explained the reasons for his intellectual sympathy with the Pope, with whom he shares the battle against a 'restricted' concept of reason. He said that today, we all see how the a-historical rationality of the physico-mathematical sciences contradicts historical rationality as if the latter did not have the right to exist.

He said he is profoundly convinced that only reason open to traditional wisdom, to history, to spirituality, to the person, to mystery - in short, to every aspect of reality and of being - can be the foundation of civilization, and can oppose every violent and totalitarian ideological tendency.

European culture, he said, needs to examine the substance that has supported it to this point. It needs to continue transmitting to new generations this substance with its Judaeo-Christian and Greek roots in order not to leave them a world without traditions, devoid of values, the result of the most complete dispersal of what once supported its culture.

Israel said Europe has the obligation to offer the new generations great cultural syntheses, such as those realized during the Renaissance, when "Athens found a place alongside Jerusalem".

Benedict XVI, he said, has been rightly fighting against an arrogant concept of science according to which 'natural' knowledge is all-encompassing - an idea that is pathetic because simple objective knowledge itself can only confer an awareness of its own limitations; and the man of science must himself realize that he is a finite individual who is destined never to assimilate nor arrive at all of truth but only to approximate it ever closer.

L'Osservatore Romano - 2 febbraio 2008
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 02/02/2008 13.41]
02/02/2008 16.23
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A full translation of the Pope's Homily at Vespers and his after-dinner address to the seminarians afterwards has been posted in HOMILIES, DISCOURSES, MESSAGES.





Priesthood is a wonderful adventure,
Pope tells Roman seminarians

Translated from the
2/2/08 issue of


To be a priest? It's out of fashion. Even worse. Because "the life of a priest could not attract the interest of most people today".

But actually, "the priesthood is the most interesting adventure and most necessary for the world today, the adventure of showing and making present the fullness of life to which everyone aspires".

These were the words of the Bishop of Rome last night to the young students of 'his' Major Seminary, to whom he underscored how exalting was their choice of a vocation which, besides being interesting and necessary, is also "a very demanding adventure - and cannot be otherwise because the priest is called on to imitate Jesus."

Nonetheless, Pope Benedict XVI said, the priesthood is always 'a wonderful adventure', in which the parents and family members of the seminarians themselves take part.

Addressing himself to the parents, he said: "probably you must have been the most surprised of all for what happened and what is happening to your sons. Perhaps you imagined a mission for them other than what they are now preparing for."

But he said, "it is inevitable that the vocation of the sons also becomes somehow the vocation of the parents. In seeking to understand them and to follow what they are doing, even you, dear Papas and Mammas, have found yourselves often involved in this journey, in which your own faith is strengthened and renewed."

It was indeed a 'familial' encounter last night, when the students of Rome's Major Seminary and their families met with Benedict XVI, who was welcomed by Cardinal Vicar Camillo Ruini and Mons. Giovanni Tani, seminary rector.


In the homily that the Pope pronounced at the Vespers on the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady of Trust [also the Feast of the Presentation], he addressed the parents: "How many times you must find yourselves reflecting on your sons! - about when they were babies, then children; the times they first showed signs of their vocation; or even in some cases, the years when their lives seemed so remote from the Church. What happened? What encounters influenced their choice? What interior lights lit up the path for them? How could they have abandoned perhaps even the most promising prospects for secular life?"

According to the Pope, the answer was to be found in looking at Mary's trust, she whom the Gospel 'makes us understand...found herself having so many questions about her son Jesus and meditating long and hard about him."

Then, addressing the aspiring priests themselves, the Pope underscored how "these years of formation constitute an important time to prepare yourself for the exalting mission to which the Lord calls you."

He said he wished to emphasize particularly "two aspects which characterize your present experience." Above all, he said, the seminary years "bring a certain detachment from ordinary life, a certain 'desert', to allow the Lord to speak to your heart. His voice is never loud, but subdued - it is the voice of silence, and therefore, in order to be heard, it requires an atmosphere of silence. For this, the seminary offers space and time for daily prayer; great attention is given to liturgy, meditation on the Word of God, and Eucharistic adoration. At the same time, it asks you to dedicate long hours to study. Praying and studying, you can build in yourself the man of God that you should be and that people expect a priest to be."

The second aspect, he said, was the community life in the seminary, an aspect which is of great importance. "The Apostles were 'trained' together, following Jesus," he said. "Your communion with each other is not limited to the present but is also for the future. The pastoral action which awaits you requires that you act together as a body, in an order, that of the priesthood, which with the bishop takes the responsibility of caring for the Christian community. Love this 'life in family' which for you is an anticipation of that 'sacramental brotherhood' which should characterize every diocesan priesthood."

In conclusion, he said, "All this is a reminder that God calls you to be saints, that holiness is the secret of true success in your priestly ministry, and that holiness should be the objective of your every choice and decision."

Avvenire, 2 febbraio 2008


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