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09/12/2009 19.11
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Alleluia! I agree, benefan and! But my mind moves forward to Holy Week and Easter. I know, from experience, that the Easter Vigil lasts for hours - usually at least three hours. Then Papa will have another Mass on Easter Sunday in the square, plus Urbi Et Orbi. And he'll already have celebrated the Good Friday Liturgy, which is long and tiring. We'll have to see if any changes are made in 2010.In some ways I hope they are, for the sake of his health. We need to make sure he is with us for many years to come. [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822]

Anyone else going for Holy Week and Easter????? I am. You don't have to stick around with me all the time, but it would be good to meet friends from the forum.
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10/12/2009 02.11
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“Let Us Listen to Mary’s Voice!”

First Things
Mary Ellen Kelly
Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 5:44 PM

On the afternoon of December 8—the Feast of the Immaculate Conception—Pope Benedict XVI made the traditional papal visit to Rome’s Piazza di Spagna to honor the Blessed Mother at the foot of the plaza’s Colonna dell’Immacolata. There, in the pope’s words, “Mary stands high, on guard over Rome.”

Benedict asked the crowd, “What does Mary tell the city?” He noted that her presence—not only in Rome, but also in the heart of all Christian cities—reminds us, with St. Paul, that “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.” According to Benedict, “the city needs Mary, whose presence speaks of God, reminds us of Grace’s victory over sin and makes us hope even in the most humanly difficult situations.” Each one of us, the pope said, “contributes with our lives to the moral climate, for better or worse.”

Benedict devoted much of his address to a critique of the influence of today’s mass media, where “evil is told to us, said again, amplified, so that we get used to the most horrible things, and become desensitized.” In a certain way, the pope said, this “poisons us, because the negative is never fully cleansed out of our system but accumulates day after day.” Amidst this “pollution of the spirit,” we risk becoming mere spectators who fail to look into the faces of those we encounter in the city: “People become bodies, and these bodies lose their soul, become faceless objects that can be exchanged and consumed.” But “Mary Immaculate helps us rediscover and defend what is inside people.” She “teaches us to open up to God’s action and to look at others as he does.” When we listen to Mary’s voice, “the city shall become more beautiful, more Christian and more humane.”


Mary teaches people to treat others with respect, pope says

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Dec. 8, 2009

ROME (CNS) -- The statues, paintings and mosaics of Mary found not only in the churches of Rome, but also in its public squares and on street-corner shrines should help the city's visitors and residents treat each other with more respect, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Marking the feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8, Pope Benedict rode in the popemobile from the Vatican to the heart of Rome's tourist and shopping district to pay homage to Mary at a statue erected near the Spanish Steps.

"The mother of God teaches us to open ourselves to the action of God, to see others as he sees them -- starting from the heart. And to look upon them with mercy, with love (and) with infinite tenderness, especially those who are most alone, despised and exploited," the pope said.

Rome, like any big city, is filled with people who are invisible until some scandal lands them on the front page of the newspaper or the television news where they are "exploited to the very end, as long as the news and images attract attention," the pope said.

"It is a perverse mechanism, which unfortunately is hard to resist," he said. "The city first hides people, then exposes them to the public -- without piety, or with false piety."

But within each person, the pope said, there lies a strong desire "to be accepted as a person and considered a sacred reality because every human story is a sacred story and requires the utmost respect."

Pope Benedict said that with so many stories of evil and scandal filling the news, it's easy for people to think those things only happen to others. But the little good or little evil that everyone does has an influence on others and contributes to the overall tenor of society, he said.

"Often we lament the pollution of the air, which in certain parts of the city is impossible to breathe. It's true, the commitment of everyone is necessary to make the city cleaner," he said.

"But there is another kind of pollution, less perceptible to the senses, but just as dangerous. It is the pollution of the spirit; it makes our faces less smiling, darker, and stops us from greeting each other and looking each other in the eyes," Pope Benedict said.

The pope said that on the day dedicated to remembering how Mary was preserved from sin, he wanted to honor the many citizens "who have understood that it is useless to condemn, complain and recriminate, but better to respond to evil with good."

"This changes things; or better, it changes people and, consequently, improves society," he said.

Earlier in the day, the pope recited the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square for the feast, a major public holiday in Italy.

Pope Benedict said all Christians should rejoice in having Mary as their mother.

"Every time we experience our fragility and temptation, we can turn to her and our hearts will receive light and comfort. Even in the midst of the trials of life, in the storms that shake our faith and hope, we remember that we are her children," he said.

"The church itself, even if it is exposed to the negative influences of the world, always finds in her the star which will lead her to follow the route indicated by Christ," he said.

At the end of the Angelus, the pope greeted 85-year-old Polish Cardinal Andrzej Deskur, president of the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate, which promotes academic studies of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and pastoral initiatives in favor of Marian devotion.

The cardinal, seated in a wheelchair, and other members of the academy were in St. Peter's Square for the midday prayer.

[Modificato da benefan 10/12/2009 02.16]
11/12/2009 03.16
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Martin and Brady meet pope today over abuse

Irish Times
Fri, Dec 11, 2009

VATICAN MEETING: POPE BENEDICT XVI will today hold a midday meeting with the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, and Cardinal Sean Brady to discuss the “painful situation of the church in Ireland” in the wake of the publication of the Murphy commission report.

Both senior Irish church figures are likely to communicate to the pope the sense of outrage in Irish public opinion prompted by the report’s findings.

Pope Benedict will be accompanied by a formidable delegation of Curia heavyweights including, among others, the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the prefect for the Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada, the prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes and the prefect of the Congregation of Consecrated Life (Religious Orders) Franc Rodé. The papal nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, is also due to attend.

Vatican spokesmen were unable to confirm yesterday whether the pope will himself issue a statement in the wake of the meeting, due to take place in the Apostolic Palace.

When John Paul II met the US bishops in the Vatican to discuss the US clerical sex abuse crisis in April 2002, he issued a strong statement in which he said, “people need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young”.

Many Vatican observers believe that today’s meeting will serve little purpose if not accompanied by some visible Holy See action, or at least reaction.

There is little mystery about the pope’s “zero tolerance” view of clerical sex abuse.

Days before being elected pope, he spoke of the need to clean up “the dirt” within the church, whilst when meeting the Irish bishops for their “ad limina” visit in October 2006, he called on the Irish church to work hard to regain the “trust and confidence” of those who had been hurt.

While it is expected that today’s meeting will see Pope Benedict express approval for the manner in which the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has handled the Murphy report, the pope is also likely to ask if there is any end in sight to a scandal that has rocked the Irish Catholic Church for the best part of the last 15 years.

Vatican observers suggest that the Holy See is deeply worried that the Murphy report may prompt similar investigations into every diocese in Ireland, with a consequent barrage of further negative publicity.

11/12/2009 03.20
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Pope 'to visit Oxford in September'

By Reg Little
Oxford Times
6:30am Thursday 10th December 2009

POPE Benedict XVI is set to visit Oxford next September, it is being reported.

With the Vatican still in discussions with Whitehall officials about the details of next year’s papal visit, there has as yet been no official confirmation from Rome that Pope Benedict will be coming to the UK.

But latest reports suggest the Pope will be coming to Oxford between September 16 and 19, when it is believed he will address Oxford University academics.

It is also thought that he will visit at least one site in or around the city associated with Cardinal Newman, the revered Catholic thinker who had been Anglican vicar of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in High Street.

Pope Benedict’s visit seems certain to coincide with the beatification of Cardinal Newman.

The Pope is known to have been an admirer of Newman’s writings over many years and may wish to personally oversee the beatification.

The visit would make Pope Benedict the first Pontiff in history to visit Oxford, with the provisional itinerary also expected to include an address to MPs in Westminster Hall, where Catholic martyrs including Sir Thomas More were condemned to die.

An official announcement of the visit is not expected until well into the new year. But in September Government sources leaked documents about the proposed visit, with Oxford featured in the draft itinerary.

11/12/2009 04.40
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Papa to Oxford
How exciting ...  a dear friend of mine has a daughter who's a consultant at Oxford ... she'll be thrilled.

11/12/2009 18.18
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Pope, Vietnamese president try for closer ties

(AP) – Dec. 11, 2009

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican called a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the president of Vietnam on Friday "a significant stage" in efforts for closer ties between the communist country and the Holy See.

President Nguyen Minh Triet met with Benedict for 40 minutes — twice as long as was scheduled and the first time that the head of state of Vietnam has met with the pope since the communists took power in 1954.

On the eve of the trip, Triet had told an Italian newspaper that his government is working to open diplomatic relations with the Vatican. Vietnam's 6 million Roman Catholics is one of the largest Catholic communities in Asia.

"The Holy See expressed its pleasure at the visit, a significant stage in the progress of bilateral relations, and expressed the hope that outstanding questions may be resolved as soon as possible," the Vatican statement said.

There have been tensions between Catholics and the Hanoi government over church property seized by the Communists. The government also closely monitors religious groups and insists on approving most church appointments.

The Vatican said "the cordial discussions provided an opportunity to touch upon certain themes concerning cooperation between church and state," but the statement did not elaborate.

When the meeting was opened to reporters, both men seemed pleased with the discussions.

In his interview published Tuesday in Corriere della Sera, Triet described himself as an atheist but said he goes to churches and pagodas because "I recognize the cultural value" of religious feasts.

Church officials have spoken about the possibility of a papal visit to Vietnam, but the Vatican statement did not mention such a trip.


Vatican says pope outraged by sex abuse in Ireland

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Dec. 11, 2009

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI shares "the outrage, betrayal and shame" felt by Irish Catholics over cases of clerical sexual abuse and the way abuse claims were handled by church leaders, and he plans to write a special pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the Vatican said.

The letter "will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation," said a statement issued by the Vatican Dec. 11. The statement was released after the pope and top Vatican officials spent 90 minutes meeting with Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish bishops' conference, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Pope Benedict approved the statement, which "obviously reflects his style and tone" in discussing revelations about clerical sex abuse.

The spokesman said he was not sure when the letter would be ready, but he expected it fairly soon since the pope wanted to respond to the sense of outrage and hurt that Irish Catholics currently are experiencing.

Pope Benedict, the statement said, "was deeply disturbed and distressed" by the contents of a report by an independent Commission of Investigation, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, which looked at the handling of some 325 abuse claims in the Archdiocese of Dublin in the years 1975-2004.

The report concluded that during those years, rather than being concerned about the victims, Catholic leaders were more interested in "the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church and the preservation of its assets."

Describing acts of clerical sexual abuse as "heinous crimes," the statement said Pope Benedict asked Catholics to join him in praying for the victims.

The pope wanted "once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large," the statement said.

"The Holy Father shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the church," it said.

The Vatican "takes very seriously the central issues" raised by the so-called Murphy Report, including the report's "questions concerning the governance of local church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children," the statement said.

Father Lombardi said Pope Benedict "does not want this swept under the carpet," but wants the church to deal with the problem and, in the letter he will write, will indicate ways that could be done.

The Jesuit said the pope's letter would not be "just a letter of consolation or regret," but would try to help the church in Ireland move forward while ensuring that such a betrayal of its mission would never occur again.

The statement said Pope Benedict "assures all concerned that the church will continue to follow this grave matter with the closest attention in order to understand better how these shameful events came to pass and how best to develop effective and secure strategies to prevent any recurrence."

Father Lombardi declined to discuss the possible resignation of any Irish bishop. He said the Vatican has a specific process for handling bishops' resignations and that it was not part of the Dec. 11 meeting.

Irish news agencies had been reporting that Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick, a former auxiliary bishop of Dublin and the only still-active bishop listed in the Murphy Report, had traveled to Rome earlier in the week to meet with Vatican officials.

The press reports said Bishop Murray was expected to resign in the wake of the report's criticism of his "inexcusable" handling of an investigation of a pedophile priest.

Father Lombardi said the top five officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State participated in the meeting: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state; Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states; Archbishop Fernando Filoni, who is in charge of the general affairs section; Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, undersecretary for relations with states; and U.S. Msgr. Peter B. Wells, assessor for general affairs.

The Vatican nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, was part of the meeting as were the heads of four Vatican congregations: Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy; and Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.


Pope meets with Irish bishops, plans measures to respond to abuse

Vatican City, Dec 11, 2009 / 10:55 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI and high-ranking members or the Roman Curia met with two members of the Irish bishops’ conference in the papal library on Friday to listen to their concerns and discuss the issue of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin. The Pope was admittedly “deeply disturbed and distressed” by the contents of the Murphy Report released on Nov. 29 and expressed his commitment to investigating the matter further.

Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, and Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin met for 90 minutes with Vatican representatives, including Secretaries of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti. Also present were Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Re, Cardinal Ballestrero, Cardinals Wells and the Irish Nuncio.

In a press communiqué delivered to the press by Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Holy Father responded that he “wishes once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large.”

The meeting with the Pontiff comes two days after the Irish bishops’ conference issued a public apology for the abuse committed by some members of the Irish Catholic clergy over the last three decades. In part, their statement said, “This should never have happened and must never be allowed to happen again. We humbly ask for forgiveness.”

Benedict XVI also said that “he shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the Church.”

The Pontiff provided his assurance that the Church will continue in its efforts to discover “how these shameful events came to pass and how best to develop effective and secure strategies to prevent any recurrence.”

“The Holy See,” added the Pope, “takes very seriously the central issues raised by the Report including questions concerning the governance of local Church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children.”

A pastoral letter to the Irish faithful will be forthcoming “in which he will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation.”

In closing, Benedict XVI encouraged “all those who have dedicated their lives in generous service to children to persevere in their good works in imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd.”


On a more cheerful note...


Benedict XVI Heads to Portugal in May

LISBON, Portugal, DEC. 10, 2009 ( The program for Benedict XVI's May 11-14 trip to Portugal has been confirmed, with visits to Lisbon, Fatima and Porto.

The program of the visit was announced on Monday in Lisbon by Bishop Carlos Azevedo, coordinator-general of the papal visit.

According to the program, on May 11, the Holy Father will arrive in Lisbon. At 12:45 p.m. there will be a welcome ceremony in the Portuguese capital, followed by a courtesy visit to the president.

At 6:15 p.m., the Pope will preside over Mass in Lisbon, but the venue is yet to be determined.

Bishop Azevedo, who is president of the bishops' Commission for Social Pastoral Ministry, said that, during the Mass, the Pope will deliver "a fundamental message for this period in which we are living, which is the challenge of sanctity." Sanctity will be the theme of the visit to Lisbon.

At 10 a.m. on May 12, the Pontiff will meet with representatives of the world of culture. At noon he will meet with the Brazilian prime minister in the apostolic nunciature.

At 4:40 p.m. he will leave by helicopter for Fatima. There, he will visit the Chapel of the Apparitions in the shrine, and then preside over 6 p.m. vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons in the church of the Most Holy Trinity. At 9:30 p.m. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, will preside over the recitation of the rosary and the torch procession.

At 10 a.m. on May 13, Benedict XVI will preside over a Mass at the shrine. After Mass, he will visit the shrine's basilica, where the Fatima visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta Marto and Lucia Dos Santos, are buried.

At 1 p.m. the Pope will dine with the bishops of Portugal and at 5 p.m., he will meet with representatives of charity organizations. At 6:45 p.m., he will meet with the Portuguese bishops in the House of Our Lady of Carmen, at the shrine.

On the last day of his Portugal visit, he will bid farewell to Fatima and head to Porto, where he will celebrate a 10:15 a.m. Mass.

He will return to Rome at 1:30 that afternoon.

Each of the stops will center around a diverse theme. In Lisbon: "Sanctity and Evangelization"; in Fatima: "To Share with Joy"; and in Porto: "Church and Mission."

[Modificato da benefan 11/12/2009 18.27]
14/12/2009 07.20
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The secret of joy is found in the Nativity, Pope says at Angelus

Vatican City, Dec 13, 2009 / 12:19 pm (CNA).- Saying he shared the “secret joy” of his audience, Pope Benedict dedicated his Angelus address to the blessing of the "Bambinelli," the baby Jesus figurines to be used in family, school and parish Nativity scenes all over Rome.

The central message of the liturgy on the Third Sunday of Advent was the apostle Paul´s invitation to the Philippians: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again: rejoice the Lord is near!"

Pope Benedict XVI spoke on a cool, rain-sprinkled afternoon in Rome.

"The Mother Church," he explained before the Angelus, "while she accompanies us towards the holy feast of Christmas, helps us rediscover the meaning and the delight of Christian joy, so different from that of the world."

The Pope noted that so many families, teachers and catechists come to St. Peter's Square to have their baby Jesus figurines blessed. He remarked that he is filled with great joy at their presence and interest in keeping alive the tradition. He also said it is necessary to “try to live in the everyday reality of what Christ's Nativity represents, which is the love of Christ, his humility and his poverty.

The blessing of the Bambinelli, he added, “reminds us that the Nativity is a school of life, where we can learn the secret of true joy. This doesn't consist of having many things, but in feeling loved by the Lord, in making ourselves a gift to others and in loving ourselves."

Pope Benedict alluded to the Holy Family, who didn't seem to be “a very fortunate family” but were still "filled with intimate joy because they loved and helped each other and most have all they were sure that their story is the work of God, Who is made present in little Jesus."

The shepherds would have also been joyful in seeing the Lord despite their meager conditions, the Pontiff explained, because in the infant Jesus they would have recognized, with the help of their faith, "the sign of God's promise coming true for all men who love Him."

True joy, he said, consists in its feeling that our personal and communal existence is fulfilled by “a great mystery, the mystery of the love of God."

"To rejoice we need not only things, but also love and truth, we need a God that is near, that warms our heart and responds to our profound expectations. This God is manifested in Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary."

"Thus," concluded the Holy Father, "that 'Bambinello' that we put in the stable or the cave is the center of everything, the heart of the world."

After the Angelus, the Pope invited the faithful and pilgrims to pray with him for the four missionaries killed in Africa last week, so that the Lord “may take them into His House, console those that cry for their loss and bring, with His coming, reconciliation and peace."

14/12/2009 07.27
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Through Illness, Christ Speaks Words of Love

ROME, DEC. 13, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is affirming that the sick can live Advent in a deeper way, because illness is a similar time of waiting for God to transform suffering into hope and salvation.

The Pope affirmed this today while visiting the sick and their caregivers at the Hospice Foundation of Rome, which provides free aid to people with terminal cancer, Alzheimer's disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (known as Lou Gehrig's disease).

Some 30 patients are cared for in the hospice headquarters, while another hundred are assisted at home.

The hospital was founded 11 years ago under the name Sacred Heart Hospice, on the initiative of the Circle of St. Peter and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Roma.

The Pontiff addressed those gathered at the hospital, affirming, "We know how some grave pathologies inevitably cause, for those who suffer from them, moments of crisis, of bewilderment and serious confrontation with their personal situation."

"In every part of the world we often meet suffering of many incurable brothers and sisters, who are frequently in the terminal phase," he acknowledged.

The Pontiff affirmed that "they must be respected and supported while they face the difficulties and sufferings linked with their health conditions."

Palliative care

He continued: "Toward this end, today one takes recourse more and more to the use of palliative care, which is able to soothe pain that comes from the illness and to help infirm persons to get through it with dignity.

"Nevertheless, together with the indispensible palliative care clinics, it is necessary to offer concrete gestures of love, of nearness and Christian solidarity to the sick, to meet their need for understanding, comfort and constant encouragement."

The Holy Father affirmed his closeness and affection for each of the patients and families, who he greeted individually.

He affirmed, "Your illness is a very painful and unique trial, but before the mystery of God, who took on our mortal flesh, it receives its meaning and becomes a gift and an occasion for sanctification."

Benedict XVI said: "When the suffering and discomfort are the worst, know that Christ is associating you with his cross because through you he wants to speak a word of love to those who have strayed from the road of life and, closed within their empty egoism, live in sin and separation from God.

"In fact, your health conditions testify that the true life is not here, but with God, where every one of us will find joy if we humbly walk in the footsteps of the true man: Jesus of Nazareth, Master and Lord."

"In the light of faith we can read in sickness and suffering a special experience of Advent," the Pope said, "a visit from God, who, in a mysterious way comes to bring liberation from solitude and meaninglessness and transform suffering in time into a meeting with him, into hope and salvation."

14/12/2009 21.37
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Joy comes from receiving God's love, not lots of things, pope says

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
Dec. 14, 2009

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The secret to experiencing true joy is not found in accumulating lots of things, but from feeling loved by the Lord and being generous to others, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Real joy is feeling that one's personal and social life "is touched and filled by a great mystery, the mystery of God's love," he said Dec. 13 before his midday recitation of the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

On the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete (Latin for "rejoice") Sunday, the pope said Advent helps people "rediscover the meaning and pleasure of Christian joy, which is so different from that (joy) of the world."

The square was filled with children and families who brought statues of the baby Jesus for the pope to bless before placing them in Nativity scenes at home and at school.

Before blessing the figurines, the pope expressed his happiness that families continue to keep the Nativity scene tradition alive. But, he said, "following a tradition, as important as it is, is not enough."

"It's necessary to try to live every single day in the way the Nativity represents, that is, with Christ's love, his humility and his poverty," he said.

The Nativity scene is a lesson for life, a scene depicting the secret to true joy, he said.

The Holy Family, gathered in a stable and facing so many hardships, does not on the surface, look like a very lucky family, he said.

"And yet, they are full of an intimate joy because they love each other, they help each other" and above all they are certain that their lives are fulfilling God's work, said the pope.

True joy, therefore, "does not consist in having lots of things, but in feeling loved by the Lord, in letting ourselves be a gift to others, and in loving ourselves," he said.

To feel joy, people need love and truth and to be close to God, who "warms our hearts and responds to our deepest needs," he said.

Earlier in the day, the pope visited the Rome Foundation Hospice and met with the center's healthcare workers and 30 terminally ill patients. The patients, many of whom suffer from cancer, Alzheimer's or Lou Gehrig's disease, receive free palliative care and treatment.

The pope said today's world tends to marginalize people suffering from a terminal illness -- considering them to be a problem or a burden on society.

People who understand the inherent human dignity of these patients, however, know that the ill must "be respected and supported while the difficulties and suffering tied to their condition is dealt with," he said.

The pope said it is essential that healthcare workers "offer the sick concrete gestures of love, intimacy, and Christian solidarity" in order to meet their need for understanding, comfort, and constant encouragement.

15/12/2009 20.58
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VIS today announces Papa's new Motu Proprio: Omnium Mentem, in which he pronounces some changes to Canon Law.The details are given in VIS. Most of it is beyond my understanding; I'd have to look at Canon Law [on the Vatican website] before I could even begin to piece together these changes. Joseph Ratzinger is a clever man - as if we didn't already know it!
16/12/2009 01.13
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Environmentalism is moral issue, part of promoting peace, pope says

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Dec. 15, 2009

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The degradation of the environment is a pressing moral problem that threatens peace and human life itself, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"We cannot remain indifferent to what is happening around us, for the deterioration of any one part of the planet affects us all," the pope said in his message for World Peace Day, Jan. 1, 2010.

Pope Benedict's message, which was delivered to world leaders by Vatican ambassadors, was released at the Vatican Dec. 15.

Government policies, the activity of multinational corporations and the day-to-day behavior of individuals all have an impact on the environment, the pope said. While the future of the world hangs in the balance because of what people are doing today, the negative effects of pollution and environmental exploitation already can be seen, he said.

"Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?" the pope asked.

Already, he said, the world is seeing the "growing phenomenon of 'environmental refugees,' people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat" to migrate in search of food, water and unpolluted air.

"It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view," the pope said.

In addition, he warned of the "actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources."

"Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to be faced with renewed and concerted commitment; it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to coming generations the prospect of a better future for all," the pope wrote.

Presenting the message to the press, Cardinal Renato Martino, the recently retired president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said Pope Benedict "does not propose technical solutions or interfere in government policies. Rather, he recalls the church's commitment to defending the earth, water and air, which are the creator's gifts to humanity."

With the real suffering environmental destruction already is causing and the devastation it will wreak in the future, the pope's message said, "humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all."

"Our present crises -- be they economic, food-related, environmental or social -- are ultimately also moral crises and all of them are interrelated," Pope Benedict wrote.

Solving the crises will require people to work together and take responsibility for their individual actions, he said. Specifically, a solution will require "a lifestyle marked by sobriety and solidarity, with new rules and forms of engagement, one which focuses confidently and courageously on strategies that actually work, while decisively rejecting those that have failed."

Christians believe the entire cosmos was created by God, who drew harmony out of chaos, the pope said. Human sin -- Adam and Eve's desire to take the place of God and their refusal to recognize that they, too, were his creatures -- disrupted that harmony.

When the Bible said that God made man and woman in his image and gave them dominion over the earth, the pope said, it meant God called them to be stewards of creation, drawing from the earth what they needed and safeguarding its riches for future generations.

"Sad to say, it is all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment," the pope said.

Pope Benedict said that because the environmental crisis is global, it must be met with a universal sense of responsibility and solidarity toward people living in other parts of the world as well as toward generations who have not yet been born.

The church's commitment to environmental protection flows from a religious duty "to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the creator meant for everyone, and above all to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction," Pope Benedict said.

The biblical story of creation makes it clear that human beings hold a special, important place in the order of creation, he said, therefore, it is obvious that protecting creation requires protecting human life and dignity first of all.

"The book of nature is one and indivisible; it includes not only the environment but also individual, family and social ethics. Our duties towards the environment flow from our duties towards the person, considered both individually and in relation to others," he said.

An authentic Christian ecology, one that recognizes the special place of the human person, is one that recognizes "the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbor and respect for nature," Pope Benedict said.

Cardinal Martino said Pope Benedict rejects "two extremes" often heard when discussing the environment: one claims that the human person is free to do whatever he wants with the earth and the other claims that the human person is simply one of the many creatures on earth with no special rights. If the person has no special rights, he also does not have special responsibilities, the cardinal said.

The pope ended his message with a plea to "all believers to raise a fervent prayer to God, the all-powerful creator and the father of mercies, so that all men and women may take to heart the urgent appeal: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation."


Pope commiserates with Berlusconi over assault

Indo-Asian News Service
Vatican City, December 15, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has sent a telegram to Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi deploring the violent attack against the premier, the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano reported on Tuesday.

Berlusconi, 73, is in hospital in the northern city of Milan after he was struck in the face at a political rally Sunday by a man believed to have psychiatric problems.

The papal telegram Monday deplored the attack and expressed the pontiff's "fatherly closeness" with Berlusconi, wishing him "a speedy recovery". It was signed by Vatican secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, the Osservatore Romano said.

Berlusconi suffered a broken nose and teeth, heavy bleeding and facial injuries when 42-year-old Massimo Tartaglia hit him in the face outside Milan's cathedral with a souvenir statuette of the Gothic landmark.

Berlusconi's personal physician Alberto Zangrillo said Berlusconi was having "great difficulty" eating Monday and to have been shaken by the attack.

Doctors at Milan's San Raffaele hospital said Monday they would be keeping the premier in hospital a second night and have estimated it will take him 20 days to recover.

"We'll review the situation tomorrow (Tuesday), but it is not certain we will be discharging him then," said Zangrillo.

"The consequences are worse than what we first thought, and for this reason we won't be making any predictions in the next 24-36 hours."

Tartaglia has been arrested and was Monday questioned by police. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni expressed his concern about the lapse in Berlusconi's security after meeting senior police and political leaders in Milan to discuss the incident.

"He was at risk of being seriously injured, or killed," said Maroni, adding that the attack was "a very serious event".

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Laws are just only if they protect human life, pope says

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Dec. 16, 2009

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A law is just only if it protects human life, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The only laws that can be considered just "are those laws that safeguard the sacredness of human life and reject the acceptance of abortion, euthanasia and unrestrained genetic experiments (and) those laws that respect the dignity of marriage between one man and one woman," the pope said Dec. 16 during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

Pope Benedict dedicated his audience talk to the writings of the 12th-century British philosopher and theologian, John of Salisbury. A close associate of St. Thomas Becket, John went into exile with him when, as the pope said, King Henry II tried "to affirm his authority over the internal life of the church, limiting its freedom."

John of Salisbury recognized the limits of human reason, given the fact that human beings are finite, but he insisted that through the use of reason, people can come to understand that certain actions are always right or always wrong and that human laws must reflect natural law in order to promote the common good, the pope said.

"John's insights are most timely today in light of the threats to human life and dignity posed by legislation inspired more by the 'dictatorship of relativism' than by the sober use of right reason and concern for the principles of truth and justice inscribed in the natural law," he said.

In addition to protecting the sacredness of human life and the dignity of marriage, Pope Benedict said just laws must respect the separation between church and state in a way that protects religious freedom, must allow local issues to be handled locally and must promote solidarity with the poor "on a national and international level."

The pope also said John of Salisbury believed strongly that truth and beauty, not simply fancy rhetoric, was the measure of culture and that those who had the means to communicate truth and beauty were obliged to do so.

While the means for communicating have multiplied beyond what the 12th-century philosopher could have imagined, the pope said, " there remains an urgent need to communicate messages endowed with wisdom, that is, inspired by truth, by goodness and beauty. This is a great responsibility, which particularly regards people who work in the complex sphere of culture, communications and the media. This is an environment where the Gospel can be proclaimed with missionary vigor."

At the end of the audience, Pope Benedict blessed a new Nativity scene and Christmas tree decorations for the Vatican audience hall. Mexican artists created the handmade decorations.

The pope received another gift at the end of the audience: a Vatican flag that had been carried into space by crew members of the Space Shuttle Atlantis May 11-24, 2009. After five NASA astronauts greeted the pope, one of them, Michael J. Massimino, used his Twitter account to tell his friends and fans: “Just met Pope Benedict, gave him a Vatican flag and photo that we flew in space for him on my spaceflight, it was a great honor to meet him.”

After the audience, Pope Benedict was formally presented with a certificate of honorary citizenship from Introd, the city in the northern Italian Alps where he has spent several July vacations.


Benedict given honorary citizenship by Italian Village

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2009 / 04:12 pm (CNA).- Following Wednesday's general audience held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father was given honorary citizenship to Introd, a village in the Italian region of Valle d'Aosta, where he has spent his summer vacations in the past.

“I am happy to learn from the mayor's address,” said the Pontiff, “that my presence in Valle d'Aosta, and earlier that of my beloved predecessor John Paul II, has favored a growth in the faith among the people there, who are dear to me and so rich in Christian tradition and in many signs of religious vitality.”

The Holy Father thanked Augusto Rollandin, president of the Autonomous Region of the Valle d'Aosta as well as the mayor of Introd, Osvaldo Naudin, and spoke of the “unforgettable periods of rest” he has experienced “surrounded by the splendor of the alpine panorama which favors the encounter with the Creator and restores the spirit.”

Pope Benedict also lauded the pastoral work of Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta, which the Holy Father said is ever more important during this time in which “society nourishes illusions and false hopes, especially in the young generations, but which the Lord even today calls to become a 'family' of children of God who live with 'one heart and one soul.'”


Pope to join Sant’Egidio for Holy Family lunch with the poor

by Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Dec. 16, 2009

VATICAN CITY — After reciting the Angelus at the Vatican Dec. 27, Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood to have lunch with the poor, the Vatican announced.

The luncheon will be held at one of the soup kitchens run by the Sant’Edigio Community, a lay movement founded in Trastevere in the late 1960s.

Francesca Zuccari, coordinator of the soup kitchens, said about 200 people will be chosen to represent the average of more than 1,000 people who eat dinner and the 60 volunteers who serve them in the Via Dandolo dining room every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening.

The papal luncheon on the 27th, the feast of the Holy Family, will be something like the major Christmas luncheon offered by the Sant’Egidio Community and its friends to more than 10,000 people throughout the city of Rome. In just the Basilica of St. Maria in Trastevere, more than 2,000 people are expected to sit down on Christmas Day for a traditional Italian Christmas meal, complete with presents.



Secretary of States Discusses Benedict XVI's Priorities

PARIS, DEC. 16, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is a "man who listens," and who habitually works in a "collegial manner," affirmed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is the Holy Father's secretary of state, and his closest collaborator.

Cardinal Bertone spoke of his own role in the Vatican and the priorities of Benedict XVI's pontificate in an exclusive interview given Monday with the Catholic French television station KTO, on the occasion of the station's 10th anniversary.

In the interview conducted by Philippine de Saint-Pierre, the cardinal described Benedict XVI as a "man who listens," and said the Pope does all he can to "take the pulse of the Church."

He refuted comments made by Vatican observers that the Pope is too isolated, noting that the Holy Father meets regularly with all the heads of all the Vatican dicastries, and for the bishops' five-yearly "ad limina" meetings, he "gives to them all the time he can."

In describing the Pope's "style," the cardinal said that he is "the first who loves: The first who loves the Church, who loves the faithful of the universal Church. The first who serves the Church, who gives his life to the Church, day and night, through his work, through his prayer."

"He is also the first who builds unity in the Church," he added.

During the long interview, Cardinal Bertone talked of the "special relationship" Benedict XVI has with the Second Vatican Council, calling him "a great Pope of Vatican II": "It suffices to see the number of times he cites texts of the Council in his discourses, addresses, his encyclicals."

"He is one of finest connoisseurs of the Council," the cardinal added.

The Salesian cardinal noted that in the wake of Vatican II, where then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was an expert and enjoyed a certain "celebrity," he "saw certain abuses, certain dangers, and he emphasized above all the interpretation of the Council in terms of continuity, and not in terms of rupture with Tradition."

"This is an essential point," Cardinal Bertone said, who also discussed the Pope's decision to lift the excommunication of four bishops of the St. Pius X Society earlier this year.


The cardinal noted that Benedict XVI is very much aware of what is at stake with the situation of the St. Pius X Society: "One must remember that in 1998, he maintained the relationship and conducted the dialogue with Archbishop Lefebvre and his team, at the request of John Paul II."

Cardinal Bertone explained one reason why Benedict XVI is reaching out to the traditionally minded society is because "Tradition is part of the Church, it's a patrimony that we should know and value, and not simply leave to one side or in the library."

Another reason, he continued, has to do with one of the Pope's "fundamental concerns," which is unity.

In the interview, Cardinal Bertone addressed other important challenges facing the pontificate of Benedict XVI, such as ecumenical dialogue, in particular with the Orthodox Churches, as well as relations with Jews and with Islam.

Benedict XVI is a "figure very much esteemed as a great theologian" in these conversations, noted Cardinal Bertone.

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Major breaking news today. It seems that Papa is trying to clean up the church before Christmas. The story about Archbishop Milingo hasn't even hit the media here yet. It is direct from the Vatican Information Service's bulletin. I must say the action against him is extraordinary but way overdue.

Irish bishop resigns after sex abuse scandal

By FRANCES D'EMILIO (AP) – Dec. 17, 2009

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Limerick's bishop, who was heavily criticized in an Irish investigation of clergy sex abuse of children and a church hierarchy cover-up, the Vatican said Thursday.

The one-line announcement that Monsignor Donal Murray had resigned did not mention the scandal.

It said, however, that Murray resigned under a Canon Law provision that allows bishops, younger than the mandatory retirement age of 75, to step down when they become "unsuited" to continue in the post.

Unsuitability can result from illness, or some other circumstance, such as scandal.

Murray, 69, a former assistant bishop in Dublin, had been widely expected to resign, following a devastating report issued last month that alleged that the church in Ireland shielded more than 100 child-abusing priests from the law.

The Irish government-sanctioned investigation found four other serving bishops and five retired bishops, including Cardinal Desmond Connell, as playing a role in the scandal cover-up lasting for decades.

The report said that church leaders in the Dublin Archdiocese failed to inform authorities about sexual abuse by priests, while police failed to pursue allegations under the belief that church figures were above the law.

Two bishops, Martin Drennan of Galway and Eamonn Walsh of Dublin, have said they have no intention of tendering their resignation to the pope.

The Vatican has been harshly criticized in Ireland, a nation of staunch Catholic traditions, for failing to answer letters from the Dublin Archdiocese investigators.

But earlier this month, the Vatican described Benedict as being "deeply disturbed" by the sex-abuse scandal and said he will write a letter to Catholics in Ireland with the Holy See's response. It said also the pope shares the "outrage, betrayal and shame" felt by many Irish faithful.

Benedict met at the Vatican this month with senior Irish clergy to discuss a possible response.

The 720-page report found that dozens of church leaders in Ireland's most populous diocese kept secret the record of child abuse by more than 170 clerics since 1940.

Police and social workers charged with stopping child abuse didn't start getting cooperation from the church until 1995. This opened the floodgates to thousands of abuse complaints expected to cost the Dublin Archdiocese millions of euros.


Benedict XVI officially accepts Irish bishop's resignation

Vatican City, Dec 17, 2009 / 10:46 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI has officially accepted the resignation of Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray. Murray stepped down due to information made public in the Murphy Report on Nov. 26 that showed he failed to properly respond to allegations of sexual abuse.

Bishop Murray's name was mentioned several times in the Murphy report, which published the results of a study into allegations of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin from 1975 to 2004. Murray's lack of action in response to the possible cases of child sex abuse by clergy brought to his attention is described in this document as "inexcusable."

Murray came to Rome originally on Dec. 6 to meet with Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, to discuss his handling of information relevant to the cases and to deliver his resignation, as Murray told members of St. John's Cathedral in an address this morning in Limerick.

Cardinal Re took the bishop's letter of resignation to the Pope, who had the final say in whether or not to accept the bishop's wishes to step down.

The Irish Times published the entirety of Bishop Murray's address to the faithful at St. John's upon the release of the Pope's decision. In the address, he said that he had asked the Pope's permission to resign and be replaced because he believes his presence "will create difficulties for some of the survivors who must have first place in our thoughts and prayers."

He also admitted that his resignation "cannot undo the pain that survivors of abuse have suffered in the past and continue to suffer each day."

"I humbly apologize once again to all who were abused as little children," he continued. "To all survivors, I repeat that my primary concern is to assist in every way that I can, on their journey towards finding closure and serenity."

He closed by saying, “Let my last words as Bishop of Limerick be those I spoke in St. Joseph's on 29th November last: 'We are people who believe that God’s mercy and God’s healing are without limit. We are meant to be bearers of that hope to one another and especially to people whose trust was betrayed when they were just little children and who endured the terror, helplessness and suffering inflicted by a frightening and dominant adult. They should always have a special place in our prayers.'"

Murray's resignation was accepted in accordance with Canon 401 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law which reads, "A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office."

This is enacted when a bishop must resign before reaching the age limit of 75 years old.



VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following English-language communique at midday today:

"For a number of years the Church has followed with great concern the difficulties caused by the regrettable conduct of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. Many attempts have been made to bring Archbishop Milingo back into communion with the Catholic Church, including the consideration of suitable ways to enable him to exercise the episcopal ministry. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were directly involved in those efforts and both Popes personally followed the case of Archbishop Milingo in a spirit of paternal solicitude.

"In the course of this unhappy series of events, Archbishop Milingo became irregular in 2001 as a result of his attempt to marry Mrs. Maria Sung, and incurred the medicinal penalty of suspension (cf. canons 1044 para. 1, n. 3; 1394 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law). Thereafter, he headed certain groups calling for the abolition of clerical celibacy and gave numerous interviews to the media in open disobedience to the repeated interventions of the Holy See, creating serious upset and scandal among the faithful. Then, on 24 September 2006 in Washington, Archbishop Milingo ordained four bishops without pontifical mandate.

"By so doing, he incurred the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae' (canon 1382) which was declared by the Holy See on 26 September 2006 and is still in force today. Sadly, Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops. Rather, he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of Holy Church. Specifically, in recent months Archbishop Milingo has proceeded to several other episcopal ordinations.

"The commission of these grave crimes, which has recently been established, is to be considered as proof of the persistent contumacy of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. The Holy See has therefore been obliged to impose upon him the further penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.

"According to canon 292 of the Code of Canon Law, the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state, now added to the grave penalty of excommunication, has the following effects: loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire. Consequently, the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organised by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful.

"It must be pointed out that the dismissal of a bishop from the clerical state is most extraordinary. The Holy See has felt obliged to act in this way due to the serious consequences for ecclesial communion resulting from repeated episcopal consecrations carried out without pontifical mandate; nevertheless, the Church hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his ways.

"As for those recently ordained by Archbishop Milingo, the Church's discipline in imposing the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae' upon those who receive episcopal consecration without pontifical mandate is well-known. While expressing hope for their conversion, the Church reaffirms what was declared on 26 September 2006, namely that she does not recognise these ordinations, nor does she intend to recognise them, or any subsequent ordinations based on them, in the future. Hence the canonical status of the supposed bishops remains as it was prior to the ordination conferred by Archbishop Milingo.

"At this moment, as the Church experiences profound sorrow for the grave acts perpetrated by Archbishop Milingo, she entrusts to the power of prayer the repentance of the guilty party and of all those who - be they priests or lay faithful - have in any way co-operated with him by acting against the unity of Christ's Church".


Rogue archbishop dismissed by Pope Benedict from clerical state

Vatican City, Dec 17, 2009 / 11:29 am (CNA).- The Holy See announced on Thursday that the former Archbishop of Lusaka, Emmanuel Milingo, has been dismissed from the clerical state after persistently acting against Church teaching. Milingo had already been suspended and excommunicated latae sententiae for serious transgressions in the last eight years.

The Holy See reported that despite repeated efforts to return the African archbishop to "full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops" his continued neglect for Church doctrine has merited him the "further penalty of dismissal from the clerical state."

The former archbishop has a history of disobeying Church law.

The first of what the Vatican called "this unhappy series of events" took place in 2001 when Milingo tried to marry Mrs. Maria Sung, at which time he was subject to a "medicinal" suspension. He was not deterred as he subsequently pushed for the abolition of the discipline of priestly celibacy by leading groups and giving interviews "in open disobedience to the repeated interventions of the Holy See," reads the Vatican press office's official statement regarding the case.

Then, on Sept. 24, 2006 in Washington, D.C., Milingo ordained four bishops without the required pontifical mandate. Two days later on Sept. 26, he was excommunicated "latae sententiae"—by the very commission of the offense —following the order of the Holy See.

"Sadly," says the Vatican's statemtent, "Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to to full communion" with the Catholic Church. "Rather he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of the Holy Church."

It was recently brought to light, read the statement, that Milingo has once again taken part in the ordination of another round of bishops without the permission of the Apostolic See.

Due to these new "grave crimes" the archbishop is now being penalized with dismissal from the clerical state.

According to Canon Law, due to the combination of penalties, Milingo will now incur the "loss the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except... in those cases involving the danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire."

Therefore, continues the statement, "the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organized by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful."

The Vatican communique explained that the dismissal of a bishop from the clerical state is quite exceptional but that it was necessary given the repeated offenses of ordaining new bishops. It also stated clearly that these new bishops were not to be considered valid, nor were any subsequent ordinations based on them. It also underscored the penalty of excommunication for any priests ordained without the pontifical mandate.

The Holy See concluded its statement by expressing the "profound sorrow" of the Church for the unapproved acts of the archbishop, and entrusted "to the power of prayer" the repentance of any other individuals involved in the condemned actions.

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Pope declines UK state pomp and avoids apology over Ireland abuse

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
The Times Online
December 18, 2009

The Pope will not stay at Buckingham Palace and has declined an open-carriage procession and palace banquet during his state visit to Britain next year.

Although Pope Benedict XVI will be a guest of the Queen he will stay with his Ambassador to the Court of St James, the Apostolic Nuncio, at his house in Wimbledon, southwest London.

The Pope will spend one day in Scotland during the three-day visit from September 16 to 19. In spite of pleas from lay members of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland for him to visit them and apologise in person for decades of child abuse by members of the clergy exposed in a recent report, he is unlikely to do so before 2012.

Jim Murphy, a Catholic MP who is Secretary of State for Scotland and heads the government team in charge of the visit, said that while it would have the status of a state visit, the Vatican did not want the trappings that accompany such a visit.

“It’s a unique constitutional arrangement as the Pope is head of a faith and the head of state,” Mr Murphy told The Tablet, the Catholic weekly.

“The official title is ‘papal visit with the status of a state visit’. Normally state visits include banquets and gold carriages but the Vatican doesn’t want that.”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland have drawn up an itinerary that is now with the Holy See and includes public Masses and ecumenical events. The Pope will meet the Queen in Scotland, where she will be at Balmoral.

The organisers will be anxious to avoid embarrassing conflict with Anglicans, as arrangements move forward for new Anglican Ordinariates for traditionalists who wish to convert to Catholicism.

There had been speculation that the papal visit might be downgraded from state to pastoral because of embarrassment over the offer to traditionalists, regarded by some Anglicans as an attempt to poach from their flocks.

One Catholic bishops’ conference has already gone so far as to give traditionalist Anglicans a church for Christmas.

In Scotland, Catholic Anglicans will this year celebrate Christmas in a Catholic chapel in a convent. St Catherine’s convent chapel in Tollcross, Edinburgh, was a gift from Scotland’s Catholic bishops and was made available by the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

Canon Len Black, a Scottish Episcopal priest in Inverness, said there were no traditionalist parishes in Edinburgh but up to 50 lay men and women who needed a traditional service.

The Scottish Episcopal Church, one of 38 provinces in the worldwide Anglican Communion, last week shortlisted a woman for an episcopal vacancy, meaning that Scotland could have the UK’s first Anglican woman bishop.

Canon Black welcomed the unprecedented Christmas gift.

“This move has come about because of the rapid drift of the Scottish Episcopal Church away from the traditional faith, morals and practices of the universal Church,” he said.

“When the Scottish Episcopal Church first decided to ordain women as priests some 15 years ago we were assured of a ‘valued and honoured place’ within the Church ‘for all time to come’.

“That promise has not been honoured and today some of our people even find that they are being told they are no longer welcome in the churches in which they were baptised as infants. Now we find that the provision we were hoping for from our own Church is being offered to all disaffected Anglicans by the Catholic Church.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, commented: “I am delighted to help provide a place of worship for these traditionalist Anglicans, taking the lead from Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor Pope John Paul II.”


Pope says even scholars must be humble enough to worship baby Jesus

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Dec. 17, 2009

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said he knows it is tempting for a university student or professor to resist being humble enough to approach the baby Jesus with awe.

But the Christmas manger is precisely where "each one of us can discover the truth about God and about the human person, about ourselves," the pope told Rome university students and professors Dec. 17 as he celebrated evening prayer with them in St. Peter's Basilica.

Humanity encounters God "in that baby, born of the virgin," the pope said. "The human yearning for eternal life softened the heart of God, who was not ashamed to take on the human condition."

But, he said, too many people -- in Jesus' time as well as today -- are ashamed to adopt the humility needed to recognize and accept God's love.

Pope Benedict's homily focused on the "O Antiphon" for the day's celebration of evening prayer: "O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge."

He told the students and professors that "the Christian paradox consists precisely in identifying divine wisdom -- the eternal word -- with the man Jesus of Nazareth and his story."

Whether studying math or science or art history or literature, a truly Christian scholar conducts all of his or her research trying to catch the glimpses of divine wisdom present in everything, the pope said.

"I cannot avoid making a reflection that might be a bit uncomfortable, but useful for those of us who are here and mostly belong to an academic environment," said the pope, who was a university professor.

"On Christmas night, who was at the grotto in Bethlehem?" the pope asked. "Who ran to see him, recognized him and adored him? Not the doctors of the law, the scribes or the wise. Mary and Joseph were there, and the shepherds."

The fact that God chose to reveal the savior to the meek and humble does not mean there is anything wrong with studying, the pope said. It simply means that even while pursuing knowledge, Christians must maintain the attitude of "the little ones: a humble and simple spirit."

At the end of the service, a delegation of Australian university students passed over to a delegation of African university students and icon of Mary, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom. The icon will travel to different universities in Africa before being taken to Madrid, Spain, for World Youth Day 2011.

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VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI this morning received a delegation from Wallonia, the Belgian region which has this year donated the Christmas tree that traditionally decorates St. Peter's Square during this period.

The tree, the lights of which will be switched on this evening, is a fir from the Ardennes, one of the most wooded areas in Europe. It is thirty metres high, its trunk has a diameter of seven metres, it weighs fourteen tons and its lower branches reach a length of ten metres. The main tree is accompanied by forty-five smaller trees which will be positioned in various sites around the Vatican.

"The role of this tree", said the Pope in his address thanking the delegation from Wallonia, "is similar to that of the shepherds who, watching through the shades of night, saw how the darkness was illuminated with the message of the angels. ... Standing next to the nativity scene the tree indicates, in its own particular way, the great mystery present in the poor and simple grotto. It proclaims the arrival of the Son of God to the inhabitants of Rome, to pilgrims and to everyone who sees St. Peter's Square on television. Though this tree your land, and the faith of the Christian communities in your region, greet the Christ Child".


Holy Father to light six-ton Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square

Vatican City, Dec 18, 2009 / 11:18 am (CNA).- Friday afternoon at sunset, Pope Benedict XVI will flip a switch to turn on the Christmas lights adorning the 27 meter tall tree standing next to the nativity scene in the center of St. Peter's Square. The Pope met earlier in the day with those responsible for bringing the Christmas tree to the Vatican from the Belgian region of Wallonia.

The Pope thanked the delegation present at the audience, including the Economy Minister of Wallonia, the Belgian ambassador to the Holy See, Bishop Aloys Jousten of Liege and all others involved in the promotion of the project and the "delicate" transportation of the six-ton tree to its present location.

The tree that was brought to us from the "dark and shadowy" forest is now in the light and covered in decorations like "many marvelous fruits," Benedict remarked.

"Leaving behind its somber robe for a sparkling radiance. It has been transformed."

"It becomes the carrier of a light that is no longer its own but bears witness to the true Light that comes to the world," said the Pontiff, likening the tree to the shepherds at the birth of Christ.

Pope Benedict added that the tree's presence could be compared to our existence in the world, "we are also called to bear good fruits to show that the world has truly been visited and redeemed by the Lord."

In its own way, said the Holy Father, this tree "proclaims the coming of the Son of God" to all who see it, "he who has come to make all things new and to call all creatures, from the humblest to the highest, to enter into the mystery of the Redemption and to be include in it."

The lights covering the enormous tree will be turned on at sunset on Friday evening by the Pope himself. He will flip a switch that has been installed in the Apostolic Palace overlooking the Vatican Square. The tree has been in place since Dec. 4, but due to the monumental task of constructing the nativity scene and decorating the tree, they weren't made public until now.


Pope lights Vatican's 'eco-friendly' Christmas tree
Dec. 18, 2009

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI on Friday triggered a remote switch to light hundreds of golden bulbs on the Vatican's Christmas tree, a 30-metre high spruce from the forests of the Ardennes in Wallonia, Belgium. The Christmas tree, adorned with gold and silver mirror-glass baubles and strands of tinsel, stood in the centre of St Peter's Square and is part of a tradition begun by Pope John Paul II in 27 years ago.

Benedict followed the ceremony from his Apostolic Palace residence overlooking the square.

A gift from Wallonia's regional government, the tree is around 100-years-old.
Its use has been described as "ecologically-friendly," because, according to the Vatican, it was felled as part of a programme to allow for the reintroduction and growth of other trees and plants that are more native to the Ardennes area.

Also, once Christmas celebrations have ended, wood from the tree, which measures some seven metres in diameter and weighs 14 tons, is to be used to make carved statues which will be sold, with the money going to the poor.

Since his 2005 election, Benedict has frequently urged governments to adopt measures aimed at safeguarding the environment, a call the pontiff repeated this week as world leaders are meeting at a United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Benedict's predecessor the late Polish-born Pope John Paul II, in 1982 introduced the northern and eastern European custom of Christmas trees to the Vatican.

On Christmas Eve the Vatican, also in St Peter's Square, unveils its creche, or nativity scene, a greater-than-lifesize model depicting the birth of the baby Jesus, traditionally in a manger or cave.
[Modificato da benefan 19/12/2009 07.11]
20/12/2009 00.02
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Popes Move Closer to Sainthood

The New York Times
December 20, 2009

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI moved two of his predecessors a step closer to sainthood on Saturday, confirming the “heroic virtues” of John Paul II and, in a surprise move, of Pius XII, the pope during World War II.

After John Paul’s death in April 2005, Benedict bypassed a traditional waiting period to put the much beloved pope on a fast-track to sainthood. At John Paul’s funeral, crowds at Saint Peter’s Square chanted “santo subito,” or “sainthood now.”

Pius XII, however, has been a point of contention between the Vatican and some Jewish groups, who say he did not do enough to stop the Holocaust. They have called on the Vatican to open the sealed archives from Pius’s papacy, from 1939 to 1958, for examination by scholars.

On Saturday, the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants called the decision on Pius “profoundly insensitive and thoughtless” and said it would cause “an inevitable blow” to interfaith relations.

“Pairing the announcement on Pius — who remained publicly silent during the Holocaust — with that on John Paul II, himself a victim of the Nazis, is a particularly disturbing and callous act,” the group added in its statement.

Benedict has said that Pius worked “secretly and silently” to help save Jews. Although a Vatican committee confirmed his “heroic virtues” in 2007, Benedict had asked for time for reflection, which many saw as a diplomatic effort aimed at calming polemics.

On Saturday, the pope confirmed the committee’s findings. Before the two popes can become saints, another Vatican committee must determine that miracles have been attributed to them.

Benedict also confirmed the “heroic virtues” of six other potential saints and miracles for 11. He declared the Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko, the “Solidarity chaplain” murdered by the Polish secret service in 1984, a martyr.

Vatican insiders speculate that John Paul could be beatified as soon as next fall.


MacKillop to become Australia's first saint

ABC News
Dec. 19, 2009

Australia will have its first Roman Catholic saint after Pope Benedict approved a decree recognising a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Mother Mary MacKillop.

The approval means Blessed Mary is likely to be formally declared a saint at a canonisation ceremony next year.

Blessed Mary (1842-1909), who founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph, is revered by Catholics for her work, especially with needy children, former female prisoners and prostitutes.

She was beatified by pope John Paul II in 1995.

The miracle approved on Saturday involved the healing of a person who had cancer and was cured after praying to Blessed Mary.

Sister Anne Derwin from the Sisters of Saint Joseph says many have been inspired by Blessed Mary's work in education and with the poor.

"It's not only the sisters, but many other people, men and women, who love the way Mary MacKillop lived her life," she said.

"They try and live in that spirit too, and do great things for people."

Sister Derwin says the Pope's decision is a significant event for the church in Australia.

"Mary herself wouldn't have expected this sort of limelight, but it makes us feel excited that the gift she was given for the church, for the world, is being recognised as valuable," Sister Derwin said.

"And that was a gift to focus on those most in need in our society."

Mary MacKillop was born in Melbourne, worked throughout South Australia and died in North Sydney.

She co-founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1866 but was excommunicated from the Church at one stage for allegedly disobeying authorities.

However she continued to spend her life caring for those less fortunate.

Venerable John Paul II

Meanwhile, the late pope, John Paul II, has also moved closer to sainthood, as his successor approved a decree recognising that he had lived the Christian faith heroically.

The Vatican said Pope Benedict had signed the "heroic virtues" decree, a key step in the procedure by which the Church recognises its saints, after a recommendation by a Vatican panel of experts.

The late pope will now have the title "venerable".

The following step will now be the recognition of a miracle attributed to John Paul II, who died in 2005.

That is expected to happen early next year, meaning the late pope can be beatified, the final step before sainthood.

In John Paul II's case, the miracle under consideration - and subject to another papal decree - involves a French nun who was cured of Parkinson's disease in 2005.

Vatican watchers expect Benedict to approve the beatification, which could be celebrated next year, either on the April 2 anniversary of his death or in October on the anniversary of the start of John Paul II's papacy in 1978.

Pope Benedict also declared controversial wartime pontiff Pius XII venerable, putting him on the road to beatification despite controversy over his role during World War II, when many historians say he remained passive while Nazi Germany killed millions of Jews.

The beatification of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, the "Solidarity chaplain" who was murdered by the Polish secret service in 1984, has also been approved.

The decree places the charismatic priest, a staunch anti-communist who laced his sermons with political messages, on the path to sainthood.

Because he is considered a martyr, Father Popieluszko's beatification dossier did not require evidence of a miracle.

[Modificato da benefan 20/12/2009 00.07]
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Pope tells children, Jesus 'never forgets you'

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2009 / 02:12 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI met with the youngest members of the Italian Catholic Action group on Saturday morning for their traditional pre-Christmas audience. He spoke to the group about accessing Jesus' "wavelength" and sharing his message with those who need him most.

Referring to the group's theme this year, "We're on the air," and their focus on the biblical image of Zaccheus, the Pontiff told the children that they were like little Zaccheus, who climbed the tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus. And, just like with Zaccheus, the Lord notices the little ones, he sees and hears them, he wants establish a friendship with them, Pope Benedict said.

"He synchronizes himself with your wavelength," said Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father concluded by inviting each of them to imitate Zaccheus, receiving the Lord into their homes and never ceasing to find joy in him, in the good times and the bad.

"Only the presence of Jesus in your lives gives full joy, because he is capable of always making everything new and beautiful. He never forgets you."

The Holy Father told the children: "If you tell Him every day that 'you're on the air,' expect that He'll surely call on you to send you a message of friendship and affection," a message that you can share with others in your life, "especially with those who come from faraway countries and are often abandoned, without parents and without friends."

The children—ranging from 4 to 14 years-old—were accompanied by the National President of Italian Catholic Action, Dr. Franco Miano, and the General Assistant, Monsignor Domenico Sigalini.

According to the Italian Catholic Action website, it is a "lay association committed to living the experience of the faith, the announcement of the Gospel and the call to sainthood, each 'to his or her own measure' and in community." The organization celebrated its 140th anniversary in 2008.

20/12/2009 00.17
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Holy See declares unique copyright on Papal figure

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2009 / 12:23 pm (CNA).- The Vatican made a declaration on the protection of the figure of the Pope on Saturday morning. The statement seeks to establish and safeguard the name, image and any symbols of the Pope as being expressly for official use of the Holy See unless otherwise authorized.

The statement cited a "great increase of affection and esteem for the person of the Holy Father" in recent years as contributing to a desire to use the Pontiff's name for all manner of educational and cultural institutions, civic groups and foundations.

Due to this demand, the Vatican has felt it necessary to declare that "it alone has the right to ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter, and therefore, to protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope from the unauthorized use of his name and/or the papal coat of arms for ends and activities which have little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church."

The declaration alludes to attempts to use ecclesiastical or pontifical symbols and logos to "attribute credibility and authority to initiatives" as another reason to establish their “copyright” on the Holy Father's name, picture and coat of arms.

"Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff... and/or the use of the title 'Pontifical,' must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See," concluded the message released to the press.

20/12/2009 01.56
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Protecting Papa
Does that mean no more Pope beer?

20/12/2009 03.16
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Causes for Sainthood, Beatifications, Two Pontiffs Declared Venerable

Signed, Sealed... Sainted

As expected, this morning the Pope approved 21 decrees advancing causes for beatification and canonization... and, suffice it to say, the slate is full of notable names.

Among others, B16 declared:
  • the martyrdom "in odium fidei" of Fr (now Blessed-to-be) Jerzy Popieluzsko, the chaplain to Poland's Solidarity movement who was killed by the Communist regime's secret police in 1984;
  • and, most prominently of all, the heroic virtues of not one, but two pontiffs: Karol Wojtyla, better known as John Paul II... and Eugenio Pacelli, Pius XII, whose cause has sparked a significant amount of protest among Jewish leaders, and dueling pressures on the Vatican, amid charges that the wartime Pope failed to do enough to avert the Holocaust. (While John Paul's heroic virtue was reportedly approved by a unanimous vote of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints last month, Pius' decree has been pending before Benedict since it, too, was endorsed without opposition by the dicastery's 30-odd cardinals in May 2007.) Both now become "Venerable," and their causes permitted to present a first miracle in order to progress to beatification -- which, in the case of John Paul, could come as soon as next year.
  • And lastly, with the Pope slated to visit the UK next fall, likewise advanced was the cause of now-Venerable Mary Ward (1585-1645), the English foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Inspired to start an Ignatian community for women in the spirit of the Jesuits -- one that, shockingly for its time, would be free from the obligations of the enclosure and a "specific" habit -- Ward's declaration, like MacKillop's, recognizes the sanctity of a life that endured ecclesiastical hardball; once jailed for two months by the Roman Inquisition (the historical antecedent of today's CDF), her community was suppressed in 1630, and only re-established sixty years after her death.
As far as timetables go, it bears noting that B16 has limited the canonization Masses to formally elevate groups of new saints to two each year: one in the spring, during the Easter Season, then again in the fall, usually in the first half of October. The dates for the respective canonizations will be fixed in consistories, the first of which should come in February.

Along these same lines, the pontiff has restored the traditional venue of the rites of beatification to the local church where the candidate(s) lived, with the ceremony usually performed there by a papal legate.

Papa Ratzinger is expected to break from said form, however, on the aforementioned (but still unconfirmed) trip to Britain, where he will reportedly lead the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the famed convert and apologist who was cleared for the penultimate step to sainthood in early July.

PHOTO: "The Communion of Saints"/John Nava, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
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