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PASTORAL VISITS IN ITALY

Ultimo Aggiornamento: 18/10/2010 01.08
03/09/2007 21.38
 
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DIALOG AT THE AGORA

PASTORAL VISIT TO LORETO, Sept. 1-2, 2007
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The following account is posted out of chronological sequence because the transcript has just been made available. As there has been a page change on the thread, previous stories posted earlier today include accounts of the Pope's last event in Loreto before going back to Castel Gandolfo yesterday, and some good commentaries on the Pope's encounter with the youth on Saturday.

The Vatican has released the transcript of the Pope's answers to some young people at the opening of the Papal Encounter with the Agora of Italian Youth on Saturday, Sept. 1. The transcript of the questions was provided by korazym.org. Here is a translation:




PRAYER VIGIL
Piana di Montorso
THE HOLY FATHER REPLIES
TO QUESTIONS




Piero and Giovanna from Bari:

Many of us young people in the suburbs ('periferia') do not have a center, a place, or persons who are able to give us an identity. We are often without a history, without prospects and therefore, without a future. This gives rise to the experience of loneliness, and often, of dependency. Holiness, is there somebody or something for whom we can become important? How is it possible to hope, when reality negates every dream of happiness, every plan for life?


THE POPE:

Thank you for this question and for the very realistic presentation you have made of the situation. About the peripheries in this world with great problems it is not easy to answer now, and we do not wish to live with a facile optimism, but on the other hand, we should have the courage to move ahead.

So let me anticipate the substance of what my answer is.

Yes, there is hope, even today. Each of you is important, because each person is known to God, desired by him, and for everyone, God has a plan. But we should discover this plan and respond accordingly, so that it will be possible - notwithstanding the situations of precariousness and marginalization you have described - to realize this plan of God for each of us.

Now to go to the details. You [the Pope uses the formal You throughout in addressing the youth] have presented realistically the situation of a particular society: that in these suburbs it seems difficult to get ahead, to change the world for the better.

Everything seems to be concentrated in the great centers of economic and political power; massive bureaucracies predominate,; and whoever lives on the peripheries feels excluded from all of that.

But one aspect of this situation of emargination felt by so many is that the great vital cells of society which could be centers anywhere, even in the peripheries, have been broken up: the family, which should be the place of encounter among the generations - from the great grandparents to the grandchildren - where one learns to live, one learns the essential virtues necessary to live, the family is now shattered, it is in danger.

And that is why we must do everything possible so that the family remains alive, that it remains even today the vital cell, the center even in the peripheries.

In the same way, the parish too, which is the vital life cell of the Church, should be really a place of inspiration and life and solidarity which helps people to construct together centers in the periphery.

I must note here that there is often talk about the Church of the peripheries and the Church of the center, by which they mean Rome, but in reality, there are no peripheries in the Church, because where Christ is, there the center is. Where the Eucharist is celebrated, where there is a Tabernacle, Christ is present, and that is the center. So we should do everything in order that these living centers are effectively present and are truly a force which works against emargination.

The living Church, the church of small communities, the parish church, the local church movements, should all be centers in the periphery and help overcome the difficulties which politics obviously is unable to overcome.

At the same time, we should also consider that despite the great concentrations of power, society itself today needs consolidation in terms of legality, of initiative and of creativity.

I know it is more easily said than done, but I see here persons who can commit themselves so that they can develop even in the peripheries, so that hope can grow. So we should take the initiative ourselves in these peripheries. And the Church itself must be present, in which Christ, the center of the world, is present.

Even in the Gospel today, we see that for God, there are no peripheries. The Holy Land, in the vast context of the Roman Empire, was a periphery. Nazareth itself was on the periphery of this periphery, an unknown town. But nevertheless, it was that unknown town that became the center which changed the world!

Even we should form centers of faith, hope, love and solidarity, of a sense of justice and law, of cooperation. That is the only way modern society can survive. It needs the courage to create such centers even where there seems to be no hope.

We should respond to such despair, we should cooperate with great solidarity and do what we can to promote hope, so that everyone can work together for a better life.

So we see that the world must be changed, but it is the mission of the youth to change it. And we cannot do this only with our own forces, but in a communion of faith, in a common path.

In communion with Mary, with all the saints, in communion with Christ, we can do something essential, and I encourage you, I invite you to have trust in Christ, have trust in God. To be in the great company of the saints and going ahead with them can change the world, can create centers in the peripheries that will truly become visible and therefore make hopes realistic, when everyone can say, "I am important in the totality of history." And the Lord will help us. Thank you.



Sara, from Genoa:

I believe in the God who has touched my heart, but I also have so many insecurities. questions and fears that I carry within. It is not easy to talk about God with my friends. Many of them see the Church as something which judges young people, which opposes their desires for happiness and love. In the face of such rejection, I feel all of my loneliness as a human being and I would like to feel that God is near. Holiness, in such a silence, where is God?

THE POPE:

Yes, all of us, even if we are believers, know the silence of God. In the Psalm which was just recited, there is this almost desperate cry: "Speak, God, do not hide yourself!"

And recently, a book came out about the spiritual experiences of Mother Teresa, and what we already knew about her was even more amply and openly demonstrated: with all her charity, her strength of faith, Mother Teresa suffered from the silence of God.

On the one hand, we should learn to bear this silence of God to better understand our brothers who do not know God at all. On the other hand, we can always cry out to God with the Psalmist: "Show yourself, speak!"

But there is no doubt. that in our life, if our heart is open, we can find great moments during which we actually feel the presence of God. I am reminded of a small story which John Paul II recounted during a spiritual retreat he preached in the Vatican before he became Pope. He said that during the war, he was visited by a Russian officer, lso a scientist, who told him: "As a scientist, I am sure that God does not exist. But when I find myself in the mountains, before all that majestic beauty, then I am equally sure that there is a Creator and God exists."

The beauty of Creation is one of the sources where we can truly touch the beauty of God, where we can see that the creator exists and He is good, that what Sacred Scripture tells us about Creation is true, namely, that God thought about it and did it - with his heart, his will and his reason - and that he found it good.

We too should be good, we should keep our hearts open in order to perceive the true presence of God. Then, listening to the Word of God in the great liturgical celebrations, in the feasts of faith, in great sacred music, we feel this presence.

I remember another small story told to me by a bishop making his ad-limina visit. There was a non-Christian lady who had discovered the music of Bach, Haendel and Mozart. She was fascinated, and one day, she said, "I must discover the source from which this beauty can come!" She ended up becoming a Christian, a Catholic, because she found that the source of that beauty was the presence of Christ in the heart, that beauty is a revelation of Christ in this world.

Therefore, look to these great feasts of faith and of liturgical celebration, but also personal dialog with Christ. He does not always answer, but there are times when he really responds.

Then there is friendship, the company of faith. Right now, gathered together here in Loreto, we see how faith unites, that friendship creates a company of persons on a journey together. And we feel that all this does not come from nothing, that it really has a source, that the God of silence is also a God who speaks, who reveals himself, and that we ourselves can be witnesses to his presence, that our faith can come forth as a light even for others.

So I would say, on the one hand, we should accept that God can be silent in this world, but we should not be deaf when he speaks, when he appears on many occasions, when we see him above all in creation, in beautiful liturgy, in our friendships within the Church - which is itself the presence of the Lord - and then, full of this presence, we can ourselves become a light for others.

Now I come to the other part of your question. That it is difficult these days to speak to friends about God, and perhaps even more, to speak about the Church, because they see in God only a restriction of our freedom, a God of commandments and prohibitions, and the Church as an institution which restricts freedom by imposing all these prohibitions.

We must try to make visible to them the living Church, not this idea of the Church as a center of power and similar labels, but the Church as a community of companions which, despite the problems of life, is there for all of us, and that it gives rise to the joy of living.

I have a third recollection. I was in Brazil, at the Facenda da Esperanca, a great institution where drug addicts are rehabilitated - and they find hope anew, they recover the joy of living, and have testified that the very discovery that God exists healed their despair. This way, they discovered that their life has a sense, and that it is a joy to be in this world, joy even in facing the problems of human life.

So, in every human heart, despite all the problems there may be, there is a thirst for God, but when God disappears, then so does the sun that gives us light and joy.

This thirst for the infinite which is in our hearts is also shown in the use of drugs. Man seeks to amplify the texture of his life, to have more out of life, to taste the infinite - but drugs are a lie, a deception. They don't amplify life, they destroy it.

What is genuine is the thirst that speaks to us of God and places us on the path towards God, but we should help each other reciprocally.

Christ came in order to create a network of communion in the world, in which all of us together can support each other and help one another to find the road of life, to understand that the commandments of God are not limitations to our freedom but the paths which lead us to him and to our fellowmen, which lead to the fullness of life.

Let us pray to the Lord that he may help us understand his presence, to be filled with his Revelation and joy, to help each other move forward in the company of faith, and to find ever more in Christ the true face of God and true life.

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03/09/2007 22.47
 
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WHAT THE POPE SHOWED IN LORETO

PASTORAL VISIT TO LORETO, Sept. 1-2, 2007
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Two commentaries in today's Italian papers on what happened in Loreto, translated here:


Accounting for Loreto:
The Pope challenges the youth -
and maybe it's just what they want

By FRANCESCO PAOLO CASAVOLA


Benedict XVI's encounter with half a million youth in Loreto has given yet another occasion for observations on this Pope's manner of communication compared to his predecessor, whose legendary charismatic interaction with young people took place in a choreographed scenario of spectacle and show business.

It is always difficult for whoever is not physically present at these crowd experiences to be satisfied with the accounts one gets through images, news reports and commentaries. [One only has to cite the Vatican's own coverage of Papal events - when audience sounds are hardly heard, the coverage is often abbreviated to fit conventional broadcast time slots which break off on the hour or half hour, and the choice of camera shots to air is so conventional and predictable that significant highlights and sidelights are often missing, resorting to generic and general shots that provide little information, completely ignoring more interesting and informative reaction shots of both the Pope and specific members or groups in the audience.]

But perhaps, we might say, it has always been that way. Who has reported the emotions, the agitation, the questions that must have assailed that crowd of Jews who listened to Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount?

We have to go through an effortful mental exercise to understand that on that day, two millennia ago, the history of mankind underwent a reversal of all the values that had guided it up to then.

The poor, the weak, the persecuted, the defeated heard their pain and suffering converted to beatitudes, blessings. And every time that a representative of Christ, that voice which spoke by a lake on a hilltop in Palestine on that remote day, speaks before a great assembly in our day, we hope that the miracle on the Mount will repeat itself, that the history of the world will once again take a similar turn.

Perhaps, if we had been among the hundreds of thousands of young people in Loreto, we might have felt the same thrill and sensation as those Jews did when they first heard the Beatitudes.

But today, we also suffer from the silence of God. As the Pope reminded his audience, even Mother Teresa of Calcutta lived her faith anguished by the silence of God. And so, it is the new generations themselves who must work the miracle - they must look for the signs of the presence of God, where such signs can be perceived in one's personal daily life, where they are still preserved from all the onslaughts of disbelief by the community which has represented God for centuries, the Church.

Why does the Pope seek out the youth and why do they seek him out? This is another way to understand Loreto. To have spoken to some of the boys and girls who registered for and were preparing to go to Loreto, was to understand the tangle of hopes and despairs that marks the existence of generations diappointed in their own parents and in a society that is coasting along on myths of material wellbeing and the utilitarian rationalization of improper or offensive behavior motivated by hardly dissimulated selfishness.

The Pope drew out this disappointed generation to talk about their problems in order to give them hope. He told them no one is alone, emarginated or failed. That they can feel the power of their real numbers if they can direct their good intentions and efforts together towards a life that is worth living.

He was telling them to take the initiative, without waiting for middlemen, prophets or leaders that today's world cannot provide.

Il Messaggero, 3 settembre 2007




The demanding Church
that appeals to the young

By Massimo Introvigne


The Pope's message to the half a million young Italians who were in Loreto is that the Catholic Church remains a demanding Church. That it does not make compromises with prevailing lifestyles, it does not make exceptions, it is not afraid to proclaim "what may seem to be a losing or unfashionable cause" but that what it says is "the result of the triumph of love over selfishness."

Even on more sensitive issues - moderation, humility, chastity - the Pope reminded then that 'the fullness of humanity' is in the Gospel, and he pointed out to its fruits in the flowering of good works by countless saints of which the Church in Italy is justly proud.

The Pope never mentioned the continuing petty attacks on the Church from Italian politicians, but the event at Loreto itself is the most beautiful response to these.

After the mid-August accusations of pedophilia against some Italian priests - which in some cases became overly inflated in a matter of days - the end of vacation brought three new attacks against the Church.

Some Italian politician(s) managed to convince bureaucrats in the European Union - already hostile to the Church - to ask the Italian government whether the tax exemption enjoyed by certain Church properties does not constitute an unfair advantage for the Church compared to other property owners.

Brussels allowed itself to be persuaded that a Caritas soup kitchen for the homeless and the jobless are any competition to the restaurant next door, and that a summer camp for handicapped persons is competition for an upscale facility for assisted living.

Two national newspapers have recently beaten down on a priest on page 1 - a respected parish priest in Turin who refused absolution to a woman who confessed living in with someone she is not married to, but said she intended to go on doing so.

Not a few self-named 'adult Catholics' stepped in to denounce the priest, almost as if the right to absolution was a basic human right.

And on Saturday, coinciding with the opening of the Agora in Loreto, a great part of the center-left congratulated each other and the Union of Waldensian and Methodist Churches in Italy whose bishops synod announced that they may soon recognize and bless homosexual marriages.

It was easy for the politicians to imply a contrast between the 'good' Protestant community which is so modern and understanding compared to the 'mean' church of Benedict XVI.

But - with all due respect for the good works done by charitable Waldensian institutions - the Church of Benedict XVI seems to be much closer to the expectations of Italian youth than the Protestant communities which tolerate abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage.
Figures cited by sociologists say so.

Within the Protestant world itself - in the United States, as in Europe, including Italy - the conservative communities who are closest to the Catholic Church on moral issues are growing spectacularly, whereas those who adopt the dominant culture are losing members and are in danger of extinction.

The sad story of the decline of Protestantism in Northern Europe and the success of conservative Protestantism in the United States confirm this.

And the crowds who come to listen to Benedict XVI are bigger even than the record crowds that John Paul II attracted.

Of course, young people don't always follow the teachings on the Church. But they would look down on a Church that tells them anything they do is OK. They are more attracted to a demanding Church, which is capable of telling them NO when necessary, and to advise them, as the Pope did in Loreto, not to follow those who advocate 'appearances and possession to the detriment of being'.

Perhaps that is why surveys show that in Italy, young people consider the Church more authoritative than schools, the media or the government.


Il Giornale, 3 settembre 2007


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04/09/2007 01.10
 
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FOLLOW-UP TO ILARIA'S STORY

PASTORAL VISIT TO LORETO, Sept. 1-2, 2007
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Early Saturday evening, the story of her life brought tears to the eyes of Benedict XVI, and on Sunday morning, he went out of his way to stop the Popemobile on a tour of the sectors before the Mass so he could embrace her two-year-old son. Franca Giansoldati of Il messaggero had an exclusive story today about Ilaria, the young woman from Rome, and her unusual experience in Loreto. Here is a translation:



She spoke for those who suffer
and moved the Pope to tears

By FRANCA GIANSOLDATI


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Her story brought tears to an audience of 400,000 that included Pope Benedict XVI.

On Saturday evening, as the sun set slowly over the plain of Montorso by the Adriatic, Ilaria Cutini, 26, and a resident of Rome who experienced a true rebirth, told her life story without dissimulations.

She spoke of a childhood marked by 'silent but profound violence' from a father who was often absent but violent, the divorce of her parents which led her to anorexia and panic attacks. As a teenager, she tried to commit suicide several times out of desperation. She kept back all these sufferings and could not free herself of dark ghosts which held her spirit imprisoned so that she could never smile or live like a normal adolescent.

Then she met a priest who led her to find God as well as to therapy with a Catholic doctor, and took her to the World Youth Day event in Rome in 2000. She has recovered, she has a new life, she married three years ago, and now she has a two-year-old boy, Alessandro.


Why did you decide to speak on that stage? That took some courage...

I wanted to speak for those who do not have a voice. I wanted to bring out the tragedy of psychological disorders which are very real. Anorexia, as in my case, panic attacks, depression, violence. These are problems which are generally pushed aside - out of ignorance or out of shame.

I reached a point where I no longer wanted to live. I tried suicide. Everything looked black, I was in a tunnel where the darkness was so dark I even breathed it.

Before deciding to speak at the Agora, I wept a lot until I calmed down. My mother, when she learned that the CEI had invited me to speak, said, "You know that if you agree, you will need a lot of courage." I didn't feel courageous...


So many identified with you...

I spoke of my own tragedy. I lived with a father who was instinctively violent as well as absent but I spoke about him generically. I used the adjective 'absent' in an inclusive sense, for all the other parents who are 'absent' from heir children's lives in different ways. I did not want to say anything more specific about my father.


You brought tears even to the Pope...

I felt him so close. He smiled at me and asked me where my son was. I said he was out there in the crowd. On Sunday morning, he wanted to embrace him. When he passed by where we were, he had the Popemobile stop so he could take him in his arms.


Can you tell me about your anorexia?

The problem became full-blown during my first years in high school. I did not feel hungry. I found I could get by merely with tea and toast, later on, with tea alone. Soon, I had even lost the ability to use my hands. My mother described it as being 'worse than a monkey'. I was a virtual shadow. Fortunately, I then met this priest through a friend, and he immediately helped me recover, to hold my head up. I still remember the first solid thing I managed to eat was a meatball.


And what is life like today?

Oh, I am not saying that all problems were magically resolved. It's hard for us to get to the end of the month, rent is high, milk is expensive, but my husband and I have started an agency for unusual guided tours of Rome, such as Mussolini's bunker or the square Colosseum in EUR [the planned 'city' constructed by Mussolini on the outskirts of Rome - which has, among other interesting things, the Museum of Roman Civilization with its wonderful scale-model reconstruction of the Rome of the Caesars]. We have opened a website for this (www.suerteitinerante.it). So I look at the future with confidence, with the love of my husband and my son.


Il Messaggero, 3 settembre 2007


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04/09/2007 03.31
 
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THE POPE'S TV RATINGS IN LORETO


PASTORAL VISIT TO LORETO, Sept. 1-2, 2007
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Figures provided by RAI, Italian state TV:

Sunday, Sept. 2

HOLY MASS - 2,137,000 viewers (32.13% of market share)
ANGELUS - 2,515,000 viewers (36.88% share)


Saturday, Sept. 1

LA NOTTE DELL'AGORA - 3,616,000 viewers (20.3% share in prime time)


To put things in perspective, here is how RAI itself hyped one of its Sunday programs: "Record audience for 'Speciale Tg1', the most popular Sunday evening program. The portrait of Fiorello [a popular singer and TV host]...had 1,497,000 viewers representing 21% of market share."


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04/09/2007 16.33
 
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PASTORAL VISIT TO LORETO, Sept. 1-2, 2007
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AVVENIRE'S LORETO COVERAGE,
issue of 9/4/07:



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Will post translations of available articles as soon as I can.







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04/09/2007 21.45
 
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Thanks Teresa for posting the translation of the Holy Father's answers to the young people. The translation on EWTN made me feel like I was missing some of what the Pope was saying. As a youth, I agree with the articles from Il Messaggero and Il Giornale,, we want to be challenged! Great coverage on the previous page as well. Thanks!
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05/09/2007 09.39
 
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PASTORAL VISIT TO LORETO, Sept. 1-2, 2007
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TV anchorman and commentator Aldo Maria Valli was recently promoted by RAI state TV from being chief Vatican correspondent for its third TV channel, to join the Vatican team of RAI-1, the flagship channel. Here is a translation of a commentary he wrote on the Agora for the newspaper Europa.


The theologian who knows
how to speak to the young

By ALDO MARIA VALLI


I know that one does not grade Popes, particularly a professor Pope, but for once, I want to give this Pope a 10. In Loreto he was effective and tender, incisive and attentive, serene and sympathetic in the literal sense, because he put himself in the shoes of the young people who were in front of him.

His off-the-cuff answers to the questions they raised are among the most beautiful moments of his pontificate.

We have already seen on previous occasions (as in his encounters with priests) Benedict's ability to develop a magisterial theme on an elevated level even in improvised answers.

In Loreto, the questions to be asked were known to him beforehand, but the spontaneity with which he answered, putting aside prepared texts, made him very paternal.

He didn't gloss over problems. He spoke of the silence of God and the difficulty of believing, he empathized with the uncertainties and sense of precariousness which most young people live with today.

But he used his awareness of these difficulties as a take-off point for encouraging everyone in a way that was at once the simplest as well as the most profound for a Christian: reminding them that each person is loved by God, and no one comes to the world without a reason.

He said it all: Children, you are all important, each one, and you should know that. Therefore, first you must overcome that sense of inadequacy and uselessness that so often assails you.

Then, he spoke of peripheries, and here, too, he was most encouraging, by simply reminding his audience that 2000 years ago, a girl named Mary who fearfully experienced an Angel's visit lived in an anonymous village called Nazareth in the very outskirts of the Roman empire, but became a protagonist in an event that revolutionized the world.

Therefore, he implied, you may live in the most disadvantaged periphery, but no one should feel peripheral, because wherever Christ is, is the center.

On Sunday, he developed the theme of humility, something which seems vital in Italy today where headline-chasing and internal inconsistency are sowing the bad weeds of the most dangerous selfishness, that which is coupled with arrogance.

Benedict spoke like a father who is lucid in his analysis, decisive about his judgments, but merciful towards his children. And they understood this.

Professor Ratzinger, even if he was on a stage, metaphorically stepped down from Peter's Chair, and it almost seemed as if he held these children on his knees, like a most accommodating grandfather.

He did not hold back on judgments - that's not him. But he was careful to give indications rather than condemn. He knows children must not be mortified.

There was a strident aspect of the Saturday afternoon telecast and the show that followed. The Pope spoke Sunday of humility and the need not to be engulfed in the culture of appearances and possession, but to choose in favor of 'being' [the images of him kneeling inside the Holy House were beautiful], but on the stage, the presentors had something artificial and perhaps excessively put on.

Besides the fact, as Aldo Grasso noted in Corriere della Sera, that they were all 'beautiful', they lacked the spontaneity and simplicity which one expects of a Christian child. Indeed, sometimes, they read their lines in a rather grotesque exaggerated way.

For example, the actor who opened the evening appeared possessed, with a face that had on a faux-worried expression - in total dissonance with the relaxed and serene countenance of the Holy Father.

In short, despite the presence of these young and beautiful presentors, I would say that the show generally followed ways of expression which were stale and passe, whereas the 80-year-old Pope, with the simplicity of the truly great, was the only one who provided something new.

Europa, 4 settembre 2007



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06/09/2007 17.45
 
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MORE LESSONS FROM LORETO








Emerging Trends:
The Return to the Confessional


The indications are modest, but consistent.
The latest one comes from Loreto, where 12,000 young people received the sacrament of forgiveness,
with the pope's encouragement.
And in the seminaries, there's a return of books for studying "cases of conscience"

by Sandro Magister



ROME, September 6, 2007 – During the two-day meeting between Benedict XVI and the young people who flocked to Loreto by the hundreds of thousands from Italy and from many other countries, something happened that was unexpected in terms of its intensity and breadth: mass participation in the sacrament of confession.

Between Saturday, September 1, and Sunday, September 2, in the large open plain beneath the town and the shrine of the Virgin Mary, 350 priests heard confessions nonstop from two o'clock in the afternoon until seven in the morning, besieged by twelve thousand young people seeking forgiveness.

But even before the pope's arrival, the rite of penance had been part of the preparations for many of the young people attending the event. Almost all of the pilgrimage venues on the way to Loreto included opportunities for sacramental confession.

Such was the case with the abbey in Fiastra, which at times became one giant confessional. Such was the case with the shrine of Canoscio, in the Apennine mountains. Each time, there were dozens and dozens of priests all administering the sacrament at the same time.

This was not an absolute novelty. Great numbers of young people also confessed at the World Youth Day events held in Rome in 2000: 120,000 in three days, in the immense stadium of pagan Rome, the Circus Maximus, which had been transformed into an open-air confessional.

But what seemed at first like a flash in the pan turned out to be a lasting trend. And it is a growing one, especially at shrines and at large gatherings. Of course, the percentage of young Catholics who go to confession is still small. In Loreto, they were less than five percent of those present. But a trend reversal is underway, considering that reception of the sacrament had almost died out some years ago.

Besides, the symbolism speaks louder than the numbers here. The sight of so many young people confessing out of their own free will, during a religious event and before the eyes of all, transmits the message that confession is no longer a sacrament in disuse, but is once again returning into practice and favor.

Benedict XVI resolutely encourages this revival of confession, especially among the young. It was his idea to dedicate an entire afternoon, on the Thursday before Holy Week last year, to the celebration of the sacrament of penance in St. Peter's, coming to the basilica himself to celebrate the rite, to preach and hear confessions.

And this is individual confession, not communal confession. The latter practice spread spontaneously after Vatican Council II, above all in Western Europe, North America, Latin America, Australia: the granting of general absolution to whole groups of the faithful, after an equally collective "mea culpa."

This has never been Rome's position. The only situation in which general absolution is authorized – even after the updating of the rite in 1974 – is in danger of death, for example with troops on the battlefield, or when there is a severe shortage of priests with respect to the penitents. But this always comes with the obligation that those who have received general absolution must present themselves "as soon as possible, and one year later at most" to a priest, for individual confession of their grave sins.

Nevertheless, the practice of general absolution has continued in many dioceses around the world. The declared intentions of its promoters, including some bishops, was that of saving the sacrament from widespread abandonment. But the result was precisely the acceleration of that abandonment.

In the seminaries and theological faculties, too, communal confession
had and has its supporters. One moral theologian who made himself the standard bearer of this is Domiciano Fernandez, a Spanish Claretian, in a book printed in Italy by Queriniana, "Dio ama e perdona senza condizioni [God Loves and Forgives Unconditionally]," with a preface written by the Franciscan liturgist Rinaldo Falsini.

The plunge in the reception of this sacrament has gone hand in hand, in the seminaries, with the abandonment of instruction aimed at the practical preparation of good confessors. For several decades, "cases of conscience" have no longer been a subject of study.

But here, too, there are signs of a trend reversal. This summer in Italy, the publishing house Ares released a book by an admired moral theologian, Lino Ciccone, a consultant for the pontifical council for the family, entitled "L'inconfessabile e l'inconfessato. Casi e soluzioni di 30 problemi di coscienza [The Unconfessable and the Unconfessed: Cases and Solutions for 30 Problems of Conscience]."

As the title implies, the book lists 30 "cases of conscience," each followed by guidelines for a solution. The cases are of great contemporary relevance, ranging from abortion to homosexual acts, from divorce to financial corruption. The volume is expressly written for those preparing for the priesthood, as an "exercise booklet" to accompany their books of general moral theology.

But it is also for those who are already priests, and already hear confessions. And its intention is that those confessions be heard more often, and better.

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07/09/2007 04.17
 
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I have obviously been unable to keep up with the flood of stories in the Italian newspapers after the Agora in Loreto, because I have had to try to keep abreast of the Austria stories as well - becaused it all involves translating - and more critically, time, of which I am getting less and less. So I will just post here whatever I can translate when I can.

I found this one from L'Opinione today, which I decided to translate because it sounds like it was written by someone who has never really paid attention to the Pope before and is now discovering in him what those who have followed Joseph Ratzinger - even if only from the time he became Benedict XVI, such as most of us on this Forum - were quick to note. An 'unknown Ratzinger'? By no means! Just the Ratzinger the media never bothered to see and acknowledge.




An unknown Ratzinger
amid young people

di Paolo Merenda


Whoever had doubted whether there would be ample participation in the Agora of Italian youth last weekend has been rudely disappointed. These skeptics maintain that Benedict XVI's style - shy, reserved, not inclined to great crowds - would keep the young people away, even those who belong to church movements and various parochial organizations.

And yet, at least half a million turned up in Loreto, far beyond the 350,000 projected by the organizers and scoffed at by skeptics.

Throughout the night of September 1-2, the plain of Montorso was an immense expanse of lights, a beehive of young people celebrating joyously, after having listened attentively to the Pope earlier in the evening. As they would listen to him again the next day.

The Pope himself listened attentively to some of their stories, allowed himself to get involved in these stories, and showed himself moved, and then he addressed their questions with the strength of a father and of a master of the faith.

The Pope touched on many issues last weekend: from protection of the environment to the family as the unique and indissoluble nucleus for laving a harmonious and ordered life, from the need to change the world to make it 'a place of hope for everyone' and the Church as the place for 'authentic christian experience' rather than 'a center of power."

From what was said on Saturday and Sunday, four fundamental elements emerged, the pillars, as it were, of Ratzinger thinking:
- Jesus Christ - as the way, the truth and the life, the keystone of our joy.
- Love, as a global reality that gives value to the future of humanity.
- The family, as the irreplaceable place for formation and education of the young.
- The Church as a community of faith and an agent of service and charity.

Benedict XVI reminded everyone forcefully and with a transparency of heart, that Christ is the center of the world, and therefore, no one who follows him should feel being dismissed to the margins of this world. Every Christian is the protagonist of his own life, and in the eyes of God, every man is important.

"Let no one among you feel emarginated, no life is unimportant or without sense. You are all important, all leading players, because you are at the center of God's love."

In the light of God's love is how the Pope went on to explain the true sense of Christian love, calling on the youth to reject decisively a 'use-and-throw-away' love which is 'fleeting and deceptive, imprisoned in a selfish and materialistic mentality'.
Instead, he said, choose 'true and profound love' which finds its full expression in matrimony before God. Matrimony and the formation of a Christian family, the Pope said, continue to be indispensable instruments for a harmonious society, despite so many separations and divorces.

He urged them to look at Mary, "she knows well your most noble and profound aspirations. Above all she knows your desire for love, your need to love and be loved...Looking at her, following her example obediently, you will discover the beauty of love."

Finally, the Holy Father reaffirmed the beauty of the Christian community, a place of welcome and sharing, of service and charity, in which young people are given the possibility to grow and develop in a world of values which has its origin and culmination in reciprocal love.

And this means a Church which is not a center of power, but a community of fellow pilgrims, which is responsible for the formation and education of consciences.

In Loreto, we had the joy of seeing a Benedict XVI who was not only close to the young people, but to all mankind, particularly those who find it difficult to welcome God, who have lost the sense of life, who are disoriented and are looking for a reliable horizon to go by.

For this part of mankind, the Holy Father had words of comfort, welcome and life, for this part of mankind, he prayed with half a million young people from Italy and other parts of the world.

In Loreto we saw a previously unknown Pope [the writer used the word 'inedito' which means 'previously unpublished'] - youthful among the youth, exquisitely sensitive in his smiles and his hugs, a Pope who advocated in a fresh way the need to change the world, to make it more human and ever more conformed to the Creator's plan.

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10/09/2007 13.57
 
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THE POPE IN LORETO -
SEEN BY THE CAPUCHIN CUSTODIANS OF THE HOLY HOUSE

PASTORAL VISIT TO LORETO, Sept. 1-2, 2007
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From the English site of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor, this interesting report with pictures:

THE POPE IN LORETO

Loreto - Arriving in Loreto on Saturday, the first of September, 2007, in the striking natural amphitheatre of Montorso, Pope Benedict XVI was welcomed to the joyous singing of more than 400,000 young people. Their colorful banners, blowing freely in the wind, were the sign of freshness and of the beauty of this day.

The encounter had its most beautiful moment in the dialogue that developed between the Pope and the young people. Benedict XVI listened to their songs, to their testimonies, answered their questions and they, the young people, listened and embraced all that this Pontiff said.

Afterwards, the Pope left Montorso to go the Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto.

[IMG]http://img299.imageshack.us/img299/6792/foto0544241e23rd1.jpg[/IMG]

At 9:15 p.m., Benedict XVI entered the Basilica, welcomed by the Rector, Br. Marzio Calletti, OFMCap and his Delegate S.E. Monsignor Gianni Danzi who accompanied him to the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Mary, the Virgin of Nazareth. H

ere the Holy Father prayed in silence at first, then through a televised linkup, to the prayer vigil of the young people.

[IMG]http://img340.imageshack.us/img340/6871/foto0594286588bk6.jpg[/IMG]

Before he left the Basilica, the Pope met with the Capuchin Friars, guardians of the House of Mary since around 1559. It was Pope Pius XI, who in 1934, placed the sanctuary under the direct administration of the Holy See and named His Delegate, who officially entrusted the pastoral care and liturgy of the Sanctuary to the Capuchin Friars.

After receiving the greetings of the Minister General, Br. Mauro Jöhri (who on this day also celebrated his 60th birthday – and may the Virgin of Loreto sustain his ministry) who was accompanied by the Minister of the province of the Marches, Br. Gianni Pioli, the Pope, in an outdoor program, wished to speak with the friars who had gathered in the German Chapel.

[IMG]http://img257.imageshack.us/img257/3899/foto0684256f1ctd2.jpg[/IMG]

He thanked them for their presence and for their dedication to the sacramental ministry of Reconciliation and the welcoming of pilgrims. He then added that he knew well the “Capuchin Fathers” because from the time of his infancy he listened and learned when, very frequently, they were present in his parish for preaching and the sacramental life.

The following day, Sunday the 2nd of September, the Holy Father celebrated the Eucharist with 500,000 young people, coming from every part of Italy, and also from every part of Europe. This number superseded the estimate of the previous day. Many of the groups were guided by the Capuchin friars. As the Pope stated ‘the Church is young people “!

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22/09/2007 21.25
 
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POPE RETURNS TO 'HIS' VELLETRI ON SUNDAY

PASTORAL VISIT TO VELLETRI, 9/23/07
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Here is a composite story on the coming visit from various sources, including Apcom, Petrus and the diocesan website:

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VATICAN CITY - Benedict XVI returns to the second of his former titular seats as cardinal with his pastoral visit to Velletri on Sunday.

[His first titular church was Santa Maria Consolatrice in Rome, which later became the first of the Roman churches he has visited as Bishop of Rome. When he became Dean of the College of Cardinals in 2002, he was assigned the titular seat of Ostia, Rome's port city. Cardinal Francis Arinze succeeded him in Velletri-Segni, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano in Ostia.]

Velletri, a historic town that was almost completely damaged by heavy bombing in the second world war but has since rebuilt itself, is not far from Castel Gandolfo and is one of the towns, along with Castel Gandolfo itself, collectively known as Castelli Romani, in the Alban hills southeast of Rome.

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It will be an occasion to unveil the bronze column with scenes from the Pope's life in relief which the municipalities of Bavaria commissioned as an 80th birthday present for him. It matches the sculptured column showing religious scenes, which the Pope unveiled in Marktl last year in the square in front of the house where he was born. The birthday column, standing 4 meters and 20 cms. high, was commissioned from the same sculptor who executed the Marktl column.

The Pope decided last April that he would like the birthday column to be placed in the plaza of what was his titular Cathedral from 1993 t0 2002, the Cathedral consecrated to Pope St. Clement (87-94 AD), the first of many Popes historically associated with Velletri. In fact, a special exhibit on the Popes and Lazio (see second poster above) will open at the Diocesan Museum on Sunday.

The Pope will celebrate Mass in the plaza, but apparently will return to Castel Gandolfo in time for the noonday Angelus.

EWTN is broadcasting the Velletri Mass live:

POPE BENEDICT XVI IN VELLETRI LIVE (90:00)
Pope Benedict celebrates Holy Mass on his Pastoral visit to Velletri. Live from the Cathedral Square.
Sept. 23 3:30 AM LIVE
Sept. 23 12:00 PM Encore



====================================================================

P.S. Here's ZENIT's report posted later:

Pontiff to Present Town With Bronze Column,
Plans to Visit Velletri on Sunday




VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will visit Velletri, Italy, to present to the town a bronze column celebrating his pontificate.

The 4-meter bronze column was a gift from a group of Bavarian cities on the occasion of his 80th birthday last April. The Pope wanted to donate the gift to the suburbicarian Diocese of Velletri-Segni, the titular see to which he was appointed as cardinal from 1993 through his election as Pope.

The Holy Father will travel Sunday morning, and spend a few hours in Velletri, 25 miles southeast of Rome.

The column, with scenes of his life engraved on it, will be placed in the plaza of the Cathedral of San Clement. A similar column, sculpted by Bavarian Joseph Michael Neustifter, is placed in the main square of Marktl am Inn, the Pontiff's native city.

The Bishop of Rome will return to Castel Gandolfo to pray the Angelus at midday.

The suburbicarian Diocese of Velletri-Segni is one of seven dioceses located in the suburbs that surround Rome. The highest order of cardinals are named as titular bishops of these sees.

Speaking to the diocesan paper, Bishop Vincenzo Apicella of Velletri-Segni said that the Pope "comes to remind us that we are one flock with one pastor, Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, whom he represents in full."

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22/09/2007 21.26
 
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THE POPE IN VELLETRI TOMORROW

PASTORAL VISIT TO VELLETRI, 9/23/07
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Here is a translation of an item today in the Italian service of Vatican Radio:


Benedict XVI makes a brief pastoral visit tomorrow morning to the suburban diocese of Velletri-Segni.

At 9:30, the Pope will preside at a Eucharistic Celebration in Piazza San Clemente, in front of the diocesan cathedral of Velletri.

Afterwards, he will bless a commemorative column of his Pontificate which he has donated to the diocese, as well as a statue of John Paul II.

The Pope will then return to Castel Gandolfo in time to preside at the noonday Angelus prayer from the Apostolic Residence.

Vatican Radio's Giovanni Peduto spoke to Mons Vincenzo Apicella, Bishop of Velletri-Segni, about the Pope's visit.

[IMG]http://img404.imageshack.us/img404/1921/velletri20061201ut9.png[/IMG]
Mons. Apicella with the Pope during
ad-limina visit in December 2006
.


Mons. Apicella: This visit was a natural consequence of the fact that the Holy Father was titular bishop of Velletri-Segni when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, starting in 1993. [Before that, his titular church as Cardinal, from 1977-1992, was Santa Maria Consolatrice in Rome.]

[IMG]http://img120.imageshack.us/img120/3269/velletricolumnih8.png[/IMG] [IMG]http://img229.imageshack.us/img229/6660/velletri970416hl7.png[/IMG]
Right, commemorative column, with list of 100 Bavarian cities that contributed to it as an 80th birthday present;
left, Cardinal Ratzinger celebrates his 70th birthday in Velletri
.


So, there is a link between Velletri and Papa Ratzinger, who has decided - as a sign of his paternity and extreme kindness towards out Church - that the commemorative column, given to him by Bavarian cities for his birthday, be erected permanently in the Piazza of the cathedral. It matches a bronze column erected in the square of Marktl am Inn, his birthplace. So it will remain as a visible sign of the link between Velletri and the Pope.


What are the main challenges for the Church in Velletri? What is the pastoral plan being followed?

From the internal viewpoint, Velletri is trying to recover and re-establish a series of fundamental realities that constitute the Church. Last yer, we started a diocesan project to examine our relationship to the Word of God, which is the founding reality of ecclesiastical life. This year, we are concentrating on reawakening lay participation in Church affairs and promoting a sense of co-responsibility for the Church.

In this, the Pope's visit is a moment of grace, which reminds us of the universal unity of the Church, of the real sense of the Church, which we wish to make alive in our parishes.


In a secularized society, how do you propose to announce the Gospel effectively?

In this respect, Benedict XVI has given many indications which are very precise, effective and appropriate, whether for the Church in Italy or elsewhere.

Above all, the way of caritas, love, is very important, and that is what his first encyclical reminds us. We should be the signs of God's love, because God is love, so if we want the faithful to see us as disciples of Christ, it can only be through the way that Christ himself taught: "By this you will be known as my disciples, that you love one another."

Then, even dialog arises, a dialog between cultures in all its forms, gradually emerging in today's society, with an attempt to construct something new out of all the changes and transformations in society that are taking place at a dizzying pace. The dialog must be about the sense of why we are in this world and what we wish to realize in our society.


Excellency, let us turn to the relations that the Popes have had with Velletri.

Velletri is a very old diocese which traces its origin back to Pope Clement III. According to tradition, Clement was the first who preached the Gospel here, the first pastor of the Church in Velletri before he became Bishop of Rome.

Thirteen bishops of Velletri eventually became Pope, and Benedict XVI is the fourteenth.

Beyond that, Velletri has always had close relations with the Church of Rome. There have been 22 Papal visits to our city. Perhaps the most significant was Velletri's relation with Pius IX, who came to Velletri 3 or 4 times.

It is significant that this year is the 150th anniversary of the second railway line in Italy. After Naples to Portici, came the line connecting Rome to Velletri, which Pius IX decided to lay down and which he inaugurated in 1857, completing the Rome-Naples rail connection. To make the Rome-Velletri line possible, he had ordered the construction of an enormous iron bridge. So, the Pope that many have called anti-modern was really one of the promoters of progress with that simple decision.

In 1980, John Paul II made a memorable visit here, when the bishop was Mons. Bernini, who pointed out that Velletri is a Marian city, dedicated to Mary, because the center of religious life was the Shrine of the Madonna delle Grazie which is attached to our Cathedral.

[IMG]http://img264.imageshack.us/img264/6639/velletrimarianposteraz3.png[/IMG]
In August 1806, Velletri was struck by a violent earthquake.
The people, in fear, had called on the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
to spare them a major catastrophe. Having received the divine
intervention they asked for, they vowed to honor Mary as the
dispenser of celestial graces, Mother of Graces, as the city's
principal Patron and Protectress. At the same time, the citizens
vowed, in perpetuity, to observe fasting and abstinence on the
eve of her annual feast day, August 26. Velletri becomes the
third Marian shrine visited by Pope Benedict XVI in
September 2007, after Loreto and Mariazell.

Do not forget - EWTN is broadcasting the Velletri Mass live:

POPE BENEDICT XVI IN VELLETRI LIVE (90:00)
Pope Benedict celebrates Holy Mass on his Pastoral visit to Velletri. Live from the Cathedral Square.
Sept. 23 3:30 AM LIVE
Sept. 23 12:00 PM Encore

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22/09/2007 23.00
 
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A BRIEF INTRO TO VELLETRI

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An orientation:

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[IMG]http://img232.imageshack.us/img232/7061/velitraebraunhogenberg1kc1.jpg[/IMG] [IMG]http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/8604/488923953ea84bd4861663dza9.jpg[/IMG]
Left, copperplate engraving of Velletri, 1580; right, view of Velletri southward from the Alban hills

[IMG]http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/1489/mapvelcom1203f8faxr0.jpg[/IMG]


Velletri is built on a peak, a branch of Monte Artemisio, over the Pontine land.

According to a legend, it was founded by Atlante Italo, great-grandchild of Noah. It belonged to the population of the Volsci, with the name of Velester, and it was powerful and proud of its freedom, thus struggled against Rome's expansion till 338 B.C., when it was completely conquered.

During the imperial and the republican age, numerous villas were built in this area. The Octavii came from the area, and the man who would become the emperor Augustus spent his youth here.

With the decay of the Roman Empire, the destiny of Velletri was similar to that of other towns, in 455 B.C. it was invaded by the Vandals of Genseric.

As Christianity spread, it became Episcopal see, and in the 6th century it came under the control of the Popes.

After 1183 it was declared a municipality with its own statutes. During the Middle Ages, although it was linked to the papacy, it preserved its freedom, it was never controlled by a feudal baron but it was governed by the citizens.

Velletri subsequently was involved in the struggles for the Pope's supremacy and therefore it was devastated by the armies of Rome and of Colonna. However, the town always succeeded in recovering from these damages.

In 1774 Velletri and its surroundings were the theatre of a battle between the Spanish and the Austrian Armies, during the war between the Bourbons and the Habsburgs.

After the French Revolution, Velletri rebelled and it was proclaimed a Republic. The Republic lasted till 1814. It was again proclaimed a Republic in 1849.

During the World War II, Allied bombardments destroyed Velletri, but the city has since rebuilt most of its historical monuments.

[IMG]http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/1237/velmonporta11fbd3d5et1.jpg[/IMG] [IMG]http://img477.imageshack.us/img477/4769/velcityview7e61542ox8.jpg[/IMG]
Porta Napoletano, the Neapolitan Gate, was built by Lombard
workmen between 1511 and 1520. It was part of the defensive
system which characterized this town and several times saved it
from destruction. Near the gate are ruins of the enclosure walls,
but they are not very well preserved.

[IMG]http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/3092/velmoncomun11fd85aczg7.jpg[/IMG] [IMG]http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/8590/220pxathenatypevelletrigs0.jpg[/IMG]
The Palazzo Muncipale - The original town hall was commissioned at the end of the 16th century.
façade consists of three storeys, each characterized by pillars and pilaster strips, with a portico
on the ground floor to form an open gallery. The Town Hall also houses the local Museum, with
a large collection of several archaeological remains found in the area, including terracotta
objects dating to the 6th Century B.C. The building was completely reconstructed after World War II.
Right: Sadly, one of Velletri's best treasures from antiquity has been in the Louvre since 1803,
hauled away by Napoleon's armies. It is the so-called Velletri Pallas, a helmeted Athena, about
10 meters high, in marble - a first century Roman copy of a 5th century BC Greek statue in bronze.
It was found in 1797 in the ruins of a Roman villa near Velletri.


[IMG]http://img211.imageshack.us/img211/7750/velletri211d6cddeox3.jpg[/IMG]
The main piazza at Velletri. In the background and
in the photo below is the Lombard-Gothic campanile
of Santa Maria in Trivio, built in 1353 in gratitude
for the city's liberation from the plague in 1348.
[IMG]http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/7797/veltowrsm7eb0d6ajl2.jpg[/IMG]


[IMG]http://img233.imageshack.us/img233/2533/infioratavell661864c77abl7.jpg[/IMG]
The Infiorata - designs traced in flowers on city streets and squares during feast days -
is a typical folk custom in Italian towns. The most famous Infiorata is that of Genzano,
a town closer to Castel Gandolfo, immortalized in the Bournonville ballet
'Flower Festival in Genzano.'



THE CATHEDRAL OF SAN CLEMENTE

[IMG]http://img233.imageshack.us/img233/8245/velmonsclem11f08127ol0.jpg[/IMG] [IMG]http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/1825/velsanclementemf7.jpg[/IMG]
The piazza where the Mass will be held, and where the Benedict column will be erected
is bounded by the arcade on the left and the church facade at the far end.


[IMG]http://img233.imageshack.us/img233/1958/velmonsclem0211ef1dafun8.jpg[/IMG]


The diocesan cathedral, consecrated to Pope St. Clement (88-97), has early Christian origins, and was probably first built in the 4th century over the ruins of a pagan temple. Between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century it was completely rebuilt; it was renovated to its present form in 1659-1662.

The façade has a Renaissance portal built in 1512 by Traiano da Palestrina. It consists of two white marble pilaster strips and bas-reliefs representing the objects used during the liturgy (a Mass book, a Cross, a jug, an aspergillum), alternated with heads of cherubs and it is surmounted by a triangular tympanum.

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Detail from church portal.

The interior consists of a nave and two aisles and numerous paintings of the 16th century, with traces of the medieval frescos. The christening font is a pre-Christian sarcophagus that was unearthed near Velletri, in the place called San Pietro.

Next to the Cathedral of San Clemente is the diocesan museum with a large collection of paintings, jewels, and vestments from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.

[IMG]http://img230.imageshack.us/img230/903/velletricrossuh1.gif[/IMG]

The most important of its treasures is the “Croce Veliterna” - a reliquary of the 11th-12th century (above), which is also pictured in the poster commemorating Pope Benedict XVI's visit; and a chasuble belonging to Benedict XI, who visited Velletri at the end of the 13th century.


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23/09/2007 00.06
 
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CARDINAL RATZINGER IN VELLETRI

PASTORAL VISIT TO VELLETRI, 9/23/07
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Diocesan map of Velletri-Segni.

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Right, the Diocese of Velletri-Segni dedicates the September issue of its monthly magazine,
Ecclesia in Cammino, to the Pope's visit, with much historical material about all the Popes
that have been associated with Velletri through the centuries. It also contains the following
article on Cardinal Ratzinger's association with the diocese. Unfortunately, it does not have
photos of many important occasions that are described. Left, the July-August issue. The cover
picture is labelled "Waiting for Peter..."



CARDINAL RATZINGER AND OUR DIOCESE
By Fr. Angelo Mancini


[IMG]http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/3580/velletrijun2001mq7.png[/IMG]
The 50th anniversary of Joseph Ratzinger's ordination as priest in June 2001 was commemorated with his coat-of-arms designed on the floor of the cathedral.



The Beloved Pope John Paul II, 15 days after the death of Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio on March 21, 1993, gave our suburban church the most welcome gift of naming Joseph Ratzinger as our new titular cardinal. It was April 5, 1993.

He was known to all who worked with the Church and very well-known to theologians and scholars for his vast work in theology, and for everyone, he had become a friend whom one held in great respect and esteem when he took possession of the Basilica of St. Clement I, on May 16, 1993.

Here is an excerpt of the homily he delivered that day:

An Italian philosopher has described the thinking of many men and women of our time with these words: "There is no God, and if there is one, he doesn't matter at all."

Should we not acknowledge that even many Christians live their daily lives more or less as if God has nothing to do with anything? But does this attitude not mean that life if senseless or empty? Will not the world then be dark and unreliable to such a point that we can no longer trust anything? Has this not resulted in the fact that many today even doubt whether it is even good to alive, to be human?

Christ came to lead us back to God, something we all need. With his Gospel, indeed with his whole earthly existence, he cries out into our ears and to our hearts: God exists and God matters.

God is important for us, as much as love and happiness are. God is not a remote hypothesis, an unknown force, who infinite millions of years ago may have been the Prime Mover who set the universe on its course. What interest could he possibly have for us, in reality?

God is so great that he sees even the smallest reality and regards it with love. He looks at each of us and knows everything about us, down to our daily concerns, our needs and hopes. He created each of us, so he knows each of us by name.

And he is always within reach. We can 'contact' him at any and every moment. One day he will judge us. And he will have our whole life before him. But he will judge us, as a loving Father. And he will never leave us here on earth alone. But we should allow ourselves to be led back to him.

In 1985, the well-known Catholic writer-journalist Vittorio Messori published a book-length interview with Cardinal Ratzinger that was entitled Rapporto sulla Fede(Report on the Faith; published in English as The Ratzinger Report), in which the cardinal answered to all the most current questions in the international theological and ecclesiologic debate, explaining among other things, the reasons for the 'crisis' that had afflicted Catholicism following the Second Vatican Council.

Since theology seems no longer able to transmit a common model of the faith, even catechesis is broken up and exposed to continually changing experiments. Some catechisms and many catechists no longer teach the Catholic faith as a harmonious whole, in which every truth presupposes and explains another. Instead, they try to make some elements of our Christian patrimony more 'interesting' to the men of today, depending on the cultural orientation of the moment. Some Biblical passages are hgihlighted because they are considered 'much closer to contemporary sensibility', while others, for the opposite reason, are filed away.

Therefore, there is no longer a catechesis for global formation in the faith, but reflections that take off from partial and subjective anthropologic experiences...We must remember that from the very beginnings of Christianity, there has been a permanent irrenunciable
nucleus of the catechesis, that is, for the formation of the faith. It was the nucleus that was later used by Luther for his catechism parallel to the Roman catechism decided at the Council of Trent.

Every discourse about the faith is really about four fundamental elements: the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Sacraments. That is the basis of Christian living, the synthesis of the teaching of the Church based on Scriptures and on Tradition.

The Christian finds there what to believe 9the Credo), what to hope for (the Lord's prayer), what to do (The Ten Commandments), and the vital space in which all these must take place (the Sacraments).

But this fundamental structure has been abandoned in too many present-day catechisms and we see the results in the sense of faith that the new generations have, who are often incapable of a vision
that goes with their religion.

Since then, His Eminence Cardinal Ratzinger has found room in his crowded schedule to come to Velletri and reinvigorate his relationship with our local Church, which has grown increasingly.

He often participated in important occasions like the Feast of St. Clement. We remember particularly his participation in the procession to welcome back the 'Cross of Velletri' after it had been stolen. It was October 18, 1997, the first year of preparing for the Jubilee, the second millenary of the birth of Christ.

[IMG]http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/573/velletri1oj0.png[/IMG]
With Bishop Erba, at inauguration
of the diocesan museum, 1/22/2000
.


The occasion for the recovery of the precious reliquary, the start of the Jubilee preparations, and the presence of Cardinal Ratzinger meant for many the ideal way to start their own spiritual journey towards the Jubilee in 2000.

[IMG]http://img249.imageshack.us/img249/3669/velletri931107td1.png[/IMG]
At the Cathedral of Segni, 11/7/1993

Sensitive to the expectations of the faithful, he did not miss giving his proper respects at the Co-Cathedral of the Assumption in Segni on November 7, 1993.

On December 3, 1995, he visited Valmontone for a day of leisure with his staff at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, including a visit to Palazzo Doria which was being restored. In Velletri, they visited the Palazzo Communale and its civic museum, as well as the San Raffaele Clinic.

[IMG]http://img214.imageshack.us/img214/4392/velletri970416lg4.png[/IMG] [IMG]http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/7199/velletri970416bau7.png[/IMG]

The Cardinal marked his 70th birthday in Velletri, April 1997.
Left, with Bishop Andrea Erba (predecessor of Bishop Apicella) and Cardinal Bertone; right, with the mayor of Velletri
.

In St. Clement Cathedral, he celebrated his 70th birthday in 1997, and in 2001, he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. To mark the occasion, he donated the costs of renovating the Church floor, where both his coat-of-arms and a 2000 Jubilee marker were laid in mosaic.

In 2003, he donated some prize money he had received which enabled the Cathedral to buy a new organ, and in addition, he gave us a eucharistic chalice and an artistic Easter candle.

[IMG]http://img120.imageshack.us/img120/4117/velletri2004sepqx5.png[/IMG] [IMG]http://img232.imageshack.us/img232/8950/velletri2004sep2rm3.png[/IMG]
Opening a diocesan convention, Sept. 2004.

Nor can we forget his invaluable and lively participation in the Diocesan pastoral Convention of 2004, in which he gave exhaustive answers to all the questions that were posed to him. None of us imagined it would be his penultimate visit to us as a Cardinal.

He came back on November 23, 2004, for the Pontifical Mass in honor of St. Clement. The priests of the diocese remember with joy not only the Eucharistic concelebration, but the pleasant meal he shared with them afterwards. For them, it was an occasion to know him closer and to get to know his thinking better, appreciating the energy and the irony of a man who within five months was to be the new Vicar of Christ, successor to the great John Paul II who had given him to us.

[IMG]http://img338.imageshack.us/img338/4999/velletri2005apr25gu2.png[/IMG]
Mons. Erba renders homage to Benedict XVI, 4/24/05.

On April 19, 2005, he chose the Bishop of Velletri-Segni, Mons. Andrea Maria Erba, to represent the College of Bishops in rendering the traditional homage to the new Pope.

===================================================================

The Velletri diocesan website's Papal page:


[IMG]http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/6817/benedettoxvi743db2bgx4.jpg[/IMG]


BENEDICTUS XVI

BISHOP OF ROME

VICAR OF CHRIST

SUCCESSOR OF THE PRINCE OF APOSTLES

SUPREME PONTIFF OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH

PRIMATE OF ITALY

METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOP OF THE PROVINCE OF ROME

SOVEREIGN OF THE STATE OF VATICAN CITY

SERVANT OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD

JOSEPH RATZINGER



===================================

The July-August issue of Ecclesia in Cammino
carried a report on the Pope's trip to Brazil,
with this rare picture of the Pope strapped up
with his airline safety belt.


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23/09/2007 07.28
 
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THE B16 COMMEMORATIVE COLUMN

PASTORAL VISIT TO VELLETRI, 9/23/07
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The following article with photos is also taken from the diocesan magazine's September issue
and translated here:


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The column for Velletri; below, the column in Marktl.
[IMG]http://img294.imageshack.us/img294/5203/b16columnmarktlus0.png[/IMG]


Let us begin by saying that the column represents a scroll,
similar to those which, in the time of Jesus, contained
the Sacred Scriptures.

[IMG]http://img241.imageshack.us/img241/3026/b16columnsculptorwn4.png[/IMG]

The artist, Joseph Michael Neustifter, a Bavarian sculptor, could not be clearer about his reference to the beginnings of Christianity.

The 'scroll' has three 'seals' with the images of St. John and St. Paul - together recalling John Paul II - and a third one in the shape of a fish, early symbol of Christianity, which is inscribed with Benedict XVI's coat of arms and the date when his Pontificate began.

The other symbols shown in bronze relief represent both the origins and the mission of Papa Ratzinger. The baptismal font of Marktl as well as the little town's coat of arms represent the Pope's birthplace. Titmoning and Aschau, two other boyhood residences of the Pope, are also represented by their cotas of arms.

St. Corbinian and his bear represent Freising, where Ratzinger was ordained priest and where he first taught theology.

Munich's Liebfrauendom and Mary, Protectress of Bavaria represent Ratzinger's time as Archbishop of Munich and Freising.

Regensburg is represented by St. Wolfgang, the diocesan patron, by the cathedral and by the city's stone bridge over the Danube.

The sculptor uses universal symbols to indicate the mission of Benedict - the vine and the grape as symbols of the Eucharist, the dove to represent the Holy Spirit, and a Christ-Redeemer (Pantocrator) figure sated on a rainbow symbolizes the ancient Alliance between God and man, Christ holds the book of life, and beneath his feet is the terrestrial globe.

St. Benedict of Norcia is depicted writing his Rule, next to a crown of stars that represents the states of Europe.

[IMG]http://img527.imageshack.us/img527/6411/velletristbenedictyd6.png[/IMG] [IMG]http://img527.imageshack.us/img527/3245/velletrib16onreliefos2.png[/IMG]

Finally, Pope Benedict himself is shown in papal vestments in front of St. Peter's Basilica.


[IMG]http://img518.imageshack.us/img518/8462/amark11d57dtz8.jpg[/IMG]
The first Benedict Column in Marktl. The themes illustrated on it were Biblical.

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23/09/2007 11.39
 
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BENEDICT IN VELLETRI

PASTORAL VISIT TO VELLETRI, 9/23/07
[IMG]http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/6527/logozx21213f91bro0.jpg[/IMG]


Here is a translation of the front-page commentary
in Osservatore Romano's Sunday issue today.


[IMG]http://img229.imageshack.us/img229/7222/217q01911d5a6ls6.jpg[/IMG]


A people in feast
welcome their beloved Pastor
with open arms

By GIAMPAOLO MATTEI


The city of Velletri where Benedict XVI is making a pastoral visit this morning has two historic gates. One opens north towards Rome, and it is from there that the Successor of Peter will arrive with his Pilgrim's Staff, carrying in his 'spiritual knapsack' the riches of his recent trips to Loreto and Mariazell.

Velletri's other gate opens south towards Naples, the splendid city where Benedict XVI will be making his next pastoral visit on Sunday, October 21.

Velletri is another Marian port of call for the Holy Father. After having prayed at the Holy House in Loreto and at the Sanctuary of Mariazell, Benedict XVI this time will kneel before the venerated icon of the Madonna delle Grazie, in the Chapel of the Cathedral of San Clemente, Patroness of a diocese that has 12 out of its 27 parishes dedicated to Mary.

Joseph Ratzinger is paternally and profoundly linked to the suburban church of Velletri-Segni where he was the titular cardinal from 1993 until he became Pope. One can really say that every person in the diocese has a memory of the many visits made by Cardinal Ratzinger and so many signs of his pastoral attention.

Thus the people who live the Christian faith in this city so near to Rome, and for centuries so united to Peter, will experience the meeting today with the Holy Father as a homecoming. This pastoral visit will have the characteristic of simple familiarity in addition to the universality of the Church.

Moreover, starting today, Piazza San Clemente will be home to a commemorative column. donated by a hundred Bavarian municipalities, that was a gift for the Holy Father's 80th birthday last April. A similar column was erected in Marktl am Inn, the Pope's birthplace, during his visit to Bavaria last year.

The column expresses the link between the Church of Velletri-Segni and the Successor of Peter. It is a reminder of the power of his Magisterium with his continual exhortation to conversion, in the certainty that the God who is Love has a Face in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth.


[IMG]http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/7349/217q01b19169643yb3.jpg[/IMG]
Main altar of the Cathedral of St. Clement (Photo: Osservatore Romano)



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23/09/2007 21.48
 
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BENEDICT IN VELLETRI - 2

PASTORAL VISIT TO VELLETRI, 9/23/07
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From the Vatican bulletin, translated:

At 8:45 this morning, the Holy Father Benedict XVI left the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo by car for his Pastoral Visit to Velletri.

Upon his arrival in Corso della Repubblica, at the entrance to the Cathedral complex of San Clemente, the Pope was welcomed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, titular bishop of Velletri-Segni and Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship; and Mons. Vincenzo Apicella, Bishop of Velletri-Segni.

In the cloister of the Cathedral, the Pope received the greetings of civilian authorities: Piero Maqrazzo, president of Lazio region; Carlo Mosca, Prefect of Rome; Stefano Trotta, prefectural commissar of the municipality of Velletri; Enrico Gasbarra, president of Rome province; the mayors of the municipalities of the diocese, and some members of Parliament who are natives of the diocese.

On entering the Cathedral, the Pope venerated the Crux Veliterna reliquary, and then proceeded to the Chapel of the Madonna delle Grazie for a brief Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and veneration of the icon.

After vesting up for the Mass, the Pope processed towards the Piazza outside the Cathedral for the 9:30 Mass.

Concelebrating with the Pope were Cardinal Arinze; Bishop Apicella; the emeritus bishop of Velletri-Segni, Mons. Andrea Maria Erba; Mons. Josef Clemens, honorary Canon of the Cathedral; Mons. Lorenzo Loppa, bishop of Anagni-Alatri; and 5o diocesan priests.

Mons. Apicella delivered a tribute to the Pope before the Holy Fahter's homily.

After the Mass, the Holy Father blessed the bronze commemorative column that was an 80th brithday present to him by 100 Bavarian municipalities. At the time, the Pope decided that he wanted the column to be erected outside the Cathedral of Velletri.

The column matches the commemorative column erected in the square fronting the house where the Pope was born in Marktl am Inn, and inaugurated by him during his visit to Bavaria last year.

Present for the ceremony were a delegation of mayors from Bavaria and the sculptor of the commemorative columns, Joseph Michael Neustifter.

The Pope also blessed a statue of John Paul II which will be erected in front of the railway station named in his honor.

The Holy Father left Velletri at 11:30 to be in Castel Gandolfo in time for the noonday Angelus.

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The following is translated from Apcom:

'I feel truly at home
in Velletri'


VELLETRI, Sept. 21 (Apcom) - "I feel at home among you, and I thank you with all my heart for this warm welcome and for these beautiful gifts. It is truly a family atmosphere."

Returning to the city where he was titular cardinal until he was elected Pope, Benedict XVI responded to the greeting of Mons. Vincenzo Apicella, Bishop of Velletri-Segni, who presented him, in the name of the diocese, with a reproduction of the Cross of Velletri, a 13th century reliquary that is the local Church's most precious treasure.

The bishop said:

"I don't merely say welcome, but welcome back to 'your Velletri', which is truly yours for so many reasons from out shared past, from the present and the future of this city and this church. The people of Velletri have not forgotten the solicitude and paternal concern that you showed us thorugh 12 years as titular bishop of this diocese.

"The invaluable Magisterium you gave us which inspired pastoral activity, sharing so many moments of celebration and joy, your generous contributions to help restore our Cathedral, and your personal attention to so many realities affecting the citizens remain impressed in our minds and hearts."


[IMG]http://img507.imageshack.us/img507/2478/afp0357143mr7ko0.jpg[/IMG]


From korazym. org, an account of the Holy Father's homily, translated here:

...

In his homily, the Pope first offered his reflections on the passage in the first Letter of John, "We have known and believed in the love that God has for us" , the motto for this visit.

"God's love is the essence of Christianity," explained Benedict XVI, "which makes the believer and the Christian community a ferment for hope and peace in every sphere, particularly attentive to the the poor and the needy. Love makes the Church live."

A statement that serves as a program for living, and which the Pope summarized in his comments on the day's liturgical readings. Taking off from the image of the dishonest steward in the Gospel, he said that "life is always a choice: between honesty and dishonesty, between fidelity and infidelity, between altruism and selfishness, between good and bad."

Likewise, he said, the statement, "You cannot serve both God and mammon," presupposes a choice "between the logic of profit as the ultimate criterion for our actions, and the logic of sharing and solidarity."

Moreover, the Pope pointed out, "if the logic of profit prevails, then the gap between rich and poor will simply widen," whereas with sharing and solidarity, "it is possible to correct our course and orient it towards equitable development, for the common good of all."

Further: "If to love Christ and our brothers is not to be considered simply accessory or superficial in nature, but rather the true and ultimate purpose of all our existence, we should know how to make these fundamental choices, to be willing to make radical renunciations, up to martyrdrom if need be. Today, as in the past, the life of a Christian demands the courage to go against the current, to love like Jesus who sacrificed himself on the Cross."

In short, he said, earthly riches should be an instrument to "obtain true and eternal riches". And if indeed "there are those who are ready to undertake any kind of dishonesty simply to assure themselves of material wellbeing, which is always uncertain," the Pope said, citing St. Augustine, "then we Christians should be all the more concerned to provide for our eternal happiness with the resources of the earth."

The only way to follow is sharing, he said, in a generosity that "expresses itself in sincere love for everyone and shows itself in prayer, to begin with," in the knowledge that "praying for others is a great gesture of love."

In this light, the Pope entrusted the diocese of Velletri to the protection of Our Lady: "May the Blessed Virgin watch over the sick, the aged, the children, whoever feels alone and abandoned, or is in particular need. May Mary liberate us from greed for material wealth and allow us instead to lift up our free and pure hands to heaven, in order to render glory to God with all our life."


[IMG]http://img213.imageshack.us/img213/9575/afp0357062bg3.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://img507.imageshack.us/img507/4813/afp0357065cw8.jpg[/IMG]


Pope Benedict views his 80th birthday commemorative column,
a bronze relief work 4 meters high, a gift from 100 towns
and cities of Bavaria, which will now stand permanently
right outside the Church door of the Cathedral of Velletri.
[IMG]http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/2526/r1396636096196d838vu7.jpg[/IMG] [IMG]http://img172.imageshack.us/img172/5313/r31200806611957722if3.jpg[/IMG]



Historical Note:

Benedict XVI is the 14th Bishop of Velletri to become Pope.
Two other Pope Benedicts were among those who preceded him!

From the diocesan magazine of Velletri-Segni,
here is the sequence and the year they became Pope:
St. Clement I (87)
Benedict X (1058)
Urban II (1088)
Honorius II (1124)
Lucius III (1181)
Gregory IX (1227)
Alexander IV (1254)
Innocent V (1276)
Benedict XI (1300)
Innocent VI (1352)
Julius II (1503)
Paul III (1534)
Paul IV (1555)
Benedict XVI (2005)

[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2011-1/2011-MISCELLANEOUS/0-MTM-FIRMA-1303012_zps59672c47.jpg[/IMG]
24/09/2007 14.03
 
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Utente Master
THE HOMILY
PASTORAL VISIT TO VELLETRI, 9/23/07
[IMG]http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/6527/logozx21213f91bro0.jpg[/IMG]

Here is the Vatican translation of the homily delivered by the Holy Father at the Mass yesterday.




Dear brothers and sisters!

I have returned with great pleasure in your midst to preside over this solemn Eucharistic celebration, in response to you repeated invitations. I return with joy to meet your diocesan community, which for many years was also mine in a special way, and which is still very dear to me today. I greet you all with great affection.

First of all I would like to greet Cardinal Francis Arinze, who succeeded me as titular cardinal of this diocese; I greet your pastor, Monsignor Vincenzo Apicella, whom I would like to thank for the courteous words of welcome with which he welcomed me in your name.

I greet the other bishops, priests, men and women religious, and pastoral workers, the youth and all those at work in parishes, movements, associations and various diocesan activities. I greet the prefectorial commissioner of Velletri, the mayors of towns of the Diocese of Velletri-Segni and the other civil and military authorities, who honor us with their presence.

I also greet all those who have come from other places, Germany in particular, to unite themselves to us in this day of celebration. Bonds of friendship link my native land to yours: This bronze column from Marktl am Inn, given to me in September last year in honor of my apostolic trip to Germany, is a testimony of that, and I wished it to remain here, as a further sign of my affection and my goodwill.
[Surely, the Pope must know it is another column, and that it was commissioned for his birthday! I could not hear his words yesterday under the chatter of the EWTN commentator during the homily so I do not know if he actually said what this statement says!]

I know you have prepared for my visit here today with an intense spiritual journey, adopting as the motto a meaningful verse from the First Letter of John: "So we know and believe in the love that God has for us" (4:16). Deus Caritas Est, God is love: My first encyclical begins with these words, which pertain to the core of our faith - the Christian image of God and the resulting image of man and his journey.

I rejoice in the fact that you have chosen as your guide for the diocese's spiritual and pastoral journey this very expression: "We have known the love that God has for us and we have believed."

Today's liturgy cannot but focus on this essential truth, on the love of God, able to impress upon human existence an absolutely new orientation and value. Love is the essence of Christianity, which renders the believer and the Christian community yeast of hope and peace in every situation, especially attentive to the necessities of the poor and needy. Love brings the Church into existence.

For the past few Sundays, St. Luke, the Gospel writer who more than the others is concerned to show the love Jesus has for the poor, he offered different ideas for reflection on the dangers of an excessive attachment to money, to material goods and to all that impedes us from loving the fullness of our vocation to love God and our brethren.

Also today, through the parable that provokes a certain wonder in us because it speaks of a dishonest manager who ends up being praised (cf. Luke 16:1-13), and the Lord is offering is a salutary teaching.

As he often does, he draws from current events: He speaks about a manager on the verge of being fired for his dishonest management of the affairs of his master and, to guarantee his own future, he tries to slyly come to agreements with his debtors. He is dishonest, but astute: The Gospel does not present him as a model to follow in his dishonesty, but as an example to imitate for his cautious craftiness. In fact, the brief parable ends with these words: "The master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly."

What does Jesus want to say to us? The Evangelist follows the parable of the unfaithful steward with a brief series of sayings and admonitions about the relationship we should have with money and the goods of this earth. Brief phrases that invite us to a choice that presupposes a radical decision, a constant interior tension.

Life is in truth always a choice: between honesty and dishonesty, between faithfulness and unfaithfulness, between egoism and altruism, between good and evil. The conclusion of the Gospel selection is incisive and authoritative: "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Luke 16:13).

Mammon is the original Phoenician term that evokes economic security and success in business; we could say that in wealth is found the idol in which one sacrifices everything to reach personal success.

Therefore a fundamental decision is necessary - the choice between the logic of profit as the ultimate criteria of our action and the logic of sharing and solidarity. The logic of profit, if it prevails, increases not only the disproportion between poor and rich, but also the devastating exploitation of the planet.

When, on the other hand, the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails, it is possible to correct the course of action and orient it toward proportional development, for the common good of all. In the end it is a decision between egoism and love, between justice and dishonesty, and a final choice between God and Satan.

If loving Christ and our brethren is not considered as something accessorial and superficial, but moreover the true and final scope of our existence, we must know how to make fundamental choices, to be open to radical renunciations, even martyrdom if necessary. Today, like yesterday, the Christian life demands courage to go against the tide, to love as Jesus did, who ended up sacrificing himself on the cross.

We can say therefore, paraphrasing St. Augustine, that through earthly riches we should obtain those that are true and eternal: If in fact there are people who are ready for any kind of dishonest action to ensure material well-being, which isn't sure, how much more we Christians must try to provide for our eternal happiness with the goods of this earth (cf. "Discourses" 359:10).

Now, the only way our personal gifts and abilities will be fruitful along with the wealth we possess is to share them with our brethren, showing ourselves to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Jesus says: "Whoever is faithful in little, is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in little will be dishonest also in much" (Luke 16:10-11).

The prophet Amos speaks about this fundamental choice to be performed day after day in today's first reading. With strong words, he stigmatizes a typical style of life of someone who lets themselves be drawn in by a selfish search for profit in every possible way and is transformed into a thirst for gain, a contempt for the poor and in exploitation of the poor for their own advantage (cf. Amos 4:5).

The Christian must energetically reject all of this, opening his heart, on the contrary, to feelings of authentic generosity. A generosity that, as St. Paul tells us in today's second reading, is expressed in a sincere love for all and is manifested in the first place in prayer. A grand gesture of charity is to pray for others.

The Apostle invites us first of all to pray for those who carry out tasks of responsibility in the civil community, because - he explains - from their decisions, if they tend toward the common good, result in positive consequences, ensuring peace and "a calm and tranquil life with piety and dignity" for all (1 Timothy 2:2).

Our prayer is just as valuable, a spiritual support for the edification of an ecclesial community faithful to Christ and to the construction of a more just and supportive society.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray, in a special way so that your diocesan community, that is undergoing a series of transformations, because of the transfer of many young families out of Rome, the development of the service industry and the arrival of many immigrants in town centers, may lead to an ever increasingly organic and shared pastoral action, following the indications that your bishop is offering with outstanding pastoral sensitivity.

To this end, his pastoral letter of last December proved to be very opportune with an invitation to attentive and persevering listening to God's word, to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of the Church.

We place in the Madonna of Grace's hands, whose image is kept and venerated in this your beautiful cathedral, all of your intentions and pastoral projects. May the maternal protection of Mary accompany the journey of all of you present here and of those who were unable to participate in today's Eucharistic celebration.

In a special way, may the Holy Virgin watch over the sick, the elderly, the children and anyone who feels alone or abandoned or is in particular need.

Free us, Mary, from the greed of wealth, and make it so that lifting our free and pure hands, we can give glory to God with our life (cf. Offertory Prayer). Amen!


=====================================================================

Here is my translation of the Holy Father's homily in Velletri yesterday. I did it after PaxVobiscum (in teh post below) called my attention to the fact that the Vatican translation appeared to be sloppy and very likely incomplete, so I will proceed to translate the homily now, as I would have done anyway if I had not seen the 'official' translation.

Dear brothers and sisters!

I have returned gladly among you to preside at this solemn Eucharistic Celebration, responding to your repeated invitations. I have returned joyfully to meet your diocesan community, which for many years was also, in a particular way, my community, and which will always remain dear to me.

I greet, first of all, Cardinal Francis Arinze, who succeeded me as Titular Cardinal of this diocese. I greet your Pastor, our dear Mons. Vincenzo Apicella, whom I thank for the beautiful words of welcome which he made in your behalf.

I greet the other bishops, priests, religious, pastoral workers, young people and all those who are active in the parishes, movements, associations and various diocesan activities.

I greet the Prefectual Commissar of Velletri, the mayors of the municipalities in the Velletri-Segni diocese, and the other civilian and military authorities who honor us with their presence.

I also greet those who have come from elsewhere, in particular, those from Bavaria, to join us on this day of celebration. Links of friendship link my native land to yours - proof of this is the bronze column given to me in Marktl am Inn last September, during my apostolic voyage to Germany. Recently, I was given - as mentioned earlier [by Mons. Apicella] - by 100 towns and cities of Bavaria,almost a twin of that column which will be erected here in Velletri, as an additional sign of my affection and goodwill. It will be the sign of my spiritual presence among you.

In this connection, I wish to thank the donors, the sculptor, and the mayors of Bavaria whom I see present here with so many friends. Thanks to you all!

Dear brothers and sisters, I know that you prepared yourselves for this visit of mine today through an intense spiritual journey, adopting as a motto a significant passage from the First Letter of John: "We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him"(4,16).

Deus caritas est, God is love. My first encyclical starts with these words, which concern the center of our faith: the Christian image of God and the consequent image of man and his journey.

I am happy that you have chosen this statement to guide the spiritual and pastoral itinerary of the diocese: "We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us."

We have come to believe in love: this is the essence of Christianity. And our liturgical assembly today cannot do other than focus on this essential truth, on God's love, which is capable of imprinting our human existence with an absolutely new orientation and value.

Love is the essence of Christianity, which makes the believer and the Christian community a ferment for hope and peace in every area, being especially attentive to the poor and the neediest. This is our common mission: to be a ferment for hope and peace because we believe in love.

Love keeps the Church alive, and because it is eternal, then faith itself will survive to the end of times.

In the past several Sundays, St. Luke, the evangelist who more than the others was concerned with showing us the love that Jesus had for the poor, has offered us different occasions for reflection on the dangers of excessive attachment to money, to material goods, and to everything that keeps us from fully living our vocation to love God and our brothers.

Even today, through a parable which arouses in us a certain perplexity because it is about a dishonest administrator who gets praise (cfr Lk 16,1-13), on closer look, the Lord gives us here a serious and more than ever salutary teaching for us.

As always, the Lord takes off from the facts of daily life. He tells us of a steward who is about to be dismissed because of his dishonest management of his master's affairs, and in order to save his future, tries cunningly to settle with his master's debtors.

Certainly, the man was dishonest, but astute. The Gospel does not present him as a model to follow in his dishonesty, but as an example to imitate for his shrewd prudence. The brief parable, in fact, ends with these words: "The master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently" (Lk 16,8).

But what did Jesus wish to tell us with this parable? With this surprising conclusion? The evangelist follows the parable with a brief series of statements and admonitions on the relationship that we should have with money and earthly goods.

They are small statements which invite us to a choice that assumes radical decision-making, a constant interior tension. Life is, in fact, always about choice: between honesty and dishonesty, between fidelity and infidelity, between selfishness and altruism, between good and evil.

The concluding words of the Gospel passage are incisive and peremptory: "No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other."

And finally, Jesus says, one must decide: "You cannot serve God and mammon." Mammon is a term of Phoenician origin which connotes economic security and business success; we could say that wealth is considered the idol to which everything is sacrificed in order to attain one's own material success, so that this economic success becomes one's true god.

Therefore, a fundamental decision between God and mammon is necessary: a choice between the logic of profit as the ultimate criterion for our actions, and the logic of sharing and solidarity.

If the logic of profit prevails, it will increase the gap between rich and poor as well as ruinous exploitation of the planet. But when instead, the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails, then it is possible to correct course in order to orient ourselves towards equitable development for the common good of all.

Basically, it is a choice between selfishness and love, between justice and dishonesty, and finally, between God and Satan. If loving Christ and our brothers is not to be considered as merely accessory and superficial, but rather the true and ultimate purpose of our existence, we should know how to make these basic choices, to be ready for radical renunciations, up to martyrdom if need be.

Today, as yesterday, the life of a Christian demands the courage to proceed against the current, to love like Jesus who reached the point of sacrificing himself on the Cross.

We can then say, paraphrasing St. Augustine, that by means of earthly riches, we should obtain those that are true and eternal. If indeed there are people ready for any kind of dishonesty to assure themselves of material wellbeing, which is always uncertain, then all the more we Christians should concern ourselves with providing for our eternal happiness through the resources of this earth ()cfr Discorsi 359,10).

Now, the only way to make our endowments and personal abilities fruitful, like the wealth which we have, is to share them with our brothers, showing ourselves in this way to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us.

Jesus said, "The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones" (Lk 16, 10).

In the first Reading today, the prophet Amos also speaks of this fundamental choice that we must make day to day. With strong words, he stigmatizes a lifestyle typical of someone who allows himself to be absorbed in a selfish quest for profit in every possible way, which translates into a thirst for gain, in contempt for the poor and in an exploitation of their situation to one's own advantage (cfr Am 4,5).

The Christian should resist all this with energy, and instead, open his heart to sentiments of authentic generosity. A generosity that, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us in his second Letter, is expressed in sincere love for all and is manifested in prayer.

Indeed, to pray for others is a great gesture of charity. The Apostle invites us, in the first place, to pray for those who carry positions of responsibility in the civilian community, so that - he explains - their decisions, if intended to do good, will bring positive consequences, assuring peace and "a calm and tranquil life in full piety and dignity" for all (1 Tm 2,2).

We can never minimize what our prayers can do - as a spiritual contribution to the edification of an ecclesial community that is faithful to Christ and to the construction of a more just and fraternal society.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray in particular that your diocesan community - which is undergoing a series of changes because of the arrival of many young families coming from Rome, the development of tertiary services, and the settlement of historic centers by many immigrants - may conduct pastoral activity that is increasingly organic and shared, following the indications that your bishop, with marked pastoral sensitivity, will be giving you.

In this respect, his Pastoral Letter of December 2006 is proving even more timely, in which he invites all to listen with attention and perseverance to the Word of God, to the teachings of Vatican-II, and the Magisterium of the Church.

Let us place every proposal and pastoral plan that you have into the hands of the Madonna of Graces, whose image is kept and venerated in your beautiful Cathedral. May the maternal protection of Mary accompany you, as well as those who were unable to take part in our eucharistic celebration today.

In a special way, may the Virgin Mary watch over the sick, the aged, the children, whoever feels alone and abandoned, or is in particular need. May Mary free us from the greed of wealth so that we may raise clean and pure hands to the heavens, rendering glory to God with our whole life (cfr Collect). Amen!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 25/09/2007 00.51]
[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2011-1/2011-MISCELLANEOUS/0-MTM-FIRMA-1303012_zps59672c47.jpg[/IMG]
24/09/2007 15.42
 
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Re: THE HOMILY
TERESA BENEDETTA, 9/24/2007 2:03 PM:



I also greet all those who have come from other places, Germany in particular, to unite themselves to us in this day of celebration. Bonds of friendship link my native land to yours: This bronze column from Marktl am Inn, given to me in September last year in honor of my apostolic trip to Germany, is a testimony of that, and I wished it to remain here, as a further sign of my affection and my goodwill.
[Surely, the Pope must know it is another column, and that it was commissioned for his birthday! I could not hear his words yesterday under the chatter of the EWTN commentator during the homily so I do not know if he actually said what this statement says!]



Teresa, this is indeed a very sloppy translation of what the Holy Father actually said ... they've left out a good chunk of what was in the original speech (see italics below).

Going by the Italian version on the Vatican website, what he did say was:

"I greet all of those who have come from other countries, particularly, from Germany, from Bavaria, with whom we united on this occasion. Bonds of friendship link the land of my birth to yours: a witness to this is the bronze column given to me during my visit to Marktl Am Inn last September, on the occasion of my Aposotlic Visit to Germany. Recently, I was given the gift of a 'twin' of this column, by 100 Bavarian villages, which will remain here in Velletri, as a further sign of my affection and my good will. It will be a sign of my spiritual closeness to you. With regard to this, I would like to thank the donors, the sculptor and the mayors, who I see are present here with so many friends. Thank you everyone!"


=====================================================================

Thank you, PaxVobiscum, for pointing this out. I must admit I was sloppy myself, because having seen the 'official' translation posted on ZENIT, I went ahead and posted it here, thinking thankfully, "Now I don't have to translate it myself", and as I was still in the middle of orienting my priorities for my morning session in the Forum, I did not even bother to read the Italian text, because it never occurred to me to 'doubt' that the Vatican translation was A-OK!...

TERESA




[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 24/09/2007 16.15]
30/09/2007 17.10
 
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PASTORAL VISIT TO LORETO, Sept. 1-2, 2007
[IMG]http://img102.imageshack.us/img102/452/testata13df78b6tk4.jpg[/IMG]


Caterina has found a picture of the Pope presenting the Golden Rose to the Madonna of Loreto and has enlarged it.

[IMG]http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/5708/rosamistica2om3ms5.th.jpg[/IMG] [Click 2x on picture to enlarge]


Now, we need a picture of the similar presentation he made in Mariazell.
[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2011-1/2011-MISCELLANEOUS/0-MTM-FIRMA-1303012_zps59672c47.jpg[/IMG]
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