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00venerdì 12 novembre 2010 15.03



See preceding page for earlier posts today, 11/12/10.


Christian specificity
by Giovanni Maria Vian
Translated from the 11/12/10 issue of

Perhaps it is a coincidence but on closer look, it is not insignificant that the document arising from the Synodal Assembly on the Word of God entitled Verbum Domini was published on the same day as the Pope's message to the Holy Roman Church's Cardinal Arhivist-Librarian for the reopening of the 'Vaticana', the library and archives that constitute the oldest and most precious cultural intitution in the Church of Rome.

Both texts, though not comparable, revolve around the theme that characterizes the Christian specificity: the announcement that the eternal Word became flesh.

At the instance and with the assiduous participation of Benedict XVI, a General Assembly on this theme was held in 2008 by the Bishops' Synod, the contemporary expression of Catholic collegiality.

Contributing to the reflections, in addition to Catholic bishops and Biblical experts, were Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I who offered a meditation on the Orthodox attitude toward Scripture, and for the first time, a rabbi who spoke on the Old Testament [the Jewish Bible] that links Christianity directly to Judaism.

A link, as Benedict XVI underscores yet again in Verbum Domini, that "must never be forgotten", as that "the profound and radical difference [between Judaism and Christianity] does not at all imply reciprocal hostility". And the document extends the desire for fraternal confrontation and friendship to Islam and other religions.

God's Word, revealed in Scripture but above all incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth, is not a word of the past. On the contrary, it is a living Word, to be read with the Church and according to her tradition.

In effect, the Word reincarnates itself in the heart of whoever meets Christ - who is himself the Kingdom of God [autobasileia], in the evocative image used by Origen - and listens to his words.

And that is why Christianity is not a religion of the book - even if the need to communicate and transmit the Word (Logos) immediately led to a religious tradition that is linked to books.

Demonstrating this tradition is the history of countless Christian libraries, often fatally destroyed or dispersed in the past. Most especially demonstrating it is the institution belonging to the Church of Rome, which was re-conceived for the modern era by Pope Nicholas V in the splendor of the era of humanism, and renewed for the contemporary world by Pius XI in the Vaticana's 'golden season' under the cardinal archivists Ehrle and Mercati.

The Library and Archives of the Holy Roman Church have served with unchanging generosity and amplitude "all searchers for the truth", as we read in Benedict XVI's message.

A service to truth which, in the multitude of words, has always been an invitation to look at the one Word that never passes away.


I must confess I have not yet found the time to read Verbum Domini, which certainly does not lend itself to a cursory and hasty reading. Meanwhile, I am reading what has been written about it so far, and necessarily, the accounts are like the various parts of an elephant that a blind man touches and describes to represent the whole elephant

It's difficult(and rare) enough for reporters to summarize and do justice to the short texts of Benedict XVI - homilies, messages, etc - let alone a book, which Verbum Domini is, dense with ideas by its nature as the Pope's final overview of the work of a Synodal general assembly. This article from CNA is a competent first report, without claiming to be comprehensive in any way.

Pope calls on the faithful
to rediscover the Word of God:
'The history of salvation
is not myth, but history'

By David Scott, Editor-in-Chief

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2010 CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI has issued a lofty and impassioned plea for everyone in the Church to rediscover the Bible and to grow in “an ever greater love of the Word of God.”

“We must never forget that all authentic and living Christian spirituality is based on the Word of God proclaimed, accepted, celebrated and meditated upon in the Church.

The Pope’s new apostolic exhortation, Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord), issued Nov. 11, is a book-length response to a special 2008 Synod for Bishops on the Bible and the life of the Church.

In this document, the Pope offers a rich theological reflection on the meaning of the Word of God becoming flesh and the meaning of the Scriptures as the Word of God.

The Pope reaffirms forcefully the Church’s traditional teaching that the Bible is the revealed Word of God written by human authors inspired by the Holy Spirit. He notes that it conveys not just moral and spiritual truths but also truths about “the reality of human history.”

“The history of salvation is not mythology, but a true history,” the Pope said.

He added: “It must be remembered first and foremost that biblical revelation is deeply rooted in history.”

But the Pope declined to wade into the controversial question of how “true” Scripture is when it speaks of historical events.

Some had hoped that the Pope would pronounce on the precise meaning of the Church’s teaching that Scripture is “without error.”

Instead Pope Benedict reaffirmed the traditional teaching but called for further study of the relationship between what scholars call the divine “inspiration” of Scripture and its “inerrancy.”

“A deeper study of the process of inspiration will doubtless lead to a greater understanding of the truth contained in the sacred books,” he said.

“Certainly theological reflection has always considered inspiration and truth as two key concepts for an ecclesial hermeneutic of the sacred Scriptures,” he added.

“Nonetheless, one must acknowledge the need today for a fuller and more adequate study of these realities, in order better to respond to the need to interpret the sacred texts in accordance with their nature.”

The Pope expressed what he called his “fervent hope” that such research would continue and would “bear fruit both for biblical science and for the spiritual life of the faithful.”

The heart of Verbum Domini is a long and often technical discussion of “hermeneutics,” or the proper method for interpreting the sacred texts.

The Pope warned of the errors and risks of a “dualistic” and “secularized” approach, which treats the Bible as if it is only a historical or literary document.

The Bible, he said, must be studied through “serious historical research.” But students must then build on those findings to discover the spiritual meaning that God intends to communicate in the Scriptures.

He criticized “fundamentalist” or “literalist” interpretations and urged renewed appreciation for the symbolic and spiritual interpretation techniques used by the ancient Fathers of the Church.

He also urged interpreters to study how the saints read the Bible.

“The most profound interpretation of Scripture comes precisely from those who let themselves be shaped by the Word of God through listening, reading and assiduous meditation,” he said.

Everyone who seeks to interpret the Bible — from the ordinary believer to the pastor or the theologian, must remember — the Pope said: “The Bible is the Church’s book, and its essential place in the Church’s life gives rise to its genuine interpretation.”

He added: “An authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic Church.”

Pope Benedict also devoted a long passage on the importance of the Scriptures in the Church’s sacraments and worship.

“The liturgy is the privileged setting in which God speaks to us in the midst of our lives; he speaks today to his people, who hear and respond,” he said. “Every liturgical action is by its very nature steeped in sacred Scripture.”

From the start of his pontificate, Pope Benedict has emphasized that the right understanding of Scripture is necessary for the true understanding of Christ, salvation, and the truths of the Catholic faith.

In his homily upon assuming the chair of the Bishop of Rome in May 2005, the Pope described his mission as being “at the service of the Word of God.”

“It is incumbent … to ensure that this Word continues to be present in its greatness and to resound in its purity, so that it is not torn to pieces by continuous changes in usage,” he said.

And the Pope has repeatedly emphasized that the Word of God is the key to the Church’s mission in a world that has grown increasingly forgetful of God.

In a letter to the world’s bishops last year, Benedict said: “Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time.”

These themes are all present in Verbum Domini.

The new document calls for “recovering the centrality of the divine Word in the Christian life.”

“Our own time,” the Pope writes, “must be increasingly marked by a new hearing of God’s Word and a new evangelization.”

In addition, Pope Benedict includes a decidedly personal section in which he proposes to teach people the practice of praying with the Bible, known as “lectio divina,” or sacred reading.

The Pope called for a renewal of prayerful, personal reading of Scripture and for Scripture to be “every more fully at the heart of every ecclesial activity.”

“The Church is built upon the Word of God; she is born from and lives by that Word,” Pope Benedict said.

“Throughout its history, the People of God has always found strength in the word of God, and today too the ecclesial community grows by hearing, celebrating and studying that Word.”


00venerdì 12 novembre 2010 15.22

Since this is the major Vatican news today - besides the Pope's meeting with the heads of the Roman Curia - I am re-posting this here for convenience, to which I will be adding how the major enws agencies are reporting it.

Apostolic Visitations in Ireland
get under way:
The Vatican explains the process

NB: The original document is in English.


On March 19, 2010, following a meeting with the Bishops of Ireland, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI issued a Pastoral Letter to the Catholics in Ireland.

The Letter expressed his deep sorrow and regret regarding abuse perpetrated by priests and religious and the way in which such cases had been responded to in the past.

It also called for an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. "Pastoral in nature, the Visitation ‘is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal’ (Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland) and is a sign of the Holy Father’s desire, as the Successor of Peter, to offer his pastoral solicitude to the Church in Ireland (Vatican Press Release, October 6, 2010.)

In the months following the publication of the letter, preparatory meetings were held with the appointed Visitators, representatives from the Holy See, the Irish Episcopate and the Conference of Religious Superiors of Ireland (CORI) in order to lay out a clear plan for the Visitation.

The Visitation will identify whether the mutual relationship of the various components of the local Church, seminaries and religious communities is now in place, in order to sustain them on the path of profound spiritual renewal already being pursued by the Church in Ireland.

It also has the goal of verifying the effectiveness of the present processes used in responding to cases of abuse and of the current forms of assistance provided to the victims.

It will not be an investigation into individual cases of abuse nor a trial to judge past events. The Visitators will have to identify the explicit problems which may require some assistance from the Holy See.

The Visitation will in no way interfere with the ordinary activity of local magistrates, nor with the activity of the Commissions of Investigation established by the Irish Parliament nor with the work of any legislative authority, which has competence in the area of prevention of abuse of minors.

The Visitation does not seek to replace the legitimate authority of the local Bishops or Religious Superiors, who maintain responsibility in the handling of cases of abuse.

It is important to remember that the Visitators are not expected to receive allegations of new or old cases of abuse. If any were to arise, such allegations must be reported to the respective Ordinaries or Major Superiors who have the duty to inform the competent civil and ecclesiastical authorities, in conformity with the current civil and ecclesiastical laws.

Regarding the Visitation of
the Four Metropolitan Archdioceses

As previously announced, the Visitators of the four Irish Metropolitan Archdioceses will be: His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor for Armagh; His Eminence Seán P. O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap. for Dublin; the Most Reverend Thomas C. Collins for Cashel and Emly; the Most Reverend Terrence T. Prendergast, S.J. for Tuam. The Visitators may bring with them some people, approved by the Congregation for Bishops, who can serve as assistants.

In respect of and in conformity with local civil law, the Visitators will make themselves available to meet with those who have been deeply wounded by abuse and who wish to be met and heard, beginning with the victims themselves and their families.

They will be received in the same fatherly manner in which the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has on several occasions greeted and listened to those who have suffered the terrible crime of abuse.

The Visitators will monitor how well the guidelines of Safeguarding Children, Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland, commissioned and produced in February 2009 by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, are functioning and how they may be better implemented and improved.

The Visitators may also meet with the other Bishops of the Province, and they should listen to, besides the local Ordinary, the Vicar General, the Episcopal Vicars, the Judges of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal, the Chancellor and other officials of the Curia, members of the Presbyteral Councils, members of the College of Consultors and of Pastoral Councils and, above all, those responsible for the Office of Protection and Prevention of Abuse at the diocesan and parish level.

Finally, Pastors and other priests, the lay faithful and individual men and women who wish to be received by the visiting Prelates may request this in writing. The Visitators will meet people individually or as a family.

If possible, it is recommended that each Archdiocese, embracing the penitential sentiments expressed by the Holy Father in his Letter, organize a Penitential service or some other similar gathering in the presence of the Visitator with the approval of the local Ordinary.

This will correspond with the penitential activities already promoted by the Irish Episcopal Conference, which include prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

With the aim of ensuring confidentiality, all those who wish to write to the Visitators should address letters to them by name using the mailing address of the Apostolic Nunciature.

In order to facilitate access for those who would like to meet with them, the address of the respective Visitator will be communicated by the Archdiocese. In coordination with each Visitator, their availability, the days they are already occupied and those still available for meetings with various people will be communicated.

Regarding the Visitation
to the Irish Seminaries

The Apostolic Visitator for the Irish Seminaries is the Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York. He will be assisted by some clerics, approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education, whose main duty will be to help to conduct the one-to-one interviews with the seminarians.

Archbishop Dolan will visit 5 institutions: St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth; the Pontifical Irish College, Rome; Saint Malachy’s College, Belfast; All Hallows College, Dublin; Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin (this will be visited only in regard to its academic programmes).

Prior to each Visitation, the Visitator will receive copies of all necessary documentation. Moreover, each staff member and student will be granted the possibility to express to the Visitator in a signed statement his opinion about the seminary. Such letters should be addressed to the Visitator using the mailing address of the Apostolic Nunciature.

The Visitator will examine all aspects of priestly formation. He, or his assistants, will conduct private interviews with all staff members, all seminarians and, where applicable, other parties normally involved in the life of the seminary.

It is not his task to meet with victims of abuse who, as noted above, may be instead received by the Visitators of the four Metropolitan Archdioceses. Furthermore, each priest who has graduated from the seminary in the previous three years will be given the opportunity for a private interview.

In conducting his examination of each institution, the Visitator will follow the directives set out by the documents of the Holy See and of the local Church concerning priestly formation and the protection of minors.

Regarding the Visitation
to Religious Houses

Sr. Sharon Holland, I.H.M., Fr. Robert Maloney, C.M., Sister Máirin McDonagh, R.J.M. and Fr. Gero McLoughlin, S.J. have been appointed to serve as Apostolic Visitators of those Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life with houses in Ireland.

The first phase of this Visitation will consist in responding to a Questionnaire which seeks information regarding the involvement of Institutes in cases of abuse, the responses offered to victims, and the compliance of the Institute with the protocols contained in Safeguarding Children, Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The Questionnaire also seeks to ascertain how each community is dealing with the revelations and their consequences. Additionally it asks what is being done, in the light of past experiences, to assist members in their primary mission of radically witnessing to Christ's presence in the world.

The Visitators will meet afterwards to assess the responses to the Questionnaire. They will then make recommendations to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life regarding the next steps to be taken in the Visitation process.

When the Apostolic Visitation is complete, the Visitators will submit their findings to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. After having carefully studied the Report of the Visitators, the Congregation will determine what further steps should be taken to contribute to a revitalization of consecrated life in Ireland.

Given the delicate nature of the subject matter and out of respect for persons involved, the Visitators will exercise great discretion and will not grant interviews during the first phase of the Visitation.

The Congregations for Bishops, for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Catholic Education concur with the Secretariat of State that the first phase of the Visitation - the inquiry concerning the four Metropolitan Archdioceses, Religious Houses and Seminaries - should be completed if possible by next Easter 2011.

At that time the Visitators should submit the results of their enquiries so that they can be studied during the month of May and a plan for moving forward can be discussed. Then the Holy See will announce, with a proper Statement, the next steps that have to be taken.

When the Visitation is complete, the Holy See, after reviewing all the material submitted by the Visitators and offering suggestions for the spiritual renewal of the Archdioceses, Seminaries and Religious Houses, will issue a comprehensive summary of the results of the Visitation.

AP's report might give an indication of MSM reaction - it is very laconic and almost perfunctory. Perhaps because the news is positive for the Church - it is something concrete that backs up an intention earlier announced by the Pope. But then, why would MSM emphasize anything positive about the Church, right?

Vatican probing Irish Church response
to sex abuse scandal


VATICAN CITY, Nov. 12 (AP) - The Vatican is moving ahead with its own investigation of how the Catholic Church in Ireland is responding to its massive sex abuse scandal.

It promises the probe will be sweeping but not interfere with ongoing probes by magistrates or a parliamentary commission.

A Vatican statement Friday said it is not "a trial to judge past events" but an effort to verify the effectiveness of the church's response and its assistance to victims

Pope Benedict XVI announced the investigation in a letter to Irish Catholics in March, addressing decades of abuse and cover-up by church authorities.

The Pope appointed a team of top prelates and nuns for the investigation that will begin in four archdioceses, including Dublin, seminaries and convents.

Expect the usual Pavlov-dog-with-tongue-hanging-out reflexive responses from the victimhood advocates and assorted Church critics - who will get more play in the news reports about this announcement than the announcement itself!

RTE, official Irish TV station, picked out the one provision about the Apostolic Visitation that interests the Irish public most, but the victimhood advocates will scoff as usual, and denounce them as even if they themselves said when the visitations were first announced that the investigations would be meaningless unless the Vatican emissaries spoke to lay people as well, and not just rely on the pastors of the local churches.

Vatican asks abuse victims to help probe
Friday, 12 November 2010

The Vatican has invited Catholics and non-Catholics to contact the investigators Pope Benedict XVI has appointed to examine the fallout here from the child abuse scandals.

Confirming that the investigation team will be available to meet victims and their families, a statement from the Holy See Press Office said the visitation aims to verify how effectively the Church here is responding to cases and helping victims of abuse.

The statement said the nine-strong team - established by the Pope in May - will not investigate individual cases of abuse or judge past events.

Rather, the nine 'Visitators' are tasked with identifying how the Holy See might help the Church here.

The statement adds that other individuals, whether Catholic or not, may ask to be received by the visiting prelates.

It emphasises that the process will in no way interfere with statutory authorities charged with protecting children.

Nor will it cut across 'Commissions of Investigation', one of which is still to report on some cases of abuse in Dublin as well as on scandals in the diocese of Cloyne.

The statement says individuals may write to any of the nine investigators using the Papal Nuncio's address.

00venerdì 12 novembre 2010 17.09

International pro-life leaders will join Pope
in historic vigil for nascent life


FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, Nov. 12 - Human Life International (HLI) is calling on all defenders of life to join its international affiliates and leaders in the “Prayer Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” on November 27, coinciding with vespers of the First Sunday of Advent.

HLI has also sponsored an international petition of solidarity with Pope Benedict XVI, who initiated the historic call to prayer for life for all Christians.

“We hope that Catholics understand the historical significance of Pope Benedict’s invitation,” said Joseph Meaney, HLI’s director of international coordination. “The Holy Father for the first time in history has asked the Universal Catholic Church to gather together in a common liturgical event and pray for our preborn brothers and sisters who are being slaughtered around the world by abortion and other attacks of the culture of death.”

All who want to join Pope Benedict and the universal Church in this special vigil are invited to sign a pledge of solidarity at For details on how to participate in the Prayer Vigil for All Nascent Human Life, HLI recommends the excellent resource pages of the US Catholic Bishops at
[The USCCB announcement was the first post I placed on this thread about the event.]

“We recognize with the Holy Father that as the assaults on human life that are accelerating around the world have evil as their root cause, the most powerful response we in the Church can make is to pray in unity for an end to the assault,” said Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula, interim president of HLI. “Prayer grounds us in the only Power that can ultimately defeat the one behind the culture of death, so we are grateful to be united with the Holy Father in this historic event.”

Monsignor Barreiro will be present at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with the Holy Father to pray for the protection of human life on November 27th.

Founded in 1981, HLI is the world’s largest pro-life organization and has affiliates and associates in over 100 countries on six continents.


In the evening of November 27, 2010 at the liturgical beginning of Advent - a time of joyful anticipation for the birth of Christ - His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate a prayer vigil in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican for the intention of all nascent human life.

At the request of the Holy Father, a letter was sent to all the episcopal conferences of the Catholic Church this past June asking them to take part in this prayer and to organize prayer vigils at the beginning of Advent in all local churches.

This letter was jointly sent by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Pontifical Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Let’s do everything possible so that our parishes, communities, prayer groups and families join in this universal prayer for life, in communion with the Holy Father. Personal prayer in union with the Church for the intention of defending preborn human life is our duty and raises great hope that with God’s help the civilization of life and love will triumph.

For details on how to join Pope Benedict in prayer during the Vigil for All Nascent Human Life-

We plan to present the letter of thanks below to the Holy Father with a list of names of the people who pledged to participate in the Vigil for All Nascent Human Life.

Beloved Holy Father,

Defenders of life around the world feel the increasing pressure and threats from the culture of death. We realize that without God’s help, we cannot win this struggle.

With great joy, on November 27, 2010, at the beginning of Advent, we will join together in a prayer for all nascent human life in communion with you and the whole Catholic Church.

We express our sincere gratitude to you, Holy Father, for your leadership in this gravely needed initiative, and in the fight for life around the world. In prayer, we renew and redouble our efforts, trusting that the Author of Life will guide us toward victory in defending our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.


Here's a sample of diocesan response to the prayer vigil:

Perth bishop calls on faithful
to join prayer vigil with the Pope

By Bronia Karniewicz
'Respect Life Office'
Archdiocese of Perth, Australia
Friday, 12 November 2010

Catholics around the world, including Perth, will join Pope Benedict XVI in a Vigil for Life, praying “for protection of every human being called into existence” on Saturday, 27 November.

The Pope has written to every diocesan Bishop in the world, asking them to join in this significant prayer intention he has termed a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life.”

Mons. Brian Hickey,Archbishop of Perth, will celebrate the 6pm Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Victoria Square on the same date and continue the vigil for three hours more until 10pm; many other parishes in Perth will also mark the occasion.

The purpose of the vigil “is to thank the Lord for His total self-giving to the world and for His Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity and to invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence.”

The specificity of the pro-life prayers suggested by the USCCB for the vigil and all activities leading to it and after is quite surprising:


00venerdì 12 novembre 2010 18.38

I noted this outrageous fact in passing last Sunday, but Phil Lawler says it better - but I didn't get to see his comment till today!

When 200 counts more than 250,000
By Phil Lawler
November 08, 2010


On Sunday there were about 250,000 people in and around the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, cheering for Pope Benedict. There were also about 200 homosexual demonstrators, staging a foolish “kiss-in” in an attempt to embarrass the Pope. Which group gained more media coverage?

Too easy. The gay activists, naturally. Catholics who support the Holy Father are invisible to the mainstream media; critics are visible.

BTW, none of the Italian news reports I read even took note of the fact that Barcelona's huge bullring was filled to capacity with people who chose to follow the Mass on the jumbo screens set up in the arena - something remarkable and rather unprecedented, I should think! And eminently newsworthy.

Dave Pierre has made the same point. That’s not too surprising; the point is an obvious one. But Pierre also picked up on the fact that in her AP story, reporter Nicole Winfield announced that some Spanish women demonstrated, too, “to protest their second-class status in the church.” Thus it was presented to readers-- not as a complaint voiced by some protesters, but as an established fact, relayed by the reporter in her own voice-- that women are second-class Catholics.

Over on the GetReligion site, meanwhile, Mollie noted that the Sagrada Familia cathedral is acknowledged as one of the most important architectural statements of the past century. So when newspapers could find room for just one photo of Sunday’s ceremony, what picture did they choose? The cathedral? Of course not; the “kiss-in.”

The anti-Catholic bias is nothing new. What’s noteworthy is its increasingly blatant tone. Reporters feel less and less compunction about treating the Church simply as the “bad guy” in their stories.

BTW, there were quite a few stories in the Spanish pro-Church media complaining that those in charge of the Pope's motorcade security in Spain were too stringent, to the point that the Popemobile travelled at 20 mph minimum instead of its usual 7-10 mph, I believe, which allows people along the route to see enough of him and not just a quick flash-by! The level of public discontent about this was understandable. Their point was that Spanish authorities should have known from studying the UK visit - which they did - that a reasonable Popemobile pace is possible.

Colleen Campbell starts by waxing sarcastic in denouncing the AP's deliberately and blatantly dishonest reporting of what the Pope said in Barcelona, but ends up really strong and in earnest on the Pope's message...

What the Pope
really said in Spain

By Colleen Carroll Campbell
November 11, 2010

From the screeching headlines and sour press reports, you would think Pope Benedict XVI's recent trip to Spain was a colossal flop. What else could you call a visit from an 83-year-old cleric who spent two straight days ranting against gays and abortion amid swarms of angry protesters? And we all know that's what happened, because the mainstream media told us so. [Fortunately, not too many media outlets in the USA thought the Pope's visit to Spain was newsworthy enough to even rate being mentioned.]

Never mind that little in the transcripts or live television coverage of the papal visit supported that storyline. [Which, of course, Average Joe/Jane reader will never see! Nor will he/she ever see any TV coverage of what the Pope said unless they watched the EWTN or Salt and Light broadcasts of the events themselves. And not even all Catholics do that. You have to be specifically interested in a) the Pope, or b) live broadcasts, or their rebroadcast, of papal trips outside Rome, or c) live broadcasts, or their rebroadcast, of any papal event - in ascending order of generality.]

Or that those anti-Pope protests trumpeted as the trip's most newsworthy event were more minuscule than massive. The gay rights activists who staged a "kiss-in" against Benedict in Barcelona numbered about 200. The pilgrims who gathered to cheer him numbered a quarter million.

Let's not dwell on numbers. What matters are words, and according to the Associated Press, Benedict devoted his to "attacking" and "blasting" Spain's lax abortion and marriage laws. [Fortunately, AP only filed one story that day, which limited the poison somewhat, and the online catalog of worldwide outlets that used the story was far less than those that had used the preceding days' hype about the kiss-in - I supppose because the much-ballyhooed event that promised thousands participating only ended up with 50 couples! Nonetheless, the news agencies took and posted online about half as many photos of the gay demonnstrators as they did of the Pope's motorcade that day... Another data bit: The day before, Nov 6, all the news agencies made much about a protest by a few hundred anti-Church angry-about-everything-and-anything demonstrators in Barcelona. But they said nothing about the thousands who gathered spontaneously near the Archbishop's Palace nearby to welcome the Pope on his late-night arrival from Santiago!
A clear example of misrepresentation by omission - by not reporting anything that does not fit into MSM's prefabricated and lethally poisonous narrative about the Church and this Pope. ]

Not explicitly, of course. Yet astute observers could detect the angry, political subtext of his Sunday homily in Barcelona's newly consecrated Basilica of the Holy Family. The AP spared readers all that papal mumbo jumbo about the beauty of faith and family, and cut to the chase, saying Benedict "railed against same-sex marriage and divorce" and "criticized policies allowing for abortions."

What were the actual words that generated this synopsis of the Pope's homily, one echoed in news reports across Western Europe and America? ['Echoed' only in the sense that they all used the same AP report, not that they had their own reports on the event. Because of course, they did not bother to send their own correspondents. Latin America, Asia and Africa, plus Spain itself, must have accounted for most of the 3,000 journalists who got accreditation and were actually in Spain. One trusts that this majority reported on what they actually saw and heard, not what they wished they had seen (or not seen) and heard.]

Here they are, buried in Benedict's call for more support for working families: "The generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context and foundation of human life in its gestation, birth, growth and natural end."

Simply put, the Pope believes that faithful, lifelong, man-woman marriage is the ideal context for bearing and rearing children. His belief is buttressed by four decades of social science studies showing that children raised by their married mothers and fathers fare better than those raised in other types of families on nearly every measure available.

But enough about the research; back to Benedict's irrational rant. After reiterating Catholic teaching on the 'sacred and inviolable" dignity of human life, the Pope said the Catholic Church "resists every form of denial of human life" and supports "everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family."

To the 'untrained' ear, that message sounds positive and apolitical. Yet those who interpret the Pope's messages for the masses know better. They remind us, in story after story, that religious leaders who defend traditional values do so angrily, to advance political agendas and protect their power. When the facts fail to fit that template — as they almost always do in the case of gentle, smiling Benedict — they get downplayed or omitted.

There's nothing new about reporters turning measured papal statements into blaring headlines. Nor are such journalists wrong to surmise that Benedict's views challenge the prevailing secular ethos of our age. But in their frenzy to depict the Pope as crotchety culture warrior, they miss the meatiest part of his challenge.

Benedict's fundamental critique of the secular West is not about flawed policies as much as the flawed ideology that drives them: the naïve assumption that we can remember our respect for human rights while forgetting the Judeo-Christian heritage and view of the human person that gave rise to that respect in the first place.

In his quiet, erudite way, he dares us to see faith as a foundation rather than an obstacle to our freedom, to live as if the God of the Bible still matters today, and to ponder what our longings for beauty and infinity tell us about our eternal destiny.

Benedict sounded these themes Sunday, in a 1,900-word homily of which only about 100 words related to the hot-button issues that received all the press.

"At a time in which man claims to be able to build his life without God, as if God had nothing to say to him," the Pope said, architect Antoni Gaudí's remarkable cathedral reminds us "that the secret of authentic originality consists … in returning to one's origin, which is God."

In other words, the transcendent world view of faith is more original and liberating than the materialist one championed by secular sophisticates. Those are provocative words, worthy of serious debate. Too bad skewed papal media coverage ensures that most Americans and Europeans will never hear them.

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of "Faith & Culture" on EWTN. Her website is

00sabato 13 novembre 2010 14.02

'Benedicto de Europa'
by Alejandro Muñoz-Alonso
Translated from
Nov. 8, 2010

Munoz-Alonso is Professor of Public Opinion at Madrid's Universidad Complutense and at the Universidad San Pablo CEU.

Benedict XVI's visit to Spain, as quick as it was fraught with significance, confirms the mission that Joseph Ratzinger had imposed on himself long before he became Pope.

And that is, nothing less than to prove that there is no incompatibility between faith and reason, between Christianity and modernity, between the Catholic Church and democratic society. [I think that is something of a mis-statement, because, of course, there are incompatiblilities between those binomials, but there are common elements, too, that can be reconciled, for which dialog is possible and necessary if they are to co-exist. And this has been Benedict xVI's point.]

He also underscores that in such an undertaking - so difficult and complex that it might well be considered 'titanic' - Europe plays an essential role. The Europe that Ratzinger knows and understands better than anyone as his writings, ectures and discourses have shown.

In this respect, I found particularly excellent a lecture he gave in Berlin in 2000 and which he partially used later when he addressed the Italian Senate in 2004, and it was published with the title, "Europe: Her spiritual foundations, today and tomorrow".

For Ratzinger, Europe has been 'emptied from within" because it allowed itself to lose "the primordial certainties of man about God, himself and the universe". And this has led the West to the strange situation of trying "to open itself to understanding alien values, at a time when it has stopped loving itself, and sees only what is despicable and destructive in her history, without perceiving what was great and pure".

Benedict XVI affirms that "in order to survive, Europe must come to a new accceptance of herself, critical certainly, and humble", and warns against multi-culturalism which, much too often, is nothing but "the abandonment and negation of what is one's own".

The depth and the accuracy of the Pope's thinking cannot, of course, be expressed in the few words cited, but nonetheless, they give an idea of sustained reflection which explains both the identity of Europe - or, if one prefers, of the Western world or civiilization - and the causes of the existential crisis which has afflicted it for some time.

It is a crisis that began with the dawning of the contemporary world as one of the sub-products of that great movement known as the Enlightenment, which the Church certainly was slow to grasp and to react to.

It meant the first attacks from a radical secularism which frequently expressed itself as raging anti-clericalism or militant atheism, in the face of which the Church folded in on itself, closed to every innovation, distrusting reason, and somnolent in the equivocal formulas of Throne and Altar and the temporal power of the Papacy.

The Church restored its dialog with the world with Popes like Leo XIII, Benedict XV and Pius XI.

Meanwhile, Europe had hurled itself into the abyss of the totalitarianisms and of 'statolatry', which are inconceivable without rejecting God, and are incapable of understanding that human dignity itself is laid aside when atheism imposes itself.

The dialog of the Church with the world culminated in John XXIII, who was open, as he said himself, "to the signs of the times", and who would launch the great reformist experiment that was the Second Vatican Council.

Convinced of the indispensable role of Europe and the urgency of recovering her identity, Ratzinger chose for his papal name that of St. Benedict of Nursia, patron of Europe since 1964 by proclamation of Paul VI - who did this in recognition of the fundamental role of the Benedictine monks, whose order was founded by St. Benedict in the 6th century, in safeguarding the classical and Christian legacy of Europe through the convulsions that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire and the barbarian kingdoms that succeeded it.

To those who had easily accepted the idea of an atheist Europe - or at least, a secular one - and who imagined a Church that would henceforth dedicate itself almost exclusively to the Third World and Latin America, the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope was a warning sign: For him, the 're-evangelzization' of Europe, as he spoke of it in Compostela, is a priority .

Benedict XVI is ever aware that although Christianity was born in the Middle East, Christianity as we know it today took shape in Europe [even as it shaped Europe] and that during the thousand years of the misnamed Middle Ages, the Europe we know today had another name by which it was more commonly referred to - Christendom.

And so the Church cannot allow the loss of a Europe now disoriented by its emptiness within, denying its most obvious Christian roots, and victim to tha aggressive and destructive secularism which seeks to eradicate every trace of Christianity.

Benedict XVI has taken up and potentiated what was already of obvious concern to John Paul II.

The secularism denounced by the Pope is not that practiced, for example, by the Founding Fathers of the United States, who decreed the separation of Church and State, but who reconciled it with their own profound religiosity and had no hesitation about proclaiming "In God we trust" as the national motto.

The secularism/anti-clericalism that Benedict XVI denounces is the aggressive and destructive kind that came out of the French Revolution, and which took its own forms in Spain - perpetrating myths like friars giving out poisoned candy to children, and the radical anti-clericalism of pamphlets that aimed to systematically discredit the Church during the Second Republic and led to the orgy of priest killing during the Civil War.

In an article entitled 'Sectarianism' published here in June 2010, we said that 'anti-clericalism is in the DNA of socialism'. Benedict XVI did not, of course, come to that, but answering a question posed to him on the flight to Compostela, he simply stated irrefutable historical fact in describing the situation in 1930s Spain.

Not that Zapatero and his government would have wanted to be identified closely with that sad period in our history.

One year ago, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg made the outrageoous ruling in favor of a Finnish woman married to an Italian that the crucifix in the Italian classrooms is "contrary to parents' rights to educzate their children in line with their own convictions and to children's right to freedom of religion". The ruling has been appealed by Italy and seven other European nations.

But on that occasion, I posted two commentaries which resonate with Prof Munoz's article above but go far beyond its scope and are even more relevant today, so I am re-posting them here.


Perhaps no other living personality today, or even in the decades since the end of World War II, has commented more often, more analytically and more consistently about the crisis of Europe - in its cultural identity, in its demographic reality, in standing up to the overt challenge of Islam and the risk of becoming 'Eurabia' - than Joseph Ratzinger before and since becoming Pope.

His passionate personal concern, as well as the Church's own institutional concern, about this issue, has virtually made him the Prophet of Europe, and unquestionably had to do with his choice of his papal name in homage to St. Benedict who saved Christian Europe in the Middle Ages. He may well be Europe's 'new Benedict' - and once again, it is remarkable that it takes a man of God, and not any one of the world's self-trumpeting intellectuals and political leaders, to defend a way of life that is primarily 'temporal' after all, to the secular mind.

This article comes from Avanti, the official daily newspaper of the Italian Socialist Party since 1896.

The successes of Benedict XVI
and the 'blindness' of Europe

Translated from
November 11, 2009

Do religion and spirituality have any political fallout? Are they somehow related to political reasoning? The late don Gianni Baget Bozzo thought so, and his entire life and thinking demonstrated that.

On the other hand, all who believed - and one thinks especially of the defeated Communist regimes of eastern Europe - that they could simply cast out God and man's tendency to seek the Infinite, have been proven wrong by the irresistible power of Catholicism, embodied by the unique figure of John Paul II.

But there are those on the left who, even if they do not advocate the materialistic culture, pre-and post-Communist era, continually see a political content in anything that the Church of Rome does under the Pontificate of Benedict XVI.

That is the case with Massimo Faggioli, a scholar of religious history, who had an article on oct. 28 in the Partito Democratico's newspaper Europa, entitled "The PD and Benedict's Latin". [The PD is a political party formed earlier this year by leading Catholic leftists under the former mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, and was soundly defeated by Silvio Berlusconi's center-right coalition in the April parliamentary elections.]

For Faggioli, "the theological debate over the Second Vatican Council directly affects 'democratic Catholicism' and its culture as an important and not simply residual part of the political scenario".

In effect, Faggioli has noted how Benedict XVI's Magisterium is demolishing the cultural assumptions of that 'democratic Catholicism' [i.e., leftist Christian Democrats, in the term more commonly used] , which flourished under the Pontificate of John XXIII and then through part of Paul VI's.

Naturally, Faggioli - who also writes editorials for the PD organ - defends the artifices resulting from Vatican-II and condemns the present Pope because "even if the Vatican-II fathers had no political objectives in mind when they debated the documents that 'updated' the Catholic Church, every step back taken by the church of Benedict XVI from the acquisitions of Vatican-II launches, in fact, a political message".

It looks like ultimately, Europa and the PD have not learned their lesson. They are concerned for the 'democratic Catholicism' of the politicians who describe themselves as 'adult Catholics' because the Pope 'has put them aside' [when it was the voters who did], and therefore, it is the Pope who has erred.

The truth is that spirituality, culture, politics are all inter-related. Baget Bozzo's lesson has still not been learned by the left, which continues unperturbed to make mistakes.

However, the issue raised by Europa deserves to be pursued, looking at Benedict XVI's Pontificate and how it has progressed so far.

Within the space of a few months, Joseph Ratzinger has been able to cross over the threshold of Hope: for a Christianity that may once more be united around the primacy of Peter.

In this respect, only a theologian like Hans Kueng, who calls himself 'Catholic', could criticize Benedict XVI as harshly as he did upon the announcement of a rapprochement between traditional Anglicans and Rome.

Kueng claims that the Pope's only intention is to 'restore the Roman empire", or to maintain 'Rome's medieval centrality'.

It is sad to note the biased attitude of the Swiss theologian, though his article has been published integrally so far only in La Repubblica and The Guardian [also Le Monde], which perhaps says something.

How can Kueng not see reality? In a few months, Benedict XVI - with his openings to the Lefebvrians and the Anglicans - has made different signals that point to only one direction. As L'Osservatore Romano said in an editorial: it is "to reconstitute the unity desired by Christ and to acknowledge the long and effortful ecumenical journey that has been achieved so far for this end".

Of course, the Pope's work does not end here. He has other thresholds to cross. One is in the north, the other east.

The German evangelicals have chosen a woman to continue dialog with the Catholics from a strong common platform: a value-driven intransigence on bioethical issues.

And in the east, the theological dialog with the Orthodox Churches is on track [having now arrived at discussing the role of the Pope in a reunified Church]. Even in this, how can one miss the hand of Benedict XVI?

The recent theological session in Cyprus marked an important step, looking to an extraordinary resumption in Vienna next year [the sessions have always been biennial, every two years, since they began in 1980]. where their host will be Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn who is closely associated with Benedict XVI.

It is incumbent on the Italian government - which is doing fairly well in its European relationships [except for Brussels and Strasbourg constantly trying to oppose Italian practices and laws based on the country's Catholic traditions, which date to the beginnings of the Church] and its relations with Russia - to take note of Benedict XVI's successes.

[Perhaps an unnecessary suggestion, since both President Napolitano and Prime Minister Berlusconi have certainly been very attentive to what the Pope says and does. Perhaps the writer meant Italian politicians in general, such as the obstinate PD.]

Now, how serendipitous is it that having commented in my introduction to the above article on Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI as the 'Prophet of Europe' and 'the new Benedict for Europe', there was this article today that developed that very theme!

A ‘different Benedict is here’:
Benedict XVI and the new missionary age

The voices of those who wanted to place him in a terminological box have receded.
This is a prophetic Pope with an inspired and historic mission that has only just begun.

By Deacon Keith Fournier
Catholic Online

History shows that the earliest days of a Papacy often send a signal for the watchful observer. We are told by some to pay attention to the name chosen by the new Pope and the content of their first messages. I vividly recall the first days of our current Pope’s service to the Church and the world. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger chose the name Benedict.

One of the young priests who commentated on this choice during the televised coverage of those extraordinary days noted that the new Pope had visited Subiaco before all the events even began. Subiaco is the home of the Benedictine monastic movement. It symbolizes the Christianization of Europe during the First Millennium.

Saint Benedict was born around the year 480 in Umbria, Italy. He is the father of Western Monasticism and co-patron of Europe (along with Saints Cyril and Methodius).

As a young man, Benedict fled a decadent and declining Rome for further studies and deep prayer and reflection. He gave his life entirely to God as a son of the united Catholic Church. He traveled to Subiaco. That cave became his dwelling, the place where he communed deeply with God.

It is now a shrine called "Sacro Speco" (The Holy Cave). It is still a sanctuary for pilgrims, including Pope Benedict XVI, who visited that very same place of prayer right before his election to the Chair of Peter.

St. Benedict lived a life of prayer and solitude for three years and studied under a monk named Romanus. His holiness drew other men and women and soon, twelve small monasteries were founded. He later traveled to Monte Cassino, where he completed his "Rule for Monks." From those Benedictine monasteries, an entire monastic movement, a lay movement in its day, was birthed and the world was changed through it.

It was this movement which led to the evangelization of Europe and the emergence of an authentically Christian culture. This Culture was the fertile soil for the birth and flourishing of the academy, the arts and the emergence of what later became known as Christendom.

In April of 2005, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, a man of letters, professor and ardent student of Church history assumed the Chair of Peter as Pope Benedict XVI. Shortly after this momentous event, I wrote a lengthier article on the possible implications of his election containing a quotation from the philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre, taken from his book After Virtue:

It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the Epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages.

Nonetheless, certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of the Imperium.

What they set themselves to achieve instead - often not recognizing fully what they were doing - was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness.

If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us.

And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament.

We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another - doubtless very different - St. Benedict.”

I speculated that Pope Benedict XVI - who has since reminded us that the Church is a “creative minority” - was a response to the need expressed by MacIntyre for a “different Benedict”. I am even more convinced of it now.

In an age which has witnessed a decline in Christianity on the European continent, Pope Benedict XVI boldly calls for a rebirth of Christianity in Europe.

In an age which has been beset by disunity in the ranks of those who bear the name Christian, he has undertaken an extraordinary mission of Church Unity.

His prophetic and pastoral response to Anglicans seeking full communion in the safe harbor of the Catholic Church is one among several courageous and prophetic actions taken by this quiet, diminutive, and humble “servant of the servants of God”.

Others include his offer of reconciliation with the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre; his encouragement of the lay movements and ecclesial communities, the “monastic movement” of this Third Millennium; and his extended hand of communion toward the Orthodox Church which has as its goal the full restoration of ecclesial and Eucharistic communion which recognizes legitimate diversity within such a renewed communion.

This is a prophetic Pope who understands that there is no “Plan B”, the Church is the only hope for the recovery of a devastated West. Indeed she is the only hope for the whole world because she continues the redemptive mission of her head, Jesus Christ. She is His Body.

He will soon visit Europe [What on earth does Fournier mean?] in a series of near non-stop apostolic visitations [????] during his short tenure in office.

St. Augustine of Canterbury was sent to what became England by another great Pope St. Gregory, in 669, to bring freedom to the inhabitants of that beautiful land through the proclamation of the full Gospel of Jesus Christ as found within the Catholic Church.

Now, in the Third Millennium, the successor of Gregory is making the trip himself. The timing of the release of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Apostolic Constitution establishing Personal Ordinariates for returning groups of Anglican Christians, is no accident. Nor is it the only historic overture toward authentic unity which this Pope of Unity will offer during his service.

The voices of those who wanted to place him in a terminological box have receded. This is a prophetic Pope with an inspired and historic mission that has only just begun.

Pope Benedict XVI participated in the Second Vatican Council. He not only understands the authentic teaching of that Council but has led the way in its proper implementation in many areas of life, both within the Church and in her mission to the contemporary age.

He also understands the way that the Council was hijacked in some circles, disregarded in others and misinterpreted in still others. However, his is a voice calling for a dynamically orthodox and faithful Catholic Christian faith, practice, worship and life that does not want to move us back but forward and toward.

In his homily prior to the convening of the conclave where he was chosen to fill the Chair of Peter, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger gave a prophetic insight into the challenges of the age:

How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking...

The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth.

Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf Eph 4, 14). Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and "swept along by every wind of teaching," looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today’s standards.

We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.

Some attempted to misuse this prophetic insight to paint him as rejecting the modern world and somehow seeking to “turn the clock back”. That was nonsense.

What he rejects is the emptiness of what is called “modernity” and “post modernity”. What he proposes is a path to authentic progress; a road leading not to the past, but to a future of hope.

Authentic liberation can only be brought about through a new missionary age and a Rebirth of the Church. The Gospel - as taught by and lived in its fullness within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - is the only saving truth that redeems and brings about human flourishing, true freedom and authentic cultural recovery.

To proclaim this Gospel in its fullness to this Third Christian Millennium requires that the Church breathe with both of her lungs, East and West.

That is why Benedict is unqualifiedly dedicated to such a full communion of the Church, East and West. He calls it his “impelling duty”. He is the “Pope of Christian Unity” and he is the Pope of a new Missionary Age.

He knows that the "two lungs" on the One Body of Christ must breathe together again in order to animate this new missionary age with the full breath of the Holy Spirit which is needed to renew the Church and reform the world again in Christ.

Pope Benedict, like his namesake St. Benedict, has a vision for the Evangelization of Europe and the West. A “different Benedict” is here and a new missionary age has begun.

00sabato 13 novembre 2010 15.27

Nov. 13, Saturday, 32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Third from right, the saint's founder statue in St. Peter's Basilica.
ST. FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI (b Italy 1850, d USA 1917)
Virgin, Missionary, and Founder, Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Patron Saint of Immigrants
Born to a modest family in a town near Milan, she became a nun and soon rose to be the Mother Superior of an orphanage in Codogno where she taught. When the orphanage closed, she and seven of her colleagues set up the Missionary Sisters order. Her work brought her to the attention of Leo XIII who asked her to go the United States as a missionary instead of China which she would have preferred. With Chicago as her base, she and her order established dozens of schools, hospitals and orphanages for poor people, as well as material assistance and adult education for Italian immigrants. In 1946, she became the first US citizen to be canonized.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
No papal story in today's OR other than the news release regarding the apostolic visitations in Ireland. Page 1 international news: G20 summit in Seoul ends without any agreement on the currency and trade war between the US and China; Milan to name its central train station for St. Frances Cabrini in a major ceremony today, with Cardinal Bertone present; the United Kingdom plans next to disallow unemployment benefits to anyone who refuses three times to take an available job; Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki, reconfirmed to head the new government 8 months since the elections his party narrowly lost, has 30 days to form a new government - former PM Allawi, a Sunni, whose party won 2 more votes than Maliki's will head a Security Council to oversee the executive department; and the UN calls for itnernational help to Haiti, where a cholera epidemic has now claimed more than 700 lives.


The Holy Father met today with

- Francisco Argüello, Founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, and delegation

= Participants in the annual plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Address in Italian.

- Ten Brazilian bishops from the central western Sector, on ad limina visit. Individual meetings.

And in the afternoon, he held his regular meetings with

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; and

- Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

00sabato 13 novembre 2010 16.57

Further on the question of Europe, George Weigel compares two views of Europe recently enunciated by the current 'President of Europe' and by Benedict XVI in Compostela, in which the secular view easily comes out as a self-parody.

A tale of two Europes:
Looking for transcendence

by George Weigel
Nov. 12, 2010

November 9 marked the 21st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet if the open-borders Europe of the Schengen agreement is no longer divided by concrete walls, barbed-wire fences, and sandy death-traps, 21st-century Europe remains deeply divided nonetheless. Evidence of the depth and nature of that division was plentiful before and during the recent anniversary.

On the night of November 9 (which is also the anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1938 and the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923), Herman Van Rompuy, the Belgian president of the European Union Council (and thus, by some reckonings, “president of Europe”), spoke in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum on the challenges facing European democracy in the 21st century.

Three days earlier, in a homily at the venerable Spanish pilgrimage shrine of Santiago de Compostela, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a similar set of questions:
- Where will Europe find the civilizational energy to fuel its future as a distinct cultural enterprise?
- What, in fact, is “Europe”? Is it a set of pragmatic arrangements for mutual economic benefit?
- Or do its political and economic institutions express something like a common civilizational community?
- And if the latter is the case, then what are the sources of that community’s values and identity?

The answers given by Van Rompuy and Benedict could not have highlighted more sharply the different roads down which Europe might travel.

The Belgian’s speech was not without a certain comic quality, doubtless unintended. Van Rompuy fretted at some length about a new “Euro-skepticism,” which he identified with such anti-democratic forces as resurgent nationalism and populism — rather ignoring the fact that some Euro-skeptics would point to the completely undemocratic process by which Van Rompuy became “president of Europe” as one source of their skepticism about the project being imposed on them from Brussels.

As for the new nationalism, the man whose own country threatens to splinter along linguistic fault-lines between its Flemish and Walloon segments - Belgian “nationality” being somewhat attenuated these days - condemned a nationalism that “is often not a positive feeling of pride of [he meant “in”] one’s own identity, but a negative feeling of apprehension of [he meant “about”] the others” (tell that to the citizens of Flanders and Wallonia).

This “feeling all over Europe,” could, he warned, lead to war — although, given current European levels of defense spending, one might wonder what such a war would be fought with.

But it was Van Rompuy’s flaccid attempt to define the ethical sources of the new Europe’s identity that rang most hollow:

Alongside diversity — and diversity is certainly a strength of our societies — we still need, in each of our societies, a sense of unity, of belonging together. This sense of unity can lie in shared values; or in a language, a shared history, a will to live together. . . . And this will springs above all from the stories we tell each other.

Think of the ancient Greeks: The stories of Homer created bonds through the centuries. They have us spell-bound tonight. It can be the stories of war and peace, or Olympic exploits or saint-like sacrifice, of a prison stormed or a Wall which came down.

Such stories do what a treatise on “values” cannot achieve: They embody “virtues” in an understandable way, virtues shown by men and women in real situations. Courage, respect, responsibility, tolerance, a sense of the common good.

To keep such European virtues alive, to transmit their age-old qualities to our children and grandchildren, that will be one of the great challenges for the future.

Here is the post-modern theory of the triumph of “narrative” run so far amok that it becomes self-parody.

Putting aside the question of whether, on present demographic trends, there will be all that many “children and grandchildren” to whom to tell stories of Attic courage, or the figure-skating gold medals of Sonja Henie, or the fall of the Bastille, or the breaching of the Berlin Wall, Van Rompuy’s European Story Hour is just that: a disconnected conglomeration of “narratives” telling no one compelling tale.

Or if there is a tale here, it is, pace the Thane of Cawdor, a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Earlier in his address, Van Rompuy, with a nod to the Pergamon Museum’s antiquities collections, attempted a measure of eloquence about “the Gods of Olympus, before us and behind us, [who] take us to Greek civilization . . . with its temples, fountains, libraries, and theaters” (but not, apparently, its polytheism, paganism, slavery, exposure of unwanted children, and violence).

Now, to be sure, no one who cherishes the civilization of Europe could deny the crucial importance in the formation of the modern West of truths first discerned in classical antiquity.

What President Van Rompuy seems to have forgotten is that the best of classical civilization was preserved and refined, not by the Gods of Olympus (a rather rum lot to appeal to in defense of democracy!) but by the followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus, who saved classical antiquity in the scriptoria and libraries of monasteries founded during the so-called Dark Ages.

00sabato 13 novembre 2010 17.35

A German newsman has made a news item over Peter Seewald's disclosure to an Il Foglio journalist earlier this week that Benedict XVI admits he did not expect the reaction to his Regensburg lecture... Which incidentally also provoked a lengthy essay in Il Foglio yesterday looking back at the Regensburg ruckus... On Thursday, I mentioned the Pope's hindsight on Regensburg in noting that Il Foglio had published a 7-page interview with Seewald (which I did not proceed to translate because except for the Regensburg 'disclosure', he was very careful not to anticipate any answers from the interview-book, so the interview ended up being about him.)

Author says Pope regrets uproar over
Regensburg lecture but stands by it


ROME, Nov. 13 (dpa) — Four years later, Pope Benedict XVI says he regrets the controversy caused by remarks about Islam in a speech, although he still would not retract them, an Italian newspaper reported Friday. [Thursday, actually!]

The daily Il Foglio cited German journalist and writer Peter Seewald in describing how the Pope now looks back on his September 12, 2006 speech in Regensburg, Germany, which caused an uproar in the Muslim world.

Seewald is to unveil a book about the Pope and the Church on Nov. 24 titled Licht der Welt. Der Papst, die Kirche und die Zeichen der Zeit ("Light of the world. The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times").

In the Regensburg speech, the Pope had cited from a 14th-century text by a Byzantine emperor linking violence and Islam, with the text describing how the Prophet Mohammed did not shy away from spreading his faith "by the sword."

Now, Benedict says he would not retract his speech, which he had meant to be "primarily scholarly" in its aim to discuss views on Islam, but acknowledges he underestimated the impact his words would have.

Seewald, the Il Foglio report said, cites the Pope as saying that at the time he was not clearly aware that, in the end, any speech by a Pope is going to be regarded as political.

Seewald's book is based on conversations he said he conducted with Benedict, with the Pontiff speaking openly about such topics as pedophilia, divorce, married priests, birth control, church reforms and Islam.

According to the Italian news magazine Panorama, not even Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone has read the upcoming book.

In the controversy in the aftermath of Benedict's speech, the Pope held meetings with high-level representatives of Islam to clarify his remarks and to apologize for what he insisted was a misunderstanding.


00sabato 13 novembre 2010 17.56

Wanted: a Papal Nuncio who will improve
the calibre of the UK's Catholic bishops

[IMG] [/IMG]
November 13th, 2010

Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, the Papal Nuncio to Great Britain, is retiring early because of ill health. It’s sad for him, of course: I wish him a full recovery, a happy retirement, and shall try to forget his attempts to silence this blog.

But now, PLEASE, will the Vatican recognise that the Catholics who responded so warmly to Benedict XVI deserve a Nuncio willing to recommend bishops motivated by the Pope’s programme of orthodox renewal?

I don’t want to single out Archbishop Sainz, because he was just one of a string of Apostolic Nuncios or Delegates who represented the Bishops’ Conferences to the Pope rather than the other way around.

Like secular diplomats who go native, the Holy See’s ambassadors have allowed the Magic Circle to force the names of second-rate Church politicians on to ternas [A terna is the short list of nominees recommended by the resident Nuncio to the Pope when a vacant bishop's post needs to be filled].

The results are plain to see, especially in the North-West of England, its Catholic heritage left to rot by complacent prelates, and in the liberal Protestant dioceses of the south coast with their 1970s retro liturgies. So…

Wanted: a Papal Nuncio, inspired by the writings and teachings of Joseph Ratzinger, preferably a native English speaker, with a bullshit detector that’s set off by Eccleston Square Bishopese and a knack for spotting dynamic orthodox priests capable of turning round a moribund diocese.

I can name a dozen such priests off the top of my head, but none of them stands a cat in hell’s chance of receiving a mitre until we get a decent Nuncio.

Mons. Sainz suffered a serious stroke that required lengthy hospitalization several weeks before the Pope's visit, so he was unable to take part in the preparations for the visit, and in the visit itself... All I recall reading about him before his stroke was that some time in 2007, along with the then Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, he hosted an elaborate event in London for Archbishop Piero Marini to present his book on liturgy which sang the praises of Marini's mentor Anibale Bugnini, who had engineered the Novus Ordo. It was a gesture that - more than just being unseemly on his part and that of Murphy O'Connor, a known opponent of Summorum Pontificum - was almost a slap at Benedict XVI. It was one of the more egregious demonstrations of bishops openly deying the Pope, including the Apostolic Nuncio, who formally represents the Pope!

00sabato 13 novembre 2010 23.23

Pope Benedict XVI says Christian living
most effective way to proclaim the Gospel



Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday met with participants of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who met this week on the theme "The Culture of Communication and New Languages."

The Holy Father spoke to them about the technological transformations in the modern world, and how they have caused difficulties in communicating the Gospel Message.

He said the Church must learn to use the new methods of communication in proclaiming the Gospel of salvation.

He said that from the liturgy and its beauty, the Church can draw on an extraordinary wealth of symbols, images, and rituals – which can touch both the heart and the intellect.

However, Pope Benedict said what is even more striking is the beauty of Christian living.

In the end, he said, only love is trustworthy and credible. The lives of the saints and martyrs present a unique beauty that fascinates and attracts.

Pope Benedict said the world needs men and women who speak with their lives, and who can communicate the Gospel with the joyful passion of love.

Christian tradition can purify
new forms of communication,
Pope tells Cultural Council


Vatican City, Nov 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News).- New forms of communication must be humanizing or they will increase “confusion and solitude” among their users, Pope Benedict XVI has said. The Church is not indifferent to these innovations but seeks to purify and use them “with critical sense.”

His comments came in a Nov. 13 audience at the Vatican with participants in the four-day conference of the pontifical Council for Culture on the topic "Culture of communications and new languages."

This year's discussions were unique for their venue: the Capitoline Hill, Rome’s historic center of culture, government and history.

The president of the Council, Cardinal-designate Gianfranco Ravasi, explained at a press conference that the choice of venue aimed to bring their work out of the Vatican and into the city among the people.

Discussions ranged from the effects of the Internet on modern communications and interpersonal relations, to the way people communicate through food.

In his audience with the participants, the Pope said that "speaking of communications and language means ... not only touching one of the crucial junctions of our world and its cultures, but for us believers, it means getting closer to the very mystery of God who, in his goodness and wisdom, wished to reveal himself and show his will to men."

He spoke of the "profound cultural transformation" taking place due to the great changes in forms of communication. The Church, he said, is not "indifferent" to these changes, but "on the contrary, seeks to avail itself with renewed creative commitment, but also with critical sense and attentive discernment, of new languages and ways of communication."

The Church wishes to enter into dialogue with all people in the world, he said. But, to reach people today, especially young people, it must "tune in" to the same frequency.

"Today not a few young people, stunned by the infinite possibilities offered by information networks or by other technologies, establish forms of communication that do not contribute to growth in humanity, but risk rather to increase the sense of solitude and confusion," the Pontiff warned.

He explained that education is needed to promote a "humanizing communication."

The Church can turn to the Gospel and Christian tradition to "guide, purify, clean and elevate" new forms of communications, he explained. "In particular the rich and dense symbolism of the liturgy must shine in all its force as a communicative element, until it touches the human conscience, the heart and the intellect profoundly".

Here is a full translation of the Holy Father's words:

Eminent Cardinals,
Venerated brothers in the EPiscopate and Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters:

I am happy to meet you at the end of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, during which you examined the topic, "The culture of communications and new languages".

I thank your President, Mons. Gianfranco Ravasi, for his beautiful words, and a I greet all the participants, thankful for the contribution you offer to the study of this topic which is very relevant for the mission of the Church.

To speak of communication and language means, in fact, not only to touch on one of the crucial aspects of our world and its cultures, but for us believers, it also means approaching the mystery of God himself who, in his goodness and wisdom, revealed himself and manifested his will to men
(Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Const. Dei Verbum, 2).

In Christ, God revealed himself to us as Logos, who communicates with us, interpellates us,establishing the bond that establishes our identity and dignity as human beings, loved as children of the only Father (cfr Post-Synodal Ap. Ech. Verbum Domini, 6.22.23).

Communication and language are likewise essential dimensions of human culture, made up of information and ideas, of beliefs and lifestyles, but also of rules, without which it would be difficult for man to progress in his humanity and sociability.

I appreciated the original choice of inaugurating the Plenary at the Salla della Prometeca at the Campidoglio [Rome's historic City Hall], civic and institutional heart of Rome, with a roundtable session on "Listening to the language of the soul in the city".

Int his way, the dicastery intended to express one of its essential tasks: to listens to the men adn women of our time in order to promote new opportunitie for announcing the Gospel. Therefore, by listening to the voices of the globalized world, we realize that a profound cultural transformation is under way, with new languages and new forms of communication, which also lead to new and problematic anthropological models.

In this context, pastors and the faithful have become greatly concerned by difficulties in conveying the message of the Gospel and in the transmission of the faith within the ecclesial community itself.

As I wrote in the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini: "A great many Christians who need to have the word of God once more persuasively proclaimed to them, so that they can concretely experience the power of the Gospel"
(No. 96).

The problems seem to increase when the Church turns to the men and women who are distant or indifferent to an experience of faith, whom the evangelical message reaches in a way that is hardly effective nor engaging.

In a world where communication has become the winning strategy, the Church - repository of the mission to communicate the Gospel of salvation to all men, cannot remain indifferent or estranged. On teh contrary, it seeks to avail of the new languages communications modalities with renewed creative commitment, but also with a critical sense and attentive discernment.

The inability of language to communicate the profound sense and beauty of the experience of faith can contribute to the indifference of many, especially young people. It an become a reason for alienating them, as the Vatican-II Constitution Gaudium et spes anticipated, underscoring how an inadequate presentation of the Christian message would hide rather than present the genuine face of God and of religion
(cfr No. 19).

The Church wishes to dialog with everyone, in the search for truth. But in order that dialog and communications can be effective and fruitful, it may be necessary for everyone to tune in on the same frequency, in teh context of friendly and sincere encounters, int hat ideal Court of the Gentiles that I proposed to the Roman Curia a year ago, and which your dicastery is realizing in various places that are emblematic of European culture.

Today, not a few young people, stunned by the infinite possibilities offered by the information we or other technologies, are establishing forms of communication that do not contribute to the growth of mankind but instead risk increasing the individual sense of solitude and of rootlessness.

In the face of such phenomena, I have spoken several times of an educational emergency, a challenge to which we must and can respond with creative intelligence, committed to promote a humanizing communication that stimulates the critical sens and the capacity for valuation and discernment.

Even in today's technological culture, there is the permanent paradigm of inculturating the Gospel to make it the guide, purifying it, healing and elevating the better elements of the new languages and the new forms of communication.

For this task which is difficult and fascinating, the Church can draw from the extraordinary patrimony of symbols, images, rites and gestures of its tradition. In particular, the rich and dense symbolism of liturgy should shine forth in all its power as an communicative element, until it can profoundly touch man's consciousness, his heart and intellect.

Christian tradition, after all, has always closely bound the language of art to the liturgy, whose beauty has a particular communicative power. We experienced it last Sunday in Barcelona, at the Basilica of La Sagrada Familia, the work of Antoni Gaudi who with his genius, united the sense of the sacred and of liturgy with artistic forms that are as modern as they are also in tune with the best architectural traditions.

Still, even more incisive than art and images in communicating the evangelical message is the beauty of Christian living. In the end, only love is worthy of faith and remains credible.

The lives of saints and martyrs demonstrate a singular beauty that fascinates and attracts, because a Christian life lived in fullness speaks without words.

We need men adn women who speak with their lives, who know how to communicate the Gospel, with clarity and courage, with the transparency of their actions, with the joyous passion of charity.

After having been a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela and having admired in thousands of persons, mostly young, the engaging power of witness, the joy of being together in search of truth and beauty, I hope that many of our contemporaries can say, upon hearing once again the voice of the Lord - as the disciples at Emmaus said, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?"
(Lk 24,32).

Dear friends, I thank you for what you do daily with competence and dedication, and as I entrust you all to the maternal protection of the Most Blessed Mary, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to all from my heart.

00domenica 14 novembre 2010 14.13

Nov. 14, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time[IMG][/IMG]
ST. GERTRUDE THE GREAT (Germany 1256-1302), Benedictine Nun and MysticShe was the first subject last month of the Holy Father's current catechetical cycle on great female Christian figures of the Middle Ages
One of the great mystics of the Middle Ages, her spiritual life was a deeply personal union with Jesus and his Sacred Heart, leading her into the very life of the Trinity. Gertrude lived the rhythm of the liturgy, where she found Christ. In the liturgy and Scripture, she found the themes and images to enrich and express her piety. There was no clash between her personal prayer life and the liturgy.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
The Pope to participants of plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Culture speaks on the need for
'New and creative language to dialog with everyone'
Page 1 duly takes note of the release of Burmese freedom icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi by the military junta of Myanmar after seven years of house arrest = a move seen as an attempt to counter international denunciation of the country's recent elections as a farce; in Yokohama, China and Japan seek to resolve their current diplomatic dispute at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Council (APEC), where President Obama again tried unsuccessfully to get support for the US pressure for China to stop undervaluing its currency to gain an advantage in global trade. The Page 1 religion feature is about the various days on which the Syro-Occidental Catholic Church observes the Annunciation. In the inside pages, a note that some 2.5 million Muslims are expected to undertake the annual pilgrimage to Mecca this Nov.14-18; and a story on continuing Beatlemania on the anniversary of the Beatles breaking up as a band 40 years ago.


Angelus today - In connection with Thanksgiving Day in Italy today, traditionally held to celebrate the annual harvest, the Holy Father unusually devoted his Angelus message to re-emphasize the gravity of the continuing world economic crisis, saying that it is time also for nations to restore agricultural production as a vital component of the economy. Later, he appealed for international aid to curb Haiti's cholera epidemic; and he reminded the faithful that he will preside at Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica on Nov. 27 and on the same day, will lead an international prayer vigil for nascent life.


Quite a few current MSM commentaries - and headlines - mocking the Pope for his remark yesterday that the Internet can promote solitude in his address to the Culture Council members, as if he were condemning the Internet entirely, when in the address, he urges the use of all new communications technologies for the Church's mission, as he has always done. 'Extremely Religious Elderly Man Does Not Care for The Internets] (sic) reads the title of New York magazine's comment, which selectively lifts the 'solitude' remark from the AP report on the address. YO, smart-alecks, how many 'Internets' are there????

00domenica 14 novembre 2010 17.32


On the occasion of Thanksgiving Day in Italy today, traditionally held to celebrate the annual harvest, the Holy Father unusually devoted his Angelus message to re-emphasize the gravity of the continuing world economic crisis, saying that it is time also for nations to restore agricultural production as a vital component of the economy.

Later, he appealed for international aid to curb Haiti's cholera epidemic; and he reminded the faithful that he will preside at Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica on Nov. 27 and on the same day, will lead an international prayer vigil for nascent life.


Pope speaks of gap
between rich and poor


14 NOV 2010 (RV) - Looking out on a St Peter’s Square where construction has already begun on this years nativity scene, Pope Benedict, before reciting the Angelus, took the opportunity to discuss the current economic crisis.

On this Sunday of Thanksgiving in Italy, the Pope said, the current crisis recently discussed by the G20 leaders was but another aspect of serious problems such as "the continuing imbalance between wealth and poverty, the scandal of hunger, environmental emergencies now also widespread, and the problem of unemployment".

The Pope added that at times the process of industrialization has overshadowed the agricultural sector, and called for a reassessment of this valuable sector, not in a nostalgic sense, he said, but “as an indispensable resource for the future".

The Holy Father proposed that a “concerted effort must be made to pursue a new balance between agriculture, industry and services, so that development is sustainable”.

Key to this he said was “the nurturing and spreading of a clear ethical awareness, capable of meeting the most complex challenges of our time.”

After reciting the Angelus prayer Pope Benedict made a call for peace in Iraq and appealed to the international community to "generously support" the people of Haiti, who he said, "because of the terrible earthquake in January, are now suffering for a serious outbreak of cholera. "

The Pope concluded by saying that on Saturday, Nov. 27, he will preside at Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent in St. Peter's Basilica and a prayer vigil for the unborn.

The Holy Father added that this initiative is shared with klocal churches around the world and urged that it be held in also in parishes, religious communities, associations and movements.

Finally, the Pope said, the period of preparation for Christmas is a good time to invoke divine protection upon every human being called into existence, and also as a thanksgiving to God for the gift of life received from our parents.

In English, he said:

Today’s Gospel reminds us that our lives and all history will be judged in the light of God’s truth.

In these final days of the Church’s liturgical year, let us pray for the grace to remain always faithful to the Lord, as we look forward to Christ’s coming in glory and the fulfilment of his promises.

Upon you and your families I invoke God’s gifts of wisdom, strength and peace!


Dear brothers and sisters!

In the second Reading of today's liturgy, the Apostle Paul underscores the importance of work in man's life. This aspect is also underscored by the Day of Gratitude that is traditionally celebrated in Italy on the second Sunday in November, as an act of thanks to God at the end of the harvest season.

Even if the agricultural seasons are different in various geographical areas, I wish to take off from St. Paul's words for a reflection on agricultural work, in particular.

The current economic crisis, which was taken up at the recent summit meeting of the so-called G20 leaders, must considered in all seriousness. It has numerous causes, and urgently demands a profound revision of the glodal model for economic development
(cfr Caritas in Veritate, 21).

It is an acute symbol added to others that are even worse and already well-known, such as the continuing disequilibrium between wealth and poverty, the scandal of hunger, the ecological emergency, and what has now become a general problem of unemployment.

In this framework, a strategic relaunching of agriculture would appear to be decisive. Indeed, the processes of industrialization have often overshadowed the agricultural sector, which although it has benefited from new knowledge and modern techniques, has lost its importance, with remarkable consequences even on the cultural plane.

It seems to me the time has come to re-evaluate agriculture not in a nostalgic sense but as an indispensable resource for the future.

In the present economic situation, the temptation for the more dynamic economies is to pursue advantageous alliances which, nonetheless, can have serious consequences for the poorer States, prolonging situations of extreme poverty for masses of men and women, and squeezing the natural resources of the earth, which have been entrusted by God to man - as Genesis tells us - so that he might cultivate and care for it
(cfr 2,15).

Moreover, despite the crisis, we still note that the older industrialized nations continue to incentivize lifestyles marked by unsustainable consumerism, which is damaging to the environment as well as to the poor.

Thus, a new equilibrium between agriculture, industry and services must be aimed for, in a truly concerted manner, in order that development is sustainable, so that no one lacks for bread and work, and the air, water, and other primary resources are preserved as universal goods
(cfr Enc. Caritas in veritate, 27).

For this, it is fundamental to cultivate and disseminate a clear ethical consciousness, tothe measure of the most complex challenges of the present; to educate everyone to wiser and responsible consumption; to promoet personal responsibility along with the social dimension of rural activities, founded on perennial values, such as mutual acceptance, solidarity and sharing the efforts of labour.

Not a few young people have alrady chosen this path: many college graduates have been devoting themselves to agruicultural enterprises, feeling that this way, they are not simply responding to personal and familial need, but also to a sign of the times, to a concrete sensibility for the common good.

Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, so that these reflections may serve to stimulate the international community, as we raise to God our thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and the labor of man.

After the Angelus, he said this:

At this time, I wish to renew the expression of my spiritual closeness to the dear people of Haiti, who, following the terrible earthquake last January, now suffer a serious epidemic of cholera. I encourage all those who are doing all they can to assist in this new emergency, and even as I assure them that I remember them in my prayers, I appeal to the international community to give its genereous aid to the Haitians.

On Saturday, Nov. 27, in St. Peter's Basilica, I will preside at the First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent as well as a prayer vigil for nascent life.

This initiative is being carried out with the local Churches around the world, and I have urged the participation of parishes, religious communities, and Church associations and movements.

The time of preparation for the Holy Nativity is a propitious moment to invoke divine protection for every human being who has been called into existence, and in grsatitude to God for the gift of life that we receive from our parents.

In his final greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims, he said:

Finally, I affectionately greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the many confraternities present who just took part in the Holy Mass presided for them by Cardinal Bertone. Dear friends, I thank you and wish you well in your spiritual and social commitment....

I also greet the Iraqis present today and invoke the gift of peace for their nation. I wish everyone a good Sunday.

The faithful today included a gathering of Italy's traditional confraternities, among them penitents dressed in hoods, which MSM will probably liken to the Ku Klux Klan!

Pope says world economy
needs 'profound reform'


VATICAN CITY, Nov. 14 (AFP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday called for "profound reform" of the world economy in the wake of last week's G20 summit in Seoul, calling on rich economies not to gang up against poorer states.

"The current economic crisis, which has been addressed in these days by the meeting of the G20, has to be taken with great seriousness," Benedict said in a weekly address to thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.

The crisis "sends a strong call for a profound reform of the global economic development model," he said, adding that top economies should not "chase advantageous alliances that could... have grave results for the poorest."

The Pope also called for a revival of farming to help the victims of the global economic crisis and warned against "unsustainable consumerism."

"A strategic revival of agriculture appears crucial," Benedict said.

"I think the moment has come for a re-evaluation of agriculture not in a nostalgic sense but as an indispensable resource for the future," he added.

He also said that despite the economic crisis "long-industrialized countries are promoting lifestyles that are dominated by unsustainable consumerism."

Benedict called for "a new equilibrium between agriculture, industry and services so that development can be sustainable."

00lunedì 15 novembre 2010 12.16

Here is a message from the Holy Father that I failed to translate on time - also an opportunity to give the proper attention to the recent re-opening of the Vatican Library. This is the full translation of the letter from Benedict XVI to Cardinal Farina for the occasion....

Words as a path to God

The Holy Father visited the Vatican Library in June 2007 just before it closed down to regular visits for a three-year renovation which was completed recently. At right is Cardinal Farina, then Library Prefect, whom he named shortly thereeafter to be the Archivist-Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, after he had named Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (behind the Holy Father) to be president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog. Below, the main research hall of the Vatican Library.


To my Venerated Brother
Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church

The re-opening of the Vatican Library, after three years of closure for important renovations, is being celebrated with an exhibit entitled "Getting to know the Vatican Library: A history open to the future", and with a conference on the theme of "The Vatican Library as a place of research and as an institution in the service of scholars".

I am following this initiative with particular interest, not just to confirm my personal closeness as a man of studies to this worthy institution, but also to continue the centuries-long and constant interest that my predecessors have shown for it.

One of the two epigraphs placed by Pope Sixtus V near the entrance to the Sistine Hall of the Library recalls that it had been begun - inchoata - by the Popes who had listened to the voice of the apostle Peter.

In this idea of continuity in a bimillenary history there is a profound truth: The Church of Rome, from its very beginnings, was linked to books. First, they were those of the Sacred Scriptures, and later, theological books and those related to the discipline and governance of the Church.

Indeed, since the Vatican Library was born in the 15th century, in the heart of Humanism, of which it is a splendid manifestation, it is the expression, the 'modern' institutional realization, of a much more ancient reality that has always accompanied the Church on her journey.

Such historical awareness leads me to underscore how the Apostolic Library, like its adjoining Secret Archive, is an integral part of those instruments necessary to carry out the Petrine ministry, and like this ministry itself, it is rooted in the exigencies of governing the Church.

Far from being simply the fruit of the accumulation of a refined bibliography and of a collection with many possibilities, the Vatican Library is a precious means which the Bishop of Rome cannot and does not intend to give up, in order to have, when considering problems, that overview that is able to grasp, with a long-term perspective, the remote roots of situations and their evolution in time.

Eminent place of the universal Church's historical memory, which safeguards venerable testimonials of the written tradition of the Bible, the Vatican Library is the object of the Pope's care and concern for yet another reason.

It conserves, from its origins, the unmistakable openness - truly 'catholic' and universal - to everything that is beautiful and good and noble and worthy (cfr Philemon 4,8) that mankind has produced in the course of centuries. And from there, the largesse with which in time, it has gathered the most elevated fruits of human thought and culture, from ancient times to the Middle Ages, from the modern era to the 20th century.

Nothing which is truly human is alien to the Church, which has therefore sought, gathered, conserved with a continuity that has few paragons, man's best efforts to raise himself above mere materiality towards the search - conscious and unconscious - for Truth.

It is not by chance that in the iconographic plan of the Sistine Salon, the ordered succession of the Ecumenical Councils and the great libraries of the ancient world on its left and right walls, the images of those who invented alphabets on the central pillars, converge towards the figure of Jesus Christ, «celestis doctrinae auctor» = author of heavenly doctrine - alpha and omega, the true Book of life
(cfr Phlm 4,3; Ap 3,5; 13,8; 17,8; 20,15; 21,27) - towards whom all of human labour tends and yearns.

The Vatican Library is therefore not a theological library or one that is predominantly of religious character. Faithful to its humanistic origins, it is by calling open to man. Thus it serves culture, understanding by that word - as my venerated predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, said on June 20, 1975, on the occasion of this institution's fourth centenary -

Human maturation...from within, an exquisitely spiritual acquisition, culture is the elevation of the most noble faculties that God the Creator has given man, to make him a man, to make him more than a man, to make him similar to him!

Culture and mind; culture and soul; culture and God. Even with this, 'her' institution, the Church re-proposes this essential and vital binomials which touch man in his truest dimension, and incline him, almost by an inversion of the law of gravity, upward, and demand of him... to go beyond himself according to the admirable Augustinian trajectory of quaerer super se - to seek beyond self
](cfr S. Augustini, Confessiones, X, 6, 9: PL 32, 783).

Even in the functioning of this, her institution, the Church re-promises to us today - as it did five centuries ago - to serve all men, inscribing his particular ministry in the much vaster framework of that ministry which is so essential to her in order to be the Church: the Church as a community that evangelizes and saves(Paul VI, Teachings, XIII [1975], p. 655).

This openness to the human being is not only towards the past but also in the present. In the Vatican Library all researchers of truth are always welcomed with attention and respect, without any confessional or ideological discrimination. All that is asked of them is the good faith of serious research that is disinterested and competent.

In this research, the Church and my predecessors have always wished to acknowledge and appreciate a religious motivation, often unconscious - because every partial truth is part of the Supreme Truth of God, and every rigorous investigation in depth is a path to reach the truth.

Love of the written word, historical and philological research, are thus interwoven into a desire for God, as I had occasion to point out on Sept. 12, 2008, in Paris, meeting with the French world of culture at the College des Bernardins, and re-evoking the great experience of Western monasticism. The objective of the monks was and continues to be

...'quaerere Deum', to seek God... Seeking God intrinsically requires a culture of the word... The desire for God, le desir de Dieu, includes l'amour des lettres, love of words, penetrating words in all their dimensions.

Since in the Biblical Word, God is on the way to us, and we towards him, we must learn to penetrate the secret of language, and understand it in its structure and its mode of expression. And that is why, precisely in the search for God, the profane sciences that show the ways towards language become important.

Since the search for God required a culture of the word, the library became part of the monastery to indicate the ways towards the word. For the same reason, the school, too, became part of the monastery, through which the ways were made concretely open.

The monastery serves eruditio, the formation and erudition of man - a formation with the ultimate objective that man may learn to serve God.
(Benedict XVI, Teachings, IV, 2 [2008], p. 272).

Thus the Vatican Library is the place in which the most elevated words of man are collected and conserved - mirror and reflection of the Word, the Verbum that illumines every man (Jn 1,9).

I would like to conclude with the words that the servant of God Paul VI said on his first visit to the Vatican Library on June 8, 1964, when he recalled the 'ascetic virtues' that activity in the Vatican Library involves and demands - immersed in the plurality of languages, writings and words, but always looking at the Word, and through the provisional, continually seeking the definitive.

Of this austere and at the same time joyous asceticism of research, in the service of one's own studies and that of others, the Vatican Library in the course of its history has offered numerous examples, from Guglielmo Sirleto to Franz Ehrle, from Giovanni Marcati to Eugène Tisserant. May it continue to follow the path traced out by these luminous figures!

With my best wishes and with heartfelt appreciation, I impart my Apostolic Blessing on you, Venerated Brother, on the Prefect of the Vatican Library, Mons. Cesare Pasini, and all your co-workers and researchers

From the Vatican
November 9, 2010


Above, The Sistine Hall entry, and the exterior of the Library facing the Belvedere courtyard in the Apostolic Palace complex. Below, various sections of the Library.
Poster for the current exhibit which features meticulous facsimiles of some of the most unusual and beautiful manuscripts in the collection of the Vatican Library.

00lunedì 15 novembre 2010 13.09

When Mons. Nicola Eterovic, secretary-general of the Bishops' Synod, spoke at the presentation of Verbum Domini last week, he said that Benedict XVI, in addition to synthesizing the main points of the synod, also enlightened the themes with key elements from his magisterium. "One can conclude," he said, "that the Holy Father Benedict XVI can be described as the Pope of the Word of God."... It brought to mind one of the best 'review articles' - the technical term in scientific journals for an article that seeks to sum up everything significant that has recently been written about a specific topic - about Joseph Ratzinger's enduring preoccupation with the Word of God. I posted this article on this thread last August 31, but it definitely deserves re-reading, more than once even.

August 31, 2010

This is truly an unexpected treat from Ignatius Insight and HPR. When Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a renowned Biblical scholar, reviewed Benedict XVI's JESUS OF NAZARETH in 2007, he made the offhand and condescending remark that the author was not a trained Biblical exegete. This excellent article - clearly structured and presented - aurveys Joseph Ratzinger's long and fruitful work in the field of Biblical exegesis from a theological and ecclesiological standpoint, rather than just scholarly. It is, like any review of any aspect of Joseph Ratzinger's life and work, rather breathtakingly awesome, and Fr. Lienhard, a Jesuit, must be thanked heartily. Bless you, Father.... The article originally appeared in the August/September 2010 issue of

The twentieth century was a tumultuous time in the Catholic Church for all concerned with the interpretation of the Bible. For the past few decades, this topic has been a principal concern of one prominent theologian. His interest in the topic arose at the time of the Second Vatican Council, when he was a promising young theologian from Germany who served at the Council as the theological adviser to Joseph Cardinal Frings, the archbishop of Cologne — Fr. Joseph Ratzinger. This interest has continued unabated into his reign as Pope Benedict XVI.

Ratzinger’s career as a theologian had begun well before the Council. He taught successively at four universities in Germany: Bonn (1959–63), Münster (1963–66), Tübingen (1966–69) and Regensburg (1969–77). In March of 1977 he was named archbishop of Munich-Freising, the archdiocese for which he had been ordained.

In 1981, after only four years as archbishop of Munich, Pope John Paul II called Cardinal Ratzinger to Rome, where he served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for more than two decades. On April 19, 2005, he was elected pope on the fourth ballot, and assumed the name Benedict XVI. In the course of more than forty years, Pope Benedict has written often and at length about the theology of the Bible.

What is meant by the theology of the Bible? If theology is faith seeking understanding, then the theology of the Bible must be the act of a Christian believer seeking to understand the revealed word of God recorded in the Bible.

“Biblical theology refers to a unified understanding of the saving truths of the inspired Scripture as they have been handed down in the tradition of the Church. This understanding is based on the unity of the Old and New Testaments, on Christ as the interpretive key of the Scriptures, and on the Church’s divine liturgy as the fulfillment and actualization of Scripture’s saving truths.” (1)

The vicissitudes of Catholic biblical scholarship

The history of biblical scholarship in the Catholic Church during the past century and a half has been told and retold, even taking on the qualities of a saga or an epic. The era began in an embattled atmosphere in the Church, in which the great enemy was the “modern mind.”

It began, Ratzinger writes, with Pius IX’s promulgation of the Syllabus of Errors in 1864, and extended to Humani Generis, issued in 1950 by Pius XII. (2)

Within this century, the embattled atmosphere reached its zenith under Pius X. Around the year 1900, a movement designated “Modernism” arose in the Catholic Church. Modernism displayed three principal tendencies:
(1) Religion was a product of the subconscious;
(2) Theology was a matter of subjective feeling; and
(3) Revelation was reduced to nothing more than a religious need.

Tradition and dogma were dismissed as mere objectifications of those feelings and needs. Furthermore, since neither tradition nor dogma contained objective or unchanging truth, they should then be adapted to contemporary needs.

In this way Modernists used subjective biblical criticism or “historicism” to locate truths (biblical, philosophical or creedal) so firmly in the irretrievable past that any claim to an unassailable or universal truth became impossible.

Modernism was condemned in 1907, under Pope Pius X. In July of that year, the Holy Office published the decree Lamentabili sane, and two months later, Pius X promulgated the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis.

Lamentabili, which condemned sixty-five propositions attributed to Modernists, rejected, in proposition after proposition, any thesis that questioned the historicity of the Bible, especially of the gospels, and any thesis that appeared to sever the continuity between the Scriptures and the Church’s dogmatic teaching.

The encyclical Pascendi repeated these themes and attacked any theory that divided the Jesus of history from the Christ of faith—that is, as the pope phased it, the humanly knowable objective facts about Jesus that can be extracted from the gospels from the idealized Christ who exists only in the pious meditations of the believer and in the Church’s dogmas. (3)

After Lamentabili and Pascendi, the Pontifical Biblical Commission issued response after response that rejected the results of historical criticism, and Catholic scholarship sank into biblical winter.

This winter lasted until 1943, when Pius XII promulgated his great encyclical promoting biblical studies, Divino Afflante Spiritu, in the midst of World War II. (4)

The encyclical was restrained, but the change in atmosphere was dramatic. Pius encouraged study of the Bible in the original languages, affirmed the importance of historical criticism, stressed the primacy of the literal sense, and encouraged the study of sources and literary forms in the biblical books.5 In other words, Pius endorsed the methods of historical criticism.

Since 1943 Catholic biblical scholarship has thawed, flourishing in a new springtime. Scholarly publications by Catholics gradually gained the respect of Protestants. In seminary faculties, and later in university departments of theology, Sacred Scripture ceased to be a discipline auxiliary to dogma; it took on a life of its own, and soon acquired its own name, “Biblical Studies.”

In the course of the twentieth century, therefore, the teaching Church seemed to have done an about-face: from the rigorous condemnation of a historicist approach to the Bible to an enthusiastic acceptance of it.

The developmental history of Ratzinger’s thought on the theology of the Bible falls into four principal periods.

The first period is the one around Vatican Council II. Ratzinger was present at all four sessions of the Council and wrote short accounts of each session, as well as a commentary on Dei Verbum (The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation).

The second period is rather a point: that is, the address that Cardinal Ratzinger gave as the Erasmus Lecture in New York City in January of 1988.

The third period extends from 1988 to his pontificate, with Cardinal Ratzinger continuing to develop, and even refine, the themes of his pivotal 1988 address.

Finally, the fourth (and perhaps last!) period is the time of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, in which the 2007 publication of the book Jesus of Nazareth is especially important.

1. Fr. Joseph Ratzinger at Vatican Council II

Ratzinger’s interest in Scripture manifested itself near the beginning of his career as a theologian. After each of the four sessions of Vatican II, he wrote a pamphlet in which he gave an account of the theological highlights of the session, recounting the history of the session and providing an evaluation of it — a sort of Xavier Rynne without the gossip. (6)

As the Council progresses one senses Ratzinger’s fears and hopes, and we learn that what was to be Dei Verbum was the biggest battleground of the Council and one of Ratzinger’s principal theological interests.

One of the fears that Ratzinger expressed in these pamphlets was what he called ecclesio-monism, stating:

The Council…averted the danger of a narrow ecclesiastical focus and of mere self-analysis by the Church. It was primarily through the Constitution on Divine Revelation that the whole Council and its teaching on the Church were opened up to the teaching on God, before whom even the Church itself is only a listener. (7)

In reaction to ecclesio-monism, Ratzinger followed closely the schema on Dei Verbum. No schema had a longer history in the Council than this one, going through seven versions during more than three years, and it was not solemnly promulgated until November 18, 1965, less than three weeks before the end of the Council. (8)

It is worth following Ratzinger through the development of Dei Verbum. He had been pleased that debate at the Council began with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. In contrast, he was deeply discouraged by the initial schema On the Sources of Revelation.

The title of this schema already betrayed the problem: the two sources were, of course, Scripture and tradition. Ratzinger writes extensively, at this period, on the true nature of tradition. Whatever else it is, it is not a source of revealed information parallel to and independent of Scripture, although the authors of the first schema thought in those terms.

Moreover, the first schema dealt with the “sources” of revelation rather than with revelation itself. The schema, Ratzinger wrote, was utterly “a product of the anti-Modernist mentality…written in a spirit of condemnation and negation”; it “had a frigid and even offensive tone.” (9)

But, he adds, “the content of the text was news to no one. It was exactly like dozens of textbooks familiar to the bishops from their seminary days.” (10)

The key question was faith and history. The condemnation of Modernism had only postponed the question that contemporary historical scholarship raised; it had never answered it. Now the question arose again. (11)

Ratzinger calls the bishops’ willingness to encounter the question “a new beginning.” (12) The Council had the opportunity to end the outdated fight against Modernism, and they seized it.

Ratzinger recounts the dramatic events of late November 1962. Many Council Fathers were unhappy with the schema on the sources of revelation; on November 19, Cardinal Liénart exclaimed tersely, “Hoc schema mihi non placet” (“This plan of action is unacceptable to me”). (13)

A vote on whether the schema should be withdrawn was taken on November 20, and with just less than two-thirds of the bishops voting to have the schema withdrawn, not enough votes were present to withdraw it.

A spirit of “dismay and even anger” (14) settled over the Council, writes Ratzinger. But the next day, Pope John XXIII surprisingly intervened and ordered the schema withdrawn. An event with enormous implications had taken place: Pope John XXIII had sided with the majority of the Council Fathers against the curial forces that had prepared the schema. The Council Fathers began to sense their influence and the Pope’s support.

Ratzinger later wrote that the history of the schema Dei Verbum was fused with the history of the Council into a kind of unity. (15)

In his comments on the third session of the Council (1964), Ratzinger returned to the problem of faith and history. He phrases the problem concisely, and the paragraph is worth quoting:

The method of historical criticism, which saw the Bible in an entirely new light, had won its first victories. The sacred books, believed to be the work of a very few authors to whom God had directly dictated his words, suddenly appeared as a work expressive of an entire human history, which had grown layer by layer throughout millennia, a history deeply interwoven with the religious history of surrounding peoples. By the same token, the deductions of scholastic theology seemed to be doubtful on many points in the light of the Bible as seen from the viewpoint of historical criticism. (16)

Debate on Dei Verbum continued almost until the end of the Council. “Up to the last minute the discussion on this text had been persistently dramatic,” Ratzinger wrote.(17)

The Pope himself intervened in late October and proposed three changes. The Pope’s suggestions were openly discussed and, to some extent, altered —an early exercise in collegiality, Ratzinger observed. (18)

By the fourth session, however, Ratzinger was convinced that the version of Dei Verbum that passed almost unanimously was a superb document: a document centered on Christ and not on propositions about him, a document focused on the beauty of revelation and not on its sources.

The Council ended on December 8, 1965, and very soon thereafter, Ratzinger managed a coup of sorts. The publishing house Herder, in Freiburg, commissioned a five-volume commentary on the documents of Vatican II, and Ratzinger wrote much of the commentary on Dei Verbum.

The work was soon translated into English, and Ratzinger’s commentary became one of the most influential interpretations of Vatican II on revelation; many a teacher prepared his notes from that commentary.

In the Herder Commentary, Ratzinger wrote on the origin and background of Dei Verbum, and comments on the preface and three chapters of the constitution: chapter I on “Revelation Itself,” chapter II on the “Transmission of Divine Revelation,” and chapter VI on “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church.”

In his opening chapter, Ratzinger is concerned with the questions of Scripture and tradition, inspiration, and inerrancy. He also writes of critical historical methods, but cautiously: the question of the relation of critical exegesis to Church exegesis, and of historical research to Church tradition, is not settled. (19)

During the Council and immediately after it, Ratzinger saw a need and an opportunity. The Church needed to overcome the outdated past. The time from the Syllabus of Errors in 1864 to the encyclical Humani Generis in 1950 had been a period of anti-Modernism, which assumed a posture of defensiveness, retreat and rejection, rather than one of staking out a clear position and formulating a reasoned response.

Thus, the question of faith and history remained unanswered: could Christian faith, with its assertion of absolute and timeless truth, survive the prevailing historicism, which found certain truth only in the single event of the past?

Ratzinger expressed cautious hope, in the mid-1960s, that theology could live with history, if not with pure historicism. And the key area of conflict was Scripture.

The primacy of Scripture in the Catholic Church would keep the Church from becoming the central object of its own reflection, the ecclesio-monism that Ratzinger feared. But the adoption of historical criticism by Catholics entailed its own risk—namely, in an extreme form, a lapse into Protestantism.

2. New York, 1988: Cardinal Ratzinger’s Erasmus Lecture

Key to any account of Pope Benedict XVI’s thought on biblical interpretation is a talk he gave on January 27, 1988, in New York City: “Foundations and Approaches of Biblical Exegesis.” This address was the annual Erasmus Lecture, sponsored by the Center on Religion and Society, and it was followed by a conference in which then-Cardinal Ratzinger participated.

This address stands as pivotal because it is essentially a call for criticism of criticism (20) - “a self-criticism of historical exegesis, which could be expanded into a criticism of historical reason, as a continuation and modification of Kant’s critique of reason.” (21)

Ratzinger begins provocatively, with a reference to Vladimir Solovyov’s History of the Antichrist: Solovyov’s Antichrist had a doctorate in theology from the University of Tübingen and wrote a pioneering work on exegesis.

The historical-critical method, Ratzinger wrote, began optimistically: free of Church dogma, scholars could reach a correct and objective understanding of the Bible and, once again, hear the clear and unmistakable voice of Jesus himself.

But the method soon became not a gateway, but a fence, which kept out all but the initiated. Critics read not the Bible, but small parts of it. Faith, and a God who acts, had to be put aside. The really historical became the purely human. Critics searched out original sources, and these sources were to be the criteria for interpretation.

When he called for a criticism of criticism (22), Ratzinger used the work of Rudolf Bultmann and Martin Dibelius as examples of historical criticism. He saw three basic problems with it.

The first problem is the priority of proclamation over event. These critics assume that the events narrated in the gospels (for example) had their origin in preaching, and that the narrative of the event developed later, out of the proclamation. The word creates the scenario, so that the event is secondary, a mythological development.

The second problem is the axiom of discontinuity that these critics invoke. What follows from the axiom of discontinuity is the affirmation of pairs of concepts, one of which names something original and authentic, the other something later and unauthentic. Thus, critics stress the discontinuity between the pre-Resurrection tradition and the post-Resurrection tradition, between the earthly Jesus and the primitive Church, and between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

For example, “word” is original, “cult” is later, then “Jewish” is pitted against “Hellenistic,” prophetic versus legal, gospel versus law. Anything apocalyptic, sacramental or mystical had to be excluded from authentic Christianity. (23)

What is one left with? As far as Jesus is concerned, “a strictly eschatological prophet, who actually proclaimed nothing of substance at all.” (24)

In terms of the Church, one is left with radical Protestantism, a human community without cult, without sacraments, without ethics.

The third problem is the axiom that “only simple things are original, and what is complex is necessarily late.” (25) Phrased in another way, historical critics have followed an evolutionary model.

In evolution, life begins with simple forms and gradually evolves into more complex ones; it is never the other way around. Applied to the New Testament, the evolutionary model must mean, for example, that Jesus was initially perceived as an ordinary, if gifted, human being, and that perception of him as divine, and preexistent, must be a later development.

But history does not operate the way evolution does; one cannot say a priori that the Prologue to the Gospel according to St. John, or the breathtaking hymn in the Epistle to the Philippians, must be later because of their so-called high Christology.

History often works by the principle of epigones: after the towering genius and the world-changing insight come the second-rate imitators and the pedestrian ideas. The First Epistle of Clement is not more profound than the Epistle to the Romans, and Pope Gregory the Great is not more insightful than St. Augustine of Hippo.

Ratzinger’s question is this: “Do we have to agree with the philosophy that makes this [historicist] reading obligatory?” or, “Can we read the Bible differently?” (26)

The answer cannot be a simple retreat to the Middle Ages, or to the Fathers of the Church. Nor, however, can it simply be a capitulation to contemporary biblical scholarship. Ratzinger proposes five steps toward achieving a new synthesis.

1. Theology should not be confused with physiology. Interpretation of the Bible is not governed by the rules of natural science. The believer must be ready to experience something new, to be led along a new path.

2. The exegete may not exclude the possibility that God can speak in human words, or that he can enter into history and act in it.

3. The event itself may be a word — that is, an event may glow with meaning from within. The historical Christ-event gives meaning to history, and history now has a direction, a purpose, a goal, so that the events of the Old Testament can be understood fully only in the light of Christ.

4. Because, in Scripture, God is speaking through human words, “a passage can signify more than its author himself was able to conceive in composing it.”

5. Finally, in the past one hundred years, exegesis has achieved great things, but it has also produced great errors; and some of these errors have become academic dogmas.

After these five points, Ratzinger ends by expressing five hopes:

1. He hopes for a new and thorough reflection on exegetical method.

2. He hopes that exegesis will recognize itself as a historical discipline and be able to criticize itself.

3. He hopes that exegesis will examine its own history and the essential philosophical alternatives for human thought, not only for the past 150 years but for all of patristic and medieval thought.

4. He hopes that a new and fruitful collaboration between exegesis and systematic theology will begin.

5. He hopes that exegetes will see the Bible as the product of a coherent history (the history of the Church), and see this history as the proper place for coming to understanding. (27)

In summary: in 1988, Ratzinger mounted a philosophical attack on historical criticism, to the extent that it had withdrawn from the Church’s doctrinal tradition. He joined the chorus of those voices who were calling for an exegesis within the Church and within the Church’s tradition. Ratzinger never again wrote anything as strong or as insistent as the address he gave in 1988, and perhaps he did not have to.

3. Cardinal Ratzinger to Benedict XVI (1988-2007)

After 1988, Ratzinger continued to make his point — never loudly, never contentiously, but in subtle and gentle ways, ways that even veil a certain ironic humor.

As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger was ex officio also the president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. As such, he wrote important prefaces to two documents of the Commission. In these short prefaces, while he expresses the expected, fulsome praise of these documents, he also clearly points out their shortcomings and corrects them.

Then, in 2002, he wrote a provocative response to critics of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ten years after its publication.

After the election of 2005, Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — gave an important homily when he took possession of his cathedral, St. John Lateran.

Finally, some addresses that he has given as pope continue the theme. Between this time in 1988 until his publication of Jesus of Nazareth in 2007, six important moments stand out.

1. Preface to The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (1993)

In April of 1993, the Pontifical Biblical Commission published a major document, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. Pope John Paul II gave an address on it, and Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a short preface.

Ratzinger’s preface appears as a course-correction to the document. He writes, of course, of the historical-critical method as opening a new era. But he then goes on to speak of the hidden dangers of that method, in a sentence that sums up the essence of historicism: the dangers are putting the word so completely back into the past that it is no longer taken in its actuality, and seeing only the human dimension of the word as real, so that the word’s genuine author, God, is removed from reach. (28)

Ratzinger goes on to praise “new attempts to recover patristic exegesis and to include renewed forms of a spiritual interpretation of Scripture.” (29)

This statement stands in sharp contrast to a sentence in the document that must have set Ratzinger’s teeth on edge. It reads: “the allegorical interpretation of Scripture so characteristic of patristic exegesis runs the risk of being something of an embarrassment to people today.” (30)

Ratzinger expands his thoughts, expressed already, on the key sentence from Dei Verbum §12, on the role of the Tradition of the entire Church and of the analogy of faith in interpreting Scripture. Finally, Ratzinger thought it important to reiterate the fact that the Pontifical Biblical Commission, in its new form, “is not an organ of the teaching office.” (31)

2. Preface to The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible(2001)

The second short writing is the preface to another document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, one entitled The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, published in 2001. (32)

Again, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a preface to the document. In the very first sentence, he insists on the unity of the Church’s Bible, Old and New Testaments.

He contrasts St. Augustine with the Manichees: St. Augustine learned from St. Ambrose to interpret the Old Testament spiritually, while the Manichees took it as “just a document of the religious history of a particular people.” (33)

It is easy to guess that Ratzinger was convinced that the Manichaean attitude toward the Old Testament was not dead. He goes on to mention Adolf von Harnack who, in a famous sentence, wrote that, since the nineteenth century, for Protestantism to maintain the Old Testament as a canonical document was “the result of religious and ecclesiastical paralysis.” (34)

3. “Is the Catechism of the Catholic Church Up-to-Date?” (2002)

In 2002, Cardinal Ratzinger published an article in the German edition of L’Osservatore Romano, translated into English as “Is the Catechism of the Catholic Church Up-to-Date? Reflections Ten Years after Its Publication.” (35)

Ratzinger concedes that the Catechism was the subject of severe criticism when it was published, seeing how there was “a wall of skepticism, indeed, of rejection among some of the Catholic intelligentsia in the Western world.” (36)

“It was said,” he continued, “that the Catechism had slept through the theological and especially the exegetical development of the last century.” (37)

The volume of the attacks on the Catechism’s use of Scripture was particularly loud. (38) As Ratzinger saw it, the Catechism’s opponents wanted to know how the Magisterium understood the essence of Sacred Scripture. In short, a collection of documents written in the course of more than a millennium, which now constitute one holy book: the Bible is more than the sum of its parts.

Christianity is grounded in historical events — better, a coherent historical narrative — but also goes beyond that narrative. It is in this context Ratzinger wrote:

These historical events are significant for the faith only because faith is certain that God himself has acted in them in a specific way and that the events carry within themselves a surplus meaning that is beyond mere historical facticity and comes from somewhere else, giving them significance for all time and for all men.(39)

Finally, Ratzinger makes his clearest confessional or theological point: Christianity is not a religion of the book, but a religion of a person. “The living Christ is the genuine norm for interpreting the Bible.” (40)

The Bible can be understood correctly only within the synchronic and diachronic understanding of the faith shared by the whole Church. (41) Ratzinger’s words concluding the section are worth quoting:

There is every reason to revise the rash judgments about the “backwoods” character of the scriptural interpretation in the Catechism and to rejoice that it unabashedly reads Scripture as a present Word and hence was able to allow itself, in every part of it, to be thoroughly informed by Scripture as a living source. (42)

4. Homily in the Lateran Basilica (May 9, 2005)

On May 9, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI took possession of his cathedral church, the Basilica of Our Savior and Saint John in the Lateran.

He delivered a significant homily opening with these words: “This day, in which for the first time I… sit in the chair of the bishop of Rome, as Successor of Peter….”(43)

In the doctrinal section of the homily, he spoke first of the Church’s duty to preach only Christ. He then spoke of the bishop of Rome’s duty to remain faithful to the creed.

Next, he turned to Sacred Scripture and spoke of “the ministry of authentic interpretation” as part of the potestas docendi (power to teach) that the bishop of Rome has received.

In the paragraph immediately following, Benedict set up a contrast between experts in Scripture studies and the living voice of the Church, found particularly in the successor of Peter and in the college of apostles and their successors:

Whenever Sacred Scripture is removed from the living voice of the Church, it becomes a victim of the experts’ disputes.

Certainly all that the latter can tell us is important and precious; the work of the learned is of notable help to us to be able to understand the living process with which Scripture grew and thus understand its historical richness.

But science on its own cannot offer us a definitive and binding interpretation; it is not able to give us, in the interpretation, that certainty with which we can live and also for which we can die.

For this, the living voice of the Church is needed, of that Church entrusted to Peter and the college of apostles until the end of time. (44)

Benedict is staking out his claim here: a claim to the ministry of the authentic interpretation of Scripture, a ministry of the Pope in union with the college of bishops.

Experts may help them understand the Scriptures in their historical richness, but they cannot offer a binding interpretation. For that, the living voice of the Church is needed.

Benedict is not saying anything new, but he is saying something quite clear. Scripture scholars do not, and cannot, have the authoritative word; the Bible belongs in the Church and to the Church.

5. Address to Participants in the Conference on “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church” (2005)

On September 16, 2005 Pope Benedict addressed 400 participants in an international conference on “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church,” held on the fortieth anniversary of the promulgation of Dei Verbum. (45 )

Opening by admitting how he “personally witnessed as a young theologian” the drafting of Dei Verbum, he makes several points.

The first is that the bishops are the first witnesses of the Word of God, followed by theologians who investigate, explain, and translate it, and then by pastors who seek in the Scripture solutions to the problems of the time.

He interprets the opening words of the Dogmatic Constitution, “Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidenter proclamans,” as a description of the Church: a community that listens to and proclaims the Word of God. The Church venerates the Scriptures as she venerates the Body of the Lord, he says, quoting Dei Verbum again.

His final point is not about study or research, but about lectio divina, “the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer.” Just as the proclamation of the Bible’s pages within the liturgy is the public face of Scripture, so too lectio divina is the private face of Scripture in the ongoing sanctification of Christian men and women.

6. Address to the Faculty and Students of the Pontifical Biblical Institute (October 26, 2009)

In October of 2009, Pope Benedict addressed the faculty and students of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, on the occasion of the centenary of the founding of that institute by Pope Pius X in 1909.46 Unsurprisingly, Benedict stressed familiar themes.

The first theme is the double character of exegesis, taught in Dei Verbum §12: historical criticism must be coupled with theological method in interpretation, because the Scripture is one.

The unity of Scripture corresponds to the analogy of faith, by which individual texts are understood in light of the whole. Further, Scripture must be read from the Church, for the Church’s faith is the true key to interpretation.

If exegesis is also to be theology, as it should be, then it must take Tradition into account; it is the Church that has been entrusted with the task of interpreting the world of God authentically.


Benedict’s message, conveyed in various writings and addresses in the course of more than twenty years, can be summed up briefly.

Christianity is not a religion of the book, he would say, but of a person, Jesus the Christ. This person is the key to the interpretation of the whole of the Scriptures.

Hence, as a unity, the Bible is more than the sum of its parts, and the events narrated in the Bible carry a surplus of meaning. In particular, a purely literal interpretation of the Old Testament would exclude it from the Church.

Dei Verbum §12 is key: both the intention of the human writers and the divine authorship of the Bible must always be given their proper weight in interpretation.

The Pope and the college of bishops enjoy the ministry of authentic interpretation. Specifically, Pope Benedict attempts to recover the great insights of patristic exegesis and to include renewed forms of a spiritual interpretation.

Following Dei Verbum §25, Benedict encourages a renewal of lectio divina, the devout and prayerful reading of Holy Scripture, in silence and a spirit of contemplation.

4. Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth

In 2007, an extraordinary event occurred. Pope Benedict XVI published a book, Jesus of Nazareth. This book represents the positive side of the criticisms he had been expressing for several decades: a work which would “portray the Jesus of the Gospels as the real, ‘historical’ Jesus.” (47)

An audacious claim in the world of modern biblical scholarship but with the simple faith of the Apostles, Benedict states without qualification, “I trust the Gospels.” (48 )

The foreword to Jesus of Nazareth lays out Benedict’s method. The historical fact must be the starting point because, as the Creed says, “et incarnatus est” — God actually entered into real history. (49)

Ratzinger again cites the crucial paragraph §12 of Dei Verbum with its appeal to the unity of the whole Bible, the tradition of the Church, and the analogy of faith. (50)

Thus there arises a theological exegesis. Inspiration means that the author does not speak as a self-contained subject; and Ratzinger even, at this point, invokes the old doctrine of the fourfold sense of Scripture. (51)

The book is, finally, an expression of Benedict’s “personal search ‘for the face of the Lord’ (cf. Ps. 27:8).” (52 )

The words of Scripture cannot be forced into logical formalism. The Holy Spirit teaches by image, symbol and story. Thus the literal sense embraces what the human author intended.

But this literal sense is not equivalent to that of a newspaper article. The Court History of David may seem like reporting, but it is more than that. The psalms, or the canticles in Isaiah, are surely more than that.

Contained within the literal sense is a spiritual sense, often divided into three levels: the typological or allegorical, the moral or tropological, and the anagogical. The human author may or may not have been conscious of them; but the Holy Spirit, the source of inspiration, intended them.

The heart of the typological sense is that the life of Jesus Christ, the Christ event, provides the key to understanding the whole of the Bible, in its unity. To mention only a few examples, Benedict writes of Jesus as the new Moses, but also the new Adam, the new Jacob, and the new David.

The Fathers of the Church had a deep sense of types and antitypes. As they read the Old Testament, water regularly reminded them of baptism, bread and wine of the Eucharist, wood of the cross.

The moral or tropological sense extends far beyond the Ten Commandments of the Old Law and the two great commandments of the New Law, to a whole range of vices to be avoided, virtues to be practiced, models to be imitated, and ideals to be realized, some of which are explicit, while others are implicit.

The anagogical sense points to the relation of the words and the deeds recorded in Scripture to their universal and eternal significance, especially as they lead beyond this world to our true and everlasting homeland.

On this level we see the sacraments instituted by Christ — baptism, the Eucharist, the priesthood — transcending time and place and effecting saving grace.

As Paul already saw, the Israelites’ passage through the Red Sea and their feeding on manna in the desert link the events of the Old Testament, the acts of Christ, and the Church’s celebration of the sacraments into a unity.

In an exceptionally beautiful and profound passage later in the book, Benedict deals with the concept of “remembering” in St. John’s gospel. He is trying to refute the outdated thesis that St. John’s gospel is simply a “Jesus poem” with little relation to historical events. But he is also concerned to show that John goes beyond, or deeper than, the mere recounting of facts.

He picks out three key phrases in John where the author uses the word “remember.” Two occur early in the gospel. Jesus cleanses the temple, and his disciples remember a passage from the psalms: “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” (53) Here, an event brings to mind a passage from Scripture, and the event becomes intelligible.

A few verses later, Jesus says that he will rebuild the temple in three days (John 2:22). When he is raised from the dead, his disciples remember what he said. Here, an event makes a word intelligible.

Finally, on Palm Sunday, Jesus is seated on a young ass, and John recalls a verse from Zechariah: “Your king is coming, seated on an ass’ colt.” (54) Only when Jesus is glorified do his disciples remember the Scripture and the event. Here, a later event makes both the Scripture and an earlier event intelligible.

In other words, in the act of remembering, Benedict sees an interplay of three elements: events in Jesus’ life, passages from Scripture, and the perception of true meaning.

(1) An event takes place, Scripture is recalled, and the Scripture makes the event intelligible.

(2) Or, Jesus speaks a word, an event takes place, and the event makes Jesus’ word intelligible.

(3) Or, finally, an event takes place, Scripture is recalled, and a later event makes both intelligible.

This interplay of events in Jesus’s life, passages from Scripture, words that Jesus spoke, and the central fact of the Resurrection all come together in the act of remembering to lead to the fullness of understanding in the Holy Spirit. As Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).

The process that Benedict proposes does not end with the Bible. As Dei Verbum §8 states, “as the centuries go by, the Church is always advancing toward the plenitude of divine truth.”

Throughout the book, Benedict demonstrates his profound knowledge of the text of the Scriptures, often quoting verses that are hardly among the most familiar. He weaves together elements from both testaments, and he calls upon elements of the Roman liturgy as illustrations. He invokes the Fathers with equal ease. What Benedict has done, therefore, is to produce a work of theological exegesis, both as an inspiration and as a model.


The theology of the Bible elaborated by Pope Benedict XVI in the course of almost fifty years might be summarized in ten theses.

1. The word of God must be approached with sympathetic understanding, a readiness to experience something new, and a readiness to be taken along a new path (cf. God’s Word, 116).

2. A true understanding of the Bible calls for a philosophy that is open to analogy and participation, and not based on the dogmatism of a worldview derived from natural science (cf. God’s Word, 118).

3. The exegete may not exclude, a priori, the possibility that God could speak in human words in this world, or that God could act in history and enter into it (cf. God’s Word, 116).

4. Faith is a component of biblical interpretation, and God is a factor in historical events (cf. God’s Word, 126).

5. Besides being seen in their historical setting and interpreted in their historical contexts, the texts of Scripture must be seen from the perspective of the movement of history as a whole and of Christ as the central event.

6. Because the biblical word bears witness to revelation, a biblical passage can signify more than its author was able to conceive in composing it (cf. God’s Word, 123).

7. The exegetical question cannot be solved by simply retreating into the Middle Ages or the Fathers, nor can it renounce the insights of the great believers of all ages, as if the history of thought began seriously only with Kant (cf. God’s Word, 114 and 125).

8. Dei Verbum envisioned a synthesis of historical method and theological hermeneutics, but did not elaborate it. The theological part of its statements needs to be attended to (cf. God’s Word, 98-99).

9. Exegesis is theological, as Dei Verbum taught, particularly on these points: (1) Sacred Scripture is a unity, and individual texts are understood in light of the whole. (2) The one historical subject that traverses all of Scripture is the people of God. (3) Scripture must be read from the Church as its true hermeneutical key. Thus, Tradition does not obstruct access to Scripture but opens it; and, conversely, the Church has a decisive say in the interpretation of Scripture (cf. God’s Word, 97).

10. Theology may not be detached from its foundation in the Bible or be independent of exegesis (cf. God’s Word, 93).

We cannot go back; can we go forward? Pope Benedict sees the answer in Lumen Gentium §12. We should search out the meaning that the sacred writers of Holy Scripture intended. But the Scriptures also have a divine Author, so that we must take into account the unity of the whole of Scripture, the Tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith.

In other words, Benedict foresees not only a renewed exegesis, but also a renewed theology. And the wellspring from which both flow is the liturgy. Benedict has tried to point the way — humbly, as he writes — in his book Jesus of Nazareth.

But the book is only a small beginning. Benedict’s theology is symphonic rather than dogmatic: setting for himself, and also for scholars, theologians, and the whole Church, the task of creating a new biblical spring, a new theological summer.

He foresees a renewed theology, one that incorporates profound knowledge of the Bible into knowledge of the whole history of its interpretation, and grasps the Holy Scriptures in their liturgical setting. Scripture, theology, liturgy: these three must always and ever be one.

Of course, this thought is hardly new. It goes as far back as the New Testament itself, to the beautiful narrative of Jesus and the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, the oldest extant account of the structure of the Mass: the word is proclaimed, its meaning is explained; but the fullness of understanding comes only when the Eucharistic bread is broken.

00lunedì 15 novembre 2010 13.52

Monday, Nov. 15, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Dominican, Philosopher, Bishop, Doctor of the Church
Benedict XVI devoted his catechesis last March 24 to his fellow German
Considered the greatest German scholar, theologian and philosopher of the Middle Ages, Albert the Great advocated the peaceful coexistence of science and religion. In his writings, Albert commented on all of Aristotle's works and tried to explain as much as was known of the world at the time. He became a mentor to Thomas Aquinas, whom he outlived. After serving as Provincial in Germany for the Dominican order, he was made Bishop of Regensburg but gave it up after three years, preferring to return to teaching in Cologne where he died at age 87. He was canonized by Pius XI in 1931 and named a Doctor of the Church ['Doctor of Science'].
Readings for today's Mass:

No OR today.


The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments;

- Brazilian bishops (Central-West sector) on ad-limina visit, whom he met last week individually. Address in Portuguese.

- A delegation of Italian Ski Teachers. Address in Italian.

Whenever I read the name of Albertus Magnus these days, I inevitably think 'Benedictus Magnus'!
Note the resemblance to B16 in the first icon and the medal in the Albert iconography above...

00lunedì 15 novembre 2010 14.47

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be in Rome to join the observance of the 50th anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It comes one year after Anglicanorum coetibus, which professional ecumenists consider to be 'anti-ecumenical', forgetting that the eventual goal of ecumenism is Christian unity, for which ecumenism is simply a halfway house. There's a reason the Council is not called Council for Promoting Ecumenism, but for Promoting Christian Unity!

Clearly, for the Catholic Church, Christian unity means unity in the Church of Rome, the Church that derives most directly from Christ through the Apostles Peter and Paul. Still, it won't be a happy week for Archbishop Williams as the next story suggests...

Catholic Church to welcome
50 Anglican clergy soon

by Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Religious Affairs Correspondent
Nov. 14, 2010

The Catholic Church will announce this week that 50 Anglican clergy are defecting to Rome following the Church of England's moves to introduce women bishops.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, will reveal on Friday the Vatican's plans to welcome the departing priests - including five bishops - who are expected to be received into the Catholic Church early in the new year.

Hundreds of Anglican churchgoers will join them in the Ordinariate - a structure introduced by Pope Benedict XVI to provide refuge for those diaffected with the Church of England.

The number of worshippers who leave the Church is predicted to double as the new arrangement finally begins to take shape.

The Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, said clergy have become dismayed at the liberal direction of the Church of England and the way traditionalits have been treated.

"There's only a certain amount of time you can accept being described as the National Front of the Church of England," he said.

"We're seen as out of date for not accepting women's ministry as equal, but the debate concentrates on sociology rather than theology."

The bishop, who is one of the five converting to Catholicism, accused the Church of repeatedly breaking its promises to make proper provision for opponents of women's ordination.

Members of the General Synod, the Church's parliament, voted in July to proceed with plans to create women bishops with minimal concessions to the traditionalists.

The majority of Anglo-Catholics are waiting until 2012 to see whether the church will pass the legislation which will allow women to be consecrated. They are hoping the plans will fail at the final hurdle.

The Rt Rev Keith Newton, the Bishop of Richborough, who is also leaving the Church of England, said there was dismay at the way it had become increasingly liberal.

"It has changed a great deal. There is no doctrinal certainty anymore. It has become more relative.

"I'm sad about leaving as I owe a lot to the Church of England, but this [the Ordinariate] is a joyful opportunity."

He said that some Anglo-Catholic clergy would join the Ordinariate immediately, but others will wait to see how the new structure works.

Catholic bishops are holding talks in Leeds this week to discuss the most complicated issues facing the new arrangement, such as how the defecting clergy will be financially supported and whether they will be allowed to continue worshipping in their churches.

The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, the Catholic Bishop of Nottingham, confirmed the first priests would be received into the Catholic Church early in the new year.

"The Ordinariate could grow with time," he said.

"It depends on the Church of England as to whether there will be more who feel they can no longer stay in it.

"It is not in the Catholic Church's interests to break up the Church of England."

However, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, complained last year that the Pope's offer to disaffected Anglicans had put him in an "awkward position".

He went further last month, saying he was "very taken aback that this large step was put before us without any real consultation".

The invitation was made last October after secret meetings between Vatican officials and Anglican bishops who were concerned at the liberal direction of the Church of England. [More importantly, the Anglican bishops had been lobbying the Vatican for this for almost two decades - certainly no secret to Archbishop Williams or anyone who follows Church matters at all. What was there to consult the CoE about, anyway? Not about their policies, which the Catholic Church has no business meddling in, and certainly not about how the Catholic Church planned to accommodate the disaffected Anglicans - a Catholic affair in which the CoE has no business meddling in!]

The Ordinariate will create a new structure allowing clergy to leave the Church of England while retaining some elements of their heritage.

It is difficult to keep from being thrilled and excited over these unprecedented and historic developments taking place a year since Anglicanorum coetibus, even if one knows this is completely uncharted territory and will certainly have its share of difficulties and disappointments... Who would have thought that the established Anglo-Catholics in England itself would come forward so fast so soon, even before the Traditional Anglican Communion (mostly found outside England) which had initiated the lobbying with the Vatican some twenty years ago? The TAC in Australia and one congregation in Canada announced earlier that their congregations have voted to cross the Tiber, but no implementing moves have been reported so far.

And many thought Benedict XVI would be nothing but a transitional Pope! With the exception of John XXIII convening the Second Vatican Council, what modern Pope has carried out as many historic initiatives for the Church as Benedict XVI has in five and a half years?

A lengthy but rambling account of an interview with the Archbishop of Westminster, Mons. Vincent Nichols, came out in this weekend's Financial Times, in which he underscores his orthodoxy (how refreshing!] -
I will excerpt it later, without its informal ballast, to post for the record. It also comes with a good update on Anglicanorum coetibus...

And here's a belated post containing a beautiful statement from one of tne converting Anglican bishops:

Converting Anglican bishop says
the Pope 'changed the landscape'
for Anglo-Catholics


Richborough, England, Nov 14, 2010 (CNA) - The Anglican Bishop of Richborough told his flock that he plans to become Catholic because Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution “completely changed the landscape” for Anglo-Catholics and he now believes that he must lead the way to union with the Universal Church.

Bishop Keith Newton of Richborough, England, said in a pastoral letter to priests and people in the Richborough area that he will resign as bishop as of Dec. 31. He will not conduct any public episcopal services. This “difficult” decision followed much thought and prayer, he remarked.

“I will, in due course, be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and join the Ordinariate when one is erected in England, which I hope will happen early next year.”

Pope Benedict established the proposed Anglican Ordinariate, a special jurisdiction within the Catholic Church, through his apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Bishop Newton explained that although the issue of the ordination of women as Anglican bishops has been an important factor in his decision, it is “not the most significant.”

Noting the “surprise” of the Pope’s action on Anglican-Catholic relations, he said that most Anglicans have prayed for union with the Catholic Church. However, this union has seemed less likely because of “the new difficulties concerning the ordination of women and other doctrinal and moral issues affecting the Anglican Communion.”

“Although we must still pray for sacramental and ecclesial unity between our Churches, that now seems a much more distant hope,” Bishop Newton said. The ordinariates provide an opportunity for “visible unity” and Anglicans are able to retain “what is best in our own tradition which will enrich the Universal Church.”

“I hope you will understand that I am not taking this step in faith for negative reasons about problems in the Church of England but for positive reasons in response to our Lord’s prayer the night before he died the ‘they may all be one’,” the bishop continued.

While expressing sympathy with the position that Anglicans with traditional views need leadership at a “vital” time, he rejected the example of a leader who should “stay to the bitter end like the captain of a sinking ship.” Rather, he noted the scriptural image of the shepherd, who must lead his flock from the front rather than follow it from behind.

“This is what I hope I am doing. I am leading the way and I hope and pray that many of you will follow me in the months and the years ahead,” he explained.

Bishop Newton acknowledged those who want to remain in the Church of England, but he said he could not continue to be their bishop “with any integrity” and cannot provide the episcopal leadership they deserve.

“You need a new Bishop of Richborough who has the same vision as you have and one for whom a solution in the Church of England is a priority. My priority is union with the Universal Church,” he added.

He said he has enjoyed being Bishop of Richborough for more than eight years and is grateful for the support he has received from so many Anglican priests and laity. The bishop asked forgiveness from those he has disappointed and sought continued prayers for himself and his wife.

Bishop Newton is one of three active Anglican bishops who are joining the Catholic Church. These so-called “flying bishops” have been serving Anglicans in different areas who do not accept the ordination of women to the priesthood and other changes in the Anglican Church.

Two retired Anglican bishops are also entering full communion with Rome.

00lunedì 15 novembre 2010 16.40

Speaking of unprecedented initiatives by Benedict XVI, the Irish visitations are certainly a landmark in post-Vatican II church history...

Cardinal O'Malley in Ireland:
'No quick fix' in abuse crisis


DUBLIN, Nov. 14 - A senior US churchman visiting Dublin to examine how children are protected against paedophile priests has told parishioners he had not come to offer a quick fix.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, called on survivors who were harmed, as well as lay people and the religious, to come forward.

The cleric said the crisis of the sexual abuse of minors had profound repercussions for entire communities.

Cardinal O'Malley, right, and an auxiliary bishop of Dublin.

"I come to listen, not to offer a quick fix," Cardinal O'Malley told Mass-goers in St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin.

"I come to listen to your pain, your anger, but also your hopes and aspirations."

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin celebrated Mass with the Cardinal at the start of his investigation visit.

The unprecedented probe was announced by the Pope in his letter to the Catholics of Ireland last March in response to the catalogue of abuse outlines in the Murphy and Ryan reports.

The Cardinal said much had already been done in Dublin to address the crimes of the past, to ensure the safety of children and to provide assistance to victims.

"The task of the visitation is to bring new eyes to the situation, to verify the effectiveness of the present processes used in responding to cases of abuse
," he added. "We are not here to reduplicate investigations or studies of the past".


[Cardinal O'Malley heads one of several visitation teams ordered by the Pope to look into selected Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious orders whose response to the problem of pedophile priests was, to say the least, deficient.]

There's a later report in the Irish press that a woman victim of priestly abuse protested that Cardinal O'Malley concelebrated Mass with thw two Dublin auxiliary bishops whose resignations Pope Benedict XVI had rejected, since even the government investigstive commission found no grounds for accusing them of being directly or actively involved in any sex buse case or cases.
00lunedì 15 novembre 2010 17.20

By some synchronicity, the major themes of Benedict XVI's Pontificate have seen a confluence in the news this weekend, the next report being about Jewish-Catholic relations....

Meeting the Pope
and pursuing peace

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eleven days ago, I stood within the walls of the Vatican prepared to meet his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. As I approached the successor to St. Peter, I couldn't help but review in my mind's eye the last 2,000 years of Jewish history. For much of that time, when considering the man Catholics refer to as the Holy Father, our ancestors hoped for a measure of clemency and mercy. More often than not, they were turned away disappointed.

The other day, though, as I stood in a papal hall with an audience of thousands, each of whom had come to Rome because of their attachment to religious tradition and faith, I marveled at how far we had come.

My wife Michelle and I were accompanied by our friend Bishop David Zubik and 25 other Pittsburghers on a Pilgrimage of Peace. Ours was a delegation of Catholics and Jews who were sharing an eight-day journey to the Eternal City of Rome and the Holy Land of Israel.

Our trip had four goals: exploring our personal relationship to our own religion, sharing with our fellow pilgrims what this relationship means to us, coming to appreciate better our friends' and neighbors' faith and history, and then, perhaps most significantly, bringing our experiences back to Pittsburgh and sharing them widely with others.

Two days before our group's audience with the Pope, we had arrived in Rome. We went immediately to the Jewish Ghetto. It was raining, not an altogether inauspicious way to begin our trip. After all, for much of Jewish history, life in Christian Europe meant living in the shadow of the church.

So it is that on that cold day, we walked the streets of the ghetto and toured Rome's great synagogue and museum. Both are testament to the fact that more than once in the Roman Jewish community's 2,100-year history, Jews were singled out for persecution for no other reason save that they were different and others were indifferent.

The next day, after touring the Vatican and meeting young men from Pittsburgh studying for the priesthood, we visited with Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, who reminded us that our new relationship comes from a long history and can make for a fitful effort. And yet, ours is a new day.

As Cardinal-elect Kurt Koch, president of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews, with whom we met, would have it, "The Church is connected to Judaism in a special way."

This former bishop of Basel insists that, as was true of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict's commitment to interfaith dialogue is irreversible and, therefore, the notion that Pope Benedict would seek to turn back the clock to a pre-Vatican II world view reflects a serious misunderstanding of where the Church stands today.

For this reason, we were able to share our concern about the recent Bishops' Synod for the Middle East (which produced a text in which Israel was singled out for its "occupation" of Arab lands and instructed not to use the Bible to justify "injustices" against Palestinians) to both Father Norbert Hoffman, long-time secretary of the Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews, and to Friar Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the Holy Land.

Both leaders heard our united voice, understood our sentiments, and assured us of their belief that, as upsetting as the synod's proposals and tone were, this most recent setback represented neither the heart nor direction of Church teachings regarding Catholic-Jewish relations.

[As far as I have read, there was just one proposal - not proposals - whose wording was problematic, and that the offensive statement related to that proposal was made in his private capacity by the US-based Greek Melkite archbishop who chaired the drafting committee for that part of the Synod Propositions... In any case, the Propositions will be duly weighed. commented and re-proposed by the Holy Father in his Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation. The Propositions are recommendations to the Holy Father. They do not become part of Church teaching until and unless he enunciates them in the Exhortation.]

Indeed, thanks to the work of Bishop Zubik and his predecessors, John Cardinal Wright and Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl, the relationship enjoyed by southwestern Pennsylvania's Catholic and Jewish communities is robust and healthy.

In our community, Catholic-Jewish relations are founded on mutual trust and open dialogue and, as a result of our recent pilgrimage, the bonds we share are healthier and more secure than ever.

How better to come to know and appreciate one another than to share that which is most dear to us?

Upon leaving Rome and flying to Israel, we spent the next three and a half days touring the Holy Land. We began in Nazareth and moved onto the Sea of Galilee and Bethlehem. Together we explored the Old City of Jerusalem and familiarized ourselves with modern Israel. On our final day, we toured Yad V'Shem, Israel's national monument and museum dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust (following which, the two rabbis and four priests on the trip participated in an interfaith memorial service).

Indeed, in every place we journeyed, we shared worship services and exchanged information about our respective faith traditions, customs and communal concerns. To a person we gained a deeper appreciation for the role religious identity plays in our personal self-understandings.

Walking in the footsteps of history played a role in our gaining this wider perspective. Our shared dialogue in the course of breaking bread and traveling together, allowed us to come to know one another as friends.

But, most of all, the goals of our pilgrimage were realized as a result of opening our hearts and minds to traditions and ideas different from our own, and by sharing what is most important to each of us with fellow pursuers of peace.

And so it was that, as the Pontiff and I extended our hands to one another, I thanked him on behalf of the entire Jewish community of Pittsburgh for all the church is doing to encourage inter-religious dialogue, for my partner Bishop Zubik's generosity and confidence and courage, and for all our two communities may accomplish going forward, so long as we remain committed to our shared religious value of peace.

As I turned to take my leave, I marveled at how far we have come, such that a rabbi, rather than coming before a Pope to plead on behalf of the Jewish people, had instead the privilege of praising a new generation of religious leaders, and rather than coming before a Pontiff to beg for opportunity, was able to proudly boast of the ways in which Jews and Catholics are working together to bring healing, blessings and peace to our world here and now.

In terms of Benedictine initiatives, we must not overlook the Holy Father's Angelus message yesterday, in which he talks about the state of the world, and what leaders must do to seek immediate effective solutions, expressed with an urgency equal to that of an Urbi et Orbi message... Day by day, continuing consistent evidence of what an amazingly unique Pope we have and how lucky we are to live in his Pontificate!

P.S. Not to mention that we still have to 'unpack' Verbum Domini, a major document of this Magisterium, much less think it through!!!

00lunedì 15 novembre 2010 18.25

Pope urges unity as he meets
last group of Brazilian bishops
on ad-limina visit to Rome


15 NOV 2010 (RV) - The Holy Father's audience today with bishops from Brazil’s Centre West region marked an end to the cycle of meetings with Brazilian Bishops making their once-every-five-years ad-limina visit to Rome, which began more than a year ago.


Speaking to the group in the Clementine Hall, the Holy Father noted the happy coincidence in the fact that he addressed the first group on the National Day of Brazilian Independence, while this last address was delivered on the anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic in Brazil.

He used the occasion to underline the importance of the Church's evangelisation in the “construction of Brazilian identity”, adding that “the current secularised society demands a renewed witness of life from Christians in the proclamation of the Gospel”.

The Pope also stressed the role of the country's Episcopal Conference, an organization that is preparing to celebrate its 60th anniversary. Pope Benedict said that “the first testimony that is expected of those who proclaim the Word of God is love for one another”.

"The bishops' conference," he added, "promotes a unity of efforts and intentions”. However, it should not become a parallel reality or replacement of the ministry of each bishop.

And he made clear that each bishop must first find the most effective ways to draw people closer to universal Church teaching. A focus on formation is needed to "meet new emerging issues." It is up to the bishops to direct "the conscience of mankind” to find a correct solution to the problems posed by new social and cultural transformations."

Pope Benedict called attention to the promotion and protection of faith and morals, care for vocations, a commitment to ecumenism, defense of human life and the sanctity of the family, the right of parents to educate their children along with religious freedom, peace and social justice.

The Pope reiterated that the Episcopal conferences exist as "the driving force for the pastoral care of bishops, whose primary concern must be the salvation of souls."

The Holy Father concluded his address by assuring his affectionate closeness to the people of Brazil, entrusted to the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida.

Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world, and has some 230 bishops to oversee pastoral care for its 147 million Catholics. The Center-West region includes tHE Federal District covering tHE Brazilian capital of nrasilia, and part of the vast Matto Grosso province.

00lunedì 15 novembre 2010 18.56

Italian ski instructors jump-start
2010-2011 winter season at the Vatican


15 NOV 2010 (RV) - In Italy, the winter season officially begins ON the last weekend of November, and on Monday, Italy’s ski instructors gathered at the Vatican to meet with Pope Benedict before starting their 'work year'.


The Holy Father spoke to them of sport as a means that contributes to the harmonious and moral development of the person. He said : “Your commitment as Ski instructors helps to stimulate some capabilities, such as consistency in pursuing goals, respect for rules, and tenacity in overcoming difficulties”.

When practised with passion and ethics, he continued sport becomes “a school for learning and developing human and Christian values”.

“It teaches us to harmonize important dimensions of the human person, favouring an integral development. Through sports, the person better understands that his or her body can not be considered an object. That through the body, the person expresses his or herself and enters into relationships with others. Thus, the balance between the physical and the spiritual leads to respect for the body, and not its idolization or exploitation as an instrument to be strengthened at all costs, maybe even by using unlawful means”.

The fact that skiing takes place in a mountain environment led the Holy Father to reflect on the bond between sport and creation: He said “Climbing up a mountain and then skiing down, or practising cross country skiing, views open up before you, and in a spontaneous way, elevate the spirit and invite you to raise not only your external gaze but also that of the heart. In contemplating creation, man recognizes the greatness of God, the ultimate source of his being and the universe”

He warned that man is the guardian of the world and that although “progress in science and technology gives humans the opportunity to intervene and manipulate nature”, “the risk, always present, is to want to replace the Creator and reduce the created to a product to use and consume”.

Instead he concluded “the right attitude” is “one of a deep sense of gratitude, appreciation and of responsibility in preserving and nurturing the work of God”. “Sport helps to achieve these objectives by affecting lifestyles, oriented towards balance, self-discipline and respect”.

Strange that the RV reporter omitted the Pope's warning against using perforcement-enhancing drugs. The AP found that the only reportable part of the sddress:

Pope to athletes:
Respect your bodies


VATICAN CITY, Nov. 15 (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has warned athletes not to strengthen their bodies "at all costs" or through illegal substances.

Benedict said Monday that sports, when done with passion, can help develop ethics and a taste for "healthy competitiveness."

But he said during an audience at the Vatican with a group of ski instructors that an athlete’s body "cannot be considered an object" or be "worshipped."

Instead, it should be respected and not treated like a "tool to be strengthened at all costs, maybe even using unlawful means."

Also from the event with the ski instructors - many of whom brought their families along:
The very picture of NONNO BENNO E BUONO!

00martedì 16 novembre 2010 13.51



See preceding page for earlier posts on 11/15/10.


The day after Verbum Domini came out, a Catholic blogger wrote this lengthy piece about the apparent lack of attention from the Catholic blogosphere. If I had read it then, I might have said he was speaking too soon - it had only been released the day before, and it is a major document that does not lend itself to summarizing with the usual soundbites (or text bites) that media employ. And unless the blogger had nothing else to do for the day but read Verbum Domini, it still would have been a daunting task to then proceed to write your first commentary on it! You'd be asking yourself - if Joseph Ratzinger had been asked to comment on a document like this, how would he approach it?

This article is from a group blog by three Catholic Professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber (John Paul the Great Catholic U, San Diego, CA) - who is the author of this piece; Brant Pitre, Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans, LA). And John Bergsma (Franciscan University, Steubenville, OH). The blog name is from Vatican II, “the study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology” (Dei Verbum,24).

While this article highlights many points that need to be highlighted about Verbum Domini, and Prof. Barber must be commented for his prompt and substantial reaction, it has quite a few striking and surprising naivetes here and there that one would not expect of a professor of theology and Scripture....

Are Catholic bloggers ignoring
the Pope's 'fundamental priority'?

by Michael Barber
Nov. 12, 2010

Yesterday was probably the most frustrating exciting day of the Pope Benedict's pontificate.

I may be about to get myself in hot water, but someone has to say it: many people, even Catholic bloggers, are ignoring the Pope’s “supreme and fundamental priority”.

What is it? How are even Catholics missing it? How was a disconnect between the Pope's priorities and those of Catholic writers on display yesterday?

Let me explain and let me issue a clarion call to all Catholic teachers, writers and bloggers to make the Pope's priority their priority.

If you simply followed the Pope by getting your information through the mainstream media, you'd probably get the impression that the Pope's top priority is cataloging and condemning each and every one of the evils in the world.

After all, look at the headlines on Google News just yesterday:
"Pope condemns violence 'in the name of God'"
"Pope condemns anti-Church sentiment"

Of course, since the Pope is expected to speak out against all the world's evils, he knows that he has to — when he doesn't, the headlines read, "Pope refuses to condemn. . ."

Even worse, some wrongfully and scurrilously accuse the Pope of being consumed with a cover-up — charges most thinking people have come to see through.

But you'd expect the mainstream media to get the Pope's message wrong. There's really no surprise there. Their anti-Catholicism is well-known. [Not to mention their insouciant ignorance, in which they seem to revel. It's their ultimate expression of contempt, which says they do not take the Pope or the Church seriously enough to at least learn basic facts about them!]

What is surprising — even distressing! — is the way the Holy Father’s chief priority is overlooked by even Catholic bloggers!

Now don't get me wrong, Catholic writers generally recognize some of the chief concerns of Pope Benedict. Certainly, among them would be the following.

1. Unmasking the dangers associated with the "dictatorship of relativism".

2. Reforming the liturgy, e.g., overseeing more accurate translations of the liturgy and emphasizing the need to foster a greater sense of reverence for the Eucharist.

3. Addressing the need for a proper interpretation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, i.e., the importance of reading these documents according to a "hermeneutic of continuity".

4. Presenting an "affirmative orthodoxy" to the world--i.e., explaining that Christianity is not best understood in terms of a "no" but rather as a "yes" to Christ.

5. Addressing the economic meltdown and the moral problems, which are at its root.

6. Filling vacant episcopal chairs with competent leaders.

7. The need and the challenge of proclaiming the Gospel to what increasingly seems like a post-Christian western culture, i.e., the need for a “New Evangelization”.

8. Dealing with the rise of militant Islam in a Christ-like way.

9. Speaking out against the persecutions throughout the world, particular in Muslim countries.

10. Emphasizing the need for the Church reform the way it has dealt with accusations of clergy sexual abuse.

11. Fostering priestly and religious vocations.

12. The responsibility Catholic institutions of higher learning have to maintain their Catholic identity.

13. Healing divisions in the Body of Christ, e.g., providing a pathway for reconciliation with Anglicans or members of schismatic groups, which have broken away from the Church.

The list above is just a sample of some of the important things the Holy Father has focused on during his pontificate — many other things could be mentioned.

But what if you were to ask the Pope, "Holy Father, what is the top priority for your papacy?" What do you suspect he might say? [An unnecessary question and set-up, to anyone who has been following Benedict XVI - because he has always been clear and consistent about it, but most emphatically in his March 10, 2009 letter to all the bishops of the world. To bring God to the world. And that is why one of the most memorable statements in JESUS OF NAZARETH was: "What has Jesus really brought?... The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God!' And that is why the Church as the extension of Christ in history, as his Mystical Body, must continue to do what he did - bring God to the world.]

Well, you don't have to wonder; he's answered the question, and, in fact, he did not mention any of the things listed above. And sadly, the item identified as the top priority gets short shrift--if any mention at all--in the Catholic blogosphere.

That’s not to say the concerns above are not important to him. They are. Yet when the Pope talked about his “supreme and fundamental” focus he actually named something else.

The sad thing is, most people — even Catholic writers — largely seem to ignore it, emphasizing to one degree or another other aspects of his papacy.

How does the Holy Father describe his top priority? Here's Benedict in his own words:

“Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time.”[1]

Leading people to "the God who speaks in the Bible" — that's the Pope's chief aim.

The Pope's clear focus on Scripture has been manifest throughout his papacy. Consider the following,

1. The Year of St. Paul. He devoted an entire year to St. Paul, calling the Church to pay closer attention to Scripture.

2. Numerous talks on St. Paul's teaching. During that year dedicated to St. Paul he meticulously went through the Apostle’s letters, giving numerous catechetical presentations on his teaching and theology.

3. Jesus of Nazareth, in 3 volumes! Much of his precious time has been spent writing a multi-volume work looking at Jesus in the Gospels, namely, Jesus of Nazareth. Volume 1 was a New York Times Best Seller. Volume 2 is about to be released soon, and there's a volume 3 waiting in the wings. This dimension of his papacy alone has highlighted in an important way the Pope's deep desire to lead the faithful to Bible study.

4. The Synod on Scripture. He called together a major Synod in which the bishops of the world gathered to Rome to discuss the role of Scripture in the life of the Church. Again, this was a hugely significant event.

5. New Translations of the Mass. The new translations of the liturgy he has overseen emphasize in a much clearer way the biblical roots of the prayers of the Mass.

Yesterday, then, was like the icing on the cake.

Pope Benedict released a 200-page document laying out in exhaustive detail the Church’s teaching on Scripture, Verbum Domini. The document is a follow-up — almost three years after the fact! — to the Synod on Scripture he convened in 2008.

And yet, this is a historic document. The last major papal document on Scripture was published 57 years ago (Divino afflante Spiritu [1943]). The last major magisterial document outlining Church teaching on Scripture was Dei Verbum, a document of the second Vatican Council--dated to 1965, 45 years ago! [Which was, one must note at every opportunity, the one Vatican-II document that Joseph Ratzinger most contributed to, and by all accounts, his favorite of the 16 Vatican II documents, perhaps because it is also the most unequivocal and orthodox, in the spirit of the Church Fathers (after whom, Biblical studies appeared to have started fading away from the Catholic mindset so that by the mid-20th century, few Catholics had any Biblical 'awareness'.]

Yet this historic and extensive document received only passing mention - if any at all - on many of the most popular Catholic websites.

Let me put it another way: imagine the Pope had released a 200=page letter on the Mass. What kind of treatment and analysis would that be getting? Is the Pope's teaching about the Bible not also worthy of careful attention? [Prof. Barber forgets that the same thing happened with Sacramentum caritatis on the Eucharist, which was Benedict XVI's first Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, and remains one of the least discussed of his major documents. It's because the Exhortations - based on the list of Propositions from the bishops of the Synodal assembly - are, by their nature, detailed and dense, in which every paragraph deserves a separate article and commentary, and cannot be reduced to a soundbite.]

In fact - I'm just going to come right out and say it - there does seem to be a real over-reaction to Protestantism in Catholic circles. [And is 'protestantism' defined then as a tendency to cite the Bible????] Quote chapter and verse from the Bible in some Catholic circles and you might get a weird look: are you really a Catholic? Yet Pope Benedict is calling for precisely that: memorization of Scripture in Catechesis (cf. Verbum Domini 74). [Not 'memorization' for the sake of memorization, but to 'seal' one's familiarity with the passage, as it were.]

There seems to be a creeping suspicion in some Catholic circles that liturgy is for Catholics, the Bible is for Protestants [not after Vatican=II, with the introduction of more Bible readings in the liturgy, although that certainly did not drive Catholics to read the Bible itself,not just the passages excerpted for the liturgy, and that's the reason Benedict XVI called the Synod on the Word of God/]]. The only problem is: that's not what the Pope himself is saying!

To some, perhaps the Synod's call for a renewed focus on Scripture is a distant memory, but not for the Holy Father!

Releasing the document almost three years later seems to make an important statement: Don't forget about the Synod
— hearing "the God who speaks in the Bible" needs to remain our “supreme and fundamental” focus. [Rather simplistic statements, that also contain a factual inaccuracy. The Synodal Assembly on the Word of God ended in late October 2008 - the Apostolic Exhortation is dated Sept. 30, less than 2 years later, not three. In comparison, Sacramentum caritatis was released in February 2007, 16 months after the assembly on the Eucharist. The Exhortations are not just 'reminders' - they are fundamental features of each Synodal Assembly, the official compendium of the assembly's recommendations and the only one of its pertinent documents that becomes part of the Magisterium.]

And, just to reiterate how important the Bible is, the document is, once again, almost 200 pages long! [The length of any document is not necessarily an index of its importance. Obviously, every subject of a Synodal Assembly has great specific significance to the Church. In the case of these exhortations, the document length is related to the number of Propositions presented to the Holy Father for his approval and commentary.]

He’s 83 years old. That’s quite an undertaking! He has spent almost three years [two, not three!] crafting his message.

Clearly the Holy Father has a deep concern for calling Catholics to a greater appreciation for Scripture.

Indeed, at the beginning of the document the Holy Father explains:
"I wish to point out certain fundamental approaches to a rediscovery of God’s word in the life of the Church as a well-spring of constant renewal. At the same time I express my hope that the Word will be ever more fully at the heart of every ecclesial activity" (Verbum Domini, paragraph 1).

Three things here are important.
First: there needs to be a "rediscovery" of God's word. Apparently, some have lost a biblical focus. [An understatement. Most Catholics I know have never had a Biblical focus. And I suspect that's true of the greater part of regular-folk Catholics!]

Second: for the Pope the riches of Scripture are inexhaustible. They represent a “well-spring of constant renewal.” In other words, the Synod in 2008 did not finish the job. We're not done talking about the Bible. [These are odd observations to make. I don't think even the most naive Catholic who follows Church news would ever think that the Bible was simply a subject for one Synod - and finito! There's a reason the Bible continues to be the top-selling book of all time, at any time althouch clearly, not all Bible-buyers are Catholics, and the bulk of such buyers are from the 'evangelical' churches. I think any Christian would appreciate that fact instinctively. I just read that the Bible publisher who serves the mainland China market has already sold 80 million copies this year...]

Third: the Word therefore must be more fully at the heart of everything the Church does. Period. The Bible is not a supplement. It is not optional. It is essential. It must be the center of "everything" the Church does. [That's also rather misleading. I believe the traditional center of Christian life in terms of resources for the faith is - a trinomial like the Trinity - Scripture, Tradition and Liturgy, not just one of them, and all of them pointing to the real center, Jesus Christ, Son of God and face of God.]

Later, citing the Synod, Benedict explains:

With the Synod Fathers I express my heartfelt hope for the flowering of “a new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that their prayerful and faith-filled reading of the Bible will, with time, deepen their personal relationship with Jesus” (Verbum Domini, paragraph 72).

He also writes:

In a world which often feels that God is superfluous or extraneous, we confess with Peter that he alone has “the words of eternal life ” (Jn 6:68). There is no greater priority than this: to enable the people of our time once more to encounter God, the God who speaks to us and shares his love so that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10)" (Verbum Domini, paragraph 2).

Of course, keep reading and you'll see that, for Benedict, the principle way we "hear" God "speak" His Word to us is by listening to his voice in Scripture.

In one section he cites St. Jerome, who linked the neglect of God's Word to the Eucharist.

Saint Jerome speaks of the way we ought to approach both the Eucharist and the word of God: “We are reading the sacred Scriptures. For me, the Gospel is the Body of Christ; for me, the holy Scriptures are his teaching. And when he says: whoever does not eat my flesh and drink my blood (Jn 6:53), even though these words can also be understood of the [Eucharistic] Mystery, Christ’s body and blood are really the word of Scripture, God’s teaching.

Then he describes the neglect of God’s word in terms of desecration of the Eucharist:

"When we approach the [Eucharistic] Mystery, if a crumb falls to the ground we are troubled. Yet when we are listening to the word of God, and God’s Word and Christ’s flesh and blood are being poured into our ears yet we pay no heed, what great peril should we not feel?”.[2]

This is a hugely impactful passage in the letter and I suspect the Church will be "digesting" it for some time.

Indeed, faithful Catholics would be horrified at the mishandling of the Eucharist at Mass. To imagine the precious blood being spilled all over the altar is an unthinkable thought. Yet the Word of God is poured out to us in the Bible--are we simply letting it fall to the ground?!

God is trying to speak to His Church in the Bible. Are we listening? What an affront it is to God to let those Bibles simply sit on shelves and collect dust! To ignore the Word of God proclaimed in the liturgy! [No, don't mix apples and oranges, Liturgy is liturgy, and the Bible is the Bible. The necessarily brief Bible readings in the liturgy are selected according to some theological-pastoral-seasonal logic and are not meant to be a substitute for the Bible itself.]

To put it another way, we might say this. The phone is ringing. God is on the line. Is anyone going to pick up?

Benedict quotes revelation: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice I will come in to him and eat with him" (Rev 3:20).

In fact, notice that hearing Christ's voice is the prelude to the banquet--if we fail to hear his voice in the Word, we will miss his coming in the Eucharistic banquet.

The Pope then goes on to offer a beautiful reflection on the “sacramentality” of God’s word:

Christ, truly present under the species of bread and wine, is analogously present in the word proclaimed in the liturgy. A deeper understanding of the sacramentality of God’s word can thus lead us to a more unified understanding of the mystery of revelation, which takes place through “deeds and words intimately connected”;[3] an appreciation of this can only benefit the spiritual life of the faithful and the Church’s pastoral activity.

Many Catholic writers have rightly identified restoring reverence for the liturgy as among the Pope’s top priorities. However, very few talk much about Scripture. [Perhaps wisely not! Because they feel they do not know enough about it, nor are grounded enough in it. Then better they don't. But even in such context, they can and should quote Scripture when applicable to illumine and illustrate a personal experience, as some of them do.]

Just look around at the Catholic blogosphere for posts examining the meaning of Bible passages. Some of course do an excellent job of covering the Bible. Yet many never or hardly ever do.

And so, as I ran down the list of many of the top Catholic blogs yesterday, I was sad to find little if any mention of the Pope's historic document. For some it was a blip on the screen--if even that. Some haven't even mentioned it at all. It's like nothing happened!

Again, if this were a 200-page document on the Mass, people would be picking it apart, listening closely to the Holy Father. [Not necessarily. Vide Sacramentum caritatis!]

It’s high time for Catholics to make the “supreme and fundamental priority” of the Pope, their "supreme and fundamental priority". Let us all work together with the Pope as he calls for a renewal of Catholic biblical studies.

As Jerome said, if the Eucharist were to fall to the ground we would be "troubled". Let us also be troubled by the way the words of Christ in Scripture are poured out and ignored, recognizing the “great peril” we place ourselves in when we fail to listen to God’s Word carefully.

Fellow Catholic bloggers: Let us offer biblical reflections. Let us talk about how we hear the Lord speaking to us in Scripture. Let us highlight lessons in the Sunday readings. Let us mention priests and bishops who do an outstanding job expounding Scripture, offering links to excellent homilies.

Over the next few weeks you will find more posts detailing elements of Verbum Domini on However, I challenge all Catholic writers to seize this moment and embrace the Pope’s call for a greater focus on the role of Scripture in the life of the Church.

[1] Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Remission of the Excommunication of the Four Bishops Consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre. Emphasis added.
[2] In Psalmum 147: CCL 78, 337-338.
[3] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 2.

00martedì 16 novembre 2010 16.40

November 16, Tuesday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
ST. MARGARET OF SCOTLAND (b Hungary 1050, d Scotland 1093)
Queen of Scots, Wife and Mother
A niece of Edward the Confessor, granddaughter of King Edmund Ironside of England, great-niece of Saint Stephen of Hungary, she spent much of her youth in the British Isles. While fleeing the invading army of William the Conqueror in 1066, her family’s ship was wrecked on the Scottish coast. They were assisted by King Malcolm III Canmore of Scotland, whom Margaret married in 1070. They had six sons and two daughters, one of whom was the future Saint Maud (Matilda), wife of Henry I. While maintaining her personal holiness with rigorous private devotions, she was an exemplar of the 'just ruler'. Promoting arts and education among her people and practising legendary charity, she founded religious abbeys and sought to reform religious abuses by priests and lay people. Her husband and eldest son were killed in battle against the English in 1093. She died three days after getting the news. Three of her sons became Kings of Scotland, and one became an abbot. She was canonized in 1250.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR for 11/15-11/16/10:
'To overcome the economic crisis'
At the Angelus on Sunday, Benedict XVI asks rich nations not to seek advantageous alliances at the expense of poorer nations;
he also expresses his closeness to the people of Haiti now threatened by a cholera epidemic
Other papal stories in this issue: The Pope closes out a year of meeting Brazilian bishops on ad limina visit, and he receives a delegation of Italian ski instructors and their families. In international news: Ireland plans to ask the EU for help to bail out banks in difficulty, while its total national debt approaches 70-80 billion euros. In the inside pages, a report on the 25th international conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Workers on the theme "Equitable and humane health care in the light of Caritas in veritate".

No papal events scheduled today.

The Vatican released the text of the final communique from the talks held in Tehran last week between the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog and their Iranian counterparts.


The Vatican also announced a morning news conference on Tuesday, Nov. 23, for the formal presentation of Luce del Mondo. Il Papa, la Chiesa, i segni dei tempi. Una conversazione di Benedetto XVI con Peter Seewald, the Italian edition published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana). Presentors will be Mons. Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, and journalist Luigi Accattoli. Peter Seewald will be present, along with Fr. Giuseppe Costa, director of LEV.

00martedì 16 novembre 2010 18.17

This is not a story about Benedict XVI, but since this first cathedral of the so-called 'post-Christian era'
will forever be associated uniquely with him, I am posting it here.

Gaudí's Sagrada Família:
A cathedral for our times

by Austen Ivereigh
16 November 2010

The Sagrada Familia during the solemn Mass and consecration celebrated by the Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday 7 November 2010, during his two-day visit to Spain.

Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926), architect of the awesome basilica consecrated by Pope Benedict in Barcelona on Sunday 7 November, didn't think he was building Europe's last great Catholic cathedral.

The Sagrada Família, he said, was the first of the new Christian era. He built it to speak to a post-industrial, secularised world, to heal the divide between faith and reason, truth and freedom, art and God; and to do so, not through a restatement of the past, but starting from creation itself.

We have long been familiar with the Sagrada's towers and facades, the way the building erupts from Barcelona's suburbs, reaching for the skies. But on the day it was consecrated, thanks to a spidercam deftly directed by the local television station, TV3, millions saw for the first time the recently-completed interior – a thrilling petrified forest of light, colour and space.

The Basilica's modernity, as Pope Benedict observed in his homily, lies in the way Gaudí internalises what is usually left outside – plants, animals, nature – while putting on its outside what is normally confined within church walls: altarpieces and sculptures narrating the Christian salvation story.

In an age when "modern" art strains to reject and disconcert for its own sake, Gaudí's originality stands out as far more radical and authentic.

Focussing intensely on the forms of nature, he discovered that true beauty lies in uncovering and being faithful to those forms, rather than striving after beauty, which results merely in artifice.


Through dozens of 65ft-high tropical trunks rising up to a forest-like canopy through which the sun's rays pour and dance across the walls, the Sagrada's interior creates a heavenly vision of the New Jerusalem – not a ponderous, grandiloquent, statement of a powerful institution, but a glimpse of God, something free and light and generous and intensely beautiful, a space fit for soaring spirits.

Gaudí's own life is a very modern one. He ignored his Catholic faith until he was 42, by which time he was a famous and well-paid architect, something of a dandy courted by wealthy Barcelona industrialists to design their show-off houses. He was the leading light of the Catalan movement of arts and crafts known as the Renaixença, and knew he was far ahead of his generation.

But he was knocked off course by being rejected by a woman he loved, and began to explore – in a very modern, considered way, in full knowledge of the alternatives – the beliefs in which he had until then shown little interest.

Over the next 30 years, he shed his wealth, spent more and more time in prayer, gave up meat and alcohol, put his money into improving the lot of the poor of his barrio, and dedicated himself entirely to the Sagrada Família, convinced that God had called him to this great task. He died, after being run over by a tram aged 72, a beloved pauper, lauded as genius and admired as a saint.

The Church is now on its way to officially declaring him one, not because of his magnificent creation – although, of course, the Sagrada cannot be separated from his faith – but because of the evidence and fruits of a life geared to God.

Unlike other geniuses such as Picasso (who loathed Gaudí for ideological reasons but was indebted to his art) or Mozart, Gaudí never burned out. He understood that artistic genius was a powerful gift, which led to a reckless ego; he actively compensated for that gift through penance and expiation, self-sacrifice and giving.

Convinced that God is revealed first through His creation, his faith led his genius and technical prowess ever deeper into the origins of beauty, not away from them. At a time when technological progress leads to arrogance, Gaudí offers leaves and lizards, eggs and branches, and asks us to look again.

That is why the saintly Gaudí and his great Basilica are the perfect signposts for the contemporary Church to place in the path of the modern seeker. And they offer a way out of the wounds of Spain's civil war, still seen in the tragic division between left and right, Catholics and anticlericals.

Gaudí was a Catalanista, arrested in the 1920s for refusing to speak Castilian to an army officer. Catalan nationalism has always been close to the local Church, and the fact of the Pope using Catalan at the Mass at the Sagrada Família, symbol of Catalan pride, pours balm on old wounds.

Gaudí's great basilica has been built, mostly, from the entrance fees from Europe's agnostic tourists: it attracts 2 million visitors a year, more than the Prado and the Alhambra.

They come, in the age of The Da Vinci Code, curious about symbols and signs, and find that the Sagrada Família, perhaps the greatest attempt since Dante to condense the whole of Christian teaching into a single work, is packed with them.

Yet there is nothing opaque about it. Unlike St Peter's in Rome, which conceals and intimidates as much as it gives glory, Barcelona's basilica opens up in its entirety the moment you step inside – the perfect space for a culture suspicious of institutions, but which is restless for something greater than ourselves.

00martedì 16 novembre 2010 18.45

Bishops announce June 4-5 dates
for Pope's visit to Croatia


ZAGREB, Nov. 16 (Translated from APCOM) - The Croatian bishops' conference has announced that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Croatia on June 4-5, 2011.

A statement said he will be in Zagreb to attend a national gathering of Croatian Catholic families and to pray at the tomb of Blessed Alojize Stepipac.

Croatia is the bulwark of Catholicism in the Balkans, with 90% of its 4.4 million inhabitants identifying themselves as Catholic.

John Paul II visited Croatia three times - 1994, 1998 and 2003.


The visit, first speculated on shortly after the Croatian President called on the Pope at the Vatican last Oct. 9, was officially confirmed on Oct. 28, at which time the dates were not announced.

NB: So far, we have five pastoral visits scheduled for the Pope in 2011-

May 7-9 Venice and Aquileia
Jun 4-5 Croatia
Jun 18 San Marino-Montefeltro
Aug 18-21 Madrid (World Youth Day)
Oct 9 Lamezia Terme-Certosa San Bruno

00martedì 16 novembre 2010 19.10

Vatican acquires
HD broadcast capability


VATICAN CITY, 16 NOV 2010 (VIS) - "New technologies at the service of the communications of the Holy See" was the theme of a press conference held this morning to present the new high-definition outside-broadcasting equipment which the Vatican Television Centre (CTV) will now be using.

Participating in today's conference, held in the Holy See Press Office, were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and of the administrative board of the Vatican Television Centre; Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Vatican Television Centre; Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Gildas Pelliet, managing director of Sony Italia.

Archbishop Celli highlighted the fact that the lorry containing the CTV outside broadcasting unit is being inaugurated just a few days before the Pontifical Council for Social Communications's newly renewed website "Pope2you" comes online.

The aim of the website, which has existed for some time, "is to accompany the thousands of young people from every continent who wish to follow the Pope closely, listening to his words and, in some way, entering into dialogue with him. The site has thus far had some five million hits", he said.

"The second project we have begun working upon is the creation of a new portal which will bring together, also using multimedia technology, the various sources of news within the Vatican", said Archbishop Celli.

In his remarks Fr. Lombardi explained how the new equipment "certainly represents the biggest investment made by the CTV in recent years, and perhaps in its entire history, ... which began in the year 1983 by order of John Paul II. This is, then, a good opportunity to recall the goals and functions of this institution of social communications of the Holy See, and the criteria it follows in its activities.

"The mission of CTV", Fr. Lombardi added, "as its statute says, is to ensure the tele-visual recording of the Holy Father's activities and of other important events that take place within the Vatican, ... and to create an archive of all these images, both as a source of documentation and in order to produce information services, documentaries, etc. All this, of course, is to serve the mission of the Church, making the Holy Father's activities and teaching better known".

Doing this task well, he went on, "requires operational skill and a quality product, in keeping with advances in tele-visual communications and, more generally, in the modern use of video, for example on the Internet. If we failed to maintain an adequate level ... we would effectively hinder the diffusion of the Pope's image, and hence of his message".

For this reason CTV has greatly increased its live coverage over recent years, and currently "makes an average of 200 live broadcasts every year", said Fr. Lombardi. These include the gmajor celebrations in St. Peter's Square, the Angelus, general and special audiences, and concerts in the Paul VI Hall or in the basilicas.

The director of the Vatican Television Centre also pointed out that the majority of quality documentaries are now produced in high-definition, and that an increasing number of television channels are using this system.

For this reason, he explained, CTV's move to the system "was a necessary step we could not fail to make, for otherwise the image of the Pope would gradually have disappeared from television screens over the coming years".

The cost of the operation has been met from three sources: Sony, which offered favourable terms of payment; a notable contribution from the Knights of Columbus, and the resources which CTV has been earmarking for this purpose over recent years, thanks to its annual budget surplus.

For his part, the KofC's Carl Anderson explained how the new HD outside-broadcasting unit "represents the most recent development in the long history of the Catholic Church's work in mass communication".

The Knights of Columbus, he said, "is happy to be able to support the great communications work of the Vatican" in the hope of reaching "to the farthest corner of this city, Italy and the world".

Gildas Pelliet explained how the new mobile unit, "a lorry 13.9 metres long, ... is divided into four operational areas: audio cabin, equipment room, primary and secondary director's cabin, and camera control. The sixteen television cameras all have high-definition fibre optic connections".

00martedì 16 novembre 2010 19.31

Announcements for
this weekend's events


VATICAN CITY, 16 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has issued a formal notification of events in conncection with Benedict XVI's third consistory to crate new cardinals this weekend.

At 10.30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, Pope Benedict XVI will hold an Ordinary Public Consistory to name the twenty-four new cardinals at St. Peter's Basilica.

The following morning, also in St. Peter's Basilica, at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 21 November, Solemnity of Christ the King, the Holy Father will preside at a concelebrated Mass with the new cardinals, during which he will give them their ring of office.

The programme for the courtesy visits to the new cardinals has also been published, The new cardinals will receive wellwishers from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the following meeting halls:


Cardinals Jose Manuel Estepa Llaurens, Kazimierz Nycz, Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Antonios Naguib, Raymundo Damasceno.

Main Hall:
Cardinals Paolo Romeo, Domenico Bartolucci, Elio Sgreccia, Donald William Wuerl, Reinhard Marx, Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don.

Cardinal Walter Brandmuller.


Sala Regia:
Cardinals Gianfranco Ravasi, Angelo Amato.

Hall of Blessings:
Cardinals Robert Sarah, Francesco Monterisi, Fortunato Baldelli, Kurt Koch, Velasio De Paolis, Paolo Sardi.

Sala Ducale:
Cardinals Mauro Piacenza, Raymond Leo Burke.

[On Nov, 19, the cardinals-elect will join the College of Cardinals for a 'day of reflection and prayer' with the Holy Father during which they will hear reports on five major issues facing the Church today.]


USCCB elects New York's Archbishop Dolan
as their next president 128-114 -
'conservatives' triumph over'progressives'
who favored Mgr. Kicanas of Arizona

I have posted the full report(s) in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread..... as well
as a profile of Archbishop Dolan in the NOTABLES thread.
128 to 114! Now we know the 'exact' balance of forces at the moment among US bishops.
Remember that at the height of the MSM denunciations of the Pope over the sex-abuse issue,
Archbishop Dolan was probably the only bishop in the world who took time after Sunday Mass
to speak up from the pulpit for the Pope
, and to denounce the MSM war against the Pope on his blog....

00mercoledì 17 novembre 2010 01.33

Impressions of Benedict XVI -
from a Spanish journalist
who has covered four Popes

Excerpted from an interview
by Carmen Elena Villa
Translated from the Spanish service of

Villa interviews Spanish journalist Paloma Gomez Borrero, now 74. about her 30 years as a Vatican correspondent through four Popes, starting with Paul VI, whose death and funeral was her first Vatican assignment for Spanish TV. The greater part of her Vatican career, however, was spent covering John Paul II, on whose trips abroad, she was often the only woman reporter travelling on the papal plane. I have translated only the last part of the interview that has to do with Benedict XVI. ZENIT has a full English translation on

... How do you view the five years' plus Pontificate of Benedict XVI?
Paloma Gómez Borrero: This is a Pope that you keep discovering more every day. He has an intelligence, a clarity, a humility, affability and intimacy that I had never imagined of him. I did do a TV interview with him when he was a Cardinal, and even then, I could see that he was a person who could get close to others, who likes to dialog, and most especially, to listen.

I admire his line and his consistency. He wants God to enter into the life of man, of the nation - that we should return to our Christian roots. That all those who believe in one God, should talk to each other, and not ignore the life of others. I would define John Paul II as a superstar, and Benedict XVI as 'Doctor affabilis'.

What fruits do you think will come from the Pope's recent visit to Spain?-
His discourses wee magnificent. And the Pope was very happy. I think that the Spanish people, too, came out for him. What the Pope said is very important for Spain, and he said it with a clarity and respect for everyone that will probably change many things.

Are you hopeful for the future of the faith in Spain?
Yes, because as the Pope said, a secular government or State need not be in opposition to the Church, but that they can have a fruitful encounter on all points that they agree upon: the defense of man, of his dignity, of his freedom of education, of collaboration. That confrontation is very dangerous. That is what the Pope wanted to get across.

What do you think are the qualifications for a newsman who is assigned to report and inform about what is taking place in the Church?
Not just about what happens in the Church but in whatever field that a newsman must inform about, he must always go for the truth above all. Instinctively, you would report according to how you see or interpret things, but you should never manipulate what you see. You cannot 'orchestrate' the news or what the Pope or a politician says. And you can't take the news out of its proper context nor manipulate it.

00mercoledì 17 novembre 2010 13.34

Papa Ratzinger turns on
the 'Light of the world'

by Francesco Antonio Grana
Translated from
Nov. 17, 2010

When, in 1981, he was called yet again with insistence by John Paul II to become Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger asked that he be allowed to continue writing for publication.

He did not wish his new responsibility in Rome as a custodian of the Catholic faith to interrupt his theological studies and writings.

John Paul II, who wanted him in the Roman Curia at all costs, did not hesitate to agree to this request. After all, even he, as Pope, would eventually allow himself some editorial license.

In addition to his Magisterial documents, he published 'autobiographical' books such as the bestselling interview book Crossing the Threshold of Hope with Vittorio Messori [inspired, as George Weigel tells us in his biography of teh Polish Pope, by the great success of Messori's interview book years earlier with Cardinal Ratzinger, published in English as The Ratzinger Report, which, Weigel continues, played a major role in John Paul's decision to convoke the 1985 Special Synodal Assembly on the 'reception' in the Church of Vatican II, 20 years after the Council]; Gift and mystery, on the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood; the books on his pastoral mission, Rise, let us be on our way and Memory and Identity, and Roman Triptych, a book of poems.

With JESUS OF NAZARETH, Volume 2 of which will come out early next year (subtitled Holy Week: From the Entry into Jerusalem to the Resurrection], Benedict XVI has followed the practice inaugurated by his immediate predecessor.

Nonetheless, "Never before has a Pope written a book about Jesus," Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini wrote in 2007 when the first volume came out. "John Paul II had accustomed us to some accounts of his life. But it is the first time that a book by a Pope directly confronts a subject as difficult and wide-ranging as the entire life of Jesus and the meaning of his work".

Now Benedict XVI is gifting us with another editorial first. On November 24, Light of the World, an interview book with Peter Seewald, will be on sale in most bookstores around the world. It is the third interview book between Joseph Ratzinger and the Bavarian journalist.

The two earlier ones, Salt of the earth and God and the world, were international bestsellers. Seewald's winning formula: simple questions to his illustrious interlocutor.

For Light of the world, the two met at Castel Gandolfo in the last week of July, one hour a day for six days. And this face-to-face with the Pope is the true novelty of this book. [Equally important to note, the questions were not pre-screened nor discussed beforehand!]

It is not, in fact, the first interview book with a Pope. John Paul II's book with Vittorio Messori had been preceded by that of Paul VI with Jean Guitton [French philosopher-theologian who was the Pope's friend; the book was The Pope speaks: Dialogues of Paul VI with Jean Guitton, published in the USA in 1968].

With both Papa Montini and Papa Wojtyla, their interviewers submitted written questions, to which they received written answers.

But Light of the world is the outcome of face-to-face interviews between the Pope and Seewald - one that was not filtered through any linguistic haze, either, because they spoke to each other in the Bavarian dialect they share.

[Similar face-to-face sessions resulted in the three interview books before it - Cardinal Ratzinger met with Messori in the seminary of Bressanone for The Ratzinger Report [the language they used was Italian]; with Seewald, in a former Jesuit residence in Frascati, for Salt of the Earth, and in the Benedictine Abbey at Montecassino for God and the world.]

"I continue to be amazed by the kindness and availability of the Pope," Seewald said. "Everyone will be surprised to find a Pope who was so accessible and open [to all the questions raised]".

00mercoledì 17 novembre 2010 14.37

Nov. 17, Wednesday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
ST. ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY (Also known as Elizabeth of Thuringia) (b Hungary 1207, d. Germany 1231)
Princess of Hungary, Queen of Thuringia, Mother and Widow, Lay Franciscan
Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis last Oct. 20 to the saint
who has been described as "one of the most pious women to ever live... who made more of an impact on an entire country then most people who live three times as long as she did". Married to Ludwig of Thuringia at 14, he allowed her to use royal resources for her charities and is locally venerated as a saint himself even if he was never canonized. Their third child was born after Ludwig was killed as he set out for the Sixth Crusade. She was devastated by his death and joined the Franciscan third order. Venerated for her life of prayer, sacrifice and service, she was canonized just four years after she died.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
No papal stories in today's issue. There is a front-page editorial reflection on the paradox that new advances in medical science and technology have contributed to the erosion of respect for human life since genetically flawed, handicapped or terminally ill persons are now considered disposable. Page 1 international news: the European Union's alarm over Ireland's debt crisis, particularly Portugal which has long been thought to be 'the next Greece'; growing concern over the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan who now threaten nationwide attacks; UN troops clash with Haiti demonstrators protesting lack of effective action against the cholera epidemic in the earthquake-ravaged country. In the inside pages, an interview with Mons. Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Ministry to healthcare Workers, now holding its 25th international convention in Rome on the subject of providing health care in the light of Caritas in veritate.


General Audience today - The Holy Father's catechesis was devoted to St. Juliana of Liege, a 13th century Belgian nun, mystic and devotee of the Eucharist, whose advocacy led to the designation of the Feast of Corpus Christi to celebrate the Eucharist. The Pope also made a special appeal for the immediate release of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death on a false charge of blasphemy against Islam.

Worldwide mobilization
for Asia Bibi

Translated from

At lesat 40,000 e-mails have been sent by Christioan associations, human rights groups and ordinary folk to Pakistan government agencies asking for the release of 37-year-old Asia Bibi,

The Churches in Pakistan and Christian communities around the world have also launched a petition to abolish Pakistna's law against blasphemy. 75,000 signatures were gathered and submitted to the government in Islamabad, in an initiative by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Pakistan bishops' conference and many other Christian groups.

On the international level, the initiative is led by the Aid to the Church that Suffers, which has been gathering signatures in Europe.

[Background on this story was posted earlier in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread.]

- Mons. Karl Golzer, Bishop of Bressanone-Bolzano, has disclosed he has a rare atypical case of Parkinson's disease that affects his speech and mobility. He has been receiving therapy and will continue carrying out his duties, with some restrictions on his activities.. The Pope had appointed Golzer to succeed Mons. Wilhelm Egger who died unexpectedly in 2008.

Our prayers and best wishes for Asia Bibi and Mons. Golzer, and all those who suffer in similar conditions.

- A conservative blogger in the Daily Telegraph offers this informative commentary today about the Irish leadership that have led Ireland to the verge of catastrophic economic implosion, which is tied up to the prevalent anti-Church sentiment among the Irish today:

the Irish political class (is) an even more self-satisfied and closed-minded collection of people than our own Guardianistas. Kevin Myers has often said that Ireland overthrew the clergy only to replace it with the commentariat, a group with a remarkably narrow set of views and completely intolerant of dissent – Church bad, multi-culturalism good; Brits bad, America worse, Israelis worst of all. Being part of the European project goes without saying among this herd of beach-bound whales.

Ireland has a historical attachment to continental Europe, as liberator from British rule, but it perhaps goes even deeper than that, back to its monks’ preservation of Western civilisation during the Dark Ages. Ireland, more than most countries, feels itself profoundly European and its Catholicism was always a part of that. It is not entirely a coincidence that as Christianity, faded Ireland adopted a replacement ideology – the dream of Brussels. Or the world’s biggest suicide pact, as I think of it.

The Irish political elite, progressive in social and cultural issues, naturally loves Brussels’s social agenda, which is hostile to the Church, religion or any moral opposition...

And that is the poisoned rancorous environment which has fomented and exacerbated hostility to the Church given the pretext of abuses committed by some priests.

00mercoledì 17 novembre 2010 19.22

Catechesis on St. Juliana of Liege


The Holy Father's catechesis was devoted to St. Juliana of Liege, a 13th century Belgian nun, mystic and devotee of the Eucharist, whose advocacy led to the designation of the Feast of Corpus Christi to celebrate the Eucharist.

The Pope also made a special appeal for the immediate release of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death on a false charge of blasphemy against Islam.


Springtime of the Eucharist

NOV 2010 (RV) - On Wednesday Pope Benedict said that the Church is witnessing a “springtime in Eucharistic devotion”, particularly among young people who are finding time to “stop in silence before the tabernacle to spend time with Him”.

The Pope described this as a “wonderful development” and specifically mentioned the Eucharistic Adoration he led in Hyde Park London during his recent apostolic visit there.

He said he hoped that this “springtime of the Eucharist” would spread to other parishes, particularly in Belgium, the birthplace of St Juliana of Liège, a 13th century Augustinian nun, whose devotion to the Eucharist gave rise to the universal feast of Corpus Christi, and to whom he dedicated his catechesis this week:

Intelligent and cultured, she was drawn to contemplative prayer and devotion to the sacrament of the Eucharist. As the result of a recurring vision, Juliana worked to promote a liturgical feast in honour of the Eucharist.

The feast of Corpus Christi was first celebrated in the Diocese of Liège, and began to spread from there. Pope Urban IV, who had known Juliana in Liège, instituted the solemnity of Corpus Christi for the universal Church and charged Saint Thomas Aquinas with composing the texts of the liturgical office.

The Pope himself celebrated the solemnity in Orvieto, then the seat of the papal court, where the relic of a celebrated Eucharistic miracle, which had occurred the previous year, was kept.

As we recall Saint Juliana of Cornillon, let us renew our faith in Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist and pray that the “springtime of the Eucharist” which we are witnessing in the Church today may bear fruit in an ever greater devotion to the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood

In his traditional greetings to English speaking pilgrims, the Holy Father extended a warm welcome to the delegation from the International Catholic Migration Commission. He also offered prayerful good wishes to the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld meeting in General Chapter and greeted the priests from England and Wales celebrating their anniversaries of ordination.

Pope's appeal for Asia Bibi

At the end of his general audience Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI joined the international community in expressing his concern for the plight of Christians in Pakistan, “often victims of violence or discrimination”.

He said “especially today I express my spiritual closeness to Mrs. Asia Bibi and her family, while I ask for full freedom to be restored to her, as soon as possible”.

Pope Benedict XVI added “I also pray for those who find themselves in similar situations, that their human dignity and their fundamental rights be fully respected”.

Nongovernmental organizations are re-launching campaigns against Pakistan’s blasphemy law following the recent death sentence of the Christian woman, Asia Bibi, a mother of five children. Bibi has been on trial for over a year after a row with a group of Muslim women.

She is the first woman to be convicted on charges of blasphemy in Pakistan – a law that the Christian minority says is often misused to settle personal scores.

“The death sentence has shocked the civil society here,” says Peter Jacob, Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistani Bishops Conference.

“Civil society in Pakistan is very active,” Peter Jacob told Vatican Radio. “There’s a number of appeals going on – signature campaigns – to make the authorities, the prime minister and parliament aware of people’s sentiment that this injustice is not acceptable to the people of Pakistan.”



Here is a full translation of the catechesis today:

Dear brothers and sisters.

This morning I wish to present to you another female figure, little known, but to whom the Church owes a great deal, not just for her holiness in life, but also because, with her great fervor, she contributed to the institution of one of the most important liturgical solemnities of the year, the Feast of Corpus Domini.


She is St. Juliana of Cornillon, also known as St. Juliana of Liege. The information we have about her life comes above all from a biography probably written by a churchman who was her contemporary, and who recounts various testimonies by persons who knew the saint directly.

Juliana was born in 1191 or 1192 near Liege in Belgium. It is important to emphasize the place, because at that time, the Diocese of Liege was, so to speak, a true 'Eucharistic cenacle'.

Before Juliana, distinguished theologians had illustrated the supreme value of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and in Liege, there were women's groups who were generously dedicated to Eucharistic worship and to fervent communion. Guided by exemplary priests, they lived together, dedicating themselves to prayer and charitable works.

Orphaned at age 5, Juliana and her sister Agnes were entrusted to the care of Augustinian nuns in the convent-leprosarium of Mont-Cornillon. She was educated particularly by a nun named Sapienza who followed her spiritual maturation until Juliana received the religious habit and became an Augustinian nun herself.

She acquired remarkable culture, to the point where she read the works of the Church Fathers in Latin, particularly St. Augustine and St. Bernard Clairvaux.

Besides her lively intelligence, Juliana showed, from the start, a particular propensity for contemplation. She had a profound sense of the presence of Christ which she experienced with particular intensity in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, often meditating on the words of Jesus: "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age"
(Mt 28,20).

At 16, she experienced her first vision which was repeated several times afterwards during her Eucharistic adorations. The vision showed the moon in full splendor, with a dark stripe which crossed it diametrically. The Lord made her understand the significance of what she saw. The moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth, the opaque line represented the absence of a liturgical feast, for the institution of which Juliana was called on to work effectively - that is, a feast in which believers could adore the Eucharist in order to augment their faith, advance in the practice of virtues, and repair offenses through the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Also involved was a much-esteemed priest, John of Lausanne, canon of the Church of St. Martin in Liege, whom the women devotees asked to advocate their dearest cause among theologians and ecclesiastics. The responses were positive and encouraging.

What happened with Juliana of Cornillon is often repeated in the life of saints: In order to confirm that an inspiration truly comes from God, one must always immerse oneself in prayer, know how to wait patiently, seek the friendship and opinion of other good souls, and submit everything to the judgment of the pastors of the Church.

It was the Bishop of Liege himself, Robert de Thourotte, who, after initial hesitation, welcomed the proposal of Juliana and her companions, and instituted for the first time, the Solemnity of Corpus Domini in his diocese. Later, other bishops imitated him, establishing the feast in the territories entrusted to their pastoral care.

Nonetheless, the Lord often asks the saints to overcome trials in order to further increased their faith. This happened to Juliana, who had to suffer the severe opposition of some members of the clergy and of the superior of her monastery.

Therefore, of her own will, Juliana left the convent of Mont-Cornillon with some companions, and for ten years, from 1248 to 1258, she was a guest in various monasteries of Cistercian nuns. She edified everyone with her humility, she never had a word of criticism or reproach for her adversaries, but continued to zealously spread the Eucharistic cult.

She died in 1248 at Fosses-La-Ville, in Belgium. In the cell where she lay, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, and according to her biographer, Juliana had died, contemplating, with her last impulse of love, Jesus in the Eucharist, whom she had always loved, honored and adored.

Also conquered by the good cause of the Feast of Corpus Domini was Jacques de Troyes who had known the saint when he was archdeacon of Liege. It was he who, as Pope Urban IV, in 1264, instituted the Feast of Corpus Domini as a required feast for the universal Church on the Thursday after Pentecost.

In the Bull instituting the feast, entitled [CC]Transiturus de hoc mundo (dated August 11, 1264), Pope Urban discreetly evoked the mystical experiences of Juliana, valuing their authenticity, and wrote:

"Although the Eucharist is solemnly celebrated everyday, we think it is right that at least once a year, a greater and more solemn commemoration should be held. In this sacramental commemoration of Christ, under the species of bread and wine, Jesus Christ is present among us in his own substance. Indeed, before he ascended to heaven, he had said: "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age"
(Mt 28,20).

The Pontiff himself wished to set an example, celebrating the Solemnity of Corpus Domini in Orvieto, the city where he lived at the time. By his order, the city's Cathedral conserved - and still does - the famous corporal with the traces of the Eucharistic miracle that had taken place the year before, 1263, in Bolsena.

A priest, as he was consecrating the bread and wine, was seized by sudden doubt as to the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Miraculously, drops of blood started to ooze from the consecrated Host, confirming what our faith proclaims.

Pope Urban asked one of the greatest theologians in history, St. Thomas Aquinas - who was at the time with the Pope in Orvieto - to compose the texts for the liturgy of this new feast. Those texts, which are still in use today, are masterpieces in which theology and poetry merge.

They are texts which make the chords of the heart vibrate to express praise and gratitude to the Most Blessed Sacrament, while the mind, penetrating with wonder into the mystery, acknowledges in the Eucharist the living presence of Jesus, of his sacrifice of love which reconciles us with the Father and gives us salvation.

Although, after the death of Urban IV, the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Domini was limited to some regions in France, Germany, Hungary, and northern Italy, yet another Pontiff, John XXII, renewed it in 1317 for the whole Church. Since then, the feast developed marvelously, and even today, it is devoutly felt by the Christian people.

I wish to affirm with joy that today, in the Church, there is a Eucharistic spring! How many persons stop fora moment of silence before the Tabernacle, to have a conversation of love with Jesus! It is comforting to know that not a few groups of young people have rediscovered the beauty of praying in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament. I think, for instance, of the Eucharistic Adoration we held in London's Hyde Park.

I pray that this Eucharistic spring may continue to spread even more in all parishes, particularly in Belgium, St. Juliana's homeland. Venerable John Paul II, in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, noted that "in so many places... the adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament finds ample space in the daily routine and becomes an inexhaustible spring of holiness. The devout participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, is a grace from the Lord, who every year fills with joy all who participate in it. Other signs of Eucharistic faith and love can be mentioned"
(No. 10).

In remembering St. Juliana of Cornillon, let us renew our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, "Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way. He is, in fact, present in a true, real and substantial way: with his Body and his Blood, with his Soul and with his Divinity. In it, he is present in a sacramental way, that is, under the Eucharistic species of bread and wine - Christ who is whole and total, God and man"(No. 262).

Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Eucharistic Christ in the Sunday Mass is essential for the journey of faith, but let us also seek to frequently visit the Lord present in the Tabernacle!

Contemplating the consecrated Host in adoration, we encounter the gift of God's love, we encounter the Passion and the Cross of Jesus, as well as his Resurrection.

Through contemplating him in adoration, the Lord draws us towards him, within his mystery, to transform us as he transforms the bread and wine. The saints have always found strength, comfort and joy in the Eucharistic encounter.

With the words of the Eucharistic hymn 'Adoro te, devote', let us repeat before the Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament: "Make me believe ever more in you, because in you, I have hope, and because I love you". Thank you.



Adapted from the English service of
Nov. 17, 2010


After the GA, the Pope was given a first hand look at the new $5-million broadcast van that will help transmit images for CTV, the Vatican television center.

The Pope blessed the van and was shown the features of the stete-of-the-art unit that will be the hub of CTV coverage of all major Vatican events.

The equipment will undergo final adjustments and is expected to be operational by Christmas, transmitting Vatican broadcasts in high-definition (HD) images. It will eventually have 3D-image capability.

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