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00venerdì 14 gennaio 2011 12.42



Friday, January 14
Servant of God JOHN THE GARDENER (b Portugal 15th-cent, d Spain 1501), Priest and Confessor
Another saintly example from the Franciscan garden, John was born to a family in Portugal so poor
that he had to beg for his daily meals. He moved across the border to Spain where he found work
as a shepherd, during which he met two Franciscans who appreciated his simple spirituality. They
took him back to their monastery in Salamanca to tend the gardens, and he joined the order shortly,
where he became known for his life of prayer and helping the poor. He was called The Gardener
because of his work and the flowers he raised for the churches. He had the gift of prophecy and was
consulted by great men and princes of his day. It is said he predicted the day of his death.

NB: I cannot find any images online for today's saintly personage.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
The only papal story in today's issue is the Pope's message to the people of Haiti on the first anniversary of the earthwuake that killed at least 250,000 and left a million homeless. The Pope's message was read by Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, at a Mass celebrated at the ruins of the Cathedrla in Port-au-Prince. Page 1 news: Street uprisings in Tunisia protesting food shortages and unemployment continue despite curfew and other security measures; Brazil;s Rio de Janeiro state hit by unprecendeted floods that have already resulted in hundreds of deaths (catastrophic floods earlier this week are also devastating Queensland, Australia, and Sri Lanka); OR announces that its weekly Italian edition will be coming out as a free supplement with the weekly newspaper TEMPI starting tomorrow; and a front-page editorial by IOR president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi on the failure of the once-vaunted Keynesian economic strategy. In the inside pages, a valuable essay on how Pius XI's famous anti-Nazi encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (1937) came into being; its principal author was Pius XI"s then Secretary of State and former Nuncio to Berlin, Eugenio Pacelli,w ho would become Pius XII.


The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood

- Hon. Renata Polverini, President of Lazio Region

- Hon. Gianni Alemanno, Mayor of Rome

- Hon. Nicola Zingaretti, President of the Province of Rome

- Administrators of Lazio Region, the Commune of Rome and the Province of Rome for traditional New Year meeting.
Address in Italian.

- Prof. Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant'Egidio Community.

In the afternoon, the Holy Father will meet with

- Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


As anticipated, Pope Benedict XVI today approved the decree recognizing a miracle achieved through the intercession of John Paul II, and the Vatican has set the beatification ceremony to take place on May 1, the Sunday of Divine Mercy (first Sunday after Easter). The late Pope died on April 2, 2005, eve of Divine Mercy Sunday that year.

The Pope also approved decrees recognizing miracles by two other Venerables; the martyrdom in 1946 of five nuns from Bosnia-Herzegovina; and the heroic virtues of five others (three priests, one postulant, and a laywoman).

00venerdì 14 gennaio 2011 12.55

As it has happened often, the English service of the German news agency dpa was the first to post the news among the Anglophone major news agencies, and even cites data taken from a translation of Vatican Radio's brief interview with Cardinal Amato:

Vatican to beatify
Pope John Paul II on May 1


Vatican City, January 14 (dpa) - The Vatican said Friday that Pope John Paul II was to be beatified - the penultimate step in the process to make the late Pontiff a saint - at a May 1 ceremony in Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI approved, through a decree, a miracle attributed to John Paul, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints said in a radio interview.

Cardinal Angelo Amato said the miracle involves a 44-year-old French nun, Marie Simon Pierre Normand, who was suffering from Parkinson's disease but was then cured thanks to the intercession of John Paul.

The miracle occurred just a few months after John Paul's death, on April 2, 2005, Amato told Vatican Radio.

'This decree opens the way for his beatification, which will take place in Rome next May 1, the first Sunday after Easter,' Amato said.

Besides the list of decrees on the causes for sainthood that advanced one step today, the Vatican also issued a background sheet with data relating to the steps in the beatification process so far, but both only in Italian....

However, the English service of Vaticna Radio was ready with a translation of the biographical summary that accompanies the beatification decree, showing his life in the perspective of the Congregation for Saints' evaluation of it and the main considerations for proclaiming his heroic virtues:


Beatification: Sign of the depth of faith
and invitation to a fully Christian life

The proclamation of a Saint or of a Blessed by the Church is the fruit of putting together various aspects regarding a specific Person.

First, it is an act which says something important in the life of the Church herself. It is linked to a “cult”, i.e. to the memory of the person, to his full acknowledgment of him in the awareness of the ecclesial community, of the country, of the Universal Church in various countries, continents and cultures.

Another aspect is the awareness that the “presentation on the altars” will be an important sign of the depth of the faith, of the diffusion of faith in the path of life of that person, and that this sign will become an invitation, a stimulus for us all towards a Christian life ever more profound and full.

Finally, the sine qua non condition is the holiness of the person’s life, verified during the precise and formal canonical proceedings. All this provides the material for the decision of the Successor of Peter, of the Pope in view of the proclamation of a Blessed or of a Saint, of the cult in the context of the ecclesial community and of its liturgy.

John Paul II’s pontificate was an eloquent and clear sign, not only for Catholics, but also for world public opinion, for people of all colour and creed.

The world’s reaction to his lifestyle, to the development of his apostolic mission, to the way he bore his suffering, to the decision to continue his Petrine mission to the end as willed by divine Providence, and finally, the reaction to his death, the popularity of the acclamation “Saint right now!” which someone made on the day of his funerals, all this has its solid foundation in the experience of having met with the person who was the Pope.

The faithful have felt, have experienced that he is “God’s man”, who really sees the concrete steps and the mechanisms of contemporary world “in God”, in God’s perspective, with the eyes of a mystic who looks up to God only.

He was clearly a man of prayer: so much so that it is from the dynamism of his personal union with God, from the permanent listening to what God wants to say in a concrete situation, that the whole of “Pope John Paul II’s activity” flowed.

Those who were closest to him have been able to see that, prior to his meetings with his guests, with Heads of State, with Church high officials or ordinary citizens, John Paul II would recollect himself in prayer according to the intentions of the guests and of the meeting that was to come.

1 – Karol Wojtyla’s contribution
to Vatican II Council

After Vatican II, during the pontificates of Paul VI and of John Paul II, the manner of presentation, and thus of self-presentation of the papacy, has become quite expressive. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the pontificate of John Paul II, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs published in 2004 a book entitled Go forth in the whole world.

Giancarlo Zizola, a “vaticanist”, remarked on the fact that “the papacy has conquered its citizenship in the realm of public visibility, breaking away from the siege of worship marginalisation where it had been kept by decree of secular society, in the name of a militant vision of the liberal tenet of Separation of Church and State” (p. 17).

A German historian, Jesuit Klaus Schatz, speaking of Paul VI and of John Paul II, underlined the meaning of the “papacy on the way” – thus in conformity with Vatican II – more in the manner of a missionary movement than as a static pole of unity.

Schatz refers to the manner of interpreting the papal mission as a challenge to “confirm the brothers in the faith” (Lk 22, 32), in a way tied to structural authority, but with a strong spiritual and charismatic hint, in link with the personal credibility and rooted in God himself.

Let us pause a moment to consider Vatican II. The young archbishop of Cracow was one of the most active Council Fathers. He made a significant contribution to the “Scheme XIII” which was to become the Pastoral Constitution of the Council Gaudium et Spes on the Church in the Modern World, and to the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium.

Thanks to his studies abroad, bishop Wojtyla had a concrete experience of evangelisation and of the mission of the Church, in Western Europe or in other continents, but above all of totalitarian atheism in Poland and in the other countries of the Soviet Bloc.

He brought all this experience to the Council debates, which were certainly not like drawing-room conversations, extremely courteous but void of contents. Here was a substantial and decisive effort to insert the Gospel’s dynamism into the conciliar enthusiasm rooted on the conviction that Christianity is capable of furnishing a “soul” to the development of modernity and to the reality of the social and cultural world.

All this was to be of use in preparing for the future responsibilities of the Successor of Peter. As John Paul II said, he already had in his mind his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, and brought it to Rome from Cracow. All he had to do in Rome was to write down all these ideas. In this encyclical, there is a wide invitation to humankind to rediscover the reality of Redemption in Christ:

Man (…) remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself". (…) man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created. (…) The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly-and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being-he must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must "appropriate" and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself...

This union of Christ with man is in itself a mystery. From the mystery is born "the new man", called to become a partaker of God's life, and newly created in Christ for the fullness of grace and truth. (…) Man is transformed inwardly by this power as the source of a new life that does not disappear and pass away but lasts to eternal life. (…) This life, which the Father has promised and offered to each man in Jesus Christ (…) is in a way the fulfilment of the "destiny" that God has prepared for him from eternity. This "divine destiny" is advancing, in spite of all the enigmas, the unsolved riddles, the twists and turns of "human destiny" in the world of time. Indeed, while all this, in spite of all the riches of life in time, necessarily and inevitably leads to the frontier of death and the goal of the destruction of the human body, beyond that goal we see Christ. "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me... shall never die".
(n° 18)

2 – “Totus Tuus”:
Trust in Mary Mother of God

The life of John Paul II was totally devoted to the service of the Lord, by the intercession of the Mother. His motto was “Totus Tuus”, whether for the good of the Church or for that of man who is the way for the Church (Redemptor Hominis, n° 14).

This is the “raison d’être” of the international Apostolic Voyages, the daily meetings with people, with those in charge of ecclesial communities, with cardinals and bishops, with the Heads of other Churches and Christian communities, the Heads of other religions, and with the laity.

This is equally true of the written documents of the Pope, the diplomatic relations of the Holy See with the States and International Organisations.

The deep conviction of the value of Vatican II – not only on the necessity but also about the possibility, for the Church to bring the Gospel of Christ and build on it the experience of the Church as a vibrant and energising inspiration of the vision and mechanisms of the modern world – this has always been the Pope’s conviction.

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, but on the international level, one could feel the destructive force of the commercial mechanisms and of the particular economic and ideological interests, ever more anonymous, bringing injustice and marginalisation to all peoples – even of certain social groups in well developed countries –, and in particular, one could perceive how human life has been devalued.

In his many International Apostolic Voyages in the various continents, the Pope voiced the Gospel of Christ and the Church’s preoccupation. He wrote it in a more systematic way in the encyclicals: Laborem Exercens, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Centesimus Annus; and also Evangelium Vitae, Veritatis Splendor, Fides et Ratio; and the encyclicals dealing directly with life and the apostolate of the Church, like Dominum et Vivificantem, Redemptoris Missio, Ut Unum Sint, Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

3 – The Iraq war and the “peace offensive”
Sometimes, as in the case of the efforts to avoid war between the United States and Iraq, there is a real “peace offensive” not only in order to save people’s lives, but also to bring to a halt the growth of hatred and of the insane ideas about civilisation clashes, or about the new phenomenon of world scale terrorism.

Thus, the New Year address to the diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, and the unforgettable February 2002 with the series of meetings of the Pope with diplomats of “first category”: J. Fischer (7th Feb.); Tarek Aziz (14th Feb.); Kofi Annan (18th Feb.); Tony Blair (22nd Feb.); José Maria Aznar and the envoy of Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran (27th Feb.); and finally, because of the humanly unbearable situation, the decision to send Cardinal Etchegaray on a special mission to Baghdad (15th Feb.) and Cardinal Pio Laghi to Washington (3rd – 9th March).

The 'Pope's February' came to a conclusion with the meeting of Cardinal J.L. Tauran with the 74 ambassadors and diplomats from the entire world; as the Secretary for the Relations with the States, the “Minister for Foreign Affairs” of the Pope, Cardinal Tauran made an appeal in order to avoid war, and called to mind all that the Pope had said in his “peace offensive”.

4 – Year 2000 Jubilee: a historical reality
to remember the coming of Jesus of Nazareth

The papal task of John Paul II was centred on the pastoral ministry and life of the Church: the Bishops’ Ad limina visits from the entire world, the Wednesday audiences and the Sunday meetings with the faithful for the Angelus, the pastoral visits of Roman parishes.

All was done to promote the proclamation of Christ, to bring closer to our knowledge His Person and the fact that “the words that Christ has said when he was about to leave the Apostles tell us about the mystery of man’s history, of one and all, the mystery of humankind’s history.

Baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is an immersion in the living God, “in the One who is, who was and who will be”. Baptism is the start of the encounter, of unity, of communion, and of this earthly life is but a prologue and an introduction; fulfilment and fullness belong to eternity. “This world’s figure is fading away.” We must therefore find ourselves “in the world of God”, in order to reach the goal, to come to the fullness of life and of man’s vocation” (Cracow, 10th June 1979).

“This was precisely one of the things that John Paul II wanted most: to explain clearly that we look to Christ who comes; of course, to the One who came, but even more to the One who comes, and that, in this perspective, our faith keeps us oriented towards the future. In this way, we are really capable of presenting the message of faith, in a new manner, in the perspective of Christ who comes,” (Benedict XVI, Light of the World).

The Great Jubilee of Redemption, in the Year 2000, was not for John Paul II a “pretext” for pastoral action, but first and foremost a historical reality reminding us of the coming of Jesus of Nazareth and everything that this historical event has brought, viz. Redemption, the Testimony of the Love of God unto the Cross and Resurrection, the life of the early Church, the path of salvation accomplished by the Saviour by which He has introduced his Church as a sign and an instrument of internal unity with God, as well as that of the human family.

The Year 2000 Jubilee reminded us of the Holy Land, the land of Jesus, and of Rome, the place of apostolate of the Successor of Peter, the bond of authenticity of the message and of the unity of the ecclesial community. This message was reformulated in the Apostolic Letters Tertio Millenio Adveniente and Novo Millennio Ineunte.

But, for the Pope, what mattered most was the personal thanksgiving and that of the entire Church to our Lord Jesus and the encounter in faith with the One who has loved to the end, who has saved us and remains a sign so sorely needed in a world that is becoming increasingly deaf, while trying to organise its life as if God did not exist, thus erring without identity and without meaning.

5 – Attention to the youth
and the meaning of WYD

John Paul II used to evaluate the results of the international Apostolic Voyages with his collaborators, to identify what was well done, and to see to the changes for the coming voyages.

After the voyage in Poland in 1991, the Pope noticed that, during the Mass in Warsaw, in the farthest parts, the young people came and went away, drank beer or coca-cola, and came back.

“It was not like this during the previous voyages," he noted. "Tthere has been a change in the society’s mentality. It is not worth looking at the 'first places'. The VIP are always seated in the same manner, but the 'margins' are important and worth our attention.”

It is worth noting that the Pope did not use the word “crowd”: he has always seen and paid attention to “people”. He was very attentive to the role of the laity in the life and mission of the Church.

It is quite meaningful that, when he was still University chaplain in Cracow, he exploited a brief period of “political thaw” in 1957 to organise – in collaboration with the archbishop of Wroclaw, Boleslaw Kominek – a symposium in the city for more than 100 university students from all Poland (for the first time since decades!) precisely on the theme “The role of lay people in the Church” (and that was years before Vatican II!).

Later, during the summer vacations, he organised spiritual exercises at the place of the Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union in Bado Ślaskie for a slightly smaller group of the participants of the symposium of Wroclaw, precisely to promote the “formation of the laity”.

With the creation of the World Youth Days, the Pope gave his support to various forms of activity of the lay people in the life and mission of the Church, thus paving the way to the very meaningful initiatives, some years later, during the pontificate of Benedict XVI: the holding in September 2010 in Korea, of an important Congress for the lay Catholics of Asia; the meetings of African bishops who are ever more encouraging the lay people to hold positions of responsibility in the sectors of evangelisation, social activity and in the Church’s educational sphere; the significant presence of lay Catholics in the continental Mission of Latin America.

Reviewing his predecessor's pontificate, Benedict XVI makes a note of the generation changes on a world scale, and comes to the same conclusion as his predecessor, namely that “times have changed”. Meanwhile a new generation has come, with new problems.

The generation of the late sixties, with its own peculiarities, has come and gone. Even the following generation, more pragmatic, is ageing. Today, one must ask: “How can we cope with a world that threatens itself, and in which progress becomes a danger? Should we not start all over again from God?” (Light of the World).

So Benedict XVI makes an appeal “that a new generation of Catholics may rise, people inwardly renewed who would commit themselves in politics without any inferiority complex” (an idea oft repeated by the Pope, namely in the Message for the 46th Social Week of Italian Catholics, 12th October 2010).

He goes on to call for a new generation of good intellectuals and scientists, attentive to the fact “that a scientific perspective that ignores the ethical and religious dimension of life becomes dangerously narrow, just as a religion would, if it were to refuse a legitimate contribution of science to our understanding of the world” (London, St. Mary’s College, 17th September 2010); the Pope calls for a “new generation of committed Christian laypeople capable of seeking, with competency and moral rigor, solutions of sustainable development” (7th September 2008).

6 – The simplicity of John Paul II’s prayer
When we recall what John Paul II has accomplished, the “big events” are mixed with the remembrance of simple moments of prayer, which have been a source of surprise even to his collaborators. I’ll mention only two, coming from two different periods of his life. [It would appear that this essay is the 'positio' submitted by John Paul II's postulator to sum up the arguments for the candidate's heroic virtues.]

In the seventies, I was students’ chaplain at the Catholic University in Lublin. At the beginning of the academic year, the then Cardinal of Cracow came to take part in the Eucharist at the university church, in the official inauguration of the big Hall, and for lunch.

After that, the Cardinal was ready to return to Cracow. The Rector of the University, Fr. Krapiec, accompanied him to the car, but stopped to chat with another guest, so much so that they were late to arrive at the car. But lo! The Cardinal had “disappeared”! The ten seconds they waited seemed like ten centuries. The Rector, accustomed to having everything under control, did not know where the Cardinal could have gone to.

He asked me: “Where is Wojtyla? The Cardinal has disappeared! Where is he?” With a slight mocking smile, I took some time before answering him, just to tease him a bit. Then I told him: “He has probably gone to the church.” There we went, and sure enough, we found the Cardinal, kneeling in prayer in front of the Way of the Cross.

The other recollection was in 1999, during his seventh Apostolic Voyage in Poland. It lasted for 13 days, with 22 stops in the programme, from the North to the South of the country. A programme well beyond the physical capabilities of the Pope.

One of those days, there was to be – according to the programme – the blessing of the Sanctuary of Lichen, the Eucharist in Bydgoszcz, then a meeting with the university people, the liturgy of the Sacred Heart, in link with the beatification of Fr. Frelichowski in another city, in Torun, then back to Lichen for the overnight stay. A more than busy day!

Thus, after dinner, the papal entourage went to bed immediately. But the Pope just locked himself in the chapel for a long, a very long moment of prayer. There remained only three of us: Bishop Chrapek, in charge of the visit planning for the episcopate; myself, as “assistant”, and the famous Camillo Cibin, head of the Vatican security.

At last the Pope came out of the chapel to go to his bedroom. Cibin said to me: “Father Andrea, bring me a chair. But one that is hard, made of wood, not a sofa, two cups of coffee, strong coffee, and an apple.” All this was to help him wait all night at the door of the Pope’s bedroom, which was not totally closed, to ascertain if the Pope – not only tired but also advanced in years – was breathing normally or if he had any need of assistance.

The personal holiness of the Pope was something over and above the esteem he enjoyed among his closest collaborators, and that was quite significant.

7 – The Will of John Paul II
John Paul II was conscious of the fact that we are experiencing a very trying moment in history, that the Successor of Peter has the duty to confirm in the faith, but he was equally conscious of the fact that the most important aspect was to depend on God.

The will he wrote in 1979, and which he modified every year, during the spiritual exercises, gives us a powerful testimony of this. From the 24th February to the 1st March, he wrote:

“24.II – 1.III.1980. During these spiritual exercises, I reflected on the truth of Christ’s Priesthood in view of the Passage which is, for each of us, the hour of our own death. For us, parting from this world – to be reborn in the next, the world to come, eloquent sign (he adds the word decisive above it), is the Resurrection of Christ. (…) The times we live in have become unspeakably difficult and worrying. The life of the Church has also become difficult and tense, a characteristic trial of these times – for the faithful and for the pastors. In some countries (like the one which I read about during the spiritual exercises), the Church finds herself in a time of persecution equal to that of the first centuries, maybe more, according to the degree of cruelty and hatred. Sanguis martyrum – semen christianorum. Furthermore, so many innocent people have disappeared, even in this country where we are living…

Once again I wish to entrust myself totally to the Lord’s grace. He will decide when and how I am to end my earthly life and my pastoral ministry. In life as in death, Totus Tuus, through the Immaculate. By already accepting this death, I hope that Christ give me the grace for this last passage, that is (my) Pasch. I equally hope that he renders it useful for this more important cause I try to serve: the salvation of human beings, the protection of the human family, in all nations and among all peoples (among these I am thinking in particular of my own earthly country), useful for those who, in a special way, have been entrusted to me, in the Church, for the glory of the same God

On the 5th March 1982, he added:
The attempt on my life, on 13.V.1981, has confirmed, in a certain way, the accuracy of the words written during the 1980 spiritual exercises (24.II – 1.III). I feel even more deeply that I am completely in the Hands of God – and I remain constantly available to my Lord, entrusting myself to Him in His Immaculate Mother (Totus Tuus).

{C]Then, on the 17th March of the Jubilee Year 2000, number 3:
As for every year, during the spiritual exercises, I read my will of the 6.III.1979. I continue to maintain the provisions contained in it. What has been added, at that time and during the following spiritual exercises, constitutes a reflection of the difficult and tense general situation which has marked the eighties. Since the autumn of 1989, this situation has changed. The last decade of the past century was free of the previous tensions; this does not mean there were no new problems or difficulties. In a special way, may the Divine Providence be praised for this, in that the so-called Cold War period has ended without violent nuclear conflict, a threat which weighed on the world during the previous period (words underlined by the Pope himself).

8 – An essential aspect of the new Blessed:
“God is the foundation of all our efforts”

This is again an essential aspect, if one wishes to understand more deeply the personality of the Church’s new Blessed, Karol Wojtyla – John Paul II.

The foundation of all the efforts of our life is in God. We are covered by divine love, by the results of Redemption and Salvation. But we must help people to become deeply rooted in God himself; we must do everything possible to create personal and social attitudes rooted in the reality of God. This requires patience, time and the ability to see everything through the eyes of God.

The last, brief pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II in Poland, more specifically in his “small country”, in Cracow, Wadovice and the Way of the Cross (of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska), showed a determination, but also a spiritual acuity “in the process of maturation in time” so that all humankind, especially the ecclesial and Christian community, can understand more fully some of the fundamental aspects of faith.

Since the beginning of his pontificate, in 1978, John Paul II often spoke in his homilies of the mercy of God. This became the theme of his second encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, in 1980. He was aware that modern culture and its language do not have a place for mercy, treating it as something strange; they try to inscribe everything in the categories of justice and law. But this does not suffice, for it is not what the reality of God is about.

9 – Entrusting the world to Divine Mercy
Later on, the Pope took some steps to finalise the process of Beatification of Sr. Faustina Kowalska, and the canonisation (2000). The whole ecclesial community was brought to feel the closeness of the person so intimately linked to the message of Mercy; this facilitated the development of the topic for John Paul II, showing the reality of Divine Mercy in the many contexts around the world, in various continents, of humanity today.

Finally, in August 2002, in Lagiewniki, where Sr. Faustina lived and died, John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy, to the unlimited trust in God the Merciful, to the One who has been a source of inspiration, but also of strength for his service as Successor of Peter.

It is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Spirit of Truth, who leads us on the ways of Divine Mercy. By convicting the world “concerning sin, righteousness and condemnation” (Jn 16, 8), he reveals at the same time the fullness of salvation in Christ. This convicting concerning sin is doubly related to the Cross of Christ. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit enables us, through the Cross of Christ, to recognize sin, any sin, in the dimension of evil which it contains and hides. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit enables us, again through the Cross of Christ, to see sin in the light of the mysterium pietatis, i.e. of the forgiving and merciful love of God (cf. Dominum et vivificantem, 32).

Thus, the “convicting concerning sin” also becomes a conviction that sin can be forgiven, and that man can recover the dignity of a beloved son of God. The Cross is in fact the most profound humbling of God before man. The Cross is like a touch of eternal love on the most painful wounds of man’s earthly existence” (Dives in Misericordia, 8).

This truth will always be brought to mind by the cornerstone of this Sanctuary, extracted from Mount Calvary, in a certain way under the Cross on which Jesus Christ conquered sin and death. (…) How much the world is in need of the mercy of God today! In every continent, from the depths of human suffering, a cry for mercy seems to rise. In those places where hatred and the thirst for revenge are overwhelming, where war brings suffering and the death of innocents, one needs the grace of mercy to pacify the minds and the hearts and make peace spring forth.

In those places where there is less respect for life and human dignity, one needs the merciful love of God, in whose light we see the ineffable value of every single human being. Mercy is needed to ensure that every injustice may find its solution in the splendour of truth.

So today, in this Sanctuary, I solemnly wish to entrust the world to Divine Mercy. I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through Saint Faustina, may reach all the inhabitants of the earth and fill their hearts with hope. May this message spread from this place to our beloved homeland and throughout the world.

May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here has to come out “the spark that will prepare the world for his final coming”
(Homily in Lagiewniki, 17th August 2002).

Thus did the last months in the life of Pope John Paul II, marked by suffering, bring his Pontificate to its fulfilment.

Pope's remains to be transferred
to Basilica but not exposed


VATICAN CITY, Jan. 14 (Translated from ANSA) - Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has announced that "The coffin with the remains of John Paul II will be transferred to St. Peter's Basilica from the Vatican Grottoes but will not be opened. There will be no exhumation".

At a news conference on the coming beatification, Lombardi also said "the body will not be exposed. it will be in a closed compartment marked by a simple marble plaque inscribed 'BEATUS IOANNES PAULUS II".


Yesterday, it was reported that the new resting place for the Pope's remains will the the St. Sebastian chapel to the left of the Pieta Chapel, on the right side of St. Peter's Basilica, upon entering it:
The chapel takes its name from the giant mosaic of St. Sebastian that constitutes its altarpiece, executed in 1736 after a 1631 painting of the saint by Domechino. Blessed Innocent XI (1676-1689) has been the saint venerated below the altar all this time?. Will the John Paul II resting place be flush on the floor as it is now in the Vatican Grottoes?

A line in today's issue of the OR mentions that the remains of bLessed Innocent XI will be transferred to the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which is to the right of the Chapel of San Sebastian. Presumably the new tomb for Blessed John Paul II will be situated under the altar, but enclosed in marble, not glass.

00venerdì 14 gennaio 2011 15.22

AP's initial wrap-up includes the reaction in Poland but not the Vatian news conference:

Pope John Paul II
to be beatified May 1


VATICAN CITY, Jan. 14 (AP) - The Pope on Friday signed off on the miracle needed to beatify Pope John Paul II, and set May 1 as the date to honor one of the most beloved pPpes of all times as a model of saintliness for the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI said in a decree that a French nun's recovery from Parkinson's disease was miraculous, the last step needed for beatification. A second miracle is needed for the Polish-born John Paul to be made a saint.

The May 1 ceremony, which Benedict himself will celebrate, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Rome - a major morale boost for a Church reeling from a wave of violence against Christians and fallout from the clerical sex abuse scandal. [What a cheap trick to bring the 'scandal' back to public attention! Even if the media had not made such a big to-do over the 'scandal' for most of 2010, the process for John Paul II would have ended the same way and at this time. His beatification is a 'morale booster' - the betttr word is 'inspiration' - for most Catholics under any circumstances.]

"This is a huge and important cause of joy," Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz told reporters at his residence in the Polish capital.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul's longtime secretary and friend, expressed "huge thanks" to Benedict for the decree. "We are happy today," he said.

Benedict put John Paul on the fast track to possible sainthood just weeks after he died in 2005, responding to the chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood immediately!" that erupted during his funeral.

Benedict waived the typical five-year waiting period before the process could begin, but he insisted that the investigation into John Paul's life be thorough so as to not leave any doubts about his virtues.

John Paul's beatification will nevertheless be the fastest on record, coming just over six years after his death and beating out Mother Teresa's then-record beatification in 2003 by a few days.

The last remaining hurdle in John Paul's case concerned the approval by Vatican-appointed panels of doctors and theologians, cardinals and bishops that the cure of French nun Sister Marie Simon-Pierre was a miracle due to the intercession of the late Pope.

The nun has said she felt reborn when she woke up two months after John Paul died, cured of the disease that had made walking, writing and driving a car nearly impossible. She and her fellow sisters of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards had prayed to John Paul, who also suffered from Parkinson's.

On Friday, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre said John Paul was and continues to be an inspiration to her because of his defense of the unborn and because they both had Parkinson's.

John Paul "hasn't left me. He won't leave me until the end of my life," she told French Catholic TV station KTO and Italy's state-run RAI television.

Wearing a white habit and wire-rimmed glasses, she appeared in good health and showed no signs of tremors or slurred speech which are common symptoms of Parkinson's.

"John Paul II did everything he could for life, to defend life," she said. "He was very close to the smallest and weakest. How many times did we see him approach a handicapped person, a sick person?"

Last year, there were some questions about whether the nun's original diagnosis was correct. But in a statement Friday, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints said Vatican-appointed doctors had "scrupulously" studied the case and determined that her cure had no scientific explanation.

Once he is beatified, John Paul will be given the title "Blessed" and can be publicly venerated. Many people, especially in Poland, already venerate him privately, but the ceremony will make it official.

Born in Wadowice, Poland, in 1920, Karol Wojtyla was the youngest pope in 125 years and the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years when he was elected Pope in 1978.

He brought a new vitality to the Vatican, and quickly became the most accessible modern Pope, sitting down for meals with factory workers, skiing and wading into crowds to embrace the faithful.

His Polish roots nourished a doctrinal conservatism - opposition to contraception, euthanasia, abortion and women priests - that rankled liberal Catholics in the United States and Western Europe.

But his common touch also made him a crowd-pleasing superstar whose 26-year papacy carried the Roman Catholic Church into Christianity's third millennium and emboldened eastern Europeans to bring down the communist system.

He survived an assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square in 1981 - and then forgave the Turk who had shot him.

He was the most traveled Pope ever, visiting more than 120 nations during the third-longest papacy in history and covering distance equal to nearly 1 1/2 trips to the moon.

After suffering for years from the effects of Parkinson's disease, he died in his Vatican apartment on April 2, 2005, at the age of 84.

While adored by Catholics, John Paul did not escape scrutiny about the clerical abuse scandal which came to light in the final years of his papacy. Many of the thousands of sexual abuse cases that emerged in Europe and beyond last year concerned crimes or cover-ups that occurred under his watch.

Vatican officials have said there was nothing in John Paul's record that called into question his path to beatification.

Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus, one of the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organizations, noted that John Paul's beatification process is not a "score card on his administration of the Holy See."

Rather, he said, it's a statement about his personal sanctity since beatification is way of holding up Catholics as models for the faithful.

"Pope John Paul's life is precisely such a model because it was lived beautifully and with love, respect and forgiveness for all," Anderson told the AP in an e-mail. "We saw this in the way he reached out to the poor, the neglected, those of other faiths, even the man who shot him. He did all of this despite being so personally affected by events of the bloodiest century in history."

Dziwisz, John Paul's most trusted friend who seemed at times impatient with the slow pace of the process, gave thanks on Friday from Krakow, where he is archbishop.

"We are happy that this process came to an end, that what people asked for - "Santo Subito" - was fulfilled," Dziwisz said. "I express great joy on behalf of the entire diocese of Krakow - and I think I am also authorized to express this on behalf of all of Poland."

Associated Press reporters Vanessa Gera in Warsaw and Angela Doland in Paris contributed to this report.

John Allen was, of course, ready with his commentary as soon as the news was officially announced:

Vatican announces May 1
beatification for John Paul II

by John L Allen Jr
Jan. 14, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI today approved a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II, clearing the way for the late pontiff’s beatification, the final step before sainthood. The Vatican announced that the beatification ceremony will take place in Rome on Sunday, May 1.

While today’s announcement is expected to be greeted with joy around the Catholic world, critics have raised questions both about the substantive case for declaring the late pope a saint, including his record on the sexual abuse crisis, and the speed with which it’s occurred.

In a statement released this morning, the Vatican insisted that aside from waiving the normal five-year waiting period to begin a sainthood cause, on account of what it described as the “imposing fame for holiness” enjoyed by John Paul II during his life, in every other respect “the common canonical dispositions” for sainthood causes were “integrally observed.”

Organizers expect that the ceremony will attract the largest crowd in Rome since the events surrounding the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI six years ago, in April 2005.

Formally speaking, beatification entitles a candidate to be referred to as “blessed” but not yet a saint. Traditionally, prayer and devotion to a “blessed” were encouraged only in that person’s local church, but John Paul II’s global appeal means that his beatification will have echoes well beyond his native Poland or the city of Rome.

In the sainthood process, one miracle is required for beatification and another for canonization. (The logic is that the miracles provide proof that the saint is indeed in Heaven and capable of interceding for those who request help in prayer.)

Most of the miracles in sainthood causes are healings, and the Vatican has historically applied three standards to ascertain if a healing qualifies. It must be “complete,” meaning it’s not enough if the person merely feels better or shows some improvement; “instantaneous,” as opposed to a recovery that unfolds over weeks, months, or longer; and it must be “durable,” meaning that the condition does not return. In addition, the healing must be medically and scientifically inexplicable.

The miracle approved today by Benedict XVI concerns a 49-year-old French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease in 2001 and whose order prayed to John Paul II after his death in 2005 for help.

Reportedly, after writing the late Pope’s name on a piece of paper one night in June 2005, Sister Marie-Simone awoke the next morning cured and was able to resume her work as a maternity nurse. {The story is that a group of her fellow nuns had decided to pray together to John Paul II for her healing.]

Earlier this year, media reports implied that the French sister had fallen ill again and that at least one physician questioned the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, suggesting it may have been some other nervous disorder.

It would seem that the Vatican resolved those doubts to its satisfaction, however, as the miracle has been approved by both the Vatican’s medical and theological consulters, as well as the cardinals and bishops who make up the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Pope himself.

Momentum to declare John Paul a saint began almost at the moment of his death.

In the run-up to the conclave that elected Benedict XVI to the papacy in April 2005, some cardinals signed a petition requesting that the next Pope move immediately to opening a sainthood process for John Paul II. During his funeral Mass, mourners held signs and chanted “Santo Subito!”, meaning “Sainthood Now!”

Shortly after his election, Benedict waived the waiting period but otherwise held that the usual procedure should be followed.

Among Church insiders, it’s taken for granted that John Paul II’s cause will not stall at beatification, but that he will fairly quickly also be canonized and declared a saint.

Given John Paul’s popularity and high public profile, news of his beatification is certain to be a major news event. There are, however, also three persistent strains of criticism likely to resurface in coming days.

First, some Catholic liberals who saw John Paul II as overly conservative have suggested that his cause is being fast-tracked in order to score political points in internal Catholic debates.

This constituency has wondered, for example, why John Paul II is being beatified so quickly, when the late Pope John XXIII, who launched a period of reform in Catholicism by calling the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), has not yet been canonized following his own beatification in 2000. [It could simply be that no 'canonization miracle' has so far been verified for John XXIII. How can any Catholic imagine that there could be any 'favoritism' employed in the sainthood process at all? Following the critics' reasoning, why have other Popes who were declared Blessed before John XXIIII - some for centuries - not been canonized so far! This quibbling is absurd, unworthy and most un-Christian!]

Second, some traditional Catholics may object to the apparent haste in John Paul’s cause, arguing that it risks cheapening the canonization process if there’s a perception that a particular candidate is being moved forward too hastily.

Perceptions that the usual process has been “short-circuited,” some warn, may suggest that other Church teachings and disciplines can be massaged or set aside. They add that according to Catholic theology, the Church has no power to “make” a saint – it can simply ratify that a particular figure is already in Heaven. By that logic, there’s no rush, since if John Paul is indeed a saint, formal beatification and canonization won’t add anything.

[This is another fallacious argument, of course. Before the canonization process was institutionalized by the Church, saints were 'made' by popular acclamation. Does anyone doubt that John Paul II has such 'popular acclanation'? And all this talk about undue haste is an insult to the integrity of the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood, which moire than any other - except perhaps the Pope who has to formalize approval of any decision by the Congregation - must surely be very conscious at each step that it cnanot risk having its decisions validly challenged later on.]

Third, some victims of clerical sexual abuse and their advocates believe that John Paul’s record on the crisis is not worthy of sainthood, or at least that beatifying him now risks giving offense to victims who associate the late Pope with a mixed response to the crisis.

Some have argued that the study of John Paul’s life and legacy as part of the sainthood process did not give sufficient weight to his handling of the sexual abuse crisis, such as the case of the late founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Mexican Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, a longtime favorite during John Paul’s papacy who was later disgraced as the Legionaries acknowledged he was guilty of various forms of sexual misconduct.

[What is their basis for saying so? Under the well-defined process for beatification and eventual canonization, any possible objections to the personal holiness of a candidate saint are presented, duly debated and rebutted, first at the dicoesan level (in this case, in Cracow), and then in Rome. Cardinal Levada has said that the CDF was formally asked to make a statement on the late Pope's personal and direct involvement with the sex abuse cases including that of Fr. Maciel, and the CDF certified that he had none. Does anyone believe that Cardinal Levada and the CDF would lie about this or anything else???? The uninformed and severely biased opinion of persons who are hostile to the candidate cannot outweigh the overwehelming and universal testimony of the late Pope's personal holiness - which, in itself, would have precluded him from knowingly 'condoning' sex offenses by priests, including his friend Fr. Maciel.

Yesterday, even before the formal Vatican announcement, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests issued a statement asserting that the hierarchy is “rubbing more salt into the wounds” of victims with a “hasty drive to confer sainthood on the Pontiff under whose reign most of the widely-documented clergy sex crimes and cover ups took place.” [Once again, these knee-jerk critics must be reminded that the personal holiness of Karol Wojtyla is not contingent on how well or how badly he administered the Church. As for his attitude to sexual offenses by priests: At the time the scandal first broke out in the United States, he acted quickly to place the responsibility for these abuses under the CDF. Nobody argues that it was a useless or unproductive move! Before the US scandal, the media itself - with a few exceptiosn that were not pursued, such as the initial reports on Fr. Maciel - exercised on interest, much less initiative, in exposing priestly crimes.... Likewise, it is wrong to say that 'most of the abuses' took place during John Paul's Pontificate, as the bulk of the abuses began under Paul VI soon after Vatican-II and the contemproaneous sexual revolution of the 1960s counterculture. Is anyone accusing Paul VI of personal responsibility for the abuses that took place during his pontificate???]

Vatican officials today did not offer any response to substantive criticism of John Paul II, [Were they asked about it specifically at the news conference today? If no one asked, it would have been unseemly for the Vatican officials to volunteer to asnwer a consideration that may be paramount for the victimhood advocates but has already been appropriately addressed and alid to rest by the official steps of the beatification process.] but in past cases when Popes have been moved along the sainthood track, they generally insist that beatifying or canonizing a Pope is not tantamount to endorsing every policy choice of his pontificate. Instead, they say, it’s a declaration that this Pope lived a holy life worthy of emulation, despite whatever failings may have occurred during his lifetime – including his reign as Pope.

The date for the beatification ceremony, May 1, has been observed since 2000 as “Divine Mercy Sunday” by the Catholic church. [Not the date, May 1, itself - Divine Mercy Sunday is a moveable feast, observed on the first Sunday after Easter.]

The Divine Mercy feast is associated with a 20th century Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, who was a visionary and mystic to whom John Paul II had a strong personal devotion.

Ironically, May 1 is also “May Day,” traditionally associated with the international Socialist movement, which is striking given that the collapse of European Communism is often flagged as John Paul’s central political accomplishment.

In his blog today, Father Z explains patiently to those of his readers who are protesting the 'haste' of this beatification that it went through a prescribed process - the equivalent of a trial to determine guilt or acquittal for an accused - and as long as there is no reason to doubt the validity of the process, the Pope, who must formalize all decisions of the Congregation for Saints, must and will approve their recommendation. Some processes take time, some processes go much faster, if only because in the case of John Paul II, there were masses of material on his life to examine for proof of his 'heroic virtues', not to mention that a potential 'beatification miracle' did not take long to become known - and subsequently verified - after his death.

On the other hand, Damian Thompson's blog is entitled: "Great news, but...." , the 'but' representing the objections of his readers, typified by one who thinks that the speed of this beatification is akin to the Sovereign of England handing out a life peerage 'automatically' to an ex-Prime Minister. This ignores the indisputable fact that the Popes in the past 150 years, at least, were recognized, even in htheir lifetime - as Benedict XVI is now - for their personal holiness. Except for the pall of doubt cast unfortunately by the Black Legend that the Communists manufactured about Pius XII, I do not doubt he would have been at least a Blessed by now!

The shorter note from the Congregation of Saints that was released today summarizes the steps of the process towards the eventual canonization of John Paul II thus far:

Note from the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood
on the Beatification of the Venerable Servant of God
John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)

Translated from

Today, January 14, 2011, Benedict XVI, during an audience granted to Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, authorised the dicastery to promulgate the decree of the miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla). This concludes the process which precedes the rite of beatification.

It is well known that, by pontifical dispensation, his cause began before the end of the five-year period which the current norms stipulate must pass following the death of a Servant of God.

This provision was solicited by the great fame for holiness which Pope John Paul II enjoyed during his life, in his death and after his death. In all other ways, the normal canonical dispositions concerning causes of beatification and canonisation were observed in full.

Between June 2005 and April 2007 the principal diocesan investigation was held in Rome, accompanied by secondary investigations in various other dioceses, on his life, virtues, fame of sanctity and miracles.

The juridical validity of these canonical processes was recognised by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints with a decree of 4 May 2007.

In June 2009, having examined the relative 'Positio', nine of the dicastery's theological consultors expressed their positive judgement concerning the heroic nature of the virtues of the Servant of God.

The following November, in keeping with the usual procedure, the 'Positio' was submitted for the judgement of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who gave their approval.

On 19 December 2009, Benedict XVI authorised the promulgation of the decree on John Paul II's heroic virtues.

With a view to the beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, the postulator of the cause invited the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to examine the recovery from Parkinson's disease of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre Normand, a religious of the Institut des Petites Soeurs des Maternites Catholiques.

As is customary, the voluminous acts of the regularly-instituted canonical investigation, along with detailed reports from medical and legal experts, were submitted for scientific examination by the medical consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 21 October 2010.

The experts of the congregation, having studied the depositions and the entire documentation with their customary scrupulousness, expressed their agreement concerning the scientifically inexplicable nature of the healing.

On 14 December the theological consultors, having examined the conclusions reached by the medical experts, undertook a theological evaluation of the case and unanimously recognised the unicity, antecedence and choral nature of the invocation made to Servant of God John Paul II, whose intercession was effective in this prodigious healing.

Finally, on 11 January 2011 the ordinary session of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints took place. They expressed their unanimous approval, believing the recovery of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre to be miraculous, having been achieved by God in a scientifically inexplicable manner following the intercession of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, trustingly invoked both by Sr. Simon herself and by many other faithful.

00venerdì 14 gennaio 2011 17.10

I just came serendipitously upon this blog entry by a young schoolteacher in England, which I find very useful, and I thank him for his enterprise in this matter, which I have so far not seen exercised by any professional journalist in the Anglophone world who is accesaible online.

It's very relevant not just to clear the slate, as it were, for Benedict XVI's planed Assisi-III event, but also because it lays out John Paul II's exact words and rationale for Assisi-I. It's good to get this misunderstanding, at least, out of the way on the day his beatification is announced.

I must reiterate that according to Andrea Tornielli, among others, Cardinal Ratzinger reviewed the texts of the discourses that John Paul II was to say in Assisi in 1986 and, as the official doctrinal enforcer for the Church, recommended necessary changes which were apparently incorporated by John Paul II. That appears clear from the absolute lack of equivocation in the text cited below.

Assisi-III and the question
of multi-religious prayer

January 11, 2011

I have for a few months now been reading a book by Christian Salenson entitled Christian de Cherge: une theologie de l'esperance. Christian de Cherge was the prior of the Cistercian monastery in Tibhirine, the monastery that is the subject of the film Des Hommes et des Dieux (Of Gods and Men, in the English translation of the title).

The book is a study of Christian de Cherge's understanding of inter-religious dialogue, and particularly, of his understanding of Christian-Moslem dialogue. The richness of Christian de Cherge's theology of inter-religious dialogue is that it is one rooted in a lived experience of life among the Moslem peoples of Algeria, though it does not lack intellectual insight for all that.

In the early sections of the book reference is made to a number of what one might call "milestones" in the development of the Catholic Church's engagement in inter-religious dialogue. One of these milestones is the day of prayer for peace in Assisi in October 1986, a milestone which has become topical because of the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI of his intention to visit Assisi to mark the 25th anniversary of this milestone. Speaking in St Peter's Square after praying the Angelus on 1st January 2011, Pope Benedict said:

Dear brothers and sisters, in my Message for today’s World Day of Peace I have had the opportunity to emphasize that the great religions can constitute an important factor of unity and peace for the human family. In this regard, moreover, I recalled that this year, 2011, is the 25th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace which Venerable John Paul II convoked in Assisi in 1986.

Therefore next October I shall go as a pilgrim to the town of St Francis, inviting my Christian brethren of various denominations, the exponents of the world’s religious traditions to join this Pilgrimage and ideally all men and women of good will. It will aim to commemorate the historical action desired by my Predecessor and to solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as a service to the cause of peace.

Now, some comment identifies the Assisi day of prayer in 1986 as a "low point" in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, as being something all but indefensible.

in the light of Pope Benedict's forthcoming pilgrimage to mark the 25th anniversary of that event, the same comment tries to distinguish clearly between Pope John Paul II's "Assisi One" and Pope Benedict's "Assisi Three", suggesting that the latter will in no way be a repeat of the former and will act as a corrective to the former. To evaluate this comment, I think it is necessary to understand properly the answer to two questions.

What was "Assisi One"?

The texts of the addresses and homilies of Pope John Paul II during the Day of Prayer for Peace at Assisi can be found from this page at the website of the Holy See.
The Holy Father's address of welcome and his address at the conclusion of the day offer insights into the nature of the events of that day.

Prayer entails conversion of heart on our part. It means deepening our sense of the ultimate Reality. This is the very reason for our coming together in this place.

We shall go from here to our separate places of prayer. Each religion will have the time and opportunity to express itself in its own traditional rite.

Then from these separate places of prayer, we will walk in silence towards the lower Square of Saint Francis. Once gathered in the Square, again each religion will be able to present its own prayer, one after the other.

Having thus prayed separately, we shall meditate in silence on our own responsibility to work for peace.

We shall then declare symbolically our commitment to peace. At the end of the Day, I shall try to express what this unique celebration will have said to my heart, as a believer in Jesus Christ and the first servant of the Catholic Church.

Yes, there is the dimension of prayer, which in the very real diversity of religions tries to express communication with a Power above all our human forces.

Peace depends basically on this Power, which we call God, and as Christians believe has revealed himself in Christ.

This is the meaning of this World Day of Prayer.

For the first time in history, we have come together from everywhere, Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and World Religions, in this sacred place dedicated to Saint Francis, to witness before the world, each according to his own conviction, about the transcendent quality of peace.

The form and content of our prayers are very different, as we have seen, and there can be no question of reducing them to a kind of common denominator.

Yes, in this very difference we have perhaps discovered anew that, regarding the problem of peace and its relation to religious commitment, there is something which binds us together.

The challenge of peace, as it is presently posed to every human conscience, is the problem of a reasonable quality of life for all, the problem of survival for humanity, the problem of life and death.

In the face of such a problem, two things seem to have supreme importance and both of them are common to us all.

The first is the inner imperative of the moral conscience, which enjoins us to respect, protect and promote human life, from the womb to the deathbed, for individuals and peoples, but especially for the weak, the destitute, the derelict: the imperative to overcome selfishness, greed and the spirit of vengeance.

The second common thing is the conviction that peace goes much beyond human efforts, particularly in the present plight of the world, and therefore that its source and realization is to be sought in that Reality beyond all of us.

This is why each of us prays for peace. Even if we think, as we do, that the relation between that Reality and the gift of peace is a different one, according to our respective religious convictions, we all affirm that such a relation exists.

This is what we express by praying for it.

I humbly repeat here my own conviction: peace bears the name of Jesus Christ.

There is an absolute conformity between the understanding that Cardinal Ratzinger subsequently (2003) described as "multireligious" prayer in the section "Multireligious and interreligious prayer" of his book Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions and the prayer described here in the words of Pope John Paul II.

Multi-religious prayer is a prayer "alongside" those of other religions, and not a prayer "with" them, which would be "interreligious" prayer. Assisi One was not an event of "inter-religious prayer", something about which Cardinal Ratzinger expressed a clear doubt in the same section of his book. Instead, it was an event of "multi-religious" prayer.

There remains a question about the use of Catholic Churches in Assisi as places of prayer by those of non-Christian religions and, perhaps, some insensitivity in the way in which those adherents of other religions made use of the space dedicated for Christian prayer.

I expect that there is some legitimacy in these concerns, though I have not been able to track down with certainty exactly what happened in this regard. [Two reports I was able to find of what happened in the Church used by Buddhist believers differed in details.]

It is interesting to note that the "Order of the Day" for the Day of Prayer for Peace on 24th January 2002 - Assisi Two - suggests that the non-Christian religions did not use Churches as their places for prayer on this second occasion.

What did Cardinal Ratzinger say about Assisi One, and what does Pope Benedict XVI think of Assisi One?

In the section of Truth and Tolerance referred to above, Cardinal Ratzinger highlighted two conditions for an appropriate multireligious prayer that might be seen as an evaluation of Assisi One.

He firstly argues that it cannot be the normal form of religious life but must remain "exceptional", and be confined to situations that call for a particular pleading to God before the whole of humanity - such as is the case for a prayer for peace at a time of particular violence.

Cardinal Ratzinger's second point is that there is a need for a very careful explanation of exactly what is taking place - and what is not taking place - to answer the false interpretations of events, false interpretations that are inevitable and almost certainly involve an indifference towards what is and is not believed, and the dissolution of real faith.

I would expect that these two points will apply just as much to Assisi Three in October 2011 as they do to Assisi One in October 1986.

But, in the same section of Truth and Tolerance, Cardinal Ratzinger cites the World Days of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986 and 2002 as the model for multi-religious prayer, and affirms the legitimacy of such a prayer, subject to his two conditions just described:

The model for multi-religious prayer is offered by the two World Days of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, in 1986 and 2002.... There are undeniable dangers, and it is indisputable that the Assisi meetings, especially in 1986, were misinterpreted by many people. It would, on the other hand, be wrong to reject, completely and unconditionally, multireligious prayer of the kind I have described. To me, the right thing in this case seems to be, rather, to link it with conditions corresponding to the demands of inner truth and responsibility for such a great undertaking as the public appeal to God before all the world.

[Note: I have not been able to track down and verify reports that Cardinal Ratzinger said that Assisi One should not be seen as a "model for inter-religious dialogue", or other criticisms that he is reported to have made of Assisi One. If I can track them down, I will update this post accordingly.]

If we wish to grasp what Pope Benedict XVI now thinks of Assisi One, we have only to read again the words with which he has announced his intention to visit Assisi this coming October, quoted above:

It [ie the visit in October 2011] will aim to commemorate the historical action desired by my Predecessor and to solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as a service to the cause of peace.

In other words, Pope Benedict believes that the event of Assisi One is worthy of commemoration and that it was an event he sees as being "historic" in character.

In summary: I think we need to have an accurate understanding of what actually happened during Assisi One, and not rely on misunderstandings reported in the media.

We need to be clear that Cardinal Ratzinger's acknowledgement of the dangers surrounding events like Assisi One do not constitute a rejection of their legitimacy.

And we need to take on board that, as the Successor of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI considers the 25th anniversary of Assisi One to be a date worth marking.

[In other words: Trust the Pope. Trust this Pope![

00venerdì 14 gennaio 2011 19.02

All the decrees issued today
by the Congregation for Sainthood

Translated from
January 13, 2011

During a private audience today with Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Benedict XVI the Pope authorised the congregation to promulgate the following decrees:


- Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla), Polish, Supreme Pontiff (1920-2005).

- Venerable Servant of God Antonia Maria Verna, Italian, Foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception (1773-1838).

- Venerable Servant of God Giuseppe Toniolo, Italian, Layman and father (1845-1918).


- Servants of God Marija Jula (nee Kata Ivanisevic), Marija Bernadeta (nee Terezija Banja,) Marija Krizina (nee Jozefa Bojanc), Marija Antonija (nee Jozefa Fabjan) and Maria Berchmana (nee Karoline Anna Leidenix), professed religions of the Institute of Daughters of Divine Charity, killed in hatred of the faith in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 15 and 23 December 1941.


- Servant of God Antonio Franco, Italian, Bishop of Santa Lucia del Mela (1585-1626).

- Servant of God Franziskus Maria vom Kreuze (ne Johann Baptist Jordan), German, Priest and Founder of the Society of the Divine Saviour and of the Congregation of Sisters of the Divine Saviour (1848-1918).

- Servant of God Nelson Baker, American, Diocesan priest (1842-1936).

- Servant of God Faustino Perez-Manglano Magro, Spanish, Student and Postulant of the Marianist Fathers (1946-1963).

- Servant of God Francisca de Paula de Jesus, (also called Nha Chica), Brazilian, Laywoman (1810-1895).

Interview with Cardinal Amato
January 14, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree on Friday attributing a miracle to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, clearing the way for his beatification, which is to take place this coming May 1st.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, shared more details about the Decree and the coming beatification with the director of Vatican Radio’s Italian section, Roberto Piermarini.

Your Eminence, the Pope has approved the publication of certain decrees on three miracles, five martyrdoms and the heroic virtues of five Servants of God. Among all of these, there stands out the decree on the miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable John Paul II. Which scenarios are open now?Certainly, the decree on the miraculous cure of Sister Marie Simon Pierre Normand, attributed to the intercession of the great Pope a few months after his death, is what will most resound in the Church and the world, owing to the great reputation for sanctity enjoyed by Pope John Paul II. This decree opens the way for his beatification, which will take place in Rome this coming May 1, the first Sunday after Easter: Divine Mercy Sunday.

Can you tell us about the course that the cause of the great Pope has taken?
I must say that this case had two facilitations. The first concerns the Papal dispensation of the 5-year waiting period before opening a cause, and the second was the placing of the cause on a “fast track” that by-passed the waiting list.

There were, however, no corners cut with regard to the rigor and accuracy of procedure. The case was treated like any other, following all the steps prescribed by the law of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

On the contrary, if I may speak further to one of my first observations: precisely in order to honor the dignity and the memory of this great Pope, to avoid any doubt and overcome any difficulties, the case was subjected to particularly careful scrutiny.

What more can you tell us about the miracle?
The miracle is the cure of French Sister Marie Simon Pierre from Parkinson’s. The disease was diagnosed in 2001 by her physician and by other specialists. Sister received proper treatment, which was not, however, likely to cure an incurable disease, but only to attenuate her pain.

At the news of the death of Pope John Paul II, who had suffered from the same disease, Sister Marie and her companions began to invoke the deceased Pontiff, asking him for healing.

On June 2, 2005, tired and overwhelmed by the pain, Sister Marie made her intention to be released from professional work known to her religious superior. Her superior, however, invited Sister Marie to trust in the intercession of John Paul II. Sister Marie then retired for the night, which she passed quietly.

On awakening she felt healed. Her pains had disappeared, and she felt no stiffness in her joints. It was June 3, 2005, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sister Marie immediately interrupted her medical treatment and saw her doctor, who could only confirm that Sister Marie had been healed.

There are other figures in the list today [Friday]?
In addition to Pope John Paul II, there is a figure of great cultural significance: Prof. Giuseppe Toniolo, a father, professor of Economics at the University of Pisa and a great exponent of Italian social Catholicism.

There is the moving story of the brutal martyrdom of five Bosnian Catholic women religious of the Institute of the Daughters of Divine Charity, who were killed in hatred of the faith simply because they were engaged in the rescue of children and the poor.

The beatification of these servants of God, and also of the venerable Mother Antonia Maria Verna, foundress of the Institute of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea, is imminent.

Regarding the other Decrees?
The other decrees concern the heroic virtues of the Sicilian Antonio Franco, Prelate of St. Lucia del Mela; the German Francis Mary of the Cross Jordan, founder of the Salvatorians; the American priest Nelson Baker; the Spanish adolescent, Faustino Pérez-Manglaro, postulant of the Society of Mary; and the Brazilian Beguine Francesca de Paola of Jesus, who spent her life in prayer and the exercise of charity toward the poor.

They are all fascinating figures whose reputation for holiness is widespread in their countries of origin, who offer examples of gospel witness that are extremely relevant to our contemporary world.
00venerdì 14 gennaio 2011 20.23

On a day that is so emotional for me, as it must be for millions of other Catholics, allow me an indulgence...

John Paul II and Benedict XVI:
A unique, perhaps unprecedented, relationship

Someone, maybe George Weigel, will surely write a reflection on the fate that so inexorably ties Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI beyond the category of predecessor Pope and his successor.

It cannot have been given to many Popes - if ever - to beatify (and perhaps eventually canonize) his predecessor, friend of three decades, whose funeral Mass he also celebrated and preached so memorably.

The personal relationship between predecessor and successor is unprecedented in the history of the modern Papacy, even if Pius XII had been Pius XI's Secretary of State befoe he himself became Pope....

OR tomorrow has chosen the following two emblematic photographs of this remarkable pair, both chosen to be Vicars of Christ on earth, to illustrate tomorrow's issue which presents all the documentation released today about the beatification of John Paul II.

Cardinal Ratzinger pays homage after the body of John Paul II was transferred to St. Peter's Basilica from the Apostolic Palace for the lying in state.

The following report contextualizes today's event. The paradox is that while most of the world, including non-Catholics, probably welcomed today's news approvingly, there is a vocal minority that faults Benedict XVI for 'rushing' John Paul's case, claiming this can only be harmful to John Paul himself, and far from an honor, since he is still under some doubt, if not suspicion, on account of Maciel and the sex abuse 'scandals'. (This is the burden of a harsh column today by conservative Spanish commentator Jose Manuel Vidal berating Benedict XVI [after all his eloquent, laudatory reporting last November of the Holy Father's visit to Spain/]

Those who argue this show no respect for Benedict XVI's discernment. He would be the last person in the world to wish any doubt or suspiciont to spoil John Paul's beatification - and eventual canonization - in any way. Once again, Catholics who are being more Popish than this Pope believe they can think things out better than he can. Have they not considered that a Pope must pray long and hard before he takes any step or writes or says something, and that perhaps the Holy Spirit who had something to do with his election continues to watch over him snd guide him??? (Likewise, just imagine the sessions John Paul II would have had with his confessor after the US sex-abuse scandal erupted in 2000 - overturning his world view that ruled out the occurrence of pedophile sex among priests!]

To try and second-guess a Pope is far more presumptuous than any pundit lecturing, say, the President of the United States...

Benedict XVI defies the naysayers and
sets John Paul II's beatification date

by Salvatore Izzo

VATICAN CITY, January 14, 2011 (Translated from AGI) - Like an earlier predecessor, John XXIII, Benedict XVI has decided to defy the 'prophets of doom' who tend to mark every historical occasion by seeking to put a brake on the action of the Holy Spirit. [I have not been able to figure out what John XXIII that was analogous to this decision by Benedict XVI.]

Without being influenced by the activity of various lobbies and 'powers' within the Church and outside it who tried up to the very end to block a happy and speedy ending to John Paul II's cause for beatification, Benedict XVI signed the decree today by which the Church acknowledges the miraculous healing of French nun Marie Simon-Pierre Normand of Parkinson's disease, the same affliction that led to Papa Wojtyla's death, and has set the beatification ceremony to take place on May 1.

Onbviously, Benedict XVI himself will preside at the ceremony on Divine Mercy Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter, a liturgical feast instituted by John Paul II himself and very dear to him, representing in a way his moral testament.

Reliable sources in the Apostolic Palace say that after the succession of leaked reports at every phase of the beatification process, along with the continued media speculation tending to discredit unjustly the memory of the Polish Pope [by association with the sex abuse scandals that first erupted in his Pontificate and his friendship with Legionaries founder Fr. Marcial Maciel], Benedict XVI wasted no time acting, after the Congregation for Saints had formally approved the beatification miracle.

It is a prophetic act, which could provide great revitalizing energy for the reforms under way by Benedict XVI against any lingering abuses in the Church, be it sexual, liturgical, financial or power-mongering.

One recalls the words of Benedict XVI at the conclusion of the Year for Priests last June, when he evoked the image of the devil who seemed intent, through the sex offenses committed by a few priests, to obscure the good that is done daily by most priests around the world.

The effort by some quarters has been obvious to blame Papa Wojtyla for the sex-abuse scandal that erupted in his Pontificate because some of his close collaborators proved to be too 'unfaithful' - or at least, too naive or lukewarm - to pursue priest offenders [or the bishops who covered up for them!].

TThe beatification of Papa Wojtyla six years since his death was made possible bcause Benedict XVI waived the five-year waiting period to begin the process and then wanted it to be fast-tracked, both Caridnal Amato and Fr. Lomardi have explained.

Nonetheless, "no shortcuts were followed in the required steps, and all the verifications done during the canonical process were particularly scrupulous," Fr. Lombardi said.

[The rest of the story is Fr. Lombardi's information about how John Paul II's coffin will be re-entombed, unopened, on the main floor of St. Peter's Basilica; the step-by-step chronology of the late Pope's beatification process; and quotations from the final'positio' presented by the postulator for his cause.]

John Paul II will be beatified
by his 'trusted friend'

Translated from
January 14, 2011

It is evident that Benedict XVI wanted to be able to beatify the man who called him his 'trusted friend', John Paul II. And he will do just that on May 1 in St. Peter's - beatify the one he always calls his 'beloved predecessor'.

It was he who had sent him off to 'the house of the Father' at that funeral Mass amid an ocean of pilgrims on April 8, 2005, and it will be he who will proclaim him Blessed for the Church of Rome and the Universal Church on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday, tge first Sunday after Easter.

It is a significant day in the life of Karol Wojtyla who, having instituted the feast of Divine Mercy Sunday according to the teaching of the Polish nun, Saint Fausta Kowalska, died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005.

It is not yet known what date in the Catholic calendar of saints will be assigned to Blessed John Paul II as his liturgical feast day (this is usually announced at the beatification rite). But it is known that his coffin will be transferred from his present underground vault in the Vatican Grottoes to the Chapel of St. Sebastian on the main floor of St. Peter's Basilica, where the new resting place will simply be marked by a marble inscription.

And so, the first stage will be realized towards the demands for 'Santo subito' during his funeral. It has arrived quite rapidly. Benedict XVI's signature on the decree recognizing the miracle attributed to the late Pope's intercession will perhaps put an end to the debate and controversy that have accompanied Papa Wojtyla's beatification process. [They won't. The controversy has already started in the media on whether the Church - and Benedict XVI - have done the right thing. As if there could be anything wrong in officially proclaiming the holiness of someone whose public and private virtue was evident to everyone, just because people around him may have done bad, and he was friends with a man whom he obviously believed to be above suspicion but turned out to be a scoundrel thrice over.]

It is a historical event. The sign of an era, even. It is a gesture from one friend to another. It could even be the occasion for the media to reconsider the true meaning of John Paul II's Pontificate, without the triumphalism with which they characterized it when he died.

John Paul II was a rich and complex personality who must be understood well, and who, like every saint, is holy because he was obedient to God despite his own limitations, and whose holiness has nothing to do with the fact that the media made him out to be a rock star.

Whoever professes to love John Paul II must love him for what he taught and what he did in his life and in his 26 years as Pope, must love the Word of God as he did.

Just as Benedict XVI does, who was his closest collaborator, his successor, and the man who is carrying on his mission as Vicar of Christ.

00sabato 15 gennaio 2011 04.30

George Weigel, author of the definitive two-volume biography of John Paul II, had this initial reaction to the betification today.

Re John Paul II
by George Weigel


The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints has certified a miraculous cure through the intercession of Pope John Paul II, thus clearing the way for the late Pontiff’s beatification on May 1.

Using the word “miracle” in a broad sense, however, the greatest miracle of John Paul II was to restore a sense of Christian possibility in a world that had consigned Christian conviction to the margins of history.

In 1978, no one expected that the leading figure of the last quarter of the 20th century would be a priest from Poland. Christianity was finished as a world-shaping force, according to the opinion-leaders of the time; it might endure as a vehicle for personal piety, but would play no role in shaping the world of the 21st century.

Yet within six months of his election, John Paul II had demonstrated the dramatic capacity of Christianity to create a revolution of conscience that, in turn, created a new and powerful form of politics — the politics that eventually led to the Revolution of 1989 and the liberation of central and eastern Europe.

Beyond that, John Paul II made Christianity compelling and interesting in a world that imagined that humanity had outgrown its “need” for God, Christ, and faith.

In virtually every part of the world, John Paul II’s courageous preaching of Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life drew a positive response, and millions of lives were changed as a result. This was simply not supposed to happen — but it did, through the miracle of conviction wedded to courage.

Then there was John Paul’s social doctrine which, against all expectations, put the Catholic Church at the center of the world’s conversation about the post-Communist future.

In 1978, did anyone really expect that papal encyclicals would be debated on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, or that a Pope would rivet the world’s attention in two dramatic defenses of the universality of human rights before the United Nations? No one expected that. But it happened.

To make Christianity plausible, compelling, and attractive by preaching the fullness of Christian truth and demonstrating its importance to the human future — that was perhaps the greatest miracle of John Paul II, and his greatest gift to the Church and the world.

With all due respect to Mr. Weigel: Given the reality of human nature, I am not sure it was what John Paul II preached as much as who he was - the holiness he projected that the media rarely noted - that touched the people of the world to the degree that they exhibited at his death. Paul VI's maxim comes to mind that the world learns best from witnesses not from teachers. And sometimes we are lucky to have someone like Benedict who is both witness and teacher...

00sabato 15 gennaio 2011 11.50

Pope urges local administrators
and legislators to help new families

Adapted from


14 JAN 2011 (RV) - Friday morning in the Vatican, Pope Benedict received the officials and administrators of Lazio region, the province of Rome and the city of Rome in their traditional New Year encounter with the Bishop of Rome, and urged them to focus on helping young people start families.

Describing the family as the "the primary cell of society, ... founded on marriage between a man and a woman", the Pope noted how "it is in the family that children learn the human and Christian values which enable constructive and peaceful coexistence. It is in the family that we learn solidarity between generations, respect for rules, forgiveness and acceptance of others".

Therefore, he said, "the family must be supported by policies ... which aim at its consolidation and development, accompanied by appropriate educational efforts".

"The approval of forms of union which pervert the essence and goal of the family ends up penalising those people who, not without effort, seek to maintain stable emotional ties which are juridically guaranteed and publicly recognised.

"In this context, the Church looks with favour upon all initiatives which seek to educate young people to experience love as a giving of self, with an exalted and oblational view of sexuality.

"To this end the various components of society must agree on the objectives of education, in order for human love not to be reduced to an article of consumption, but to be seen and lived as a fundamental experience which gives existence meaning and a goal".

Noting that many couples desire to have children "but are forced to wait", the Holy Father emphasised the importance "of giving concrete support to maternity, and of guaranteeing working women the chance to conciliate the demands of family and work".

"Since openness to life is at the centre of true development, the large number of abortions that take place in our region cannot leave us indifferent", the Pope warned. "The Christian community, through its many care homes, pro-life centres and similar initiatives, is committed to accompanying and supporting women who encounter difficulties in welcoming a new life. Public institutions must also offer their support so that family consultancies are in a position to help women overcome the causes that may lead them to interrupt their pregnancy".

"The ageing population raises new problems," he also said. "Although many old people can reply on the support and care of their own families, growing numbers are alone and have need of medical and healthcare assistance".

He said he was happy for the collaboration that exists between local administrations and "the great Catholic healthcare institutions such as, for example, in the field of paediatrics, the 'Bambino Gesu' hospital. I hope these structures may continue to collaborate with local organisations in order to guarantee their services to everyone who needs them, at the same time renewing my call to promote a culture of respect for life until its natural end".

On the subject of the economic crisis, the Pope highlighted how "parishes in the diocese of Rome are, through Caritas, making prodigious efforts" to help suffering families. "I trust that adequate measures in support of low-income families may be adopted, especially for large families with are too often penalised", he said

The Holy Father noted how unemployment affects above all young people who, following years of education and training, cannot find professional openings. "They often feel disillusioned and are tempted to reject society itself. The persistence of such situations causes social tensions which are exploited by criminal organisations to further their illegal activities".

"For this reason", he concluded, "it is vital, even in this difficult time, to make every effort to promote policies that favour employment and dignified assistance, which is indispensable in order to give life to new families".

Below, the Pope met ezrlier individually with Renata Polverini, president of Lazio region, and Gianni Alemanno, Mayor of Rome.

00sabato 15 gennaio 2011 12.37
Re: picture in the train to Assise

I am not sure this picture is from 2002 as John-Paul II seems much younger and healthy than he was in 2002. Also, the outside looks more like what can be seen from a plane...

It is not very important anyway.

Thank you for your wonderful and interesting work


Sorry about the wrong caption and thank you for pointout the error. I mindlessly used a caption used elsewhere with this same picture which the OR uses in today's issue. I will see if I can find out the right data about it. Many thanks once again.


00sabato 15 gennaio 2011 13.22

Saturday, January 15
Center illustration: St. Anthony Abbot burying St Paul the Hermit.
ST. PAUL THE HERMIT (Paul of Thebes)(Egypt, 228-345)
Considered to be the first Christian hermit, Paul was in his 20s when he escaped the Christian
persecution under Emperor Dacian by fleeing to a cave in the desert outside Thebes. He found
the solitude and opportunity for prayer so right for him that he stayed for the next 90 years.
He subsisted on a nearby spring and palm tree, though it was said that when he was 43, a raven
started bringing him half a loaf of bread every day. When he was 112, he received a visit from
St. Anthony Abbot (Anthony the Great), already renowned as a pioneer of ascetic monasticism
and who had himself lived as a desert anchorite. It is said they spent a day and a night talking
to each other. Paul lived another year and died at age 113. St. Jerome wrote a biography which
has become the standard source about him.

[GReadings for today's Mass:

OR today.
The issue commemorates the decree of beatification for John Paul II signed by Benedict XVI yesterday, acknowledging the miracle brought about through the late Pope's intercession in June 2005;and thEannouncement that the beatification rite will take place in Rome on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday. Other Page 1 news: The Pope's audience with local administrators of Lazio region, and the province and city of Rome; Tunisia's Prssident, despite promises of reform, fails to quell street uprisings protesting food shorages and unemployment (the news today is that he was forced to flee Tunisia, the first Arab president to be ousted by a popular revolt); and Beijing again vows to make its undervalued yuan more 'flexible' for the world market.


The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (weekly meeting)

0 Cardinal Agustín García-Gasco Vicente, emeritus Archbishop of Valencia (Spain)

- Ecumenical delegation from Finalnd, on the offcasion of the Feast of St. Henrik (traditional visit)

- Officials, agents and personnel of the Italian Inspectorate of Public Security serving at the Vatican
(traditional New Year audience). Address in Italian.


The Vatican announced the formal erection today of the first Personal Ordinariate under Anglicanorum coetibus.
It will be called the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, covering the territory of England and Wales, and its first
Ordinary will be the Rev. Keith Newton (born 1952), the Anglican Bishop of Richborough from 2000-2010. Rev. Newton
and his wife were among the Anglicans received into the Catholic Church at a ceremony in London's Westminster
Cathedral on New Year's Day. The new Ordinariate has been placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman.

00sabato 15 gennaio 2011 13.44

Vatican statement on the Personal Ordinariate
of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales

January 15, 2011


In accordance with the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of Pope Benedict XVI (November 4, 2009) and after careful consultation with the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has today erected a Personal Ordinariate within the territory of England and Wales for those groups of Anglican clergy and faithful who have expressed their desire to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church.

The Decree of Erection specifies that the Ordinariate will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and will be placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman.

A Personal Ordinariate is a canonical structure that provides for corporate reunion in such a way that allows former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their distinctive Anglican patrimony.

With this structure, the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be fully integrated into the Catholic Church.

For doctrinal reasons the Church does not, in any circumstances, allow the ordination of married men as Bishops. However, the Apostolic Constitution does provide, under certain conditions, for the ordination as Catholic priests of former Anglican married clergy.

Today at Westminster Cathedral in London, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, ordained to the Catholic priesthood three former Anglican Bishops: Reverend Andrew Burnham, Reverend Keith Newton, and Reverend John Broadhurst.

Also today Pope Benedict XVI has nominated Reverend Keith Newton as the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Together with Reverend Burnham and Reverend Broadhurst, Reverend Newton will oversee the catechetical preparation of the first groups of Anglicans in England and Wales who will be received into the Catholic Church together with their pastors at Easter, and to accompany the clergy preparing for ordination to the Catholic priesthood around Pentecost.

The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church.

The initiative leading to the publication of the Apostolic Constitution and the erection of this Personal Ordinariate came from a number of different groups of Anglicans who have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church.

For them, the time has now come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.


The image of Our Lady of Walsingham at the Slipper Chapel, which is the National Shrine of Our Lady in England.

In 1061, Mary appeared in a vision to Richeldis de Faverches, a devout Saxon noblewoman, in the village of Walsingham in Norfolk, England. According to tradition, Our Lady asked for a replica of the house of the annunciation in Nazareth to be built in Walsingham. It soon became a shrine and a place of pilgrimage even for English monarchs up to the time of Henry VIII.

In the mid-14th century, a wayside chapel - the one now known as the Slipper Chapel - was built and dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria, to serve the pilgrims on their way to England's Nazareth. St Catherine was a patron saint of pilgrims to the Holy Land and her Knights protected the routes to Nazareth during the crusades.

After the Reformation, the Chapel was used as a poor house, a forge, a cow shed and a barn. It was not restored as a chapel until 1896, but the first Mass since the Reformation was not celebrated in the Slipper Chapel till August 15, 1938, when Pius XI designated it as the National Shrine of Our Lady for England. (There is a separate Anglican Shrine in Walsingham).

The image now venerated in the Slipper Chapel is a modern statue based on 15th-century designs, and was crowned by Pius XII's Apostolic Delegate on August 15, 1954.

Mary is depicted as a simple woman, a mother. She is seated on the throne of Wisdom, in the midst of the Church which is represented by the two pillars symbolic of the Gate of Heaven, with seven rings to signify the seven sacraments and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The arched back of the throne reminds us of the rainbow which was set as a sign of God’s fidelity to his creation.

Our Lady is clothed in the blue of divinity, the white of motherhood and the red of virginity. In her hand she holds a lily-sceptre with three blooms because she was virginal before, during and after the Saviour’s birth.

As the Woman of the New Creation, the New Eve, she crushes beneath her feet a toadstone, symbolic of the power of evil. As the Queen of Heaven and of England, her Dowry, she is crowned with a Saxon crown. On his mother’s knee is the child Jesus who, as the Word of God made Flesh, holds the book of the Gospels. He extends his right arm in a double gesture of blessing and protection of his mother.

For the record, the NYT account of this historic event is rather perfunctory, though Donadio manages inject hr bias snarkily in the second paragraph:

Vatican welcomes first Anglicans
converting under new rules

January 15, 2011

ROME — The Vatican on Saturday welcomed the first group of traditionalist Anglicans who plan to convert to Roman Catholicism through a new structure the Vatican created to facilitate such group conversions.

The Vatican angered many Anglicans, including the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, when it announced the new structure in October 2009, because it appeared to upend decades of interfaith dialogue by implying that the Roman Catholic Church sought to encourage the conversion of Anglicans, especially those uncomfortable with the Church of England’s ordination of women and openly gay priests.

But tensions were somewhat eased with Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit to Britain in September, which was widely seen as a success.

In the first concrete result of the Vatican’s offer, the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, presided Saturday over the conversions of three traditionalist Anglican bishops at Westminster Cathedral in London, the Vatican said in a statement....
{The rest of the story - a few more paragraphs - simply summarizes the decree that erected the Ordinariate.]

00sabato 15 gennaio 2011 15.35

I must get this off my chest before I stifle...

Reading the initial reactions in the media - especially the Italian - to the news that John Paul II's beatification is finally at hand, the worst of my fears are being confirmed.

In the panegyrical paroxysms over the virtues of the new Blessed - all of it deserved, despite exaggerations occasioned by the enthusiasm of the moment - Benedict XVI is somehow made to appear as nothing more than the man who 'facilitated' this beatification, a successor who has no light of his own compared to his predecessor - as though in less than six years he had not made any significant and genuinely historical achievements for the Church; as if, for not having travelled as much as his predecessor did, he has been unable to make his voice heard at all.

(The establishment today of the first Personal Ordinariate for returning Anglicans is as forceful a reminder as there could be for this Pontificate's unprecedented actions, but perhaps it will pass virtually unhailed by MSM in the continuing euphoria over yesterday's news.)

And even a Vaticanista, Aldo Maria Valli, who recently wrote a book praising Benedict XVI and defending him against unjust attacks, says in his first commentary on the beatification that no one could speak to young people as John Paul II could - which is just a sample of the many generalizations generously heaped in praise on the soon to be Blessed John Paul II that seem to imply lack of them in his successor. The writers may not mean to be, but they are being offensive to the living Pope, mindlessly and unnecessarily so.

I always thought from the day he was elected that Joseph Ratzinger was well aware and prepared for the fact that one of the heaviest Crosses he would have to bear was persistent injustice on the part of the mass media. A specific corollary to that is the awareness that he would always be compared unfavorably with his predecessor ["After the great John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord... (who) knows how to work even with imperfect means" was a very poignant acknowledgment of this.]

To an ordinary person like I am, who have no claims to to holiness, it would be supremely ooutrageous, were I as endowed with God's graces as Joseph Ratzinger is, to be so constantly belittled and condescended to by infinitely inferior beings such as, one presumes, most of those who look down on him in the media.

But for a man whose personal holiness has not been assailed at all even by his snarkiest critics, such deliberate 'humiliation' is simply part of the cross he has to bear, the better to share in the Passion of the Lord.

Surely, there is a way to rejoice about Papa Wojtyla without putting down Papa Ratzinger. And I hope writers in the professional media and the blogosphere will write accordingly. Since April 2005, my refrain has been that we should all celebrate that in our time, the Catholic Church has produced two great Popes in succession. Neither of them faultless, obviously, but holiness and greatness do not mean perfection. Both holiness and greatness mean striving for perfection, and who can doubt that both Popes, as priests and individuals, have only strived to be perfect, in conformity with Jesus and his message?

P.S. On the other hand, as the following article illustrates, there are the usual types in the maniacal Catholic left - those of the 'We are Church' and 'spirit of Vatican II' presumption - who seem to detest John Paul II as much as they do Benedict XVI. I am less outraged about them because they are simply being consistent about presuming to dictate the Magisterium. i.e., imposing their own which-way-does-the-wind-blow opinions as to what the Church should be...

They do hate JP II, don’t they?
ny Austin Ruse
January 14, 2011

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washinton, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy.

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Little birdies sing in the sunshiny day. And heterodox Catholics possess a shocking enmity toward Pope John Paul II.

The Associated Press, calling JPII “a universally beloved figure,” reported just yesterday that Benedict XVI may announce today the beatification of his predecessor. But the reaction was quite different when John Allen first broke this story last week in the pages of the National Catholic Reporter.

Within minutes of his report the comment boxes at NCR sputtered with outrage. Immediately, someone wrote, “Evidence that corruption is active at the highest levels. A disgrace.” Followed by, “John Paul 2 [sic] sat as the Head [sic] of the Roman Catholic Church and allowed rapists to continue to prey on their victims.” Third comment, “How do you say ‘what a farce’ in Latin? Is there ANYTHING [sic] credible in institutional Catholicism?”

Another advocate of the church of peace, love, and social justice added, “I’ll tell you what a REAL [sic] miracle would be . . . Mr. Ratzinger drops dead tomorrow so they can bring on the next stooge.”

John Allen does not share these views. And blog commenters are not necessarily representative of the editorial content of a website. Certainly, every website has its own nuts in the comment boxes. But these types of comments are common at NCR and echo the point and tone of many NCR contributors, e.g., almost any Eugene Kennedy column.

Commonweal – a slightly more responsible, slightly more respectable, and certainly more crafty among heterodox outlets – linked to the Allen piece on its blog. The debate over JPII went on for five days.

The comments were not so blood-in-the-teeth as NCR’s. Commonweal contributors and followers specialize in what they consider to be a more thoughtful critique, which becomes therefore even more insidious as they persistently undermine confidence in the Church and Her teaching. There does not seem to be a Church figure – except dissident nuns – or a Church teaching – except maybe transubstantiation – they do not question.

The initial commenters were in basic agreement: “Has Rome no shame?” “Many catholics [sic] on the left will perceive this as another move to glorify hierachs [sic], especially popes, who move the Church to a more ‘purer’ [sic] standing.” “Groan, say it isn’t so. Does Rome want the pews emptying any faster than they already are?” “Do the concepts of credibility and integrity have ANY meaning to the Vatican anymore?”

Not all the dotCommonwealers criticized JPII. One lauded his accomplishments including “his dancing with African natives in the liturgy.” And the aggressively orthodox also have their odd commenters, one of whom drifted over to dotCommonweal to say that John Paul II’s “burial face was the look of a man who had come to realize at the last that much of his life’s work was in error.”

You have to wonder why they are so angry, bitter, and sometimes unhinged. They will say their complaints are legitimate. They wonder why the rush to beatification. Six years is rapid. Rather than trusting the Church, which they do not, they see this as nothing more than a political sop to conservatives. And one gets the feeling they want more time so that they can sully his reputation, looking for a Pius XII moment that will forever scar him.

Some seem angry that he presided over the papacy at the time the sex-abuse scandal reared its ugly head, believing he was, at best, willfully ignorant. Others are angry that he was friends with and largely ignored the charges leveled at the now thoroughly shamed founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

Does any of this speak to his lack of heroic virtue? Folks like Cathy Kaveny of Notre Dame and dotCommonweal will doubtless cite theological chapter and ecclesial verse – oh so chin-scratchingly thoughtful – about how these problems suggest – perhaps, maybe, one might think, only speculating here – that JPII might lack heroic virtue. But it seems as if they would be gleeful to know that he is not in Heaven.

Their real anger, and they are quite open about it, is that one of his primary projects was the proper implementation of Vatican II, which means taking the Council at its word and reining in the “spirit of Vatican II” that has so pleased the heterodox and so vexed the Church in recent decades. They are especially troubled about the new generation of JPII bishops [???? Surely Ruse means 'Benedict XVI bishops', as there can be no 'new generation of JPII bishops!] now beginning to sprout orthodox wings. [Besides, the JPII bishops were never known to be particularly orthodox in their Catholicism!]

The country is debating about our sometimes fractious political discourse, but it is especially disappointing to see it erupt in the Catholic blogosphere. I am not immune from the temptation. I’ve weighed in aggressively at various left-wing Catholic blogs including dotCommonweal, where I was eventually banned for I’m not sure what.

I think the anger is a sign that they see it all slipping away, all their hopes and dreams. How else to explain their giddiness over the Holy Father’s supposed blessing of condom use by homosexual prostitutes and other attempts at catching at straws?

Has the liberal project fallen so low? Well, yes, read the comment section of National Catholic Reporter and dotCommonweal and, in an odd sort of a way, you will see that their anger and frustration is a barometer of the health of the orthodox project.

00sabato 15 gennaio 2011 23.06

A couple of writers have referred to a meditation written by then Cardinal Ratzinger after the 2002 World Day of Prayer for Peace held in Assisi a few months after 9/11. It htook me a couple of days to unearth it because I mistakenly tried to search for it first in the 'Archives' section of 30 GIORNI where the search kept on saying '0 results', when I should have gone to the back issues file, where you can click on the month and year you need, and voila!, you have the entire issue within mouse reach! So a bit late, but here's a translation.


The splendor of Francis's peace
by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Translated from the January 2002 issue of 30 GIORNI
Left illustration: Giotto, St. Francis praying in San Damiano, from Giotto's paintings of scenes from Francis's life, Upper Basilica of St, Francis, Assisi; center, a Muslim representative lights a candle for peace in Assisi, 2002; and right, John Paul II with non-Christian religious leaders.

When, on Thursday, January 24 (2002), under skies threatening rain, the train got under way for Assisi with a great number of representatives of the Christian churches and ecclesial communities, along with represetnatives of many world religions, to speak and pray for peace, the train seemed to me a symbol of our pilgrimage through history.

Indeed, are we not all passengers on the same train? Is it not a grand ambition, and simultaneously, a splendid sign of hope, that for its destination, this train has chosen peace and justice, the reconciliation of peoples and religions?

Everywhere, passing through the train stations, great crowds had gathered to greet the pilgrims for peace. In the streets of Assisi and under the great tent, which was the place for the common witness given by all the participants, we were surrounded by enthusiasm and a joy filled with gratitude, particularly by sizable contingents of young people.

On the way, as well as in Assisi, the people's greeting was directed primarily at the man in white. Men and women who in daily life might usually face each other with hostility or seem separated by insurmountable barriers, came out to greet the Pope who. with the force of his personality, the profundity of his faith, the passion it gives him in working for peace and reconcilitation, has seemed to have drawn the impossible from the charism of his office - in order to bring together in a pilgrimage for peace representatives of divided Christianity as well as those of the world's major religions.

But the applause directed, above all, at the Pope, also expressed a spontaneous consensus in favor of all those who seek peace and justice. It was a sign of the profound desire for peace that individuals feel in the face of the dewvastations surrounding them, devastations provoked by hatred and violence.

Even if at times, hatred appears to be invincible and seems to multiply endlessly in spirals of violence, here in Assisi, for a moment, the power of God's presence, the power of peace, was perceived.

I was reminded of the words of the Psalm: "With my God to help, I can leap a wall" (Ps 18,30). God does not set us one against the other. He who is One, who is the Father of all, helped us, at least for a moment, to leap the walls that divide us, making us acknowledge that God is peace, and that we cannot be near him if we are far from peace.

In his address, the Pope cited another cornerstone of the Bible, Paul's statement in the Letter to the Ephesians: "Christ is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh" (Eph 2, 14).

In the New Testament, peace and justice are names for Christ [e.g, "for Christ, our justice" (1Cor 1,30). As Christians, we should not conceal this conviction. And on the part of the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch, the confession of Christ our peace was clear and solemn.

But precisely because of this, something else united us beyond frontiers: the common pilgrimage for peace and justice. And the words a Christian ought to say to others who are on the same journey to those goals, are the same that the Lord used in replying to the scribe who recognized in the double commandment to love God and one's neighbor a synthesis of the Old Testament message, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God" (Mk 12,34).

For a corect understanding of the event in Assisi, it is important to consider that it was not a self-presentation by the religions as though they were interchangeable. It was not an affirmation of equality among religions, which does not exist.

Assisi was rather the exprression of a a common journey, a search, a pilgrimageo for peace, which is peace only if it comes with justice. Indeed, wherever there is no justice, wherever individual rights are denied, the absence of war can only be a veil which hides injustice and oppression.

With their resp4ective testimonials for peace, with their commitment for peace with justice, the representatives of the religions have undertaken - to the limits of their possibilities - a journey which should be, for all, a journey of purification.

And this goes for us Christians. We shall have truly come to Christ only if we have arrived at peace and justice. Assisi, the city of St. Francis, can be the best illustration of this thought.

Even before his conversion, Francis had been a Christian, like most of his fellow citizens. Even the victorious army of Perugia that cast him into prison in defeat, was made up of Christians. And it was only when he was defeated, suffering, a prisoner, that he started to think about Christianity in a new way.

It was only after that experience that it became possible for him to hear - and to understand - the voice form the Crucifix that spoke to him in the small ruined church of San Damiano - which was the very image of the Church in Francis's time, a Church that was profoundly worn out and decadent.

Only then did he see how the nudity of the Crucified Lord, his poverty and his extreme humiliation were in contrast to the luxury and violence that had seemed normal to him.

Only then did he come to truly know Christ and to understand that the Crusades were not the right way to defend the rights of Christians in the Holy Land, but that rather, Christians had to follow the message literally to imitate the Crucified One.

From this man, from Francis, who responded fully to the call of the crucified Christ, still emanates today the splendor of a peace which convinced a Muslim sultan and can truly bring down walls.

If we as Christians undertake our journey to peace following the example of St. Francis, we should not fear that we could lose our identity - it is precisely when we find it.

And if others join us in the search for peace and justice, neither they nor us should fear that truth shall be trampled under the weight of readymade platitudes.

No, if we seriously move together towards peace, then we are on the right way because it is the way of the God of peace (Rom 15,32) whose face has become visible to us Christians through our faith in Christ.

00domenica 16 gennaio 2011 00.41

The UK Catholic Herald is covering the fledgling steps of the Anglican Ordinariate in an admirably comprehensive manner.

Priests ordained to the world’s
first Anglican ordinariate

By Anna Arco
15 January 2011


Three former Anglican bishops were ordained to the Catholic priesthood today as the founding members of the world’s first ordinariate.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster ordained the three men this morning at a packed Westminster Cathedral.


Keith Newton, the former Bishop of Richborough, Andrew Burnham, the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, and John Broadhurst, the former Bishop of Fulham, [left to right, in above photo] were ordained Catholic priests just two days after their ordination to the diaconate and only two weeks after they were received into the Catholic Church.

The three men become the first clergy members of the world’s first personal ordinariate, established by a papal decree and known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, under the protection of Blessed John Henry Newman. The Ordinary, or head, of the ordinariate will be Fr Newton.

Fr Newton, Fr Burnham and Fr Broadhurst were three of five Anglican bishops in England and Wales who publicly announced that they would take up the offer made in the Pope’s November 2009 decree Anglicanorum coetibus.

All three were flying bishops in the Church of England, ministering to Anglo-Catholics who were not able in good conscience to accept the ordination of women priests. Their flocks are preparing to enter into the new ordinariate during Holy Week.

At the start of the Mass, Archbishop Nichols read the Bull establishing the ordinariate. In it, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the ordinariate “marks a unique and historic moment in the life of the Catholic community in this country”.

The three men were presented for ordination by Westminster auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes, himself a former Anglican.

In his homily, Archbishop Nichols thanked the Church of England, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

Archbishop Nichols said: “I want in particular to recognise your dedication as priests and bishops of the Church of England and affirm the fruitfulness of your ministry.

“I thank so many in the Church of England who have recognised your sincerity and integrity in making this journey and who have assured you of their prayers and good wishes. First among these is Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury, with his characteristic insight and generosity of heart and spirit. This journey of course involves some sad parting of friends. This too we recognise and it strengthens the warmth of our welcome.”

He added: “We thank our Holy Father Pope Benedict for not only placing this ordinariate under the protection of Our Lady of Walsingham but also for givuing it Bl John Henry Newman as its patron.”

Referring the Pope’s December 20 speech, Archbishop Nichols spoke about Blessed John Henry Newman’s idea of conscience.

He continued: “Today we thank the Holy Father for the courageous leadership he gives in establishing the first personal ordinariate. His intentions are clear. It is as he said, ‘a prophetic gesture’. It is to contribute to the wider goal of visible unity between our two Churches by helping us to know in practice how our patrimonies of faith and living can strengthen each other in our mission today.”

Archbishop Nichols said the Pope’s ministry was central to the visible unity of the Church.

He said: “It is central to the faith of those who enter into full communion in this ordinariat. It is central to the werlcome, encouragement and support the Catholic community in England and Wales gives to this development and to allk who seek to be part of it.”

He entrusted the ordinariate to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham.

After the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination, Mrs Broadhurst, Mrs Burnham and Mrs Newton brought their husbands the symbols of the priesthood, the vestments.

The three former Anglican Sisters at Walsingham, who were received into the Catholic Church with the former bishops, brought up the gifts to Archbishop Nichols.

The music at the Mass was sung by Westminster Cathedral choir. The Mass was Missa O quam gloriosum. There was music by Elgar and Stanford. The closing hymn was Newman’s “Praise to the Holiest in the Height”.

More than 60 priests from across England and Wales concelebrated at the Mass of Ordination and laid their hands on the ordinands. Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, Auxiliary Bishop William Kenny of Birmingham, Bishop Hopes and Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood were among the bishops concelebrating at the Mass.

At Communion, many people came up to receive blessings from the new priests.

Fifty priests and 35 groups of Anglican lay people are expected to go through the Evangelium course and be received into the Catholic Church at Easter. The former Anglican clergy entering into the ordinariate will then be ordained priests at Pentecost.

There were at least three Anglican bishops from the Catholic wing of the Church of England in the congregation, the Rt Rev Lindsay Urwin, the administrator of the Anglican shrine at Walsingham, the Rt Rev Robert Ladds, former Bishop of Whitby, and Rt Rev Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract.

Edwin Barnes, the retired Bishop of Richborough, David Silk, the retired bishop of Ballarat, and Robert Mercer, the former Bishop of Matabeleland, of the Traditional Anglican Communion, were in the congregation. So was Dr Robin Ward, the principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford.

Edwin Barnes will be received into the Catholic Church at the church of Our Lady and St Joseph, Lymington, at the end of January and will become a priest just before Lent begins, on March 5.

David Silk has already been received into the Catholic Church and will be ordained a priest of the ordinariate on February 18.

After the Mass, one young woman in the congregation who hopes to be in the first wave of the ordinariate, said: “I thought it was tremendous and very moving and utterly joyful and historic. I feel so proud and thankful to the Pope. It’s just beyond our wildest dreams.

“I want to say it’s like coming home. I know that’s a cliché, but that’s what it feels like.”

Cardinal Levada’s message
to the Ordinariate

By Cardinal William Levada
15 January 2011

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Ordination to the Priesthood of our three friends, Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, is an occasion of great joy both for them and for the wider Church.

I had very much wished to be present with you in Westminster Cathedral today in order to demonstrate my own personal support for them as they make this important step. Unfortunately, however, a long standing commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to meet with the Bishops and theologians of India in Bangalore has meant that I am unable to be in London today.

I am very happy, therefore, to have the opportunity of sending this message and am grateful to Archbishop Nichols for agreeing to represent me and for his willingness to deliver my best wishes.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has today published a Decree erecting the first Personal Ordinariate for groups of Anglican faithful and their pastors wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

This new Ordinariate, established within the territory of England and Wales, will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and will be placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Its establishment, which marks a unique and historic moment in the life of the Catholic Community in this country, is the first fruit of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, issued by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 November 2009.

It is my fervent hope that, by enabling what the Holy Father calls “a mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies”, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham will bring great blessings not only on those directly involved in it, but upon the whole Church.

Also today the Holy Father has nominated Reverend Keith Newton as the first Ordinary of this Personal Ordinanate. Together with Reverend Burnham and Reverend Broadhurst, Keith Newton will oversee the catechetical preparation of the first groups of Anglicans in England and Wales who will be received into the Catholic Church together with their pastors at Easter, and will accompany the clergy preparing for ordination to the Catholic priesthood around Pentecost.

I urge you all to assist the new Ordinary in the unique mission which has been entrusted to him not only with your prayers but also with every practical support.

In conclusion, I offer my personal and heartfelt best wishes to these three Catholic priests. I pray that God will abundantly bless them, and also those other clergy and faithful who are preparing to join them in full communion with the Catholic Church.

In the midst of the uncertainty that every period of transition inevitably brings I wish to assure you all of our admiration for you, and of our prayerful solidarity.

At an audience granted to me by Pope Benedict XVI on 14 January 2011, His Holiness asked me to convey to you that he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon the ordinandi Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, together with their wives and family members and upon all other participants in this solemn rite.

Entrusting you confidently to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, and to the intercession of the great saints and martyrs of England and Wales, I am

Yours sincerely in Christ,

William Cardinal Levada
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Personal Ordinariate
of Our Lady of Walsingham

January 15th, 2011

The three ex-bishops face the congregation as Catholic priests

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman, was set up by decree of the Vatican today as three former Anglican bishops were ordained Catholic priests to lead their flocks to Rome – and one of them, Fr Keith Newton, was appointed the Ordinary.

I’m sorry if that seems a rather convoluted sentence, but I’m trying to convey how many extraordinary things have been accomplished simultaneously.

At a service in Westminster Cathedral, a new form of “corporate reunion” – the words used by the Holy See – was established that offers Anglicans who wish to become Catholics everything they could reasonably ask for, and more than they expected.

To start with, the Ordinariate is Personal: it has been set up by decree of the Pope and cannot be dismantled by its opponents. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham, thus establishing a spiritual bond between the Ordinariate and the pre-Reformation devotion that inspired the Catholic movement in the Church of England.

Its patron is Newman, signifying that its members are following in his footsteps in leaving Anglicanism. And it will be led, not by a Catholic bishop of England and Wales, but by a Catholic priest who was an Anglican bishop until last month, assisted by two of his former fellow bishops.

It really is almost too much to take in at once, even though we knew this was coming... {That's exactly how I am feeling. The historicity, as well as the immense challenge, that characterizes this most creatively audacious decision by Benedict XVI is simply overwhelming.]

My first reaction was one of relief that the Catholic Church has had the courage to entrust stewardship of the Ordinariate to a former “flying bishop” who knows intimately and is trusted by the Anglo-Catholics preparing to make the journey.

This is a powerful affirmation of the doctrinal orthodoxy of the departing Anglicans: Rome has finally recognised that only impaired communion separates many Anglo-Catholics from the Holy See.

At the same time, the Ordinariate puts on the spot those traditionalists who say they recognise the primacy of the Pope but, for one reason or another, have no plans to take up his radical offer, made in the teeth of opposition not only from members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference but also from within the Curia.

The setting up of the Ordinariate will be fascinating to observe; equally interesting, I reckon, will be the manoeuvring on the Anglican bank of the Tiber.

It strikes me that Joseph Ratzinger has managed to revive and implement in the 21st century two major movements that didn't quite make it in their time - Blessed Newman's Oxford Movement for Anglo-Catholics in the early 19th century, and the German-led new liturgical movement of the late 19th-early 20th century. And in the process he honors and validates two of his own teachers - Newman and Romano Guardini.

No better illustration of 'renewal in continuity'
that arises organically from genuine historical developments within the Church and not simply manufactured overnight [like the Novus Ordo, legitimate in its origins but so disgracefully instrumentalized in its contrivance) to gratify heterodox ideology and the egos that sustain it.

00domenica 16 gennaio 2011 11.05
January 15, 2011

As the Fathers of the Church said, whoever loves God is impelled to become, in a certain sense, a theologian, one who speaks with God, who thinks of God and seeks to think with God, whereas the professional work of a theologian is, for some, a vocation of great responsibility before Christ, before the Church. To be able to study God himself professionally and to be able to speak of him — contemplari et contemplata docere (to contemplate and to teach what is contemplated (St. Thomas Aquinas, Super Sent. Lib. 3 d. 35, q l, art 3, qc. 1, arg. 3) — is a great privilege.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, To the International Theological Commission, December 3, 2010. [1]

All men and women, as I have noted, are in some sense philosophers and have their own philosophic conceptions with which they direct their lives.
-- Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, #30.


When the Pope talks to theologians, it is a theologian talking to theologians, with this difference, one of them is also Pope. The International Theological Commission meets periodically to present various reflections on issues that the Holy Father would like to see further developed.

The subjects of the recent Plenary Sessions in the Vatican were, as the Pope put it, "weighty topics": "Theology and its methodology, the question of the one God in relation to the three monotheistic religions; the integration of the Church's social doctrine in the broader context of Christian doctrine."

Recalling St. Paul writing to the Corinthians, the Pope said that the experience of an "encounter with Christ" is the basis for thinking about these issues.

"Whoever has discovered in Christ the love of God, instilled in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, wishes to know better the One who loves him and whom he loves. Knowledge and love sustain one another in turn." Here the pope touches on the classic idea that if we know the existence of something, especially if we have loved someone, we want to know more about what we know or love. Fides quaerens intellectum — our trust and faith seeks knowledge of what it is we know by faith.

At this point, the Pope says that "whoever loves God is impelled to be a theologian." That is, everyone wants to know as much as he can about God. He does not have to be a professional theologian to know something of God. If this were the case, we would have few wanting to know God.

The Pope is not denying here the place of the professional theologian, but he is insisting that the professional theologian must himself also first love God before he can carry out his vocation. Faithless theologians are the bane of the profession and the Church.

Just as ordinary men and women are "impelled" to become theologians to know more about God, so, as John Paul II said, they also are natural philosophers and seek to know about reality so they can act intelligently in the world.

"'All human beings desire to know' (Aristotle), and truth is the proper object of this desire. Everyday life shows how concerned each of us to discover for ourselves, beyond mere opinions, how things really are. Within visible creation, man is the only creature who is capable of knowing, but who knows that he knows, and is therefore interested in the real truth of what he perceives" (Fides et Ratio, #25).

What is peculiarly Catholic is how these two approaches to knowledge —especially to the knowledge of God — relate to each other. Neither theology nor philosophy is the exclusive possession of experts and academics precisely because all men are open both to what is and to grace.

Catholicism is an understanding of God that stands under His light. While God remains a mystery, the more we know of Him the better: Light upon Light. The word, "theo-logy," means the study or understanding of God.

We praise God by seeking to know as much of Him as we can. We are given minds so that we can do this. The Christian witness does not tell the world of his own great ideas, but rather of what he has "seen and heard."

The philosopher begins with things; the theologian begins from what he "has seen and heard," or what others have witnessed to. Theology uses sound philosophy to explain further what has been seen and heard and passed down to us.

The word, Logos, implies that we want to know. We want the reasons implicit in what we have seen and heard. Here Benedict relates philosophy and theology: "We can think of God and communicate what we have thought because he has endowed us with a reason in harmony with his nature."

If our reason is "in harmony with His nature," we cannot be surprised if God addresses us in a way that we can understand. We can understand only if we first try to understand things ourselves.

Benedict often refers to the fact that St. John identifies Christ as the Logos, the Second Person in the Trinity, the Word. To accept that God is Logos contributes to peace on earth. Why? "A God that is not seen as the font of forgiveness, of justice, and of love cannot be a light on the path to peace."

One might extrapolate these words to suggest that behind all human altercations are found differing concepts of God. This diversity is why the Pope is so concerned with a freedom of religion in the civil order. This freedom should allow these differences to be discussed and brought to light without threat of killing those of differing opinions.

A false understanding of God does cause violence. This is the clear meaning of contemporary events from the jihadists to the abortionists.


Benedict tells us that men naturally seek to organize their knowledge and relate one branch of it to the others. "Yet no theological system can subsist unless it is permeated by love of the divine 'Object', which in theology must necessarily be the 'Subject' that speaks to us and with whom we are in a relationship of love."

The God of revelation speaks to us; he tells us what we must do to be saved. In the telling, He indicates something of Himself. He is Father, not just an inert deist-like object who has no personal relation to us. Theology, to be itself, must be open to the divine Logos, its only justification for existence.

Theology does not make up the content of revelation. It first receives it. The philosopher may arrive at the existence of a divine "Object" or cause. The philosopher is not necessarily closed to the idea of personhood in the Godhead, but it is not something that initially occurs to him. When it is revealed, he may see that it makes sense in many ways.

In another recent address, Benedict touched on this point. "Faith has its specific nature, of course, as an encounter with the living God, which opens up new horizons for us beyond the sphere proper to reason," he told the new Hungarian ambassador. "But at the same time it is a purifying force for reason itself that permits it to perform its task better and to see better what pertains to it." [2]

No reason can be found why philosophers cannot think about the content of revelation once it is known. This is what Benedict meant when, as cited above, he told us that God communicates with us through reason which is in harmony with His nature. We are not gods, but we do have reason that reflects in its limited way the divine Logos.

Benedict next adds that theology must itself be integrated into the life of the Church. "It is true that in order to be scientific, theology must argue rationally, but it must also be faithful to the nature of ecclesial faith: centered on God, rooted in prayer, in a communion with the other disciples of the Lord guaranteed by communion with the Successor of Peter and with the whole Episcopal College."

Theologians are obviously tempted at times to establish their own church. But what is important is that we received from the Church the same witness that the Church of the first and subsequent centuries received. It is this revelation that intrigues and stimulates us to think, as well as to love and to believe.

The Pope here repeats the notion of faith purifying reason. "The very rationality of theology helps to purify human reason, liberating it from certain prejudices and ideas that can exercise a strong influence on the thought of every age."

The bane of all theology, no doubt something Chesterton saw, was that it was more concerned to relate Christianity to the fashionable thoughts of a given era than to strive to preserve and present what the actual content of the faith was in terms intelligible to different systems and eras.

Benedict often refers to the German philosopher Josef Pieper (1904-1997), who wrote an important work on tradition. [3] The following passage made me think of this relation: "Theology always lives in a continuity and in a dialogue with believers and theologians who came before us; since ecclesial communion is diachronic, so also is theology. The theologian never begins from zero, but considers as teachers the Fathers and theologians of the whole Christian tradition."

The Pope mentions as an example Blessed John Henry Newman, whose conversion, as is well known, came through studying the early Church fathers and noticing the continuity that they had with the Church of Rome. What is remarkable in reading those Christian thinkers who went before us — and not just Augustine and Aquinas — is the amazing insight that they still cast on our everyday lives.

The Pope adds that the theologian should also be holy. "Rooted in Sacred Scripture, read with the Fathers and Doctors, theology can be a school of sanctity, as witnessed by Bl. John Henry Newman."

He calls theology the "symphony of the sciences." It is usually called the queen of the sciences, that which places the end and hence the order of all else that we know. Theology is also a service of others.

"Contemplation of the revealed God and charity for our neighbour cannot be separated, even if they live according to different chrisms."

Benedict then touches on something that is also found in Chesterton, the idea that the modern world is full of Christian truths that are isolated from the whole and have become wild in their new manifestation.

"In a world that often values the many gifts of Christianity — such as, for example, the idea of democratic equality — without understanding the root of its own ideals, it is particularly important to show that the fruits die if the roots are severed from the tree."

Men are only equal in that they are each created by God with the same eternal destiny offered to them. To make them politically equal in everything undermines the order of any polity.

In Spe Salvi, Benedict addressed the issue of justice, the judgment of the Lord on our lives. He touches on that theme here. "There is no justice without truth, and justice does not develop fully if its horizon is limited to the material world. For us Christians, social solidarity always has a prospect of eternity."

That is to say, the City of God is the only place wherein all issues of justice and equality will be settled. The attempt to resolve all final and eternal issues in this world is really the cause of most of the aberrations of modernity.

Theologians cannot be theologians "in solitude"; they should know and listen to pastors. The Pope obviously relies on the work of theologians, but he does not hesitate to remind them of what a theologian is.

And he does acknowledge that anyone who is "impelled" to know God more thoroughly is himself already implicitly a theologian. He is someone who takes what is given to him in revelation and ponders and explicates it in terms that we all can understand.


[1] Benedict XVI, "Knowledge and Love: The Pillars of Theology," L'Osservatore Romano, English, December 15, 2010.
[2] Address of December 2, 2010, L'Osservatore Romano, English, December 15, 2010.
[3] That book, Tradition: Its Sense and Aspiration, is contained in the collection, For the Love of Wisdom: Essays on the Nature of Wisdom (Ignatius Press, 2006), pp. 232-94.

00domenica 16 gennaio 2011 12.15

Pope Benedict XVI says prayer
most important for Christian unity



15 JAN 2011 (RV) - Pope Benedict XVI greeted an ecumenical delegation from Finland on Saturday. The group of Lutherans were making their annual pilgrimage to Rome to mark the feast of Saint Henry, the patron of their country. The meeting comes just before the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins next week.

The majority of Finns belongs to The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which has nearly 4 ½ million members.

Speaking in German, the Pope reminded the delegation that Christian unity is ultimately a fruit of the action of God, and its success depends on the effectiveness of efforts which come from persistent prayer.

He noted the recent final report on 'Justification in the Life of the Church' prepared by the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Group in Finland and Sweden, whose members he was able to meet last year.

He said a deepening of the understanding of justification will help Catholics and Lutherans reach a common view regarding the nature of the church and the episcopal office.

He also drew attention to the awareness that the ecumenical journey has become in many ways more difficult and more challenging. The Pope said questions have been asked about the ecumenical method and the achievements of recent decades, and some express uncertainty about the future.

In this light, the Holy Father said this annual pilgrimage to Rome for the feast of St. Henry is important, and an encouragement for ecumenical efforts.

Pope thanks Italian security
for being guardians to the Vatican

Translated from the Italian service of


15 JAN 2011 (RV) - On Friday morning, Benedict XVI received the officials and members of the Italian Inspectorate for Public Security assigned to the Vatican, for their traditional exchange of New Year greetings.

The Pope expressed his appreciation for the service they render, as Tiziana Campisi reports:

The Holy Father said that the daily work of the security forces guarding St. Peter's Square requires "not a little patience, perseverance, sacrifice and willingness to listen" and thanked them for their 'commitment and professionality'.

He said the functionaries and agents of Italy's national police are "almost like guardian angels who watch day and night over the Vatican, guaranteeing the encessary security and placing themselves at the service of pilgrims".

He said their service "enables the spiritual and religious gatherings in St. Peter's Square to take place in tranquillity and security".

He expressed the wish that "your significant presence in the heart of Christendom, where crowds of faithful come endlessly to be with the Successor of Peter and to visit the tombs of the Apostles, may inspire in each of you the need to always renew the spiritual dimension in your own lives, along with the commitment to deepend your Christian faith, witnessing to it with joy through consistent conduct".

The Pope extended his wishes to the family members who came with the officials and agents and to their colleagues who were not present because they were on duty in St. Peter's Square and the Basilica.


00domenica 16 gennaio 2011 13.48

From the Ratzinger Files, 1984
by Richard Collins
from his blog
'Linen on the Hedgerow'
January 15, 2011

Collins describes his blog as observations on 'orthodox Catholicism, loyal to the Magisterium'. He is a retired financial market expert who lives in England. In this post, he calls attention to what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said to Vittorio Messori in the first of the book-length interviews he has given which came out in 1985 as The Ratzinger Report... These are points that continue to be relevant and are useful to review from time to time:

...Publication of the interview sent shock waves through a Church that was nestling down comfortably in the belief that change had been for the better (although the Cardinal was vocal in pointing out the authority of Vatican II).

It was, a pessimistic (realistic) appraisal of the status quo that must have sent many a Bishop rushing for the is an extract:

...What the Popes and Fathers were expecting was a new Catholic unity, and instead one has encountered a dissension which....seems to have passed over from self-criticism to self-destruction....

There had been the expectation of a step forward, and instead one found oneself facing a progressive process of decadence...

(A) real reform of the Church presupposes an unequivocal turning away from the erroneous paths whose catastrophic consequences are already incontestible.....My diagnosis is that we are dealing with an authentic crisis and that it must be treated.....

...The decisive new emphasis on the role of the Bishops is in reality restrained or actually risks being smothered by the insertion of the Bishops into episcopal conferences that are ever more organised, often with burdensome bureaucratic structures.

We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical, concrete function......No episcopal conference has, as such, a teaching mission......

It happens that with some Bishops there is a certain lack of individual responsibility, and the delegation of his inalienable powers as shepherd and teacher to the structures of the local conference leads to letting what should remain very personal lapse into anonymity.

The group of Bishops united in the conferences depends in their decisions upon other groups, upon commissions that have been established to prepare draft proposals. It happens then that the search for agreement between the different tendencies and the effort at mediation often yield flattened documents on which decisive positions (where they might be necessary) are weakened......

In many episcopal conferences, the group spirit and perhaps even the wish for a quiet, peaceful life, or conformism, lead the majority to accept the positions of active minorities bent upon pursuing clear goals.

[The above excerpts are only a sampling of the cardinal's ruthless analysis of the Church after Vatican-II, two decades since it ended. No one before then in the Church hierarchy had addressed the unwanted consequences of Vatican II. Ratzinger provoked the first major media uproar of his career [because he had raised the hackles of all the Church progressivists) just four years into being CDF Prefect, but it did lead John Paul II to call a special assembly of the Bishops' Synod in 1985 to consider how the Church had 'received' the teachings of Vatican II in the past 20 years.

I would suggest looking at George Weigel's eye-opening account of this in his JPII biography, Witness to Hope. In a way, the 1985 Synodal Assembly formalized Cardinal Ratzinger's analysis and resulted in some concrete results such as the decision to assemble and publish a modern Catechism of the Catholic Church, for which Cardinal Ratzinger's CDF was in charge.

So, the basic doctrine of the Church has been codified in modern form, incorporating the teachings of Vatican II presented according to Church Tradition and not in the hermeneutic of rupture. But while it is the standard guide now for Catholic orthodoxy - the basis, for instance, for receiving the Anglican converts under Anglicanorum coetibus is their profession of the Catholic faith as expressed in the Catechism - progressivists and cafeteria Catholics persist in their heteredoxy.]

Extracts from Anne Roche Muggeridge's book, Revolution in the Church:

The Holy Father has a depth of experience given to few; he has proved, over the past 5 years, or so, his capacity to embrace all elements within the faith and to draw them together in one, united Church - or, at least, a Church that is slowly moving in that direction.

Yet, so many laity seem to despise him; so many of the priesthood actively ignore him, and so many of the hierarchy fail to support him. [In fact, the basic overall negative consequence of Vatican II is the spread of cafeteria Catholicism - many within the Church took Vatican II to mean that every Catholic can now think and do as he pleases, pick and choose from Church what is convenient for him individually and ignore or defy whatever he disagrees with. If you disrespect the integrity of the doctrine of the Church, then it follows that you disrespect anyone who does, beginning with the Pope, whose duty it is to defend and confirm the Catholic faith as it has been handed down from Christ. Whatis most shocking and unacceptable is that this attitude has been adopted by not a few cardinals and bishops.]

Our Lord's words ring in my ears: "If you are not with Me you are against Me".

00domenica 16 gennaio 2011 15.06

Sunday, January 16, First Week in Ordinary Time
ST. BERARD AND 5 COMPANIONS (d Morocco, 1220)
First Franciscan Martyrs
Berard was personally received into the Franciscan Order by St. Francis in 1213.
By 1219, Francis decided the time had come to spread the Gospel to the Muslim
countries of North Africa. He chose Berard, who spoke Arabic and was an eloquent
preacher, with two other priests and three brothers to go to Morocco. They first
spent some time preaching in Spain and Portugal before crossing to Morocco.
Their preaching and denunciation of Islam immediately drew the ire of local rulers
who cast them into prison. When they steadfastly refused to renounce the faith,
the king himself beheaded them. When their remains were brought to Portugal,
their story inspired a young Augustinian canon to join the Franciscan order, going
on to gain enormous fame as Anthony of Padua, the greatest preacher of his day.
Berard and his companions were canonized in 1481.

Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
For Anglican pastors and faithful entering into full communion with the Catholic Church:
The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is instituted
Other papal stories in this issue are the Pope's audience with the Lutheran delegation from Finland on St. Henry's feast day; and his traditional New Year address to officials and members of the Italian security agents assigned to the Vatican. International news on Page 1: Rising food and oil prices worldwide threaten any current economic recovery; Tunisia's president flees the country after popular uprising against food shortage and unemployment, ending 23 years of dictatorship; Somalia appeals to the UN for help, saying 2.5 million Somalis are now threatened with famine. In the inside pages, a long interview with the Prefect of the Congregation for Saints in which he explains that both speed and absolute rigor characterized the process for John Paul II's beatification; an essay on the theme 'Honor thy father and mother' for tomorrow's observance of Catholic-Jewish dialog in Italy (also the first anniversary of Benedict XVI's first visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome); and the Vatican inaugurates its judicial year by considering the new laws passed recently which commit the Vatican to the European banking system's regulations against money laundering and financing of terrorist activities.


Angelus today - The Holy Father spoke on the World Day for Migrants and Refugees observed by the Church today, for which he proclaimed the theme 'The world is one single family'. After the prayers, he reiterated the announcement that he will be proclaiming the Venerable John Paul II 'Blessed' in rites on May 1, saying the event means joy for all who esteemed and loved his 'beloved predecessor', but he also called on everyone to be happy at the news. He also expressed his prayers for the victims of catastrophic floods in Australia, Brazil, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

00domenica 16 gennaio 2011 17.46



Pope marks World Day
for Migrants and Refugees


16 JAN 2011 (RV) - On the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian unity and on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Benedict spoke of the experience of the many men and women who are forced to leave their own country.

He said migration, which is sometimes voluntary, is sometimes "forced by war or persecution." The Pope said the Church - remembering the Holy Family - has always lived within itself the experience of migration.

But if on the one hand the movement of Christians would be an impoverishment for the countries where their ancestors lived, the Holy Father said, on the other it is an opportunity to increase the missionary zeal of the Word of God.

The theme of the papal message for the Day "One human family," affirms that all people are one community, implying that it is imperative that Christians, although scattered throughout the world and, therefore, of different cultures and traditions, may be one, as the Lord wishes.

He said this is the purpose of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins today, inspired this year by a passage from the Acts of the Apostles: "One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer”

The Pope also pointed out the Octave of Christian Unity is preceded, tomorrow, by the day of Jewish-Christian dialogue: a very significant juncture, which recalls the importance of the common roots that unite Jews and Christians.

After reciting the Angelus, Pope Benedict expressed his joy at the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II, which is on May 1st. He said the date is significant: it will be the Second Sunday of Easter, which he dedicated to the Divine Mercy, on the eve of which his earthly life ended. Pope Benedict said those who knew the late Pope, those who respected and loved him, cannot but rejoice with the Church for this event.

And finally, the Holy Father said he was praying specially for the flood victims in Australia, Brazil, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.


Dear brothers and sisters:

This Sunday is the World Day for Migrants and Refugees which calls on us every year to reflect on the experience of so many men and women, and so many families, who leave their own countries in search of better living conditions.

This migration is sometimes voluntary, but unfortunately, it is too often forced by war or persecutions, often, as we know, in tragic circumstances. That is why, 60 years ago, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) was instituted.

On the Feast of the Holy Family shortly after Christmas Day, we recalled that even the parents of Jesus had to flee, regretfully, their own land where their ancestors had lived.

On the other hand, the voluntary movements of Christians, for various reasons, from one city to another, from one country to another, from one continent to another, are an opportunity to increase the missionary dynamism of the Word of God and allow their witness to the faith to circulate better through the mystical Body of Christ, traversing peoples and cultures and reaching new frontiers and new environments.

'One single human family' is the theme for the message that I have issued for this day. It is a theme that indicates the purpose, the goal, of mankind's great journey through the centuries: to form one single family, with, of course, all the differences that enrich them reciprocally but without barriers, and in which we all recognize each other as brothers.

Thus the Second Vatican Council affirmed: "All peoples constitute one single community. They have one single origin, because God has made the entire human race to inhabit the face of the earth". It goes on: "The Church is in Christ like a sacrament, or as a sign and instrument, both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race"
(Lumen gentium, 1).

That is why it is fundamental that Christians, being dispersed all over the world, and therefore, having diverse cultures and traditions, be one thing only, as the Lord wishes it.

And this is the purpose of the Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians, which will take place in the next few days, from January 18-25. This year. it is inspired by a passage from the Acts of the Apostles: "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers"
(Acts 2,42).

The Octave for Christian Unity is preceded tomorrow by the Day of Jewish-Christian Dialog. It is a proximity that is very significant, recalling the importance of the common roots that unite Jews and Christians.

Addressing ourselves to the Virgin Mary in praying the Angelus, let us entrust to her protection all migrants and those who are doing pastoral work among them. Mary, Mother of the Church, obtain for us, moreover, that we may progress in the journey towards full communion of all the disciples of Christ.

After the prayers, he said this:

Dear brothers and sisters, as you know, on May first, I will have the joy of proclaiming 'Blessed' the Venerable Pope John Paul II, my beloved predecessor.

The date chosen is very significant. It will be the Second Sunday of Easter, whom he himself named as Divine Mercy Sunday, and on the eve of which he ended his earthly life.

Those who knew him, those who esteemed and loved him, cannot but rejoice with the Church for this event. Let us be happy!

I wish to assure special remembrance in my prayers for the peoples of Australia, Brazil, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, who have been stricken lately with devastating floods.

May the Lord welcome the souls of the departed, give strength to the homeless, and sustain the efforts of those who are doing all they can to relieve their suffering and discomforts.

In English, he said:

To all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, I extend heartfelt greetings.

On Tuesday next we begin the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I invite all of you to join me in praying earnestly for the gift of unity among the followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Upon all who are here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

And the Polish-speaking faithful, he said:

Dear Polish brothers and sisters:
I greet you all from the heart who are here in Rome, in Poland, and throughout the world. I share your joy at the announcement of the beatification of the Holy Father John Paul II, which will take place on May 1.

This news was very much awaited by everyone, and particularly by you, for whom my venerable predecessor was your guide in faith, in truth and in freedom. I wish you a profound spiritual preparation for this event, and I bless you from the heart.

00domenica 16 gennaio 2011 18.51

Pope and rabbi express joy over
the beatification of their friend

by Alan Holdren

Left, Rabbi Toaff welcomes John paul II to the Great Synagogue of Rome in April 1986; right, greeting Benedict XVI last January 17, 2010.

Vatican City, Jan 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - In their own words, two old friends of John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Rabbi Elio Toaff of Rome, are both happy for the recognition of his life through his coming beatification.

On Jan. 14, Benedict XVI signed an official decree recognizing the holiness of his predecessor, a major step on the late Pope's path to sainthood. On the same day, the Vatican announced that the beatification would be celebrated the Sunday after Easter, which is observed as Divine Mercy Sunday in the Catholic Church.

Since the announcement, excitement has been building and people from all over the globe such as his former personal secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz and Knights of Columbus chief Carl Anderson have expressed their happiness.

Two especially important figures in the life of Venerable John Paul II have now added their voices to the chorus of praise being offered for their friend.

At the Angelus today, Pope Benedict XVI announced the news to people gathered in St. Peter's Square. "Dear brothers and sisters, as you know, next May 1 I will have the joy of proclaiming Venerable John Paul II, my beloved predecessor, "Blessed."

The date, Divine Mercy Sunday, is "very significant” because it is at once a day proclaimed by John Paul II himself and also "the eve on which he finished his earthly life."

"All who knew him, all who esteemed and loved him," said the Pope, "cannot but rejoice with the Church for this event."

Speaking moments later in Polish, he told Poles that he shares in their joy over the chance to recognize their countryman. "This news was much awaited by all and, particularly, by you, for whom my venerable predecessor was a guide in faith, truth and liberty."

Benedict XVI hoped that they would undertake a "profound spiritual preparation" for the spring beatification.

Joining the Pope in expressing his happiness for the announcement was the retired Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff.

According to Italy's La Stampa, the rabbi reacted to the news with joy. "Clearly the beatification is a fact internal to the Catholic Church," he said. "In any case, it is a recognition of a great Pope and a great man who I knew very well. And this cannot give me anything but pleasure."

Rabbi Toaff was the head of the Jewish community from 1951 – 2001, which coincided in large part with John Paul II's pontificate from 1978 - 2005. He was Chief Rabbi at the time John Paul II made the first visit to a synagogue by a Pope since Peter.

In a report on Sunday morning, Vatican Radio recalled Toaff's brotherly relationship with the pontiff which began with a private meeting in Rome in 1981. John Paul II later made his historic visit to the Great Synagogue at his invitation in April 1986, a big step in Jewish-Catholic relations in the city and in the world.

As Pope Benedict recalled in a message to the rabbi for his birthday last May, the two religious leaders shared a commitment to dialogue and a "sincere friendship."


The Vicariate of Rome maintains the following multilingual site, with news and documentation related to the cause for John Paul II's canonization:

It also has a prayer for his intercession in several languages.

00domenica 16 gennaio 2011 23.33


See preceding page for earlier posts today, 1/16/11.


Another sign of a strong Papacy:
Benedict XVI names a Protestant
to head the Vatican's Science Academy

by Luigi Accattoli
Translated from
January 16, 2011

Pope Benedict has named a Protestant - the Swiss Werner Arber, a Nobel Prize laureate in medicine - to head the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. It is a bit of news that augurs well for the health of Benedict XVI's Pontificate, whom this and other decisions in recent weeks show to be in no way intimidated nor closed in on himself as those who are prejudiced would persist in depicting him.

Without in any way encroaching on the great shadow cast by Papa Wojtyla, whose beatification in record time Benedict announced day before yesterday, and without bringing up complex questions like the umprecedented new financial measures he promulgated on December 30 - though both are important markers of progress - we can also cite two other recent actions this Pope has taken in the ecumenical field, which allow us to give the right context to the novelty of having a Protestant president for a pontifical academy.

On the first day of the year. Benedict announced his convocation of a third inter-religious day of prayer in Assisi next October on the 25th anniversary of the first event, and yesterday he instituted the first Personal Ordinariate to accommodate Anglicans who are joining the Catholic Church, and naming as the first Ordinary - equivalent in rank to a diocesan bishop - a married ex-Anglican bishop, now a Catholic priest.

Getting back to the Calvinist president of the Academy of Sciences, in order to understand this unprecedented decision, we must recall the conviction often expressed by Cardinal Ratzinger that "even outside the Catholic Church, there are many true Christians, and many who are truly Christian".

But there is a more specific reason, focused on the fact that the new Academy president is a physician: Cardinal Ratzinger also maintained on important occasions that Christians of every denomination "must atrive to render common witness on the great moral questions".

Papa Ratzinger is confident that in Werner Arber, a Reformed Evangelical, he has an ally for this 'common witness' in the increasingly contested field of bioethics.

00lunedì 17 gennaio 2011 05.53

The first great 'dictionary'
of Benedict XVI's teachings

by Massimo Introvigne
Translated from
January 15, 2011


Pedro Jesús Lasanta, a Spanish diocesan priest and author of many works on the Magisterium, has offered us an extraordinary work. His Diccionario doctrinal de Benedicto XVI: Cinco años de pontificado (Doctrinal dictionary of Benedict XVI: Five years of his Pontificate)(Editorial Horizonte, Logroño 2010) is an encyclopedia of the first five years of Benedict XVI.

Except for a brief introduction, This truly monumental work - 1,580 pages - does not contain any comment by the compiler. The alphabetized subjects, from 'Abandonment to the will of God' to 'Volunteer work', passing through themes like "the Rosary', 'organ donation', 'ecology', 'homosexuality' or 'jails', correspond to a compilation in chronological order of passages from Benedict XVI's texts and discourses.

In all, there are 5,161 citations, numbered from 1 to 5,161 for faster reference. The most important topics are subdivided into sub-themes. For example, the theme 'Prayer' is subdivided into 'The action of the Holy Spirit on the soul', 'The importance and necessity of prayer', and 'Components oand expressions of the spirit in prayer".

The work is valuable as an immediate and practical reference on the teaching of Benedict XVI on hundreds of topics that he has touched upon in the first five years of his Pontificate. Obviously, an encyclopedic dictionary of this kind cannot be 'summarized'.

But one can try to cite, at least by way of exa,ple, some theme or some central concern which, so to speak, governs the hierarchy of topics. Under 'Relativism', there are 22 citations.

One might recall that on April 18, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his homily for the Mass pro eligendo Pontefice before the Conclave opened which he celebrated as Dean of the College of Cardinals, had first introduced the phrase 'dictatorship of relativism' that quickly became famous.

"How many winds of doctrine", said he, "have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: 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... "

"Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be 'tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine', seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires".

In Don Lasanta's dictionary, which does not cite texts by Cardinal rAtzinger before he became Pope, to which he previously dedicated a similarly monumental work, we can appreciate how the Pope has frequently returned to the core of his April 18, 2005 homily.

The theme is central in all of his Magisterium. Through any means including violence, and with an enormous propaganda apparatus which threatens to crush any opposition, the proponents of relativism today continue to seek to impose the new dogma according to which truth does not exist - that only opinions and desires do. It is a world in which everything is considered right, and therefore nothing is.

Worse, even reason no longer exists, at least not in the classic sense, which, as the Pope reminds us, comes from the Greek legacy which was nurtured and defined by Christianity as an instrument capable of recognizing reality and its truth.

What remains today is a reason that is instrumentalized, which is no longer measured by what is true but by what is useful. The errors and horrors of modernity have shown this instrumentalized reason as a violent reason.

If the unit of measure is not what is real but that which 'succeeds', then the 'reason that has reason' is that which wins out, which shouts the loudest and which eliminates the opposition because it has more power or money, because it has a stronger army or bombs that are more powerful.

The passages in the Dictionary that are dedicated to religions, to religious freedom, to inter-religios dialog, confirm how Benedict has dedicated his Pontificate to fighting both fundamentalism, in which a hypertrophy of faith leads to an elimination of reason, and to laicism or secularism, where the hypertrophy of reason eliminates faith.

In both cases, the human experience is diminished and ultimately fails, and history is stained by blood generated by a violence that no one is able to control any more.

In theory, others [besides the Ctholic Church] have the task of defending reason. But the corrosive action of relativism is such that today, reason finds few friends and defenders. And here is where Benedict XVI enters the arena in the name of reason, with the teachings cited in the sections undr 'Reason" and 'Rationalism'.

Indeed, without natural truths, there cannot be the possibility of being open to supernatural truths. If reason, which first became rationalism and then relativism, refuses to recognize that truth exists, then it will not recogzine any truths at all, much less, truths of a religious nature.

The Pope of faith as well as reason, Benedict XVI has transmitted to us, in his first five years alone, a Magisterium that is infinitely rich. Don Lasanta's work, which one hopes will soon have an Italian edition, gives us within one volume a measure of this richness.

Here is an earlier review of the book by another Spanish diocesan priest (it is remarkable and unusual not just how many books are written about Benedict XVI in Spain but how many diocesan priests are writing these books!) Fr. Morado holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and writes a blog called 'Puerta de Damasco' (The Damascus Gate) for the excellent Spanish Catholic website Infocatolica.

May there be more years -
and volumes - of these teachings
from our present Pope!

by Guillermo Juan Morado
November 9, 2010

Pedro Jesús Lasanta is a priest in Logroño, with doctorates in canon law, theology and civil law, who is the author of many other books published by Horizonte.

His Diccionario doctrinal de Benedicto XVI is an ambitious work which seeks to bring the Holy Father's teachings in a convenient way to the wider public. The various topics - from 'abandonment' to 'volunteer work' - assemble a selection of texts from the Pope about these specific topics: altogether 5,161 passages of varying lengths from Benedict XVI's texts,

The general index, at the start of the book, has a complete list of these topics. The analytic Index (pp 1451-1575) assembles at the end the epigraphs of every citation made.

Father Lasanta has done what many of us would have wanted to do: To elaborate an ample dossier that gathers the teachings of this Pope on several subjects. A desirable task, without a doubt, but which would daunt most of us before being able to undertake it.

The author of this 'dictionary' has faced the challenge competently and successfully. Each selected citation has the date and origin or occasion for the text, making clear if it comes from an address, a homily, an encyclcial, etc.

It provides a tool that is most useful for study purposes as well as a guide for pastoral activity. It is true that the papal texts are easily accessible on the Vatican website, but without the aid of something like this Dictionary, it is almost impossible to recall what Benedict XVI has said or written about a topic and how often.

Ultimately, without taking anything from Fr. Lasanta's effort, the greatness of this Dictionary reflects the greatness of the Pope's thinking - which is mature and profound, which unites beauty of words with the certainty of expressing well and intelligibly the content of the faith.

One can only congratulate the author of this initiative. One can only hope that successive volumes of this Dictionary will assemble many more years of teaching by our current Pope!

Beyond the 'Collected Works'

Unfortunately, I have not been able to keep up with the books coming out about Benedict XVI even if I limited it only to those written in the ew languages that I can read.

But one assumes the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis is doing that, as it has done for everything he wrote for publication - articles included, and in all languages - until he became Pope. That is available in DAS WERK (The Work), published by the Schuelerkreis in September 2009.


- DAS WERK is a 448-page bibliography that also provides a summary of the content of each book or article. It is edited by Vincenz Schnur, who studied under Prof. Ratzinger in Tuebingen. Available only in German, the book sells for about 60 euro. Two other recent publications by the Schuelerkreis are:

- GESPRAECH UEBER JESUS, published in 2010, which presents the texts and discussions of the 2008 Schulerkreis seminar in Castel Gandolfo about the person of Jesus of Nazareth, with German Biblical scholars Martin Hengel and Peter Stuhlmacher as resource persons. The seminar took place while Benedict XVI was completing Vol. 2 of his Jesus book. The Schuelerkreis book is said to serve as a hinge between the two volumes of JON.

- EIN UNBEKANNTER RATZINGER, published in 2010, written by Hansjuergen Vermeyen, another SK member and a theologian who has written several books including biographies of St. Anselm of Canterbury and Karl Rahner. He writes about Joseph Ratzinger's unabridged 1955 Habilitation dissertation as the key to his theology and his work in the Second Vatican Council.

- Also illuistrated above is JOSEPH RATZINGER/BENEDIKT XVI: Die Entwicklung seines Denkens (The development of his thought), an earlier book by Verweyen, published in 2007.

00lunedì 17 gennaio 2011 14.35

Monday, January 17
Illustration, second from Left: The Torment of St. Anthony, Michelangelo. 1487.
ST. ANTHONY THE GREAT (Anthony Abbot) (Egypt, 251-356)
Coptic monk and abbot, Father of Monasticism
Just as St. Jerome wrote the biography of Anthony's great contemporary, St. Paul the Hermit, St. Athanasius wrote Anthony's,
which led to spreading the concept of monasticism in Europe. Born to wealthy parents, he decided at age 34 to give up all his
wealth and live an ascetic life. He was the first to do this in the wilderness, spending 13 years in the desert the first time
around. He would return to such solitude in later periods of his life, once as long as 20 years, where hw was said to have
fought monumental battles with the devil. The 'temptations of St. Anthony' became the subject for many paintings through the
centuries. With his reputation for prayer and personal mortification, he attracted many people to him for spiritual healing and
guidance. At age 54, he founded a monastery for which he drew rules based on 'ora et labora' anticipating the famous Rule of
Benedict of Norcia centuries later. In his 70s, Athanasius enlisted him to defend the faith against the Arian heresy. He
attended the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 A.D. to present this defense. He visited Paul the Hermit one year before
the latter's death, and buried him later. He himself died at age 105 in his beloved monastery (still an active one, it is located
in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, about 100 miles southeast of Cairo; extreme right photo in the panel).

Readings for today's Mass:


The Holy Father met today with

- Madame Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

- The community of the Pontificio Istituto Ecclesiastico Polacco in Rome on teh 100th anniversary of its foundation.
Address in Italian.

- Members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. Address in Italian.

One year ago today, Benedict XVI visited the Great Synagogue of Rome, his third visit to a synagogue.

00lunedì 17 gennaio 2011 14.59

Rome scrambles to prepare
for 2 million pilgrims


VATICAN CITY, Jan. 16 (AP) – Crowd control experts were rushing to ready Rome for an estimated 2 million pilgrims for Pope John Paul II's beatification on May 1, when the city will be thronged with Easter week tourists.

No tickets or invitations will be necessary — as many faithful who want to be there to see the Polish-born Pontiff beatified, the last formal step before possible sainthood, can come, a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Saturday.

"We don't give estimates" of the size of the crowds who will come, said Benedettini. But Italian news reports say authorities in Rome were planning for 2 million pilgrims.

With St. Peter's Square and the boulevard leading from the Tiber to the Vatican able to hold a few hundred thousand people, large video screens are expected to be set up in nearby streets so the spillover crowd can watch the ceremony led by Pope Benedict XVI.

The last turnout so big in Rome was the 3 million mourners for John Paul's funeral and other ceremonies following his death in April 2005 after he struggled for years with Parkinson's disease.

Even the more popular ceremonies in his papacy didn't come near to drawing so many faithful. When an ailing John Paul beatified Mother Teresa in 2003 in St. Peter's Square, 300,000 pilgrims attended. Padre Pio's sainthood ceremony, led by John Paul in June 2002, saw about 200,000 faithful swelter the square in one of the larger turnouts in his 26-year-long papacy.

In 2000, about 700,000 young Catholics streamed into Rome for church World Youth Day events stretched out over several days at locations throughout the city as well as at the Vatican.

La Stampa, an Italian daily, said the national civil protection agency personnel hope to rein in any chaos by meeting pilgrims' buses and channeling the faithful down selected streets to the square.

Easter falls on April 24, meaning Rome's hotels will be brimming with Easter week tourists, when many students are on school break and families pour into Italy, so organizers might look to Romans to open their homes to pilgrims.

May 1 is also national labor day, and traditional May Day concerts near the Basilica of St. John in Lateran usually draw hundreds of thousands of young people from throughout Italy to enjoy the free music.

On Friday, Benedict set the date for beatification after declaring that a French nun's recovery from Parkinson's disease was the miracle needed for John Paul to be beatified. A second miracle, attributed to John Paul's intercession after the beatification ceremony, will be needed for the widely popular Pontiff to be formally honored with sainthood.

Once he is beatified, John Paul will be given the title "blessed" and can be publicly venerated.

Veneration is the word commonly used to refer to that worship given to saints, either directly or through images or relics, which is different in kind from the divine worship given to God only, according to reference work, the Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary.

John Paul's entombed remains, currently in the grotto underneath St. Peter's Basilica, will be moved upstairs to a chapel just inside a main entrance for easier access by throngs of admirers.

A cursory and belated wrap-up of Poland's reaction to the news... I have not had the time to look up any English sources in Poland itself.

Polish leaders hail JPII beatification

WARSAW, January 16 (AFP) - Leading Poles including former President Lech Walesa last Friday hailed the Vatican decision to beatify the late Polish-born Pope John Paul II on May 1.

“I am doubly happy. Firstly, because a man who was a living saint will officially become a saint. Our Pope did great things,” anti-communist Solidarity trade union founder Walesa told AFP.

“Without him, there would have been no Solidarity in Poland. It was the Polish Pope and Solidarity that contributed to the disappearance of communism in Europe in the 20th century,” he said.

Historians agree that the 1978 election of Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla to the papacy inspired the rise of Poland’s 10-million strong anti-communist Solidarity movement in 1980.

By 1989, under Walesa’s leadership, Solidarity negotiated a peaceful end to communism in Poland, making it the first country in the Soviet bloc to eschew the system.

By 1991, the Soviet Union crumbled putting an end to the bipolar world of the Cold War.

“It’s possible that our great friend, once he becomes a saint, will help us from on high to solve our problems in Poland, Europe and the world,” Walesa said last Friday.

In the southern city of Krakow Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the late Pope’s former personal secretary and one of his closest friends for 40 years, said Poland was “overjoyed”.

“Speaking in the name of the diocese, in the name of Krakow and, I think, in the name of all of Poland, I’m overjoyed,” Mgr Dziwisz told reporters in the city where John Paul II served as a cardinal.

“I want to express my great gratitude to the Holy Father for the decree necessary for this beatification,” Mgr Dziwisz said.

John Paul II is to be beatified on May 1 – a key step on the path to sainthood – the Vatican announced last Friday after his successor Pope Benedict XVI signed an official decree.

“Personally, I’m overwhelmed by it, even though I knew him since almost my youth (...) When the news arrived, I felt overwhelmed that John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla, will be beatified and canonised.”

“It’s an incredible feeling: I’ve understood how a husband whose wife has been canonised must feel,” Mgr Dziwisz added.

The process of beatification is usually lengthy, but calls for John Paul to be canonised came immediately after his death in April 2005 at the Vatican, at the age of 84.

Pope Benedict himself will conduct the ceremony in St Peter’s Basilica, according to Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.

May 1 falls this year on the first Sunday after Easter, which is the Feast of the Divine Mercy, a devotion promoted by John Paul II.

Italian media had suggested the beatification ceremony would take place on Sunday, April 3, the day after the sixth anniversary of John Paul’s death.

But Lombardi said that the date fell during Lent, traditionally a period of penitence for the Church as it commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, and “was not the ideal time” for a “joyous” ceremony.

Works are under way in St Peter’s Basilica to make space for Pope John Paul II’s tomb. As is traditional, the Pope’s remains will be moved up from the crypt to the nave of the basilica after he is beatified.

Preparations are being made in the Chapel of St Sebastian, on the right-hand side of the nave, between the Chapel of Michelangelo’s Pietà and the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament.

The ex-pontiff’s body “will not be displayed, it will be placed in a tomb closed by a simple marble tombstone with the words: Beatus Ioannes Paulus II,” (Blessed John Paul II), Lombardi said.

The beatification follows the announcement last week that the Congregation of the Causes for Saints had approved the Polish Pope’s first miracle. The commission confirmed that French nun Marie Simon-Pierre was miraculously cured of Parkinson’s disease through the intercession of John Paul II.

The following CNS story is dated January 14 but it was not posted until today since CNS does not register any activity at all on weekends...

For many, beatification announcement
confirms long-held sentiment

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (CNS) -- The news of Pope John Paul II's upcoming beatification was welcomed by many as a confirmation of something they already felt from the moment the shouts of "Santo subito!" ("Sainthood now!") reverberated through St. Peter's Square at the Pontiff's funeral.

Many in the crowd were young people who had a special affinity to Pope John Paul, whose pontificate started and ended with a special greeting to young people. During his installation ceremony in 1978, the newly named Pope told young people: "You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the church, you are my hope."

And his last words, reportedly delivered hours before his death, were also to youths, in response to the thousands of young people praying and singing in St. Peter's Square.

"I sought you and now you have come to me. ... I thank you," said the Pontiff, who died April 2, 2005 at age 84.

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, founder and CEO of Canada's Salt and Light Television, said it was no coincidence that he heard the news of the Pontiff's beatification while attending a meeting in Spain for the upcoming World Youth Day.

"A thunderous, sustained, standing ovation followed the announcement," he said in a Jan. 14 statement.

The priest, national director for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, said the date for the beatification, May 1, is also no coincidence. Not only is it Divine Mercy Sunday, but it is also the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, known as "May Day" on secular calendars.

"Communists and socialists around the world commemorate May Day with marches, speeches and festivals," he said, adding that it was fitting that "the man who was a unique instrument and messenger in bringing down the Iron Curtain and the deadly reign of communism and godlessness will be declared blessed" that day.

Father Rosica said the announcement is "the formal confirmation of what many of us always knew as we experienced the Holy Father in action throughout his pontificate" particularly among youths, noting that one of the Pope's gifts to the Church was his establishment of World Youth Day.

Tim Massie, the chief public affairs officer and adjunct professor of communication and religious studies at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., called the news of Pope John Paul II's upcoming beatification a "morale boost" especially for Catholics in the United States "where sex abuse scandals, financial crises and disagreements with church hierarchy have dramatically affected parishes, dioceses and the faithful in the pews."

Because of the Pope's extensive travels in the United States, he said, "there are literally millions of people who were touched by his charisma and holiness."

The Pope visited the United States seven times and in each visit urged Catholics to use their freedom responsibly and to preserve the sacredness and value of human life.

In an e-mail to Catholic News Service, Massie said the "general public already considers John Paul II a saint and those who saw him, listened to him, prayed with him, already believed they met a saint -- not a future saint, but someone who, like Mother Teresa, lived out the Gospel message in his everyday life."

Michele Dillon, who chairs the department of sociology at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, said she believes most American Catholics will welcome John Paul II's beatification.

She described him as the "first cosmopolitan pope for a cosmopolitan age, and his warm, energetic, and telegenic personality served him well on his many trips to all parts of the globe."

Dillon remarked that it would "be interesting to see whether his beatification, at this time of uncertain commitment among the faithful, will reignite a new spark of Church engagement especially among the generation who as teenagers turned out in force" for World Youth Day events.

Dennis Doyle, University of Dayton religious studies professor, noted that many U.S. Catholics didn't understand the Pope and wondered how he "could be liberal on social issues but yet so conservative on church issues. He was consistent in a way that was difficult for some people in the U.S. to understand."

"But ultimately, he is being beatified because he was loved throughout the world and is recognized iconically as a holy person," he added.

Tony Melendez, the armless guitarist whose embrace by Pope John Paul electrified an audience during the Pope's 1987 visit to Los Angeles, said he had always considered his encounters with the Pontiff "like I got to meet a living saint."

Melendez, in a phone interview with CNS while en route to his Missouri home, said he got to see Pope John Paul six more times, including a private audience at the Vatican about a year and a half after the 1987 U.S. pastoral visit.

"He remembered me," Melendez remarked. "And he said, 'Oh! My friend from Los Angeles!' without me saying anything. He hugged my head after I was (done) playing a song. ... To me, he was a wonderful man who did great things."

Told of the May 1 beatification date, Melendez said, "If I can be there, I want to go. I'll make some time to go. He was a living saint, in my heart."

Vatican officials and Catholics
on the street talk about John Paul II

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 14 (CNS) -- Vatican officials, Catholic leaders around the world and ordinary people on the streets and in St. Peter's Square were more pleased than surprised by news that Pope John Paul II will be beatified May 1.

Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, retired prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, said, "finally" more than once during a brief conversation Jan. 14 just minutes after Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree recognizing the miracle needed to beatify Pope John Paul.

"This is what the whole world was waiting for," said Cardinal Saraiva Martins, who was the head of the saints congregation when Pope John Paul died and when his sainthood cause was opened.

"I can't help being happy. This is the crowning moment of a work I began," he said.

The cardinal said the written work of Pope John Paul is so vast and the time before his beatification so short that the best "spiritual preparation" Catholics could make would be to "thank God for Pope John Paul's example of holiness and recommit ourselves to follow his example."

Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, said Pope John Paul's upcoming beatification is a "call to each of us to emulate his personal holiness."

Anderson, who stood in St. Peter's Square on the day of Pope John Paul's funeral as many shouted "Santo subito!" ("Sainthood now!"), said there were many who were ready to have him beatified that very day.

In an e-mail to Catholic News Service, Anderson called the upcoming beatification a great opportunity for the world to focus on the Pope's message of human dignity.

"He led by example, caring for the poor, the intellectually and physically disabled, the unborn, the oppressed. He forgave those who did him harm, and he broke down barriers. He had great respect even for those who differed with him religiously. In short, Pope John Paul is a model the world needs," he said.

Anderson said the beatification is not a recognition of the Pope's "successful papacy or a thank-you for his good work" but a call for each person to "imitate the holiness, the love of God and neighbor that this man exhibited throughout his life."

Jim Nicholson, a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, who also attended Pope John Paul's funeral, said the vast crowd that day was a testament to the Pope's exceptional qualities "of leadership and hope."

In a phone call from his Washington law office, Nicholson told CNS he was "extremely pleased" for the Pontiff, whom he frequently described as a "hope-filled freedom fighter." During his 2001-2005 role as ambassador, he got to know Pope John Paul pontiff personally and said he greatly admired his "adherence to hope, faith and prayer, coupled with courage and clever actions."

Jim Young, a Presbyterian from Ohio, was in St. Peter's Square when the beatification announcement was made. He said his only real reaction was that he'd better make sure he found some Pope John Paul souvenirs because "I'm related to a bunch of Polish Catholics who were already convinced he's a saint."

Giovanni Caponi, one of the souvenir-sellers who has a stand on the boulevard leading to St. Peter's Square, said the news will be good for business.

From a sales point of view, "John Paul is our most popular figure. No one greater exists. He's No. 1," said Caponi, who described himself as a nonbeliever.

Kaitlin Benedict, a 21-year-old Catholic from Eden, N.Y., said she thought the decision to beatify Pope John Paul just over six years after his death "is a little fast. I was surprised. Usually these things take decades and now they're just changing up tradition. But if they feel so strongly ...," she said, her voice trailing off.

Brigida Jones, a 26-year-old Australian from Melbourne, said Pope John Paul "was probably one of our best Popes; he was a people's Pope."

The young woman said, "I think he did so much when he was alive, and you'd just see him on television and get this sense of peace -- obviously he was holy."

00lunedì 17 gennaio 2011 17.12

Mons. Negri prepares his diocese
to host Benedict XVI in June


ROME, JAN. 14, 2011 ( The yearnings of the human heart find their answer in the witness given by Benedict XVI, according to an Italian prelate who will host the Pope for a June visit to his diocese.

Bishop Luigi Negri of San Marino-Montefeltro is making an appeal for a deepening in the faith in view of the pastoral visit that the Holy Father will make to San Marino next June 19.

The bishop announced that the definitive program of the visit will be published on the diocesan Web site in the coming days. It is a program, he said, "that certainly imposes sacrifices" on the Bishop of Rome.

Benedict XVI will arrive in San Marino early in the morning of June 19. After a visit to the institutions of the republic, he will concelebrate Mass in the Serravalle Stadium with all the bishops of Emilia-Romagna and with many others who, coming from Italian and foreign dioceses, have been invited to this event, and also with all the priests present.

The concelebration will end with the recitation of the Angelus. Both the Mass and the recitation of the Angelus will be broadcast live by the television of San Marino and by Italian Radio and Television (RAI).

In the afternoon, the Holy Father will go to diocesan headquarters at Pennabilli, and in the square in front of the cathedral he will meet with all the young people of the diocese.

"My spirit is overwhelmed with gratitude and a sense of great responsibility; let us prepare ourselves, my brothers, for this event of grace that Providence is offering us to enhance our faith," said Bishop Negri.

"We renew the fundamental experience of faith as communion with the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer; let us live ecclesial life with intensity and regularity, above all in the participation of the sacraments; let us live charity in encounters with our brothers, above all with those who are in need or actually in indigence," the 69-year-old bishop added.

The prelate called for a deepening in the "culture that is born of faith, above all in what concerns the ultimate mystery of the Church and in it the presence and function of the Holy Father."

"Above all, however," he encouraged, "let us live this event for which we are preparing as a proposal for all our brothers […] because the Pope is the highest witness on earth of Christian life, which is a true, good and beautiful life, and therefore is the life that is full of answers to the fundamental needs of the heart of every man."

The last trip of a Pope to this land was that of John Paul II on Aug. 29, 1982, on the occasion of his visit to all the dioceses of the pastoral region of Emilia-Romagna, initiated in Bologna on April 18 of the same year.

00lunedì 17 gennaio 2011 20.53
Some reflections on Popes
and their personal holiness, etc

Of course, it is a human tendency to focus on John Paul II at this time because he is being beatified. But comments like those given by the prominent Catholics cited in the CNS stories above would give the impression that John Paul II is the only Pope in recent memory to have been recognized as holy in his lifetime, nor for that matter, the only Pope whose human virtues must be emulated.

It would be nice to for some to remind the world for a change that, of the Popes since the mid-19th century, Pius X has been canonized; Pius IX, Pius XI and John XIII have been beatified; and Pius XII, Paul VI and John Paul I are being 'processed' for beatification (it has been reported that a 'beatification miracle' is under study for both Pius XXII and John Paul I).

I feel bad about Leo XIII and Benedict XV who appear to have been left off from consideration, but I have no doubt both Popes could well be considered if their respective dioceses took the initiative.

And of course, the most obviously overlooked in all this is the present Pope himself, whose personal holiness is not questioned even by those among his worst critics who are well-informed, and who - I think no one would dispute it - is a living Doctor of the Church. Most importantly, he is the one individual who sets the example of shining Christian witness daily and publicly to the entire world.

I am not arguing that Popes should automatically be considered for sainthood. Popes have not always been inspirational figures, as history tells us abundantly. But the Church does appear to be blessed in the era of the modern papacy with Popes whose election may well have been the action of the Holy Spirit, each of whom was inspirational in his time.

Perhaps the Conclaves that elected each of the modern Popes were enlightened in their choice by the demands of the times when they made their choice, so that each historical period somehow got the right Pope. But certainly no one has characterized any of the modern Popes as rascals.

In fact, even the Popes who have been most anathematized by their detractors for misunderstood episodes - Pius IX with his denunciation of modern errors; Pius X who was such a champion of Tradition that the FSSPX is named after him; Pius XII with respect to the Holocaust; Paul VI and his perceived ambivalences over Vatican II, and Papa Wojtyla himself, whose record is considered by some to be 'clouded' by the shadow of the sex-abuse scandals and his friendship with Father Maciel - are faulted for not being 'perfect', not for being unholy.

Some have argued that Popes should not be considered for sainthood at all because they enjoy an unfair advantage over 'lesser mortals'. That seems so illogical, because by definition, the spiritual leader of the Church - officially the Vicar of Christ on earth - should be more worthy than any other priest to be the Vicar of Christ, and their election would seem to be proof that their peers in the Church thought so, as well. In this light, every Pope should be a candidate for sainthood! And if the individual Pope is indeed a holy man, why should he be discriminated against?

The argument that Popes have an unfair advantage is equally fallacious - there are so few of them as to make a difference. Cardinal Amato says that the Congregation of Saints has about 3,000 causes pending. Of those, we are aware of six modern Popes.

The best argument, of course, is to cite the hundreds of humble folk - priests, religious and laymen - whom the Church has beatified and canonized in the past several decades, to limit ourselves to recent memory. The Church is not responsible for the miracles that lead to the beatification and canonization of candidate saints nor for the timing of these miracles, which for the most part, determine the fate and timing of each individual cause.

The whole Church celebrates, or should, whenever any one candidate for sainthood - whether he was a great Pope as Karol Wojtyla was, or a dying Roman teenager like Chiara Badano who inspired those around her with the luminous strength of her faith - hurdles the formal requirement for a 'certified' miracle, because new blesseds and saints are not just examples of Christian witness as Christ wants each of us to be, but because the miracles associated with them - events that are inexplicable by science - are extraordinary signs of God that are visible and tangible to a world where many people deny the existence of God.

P.S. As I wrote this reflection when I cross-posted the JPII-beatification storeis in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread, I failed to note the synchronicity of Mons. Negri's observation in the story above about Benedict XVI's visit to San Marino-Montefeltro and the Pope's example of Christian witness as an appropriate point of spiritual preparation for his visit.


Beatification no surprise - but
still, a great day for the Church

By William Oddie
Monday, 17 January 2011

Nobody is surprised by the declaration that Pope John Paul is to be beatified on May 1. It is almost a beatification by public acclaim: the cries of “Santo Subito” that went up in the streets of Rome at his funeral were a sign that his heroic virtue had become universally understood, not merely in his manner of dying, but for many years before that.

The Catholic Herald and the Catholic Truth Society, to mark the 25th anniversary of his papacy in 2003, had jointly published a collection of essays (which I edited) under the title John Paul the Great.

When I read on Friday that his beatification had been announced, I reread what I had written then. I quote here the last paragraph of my introduction, simply as one contemporary example of what had by then become the general perception.

The Pope’s poor health had led to calls for his resignation; how could someone suffering so much be expected to lead the Church? That was the question. But it was precisely his courage in the face of suffering which was so inspiring, which gave his leadership of the Church such huge spiritual power. This is what I wrote; and I think it is an accurate indication of what nearly everyone had come to understand:

Be not afraid: it has become almost the watchword for his papacy: not because he has obsessively repeated it for others to follow, but because he has lived it out himself.

He is in constant pain; his hands shake with Parkinson’s disease; and still he does not spare himself. The older and more frail he becomes, the more his courage shines out, and the nearer his papal service comes to being a kind of living martyrdom.

The word “indomitable” springs to mind; and for an Englishman of my generation that will tend to be followed by the word “Churchillian”: for surely in the spiritual warfare of our age this is one of the great heroes of the faith, not merely a great warrior himself, but an inspirer in others of the great knightly virtues of honour and courage and constancy and persistence to the end.

In due course, it will be for the Church to declare if this has been the life of one of her saints: but certainly, by any human measure, his qualities have amounted to greatness of the highest order: it is surely very hard to believe that that will not be the verdict of history, too.

Pope Benedict has constantly referred to his greatness: he called him “the great Pope John Paul II” in his first address from the loggia of St Peter’s Church; he referred to him as “the Great” in his homily for the Mass of Repose, and has continued to refer to him in this way.

This has also been a growing custom among the faithful; in the US, the names of the John Paul the Great Catholic University and other educational establishments have reflected it.

But greatness is not necessarily holiness: here, though, they are inseparable. And now the Church has, indeed, declared herself. On May 1, the first stage towards his eventual canonisation will take place.

It is clear that the present Pope, who knew him so well, has given his cause a fair wind: but he has done no more than make possible what is very close to being a consensus fidelium.

In fact, he has done more! Judging from the reaction of some Catholics, Benedict XVI was in a no-win, damned-whatevere-you-do situation with respect to the beatification.

Some fault him for 'expediting and facilitating' his predecessor's cause, playing favorites, as it were. They think a more 'normal' time interval should have been observed, or that, like Pius XII's cause has been considerably held up because of a disute over his 'silence' on the Holocaust, so too should John Paul II's cause have been kept on hold, until questions about his knowledge of the sex-qabuse scandal and his friendship with Fr. Maciel are cleared up. (Again, given human nature which tends to suspect the worst instead of believing the best, such 'doubts' will never be cleared up to everyone's satisfaction, so inaction on account of doubts like this is never an advisable course. That is why a miracle or two is a sine qua non for sainthood - miracles do not depend on human activity or reason but entirely on divine manifestation.]

On the other hand, if Benedict XVI had treated the Wojtyla cause as just another cause that was in no way exceptional, in order to 'observe the proprieties' as the politically correct would have liked him to do, he would have interposed himself unnecessarily and unwisely against a widespread consensus fidelium such as Oddie decribes in his essay.

And Papa Wojtyla's cause was doubtless exceptional for all the reasons Oddie cites. A cause that deserved, at the very least, the same deference John Paul himself ahd shown when he expedited the cause for Mother Teresa.

With that formal precedent, and with the staggering evidence of the consensus fidelium in the magnitude and degree of the universal mourning that followed his predecessor's death, Benedict XVI would have been obliged to do what he did, even without the demands of 'Santo subito!', and by his own personal sense of what is right and what needs to be done.

Let us pray to John Paul II that, along with the other Popes in heaven, he may continue to watch over Benedict XVI and the Church, and intercede for God's grace and blessings in their behalf.

00martedì 18 gennaio 2011 00.13

A 'syllabus of errors' for the 21st century?
A document condemning mistaken interpretations of Vatican Council II -
as Pius IX condemned what he considered to be the errors of modernity -
has been requested by the German-born Bishop of Kazakhstan, at a recent conference in Rome.
Also prompting strong objections is Benedict XVI's announcement of an inter-religious meeting in Assisi.


ROME, January 14, 2011 – The announcement by Benedict XVI after the Angelus on New Year's Day, that he will go to Assisi next October for a new meeting for peace of the world's religious leaders, has re-ignited the controversy not only over the so-called "spirit of Assisi," but also over Vatican Council II and the post-council.

Professor Roberto de Mattei – who has just published a history of the Council which ends with the request that Benedict XVI promote "a new examination" of Vatican II documents in order to dispel the suspicion that they broke with traditional Church teaching – has joined a few other Catholic figures in signing an appeal to the Pope to reconsider his decision on an Assisi-III.

In order, they say, "not to re-ignite the syncretistic confusion" of the first Assisi meeting convened on October 27, 2986, by John Paul II in the city of Saint Francis.

Then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger did not go to that first meeting, of which he was critical. [That's not a fair presentation of what happened. I don't think he was part of the program at all, and he expressed his criticisms of Assisi-I publicly long after the event - when it also became known that he had reviewed the texts of what John Paul II intended to say in Assisi and suggested some changes which were apparently accepted by the Pope. In fact, we have now learned that Cardinal Ratzinger was not originally invited to Assisi-II in 2002, either, but that now-Cardinal Dsiwisz called himn the day before to say the Pope wanted him to join him on the train to Assisi. He did, but other than that, He did not play any part in the program.]

He did, however, take part in a repeat of it held also in Assisi on January 24, 2002, agreeing "in extremis" after being assured that the mistakes of the previous meeting would not be made again.

The main mistake fostered by the meeting in Assisi in 1986 was that of equating all religions as sources of salvation for humanity. [It was the impression given and reported by the media. But a reading of John Paul II's texts chows clearly he made all the necessary distinctions, including even the place for the common praying together in a multi-religious way. From the available reports, the more egregious mistake was that the Franciscan friars who organized the event for the Pope allowed pagan rituals - sucs as animistic slaughtering of chickens on a consecrated altar - to be performed inside the Church of St. Clare. Clearly, that was a very visible and unacceptable instance that seemed to signal religious syncretism.]

Against this error, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued in 2000 the declaration Dominus Iesus, reaffirming that mankind's only Savior is Jesus Christ. [Seeing as four years passed between Assisi-I and Dominus Iesus, that's quite a stretch! Dominus Iesus of 2000 was a document intended primarily to reaffirm the basic tenet of the Catholic faith on the Grand Jubilee Year celebrating the second millennium of Christianity.]

Even as Pope, Benedict XVI has not failed to warn against any confusion in this respect In a message to the bishop of Assisi dated September 2, 2006, he wrote:

In order not to misunderstand the meaning of what John Paul II wanted to accomplish in 1986, and what, in his own words, is described as the ‘spirit of Assisi’, it is important not to forget the attention that was paid at that time to prevent the inter-religious prayer meeting from being subjected to syncretistic interpretations founded upon a relativistic conception. [...]

For this reason, even when we gather together to pray for peace, this prayer must be carried out according to the distinct approach that is proper to each of the various religions.

This was the decision in 1986, and this decision cannot but remain valid today as well. The coming together of those who are different must not give the impression of a concession to that relativism that denies the very meaning of truth and the possibility of attaining it.

Visiting Assisi on June 17, 2007, he said in his homily:

The decision to celebrate this encounter in Assisi was suggested by the testimony of Francis as a man of peace, upon whom so many look favorably, even those of other cultural and religious persuasions.

At the same time, the light of the 'Poverello' upon that initiative was a guarantee of Christian authenticity, because his life and his message depend so visibly upon his choice of Christ, excluding a priori any temptation to religious indifferentism, which would have nothing to do with authentic religious dialogue. [...]

It could not be an evangelical or Franciscan attitude to fail to combine welcome, dialogue, and respect for all, with the certainty of faith that every Christian, like the saint of Assisi, must cultivate, proclaiming Christ as the way, truth, and life of man, the only Savior of the world.

Returning to the controversy over Vatican Council II, an important conference was held last December 16-18 in Rome, not far from the Basilica of Saint Peter, "for a correct hermeneutics of the Council in the light of Church Tradition."

The speakers focused on the 'pastoral' nature of Vatican II [as opposed to being 'doctrinal' - ie, to Council was called to determine how the Church should relate to the modern world through its pastoral activities, and not to define new doctrine!] and the abuses that have taken place in its name.

The speakers included Professor de Mattei and theologian Brunero Gherardini, 85, a canon of the Nasilica of Saint Peter, professor emeritus of the Pontifical Lateran University, and director of the journal of Thomistic theology Divinitas.

Gherardini is the author of a volume on Vatican Council II that concludes with an "Appeal to the Holy Father", asking him to submit the documents of the Council for reexamination, in order to clarify once and for all "if, in what sense, and to what extent" Vatican Council II is or is not in continuity with the previous magisterium of the Church. [Submit to whom, though? To the Bishops' Synod? To a new Council? To the Pope's own personal judgment? All three ways are problematic because advocates of the false 'spirit of Vatican II' will insist that an ecumenical council supersedes the Magisterium of an individual Pope - though other ecclesiologists have pointed out that like a Pope, a council cannot be considered 'infallible' unless it pronounces on dogma, and Vatican II proposed no new dogma, despite the spiritists' claim that it effectively built a new church!]

The preface to Gherardini's book was written by Albert Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo and former secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, made a cardinal at the consistory last November.

Ranjith is one of the two bishops to whom www.chiesa recently dedicated the article entitled "Ratzinger's best pupils are in Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan'. And the second of these bishops, the auxiliary of Karaganda, Athanasius Schneider, was present at the conference in Rome from December 16-18, as a speaker.

The final portion of his presentation is presented below. He concludes with a request to the Pope for two specific remedies fto the post-Conciliar abses:

- Release of a "Syllabus" against the doctrinal errors of interpretation of Vatican Council II, and
- The appointment of bishops who are "holy, courageous and deeply rooted in the tradition of the Church."

Other speakers included Cardinal Velasio de Paolis, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Bishop Luigi Negri, and Monsignor Florian Kolfhaus of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

The audience included a large contingent of Franciscans of the Immaculate, a young religious congregation following in the footsteps of Saint Francis, bursting with vocations and decidedly orthodox in orientation - the polar opposite of the so-called "spirit of Assisi" [just as fallacious and damaging as the 'spirit of Vatican II'!]

by Athanasius Schneider

[. . .] For a correct interpretation of Vatican Council II, it is necessary to keep in mind the intention manifested in the conciliar documents themselves and in the specific words of the Popes who convened and presided over it, John XXIII and Paul VI. [Which the 'spiritists' have chosen to ignore completely all these dacades!]

Moreover, it is necessary to discover the common thread of the entire work of the Council, meaning its pastoral intention, which is salus animarum, the salvation of souls. This, in turn, depends on and is subordinate to the promotion of divine worship and of the glory of God - it depends on the primacy of God.

This primacy of God in life and in all the activity of the Church is manifested unequivocally by the fact that the constitution on the liturgy occupies, conceptually and chronologically, the first place in the vast work of the Council...

The characteristic of 'rupture' claimed in the interpretation of the conciliar texts is manifested in a more stereotypical and widespread way by hypothesizing an anthropocentric, secularist, or naturalistic shift of Vatican Council II with respect to the previous ecclesial tradition...

One of the best-known manifestations of such a mistaken interpretation has been, for example, so-called liberation theology and its subsequent pastoral practice which was devastating.

The contrast between liberation theology and its practice, on tHE one hand, and the Council, on the other, appears evident from the following conciliar teaching: "Christ, to be sure, gave His Church no proper mission in the political, economic or social order. The purpose which He set before her is a religious one" (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," 42)...

One interpretation of rupture with lighter doctrinal weight has been manifested in the pastoral-liturgical field... in the decline of the sacred and sublime character of the liturgy, and the introduction of more anthropocentric elements of expression.

This phenomenon can be seen in three liturgical practices that are fairly well known and widespread in almost all the parishes of the Catholic sphere:
- the almost complete disappearance of the use of the Latin language;
- the reception of the Eucharistic body of Christ directly in the hand while standingl and
- the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice in the modality of a closed circle in which priest and people are constantly looking at each other.

This way of praying – where not everyone faces the same direction, which is a more natural corporal and symbolic expression that everyone is oriented toward God in public worship – contradicts the practice that Jesus himself and his apostles observed in public prayer, both in the temple and in the synagogue.

It also contradicts the unanimous testimony of the Fathers and of all the subsequent tradition of the Eastern and Western Church.

These three pastoral and liturgical practices glaringly at odds with the law of prayer maintained by generations of the Catholic faithful for at least one millennium, find no support in the conciliar texts, and even contradict both a specific text of the Council (on the Latin language: cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," 36 and 54) and the "mens," the true intention of the conciliar Fathers, as one finds in the proceedings of the Council...

In the hermeneutical uproar over contrasting interpretations, and in the confusion of pastoral and liturgical applications, what appears as the only authentic interpreter of the conciliar texts is the Council itself, together with the Pope.

One could make a comparison with the confused hermeneutical climate of the first centuries of the Church, caused by arbitrary biblical and doctrinal interpretations on the part of heterodox groups.

In his famous work De Praescriptione Haereticorum, Tertullian was able to counter the heretics of various tendencies with the fact that only the Church possesses the praescriptio, meaning only the Church is the legitimate proprietor of the faith, of the Word of God and of Tradition. The Church can use this to fend off the heretics in disputes over true interpretation.

Only the Church can say, according to Tertullian, "Ego sum heres Apostolorum," I am the heir of the apostles. By way of analogy, only the supreme magisterium of the Pope or of a future ecumenical council will be able to say: "Ego sum heres Concilii Vaticani II."

In recent decades there existed, and still exist today, groupings within the Church that are perpetrating an enormous abuse of the pastoral character of the Council and its texts - written with pastoral intention, since the Council did not want to present its own definitive or unalterable teachings.

From this pastoral nature of the texts, they are in principle open to supplementation and to further doctrinal clarifications. From the now decades-long experience of interpretations that are doctrinally and pastorally mistaken and contrary to the bimillennial continuity of the doctrine and prayer of the faith, arise the necessity and urgency of a specific and authoritative intervention of the pontifical magisterium for an authentic interpretation of the conciliar texts, with supplementation and doctrinal clarifications - a sort of "Syllabus" of the errors in the interpretation of Vatican Council II.

There is need for a new Syllabus, this time directed not so much against the errors coming from outside of the Church, but against the errors circulated within the Church by supporters of the thesis of discontinuity and rupture, with its doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral applications.

Such a Syllabus should consist of two parts: the part that points out the errors, and the positive part with proposals for clarification, completion, and doctrinal clarification...

Two groups stand out in support of the theory of rupture. One of these groups tries to "Protestantize" the life of the Church doctrinally, liturgically, and pastorally.

On the opposite side are those traditional groups which, in the name of tradition, reject the Council and exempt themselves from submission to the supreme living magisterium of the Church, from the visible head of the Church, the vicar of Christ on earth, submitting only to the invisible head of the Church, waiting for better times...

In essence, there have been two impediments preventing the true intention of the Council and its magisterium from bearing abundant and lasting fruit.

One was from outside of the Church, in the violent process of cultural and social revolution during the 1960s, which like every powerful social phenomenon penetrated inside the Church, infecting vast segments of persons and institutions with its spirit of rupture.

The other impediment was manifested in the lack of wise and intrepid pastors of the Church who could be quick to defend the purity and integrity of the faith and of liturgical and pastoral life, and not allow themselves to be influenced by flattery or fear [or by what is 'in fashion'!]

The Council of Trent affirmed in one of its last decrees on the general reform of the Church that "The holy synod, shaken by the many extremely serious evils that afflict the Church, cannot do other than recall that the thing most necessary for the Church of God is to select excellent and suitable pastors; all the more in that our Lord Jesus Christ will ask for an account of the blood of those sheep that should perish because of the bad governance of negligent pastors unmindful of their duty" (Session XXIV, Decree "de reformatione," can. 1).

The Council continued: "As for all those who for any reason have been authorized by the Holy See to intervene in the promotion of future prelates or those who take part in this in another way, the holy Council exhorts and admonishes them to remember above all that they can do nothing more useful for the glory of God and the salvation of the people than to devote themselves to choosing good and suitable pastors to govern the Church."

Therefore, besides the need for a Syllabus on the Council that shall have doctrinal value, there is likewise a need for more holy and courageous pastors deeply rooted in the tradition of the Church, who are free from the mentality of rupture, both in the doctrinal field and in the liturgical field.

These two elements constitute the indispensable condition so that doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral confusion may diminish significantly, and so that the pastoral work of Vatican Council II may bear much lasting fruit in the spirit of Tradition, which connects us to the spirit that has reigned in every time, everywhere and in all true children of the Catholic Church, which is the only and the true Church of God on earth.

00martedì 18 gennaio 2011 12.44

Pope receives members of
Pontifical Polish Ecclesiastical Institute



VATICAN CITY, January 17 (VIS) - Benedict XVI received members of the Pontifical Polish Ecclesiastical Institute on Monday morning in a meeting marking its first centenary. The group was accompanied by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The Polish Institute, which trains Polish diocesan priests, was the result of an initiative by St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, then bishop of Przemysl, and its history began during the pontificate of St. Pius X. It was inaugurated on 13 November 1910 by Msgr. Sapieha, who later became cardinal archbishop of Krakow.

Throughout its existence the institute has enjoyed the benevolence and support of various Pontiffs, including Servant of God Paul VI and the Venerable John Paul II (who stayed at the Institute whenever he was in Rome before he became Pope].

"The celebration of the first centenary of this important institution", the Pope said, "invites us to a dutiful and respectful recollection of the people who founded it with faith, courage and vigour. At the same time, it is a call to show responsibility to continue its original aims, even today, adapting them as appropriate to new circumstances."

"Above all, it is necessary to remain committed to keeping the soul of the institute alive: its religious and ecclesial soul, which responds to the providential divine plan of offering Polish priests an appropriate atmosphere for study and fraternity during their period of formation in Rome".

The Holy Father then went on to encourage the students "to consider yourselves as 'living stones', an important part of a history which today requires a personal and incisive response from you, making your own generous contribution just as the unforgettable primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, did during the course of Vatican Council II".

Left photo: Cardinal Wyszinski with Mons. Wojtyla at the time of Vatican II; right photo, the heads of the Polish and German bishops' delegations meeting after their historic reconciliation.

"It was here in the Polish Institute that he was able to prepare the celebration of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland with that historic message of reconciliation which Polish bishops addressed to the German prelates, and which contained the famous words: 'We forgive and we ask forgiveness'".

Pope Benedict went on: "The Church needs well-trained priests, rich in the wisdom acquired through friendship with the Lord Jesus, priests who constantly draw from the Eucharistic table and from the endless font of His Gospel. From these two irreplaceable sources, draw continual support and the inspiration necessary for your life and ministry, for a sincere love of Truth; a Truth into which today you are called to delve through study and academic research, and which tomorrow you will share with many.

"The search for Truth", he added, "for you priests who are enjoying this unique Roman experience, is stimulated and enriched by your proximity to the Apostolic See which has the task of offering specific and universal service to Catholic communion in truth and charity.

"Remaining close to Peter, in the heart of the Church, means gratefully recognising that we are part of a centuries-old and fruitful history of salvation which, by multiform grace, has touched you and in which you are called to play an active role so that, like a flourishing tree, it may always brings forth its precious fruit".

The Holy Father concluded his remarks: "May your love and devotion for the figure of Peter encourage you generously to serve the communion of the entire Catholic Church, and of your particular Churches, so that, like one great family, everyone may learn to recognise in Jesus, Way, Truth and Life, the face of the merciful Father, Who does not want any of His children to be lost".


00martedì 18 gennaio 2011 13.33

Pope receives Neocatechumenal
leaders and representatives



17 JAN 2011 (RV) - Pope Benedict XVI received the leadership of the Neocatechumenal Way at the Aula Paolo VI on Monday, along with many of its seminarians and member families.

The Neocatechumenal Way began in the poor suburbs of Madrid in the 1960s, when a young Spanish artist, Francesco “Kiko” Arguello, along with laywoman Crmen Hernandez, began to preach the Gospel to people in the slums of Palomeras Altas.

The Neocatechumenate grew and expanded rapidly, as 'an itinerary for the rediscovery of the power and grace of baptism among Christian families' in the rapidly secularizing climate of the contemporary world.

The Way, as it is known colloquially, has since acquired a strong missionary orientation. Many Neocatechumenal families offer to travel to foreign lands to preach the Gospel through the establishment of new Communities of the Neocatechumenate.

In his remarks to the group on Monday, Pope Benedict praised these hundreds of “families in mission”, for their willingness to forego the comforts of friends and familiar surroundings in order to help parishes in difficulty throughout the world.

The Holy Father also thanked the more than 2000 men in formation for the priesthood in the Way's Redemptoris Mater seminaries here in Rome and throughout the world, saying they are an eloquent sign of the fruit that can be borne of the rediscovery of Baptismal grace.


Neocatechumenal Way gets Vatican approval of
its catechism, along with instructions from Pope

By Alan Holdren

Vatican City, Jan 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News).- On a day already meant to be celebratory for the Neocatechumenal Way, the Holy See gave the movement more reason to cheer as it announced its approval of the community's series of teachings.

The Pope praised the community, but also gave them explicit instructions to work with local priests to carry out their mission.

Way members met in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall on Jan. 17 to witness the Pope bless families and priests as he sent them out to their new posts. Members and supporters of the Way, as well as people from its missions, initiatives and seminaries all over the world packed the venue to capacity.

The Neocatechumenal Way, an international religious community that bases its activity around "post-baptismal" Christian formation in parishes, was founded more than 40 years ago by Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez. Both founders were in Rome for the audience.

Playing his guitar and accompanied by an orchestra and choir, Kiko welcomed Pope Benedict to the audience hall by leading the crowd of thousands in song.

As they all prepared for the papal audience, the president of the Pontifical Council for Laity, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, made the announcement that the catecheses, or teachings, of the Neocatechumenal Way had been officially approved by the Church.

The cardinal called it a “much awaited” and “very important” day for the community and its catechists.

“The Neocatechumenal Way,” Cardinal Rylko said, “acts according to the proposed writings of the founders ... which will have the title of Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way,” he announced to thunderous applause.

The work to approve the teachings had already been done once. From 1997-2003, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) revised, modified and approved the teachings, which until that point had only been recorded from founder Kiko Arguello's talks.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Vatican department, saw to it personally that the Way put things on paper.

With the nod from the CDF and conditional approval for a normal five-year "trial period," full recognition of the Way by the Holy See came in 2008. Some remained unconvinced of the doctrinal approval, however, since no one had ever seen the official okay from the doctrine department.

Questions continued to come up about whether certain modifications of liturgical practices proper to the community had been approved by the Vatican. There was confusion about how the Way treats communion, why lay people were asked to preach and what reasons were behind the practice of Way members celebrating Mass "privately" on Saturday evenings.

The prompting led co-founder Kiko Arguello to request that the Vatican's doctrine department confirm their approval of the Way's methods.

Cardinal Rylko said he was authorized to make that announcement to the audience hall this morning. He explained that "so as to give greater security to the actions of the Neo-Catechumenal Way and to offer doctrinal guarantees to all the pastors of the Church," the CDF revisited the 13 volumes of teachings and approved them as the "Catechetical Directory of the Way."

The Pontifical Council for Laity, of which the cardinal is head, authenticated the doctrinal approval and archived the decree on Dec. 26, 2010, he said.

"Your catecheses have thereby received an important seal from the Church," he told them. "It is a compass, a sure compass according to which you will be able to walk."

The cardinal also thanked them on behalf of the Church for "the grand and important work" of "promoting post-baptismal Christian initiation in the Church."

Kiko Arguello, the group's cofounder, told journalists in a press conference following the audience that the new approval “is important because it gives us a guarantee that the theological, exegetical, liturgical formation” that the Way uses is recognized by the Church as “making a Christian.”

Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski of Siedlce, Poland—who was at the press conference as an apparent sign of solidarity—said that he has seen positive effects of the Way's catechesis in his diocese. Now that they can come with their word and "with this book," bishops will know that “this is no deception, not a fictitious thing,” he said.

If they believe the instruction they receive, bishops will give their “people a reality that can transform them,” the Polish bishop added.

Arguello added later that the announcement is "marvelous" because the decree approves the teachings for official proclamation. "It has been revised by the Holy See and completed. It's correct."

"This is from the Church!" he exclaimed.

But the Way still encounters bumps in the road when it comes to its relationships with local pastors, a fact that Arguello alluded to in his next statement.

The directory, he said, "will be very important because now a parish priest who says something, we can say, 'Look father what it says here on page 427, this was approved by the Church'."

"It's a great strength. It gives us a great strength."

The Pope familiarized himself with the community originally as an priest in 1973 in Germany and has long been at their side to guide them to full recognition in the Church. He sees something special in their work, and while being well aware of complaints against them, he continues to encourage them to continue their work while forming better relationships with priests.

"With these seals of ecclesial approval," said the Pope during the morning audience, "the Lord today confirms this precious tool which is the Way and again entrusts it to you so that, in filial obedience to the Holy See and the pastors of the Church, you may contribute with renewed energy and ardour to the radical and joyful rediscovery of the gift of Baptism, and offer your own original contribution to the cause of new evangelization."

The Church recognizes a "particular gift" of the Way to "insert itself" in the Body of the Church, he said.

"In this light," the Pope said, "I exhort you always to seek profound communion with pastors, and with all members of the particular Churches, and of the very different ecclesial contexts in which you are called to work.

"Fraternal communion between the disciples of Jesus is, in fact, the first and greatest witness to the name of Jesus Christ."

The influence of the group took an additional leap forward during the audience. Pope Benedict blessed the 230 Way families being sent out into the world on mission.

The Way's mission families had previously numbered around 600.

A couple from Spain with 10 children and another baby on the way were delegated to greet the Pope in representation of the many other mission families present. Their destination was to be the Ukraine, where they will work to evangelize in a local community.

The Pope handed an additional 13 priests a silver cross to go out and do the same.

These hundreds join over a million others around the world who carry out the Way's mission.

Asked at the press conference what the Way might do to counter some of the resistance it has found in the world, Arguello said that they will continue their work and do their best to improve understanding of who they are.

It's not something that you can just understand after "a half-hour talk," rather it's something you have to make people experience, said the co-founder.

For this purpose, the community has been hosting encounters with bishops and priests around the world to explain what they do.

Arguello reported success through past encounters with more than 200 bishops on the island of Santo Domingo and another 78 in India. On Jan. 26, they'll be meeting with more than 200 bishops from places including the U.S., Canada and Australia who "truly wish to know the way."

"What we do is make them truly know the Way."

Over the years, the Neocatechumenals have been involved in harsh controversies with local dioceses, most notably in the Holy Land, in Baltimore, and lately in Japan, because of their tendency to 'isolate' themselves from their host diocese and because some of their practices - like Saturday evening Mass instead of Sunday, having lay people preach at Mass, and an unusual Commmunion rite - have tended to alienate local faithful. Here is the outcome of the complaint lodged by the Japanese bishops:

Vatican overrules Japanese bishops
in dispute with Neo-Catechumenals

January 10, 2011

The Vatican Secretariat of State has overruled the Japanese bishops’ decision to suspend the activities of the Neocatechumenal Way in the nation for five years.

A group of Japanese prelates met with Pope Benedict and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on December 13 to discuss their concerns about the lay movement. The prelates complained that the group’s activities are secretive and that its activities, including its manner of celebrating the sacred liturgy, harm the unity among the faithful.

According to a Neocatechumenal Way spokesman, the Secretariat of State has made the following decisions:

- Suspension of the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan for five years - as attempted by the country’s episcopal conference-- is not admissible
- Dialogue between the bishops of Japan and the Neocatechumenal Way must be taken up again as soon as possible with the help of a competent delegate who loves the Way and respects the problems of the bishops
- If necessary, the latter must give concrete indications to the Way for each of its own dioceses, avoiding pronouncements of the episcopal conference
- The Secretariat of State will be in charge of giving the necessary instructions and will address, in contact with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the questions referring to the presence of the Way in Japan.

00martedì 18 gennaio 2011 15.19

Tuesday, January 18
ST. CARLO DA SEZZE (Charles of Sezze) (Italy, 1613-1670)
Lay Franciscan, Mystic, Writer
Born near Rome, the young Giancarlo dreamed of becoming a missionary to India,
inspired by the mission of Fr. Junipero Serra in the Americas. but God had other
plans for him and he ended up a lay Franciscan brother. A simple soul, he was
assigned to various priories around Rome, serving as doorman, gardener, porter.
Through it all, he served the sick and the needy by collecting alms and feeding
them. His confessors urged him to write about his spiritual life, and though
unlettered, he left many writings including his autobiography, The Grandeurs
of the Mercies of God
. It is said that at Mass one day, at the Elevation, a ray
of light struck him in the chest and left a wound on the same spot where Christ
had been pierced by a lance. After he died, the wound took on the shape of a
Cross, which was the basis for his beatification. In life, he was known for his
spiritual counsel and for miracles of healing and multiplication of food. As he
lay dying, Pope Clement IX is said to have called him to his side for counsel.
He was canonized in 1959.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
At the Angelus and to the members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way,
the Pope underscores the importance of mission in the life of the Church
'Mankind is one single family'
He joins the faithful in joy over the coming beatification of John Paul II
Other papal stories in this issue: The Holy Father's meeting yesterday with the director-general of UNESCO, Mme. Irina Bokova, and his address to the Pontifical Polish Institute in Rome on their 100th anniversary. Page 1 international news: Former dictator 'Baby Doc' Duvalier returns to Haiti after a 25-year exile in France; and interim Tunisian government unable to quell protest demonstrations. In the inside pages, the text of Cardinal Gianfranco Raavsi's lecture yesterday at La Sapienza University on 'Open doors between places of worship and the public square' to mark the Day of Jewish-Christian Dialog.

No events announced for the Holy Father today.

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