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00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 00.45



See preceding page for earlier entries today, 2/3/11.


YOUCAT for WYD Madrid:
The Pope puts his faith
in the youth of today


02 FEB 2011 (RV) - “Some people tell me that the youth of today are not interested in the catechism, but I do not believe this statement and I am certain that I am right. They are not as superficial as they are accused of being; young people want to know what life really is about. A crime novel is compelling because it involves the fate of other people, but it could be our own, this book is compelling because it speaks to us of our own destiny and therefore is closely related to each of us”.

These the words of Pope Benedict XVI in the forward to a book, soon to be published in 7 languages, entitled “YouCat”, short for Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is the official catechism for World Youth Day.

Written for high-school age people and young adults, YOUCAT is an accessible, contemporary expression of the Catholic Faith based on the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 2006 as a more accessible form of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church..

The popular format includes Questions-and-Answers, highly-readable commentary, margin pictures and illustrations, summary definitions of key terms, Bible citations, and quotes from the Saints and other great teachers.

The project for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the Pope’s own words, was first entrusted to the Congregation for Bishops, by his predecessor John Paul II. It took its origin from another work dating back to the 1980s, a period Pope Benedict XVI describes in his forward as “difficult ...for the Church as well as for global society, during which the need emerged for new approaches to find a way forward towards the future”.

After Vatican II (1962-1965) and in the changed cultural climate, he notes, “many people did not know what Christians should really believe, what the Church teaches, if it can teach something outright, and how this might fit into the new cultural climate”.

Thus, John Paul II entrusted the man who would be his successor with the task of coordinating the work of bishops, theologians and young people into a book, edited by the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

[Cardinal Schoenborn also supervised the preparation of the YOUCAT in German, to be translated into the other official languages of the Vatican. The English YOUCAT is published by Iagnatius Press and will come out in March.]

Pope Benedict writes that he “was afraid of this task”, and confesses his doubts that "it would succeed”, describing its existence as something of a “miracle”, the labour of many meetings and “passionate discussions over individual texts”.

He then goes on to express the hope that young people will allow themselves to be “captivated” by the catechism, and his certainty that they are far more interested in it than most believe.

In fact he writes; “this aide to the catechism does not offer you any empty praise, it does not offer easy solutions, it requires a new life on your part”. He asks young people to “study the catechism with passion and perseverance! Sacrifice your time for it!”...

Here is a translation of the entire Foreword:

by Benedict XVI
Translated from the 2/3/11 issue of


Dear young friends:

Today I advise you to read an extraordinary book.

It is extraordinary for its content but also for the way in which it is presented, that I wish to explain to you briefly so that it may be understood well.

Youcat takes its origin, so to speak, from another work which dates to the 1980s. It was a difficult period for the Church as well as for world society, during which there was a need for new orientations in order to find a road to the future.

After the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and in a changed cultural climate, many persons no longer knew correctly what Christians should believe in, what the Church really taught, and if it could still teach anything, for that matter, and how all of these necessities could be adapted to the new cultural climate.

Had Christianity as such been transcended? Could one still be reasonably a believer? These are questions that many Christians today continue to face.

Thus Pope John Paul II made a daring decision: He decided that all the bishops of the world should write a book to answer these questions.

He entrusted to me the task of coordinating the work of the bishops and to assemble a book from their work - a true book, and not just a presentation of multiple texts.

The book was to have the traditional title of Catechism of the Catholic Church(CCC), but it had to be absolutely new and stimulating. It was to show what the Catholic Church believes, and how one can believe in this teaching reasonably.

I was awed by the assignment, and I must confess that I doubted if it would succeed. How could authors spread around the world produce a readable book? How could men who lived in different continents - not only geographically, but also intellectually and culturally - produce a text that would have an internal unity and be understood in all the continents?

One also had to consider that the bishops would have to write their contributions not simply as individuals but in representation of their fellow priests and their local churches.

I must confess that even today, I find it a miracle that the project did succeed. We [the editorial committee in the Vatican] would meet for a week three or four times a year to discuss each single text that was submitted and as it was developed.

First of all, the structure of the book had to be defined. It must be simple, so that the groups of authors could each get a clear assignment, and they could frame their statements in an uncomplicated way.

This is the same structure followed in this book which reflects the catechetical experience through the centuries: what do we believe, how do we celebrate the Christian mysteries, how do we live in Christ, how should we pray.

I will not explain here how we dealt with the numerous questions that had to be answered systematically until we had a real book. In a work of this kind, there are many arguable points: everything men can do is always insufficient and can always be done better, but despite all that, this is a great book, a sign of unity in diversity. From many voices, a choir, coming from a faith that is shared, which the Church has handed down to us from the Apostles through the centuries to our day. [The CCC was published in 1992.]

Why all this effort?

At the time we were drafting the CCC, we had to consider not only that the continents and the culture of their peoples were different, but that even within each single society there are different 'continents': the urban worker has a different mentality from the peasant, a physicist different from a philologist, an entrepreneur different from a journalist, a young person different from older people.

For this reason, in the language of the book as well as in its thought, we had to be above these differences, and seek a space common to all the different mental universes. Thus, we became even more aware that the text would then have to undergo translations for these different worlds in order to be able to reach all people with different mentalities and different problems.

On many World Youth Days (Rome, Toronto, Cologne, Sydney, etc), young people from around the world have come together - young people who want to believe, who are in search of God, who love Christ, and who want to follow a common path.

In this context, we asked ourselves whether we shouldn't translate the Catechism of the Catholic Church into the language of young people and let its words penetrate their world.

Of course, even among young people today, there are many differences. Therefore, under the experienced guidance of the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, the Youcat for young people was born.

I hope that many young people will let themselves be fascinated by this book.

Some people tell me that catechesis does not interest young people today, but I do not believe this, and I am sure I am right. Young people are not as superficial as they are often accused of being.

Young people want to know what life really is. A crime novel appeals to us because it involves us in the fate of other people that could very well be ours too. This book is appealing because it speaks to us of our destiny and therefore concerns each of us closely.

That is why I invite you to study the catechism. This is my heart's desire.

This aide to catechism does not praise you. It does not offer easy solutions. It demands a new life from you. It presents the message of the Gospel like the 'precious pearl'
(Mt 13,34) for which one must give everything.

That is why I ask you: Study the catechism with passion and perseverance. Sacrifice some of your time for it. Study it in the silence of your room. Read it with others. Among friends, form study groups and networks. Exchange ideas on the Internet.

In any case, remain in dialog with your faith.

You must know what you believe in. You must know your own faith with the same precision that an information technologist knows everything about a computer's operation. You must know it as a musician knows his music.

And yes, you must be more profoundly rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents in order to resist forcefully and decisively the challenges and temptations of our time.

You need God's help if your faith is not to dry up like a dewdrop under the sun; if you are not to succumb to the temptations of consumerism; if you do not wish your love to drown in pornography; if you are not to betray the weak and the victims of rape and violence.

If you dedicate passion to the study of the Catechism, then I have one more advice: You all know how the community of believers has been in recent years wounded by the assault of evil, by the penetration of sin within the Church itself, indeed, into its very heart.

Do not use this as a pretext to flee the presence of God. You yourself are the Body of Christ, the Church. Carry the flame of love intact for this Church every time that others obscure her face. "Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord"
(Rm 12,11).

When Israel was in the darkest hour of her history, God called to their aid not great men and esteemed persons, but a young man named Jeremiah, who felt himself invested with a mission that was too great: "'Ah, Lord GOD!'," I said, 'I know not how to speak; I am too young'." (Ger 1,6). But God would not let him take the way out: "Say not, 'I am too young'. To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak" (Jer 1,7).

I bless you and pray every day for all of you.


I love the pitch-perfect tone of this Foreword - you can hear him speaking directly to you, one on one!

BENEDICT XVI TO THE YOUNG: 'Let yourself be fascinated by the Catechism!

00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 01.11

To the new Austrian envoy,
Benedict speaks of
a common 'European house'



O3 FEB 2011 (RV) - Pope Benedict XVI today received Letters of Credence from Austria’s new Ambassador to the Holy See, Alfons Kloss.

Trained as a lawyer, Alfons Kloss is a career diplomat, and father of three children. He has served in India, Finland, Germany and Italy, as well as in key Foreign Ministry positions at home.

Pope Benedict XVI welcomed him Thursday with a ceremony at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

In his remarks to the new ambassador, the Holy Father reflected on his own fond memories of Austria, and praised Austria’s deep roots of Catholic faith, especially Marian devotion.

He also discussed the importance of religious liberty as a key to ordered liberty, and reflected on the need for family policy to be grounded in a proper understanding of the human person, saying, “Marriage and the family require the special protection of the state,” which also has a duty to protect all innocent human life from conception to natural death.

Pope Benedict went on to discuss the future of Europe, saying that a “common European House” can only succeed if the continent’s Christian foundation is respected.

00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 02.20

To the Emmanuel Community:
The Pope speaks of Eucharistic
communion and mission



03 FEB 2011 (RV) - On Thursday Pope Benedict XVI received members of the Emmanuel Community, currently marking the twentieth anniversary of the death of their founder Pierre Goursat, the cause for whose beatification was opened last year.

In his address to the group the Holy Father recalled other anniversaries due to fall in coming months: forty years since the foundation of the Emmanuel Community itself, the thirtieth anniversary of the community's non-governmental organization, FIDESCO, and twenty years since the recognition of its statutes by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

"The profound grace of your community arises from Eucharistic communion", he said. "This adoration leads to compassion for all human beings, and from this compassion comes the thirst to evangelise. In the spirit of your charism, I exhort you to develop your spiritual life, giving pride of place to the personal meeting with Christ, Emmanuel, God with us".

"An authentically Eucharistic life is a missionary life", the Pope explained. "In a world often disoriented and in search for new reasons to live, the light of Christ must be brought to everyone. Among the men and women of today, be ardent missionaries of the Gospel, upheld by a life radically founded on Christ".

"Today, the urgent need for this announcement is particularly felt in families, which are so often fragmented, in the young and in the intellectual world. Help to renew the apostolic dynamism of parishes from within, developing their spiritual and missionary impulses. I encourage you to be attentive to people who return to the Church and who have not had the benefit of a profound catechesis. Help them anchor their faith in an authentically theological, sacramental and ecclesial life".

The Holy Father then went on to invite the community "to live in a state of genuine communion among its members. ... The community life you wish to foster, while respecting the life of each individual, will be a living witness for society of that fraternal love which must animate all human relationships. Fraternal communion is already an announcement of the new life that Christ came to establish", he said.

"May this communion, which is not a form of closure, be effective also in local Churches. Each charism aims at the growth of the Body of Christ in its entirety and missionary action must, then, constantly adapt to the reality of the local Church, ever attentive to agreement and collaboration among pastors, under the authority of the bishop."

"Furthermore", the Pope concluded, "the mutual recognition of diversity of vocations in the Church, and their indispensable contribution to evangelisation, is an eloquent sign of the unity of Christ's disciples and of the credibility of their witness".


00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 09.30

Pope urges greater concern
for the sick and suffering


3 FEB 2011 (RV) - Pope Benedict XVI's Message for the nineteenth World Day of the Sick on February 11 was discussed Thursday at a Vatican news conference, during which the Pontifical Council for Ministry to Healthcare Workers also announced a seminar on the theme "Catholic healthcare associations and the culture of life", to be held on February 5 in Rome to mark the end of the Couuncil's wenty-fifth anniversary celebrations.

Participating in today's conference were Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, Bishop Jose Luis Redrado Marchite O.H. and Msgr. Jean-Marie Mpendawatu Mate Musivi, respectively president, secretary and under secretary of the Council, and Rosa Merola, psychologist at Rome's Rebibbia prison and consultor to the Council.

Archbishop Zimowski explained how Benedict XVI's Message - published on 18 December 2010 - encourages people to reflect "on the mystery of human suffering in the light of Christian faith".

At the same time, he calls for greater sensitivity, within Christian communities and civil society, towards our brothers and sisters who are experiencing situations of suffering and illness, that no-one may be abandoned or deprived of the treatment they need.

Here once again is the full text of the Pope's message:


"By his wounds you have been healed". (1Pt 2,23)

Dear brothers and sisters:

Every year, when we commemorate the Feast of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, on February 11, the Church observes the World Day for the Sick.

This occasion, first proposed by the Venerable John Paul II, is propitious for reflecting on the mystery of suffering, and above all, for making our communities and civilian society more sensitive towards our ailing brothers and sisters.

If every man is our brother, the more so should we place the weak, the suffering, and those who need care, at the center of our attention so that none of them may feel forgotten or marginalized.

Indeed, the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relation to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly is a cruel and inhuman society.
(Spe salvi, 38).

May the initiatives that will be promoted in individual dioceses on this Day for the Sick, be a stimulus for more effective care of those who suffer, in the context as well of the solemn celebration to be held in 2013 at the Marian shrine in Altoetting, Germany.

1. I still hold in my heart the moment when, during my pastoral visit to Turin, I was able to pause in reflection and prayer before the Holy Shroud, in front of that suffering face that invites us to meditate on Him who took on himself the passion of all men in all times and in all places, including our own sufferings, our difficulties, our sins.

How many faithful, in the course of history, have paused before that funereal cloth which wrapped the body of a crucified man, who corresponds in every way to what the Gospels tell us about the Passion and Death of Jesus!

To contemplate the face is an invitation to reflect on what St. Peter wrote: "By his wounds you have been healed"
(1Pt 2,24). The Son of God has suffered - he died, but he rose again, and because of these, those wounds have become the sign of our redemption, of forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father.

But they are also a benchmark for the faith of his disciples and for our faith. Every time that the Lord spoke of his passion and death, the disciples did not understand, they rejected and opposed it. For them, as for us, suffering always remains charged with mystery, difficult to accept and to bear.

The two disciples in Emmaus were walking in sadness because of the events that had taken place in Jerusalem, and only when the Risen One walked with them on the road were they open to a new view
(cfr. Lk 24, 13-31).

Even the Apostle Thomas showed the difficulty of believing in the way of redemptive passion: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe" (Jn 20,25).

But in front of Christ who showed his wounds, his response was transformed into a moving profession of faith: "My Lord and my God! (Jn 20,28). What was once an insurmountable obstacle, because it was a sign of Jesus's apparent failure, had become, in the encounter with the Risen Lord, the proof of victorious love: "Only a God who loves us to the point of taking upon himself our wounds and our pain, especially, the innocent, is worthy of faith" (Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter 2007).

2. Dear people who are sick and suffering, it is precisely through the wounds of Christ that we can see, with eyes of hope, all the evils that afflict mankind. In resurrecting, the Lord did not take away all the suffering and evil in the world, but he conquered them at their root.

To the arrogance of evil, he opposed the omnipotence of his Love. "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another"
(Jn 13,34). Christ, who triumphed over death, lives among us. And while we too say with St. Thomas, "My Lord and my God!", let us follow our Master in the readiness to give our life for our brothers (cfr 1 Jn 3,16), becoming messengers of a joy that does not fear pain, the joy of Resurrection.

St. Bernard affirms: "God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with us".
[In Italian, there is a word play between 'patire', to suffer, and 'com-patire', to suffer with, i.e., to have compassion.]

God, who is Truth and Love personified, suffered for us and with us. He became man in order to be able to 'suffer with' man, in a real way, in flesh and blood.

Thus, in every human suffering, we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence 'con-solatio' is present in all suffering, the consolation of God's compassionate love — and so the star of hope rises.
(Spe salvi, 39).

To you, dear brothers and sisters, I repeat this message so that you may be witnesses through your suffering, your life and your faith.

3. Looking forward to the World Youth Day in Madrid next August, I also wish to address young people, especially those who are experiencing sickness.

Often the Passion, the Cross of Jesus, frightens us because it seems to be a denial of life. In fact, the opposite is true! It is God’s “yes” to mankind, the supreme expression of his love and the source from which eternal life flows. From Jesus’s heart, pierced on the Cross, this divine life streamed forth. He alone can free the world from evil and bring about the growth of the Kingdom of justice, peace and love to which we all aspire.
(cfr Message for World Youth Day 2011)

Dear young people, learn to “see” and to “meet” Jesus in the Eucharist, where he is present and close to us, and even becomes food for our journey. But also learn to recognize and serve Jesus in the poor, the sick, and in our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and in need of help (cfr, ibid., 4).

To all young people, healthy and sick, I repeat the invitation to build bridges of love and solidarity, so that no one may feel alone, but close to God and part of the great family of his children(cfr General audience, Nov. 15, 2006).

4. Contemplating the wounds of Jesus, our gaze turns to his Most Sacred Heart, in which is manifested the supreme degree of God's love. The Sacred Heart is Christ crucified, with blood and water gushing from his side slashed open by the lance (cfr Jn 19,34), "symbol of the sacraments of the Church, so that all men, drawn to the Heart of the Savior, may drink with joy at the perennial source of salvation" (Roman Missal, Preface to the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus).

You especially, dear persons who are ailing, must feel the nearness of this heart which is full of love, and draw with faith and joy from this source, praying: "Water from the side of Christ, wash me! Passion of Christ, strengthen me! Good Jesus, hear me. In your wounds, shelter me" (Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola).

5. At the end of this message, for the next World Day of the Sick, I wish to express my affection for each and everyone, feeling myself a participant in the sufferings and the hopes that you experience daily, in union with Christ crucified and resurrected, so that he may give you peace and healing of heart.

Together with him, may the Virgin Mary watch over you, she whom we trustfully invoke as the Health of the Sick and Comfort of the Afflicted.

At the foot of the Cross, the prophecy of Simeon was realized for her: her Mother's heart was pierced
(cfr Lk 2,35). From the abyss of her pain, participating in that of her Son, Mary was made capable of accepting her new mission: to be the Mother of Christ in his members.

On the Cross, Jesus commended each of his disciples to her, saying: "Behold your son"
(cfr Jn 19,26-27). Maternal compassion for her Son became maternal compassion for each of us in our daily sufferings (cfr Homily, Lourdes, Sept. 15, 2009).

Dear brothers and sisters, on this World Day of the Sick, I also call on the authorities so that they may invest more efforts in health structures and systems which can help and sustain those who suffer, especially the poor and the needy.

Turning my thoughts to all the dioceses, I send an affectionate greeting to all bishops, priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, health care workers, volunteers, and all those who dedicate themselves with love, to care for and alleviate the pain in every sick brother and sister, in hospitals and hospices, in families.

In the faces of the sick, learn to always see the Face of faces - that of Christ. To all, I assure remembrance in my prayers, as I impart to each one a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican
November 21, 2010
Feast of Christ, King of the Universe


Vatican plans international conference
and pastoral guidelines on AIDS care

By John Thavis

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 3 (CNS) -- The Vatican will host international scientists at a conference on AIDS in late May, an encounter church officials hope will help clarify Pope Benedict XVI's recent comments on condom use in AIDS prevention, a Vatican official said.

Following the one-day conference May 28, the Vatican plans to publish a handbook of pastoral guidelines for Catholic health care workers on AIDS care and prevention, Msgr. Jean-Marie Mpendawatu, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, said Feb. 3.

Msgr. Mpendawatu said the Vatican conference and the subsequent guidelines would take a "global" approach to the AIDS question, and not focus on condoms. But he said the condom issue would be addressed, in the wake of the recent debate over Pope Benedict's remarks and a Vatican doctrinal note that followed.

In the book-length interview, Light of the World published in November, the pope said that while condoms were not the answer to the AIDS epidemic, the use of condoms may be a sign of moral responsibility in some specific situations when the intention is to reduce the risk of infection. He gave the example of a prostitute.

The papal comments sparked discussion and debate, including among Catholic health care professionals. In December, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an explanatory note saying the Pope's remarks did not signify a change in the Church's moral teaching or its pastoral practice, in particular on birth control.

Msgr. Mpendawatu said that among those attending the May conference would be leading scientific experts on AIDS, including Michel Sibide, executive director of the Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS. He said ranking Vatican officials would also address the conference, and explain to participants in further detail the points made in the doctrinal congregation's note.

"Sometimes there is a problem of understanding, of explaining things well: What did the pope say, really, authentically? What is the thinking of the pope?" he said.

He said the results of the May conference, which will look at the Church's global effort to assist AIDS patients, would also represent a contribution to the 6th International AIDS Society scientific conference to be held in Rome July 17-20.

Msgr. Mpendawatu said the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry would probably issue the pastoral guidelines on AIDS care and prevention sometime later in 2011, after review by Vatican doctrinal officials.

The pontifical council provides guidance and assistance to Catholic health care institutions, organizations and individual professionals, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

The council also is preparing to update its "Charter for Health Care Workers," which dates to 1994. The charter was framed by the principle that all health care must be performed in the service of life and with full respect for the human person, and new bioethical issues need to be addressed, he said.

00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 10.40

Pastoral letter from Croatian bishops
for Pope's visit on June 4-5

Translated from the Italian service of

O3 FEB 2011 (RV) - "Every pastoral visit of the Pope brings hope, restores pride, reawakens interior strength, encourages and fortifies the sense of worth and nobility that exists among out people".

Thus the Croatian bishops' conference wrote in a pastoral letter concerning the visit of Benedict XVI to that country on June 4-5.

Croatia had three visits from John Paul II, the bishops recall, each time at a historic moment for their country, "and so it will be for Benedict XVI who knows the situation of the Church in Croatia and the environment in which the Croatian people live today".

The visit, they say, comes during a profound cultural, economic and political crisis which reflects a profound spiritual crisis as a time when Croatia is about to join the European Union.

The bishops said the crisis raised many questions and challenges for Croatian young people, and they expect that with the Pope's visit, "they may recognize the strength of the faith with greater enthusiasm, discover their identity in the Church, bear courageous witness to the Christian presence in society, following the example of the saints, committing themselves to the common good by the donation of self and the strength of the Cross".

The motto for the Pope's visit is "Together in Christ". On June 4, the Pope will address representatives of various sectors in Croatia's civilian society and the diplomatic corps. Afterwards, he will have a separate encounter with young people.

The Croatian bishops have prepared a series of catecheses stressing community prayer and the family, invoking the help of St. Joseph, patron of Croatia, and of Blessed Alojsius Stepinac.
Croatia is holding its first national encounter of families in order to underscore" matrimonial communion as the source and foundation of the family. the first vital cell of human society, a school of communion and social solidarity".

On June 5, the Pope will visit the tomb of Blessed Aloysius and celebrate Mass at the Zagreb hippodrome.

00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 12.40

Update on the
'Courtyard of the Gentiles'

Translated from the Italian service of

03 FEB 2011 (RV) - The Sorbonne, UNESCO headquarters, the Academie Francaise and the square in front of Notre Dame Cathedral will be the places in Paris where, in March, the Vatican's 'Court of the Gentiles' will be inaugurated - a Vatican agency to promote encounters and exchanges among believers and non-believers.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which is in charge of this initiative, said that many personalities from the French world of culture will speak at the inaugural events. along with Benedict XVI himself, who will be 'present' by videoconference.

He says that the interest was surprising from the secular world in the initiative, born from a suggestion made by the Holy Father in his 2009 Christmas address to the Roman Curia.

"We are looking forward to a 'prelude' in Bologna on February 12, and there are plans for similar encounters next autumn in Stockholm and in Tirana (Albania)".

Ravasi explained that "We are not aiming for an academic dialog to find a common denominator. We wish to explore common radical questions for all men such as good and evil, life and the afterlife, pain and suffering, and also, the value of relIgion and theology".

00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 14.01

Friday, February 4, Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Center photo: The saint's tomb in Leonessa; right photo, a painting by Tiepolo.
ST. GIUSEPPE DA LEONESSA ;Joseph of Leonissa] (Italy, 1556-1612)
Capuchin, Preacher and Missionary
Born Eufranio Desiderio in a small town near Assisi, he joined the Capuchins
at age 17 and spent the first decade of his priesthood preaching to the country
folk in Umbria and the Abruzzo. He lived a very ascetic life, referring to himself
as 'Brother Ass' - "not fit to be treated like a noble horse but content to be
a poor ass". He rose to become prior of his convent but in 1587, he volunteered
to go to Turkey to help tend Christians who had been taken galley slaves by
the Muslims. He was imprisoned because of his preaching and was released
through the intervention of the local Venetian agent. He was rearrested
when he tried to bring his preaching to the Sultan himself. He was condemned
to death and hung on hooks by his left arm and leg with a slow fire underneath.
Miraculously, he was released after three days, and he went back to Italy,
where he was assigned to Naples. and continued preaching to the poor and helping
to reconcile warring families. He asked to go back to Leonessa to die, and
his remains are kept in the Basilica of his native town. He was canonized in 1746.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
PWhy the editor chose the center photo to illustrate the Presentation Vespers is another idiocy: one-third of the space is empty floor and you can hardly make out the figure of the Pope!
Top news today is the continuing anti-Mubarak protest in Cairo, focusing on the bloody encounters Wednesday and Thursday between the demonstrators and pro-Mubarak groups; plus other popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. Papal stories: the Vespers on Wednesday on the Presentation in the Temple and the Day for Consecrated Life; and yesterday's audiences with the new ambassador from Austria and the Emmanuel Community. Other Page 1 news: China fights inflation, and the publishers of Wall Street Journal and the New York Post launch the world's first completely digital full-feature newspaper, The Daily, designed to be accessible even from an iPhone.


The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney

- Mons. Felix Genn, Bishop of Münster (Germany)

- Mons. Lucas Van Looy, S.D.B., Bishop oF Ghent (Belgium)

- Participants in the Plenary Session of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Address in Italian.

And this afternoon with

- Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (weekly meeting)

Lenten spiritual exercises
for the Pope: March 13-19

Translated from

Lenten spiritual exercises this year for the Holy Father and the Roman Curia will take place at the Vatican's Redemptoris Mater chapel from Sunday, March 13, to Saturday, March 19.

The meditations will be guided by Fr. François-Marie Léthel, of the Discalced Carmelites, Prelate-Secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, whose theme will be: "The light of Christ in the heart of the Church: John Paul II and the theology of the saints".

00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 15.08

Yesterday, the Vatican released a communique on the status of theological dialog with the Anglican Communion, as follows:


February 3, 2011


The official dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion is undertaken by the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Department for Unity, Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion. The dialogue has taken place over forty years, in two phases of the Commission.

The co-Chairmen and co-secretaries of the new phase of the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) have drawn up a plan for the first meeting of the Commission. This will be hosted by the Monastery of Bose, northern Italy, from 17 to 27 May 2011.

The new phase of ARCIC’s work was mandated by Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, at their meeting in Rome in November 2009.

The co-Chairmen are the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England (Roman Catholic) and the Most Reverend David Moxon, Archbishop of the New Zealand dioceses (Anglican).

The task of this third phase of ARCIC will be to consider fundamental questions regarding the ‘Church as Communion - Local and Universal’, and ‘How in communion the Local and Universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching’. These interrelated topics emerged from the Common Declaration of the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The international membership of this new phase of ARCIC represents a wide range of cultural settings, and brings to the Commission a variety of theological disciplines.


The Most Reverend David Moxon, co-Chair, is the Bishop of Waikato and Archbishop of the Dioceses of New Zealand in the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Dr. Paula Gooder, biblical scholar, is Canon Theologian of Birmingham Cathedral, Visiting lecturer at King's College, London, Associate lecturer at St Mellitus College, London, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Birmingham and Senior Research Scholar at the Queen's Foundation, Birmingham, England.

The Rt Reverend Christopher Hill is the Bishop of Guildford and the Chair of the Council for Christian Unity of the Church of England.

The Reverend Dr Mark McIntosh is Van Mildert Canon Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Durham in England.

The Rt Reverend Nkosinathi Ndwandwe is Bishop Suffragan of Natal, Southern Area, in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

The Rt Reverend Linda Nicholls is Area Bishop for the episcopal area of Trent-Durham in the Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada.

the Reverend Dr Michael Poon is director and Asian Christianity coordinator of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia at Trinity Theological College in Singapore, Province of South-East Asia.

The Reverend Canon Nicholas Sagovsky is retiring as Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey in the Church of England. An ecclesiologist, he served on ARCIC II.

The Reverend Dr Peter Sedgwick is Principal and Warden of St Michael’s College in Llandaff in the Church in Wales, where he teaches theology and social ethics.

The Reverend Dr Charles Sherlock is a consultant to ARCIC III. He has recently retired as Registrar of the Melbourne College of Divinity and lives in the Diocese of Bendigo, Anglican Church of Australia.


The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, co-Chair, is Archbishop of Birmingham, England, and has previously served as Moderator of the Steering Committee of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, as well as Assistant General Secretary of Catholic Bishops' Conference with responsibilities for Ecumenism and Interfaith Affairs.

The Right Reverend Arthur Kennedy is auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, and rector of St John’s seminary. He has previously been executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Professor Paul D. Murray is professor in the department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, and is a major proponent of receptive ecumenism.

Prof Janet E. Smith is professor of moral theology and the Fr. Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Issues at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, and is a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The Reverend Vimal Tirimanna CSsR, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, is professor of systematic moral theology at the Alphonsianum University in Rome

The Very Reverend Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, from Ampleforth Abbey, England, is a biblical scholar, and was General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible.

Sister Teresa Okure SHCJ is academic dean and professor of New Testament studies at the Catholic Institute of West Africa, based in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Fr Adelbert Denaux is professor emeritus at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, where he taught biblical studies and ecumenism. He served on ARCIC II.

The work of the Commission is supported by the Co-Secretaries, Monsignor Mark Langham (PCPCU) and Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Anglican Communion Office) and by Canon Jonathan Goodall, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs.

00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 18.17

Among reactions to the Pope's recent flurry of major messages, here is one refreshing commentary from a Jewish councilor in Tel Aviv who writes for the very leftie Huffington Post, in its section on 'Science and Religion'-
` and Science'... In the course of a reflection on the relation between science and religion, the writer comments on the Holy Father's recent message for this year's World Day for Social Communications.... I will simply reproduce that which concerns the Pope, omitting his general introduction about the relationship between science and religion.

The Pope on social networking:
A practical meeting ground
for science and religion


... the meeting between science and religion is rarely a meeting about ideas at all. Conflicts about evolution and intelligent design dominate headlines, but they are rarely, if ever, the most important story to tell about the relationship between science and religion.

In fact, even when a conflict about science and religion seems to be about ideas, usually it is at the same time also about something else altogether. Obviously, these meetings are often about politics.

Equally often, they are about identity, autonomy, authority and manners. They can be about economics. They can be about knowledge and what counts as reliable knowledge. Who is an expert and who is a charlatan.

Sometimes, though they seem to be about abstract ideas, meetings of science and religion are really about how best to bring up your kids and how to be a mate. Or about whether and when and how to have sex or use drugs. Or about what counts as health and what counts as illness. Or about whom one should turn to for advice when facing a problem. Or about how to entertain yourself and how to spend your money.

A few days ago, Pope Benedict XVI issued a statement about social networks like Facebook, called "Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age."

The Pope's tone is one of reflection and careful measure, and he finds online things to admire and things to avoid. He sees in the Internet "a new appreciation of communication itself, which is seen first of all as dialogue, exchange, solidarity and the creation of positive relations."

At the same time, he finds in posting and Tweeting and poking a "tendency to communicate only some parts of one's interior world" and a "risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence." Life online shakes up life as we knew it, raising important questions:

Who is my "neighbour" in this new world? Does the danger exist that we may be less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life? Is there a risk of being more distracted because our attention is fragmented and absorbed in a world "other" than the one in which we live? Do we have time to reflect critically on our choices and to foster human relationships which are truly deep and lasting?

What makes this document moving is the fact that in it Pope Benedict tries to make sense of how the vast changes quickly wrought by scientific technologies affect the lives of our kids and our own lives, how they might bring people together or keep them apart, how they add to our loneliness or subtract from it, how they allow us to find meaning and love, or prevent us for this.

What makes it moving is the Pope's certainty that "the truth of Christ" and "the task of witnessing to the Gospel" are affected by the Internet (and other technologies served up by science), alongside his wavering and worried uncertainty about just how they are affected. [Interesting comment from a Jew who do not consider Jesus as other than a controversial - perhaps even heretical - rabbi in his day!]

The Pope knows that social networks answer a "desire for relationship, meaning and communion" that are the soul of what it means to be human, and he knows that at the same time they provide new ways for people to bully and berate one another, another human tendency.

Even more than tired polemics about Darwin, this is where science and religion meet in ways that matter, behind the locked bedroom door of a teen at a screen, waiting, forlorn, to be 'friended'.

Meetings of this sort reflect no "great war of ideas." They are something more delicate than that, far from headlines, taking place at a scale more human than seminar room polemics, with stakes that are, in the end, higher.

00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 22.02

Pope to Apostolic Signatura:
Justice is indispensable
to build a community of love



The Holy Father greets Cardinal Burke.

04 FEB 2011 (RV) - Pope Benedict XVI received the officials and staff of the Apostolic Signatura – the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church - on Friday morning in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

Next to the Pope himself, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is the highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church, and is responsible for overseeing the administration of justice in whole Church.

The Signatura has final ordinary appellate jurisdiction in cases that involve conflicts between two or more Dicasteries, as well as appeals of administrative decisions.

With the oversight responsibility comes the power to extend the jurisdiction of local tribunals and to create inter-diocesan tribunals, as well as to grant dispensations from procedural laws, and discipline canon lawyers.

The Signatura is currently holding its Plenary Assembly, a new development that stems from a reform of the tribunal’s statutes, which Pope Benedict XVI signed in 2008.

At the start of the audience this Friday in the Apostolic Palace, at the Vatican, the current Prefect of the Signatura, the American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke – the first non-European Prefect in the history of the Signaler – greeted the Holy Father in the name of all the participants in the Plenary.

In his remarks to the Signatura, the Holy Father spoke of the administration of justice as difficult, often delicate and demanding work, that requires particular intellectual and spiritual discipline that is an integral part of the Church’s mission in the world.

“The Pilgrim People of God on Earth,” said Pope Benedict, “will not ever be able to realize its identity as a community of love, if it does not have regard within itself for the exigencies of justice.”

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's address:

Venerated brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
dear brothers and sisters:

First of all, I wish to extend my heartfelt greeting to the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, whom I thank for the greeting with which he opened this meeting.

I greet the other cardinals and bishops who are members of the Supreme Tribunal, the Secretary, the officials and all the co-workers who carry out the daily ministry of your dicastery. I also greet the Tribunal's experts and advocates.

This is the first opportunity for me to meet the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura after the promulgation of the {S]Lex propria which I signed on June 21, 2008. In the course of preparing this law, the desire was expressed by members of the Signatura to be able to dedicate - in the same way as every dicastery of the Roman Curia
(cfr. Cost. ap. Pastor bonus, 28 giugno 1988, art. 11; Regolamento Generale della Curia Romana, 30 aprile 1999, artt. 112-117) - a periodic plenary congregation dedicated to the promotion of the correct administration of justice in the Church (cfr. Lex propria, art. 112).

The function of this Tribunal, in fact, does not end with the supreme exercise of the judicial function, but also includes, in the executive area, vigilance over the correct administration of justice in the Corpus Ecclesiae (body of the Church] (cfr. Cost. ap. Pastor bonus, art. 121; Lex propria, art. 32).

This entails, among others, as the Lex Propria indicates, the up-to-date collection of information on the status and activities of local tribunals through the annual report that each tribunal is required to send to the Apostolic Signatura; the presentation and elaboration of the data that come from these reports; the identification of strategies for evaluating the human and institutional resources in the local tribunals, as well as the constant exercise of addressing the moderators of the diocesan and inter-diocesan tribunals which institutionally have direct responsibility for administering justice on the local level.

This involves coordinated and patient work, aimed above all at providing the faithful with a correct administration of justice that is prompt and efficient, as I requested, in relation to matrimonial annulment, in the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum caritatis:

"When legitimate doubts exist about the validity of the prior sacramental marriage, the necessary investigation must be carried out to establish if these are well-founded. Consequently there is a need to ensure, in full respect for canon law, the presence of local ecclesiastical tribunals, their pastoral character, and their correct and prompt functioning.

"Each Diocese should have a sufficient number of persons with the necessary preparation, so that the ecclesiastical tribunals can operate in an expeditious manner. I repeat that it is a grave obligation to bring the Church's institutional activity in her tribunals ever closer to the faithful"
(No. 29).

On that occasion, I also referred to the instruction Dignitas connubii(the dignity of spouses), which provides to the Modarators and ministers of the tribunals, in the form of a vademecum, the necessary norms in order that cases of matrimonial annulment are treated and defined in the fastest and surest way.

The activity of this tribunal is aimed at assuring that the ecclesiastical tribunals are present in a territory and that their ministry is adequate for the rightful demands of speed and simplicity to which the faithful have a right in the treatment of their cases.

Under the tribunal's competence, such activity promotes the erection of inter-diocesan tribunals; provides prudently for any necessary exemptions from academic titles for the ministers of the tribunals, along with the prompt verification of their actual expertise in substantive and procedural law; grants the necessary exemptions from legal procedures when the exercise of justice in a particular case requires the relaxatio legis
(relaxation of the law) in order to reach the outcome intended by the law. This, too, is an important task of discernment and application of procedural law.

Vigilance over the correct administration of justice would, however, be deficient if it does not also include the function of protecting correct jurisprudence
(cfr. Lex propria, art. 111, §1).

The instruments of cognizance and intervention, granted to the Apostolic Signatura by the Lex Propria and by its institutional position, allow it an activity which, in synergy with the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (cfr. Cost. ap. Pastor bonus, art. 126), has proven to be providential for the Church.

The exhortations and the prescriptions with which this Apostolic Signature accompanies its responses to the annual reports of local tribunals not infrequently recommend to their respective Moderators both knowledge of and adherence to the directives proposed in the annual Pontifical addresses to the Roman Rota, as well as to the common Rotal jurisprudence on specific aspects which are urgent for the individual tribunals.

Therefore, I encourage reflection during your plenary meetings these days on the correct jurisprudence to propose to local tribunals on the question of error iuris
(judicial error) as a reasons for matrimonial annulment.

This Supreme Tribunal is also involved, among other things, in another delicate area of the administration of justice, entrusted to you by the Servant of God Paul VI. The Tribunal is, in fact, aware of the controversy that arose from ecclesial administrative power that is deferred to as a legitimate recourse regarding single administrative acts emanating from or approved by dicasteries of the Roman Curia
(cfr. Cost. ap. Regimini Ecclesiae universae, 15 agosto 1967, n. 106; CIC, can. 1445, § 2; Cost. ap. Pastor bonus, art. 123; Lex propria, art. 34).

This is a service of primary importance: the predisposition of instruments of justice - from the pacific settlement of controversies to their juridical coverage and definition - constitutes a space for dialog and renewal of communion in the Church.

While it is indeed true that injustice must be confronted above all with the spiritual weapons of prayer, charity, forgiveness and penitence, nonetheless the opportunity and the need to confront it with procedural instruments cannot be excluded in some cases.

These processes constitute, first of all, opportunities for dialog which often leads to agreement and reconciliation. It is not by chance that the procedural system provides that in limine litis
(at the start of the procedure), or better yet, at every stage of the process, room and opportunity must be provided so that "every time someone considers himself unjustly burdened by a decree, there should be no dispute between him and the author of the decree, but they should both agree to find an equitable solution, by recourse to authoritative persons for mediation and study, so that controversy may be avoided or resolved in an appropriate manner" (CIC, can. 1733, § 1).

Also encouraged to this end are initiatives and standards aimed at instituting offices or councils, to be tasked, according to norms which will be established, with searching for and suggesting these equitable solutions (cfr. ibid., § 2).

In those cases when it is not possible to resolve a controversy peacefully, a legal administrative process must follow after judicial definition of the controversy. Even in such cases, the activity of the Supreme Tribunal must aim to reconstitute ecclesial communion, that is, the re-establishment of objective order for the good of the Church.

Only such a communion, re-established and justified by the reasons for the judicial decision, can lead to authentic peace and concord in ecclesial teamwork. This is the meaning of the famous principla, Opus iustitiae pax - the work of justice is peace.

The effortful re-establishment of justice is destined to reconstruct correct and orderly relationships among the faithful, and between them and the Church authority.

In fact, internal peace and the willing collaboration of the faithful in the mission of the Church derive from a re-established awareness of how to fully carry out one's vocation.

The justice that the Church seeks through any legal administrative process can be considered initially as the minimum requirement, as well as an expectation, of charity, which is indispensable, but insufficient at the same time, relative to the charity by which the Church lives.

Nonetheless, the People of God on their earthly pilgrimage cannot realize their identity as a community of love unless they also respect the demands of justice.

To the Most Blessed Mary, mirror of justice and Queen of peace, I entrust the valuable and delicate ministry that the Apostolic Signatura carries out in the service of communion within the Church, while I assure each of you of my esteem and appreciation.

On you and on your daily work, I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit, and I impart to everyone my Apostolic Blessing.


00venerdì 4 febbraio 2011 22.44

Pope's prayers: Can the Web
increase the spread of intentions?

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 4 (CNS) -- If the Pope used Twitter or Facebook to rally people together to pray for one intention, how many millions of prayers could be raised to heaven within minutes?

In some countries, Facebook and the Internet already are being used by the Apostleship of Prayer to build community and distribute the pope's monthly prayer intentions. But in most places in the world, when the Pope makes a special public appeal for prayers, people hear about it only through the Catholic media.

For 167 years, members of the Apostleship of Prayer have begun each day offering their lives to God and praying for the needs of the universal Church and the intentions of the Pope.

The offering and the prayers are the basic membership requirements, and in most places the apostleship has "no registration, no groups, no fees, no special meetings," so no one really knows how many people belong.

Jesuit Father Claudio Barriga, who oversees the organization from the Jesuit headquarters near the Vatican, said he estimates there are about 50 million people fulfilling the membership requirements in the apostleship and its youth wing, the Eucharistic Youth Movement.

The Jesuit said he was in Vietnam in January and discovered that there are Apostleship of Prayer groups in every diocese with an estimated 1 million involved.

A government-approved bishop in mainland China reported that there is a group of people who makes the offering and prays for the Pope's intentions each day in his cathedral, Father Barriga said.

In the United States, he said, "it's mainly a digital community" thriving through the use of the website -- which includes links to a daily audiovisual meditation posted on YouTube -- and through both national and parish-based Facebook pages.

But it's also big in remote areas of Angola where many people have never even seen a computer and in Madagascar where about 250,000 young people belong to the Eucharistic Youth Movement, he said.

Father Barriga knows that for many people, the Apostleship of Prayer is seen as a way for the elderly to exercise their piety; he said it wasn't that long ago that he thought so, too.

The Jesuit does not seem particularly bothered about not having a membership list or even just a head count; he said he wants to help people pray, and if just getting the list of the pope's prayer intentions is enough, that's good.

But for many people, he said, it could be helpful to have contact with others making the same effort and to receive guidance from someone who has been making the effort even longer.

Father Barriga said the prayer life promoted by the apostleship is "simple, but not simplistic," and schoolchildren in the poorest village and business leaders in the biggest cities all can find the 10 or 15 minutes a day it takes to fulfill the apostleship's requirements.

Of course, he said, there's no guarantee that belonging won't change a person.

"It's a Jesus program, a way to live with Jesus's heart," he said.

"You have at least 50 million people praying each day for a month for something like those who do not have access to clean water -- that creates awareness" and could lead to enough action that less water would be wasted and less would be polluted, he said.

"If what you are praying for doesn't change you, then you aren't praying correctly," Father Barriga said.

But the distribution of the monthly intentions is not a publicity campaign for living more responsibly, he said. They really are prayers.

"We pray to God because God is the one who moves human hearts," the Jesuit said.

With little international coordination, the Apostleship of Prayer and the Eucharistic Youth Movement seem to have depended on whether a local Jesuit superior appointed someone energetic to lead the ministry or whether the people involved kept meeting and bringing others onboard.

One reason the Jesuits are looking to "re-create" the apostleship is to strengthen the Jesuits' commitment to it -- whether to leading groups personally or virtually over the Internet, Father Barriga said.

Another reform at which the Jesuits are looking is helping to keep members focused on the big, important "permanent needs" of the church and the world as reflected in the monthly prayer intentions, while also being able to count on millions of people's prayers when special needs or disasters arise, Father Barriga said.

The Apostleship of Prayer is responsible for the annual distribution of "the pope's prayer intentions" for each month.

Pope Benedict XVI's general intention for February, which includes Valentine's Day, is: "That all may respect the family and recognize its unmatched contribution to the advancement of society."

His missionary intention for the month, which includes the Feb. 12 celebration of World Day of the Sick, is: "That the Christian communities may witness to the presence of Christ in serving those who suffer from disease in those mission territories where the fight against disease is most urgent."

The apostleship and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples help the pope draw up a year's list of monthly intentions, which are published a full year in advance. The lists for 2012 were published by the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Jan. 28.

Obviously, Father Barriga said, when the prayers are chosen so far in advance, it's hard to make them very specific and timely.

But now that so many people have access to a computer, or at least to the radio, the Jesuit said it may be time to look for more instant ways to raise a call to prayer.

This is such a worthy cause, in which everyone can take part - it takes relatively 'very little' to do it, since one can pray for these intentions individually as well as with a prayer group,

A great deal of fascinating information cabout the Apostleship of Prayer and what it owes to St. Ignatius's spirituality can be found on their website.

00sabato 5 febbraio 2011 03.31

The seminars sponsored by the Diocese of Rome's Pastoral Ministry for Universities on Benedict XVI's great secular discourses ended last night at the Lateran Apostolic Palace. The following is a major excerpt from the lecture of Mons. Mario Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace... Unfortunately, his language is too academic, no matter how I tried to simplify it by breaking up his sentences wherever I could, but I had to use his terms...

Benedict XVI at Westminster Hall:
The secular state and the common good

by Mons. Mario Toso
Translated from the 2/4/11 issue of

For integral social development, the encyclical Caritas in veritatis postulates a personal first-person ethic based on the intrinsic capacity of every human subject to tend towards the perfect good, God.

This is contrary to what has become lately of secular ethics, a third-person ethic that is skeptical about knowledge of truth, of goodness and of God - and this does not lead to just collaboration among individuals who often consider themselves free to do whatever they please.

Nor does this ethic lead to a satisfactory state of affairs, since it maximizes the median usefulness of an activity in society, while setting aside the interests of weaker citizens who are incapable of taking part in the public dialog or in the social contract.

Religions - or better said, a critical reflection on the religious experience - help to recover integral reason in the context of actual living conditions and practical knowledge. While religions relativize the claim of reason to be the only source of standards, they also reinforce reason by highlighting its meta-sociological and meta-historical dimensions which transcend but do not negate the usual phenomenologic level to which reason is reduced. This allows religion to formulate a human 'teloe' - the ensemble of beneficial things measured in relation to the Supreme Good that God represents.

But religion is not always able to exercise the function of purifying reason. This happens, Benedict XVI pointed out, when religion undergoes distortions due to sectarianism and fundamentalism. In this case, religion becomes a problem to be solved rather than a 'resource' for society.

How do we purify the religious experience from that rationalism which is deleterious for religion as well as for society as a whole? As Benedict XVI himself teaches in Caritas in veritate, it is possible only on the basis of ethical judgment that is structured by reason not imprisoned in the empirical, but open to the integrity of truth and to the Transcendent.

Such a rationality subsists and is exercised only in discernment that is based and focused on charity and on truth (CIV, 55). Cognitive experience of charity in truth gives rise to the criterion of 'all of man, and all men' as the basis both for judging and purifying all religions, as well as for structuring them in a way that is consistent with their essence.

'Re-semanticizing' secularity [giving the term 'secularity' a meaning that more appropriately defines it that what has come to be its common connotation] in a democratic state presupposes substantial confidence in the human being. in his reason - meaning, his capacity to distinguish good from evil, even if it is not always infallible, in his moral consciousness.

In the face of the modern and post-modern phenomenon of progressive desemantization of secularity by the dominant culture that is increasingly secularized to the point of becoming secularism, it is indispensable, as Benedict XVI says repeatedly, to make a multi-directional commitment to the rediscovery of integral, rather than partial or specialized, human reason, and to disseminating an ethos that is open to Transcendence as well as to realizing a new evangelization.

This is indispensable not only for announcing Christ the Savior to a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, but in order to liberate and humanize cultures and their respective ethics, which are the basis of the juridical order and secularity of the State.

The secular state based on law, in the face of the primacy of the person and of civilian society, cannot consider itself the source of truth and morality on the basis of its own doctrine or ideology.

The State receives from outside - from a pluralist civilian society that is harmoniously convergent - the indispensable measure of knowledge and truth about what is good for man as an individual and in groups.

Ir does not receive these inputs as pure rational knowledge, to be guarded and protected through a philosophy that is totally independent of historical context, since pure rational evidence does not exist divorced from history.

Metaphysical and moral reason operate only in a historical context - it depends on that context, at the same time that it transcends it. In effect, the State draws its support from pre-existing cultural and religious traditions, and not from bare reason.

It is sustained by reason that has matured within a system of practices and institutions favorable to it, in the historical form of religious faiths, which, without deterioration, keep alive the ethical sense of existence and of its transcendence.

The attempts today to remove religion from the public sphere, even as on the one hand, the promise is renewed to keep democratic living viable and peaceable, promotes its weakening because it is deprived of its vital lymph (religion).

A healthy democracy must recognize personal faiths and their communitarian groupings. It is not enough to have a 'civilian religion' based only on social consensus (such a 'religion' would be founded on fragile moral bases that are as changeable as fashions), nor a religion enclosed within privacy - one that is considered only as a subjective and irrational choice which is therefore irrelevant or even harmful to social life. Nor will there be any use for any religion that mortifies the dignity of persons and prevents their human fulfillment through horizontal and vertical transcendence.

The religious dimension in humans does not lie outside the universality of reason, but transcends it without contradiction. The faith of citizens, like the corresponding religious communities that educate them in their faith, nourish the 'social capital' - consisting of stable relationships, lifestyles, shared values, civilian friendships, fraternity - which no democracy can do without, if it is not to be reduced to pure administration of disparate and conflicting interests.

If this is true, then democracies should cultivate towards religions an attitude of openness that is not passive but active, in the sense that they must acknowledge and promote a public space - which is quite distinct from state institutions - within its civilian society, where spiritual and cultural families are formed in an ethos that should revitalize them, especially in the plural and convergent task of building the common good.

Vatican Radio's summary report is more representative of the Thursday night session:

The Pope's secular discourse:
'Secularity is not always negative'


4 FEB 2011 (RV) -A session dedicated to the theme "Secularity is not neutrality: A new way for the integral development of the human being", as an occasion to re-examine the address delivered by Benedict XVI on September 17, 2010, at Westminster Hall in London, concluded the cycle of encounters on the Pope's three great secular discourses, organized by the Vicariate of Rome's Office for Pastoral Ministry for Universities, at the Lateran Apostolic Palace Thursday evening. Roberta Barbi reports for us:

Secularity and neutrality: two characteristics of our time which synthesize the relationship between the religious and political dimensions today.

The Pope, in his address to the civilian authorities and cultural representatives in Westminster Hall, exhorted the faithful to assume responsibility, using the words of Jesus who called on everyone to take up his own cross.

But secularization is not secularism, and is not necessarily a negative concept. Prof. Lorenzo Ornaghi, rector of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore explained the difference

"Secularization is not negative in itself. Rather, it has its positive aspects even in relationship to religion. Secularism is something else. There are different ideological shells to what we consider secularization. For example, there is a conceptual clarity which refers to the fundamentals that allow us to draw from secularization its positive aspects while seeking to abandon its worst aspects".

The focus of the Holy Father's address at Westminster Hall, with an audience that included most members of the British Parliament, is the reality today that religion is marginalized from the political sphere and from public lif,e in general. It is a phenomenon that particularly strikes at Christians and the nations that were historically Christian and more tolerant.

It is in this latter countries where today, religion is sought to be silenced, or at least, relegated to the individual's private sphere. But it is a tendency that is not without consequences for modern democracy, as Mons. Toso clarified.

"In this way, the democratic ethic and the moral consensus of society are debased. The very basis of law itself is debased, to be ultimately replaced by almost anything whatsoever, even by the arbitrary".

The role of reason in today's political debate is therefore to confer a basis for broadening political thought, offering fertile ground for the ethic of democracy. A democracy which is in crisis today - an institutional crisis as well as a crisis of values, but a crisis that can be overcome, as Mons. Toso explained:

"By finding solid foundations, as Benedict XVI has said on many occasions - solid foundations which can be found by linking the social consensus to natural moral law which, in principle, is found in the conscience of every man, whatever his race or religion".

Thus, one returns to the question of witnessing to the faith that Catholics must give within society, even if some would exclude them or would want them to behave against their conscience. The Pope, in facing this argument, cites Thomas More, "admired by believers and non-believers for the integrity with which he was able to follow his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing his sovereign of whom he was 'a good servant'."

The example of that great man of faith and English statesman, said Mons. Toso, still speaks to us today: "Thomas More acknowledged a moral law beyond the positive law set by the King and his ministers, a law which has its basis in our conscience. It means this precisely: that we should render unto God what is God's, and to Caesar that which is his.

The evening session closed the cycle of seminars dedicated to the Pope's great secular discourses, not so much to understand them better, but to use them as guides to behaving and acting better, especially at a time when Christians are more than ever called to give the best of themselves in announcing the Gospel and bearing witness to and for Christ.

Mons. Lorenzo Leuzzi, director of the Rome Vicariate's Office for Pastoral Ministry in the universities, summed it up:

"The most beautiful conclusion is the knowledge that Benedict XVI is showing the entire Church a new Christian presence. But this means that believers who have experienced and are living a full encounter with Christ, become aware of the great responsibility that they have not just for themselves but even to society.

"Bearing witness to our faith today must be reinforced by this awareness - that announcing the Gospel does not mean encroaching on the secular world, but it means rendering a service, because wherever the Gospel reaches, the basis is laid for a true secularity as the Pope pointed out in his address at Westminster Hall."

00sabato 5 febbraio 2011 13.44

Saturday, February 5, Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
The Passion of St. Agatha was a popular subject for medieval artists. From left, a conventional portrait by Carlo Crivelli, 15th-cent; miniature showing her torture, Sano del Pietro, 1471; a detailed Passion by Del Piombo, 1519; St. Peter healing St. Agatha, school of Caravaggio, 1614; unconventional portrait by Zurbaran, 1630.
ST. AGATA (Sicily, ca 231-253), Virgin and Martyr
She was martyred under Decian but like Agnes of Rome, her story comes down to us mostly from the medieval Legenda Aurea (Golden Legends), and follows the same line: She was arrested for her faith, tortured, sent to a house of prostitution, preserved from violation and put to death. Unique to her legend is that on her second day in prison, her breasts were cut off, but St. Peter visits her cell to heal her. Four days later she is rolled onto burning brands, but this torment is ended by a sudden earthquake. Back in her cell, she prays that Jesus will take her and then dies. She is buried in Catania and is the patron saint of both Palermo and Catania. As an early martyr, she is one of seven women other than Mary who is mentioned in the canon of the Mass.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
The Holy Father addresses the plenary session of the Apostolic Signatura, Church's highest court:
'The demands of justice must be met to build a community of love'
Other Page 1 stories: A reflection on the Pope's decree instituting the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization by Cardinal Scola of Venice; coverage of the Egyptian crisis, which also includes a report on increasing pressure from Washington for President Mubarak to step down now as the protesters demand - the 'day of departure' they decreed for yesterday, Friday, came and went with Mubarak still in place; demonstrations in Cairo had the largest crowds so far (200,000 in a city of 18 million) but they were peaceful. In the inside pages, a story on Kepler-11, a planetary system analogous to our own, with six planets and a sun, and which is 2000 light-years away - it was recently 'discovered' by NASA's Kepler interplanetary probe for other planets in our galaxy that may be potentially habitable; a report on John XXIII's writing on priestly celibacy in his encyclical devoted to St. Jean Vianney; and a review of the DVD Heart speaks unto heart, which is a record of Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom last September.


At 10:00 this morning, the Holy Father presided at Mass in St. Peter's Basilica during which he ordained five recent Curial nominees - three secretaries of congregations and two Apostolic Nuncios - as Archbishops. Homily.


I don't know how much this item, reported in the GErman media yesterday, will be reported in the Anglophone media, since they have so far pretty much ignored the news from Germany last week about a 1970 letter that Joseph Ratzinger co-signed with eight other German theologians urging the German bishops' conference to examine the question of priestly celibacy in view of the worsening priest shortage in Germany.

- This time, the news is that 120 theologians from the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) - reportedly representing one-third of their theology professors (and who would have thought there could be as many as 360 theology professors in countries which even seem proud that their Catholic numbers are declining!) - have signed a petition asking for the abolition of the requirement of priestly celibacy, the ordination of women, allowing laymen to carry out some functions of priests and bishops, and sanctioning same-sex marriage, in a laundry list of 'same-old-same-old' demands by diehard dissidents against Catholic practice as it has upheld Tradition. They also lament 'liturgical traditionalism'!

- And, of course, the Anglophone media are only now reporting Georg Gaenswein's clarification reported two days ago by Vatican Radio that Pope Benedict's organ donor card lapsed ipso facto the moment he became Pope - for obvious reasons!... That are obviously not obvious at all to some malicious types like a Democratic blog which chose to title its report "Pope's organs too holy for mere mortals'... Morons!

00sabato 5 febbraio 2011 15.12

Pope Benedict XVI ordains
five new Curial archbishops


At 10 a.m. today, the Holy Father presided at Holy Mass during which he ordained four prelates as archbishops. Concelebrating were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals; Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, and the five bishop-ordinands.



5 FEB 2011 (RV) - Pope Benedict XVI ordained 5 new bishops with the rank of Archbishop on Saturday during Mass in St Peter’s Basilica:

- Mons. Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Secretary to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

- Mons. Marcello Bartolucci, Secretary to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

- Mons. Celso Morga Iruzubieta Secretary to the Congregation for Clergy,

- Mons. Edgar Pena Parra, Apostolic Nuncio to Pakistan, and

- Mons. Antonio Guido Filipazzi, awaiting assignment as an Apostolic Nuncio.

In his homily, the Holy Father spoke of the role of the bishop as pastor of souls and living witness to the faith of the Church, for the protection and conservation of which his office was instituted by Christ, and has come down to the present day in an unbroken chain from Peter and the Apostles.

The Holy Father also spoke of the urgent need for men to do the work of the Lord: “ ‘The harvest is plentiful’ - even today, right now,” said Pope Benedict, quoting from the Gospel according to St. Luke, which was read at Mass.

The Pope went on to say, “Although it may seem that large parts of the modern world, men of today, turn away from God and maintain that faith is a thing of the past – even so, there is a deep, groaning desire that justice, love, peace, be finally established, that poverty and suffering are overcome, that people find joy.”

“All this yearning,” he said, “is present in today's world, the yearning for that, which is great, for all that is good. It is nostalgia for the Redeemer, for God himself, even where He is denied.”



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

Dear brothers and sisters:

I affectionately greet our five brother priests who will shortly receive episcopal ordination: Mons. Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Mons. Marcello Bartolucci, Mons. Celso Morga Iruzubieta, Mons. Antonio Guido Filipazzi and Mons. Edgar Peña Parra.

I wish to express to them my gratitude and that of the Church for the service that they have rendered till now with generosity and dedication, and ask you to accompany them with prayers in the ministry to which they have been called, in the Roman Curia and in Pontifical Representation, as Successors of the Apostles, that they may always be enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit in the harvest of the Lord.

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest"
(Lk 10,2). These words from the Gospel in today's Mass touches us particularly close at this time. It is a time of mission: The Lord sends you, dear friends, to his harvest. You must cooperate in that responsibility which the prophet Isaiah speaks of in the first Reading: "The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted" (Is 61,1).

This is the work of harvesting in the field of the Lord, in the field of human history: To bring to men the light of the truth, liberate him from his poverty in truth, which is the real sadness and the real poverty of man.

To bring to them the happy news that is not merely words, but an event: God himself has come among us. He takes us by the hand, he draws us upwards, towards him, and so the broken heart is healed.

Let us thank the Lord because he sends workers to the harvest in the history of the world. Let us thank him because he sends you, because you said Yes, and because at this time, you will once again pronounce that Yes to being workers of the Lord for mankind.

"The harvest is abundant", even now, especially now. Even if it may seem that large parts of the modern world, of men today, turn their back to God and consider faith a thing of the past, the yearning still exists that finally, justice, love and peace may be established, that poverty and suffering may be overcome, that man may find joy.

All this yearning is present in the world today, a yearning towards what is great, what is good. It is nostalgia for the Redeemer, for God himself, even where he is denied. Precisely at this time, the work in the field of the Lord is particularly urgent, and precisely at this time, we feel in a particularly sorrowful way the truth of Jesus's words: "The workers are few".

At the same time, the Lord makes us understand that it it is not for us, by ourselves, to send laborers to his harvest; that it is not a question of 'management'
[he uses the English word], of our organizational capacity.

Only God himself can send workers for the harvest in his field. But he wants to send them through the door of our prayer. We can cooperate for the coming of these workers, but we can do so only by cooperating with God.

Thus this time of thanksgiving for being able to send out a mission is, in a special way, also a time of prayer: Lord, send workers to your harvest! Open hearts to your call! Let not out pleading be in vain!

Today's liturgy thus gives us two definitions of your mission as bishops, as priests of Jesus Christ: to be workers in the harvest of the world's history, with the task of healing by opening the doors of the world to the lordship of God, so that the will of God may be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Then, our ministry is also described as cooperation in the mission of Jesus Christ, as a participation in the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to him as the Messiah, the Son anointed by God.

The Letter to the Hebrews - the second Reading - completes this idea with the image of the high priest Melchisedek, which is a mysterious reference to Christ, the true High Priest, King of peace and justice.

But I would also like to say something on how this great task is to be carried out in practice - about what is demanded concretely of us. For the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Christian communities of Jerusalem chose this year the words from the Acts of the Apostles, in which St. Luke wished to illustrate normatively the fundamental elements of Christian living in the communion of the Church of Jesus Christ.

And he expressed it this way: "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).

These four fundamental elements of the essence of the Church also describe the essential task of her pastors. All the four elements are held together by the expression "They devoted themselves..." - erant perseverantes - which is how the Latin Bible translates it from the Greek: Perseverance, assiduity, belong to the essence of being Christian, and are fundamental for the task of Pastors, of workers in the harvest of the Lord.

The pastor should not be a reed that bends as the wind blows, a servant to the spirit of the time. To be intrepid, to have the courage to oppose the currents of the moment, this is essential to a Pastor's task.

He should not be a marsh reed, but, to use the image of the first psalm - he must be like a tree that has deep roots with which it stays firmly planted. This has nothing to do with rigidity and inflexibility. But only where there is stability can there be growth as well.

Cardinal Newman, whose path was marked by three conversions, said that to live is to transform oneself. But his three conversions and the transformations that occurred in each were nonetheless a single consistent way: the way of obedience, towards the truth, towards God - the path of true continuity which allows progress.

"They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles": Faith has a concrete content. It is not an indeterminate spirituality, an indefinable sensation if the transcendent. God has acted and he himself has spoken. He truly did something and he really said something.

Of course, faith is, in the first place, trusting in God, a living relationship with him. But the God in whom we trust has a face, and he has given us his word. We can count on the firmness of his word.

The ancient Church summarized the essential nucleus of the Apostles' teaching in the so-called Regula fidei which, in substance, is identical to Professions of Faith. This is the trustworthy foundation on which we Christians depend on, even today.

It is the secure base on which we can construct the house of our faith, of our life
(cfr. Mt 7, 24ss). Once again, the stability and definitiveness of what we believe do not mean rigidity.

St. John of the Cross compared the world of faith to a a mine in which we keep discovering new treasures - treasures within which the one faith develops, our profession of the God who manifests himself in Christ.

As pastors of the Church, we live in this faith, and so we announce it as the joyous message which makes us sure of God's love, that we are loved by him.

The second pillar of ecclesial existence is called communio by St. Luke. After the Second Vatican Council, this term has become a central word in theology and in proclaiming the Gospel, because it expresses, in fact, all the dimensions of Christian being and ecclesial life.

We do not know what Luke wanted to express with this word in this text. But we can calmly understand it in the global context of the New Testament and of apostolic Tradition.

One first major definition of 'communio' was given by St. John at the start of his First Letter: What we have seen and heard, what our hands have touched, we now proclaim to you so that you too may have 'communio' with us. And our 'communio is communion with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ
(cfr. 1 Gv 1, 1-4).

God made himself visible and tangible for us, and thus has created a real communion with him. We enter this communion through believing and living together with those who touched him. With them and through them, we ourselves also see him, in a way, and we touch the God who made himself near to us.

Thus the horizontal and vertical dimensions are here inseparably woven together. By remaining in communion with the Apostles, by remaining in their faith, we ourselves are in touch with the living God.

Dear friends, that is the aim of the bishop's ministry: that this chain of communion may not be interrupted. This is the essence of the apostolic succession: to conserve communion with those who met the Lord in visible and tangible form, and thus hold heaven open through the presence of God among us.

Only through communion with the Successors of the Apostles are we too in contact with the incarnate God. And vice-versa: Only thanks to communion with God, only thanks to communion with Jesus Christ, does this chain of witnesses remain united.

We are never bishops by ourselves, Vatican-II tells us, but always and only in the college of bishops. And this cannot enclose itself in the time of its own generation. Woven together in this collegiality is the fabric of all generations, the living church of all times.

You dear brothers, have the mission to preserve this Catholic communion. You know that the Lord charged St. Peter and his successors to be the center of this communion, as guarantees of remaining within the totality of the apostolic succession and its faith.

Offer your help so that the joy at the great unity of the Church may remain alive, joy for the communion of all places and times, for the communion of faith that embraces heaven and earth.

Live this communion, and live with the heart, day by day, its deepest center in that sacred moment when the Lord gives himself to us in holy Communion.

And so we come to the next fundamental element of ecclesial existence mentioned by St. Luke: they broke bread. The evangelist at this point looks back at the disciples of Emmaus who recognized the Lord by his gesture in breaking bread. And from there, farther backwards in time to the Last Supper, during which Jesus, in breaking the bread, distributed himself - he made himself bread for us in anticipation of his death and resurrection.

To break bread: The Holy Eucharist is the center of the Church and should be the center of our Christian being and of our priestly life. The Lord gives himself to us.

The Risen One enters into my intimacy and wishes to transform me to make me enter into profound communion with him. And so he opens me up to everyone else: we, the many - we are one bread and one body, says St. Paul
(cfr. 1 Cor 10, 17).

Let us seek to celebrate the Eucharist with a dedication, a fervor that is ever more profound. Let us seek to plan our days to its measure, let us seek to have ourselves formed by it.

To break bread: This also expresses sharing, transmitting our love to others. The social dimension - sharing - is not a moral appendix to the Eucharist but part of it. This is most clear from the verse from Acts that follows what we cited earlier: "All who believed were together and had all things in common"

Let us note that faith is always expressed in love and in justice towards one another, and that our social praxis must be inspired by faith, and the faith must be lived in love.

As the last pillar of ecclesial life, Luke mentions prayers. He uses the plural 'prayers'. What could this mean? Probably he was thinking of the participation of the first Christian community in Jerusalem in the prayers in the Temple, in the common order of prayer.

But this is how he highlights an important thing. Prayer, on one hand, must be very personal, uniting myself in the profoundest way to God. It should be my struggle with him, my search for him, my thanks to him, and my joy in him.

Nonetheless, it is also never just a private matter for my individual 'I' that does not concern others. To pray is essentially always a praying for 'us' by the children of God. It is only in this 'we' that we are children of our Father, as our Lord taught us to pray. Only this 'we' opens our access to God.

On the one hand, our prayer should always become more personal, it must touch and penetrate more profoundly the nucleus of our 'I'. On the other hand, it must always nourish itself from the communion of all those who pray - the unity of the Body of Christ, in order to truly shape me in the love of God.

And so, prayer, ultimately, is not just one activity among others, a certain part of my time. Praying is a response to the imperative that is at the start of the Canon in the Eucharistic celebration: Sursum corda - Let us lift up our hearts.

It is the ascent of my existence towards God's elevation. St. Gregory the Great had a statement about this. He recalls that Jesus called John the Baptist 'a burning and shining lamp'
(Jn 5,35), and continues" "...ardent for his desire of heaven, resplendent with his words. Therefore, in order that the veracity of the announcement may be conserved, the elevation of life must be conserved" (Hom. in Ez. 1, 11, 7 CCL 142, 134).

Elevation, the high standard for life, which today is so essential in order to bear witness to Christ, is something we can only find if, in prayer, we allow ourselves to be drawn continually towards his highness.

Duc in altum - Put out into the deep!
(Lk 5,4): Go towards the deep water and cast your nets for fish. This is what Jesus said to Peter and his companions when he called them to be 'fishers of men'.

Duc in altum: Pope John Paul II, in his last years, took up these words forcefully and proclaimed it aloud to the Lord's disciples of today.

Duc in altum, the Lord tells you today, dear friends. You have been called to responsibilities that concern the universal Church. You are called to cast the net of the Gospel into the agitated seas of our time in order to obtain the adherence of men to Christ: to draw them out, so to speak, from the saltwaters of death and from the darkness which the light of heaven cannot penetrate. You must bring them to the land of life, in communion with Jesus Christ.

In a passage of the first book of his work on the Most Holy Trinity, St. Hilary of Poitiers suddenly bursts into prayer: "That you may put wind into the sails of our faith and our profession of it with the breath of your Spirit and impel me forward as I travel with my message"
(I 37 CCL 62, 35s).

Yes, let us now pray for you, dear friends. Unfurl the sails of your spirit, the sails of faith, of hope, of love, so that the Holy Spirit may fill them up and grant you a blessed voyage as fisher of men in the ocean of our time. Amen.

My goodness! One would never have suspected that this homily was so beautiful, brilliant and poetic, if one had only read the news reports about it. It confirms yet again that one must always read Benedict XVI in full. He cannot be reduced to random or poorly chosen excerpts and/or pitiful soundbites (since he does not think in soundbites)...



Benedict XVI cites apostolic succession
as the principle behind papal
prerogative to name bishops


VATICAN CITY, Feb. 6 (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI has insisted on his exclusive right to ordain bishops as he consecrated a Chinese prelate, in an implicit challenge to attempts by China's official church to ordain bishops without his approval.

Monsignor Savio Hon Tai-Fai, a 60-year-old Salesian prelate from Hong Kong, was one of five bishops ordained by Benedict in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday.

His elevation comes amid a new low point in relations between the Holy See and Beijing over the Chinese state-backed church's ordination of bishops without papal consent.

Benedict didn't refer specifically to China in his homily but insisted in general on the need for the Pope to name bishops to ensure apostolic succession.

Hon was recently named No. 2 in the Vatican's missionary office [the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples].

Above, the Pope lays hands on Mons. Hon.

Above, Mons. Parra (left), and Mons. Izurbieta (right).





00domenica 6 febbraio 2011 13.26

Cardinal Ravasi speaks about
coming 'Courtyard' events

Translated from the Italian service of

05 FEB 2011 (RV) - A little over a year ago, on December 21, 2009, speaking to the Roman Curia, Benedict XVI expressed the desire for the Church to open a kind of 'courtyard of the Gentiles' - a place, the Pope said, "Where men can in some way connect to God, even without knowing him and before they have found a way to his mystery".

These words inspired the creation within the Pontifical Council for Culture of a new permanent structure which will promote the encounter and exchange of ideas between believers and non-believers.

The 'courtyard of the Gentiles' was the open space next to the Temple of Jerusalem in Jesus's time, where non-believers could assemble. And its modern-day Catholic counterpart will be launched officially in Paris on March 24-25, with a preliminary presentation in Bologna on Feb. 12.

Fabio Colagrande spoke to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, for more information.

CARDINAL RAVASI: The launching in Paris is a particularly complex and major undertaking which will involve the presence of many prominent figures of contemporary French culture. There will be four fundamental events.

The first will be at the Sorbonne, with a dialog among intellectuals. The second wil take place at UNESCO headquarters, where the discussion will be on the social, political and cultural aspects of the dialog. The third will be held in an exclusive place, the famous Coupole (Dome) of the Academie Francaise, where some of its most eminent members will hold the discussion.

And for the fourth event, we wanted an actual courtyard, a physical space, which will be the immense plaza in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. [When the Pope visited Paris in September 2008, some 60,000 young people gathered there to listen to him;]
It will be a gathering for young people, who will certainly watch a show first. But those present will have the chance to cross over from the courtyard into the Temple itself. Because in the cathedral, the Taize community will present a model of community prayer which can show non-believers how believers invoke God.

Who will be participating in these events?
The list is obviously quite long. Starting with names like Julia Kristeva, Luc Ferry, Jean-Luc Marion, Alain Besançon, etc - varied personages from the world of French culture. I will be there to welcome the participants. And the Pope will be present, through a videoconference to be broadcast to the young people in the piazza of Notre Dame on the evening of the 25th.

The Paris launch will have an Italian prelude in Bologna on Saturday, Feb. 12....
Yes, the initiative was born from the university itself. When they learned about the Sorbonne event, they noted that Bologna was, after all, the first great European university [antedating the University of Paris, better known as the Sorbonne]/

So they wanted to revive the medieval tradition of 'questioni disputate', as they called it then, in which people discussed various subjects and various theses. This time obviously, between believers and non-believers. Four professors - in law, philosophy, literature and science - will be the discussants.

An actress will interpellate at appropriate times with readings of great voices from the past - St. Augustine, Pascal, even Nietzsche - which shows that this kind of dialog has its roots in the distant past.

But the events in Bologna and Paris are only the first of a series of international initiatives. Could you say where it has drawn the greatest interest?
The interest that the idea has aroused has been very surprising, even to me, who had some reticence about it at the start. I thought that it should be launched in Paris which is the emblematic city of secularism, but I was thinking of a Catholic venue like the College des Bernardins.

But since then, I have seen the idea branch out, with various typologies, and we must be able to follow up. However, we must also let others do their own thing along this line.

Now we are thinking of holding an event in Tirana (capital of Albania,) and then, in November, in Stockholm, where many of the participants will be Lutheran ministers, theologians and laymen, even though sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Across the Atlantic, there is interest already from Chicago and Washington, DC. And naturally, there are those nations where Catholicism is not present in any significant way but where there is a native religiosity, although of other faiths, as in Asia.

00domenica 6 febbraio 2011 14.40

February 6, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Left, Memorial to the martyrs in Nagasaki.
SAINTS PAULUS MIKI and COMPANIONS (d Nagasaki, 1597), Martyrs
After Francis Xavier brought Christianity to Japan in 1549, the faith grew so fast that by the end of the century, there were an estimated 300,000 Christians in Japan. However, the Japanese government feared the influence of the Jesuits, and persecution of Christians started soon afterwards. In 1597, Paulus (born around 1562), by then a Jesuit brother, along with two other Jesuit brothers, six Spanish Franciscan missionaries, and 17 Japanese laymen including 3 boys, were arrested and forced to march from Kyoto, the imperial capital, to Nagasaki, where they were put to death by crucifixion on what is now called Martyrs Hill, then stabbed in the heart to ensure death. Paulus is remembered for preaching his faith in Christ even from the Cross. He and his 25 fellow martyrs were canonized in 1862 - the first of many Japanese Christian martyrs. The faith would not return to Japan until 1880, when returning missionaries were surprised to find a thriving underground Christian community.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
Benedict XVI ordains five archbishops in St. Peter's Basilica:
'Working in God's fields'
Other Page 1 items: A commentary on the Day for Life which the Church in Italy observes today; continuing coverage of the Egyptian crisis and its repercussions in the Arab world; interim Tunisian government seems a bit more stable now; and European fiscal policy now runs along the Merkel-Sarkozy axis.


Sunday Angelus - The Holy Father reflected briefly on the Gospel today in which Jesus says that his followers are 'salt of the earth... and light for the world'; and on his Message for the World Day for the Sick on Feb. 11. He tied in this message with the annual observance today in Italy of the Day for Life, After the Marian prayer, he offered a prayer that calm and peaceful coexistence may return soon to Egypt. He also greeted delegations to a conference of university obstetricians and gynecologists on the subject of health care assistance during pregnancy.


- The Democratic Underground blog that ran an item yesterday entitled 'Pope's organs too holy for mere mortals' has withdrawn that item, but worse morons have taken over from them: today, the disreputably dissident National Catholic Reporter has a similar blog with a similarly gross title. 'Papal organs possibly too holy for the common faithful' with an even more malicious conclusion: "Apparently the pro-life ethic only goes so far!'... And apparently, these morons suddenly think everyone, especially Popes, is morally bound to donate their organs. What other Popes have even had the opportunity to register as an organ donor? And are these moralizing dolts registered as organ donors themselves?... Dissident media daily lead me not just into temptation but to the sins of wrath and lack of charity...

- And the top prize today for 'most deliberately and shamelessly deceptive headline' goes to an Australian newspaper, with the title
"Pope wanted priests to have sex",
whose story refers in passing to the 1970 letter co-signed by Joseph Ratzinger, and is actually a brief story about a local priest's opinions on the question of priestly celibacy...

00domenica 6 febbraio 2011 20.05
Annual 'YES TO LIFE' Angelus rally of the Italian Movimento per la Vita (Movement for Life).

Day for Life, Italy


At the noon Angelus today, the Holy Father reflected briefly on the Gospel today in which Jesus says that his followers are 'salt of the earth... and light for the world'; and on his Message for the World Day for the Sick on Feb. 11.

He tied in this message with the annual observance today in Italy of the Day for Life, After the Marian prayer, he offered a prayer that calm and peaceful coexistence may return soon to Egypt.

He also greeted delegations to a conference of university obstetricians and gynecologists on the subject of health care assistance during pregnancy.

This is what he said in English:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges us to make our light shine before others, to the praise of our Father in heaven. May the light of Christ purify all our thoughts and actions.

As the Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, may that same light bring hope and healing to those who are ill. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.


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

Dear brothers and sisters:

In the Gospel this Sunday, the Lord Jesus tells his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world" (Mt 5,13-14). Through these images rich with significance, he wished to transmit to them the sense of their mission and their witness.

Salt, in the culture of the Middle East, evokes various values such as alliance, solidarity, life and wisdom. Light was the first work of God the Creator and is the source of life. The Word of God itself is likened to light. As the psalmist proclaims: "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path"
(Ps 119,105).

Wisdom represents the beneficial effects of salt and light: In fact, the disciples of the Lord are called on to give new 'flavor' to the world, and to preserve it from corruption with the wisdom of God - which shines forth fully from the face of his Son, because he is "the true light that illuminates very man" (Jn 1,9).

United to him, Christians can disseminate, amid the shadows of indifference and selfishness, the light of God's love, true wisdom who gives meaning to the existence and actions of men.

On February 11, feast of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, we shall celebrate the World Day for the Sick. It is an occasion to reflect, to pray and to grow in sensitivity for the ecclesial communities as well as civilian society towards our sick brothers and sisters.

In my message for this day, inspired by a statement in the First Letter of Peter - "By his wounds you will be healed"
(2,24) - I ask everyone to contemplate Jesus, the Son of God, who suffered and died but was resurrected.

God radically opposes the arrogance of evil. The Lord takes care of man in every situation, shares his suffering and opens his heart to hope.

Therefore I call on all health care workers to recognize in the sick person not just a body marked with frailty, but first of all, a person to whom to give all solidarity and offer adequate and competent responses.

Int his context, I also wish to remind you that today in Italy is teh annual Day for Life. I wish that all may commit themselves to grow the culture of life, to place in the center, under any circumstance, the value of the human being.

According to faith and reason, human dignity is irreducible to his faculties or the capacities he can manifest, and therefore, does not diminish when the individual himself is weak, invalid and needing help.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, so that parents, grandparents, teachers, priests and all those who are engaged in education may shape the young generations according to the wisdom of the heart, in order that they may reach fullness of life.

After the prayers, he said this:

These days, I have been following closely the delicate situation in the beloved nation of Egypt. I ask God that this land, which was blessed by the presence of the Holy Family, may recover calm and peaceful coexistence in a shared effort for the common good.

I address a heartfelt greeting to the delegations from the faculties of medicine and surgery of the University of Rome, who are accompanied by the Cardinal Vicar, on the occasion of the conference promoted by their departments of gynecology and obstetrics on teh subject of health care during pregnancy.

When scientific and technological research is guided by authentic ethical values, it is possible to find adequate solutions to welcome unborn life and to promote motherhood. I hope that the new generations of healthcare workers will be bearers of a renewed culture for life.

During his greetings to the Italian public, he said:

I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the families of the Movimento dell'Amore familiare (Movement for Family love) and those who last night, held a prayer vigil in the parish church of St. Gregory VII to pray for persecuted Christians and for religious freedom... I wish everyone a good Sunday.


00lunedì 7 febbraio 2011 04.45

When might the Pope
visit India?


Kolkata, Feb 6 (PTI) Pope Benedict XVI is interested in coming to India, but may not be able to visit as many places in the country as his predecessor John Paul-II did 25 years ago, a top Church functionary said today.

"Whenever I meet the Pope, I talk to him about visiting India. Quite a number of Indians were his students when he was teaching before becoming the Pope. He is interested to come to India to see his students," Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi told a gathering of Catholic religious and lay workers at the social service centre of the Archdiocese here.

Recalling that Pope John Paul-II had visited 14 places during his visit to India, Toppo said Pope Benedict XVI may not be able to visit as many places owing to his age, and a limited itinerary may disappoint the faithful living in places left out of the tour.

"Maybe, if Mother Teresa is canonised in India, probably he can come here for the canonisation ceremony," Toppo said.

Pope Benedict's personal envoy, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who is here to commemorate Pope John Paul-II's visit to India 25 years ago, said, "If (Benedict) is healthy enough to come to India, I would say yes, he would."

00lunedì 7 febbraio 2011 12.56

Andrea Tornielli had this commentary in his blog on Sunday:

Theologians who bend with the wind
by Andrea Tornielli
Translated from
February 6, 2011

Listening to the Pope's words [in his Saturday homily at the ordination of five new bishops] about reeds that bend with the wind according to the spirit of the times, I could not help but think of the letter written by 143 professors of theology from Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

That letter, entitled "The Church in 2011: A necessary turning point", calls for 'profound' reforms, such as abolition of the celibacy requirement for priests of the Latin rite, and therefore the ordination of married men; adoption of 'more synodal' structures at all levels of the Church; participation of lay faithful in the process of selecting parish priests and bishops; opening 'the ministry of the Church' to women; welcoming same-sex unions and allowing communion for divorcees who have remarried (without annulment of their first marriage).

All proposals we have heard for decades sine Vatican II, that many theologians cyclically repeat, despite repeated pronouncements to the contrary by the Magisterium.

Tornielli chose to cite these excerpts from the Pope's homily:

Even if it may seem that large parts of the modern world, of men today, turn their back to God and consider faith a thing of the past, the yearning still exists that finally, justice, love and peace may be established, that poverty and suffering may be overcome, that man may find joy.

All this yearning is present in the world today, a yearning towards what is great, what is good. It is nostalgia for the Redeemer, for God himself, even where he is denied...

The pastor should not be a reed that bends as the wind blows, a servant to the spirit of the time. To be intrepid, to have the courage to oppose the currents of the moment, this is essential to a Pastor's task.

He should not be a marsh reed, but, to use the image of the first psalm - he must be like a tree that has deep roots with which it stays firmly planted. This has nothing to do with rigidity and inflexibility. But only where there is stability can there be growth as well...

Let us seek to celebrate the Eucharist with a dedication, a fervor that is ever more profound. Let us seek to plan our days to its measure, let us seek to have ourselves formed by it.

To break bread: This also expresses sharing, transmitting our love to others. The social dimension - sharing - is not a moral appendix to the Eucharist but part of it...

SOOOOO SORRY I placed the wrong tag (OR) earlier on this item from Tornielli's blog! I just noticed my mistake....

00lunedì 7 febbraio 2011 14.34

Monday, February 7, Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
ST. COLETTE (France, 1381-1447), Virgin, Founder of Colettine Poor Clares
Colette joined the Franciscan third order as a teenager and at age 21, became an anchoress [walled into a cell whose only opening is a window
facing the interior of a church]. After 4 years, in response to visions of St. Francis who urged reforms in his order, she joined the Poor Clares
to initiate a return to the primitive rules of the order. The Colettines lived in extreme poverty and perpetual fasting and abstinence. She went on
to found 17 monasteries following her reform, which took place during the Great Western Schism (1378-1417) when three men laid claim to the
Papacy. With St. Vicente Ferrer, the great Dominican theologian and missionary from Valencia, she worked to end the schism by persuading
two of the claimants to withdraw so that a new Pope could be elected, then getting the King of France to withdraw his support from the holdout,
Benedict XIII. (Ironically, as the Pope in Avignon, Benedict had authorized Colette's reform of the Poor Clares and her new monasteries; and
St. Vincent himself had been an avid supporter of this Pope.] It is said that all her life, Colette was plagued by demons who assailed her in
terrible physical forms, such as dragging corpses into her cell, but she was also eventually endowed with many graces including raising
the dead to life. She was canonized in 1807.
Readings for today's Mass:

No OR today.


The Holy Father met with

- Four bishops from the Philippines (central region), resuming ad-limina visits by the Filipino prelates
which began last December. Individual meetings.

- Participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for Catholic Education (Seminaries and Institutes
of Study). Address in Italian.


- Thanks to Lella for alerting me to a short report in ]Die Wochenblatt, a regional newspaper, that last Friday, Mons. Georg Ratzinger, 87, underwent knee surgery at a Regensburg hospital, is doing well, and is in good spirits, according to a spokesman. The report does not indicate if both knees required surgery, but it explains that the Pope's brother had been experiencing increasing difficulty with negotiating stairs, and was advised surgery. Say a prayer for him and his brother...

- If you go by the Yahoo catalog of headlines about the papacy and the Vatican this Monday morning, the organ-donor trivia continues to dominate, leading the Pope 's statement about Egypt at the Angelus prayer yesterday. And the Anglophone media is just now waking up to the statement last week by some 150 German theology professors with the nth reiteration of the ultra-liberal 'reform agenda' for the Church [Ho-hum and Zzzzzzzzzz!!!!!], even if the AP - of course - did file a story on it on February 4, after the Sueddeutsche Zeitung printed a highly colored story about the letter...

00lunedì 7 febbraio 2011 21.47



See preceding page for earlier entries today, 2/7/11.


It turns out L'Osservatore Romano took note of the German-speaking theologians' laundry list of the usual ultra-liberal dissidents' desired reforms for the Catholic Church,

The theologians' 'memorandum' as it is posted online. The first two sentences read: "A year has gone by since cases of sexual abuse of chlldren and minors at Berlin's Canisius College were made public. There followed a year during which the Catholic Church in Germany has been in an unprecedented crisis...." Surely the crisis under Nazism was far worse!

though it was not among the items that OR chose to post online, so I picked this up from Lella's blog. Here is a translation:

German bishops reply to
'Church 2011' memorandum

Translated from the 2/5/11 issue of

BERLIN, Feb. 5 - Disagreement on subjects of major importance and the consequent need for more study in depth of these issues.

This was affirmed, in effect, in a note issued yesterday from the secretary of the German bishops conference, Jesuit Fr. Hans Langendorfer, in response to the memorandum entitled "Church 2011: A necessary new start" signed by 143 theology professors in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, demanding reforms in various sectors of the life of the Church on the basis of the recent 'scandal' over sex abuses by priests.

Fr. Langendorfer, while acknowledging the importance of dialog with the world of theology, observed that "the memorandum substantially gathers together yet again a number of ideas that have already been discussed extensively". [Discussed to death, in fact. But the ultra-dissidents - who are deliberately thinking contra ecclesiae, rather than cum ecclesiae, as they should - will simply not take NO for an answer.]

He also notes that "on a number of questions, the memorandum is in disagreement with the theological convictions and declarations of the Church at the highest level" on "subjects which require further clarification" and will be discussed at the next plenary session of the German bishops' conference. [And will the German bishops come out subsequently with a letter rebuking the Pope as the Austrian bishops did in 2009 following the FSSPX-Williamson controversies?]

Vittorio Messori and Andrea Tornielli, among others, have also responded to the dissidents' 'memorandum'. Here first is Tornielli:

The protest by 143 German-speaking theologians
and the state of faith in the secularized West

by Andrea Tornielli
Translated from
February 7, 2011

Not since the Cologne Declaration more than 20 years ago have so many theologians joined to produce a document against Roman centralism and demanding reforms for the Church.

143 professors from theological faculties in Germany, Austria and Switzerland released last week a text entitled "Church 2011: the need for a new beginning".

What are they asking for? Obviously, 'profound reforms' such as the abolition of the celibacy requirement for priests of the Latin rite, which would also open ordination to married men' adoption of 'more synodal' structures at all levels of the Church; participation by lay faithful in the selection of parish priests and bishops; opening 'the ministry of the Church' to women; welcoming gay unions and remarrie3d Catholic divorcees [whose previous Catholic marriage has not been annulled].

The signatories claim that only by opening herself to these reforms - which is 'the necessary new start' - could the Church acquire new vigor and speak to the men and women of the 21st century.

Their list of demands is far from surprising. The reforms that these theologians claim to be a necessary new start are well known and have been debated for decades since Vatican II.

Some of these appear are self-referential and clerical in nature. It is true, for instance, that the decline in priestly vocations has been a problem in the West, and it is true that in Germany and Austria, many priests openly cohabit with female partners.

But is the abolition of the celibacy rule really an answer to this situation? Can the crisis of faith in the West really be answered by ordaining women? Does anyone really think that a change in thee Church's teaching on homosexuality would fill up the churches again?

One only has to look at what is happening in the Anglican Communion to confirm that the response to secularization cannot be more secularization, as we see the constant hemorrhage of faithful despite ever-more liberal changes (from women and gay priests and bishops, and the tolerance of gay priests openly co-habiting with their partners).

What is most striking about the theologians' protest is that the same old issues are periodically recycled as if the Magisterium has failed to reflect and to express itself on these issues repeatedly.

Yet, notwithstanding pronouncements, encyclicals, pastoral letters, papal interventions, it is as if every time the dissidents speak out, we must start from Square One. Of the issues raised by the document, there is only one that has to do with the experience of, unfortunately, an increasing number of Catholics - which is the attitude towards remarried divorcees and their access to eucharistic communion. [But even this has been directly answered by Benedict XVI on more than one occasion - it is an ongoing concern that still awaits resolution.]

Benedict XVI, in his homily last Saturday to ordain five new bishops, said:

The pastor should not be a reed that bends as the wind blows, a servant to the spirit of the time. To be intrepid, to have the courage to oppose the currents of the moment, this is essential to a Pastor's task.

He should not be a marsh reed, but, to use the image of the first psalm - he must be like a tree that has deep roots with which it stays firmly planted. This has nothing to do with rigidity and inflexibility. But only where there is stability can there be growth as well.

True, the Pope was speaking about bishops, not of theologians. But his words often a point of reflection for everyone.

Is it at all true that the necessary starting point to renew the faith in a secularized society has anything to do with the ecclesial ministry, priestly celibacy and the other issues raised?

On May 11, 2010, the Pope said in Lisbon:

Perhaps excessive reliance has been given to ecclesial structures and programs and in the distribution of powers and functions [rather than to the essential beliefs and practice of the faith], but what happens when the salt loses its flavor?

Two days later, addressing the bishops of Portugal in Fatima, he said:

When, in the view of many people, the Catholic faith is no longer the common patrimony of society and, often, seen as seed threatened and obscured by the “gods” and masters of this world, only with great difficulty can the faith touch the hearts of people by means simple speeches or moral appeals, and even less by a general appeal to Christian values.

The courageous and integral appeal to principles is essential and indispensable; yet simply proclaiming the message does not penetrate to the depths of people’s hearts, it does not touch their freedom, it does not change their lives.

What attracts is, above all, the encounter with believing persons who, through their faith, draw others to the grace of Christ by bearing witness to him.

These clerical ideologues
are so boring!

Translated from
Feb. 7, 2011

I have often said that one of the worst consequences of growing old is boredom. Andrea Tornielli in today's editorial here in BQ, deals with the document signed by some one-third of theology professors in the German-speaking nations about a 'necessary new beginning' in the Church, enumerating a list of demands which I will not reiterate.

I will leave you to imagine my reaction to this nth re-proposal of these mantras that, for some 40 years now - since the mythical days of 1968 and the birth of 'adult' clerics - periodically re-state what their advocates consider to be 'theologically correct'.

The only 'novelty' in the past two decades, compared to the original list of demands, is that calling for the Church to accept homosexual couples.

I must remind these theologians, among other things, that in 1968, the dominant cultural teaching was not just to advocate the most complete sexual liberty possible, but also the erotic initiation of children, propagated by the very sectors who are now indignant over pedophile priests.

Getting back to the dissident theologians, one doesn't know whether to laugh or cry over the fact that they want to 'open a debate' on the issues they raise. Because everything they demand - from the abolition of priestly celibacy to the ordination of women and a relaxation of moral rules - has been more than amply eviscerated, debated, studied, etc. in teh past four decades.

These issues have been confronted by all the Popes since 1968, they have been the subject of commissions, interventions, Synods, documents from the Roman congregations, encyclicals, pastoral letters, conferences, what have you.

So, dear theologians, let me ask: What else is there to debate? What race of professors are you if you simply ignore the Magisterium and the debates and discussions that have already taken place? [No one is more deaf than he who does not wish to listen! And part of the act these dissenters put on is to pretend the Church has ever considered or discussed their proposals at all!]

Sometimes, as a layman, I have come to think that the crisis of priestly vocations in the West is a gift of Providence because one more priest represents one more problem for the Church. Obviously, that is a provoked reaction which is wrong. But the temptation is great...

I remember one day being seated next to a Protestant minister during a news conference to present a book by Hans Kueng (Achtung! One must always call him Prof. Kueng, never Father Kueng, because this infuriates him!).

At a certain point, the minister got up and said: "Professor Kueng, the 'novelties' you demand of the Catholic Church we Protestants have had for decades, and yet our churches continue to be empty. We have waited in vain that they be filled by all the faithful who expected us to demonstrate attitudes in keeping with the spirit of the times". [And look what it got them - or what it didn't get them!]

It is indeed true that ideologies - especially clerical ideologies - have a great enemy: the reality of facts.

00martedì 8 febbraio 2011 02.32

Pope speaks about the role of
priest formation in church life



05 FEB 2011 (RV) - Pope Benedict XVI today said training and education of priests and religious are among the most pressing challenges that the Church and its institutions are called upon to address. The Holy Father made the remarks while addressing the participants attending the plenary meeting of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The Congregation for Catholic Education was founded in 1915 by Pope Benedict XV to carry out work in the service of various institutions of Catholic learning.

And on Monday almost hundred years later, another Pope Benedict, Benedict XVI addressed those participating in the Congregation’s plenary meeting.

The themes of education and training were at the core of the Holy Fathers speech in the Consistory Hall.

He told those present that both these subjects are now some of the most pressing challenges that the Church and its institutions are called upon to address.

The Pope went on to say that “educational work seems to have become increasingly difficult because, in a culture that too often makes relativism its creed, the light of truth gets lost”.

He also told those present that the work of the “congregation and the choices they make in these days of reflection and study will certainly contribute to responding to the current "educational emergency" as he called it.

During his speech Pope Benedict turned to the importance of seminaries in the life of the church which, he said, require an educational project, in order for a candidate for the priesthood to have the experience of being a "disciple of Jesus."

The Holy Father then looked to the world of technology in the sphere of education.

He praised the internet for its ability to overcome distance to put people in contact with each other, saying it presented great opportunities for the Church and its mission.

It is a tool, he added, which used prudently not only for studies but also for the pastoral work of future priests in various church activities, such as evangelization and in the management of institutions.

Finally, touching on one of the key subjects of this plenary, intercultural education, Pope Benedict said it required “courageous and innovative loyalty, that combines a clear awareness of their identity and openness to otherness, for the purposes of living together in multicultural societies.

To be a “Christian educator said the Pope is to become an expression of love and witness to the truth.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's address:

Venerated brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters:

I extend to all a cordial greeting for this visit on the occasion of the plenary meeting of the Congregation for Catholic Education. I greet Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the dicastery, and thank him for his kind words, as well as the secretary, undersecretary, the other officials and your co-workers.

The subjects you have been dealing with these days have education and formation as a common denominator. These constitute today the most urgent challenges that the Church and her institutions are called on
to face.

Educational work seems to have become more arduous because, in a culture which too often makes relativism its creed, the light of truth is gone - indeed, it is considered dangerous to speak the truth, thus installing doubt among the fundamental values of personal and communitarian existence.

That is why the service rendered by the numerrous formative institutions inspired by the Christian vision of man and reality is so important. Educating is anf love, the exercise of 'intellectual charity', which calls for responsibility, dedication, consistency in life.

The work of your Congregation and the decisions you make in these days of reflection and study will certainly contribute in the response to the present 'educational emergency'.

Your congregation, created in 1915 by Benedict XV, has carried out its invaluable work for nearly a hundred years in the service of the various Catholic instituions of formation.

Among these, without a doubt, the seminary is one of the most important for the life of the Church,and thus demands a formative program which takes into account the context mentioned above.

On many times I have underscored how the seminary is a valuable stage of life in which the candidate for priesthood experiences being 'a disciple of Jesus'. During the time intended for his formation, a certain detachment, a certain 'desert', is asked of him, because the Lord speaks to the heart with a voice that is heard when there is silence
(cfr 1Kings 19,12).

But he is also called on to be ready to live with others, to love 'living in family', the communitarian dimension which anticipates the 'sacramental brotherhood'' that ought to characterize every diocesan prieshood (cfr Presbyterorum ordinis, 8), and to which I called attention in my recent Letter to Seminarians: "One does not become a priest by himself. He needs the 'community of disciples', the ensemble of all those who wish to serve the common Church".

These days, you must study documents on the Internet regarding formation in seminaries. The Internet, with its capacity to overcome distances and to place persons in reciprocal contact, presents great possibilities even for the Church and her mission.

With the necessary discernment for its intelligent and prudent use, it is an instrument which can serve not only for study purposes, but for the pastoral activity of these future priests in the various ecclesial fields such as evangelization, missionary activity, catecheis, educational projects, and the management of institutions.

Even in this field, it is extremely important to count on educators who are adequately prepared to be faithful and always up-to-date guides who are able to accompany the candidates for priesthood in the correct and positive use of informatics.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Pontifical Works for Priestly Vocations, instituted by the Venerable Pius XII in order to promote commlaboration between the Holy See and local Churches in the valuable work of promoting vocations to the ordained ministry.

This observance can serve as an occasion to acknowledge and appreciate the most significant vocational initiatives promoted by local Churches. The pastoral ministry for vocations, beyond underscoring the value of the universal call to follow Jesus, must more clearly emphasize the profile of the ministerial priesthpod, characterized by its specific configuration to Christ, which distinguishes it essentially from other faithful and places them at the service of the latter.

You have also begun a review of that is prescribed by the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana about ecclesiastical studies in canon law at the superior institutes for religious studies, and recently, in philosophy.

A sector which requires particular reflection is theology. It is important to always consolidate the link between theology and the study of Sacred Scripture in such a way that this becomes truly the heart and soul of theology
(cfr Verbum Domini, 31).

But the theologian must not forget that he speaks of God. That is why it is indispensable to keep theology closely linked to personal and community prayer, especially liturgical prayer.

Theology is scientia fidei - the science of faith - and prayer nourishes faith. In the union with God, in some way one has a foretaste of his mystery, he becomes nearer to us, and this nearness is light for the intelligence.

I wish to underscore, too, the connection of theology with other disciplines, insofar as it is taught at Catholic universities, as well as in many civilian universities.

Blessed John Henry Newman spoke of the 'circle of knowledge', to indicate that there is an interdependence among the various branches of knowledge. However, God. and he alone, has a relationship with the tatality of everything real. Consequently, to eliminate God means breaking the circle of knowledge.

In this perspective, Catholic universities, with their well-defined identity and their openness to the 'totality' of the human being, can carry out valuable work to promote the unity of knowledge, orienting students and teachers to the Light of the world, the 'true light that illuminates every man"
(Jn 1,9).

These are considerations that also concern Catholic schools. First of all, they are required to announce the 'wider' value of education in forming solid persons who are capable of working with others and of giving meaning to their own life.

Today, one speaks of intercultural education, an object of study even at your plenary. This requires courageous and innovative faithfulness that can unite clarity of conscience with one's own identity and an openness to otherness, which are required for living together in multi-cultural societies.

Also required for this purpose is the educational role of instruction in the Catholic religion as a scholastic discipline, in an inter-disciplinary dialog with other academic subjects. In fact, religious instruction contributes not only to the integral development of the student, but also to his getting to know others, to reciprocal undestanding and respect.

To reach these objectives, particular care must be given to the formation of school officials and educators, not only in the professional aspect, but also religious and spiritual, because the presence of the Christian educator becomes an expression of love and a witness to truth through the consistency of his own life and his personal involvement.

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for all you do with your competent work and service for educational institutions. Always look to Christ, the only Teacher, so that his Spirit may render your work effective.

I entrust you to the maternal protection of the Most Blessed Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and I impart to all from the heart an Apostolic Blessing!

Vatican plans document
on Internet and seminaries

By Sarah Delaney

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 7 (CNS) -- The Internet can be a valuable tool for Catholic education and evangelization, and its proper use should be encouraged in seminaries as well as other church institutions, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Internet, with its capacity to reach across distances and put people in contact, offers great possibilities for the Church and her mission," the Pope said in an address to members of the Congregation for Catholic Education holding their plenary meeting at the Vatican Feb. 7-9.

The Pope said the congregation was working on a document titled "Internet and Formation in Seminaries," but did not say when it would be published.

When used with caution and discernment, the Pope said, the Internet can be useful for future priests not only for studying, but for pastoral work in areas of evangelization, missionary action, catechism, educational projects and administration of various institutions.

The Church will therefore need well-prepared teachers to keep the seminarians up to date on the "correct and positive" use of information technology, he said.

Addressing congregation members, the Pope said the education and formation of future priests in seminaries is "one of the most urgent challenges" of the Church today because of the culture of relativism dominant in contemporary society.

"For this reason, the service performed by so many formation institutions in the world that are inspired by the Christian vision of man and reality is so important today," the Pope said.

The seminary is one of the most important institutions of the Church and requires a thorough program that takes into account the context in which they exist today, he said.

"Many times I have said that the seminary is a precious phase of life, in which the candidate for priesthood has the experience of being 'a disciple of God,'" he said.

The Pope has made recent references to the potential -- and the dangers -- offered by new media technology. Last month in a message for the upcoming World Communications Day he said, "this means of spreading information and knowledge is giving birth to a new way of learning and thinking, with unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship."

He encouraged the use of social media such as Facebook as a means of spreading the Christian message, but warned of the dangers of substituting human relationships with virtual contacts.

00martedì 8 febbraio 2011 11.01
TheCountry of the Reformation
That's us... always trying to reform.. always trying to be more effective, efficient, pro-active, streamlined... and always anti-Rome.

[SM=g1782473] [SM=g1782473] [SM=g1782473] [SM=g1782473] [SM=g1782473]

It's simply embarrassing... really.



Nothing to be embarrassed about, Heike. Every country has its share of arrogant idiots... In the end, these dolts count for nothing in a country that has produced Goethe and Schiller and Rilke, and the great musicians and philosophers, not to mention Albertus Magnus and Benedictus Magnus (ehem!)....


00martedì 8 febbraio 2011 13.46

Tuesday, February 8, Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Photos on extreme right: Poster for TV movie shown last year on RAI-TV by the producers of the Augustine miniseries; and an English biography of Bakhita.
ST JOSEPHINE BAHKITA (b Sudan ca 1869, d Italy 1947), Former slave, Canossian nun
Our saint of the day has the distinction of her biography cited in a papal encyclical. Here is what Benedict XVI said of her in Spe salvi: "She was born around 1869 — she herself did not know the precise date — in Darfur in Sudan. At the age of nine, she was kidnapped by slave-traders, beaten till she bled, and sold five times in the slave-markets of Sudan. Eventually she found herself working as a slave for the mother and the wife of a general, and there she was flogged every day till she bled; as a result of this she bore 144 scars throughout her life. Finally, in 1882, she was bought by an Italian merchant for the Italian consul Callisto Legnani, who returned to Italy as the Mahdists advanced. Here, after the terrifying 'masters' who had owned her up to that point, Bakhita came to know a totally different kind of 'master' — in Venetian dialect, which she was now learning, she used the name paron for the living God, the God of Jesus Christ. Up to that time she had known only masters who despised and maltreated her, or at best considered her a useful slave.

"Now, however, she heard that there is a paron above all masters, the Lord of all lords, and that this Lord is good, goodness in person. She came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her — that he actually loved her. She too was loved, and by none other than the supreme Paron, before whom all other masters are themselves no more than lowly servants. She was known and loved and she was awaited. What is more, this master had himself accepted the destiny of being flogged and now he was waiting for her 'at the Father's right hand'.

"Now she had hope — no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: “I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me —I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.” Through the knowledge of this hope she was 'redeemed', no longer a slave, but a free child of God. She understood what Paul meant when he reminded the Ephesians that previously they were without hope and without God in the world —without hope because without God.

"Hence, when she was about to be taken back to Sudan, Bakhita refused; she did not wish to be separated again from her Paron. On 9 January 1890, she was baptized and confirmed and received her first Holy Communion from the hands of the Patriarch of Venice. On 8 December 1896, in Verona, she took her vows in the Congregation of the Canossian Sisters and from that time onwards, besides her work in the sacristy and in the porter's lodge at the convent, she made several journeys round Italy in order to promote the missions: the liberation that she had received through her encounter with the God of Jesus Christ, she felt she had to extend, it had to be handed on to others, to the greatest possible number of people. The hope born in her which had 'redeemed' her she could not keep to herself; this hope had to reach many, to reach everybody." She died in 1947, and steps for her beatification began in 1959. She was canonized in 2000.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
The lead papal story is the Pope's Angelus homily on Sunday, in which he prayed for a quick restoration of peaceful coexistence in Egypt, and his address yesterday to the plenary session of the Congregation for Catholic Education. There is a Page 1 commentary by Lucetta Scaraffia on Ubicumque et sempre, the decree instituting the new Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. In international news: continuing coverage of the Egyptian crisis, in which political factions are holding talks with Mubarak's deputies and there has been no new violence; one million are left homeless in Sri Lanka's second major flooding this season. In the inside pages, an essay on Blessed John Henry Newman's idea of secularity, and another excerpt from a lecture on priestly celibacy in the teaching of the modern Popes by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

No papal events announced today.

The Vatican released a communique from the Secretariat of the Bishops' Synod announcing the second meeting this week of the Synod's Council for the Middle East.

00martedì 8 febbraio 2011 18.03

This may well be the next focus of the Holy Father's concern over anti-Christian violence around the world, so I am posting it here, especially since it took place in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world (more than 200 million in a population of 243 million), where only 10% are Christian (3% Catholic, the rest Protestant). What is it about Islam that turns Indonesians and Malaysians - normally the most mild-mannered persons you could imagine - turn into raging fanatical mobs?

Anti-Christian violence
erupts in Indonesia to protest 'light' penalty
for a Christian accused of blasphemy



08 FEB 2011 (RV) -A large crowd of angry Muslims attacked three churches, a Christian orphanage and a Christian health centre in Indonesia, Tuesday. A Holy Family Missionary priest was violently beaten.

Fr Saldanha was in his parish church of Sts. Peter and Paul, when the mob broke in and began vandalizing the sacred space. Fr. Saldhana was beaten as he tried to protect the tabernacle and the Eucharist.

The violence erupted when a crowd of Muslims heard that a Christian missionary had been sentenced to 5 years’ prison for profaning Islam. The rioters demanded the death penalty.

Hundreds of police rushed in to intervene but failed to appease the thousands of Muslims who began to march en masse to "target Christians" on the main street of the city.

Archbishop Yohannes Pujasumarta of Semarang, in whose diocese the riot took place, told us Islamic militancy has been on the rise. “I am very disappointed,” he said, “because in recent months and days, the intolerance of that group of fanatics has mounted.”

Sts. Peter and Paul was the first church to be attacked.

The crowd then attacked a Pentecostal church, before going on to wreak havoc at a Catholic orphanage and a health centre run by the Sisters of Providence.

Thousands of Muslims attack
three churches, orphanage and
Christian centre in central Java

by Mathias Hariyadi

Jakarta, Feb. 8 (AsiaNews) - Thousands of angry Muslims attacked three churches, a Christian orphanage and a health centre run by Catholic nuns.

The violence took place this morning at 10 am (local time) and only ended with the intervention of police in riot gear and police vans. One of the vans was set on fire by the crowd.

The revolt took place in Temanggung regency (Central Java), and started right in front of the town hall: first the crowd attacked the court where a trial was being held against Richmond Bawengan Antonius, a Christian born in Manado (North Sulawesi), accused of proselytizing and blasphemy.

Bawengan was arrested in October 2010 because during a visit to Temanggung he had distributed printed missionary material, which, among other things, poked fun at some Islamic symbols. The profanity earned him a five-year prison sentence, but the crowd demanded the death penalty. The violence was sparked by their dissatisfaction with the verdict.

Instead of leaving the court, the crowd started pushing, shouting provocative slogans and then destroyed the building. Hundreds of police rushed in to intervene but failed to appease the thousands of Muslims who began to march en masse to "target Christians" on the main street of the city.

The Catholic Church of St Peter and Paul on Sudirman Boulevard was the first to be attacked, according to AsiaNews sources, the parish priest, Fr Saldhana, a missionary of the Holy Family, was violently beaten as he tried to protect the tabernacle and the Eucharist against the mob.

The crowd then attacked a Pentecostal church. According to the pastor Darmanto - another Christian leader of Temanggung - the main goal was the Pentecostal church, which was then burned. The mob, however, still not appeased went on to destroy in a Catholic orphanage and a health centre of the Sisters of Providence.

Another Protestant church in Shekinah was burnt down.

00martedì 8 febbraio 2011 18.36

Cardinal Kasper says 1970 letter never
proposed abolishing the celibacy rule
which since then has been much discussed


ROME, Feb. 8, 2011 ( Cardinal Walter Kasper, emeritus president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said today that 'times have changed' from when he and eight other German theologians, including then Prof. Joseph Ratzinger, urged the German bishops, in a 1970 letter, to study the issue of priestly celibacy.

Speaking to the Portuguese news agency Ecclesia, the Cardinal underscored that their letter only asked for a 'discussion' of the issue, without proposing abolition of the celibacy requirement. [The problem with the original news report about the letter is that it never provided the full text of the letter, only selected statements which were tendentiously paraphrased.]

"Since then, the issue has been much discussed and there have been three international Synodal assemblies which discussed the issue and which decided to retain the discipline," Kasper said. "I myself believe that priestly celibacy is a benefit for the Church".

Last week, 143 professors of Catholic theology at universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland signed a petition reiterating demands for reforms that would liberalize many church practices - chief among them, doing away with the requirement of priestly celibacy.

Cardinal Kasper acknowledges that "the issue has never been closed" [not for the dissenters, but decidedly yes for the Church], but the Church 'has taken a stand' and the present Pope certainly is not thinking of 'changing this discipline'.

Kasper was in Lisbon to receive an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Portugal.

Monsignor José Policarpo, Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon and Grand Chancellor of the UCP, told Ecclesia that Kasper was honored for "his study of religion, particularly of theology as culture and as a continuing effort of thinking about man and reality in the Christian perspective".

Very apropos to Cardinal Kasper's remarks is Sandro Magister's excellent overview of the issue last June, which I am re-posting below. It was inspired by the Pope's remarks on celibacy in response to a question from a priest during the prayer vigil that preceded the conclusion of the Year for Priests.,,, What the ultraliberal advocates baying for church 'reforms' seem to miss completely is that they insist on blaming structures, functions and the Church's moral laws for empty churches - without ever focusing on Benedict XVI's fundamental analysis that the faith is weak where the presence of God is deficient, and this is most deficient where men of God do not set the example of Christian witness themselves. What kind of theology are these ultra-dissenters teaching if 'theos' is missing from their 'logos'???? God is still the central object and subject of theology, not the individual theologian and his personal beliefs, however compelling he may think them to be.


The Pope 'rethinks' clerical celibacy -
but only to reinforce it

It is the sign, he says, that God exists when priests allow
themselves to be seized by total passion for him -
a 'great scandal' for a world that would do away with God.


ROME, June 15, 2010 – Benedict XVI has rresponded to those who have been demanding a "rethinking" of the rule of celibacy for the Latin clergy. But in his own way.

On the evening of Thursday, June 10, in St. Peter's Square, the eve of the closing of the Year for Priests, the Pope devoted one of his responses to five questions from as many priests representing the world's five great conteinental regions, to a rationale for priestly celibacy. Doing so in an original way - one that departed from the usual historical, theological, and spiritual arguments used.

Here is the question and the Holy Father's response:

...Even with its natural difficulties, celibacy seems obvious to me, looking at Christ, but I am bewildered by reading so much worldly criticism for this gift. I ask you humbly, Holy Father, to enlighten us on the profundity and authentic meaning of ecclesiastical celibacy.

Thank you for both parts of your question - the first which shows the permanent and vital foundation of our celibacy; the second, about all the difficulties in which we find ourselves in our time.

The first part is important, namely, that the center of our life should really be the daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist, in which the words of the Consecration are central: "This is my Body... This is my Blood" - when we speak 'in persona Christi'.

Christ allows us to use his "I", we speak of the "I" of Christ, Christ draws us into himself and allows us to unite with him, he unites with us in his 'I". Thus this action, the fact that he 'draws' us into himself so that our "I" is united to his, realizes the permanence and uniqueness of our priesthood - he is truly the only Priest, and yet he is very much present in the world becaus he draws us into himself and thus makes his priestly mission ever present.

This means we are drawn to God in Christ: this union with his "I" is realized in the words of the Consecration. It is also in the words "I absolve you" - because none of us can absolve sins. Only Christ's "I", the "I" of God, can absolve.

This unification of his "I" with us implies that we are also drawn into the reality of the Resurrected One, that we are going forward in the full life of Resurrection about which Jesus speaks to the Sadducees in Matthew, Chapter 22: It is a new life, in which already, we are beyond matrimony (cfr Mt 22,23-32).

It is important that we allow ourselves to be penetrated ever anew by this identification of Christ's "I" with ourselves, of being drawn forth towards the world of the resurrection. In this sense, celibacy is an ancticipation: We transcend our time and go forward, we draw ourselves and our time towards the world of the resurrection, towards the newness of Christ, towards the new and true life.

Celibacy is thus an anticipation made possible by the grace of the Lord who draws us to himself towards the world of the resurrection - he invites us ever anew to transcend ourselves, to transcend the present, towards the 'true present' of the future which becomes present today.

Here we come to a very important point. A great problem of Christianity today is that people no longer think of the future with God - when only the present of this world seems to suffice, when we mean to have only this world, to live only in this world. And so, we close the doors to the true grandeur of existence.

The sense of celibacy as an anticipation of the future serves to open these doors which make the world much greater, which shows the reality of the future which we can live as if it were already present.

To live this way in witness to our faith: truly believing that there is a God, that God has everything to do with my life, that I can base my life on Christ, and therefore on the life of the future.

We know the worldly criticisms you referred to. It is true that for the agnostics, who say God has nothing to do with their world, celibacy is a great scandal - precisely because (it shows that) God is considered and lived as a reality.

In the eschatological [oriented towards the end of time] life of the celibate, the future world of God enters the reality of our time. But this, the critics say, must not be! It must disappear!

In a sense, this continuing criticism of celibacy is surprising in a world where it is becoming more fashionable not to marry! But not marrying is totally and fundamentally different from celibacy, because it is based on the desire to live only for oneself, not to accept any definitive bond, to have a life that is fully autonomous at all times, that can decide freely at every moment what to to do and what to take from life. It is a No to any ties, No to any definitiveness, simply having life for oneself alone.

While celibacy is the exact opposite: It is a definitive Yes, allowing oneself to be taken in hand by God, giving ourselves over to God, to his "I" - therefore, it is an act of faithfulness and trust, an act which is like the faithfulness of matrimony. It is the precise opposite of the No that characterizes the autonomy that refuses to be obliged, which refuses to be bound by any ties.

Celibacy is the definitive Yes that presupposes and confirms the definitive Yes of matrimony - the matrimony that is the Biblical kind, the natural form of matrimony between a man and a woman, the foundation of Christianity's great culture, of the great cultures of the world. If it disappears, then the root of our culture would be destroyed.

Celibacy thus confirms the Yes of matrimony with its Yes to the world of the future. That is why we wish to go forward and keep present this scandal of a faith in which everything rests on the existence of God.

We know that besides this great scandal which the world does not want to see, there are also the secondary scandals of our own insufficiencies, of our sins, which obscure the true and great scandal, and make others think, "But their life is not really based on God!"

But there is much faithfulness to God othewise! Priestly celibacy, as its critics demonstrate, is a great sign of the faith, of the presence of God in the world.

Let us pray to the Lord that he may keep us free of the secondary scandals in order to make visible the great scandal of our faith - fidelity, the strength of our life, which is based on God and Jesus Christ

It is clear that one of the cornerstones of this pontificate is not a distancing from clerical celibacy, but its reinforcement. Closely connected with what Benedict XVI has repeatedly pointed to as the "priority" of his mission:

"In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize [...] in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen."

The Pope said this in the memorable open letter that he wrote to the bishops of the whole world, dated March 10, 2009.

But even before this, there was another important speech in which Benedict XVI explicitly connected the celibacy of the clergy with the "priority" of leading men to God, and explained the reason for this connection.

In an address to the Roman curia on December 22, 2006, he commented on his trip to Germany three months earlier, at which he had given the famous Regensburg lecture [which overshadowed everything tlese he said during that trip]:

The great theme of my journey to Germany was God. The Church must speak of many things: of all the issues connected with the human being, of her own structure and of the way she is ordered and so forth. But her true and – under various aspects – only theme is 'God'.

Moreover, the great problem of the West is forgetting God. This forgetfulness is spreading. In short, all the individual problems can be traced back to this question, I am sure of it. Therefore, on that journey, my main purpose was to shed clear light on the theme 'God', also mindful of the fact that in several parts of Germany there are a majority of non–baptized persons for whom Christianity and the God of faith seem to belong to the past.

Speaking of God, we are touching precisely on the subject which, in Jesus' earthly preaching, was his main focus. The fundamental subject of this preaching is God's realm, the 'Kingdom of God'.

This does not mean something that will come to pass at one time or another in an indeterminate future. Nor does it mean that better world which we seek to create, step by step, with our own strength. In the term 'Kingdom of God', the word 'God' is a subjective genitive.

This means: God is not something added to the 'Kingdom' which one might even perhaps drop. The Kingdom of God actually means: God reigns. He himself is present and crucial to human beings in the world. He is the subject, and wherever this subject is absent, nothing remains of Jesus's message.

Therefore, Jesus tells us: the Kingdom of God does not come in such a way that one may, so to speak, stand along the wayside to watch its arrival. 'The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you!' (cf. Lk 17: 20ff.).

It develops wherever God's will is done. It is present wherever there are people who are open to his arrival and so let God enter the world.

Thus, Jesus is the Kingdom of God in person: the man in whom God is among us and through whom we can touch God, draw close to God. Wherever this happens, the world is saved.

Having said this, Benedict XVI continued by connecting to the question of God that of the priesthood and of priestly celibacy:

Paul calls Timothy – and in him, the Bishop and in general the priest – 'man of God' (I Tm 6: 11). This is the central task of the priest: to bring God to men and women. Of course, he can only do this if he himself comes from God, if he lives with and by God.

This is marvellously expressed in a verse of a priestly Psalm that we – the older generation – spoke during our admittance to the clerical state: 'The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup, you hold my lot' (Ps 16 [15], 5).

The priest praying in this Psalm interprets his life on the basis of the distribution of territory as established in Deuteronomy (cf. 10: 9). After taking possession of the Land, every tribe obtained by the drawing of lots his portion of the Holy Land and with this took part in the gift promised to the forefather Abraham.

The tribe of Levi alone received no land: its land was God himself. This affirmation certainly had an entirely practical significance. Priests did not live like the other tribes by cultivating the earth, but on offerings. However, the affirmation goes deeper.

The true foundation of the priest's life, the ground of his existence, the ground of his life, is God himself.

The Church in this Old Testament interpretation of the priestly life – an interpretation that also emerges repeatedly in Psalm 119 [118] – has rightly seen in the following of the Apostles, in communion with Jesus himself, as the explanation of what the priestly mission means.

The priest can and must also say today, with the Levite: 'Dominus pars hereditatis meae et calicis mei'. God himself is my portion of land, the external and internal foundation of my existence.

This theocentricity of the priestly existence is truly necessary in our entirely function–oriented world in which everything is based on calculable and ascertainable performance.

The priest must truly know God from within and thus bring him to men and women: this is the prime service that contemporary humanity needs. If this centrality of God in a priest's life is lost, little by little the zeal in his actions is lost.

In an excess of external things the centre that gives meaning to all things and leads them back to unity is missing. There, the foundation of life, the "earth" upon which all this can stand and prosper, is missing.

Celibacy, in force for Bishops throughout the Eastern and Western Church and, according to a tradition that dates back to an epoch close to that of the Apostles, for priests in general in the Latin Church, can only be understood and lived if is based on this basic structure.

The solely pragmatic reasons, the reference to greater availability, is not enough: such a greater availability of time could easily become also a form of egoism that saves a person from the sacrifices and efforts demanded by the reciprocal acceptance and forbearance in matrimony; thus, it could lead to a spiritual impoverishment or to hardening of the heart.

The true foundation of celibacy can be contained in the phrase: 'Dominus pars' – You are my land. It can only be theocentric. It cannot mean being deprived of love, but must mean letting oneself be consumed by passion for God and subsequently, thanks to a more intimate way of being with him, to be able to serve men.

Celibacy must be a witness to faith: faith in God materializes in that form of life which only has meaning if it is based on God. Basing one's life on him, renouncing marriage and the family, means that I accept and experience God as a reality and that I can therefore bring him to men and women.

Our world, which has become totally positivistic, in which God appears at best as a hypothesis but not as a concrete reality, needs to rest on God in the most concrete and radical way possible. It needs a witness to God that lies in the decision to welcome God as a land where one finds one's own existence.

For this reason, celibacy is so important today, in our contemporary world, even if its fulfilment in our age is constantly threatened and questioned.

A careful preparation during the journey towards this goal and persevering guidance on the part of the Bishop, priest friends and lay people who sustain this priestly witness together, is essential.

We need prayer that invokes God without respite as the Living God and relies on him in times of confusion as well as in times of joy. Consequently, as opposed to the cultural trend that seeks to convince us that we are not capable of making such decisions, this witness can be lived and in this way, in our world, can reinstate God as reality.

After rereading this speech from December of 2006, it is no wonder that Benedict XVI still continues to dedicate so much energy to the clergy.

The proclamation of the Year for Priests, the proposal of exemplary figures like the holy Curé of Ars, the reinforcement of celibacy are part – in the Pope's vision – of an extremely coherent picture, which is one and the same with "the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the successor of Peter at this time," which is "to lead men to God."

00mercoledì 9 febbraio 2011 00.36

Seewald denounces Memorandum
as a rebellion of retirees
who have no following

Translated from

MUNICH, Feb. 8 ( - In an interview with KATHNET, journalist and papal biographer Peter Seewald said that the 'Church 2011' memorandum from 143 German-speaking Catholic theologians represented a rebellion by people who should be in retirement homes! And that they have laid down a challenge to the German bishops. He also notes that the Pope has always been well aware that the worst attack on the Church come from within the Church herself.

Mr. Seewald, what do you think about the celibacy issue raised in the theologians' memorandum?
We are all striving for the right path. The Church cannot remain as it is. But it has to do with purification, with a renaissance of values, with presenting a clearer profile of the Church in the modern world, and ultimately, to make the message of Christ clearer. But the Memorandum leads in the opposite direction.

How and why?
This is a concerted action by neo-liberal forces at work who wish to force a deconstruction which would rob the Catholic Church of her essence, and therefore of her spirit and strength. In the end, they want to see one world church, in which not God nor the Gospel is the measure for all things but rather the autonomous individual member of the community, led by the high priests of the Zeitgeist.

As St. Paul said, "The time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers, and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths" (2Tim 4,3-4).

The promoters of the Memorandum say that they have hit a nerve ...
One can say that - a nerve in the millions of Catholic faithful who are sick and tired of a discussion that we have patiently tolerated for numberless years! Replete with crocodile tears, they claim that they want "to lead the Church out of her crippling self-preoccupation". Absolute madness!

It is these very same grouplets whose self-absorption has become a mania who, for over 25 years, have prevented the Church in Germany from confronting its problems as it should. And I am still astounded by the dishonesty of their presentation, by their cock-eyed arguments, by the excess of demagoguery demonstrated in this memorandum.

But this campaign could also result in mobilising and consolidating the faithful in ways that its initiators have failed to reckon with.

Who is behind all this?
It certainly is not an uprising by young people! It is a rebellion from people who should all be in retirement homes by now. The theological establishment has joined up with some politicians like Althaus and Schavan [German cabinet ministers] with a front man like Norbert Lammert [president of the German Parliament, who last month led a group of Catholic politicians in calling publicly on German bishops to work for the abolition of priestly celibacy in order to remedy the priest shortage] - who invited the Pope to Berlin, it seems, only to have a chance to pull down his miter over his ears! What a shabby trick!

Not to forget those agitators who lost their licenses to teach Catholic theology because day and night, they left no stone unturned to portray the Son of God as nothing more than a Robin Hood.

These are truly yesterday's wares. They do not lead to the future because they have no future. They wish to be green again, but they can never blossom again. They can gather functionaries behind them, but they will never stir any crowds to enthusiasm, and probably not any young people at all. But as rotten branches, they can still do harm by hitting someone as they fall off the tree.

You are very worked up about this...
Because it is such shoddy behavior. And it is appallingly sad when even Cardinal Lehmann attacks the brave Cardinal (Walter) Brandmueller [former president of the Pontifical Academy for Historical Sciences, who was made a cardinal last November) for writing a defense of celibacy in response to the demand made by the German politicians, saying he (Lehmann) was 'shamed' by it. [He claimed, in effect, that Brandmueller had committed an offense against politicians who were merely saying what they thought.]

This is a challenge for every Catholic theologian who still stands firmly by the Church position to profess himself. This is also a challenge to journalists who believe in truth and justice to demonstrate it now. The happy note about all this is some are doing just that.

Above all, the German bishops are challenged. They must make it clear: The Church is not where the anti-papists are in the media. She is not where the political strategists are.

The Church is where praying people are, where Mary is, where Peter is. Where Jesus is, who said, "You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build my Church". He did not say he was building on sand.

What does the Pope say to all this?
We can well imagine! But he as always known that the worst attacks on the Church come from within The Church herself. On January 2009, there was the episode with the Lefebvrian bishops. In January 2010. there was the disclosure of the terrible abuses committed by priests in German schools. And In January 2011, we have this warmed-over offensive by theologians against essential features of the Church, intending to wound her in the very heart.

Of course, not all critics of priestly celibacy are necessarily enemies of the church. Priestly celibacy is not a dogma, but no other rule has been so intensively put to the test. As a young professor, the Pope himself looked at it with a critical eye. In the three book-length interviews we did together, we spoke about this issue in great detail.

He did not make this a major issue in his Pontificate for the universal Church to decide upon! Instead, he has given a great many persuasive arguments for priestly celibacy. His opponents know that, and that makes them even more enraged.

So should we stop discussing this issue?
No, but not always and not at every opportunity! Perhaps one should check it out again after ten years. But for now, the issue is closed. Period. And that means it should be accepted. For the good of the Church, for the good of all.

We cannot be like an Alzheimer's patient repeating the same question that has already been answered again and again. It's as if political party members insist on asking the same question that the party has already decided.

Whoever persistently opposes priestly celibacy promotes rupture. He deliberately risks the unity of the Church for the sake of a cause which lacks both a persuasive rationale and majority support.

There will not be any softening on the part of this Pope, who has said that "Celibacy is a great sign of the faith, of the presence of God in this world".

It would be utter nonsense to give up this sign in a world alienated from God, and that so urgently needs such signs....

2/10/11 P.S.
Here is the rest of the interview that I missed translating at first. It starts with the rest of Seewald's answer to the last question above: :

...Furthermore, no one has asked those directly concerned themselves – the more than 400,000 priests and members of religious orders worldwide who in their continuing mission as followers of Christ have been doing remarkable work.

Already, the term ‘enforced celibacy’ is misleading and insulting. It shows the inability of the dissenters to pay due esteem and respect for the praiseworthy holy ‘evangelical counsels’ of chastity, poverty and obedience, and for the men who answer this special vocation.

No one is obliged to be a priest, just as no one is obliged to be a fireman or whatever occupation. But when one is truly ‘called’, then he will respond without fear of fire or flood!

You have said that the critics’ arguments are dishonest…
Their memorandum is not simply dishonest. It is of the lowest intellectual level and deceives the public. Its very premise is questionable. They refer to ‘reform’ which is no reform at all.

It’s a bit like saying that the Eiffel Tower must be razed because it is anachronistic, and then accuse others who do not agree with you that they are obstacles to reform. Or as if one would ask a football club to get rid of its top player in the name of a ‘cleansing’ reform when the aim is simply to make room for amateurs.

Let us examine some of their arguments:
- ‘Church crisis”: These people know very well that priestly celibacy is not the reason for a crisis but rather the dramatic decline in faith overall.
- ‘Lack of priests”:: Compared to the number of active Massgoers, there are more priests today than ever. In fact, in some areas of the world there is an excess of priests. [Which makes the Church’s missionary work possible, to begin with!] The reason for the consolidation of many parishes is financial, above all. You cannot hire more priests when churches have to be torn down or closed because they are not financially viable.
- ’Appeal and being up to date’: A church that renounces priestly celibacy, ordains women and does not recognize any saints does not have to be ‘built’ – it has existed for a long time. Indeed, the EKD [German acronym for Evangelical Church of Germany – the Lutherans] should copyright itself against all its imitators.

However, the Lutheran model is not necessarily a model of success. Since 1960, the EKD has lost more members than the Catholic church has in Germany. They were always larger in absolute numbers but they are no longer so. But seldom does anyone say this out loud.

Then, the memorandum uses the problem of sexual abuses by priests as as argument. This is absolutely unfounded. This cause and effect chain – Catholic sexual morality plus celibacy equals sexual abuse – has been suggested by Church haters from the first time this problem first came to light. But it falls apart in the light of many more sexual abuses occurring in non-Catholic environments as in the Odenwaldschule. Those who are renewing this argument today make themselves not just untrustworthy but also have a demagogic purpose.

It is equally unheard of that the superior of the Jesuits would rail against Catholic ‘sexual morality’ as if the Vatican itself was responsible for the unbelievably piggish actions in their schools by their own priests who have betrayed their priesthood.

The critics see it otherwise…
Of course. The ‘reformers’, for instance, always cite Vatican II – even if it wrote about the ‘honorable tradition of priestly celibacy’ – but they only accept of Vatican II what fits into their mindset. Basically, they are behaving no differently from the schismatic bishops of the reactionary FSSPX. Both factions have entrenched themselves in a childish position and in rabble-rousing against the Pope.

The aggressive presentation of some theological statements in the last few decades have left many Christians faithful to the Gospels dumbfounded. We are observing the attempt by a minority to impose a dictatorship over the majority – over the many who are still churchgoing Christians, who earnestly celebrate the Eucharist, and for whom piety is not a taboo word. This attempt is a sort of theological Stalinism.

Why has the celibacy question been revived?
The critics feel themselves publicly provoked. 2011 will be a power year for the Pope. In March, his new book on Jesus will be published. In May, he will preside at the mega-event of John Paul II’s beatification. In August, there is World Youth Day where he will draw millions of people. And in September, he will visit Germany. Meanwhile, Light of the World has been a worldwide success. It must hurt these critics that the Pope is on the bestseller lists.

As we know, confrontation of ideas is important. And not all theologians who signed this shameful memorandum, have internalized Hans Kueng’s appeal in April 2010 for an open resistance by priests and bishops to the Pope. [[I had even forgotten he made it! - this was shortly after the letter to Irish Catholics. The things Hansie does to ride on Joseph's publicity!] At least I hope not. I know a great number of professors who have remained authentic Catholics and who have provided spiritual guidance for countless believers.

But we also have these theological fops, Philistines and busybodies who preen before every microphone thrust before them; the feminist leaders who work on their trendy ‘impulse documents’ since they consider rosaries and prayer so terribly old-fashioned; and finally, the wolves in sheep's clothing, the true hardliners, who cannot bear it that the Church is Catholic! As typical 68ers, they have a problem with authority when it is not theirs.

]What legitimacy do these groups have?
Yes, one must ask that. Is it a lifetime tenure in a professorship with a princely salary for which they must sow dispute and doubt? Or are they taking the torch from professional demonstrators who show up with their streamers wherever a bishop speaks?

They have no ‘following’ worthy of the name. In two decades they have not created a following based on their sectarianism. And yet they call themselves with the schizophrenic and absolutist label ‘We are Church’. What is that? Being out of touch with reality? A fantasy of omnipotence?

Has anyone ever heard any of them express joy in their faith, joy in the greatness and goodness of the one God that one finds in the Catholic Church and her tradition?

But they consider themselves modern…
Modern is something else now. Is the cold professorial religion of the 1970s really modern? Or is it not really the classical which is modern: the return to roots, to the original, to one’s own core competence, to one’s assignment. What is truly progressive is whatever points to the future. And the prescriptions of the religious-pedagogical era don’t. Their memorandum reeks of musty and dusty cassocks.

I ask myself whether these groups have brought anyone back to the Church – even as just a tiny counterweight to the hundreds of thousands who have left the Church. Have they harvested any fruits? Their lecture halls are empty. They carry not fire, but ashes – and that is the difference between them and Pope Benedict XVI. They remind us of the Biblical ‘salt of the earth’ that has lost its flavor. Jesus asked. “When the salt loses its flavor, how can one make it salty again?” Nothing really. It is reduced to nothing.

Let us consider the ‘action’ of the German professors against John Paul II in the so-called Cologne Declaration of 1989. They faulted Papa Wojtyla for his leadership style, for being 'retrograde', and God knows what else. They called him the gravedigger of the Church. Well, millions of even non-Catholics followed that ‘gravedigger’ to his grave.

And what following do these professors have? John Paul II through his firm faith and his experience and example of suffering gave new strength to the Church. Whereas his opponents can only seek bit by small bit to chip away at the Rock.

The memorandum earned the approval of the Central Committee of German Catholicism?
Is anyone surprised? But even in this case, one must ask: What legitimacy does a so-called Central Committee have, whose members spend their retirement time in activities seeking to show they are still ‘young’ and ‘decisive’? As longtime functionaries, they have become so far removed from the people, just as the Central Committee of the Communist Party was in the German Democratic Republic.

What's certain is that this discussion which has gone around in unending circles in the past few decades has been an obstacle to real progress by covering up the real problems of the Church. Its advocates have hardened perversely in an argument that does not hold. They operate according to criteria that are diametrically opposed to what the Catholic Church stands for.

It is scandalous when one Dr. Hans Langendorfer, SJ, secretary to the German bishops' conference, then remarks that the Memorandum does indicate ‘a necessary new beginning’ (Aufbruch). Perhaps he meant a rupture (Abbruch).

He says, as though speaking for the German bishops, that the German bishops must now “work through these proposals which, hopefully, will be stimulating and far-reaching”. Someone who says that can no longer hold that position. The bishops’ conference must take the consequences for his statements.

What would Jesus say about all this?
I wouldn’t know. Perhaps he would recommend a knowledgeable examination of the issue. Or perhaps he would leave it to the vigilance and the resistance of the true and trusting believer, who trusts in the legacy that he left. He warned against letting the dogs loose. In any case, he would have his followers announce the Word of God and the Church of Christ, not their own. And he would ask the bishops to tend to their flock as they were assigned to do.

Will this confrontation harden"
One must fear that. A line has been drawn that makes priestly celibacy a measure for Catholicity. On which side does one stand? And one can only say, “Be careful whom you trust!”

Who has the real charism? Who is truly honest? Who stands on the basis of the Gospel? Who is with the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church – and who is against it?

In these times, the importance of the papacy will be even greater. Benedict’s visit to his homeland is seen, in this respect, as a great test. It will show us (Germans) where we really stand.

One thing must be established. Has not chastity produced great priest models and members of religious orders that have not been seen in other faiths? Models like Don Rosco, Edith Stein, Karol Wojtyla, to name just a few.

There have always have been men who have come to the Church on their own, who have even rescued her, saints like Francis, Bernard of Clairvaux or Mother Teresa, but none of any so-called progressive ‘masterminds’ in the history of the Church.

Sigrid Grabner recently quoted Mother Teresa in Vatikan-Magazin. When she was asked by a journalist what she thought ought to change in the Catholic church, Mother Teresa answered simply, "You and me”. [What a beautiful Christian answer! All these do-gooders and bleeding-hearts running round asking 'the Church' to reform, when they should first look to their individual self!]

In fairness, I should post a translation of the 'memorandum' on this Forum even if it is not worth my time to translate it. but perhaps I'll find a link to a readymade translation....

Meanwhile, Jose Luis Restan does well as usual as he deftly pricks the inflated egos of those behind the infamous Memorandum!

That necessary new start?
It needs to be made by those
theologians who are demanding it

Translated from
February 8. 2011

In 1989, when Papa Wojtyla was still at full strength, 220 theologians from the German-speaking countries signed the so-called Cologne Manifesto.

Twenty-two years later, as if nothing had happened since then in the Church and in the world, 143 theology professors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, have published a new text entitled 'Church 2011: A new beginning is needed'.

Well, nothing is new under the sun. Except that to the list of reforms - all structural, disciplinary or having to do with morality - demanded of the Church by these theologians (less in number now and much older), they have added acceptance and blessing of same-sex unions.

But their document once again demonstrates that habitual 'prophetic' tone, characterized by reverent emulation - almost on tiptoes - the dominant mentality.

For the rest of the memorandum, let us not waste any time. The 143 signatories represent about one-third of all theology professors in the Germanophone countries, and we may assume that they have had and continue to have nefarious influence on Catholic publications there, in the formation of new priests, and in the general climate of Catholic opinion in their respective countries.

There is no doubt that there is no lack of talent among these 'wise men', but as Hans Urs von Balthasar once said, "How much talent is wasted in our time!"

Nor is there any doubt that many of them are acting in good faith, but under the weight of their ideological prejudices which induce a terrible case of myopia. And all this cannot be healed through decrees or being rapped by a pastoral staff!

These are people who, for the most part, lacked the right guidance, discernment, initiative and creativity, along the way, not to mention patience, dialog and reflection which are just as necessary.

But let us go to the root of the problem. One understands that alienation from God, anthropological disorientation, and the cultural crisis which has most of Europe in its grip, do produce anguish, and often, a crutch for blind men.

But to claim that the proposed reforms (ordaining married men as well as women, democratizing the choice of bishops, and granting Communion to remarried divorcees whose first marriage remain valid) could possibly bring about a new spring for the faith is just too much to take!

In the well-trodden and worn-out text of the Memorandum, I cannot find a single word addressed to the concerns of contemporary man, his quest, his need, his cry for help. Everything about it is in an asphyxiating internal key, so incapable are the signatories of abandoning the navel-gazing they have indulged in for the past four decades.

Indeed, these theologians demanding reforms from the Church hierarchy seem to be almost autistic. The questions they raise have been debated widely - even discussed to death - in every imaginable forum.

Vatican II itself (which they always invoke according to its 'spirit' but never by its letter, by what it actually said), various synods, and the Magisterium of the Popes from Paul VI to Benedict XVI have all pronounced the Church position unequivocally about all these issues. [i.e., What is it about NO that the dissenters don't understand?]

To choose to bring them up again at this time with the old method of gathering signatures, and with all the pomp and circumstance of the good press they enjoy, has more to do with their desire for internal power rather than going to the sources of Christian experience.

Curiously, the new manifesto coincides with the peevish appeal by a group of Catholic politicians from Germany's Christian Democrat party who demand some sort of 'German exception' to the rule of priestly celibacy. All this, quite well-orchestrated in advance of Benedict XVI's visit to Germany later this year.

More than 30 years ago, a young theologian called Joseph Ratzinger reflected about the face that the Church would show the world by the year 2000. He wrote: "The future of the Church will not come from those who simply accommodate themselves to the moment, to those who can only give prescriptions, to those who only choose the easier road, and consider false and outmoded, tyrannical and legalistic, anything that demands some effort from man, anything that may require self-renunciation".

Rather, he said, "the future will come from those who have profound roots in and live the fullness of the faith".

And just a few months ago in the interview-book Light of the World, the same man, now the Successor of Peter, said that "even if the bureaucracy is worn out and exhausted, a totally new creativity is developing within the Church... which comes from within, from the joy of young people".

According to recent data, some 17,000 young people from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have formally registered so far to be with the Pope in Madrid for World Youth Day. It would be good for those 143 theologians to approach these young people, listen to their concerns and questions, and set aside for once the manual of perpetual protest.

Let them walk alongside them, helping them to accept the offer of faith lived within the Church as a response to their most profound desires.

That would be a necessary beginning - the one that for forty years, they have refused to make!

Perhaps many of these smug, navel-gazing 143 professors have never had to do any pastoral work, and have been exclusively academic. I wonder, as I always do about Hans Kueng, how much of the priest's life they even live (though I understand that not all of them are priests- some are even women). I have never forgotten one of the earliest comments I ever read about Joseph Ratzinger by someone who knew him when he was a professor in Bonn - that 'unlike most theology professors', he never forgot that he was a priest first and therefore always began his day with celebrating Mass.
00mercoledì 9 febbraio 2011 11.53

Wednesday, February 9, Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Priest, Founder of the Somaschi Fathers, Patron Saint of Orphans and Abandoned Children
As a young man, Jerome served as a soldier for the city state of Venice, and was imprisoned
after being captured at a skirmish. In jail, he learned to pray, and upon his release, he
prepared for priesthood. After being ordained in 1518, he spent most of his time attending
to the poor and the sick, particularly orphans. When Venice was struck by plague and famine,
he sold all his possessions to care for the poor, and founded three orphanages, a shelter
for penitent prostitutes and a hospital. In 1532, he founded an order called Clerks Regular
of Somasca, after its first location in a city between Milan and Bergamo. The Somaschi
fathers dedicated themselves to caring for orphans and educating the poor. Jerome was
canonized in 1767. In 1928, Pius XI named him patron of orphans and abandoned children.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
No papal stories in this issue, but there is a reprint of the homily delivered by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1998 at a Mass to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of the then Servant of God Aloysius Stepinac, the late Croatian bishop beatified later that year by John Paul II. Stepinac's liturgical feast will be celebrated tomorrow, Feb. 10. A visit to his tomb is on the program of the Pope's visit to Croatia in June. Page 1 news: Egyptian popular protest enters its third week in a spirit of compromise - the government has created a commission for constitutional amendments to liberalize elections, but protesters insist they will stay in the streets until President Mubarak steps down. South Sudan becomes the 54th sovereign state in Africa; the two Koreas resume direct talks; and restoration work starts on Paris's 17th-century Sainte Chapelle, considered the 'Sistine chapel of stained glass'. In the inside pages, an essay by the superior-general of the Missionaries of San Carlo Borromeo (priestly order of the Comunione e Liberazione movement) on its 25th anniversary.


General Audience - The Holy Father's catechesis is on St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597), proclaimed a Doctor of the Church (doctor of catechetical studies) in 1925.

From Fr. Massimo Camisasca's essay on the Missionaries of San Carlo Borromeo:

When I think of Benedict XVI, I am reminded above all of Popes Leo the Great and Gregory the Great, two Popes whose Magisterium distinguished the era of late antiquity. In the words of the present Pope, especially in his comments on the liturgy during the principal feasts of the year, there is not only profound reflection on the mystery of Christ as it lives in the liturgy of the Church, but also the indication of a method which we feel to be particularly significant for our mission: concentrating on the essentials of the faith, trusting in God and not in the powers of the world.


- Those Germanophone theologian-dissenters may want to know that judging by the headlines roundup of religious news in English online in the past few days, their statement has not gained traction so farhe Anglophone world. Perhaps because they say nothing that hasn't been said before ad nauseam....

- In fact, the most used news item today about religion, judging from the Anglophone headline lists, is the iPhone application providing a guide to confession...

- I have posted in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread George Weigel's item today in FIRST THINGS on comparative numbers among the world's major religions (as well as atheism). Please look it up...

P.S. I must apologize: It turns out that I only translated half of Peter Seewald's interview with KATHNET yesterday. I was reading a French report about it which said Seewald accused the dissident theologians of 'Stalinist theology' - which I did not come across during my translation. So I went back to KATHNET, and it turns out there was more of the interview below an advertisement I had assumed marked the end of it. I have now posted the rest of the translated interview in the original post earlier on this page.

00mercoledì 9 febbraio 2011 13.44

'Reform of the reform':
CDW to tighten up on pop Masses
and ensure proper execution of
Vatican II instructions

by Andrea Tornielli
Translated from
February 9, 2011

In the next few weeks, a document by Benedict XVI will be published which will reorganize the Congregation for Divine Worship and give it the specific responsibility to promote liturgy that is more faithful to the original intentions of the Second Vatican Council, with less room for arbitrary changes, to recover a dimension of greater sacredness in the Mass.

The document, which will have the effect of a Motu Proprio, has been long in gestation, and has since been reviewed by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts and the relevant offices of the Secretariat of State.

It was also the result of the transfer of jurisdiction for matrimonial questions to the Roman Rota, particularly that of annulments requested due to non-consummation of the conjugal act even if the spouses were married in a Catholic ceremony.

There are some 500 such cases yearly, mostly from some Asian countries where arranged marriages are still a custom and the brides are generally children. In Eastern countries, they are often the result of psychologically-rooted incompetence on the part of the male partner.

By losing this competence, the Congregation for Divine Worship will no longer deal with sacramental issues but only with questions of worship.

Authoritative sources have revealed that that the Motu Proprio could explicitly cite the 'new liturgical movement' mentioned in recent interviews by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the CDW.

The cardinal told Il Giornale last December: "Liturgical reform [following Vatican II] was carried out in too much haste. The intentions were very good, namely to implement Vatican II. But the reform was too precipitate.... Liturgical renewal was treated like an object for experimentation, depending on imagination and 'creativity', which was the magic word in those days".

The cardinal, who is not averse to the use of the term 'reform of the reform', added: "What I see as necessary and urgent, according to what the Pope wants, is to give life to a new, clear and vigorous liturgical movement in the entire Church", in order, he said, to put an end to 'arbitrary deformations' and to the process of 'secularization which unfortunately is taking place even within the heart of the Church'.

It is well known that Benedict XVI has introduced into papal liturgies a number of significant gestures and signs to set an example - the Crucifix in the centar of the altar, kneeling when receiving Communion, Gregorian chant, space for silence; and that he believes strongly in upholding the beauty of all sacred art and in promoting Eucharistic Adoration.

The Congregation for Divine Worship - which some think should be renamed Congregation for Sacred Liturgy or Divine Liturgy [the term used by the Orthodox and Eastern Churches] - will occupy itself with this new liturgical movement that would open up a new section of the Congregation to sacred art and sacred music.

00mercoledì 9 febbraio 2011 14.30

Catechesis on St. Peter Canisius,
Doctor of the Church


Pope Benedict XVI speaks
about St. Peter Canisius


09 FEB 2011 (RV) - Pope Benedict XVI continued his catechesis on great figures of Church history during his weekly general audience on Wednesday, focusing on the Saint Peter Canisius.

The priest was the first Dutchman to enter the Jesuit order, and helped return many parts of Europe to the Catholic Church after the reformation. He is considered one of the greatest theologians in Church history.

The Pope remarked that in the time of the Reformation, it seemed as if the light of the Catholic faith had been extinguished in German- speaking countries, and the task of revitalizing the faith given to Saint Peter Canisius seemed almost impossible, but he had his ways.

Here is how the Holy Father synthesized the catechism in English:

Today’s catechesis is on the life of Saint Peter Canisius (1521-1597). He was born in the Low Countries, and as a young man, became one of the early followers of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Three years after his priestly ordination in Cologne, he laboured intensively for the religious and moral reform of the people as well as for the improvement of academic life in the University of Ingolstadt.

He founded the College of Prague, and was named the first Superior of the Jesuit province in Southern Germany. From there he oversaw the Society’s communities and colleges which quickly became major centres of Catholic reform. During this period, in the tumult of the Reformation, he took part in many civic and theological disputes.

He published devotional literature as well as catechisms popular for their Biblically-inspired responses. Even in his later years in Fribourg, Switzerland, he remained extremely active, dedicating himself to writing and preaching.

Pope Leo XIII proclaimed Peter Canisius the ‘Second Apostle of Germany’, and he was canonized and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI. His significant contribution to catechesis is second only to the example for us of his disciplined Christ-centred spirituality, finding in the liturgy, daily prayer and devotion to the heart of Jesus the strength and inspiration to carry out well his innumerable tasks.


After his catechesis the Pope greeted over 70 bishops from around the world attending a retreat in Castel Gandolfo sponsored by the Focolare movement. He told them he was pleased by the opportunity offered to them to compare experiences from different areas of the ecclesial world, and expressed his hopes that their days of prayer and reflection may bear abundant fruit.


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


Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I wish to speak to you about St. Peter Kanis (Canisius, in the Latinized form of his family name) - a very important figure in 16th-century Catholicism.

He was born on May 8, 1521, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His father was the city's Burgermeister (mayor). As a student at the University of Cologne, he frequented the Carthusian monks of Santa Barbara, a center that was propulsive for Catholic life, along with other pious men who cultivated the spirituality of what then called devotio moderna,

He entered the Society of Jesus in May 1543 in Mainz, in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany, after following a course of spiritual exercises under the Blessed Pierre Favre (Petrus Faber), one of the first companions of St. Ignatius de Loyola.

Ordained a priest in 1546 in Cologne, the following year, as the theologian to the Bishop of Augusta, Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, he was present at the Council of Trent, where he collaborated with two fellow Jesuits, Diego Laínez e Alfonso Salmerón.

In 1548, Ignatius ordered him to complete his spiritual formation in Rome, then sent him to the College of Messina to carry out humble domestic chores. After Canisius had obtained a doctorate in theology in Bologna on October 5, 1549, Ignatius assigned him to apostolic work in Germany.

On September 2 of that year, he visited Pope Paul II in Castel Gandolfo, then proceeded to St. Peter's Basilica to pray. He called on the Apostles Peter and Paul to give permanent effectiveness to the Apostolic Blessing in order to help him in his new mission.

In his diary, he noted some words of his prayer: "I felt there a great comfort and the presence of grace granted to me through such intercessors [Peter and Paul]. They confirmed my mission in Germany and seemed to convey to me, as to an apostle to Germany, the support of their benevolence. You know, Lord, how many ways and how many times that day you entrusted Germany to me, a mission for which I would continue to be solicited in the future, and for which I desire to live and die".

We must keep in mind that this was the time of the Lutheran Reformation, at a time when the Catholic faith in the German-speaking nations seemed to be dying out in the fascination of the Reformation.

Canisius's assignment was almost impossible, charged as he was with renewing the Catholic faith in the Germanic countries. It would be possible only through the power of prayer. And it was possible only from the center, from a profound personal friendship with Jesus Christ - a friendship with Christ in his Body, the Church, nourished by his real Presence in the Eucharist.

In pursuit of the mission given to him by Ignatius and Pope Paul II, Canisius left for Germany, first of all for the Duchy of Bavaria, which became the place of his ministry for several years.

As dean, then rector and vice-chancellor of the University of Ingolstadt, he was in charge of the academic life of the Institute, as well as the religious and moral reform of the people.

In Vienna, where for a brief time he administered the diocese, he carried out pastoral service in the hospitals and prisons, in the city as well as in the countryside, and he prepared to publish a Catechism.

In 1556, he founded the College of Prague, and until 1569, he was the first superior of the Jesuit province of Upper Germany. In this function, he established in the Germanic nations a dense network of Jesuit communities, especially colleges which became the starting point for Catholic reform and for renewal of the Catholic faith.

At that time, he also took part in the colloquium of Worms with Protestant leaders, among them, Filippo Melantone (1557); acted as Apostolic Nuncio to Poland in 1558; participated in two Diets of Augusta (1559 and 1565); accompanied Cardinal Stanislao Hozjusza, Pius V's legate to Emperor Ferdinand (1560); intervened at the final session of the Council of Trent in 1562, where he spoke about the question of Communion using two species (bread and wine), and on the Holy Office's Index of Prohibited Books.

In 1580, he retired to Freiburg in Switzerland, and dedicated himself to preaching and the publication of his works. He died there on Dec. 21, 1597. He was beatified by Blessed Pius IX in 1864; proclaimed the second Apostle of Germany by Leo XIII in 1897; and was canonized and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pius XI in 1925.

St. Peter Canisius spent a good part of his life in contact with the most socially important persons of his time and exerted a special influence on many through his writings. He edited the complete works of St. Cyril of Alexandria and of St. Leo the Great; the Letters of St. Jerome; and the Prayers of St. Nicolas della Flue.

He published devotional books in many languages, the biographies of some Swiss saints, and many homiletic texts. But his most widely disseminated writings were the three Catechisms he composed between 1555 and 1558.

The first Catechism was intended for students who could understand elementary notions of theology; the second was for children receiving their first religious instruction; and the third for children in middle school and high school.

He presented Catholic doctrine through questions and answers, briefly, in Biblical terms, with great clarity, and without any polemical content. During his lifetime alone, more than 200 editions of his Catechism were published. And hundreds more editions were published until the 20th century.

Thus, in Germany, up to my father's generation, people simply called the Catechism the 'Canisius'. He was truly a catechist for the centuries - he formed the faith of persons for more than three centuries.

And this was a characteristic of St. Peter Canisius: He was able to harmoniously unite faithfulness to dogmatic principles with the respect due to every person.

Canisius distinguished between conscious and sinful apostasy from the faith, and the guiltless loss of faith due to circumstances. And he declared to Rome that most of the Germans who had passed to Protestantism were guiltless.

At a historical period of strong confessional conflicts, he avoided - and this was quite extraordinary - the harsh rhetoric of anger, a rare thing in those days of heated disputes among Christians. Rather, he focused only on the presentation of the spiritual roots of the Church and the revitalization of the faith.

He was aided in this by his vast and penetrating knowledge of Sacred Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church. It was the same knowledge that sustained his personal relationship with God and the austere spirituality that he derived from devotio moderna and from Rhenanian mysticism.

Characteristic of St. Canisius's spirituality was a profound personal friendship with Jesus. He wrote, for example, in his diary on Sept. 4, 1549, speaking to the Lord: "You in the end seemed to have opened for me the heart of the Most Sacred Body which I seemed to see before me - you commanded me to drink from that spring, inviting me so to speak to draw the waters of my salvation from your sources, O my Savior".

And then he sees the Lord giving him a garment with three parts called peace, love and perseverance. It was with this garment of peace, love and perseverance that Canisius carried out his work of renewing Catholicism.

His friendship with Jesus - who was the center of his personality - was nourished by his love for the Bible, his love for the Sacraments, his love for the Fathers. This friendship was clearly united with his consciousness that in the Church, he was continuing the work of the Apostles.

This reminds us that every authentic evangelizer is always an instrument who is united - and because of this, fruitful - with Jesus and his Church.

Peter Canisius was initially 'trained' for personal friendship with Jesus in the spiritual environment of the Carthusian monastery in Cologne, where he was in close contact with two Carthusian mystics: Johann Landsperger (Latinized to Lanspergius) and Nicolas van Hessche (latinized to Eschius).

Subsequently, he deepened his experience of such friendship - familiaritas stupenda nimis - by contemplating the mysteries of the life of Christ which occupy a large part of the Spiritual
exercises of Ignatius de Loyola.

This is also the foundation for Peter's intense devotion to the Sacred Heart, which culminated in his consecration to his apostolic mission at the Vatican Basilica.

A profound conviction is rooted in St. Peter Canisius's Christocentric spirituality: that one cannot truly animate one's search for perfection without practising prayer daily - mental prayer which is the ordinary means which allows the disciple of Christ to live in intimacy with his divine Master.

That is why in his writings intended for the spiritual education of teh faithful, our saint insisted on the importance of liturgy, in his comments on the Gospels, on religious feasts, on the rite of Holy Mass and other sacraments.

But at the same time, he took care to show to the faithful the necessity and the beauty of the fact that daily personal prayer is coupled with and permeates participation in the public worship of the Church.

It is an exhortation and a method that conserve their value intact today, especially after they were authoritatively re-stated by the Second Vatican Council in the dogmatic constitution Sacrosanctum concilium: Christian life will not grow unless it is nourished by participation in the liturgy, particularly in Sunday Mass, and by daily personal prayer, by personal contact with God.

In the midst of a thousand activities and the multiple stimuli that srround us, it is necessasry every day to find time to collect oneself before the Lord, to listen to him and to talk to him.

At the same time, the example left to us by St. Peter Canisius is always relevant and permanently valuable, not only in his works, but above all, by his life.

He taught with clarity that apostolic ministry is incisive and produces fruits of salvation in hearts, only if the preacher is a personal witness for and of Jesus, and is an instrument at his disposal, united closely to him by faith in his Gospel and in his Church, by a life that is morally consistent and by prayer as incessant as love.

This goes for every Christian who wishes to live his adherence to Christ with commitment and faithfulness. Thank you.


At the end of the GA, Japanese Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama spoke to the pontiff and shared the hopes and prayers of his flock. The prelate was in Rome to mark the 43rd anniversary of the Community of Sant'Egidio, a Catholic movement especially dedicated to non-violence and ecumenism.

Archbishop Kaigama denounced Islamic fundamentalism and its efforts to exploit complex social problems and inter-ethnic squabbles. He told the Pope that he had just opened a new educational center for young people. Kaigama said that he hopes that vocational training will lead young people away from the temptations of violence.

At the meeting, the Pope also heard from Aan Rukmana, a Muslim and professor of philosophy from Indonesia. Rukmana had just finished a six-month course of studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University at Rome, having received a fellowship from the Nostra Aetate Foundation.

“I am returning to Jakarta,” said Rukmana, with the conviction that Christianity is the religion of peace and that there is no alternative to dialogue between believers.”

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