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00domenica 21 giugno 2009 12.04

I do not know why even a veteran Vaticanista like Salvatore Izzo of AGI, who generally has very shrewd comments, should find it 'remarkable' that Benedict XVI should come to venerate Padre Pio.

Even the Franciscan friar, Brother DiLeo cited in the CNA article in the preceding post, ended his remarks by saying that "the picture of teh theologian Pope kneeling before Padre Pio's urn will be more significant than any words."

The assumption is that an intellectual like Joseph Ratzinger is too far removed from the faith of the simple folk. Yet this is someone who grew up amid the simple traditional Catholicism of Bavaria, and who, even as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, defined his job as keeping the faith whole and intact for the simple folk.

As a boy, he frequented the Marian shrine at Altoetting with his family, and there he also learned to venerate St. Conrad of Parzham, the lay Capuchin who served as a humble porter at the shrine for 40 years.

In fact, Pope Benedict XVi often cites Padre Pio whenever he refers to contemporary saints.

All manifestations of Christian faith are welcome, provided they do not remain empty manifestations but are translated into a genuine conversion of the heart to Christian love

The theologian Pope and defender of the faith
will kneel before the mortal remains of the saint

by Salvatore Izzo and Franco Colomo

SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, June 20 (Translated from AGI) - Benedict XVI, the theologian Pope who spent half of his life as a university professor and the next half as defender of the faith, will render homage tomorrow to San Pio of Pietrelcina, a monk who dealt with his people with great simplicity and who had been investigated for some time by the former Holy Office [in the 1920s and 1930s].

He will pray before the urn containing the body of the Capuchin who bore Christ's stigmata in life and who has been on public exposition for more than a year now.

It is a significant visit which comes 10 years after Padre Pio's beatification in May 1989, and seven years since he was canonized on June 16, 2002.

Then the Pope will celebrate Mass in front of the futuristic church of San Pio (designed by Renzo Piano and decorated by mosaic artist Mark Rupnik). In the afternoon, he will visit the patients and personnel of the hospital Casa Sollievo di Sofferenza [started by padre Pio but now a property of the Vatican, administered by the diocese], and finally with priests, religious, seminarians and young people in the Church of San Pio.

Papa Ratzinger's predecessor, John Paul II, came here on May 23, 1987.

Last October 2006, on the 50th anniversary of the Opere di San Pio (Works of San Pio, referring to his various social projects in San Giovanni Rotondo), Benedict XVI addressed the staff and personnel of the Casa Sollievo and the members of Padre Pio's Prayer Encounter Groups at a special audience in St. Peter's Square.

"Padre Pio," he told them, "was above all a man of God. From childhood, he felt called by the Lord and he responded with all his heart, all his soul, all his strength. Thus, divine love could take possession of his humble person and make it a chosen instrument in his plan for salvation. Everything in the Church comes from God, and without him, nothing can stand."

"The works of Padre Pio," he said, "offer an extraordinary example of this truth. One can well call the Casa di Sollievo a miracle. And if the scientific and technological dimension distinguishes the hospital, prayer extends throughout all of the works."

The prayer encounter groups, he said, "continually knock on the heart of God, like an army of intercessors and reparationists, to obtain graces needed by the Church and the world".

These prayer groups, born in 1942, are today one of the most concrete proofs of the friar's legacy - more than 3,000 spread throughout all the inhabited continents.

"Padre Pio still offers a reference point for us today," John Paul II told the Capuchin community when he visited in 1987, "because the two aspects which characterize Catholic priesthood found particular acceptance and spiritual resonance in him: the faculty to consecrate the Body and Blood of the Lord and that of remitting sins. Were not the altar and the confessional the two poles of his life? His priestly testimony has a message that is as valid as it is relevant today."

At the beatification ceremony in 1989, he noted, that "Padre Pio's charity poured forth like balsam over the weaknesses and sufferings of his brothers. And so he united his zeal for souls with attention to human pain, leading him to build a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo."

With the Casa di Sollievo, John Paul said, Padre Pio showed that "God's 'ordinary miracles' are made possible through our charity".

At the canonization rites on June 16, 2002, the Pope proclaimed to the world that "the new saint invites us to place God above everything else in the world and to consider him as our best and only good."

"The ultimate reason for Padre Pio's apostolic effectiveness was the profound roots of his spiritual fecundity in his intimate and constant union with God of which the long hours he spent in prayer were an eloquent testimony."

As for Padre Pio's relations with the Popes, John XXIII's great mistrust of the monk was well known, but towards the end, he changed his mind at the urging of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, the Archbishop of Genoa who was the first president of the Italian bishops' conference, according to Siri's biographer, the famed ex-Vaticanista and historian Benni Lay.

"I often had to meet with Pope John because of my duties as CEI president and also of the 'social weeks' (annually observed by the Italian bishops to highlight the social work undertaken by dioceses and parishes], and we always ended up talking about Padre Pio," Lay quotes Siri as saying.

John XXIII, a good man and a true saint, was concerned because serious accusations were reaching the Vatican about Padre Pio. Sometimes it was the Capuchin's own defenders who contributed by an excess of zeal and the impression of wanting to rush tings.

In the end, the Pope, according to Siri, was convinced that the monk "had nothing to do with the accusations that were mobilized against him".

But even a giant of the faith like Cardinal Siri could do little against the prejudices of the Franciscan doctor Agostino Gemelli (founder of the hospital in Rome and the Catholic university of teh Sacred Heart in Milan) who could never accept that the poor Capuchin could share the same gift given to Francis of Assisi - namely, the stigmata.

Gemelli nursed a stubborn prejudice that Siri could not manage to dent. "Facts are facts", Siri wrote about Padre Pio's stigmata. In the process, he revealed a curious episode with Padre Pio.

Siri had been perplexed and anguished over a problem and he had to make a delicate choice between two courses of action 'in the dark', so to speak.

"The next day," he told Lay, "I received a telegram from Padre Pio who said that the decision I took was the right one/ How on earth did he even know?"

Eventually, Siri brought all this to the attention of Paul VI after Padre Pio's death and was able to get the process of beatification under way. This remained stalled for a long time until it was taken up again by John Paul II.

I will post here a story about Cardinal Ratzinger who visited Pietrelcina, Padre Pio's hometown about two weeks before the monk's canonization. The story first appeared in an Italian magazine in 2005 and I posted this translation in the thread ENCOUNTERS WITH THE FUTURE POPE on the PRF in June 2006 after Ratzigirl unearthed it.


by Roberto Allegri

“June 1, 2002 was a Saturday. In Pietrelcina, we were all in great commotion in preparation for the proclamation of Padre Pio as a saint, which would take place on June 15. All of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio’s hometown, was mobilized for the event.

“Then came the surprise that no one expected. In the afternoon, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger arrived, the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI, requesting to visit the places associated with Padre Pio.

“We accompanied him with great joy, and it was a most beautiful and touching occasion – especially because we had not thought that the great German theologian, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would be so visibly interested in the mystical story of Padre Pio, who is considered the saint of the simple folk, a saint of the people.”

So recalls Father Marciano Guarino about that day. His image, happily smiling, is immortalized next to Cardinal Ratzinger in photos taken during that visit [I've tried searching for these photos online but without success].

At that time, Fr. Marciano was the parish priest of the main church in Pietrelcina. Today he is the chaplain of the hospital called “House of Relief from Suffering” in San Giovanni Rotondo [the little town near the Adriatic Sea in the central eastern part of Italy which is the site of the principal shrine to Padre Pio].

“As one can see in these pictures,” Padre Marciano says, “I was really very happy. The Cardinal had put us all at ease. We had thought that he would be a severe person, but he turned out to be simple and very friendly.”

But not one newspaper reported that visit in 2002. It was a private visit. In addition, everyone in Pietrelcina at the time thought that Ratzinger – precisely because he was Prefect of the CDF, which was once called the Holy Office, that had issued several condemnations of Padre Pio in the 20s and 30s - would not be a sympathizer of the monk from Pietrelcina.

Indeed, it was thought that Ratzinger, with his profound theological culture and his tranining as a great intellectual, would not have a ‘feel’ for the humility of Padre Pio and for the popular devotion demonstrated for him by simple people.

Some even suspected that the stern ‘guardian of the faith’ may have actually come to investigate whether there were devotional exaggerations, based on superstition, practised in the saint’s hometown.

But now that Cardinal Ratzinger has become Benedict XVI and has shown in his daily activities that he was always in harmony with his predecessor, all the prejudices have fallen away.

“Truthfully,” Fr. Marciano says, “we immediately realized that Cardinal Ratzinger was a great admirer of Padre Pio. To everything that we told him about Padre Pio, he listened attentively, with great interest, and asked questions. “

“In the places where Padre Pio lived and where so many mysterious phenomena were verified to take place, like the apparitions and the stigmata, the bloody ‘battle’ with Satan, the Cardinal visited in silence, almost as if he were listening to voices, almost as if he were imagining the events that had taken place. And he prayed. I could see him go into prayer.

”Even I had always had that mistaken image of the Cardinal. Like everyone else, on the basis of what was said about him, I imagined him stern, taciturn, reserved, mistrutful. Instead he was very sweet, affable, smiling, humble – someone who immediately put you at ease, one who was immediately likable.”

How was this visit arranged?
There was no arrangement. The cardinal was in Benevento for the closing of the diocesan Eucharistic Congress. Pietrelcina is only about 15 kilometers away from Benevento, so the Cardinal decided he wanted to visit the places associated with Padre Pio. And the superior of our convent simply received a telephone call informing him that the Cardinal would be arriving.

Was he accompanied by others?
By his secretary and by two priests from Benevento. No outward appearances. No official reception. He stopped awhile at the convent to speak to our superior (Father Nazario at the time), and then he began his visit. The first stop was at my parish church.”

Important because it was there Padre Pio said Mass in the early years of his priesthood...
And it is called the Mother Church of Pietrelcina because it is the most important. Padre Pio said Mass every morning in that church. We told Cardinal Ratzinger that as a young priest, Padre Pio had seen many apparitions of the Madonna in that church.

These are wondrous things for believers, but many others think they are simply legends or fantasizing. But Cardinal Ratzinger, great theologian, defender of the faith, simply listened very attentively, and I never saw his face express the slightest sign of surprise or reservation.

How long did he stay?
Quite some time. He wanted to visit every place unhurriedly. I remember he congratulated us on how clean the Church was. He is very watchful and observant, nothing seemed to escape him. He noted how the church was clean even in the most remote corners.

Inside the church, we also had a bell that we had ordered to mark Padre Pio’s canonization two weeks later. It was inside the church to be blessed. It would be a historic bell. The Cardinal stopped to inspect and admire it.

There was a reliquary, with a glove of Padre Pio that was stained with blood from his stigmata. The Cardinal looked at everything with great attention and admiration.

Later, where else did he go?
We went to the historic zone of Pietrelcina, in which is located the Church of St. Anne, where Padre Pio was baptized, and the houses where he was born, where he passed his infancy, and where he lived during his long years of sickness.

The cardinal even went up to the ‘torretta’, a little room that had been made into a sort of tower, to which Padre Pio often retreated for prayer, and later, even became his bedroom.

In that ‘torretta’ many mysterious, mystic things happened that are difficult to explain, and therefore, many people don’t consider them factual. But they are historical facts that truly occurred, and we recounted these to Cardinal Ratzinger, who listened seriously and with active participation.

After the visit to the historic zone, he was accompanied to the countryside location in Piana Romana, where Padre Pio received his stigmata.

So the Cardinal showed great interest in all these mystical events associated with Padre Pio?
A great deal of interest, but not only that. As I said, in every place that he visited, he would gather himself in prayer, showing devotion, admiration and love for Padre Pio.

In 2002, the newspapers rwere reporting almost daily about Padre Pio. The visit to Pietrelcina of a cardinal as famous as Ratzinger should have been a big thing for the press, ut instead it went by unnoticed, and it is only made known now that he is Pope.
I don’t know. Maybe it was not played up because Cardinal Ratzinger was always resevred. Or maybe out of prejudice. As I said, it was thought that Ratzinger was not an admirer of Padre Pio.

Instead, it turns out to be the opposite. I learned, reading an artile in the magazine ‘Pietrelcina, the Land of Padre Pio’, that the cardinal spoke amply of Padre Pio in one of his books written before he came to visit us. And he spoke precisely of those aspects that are linked to the popular devotions to Padre Pio.

He recalled the story that a pregnant woman told a reporter – she had been gravely ill bur was cured after praying to Padre Pio. In commenting on this, the Cardinal did not say that this was an exaggeration, or fanaticism. Instead he pointed out that the woman’s behavior showed her true faith.

Indeed, this is what he wrote: “It may have been ingenuous or childlike, but her behavior reflected something of the original trustfulness that we had been given as a gift and which is rooted in the awareness that we have friends in the world beyond this, that such friends are near, that they can help us, and that we can call on them with trust.” And that is exactly what people did
who turned for help with great simplicity to Padre Pio.

How long did the visit last?
Several hours. I was not able to participate in all of it because I had evening Mass to say at my church. Before he left, the cardinal signed the guest book in Pietrelcina, saying a beautiful thing: “May Saint Padre Pio always help his brothers and all pilgrims to love the suffering Christ and make a commitment to charity that springs from the open heart of the Lord.”

00domenica 21 giugno 2009 12.50

Pope’s visit to Padre Pio
will inspire greater closeness
to Christ, says Capuchin rector

[IMG]  [/IMG]

Rome, Italy, Jun 20, 2009 (CNA).- On the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the tomb of Padre Pio, Brother Francesco Dileo, Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces (Santa Maria delle Grazie), where the Pope will celebrate Mass this Sunday, said his visit will encourage the faithful to imitate the saint from Pietrelcina and thus follow Christ with more devotion.

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the rector noted how “Padre Pio once said, ‘I will make more noise dead than alive.’ And in fact, the number of pilgrims is much higher compared to the end of 1968,” with some seven million visiting the shrine annually.

Speaking about the number of faithful who come to San Giovanni Rotondo to pray to the saint for a miracle, Brother Dileo said he receives an enormous amount of letters from people praying for Padre Pio’s intercession.

The letters are directly addressed to Padre Pio, “as if he were still alive, to ask for some physical or spiritual healing,” the brother said.

“I am firmly convinced that the grace of God that touches the hearts of men and makes the faith blossom and be reborn continues to work in this place, even after the death of Padre Pio,” he said. “I think it is difficult to encounter the life of this saint without sensing a desire to renounce sin and change one’s conduct.”

Referring to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit tomorrow, Brother Dileo said, “The picture of Benedict XVI in prayer in front of the remains of our beloved brother saint will certainly be more eloquent than many words.”

It is a significant coincidence that soon after inaugurating the Year for Priests, the Holy Father is making a pilgrimage to a saint who was a legendary priest widely recognized for his saintliness while he was alive.

Today's issue of OR carries an interview with a young Capuchin in San Giovanni Rotondo who says that in many ways, Padre Pio was like the Cure of Ars. I will try to translate it as soon as I can. My problem is that there is a flood of excellent material on Padre Pio that has come out in the Italian media the past few days, so I must choose what I can realistically have the time to translate.

Here's the official poster for the Pope's visit:


Here's a good pre-visit situationer from Vatican Radio:

The Pope's visit to San Giovanni Rotondo
Translated from
the Italian service of

June 20, 2009

San Giovanni Rotondo is in ferment for the arrival tomorrow of Benedict XVI who will visit the important sites in the life of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, seven years after he was canonized.

It is the second visit by a Pope, after that of John Paul II. And it is Benedict XVI's third visit to the Puglia region, having been to Bari in May 2005 and to Leuca and Brindisi in June 2008.

Some 30,000 pilgrims are expected to line the 4-kilometer route of the Popemobile through the city.

Preparations are impressive and the joy and anticipation is great among the people of Puglia and the Franciscan Capuchins who are in charge of the Padre Pio shrine and sites.

Correspondent Denora Donnini has this report:

A bright sun and a gentle breeze make the climate in San Giovanni Rotondo quite pleasant as it awaits Peter, the Pope who comes here tomorrow for a visit to the town where Padre Pio exercised his mission as a Franciscan monk and where he died in 1968.

More than 30,000 pilgrims are expected, and 550 policemen and firemen will keep order. The visit will certainly leave an impression on this town as did the visit of John Paul II in 1987, who would canonize Padre Pio 15 years later.

In fact, John Paul II, as a bishop in Cracow, had a personal correspondence with Padre Pio in which he asked him to intercede for the health of friends.

In 1962, Bishop Wojtyla wrote him to pray for a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer. Eleven days later, he wrote a second letter to thank him because the woman was miraculously healed. [This was Dr. Wanda Poltawska who was in the news recently because she published a book recalling her rirendship and correspondence with Karol Wojtyla over a pereiod of 55 years.]

Karol Wojtyla actually met Padre Pio in person in 1948 when he was a young priest. He came to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1978 after Padre Pio's death as a cardinal.

Anticipation and joy radiate from the faces of the Capuchin brothers of the convent here, the many pilgrims, and the doctors, personnel and patients of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House of relief from suffering), the hospital started by Padre Pio in 1956 with 250 beds, and which is now one of Europe's best tertiary (specialized) hospitals with 1200 beds, a center for genetic studies, and a research center to study rare diseases.

Tomorrow, Benedict XVI will have time for everyone. First he will visit Cell #1 where Padre Pio died, in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and then he will pray before the saint's mortal remains which have been on public exposition in the church crypt since last April after it was exhumed from his grave in the church itself.

The Pope will light two 'eternal flames' to symbolize the two papal visits to the shrine.

Then he will celebrate Mass and lead the Angelus in the vast piazza in front of the Church of San Pio, built by architect Renzo Piano and inaugurated in 2004.

In the afternoon, he will inaugurate the mosaic scenes from the lives of Jesus, St. Francis and Padre Pio created by artist Marko Rupnik, a Jesuit priest, for the crypt of the new church.

During the Mass, the Pope will receive a commemorative medallion of the visit from Matteo Pio Colella, who, as a boy, had been miraculously cured of fulminating meningitis through Padre Pio's intercession - the miracle that led to his canonization.

In the afternoon, the Pope will visit the Casa di Rilievo and then meet with the clergy, religious, seminarians and young people at the Church of Padre Pio.

It will be a very significant visit by a Pope to one of the great contemporary saints who has much to say to man today.

The visit will be "an exhortation to Christians to grow in their education in the faith, not to stop in contemplation of a great saint or hoping for miracles, but to learn to be witnesses to Christ, as Padre Pio was all his life", according to Antonio Belpiede, spokesman of the Capuchins' monastic province in Foggia.

What is the relevance of Padre Pio today in a world that is too rationalistic, nihilistic and skeptical? He always underscored the importance of backing up the announcement of Christ and his message with charity.
The world has an order that comes from God's love, and the history of man has its own order. Even children know the formula for water - as if to say that the important elements of life are simple. Christianity is simple and it is always the same: love for God means love for our brothers.

Padre Pio admirably expressed this love in total abandon to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to the embrace of the Trinity, but never taking his eyes off from his people, never forgetting about the poor and the suffering,

One can only love truly by loving God and one's fellowmen - that is Christianity, that is the simple formula of our faith.

Padre Pio also experienced in his own body the wounds that Christ suffered on the Cross. Why is that?
St. Paul aays in his letter to the Philippians: "We have been given the privilege not only to believe in Jesus Christ but also to suffer for him". And then he wrote to the Colossians, as someone who had profound experience of pain: "I complete in my flesh what Jesus Christ suffered for his Body which is the Church".

Padre Pio was chosen by the Lord to be an icon of his Son the tEernal Priest, who was crucified for love of mankind. And it is true that there is no greater love than to give one's life for those we love.

We spoke to Dr. Lucia Miglionico, pediatric oncologist (cancer specialist) at the Casa di Sollievo, on how the sick children were prepared for the visit.

Dr. Miglionico: They are all extremely happy about the Pope's visit. Besides the preparations they have worked on with their teachers - prayers, streamers, flyers - we also prepared them for a possible meeting with the Pope. Some of them cannot leave the ward, but they will be able to follow the visit on TV. And those of them who will be out there to meet the Pope will carry with them the prayer intentions of those who are left in bed.

You are in chazge of a department that has children of all ages struck with cancer or tumors. So you and your staff are in constant contact with the suffering of innocents. How do you help them through their ordeal in the light of faith?
St. Pio made it clear that everyone who works here cannot be concerned only with physical healing of the body, but to accompany all our work with prayer, in prayer, to consider even this as a mission of evangelization.

Debora spoke to two children who will be among those meeting the Pope in the atrium of the hospital, and asked them what they expected.

Carmela: Much hope certainly. Also a lot of confidence, because we hope that with the help of the Pope, with his prayers, our own prayers may be heard better 'above'. And we hope we will gain more strength, more resolve, to overcome illness. I will ask the Pope to pray for our parents and relatives who suffer with us.

Romeo: I see in all the children a lot of hope, as Carmela rightly said. Since I am Romanian, I also think the Pope is a hero who fights against racial prejudice.

Do you feel helped by your faith?
Romeo: Yes, certainly, I feel personally that the Church is behind me.

This poster describes the spiritual preparation led by the diocese in the week preceding the Pope's visit:

The schedule shows daily Masses adn prayer eocnounters, capped by a 'monumental' Via Crucis and massive prayer vigil at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie Saturday night:

00domenica 21 giugno 2009 12.55

June 21
St. Aloysius (Luigi) Gonzaga (Italy, 1568-1591)
Jesuit, Confessor

OR today.
The Holy Father opened the Year for Priests at Second Vespers
on the SoLemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus:
'The mystery of a God who feels for his people'
Other Page 1 stories: A story on Padre Pio to introduce other stories in the inside pages on the occasion of the Pope's visit today to his shrine; the Pope's meeting with the De Gasperi Foundation; the letter written by the Pope to German President Koehler asking his help to promote international help to Africa before the Pope's trip to Africa and Koehler's response [it is not known why these letters are revealed at this time]; and increasing hunger in more parts of the world.




Sunday, June 21, 2009



08.00 Departure by helicopter from the Vatican

09.15 Arrival at the Antonio Massi sport field

09.35 Private visit to the Shrine of Santa Maria delle Grazie
and veneration of the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in the Crypt.

10.30 EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION in front of the Church of St. Pio
Homily by the Holy Father
Words from the Holy Father

16.45 Encounter with patients, medical staff and officials
at the Monumental Entrance to the Casa Sollievo di Sofferenza
(House of Relief from Suffering)
Address by the Holy Father

17.30 Encounter with priests, religious, and young people
Church of San Pio
Address by the Holy Father

18.15 Departure for the Vatican

19.30 Arrival at the Vatican

NB: Because of bad weather, the Pope did not travel by helicopter this morning. He took a regular airplane to Foggia airport,
and was drvien by car from there to San Giovanni Rotondo.


00domenica 21 giugno 2009 13.19

00domenica 21 giugno 2009 14.04

The Pope pays homage
to Padre Pio

Translated from

The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Padre Pio lived and served the last decades of his life and where he was buried.


SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, June 21 - Benedict XVI is in San Giovanni Rotondo. For the same time since he became Pope, Papa Ratzinger is in Puglia for a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

The Pope arrived by car after landing at the military base of Amendola in Foggia: an unexpected change because of the bad weather which did not allow a helicopter flight from Rome.

The Pope then went through the city in the Popemobile, and was engulfed in a veritable sea of pilgrims, who despite the rain, lined the route in thousands to welcome him.

Meanwhile, the large piazza in front of the church of San Pio, designed to hold as many as 30,000, was already packed since the early hours of the morning.


The Pope was welcomed by the Italian Minister for Regional Relations Raffaele Fitto in the name of the Italian government; Nichi Vendola, president of Puglia region; Antonio Pepe, president of Foggia province; and Foggia Mayor Gennaro Giuliani.

Welcoming him for the diocese was Mons. Domenico D'Ambrosio, apostolic administrator of San Giovanni Rotondo who has been named the new bishop of Lecce, farther south in Puglia.

Arriving in San Giovanni Rotondo by car from Foggia, the Pope transferred to the Popemobile which went through viale della Gioventù, via Donatello, corso Roma, via Foggia, piazza padre Pio, corso Umberto I, piazza Europa and viale Cappuccini to get to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie where Padre Pio lived and served during the last decades of his life, and where he died in 1968.

Above photo was taken on the day the saint's remains were first placed on public exposition in April 2008.

In the Church, the Pope visited the cell where the saint died and then descended to the crypt where the saint's remains have been on public exposition since last April, and knelt in veneration in front of the urn next to the tomb where Padre Pio had been buried for 40 years.

Here, too, John Paul II had knelt in veneration on his visit to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1987, which marked the revival of Padre Pio's beatification process which had been stalled for years.

An Apcom report adds this:


The Pope blessed the reliquary containing the heart of Padre Pio. The reliquary was then brought to the altar where it was displayed during the Mass celebrated by the Pope.

At Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Pope also met Pia Forgione, a niece of Padre Pio, and his eight grandnephews.

Some 30 Capuchin friars were at the crypt during the Pope's visit. Joining the Pope in venerating Padre Pio were Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and a deputy secretary of state, Mons. Giuseppe Bertello [Has there been an unannounced change of the deputy (Mons. Fernando Filoni) or Sostituto, as he is called in Italian?]

Also present was the monk who had given Extreme Unction to Padre Pio, Fr. Paolo Corvino, now 90, who has met 8 Popes.

Since the remains of the saint went on exposition last year, an average of 15,000 pilgrims have visited daily, peaking on feast days and in the summer.

From Caterina's montage of videocaps:



The Pope vested for Mass in Santa Maria delle Grazie and then proceeded by Popemobile to the Church of San Pio to celebrate the Eurcharistic Sacrifice in the main piazza.


00domenica 21 giugno 2009 14.17


Illustration: Stigmatization of Padre Pio (from the murals by Mark Ruznik, Church of St. Pio)
Other illustrations in the Mass booklet, taken from the mural series. From left: 'Word becomes prayer'; St. Pio offers Mass in solitude (1931-1933); St. Pio embraces the life of Christ; The Annunciation: Our Lady opens herself to the Word of God.



Dear brothers and sisters!

At the heart of my pilgrimage to this place, where everything speaks of the life and holiness of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, I have the joy of celebrating the Eucharist with you and for you - the mystery which constituted the center of his entire existence, the origin of his vocation, the power of his testimony, the consecration of his sacrifice.

With great affection, I greet you all who have come here in such numbers and all who are with us through radio and television. I greet first of all Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio, who, after years of faithful service to this diocesan community, will soon be taking care of the Archdiocese of Lecce. I thank him sincerely, and also because he conveyed your sentiments in your name.

I address a special greeting to the Capuchin Friars with their Minister General, Fra Mauro Jöhri, the General Director, the Provincial Minister, the Custodian of the Convent, the Rector of the Shrine and the Capuchin Fraternity in San Giovanni Rotondo.

With great acknowledgment I greet all those who contribute their services to the Shrine and its related works. I greet the civilian and military authorities, the priests, deacons, religious and all the faithful.

I address an affectionate thought to all those who are at the Casa di Sollievo di Sofferenza, and to all the solitary persons, and all the inhabitants of this city.

We have just heard the Gospel on the tempest stilled [by Christ] which was associated with a brief but incisive text from the Book of Job, in which God reveals himself as Lord of the sea.

Jesus threatened the wind and ordered the sea to calm itself, addressing this as if it was the power of the devil, In fact, as we are told in the First Reading and in Psalm 106/107, the sea is considered in the Bible as a threatening element, chaotic, potentially destructive, which only God, the Creator, can dominate, rule and quiet down.

But there is another power - a positive one - that moves the world, and is capable of transforming and renewing its creatures: the force of 'Christ's love' (2 Cor 5,14) - as St. Paul calls it in the Second Letter to the Corinthians. Therefore, not a cosmic force but rather a divine one, transcendent.

It acts on the cosmos itself, but in itself, the love of Christ is 'another' power, and it is this transcendent otherness that the Lord manifested in his Resurrection, in the 'holiness' of the lives of those chosen by him to liberate us from the dominion of evil, as it was during the exodus from Egypt, when he let the Jews escape through the waters of the Red Sea.

"Your way, O God, is holy," the Psalmist exclaims. "Through the sea was your path; your way, through the mighty waters" (Ps 77/76,14.20).

In the Paschal mystery, Jesus passed through the abyss of death, because God wished to renew the universe in this way: through the death and resurrection of his Son "who died for all", so that all may live "through him who died and resurrected for them" (2 Cor 5,16).

The solemn act of calming the tempestuous sea is clearly a sign of Christ's mastery over negative powers and leads us to think of his divinity: "Who then is this," the disciples asked each other, "whom even wind and sea obey?" (Mk 4,41).

Theirs was not yet a firm faith - it was still being formed. They felt a mixture of fear and trust, whereas the confident abandon of Jesus to the Father was total and pure. That is why he slept during the storm, completely secure in the arms of God.

But the moment would come when even Jesus would feel anguish and fear: and when his time came, he would feel in himself all the weight of the sins of men, like a cresting wave about to break over him.

And yes, that would be a terrible storm, not cosmic, but spiritual. It would be the last and most extreme assault of evil against the Son of God.

But at that moment, Jesus did not doubt the power of God the Father nor his nearness, even if he had to experience in full the distance of hatred from love, of falsehood from truth, of sin from grace. He experienced this drama in himself in a lacerating way, especially on Gethsemane, before his arrest, and then, during the entire passion up to his death on the Cross.

In that time, Jesus was, on the one hand, completely one with the Father, abandoned fully to him. On the other hand, in common with all sinners, he felt separated and abandoned by him.

Some saints have lived intensely and personally this experience of Jesus. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was one of them. A simple man, of humble origins, "taken possession of by Christ" (Phil 3,12) - as the Apostle Paul write - to make him a chosen instrument of the perennial power of his Cross: the power of love for all souls, of forgiveness and reconciliation, of spiritual paternity, of concrete solidarity with those who suffer.

The stigmata which marked his body united him intimately to the Crucified and Resurrected Lord. An authentic follower of St. Francis of Assisi, he took upon himself, as did the Poverello, the experience of the Apostle Paul as he describes it in his letters: "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2, 19-20).

This does not mean alienation nor loss of personality - God never cancels out the human, but transforms it with his Spirit and orients it to serving his plan of salvation. Padre Pio kept his own natural gifts, and even his own temperament, but he offered everything to God so he could serve him freely to extend the work of Christ - to announce the Gospel, to remit sins and heal the sick in spirit and in the body.

As it was for Jesus, the true battle, the radical combat that Padre Pio had to bear was not against earthly enemies but against the spirit of evil (cfr Eph 6.12).

The greatest 'storms' that menaced him were the assaults of he devil, from which he defended himself with the 'weapons of God', with 'the shield of faith' and 'the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" (Eph 6,11.16.17).

Remaining united to Jesus, he always kept in sight the profundity of the human tragedy, and for this he offered himself and his many sufferings, he spent himself in the care and comfort of the sick: a sign of the mercy of God, of his Kingdom which will come - or, rather, is already in this world - of the victory of love and life over sin and death.

To guide souls and relieve suffering - thus we can summarize the mission of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, as the Servant of God Pope Paul VI said of him, "he was a man of prayer and suffering" (To the Capuchin Chapter Fathers, 20 February 1971).

Dear friends, Capuchin friars minor, members of the prayer groups and the faithful of San Giovanni Rotondo, you are the heirs of Padre Pio, and the legacy he left you is holiness.

In one of his letters, he writes: "It seems Jesus had no other concern but to sanctify your souls" (Epistolary II, p. 155). This was always his first concern, his priestly and paternal anxiety: that the person returns to God, that he might experience God's mercy and, renewed interiorly, rediscover the beauty and the joy of being Christian, of living in communion with Jesus, of belonging to his Church and practising the Gospel.

Padre Pio attracted others to his way of holiness with his own testimony, showing by example the 'binary' track which leads to it: prayer and charity.

First of all, prayer. Like all great men of God, Padre Pio became prayer himself, body and soul. His days were a lived rosary, that is, a continuous meditation and assimilation of the mysteries of Christ in spiritual union with the the Virgin Mary.

That explains the singular simultaneous presence in him of supernatural gifts and human concreteness. Everything culminated in the celebration of Holy Mass - in which he united himself completely to the Lord who had died and resurrected.

From prayer, as from an always living spring, came charity. The love he carried in his heart and transmitted to others was full of tenderness, always attentive to the real situations of persons and families.

He felt the special predilection of the Heart of Christ for the sick and the suffering, and it is from this that his project took origin and shape for a great work dedicated to the 'relief of suffering'. Such an institution cannot be understood nor interpreted adequately apart from its source of inspiration, which is evangelical charity, inspired in turn by prayer.

All this, dearest ones, Padre Pio re-proposes today to our attention. The risks of activism and secularization are always present. That is why my visit also has the purpose of confirming you in faithfulness to the mission you inherited from your beloved Father.

Many of you, religious and laymen, may have been so caught up in the thousands of demands for service to pilgrims or to the patients in the hospital, that you may risk neglecting what is truly necessary: to listen to Christ in order to comply with the will of God.

Whenever you feel that you are running this risk, look to Padre Pio, to his example, his sufferings - and invoke his intercession, so that you may obtain from the Lord the light and the strength that you need to continue with a mission that weaves together love for God and fraternal charity.

From heaven, may he continue to exercise that exquisite spiritual fatherhood that distinguished him during his earthly existence; may he continue to accompany his brothers, his spiritual children, and the entire work that he began.

Together with St. Francis and Our Lady, whom he so loved and made loved in this world, may he always watch over you and protect you. Then, even in the storms that can arise unexpectedly, may you experience the breath of the Holy Spirit which is stronger than any contrary wind and propels the boat of the Church and each of us.

That is why we must always live in serenity and cultivate joy in our hearts, giving thanks to the Lord: "Your love is for always" (Resp. Psalm). Amen.


00domenica 21 giugno 2009 18.37

More than 50,000 attended
the Pope's Mass today

San Giovanni Rotondo, June 21 (Translated from AGI) - More than 50,000 faithful were in attendance at the Mass celebrated by Benedict XVI today in front of the futuristic church of San Pio, according to the spokesman of the shrine.

No sooner had the Pope imparted the concluding blessing for the Mass and Angelus, then a torrential rain came down again which created quite a problem for the Massgoers trying to leave after the Mass.

Bad weather had earlier caused the Pope to be flown from Rome in a military airplane to Foggia military airbase instead of the planned helicopter ride straight to San Giovanni Rotondo. Despite the rain, the faithful lined both sides of the 4-kilometer route of his Popemobile through the streets of San Giovanni Rotondo.

Since the main piazza was designed to hold only 30,000, Massgoers had spilled over into the piazza in front of the old shrine (Santa Maria delle Grazie), along the entire via Cappuccini leading to it and surrounding streets.

The rain stopped and the clouds lifted just before the Mass began.

A visibly emotional Benedict XVI concelebrated the Mass with Cardinal tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State; Cardinal Salvatore Di Giorgi, who is a Pugliese; and all the bishops of Puglia.

The Pope used the pyx [container for the hosts) and chalice used by Padre Pio for his daily Masses, which had also been used for the Mass John Paul II offered when he visited San Giovanni Rotondo in 1987.

[The rest of the story quotes from the Pope's Angelus message, posted in full translation lower down on this post.]





At the end of the Mass celebrated in front of the Church of St. Pio this morning, the Pope led the recitation of the Angelus. Here is a translation of his words before the prayers:

Dear brothers and sisters,

At the end of this solemn celebration, I invite you to recite with me - as you do every Sunday - the Marian prayer of the Angelus.

Here, at the shrine of San Pio da Pietrelcina, we seem to hear his voice exhorting us to turn our filial hearts to the Blessed Virgin: "Love Our Lady, and make her be loved".

Baptized at the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Pietrelcina with the name Francesco, he always felt a very tender love for the Virgin like the Poverello of Assisi.

Providence then led him here, to San Giovanni Rotondo, at the Shrine of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where he remained until he died and where his mortal remains rest.

Thus, all his life and his apostolate took place under the maternal regard of Our Lady and with the power of her intercession. Even the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza he considered to be a work of Mary, 'health of the sick'.

Therefore, dear friends, following the example of Padre Pio, I wish to entrust you today to the maternal protection of the Mother of God.

I specially invoke it for the community of the Capuchin brothers, for the patients in the hospital and for those who take loving care of them, as well as the Prayer Groups who carry forward in Italy and in the world the spiritual legacy of their sainted founder.

To the intercession of Our Lady and of St. Pio da Pietrelcina, I also wish to entrust in a special way the Year of Priests that I opened last Friday, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

May this year be a privileged occasion to highlight the value of the mission and holiness of priests in the service of the church and of mankind in the third millennium.

Let us also pray today for the difficult and often tragic situation of refugees. Yesterday was the World Day for Refugees, promoted by teh United Nations.

There are many persons today who seek refuge in other countries fleeing situations of war, persecution and calamity, and accepting them poses not a few difficulties, but it is nonetheless a duty.

God grant that with the commitment of everyone, we will succeed as soon as possible to take away the causes of a phenomenon as sad as this.

With great affection, I greet all the pilgrims who have come here. I express my gratitude to the civilian authorities and all who worked together to prepare for my visit. I thank you from the heart.

To all, I repeat: walk along the path that Padre Pio has shown you, the way of holiness according to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Along this way, the Virgin Mary will always precede you, and with her maternal hand, she will guide you to the celestial homeland.

After the prayers, he had a special greeting for the Polish people:

From San Giovanni Rotondo, at the shrine of St Pio of Pietrelcina, I cordially greet the Polish people, particularly those taking part in the millenary celebration of the martyrdom of St. Bruno of Querfurt, who today, in Giżycko, thank the Lord for the gift of faith brought by this great missionary.

May his efforts for good relations among nations bear fruit in concord among them and in zeal for announcing the Gospel. I bless you all from the heart.


From the Shrine, the Holy Father proceeded to the Casa di Sofferenza for lunch and a brief rest.


00domenica 21 giugno 2009 19.42


Padre Pio's flagship charity has grown over the years from the initial 250-bed primary-care hospital he inaugurated in 1956 Lower right, inset photo) to the sprawling tertiary-care specialized hospital today with 1200 beds and a building complex that is almost most a mini-city, recognized as one of Europe's best hospitals.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's address to the patients, staff and personnel of the Casa Sollievo di Sofferenza this afternoon (6/21):

Dear brothers and sisters,
dear patients:

On this visit of mine to San Giovanni Rotondo, I could not fail to come to the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza which was conceived and created by St. Pio of Pietrelcina as a "place of prayer and science where the human species comes together in the Crucified Christ as one single flock with a single shepherd."

Because of this, he entrusted it to the material and, above all, spiritual support of the Prayer Groups who have here the center of their mission of service to the Church.

Padre Pio intended that in this well-equipped health facility, one could experience first hand that the commitment of science to cure the sick should never be separated from filial trust in God, who is infinitely kind and merciful.

When he inaugurated it on May 5, 1956, he called it 'a creature of Providence' and spoke of this institution as "a seed deposited by God on earth that he will warm with the rays of his love".

So here am I among you to thank God for the good which, faithful to the instructions of a humble Capuchin friar, you have been doing for more than 50 years in this house for the relief of suffering, with well-known results on both the scientific and medical levels.

Unfortunately, it is not possible for me, much as I wish it, to visit every ward and greet the patients one by one, as well as those who are taking care of them.

But I do wish to extend to each one - patients, doctors, relatives, health care workers and pastoral workers - a word of paternal comfort and encouragement to continue on with this evangelical work for the relief of suffering lives, utilizing every resource for the human and spiritual good of the sick and their families.

With these sentiments, I greet all of you, starting with you, brothers and sisters, who are being tried through illness. I greet the doctors, nurses and the health care and administrative personnel. I greet you, venerated Capuchin Fathers who, as chaplains, are continuing the apostolate of your sainted brother friar.

I greet the [relates, first of all, Archbishop Domenico Umberto D'Ambrosio, who has been the pastor of this diocese and who has been called to guide the archdiocese of Lecce - I am grateful to him for the words he delivered in your behalf.

I greet the Director General of the hospital, Dr. Domenico Crupi, and the representative of the patients - I appreciate the kind words that they have just now addressed to me, which have allowed me to better know what is being done here and the spirit in which it is being done.

Every time one enters a place of healing, one thinks naturally of the mystery of sickness and pain, of the hope for healing, and the inestimable value of good health which we often do not realize until we lose it.

In hospitals, one sees firsthand the preciousness of existence, but also its fragility. Following the example of Jesus, who travelled throughout Galilee, "curing every disease and illness among the people" (Mt 4,23), the Church from its beginnings, moved by the Holy Spirit, has always considered it as its duty and privilege to be at the side of those who suffer, with preferential attention to the sick.

Illness, which manifests itself in so many forms and strikes in different ways, raises disquieting questions: Why do we suffer? Can one consider the experience of pain to be positive? Who can liberate us from suffering and death?

These are existential questions which remain humanly unanswerable for the most part, since suffering constitutes an enigma that is inscrutable to human reason. Suffering is part of the mystery of the human being himself.

It is what I underscored in my encyclical Spe salvi, noting that "it stems partly from our finitude, and partly from the mass of sin which has accumulated over the course of history, and continues to grow unabated today".

I added that "Indeed, we must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power
simply because... none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil... a constant source of suffering." (cfr No, 36).

Only God can eliminate the power of evil. Precisely because Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal the divine plan for our salvation, faith helps us to penetrate the sense of everything human, and therefore, even of suffering.

Thus there exists an intimate relation between the Cross of Jesus - symbol of supreme pain and the price of our true freedom - and our pain, which is transformed and sublimated in the knowledge of the nearness and solidarity of God.

Padre Pio sensed this profound truth and on the first anniversary of inaugurating this particular work, he said that in this hospital, "the suffering person must experience the love of God through the wise acceptance of his pains, in serene meditation of his destiny" (Address on May 5, 1957).

He also noted that in the Casa Sollievo, "patients, doctors and priests shall be reservoirs of love, which the more it is abundant in oneself, the more it is communicated to others" (ibid.).

To be a 'reservoir of love": This, brothers and sisters, is the mission that our Saint reminds you tonight, you who in diverse ways make up the great family of this Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza.

May the Lord help you to realize the project begun by Padre Pio with the contribution of everyone: doctors and scientific researchers, health care workers and various administrative personnel, volunteers and benefactors, Capuchin friars and other priests.

Not to forget the Prayer Groups who "alongside the Casa del Sollievo, are the front lines of this citadel of charity, nurseries of faith, hearths of love" (Padre Pio, address on May 6, 1966).

On all and on each one I invoke the intercession of Padre Pio and the maternal protection of Mary, health of the sick.

I thank you once more for your hospitality, and as I assure you of my prayers, I bless you all from the heart.

00domenica 21 giugno 2009 20.11


Cover illustration: Icon, 'I bear the stigmata of Christ in my body', Anna Maria di Domenico, 1999. Provincial Curia of the Capuchins, Foggia


Dear priests,
dear religious men and women,
dear young people!

With this meeting, my pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo comes to a close. I am grateful to the Archbishop of Lecce, Apostolic Administrator of this diocese, Mons. Domenico Umberto d’Ambrosio, and Fr. Mauro Jöhri, Minister General of the Capuchin Friars Minor, for the kind words that they have addressed to me in your name.

And now my greeting extends to you, dear priests, who are engaged daily in service to the people of God as wise guides and assiduous workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

I also greet affectionately our dear consecrated persons who are called to offer testimony of total dedication to Christ through the faithful practice of evangelical counsel.

And a special thought for you, dear Capuchin friars, who lovingly tend these homes of spirituality and evangelical solidarity, welcoming pilgrims and devotees drawn here by the living memory of your sainted brother Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

I thank you from the heart for this precious service that you render to the Church and to the souls who rediscover here the beauty of faith and the warmth of divine kindness.

And I greet you, dear young people, to whom the Pope looks with confidence as the future of the Church and of society.

Here, in San Giovanni Rotondo, everything speaks of the holiness of a humble friar and zealous priest, who this evening invites us to open our hearts to the mercy of God. He exhorts us to be saints, that is, sincere and true friends of Jesus. And I thank you for the words of your youth representative.

Dear priests, just the other day, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and World Day of Priestly Sanctification, we began the Year for Priests, during which we remember with veneration and affection the 150th death anniversary of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, the holy Curate of Ars.

In the letter that I wrote for the occasion, I wished to underscore how important the holiness of priests is to the life and mission of the Church.

Like the holy Curate of Ars, Padre Pio reminds us of the dignity and responsibility of the priestly ministry.

Who has not been struck by the fervor with which he relived the Passion of Christ in every Eucharistic celebration? From his love for the Eucharist, there flowed from him, as from the Holy Curate of Ars, a total availability to all the faithful, especially sinners.

Moreover, if St. Jean Marie Vianney, in a troubled and difficult period, sought in every way to make his parishioners rediscover the meaning and the beauty of sacramental penance, for the holy Friar of Gargano, the care of souls and the conversion of sinners was a desire that consumed him until his death.

How many persons changed their lives thanks to his patient priestly ministry! How many long hours he spent in the confessional! As for the holy Curate of Ars, it was the ministry of confessor which constituted his biggest claim to glory and the distinctive characteristic of the holy Capuchin.

How can we not then be aware of the importance of taking part devoutly in the Eucharistic celebration and to avail frequently of the sacrament of Confession?

In particular, the sacrament of Penance must be better valued, and priests must never be resigned to seeing their confessionals deserted nor limit themselves to observing the disaffection of the faithful for this extraordinary source of serenity and peace.

There is another great teaching that we can draw from the life of Padre Pio: the value and necessity of prayer. To whoever asked him what he thought of himself, he usually answered, "I am only a poor friar who prays".

Indeed he prayed - always and everywhere - with humility, trust and perseverance. Here then is a fundamental point not only for the spirituality of a priest, but for that of every Christian, but even more for yours, dear religious men and women, who have been chosen to be closer to Christ through practising your vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Sometimes you may be overcome by discouragement at the weakening and even the abandonment of the faith which has taken place in our secularized societies.

Certainly, one must seek new channels for communicating the evangelical truth to the men and women of our time, but since the essential content of the Christian announcement must always remain the same, one must go back to its original source, to Jesus Christ who is "the same yesterday, today, and for always" (Heb 13,8).

The human and spiritual experience of Padre Pio teaches us that only a soul who is intimately united to the Crucified Lord can succeed in transmitting even to those who are far away the joy and the richness of the Gospel.

Love of Christ is inevitably united with love for his Church, guided and inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit, in which each of us has a role and a mission to fulfill.

Dear priests, dear religious men and women, you all have different tasks assigned to you as well as different charisms, but the spirit with which to realize them must be one and the same so that your presence and activity among the Christian people may be eloquent testimonials to the primacy of God in your existence. Was this not perhaps what everyone perceived in St. Pio of Pietrelcina?

Allow me now to address a special word to the young people whom I see here numerous and enthusiastic.

Dear friends, thank you for your warm welcome and for the fervent sentiments that your representative expressed in your behalf.

I have noted that the pastoral plan for your diocese for the triennium 2007-2010 dedicates a lot of attention to the mission to the youth and to the family, and I am sure that through the itinerary of listening, confrontation, dialog and verification in which you have been engaged, there will come forth an ever greater attention to families and a ready ear to listen to the real expectations of the new generations.

I am aware of the problems which assail you, dear boys and girls, which threaten to suffocate the enthusiasms typical of youth. Among these, in particular, I would cite unemployment which dramatically affects not a few young people in the South of Italy.

But do not lose heart! You are 'young people with great heart', as you have been told often this year with the Diocesan Youth Mission which was inspired and led by the Regional Seminary of Molfetta last September.

The Church will not abandon you. Do not abandon the Church! Your contribution is needed to build living Christian communities and societies that are more just and open to hope.

And if you wish to keep a big heart, enlist yourself in the school of Jesus. Just the other day, we contemplated his big heart full of love for humanity. He will never abandon you nor betray your trust - he will never lead you down the wrong paths.

Like Padre Pio, be faithful friends of the Lord Jesus, carrying on with him a daily relationship through prayer and listening to his Word, the assiduous practice of the sacraments, and heartfelt belonging to his family which is the Church.

This should be the basis for your program for life, each of you, dear young people, as also you, dear priests, and you, dear religious men and women.

For each and everyone, I assure my prayers as I implore the maternal protection of Santa Maria delle Grazie to watch over you from her shrine in whose crypt repose the mortal remains of Padre Pio.

I thank you from my heart, once more, for your welcome, and I bless you all, along with your families, communities, parishes and the entire diocese.

Thank you.


Footnote on the pilgrimage Church of San Pio:
It has been controversial since its design was first made known because its ultra-modern design by one of Italy's best-known contemporary architects, Renzo Piano, is such a contrast to the person and temperament of Padre Pio. It was built to accommodate 6,500 seated, with a piazza designed to hold 30,000.

It's hard to find pictures of the interior and its fixtures, but I really find the hanging Cross (shown in the photos with the Pope) rather monstrous. It looks to me like a giant guerilla's bandolier, bristling with lance-shaped bullets.

00lunedì 22 giugno 2009 06.48

Pope ends pilgrimage by blessing
future resting place of Padre Pio

by Salvatore Izzo

San Giovanni Rotondo, June 21 (Translated from AGI) - The Pope's last act before going back to Rome this evening was to bless the 'lower church' of the futuristic pilgrimage Church of San Padre Pio designed by Renzo Piano in which traditionalists claim to see many Masonic symbols.

In a yet-to-be-determined future this is where the mortal remains of the saint are supposed to rest eventually.

One must use the conditional because even at the end of the public exposition in September, the body will remain in the crypt of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the modest building that Padre Pio called a 'matchbox'.

But among the mosaics and frescoes of the Jesuit artist Mark Rupnik decorating the lower church blessed by the Pope today is a marker commemorating today's event, stating that this will be the place where the saint's body will be kept in custody.

This effectively declares a fait accompli to all those who oppose the transfer even while a decision about this is still awaited from the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood.

In any case, Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio, who has been named bishop of Lecce, will be leaving his successor significant problems, especially since some extremists have accused nim of profaning a cadaver for having authorized the exhumation of the saint's body last year.

Whoever takes his place must be a courageous man because both the Capuchin Order which built the new church and the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza - the huge hospital founded by Padre Pio to offer first-rate medical asasistance to the South of Italy - are debt-ridden despite the millions of pilgrims coming every year.

Huge crowds are not news in San Giovanni Rotondo, and they were there today: at least 50,000 persons attended the Pope's Mass. Nor did the rain turn away those who stood against the police barriers all day to catch a glimpse of the Pope as his Popemobile went by.

In the same way, all the polemical talk that preceded this trip failed to dampen the Pope's spirits.

"The risks of activism and secularization," he said, addressing the local clergy and perhaps, the Capuchins most of all, "are always present, and that is why my visit also has the purpose of confirming you in faithfulness to the mission you inherited from your most beloved Padre Pio."

"Sometimes you may be too caught up in the many demands required in serving the needs of pilgrims, or of patients in the hospital," he pointed out, "that you risk neglecting what is truly necessary: listening to Christ in order to comply with the will of God."

[The bulk of the story is made up of more citations from the Pope's four texts today - all of which are posted on this page in full translations.]

The theologian Pope began his visit to San Giovanni Rotondo by venerating the remains of the saint in the crypt chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Padre Pio had lived, worked and died.

The Capuchin spokesman said "The Pope venerated the body kneeling down - it was a very intense moment."

Among the Capuchins who joined the Pope in the crypt were Fr. Paolo Covino, 90, who had given the last rites to Padre Pio, and the legendary Fra Modestino, even older, the best-known of Padre Pio's disciples.

For years now, pilgrims form long lines, even as early as 4 o'clock in the morning, at Fra Modestino's gatekeeper's lodge but because of his age, he is no longer able to bless everybody.

In the absence of the right photos to illustrate this item, I am posting two of the images I found very striking in today's coverage:

The Crucifix that is the centerpiece of the altar stage is in the style of Fr. Rupnik's mosaics. Details of some of these scenes were used to illustrate yesterday's Mass libretto. Rupnik and his group executed 56 scenes from the lives of Jesus, Francis of Assisi, and Padre Pio, in gilt mosaic to decorate the 'lower church' which the Pope inaugurated yesterday.

00lunedì 22 giugno 2009 15.13



June 22
St. Thomas More (England, 1478-1536)

No Or today.

No events announced for the Holy Father.


Sunday, June 28
Vigil of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul
Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, at 18.00
First Vespers
Closing of the Pauline Year

Monday, June 29
Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul
Vatican Basilica, at 9.30
Holy Mass and imposition of the Pallium
on Metropolitan Archbishops

The Vatican also announced there will be a news briefing on Friday, June, 26, at the Vatican Press Office
by Cardinal Andrea Lanza di Montezemolo, Arch-Priest of the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls regarding
'Considerations at the Conclusion of the Pauline Year'.

00lunedì 22 giugno 2009 18.04

'The Pope won the hearts of the people',
says bishop after Benedict's memorable
visit to Padre Pio's shrine

Translated from
the Italian service of


Left. Mons. D'Ambrosio with the Pope; top right photo, greeting him at the encounter with priests, religious and young people yesterday afternoon at the pilgrimage Church of San Pio; and bottom right photo, Mons. D'Ambrosio (left) opening the coffin of Padre Pio in March last year with the saint's Capuchin custodians.

It was a very intense visit focused on the spirituality of Padre Pio. But for an assessment of the Pope's day in San Giovanni Rotondo yesterday, correspondent Debora Donnini spoke to Mons. Domenico D'Ambrosio, Apostolic Administrator of the diocese since he was named to be Archbishop of Lecce earlier this year.

The bishop summarized what he believed to be the most important points conveyed by the Holy Father in his four public addresses yesterday.


MONS. D'AMBROSIO: The Pope went far beyond our expectations - and I could see that from the enthusiastic and smiling faces of the people. But when he entered into the heart of our problems today, he also entered their hearts.

It got to us particularly, we who live here, whom he comforted and oriented towards imitating Padre Pio's witness, adapting a program for life that flows from holiness.

He reminded us that holiness is possible for everyone, and that we are called on to see in San Pio da Pietrelcina not just a model of holiness but a support for the path that we should follow in life.

Basically, the Pope is saying that Padre Pio is very much alive in his message which remains strong and important for the world today...
I would say that he re-proposed the life of Padre Pio by showing that he led the life Jesus asked of his disciples. He spoke to us of the love of God which must be embodied credibly in our lives, especially a love that leads to sharing, to solidarity, and which makes us compassionate towards those who suffer. And that was Padre Pio's great work of charity.

But he also reminded us of the primacy of prayer, warned us against the temptations and risks in contemporary society, in the midst of which we should keep our sights fixed on Jesus.

He urged the young people to program themselves for an authentic life according to the model Jesus proposed to his disciples. I think young people feel a strong bond to this Pope who urges them to be what they can be - new blood for the Church in today's world which is in many ways enslaved by temptations, fears and uncertainties.

In the afternoon meeting, the Pope embraced you after you asked him to bless your coming mission, as you will be leaving San Giovanni Rotondo for Lecce soon...
I was very comforted - the Pope was very generous with his words which I certainly do not deserve. But this says to me that he is carrying out his ministry - he confirmed me in my service which cannot be tied to a place, or to persons, but a service for the Kingdom of God. And I am very grateful for the affection he showed to me. He comforts me, and that means I can go ahead with serenity.

What has the figure of Padre Pio given you personally during your years in this diocese?
A lot. I was here as a parish priest for 20 years and so I knew him then. And then to return here decades leter and be responsible for his Shrine and for the Works of Padre Pio has drawn me much closer to his figure than ever.

If there is one thing he has left me, at a distance of 44 years from meeting him, that close encounter made me feel the responsibility of not wasting his gift, his legacy. And the gift he has best left me is the Mass, which I have been celebrating since then with a commitment, a joy, an openness and a total sense of offering that I had not felt before.

It's been very frustrating that most newsphoto coverage of the Pope is generally quite unrepresentative - there are never enough (sometimes none at all) photos showing the crowds and individuals, nor photos showing other moments of liturgy other than Consecration and Communion. I got the additional photos on this post from going through the photogallery of ANSA and Repubblica, much of which were repeats of what we got from the Anglophone newsphoto agencies, but there were these few that gives us a better 'sense' of the event. Still far from satisfactory, but at least something...


P.S. I still have not seen any pictures taken at the Pope's visit to the Casa Sollievo da Sofferenza, and stories in the Italian newspapers today added no details except to quote some words from the representative of the patients who addressed the Pope.

There is this sidebar from AGI's enterprising Salvatore Izzo, which I will post here - even if it is 'trivia' - with the rest of the San Giovanni Rotondo coverage, of which it is a part:

The Pope lunches at
Padre Pio's hospital


SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, June 21 (Translated from AGI) - The cooks at the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza - the mega-hospital founded by Padre Pio that now serves the south of Italy - prepared a special menu for the Pope who lunched with Bishop Domenico D'Ambrosio at the hospital yesterday.

This consisted of a sformatino (a custard made of pureed vegetables and cream) as antipasto; the region's typical orechiette (ear-shaped pasta) with tomatoes and arugula; a grilled filet, seeved with mint-flavored beans, a burratina (soft cheese ball consisting of different cheeses), and ricotta cooked in wine; and for dessert, sliced pineapple in lemon sauce with cherries, ice cream and a 'torta letizia' (an almond and vanilla flavored cake).

This meal, like all the meals served at the hospital, was cooked with ingredients all coming from the farm Padre Pio had set up to produce all the food specifically for the hospital, since he considered a healthy diet as indispensable to any curative regimen.

The farm has its own abattoir for the cows that it raises, a dairy and a cheese factory.

P.S. Here's the best sidebar item so far from San Giovanni Rotondo, courtesy of OR corrspondent Mario Ponzi:

Does anyone else remember that
Joseph Ratzinger's second
baptismal name is Alois? He does!

After the Mass, some moments of familiarity among the ministrants. The Pope, having taken off his liturgical robes, greeted his ministrants (local clergy) one by one. They were presented to him by Archbishop D'Ambrosio.

Presenting one young altarboy, the prelate said, "Holiness, you may wish him a happy name day - today is the feast of St. Aloysius (Luigi in Italian) and his name is Luigi."

The Pope smiled, held out his hand, and said, "Now, wish me back too because my second name is Luigi (he was of course christened Joseph Alois!).

Which gives our beloved Pope five name days during the year - the two feast days for St. Joseph, the two for St. Benedict, and that of St. Aloysius Gonzaga.

00lunedì 22 giugno 2009 20.33



The double issue for tomorrow, 6/22-6/23, has a few more pictures
to add to the photo record of the Pope's visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.

The photo they chose for Page 1 gives us an idea of the 'lower church' of the modernistic pilgrimage Church of San Pio, which they Pope inaugurated yesterday afternoon as his last activity in San Giovanni Rotondo. A marker to commemorate the occasion says that this will be the eventual resting place for the mortal remains of Padre Pio.

A photograph taken during the Pope's encounter with clergy, religious and youth in the main church area shows a few interior details of the futuristic structure.

Unfortunately, the issue provides little detail about the trip, or previous trips for that matter. One would expect some more detail and 'color' from the OR than from regular media because their reporters have privileged access. But in this as in many other things, it seems it does not follow regular journalistic standards.

For instance, there is no story to accompany the Page 1 picture (the info given above is from Italian media reporting); the event is not even mentioned in the wrap-up story. There is a brief story that summarizes the main points of the four papal texts delivered yesterday; an editorial by Giovanni Vian on 'The hearts of saints' referring to the hearts of St. Jean Marie Vianney and St Padre Pio that Benedict XVI had occasion to venerate within a few days of each other; and an item that San Giovanni Rotondo will 'twin' with the Pope's birthplace Marktl-am-Inn, as it did two decades ago with Wadowice, John Paul II's birthplace. And, of course, all four papal texts.

P.S. I apologize - There are two other items that give some details of the Pope's day in San Giovanni Rotondo. One of them is about the Pope's visit with the patients and staff at the Casa Sofferenza, with ample extracts from the words spoken by the patients' representative. The other story is about the encounter with the clergy, religious and young people, which also cites something of what their representatives told the Pope. So I am grateful to OR for that - and for the additional photos.

On the way to the Mass, the Popemobile goes through the crowd which filled every inch of the huge plaza in front of the Church of San Pio; and an uncaptioned photo shows the Pope walking through that plaza, now empty, obviously in the afternoon. {A truly unusual photograph!]

At the Mass. The reliquary containing Padre Pio's heart is on the pedestal next to the Pope in the right photo.

The Pope with, I presume, the cancer patient who greeted him in the name of the patients. OR never labels the pictures it posts online, and is erratic about labelling photos they use on Page 1. Just one of their journalistic quirks!

The Pope venerating the remains of Padre Pio.

I also wish to note that the OR has been remiss in coming out with the special issues on the Pope's trip to Africa and his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. They have come out with three special 'travel issues' so far, the US, Australia and France - and in each case, it was shortly after the event.

P.S. A traditionalist blogger on
who has been the most vehement in denouncing the supposedly
Masonic symbOlogy and intent of the futuristic Church of San Pio
today carries a picture of the mosaic marker pre-installed for
the Pope's visit [Encircling mine]:


Translation: "On the occasion of the pastoral visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI
to this church made precious by the devotion of the faithful and the beauty of art
to keep custody over the body of San Pio da Pietrelcina, he came in prayer and
blessed it. Sunday, 21 June 2009
- The Capuchin Friars Minor of the Province of Foggia"

00martedì 23 giugno 2009 14.26

Reserved for translations of the OR news stories about
the papal visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.

00martedì 23 giugno 2009 14.30

June 23
St. John Fisher (England, 1469-1535)
Cardinal, Bishop and Martyr
(alongside St. Thomas More)

OR for 6/22-6/23/09:
From San Giovanni Rotondo, the Pope speaks in behalf of refugees and unemployed youth, citing -
'The holiness of Padre Pio's way'
As anticipated in yesterday's post, the double issue contains the OR's complete coverage of the papal visit to
San Giovanni Rotondo. Other Page 1 stories are on the continuing challenge by demonstrators to the Tehran regime;
and a new Taliban counter-offensive in Afghanistan.

No events scheduled for the Holy Father today (Tuesday).

The Vatican announces a special news briefing on Tueday, June 30, by Cardinal Giuseppe Lajolo,
governor of Vatican City State and Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums on the July 4th
blessing by the Pope of the restored Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace.

00martedì 23 giugno 2009 14.50

Reviving the fourth Sacrament:
Benedict XVI holds up the models
of the Cure d'Ars and Padre Pio

Endless streams of penitents stood in line at their confessionals.
And Benedict XVI is proposing them as models to revitalize the sacrament of forgiveness.


ROME, June 22, 2009 - In opening the Year for Priests that he personally conceived and orchestrated, Benedict XVI has said that his aim is to demonstrate "how important the holiness of priests is for the life and mission of the Church."

And as a model of this sanctity, he offered the Curé of Ars and Padre Pio.

He recalled the first in the letter with which he opened the Year for Priests, on Friday, June 19, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As for the second, he went on pilgrimage to the place where he lived, San Giovanni Rotondo, on Sunday, June 21.

These two saints do not present a glamorous profile. Both were born to farming families and were uneducated, the one becoming a parish priest and the other a Franciscan friar, in two isolated villages of nineteenth-century France and twentieth-century Italy.

But their holiness was so dazzling that myriads of people, some of them from very far away, came to them to beg for God's forgiveness, forming endless lines in front of their confessionals (in the photo, Padre Pio).

Prayer, the Eucharist, the sacrament of penance: these were the three shining lights of their sanctity.

The third of these is especially striking, in an age like the present when the sacrament of penance is hardly received at all, having fallen into neglect partly through the carelessness of many priests.

In 2007, Benedict XVI decided that the traditional pre-Palm Sunday encounter of the youth of Rome with the Pope - which John Paul II began as a prelude to World Youth Day celebrated on the diocesan level every year on Palm Sunday - should be observed as a Day of Penitence, and he himself hears confessions from a few young people on that day at St. Peter's Basilica, along with dozens of other priests deployed to hear confessions from the attendees.

Benedict XVI has particularly insisted on the necessity of revitalizing this sacrament, in opening the Year for Priests.


He did so first of all in this passage of the letter inaugurating the Year, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the "dies natalis" of the sainted Curé of Ars, Jean Marie Vianney:

Priests ought never to be resigned to empty confessionals or the apparent indifference of the faithful to this sacrament. In France, at the time of the Curé of Ars, confession was no more easy or frequent than in our own day, since the upheaval caused by the revolution had long inhibited the practice of religion.

Yet he sought in every way, by his preaching and his powers of persuasion, to help his parishioners to rediscover the meaning and beauty of the sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence.

He thus created a virtuous circle. By spending long hours in church before the tabernacle, he inspired the faithful to imitate him by coming to visit Jesus with the knowledge that their parish priest would be there, ready to listen and offer forgiveness. Later, the growing numbers of penitents from all over France would keep him in the confessional for up to sixteen hours a day.

It was said that Ars had become 'a great hospital of souls'. His first biographer relates that 'the grace he obtained [for the conversion of sinners] was so powerful that it would pursue them, not leaving them a moment of peace!'.

The saintly Curé reflected something of the same idea when he said: 'It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to him'. 'This good Saviour is so filled with love that he seeks us everywhere'.

We priests should feel that the following words, which he put on the lips of Christ, are meant for each of us personally: 'I will charge my ministers to proclaim to sinners that I am ever ready to welcome them, that my mercy is infinite'.

From Saint John Mary Vianney we can learn to put our unfailing trust in the sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the centre of our pastoral concerns, and to take up the 'dialogue of salvation' which it entails.

The Curé of Ars dealt with different penitents in different ways. Those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God’s forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the 'flood of divine mercy' which sweeps everything away by its vehemence.

If someone was troubled by the thought of his own frailty and inconstancy, and fearful of sinning again, the Curé would unveil the mystery of God’s love in these beautiful and touching words: 'The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, he already knows that you will sin again, yet he still forgives you. How great is the love of our God: he even forces himself to forget the future, so that he can grant us his forgiveness!'.

But to those who made a lukewarm and rather indifferent confession of sin, he clearly demonstrated by his own tears of pain how 'abominable' this attitude was: 'I weep because you don’t weep', he would say. 'If only the Lord were not so good! But he is so good! One would have to be a brute to treat so good a Father this way!'.

He awakened repentance in the hearts of the lukewarm by forcing them to see God’s own pain at their sins reflected in the face of the priest who was their confessor.

To those who, on the other hand, came to him already desirous of and suited to a deeper spiritual life, he flung open the abyss of God’s love, explaining the untold beauty of living in union with him and dwelling in his presence: 'Everything in God’s sight, everything with God, everything to please God… How beautiful it is!'. And he taught them to pray: 'My God, grant me the grace to love you as much as I possibly can'."

And Benedict XVI again urged priests to pay attention to the sacrament of penance in this passage from an address in San Giovanni Rotondo:

Like the Curé d'Ars, Padre Pio also reminds us of the dignity and responsibility of the priestly ministry. Who was not impressed by the fervor with which he re-lived the Passion of Christ in every celebration of the Eucharist?

From his love for the Eucharist there arose in him as the Curé d'Ars a total willingness to welcome the faithful, especially sinners.

Also, like St. John Mary Vianney, in a troubled and difficult time, tried in every way, to help his parishioners rediscover the meaning and the beauty of sacramental penance, for the holy friar of the Gargano, the care of souls and the conversion of sinners were a desire that consumed him until death. How many people have changed their lives thanks to his patient priestly ministry, so many long hours in the confessional!

Like the Curé d'Ars, it is his ministry as a confessor that constitutes the greatest title of glory and the distinctive feature of this holy Capuchin.

How could we not realize then the importance of participating in the celebration of the Eucharist devoutly and frequently receiving the sacrament of confession?

In particular, the sacrament of penance must be even more valued, and priests should never resign themselves to seeing their confessional deserted or to merely recognizing the diffidence of the faithful for this extraordinary source of serenity and peace."

In reporting on the beginning of the Year for Priests, the news coverage barely mentioned the Pope's insistence on the sacrament of penance.

The media instead emphasized the passage in which Benedict XVI deplored the evil conduct of some pastors of the Church, "above all those who turn into 'thieves of the sheep' (John 10:1 ff.), either because they lead them astray with their own private doctrines, or because they bind them with bonds of sin and death."

And in another passage, the Pope said that "we priests are also called to conversion and to recourse to the divine mercy, and we must humbly petition the Heart of Jesus, fervently and constantly, to preserve us from the terrible danger of harming those we are required to save."

But it is clear that the primary objective of the Year for Priests proclaimed by Benedict XVI is none other than renewed attention to the sacrament of confession.

This objective runs exactly counter to the spirit of passive submission that so many bishops and priests demonstrate in the face of the desertion of this sacrament.

But it must be noted that this objective is also shared by a leading Church representative who in many ways is the least in agreement with this and the previous pontificate: Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.

This is what emerges from an interview he gave to Eugenio Scalfari, published in La Repubblica on June 18, 2009, the eve of the opening of the Year for Priests.

In it, Cardinal Martini reiterated his personal classification of the biggest problems facing today's Church, "in order of importance":

"First of all the Church's attitude toward divorced persons, then the appointment or election of bishops, priestly celibacy, the role of the Catholic laity, the relationship between the hierarchy and politics."

And he also reproposed his idea of urgently convening a new council, the main issue of which should be "the relationship of the Church with the divorced."

But immediately after this, he added:

"There is another issue that a future council would have to address: that of the penitential journey of one's own life. Confession is an extremely important sacrament, but it has become anemic. Fewer and fewer people receive it, but above all its exercise has become almost mechanical: confess a few sins, obtain forgiveness, recite a few prayers, and that's all, with little or nothing to show for it. Confession must again be given a substance that is truly sacramental, as a journey of repentance and a program of life, a regular encounter with one's confessor, essentially a form of spiritual direction."

The fact that Cardinal Martini and Papa Ratzinger agree about something is news in itself.

But even more noteworthy is the object of agreement: "bringing substance back" to the most overlooked of the seven sacraments. That "substance" which the sainted Curé of Ars and Padre Pio made shine more than anyone else, for myriads of penintents in search of the mercy of God.

My personal favorite among the statements made by Pope Benedict on confession is the answer he gave to a little girl at his encounter with the First Communicants of the Diocese of Rome in October 2005:

Benedict XVI:
'Going to confession regularly
is like cleaning out your room
so the dirt does not build up'

Holy Father, before the day of my First Communion I went to confession. I have also been to confession on other occasions. I wanted to ask you: do I have to go to confession every time I receive Communion, even when I have committed the same sins? Because I realize that they are always the same.

I will tell you two things. The first, of course, is that you do not always have to go to confession before you receive Communion unless you have committed such serious sins that they need to be confessed. Therefore, it is not necessary to make one’s confession before every Eucharistic Communion. This is the first point.

It is only necessary when you have committed a really serious sin, when you have deeply offended Jesus, so that your friendship is destroyed and you have to start again. Only in that case, when you are in a state of “mortal” sin, in other words, grave [sin], is it necessary to go to confession before Communion.

My second point: even if, as I said, it is not necessary to go to confession before each Communion, it is very helpful to confess with a certain regularity.

It is true: our sins are always the same, but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen but it builds up.

Something similar can be said about the soul, for me myself: if I never go to confession, my soul is neglected and in the end I am always pleased with myself and no longer understand that I must always work hard to improve, that I must make progress.

And this cleansing of the soul which Jesus gives us in the Sacrament of Confession helps us to make our consciences more alert, more open, and hence, it also helps us to mature spiritually and as human persons.

Therefore, two things: confession is only necessary in the case of a serious sin, but it is very helpful to confess regularly in order to foster the cleanliness and beauty of the soul and to mature day by day in life.

00mercoledì 24 giugno 2009 13.18

Sorry to have been away alll day - I have another one of those pesky state inspections to prepare for, which will occupy me till all day tomorrow. Here are the two top items from CNS yesterday:

On June 29, the Pope will consecrate
all new diocesan bishops

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, June 23 (CNS) -- The sign of an archbishop's authority is not a scepter, but a circular stole made of lamb's wool to evoke the idea that he is, first of all, a shepherd.

The stole, called a pallium, goes around the archbishop's neck and is worn over his chasuble when he celebrates the Eucharist. It has a 12-inch strip of material hanging down the front and back.

Every year on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Pope places a pallium around the neck of each prelate named in the past year to head an archdiocese.

Prelates from the U.S. and Canada scheduled to receive a pallium from Pope Benedict XVI this year are: Archbishops Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit; George J. Lucas of Omaha, Neb.; Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis; Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans; J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia; and Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski, Quebec.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, will be among those receiving the pallium.

As the church's chief pastor, Pope Benedict also wears a pallium. But while an archbishop's is made from the wool of lambs blessed by the pope on the feast of St. Agnes, the Pope's is made of the wool of both lambs and sheep to reflect Jesus telling Peter "Feed my lambs" and "Feed my sheep."

For more than three years, Pope Benedict used a pallium that was wider, longer and worn differently from the ones given to archbishops.

When he was elected in April 2005, the Pope accepted a pallium based on the design of the pallium from the first millennium of Christianity. With the pallium draped around his shoulders, its ends hung down his left side and reached below his knees.

In June 2008 Msgr. Guido Marini, the papal master of ceremonies, announced that Pope Benedict, like Pope John Paul II, would go back to wearing a pallium similar to the ones worn by the archbishops. [more importantly, similar to what was worn by John Paul II]

Msgr. Marini, who constantly invokes a desire to illustrate liturgical "development in continuity" with the past to explain how and why Pope Benedict's liturgies have been mixing older and modern vestments, said using the shorter pallium showed how it had changed "over the span of more than 12 centuries." But he also said the short version was easier to wear and so was more practical.

When the long pallium was introduced in 2005, Vatican officials had explained that, historically, the pallium became shorter as the chasubles worn at Mass became heavier and more elaborately decorated. Even after the Second Vatican Council, when lighter materials were used again, chasubles tended to have a strong design on the chest and a long pallium hanging down one side seemed to clash aesthetically.

Accepting the longer pallium, Pope Benedict also accepted a new set of chasubles dotted with ancient symbols such as bees, shells or flames for Pentecost, rather than having a large central design.

But now that Pope Benedict uses both the newer chasubles as well as those of his predecessors, the short pallium was judged to be more appropriate.

When Pope Benedict went to L'Aquila, Italy, in April to visit the survivors of a major earthquake, he carried with him the long pallium he had received when he was elected.

Visiting the severely damaged Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L'Aquila and venerating the remains of St. Celestine V, a 13th-century pope who abdicated just a few months after his election, Pope Benedict placed the long woolen pallium on the saintly Pope's casket and left it there as a gift.

Pope to meet Obama July 10
during evening audience

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, June 23 (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will welcome U.S. President Barack Obama to the Vatican July 10 for an audience scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

Obama will visit Italy July 8-10 to participate in the Group of Eight summit, a meeting of leaders of the world's wealthiest nations. The meeting will be held in L'Aquila, site of a devastating earthquake in April.

After the G-8 summit, the president and his wife, Michelle, are scheduled to fly to Ghana, arriving late July 10.

Although Pope Benedict usually meets heads of state and government in the morning, the Vatican agreed to host Obama's first visit to the papal palace the evening before he flies to Africa.

It is not clear whether Miguel Diaz, a theology professor tapped by Obama to be the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, will be present for the meeting. As of June 23, the Senate hearing for the new ambassador's confirmation was not on the public schedule of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Discussions between popes and U.S. presidents usually focus on common concerns regarding world events and the church's concerns over issues or policies with special moral relevance. So in addition to discussing ongoing tensions in the Middle East, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Iraq, Pope Benedict likely will bring up his concerns regarding abortion policy in the United States and renewed government permission for embryonic stem-cell research.
00mercoledì 24 giugno 2009 13.40

June 24

OR today.
Illustration: Birth of John the Baptist, 18th century painting, Livorno, Italy.

No stories on Benedict XVI in this issue. There is a front-page feature on today's feast
of the Nativity of John the Baptist in the Byzantine tradition. International stories on
Page 1 are on the word from Iran's ruling mullahs that there is no chance they will annul
the recent presidential elections, and Ahmadinejad prepares to be inaugugurated for
a second term as President; the UN Secretary-General calls for an end to the violent
repression of the anti-government protests in Iran; the OECD holds a summit in Paris
to consider the global crisis; and the FAO proposes cultivation of the African savanna
(which covers 600,000 hectares from Senegal to South Africa) to produce food for
the continent on the model of Thailand.


At the General Audience today, the Holy Father devoted his catechesis
to explaining the significance of the Year for Priests.

00giovedì 25 giugno 2009 02.04


The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis today to the significance of the Year for Priests, to which he has dedicated some of his most impassioned teachings in the past several days.


Here is how he synthesized it in English:

Last Friday, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of priests – marked the beginning of the Year for Priests commemorating the sesquicentennial of the death of the Curé of Ars, Saint John Mary Vianney, patron of parish priests.

The Pauline Year now ending and the current Year for Priests invite us to consider how the Apostle Paul and the humble Curé of Ars both identified themselves completely with their ministry, striving to live in constant communion with Christ.

May this Year for Priests help all priests to grow towards the spiritual perfection essential to the effectiveness of their ministry, and enable the faithful to appreciate more fully the great gift of grace which the priesthood is: for priests themselves, for the Church and for our world.

Configured to Christ in the sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest is called to become an alter Christus, "another Christ". His personal union with the Lord must thus unify every aspect of his life and activity.

During this Year for Priests, let us entrust all priests to Mary, Mother of the Church, and pray that they will grow in fidelity to their mission to be living signs of Christ’s presence and infinite mercy


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


Dear brothers and sisters,

Last Sunday, June 19, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the day traditionally dedicated to prayer for priestly sanctification, I had the joy of inaugurating the Year for Priests, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the 'birth of heaven' of the Curé of Ars, St. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney.

Entering the Vatican Basilica for the celebration of Vespers, almost as a first symbolic gesture, I stopped at the Choir Chapel to venerate a relic of this holy Pastor of souls: his heart.

Why a Year for Priests? And why in commemoration of the holy Curé of Ars who apparently accomplished nothing 'extraordinary'?

Divine Providence willed that his figure be associated with that of St. Paul. Indeed, while we are about to conclude the Pauline Year dedicated to the Apostle of the Gentiles, model of the extraordinary evangelizer who made several missionary journeys to spread the Gospel, this new jubilee year invites us to look at a poor peasant who became a humble parish priest carrying out his pastoral service in a tiny village.

While the two saints differed a lot for the course of their lives - one travelled from region to region to announce the Gospel, the other welcomed thousands of faithful just staying in his tiny parish - there is, however, something fundamental which they had in common: their total identification with their own ministry, their communion with Christ which made St. Paul say, "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2,20).

And St. Jean Marie Vianney loved to say, "If we have faith, we will see God hidden in the priest like a light behind glass, like wine mixed with water".

The purpose of this Year for Priests, as I wrote in the letter sent to all priests on the occasion, is therefore to promote the impulse of every priest "towards spiritual perfection on which the effectiveness of his ministry depends" and to help priests above all -and with them the people of God - to rediscover and reinvigorate consciousness of the extraordinary and indispensable gift of Grace that the priestly ministry represents for him who receives it, for the entire Church and for the world, which would be lost with without the real presence of Christ.

Undoubtedly, historical and social conditions have changed from when the Curé of Ars lived, and it is right to ask how priests can imitate hum in identifying with their ministry in the globalized societies today.

In a world where the common vision of life less and less includes the sacred - in place of which 'functionality' becomes the only decisive category - the Catholic concept of priesthood can risk losing its natural consideration, sometimes even in the ecclesial consciousness itself.

Not infrequently, both in theological circles as in concrete pastoral practice and formation of the clergy, two different concepts of the priesthood are in confrontation, even in opposition.

What has emerged in recent years is "on the one hand, the social-functional concept which defines the essence of priesthood with the concept of 'service' to the community, in fulfillment of a function. On the other hand, there is the sacramental-ontological concept, which naturally does not deny the service character of the priesthood, but sees it anchored to the essence of the ministry and maintains that thus essence is determined by a gift given by the Lord through the mediation of the Church" ((J. Ratzinger, 'ministry and life of the priest' in Elements of Fundamental Theology; Essay on the faith and ministry, Brescia 2005, p.165).

Even the terminological slide from the word 'priesthood' to 'service, ministry, job' is a sign of such a differing conception.

The first concept, the ontologic-sacramental, is tied to the primacy of the Eucharist, in the binomial 'priesthood-sacrifice', while the second corresponds to the primacy of the word and service to the Gospel.

Looking closer, this is not about opposing concepts, and the tension that exists between the two must be resolved internally. Thus, the Decreto Presbyterorum ordinis of the Second Vatican Council affirms: "It is properly through the ministry of priests that the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful are made perfect in union with the sacrifice of Christ, the only mediator. Indeed, this sacrifice, in the hands of priests and in the name of the Church, must be offered in the Eucharist in a bloodless and sacramental way until the day of the coming of the Lord" (No.2 ).

We ask ourselves then: "What exactly does it mean for priests to evangelize? What does the so-called 'primacy of the announcement' mean? Jesus speaks of the announcement of the Kingdom of God as the true purpose for his coming to the world, and his announcement was not mere 'discourse'.

It included at the same time his very actions: the signs and the miracles he performed indicate that the Kingdom comes to the world as a present reality, which ultimately coincides with his own person. In this sense, it must be remembered that even in the primacy of the announcement, words and gestures are indivisible.

Christian preaching does not proclaim 'words', but the Word, and the announcement coincides with the person of Christ himself, ontologically open to relationship with the Father and obedience to his will.

Thus, authentic service to the Word requires that the priest, on his part, must incline to a profound abnegation of himself to the point of saying with the Apostle, "It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me."

The priest cannot consider himself 'master' of the word, but its servant. He is not the word, as proclaimed by John the Baptist, whose birth we celebrate today, is the 'voice' of the Word: "A voice of one crying out in the desert: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths'" (Mk 1,3).

Now to be the 'voice' of the Word does not constitute for the priest merely a functional aspect. On the contrary, it presupposes a substantial 'losing oneself' in Christ, participating in his mystery of death and resurrection with all of his own self: intelligence, freedom, and will are offered from his very being, as a living sacrifice" (cfr Rm 12,1-2).

Only participation in the sacrifice of Christ in his kenosis [self-emptying] makes the announcement authentic! This is the path that must be followed with Christ in order to arrive at saying to the Father along with him: "Not what I will but what you will" (Mk 14,36).

The announcement then always comes with the sacrifice of self, a condition in order that the announcement may be authentic and effective.

Alter Christus [Another Christ], the priest is profoundly united to the Word of the Father, who incarnating himself as a servant, became a servant (cfr Phil 2,5-21). The priest is the servant of Christ, in the sense that his existence, ontologically configured to Christ, assumes an essentially relational character: he is in Christ, for Christ, and with Christ in the service of men.

Precisely because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically in the service of men: he is the minister of their salvation, their happiness, their authentic liberation, maturing in a progressive assumption of the will of Christ, in prayer in 'being heart to heart' with him.

This then is the inseparable condition of every announcement, which involves participation in the sacramental offering of the Eucharist and in docile obedience to the Church.

The Holy Curé of Ars often repeated with tears in his eyes: "How frightening it is to be a priest!", adding "How sorry we must be for a priest when he celebrates the Mass like an ordinary fact! How unfortunate is a priest without an interior life!"

May the Year for Priests lead all priests to identify totally with the crucified and risen Christ so that, in imitation of St. John the Baptist, they may be ready to 'become less' that Jesus may 'grow'; so that, following the example of the Curé of Ars, they may be aware constantly and profoundly of the responsibility of their mission which is a sign and a presence of the infinite mercy of God.

Let us entrust Our Lady, Mother of the Church, the Year for Priests that has just begun and all the priests of the world.

00venerdì 26 giugno 2009 03.50

June 25
Blessed Jutta of Thuringia (ca. 1200-1260)
Patroness of Prussia

OR for 6/25:

No papal stories on Page 1 (photo is from OR's online selection from the issue) but the headlines has to do with
the General Audience at which the Pope spoke of the significance of the Year for Priests and had special words
of concern for children who are victims in many different ways of current conflicts around the world. Another
story says half the inhabitants of every country at war today are refugees; and an editorial commentary on
the new alliance BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) among the 'emerging' giant economies.


The Holy Father met today with

- His Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta

- Bishops of Vietnam on ad-limina visit

- Participants in the meeting of the Riunione delle Opere per l’Aiuto alle Chiese Orientali
(assembly for Works of Assistance to the Oriental Churches). Address in Italian.

00venerdì 26 giugno 2009 13.41

Pope urges continuing support
for Christians in the Holy Land



VATICAN CITY, 25 JUN 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the annual general meeting of the Reunion of Organisations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO).

The meeting had focused on the situation in the Holy Land and on the Catholic Church in Bulgaria.

"Charity", said the Pope, "is the fertile source of all forms of service to the Church, it is their measure, their method and the means by which they are verified. Through your membership of ROACO you wish to live in charity, making yourselves available to the Bishop of Rome through the Congregation for the Oriental Churches".

"In this way you will be able to continue, even to augment, that 'movement of charity which, by papal mandate, the Congregation supervises so that, in a disciplined and equitable way, the Holy Land and other eastern regions may receive the spiritual and material support necessary for ordinary ecclesial life and for special needs".

After then recalling his own recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Benedict XVI went on: "I renew my prayer and my appeal for no more war, no more violence, no more injustice. I wish to assure you that the Universal Church remains at the side of all our brothers and sisters who reside in the Holy Land. This concern is reflected in a special way in the annual Holy Land collection. I therefore exhort your ROACO agencies to continue their charitable activities with zeal and with fidelity to the Successor of Peter".

The Pope also turned his attention to the recently inaugurated Year for Priests, calling upon his audience "to give maximum attention to caring for clergy and supporting seminaries".

He also recalled how, in inaugurating this Jubilee Year on 19 June, "I entrusted all the priests of the world to the Heart of Christ and of Mary Immaculate, with a special thought for those who, in both East and West are experiencing moments of difficulty and trial. I take this occasion", he concluded, "to ask you too to pray for priests".

00venerdì 26 giugno 2009 13.53

June 26
Blessed Ramon Lull [Raymond Lull] (Catalonia, 1232-1315)
Writer, Philosopher, Martyr
'Doctor Illuminatus'

OR today.
Addressing a group that raises funds to help the Oriental Churches, the Holy Father renews his appeal for
'Peace and justice in the Holy Land'
Other Page 1 stories: Harsh repression in Iran as the government says it will not yield anything to the demonstrators; an editorial commentary on 'The twittering that is changing information' about the role of new information technologies in international crises; and the Pope's meeting with the Grand Master of the Order of Malta (right photo). There are two stories in the inside pages about the opening of a three-month exhibit in Rome which opened yesterday on 'St. Paul in the Vatican', highlighting art work and significant documents on St. Paul in the Vatican Museums and Archives.


The Holy Father met today with

- Bishops of Vietnam (Group 2) on ad limina visit.

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

00venerdì 26 giugno 2009 15.26

Here's a rare appreciation by a secular Amerian journalist of the Pope's mind and how he has confronted modern thinkers and measured them by Christian thought.

Benedict XVI, modern man
by Mike Potemra
June 25, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI is acknowledged by virtually everyone to be a man of prodigious intellect, whose mind has been shaped by Scripture, as well as by such theologians as Augustine, Bonaventure, and Aquinas.

But a new book from Ignatius Press makes clear the extent to which the current Pope has grappled with the thought of such shapers of the modern mind as Comte, Wittgenstein, Barth, Beauvoir, and Camus.


Faith and the Future is a small book — just 118 pages, of moderately large type — but it deals with the largest issues, and does so in a way that has the ring of lived truth. It contains five essays that originated as radio talks given by then-professor Joseph Ratzinger in 1969 and 1970.

Faith, Ratzinger writes, is “not a system of knowledge,” but an act of “trust”: “A man remains a Christian as long he makes the effort to give the central assent, as long as he tries to utter the fundamental Yes of trust, even if he is unable to fit in or resolve many of the details.”

Ratzinger seems here to be calling for an epistemologically modest attitude, but he actually does so in the service of recognizing man’s greatest possibilities.

Confronting Wittgenstein’s famous dictum, “What we cannot speak about we must consign to silence,” he writes: “[This statement] is only apparently logical. The logos, the intellect of man, reaches farther than formal logic. Man simply has to speak about the inexpressible if he would speak about himself. He must reflect precisely on the incalculable if his thinking is to touch the sphere of the truly human.”

This book is not a condemnation of Wittgenstein and other modern thinkers. It is a sincere engagement with them, in a spirit of what the author calls man’s “responsibility to reality.”

The current Pope has a reputation as a rather shy, bookish fellow — but this slight yet impressive volume shows a man very much concerned with the real world, and Man’s situation in it.

00venerdì 26 giugno 2009 17.07

One of the many articles on which I have been catching up after two days away from the Web! John Allen provides an informative background.

Economic encyclical expands
on Church's 'best-kept secret'

Jun. 22, 2009

As the old joke goes, you could lay all the economists in the world end to end, and they would never reach a conclusion. Yet beginning in the late 19th century, one pope after another has ventured into this notoriously contentious and uncertain field, producing a sprawling body of economic analysis that forms the core of what's known as "Catholic social teaching."

Pope Benedict XVI will bring this tradition into the 21st century with his long-awaited new social encyclical, Veritas in Caritate (Truth in Charity), set for release before his summer break begins July 13. Benedict recently described it as a meditation on "the vast theme of the economy and work."

While Veritas in Caritate is addressed to the world, it could have special resonance in America, where some may be tempted to read it as a blueprint for the Church's relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama -- especially since the economy is one area where Catholic teaching and the Democratic Party platform aren't always at loggerheads.

Since Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum in 1891, which addressed the rise of industrial capitalism, social encyclicals have tended to coincide with moments of global upheaval.

Pius XI's Quadragesimo Anno in 1931 came during the Great Depression; Paul VI's Populorum Progressio in 1967 reflected the ferment of decolonization; and John Paul II's third and final encyclical on the economy, 1991's Centesimus Annus, followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Benedict's new encyclical continues this legacy, as its release has been delayed for almost two years in order to reflect on the present global economic meltdown.

The working class and the poor

Catholic teaching on economic justice often carries direct implications for politics, and in political terms it's been largely cheered by the left, but viewed with ambivalence on the right.

Pope John XXIII's 1961 encyclical Mater et Magistra offers a classic example. Issued at the height of the Cold War, it condemned both East and West for diverting resources that could be used for the poor into the arms race.

In reply, American Catholic writer Garry Wills, then still in his conservative phase, coined the immortal protest, "Mater si, Magistra no!" Similar consternation followed Paul VI's explicit call for higher taxes in wealthy nations to fund international aid programs in Populorum Progressio.

At the heart of Catholic social teaching is solidarity with the working class and the poor. Leo XIII set the tone, charging that in the era of robber-baron capitalism, "A small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than slavery itself." Pius XI was equally acerbic in condemning an "international imperialism of money."

To be sure, all modern popes have defended the right to private property, condemned communism and socialism, and embraced a principle of "subsidiarity" limiting the power of the state.

Yet there's also deep skepticism that the invisible hand of a market economy will necessarily be benign, and a clear accent on the common good over individual profit. As John Paul II put it in 1987's Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, private property carries a "social mortgage."

As a result, popes have supported labor unions, called for antipoverty efforts such as debt relief, and endorsed a host of positive rights for workers, such as a just wage, health care, decent working conditions and pensions.

Anyone surprised by the seemingly progressive thrust of all this should recall that in the beginning, popes weren't trying to be avant-garde. They took a dim view of free markets for the same reason they were suspicious of religious freedom and a free press -- because they saw economic liberalism as part of a broader Enlightenment-inspired attack on tradition.

Both capitalism and communism seemed "twin rocks of shipwreck," as Pius XI put it, meaning allegedly scientific attempts to construct a social order without traditional moral or spiritual wisdom.

In its early stages, papal social teaching seemed nostalgic for the medieval era, in which church-sponsored craft guilds buffered relations between labor and capital. The guild system provided the template for various attempts to find a Catholic third way between capitalism and communism, including such now-obscure theories as solidarism, distributism and corporatism.

John Paul's Centesimus Annus in 1991 was an important turning point, because it effectively brought this quest for a third way to a close. After the implosion of Soviet-style socialism, the late Pope endorsed a market economy as the best way to foster "free human creativity in the economic sector."

Even Centesimus Annus, however, hardly extols laissez-faire capitalism. John Paul insisted that the economy must be governed by a "strong juridical framework," the heart of which must be "ethical and religious."

Mixed reviews

In wider Catholic conversation, this social teaching plays to mixed reviews. Admirers describe it as the Church's "best-kept secret," wishing it were better known and more widely accepted. To critics, it's a classic example of clergymen exceeding their competence.

In 2004's The Church and the Market, Thomas Woods charged that papal social teaching sometimes ignores economic reality, with "calamitous" impact on the very people it's trying to help.

Critics also typically distinguish between the values expressed in social teaching, such as human dignity and solidarity, and the specific economic policies popes have either advocated or opposed. The latter, they argue, are not matters of faith or morals, and hence open to legitimate dissent. Philosopher Étienne Gilson's famous quip is oft-cited: "Piety is no substitute for technique."

Be that as it may, there's little reason to believe that Benedict XVI will depart from the broad approach sketched by his predecessors.

Two years ago, for example, Benedict wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which held the rotating presidency of the G8 at the time, to insist that measures to help poor nations -- including debt relief, "broad and unconditional access" to markets in wealthy countries, and combating diseases such as AIDS and malaria -- represent a "grave and unconditional moral responsibility."

Well before Benedict's election to the papacy, his basic economic philosophy seemed clear. In a 1988 essay, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger argued that capitalism is little better than Nazism or communism, because all three worship false idols (profit, the Volk and the state, respectively).

A degree of economic populism may be hard-wired into the Pope's DNA. His great-uncle, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, helped found a 19th-century political party, the Bauerbund, representing poor farmers against large industrial concerns.

Although Veritas in Caritate will be Benedict's first comprehensive social encyclical, he's repeatedly addressed social themes elsewhere, often striking three inter-related notes:

•Concern for social justice must not replace individual charity;
•Preaching the Gospel is essential to building a better world, because a world without God is destined to be inhuman;
•Systemic reform, though urgent, will not succeed without individual conversion.

Veritas in Caritate continues to push for government efforts to assist the poor, it could strengthen the hand of Catholics in the United States eager for collaboration with the Obama administration. If nothing else, almost anything Benedict says on the economy may help the pro-Obama camp by giving American Catholics something to ponder other than abortion.

A key question

Veritas in Caritate will also be the first social encyclical clearly conceived in the era of globalization, and experts will be anxious to see whether Benedict picks up what many regard as a key unanswered question in Catholic social teaching: What would a "strong juridical framework" for the economy look like in a 21st-century world?

Jesuit Fr. John Coleman has observed that a broad swath of governance today is not performed by national governments, but by intergovernmental bodies such as the World Trade Organization, or by private agencies such as Standard and Poor's (which regulates the $5 trillion bond market).

The power of nation-states is also limited by the rise of multinational corporations such as the banking conglomerate HSBC, with assets of $2.5 billion, greater than the GNP of all but five nations. Because Catholic social doctrine has little to say about these actors, Coleman believes it remains "much too vague and moralistic."

Experts hope that the global economic crisis that first erupted in mid-2007, which raised precisely the question of regulation in sectors such as banking and capital markets, may prompt the Pope to offer some new thinking along these lines.

Veritas in Caritate is expected to be dated June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. It's the 40th anniversary of Ad Petri Cathedram, the first encyclical of Pope John XXIII, the subtitle of which was "truth, unity and peace in a spirit of charity" -- seemingly echoed in Benedict's title, "Truth in Charity."

00venerdì 26 giugno 2009 23.25

John Allen has been busy this week on a number of enterprise stories whhich may explain his unaccountable silence so far about the Year for Priests and the papal pilgrimage to Padre Pio's remains - for someone who usually has his finger in every newspie out there.

He was in Venice for this interview which I am posting on this thread because Cardinal Scola, the interviewee, talks a lot about Pope Benedict's ideas on the questions he is asked.

And I have also dropped the title given to the item which was "Iran struggling with 'Shi'ite messianism,' cardinal says" - which in the interview takes up only a couple of sentences from the cardinal, whom Allen was trying to get to confirm Allen's own notions about Shia Islam and its supposed similarities with Catholicism. Scola did not take the bait


Interview with Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice
by John L Allen Jr
June 24, 2009

One noteworthy recent initiative in Catholic/Muslim relations is the Oasis project, launched by Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice in 2004.

Though Oasis does not shy away from theological conversation, its accent is on understanding Islamic cultures, sometimes expressed as the ‘Islam of the people’ – what in journalistic parlance might be called ‘the Muslim street.’

[To be fair to Oasis, I don't think it ever conceived its work in terms of theological dialog - it was always focused on the cultural expression of religion - but interfaith theological dialog just happens to be a persistent bee in Allen's bonnet.]


In particular, Oasis is interested in the interplay between traditional cultures and the new forces of pluralism and mixture of peoples driven by globalization. (Scola likes to use the Italian term ‘meticciato’, which roughly corresponds to ‘mestizo’, to convey this idea.) ['Meticciato' translates easily into 'hybrid' in the sense that Scola uses it.]

Cardinals Tauran and Scola at the Venice meeting.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, June 22-23, the scientific committee that directs Oasis met in Venice to take up the subject of ‘intepreting traditions in a time of blending.’ In conjunction with that event, I interviewed Scola, 67, on the current state of Christian/Muslim relations.

In light of current events, Scola’s comments on Iran seem especially interesting. In a nutshell, he suggested that a form of ‘Shi’ite messianism,’ corrupted into a political ideology, may be part of the problem in terms of Iran’s checkered relationship with the West – but that it’s ‘reversible.’

He also suggested that the 1979 Iranian revolution and all that’s followed offers a useful reminder to the secularized West that history is sometimes still forged by ‘theological options.’

The full text of the interview follows.

Why the choice of ‘tradition’ as the theme for the annual meeting of Oasis?

Each of us, in making daily decisions in work, in our relationships, even when we rest, starts with an interpretive hypothesis about reality that we’ve received from preceding generations – in other words, a tradition.

Oasis, as you know, wants to investigate the “process of mixing of civilizations,” and while the actors in this mixture are single individuals, they’re all heirs of a tradition. The problem, naturally, is how these traditions relate to one another.

Are we prisoners of our tradition, as multiculturalism has it? Do we have to put our traditions in parentheses in order to adhere to certain abstract universal principles? Or, with a truly revolutionary attitude, do we even have to abolish them?

In reality, tradition presents itself to us as a patrimony that has to be interpreted, because it’s a fact of experience in constant evolution, which is all the more evident in a pluralistic society such as ours.

The Pope talks about ‘inter-cultural’ rather than ‘inter-religious’ dialogue. What do you think this distinction means? Does he too possibly have in mind the weight of tradition?

I believe that the Holy Father wants to emphasize that the Christian faith, which is the child of an incarnate God, and because it’s offered to humanity as an answer to the questions of daily life, immediately becomes a culture.

There’s no pure ‘faith,’ which then enters into relationship ‘with the different cultures.’ Moreover, every faith and every religion is always subject to cultural interpretations. The relationship between faith and culture is inevitable, and circular. Just think about all the different points of view we in the West have with regard to ‘the Islams.’

Therefore, there simply is no inter-religious dialogue that isn’t at the same time inter-cultural.

The Pope’s approach in no way intends to limit the dialogue, but rather to define it rigorously. What’s in play aren’t ‘pure faiths,’ but faiths as they’re culturally interpreted.

That has nothing to do with relativism: The Truth is incarnate. That applies to Christianity in itself, to all the religions, and thus to inter-religious dialogue.

In Jordan, the Holy Father proposed an ‘alliance of civilizations’ between Christians and Muslims. What do you think the aim of such an alliance would be?

The Pope himself gave the answer at the end of his speech at the airport in Amman: ‘To grow in love for the Almighty and Merciful God, and in fraternal love for one another.’

Together Christians and Muslims can offer witness to an ‘expanded reason,’ capable of opening itself to the dimension of the Absolute.

In your view, what were the principal fruits of the Pope’s trip to the Holy Land?

Pope Benedict’s trip to the Holy Land was a lesson in realism. At the beginning, it looked like an “impossible trip” because it seemed destined to make everybody unhappy.

Intead, Benedict XVI inserted himself into the vast ranks of Christian pilgrims to the holy places. He walked in the footsteps of the Incarnate God, who died and rose again for the salvation of human beings. He traced the paths that throb with the suffering of the Christians who live there.

In the name of the entire Catholic church, he embraced the Christian community on that edge of the Middle East, the ‘lit candle that illuminates the holy places.’

But this embrace – precisely because it was performed in the name of Him who is the way of truth and life – also included, though in diverse ways, our Jewish brothers and the Muslims who live in the land given to our father Abraham. It’s the universal and incarnate proposal of Christ that leads the Christian faith to encounter with every religion, with every vision of reality.

What’s your view of President Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo?

I’m curious to hear from participants in the Oasis meeting what effect the words of the American president had on the populations of the Middle East, especially the Christian minorities. His speech seemed to me very political.

It was extremely lucid in indicating the challenges that the United States must confront, decisive in suggesting certain changes in direction, and even audacious in favoring a greater role for regional actors.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that the arguments offered in support of a ‘new beginning’ between Muslims and the United States are fragile, and some historical readings were distorted to suit the necessities of the moment. Obama was forced to pass over some of the points of greatest friction. It was an understandable choice from a tactical point of view, but it can’t hold up for very long.[A very tactful way of saying what needs to be said about that speech - so over-rated by Obamaniacs drunk on ObamaKool-aid.]

What are you hearing from your contacts in Iran these days? Looking down the line, it seems that Shi’a Muslims and Catholics share certain traits: A strong clerical hierarchy, a theology of sacrifice, and deep currents of popular devotion. Does this suggest that Catholicism can play an important role in a dialogue with Iran, where Shi’a Islam is dominant?

Three accents strike me in the Shi’a tradition: the necessity of a continual actualization of revelation in certain physical persons, to the point of overcoming a too-rigid conception of divine transcendence; the lively expectation of eschatological fulfillment; and the reflection on the problem of evil.

I have the impression that we’re not well informed on these points, despite the enormous work of study and analysis that’s been done by specialists in recent years. We know Shi’ites better than we know Shiism!

The Oasis network really hasn’t arrived yet in Iran, so what I know about what’s happening is what I see and read in the mass media. I don’t doubt, however, that many people in Iran want better relations with the West. We must not forget that Persian culture has shown itself to be extraordinarily fertile and receptive.

The principal problem, if I can put it slightly audaciously, is that Shi’ite messianism, almost unable to bear the weight of the exepectations with which is is structually bound up, has been converted over the centuries, at least in some circles, into a political ideology.

We’re talking about a long process that’s not linear, which experienced a brusque acceleration with the 1979 revolution. As Westerners, we were caught off guard. We had forgotten that history is also sometimes forged by ‘theological options.’

In any event, all this is reversible.

One sometimes has the impression that any step toward Muslims by the Catholic church is experienced by Jews as a step away from them, and vice-versa. How do we balance these two relationships?

When he arrived in Paradise, Dante asked the blessed if they weren’t annoyed by one another, defensive of their goods and jealous of those touched by the others. The response was no, because with love, the more it’s shared the more it grows. That point holds true for Christians, well beyond their own limitations, also in the arc of history.

‘Readiness for dialogue’ is a good, and a good is always to be shared. If you’ll forgive the crude comparison, it’s not like a cake which, if I eat it, you can’t – or if the Jews get it, the Muslims can’t have it.

When dialogue isn’t a tactic, but, as Bonhöffer said, it opens the dialogue partners to “the depths of reality,” then a step forward with Muslims not only doesn’t mean a step back in relations with other religions, but on the contrary, it acts as a stimulus.

With regard to Judaism, it’s written into the DNA of our own faith. I’ve never forgotten the words that Cardinal Henri de Lubac said to me in long-ago 1985: ‘If Christianity must be inculturated, then it must inculturate into the history, which is still unfolding, of the Jewish people who are our roots.’

One of the Vatican's leading resource persons on Islam, Fr. Samir, addressed the Venice meeting of Oasis. I have posted the AsiaNews translation of his address in THE CHURCH&VATICAN thread.

00sabato 27 giugno 2009 05.33

In the past four years, no single entity in the Italian media has been as assiduous in purveying scuttlebutt on supposed squabbling and plotting behind the scenes at the Vatican than the weekly magazine
that probably merits the title 'Smear and loathing at the Vatican'....

Lella's blog this morning had items about Panorama's latest 'incursions' behind the Leonine walls, which rehashes scullery chatter that has been making the rounds in France and Italy, but I decided to wait until I could read the article itself.

Beyond the usual gossip, this one goes as far as making the outrageous and grossly tasteless suggestion that all the 'grand maneuvering' by some ranking members of the Roman Curia has to do with positioning themselves 'in preparation for the next Conclave' - even if it does add that recent tests show there is nothing to worry about Benedict's health.

However, the article it does not turn up on a regular online search of Panorama's current issue nor on its RSS feed, so I will fall back on a item about the article posted on Lella's blog.

First, a denial attributed to the Vatican

Vatican denounces speculation
on Curial intramurals and
about the Pope's health


VATICAN CITY, June 25 (Translated from ADNKronos) - Authoritative Vatican sources, after verification by this agency, have categorically denied the speculations published in this week's issue of Panorama on supposed maneuvering among some prelates in the Vatican hierarchy.

The sources were even more emphatic in belying claims that Benedict XVI recently underwent diagnostic medical testing for his heart. [And so what if he did, as he should periodically, for a man with his history and at his age? At least, the magazine said there was no reason to worry!]

They claimed that the media have had an unduly insidious interest in Vatican goings on behind the scenes but have been furnishing a lot of wrong information.

So what exactly does Panorama claim? The following story tells us:

Duels in the shadow
of St. Peter's Dome

Translated from

ROME, June 25 - The weekly magazine Panorama in its issue that goes on sale tomorrow discloses 'confrontations at the highest levels of the Roman Curia', despite the Pope's exhortations to his co-workers to "abandon careerism and the struggle for power".

The Mondadori publication writes: "The Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is preparing to get rid of the 'sacra corona'" - the ironic term used to describe the entourage of the deputy Secretary of State for internal affairs, Mons. Fernando Filoni.

In the Vatican corridors, there has been talks for some time of the imminent departure of Mons. Gabriele Caccia, counselor for general affairs, who was a key man in the Sodano administration; of Mons. Paolo Sardi, who heads the department in charge of translating papal texts, and is also vice-chamberlain; and of Mons. Carlo Maria Viganò, delegate to the pontifical representation [I have not been able to find out what that means!]

But there are those who are betting that Filoni, now the #3 man in the Curia, will be replaced. He was considered an outstanding diplomat in the Wojtyla years and was called back to Rome by Benedict XVI to serve in the Curia.

[I have never read any explanation of why the Pope chose to recall Filoni from the Philippines where he was the Apostolic Nuncio, after having left Iraq shortly after the 2003 war began. There seems to have been no history of previous ties between Filoni and Cardinal Ratzinger, nor any particular qualifications that merited Filoni being put in charge of administering the Curia!

Something does not quite add up, but scuttlebutt in both Italy and France has always named him as one of the 'villains' in the Curia, whose maneuverings are even possibly against the very man who named him to his position!]

A French dossier reported in the Italian media at the time of the Williamson embarrassment identified most of these names as the 'leaks' in the Curial organization who are said to be ultimately working against the direction of this Pontificate. And therefore on a collision course with Cardinal Bertone.

It would be unreal and utopian to imagine a Curia in which everyone is in agreement. There are - and there have always been - differences of opinion among the Curial cardinals on many sensitive points - which Panorama cites - from the Lefebvrians to relations with the Jews, from the dialog with China to the beatification of John Paul II.

Panorama claims that the present confrontations are the start of 'maneuvering for the next conclave', notwithstanding the fact that "MRI and other diagnostic medical tests in the past few weeks have ruled out any serious problems with the Pope's heart".

It adds that any eventual changes in the Curia would be a reorganization as a way of 'settling accounts' in the wake of the Williamson case. [This implies that Benedict XVI's nominations would be dictated by the criterion of 'settling accounts' rather than actual need for change and competence for the job! Does anyone0 really think the Pope can be so petty?]

The magazine claims that there is conflict between Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Cardinal Antonio Canizares, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship - both of them former associates of Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF.

[But their functions are very different and there should be no reason for conflict. Of course, the same French dossier referred to - by the Abbe Claude Barthes, who is reputed to have 'authoritative' inside information about the Vatican - also names Levada as one of the chief Curial cardinals working against the Pope (along with Cardinals Kasper and Re) because he is really 'very liberal'! Surely Benedict XVI cannot be so obtuse he does not realize something of the sort if there is any basis for the charge!]

Then, John Paul II's beatification is supposed to be the cause of friction between Cardinal Angelo Sodano and the Polish Pope's longtime private secretary, now-Cardinal Stanislaw Dsiwisz, the two men who served longest at Wojtyla's side. [Excuse me, but Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed to the Curia years earlier than Sodano was! How can this people not get their facts right?]

Then there's said to be an anti-Bertone faction led by Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, 86 [who was a fixture at the Secretariat of State since the time of Pius XII, and who was later named by John Paul II to be Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, retiring when he reached 80).

[Silvestrini is believed to have been the instigator and source of the material in the French novel Confessions of a Cardinal published earlier this year as a frankly anti-Benedict tract. Regarded as the leader of the liberal wing of the Roman Curia with influence even long after his retirement, he reportedly resents the rule that prohibits cardinals over 80 from voting in the Conclave, and did not take part at all in the last Conclave, not even in the pre-Conclave sessions. What an arrogant character and an apparent powermonger who loves nothing better than pulling the strings behind stage!]

Silvestrini and other Cardinals reportedly have never been able to accept that Benedict XVI named a theologian who had no experience or training in diplomacy to be his #2 man. [Such pettiness and outright disobedience among "princes of the Church' is repulsive. They seem to be men who have forgotten what it means to be a priest, and I don't think they will even bother to heed Benedict XVI's message conveyed by the Year for Priests!]

Among those against Bertone is his predecessor Cardinal Sodano who, it will be remembered, did not move out of the Secretary of State's official residence in the Apostolic Palace until months after Cardinal Bertone had already taken office.

{The Italian media had been rife with speculation that Benedict XVI was about to replace Bertone - and now they have to deal with the fact that during the Pope's coming vacation in Les Combes, he has decided to say the Angelus in the little city of Romano Canavese in the neighboring diocese of Ivrea on his second Sunday on vacation. The place just happens to be Bertone's hometown. Pro-Bertone voices see this as the Pope's declaration of confidence in Bertone.]

P.S. Most of my parenthetical comments are based on various reports in the Italian media since January that I have not bothered to translate and post precisely because they are mostly idle - and sometimes malicious - speculation, but these have been among the most persistent of the scuttlebutt.

00sabato 27 giugno 2009 13.48

June 27
St. Cyril of Alezandria (Egypt, c. 375-444)
Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church
'Pillar of Faith'

OR today.
Photo: Informal memorial in Tehran to Neda, the demonstrator shot dead by Iranian militia during the protests.
No papal news in this issue. Page 1 stories: Iran's Guardian Council declares there was no fraud
in recent elections; an editorial commentary on the unfulfilled development commitments to Africa
by the rich nations; and a claim that the recession in the US is coming to a halt since the last GDP
has fallen less expected. In an inside page is a knowledgeable commentary on Michael Jackson's
artistic trajectory and musical genius entitled "But will he ever really 'die'?"


The Holy Father met today with

- Bishops of Vietnam (Group 3) on ad limina visit, then all the bishops together, whom he addressed in French.
- Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to the closing ceremony of the Pauline Year and
the annual observance of Christian Unity Week. Address in French.
- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

The Vatican announced the Holy Father has named Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals,
as the Pontifical Legate to the celebration of the Millennium of Lithuania in Vilnius on July 6.


Sunday, June 28
Vigil of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul
Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, at 18.00
First Vespers
Closing of the Pauline Year

Monday, June 29
Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul
Vatican Basilica, at 9.30
Holy Mass and imposition of the Pallium
on Metropolitan Archbishops

00sabato 27 giugno 2009 14.17

ON JULY 7-8 ?

Both Corriere della Sera and Repubblica today report that Benedict XVI's encyclical Caritas in Veritate will be released on July 7 or 8. This would make it in time for the G8 summit of the world's most industrialized nations.

But Repubblica also makes much of the allegation that the Vatican's Latin experts have not yet delivered the Latin translation to the printers because they have been having a hard time translating new economic terms for which Latin does not have the words.

[One would think the Vatican could hire any number of Latin experts living in Rome to help out. The Vatican itself has an agency for Latinitas which has been compiling and updating a dictionary of 'neologisms' in Latin for contemporary words such as 'blue jeans' and scientific terminology which the ancient Romans had no idea of!]


Paolo Rodari has advance information in some detail about the contents of the encyclical but does not set a specific release date other than that it will come out before the Pope goes on vacation on July 13.

'There is a crisis -
and it must be fought
with charity and truth'

Translated from
June 27, 2009

On Monday, June 29, feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Benedict XVI will sign his third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate - three and a half years after Deus caritas est (December 25, 2005) and one and a half years after Spe salvi.The text will be released shortly thereafter, probably by July 10.

This newspaper, from conversations with those who assisted in its preparation in one way or another, can anticipate the essential points of a text whose purpose was clearly stated by the Pontiff himself during the audience with the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontefice Foundation last June 13.

With this encyclical, he told them, he seeks to "highlight what we Christians consider the objectives to pursue and the values to promote and defend tirelessly, in order to realize human coexistence that is truly free and fraternal."

The following is Rodari's summary of the 'essential points' in the encyclical. Though he does not present them as direct quotations, they evidently use language from the encyclical itself:

How can these objectives and values be pursued?

Only with 'charity and truth', the principal propulsive force for the true development of every person and of all mankind. Indeed, everything comes from God's love. And we also know that charity can only shine and be authentic in truth, the light which gives meaning and value to charity.

This light is, at the same time, that of reason and faith, through which human intelligence can arrive at the natural and supernatural truth of charity, and what it means in terms of giving, of reciprocal acceptance and of communion.

The social doctrine of the Church revolves around this principle of 'love in truth'. Indeed, this social doctrine is the announcement of the truth of Christ's love to society at large.

This doctrine preaches a service of love but always in truth, which preserves and expresses the liberating power of love in the ever-new events in man's history. This truth is at the same time the truth of faith and the truth of reason, with the distinction and synergy of these two cognitive areas.

Development, social wellbeing, an adequate solution to the serious problems that afflict humanity - all have need of this truth. Without it, without mutual trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action falls prey to private interests and the logic of power, with disaggregating effects for society, particularly one that has become globalized, when it finds itself in crisis as it does today.

Only through love, illuminated by the light of reason and faith, will it be possible to pursue development objectives endowed with a more human and humanizing value.

Love in truth demands justice: «ubi societas, ibi ius» - where there is society, there is law. I cannot give of what is mine to another without giving him what is justly due him. But it must be said that love goes beyond justice and completes it in the logic of giving and forgiving.

The 'city of man' is not promoted only through relationships based on rights and duties, but even more, and first of all, by relationships of giving freely, of mercy and of communion. Thus, justice and love require working effectively for the common good .

Already in 1967, with the encyclical Populorum progressio, Paul VI illuminated the subject of the development of peoples with the light of truth and the power of Christ's love.

Now, Benedict XVI, with Caritas in veritate, pays homage to Papa Montini by taking up his teachings on integral human development in his own way and actualizing it to the present.

Paul VI taught this: the authentic development of man concerns integrally the individual in all his dimensions. In Populorum progressio, he pointed out that authentic development is above all, a calling, a vocation.

Since vocation is a call that requires a response, integral human development presupposes responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples: No structure can guarantee such a development outside of human responsibility itself, responsibility that can recognize in the idea of development as vocation the centrality of love in truth.

Even today, as in the time of Populorum progressio, love in truth urgently demands facing with courage and without delay the great problems of injustice in the development of peoples.

Indeed, the economic development that Paul VI wished for is one that produces real growth which extends to everybody and is concretely sustainable.

But it must be acknowledged that at a distance of 40 years, economic development has been and continues to be weighed down by gross distortions and dramatic differences.

Today, the new responsibilities called forth by the present world scenario must be taken up with realism and confidence, recognizing that they require profound cultural renewal and a rediscovery of basic values upon which to build a better future.

The current world crisis obliges a reprogramming of the path of development, setting up new rules, and finding new forms of commitment that focus on positive experiences and reject the negative.

Crisis can become an occasion for discernment and new planning: it requires broadening reason so that it is capable of recognizing and orienting the new dynamics deriving from the explosion of plenetary interconnectedness now known as globalization. This in itself must be seen as a great opportunity.

Development today is multifaceted, and the causes of underdevelopment are multiple. But the scandal of painfully obvious development inequalities continues, even as many areas of the planet have become highly evolved.

It must be said that it is not enough to progress economically and technologically: indeed, coming out of economic backwardness, although positive, does not resolve the complex issue of human development.

What then is at the center of true development? It is openness to life. If personal and social sensibility towards the acceptance of new life is lost, then even other forms of acceptance that are useful for life will dry up.

Even the right to religious freedom is linked closely to development. God is the guarantor for true human development. Moreover, development that hinges on the absoluteness of technology and a Promethean vision of man ends up by nullifying development itself and enslaving man.

Human freedom is freedom only when it responds to the fascination of technology with decisions that are the fruit of moral responsibility. And economic development is impossible without human networks, without economic workers and political men who are sincerely aware of the call to the common good and live to carry it out.

In many countries, hunger reaps too many victims. To give food to the hungry is a categorical imperative for the Church. The structural causes of hunger in the world must be eliminated and the agricultural development of poor countries must be promoted.

Then there must be a fraternal consciousness that considers food and water as universal rights for everyone. It is evident that the solution for the global crisis today must include fraternal support for the development of the poorer countries.

The role and the power of states - limited today in the face of the global economic and financial crisis - should be re-evaluated so that states are in a position to face such a challenge.

Even the participation of citizens in political life and the activities of labor unions should also be re-evaluated so as not to forget that the first form of 'capital' to be safeguarded must be man himself, the individual in his entirety.

In this sense, all the sciences, including theology and metaphysics, should interact and work together in the service of man.

Therefore, all this requires a new reflection on the meaning of economics and its ends - in short, a profound and far-sighted revision of development models.

Recognizing the plurivalent meaning of terms like 'entrepreneurship' and 'political authority', and the fact that economics requires an ethic in order to function properly, this profound re-evaluation should lead to the proper appreciation of reciprocal supportiveness, the recovery of gratuitous giving, and the recognition that the market economy must be oriented ultimately towards the common good.

It is necessary to think in terms of new lifestyles that help to safeguard life and the environment. Duties towards the environment are linked to duties towards the person as an individual and in relation to others.

Moreover, it is evident that the development of peoples cannot but depend on the recognition that mankind is one single family that must work together in communion, one in relation to the other and to God.

A particular manifestation of love - and the guiding criterion for the fraternal collaboration of believers and non-believers - is the principle of subsidiarity. [Subsidiarity is an organizing principle, adopted universally from Catholic social teaching, according to which matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority, and that higher authority must intervene only if these smaller authorities are insufficient or incapable.]

It is a principle appropriate for regulating globalization, especially if it is linked to the principle of solidarity (fraternal supportiveness).

In the face of these issues, in order to work for equitable international commerce and for a sharing of energy resources, there is need for a true world authority which regulated by law, which abides consistently with the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, be subordinate to the realization of the common good, and committed to the promotion of authentic and integral human development inspired by the values of love in truth.

This development must include spiritual growth, other than the merely material, because the human person is both things together - body and soul.

So, judging by Rodari's account, Benedict XVI does not reject the market economy, or capitalism - as some quarters have speculated - but considers it seriously flawed in its present form by its dissociation from basic social values and ethics, and from the idea of the common good and integral human development as its true objectives.

P.S. It turns out John Allen blogs on
about Corriere della Sera's own 'preview' today of the encyclical using direct quotations (much of it used by Rodari as indirect quotations. Rodari's account is more cohesive and flowing, while touching all the points that Corriere does.


While I was occupied translating the above, there's a third story out now on the encyclical:

Rushing the encyclical to print
in time for the G8 summit


The G8 summit was originally to be held at the resort town of La Maddalena in Sardinia, but it was decided to hold it in L'Aquila as a gesture of solidarity with the victims of the Holy Week earthquake. Italy has the presidency of the G8 in 2009. Leaders of the world's richest countries will hold their meetings in the same Finance Guard Training School campus where Benedict XVI thanked law and order personnel, health care workers, and volunteers for their rescue and assistance work in behalf of the earthquake victims, and where the funeral Mass was said on Good Friday for those who died in the quake..

ROME, June 27 (Translated from ASCA) - The intention is that the first copies should be ready to put on the desks of the leaders of the developed world who are meeting at L'Aquila for the their biannual summit meeting from July 8-10.

Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Caritas in veritate, is undergoing final touches before it goes to print.

The Pontiff is to sign the document on June 29, feast of Saints Peter and Paul, but it will not be presented until it can be printed in all eight official languages of the Vatican (now including Chinese and Arabic).

Publication dates mentioned are July 4, 6 or 7, on the very eve of the G8 summit which is expected to rewrite the rules of global finance and economy in response to the present worldwide crisis. The Vatican press office itself has not given a publication date out of prudence.

The preparaion of this encyclical on a very complex subject has lasted years. It was originally intended to come out on the 4t0h anniversary of Paul VI's encyclical Populorum progressio in 2007.

Besides the Curial dicastery that has sectoral responsibility on the subject, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (whose prefect, Cardinal Rafaele Martino has reached retirement age and will actually retire as soon as the encyclical is published), the Pope has consulted economists, academics and other experts like the Archbishop of Munich, Mons, Reinhold Marx; the 'third-sector' expert Steffano Zamagni; and banker Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who was been the editorialist for L'Osservatore Romano on economic and financial affairs.

A major factor in the delay, however, was the sudden eruption last year of the current financial and economic crisis which required not just simple 'updating' of the contents but a re-analysis that would take the new situation into account appropriately.

Papa Ratzinger has said that the encyclical is dedicated to 'the vast subject of the economy and labor'.

The financial-economic crisis "which has struck the industrialized nations, nations emerging economically, and developing nations alike", the Pope said, "obviously shows that it is necessary to rethink certain economic-financial paradigms that have become dominant in recent years".

This demsnds, he said, that attention should be focused on "the values and the rules to which the economic world must adhere in order to put in place a new model of development that is more in line with the demands of solidarity and more respectful of human dignity."

In this, he said, it is necessary that the world powers and the major multinational enterprises face up to "the challenge of a sustainable and ethical economy".

00sabato 27 giugno 2009 22.35


VATICAN CITY, 26 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. Monday 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI will preside at a Eucharistic concelebration with the following 34 metropolitan archbishops upon whom he will impose the pallium:

- Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of Algiers, Algeria.

- Archbishop Domingo Diaz Martinez of Tulancingo, Mexico.

- Archbishop Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski, Canada.

- Archbishop Sergio da Rocha, Brazil.

- Archbishop Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Italy.

- Archbishop Salvatore Pappalardo of Siracusa, Italy.

- Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv of the Latins, Ukraine.

- Archbishop Mauricio Grotto de Camargo of Botucatu, Brazil.

- Archbishop Joseph Ake Yapo of Gagnoa, Ivory Coast.

- Archbishop Paul Mandla Khumalo C.M.M. of Pretoria, South Africa.

- Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo.

- Archbishop Manuel Felipe Diaz Sanchez of Calabozo, Venezuela.

- Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador, El Salvador.

- Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B. of Vancouver, Canada.

- Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron of Detroit, U.S.A.

- Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Valencia, Spain.

- Archbishop Gil Antonio Moreira of Juiz de Fora, Brazil.

- Archbishop Victor Sanchez Espinosa of Puebla de los Angeles, Mexico.

- Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico.

- Archbishop Anicetus Bongsu Antonius Sinaga O.F.M. Cap. of Bedan, Indonesia.

- Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale, Ghana.

- Archbishop Ismael Rueda Sierra of Bucaramanga, Colombia.

- Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien, Poland.

- Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of New York, U.S.A.

- Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta O. Cist. of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

- Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, England.

- Archbishop Domenico Umberto D'Ambrosio of Lecce, Italy.

- Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez Plata of Toledo, Spain.

- Archbishop Robert James Carlson of Saint Louis, U.S.A.

- Archbishop Philippe Ouedraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

- Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok, Thailand.

- Archbishop George Joseph Lucas of Omaha, U.S.A.

- Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond of New Orleans, U.S.A.

- Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

This year's list includes an unusual number of 'stellar' names including the 5 US bishops led by the new Archbishop of New York; the Archbishop of Westminster (UK); the Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain; the Archbishops of Florence, Lecce and Syracuse; the Archbishop of Colombo; and 'our' Archbishop Mietek Mokryczki of Lviv of the Ukraine.

00domenica 28 giugno 2009 13.14



Pope's address in French to be translated.

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