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00martedì 20 luglio 2010 11.07



See preceding page for earlier entries on 7/19/10.


British government removes
online petition protesting Pope's visit

By Simon Caldwell

LONDON, July 19 (CNS) -- The British government has removed from its website a petition protesting Pope Benedict XVI's Sept. 16-19 visit to England and Scotland.

The petition had urged the British prime minister to dissociate the government from the Pope's "intolerant views" and not to support the state visit financially. The secularist coalition Protest the Pope sponsored the petition, which had attracted more than 12,300 signatures.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who drafted the petition, said July 16 that the government had removed the petition three months before it was due to close, and that it had not allowed signatures since April.

"This looks like an attempt to prevent the petition from embarrassing the government by gaining a large number of signatures in the run-up to Pope Benedict's visit," Tatchell said in a statement.

"The prime minister's office originally agreed that the petition would remain open until the Pope arrived in the U.K.," he said.

Petitions have been part of the tradition of British democracy since at least the 19th century and until recently were usually delivered in person by the petitioners to either the prime minister's residence on Downing Street or to Parliament.

Under the country's last government, however, petitioners were encouraged to launch online petitions using the government's own website. These have the benefit of allowing signatories to add their names electronically with the guarantee that the government will issue a formal response within a set time frame.

The Protest the Pope petition had criticized Pope Benedict for his alleged "intolerant opposition to women's rights, gay equality, embryonic stem-cell research and condom use to prevent the spread of HIV."

It urged the prime minister to rebuke the Pope for allegedly covering up the clerical sex abuse of children and, according to the petition, his "rehabilitation of the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, and his plan to make a saint of Hitler's pope, Pius XII, who refused to publicly condemn the Holocaust."

In its response, posted on the prime minister's website, the government explained it would fund only the state aspects of the visit, with the Catholic Church meeting the costs of pastoral events.

"There are issues on which we disagree" with the Catholic Church, the statement said. "However, we believe that Pope Benedict's visit will provide an opportunity to strengthen and build on our relationship with the Holy See in areas where we share interests and goals and to discuss those issues on which our positions differ."

The Protest the Pope coalition is planning a march and rally in London to coincide with the Pope's Sept. 18 prayer vigil in London's Hyde Park.

There's a sort of countermove now called Protect the Pope that has launched a website (which has a section that exposes all the anti-Catholic, anti-Pope propaganda that's out there to let the reader know exactly what is being said and done).
I hope it does not go the way of the previously heralded 'Unofficial website for the Pope's visit' which has not added a post since June 17 when it opened! And it seemed like such a good idea...


Here is a statement by the website's creator, Rev Nick Donnelly - a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Lancaster, and an author for the Catholic Truth Society. He holds a BA Divinity in Theology and is studying for his Masters at the Maryvale Institute. He is also on the Editorial Team of The Catholic Voice of Lancaster, the newspaper of the Diocese of Lancaster.

The attempt to destroy
Pope Benedict’s reputation

By Deacon Nick Donnelly
July 19th, 2010

During my researches to create this website I have surfed a number of newspaper, secularist and gay websites to get a sense of the level of hostility out there towards Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church. If you exclude the usual trolls who inhabit the web, many, many people are thinking and saying hateful things about Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church.

Peter Tatchel’s group, Protest the Pope, portrays the Holy Father as an international criminal involved in the deaths of millions due to his upholding the Church’s opposition to condoms, and, among other things, they imply he’s a Nazis sympathiser because of his removal of the canonical penalty of excommunication from Bishop Williamson and his declaration of Pope Pius XII as Venerable.

They are not interested in the fact that the Catholic Church, under the direction of Pope Benedict, provides 45 % of the healthcare worldwide for people suffering from HIV/AIDS, Catholic or non Catholic alike.

They’re not interested in the fact that Pope Benedict condemned in no uncertain terms any clerics’ denial of the Holocaust.

They’re not interested in the growing evidence from Jewish and Catholics groups that the Venerable Pope Pius XII was responsible, with others, for saving hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives during the Holocaust.

(I’ll be examining all the accusations that Protest the Pope make against the Holy Father in the section ‘Benedict XVI’).

In my opinion groups like Protest the Pope use exaggeration, the partisan presentation of half-truths and selective quotations for one purpose – to destroy the reputation of Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church in the minds of their readers.

This is called calumny, and is seen by Jewish and Catholic moralists as being as serious as murder. According to the Talmud and Midrash the act of calumny is a threefold murderer – it ruins those who commit calumny, those who listen to it, and those maligned.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ‘He is guilty of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgements concerning them. (CCC, 2477).

And what is Pope Benedict’s response to these attempts to destroy his reputation in the eyes of the world?

In May 2010 he said during his trip to Fatima:

‘…it is that attacks on the Pope and the Church do not come only from outside, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from sins that exist in the Church. This has always been known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way: the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from enemies outside, but arises from sin in the Church.’

Unlike his detractors he does not seek to demonise them, or even criticise them, he just names them for what they are – enemies of the Church. And Jesus told us how we should behave towards our enemies didn’t he! ‘Forgive is our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’.

This doesn’t mean we should let their calumny go unchallenged, because it harms them, as well as us, and it harms debate and dialogue in a democratic society.

But even more importantly Pope Benedict tells us that the greatest threat to the Church is from sin by members of the Church.

The purpose of Protect the Pope is to expose the level and sources of anti-Catholicism and religious hate in our country, but also to honestly and frankly face up to the greater potential threat to the Church – ourselves!

From the site's Statement of Purpose:

When I talk to other Catholics about the Holy Father’s visit in September, most express concern about his safety. The unprecedented level of hostility, ridicule and ill-will from certain public figures and sections of the press has got some Catholics genuinely worried that Pope Benedict is going to be embarrassed or even hurt.

After centuries of institutionalised anti-Catholicism one thing Catholics in this country are sensitive about is religious hate, and there are plenty of signs that this is rearing its ugly head again.

Protection by the Law

One of the purposes of this website is to provide Catholics with information about the law concerning incitement of religious hatred. The more of us that know about the protection the Law offers our Faith the better.

This site will also provide the addresses of local police forces so Catholics can report actions that offend and distress and may constitute incitement of religious hatred.

Its important to know that we no longer have to suffer this type of abuse in silence as we did in the past but can now call on the Law to protect us as religious believers.

Protection by the Truth

There is also a lot of misinformation and lies being peddled by sensationalist sections of the press and, lets be frank here, by enemies of the Church. Yes, we still have enemies, they didn’t go away after the Second Vatican Council.

The Holy Father has his own security team and the police to protect him during his visit. Our concern on this website is to protect the Holy Father’s reputation and the truth of the Catholic Church.

Therefore, this website will endeavour to challenge the lies with the simple truth, especially about the person and actions of Pope Benedict XVI.

Protection through Prayer

Finally, its important that all Catholics pray for the safety of the Holy Father, for the pastoral and spiritual success of his visit, and for the good of the Church in this country. To this end a selection of prayers has been provided for people to print and use over the next couple of months.

In its resources page, the site calls our attention to a book of prayers prepared for the Pope's visit by the Catholic Truth Society, a British publishing house that has now partnered with Ignatius Insight in the USA, and that also has two other books so far in preparation for the Pope's visit.


The Pope in Britain
Preparing for the visit with Prayers & Devotions

This booklet offers individuals, families, groups and parishes a selection of prayers, devotions and reflections to prepare for the visit both at personal level, as well as to pray for the Church, and the Pope himself, his intentions, and for the success of his visit.

The booklet includes:
• Prayer of preparation for the Pope's visit to Britain
• Prayers for the Pope and for his intentions
• The Angelus
• The Holy Rosary
• Novena for the visit of the Holy Father
• A visit to the Blessed Sacrament
• Holy Hour - Meditations and reflections
• Who the Pope is and what he does

Pope of Surprises
The first five years of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy

Scott, Helena / Tolansky, Ethel

A new review of the first five years of the papacy of Pope Benedict.
In the five years since his election, he has travelled widely, spoken to millions and written in depth on a vast range of subjects: His aim, to make God truly known and loved. Despite gloomy predictions at the start by detractors, Benedict has surprised everyone, accomplishing far more than was expected, in his own way.

And a book we have posted on a couple of times in the BENADDICTIONS thread... It's the loving work of two of our Forum friends:

Friendship with Jesus
Pope Benedict XVI Speaks to Children on their First Holy Communion

Ann Kissane Engelhart (illustr.); Amy Welborn (ed.)

In this beautifully illustrated book, Amy Welborn, well-known author and blogger, introduces Pope Benedict’s deep yet simple answers to questions put to him by children in Rome who had recently made their First Holy Communion. An ideal gift for children making their First Communion.

Other CTS products for the papal visit may be seen on

00martedì 20 luglio 2010 12.28

The self-cleansing goes on in the Church... Another case dating back decades.

Pope 'defrocks' Ohio priest
July 19, 2010

The Diocese of Youngstown issued a statement Monday alerting the public that they have been notified by the Vatican that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the request of Thomas Crum and removed him from the priesthood.

Crum was removed from active priesthood in 2009 in response to credible accusations of sexual misconduct involving a minor. After these accusations were made public, Crum sought removal from the priesthood.

The diocese said that removal from the priesthood means that in accord with canon law, he may not function as a priest anywhere, with the exception of offering absolution to the dying.

Crum was placed on leave in June 2009 after being accused of sexual misconduct with a student when he taught at Cardinal Mooney in the mid-1970s.

00martedì 20 luglio 2010 13.52

Tuesday, July 20, 15th Week in Ordinary Time
From left, the mosaic work in the apse of Sant'Apollinare in Classe; detail showing the saint; a Byzantine icon; a 16th century painting showing St. Apollinaris (left)
and St. Anthony Abbot with the Madonna.

ST. APOLLINARIS OF RAVENNA (first century AD), Bishop and Martyr
Tradition has it that he was a native of Antioch sent to Ravenna as bishop by St. Peter himself. Four times during his long service
(26 years), he was expelled from the city during various waves of anti-Christian persecution, returning each time except the last,
when he was captured by the Roman authorities and put to death. In Ravenna, there are two 6th-century basilicas named for him -
the first one, Sant'Apollinare in Classe built on the site of his martyrdom, the other one Sant'Apollinare Nuovo which housed his
relics for a few centuries to better preserve them from pirate desecration (Classe is near the sea). Both basilicas house some of
the best-preserved and finest works of Byzantine mosaic from late antiquity.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR for 7/19-7/20:
Illustration: The prophet Elijah, icon by a 20th-century Bulgarian artist.
At the Sunday Angelus, Benedict XVI says vacation can be used to listen to God:
'The Word of God remains after everything is taken away'
Other Page 1 stories: The prophet Elijah, whose liturgical feast is also observed today, in the Byzantine tradition;
the latest drug-gang violence in Mexico results in 17 youths killed; continuing floods in central China since May raise
alarm for the Three Gorges Dam built over the Yangtze River four years ago. In the inside pages, an article on the
newly-emerged 7th-century fresco in Rome's basilica of Santa Sabina, and of the 400th centenary celebration of the
Archdiocese of Arequipa, in Peru, to which Pope Benedict XVI sent Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re as his personal

00martedì 20 luglio 2010 15.48

The Archdiocese of Barcelona unveiled on its website today its major promotional materials for the Holy Father's visit on November 7 to consecrate Antonio Gaudi's architectural masterwork, the Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia - destined to be the most stylistically significant major cathedral since the Middle Ages.

The materials are in Catalan, the language of Catalonia (of which Barcelona is the capital), as well as in Spanish, and consist of the poster, a catechesis on the visit, and a prayer card/book marker.


As I have not gotten round to translating the interview with Barcelona's Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach about the Pope's visit, here meanwhile is an interview that ZENIT had that has to do with the visit to Barcelona.

Preparing Gaudi's church for the Pope:
Interview with the chairman of
the Sagrada Familia Foundation

By Patricia Navas

BARCELONA, Spain, JULY 20, 2010 ( Benedict XVI's visit to the Church of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is a message to the world of the transcendent meaning of Antoni Gaudi's famed church, says Joan Rigol of the Sagrada Familia Foundation.

The Pontiff will visit Santiago de Compostela on Nov. 6 for the Jacobeo Holy Year, and go to Barcelona the next day to consecrate the religious monument that has been declared patrimony of humanity.

Construction on the church began in 1882, and it is expected to be completed by 2026. A portion of the building's interior, however, is set to be opened this year.

In this interview with ZENIT, Rigol explains the details of the preparation for the papal visit, as well as the construction of a train tunnel near the church that could threaten the structure.

What is the significance of Benedict XVI's visit to the church?
For us this signifies an ecclesial dimension at its highest representation, which is the Pope, and above all, it indicates the universal projection of the Sagrada Familia cathedral in the Christian realm.

The message of Sagrada Familia, through architecture and culture, is a transcendent message: a call to universal fraternity.

This central message of Christianity -- treating all persons as brothers and sisters -- should at the same time be projected to persons that do not have this sense of faith, but who also feel solidaristic in universal fraternity.

The Pope's coming confirms this message at the world level from the cultural and artistic point of view, especially the call to universal fraternity.

How are you preparing for this event?
First, we are now completing the interior of the church, which follows the guidelines and definition that Gaudi made of the interior; he left a very precise model of how he saw the interior.

Probably at the end of July everything will be ready to await the coming of the Pope on Nov. 7, from the material point of view.

In addition, we are appealing to Christians to receive the Pope. The archbishop of the diocese and the commission he has created are in charge of this aspect.

Because the coming of the Pope is not centered solely and exclusively on the Sagrada Familia consecration, but it is also for Christians who live in Barcelona, in Catalonia and in Spain.

A trip of this kind has its organizational complexities and all of us are working intensely on this.

Do you know what authorities will be present at the ceremony of the blessing of the church?
The official information will come at the appointed time, which I estimate will be in September.

The monarchs of Spain have already announced their intention to be at the Sagrada Familia Church, and we know it is the desire of the government of Spain and of the authorities of Catalonia. But we cannot now specify the exact names of the personalities who will attend.

How many people do you expect that day at Sagrada Familia and its surroundings?
I am not able to give these figures yet. However, inside the church there is room for between 7,500 and 8,500 people, depending on the degree of security that we give at the entrances and exits, which must be the highest.

Around the church there will be a device so that people will be able to follow the ceremony from the surroundings of the building.

We don't know how many people can come, but we are preparing for many.
We are organizing it so that those who wish to follow the ceremony up close can be placed in the best possible position.

There is a building very close to the church's main facade, but there are also two very large squares and an intersection of important avenues, so that there is considerable space for people.

At what stage is the work itself on the Church?
There will be many details to be attended to in the interior, because construction work generates dust. In this connection, we have reserved August to do some things, such as getting the organ ready, which must be done at a time when nothing is being built inside because silence is needed.

Once the interior is finished and the church is open for its specific functions, the completion of the entire church complex will continue according to Gaudi's plan, and this could take between 15 to 20 years.

Yet to be built are the towers of the evangelists, the main tower, which will be 172 meters (564 feet) high, and the four buildings of the nave, one on each side, where the sacristies and chapels of the Most Blessed Sacrament will be located. This is a project for the future generation.

Between the towers of the four evangelists and of Jesus Christ will be the tower of the Virgin, which will be higher than that of the evangelists but lower than that of Jesus Christ. The towers of the evangelists are already being built.

In what way is the construction of a tunnel near the church, through which a high-speed train [AVE, for Alta-Velocidad Espanola, the Spanish acronym for Spain's high-velocity train service] will pass, affecting or might affect the structure?
We have technical studies by very qualified people that state that the AVE project entails risks, mainly in two great areas.

First, the basement of the Holy Family is a geologically complicated terrain, and a transformation of the terrain could be generated that in the long run might mean a very significant displacement of the cathedral, which has great litheness and height.

Second, the vibrations from the trains could add to this risk.

Given these risks, we will try to speak with Spanish government authorities, after we all agree on the risks.

00martedì 20 luglio 2010 16.15
NB: A July 19 article in the English service of ZENIT about Castel Gandolfo is their much-delayed translation of the story based on an interview with the Pontifical Villas director by Vatican Radio last July 8 which appeared in L'Osservatore Romano on July 9, and which I translated and posted that day on page 117 of this thread.

The 'news' I do not post:

Also: There are some minor or peripheral stories that I do not necessarily post right away - if ever - preferring to wait until they turn out to to mean anything at all or I can safely continue to ignore them. My personal criterion is this: Does the story add anything appreciable to the cultural, historical and social context of Benedict XVI's Papacy? [Others are free, of course, to post what they want when they want to.]

So I have not reported on the temporary glitch in which a search engine directed searches for the Vatican to a pedophilia site - which it turns out was empty. Or that Christopher Hitchens has revealed he has esophageal cancer. Or the miscellaneous sniping from the far-out liberal nuns (nuts) in the United States (I prefer to wait for the visitation report).

And obviously, not the totally predictable liberal outrage against the proscription of women ordination now codified into canon law - with the priestette advocates all feigning this was anything new at all!

I intend to remain journalistically impervious to routine same-old-same-old dissent on the same-old-same-old liberal causes. One can acknowledge they take place but not waste time on their dreadful counter-Magisterium polemic.

Then, there was Mons. Fellay speculating the Pope must say the traditional Mass in private once in a while. Something that apparently Fr. Lombardi thought fit to deny. Why on earth he had to make a denial, I do not understand. He could simply have said, "I do not know".

(Personally, I like to think the Pope could have said it in his private chapel at least once - maybe even every Sunday - if only for the benefit of his Memores Domini housekeepers who probably never experienced the traditional Mass before. GG, who taught for years at an Opus Dei university, would not be an unlikely acolyte.]

The third anniversary of the implementation of Summorum Pontificum will come September 14, two days before the Holy Father leaves for Britain. Will he finally say it in public then? I had been hoping he might do it in Carpineto on Sept. 5, because the setting is smaller than any of his other pastoral trips, and it was Leo XIII's Mass, after all. But so was it Celestine V's Mass, and he did not do it in Sulmona.

But nothing could be more emblematic that the traditional Mass has regained full rights within the Church than for the Holy Father to say it in St. Peter's for a worldwide audience. I hope he decides the time has come to do so.

00martedì 20 luglio 2010 17.29

Americans send 'spiritual bouquet'
to Pope Benedict XVI

The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) announced today, July 20, that its spiritual bouquet compiled during an Eastertide Prayer Campaign for Pope Benedict XVI has been delivered to the Vatican. The bouquet offered more than one million prayers for the Pope, including 24,000 Masses offered by Catholic priests.


CNS recently received word from the Apostolic Nuncio’s office in Washington, D.C., that the spiritual bouquet has been delivered to the Vatican, including the following prayers from CNS members and Catholics across the United States:

24,714 Masses Offered by Priests
264,179 Holy Rosaries
439,413 General Prayers
137,363 Divine Mercy Chaplets
108,716 Mass Intentions
19,713 Novenas
31,847 Days of Fasting
44,357 Eucharistic Holy Hours

“We are ecstatic that so many thousands of our members and other Catholics were motivated to rally around the Holy Father with prayers of loving support,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of CNS. “It is our firm conviction that encouraging loyalty and devotion to the Pope is a sure path to strengthening Catholic identity in Catholic higher education and throughout the Church.”

On Palm Sunday, at the height of the media attacks on the Pope this year, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York urged prayers for Pope Benedict from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Inspired by Archbishop Dolan’s call, The Cardinal Newman Society sponsored the Eastertide Prayer Campaign for the Pope.

Beginning Wednesday in Holy Week, CNS urged its more than 20,000 members and Catholics across the United States to pledge prayers for Pope Benedict.

On April 16, the 83rd birthday of the Holy Father, CNS announced that the spiritual bouquet had surpassed the 1 million mark of pledged prayers. Prayers continued to flow in from faithful Catholics on April 19, the 5th anniversary of the Pope’s election.

After the Prayer Campaign concluded on Pentecost Sunday, at least 1,070,302 prayers had been pledged.

CNS asked Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Pope Benedict XVI’s representative to America, to forward the spiritual bouquet to the Holy Father in Rome. A copy of the spiritual bouquet was also sent to Archbishop Dolan to inform him of the spiritual fruit generated by his call for prayers.

A number of other organizations and bloggers have encouraged prayers for Pope Benedict, including the Knights of Columbus, EWTN, Institute of Christ the King, and Fr. John Zuhlsdorf at the What Does the Prayer Really Say blog.

The Cardinal Newman Society is grateful to all those who have participated in the prayer campaign, as well as those who have assisted in gathering the prayers, especially Creative Minority Report and American Papist.

The Society, based in Manassas, Virginia, was founded in 1993 to help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.

00martedì 20 luglio 2010 19.44

Thanks to Lella
for leading me to this story.

It seems quite appropriate that the feast day of St. Apollinaris, first Bishop of Ravenna, is also the birthday of the only living emeritus Bishop of Ravenna, Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, who turned 96 today - the oldest member of the current College of Cardinals.

The world's oldest
living cardinal turns 96:
'Benedict XVI is a great man and a saint'

Translated from
July 20, 2010

Left photo: Shortly after the 2005 Conclave, Cardinal Tonini was photographed giving Benedict XVI a very affectionate greeting. Center and left, the cardinal at the Ravenna residence where he lives, yesterday (center) and today (right).

RAVENNA, July 20 - At the Opera di Santa Teresa (Work of St. Teresa) where he lives, they are busy looking for him. Cardinal Ersilio Tonini marks his 96th birthday today, and he is tireless as ever, as if he did not feel the weight of his years nor the oppressive heat gripping the city.

He had just finished a TV interview - the first today of many that have come to mark his birthdays in recent years - but he was not in his study, nowhere near a telephone, and not even in the garden.

It turns out he was presiding at a board meeting of the Fondazione Pro Africa, one of his pet projects, which has just built a hospital in Burundi.

After the death of the German Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer earlier this year at age 99, Tonini is now the world's oldest cardinal - so even international TV crews are on hand for him.

Yesterday, speaking to us, he said, "For me, the years do not count. Life is beautiful at age 10 as it is at age 100 if one thinks of it as a step towards our destiny, not as a burden to carry. What counts is to do what one has to do the best way you can, giving of yourself daily".

You have been giving out precious teachings as a parish priest, as a professor and as a cardinal. What most influenced your formation?
My parents who were extraordinary persons; my elementary school teachers; in fact, all the teachers I have had, and the bishops who guided me along the way. I was lucky to have had persons who helped me understand early enough what is useful for life, what we must not allow to escape before it is too late.

Such as?
The biggest mistake one can make is to waste time - then to realize eventually that you could have enriched your life but now it is too late. I am not speaking of material things, obviously, but of spiritual gifts, those by which one can help improve even a little part of the world.

You became Archbishop of Ravenna in 1975. For the people of Ravenna, you have been 'the cardinal' par excellence. Do you feel their affection?
Oh yes, they surround me every day with affection. Ravenna is my family now. Papa Montini sent me here with great trust and tenderness. And the city has rewarded me with its love.

The Church has been caught up in a storm of 'scandal'. How do you think she has reacted?
She is moving ahead with courage and doing what she has to do. Those who sinned will be appropriately called to account, without a doubt. But personally, I have always found in the ecclesial world, where I grew up, great respect for the weakest. I can only have great praise to the teachers that I had. If only it were like that everywhere! Nonetheless, I am not ashamed to be part of this world.

And how do you think Papa Ratzinger has been dealing with it?
He is one of the most learned men in the world, one of the best prepared, even if he almost dissimulates his immense competencies. It is a great virtue. I first met him in Rome when I gave the Lenten exercises for bishops and cardinals, and he was a bishop. I am very proud of his commitment. He is a great man, like John Paul II was. He is attentive, reserved, with a very quick and acute intelligence - he is a saint who has always given his neighbor primacy.

On your birthday, Mass will be celebrated in the crypt of the Santa Teresa residence. What is your dearest birthday wish?
I will continue to do my best for my neighbor even in the future. Especially, I would like to continue helping young people: I want them to understand the joy of life, to respect themselves and to look to the future with confidence.

[Somewhere in the PRF, I translated and posted a beautiful story Cardinal Tonini told, about how his father died in a car accident just outside the Church where he had come to attend Mass celebrated by his son.]

00martedì 20 luglio 2010 20.05

The papal visit site has now started providing transcripts of its weekly audio tapes in preparation for the visit. This contribution by a diocesan coordinator gives us a better sense of how the parishes are preparing to take part in the visit.

How the parishes are coordinating
to take part in the Pope's visit

by Fr. Michael McAndrew
July 19. 2010

My name is Michael McAndrew and I'm a priest of the Diocese of Clifton. Our diocese covers the four counties of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Bristol and I'm Clifton's Papal Visit Co-ordinator.

It's two weeks since we received news of how our parish communities will be able to participate in the historic visit of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

There's great excitement amongst our people because the number of Pilgrim Passes we've been allocated for the papal events has exceeded our expectations. We've been allocated 1,700 pilgrim passes for the Beatification Mass at Cofton Park in Birmingham on 19 September and more than 2,300 for the prayer vigil on 18 September at London's Hyde Park.

That means, along with the education event and the youth day, more than 4,000 people from our diocese will be able to see and hear the Pope.

I have been in contact with all the parish priests of our diocese and there's growing excitement about the visit. In the past two weeks, all 1,700 pilgrim passes have been accepted by parishes for the beatification in Birmingham and a third of our priests have said they'd like to be considered to concelebrate at that Mass.

Thirty-five Pilgrim Leaders have offered themselves to lead each pilgrim group - that's a really positive response.

Beatification of Cardinal Newman

I think there's a growing awareness that the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman is a unique event that people really want to be a part of. It's the first beatification that's ever happened in England.

It's also the case that Pope Benedict doesn't usually preside at beatifications - but he's making an exception for us. He's doing that because of his great, personal love and interest in John Henry Newman and also his appreciation of his writings and the huge influence that this great Englishman has had on the whole worldwide Church.

I think what is really capturing the imagination is that the Pope comes among us as a pilgrim. We are invited to take part in this event in the same spirit - we travel as pilgrims. Everyone who is going to take part in the public events is traveling, not as an individual, but as part of a pilgrim group. That reminds us that our journey of faith is lived in the communion of the Church.

The Mass of Beatification reminds us of two things:
- Firstly, it's led by the Pope - that reminds us we belong to the Universal Church of which he is the leader.

- Secondly, we will be honouring Cardinal Newman and that reminds us that the Church isn't just the Church on Earth, it's the Church that stretches into eternal life - into heaven. He is part of the Church and we are part of him.

Hyde Park Vigil

On the Saturday evening, 18 September, we have the prayer vigil in Hyde Park - our diocese has 2,300 passes for that. Most parishes have selected their pilgrim leaders for that event or are in the process of gathering groups together. Again there's great excitement and it promises to be, for us, a moment of profound Christian witness.

The event begins with a procession of 3,000 people - led by young people - but also people from all the parishes and organisations. Banners will be carried through central London offering a visible witness of the Catholic communities in our country.

During the afternoon there will be various liturgies and presentations. These aim to show the Catholic contribution to the common good of our society - all that the Catholic Church contributes towards the wellbeing of society both in the UK and throughout the world.

The Pope will be present in the early evening and is expected to preach and lead us in prayer. Pope Benedict has a great gift for breaking open the Word of God and teaching the Gospel in a very simple and profound way. That's something people are looking forward to very much.

This prayer vigil will have two aspects that we will be able to see and hear. We will see, in the procession and in the gathering of all those people, the visible expresion of the diversity and vibrancy of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. We will also be able to hear the Word of God preached by our Holy Father Pope Benedict.

Pope Benedict is not coming to the Diocese of Clifton but it seems to me Clifton will go to see him and hear him and we are preparing very enthusiastically to welcome Pope Benedict to our land.

00mercoledì 21 luglio 2010 16.23

Wednesday, July 21, 16th Week in Ordinary Time
Center photo: A painting of the Christian-Ottoman battle of Szekesfehervar led by the saint.
ST. LORENZO DA BRINDISI (b Italy 1559, d Lisbon 1619)
Capuchin, Biblical Scholar, Imperial Chaplain, Superior General of the Capuchins, Diplomat, Doctor of the Church
Born Giulio Cesare Russo in Brindisi to a family of Venetian merchants, he took the name Lorenzo upon joining the Capuchins at age 16. Educated in Venice and Padua, he was a remarkable linguist whose mastery of Latin. Greek and Hebrew helped him to become an outstanding Biblical scholar. Assigned to Rome in 1596, Pope Clement VII asked him preach to the Jews and impressed the rabbis so much they thought he was a Jew who had turned Christian. Starting in 1599, he set up Capuchin monasteries in Germany and Austria, bringing back many Protestants to the Catholic faith. In 1601, as imperial chaplain for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, he led an army during a battle to take back a key Hungarian city from the Ottoman Turks. He was elected superior general of the Capuchins in 1601 and instituted major reforms, but refused re-election 3 years later. He served as Nuncio to Bavaria and to Spain, retired to a monastery in 1618, then was recalled for a special mission to the King of Spain and died in Lisbon after completing his mission. In 1956, the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of his writings - 11 of the volumes contained his sermons, each based on a scriptural quotation to illustrate his teaching. He was beatified in 1783, canonized in 1881, and declared a Doctor of the Church by John XXIII in 1959.
Readings for today's Mass:

The only papal story in today's OR is about a new children's book in Italian based on Benedict XVI's catecheses on the Apostles and St. Paul. Page 1 stories: Donors' conference on Afghanistan approves plan for eventual transfer of security responsibility from NATO to local forces; new UK Prime Minister David Cameron holds first meeting with President Obama with a focus on the BP oil disaster off the US Gulf Coast and BP's possible involvement in Scotland's decision to free the Libyan terrorist convicted of bringing down a passenger jet over Lockerbie; more civilian dead in the Somali capital of Mogadishu from continuing civil war; and Pope Paul VI's personal collection of contemporary art in the Paul VI Center in his birthplace in Concesio.

Pope creates
new diocese for Malawi


Rome, Italy, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI officially erected a new diocese in the African nation of Malawi today. According to the bishop who has overseen the area until now, the announcement represents a "moment of grace."

The Diocese of Karonga, in northern Malawi, was created from a third of the land previously contained within borders of the Diocese of Mzuzu. It separates 61,000 people in five parishes from what was the Diocese of Mzuzu's Catholic population of 400,000.

Along with the announcement of the new diocese came the appointment of its bishop. Fr. Martin Anwel Mtumbuka, who will soon be ordained to lead the faithful of the diocese.

Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza, who currently heads the Diocese of Mzuzu, told CNA on Wednesday that creation of the new diocese and the appointment of the bishop-elect "means quite a lot" to the area.

He explained that the addition was "necessary, because it is quite taxing to travel to some places from headquarters." The bishop described difficult travel on poor roads in all-terrain vehicles to parishes as far as 250 miles (400 kilometers) away.

This announcement, he said, "is a moment of grace," adding that "the care of the parishioners will be easier because the bishops will not have to move as far.

"We will be more available," he said in the phone interview.

Details of the new diocese will take some time to come into place, Bishop Zuza explained, but things should be ironed out within the next two to four months, depending on when Church leaders, such as the Apostolic Nuncio to Malawi and the new bishop, can meet to discuss the details. At that point, he added, they will also decide which priests will serve in the new diocese and set a date for the ordination of the bishop-elect.

Bishop-elect Mtumbuka has been the serving as the Vice Chancellor for academics at the Catholic University of Malawi.

00mercoledì 21 luglio 2010 16.33

Are recent bishop nominations
a sign of improving relations
between the Vatican and China?

by Alberto Bobbio
Translated from

One might say that this time, the Dragon is being nice to the Pope. Beijing has been improving its relations with the Holy See with a series of signals that indicate an absolutely new direction.

It has to do with the nomination of bishops, one of the shoals that seemed impossible to circumvent in the relations between the largest nation on earth and the smallest.

Within the past few months, five bishops have been ordained through papal nomination acknowledged by the Chinese authorities. The last ordination took place on July 19, and it was reported by Vatican Radio.

Since Septmber 2007, no bishops' ordinations had taken place in China although many dioceses have been without a bishop for some time. During that time, conversations have been going on in secret, on several levels, high and low, between China and the Holy See.

It was in 2007 that Benedict XVI wrote a pastoral letter to the Catholics of China in which he made some pastoral suggestions that the Chinese authorities could have read as a diplomatic opening, since Beijing is not really interested in directly ecclesial issues.

The recent 'joint' nominations can therefore be seen as a success for the Vatican's patience and farsightedness. All the new bishops are young. The most recently ordained was John Baptist Yang Xiaoting, 46, who studied at the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome and in the United States.

He was ordained in the church of Xiaoqiaopan 130 kms from Yulin (peviously known as Yunan, currently spelled Yan'an) - one of the historical sites of Chinese Communism because here Mao Zedong's Long March ended in the 1940s.

All the bishops who consecrated Yang were in full communion with Rome. The 'patriotic' (or official) bishops present did not participate. It was yet another sign of the new situation.

Where this will lead is not yet clear. But it cannot be ruled out that the Vatican and China could arrive at an agreement on the nomination of bishops, a sort of concordat that could be the prelude to more extensive discussion on other pending issues - above all, the liberation of all 'underground' bishops and priests held in prison, the resumption of diplomatic relations broken in the mid-1950s, and even perhaps, a trip to China by Benedict XVI.

AsiaNews had more information about Bishop Yang's ordination, but its correspondent apparently did not take into account what Bobbio underscores in his analysis above:

The new bishop of Yulin
by Zhen Yuan

Left, Mons. Yang's commemorative ordination card; right, Mons. Joseph Li Shan, archbishop of Beijinhg after his consecration in September 2007.

Yan’an, China, July 15 (AsiaNews) – Mgr John Baptist Yang Xiaoting, 46, coadjutor bishop of Yulin (Yan’an, Shaanxi region), is among the first new bishops to have a doctorate in theology. What is more, he earned it from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.

Mgr Yang’s ordination was approved by the Holy See and recognised by the Chinese government. The investiture ceremony was held yesterday in the courtyard of Xiaoqiaopan Catholic Church in Jingbian County, 130 kilometres from Yan’an, and drew more than 6,000 Catholics, 110 priests and 80 nuns.

All nine bishops present were also Vatican-approved and Chinese government-recognised. Bishop Aloysius Yu Runchen of Hanzhong was the consecrator. Bishop Dang Mingyan of Xi’an and Bishop Han Yingjin of Sanyuan acted as his co-consecrators.

The ordinary of Yulin (Yan’an) Bishop Tong Hui, 76, who has been paralysed since March 2009, concelebrated the ordination Mass for a short while before leaving because of poor health.

Bishops Tong Changping of Weinan, Han Jide of Pingliang, Li Jing of Ningxia, Zong Huaide of Sanyuan and Huo Cheng of Fenyang were the other bishops who concelebrated.

The new bishop, who is vice-deputy rector of the Xi’an Seminary, told AsiaNews that he wants to focus on unity and on educating to the faith priests and believers, most of whom come from rural areas in northern Shaanxi.

Mgr Yang, who is originally from Zhouzhi Diocese, has already been working in his new diocese for the past few weeks. Last month he visited 70 per cent of the 40 parishes, gathering ideas to develop the diocese.

“Church life in the countryside is quite different,” Bishop Yang noted. “Local Catholics are scattered and mostly reside in the mountains. Priests usually go to their villages to administer sacraments,” he said. “Only about 10 per cent are churchgoers,” he noted.

Yulin diocese is home to some 60,000 Catholics served by 21 priests and 29 sisters.

Mgr Yang is famous because he was the first Chinese priest ordained after seminaries were re-opened in the 1980s to earn a doctoral degree. He studied abroad for a decade, getting a doctorate in 1999.

Born in a Catholic family in Zhouzhi County in 1964, Yang studied at the Zhouzhi seminary in 1984-1989. He was ordained a priest in 1991 when he was studying in Shaanxi universities.

In 1993-1999, he studied and earned a licentiate and a doctorate in theology from Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.

In 2002, he graduated with a master’s degree in religion-sociology and became a doctoral candidate at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC.

After that, he returned to Zhouzhi diocese to serve in a parish where he founded a centre for training and research. He is now vice-rector and dean of studies of Shaanxi seminary in Xi’an.

“I will continue to teach at the seminary, but will focus more on my diocesan matters,” he said.

Catholicism was introduced into Yan’an by Spanish Franciscans in 1911. In 1924, the first apostolic vicariate of Yan’an was erected and elevated to a diocese in 1946.

The Yan’an diocese was renamed Yulin diocese 17 years ago.

Yan’an has an important place in the history of Chinese Communism. It is here that Mao ended his ‘Long March’. Until the victory of the revolution, the city was a hotbed of revolutionary activities.

In 1982, it was classified as a historical and cultural city. The city’s Qiao’ergou Church, once used for meetings of Communist leaders, was listed as an historic monument.

Former bishops of Yulin (Yan’an) include Franciscan Caelestinaus Aparicio Ibanez (1924-1949), Li Xuande (1951-1972) and Wang Zhenye (1991-1999).

00mercoledì 21 luglio 2010 16.37

A children's book based on
Pope's catecheses on the Apostles


Rome, Italy, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News).- A new children's book has been published under Pope Benedict XVI's name. It presents a collection of the Holy Father's descriptions of Jesus' relationship with his "first companions," taken from his catecheses at general audiences over the past five years.

The illustrated book titled "Gli Amici di Gesu" (The Friends of Jesus) was recently released by the Milanese publishing house "Piccola Casa Editrice" in Italian. Painted illustrations by artist Franco Vignazia accompany the stories of Jesus and 14 of his "friends."

The characters in the book include each of the original 12 apostles, including Judas Iscariot; Matthias, who replaced Judas after the betrayal, and St. Paul.

The 48-page volume produced for the youngest of readers is a "route that takes the reader to the origins of the Church, through the events of the first people who found Jesus and became his friends," according to the publishing house.

Fr. Julian Carron, president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, says in the preface of book that, through the stories, "The Pope takes us by the hand and accompanies us to discover who were the first companions of Christ, how they found him and how they were conquered by him until they decided that they would never abandon him again."

Lorenzo Murnigotti, editorial coordinator of the Piccola Casa Editrice publishing house, told CNA that it reproduces Pope Benedict's perspective of the most significant moments between them and the Teacher, dedicating each of them three to four pages.

The publisher, he explained, came up with the idea to compile the Pope's descriptions for a young audience after they noticed that references to the apostles during his traditional Wednesday catecheses were also directed to children.

Through an agreement with the Vatican's publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, they were able to produce the book using the Pope's name as author on the cover.

Mr. Murnigotti hoped that English and Spanish versions would be published within the next year and added that, if given the opportunity, they will continue to print works by the Pope "very willingly".

Here is Carron's introduction to the book which appears in today's issue of the OR.

The Pope speaks
about the apostles

Translated from
the 7/21/10 issue of


The roads of Galilee constitute the background for the events described in the book Gli amici di Gesù (San Giuliano Milanese, Piccola casa editrice, 2010, 48 pp, euro 12), which outs together passages from the Wednesday catecheses given by Benedict XVI on the Apostles and St. Paul.

The book, intended for children and early teens, is illustrated by Franco Vignazia. Here is the Introduction written for the book by Julian Carron, president of Comunione e Liberazione.

A meeting that is life-changing:
Jesus tells his disciples
'Come and see'

by Julián Carrón

One day, 2000 years ago, a small group of men met, at different times, a young man walking the roads of Galilee in the Middle East. Each of them had their own work and family, but it was a moment that changed their whole life.

Their names were Andrew and Simon, John and James, Matthew, Thomas... There came to be twelve of them whom we know today as the Apostles. But one of them would later betray the master and Matthias would be chosen to take his place.

At that time, everyone in Galilee and in Jerusalem came to know these men who were the friends of Jesus of Nazareth. They saw them walk from village to village, always following their Master.

To them would be added Paul. His meeting with Jesus took place in a very strange way. While he was travelling to the city of Damascus, he heard the voice of Jesus asking him, "Why do you persecute me?"

He was so struck by the event [and the apparition of the Risen Christ] that he fell from his horse. But from that moment on, his life changed totally - from being a persecutor of Christians, he became the greatest witness to Jesus in his time. He travelled a lot to tell everyone what had happened to him and to preach the message of Christ.

Benedict XVI is the successor of Peter, whom Jesus had entrusted with the task of leading the Church as its first Pope. This illustrated book puts together some stories from his Wednesday catecheses in Rome for pilgrims, at the so-called general audiences - these are from the lessons that he devoted to the twelve Apostles and St. Paul.

The Pope takes us by the hand and accompanies us in discovering who were these first companions of Christ, how they met him and how they were conquered by him to the point that they decided never to abandon him.

The Pope takes us 2,000 years back and makes us witness what Jesus said and did with these friends. We find ourselves on the bank of the Jordan river when John the Baptist baptized Jesus, after which Andrew and John asked Jesus where he lived, and he said to them, "Come and see".

And we are there on a spring morning, on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, when Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?", and we hear him answer, "Lord you know everything. You know I love you".

Benedict XVI, speaking of John, the youngest disciple called the Beloved, says, "May the Lord place us in the school of John so we may feel loved by Christ to the very end and be ready to give our life for him".

The opneing line of the OR editor's introduction above to Mr. Carron's piece immediately put me in mind of the beautiful illustration below, in the book edited by Amy Welborn and illustrated by Ann Kissane-Engelhart, presenting he Holy Father's totally engaging and repeatedly readable Q&A with First Communion children in Rome back in October 2006:


00mercoledì 21 luglio 2010 17.19

Foreign Policy magazine, which is published by the same corporation that publishes the Washington Post and Newsweek, has this surprisingly objective account about Pope Benedict even if it makes some questionable premises about the prospects for re-evangelizing Europe.


Benedict's Crusade:
Can the Pope bring God back to Europe?

July 20, 2010

The Vatican's recently-founded Pontifical Council for New Evangelization seems at first glance to be a somewhat redundant enterprise. Isn't the Catholic Church already pretty good at spreading the faith? Not in its own backyard, it turns out.

According to the Vatican's statistics, the number of Catholics worldwide in the past ten years has increased at a healthy 11 percent clip, faster than the global population as a whole. But that's largely been driven by a 33 percent increase in the Catholic population in Africa.

Meanwhile, in traditionally Catholic countries like France and Germany, church attendance has dropped below 20 percent. In the cathedrals of Paris, tourists now regularly outnumber churchgoers.
And in Ireland, where just 30 years ago 91 percent of the population went to mass regularly, local dioceses are suddenly bereft of laity and leadership: church pews are empty and hundreds of priests are dying every year with no one to take their place.

In the words of the Irish religion journalist David Quinn, "It's not a crisis, it's a catastrophe and it's happened in a generation."

The Vatican's new official administrative apparatus is, in fact, committed to the unprecedented, and ostensibly quixotic, task of combating that catastrophe. Its sole goal is the re-evangelization of Europe.

The council will shape the Vatican's messaging and direct European churches in their efforts to steer the public back towards the "perennial truth of the Gospel of Christ" and away from an "eclipse of God."

It's tasked with finding and implementing methods, both pastoral and political, to convince Europeans to put Christ back at the center of their lives.

Not surprisingly, the Vatican has faith that it can turn back the secular tide. But it's also going to have to show a newfound willingness to compete for believers, and, even then, it will probably need a good dose of luck.

With the odds so stacked against it, the new council begs the question: why Europe? As Catholicism continues to spread rapidly in the global south, the European continent -- with its aging population and diminishing political influence -- seems a curious strategic priority for a global institution like the Vatican.

Scholars and laymen alike used to think that Europe's secularism epidemic was spreading: soon everyone would follow in exchanging prayer beads and crucifixes for fast food and sitcoms. But Europe proved the exception rather than the rule.

The United States didn't secularize, and most of the rest of the world grew steadily more, rather than less, religious during the late 20th century.

So why devote resources to a problem that seems unlikely to spread? While Europe's growing secularism may be the "exceptional case," as British sociologist Grace Davie has deemed it, it is a concern exceptionally close to Pope Benedict, both to his personal career and his theological reflections.

The German-born Pope Benedict XVI (nee Joseph Ratzinger) has long held fast to the goal of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, to preserve "the Christian roots of Europe and its Christian soul."

As John Paul's prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger became the Vatican's key player in 2004 in the battle over the preamble to the European Constitution, a document that was supposed to be a symbol of the continent's "ever closer union."

While many political representatives at the constitutional convention insisted that Europe remain secular, the Vatican lobbied hard for the document to reflect the continent's millennium and a half of Christian history.

Europe, Ratzinger argued, was not a geographic or political concept, but a "cultural and historical" one, founded on Christianity. He and the Vatican ultimately had to settle for the compromise phrase: "the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe."

Subsequently, Benedict's papacy has had a particular emphasis on Europe. Cardinal Ratzinger chose his pontifical name partly in honor of Pope Benedict XV, the early-20th-century pope who sought to bring peace to a continent devastated by World War I, and partly in honor of St. Benedict of Nursia, whom Ratzinger, reflecting on his choice of name, called "the co-patron of Europe," and described as "a fundamental reference point for European unity and a powerful reminder of the indispensable Christian roots of his culture and civilization." Since ascending to the throne of Peter, Benedict has made 16 foreign visits. Ten have been to European countries.

The Pope is motivated by a deep concern that Europe's spiritual foundation is slipping away, taking with it the continent's future, both earthly and eternal. This concern lay behind both his reservations about Turkey's prospective EU membership and his infamous 2006 Regensburg lecture, in which -- with prose both dense and controversial -- he voiced reservations about Islam's adherence to human reason. But, apparently, the Pope now deems the threat of secularism more urgent than that of Islam. [I believe he has always held so. His objection is to radical Islam that uses God to justify violence and terror.]

Addressing the members of the European People's Party in 2006, Benedict observed that there was now a "fairly widespread" culture in Europe "which relegates to the private and subjective sphere the manifestation of one's own religious convictions."

This "deliberate promotion of religious indifference or practical atheism," as he calls it in his encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, threatens development and democracy, liberty, and equality.

He does not, of course, imagine that Europe is about to slide back into the totalitarian nightmares of the past. But Benedict does warn that without conception of inalienable human dignity, a people are apt to commit horrible abuses against one another and themselves.

Absent religion, what resources does our culture have to stop medical science, for example, from entering into gene manipulation, human cloning, or use of human fetuses for research purposes? In the Pope's geopolitical vision, Europe, because of its Christian heritage, is an ideal defender of human dignity on the world stage.

Benedict's and the Vatican's concern with evangelizing Europe, then, is not simply a matter of increasing congregation sizes, still less of hauling the center of Catholic gravity back north and west.

Rather, it is a concern with the dissolution of the social and political foundations of the continent and of the world at large. New Evangelization is as much about strengthening the Church's ties to its spiritual roots, thereby protecting Europe's political and religious future, as it is about merely putting butts in seats.

It's not often that the Vatican introduces a new administrative arm devoted to such a parochial cause. By making European secularization a major political priority, Benedict has demanded that some of the Church's most powerful and respected players -- including Italian bishop Salvatore Fisichella, who heads the council -- work together on solving the problem and speak with one voice when addressing it. Presumably, they will also be held responsible for producing results.

But those results might demand a "free market" solution for which the Vatican is wholly unprepared. The recent best-selling book by Economist editors Adrian Wooldridge and John Micklethwait, God is Back, argues that the only way religious belief will flourish is if churches are disestablished and religious "markets" liberalized.
[But their conclusion is, in a way, pre-determined by their secular ideology. So, of course, the evidence they present is that which will tend to support their working premise.]

They cite numerous successful examples of this market model from around the world, not least the United States, where religious freedom and religious vitality apparently go hand in hand. They bolster their argument with a counterfactual example from European religious history -- the all-but-monopolistic religious markets of the 18th century, where the well-fed establishment clergy had been "bribed into indolence" and attitudes to Christianity were notoriously lax and apathetic.

One of the few European religious success stories of recent years is that of independent churches, commonly evangelical or Pentecostal, run by so-called "pastorpreneurs" who can create, innovate, and follow the religious market wherever it leads. New Life Church, City Life Church, Hillsong, Elim Pentecostal Church, The Lighthouse, Glory House -- the variety of independent churches in Europe's large urban centers is now bewildering for those who hold fast to the dominance of established churches.

[Spencer just argued very well that Pope Benedict's concern to re-evangelize Europe is not so much about adding more members as to reawaken in Europeans who are still nominally Christians a recognition and appreciation of their Christian heritage.

The 'new churches' described as 'religious success stories' are all fairly young - a few decades old at most. They cannot be described as success stories until they stand the test of time, say at least a century. Post-Reformation history is strewn with dozens if not hundreds of new Christian sects which have proven to be as ephemeral as desert flowers. There is no indication that the current crop will be any less ephemeral.]

The demand-side market is perhaps the very antithesis of Vatican culture, whose hierarchy sees itself as the guardian of a unique spiritual truth.

The centralized and hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church is thus both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it gives Catholic Christianity a structure and unity that allows it to disseminate its message -- not least its message about the inalienable dignity of human beings -- with clarity and force. On the other, it prevents local priests and pastors from operating with the sort of autonomy that might be essential to spur dramatic re-evangelization.

[But the success of evangelization has nothing to do with the institutional autonomy of the evangelizing missionaries and catechists. Missionaries throughout the Church's history have been remarkably autonomous in their local activities - if only because of distance in space and communications - but even more remarkably consistent in their loyalty to the Pope and their faithfulness to the basic catechism of the faith. One has to believe that the Lord himself somehow takes charge of missionaries and their work.]

In that way, the success of Catholic "New Evangelization" in Europe might turn out to require a decentralized Church structure that would weaken the very message that, in Pope Benedict's view, makes such evangelization necessary in the first place. That dilemma would make the new Pontifical Council's job very difficult indeed.

[Spencer's conclusion does not hold unless you postulate that a 'decentralized' Church structure is necessary for mission work! What the secular world fails to see is the unique 'structure' of the Church in which there is centralization in certain things - the doctrine of the faith and the supervision of most general areas of Church activity - but where the autonomy of local Churches in everything else local has remained basically unchanged from what it was in apostolic times. All that should be apparent to anyone who has even a superficial acquaintance with the history of the Church - but only if you are willing not to play blind to the obvious.]

00mercoledì 21 luglio 2010 18.15

Those interested in statistics about the Popes and the papacy can have a fascinating one-stop resource in a website
run by a New Hampshire-based IT expert who wrote five books on information technology before venturing into the subject of the papacy with two books since 2006. He does not give his personal background on his sites, other than that he is now in his 50s, but I surmise from his name (and his picture) that he is either Indian or Sri Lankan by ancestry and that he must be Roman Catholic to take the interest he does. Since he is an IT expert, I will trust his calculations (and basic data) for the following entry:

Benedict XVI becomes
the 7th oldest serving Pope

by Anura Guruge

Today, July 19, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI (Pope #266) leapfrogs over Gregory XIII (#227) to become the 7th oldest pope — albeit as of 1400 (dates prior to that being too unreliable for meaningful comparisons).

When he turned 83 on April 16, 2010, just 3 days ahead of his 5th anniversary as Pope, he became the 10th oldest Pope (counting from 1400).

But, the three Popes that had died in their 83rd year did so fairly soon after that birthday, with Gregory XIII living for another 3 months and 3 days (total of 30,409 days).

As of July 19, 2010, the current pope, Benedict XVI is 30,410 days old.

Here is the latest chart, as of July 19, 2010:


As mentioned in an earlier post, the Pope is now in a berth that he is no doubt very comfortable and familiar with — right next to his long-term mentor and predecessor, John Paul II (#265).

Benedict will not overtake John Paul II until 2010, February 29, 2012 to be precise — a leap-year day no less. [Note that John Paul II lived exactly 31,000 days. Is that a coincidence?]

Given his current hearty constitution (despite the stresses he faces) and modern health care, it would appear that he would go even further, challenging the two Popes who died in their 85th year. He would surpass Innocent XII (#243) at the end of October 2012. By the start of 2013 he could be in the 4th oldest spot. He could probably even aspire for the higher slots!

As this juncture, I was (as is my wont) curious whether there had been instances where successive popes ended up close to each other in terms of their final age.

There have been three instances, as of 1400:

1/ Pius VI (#251) and Pius VII (#252) — both when 81.

2/ Gregory XII (#206) and Innocent VII (#205) — both when 69.

3/ Leo XI (#233) and Paul V (#234) — the former at 69 and Paul at 68.

As discussed earlier, it is possible that the current, ever so familiar ‘adjacency’ between Benedict and John Paul will cease to be, down the road … with Benedict enjoying prolonged longevity.

I will, if I am still around, keep on updating these numbers and charts so that YOU can stay on top of this.

Vatican Radio's Italian service has a report today citing Guruge's age and longevity calculations.

00giovedì 22 luglio 2010 00.07

City of Madrid signs up
with Archdiocese for
WYD 2011 celebration

Translated from the official site of


MADRID, July 20 - The city government of Madrid signed an agreement today with the Archdiocese of Madrid defining the areas of collaboration in the forthcoming celebration of World Youth Day 2011 in the Spanish capital.

Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardón said the WYD is "an event of exceptional transcendence for the city, for the success of which an equally extraordinary effort will be required from all concerned".

He expressed joy that Madrid was chosen for the event: "Every time we are chosen to host a major international event, we should all be honored and happy".

Among the contributions of the city, some public schools and sports centers will be made available to accommodate some of the youth attending the event. The city will also make available public spaces for mass meetings and for cultural events.

The city will, of course, guarantee the services of the police, in coordination with the Services for Civilian Protection and Security of both the city and national governments for the security of all events and moving about the various event sites.

Among the city facilities to be made available for WYD events are Casa Magica, the Palacio Municpal de Congresos and the Auditorio de Parque Juan Carlos i.

The city will install a giant countdown clock 'in an emblematic part of the city'.

Ruiz Gallardón promised, "Madrid will not only live up to the standard of previous World Youth Days, but it intends to outdo all expectations to make this the best WYD ever".

Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid, guaranteed for his part that "the Madrid WYD will be distinguished by the human quality of the young people who will come and will be sure to conquer the hearts of Madrilenos".

The cardinal described WYD as "an event that expresses the life of young people in the Church in their liturgical acts and in listening too the Word of God" and "will bring peace and good to the city, in addition to responses that will satisfy the hearts of the youth".

The city of Madrid forms part of the Mixed Commission for WYD 2011, which also includes representatives of the Prime Minister's cabinet. Government agencies will allow the use of public sites and services but will not contribute financially.

WYD events are financed by the registration fees paid by the participants and by sponsoring business corporations. and foundations.

Last week, the organizing committee announced that it has signed a contract with the Excellence Foundation, which will organize four concerts in the coming months to make World Youth Day known to society at large.

This is one of the many cultural initiatives that will unfold over the next year to promote WYD. Part of the proceeds of these concerts is destined for the Solidarity Fund, established so that young people from less fortunate countries who want to come to WYD might fulfill their wish.

The four concerts will take place in the National Auditorium in Madrid, between October 2010 and June 2011. Tickets are being sold beginning this month of July. The orchestras which will perform in the series are the Orquesta Clásica Santa Cecilia, the European Royal Ensemble, and the Orquesta Filarmónica Excelentia.

This cycle will begin on October 6, 2010 and will offer great works of the classical repertoire such as Beethoven's 5th Symphony, the Piano Concerto No. 21 of Mozart, the Piano Concerto No. 2 of Rachmaninov, and the Symphony No. 9 of Beethoven. At the last concert, which will be presented on June 23, 2011, other choral pieces such as the chorales of Handel's Messiah will be heard.

World-famous conductors Janos Kovacs, Stephen Layton, Darrell Ang and the Spaniard Cristóbal Soler have been invited to lead these concerts.

The Excellence Foundation ( is a non-profit organization whose objective is the diffusion and promotion of the musical arts in all their forms.

The programs for the four concerts will be announced later.


00giovedì 22 luglio 2010 03.39

Police monitoring internet
for threats against the Pope

By Anna Arco
on Wednesday, 21 July 2010

British police have said they are monitoring the internet for threats against the Pope and attempts to disrupt the papal visit in September.

Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, who is co-ordinating the national police effort for the papal visit, said police were monitoring extremist websites and other media that appear to be targeting the Pope.

He was reacting to reports that an Islamist website has urged Birmingham Muslims to disrupt the papal Mass at Cofton Park.

Chief Constable Hughes said: “We are aware of this website and are monitoring it closely, as indeed we are monitoring all such websites and media.

“Although we are unable to discuss the content of individual websites, we will of course ensure that such measures are taken as to protect the Pope and all those who are coming to see him.”

Questions about the Pope’s safety arose last week after a post on the Leicester-based website suggested that Muslims in Birmingham use the opportunity of the papal Mass to protest against the Pope.

The website, called the Islamic Standard, urged Muslims to “tell the Pope just what they think of him after his insults against the Prophet Muhammad”.

It also said the Birmingham event was not only a chance to “challenge these evil words of this evil Pope” but that it was also a chance to “call people away from the shirk [idolatry] of worshipping the dead like the Catholics do, calling out to them for help and intercession”.

While most papal events were not being held in Muslim areas, the website said, the Birmingham event “brings the Pope and those who worship him into direct contact with the large Muslim population of Birmingham and offers them the perfect chance to learn about Islam and for the Muslims to forbid the munkar [denounced practice] of worshipping dead men and following the dictates of the sodomite, child-molesting Church of Rome.

“We at the Islamic Standard hope the Muslims of Birmingham take this duel opportunity to give Da’wah [witness] to these 80,000 travelling disbelievers, whilst at the same time telling the Pope in no uncertain terms what Muslims think of his evil slanders against the last Prophet of God and his message.”

Khalid Mahmood, the MP for Perry Barr, told the Sunday Mercury that he feared the post might incite violence and even cause riots on the day.

He said: “These supposed Muslims are doing all they can to incite violence. Sadly, if Muslims do turn up and preach at Catholics it could easily turn to violence.

“The police should look at the comments on this site because they can only serve to increase tensions and perhaps even cause riots on the day.

“This is just the warped product of warped minds and it reveals how ignorant they are about Islam.”

I continue to believe that the best attitude to take regarding the Holy Father's safety when he travels abroad is what we had when he went to Turkey - when the whole context of the trip could not have been more risky and was downright dangerous.

And yet, as I pointed out when this Islamic threat in the UK was first reported earlier this week, the Turkish government at the time made it a point of honor that nothing should touch a hair on the Pope - and they succeeded excellently.

We do not need to know exactly what intelligence and security agencies are doing to protect the Pope but I think we can rest assured that they will do everything to insure his safety. Of course, they have a greater challenge with the Pope than with other foreign leaders because much of what he does is in public - whether he is travelling by Popemobile or present at an open-air Mass or prayer vigil.

But... In God we trust! And in his guardian angels for the Vicar of Christ!


00giovedì 22 luglio 2010 14.58

Thursday, July 22, 16th Week in Ordinary Time
From left: The Crucifixion, Raphael; The burial of Jesus, Caracci; the penitent with the perfume jar; two Greek icons; Mary Magdalene, El Greco; a detail of the Magdalene at the foot of the Cross; Noli me tangere, Fra Angelico.
Long before Dan Brown decided to exploit her figure, Mary of Magdala was the subject of much fascination in literature and art, much of it fed by apocryphal gnostic gospels. The Bible unequivocally identifies her presence at the three great events in the final days of Christ on earth: the Crucifixion, the burial and the Resurrection, of which she was the first human to learn the news. She is described as one of the women disciples who followed Jesus and the Twelve in their travels just before the Passion "assisting them out of their means". Earlier, she is referred to as the woman from whom Jesus cast out 'sevend emons'. However, Bible readers have also identified her with the prostitute who, repenting her ways, threw herself at the feet of Jesus and anointed his feet with a jar of expensive perfume. She is also often confused with Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She is not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, but according to tradition, she ended up in Ephesus, where John the Beloved had gone with the Blessed Mother, and that she died there. A French legend has it that she, along with Mary Cleophas and Mary Salome, travelled with their uncle Joseph of Arimathea after the Resurrection to flee anti-Christian persecution and landed on the southern coast of France near Marseilles. More unlikely legends sprung out of that, including that purveyed by Dan Brown's book. The Orthodox have always venerated her as 'the myrrh-bearer' and 'equal to the Apostles'. though none of the myriad legends associate her with any apostolic work.
Readings for today's Mass:

No papal story in today's issue of the OR. On Page 1: A European jurist comments on the appeal presented by Italy and backed by several other European nations questioning the decision of the European Court for Human Rights to prohibit the display of the Crucifix in Italian schoolrooms; a decision is expected in autumn. The essay points out the fallacy of the court's reasoning which purports to defend the freedom of religion (or no religion at all) by suppressing an expression of one religion, and says the decision if upheld could well lead to the suppression of Christmas and Easter from the official calendars of the European Catholic nations. Other Page 1 stories: Europe's banks say they do not fear the stress tests to be imposed by the European Union; the US announces new sanctions against North Korea [not that any sanction has really worked]; daily street violence in Rio de Janeiro has killed 25,000 in the past three years; and the e-book hits its stride as Amazon announces that its e-book sales now outdo paperbook sales.

No Vatican announcements so far.

00giovedì 22 luglio 2010 16.14

UK prepares highest level
of welcome for the Pope:
Interview with Mons. Summersgill

By Genevieve Pollock

LONDON, JULY 21, 2010 ( As the United Kingdom prepares the highest level of welcome for Benedict XVI, the anticipation is growing, and Catholics are becoming increasingly aware of the Church's place in society.

ZENIT interviewed Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, coordinator for the Sept. 16-19 Papal visit to the United Kingdom, about the preparations and the climate in that region.

In this interview, Monsignor Summersgill explained the significance of the invitation to the Pope by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and he described some of the ways in which Catholics are being prepared for the visit of the Holy Father.

What is the latest news in the preparations as you continue concretizing the details for Benedict XVI's visit?
Well, I am sure that you will have seen that on July 2, the Holy See, the British government and the bishops' conferences of England and Wales and Scotland confirmed the main elements of the Holy Father's visit here in September. The detailed program will be published about a month before Pope Benedict arrives.

At the moment we are engaged in sending allocations of places to dioceses for attendance at the larger gatherings with the Holy Father: the Mass in Glasgow, the Mass of beatification [of Cardinal John Henry Newman] in Birmingham and the vigil of prayer in London.

We have also in the past weeks had a series of planning meetings and visits with officials from the Holy See.

We are engaged now in detailed preparation with the U.K. government, local authorities, the Anglican Communion, the police and security services.

It's quite exciting going around to the different venues seeing all the work being done in preparation. I'm finding it difficult to remember being somewhere that was not being redecorated!

Some media sources have been primarily highlighting the negative attitudes of atheists and secularists with regards to Benedict XVI's visit. What would you say about the climate in the parishes and among the public with regard to the upcoming Papal visit?
Yes, there are some people who are questioning the fact of the visit by the Holy Father, and there are those who object quite specifically that his visit is to be a State visit -- the highest level of welcome the United Kingdom can give to a visitor.

There are also those who have fundamental objections to elements of the teaching of the Catholic Church and are taking this opportunity to voice those.

Also, this is a difficult time in the United Kingdom as we face cuts in government spending, and so some of the questions about Pope Benedict's visit are focused on questions about the costs being met from public finance.

I have to say, though, that this contrasts with the sense of welcome and anticipation that there is across a broad spectrum of society, and certainly within the Catholic Church and other Christian communities.

This weekend, in the parish I assist in, people were signing up to be part of the groups travelling to the Mass of beatification and the vigil of prayer.

I was also speaking with a teacher who is engaged in bringing schoolchildren to the celebration of Catholic education that will take place on the second day of the visit, as well as with some of the young people who will be representing their parish during the visits.

Recently the bishops' conferences published a booklet "Heart Speaks Unto Heart," which seeks to give answers to some of the basic questions about the visit. The Papal visit Web site is also very popular.

The Pope has made it clear that he wants to dialogue even with atheists, and all people in the United Kingdom. What do you think will be the particular significance of his upcoming trip for the general public?
One of the ways in which the public as a whole will engage with Pope Benedict will be through the media. How the visit is reported and of course how it is broadcast is therefore essential.

The Holy Father will be seen and will speak in some settings that will be instantly recognizable across the country and throughout the world.

I would hope that this will encourage people to listen to the words of Pope Benedict and to read what he is saying to society as a whole.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster characterizes an overall hope for the visit: that our society will be able to appreciate from Pope Benedict's visit the fact that we can come to understand that faith is a gift to be rediscovered rather than a problem to be solved.

How is this visit expected to be different from John Paul II's 1982 visit?
The visit of Pope John Paul II was a pastoral visit to the Catholics of England, Scotland and Wales.

The Holy Father's whole itinerary in 1982 was constructed around the celebration of the sacraments. Also at the time there was the Falklands War and there had been doubt about whether or not the visit would be going ahead.

This time Pope Benedict comes to visit the whole of British society as well, of course, as celebrating the Eucharist and especially the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

Pope John Paul II spent almost nine days in Britain and visited far more places than Pope Benedict will during what is a much shorter visit. In 1982, other than a courtesy visit to the Queen, there were not any of the more formal aspects of a State visit that will be part of Pope Benedict's visit.

Another feature of the visit of Pope John Paul II was that it was much more locally focused as well. Because the visit was longer, the Holy Father visited more places, and so gatherings with him were of people from the local vicinity.

Pope Benedict's visit is centered on four places: Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham, and so inevitably a lot of travelling will be involved to be present at celebrations with the Holy Father.

This visit holds particular significance because the Pope is responding to an invitation from the Queen. Could you say more about this? Why do you think Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II extended this invitation at this particular time?
The Queen is a practicing Christian and quite clearly a woman of faith. You only have to listen to her Christmas broadcast to appreciate this.

An invitation to undertake a State visit is unique for the visiting Head of State -- it cannot be repeated.

So I am sure it is with a personal warmth and welcome that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II issued the invitation. Though of course in these matters the Queen acts on the advice of the government.

Both the previous and present governments committed to offering the Holy Father a welcome as the spiritual leader of approximately ten percent of the U.K. population, as well as affirming the different areas of cooperation between the U.K. government and the Holy See, especially in tackling poverty in the world and in the shared commitment to education.

The upcoming Papal visit has put the Catholic Church in the spotlight in a more particular way in the United Kingdom. Could you say more about the impact of this publicity? How do you think the Church can use this publicity to reach out to non-Catholics?
I hope that the preparations for the visit and the visit itself will be a time when Catholics will rediscover confidence in ourselves and in our place within British society.

For many reasons that I don't need to rehearse here, it has not been an easy time in recent years being a Catholic in our countries and I see the Holy Father's visit as a moment of affirmation.

It is also a time to recognize the great changes the Church in the United Kingdom has undergone: We are a much more diverse Church, largely through immigration, than we ever were.

It is too a moment for the Gospel message to be proclaimed in the public forum.

We are ready to respond to an increase in interest in the Church and have already sent materials to parishes to help both prepare for the visit and for the period immediately afterwards.

It is a happy coincidence that the Sunday of Pope Benedict's visit is traditionally for us Home Mission Sunday, so it all fits together very well.

On the government website, HM Government (Her Majesty's Government), the government's response to the anti-Pope petition that got a little over 12,000 signatures while it was open on the site:

The government responds
to Protest-the-Pope petition


Too bad for anti-Catholic seculars and atheists that they don't have their own sovereign state so their head of state can make state visits wherever he is invited or take the lead in high-profile events that the Pope's actions and words inevitably are!... But then, the MSM give them almost equal weight as the Pope in news reports about the Pope because they make a convenient cover to express the media's own biases! And they are more than happy to be used in this way because they and their message get free publicity.

This next item I would have titled 'BBC prepares for the Pope - by honing all its hatchets'!

BBC prepares for the papal visit:
Reality betrays its rhetoric

By Edward Pentin

ROME, JULY 22, 2010 ( When Mark Thompson, the director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation, came to Rome in February to prepare coverage of the upcoming papal visit to Britain, he denied the BBC had an innate bias against the Catholic Church.

He and other BBC managers believe that coverage, like much of its programming, is respectful and balanced, and that programs on the Church are of a high standard. [LOL like a hyena! How could they have said that with a straight face after the farcical defamatory documentary that they presented against Cardinal Ratzinger and the Church in 2006? And how could Pentin forget that egregiously mendacious and slanderous hatchet job? And has anyone really trusted the BBC to be fair on anything since they became downright ideological and dirty during the Vietnam War? They've only become worse since - the polar opposite of the BBC that was legendary for its journalistic excellence during World War II. ]

But as the papal visit nears, how true is this? Judging by programs already aired and rumors of those planned, sadly not very true at all.

According to a number of news sources, the BBC is expected to upset many Catholics when it broadcasts a program timed to coincide with the Pope's Sept. 16-19 visit. The contents of the program remain under wraps, but some news sources say it will be a 90-minute drama that puts the Pope on trial, accused of covering up sex abuse perpetrated by priests. [Previously reported - and it sounds very much, as I commented when this first came up, like the BBC is aiming to do a Rolf Hochhuth-type black propaganda operation on Benedict XVI! Never under-estimate their malice!]

The BBC is being very coy about the rumor. A spokeswoman told me July 21 that programs are being made to coincide with the state visit, but couldn't give details -- even regarding possible content -- for "scheduling reasons." She was also unable to give information about any papal visit-related programs which had already been broadcast.

The most prominent program the corporation has aired so far in connection with the visit has been a BBC Radio 4 drama on Cardinal John Henry Newman, whom the Holy Father will beatify in Birmingham on Sept. 19.

In the play Called "Gerontius" [from the main character in 'The Dream of Gerontius', a famous long poem by Newman about an old man's journey from his deathbed to judgment before God], the lead character was played by the respected actor Derek Jacobi. But the play had nothing to do with the soul's progress toward purgatory, nor did it bring out the relevance to people's lives of Newman's great theological work.

Instead, it focused on his close friendship with Fr. Ambrose St. John -- a friendship gay rights campaigners say was of a homosexual nature, but which Newman scholars stress was simply one of close, fraternal affection. [And that's the kind of prurient obsession the BBC has come down to - the same prurient obsession that marked the 2006 documentary on pediphile priests.]

Reviewing the play in The Catholic Herald, author Francis Phillips wrote: "Halfway through [a] breathless, melodramatic dialogue between Newman and his guardian angel, a young male voice declares: 'The Roman Catholic Church is homophobic!' It is further inferred that Newman's motto, 'From shadows into the truth' [the epitaph on his and St. John's common grave], could be a disguised code for his wanting to come out of the closet." Phillips proposed reading the foremost Newman scholar, Father Ian Ker, instead.

Aside from programs directly related to the papal visit, the BBC has produced some praiseworthy output. In March, Radio 4 broadcast "Heart and Soul," an excellent documentary on suffering and how it can lead to a personal understanding of Christ's resurrection. That same month, BBC News Online carried a very balanced article by Vatican correspondent Gerry O'Connell on the Vatican's media handling of the sexual abuse crisis. [Now, these exceptions do surprise me. And good for the BBC if they managed to come out with two honest pieces for a change. The real story is how these exceptions came to be at all!]

But most programs continue to betray the BBC's dominant secularist leanings. Although it has made an effort to ask a few orthodox-thinking Catholics to appear on its news programs, the majority still tend to be dissenting Catholics.

Those faithful believers who do get on are usually harangued, as was the case on April 5 when an Italian Catholic philosopher and politician, Rocco Buttiglione, appeared on Radio 4's Today program to discuss the sexual abuse crisis. Buttiglione gave a spirited and balanced defense, but was constantly interrupted by presenter John Humphrys.

English priest blogger Father Tim Finigan summed up the problem when in May he wrote about an internal BBC e-mail he had been sent. "The BBC are hosting a staff discussion on Christianity," he wrote on his blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity. "Who do they get to do it? A history professor and campaigner for gay rights who describes his own current religious position as that of an agnostic or atheist with a background in Anglicanism, and a Muslim academic. […] As my correspondent comments, 'How very BBC.'"

And if evidence were needed that the BBC is unable to take the faith with the seriousness it deserves, Cristina Odone, a former editor of The Catholic Herald, wrote April 29 in the Telegraph how angered she was when the BBC sent a comedian to interview her about the clerical sex abuse scandal -- and spent much of the time mocking the faith.

"Would the BBC do this to a Muslim? A Jew? A Hindu?" she asked. "Of course not. They haven't got the guts. But when it comes to the Catholics, send in the clowns."

When I wrote here about the BBC's bias in February, I concluded that among BBC management, there wasn't so much a dominant anti-Catholic animus -- though that undoubtedly exists in some quarters -- as an inability among its predominantly secularist staff to take the faith seriously.

The Church of England tends to agree. Earlier this year, it criticized the BBC's coverage of religion in general as "not good enough" and expressed concern that religious affairs broadcasting is being sidelined. {Perhaps their concern is decades too late!]

Even one of the BBC's erstwhile religious affairs presenters, Roger Bolton, complained in a speech in March that a religious perspective on the news is "so bafflingly absent, both on air and behind the scenes in internal editorial discussions."

But criticizing the BBC is easy to do, and often done. A friend who works for the corporation recently lamented that knocking the "Beeb" is rather like "shooting fish in a barrel -- though fish barrel shooting isn't as popular a sport." Indeed, public broadcasters the world over come in for similar accusations of bias.

In his Rome speech in February, Thompson referred to a few typical jibes: "'Just what is the license-fee for anyway?' 'Abolish it.' 'Why not put a bomb under them,'" he said, adding: "These aren't quotes from the British press. They're from Bild, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Flemish paper De Standaard, Il Giornale and Spiegel. Nor are they about the BBC -- they're about ARD/ZDF, VRT and RAI." [All of them equally secularized to a high degree from all the accounts I see!]

But it could be argued that the BBC's bias against the Catholic Church has more serious and sinister undertones than simply the ordinary flaws of a public broadcaster, ones related not only to a malaise in the corporation but more generally among the country's media elites and perhaps within British culture as a whole.

The BBC, after all, is not the only UK broadcaster to knock the Church: with remarkable though unsurprising chutzpah, Channel 4 has asked gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell to front a documentary on Benedict XVI.

But the BBC is said to particularly suffer from a pervading secular mindset, one that embraces, or is sympathetic to, the culture of death, whether it be abortion, radical feminism, the homosexual agenda, contraception, euthanasia, or unethical science such as embryonic stem cell research. Drug-taking among employees is also said to be widespread.

Recent tragic events involving BBC employees seem to corroborate this view. Ray Gosling, a veteran presenter and prominent gay rights activist, admitted in February that a number of years ago he had suffocated his former male lover who was dying of AIDS. He said he had made a pact with the man to end his life. Soon after his on-air confession, he was arrested on suspicion of murder and released on bail, although the investigation continues.

And over the past two years, three young BBC presenters have died in unusual circumstances, the most recent being Kristian Digby, an openly gay television presenter, who died mysteriously in February at the age of 33.

In 2006, Benedict XVI stressed the importance of saying "no" to the prevailing culture of death, "an anti-culture" which he said manifests itself in such things as escape into drugs.

It is an "escape from reality into the illusory," he said, "into a false happiness that manifests itself in lies, in fraud, in injustice, in contempt for others."

He also said the culture of death "manifests itself in a sexuality that becomes pure gratification without responsibility, that makes man a thing, so to speak, as it no longer considers him a person, with a personal love, with fidelity, but turns him into merchandise."

As an antidote, he advocated the "yes" of the culture of life: fidelity to the Ten Commandments, which he said "are not prohibitions, but a vision of life."

Perhaps we can hope that the BBC and other parts of the UK media will realize the wisdom and relevance of the Holy Father's words when he visits Britain.

Within the corporation and other parts of the country, they are certainly needed.

Pardon me for being utterly cynical, but I don't see the BBC - and all the other MSM in the UK - passing up the opportunity to slam Benedict XVI the hardest immediately before and during the visit.

00giovedì 22 luglio 2010 22.03

But what's wrong anyway if the Pope
says the traditional Mass in private -
and why is Fr. Lombardi so defensive

On a French site, I have just found a re-post of the following CNS story (that I didn't see earlier) giving a rather full account of Fr. Lombardi's (to me, incomprehensible) denial that the Pope says the traditional Mass in private at all!

VATICAN CITY, July 17 (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI concelebrates his daily morning Mass in Italian using the current edition of the Roman Missal, the Vatican spokesman said.

Claims that the Pope celebrates his private Mass using the Tridentine rite are incorrect, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told Catholic News Service.

The Tridentine Mass is the Latin-language liturgy that predates the Second Vatican Council; it was last revised in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal.

Less than 10 days after Pope Benedict July 7 issued his letter and norms providing greater opportunity for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, news reports claimed Pope Benedict already had been celebrating the old rite privately.

"The confusion probably was caused by our footage of the pope celebrating facing the altar, which is due to the fact that the altar is against the wall," in the private chapel of the Apostolic Palace, Father Lombardi said.

With the altar against the wall, the concelebrants in the private chapel end up having their backs toward the congregation during the eucharistic prayer. The congregation at the morning Mass generally is made up of the Pope's valet and the consecrated women who staff the papal apartment.

The images Father Lombardi referred to were released by the Vatican to coincide with celebrations of Pope Benedict's 80th birthday April 16. Father Lombardi heads the Vatican Television Center, which produced the footage, as well as serving as director of the Vatican press office and Vatican Radio.

Father Lombardi also said the fact that the Pope's two private secretaries concelebrate the Mass with him each morning "obviously means he is using the new Missal," since the Tridentine Mass strictly limits concelebration.

At public Masses with an international congregation, Pope Benedict uses the post-Vatican II Mass with most of the prayers in Latin. However, on occasions such as the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, which is considered a Rome diocesan celebration although there is an international congregation, the Pope recites the prayers in Italian.

It's worse than the earlier stories I saw and ignored. It is too defensive, unnecessarily so, and illogical - almost as if it would be a shocking offense on the part of the Pope to ever say the Mass in the old way, even in private, or to even suggest that he does so! Why would a practice he himself legitimized three years ago for the entire Church suddenly become objectionable, questionable, nay unthinkable!, if he followed his own Motu Proprio in private?

And that, I believe, is the worst objection I have to the fact that Fr. Lombardi even felt it was necessary to comment on the matter. Especially since it also indicates he felt a need to counter Mons. Fellay's personal speculation about it.

Fr. Lombardi just gave all the uncooperative bishops a reason to say - three years after Summorum Pontificum and the review that the Pope is asking of each bishop - "If the Pope himself does not say the old Mass, why should we, or, for that matter, allow any backward priest to say it in my diocese?"

00venerdì 23 luglio 2010 00.09

How time flies! Tomorrow's issue of L'Osservatore Romano reminds us all that it has been two years since the Holy Father announced the next WYD would be held in Madrid, at the end of the mammoth Mass that concluded WYD 2008 in Sydney's Randwick Racecourse!

On to Madrid:
Two years ago, Benedict XVI
closed WYD in Sydney

Translated from
the 7/23/10 issue of



"And now it is time to say goodbye, or rather, Arrivederci! Till we meet again! I thank you all for having participated in World Youth Day here in Sydney and I hope to see you again in three years. WYD 2011 will take place in Madrid, Spain".

It was July 20, 2008, at the end of his Angelus greetings that Benedict XVI announced the venue for the 13th World Youth Day celebrated on an international scale.

Now we are two-thirds of the way to WYD 2011 to be held August 16-21 in Madrid, when young Catholics from 170 nations are expected to converge.

After being held in Oceania for the first time, WYD comes back to Europe.

WYD through the years.

Already 600,000 have registered to be in Madrid next year - including 120,000 Italians, 70,000 French, 50,000 Poles and 25,000 North Americans.

The Archdiocese of Madrid and Spanish civilian authorities are preparing at all levels for a major international event. [The article then quotes from the WYD news release yesterday, a translation of which was posted on this page earlier.]

On the eve of the audience he gave on July 2 to the sponsors of the Madrid WYD and the 'Madrid Vivo' Foundation, Benedict XVI was the first to register officially for WYD 2011.

Registrations can be done online 24/7 at in 5 languages - Spanish, English, French, Italian and Polish. Registrants can choose one of four categories (individual, group, official, or journalist) and choose length of attendance (the entire week or just the weekend). Registrants can also indicate their choices for lodging and meals.

"Early registration is important," said Mons. Cesar Franco, auxiliary bishop of Madrid and general coordinator of WYD 2011. "We want to provide as best we can for our guests, so it is important to know how many are coming".

Registrants will be entitled to accident insurance during their stay, public transport, a backpack with T-shirt, cap, a guide to Madrid and the Missal for the ceremonies, a pass for all cultural events, and priority access to the reserved areas at the principal events.

Another element in the registration process is the possiblity of contributing to a solidarity fund to help young people from the poorer nations, especially from Latin America, to come to Madrid. Each registrant is encouraged to contribute an additional 10 euros for this purpose.

The organizers have launched an awareness and publicity campaign for the solidarity fund in Spanish and English on the Internet, press, radio and TV. Some 300 volunteers in different countries have been recruited for this purpose.

One of the more interesting news from the organizers recently was that the monumental Ostensorium of the Cathedral of Toledo will be used for the Eucharistic Adoration at the prayer vigil on August 20, 2011.

The monstrance, left, and the Cathedral of Toledo, one of the most impressive and largest of the Spanish cathedrals.

The three-meter (almost 10 feet, as tall as a building storey) gilded monstrance is one of the glories of Spanish artistry in metal. It has been called “the finest example of Spanish silverwork of all time”. It was created in 1524 by Arfe, metalsmiths specializing in ecclesiastic vessels and adornments.

Normally the monstrance is publicly displayed once a year during the traditional Corpus Domini procession through the streets of Toledo, Spain's primate See.

The Eucharistic Adoration led by the Holy Father will take place on August 20 at the Cuatro Vientos Airfield, where the vigil will be held on Saturday night.

Young people will be able to “contemplate and admire a work of art that is unique in the world and is being used as its creators imagined, and they will rediscover the value of art in the liturgy,” organizers said.

Sydney Daily Telegraph's front and back pages after the final WYD Mass in 2008.

00venerdì 23 luglio 2010 02.47

Vatican coins with B16
no longer just collectors' item


The circulating 50-centime coin.

ROME, July 22 (Translated from ASCA) -The Vatican has started to circulate a new coin worth 50 centimes (half euro) featuring the profile of Benedict XVI, giving the coins back as change to customers within the Vatican, from its famous pharmacy to its gas stations.

It is the first time since the Vatican joined the rest of the European Union in using the euro in January 2002 that the Vatican is circulating its coins normally - rather than merely minting them for collectors.

This is being done under a convention signed by the Vatican with the EU in December 2009, which committed the Vatican to circulate its own euros at nominal value and allows the Vatican to double its coinage for 2010, to 2.3 million euros, of which it is obliged to circulate at least 51% normally, at nominal value.

Previously, Vatican coins have been minted only for collectors, representing a significant source of income for the world's smallest state.

About two million of the 5-centime coins have been minted, and so far, change given to Vatican customers has been limited to two coins per person.

The first euros were minted by the Vatican in 2002-2003. Until now, these coins have merely been collectors' items. Right photos, the John Paul II euros; left photos, the Benedict XVI euros.

00venerdì 23 luglio 2010 14.37



See preceding page for earlier entries posted 7/23/10.


Friday, July 23, 16th Week in Ordinary Time
ST. BIRGITTA (BRIDGET) OF SWEDEN (b Sweden 1303, d Rome 1373), Widow, Mystic, Franciscan Tertiary, Founder of the Bridgettines
Born to descendants of the Swedish royal family, Birgitta's father was one of the wealthiest landowners in the country. The girl started having visions of the Lord, particularly the Crucifixion, when she was 7. At age 13, she entered an arranged marriage to a local prince, with whom she had four sons and four daughters (the oldest, Catherine, would become a saint herself). She was a friend and counselor to many priests and theologians of her day, as well as adviser to King Magnus II. Her husband died in 1344 shortly after they came back from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. She joined the Franciscan lay order and lived as a penitent. In 1346, she founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior (Bridgettines) which was confirmed by Pope Urban V in 1370 and survives today with a few houses. In 1360, she left for Rome on pilgrimage and never returned to Sweden. She counseled Popes Clement Vi, Gregory XI and Urban VI, urging them all to return to Rome from Avignon. Meanwhile, she wrote down the revelations given to her in her continuing visions and her spiritual reflections; the books became hugely popular in the Middle Ages. She encouraged everyone to meditate on the Passion of Christ and on the Crucified Christ. She died in Rome after a pilgrimage to Holy Land which was marked by shipwreck and the death of a son. She was canonized in 1391, and in 1436, the Council of Basel confirmed the orthodoxy of her writings. In 1999, she was named by John Paul II as a co-patron of Europe, along with Benedict of Norcia, Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena, and Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein).
Readings for today's Mass:

No papal stories in today's OR. Page 1 news is on the stress test to which 91 European banks will be subjected to test their viability; Obama signs an ambitious reform of the US financial system - and surprisingly, the brief article points out its major shortcomings and loopholes; Baghdad hit with a terror attack on a Shiite mosque, killing at least 30 and wounding 50 more. In the inside pages, at least five articles on German theologian Erik Peterson on the 50th anniversary year of his death; he worked in Rome from 1930-1960 since he converted to Catholicism and is best known for a massive work Ekklesia on the Catholic Church and its ecclesiology.

No announcements from the Vatican so far.

00venerdì 23 luglio 2010 15.10

The Vicariate of Rome today took the unusual step of issuing a prompt reaction to a sensation-mongering article in this week's issue of the Italian newsweekly magazine Panorama. The response appears in the diocesan online journal, Romasette.

Apparently, Panorama has been unable to find out any new stories of sexual abuse of minors by Roman priests, so it is striking out in another direction.

Note from the Vicariate
on the Panorama article
regarding gay priests

Translated from
July 23, 2010

The magazine Panorama, in its issue of July 23, out in newsstands today, has a long article entitled 'Le notti brave dei preti gay' (Happy night of gay priests), in which the writer claims to have spent some time with gay priests and recorded their activities with a hidden camera.

The purpose of the article is obvious: to create scandal, to defame all priests on the basis of a statement by one priest who claims that 98 percent of all the priests he knows are homosexual, and ultimately, to discredit the Church.

In the process, it purports to put pressure on the part of the Church that it calls 'intransigent, and persists in not looking at the reality' of homosexual priests.

The events narrated in the article can only bring pain and concern to the ecclesial community of Rome which knows its own priests - those who do not live a double life but 'one life only', which is happy and joyful, consistent with their vocation, dedicated to God and the service of their fellowmen, committed to live the Gospel and bear witness to it as a model of morality for everyone.

There are more than 1,300 of them in 336 parishes, and in oratories, multiple works of charity, various institutes of consecrated life and in other ecclesial organizations working in the universities, in the world of culture, in hospitals and on the frontiers of poverty and human degradation - not only in our city but in far lands and in difficult situations.

Those who really know the Church of Rome - where hundreds of priests from all parts of the world also live as students - know that the overwhelming majority do not in any way live a 'double life'. Few priests do not understand what it means to be a Catholic priest; and fewer still those who have decided that they should not have been priests at all.

They know that nothing forces them to remain priests. Consistency requires those who have had a change of heart to come forward. We wish them no ill, but at the same time, we cannot accept that their behavior results in smearing the honor of all other priests.

In the face of this, we adhere with conviction to what the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, Bishop of Rome, has repeated often in the past months: 'the sins of priests' call on all of us to a conversion of the heart and of our life, to be vigilant and not to "poison Christian faith and life, undermine the integrity of the Church, weaken its capacity for preaching and witness, and besmirch the beauty of her face".

The Vicariate of Rome is committed to pursue strictly, following the norms of the Church, all behavior that is unworthy of the priestly life.

The UK's Daily Express picked up the story, but surprisingly, without citing any specific details from the Panorqama account other than what the Vicariate note states::

Church of Rome
warns gay priests

July 23, 2010

ROME - The Italian Catholic church has told gay priests not to lead a "double life" after a magazine article showed priests frequenting homosexual clubs in Rome.

The Roman Catholic diocese of Rome said no one was forcing homosexual prelates to remain as priests. It said "we don't want to hurt them" but their conduct "muddies the reputation of all the others."

The weekly Panorma magazine said it interviewed several gay priests in Rome and accompanied them to clubs frequented by homosexuals in the capital. It quoted one as saying that 98% of the priests he knew were gay.

The Rome diocese said the article was aimed at defaming the Church.

Here's a surprisingly pro-Church reaction to the Panorama from one of Repubblica's Vaticanistas, who was never as one-sided as his former senior colleague, Marco Politi, who has retired, and whose replacement Marco Ansaldo has so far been far more objective than Politi ever was:

On self-indulgent gay priests:
The diocese of Rome has not
been remiss in policing itself

Translated from
July 23, 2010

VATICAN CITY - The Vicariate of Rome's morality campaign among priests who carry out pastoral work in the Pope's diocese did not just begin today!

The new warning issued by Cardinal Vicar Agostino Valli following a 'shock' report by the weekly magazine Panorama is the latest in a long series of such warnings and steps inspired by Benedict XVI - first when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and famously denounced the 'filth' within the Church in his 2005 Good Friday meditations and prayers on the Stations of the Cross.

And then, as Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome, in pubic and private meetings, and during his general audiences, Benedict XVI has always stressed the need to renew ecclesial life starting with the moral and spiritual comportment of priests and religious - but also of bishops and cardinals.

This is a theme he has repeated in dozens of interventions - homilies, catecheses, public addresses - and in 'inconvenient' reminders in recent months, in the documents he has issued with regard to the revival of public scandal over pedophile priests, but also with the far from limpid behavior of ecclesiastics and monsignors involved in miscellaneous events that have nothing to do with pastoral work.

The German Pope has not been remiss in 'moralizing' interventions that do not leave anyone indifferent - neither the advocates of a necessary self-cleansing of the Church, nor those who think that the Pope's admonitions have been unnecessarily broad in inculpating the entire Catholic community. [He has not! except insofar as everyone is a sinner, Catholic or not, but he has always made it clear that the pedophile priests represent a few individuals in the entire worldwide population of 400,000 priests!]

Not to forget that there are not a few, within the Church and outside it - who think that the Pope and the Vatican have always moved behind the curve.

Polemic aside, Papa Ratzinger, as everyone knows, published last week the updated norms under which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been dealing since 2003 with serious offenses against the faith, against morals and against the sacraments, offenses over which it has jurisdiction.

In the diocese of Rome itself, in addition to the general norms cited, the past year has also seen a kind of routine screening of the lives of priests working in the capital - 1,935 foreign-born and 1,325 Italians (total 3,260).

Th operation is called 'Recognition' and was designed principally to verify each priest's compliance with canonical norms set in 1935, initially for foreign priests working in Rome, with particular attention to their rights and duties but especially to their moral conduct.

Vicariate sources said that a number of foreign-born priests have been dismissed from diocesan work or laicized after being found culpable of immoral acts. Some of them, even if no longer priests, continue to say Mass and solicit contributions for alleged charitable work.

The Panorama 'investigation' focuses on three priests, said to be employed in the Roman Curia - who celebrate Mass in church or in private in the daytime, but who carry on sexual relations with fixed or casual partners at night. [So the 'investigation' only concerned three priests? Sorry, I have no interest in checking out the article itself, so I did not know. The Vicariate note should have made that clear - it seemed as if the investigation was far broader. Three out of 3,260 are three swallows made to look like the entire bird population of Rome, and obviously quite a stretch!

Also, if the three priests investigated are employed in the Roman Curia, are they considered priests of the diocese when presumably, they have no pastoral assignments?]

Thus, the new exhortation from the Vicariate asking homosexual priests "to come out into the open and, for consistency, to leave the priesthood". A firm and unequivocal appeal with a reminder that diocesan authorities will not tolerate the 'lifestyle' described in Panorama.

Of course, in the diocese - beyond the disappointment and concern about Panorama's tratment of the story - prelates, including those among Papa Ratzinger's, know that the road towards eliminating the 'filth' from the Church is long, difficult and full of obstacles.

NB: For some reason, the major Anglophone news agencies are only now reporting the news of the priest in Youngstown, Ohio, who has been laicized by the Vatican following sexual abuses committed in thr 1970s. An Ohio TV station reported this on 7/19, and I posted the story same day on the preceding page of this thread.
00venerdì 23 luglio 2010 15.38

UK government moves to 'protect'
the Pope from arrest during visit

July 22, 2010

SkyNews is a UK-based international news service, best known for its 24/7 TV news operations.

The Government has moved to prevent the possibility of an arrest warrant being issued against the Pope during his state visit this autumn.

Sky News understands that Whitehall officials have been "seriously concerned" that campaigners would use international criminal rules to try to detain the Pontiff while he is in the UK.

Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC were among those campaigners reported to be looking at the options for bringing a private prosecution in relation to the Pope's alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Now Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has proposed changes to the rules on universal jurisdiction, a law that allows individuals to be prosecuted in the UK for serious offences such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture even if they were carried out abroad.

The plans would mean the Director of Public Prosecutions would need to give his consent to any arrest warrant issued under universal jurisdiction.

This would effectively mean taking that power out of the hands of the courts.

Ministers say the current rules are open to abuse because the evidence required to get a warrant is far below the threshold that would be needed to bring a prosecution. This has meant the rules are often used by those who wish to make a political statement or to cause embarrassment.

The most recent attempt to obtain an arrest warrant for a foreign dignitary was ahead of the visit by former Israeli defence minister Tzipi Livni who cancelled her trip at the last minute to avoid embarrassment.

"Our commitment to our international obligations and to ensuring that there is no impunity for those accused of crimes of universal jurisdiction is unwavering," Mr Clarke said.

"It is important, however, that universal jurisdiction cases should be proceeded with in this country only on the basis of solid evidence that is likely to lead to a successful prosecution - otherwise there is a risk of damaging our ability to help in conflict resolution or to pursue a coherent foreign policy.

"The Government has concluded, after careful consideration, that it would be appropriate to require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be issued to a private prosecutor in respect of an offence of universal jurisdiction."

The state visit this September will be the first visit by a Pope to the UK since 1982.

70,000 pilgrims expected
for Papal Mass to
beatify Cardinal Newman

July 23, 2010

Because this is a report from the Press Association (the UK version of Associated Press, to which most major UK media subscribe), the story appears in most of the UK media today.

Up to 70,000 people from the UK and around the world are expected to attend a special Mass in Birmingham where Pope Benedict XVI will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, it has been announced.

Cardinals, bishops and more than 1,000 priests will be present at the Mass in Cofton Park on September 19, at the end of the Pope's four-day visit to Britain.

The beatification will be the first to be carried out personally by Benedict since he was elected Pope in 2005, a mark of his lifelong interest in and study of the 19th century clergyman and famous convert from the Church of England to Catholicism.

[Shortly after his election, Benedict XVI changed the practice followed by his predecessor, and decreed that the formal beatification rite be performed in the home diocese of the new Blessed rather than at the Vatican, to which the Pope sends a representative for the rites, usually the Prefect or Emeritus Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood. The visit to the UK was in part planned around the beatification of Cardinal Newman, enabling the Pope himself to preside at the beatification rite.]

The ceremony will bring the revered clergyman, who died in 1890, a step closer to becoming the first non-martyred English saint since before the Reformation.

Pilgrims at the Mass will be asked to make a £25 contribution, the Catholic Church said, to cover the costs of travel, use of the park and a "pilgrim pack" for the occasion.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in England and Wales said the £25 cost could be paid by parishes, fundraising efforts or through donations by benefactors.

"This is about a pilgrim's journey. The idea is that they are representatives of their parishes," he said. "We want to encourage the idea of a pilgrimage and going collectively. We want to move away from the view that you are buying a ticket and this ticket gives you access to a concert."

Peter Jennings, press secretary to the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Bernard Longley, said: "It is a momentous occasion for this Pontificate, for the Pope to actually beatify anybody, and it is a tremendous honour for the Catholic Church in England and Wales."

The Pope is expected to make a private visit to the Oratory House in Edgbaston, Birmingham, opened by Cardinal Newman in 1852, where he spent most of his life as a Catholic and where he died in 1890. He is due to visit Cardinal Newman's room and his private chapel before becoming the first pilgrim to pray at a new shrine to the Blessed John Henry Newman.

The Pope will then travel to the Roman Catholic seminary of St Mary's College, Oscott, Sutton Coldfield, for a private visit where he will address the Catholic bishops of England, Scotland and Wales in the chapel where Newman was confirmed a Catholic in 1845.

It seems the demand for tickets to a papal Mass has not been reported so much in previous trips by Benedict XVI:

Glasgow to get 25,000 Pope tickets
by Jasper Hamill

Bellahouston Park in relation to Glasgow city centre; right, some 300,000 crowded into the Park in 1982 for John Paul II's Mass. Tree growth since then considerably limits available space for Massgoers today.

Worshippers in Greater Glasgow are expected to be offered the largest share of tickets to see Pope Benedict XVI in Bellahouston Park.

One in four of the almost 100,000 tickets will be offered to people living in and around the city, with the other 75,000 split between parishes around Scotland.

The Catholic Church will start sending letters out to parishes over the weekend, telling them how many tickets each of them has been allocated for the Mass, which takes place on September 16.

Each parish will be given a set number of tickets, based upon their number of regular worshippers.

Parishes in Greater Glasgow will be offered 25,000, the largest share of the tickets.

Second is Lanarkshire (24,000) followed by Edinburgh, Fife, Lothians
and Borders (17,000); Renfrewshire and Inverclyde (11,000); Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway (5,000); Aberdeenshire, Highlands and Northern Isles (4000); Dundee, Angus and Tayside (4000) and finally Argyll, the Western Isles and Lochaber (2000).

Catholics are so keen to see the Pope that 5000 tickets will be also be handed out to parishes in the north of England, as the Bellahouston Park Mass offers them the best chance of seeing the Pontiff. A batch of 2500 will also be sent to Northern Ireland.

The Catholic Church has not offered explicit advice on how parishes should decide how to distribute their allotted tickets.

Demand is so high that in some areas ballots are expected to be held.

00venerdì 23 luglio 2010 16.25

July 22, 2010

You asked me questions with great frankness and at the same time showed that you have firm points, convictions. And this is very important. You are young men and women who think, who question themselves, and who have a sense of truth and good. In other words, you know how to use your minds and your hearts, and that is no small thing."
- Pope Benedict XVI, To Young People in the Cathedral in Sulmona, July 4, 2010


The lovely town of Sulmona, in L'Aquila, in Italy, is famous for being the birthplace of the Roman poet Ovid, for its goldsmiths, and for "confetti," sugar coated almonds passed out at weddings and other festive occasions.

It is also famous for being the home of the one Pope who actually resigned his office, Pope Celestine V, a hermit who ruled the Church for about six months.

Not surprisingly, when Benedict visited Sulmona recently, I saw articles speculating whether he might be thinking of resigning since he had an interest in this obscure pope. That this pope might have once looked forward to retiring in Bavaria goes without saying. But once pope, he understands that his office is for life.

The town's patron is St. Pamphilius, after whom the Cathedral is named. This is where, on his recent visit, the Holy Father gave a brief talk to young men and women gathered in the Cathedral.


He did not talk to them about changing the world's social structures. He did not talk of philosophy or theology even, but he did talk about history and using their heads. The students evidently had asked him some questions to which he responded.

Both John Paul II and Benedict are at their best in youth audiences. Imagine anyone else in the world telling young men and women that it is "no small thing" to use their minds!

Benedict adds:"I would say that it is the main thing in this world: to use the intelligence and wisdom that God has given to you properly."

This again is a theme that is typical of Catholicism at its best. It recognizes that our minds are not our own original creations. We are given them by God in the very being we have received, a being that does not originate with us.

We are to use our minds and hearts at the same time. We are not to be afraid of intelligence or insight. But we know that we can choose to use them improperly. These usages the pope calls "shadows," perhaps after Plato.

The only thing that can really challenge the improper use of mind is to use it properly, to seek and find the truth of things.

Benedict remarks on the faith and moral values found among the people of that region. But there are "false values" and "deceptive models". They too promise to fill human life, but they are "empty." Benedict knows the relativism and skepticism that surround all of today's youth, even those in Sulmona.


The pope commends the students for recalling to him the example of Pope Celestine, as well as remembering some of the Pope's own words in Sydney.

"The memory of the past is truly an 'extra gear' in life, because without memory there is no future. It was once said that history is a teacher of life!" The past concretizes things for us.

"The contemporary consumer society tends instead to relegate human beings to the present, to make them lose their sense of the past, of history; but by doing so it deprives them of the ability to understand themselves, to perceive problems and to build the future."

The notion of being "relegated" to the present, to be free of history, and hence alone and by oneself, is a powerful one. The Christian is "someone who has a good memory, who loves history and seeks to know it."

The students asked: "How does one recognize God's call?" The Pope, following the example of the hermit Celestine, speaks of inner and exterior silence.

"St. Peter Celestine was first and foremost this: a man of listening, of inner silence, a man of prayer, a man of God."

We must in fact take steps to be outside the culture, to allow within our souls other voices than the immediate ones that constantly pound us from media and ideology.

"Being with God, listening to his word, in the Gospel and in the Church's Liturgy, protects you from the dazzle of pride and presumption, from fashion and conformism, and gives you the strength to be truly free, even from certain temptations masked as good things."


The students also asked the delicate question of "How we can be in the world but not of it?"

Praying in our room, meditating, going to Mass, Benedict says, does not "remove" us from the world. It rather "helps us be ourselves". not subject to pervasive forces.

"Dear friends, faith and prayer do not solve problems but rather enable us to face them with fresh enlightenment and strength, in a way that is worthy of the human being and also more serenely and effectively."

As he often does, Benedict recalls the examples of actual saints in history. They began first with prayer and attention to God. The Pope even talks of a kind of spiritual "entrepreneurship" helped by the Spirit. Not everything that the world most needs is already contained in the world with its own standards.

The Pope says that one of the"badges" of being a Christian is that he is never merely an "individualist". Are not hermits and monks such "individualists"?

"The monk does not live for himself but for others and it is for the good of the Church and of society that he cultivates the contemplative life so that the Church and society may always be irrigated by new energies, by the Lord's action."

There always needs to be amidst the affairs of the world, for the good of the world, those whose life is primarily directed to God.

The Pope urges the students to love the Church, the bishops and priests, "in spite of all our weaknesses." Following the Lord is a joy, the Pope remarks, after recalling the rich young man in the Gospels who went away "sad" because he had many riches.

What is the sign of being a Christian? "For you Jesus Christ is worth so much - even though it is demanding to follow him - that he is worth more than anything else."

Benedict tells the youth of Sulmona to read the Confessions of Augustine, surely a soul-changing book if there ever was one.

Finally, Benedict says, "I must now depart and I must say that I am sorry to leave you! With you I feel that the Church is young! But I am happy as I leave, like a father who is serene because he has seen that his children are growing up and growing up well."

One cannot, in conclusion, help wonder with all the attacks on fatherhood and the family. how many young people actually understand this sentiment of the Pope. He is the Holy Father; he sees in all such gatherings, the hope for eternal life in which we were created.

00venerdì 23 luglio 2010 18.19


The Vatican today released a brief video showing the Holy Father in Castel Gandolfo.

Here are some videocaps:


The baseball cap is back:

CTV releases videoclip
from Castel Gandolfo

by Salvatore Izzo

CASTEL GANDOLFO, July 23 (Trasnlated from AGI) - The Centro Televisivo Vaticano today released a video clip of the Pope in Castel Gandolfo showing him in his study and on a walk through the gardens with his secretary, Mons. Georg Gaenswein,

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said, "Benedict XVI already appears recharged, and has dedicated himself to reading and study which are demanding but not tiring for him".

In particular, Lombardi said, "He has started to work on the third volume of his major work on Jesus. Earlier this year, he submitted the manuscript for the second volume on the Passion and the REsurrection to the publishers, who are now working on translations and expect to publish it by spring next year. The third and last volume will be dedicated to the Gospels of Jesus's youth."

"Besides the new book, he has also been reviewing the material for the next volume to be published of his Opera Omnia (Complete Works), a project begun several years ago and which he very much wants to complete".

[It goes without saying that the Holy Father would also be working on his discourses for the trip to Carpineto on Sept. 5 to mark the bicentennial of Pope Leo XIII's birth, to the United Kingdom in September, and to Spain in November.

P.S. Mea culpa!, it seems Fr. Lombardi said all that in his weekly editorial which I failed to check out before translating the AGI report:

The Pope's vacation
July 23, 2010

Days ago the Pope began working on the third volume of his great work on Jesus. The manuscript for the second volume, dedicated to the Passion and Resurrection, was handed in for publishing some months ago. Currently we are preparing the translations and editions in different languages, which are expected to arrive in bookstores next spring. Now Benedict XVI has put his hand to the third and last part, devoted to the "Infancy narratives" in the Gospel.

As the faithful can see for themselves at the Sunday Angelus, after a few days at Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI already appears refreshed and smiling. [Not that he was ever unsmiling before he started his vacation, Fr. Lombardi!]

He immediately began to devote himself to reading and study, which although demanding, is not tiring. And now - as I mentioned – he has started working towards the completion of his work on Jesus. It is clear that it is particularly important for him to bring this great project, which he first began years ago, to a conclusion.

In the Preface to the first volume, the Pope recalled that he started to work "during the summer of 2003”, that he gave final form to the first four chapters in August 2004, and he continues: "After my election as Bishops of Rome, I used all my free time to pursue the book".

Many interventions at the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God highlighted the crucial importance of the Pope's book as a model for a theological and spiritual reading of the Gospels, as a guide for believers to meet - through the Gospels - the person of Jesus.

As the Pope himself affirms, "the real Jesus, the historical Jesus in the proper sense". He helps us to encounter Jesus!

We are at the heart of the service of St Peter’s Successor to the Church and men of all time. This is what Benedict XVI has dedicated his "vacation time" to.

00venerdì 23 luglio 2010 19.54

Decree says papal delegate
will supervise Legion from
top to bottom for the Pope -
but leadership remains



July 23, 2010 - The papal delegate to the Legion of Christ, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, is the person responsible for the Congregation. Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone clarified this in a decree sent to the Order to explain the delegate's role.

Velasio De Paolis exercises authority on behalf of the Pope over all the Legionaries of Christ, from its general director Alvaro Corcuera to its last religious.

While De Paolis is delegate, the superiors of the institute will remain in office, but will have to run their decisions by the papal delegate. He will then decide whether or not to approve them.

The delegate can denounce acts of the superiors of the institute if he considers it necessary. The Holy See reserves the ability to relieve the superiors without having to explain why.

Bertone clarified in the document that the main task of the delegate is to “direct, monitor and carry out the revision of the Constitutions.”

Bertone says that a committee must be formed “as soon as possible” to review the Constitution. De Paolis will chair the committee and it will include participation of all the members of the Congregation.

If the delegate sees the need to study and broaden certain topics, whether of people or things, study commissions can be undertaken.

De Paolis will not be alone in developing this work. He will enlist the help of four close advisers, who have yet to be named. The advisers specifically will visit other communities.

This decree, reviewed by Benedict XVI, leaves no doubt of the role of Archbishop Velasio De Paolis. He will have the important task of solving the grave problems caused by the congregation's founder
Marcial Maciel.

The above report is apparently based on a copy of the decree signed by Cardinal Bertone on July 9 and published today on the website of Regnum Christi,
the lay arm of the LC [possibly also on the LC main site itself, but I have not chekced it out]. Here is Regnum Christi's unofficial translation of the original decree in Italian:


I. In his letter of June 16, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI:

- appointed His Excellency Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, CS, Titular Archbishop of Telepte and President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as his Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ;

- conferred on him the responsibility of governing this religious institute in his name “for as long as it takes to complete its path of renewal and lead it to the celebration of an extraordinary general chapter, whose main purpose will be to bring to completion the revision of the Constitutions”;

- considered the “need and urgency of a path of in-depth revision of the Institute’s charism” and expressed his “desire closely to accompany, sustain, and guide this process” through his own personal Delegate for that Religious Family, who would both be a concrete sign of his closeness and act in his name;

- left for a specific Decree “some further modalities regarding the fulfillment of this Office”.

II. Now, by this Decree, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, issues the following specifications and instructions approved by the Supreme Pontiff regarding the modalities in which the Papal Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ will fulfill his Office:

1. The broad authority granted by the Holy Father to the Papal Delegate, to be exercised in the name of the Supreme Pontiff himself, covers the entire institute. It extends over all the superiors at the various levels (general, provincial, and local), all communities, and the individual religious. This authority regards all the problems proper to the religious Institute and the Delegate may always exercise it when in his judgment it is necessary for the good of the institute itself, even overruling the Constitutions.

2. The superiors of the Institute at every level exercise their authority according to the Constitutions and under the authority of the same Papal Delegate. Therefore, they remain in their positions, ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, unless it becomes necessary to provide otherwise.

3. The Institute’s superiors are to act in communion with the Papal Delegate. He is to be informed of the life of the institute, in particular the most important matters, and in addition, only he can approve the decisions of the general government itself: decisions regarding persons (admission to novitiate, profession, priesthood; appointment and transfer of personnel); apostolic and formation choices (seminaries, academic institutions, schools), and extraordinary administrative matters or the disposal of assets.

4. If necessary, the Delegate himself may act firsthand or indicate the decision to be made in specific instances.

5. Everyone has open access to the Delegate and all can deal personally with him. The Delegate, in turn, has the power to intervene wherever he sees fit, including in the internal government of the Institute, on all levels.

6. As he goes about his task, the Delegate will have four personal advisors to aid him in carrying out his work according to the circumstances and possibilities. These aides may be assigned specific tasks, particularly visits ad referendum. With their help, the Papal Delegate will identify, discuss, and clarify the principal topics as they arise during the process he is called to lead.

7. Whenever it becomes evident that certain topics, regarding either persons or things, need to be studied more deeply, the Papal Delegate may appoint study committees using either personnel internal to the Congregation of the Legionaries or competent external persons.

8. At his own discretion, when it seems opportune or necessary, he may select someone other than his advisors to study a point or make a visit ad referendum.

9. The paramount task of the Papal Delegate is to initiate, accompany, and complete the revision of the Constitutions. This implies a profound knowledge of the Congregation of the Legionaries, their history and development. All members of the Institute must collaborate in the revision of the Constitutions, both as individuals and communities, following a plan to be drawn up and activated from the outset. Therefore, a Commission for the revision of the Constitutions is to be created as soon as possible on the various levels of the Institute, with the participation especially of the members of the Institute itself, who must feel personally responsible for revising and rewriting their own plan of gospel living, always in harmony with the teaching of the Church. The president of the central Commission for the revision of the Constitutions will be the Papal Delegate himself.

10. The Papal Delegate coordinates the Apostolic Visitation to the Regnum Christi Movement, following the indication of the Holy See.

11. Appeals against acts of the superiors of the Institute will be directed to the Papal Delegate himself; regarding acts of the Papal Delegate, it will be possible to appeal to the Holy Father.

From the Vatican, July 9, 2010

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

What does it say of the regular Vaticanistas that it takes ROME REPORTS to give the first news of Cardinal Bertone's implementing decree - which was not otherwise released by the Vatican itself? It's not as if they are overworked with their regular coverage - it's the summer doldrums and the Pope is on vacation! Even the usually super-motivated John Allen used his weekly column today
for a 10-question trivia quiz - not so trivial really - to test entry-level knowledge about the Catholic Church that an aspiring religious beat reporter should know, at the very least! In other words, he had apparently found nothing to report... And all the while, there was this decree from Cardinal Bertone...

However, expect a lot of flak - from outside the Church and from staunch Catholic commentators like George Weigel and Sandro Magister - for the decision to leave the current LC leadership in place! Granted they are all directly answerable to Mons. De Paolis now, the implementing decree is hardly the clean sweep that would have been commensurate to the Augean stables that the LC leadership had become! Obviously, the Holy Father is giving them a chance to redeem themselves, but as a layman looking on, it looks like they are getting a reprieve for all their apparent cover-up and lying - or at the very least, lack of good faith - all these years about Fr. Maciel.

00venerdì 23 luglio 2010 23.07

BTW, I am grateful to the blog MESSA IN LATINO for articulating the same objection I posed earlier to Fr. Lombardi's unnecessary and in any case, too defensive statement denying that the Holy Father could ever have, God forbid!, celebrated the traditonal Mass in private since he became Pope! Here is what the blogger had to say. (He makes earlier comments about other recent Vatican communications moves that he finds questionable - including announcing the updated norms on all the offenses against the faith, morals and the sacraments that are under the competence of the CDF. On which point, I disagree heartily - on both practical and logical grounds - - as I have explained more than once before.)

Re Fr. Lombardi's denial that the Pope
has ever said the TLM in private:
For the Vatican's disastrous communications system,
it seems more important at any cost to defend
the Pope from any possible charge of traditionalism!

Translated from
July 23, 2010

...This blog was the first to report - pardon the lack of modesty - the contents of a little-reported news conference given recently by Mons. Bernard Fellay [superior-general of the FSSPX) in a Brazilian city, where he said that the Holy Father and his secretary, Mons. Gaenswein, have probably celebrated the traditional Latin Mass a few times.

Well, the news was picked up by everyone, and suddenly, the ineffable Fr. Lombardi rushed - with a celerity worthy of a major crisis - to tell the Catholic News Service that the Pope only celebrates, or rather concelebrates, the Novus Ordo, in Italian, with his secretary.

He adds, without realizing the absurdity of what he us saying (seeing that he is belying a statement made by Mons. Fellay who certainly knows how to distinguish the TLM from the Novus Ordo) that probably, the 'mistake' comes from the fact that the Pope celebrates the Mass facing the altar in his private chapel!

Nonetheless, why this hasty denial? We know that the Pope is almost literally under 'blackmail' [I think the sense is 'held hostage' by the progressivists] for as long as he does not publicly celebrate the traditional Mass.

But perhaps it is too much for Fr. Lombardi and his fellow advocates of the Novus Ordo that even one voice should be allowed - without having to confirm or deny it - that Benedict XVI could possibly 'under certain circumstances' dare to celebrate the TLM in private!

Meanwhile, let me go on believing - since it hurts no one - that the Pope has said the TLM at least once in his private chapel, if only to show his Memores housekeepers and his valet what they have missed by having been born after Vatican II! And while I understand the prudence that has so far kept him from celebrating the TLM in public, how long will he continue not giving it 'full citizenship' within the realm of papal liturgies itself??? On this one point, I respect his judgment but my mind is too limited to find any justification for what seems to me like inconsistency from this most consistent of Popes... There has to be a significant reason I am unable to see but which appears clear to Mons. Fellay and other traditionalists who would otherwise have been expressing their remonstrations in no uncertain terms!

00sabato 24 luglio 2010 13.11

Saturday, July 24, 16th Week in Ordinary Time
ST. CHARBEL MAKHLOUF (Lebanon, 1828-1898), Maronite Monk and Hermit
Born Youssef Makhlouf to a mule driver and his wife, the future saint joined the monastery of St. Maron at age 23, taking his monastic name from a second-century Lebanese saint. He was ordained a priest in 1859 and quickly gained fame for his spirituality and example. He was particularly devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, often spending hours in adoration. He ministered the sacraments to the surrounding villages despite the difficult terrain and climate of the area (more than 4500 feet above sea level). In 1875, he decided to be a hermit, following the example of St. Maron (who lived in the 5th century) and remained a hermit for 23 years until his death. Miraculously, he survived the severe winters without warm clothing or heating for his habitation. There was heavy snowfall on the day he died, Christmas Eve, but the following day, as his fellow monks prepared to bury him at the monastery, the storm stopped, enabling the villagers to attend his funeral. His tomb quickly became a place for pilgrimage and miraculous cures. These intensified after his body was exhumed in 1950 preparatory to his beatification and found to be intact. Pius XI had proposed his beatification in 1935. Paul VI beatified him in 1966 at the closing of the Second Vatican Council, and canonized him 10 years later.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
'The Pope's working vacation in Castel Gandolfo'
Two weeks since he began his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, the Vatican released a short video and still photographs of the Pope. Other Page 1 stories: A commentary on the stress tests to which 91 European banks will be subjected by the European Union; the International Court at the Hague upholds the independence uniltarally proclaimed by Kosovo in 2008 but Serbia continues to contest it; Venezuela's President Chavez breaks off diplomatic relations with neighboring Colombia, claiming graphic documentation was falsified to show Venezuela has been harboring Colombian guerrillas in a border province; China has stopped the oil leak from a pipeline that exploded in the northeast port city of Dalian but now has to clean up 450 square kilometers of oil slick on the Yellow Sea.

The Pope has named three new members to the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood:
- Mons. Fortunato Baldelli, Major Penitentiary
- Mons. Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Segnatura
- Mons. Antoni Stankiewicz, Dean of the Roman Rota.

The Vatican also released the papal letter naming Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops,
as his personal representative to the fourth centenary celebrations in Chapel Island, Nova Scotia, Canada on August 1,
of the baptism of Great Chief Mambertou of the Miqmaq Indians

00sabato 24 luglio 2010 14.04

At the residence in Castel Gandolfo:
The Pope's working vacation

Translated from
the 7/24/10 issue of



Benedict XVI's summer stay in Castel Gandolfo is entering its third week - surrounded by the beauty of Nature and by history, as he himself said on the day he arrived here last July 7.

Apart from the fact that all his private and public audiences have been suspended in July, the Pope's day is not much different from his routine at the Vatican, though it starts somewhat later.

The Pope spends much time reading, studying and writing, punctuated by meditation and prayer, listening to music and playing the piano, and long afternoon walks in the gardens of the Pontifical Villas with his private secretary, Mons. Georg Gaenswein.

The Pope still has to look through his daily correspondence and important documents sent on daily from the Vatican, and he has been preparing for major events in the coming months.

Above all, his apostolic trips: to Carpineto Romano (Sept. 5), to the United Kingdom (Sept 15-19), to Palermo (Oct. 3), and to Spain (Nov. 6-7) - and all the papal texts that have to be written for these trips.

Then there is the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Bishops' Synod to be held at the Vatican Oct. 10-24.

He must also finalize his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation following the Special Assembly on the Word of God last year, as well as the Message for World Youth Day 2011.

At the end of July, he expects a working visit from his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and a few days later, the arrival of his brother, Mons. Georg Ratzinger, who will be in Castel Gandolfo for all of August.

On Aug. 28-29, Castel Gandolfo will host the annual reunion-seminar of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis, at which the Pope and his former doctoral students will discuss this year the hermeneutic of Vatican-II, based on the Pope's historic address to the Roman Curia in December 2005.

[The articles goes on to quote generously from the editorial by Fr. Lombardi for Vatican Radio and CTV's Octavo Dies program, posted on this page yesterday. Fr. Lombardi talks about the Pope's work on a third volume of JESUS OF NAZARETH.]

The photographs released by the Vatican were taken by OR photographers Francesco Sforza and Simone Risoluti. (Too bad they didn't release any 'baseball cap' stills]:


Lella on her blog points us to another version of the video, from Repubblica, which starts with a longer segment of the Pope's walk in the Gardens (with a few seconds of see-through cassock), in which he moves much more normally (I thought he moved a bit slow in the earlier video):
NB: There's a few seconds of commercial preceding the clip.

00domenica 25 luglio 2010 01.00

For now, at least, and in the Italian media, Italy's Panorama newsweekly magazine has succeeded in opening a new front in the assault against the Church for the sins of some its ministers. Not pedophilia this time but probably what is its most general underlying cause - the inability of some priests to discipline their carnal lusts, in this case, homosexual. Which, in turn, leads to the widespread secular myth that at least 50% of Roman Catholic priests are homosexual, as many books and articles claim.

Surprisingly, in the same issue, Ignacio Ingrao, the Panorama commentator whose portraits of the Vatican purportedly from a privileged inside view are usually unflattering, has a commentary that presents the context which is completely ignored by the main article - whose voyeuristic and prurient intention may be deduced from the lurid cover illustration showing the close-up of a priest holding a rosary, but to whose hairy wrists a woman's hands with pink fingernails have been photoshopped.

Nonetheless, Ingrao manages to work in some 'poison' towards the end. Here first is Ingrao's commentary: ....

Benedict XVI's painful crusade:
Since 2005, zero tolerance for
homosexual priests and seminarians

Translated from
Issue of July 23, 2010

I think the sense of the headline is too sweeping. Especially in the case of those concerned who are already priests, the problem is not whether they feel themselves to be homosexual or not - but whether despite their self-identification, they continue to live up to their vow of chastity. Exactly the same heroic, almost superhuman, discipline is required of them that is required of priests who have normal heterosexual urges.

He has said he will use the rod against priests who 'behave in ways unworthy of priestly life".

When he addressed some 15,000 priests from all over the world who had gathered in St. Peter's Square for the concluding rites of the Year for Priests last June 11, Benedict XVI made it clear: "The Church can no longer tolerate in its priests 'orientations which are really disorientations". Among this, homosexuality.

No one had ever heard him sound so firm and resolute. It was the latest act of a crusade he launched almost right after the Conclave that elected him Pope. On August 31, 2005, Benedict XVI ordered the publication of an Instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education that he had approved on May 31 - barely six weeks since he became Pope. The Instruction effectively closes admission to seminaries for homosexuals.


The document immediately raised outrage among the associations for gay rights, especially since it is leaves no room for equivocation in its statement that the Church considers 'homosexual acts' to be 'grave sins' because "they are intrinsically immoral and contrary to natural law".

That is why, it makes clear, "the Church cannot admit to the seminary whoever practises homosexual acts, presents profoundly-rooted homosexual tendencies or supports the so-called 'gay culture'."

Existing canon law provides that if an ordained priest is caught 'sinning against the Sixth Commandment' ['Thou shalt not commit adultery', but which has always been understood to cover all impure sexual acts and thoughts] , the punishment is suspension from priestly duties, to which if the offense is repeated after the first admonition, other punishments may be added up to dismissal from the clerical state" (Art. 1385 of the Code of Canon Law).

Benedict XVI soon followed up the Instruction with action. The first to be struck out was the secretary of an important Vatican congregation who was forced to resign because of his frequent and widely known nocturnal assignations.

Shortly afterwards it was the turn of the man who had been a bureau chief in the Congregation for the Clergy, Mons. Tommaso Stenico, a clinical psychologist, popular broadcaster and writer. [Ironically, he also edited two volumes putting together Benedict XVI's various addresses and responses to priests and seminarians.]

In October 2007, an Italian TV channel broadcast video taken by a hidden camera showing Stenico in his office with a young man he met on the Internet. He claimed that he was doing research on the subject and that he had been set up.

Nonetheless, the Vatican dismissed him from his position and any association with the Roman Curia.

The same thing happened to an Italian archbishop who was relieved of the presidency of a dicastery.

Likewise, an investigation was deemed necessary on the eve of the nomination of a brilliant theologian archbishop to a prestigious Curial position. The case was shelved for lack of evidence.

And recently, a young Nigerian seminarian who was a member of one of the Vatican choirs, was dismissed from the choir when it was learned that he had procured boys for Italian wheeler-dealer Angelo Balducci, who was named a 'Gentleman of His Holiness' during the previous Pontificate. [The Vatican says Balducci will no longer be listed among the 'Gentlemen'.]

To further reinforce his prohibitions and exhortations on strict screening of seminarians, Benedict XVI authorized the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2008 to publish guidelines enjoining all seminaries to use psychological experts and tools to determine the emotional maturity and sexual orientation of candidates for the priesthood.


But there has always been controversy on this issue. Some in the Curia claim that the Pope has played favorites ,in that some who are believed to be just as culpable as those who have been dismissed from the Curia have remained in place because they are 'powerful'. [That is a major accusation against the Pope. Ingrao owes it to the reader to name names if indeed there is any ranking member of the Curia whose 'active' homosexuality is tolerated!)

Meanwhile, I had no choice but to read the Panorama article - all five pages of it. Someone is bound to make 'hot tamales' of it to peddle in the Anglophone press, anyway.

And it does make the assumption that the three men 'documented' by the writer and his accomplice represent the priests of Rome, since the reporter also quotes - a-critically and unquestioningly - one of the priests claiming that '98% of all the priests he knows are homosexual'.

Of course, it is simply revolting that the reporter knowingly used his accomplice as bait for the priests and had him take part in sexual encounters with them that were filmed and now posted online. I have not bothered to look at the videoclips but the still photo for one of the encounters is bad enough. The article itself thankfully does not describe what happens after the writer says something generic like "He took him to the bedroom, undressed and lay on the bed". He does describe matter of factly the suggestive moves done with clients - in this case, one of the priests - during seminude dancing in a gay club.

I have translated the teaser account online for the article:

'Le notte bravi dei preti gay':
A major investigation

Translated from
Issue of July 23, 2010

An investigation with hidden TV cameras, followed by minutious verifications and careful checks. For 20 days, Panorama reporter Carmelo Abbate, with the help of a gay friend, infiltrated the 'nights on the town' of some priests who have been conducting a double life in Rome: by day, they are priests in cassocks; by night, they take off the tunic and become perfectly integrated into the homosexual circles of the capital.

[In the article, the friend is identified as a gay young man who met one of the priests, Paul, in a sauna one week earlier and had been invited by him to attend a gay night in a Rome club. The youth's telephone call to the reporter about this appointment with the supposed priest prompted the reporter to plan his 'investigation' posing as the young man's 'fiance'.]

The result is a field investigation which allowed the unprecedented revelation [Revelation??? Surely, homosexual priests who indulge themselves in violation of their vows are nothing new] and in many cases, disturbing: priests taking part in nocturnal orgies with male escorts; who have sexual relations with casual partners; who are habitues of Internet gay chats and appointments.

Panorama has identified numerous cases[How numerous is numerous? Dozens? Hundreds?] and tells the story of three in particular, Paul, Carlo and Luca (the names are invented to protect their identities).

The first, a 35-year-old Frenchman, met the reporter and his friend on Friday, July 2, at a gay feast in a bar in Testaccio. With him were two male escorts whom he had sent for from Sardinia and paid to dance semi-nude with himself and other partners (and then had sex with some of them). Also present was Carlo, the second priest, about 45-50 of age.

The night ended in Paul's house where the reporter's gay friend had sex with the priest, an encounter that was filmed by our hidden TV camera.

The following night, Paul and Carlo arranged to meet the reporter and his friend at the Gay Village, another club where the two priests seemed very much at home. On this occasion, Carlo disappeared a few times, saying he did so to avoid encountering priests and catechists who might know him. [A convenient way to insinuate that the Gay Village is populated by 'other priests and catechists' besides just the two priests with the reporter.] The night closed in the same way as the previous night.

The next day, Sunday, July 4, Paul said Mass at an altar in his residence for the reporter and his friend. Panorama later verified that Paul was indeed a priest.

Our first one-on-one meeting with Carlo was in a downtown restaurant whose usual clientele is gay, including many gay priests, according to Carlo, who pointed to two men at the next table, saying one of them was a priest and that the two were 'engaged'.

Carlo also claimed that at least 98% of the priests in his acquaintance are homosexual, but that the Church today has an 'intransigent' part that refuses to look at reality, and a 'more evangelical' part which recognizes and accepts the phenomenon of homosexual priests.

After that lunch, Carlo took the reporter's friend to his apartment which adjoins a major building belonging to the Church. They had a sexual interlude, also filmed by our hidden camera.

We also filmed Carlo when he said Mass at a church not far from his apartment.

All the video films to support this story have been available at Panorama online starting July 23.

[The summary says nothing about the third 'priest', Luca. In the article, the reporter claims that they were unable to establish whether he was really a priest, because they could not contact him again after the first encounter when he brought them home to 'his apartment', said to be on the second floor of a building attached to a church, where he promptly had sex with the reporter's friend. The reporter says no one in the building seemed to know anything about him.

The two presumably verified priests, Paul and Carlo, both claim to have served Mass for the Pope at the Vatican - Paul claiming to have "he celebrated Mass for him for a whole year".]
[The writer just quotes him so uncritically! How exactly do you celebrate Mass 'for the Pope'? It's not as if the Pope has to have someone else celebrate his daily Mass for him - and in any case, he says his daily Mass in his private chapel with only his household.]

Paul reportedly goes on to say that the Pope is not as bad as the media portray him and that he is burdened by having to carry on Wojtyla's legacy. He apparently had nothing worse to say about the Pope, thank God!, but volunteered to say that when Benedict XVI took over the papal apartments, he did not ask for anything special other than to have the walls repainted, and that any additional furniture he needed was ordered from Ikea. And he praised him for channelling all the royalties from his books to various charities. (All of that, except perhaps the Ikea bit, has been common knowledge, and does not prove Paul has a privileged position in the Apostolic Palace. Now, if he had said something about a cat...)

An additional video online has the deputy editor of Panorama saying that he has the full names and addresses of the three priests and some other practising homosexual priests in Rome, if the Church wishes to confirm the Panorama story. (But wait! I thought they couyld not confirm Luca's identity!)

Pardon my constitutional intolerance, but why should homosexuals who have no intention of observing chastity persist in remaining priests? Either they have deluded themselves into thinking that there is nothing wrong with their double life and they can do as they please because there is nothing wrong with homosexual acts; or they derive additional perverse pleasure in thumbing their noses at the 'rules' of the Church, with heroic visions of helping to break down her Tradition to make her conform to the 'anything goes' amorality of secular society.

Obviously, the Panorama 'shock du jour' is not really an investigation - it cites no facts and figures independently researched about the issue, and it is completely limited to the reporter's observations (supported by videos taken by the hidden camera] and documentation of what the three priests did during the 20 days that he recorded their doings.

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