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4/26/2008 8:30 PM
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The man who became Pope
The Sunday Business Post (Ireland)
Sunday, April 24, 2005

I posted this item before the US visit in the thread about April 19, 2005. Since we have not really looked back enough at the double anniversaries for the Holy Father at the time of the visit, I thought I would cross-post this here as well, because what Joseph Ratzinger had to say in 1995 is not only equally relevant today, but perhaps more so, because now he is the Pope.

The striking and perhaps most pleasurable aspect about re-reading Ratzinger is that almost everything he had to say (or write) in the past sounds as though he were saying them today, mutatis mutandis.

The following is a post-Conclave account, in the form of a 1995 interview - 10 years old at the time! But even today, what Cardinal Ratzinger said about sex offenses by priests, why women will never be priests, and the nature of the Magisterium are as valid as ever.

The Post was the first Irish newspaper to interview Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. The interview was first published on December 17, 1995, and was conducted by David Quinn, who met Ratzinger in Rome.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger works in a modest enough building just outside St Peter's Square in Rome. Modest that is, when one considers the power and influence the cardinal exercises over the Catholic Church worldwide.

Depending on how such things are measured, he is arguably the most important man in the Church, apart from the Pope himself.

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he is the Church's doctrinal watchdog. It is he who ensures that the doctrinal purity of the faith is maintained.

In cooperation with the Pope, it is his responsibility, when it proves necessary, to bring recalcitrant theologians into line. Not surprisingly, he is no hero to liberal Catholics; orthodox Catholics despise him. [????]

Yet despite his fearsome reputation, and the similar reputation of his office - it was formerly called the Holy Office, or the Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition – Cardinal Ratzinger in person is a softly-spoken, attentive, modest and courteous man.

A native of Bavaria, he is an academic by training and inclination, who, word has it, would prefer to be back at his studies instead of performing the often thankless, albeit vital task, which has befallen him.

When we met in Rome last month, it was only four days after the divorce referendum result had been announced.

Was he aware of the situation in Ireland? Was Rome concerned with the decline of Catholicism in what was considered for so long a bastion of the faith?

His view about crises in local Churches:

He seemed rather philosophical about recent developments in Ireland. Surveying the state of the Church and society in this country he pondered:

I cannot speak in the name of Rome. I can only speak in my own name, but it seems to me that Ireland cannot but share the problems of the Western world. Culturally Ireland is not an island, it is in community with the West. It is the task now of the Irish Catholicism, with its great traditions, to find a way of adapting to the modern world without losing sight of those traditions.

It is impossible to foretell the exact outcome of this contest, but we can be confident that the faith will always play an important part in the life of the Irish people. The Irish Church, with the help of her theologians, must find a way of coming to terms with modernity while remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church.

Nevertheless, the impression I have is that the faith is still strong in Ireland even in spite of all the recent social changes and in spite of the various scandals. Ireland's historical identity is rooted in the faith. It will never give this up entirely.

Cardinal Ratzinger's office has no direct input into how the Church, either locally or universally, should deal with the sex scandals which have been rocking the Church in various parts of the world. [This was 1995; the CDF was not entrusted with a direct role in dealing with the scandal till 2003.]
Nonetheless, he does have his own views on the matter.

On the sex scandals in the Church:

Thanks to our dialogue with the Irish and American bishops, we are very aware of the scandals which seem to have hit the Irish and American churches hardest of all.

They present a very grave problem to the overall Church, to the wisdom and resources of the Church, to canon law. We are confronted with this most serious problem and its reality.

It makes it necessary that we look into the whole area of priestly formation, something which is already underway.

Priests must be prepared properly for the challenges of situations of which there is a new awareness. They must be chosen based upon the judgement of the Church that they will be able to be faithful to Christian principle in the face of the inevitable challenges which the modern world poses.”

About how the Vatican was dealing with the crisis:

What about the perception in Ireland that Rome is more interested in stamping out any signs of dissent, than in dealing adequately with the scandals afflicting the Church?

It seems to some in Ireland that Rome is more interested in pursuing bishops who question celibacy than in tackling the problem of clerical sex abuse.

This is not a correct impression. Rome is very concerned about these scandals, but generally does not publicise its dealings with local churches.

It is unfortunate if this has created the perception that Rome does not care. However, the fact that Rome does not publicise its actions should in no way be interpreted to mean it is not taking the situation very seriously indeed.

On relations between Church and state in terms of social legislation:
During the divorce debate, the matter of church/state separation was a dominant theme. He did not agree with the view, held by some in Ireland, that state law should necessarily reflect the teachings of the Church.

Ireland must rediscover an appropriate equilibrium between church and state, never forgetting that the Church has to be allowed to speak on matters of public concern.

Church and state have their own separate realities. State laws cannot be expected to reflect Church morality simply as a matter of course. On the other hand, state laws cannot ignore the moral convictions of the wider society simply because those convictions are Christian in origin.

If the Church is restricted, or restricts itself, to the private sphere, it would be failing in its responsibilities because it has a public message also. We have a message about humanity and about human life as such.”

Was divorce, then, one area where church and state should be separated? Were the Irish bishops correct to have urged a No vote during the divorce campaign?

I cannot comment on the actions of the bishops in this particular instance. There is no fixed formula to be applied in this sort of situation, it all depends. For example, it would be quite redundant for the bishops in say, Germany or America, to try and overturn divorce laws of those countries given the cultural situations which exist there.

However, there can be societies where it is still possible to uphold the indissolubility of marriage in law and where it is appropriate to do so. It is all very dependent upon individual circumstances.

On why the Church does not allow female priests, and the nature of the Magisterium:

At the end of October, Cardinal Ratzinger's office issued a communiqué confirming, as infallible, the teaching that the Church has “no authority whatsoever'‘ to ordain women priests, and declared that this teaching is to be held by all the faithful.

How was the cardinal's response to the charge that this teaching effectively reduces Catholic women to the status of second-class citizens within the Church?

I would simply say that it is erroneous to think that priests are first among Christians and everyone else is second-class. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of priestly service.

You obviously do not have to be a priest to be a good Christian. If you read the New Testament you can see that for the Lord, priestly service entails being in the last place, not the first. This is the opposite of power and privilege.

But surely it could be objected that this is not a convincing reason to deny women this mode of service?

It must be pointed out first of all that we are not building Christianity out of our own ideas. The Church is given out of the will of God, and the will of God is in turn a gift to the Church and it determines our will. We must be in communion with the will of the Lord.

Second, decisions of the Lord can at first seem inexplicable to us. We must follow his way before we can begin to understand. The Pope is obliged to obey the Lord's will.

The Lord's will is visible in the New Testament and in the tradition of the Christian life and he has shown that men and women have different gifts which are shown in different ways but are equal in dignity.

We gave to reflect more on why the Lord decided so, but we cannot simply treat the Church as a sociological construct and change it according to our will.

Yet isn't it true that the Church's magisterium, its teaching authority, is exercised by men and men only? Therefore, isn't the priesthood in reality more about power than about service?

Two things must be said here. The magisterium is not exercised only at the moment when a Pope makes a decision or publishes a text. The proclamations of the Holy See develop out of a long process of Church life involving contemplation, study, and experience. In this process, all members of the Church are present. It would be easy to find the influence of Christian women on vital decisions of the Church throughout its history.

In the end, the Pope can only give definitive form to what is already part of the faith.

The second point is that the promulgation of doctrine is not an exercise of power, it is an exercise in obedience.

There are certain things the Pope cannot do if he is to be obedient to the will of God, and this includes allowing the ordination of women. The magisterium is not like a government which can overturn the decisions of its predecessors.

The cardinal rejected any suggestion that this teaching [on women priests] could someday be reversed.

It is impossible because it is part of the deposit of faith.

On authority in the Church and why it can never be 'democratic':

The question of women priests has focused attention once again on the way in which authority in the Church is exercised, and has strengthened calls for the Church's decision-making process to be more 'open and democratic'.

I think we must reflect more on what democracy in the exercise of authority would mean. Is truth determined by a majority vote, only for a new ‘truth' to be ‘discovered' by a new majority tomorrow? In the fields of science or medicine such a method of arriving at the truth would not be taken seriously. A democratic magisterium in this sense would be a false magisterium.

On unity vs uniformity:

A further charge commonly brought against Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II is that they are intent upon imposing uniformity upon the Church. This is demonstrated by the actions taken against theologians such as Hans Kung or Charles Curran. What was his response to this allegation?

Anyone familiar with the real situation of the Church knows that there is no such uniformity. Our task is to promote the unity of the faith, not impose uniformity. It is very important to distinguish between the two. Unity is a very great ideal not only for the church but for all humanity.

Unity is necessary for peace. Hence the search for unity is also the search for peace. But a unity which is only an ideal disappears into its various interpretations and ceases to be a real unity.

Unity must be in the truth, and that truth cannot be changed. It has an objective content, and it is one of the tasks of the Church to teach what the content is. It is odd that sometimes those who search most ardently for union with the other churches overlook the need for unity within their own church.”

On Vatican-II:

Pope John Paul II is repeatedly accused of betraying the ‘spirit of Vatican II' which ended 30 years ago this month. What was Cardinal Ratzinger's answer to this criticisms, and how would be describe the spirit of Vatican II?

There are certainly radically different perceptions of the Council. In fact, if truth be told, there were two councils in the 1960s, a council of the bishops and a council of the media. Often the presentation of an event in the media overwhelmed the event itself.

The media presentation of the real council shaped and distorted the public perception of it. The presentation created a certain impression of what the ‘spirit' of the council was; that it was about conforming the Church to the modern world, that it was about placing the Church in the service of ‘progress', that it was about promoting individual rights.

I think it is important to correct this perception because it is erroneous, but in correcting this impression, the spirit of the council will not be betrayed, but served.

As for the ‘spirit' of the council, it is hard to define it. Perhaps it would be better to spell out what it intended to achieve, and there is no better way to do this than to observe the actions of this pontificate.

One of the great episodes of this Pope's [John Paul II] life was his involvement with the council. In all of my dialogues with the Holy Father, I see how completely he identifies with the Second Vatican Council.

He sees it as his mission to respect and deepen collegiality among the bishops, to realise a reformed liturgy faithful to the great traditions of the Pope. He seeks to teach the Christian message in a way understandable to modern times.

The essential aim of Vatican II was to create a new presence of the gospel in our time, to present the gospel as an answer to the great problems of our times and as a response to the great opportunities.

On how to make the Gospel relevant today:

The cardinal then turned his attention to the problem of how the Church can persuade people of the relevance of the gospel in the modern world.

This is one of the great questions. All Christians must collaborate to find a way. It is not only an intellectual challenge. The answer must also arise from our practical experience of everyday living.

The search is long-term and will likely only be fruitful in the long-term. It must always be borne in mind that Christ's victory only occurred after the ‘defeat' and humiliation of the Cross.

“The Church should never forget the Cross. Nor should it forget that if we are in communion with Christ we are assured of overcoming all obstacles.”

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/26/2008 11:14 PM]
Dio e Politica ,votare o non votare Testimoni di Geova Online...240 pt.8/25/2019 4:37 PM by Hal.9000
Gioco di associazione di parole Ipercaforum28 pt.8/26/2019 12:40 AM by AlcibiadeR
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4/26/2008 11:51 PM
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I'm glad I waited before reporting anything on the uncharitable news item by the French newspaper Le Figaro earlier today which claimed in its online edition that 'The Pope is ailing and they are already thinking of a successor'...The Vatican has responded.

Vatican belies Figaro report
about ailing Pope

By Salvatore Izzo

VATICAN CITY, April 26 (Translated from AGI) - "Benedict XVI is well, and it is paradoxical that doubts should be raised about his health just after he returned from the most demanding trip of his Pontificate, during which the program was not cut down [in fact, unscheduled events were added] and the Pope's joy was evident over the welcome he received."

Thus, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, spoke to refute an item published online by the French newspaper Le Figaro today which some news agencies picked up.

The Figaro item had mentioned a list of events - starting with last Good Friday [when the Pope did not prostrate himself at the morning liturgy, nor take part in the actual procession of the Via Crucis at the Colosseum] to the fact that there was no general audience last Wednesday - to claim that the Pope was obviously cutting down on his public activities.

Fr. Lombardi said that it had been announced two months earlier that there would be no general audience on the Wednesday after the Pope's return from the USA.

"The need for a rest after a trans-Atlantic trip is obvious to anyone who has had to live with the time shifts involved," Fr. ombardi said.

Referring to other circumstances cited by Figaro, Fr. Lombardi said: "Nor is it true that the Pope prefers not to deliver his addresses any more. Last Thursday, he read a long text for the four bishops of the Caucasian region who were on their ad limina visit - on the same day that he was going to meet with President Napolitano and attend the concert in his honor." [After which he delivered remarks.]

As for the assistance given to the Pope by his ceremonial masters during the litrugies celebrated in the USA, Fr. Lombardi said it was only natural "whenever any priest celebrates with long heavy vestments, that he is helped along so as not to stumble on the altar steps."

"It is strange," Fr. Lombardi added, "that doubts about the Pope's health should be expressed at a time when everything demonstrates that there is absolutely no basis for such doubts."

SEPT. 12-15, 2008

Ironically, just as Figaro was disseminating its alarmist story about the Pope's health, the French Catholic daily La Croix released the program for the Pope's visit to France which begins when he arrives in Paris on the morning of Friday, September 12.

After being welcomed at Orly airport by Prime Minister Francois Fillon and by the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, the Pope will be received at the Elysee presidential palace by President Sarkozy, who met the Pope in the Vatican last December.

The Pope will then proceed to the Apostolic Nunciature where he will be staying. There, he will meet a Jewish delegation.

In the afternoon, he will address an academic crowd (among tyhem, members of the Institut de France's Academy of Political and Moral Sciences, of which the Pope has been a member since 1990) at the Bernadin Diocesan Center, and then celebrate Vespers at the Cathedral of Notre Dame with the priests and religious of the Ile de France region. At the end of the ceremony, he will address a youth rally.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 13, the Pope will celebrate Mass at the open-air space before the Invalides [Paris's military museum complex, which has a Church as well as the tomb of Napoleon and other Bonapartes]. In the afternoon, he will fly to Lourdes where on Saturday evening, he will preside at a Marian vigil.

He will celebrate Mass the following morning with all the bishops of France, and will meet them again in the afternoon to discuss the situation of the Church in France.

The following day, Monday, he will celebrate a special Mass for the sick and afflicted, before flying back to Rome.

Not bad for a man of 81 who, according to Le Figaro, already needs a successor.

The Holy Father arrives at St. Peter's Basilica to perform final funeral rites
and deliver the eulogy for Cardinal Trujillo, Wednesday, April 23

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/29/2008 7:00 AM]
4/27/2008 5:06 AM
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Padre Pio, Pope Benedict: Soul Mates?

By Jeff Israely
TIME Magazine
April 25, 2008

In 1947, a young Polish priest named Karol Wojtyla made the pilgrimage to a small town in Puglia to have his confession heard by Padre Pio, the mysterious Italian monk with the Christ-like stigmata wounds on his hands. It was that encounter — along with Wojtyla's belief that a prayer by the Capuchin monk had cured a friend's cancer in 1962 — that helps explain why Padre Pio was fast-tracked for sainthood once Wojtyla had risen to the papacy as John Paul II. But some may now wonder if the current pope, the cerebral and professorial Benedict XVI, has the same affinity for the popular Italian wonder-worker who died in 1968?

The issue emerges as as tearful pilgrims and television crews flocked this week to the friar-saint's final resting place, San Giovanni Rotondo, a kind of Las Vegas-meets-Bethlehem hilltop pilgrimage destination. They were there to see the exhumed corpse of Padre Pio, which had been put on display in a glass casket, with a special silicon mask — beard, bushy eyebrows and all — created by London-based wax museum artisans. Everyone knows what John Paul II felt about Padre Pio. But how can Benedict, the intellectually rigorous theologian, dubbed "the Pope of Reason," sanction such widespread belief in faith-healing and emotional attachments to icons and relics?

Some may even note a snub of sorts. John Paul visited San Giovanni Rotondo in 1987 to mark 100 years since Padre Pio's birth. But Benedict is making his second papal visit to the Puglia region in June, and has left the town off his itinerary both times

Those who know the current Pope and have worked with the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger cannot recall in his extensive writings anything specific about Padre Pio. The only apparent reference to the miracle-worker in the three-year papacy of Benedict XVI is a rather straightforward 2006 discourse Benedict gave in Rome to mark the 50th anniversary of a hospital founded by the monk. "Emulate him," the Pope told worshipers in St. Peter's Square, "in order to help all to live a profound spiritual experience, centered on contemplation of the Crucified Christ."

The kind of "popular piety" that has built up around Padre Pio, and other Church figures and relics, with its promise of special powers and healing the sick, is seen by some critics as veering toward superstition. Benedict has not condemned it, but he has made a point of slowing the output of his predecessor's so-called "saint factory," which during John Paul's 26-year papacy produced hundreds of canonizations.

Close observers of Benedict, however, argue that his focus on reconciling reason and faith does not favor one over the other. While he may not dwell on the popular Padre Pio, the Pope, explains Raphaela Schmid, a Rome-based German philosopher and student of Ratzinger's writings, recognizes that Catholicism's more popular manifestations and the religion's search for an intellectual basis "both have a place in the Church." Schmid says that Benedict has explained why it is "not irrational" to venerate the saints, or believe in miracles. "What you see in this is the language of the heart," she says of Ratzinger's reasoning. "The miracle is the trust."

The kind of devotion that Padre Pio's followers display is not excluded in the Ratzinger recipe for spreading the gospel. Indeed such open-hearted faith, and saint worship itself, is intrinsic to the Pope's message. He wrote of saints in his last encyclical, Spe Salvi or "Saved by Hope." In his recently completed visit to the United States, the saints were the focus of his talk to young people and seminarians in Yonkers, New York. "Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience of God's presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of Christianity," Benedict said. "Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship. Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder."

Still, every Pope has his favorite saints. Benedict's leans most of all toward St. Augustine, the fourth century philosopher Father of the Church, who he regularly cites in his homilies. Last year, Benedict made a pilgrimage to Pavia to pray at Augustine's relics there. And he is not excluding other sites of miracles from his future journeys. In September, Benedict is slated to visit Lourdes, the French town where millions of sick and disabled Catholics go each year to seek healing from a spring revealed by the Virgin Mary.


Jeff Israely is obviously not aware that as CardInal Ratzinger, the Pope took an afternoon off during an official appointment in the region in 2002 to visit Padre Pio's places in Pietrelcina - An account of it was posted in ENCOUNTERS WITH THE FUTURE POPE early on in the Forum -
and that shortly after the exhumation of the saint's remains a few weeks ago, it was announced by the parish priest in San Giovanni Rotondo that a visit by Pope Benedict while the saint was on display to the public was very possible. [P.S. He did so again on the day the exposition of Padre Pio's remains opened last week.]

From the article on the 2002 visit, we learn that the Cardinal commented on a lady who recounted to a reporter a miracle attributed to Padre Pio:

It may have been ingenuous or childlike, but her behavior reflected something of the original trustfulness that we had been given as a gift and which is rooted in the awareness that we have friends in the world beyond this, that such friends are near, that they can help us, and that we can call on them with trust.

In the guest book at Pietrelcina, this what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:

May Saint Padre Pio always help his brothers and all pilgrims to love the suffering Christ and make a commitment to charity that springs from the open heart of the Lord.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/28/2008 6:46 PM]
4/27/2008 1:28 PM
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A full translation of the Holy Father's homily at the Ordination Mass has been posted in HOMILIES, DISCOURSES, MESSAGES.

This morning, the Holy Father presided at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at which he conferred priestly orders on 29 deacons - 28 from the Diocese of Rome and one from the Pontifical Urban
College of Propaganda Fide [the Vatican's missionary arm].

Among those ordained was an Iraqi, Robert S. Jarjis, of the Chaldean Patriarchate of Baghdad, who completed his seminary studies at the Major Seminary of Rome.

The Pope later made his noonday appearance at his study window overlooking St. Peter's Square to lead the Regina Caeli prayers and delivered his usual mini-homily.

The Pope lays hands on Fr. Jarjis of Iraq at the ordination rite.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/5/2008 9:06 PM]
4/27/2008 2:14 PM
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A full translation of the Holy Father's words has been posted in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS.

Before the recitation of the Regina caeli today, the Holy Father spoke about the ordination of 29 new priests that he had just performed at St. Peter's.

He also referred briefly to his recent trip to the United States, saying he would speak more amply about it at the General Audience on Wednesday.

After the prayer, he had these special messages:

The news which comes from some African countries continues to be cause for profound suffering and great concern. I ask you not to ignore these tragic events and our brothers and sisters who are involved in them. I ask you to pray for them and to be their voice!

In Somalia, especially in Mogadishu, bitter armed encounters are bringing increasing tragedy in the humanitarian crisis of those dear people who have been oppressed so many years by the weight of brutality and poverty.

Darfur, despite momentary glimmers of hope, remains an endless tragedy for hundreds of thousands of defenseless people who have been left to themselves.

Finally Burundi. After the bombardment in the past few days which have struck and terrorized the residents of the capital Bujumbara and which struck even the Apostolic Nunciature there, and in the face of the risk of a new civil war, I invite all parties in the dispute to resume without delay the way of dialog and reconciliation.

I trust that the local political authorities, responsible officials in the international community and every person of good will will not neglect any effort to put an end to the violence, and to honor commitments that have been undertaken to place a solid basis for peace and development.

Let us entrust our intentions to Mary, Queen of Africa.

In English, he said:

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Regina Caeli.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord speaks to us of the mystery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May we always remain faithful to this divine communion by living the commandments that he has given us.

4/27/2008 2:51 PM
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John Allen of NCR
Also did a post on the "ailing" Pope and described speculation (on his successor) as "fun." I can only describe Allen as an unrepentant Ratzinger-basher and I wonder why they allow him a seat on the Papal plane.


Well, I disagree that speculating about the Papal succession at any time other than after a Pope has died is any 'fun' - it is tasteless, vulgar and inconsiderate, as was Herve Yannou's article for Le Figaro. Here is Allen's piece. TERESA

Le Figaro declares papal primary season open
April 27, 2008

During the early phases of planning for Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United States, some voices advised against visiting America in the middle of the 2008 election, given the inevitable risk of being drawn into partisan politics.

One senior Vatican official dismissed those fears with the quip: “When is it not campaign season in the United States these days?”

Apparently, it’s pretty much always campaign season in the Vatican these days too.

That, at least, is the conclusion one might draw from an April 25 article in Le Figaro by Hervé Yannou, the Rome correspondent of the leading French newsmagazine.

Sounding an alarm about papal health, Yannou claimed that Benedict appeared weary during his American swing, particularly during his Saturday morning Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

Moreover, Yannou observed, Benedict skipped his regular Wednesday audience after his return from the States, and allowed a funeral Mass for Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo to be celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals.

Going further back in time, Yannou also recalled that Benedict XVI did not walk the traditional Good Friday route in Rome’s Colosseum, but rather sat through most of it.

“And,” Yannou wrote ominously, “it’s no secret to anyone that the Pope’s heart is fragile.”

Having made a case for declining papal vigor, Yannou suggested that it’s time to begin thinking about the post- Benedict XVI succession. Specifically, he pointed to two cardinals as occupying the pole position to become the next pope: the Italian Tarcisio Bertone, 74, currently Benedict’s top aide as the Secretary of State, and the Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, 72, who in effect was the runner-up to Benedict XVI in the conclave of April 2005.

Yannou also tossed in the name of Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, 65, who is quoted in a new book-length interview in France as describing the desirability of a future pope coming from outside Europe. (In French, the book is titled G]De la difficulté d'évoquer Dieu dans un monde qui pense ne pas en avoir besoin: Entretiens avec Éric Valmir, or "On the difficulty of talking about God in a world that doesn't think it needs him: Conversations with Eric Valmir.")

Reaction to the Le Figaro piece in the Vatican so far has not been the traditional pique when the Pope’s health is questioned, but rather amusement.

After all, Benedict XVI has just completed the longest and most challenging foreign trip of his papacy, and by all accounts showed remarkable stamina. Of all the moments in which to launch an alarm about the Pope’s physical condition, officials have suggested, this seems to be among the least well-chosen.

“Certainly, the Pope is 81 years old,” said Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican Press Office. “But on live television, before the eyes of the whole world, anyone can see that he’s fine and is performing all of his duties.”

Lombardi noted, for example, that it’s traditional for the Pope to skip the General Audience after he returns from a long trip, and that last Wednesday’s edition was taken off the calendar more than two months ago – not, therefore, in response to any particular health concern. Lombardi also noted that today, April 27, the Pope will preside over a lengthy ordination ceremony for new deacons.

Of course, unlike presidents of the United States, the Pope does not have an annual physical with the results released to the public, so to some extent armchair diagnoses about his health are inevitable.

The Vatican also has a history of denying and minimizing reports of papal illness; even amid the long twilight of John Paul II, it really wasn’t until the last 48 hours that Vatican spokespersons began to speak openly about the gravity of his condition.

In reality, however, those who have followed Benedict XVI closely over the first three years of his papacy generally don’t see any particular signs of decline. These days in Rome, comparisons with Pope Leo XIII are very much in the air – elected at 68, Leo reigned until he was 93, the third-longest pontificate in church history.

The paring back of Benedict’s public schedule to which Yannou refers, including the decision to sit out the Good Friday procession, seems less like a reaction to fatigue than a precautionary measure to prevent that fatigue in the first place.

If Benedict continues to pace himself carefully, there’s no reason to suspect that he couldn’t continue for some time to come.

If the Le Figaro doesn’t tell us much about the actual state of Benedict’s health, however, it does illustrate an iron-clad rule of Vatican coverage: However thin the pretext may be, speculation about the next Pope is always guaranteed to generate an audience.

In that sense, one could suggest that Yannou’s piece marks the informal opening of the papal primary season. With John Paul II, that season lasted the better part of 20 years, with recurrent flurries of speculation about his imminent demise followed by new bursts of papal energy and activity.

How long it may last in this case is anyone’s guess, but there’s no reason to think the cycle won’t repeat itself. Though it may be ill-timed or groundless, speculation about the essentially unknowable is simply too much fun.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/27/2008 4:52 PM]
4/27/2008 4:41 PM
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'The Holy Father is very well,
thank you' - Mons. Gaenswein

Translated from La Repubblica
April 27, 2008

VATICAN CITY - "False news, devoid of any basis. The Holy Father is very well, thank you. He has no health problems, and that was obvious during his recent visit to the USA. Sinee he returned to the Vatican, he has not cancelled any appointments. He carries on his ministry every day with the same tireless dedication. There has been no change."

Mons. Georg Gaenswein, personal secretary to Pope Benedict XVI, almost never grants interviews or makes any statements. But this time, he broke his traditional reserve to refute what he calls 'plain falsities printed in the French newspaper Le Figaro."

Mons. Gaenswein, Le Figaro is one of the most authoritative itnernational newspapers. Is it possible that they could have committed such a blunder about the health of the Holy Father?
I'm not interested why they wrote what they did. What I would like to say with absolute certainty is that the report is completely false and devoid of any basis. I do not understand why they published it and to what purpose, all the more because it came just after the whole world saw the Holy Father undertake a series of important pastoral activities on the international level.

You are referring to the trip made to the USA and the United Nations...
Exactly. The Holy Father, as he usually does, even in this pastoral visit to America and the UN gave of himself with passion and love, he spoke, he prayed, he faced all the commitments scheduled - and added a few. Everyone saw him.

I do not uderstand how stories like this begin and how they take flesh! But it is all false. He works everyday, whether in public or in private. And he usually works till late at night.

But it is true that the Pope has reduced his public commitments. As Le Figaro points out, last Wednesday, he did not hold a general audience, and he did not celebrate the funeral Mass for Cardinal Trujillo. At the concert on Thursday in Aula Paolo VI, he had limited contact with the public. [But he does not mingle with 'the public' after such events. He goes to greet the performers, delivers his remarks, and leaves!]
Plain coincidence. The Holy Father has his own pastoral style. Whoever speculates about his health, like that newspaper and those who would give it credence, are simply indulging in cheap ‘dietrologia’ [Italian neologism for ‘trying to fhind out what’s behind the scenes’ for those who never take anything at face value].

No one should be concerned. The Pope is not cutting down on his pastoral acitivity and the government of the universal Church is in good hands.

Repubblica, 27 aprile 2008

4/28/2008 2:13 PM
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Message to Le Figaro
Age is just a number!!!!! [What I wanted to write is unprintable!]

Also, as Federico Lombardi so sensibly pointed out, the time differences between Eastern USA and Rome are considerable. Anyone of any age would need several days, probably a week, to get over that.

4/28/2008 6:42 PM
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Chronicle of an announced lie
By Giacomo Galeazzi
Translated from La Stampa
April 28, 2008

The Italian media generally took little notice - i.e., no one picked it up to amplify it - of the Le Figaro canard by Herve Yannou this weekend claiming that the Pope's health is failing and starting to speculate about the succession. Obviously, one of the reasons for ignoring it is that they do not agree with it. But why not say so?

The Vatican correspondent for La Stampa has done just that - and analyzes what could prompt such a blatant falsehood.

VATICAN CITY - A chronicle of a lie announced. The false alarm over the health of Benedict XVI last Saturday in the French newspaper Le Figaro - and immediately refuted by the Holy See - is not simply a blatant journalistic error.

It is something worse, which comes from the frenzied quest for anything that could call attention, ring the bells, even at the risk of ridicule.

To us Vaticanistas who followed the seemingly endless calendar of activities during his historic visit to the United States, the Pope appeared to be in dazzling form.

In every meeting, every immersion in the crowd, through thousands of hands shaken, speeches, celebrations and conversations held in a language foreign to him - never once cutting back, never a sign of fatigue.

That is why I asked my newspaper not to make me go on a pointless chase for indications (none whatsoever) over the presumed bad state(inexistent) of the Pope's health!

My colleagues in the other newspapers did the same thing, and that is why the Le Figaro story was not echoed in the Italian press at all.

The truth is that Benedict XVI, in preaching the Gospel, 'disturbs'. The reason for this 'allergic reaction' to Catholicism is expressed very well by the spokesman of Opus Dei, Giuseppe Corigliano, in a series of reflections that represent for me, a fundamental orientation. This is what Corigliano argues:

The Protestant Reformation sowed mistrust against CAtholicism among many peoples of northern Europe. That is a seed which has been very much weakened but has not disappeared.

Another anti-Catholic seed was the philosophy that led to the French Revolution. In particular, thinking like Rousseau's, which sees the 'wild savage' as the ideal for every goodness, and sees Catholic morals as the oppressive yoke that poisons society - making Catholicism the reality that must be fought and opposed for the good of mankind.

That is the reason behind the missionary zeal with which the Church continues to be attacked, to the point where it has become the only entity that one can savage with impunity, but rather earning merit for doing so.

Therefore, its opponents must discredit and calumniate it in a Rossinian crescendo [This refers to a famour aria on 'Calumny' in Rossini's opera 'Barber of Seville'] - until the little breezes of calumny are gathered together to become a thunderous cannonshot.

This does not mean seeing the dominant culture in the West today as 'evil' but simply as a product of its history, a legacy from the 16th and 17th centuries that has been uncritically carried on.

Of course, Corigliano points out, there is nothing new under the sun. Jesus himself, in the Gospel of Luke, said: "Beware when men say nothing but good about you." Whoever follows Jesus may please many but not everyone.

So the 'annoyance' or 'disturbance' raised by the missionary zeal of Benedict XVI is also at the origin of this pradoxical journalistic slip by Le Figaro. It is an indication of secular unease as millions of people around the world appear to have a new thirst for God and are increasingly disillusioned with the false idols of this world.

The idolatry of sexuality which promises the joys of Paradise but which is promptly disappointing. The idolatry of money - you may well go to your grave with millions without ever having tasted a life of love. The idolatry of celebrity which brings nothing but emptiness. The idolatry of power which comes to nought when you are by yourself.

Corigliano loves to say that the mystery which surrounds us is great, and a verse by the Italian poet Giuseppe Carducci reflects the secular unease which pervades the cultural air today and which finds absurd concretizations in the pages of the newspapers. “Meglio, oprando, obliar senza indagarlo questo grande mister dell’universo” (Better to act, forgetting, without investigation, this great mystery of the universe). That is, better to get into action without questioning the sense of the reality which surrounds us.

"But why not allow the possibility to listen to a God who wants to reveal himself?" Corigliano asks. Should the God who speaks through his chosen people [believers, not just Jews] and to all mankind be ignored?

The apostolate of Benedict XVI is the providnential response to these questions.

That is why he causes great disturbance among those who do not have the courage to ask these questions.


Galeazzi's references to Corigliano in the above article come from a recent talk he had with Corigliano on the occasion of the third anniversary of Benedict XVI's Pontificate. Here is a translation of the interview on that subject:

'This Pontificate will leave
an indelible mark in history'

di Giacomo Galeazzi*

VATICAN CITY - "The Pontificate of Benedict XVI will leave an indelible mark in history," says Giuseppe Corigliano, spokesman for Opus Dei, director of its Office for Communications, a man who is always very measured in his words.

As an 'apostle of ommunications', he is convinced that we are at the dawn of a Christian rebirth which will eventually leave its mark even in the mass media.

Ninety-nine percent of world television programming today does not allow any space for God, he notes. The ideal of life that it proposes is to live as though there is no God. But when John Paul II died, hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, found themselves glued to television.

The God who chose the way of suffering out of love for mankind, as Benedict XVI points out, teaches us that "To serve is the best way to govern", has so much to say to man today. The world of communications could proclaim the 'good news' of Christ to the global village. And Benedict XVI is lighting the way.

In this interview, Corigliano also speaks for the first time about the Joseph Ratzinger he knew.

We recently marked the third anniversary of the election of Benedict XVI and the Church has entered the fourth year of the Ratzinger Pontificate. It seems like a good moment to analyze the goals and guidelines of a tirnennial which has been extraordinary for the Catholic world. What does Opus Dei think of this Papacy?
It is not for the information director of Opus Dei to 'evaluate' the Holy Father. The members of Opus Dei cannot be 'represented' in tottality, iont he sense that everyone thinks as he pleases. And in this case, one might say, everyone loves the Pope as he wishes. What is certain is that we in the Opus Dei love the Pope, otherwise, we would not be worthy sons of St. Josemaria (Escriva de Balaguer, foundr of Opus Dei].

April 19, 2005- April 19, 2008. A triennial that has been incredibly dense and rich with events, during which Benedict XVI has met more than 10 million pilgrims in St. Peter's alone, he has made eight foreign trips and eight pastoral visits in Italy, he has written two encyclicals and the book JESUS OF NAZARETH, he has created 38 new cardinals in two consistories, he has written a historic letter to the Catholics of China. Can one speak of a 'Benedict effet' on the Church and a 'surprising Pontificate', as many newspapers call it?
We might. But for me, it is not surprising. In the early 70s, the spiritual director of the Italian regional commission (Opus Dei's governing body in Italy), Fr. Ermanno Tubini, told me: "I am reading Introduction to Christianity by Ratzinger - what a wonderful book!" But I did not get to read it myself until the early 1980s, and I was so enthusiastic that I thought it my duty to do something so that it could be read by as many people as possible - as an exposition of the message of Jesus in a way that is so particularly adapted to the 'hearing' of contemporary man.

And what did you decide to do about it?
I thought shoudl make a documentary that would be an introduction to the book, that would stimulate an itnerest in reading it. No one would listen to me at RAI or at Mediaset [the two major TV establishments in Italy], so I decided to do it on my own. I found someone to finance it and I set out to work.

I produced an hour-long documentary in which I tried to use the same plain and simple language as the author himself. I asked Lux for permission to use some scenes from their TV productions on the Bible and I used paintings by Giotto and Fra Angelico for furhter illustration.

I made the documentary available to Catholic schools and placed it at the disposal of Opus Dei in its activities of formation and training, and for all those who wished to have a closer look at Christianity.

Then, when the Internet became routine, I finally put the documentary online. It can be seen on, video section, and I am nowthinking of placing it on YouTube.

Among your meetings with Joseph Ratzinger, which one would you recall particularly?
I came to know the Cardinal up close in our Pontifical University of Santa Croce at a meeting reserved for professors. The professors expressed their doubts to him and asked questions. He responded to everyone with amiable calm and a surprising profundity.

His concepts were so clear and elevated - like treetops of towering stature above a forest - and the whole exchange seemed like a pleasant stroll in the shadow of those trees.

A short while later, I had the pleasure of presenting him with a book on Opus Dei that had been published by San Paolo. Again, he showed himself to be both a very good-humored man as well as someone who could speak very well of the 'work of God', which is the spirit and inspiration for Opus Dei. He said without hesitation that indded, holiness is accessible to everyone.

And after the death of John Paul II?
During the Conclave, I prayed - as the Prelate of Opus Dei had asked us to do on such occasions - opening myself to the will of Providence. I have seen enough Conclaves and know that the solutions offered by the Holy Spirit can be disconcerting.

On the second day, after the fourth balloting, the smoke from the chimney had an ambiguous color...But by the time I reached St. Peter's Square on my motorcycle - even as the entire city seemed to be converging towards it - the word 'Josephum' pronounced during the Habemus papam announcement made me jump up the highest I have ever done so in my life!

As for these three years of the Pontificate so far, I can only say this: This Pope will continue to be read and heard. The fruit of his teachings will last for centuries to the benefit of the Church.


And the Catholic Church should be very proud that in the past 30 years, it has given the world two great figures capable of commanding the world stage like John Paul II and Benedict XVI - without intending any slight to the previous Popes, equally great in their own ways, who simply did not have the global communications platform that has since become available.

P.S. I see that Il Giornale's Andrea Tornielli, ever reliable and loyal, did write an article responding to the Figaro canard in the Sunday issue of his paper:

So the Pope is 'ailing'!
Did anyone notice that at all
during the US trip and since?

by Andrea Tornielli
Translated from Il Giornale
April 27, 2008

The French newspaper Le Figaro, in an article about the first three years of the current Pontificate, 'reveals' that Benedict XVI is old, he is 81 years old, that his arteries have the same age and that his heart is weak, hoping to set off in this way an alarm over his state of health.

And while they're at it, why not start considering the possible successors - it refers to Cardinals Bertone, Bergoglio and Maradiaga.

"Everyone knows," says Herve Yannou in Figaro, "that his (Benedict's) health is fragile. He goes up and down stairs and still walks briskly but he has the age of his arteries. Besides, it is no secret to anyone that this Pope has a weak heart."

He notes that during the trip to the United States, the Pope at times looked 'exhausted' and that he has reduced his public commitments at the Vatican.

Now, whoever followed Papa Ratzinger's American visit knows how well the Pope tolerated the change in time zones and how well he carried out all his scheduled commitments, many of them gruelling.

Upon returning from the trip (and a day's rest), he presided at the final rites and eulogy for the late Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo from Colombia, and will preside today at a long oridination ceremony. In a few weeks he will be visiting Savona and Geona, then Brindisi, then Australia. And in Spetember, he will go to Sardinia, then to Paris and Lourdes.

This newspaper has verified that there is no reason for any alarm and that indeed, the Pope has rested very well following the US visit.

Vatican press director Fr. Federico Lombardi said it was 'absoltuely paradoxical' that Le Figaro should make the claims it does just when the Pope has "just returned from a very demanding, long and exhausting visit aboroad, during which he brilliantly carried out all his commitments without having to change or lighten the program in the least bit."

"Of course, the Pope is 81," he added, "but during direct and delayrd telecasts, the whole world saw how well he was during the trip and how well he carried out all the things he did."


Benedict XVI is an intelligent person. One has to think he would not only follow his physician's instructions about what he can and cannot do, but that he himself 'listens' to what his body tells him. I felt, for instance, last Good Friday that he omitted the prostration because he perhaps felt that he was not up to such an action, at that moment.

In contrast, it was announced earlier that he was not going to walk the entire Via Crucis procession at the Colosseum - and I saw it as part of his effort to conserve as much as he could of his strength for the coming US trip - especially since it was a rainy, chilly night and forecast to be so. Or it could still be due to the fact that it was an 'off' day for him for physical exertion - and when you are on the eve of an important and demanding trip, you do not take any unnecessary chances.

In any case, we can all trust his judgment to be as prudent as he can about his activities without being unduly cautious in any way that would detract from his pastoral duties. Meanwhile, we go on praying for him and sustaining him with our love and prayers.

One should never discount the salutary effects - which can be phsyical as well as pscyhological - of massive public affection on anyone. And this was so evident in the timeless, ageless look of joy and spiritual radiance - that ineffable beauty - on Benedict's face, when he acknowledged public acclamation during his US visit. It was certainly the most breathtaking impression I had of the two occasions that I managed to see him closest without obstruction.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/28/2008 9:34 PM]
4/29/2008 2:44 AM
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Thanks to Beatrice and her site, whose banner for the Pope's coming visit to France I am using for now...The French bishops have confirmed the program for the Holy Father's visit to France in the fall as reported by La Croix last Saturday and posted on this thread earlier, but in less detailed form.

Pope to visit France Sept. 12-15

PARIS, APRIL 28, 2008 ( The French episcopal conference confirmed today the dates for Benedict XVI's trip to France marking the 150th anniversary of the Lourdes apparitions.

The Pope will arrive in Paris on Sept. 12. He is scheduled to meet with civil leaders, including President Nicolas Sarkozy. Later on, he will give a discourse directed to the world of culture.

That evening in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Holy Father will celebrate vespers with priests, deacons, religious and seminarians. Afterward, he will give an address to youth.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, the Pontiff will celebrate a public Mass. Also during his time in the capital city, Benedict XVI will meet with representatives of other Christian confessions, as well as Jewish and Muslim leaders, the French bishops reported.

Saturday afternoon, the Holy Father will travel to Lourdes, where he will give an address to the pilgrims.

Sunday, Sept. 14, the Pope will preside over a solemn Mass with the pilgrims. That afternoon, he will meet with French bishops and participate in a Eucharistic procession.

The next day, the Holy Father will administer the anointing of the sick during a Mass. He will return to Rome that Monday afternoon.


Following God's call
never brings disappointment

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 28, 2008 ( A "yes" to God opens the font of happiness, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this in a letter made public Saturday, addressed to Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris. The papal message marked the 100th anniversary of an annual youth pilgrimage from the province of Paris.

This year's 6-day pilgrimage, destined for Lourdes, ended Sunday.

In his letter to the cardinal, who is also president of the French bishops' conference, the Holy Father mentioned that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous.

Benedict XVI called on young people to imitate Mary's response when she was "invited to follow an amazing yet disconcerting journey. Her readiness led her to experience a joy of which all previous generations had sung."

"Our 'yes' to God makes the font of true happiness gush forth," the Pope affirmed. "It frees the 'I' from everything that closes it in on itself. It brings the poverty of our lives into the richness and power of God's plan, without restricting our freedom and our responsibility. [...] It conforms our lives to Christ's own life."

The Holy Father encouraged the young "to celebrate with enthusiasm the joy of loving Christ and of believing and hoping in him, and to follow with trust the path of initiation you have before you."

"I particularly invite you to take up the witness of your ancestors in the faith, and to learn to welcome the word of God -- in silence and meditation -- so that it can mould your hearts and produce generous fruits in you," he added.

This pilgrimage, the Pontiff concluded, "is also a good time to allow yourselves to be asked by Christ: 'What do you want to do with your lives?' May those among you who feel the call to follow him in the priesthood or in consecrated life -- as have so many young participants in these pilgrimages -- reply to the Lord's call and put yourselves totally at the service of the Church, with a life completely dedicated to the Kingdom of heaven. You will never be disappointed."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/29/2008 2:52 AM]
4/29/2008 3:00 AM
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Archbishop Migliore recounts
his three days hosting the Pope

By Jesús Colina

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2008 ( In this interview with ZENIT, Archbishop Migliore recounts his personal experience of the papal trip, and comments on the message Benedict XVI delivered to the United Nations.

What was the moment of the Pope's visit that you will never forget?
There are many, as you can imagine. Americans were waiting to see and experience for themselves Benedict XVI’s spirituality, intellect and humanity that they were already seeing by way of the media.

Upon his arrival they saw the Pope happy to be in the United States, happy and eager to meet Americans of all levels. All the events that he participated in were marked by festivity, warmth and mutual understanding.

And then, the profound empathy of the Pope with what remains the most vivid symbol for Americans, Ground Zero. The ceremony, expressed almost without words, spoken heart-to-heart, made the Pope seem like one of them, and at the same time invested with such authority to communicate his own message.

By the same token, on two evenings the Pope went out of the residence in New York to greet the hundreds of people convened to sing and wish him a happy birthday.

On Saturday evening there were 50 children in the first row visibly affected from various types of cancer. The affection and the sense of profound dignity expressed by the Pope revealed his highest moral authority that can offer hope and confidence.

Could you tell us what the Holy Father told you?
I had the privilege and great pleasure of spending three days with the Holy Father in the residence of his representative at the United Nations. During the meals we shared our sentiments, impressions and exchanges of information about the unfolding of the Papal visit and the warm welcome and reception he was receiving.

On the occasion of his third anniversary of his pontificate, it was Pope Benedict who offered us a wonderful gift: He wished to have all my collaborators at the table for dinner. This was the highlight for all of us who had an opportunity to share with the Holy Father the joys and burdens, as well as the funny moments, of our activity at the United Nations.

Do you have any reactions from the national delegations in the United Nations to the Pope's speech?
This is a time of difficulty and tension also for the United Nations. The Pope uplifted spirits.

Knowing that the United Nations is not a bed of roses even for the Pope, I had the impression that many diplomats who heard him stress the most beautiful potential of the United Nations, felt comforted and encouraged to work for a United Nations which delivers.

No doubt it was the meeting with the staff that accounted for the most enthusiastic response throughout the United Nations. At many points in his address the Pope smiled and looked at the crowd. His warmth and comfort was echoed by the crowd’s response, in its excitement and cheers, and in the standing ovations they gave him. This festive reaction by the staff was not just stadium frenzy, but it was motivated also by the message he delivered to them.

The Pope said he and the Church believe in the United Nations, and urged the institution to go back to the original principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. How was his message received by members of the United Nations?
In particular, they had the impression that the Pope was reading their heart, their personal desire for justice and freedom. From what I hear from diplomats and officials at the United Nations, the words of the Pope will have an echo and a profound and studied following, especially with regard to the role of the United Nations and international law.

How is the "responsibility to protect," mentioned by the Holy Father, a new principle for the international community? How would this differ from the international community's response to oppressive governments in the past?
He stated that the moral basis for a government’s claim to authority, to sovereignty, is its responsibility for, its willingness to, and effectiveness in protecting its populations from any kind of violation of human rights.

While borrowing this expression from the Outcome Document adopted by Heads of State and Government in 2005, Pope Benedict outlined a broader concept: Responsibility to protect covers not only the so-called humanitarian -- military -- interventions, rather, it could be used as the new name for sovereignty, which is not only a right, but above all a responsibility to protect and promote the populations in their daily lives.

Fr. Lombardi comments
on the Pope's UN speech

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2008 ( XVI offered the United Nations a valuable service when he offered the international organization a principled foundation for human rights, according to a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, speaking on the most recent episode of the weekly Vatican Television program “Octava Dies,” commented on the Pope's April 18 address to the U.N. General Assembly

“There were some who expected the Pope on his visit to the United Nations to denounce one or another of the dramatic situations of injustice and conflict in the world today," began the spokesman.

"No. The Pope has done that and continues to do it often, in his address to the diplomatic corps at the beginning of the year, in his Christmas and Easter messages, in numerous appeals on different occasions.

“There were those who expected that the Pope would engage in polemics against the tendencies of various U.N. agencies to favor abortion and contraception. No.

"On this occasion the Pope chose to give a speech of a different nature, a speech on the foundations and the principles, a speech that will last through time, because this was the more urgent and more positive contribution to make in that place.”

“It was a speech that was very consistent with the specific moral authority of the Catholic Church and the general style of the magisterium of Benedict XVI,” Father Lombardi noted.

The Vatican spokesman continued: “There are universally valid principles, for men and women of every time and under every sky. In man’s nature, in the dignity of the person one can recognize and read the basis of the order to respect and upon which to reflect in social and political relationships and regimes, even if in forms that are always in need of improvement and perfecting.

“Forcefully asserting this, Benedict XVI offered the most precious service to the United Nations, defending the permanent value of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and he found the conviction and the determination to do this from the perspective of the Christian and religious vision of the world.”

The spokesman concluded, “Once again the Church has offered to the nations, with a fraternal attitude of service, its ‘experience of humanity,’ on behalf of justice and peace.”

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/29/2008 3:07 AM]
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China Philharmonic Orchestra
to perform Mozart Requiem
at the Vatican for Benedict XVI

Translated from the
Italian service of

On May 7, the China Philharmonic Orchestra of Beijing and the Shanghai Opera House Chorus will perofrm Mozart's Requiem in honor of the Holy Father at the Aula Paolo VI.

The orchestra is on a European tour and will offer the concert at the Vatican during a stopover in Italy.

It is considered China's premier orchestra, established in 2000 in place of its antecedent China Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Yong Lu. Adviser tot eh orchestra is DengRong, daughter of the late President Deng Xiao-Ping.

The orchestra first performed in Italy in 2004, at a Christmas concert for the Italian Senate, which was broadcast iternationally.

It has performed around the world, particularly in Europe, North America and Asia.

The orchestra first performed the Mozart Requiem, in collaboration with Milan's La Scala, at the 9th International Festival of Music in Beijing in 2006, to mark the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. The concert was held at the Wang Fujing Catholic Church of Beijing.

The coming performance at the Vatican of a great classic work of European music with religious inspiration confirms music as a most valuable language and means of dialog among peoples and cultures.


It also appears to be another sign of the slow rapprochement between the Vatican and Beijing. The inside story of how this concert came to be arranged obviously remains to be told.

Reuters picked up the story later:

Beijing orchestra
to play for Pope,
easing tension

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The China Philharmonic Orchestra will perform for Pope Benedict next week in an unprecedented gesture that Vatican sources said could signal a thaw in often icy relations between the Vatican and Beijing.

Vatican Radio said on Tuesday the concert will take place on May 7 in the Vatican's vast audience hall. The orchestra will perform Mozart's "Requiem" along with the Shanghai Opera House Chorus.

The radio called the concert, which will take place during the orchestra's European tour, "important" and added:

"With the performance in the Vatican of a great classic opera of European music and religious inspiration, music is confirming its role as a language and most precious medium for dialogue among peoples and cultures."

Benedict has made improving relations with Beijing a major goal of his pontificate and issued a 55-page open letter in June saying he sought to restore full diplomatic ties with Beijing that were severed two years after the 1949 Communist takeover.

"This could not have happened without the government approving it," said one diplomatic source.

Catholics in China are split between those who belong to a state-backed Church and an underground Church whose members are loyal to the Vatican.

Relations between the Vatican and Beijing have hit low points several times in recent years as the Vatican criticised China for appointing bishops without papal approval.

Benedict accused China of "grave violations of religious freedom" in 2006.

Relations warmed significantly last September when the Vatican approved the installation of a new state-approved Catholic bishop of Beijing.

Last month Benedict called for dialogue to end the "suffering" of the people in Tibet and a Chinese crackdown but used extremely diplomatic language.

Beijing wants the Vatican to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China considers and renegade province.

In 2007, the Vatican did an about face over a meeting between the pope and the Dalai Lama.

A Vatican official told reporters in late October the Pope had scheduled a meeting with the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism on Dec. 13.

Beijing responded by saying such a meeting would "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" and urged the Pontiff to show he "is sincere in improving relations".

Later that month, the Vatican said the Pope had no plans to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to Rome, saying they had met the previous year.



From the Holy Father's meetings on Monday, April 28, which included one with Cuban bishops on ad-limina visit, the Vatican released this picture of the Holy Father with Cuban Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/1/2008 3:26 AM]
4/29/2008 7:17 PM
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I have seriously been inattentive to the Holy Father's coming pastoral trips in Italy, and the first of three scheduled this year is coming up soon.

On May 17-18, the Holy Father will visit Savona and Genoa, both in the Italian region of Liguria,
northwestern Italy. Genoa is the capital of Liguria.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

15:30 The Pope leaves Ciampino airport (Rome) for Genoa.

16:20 The papal flight lands at Genoa's Cristoforo Colombo international airport. This is considered a technical stop.
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and President of the Italian bishops' conference, will join
the papal entourage, which will transfer to a helicopter for the flight to Savona.

16:45 Arrival in Savona.
The Pope will be welcomed by Mons. Vittorio Lupi, Bishop of Savona-Noli; Mons. Giuseppe Bertello, Apostolic Nuncio in Italy;
Antonio Zanardi Landi, Italian ambassador to the Holy See; Claudio Burlando, regional president of Liguria; Nicoletta Frediani,
prefect of Savona; Mayor Federico Berruti, and the president of Savona province, Marco Bertolotto.

16:50 The Pope arrives by Popemobile at the Sanctuary for a brief private prayer.

17:00 The Pope travels by Popemobile to the Piazza del Popolo, where he will pass through the various sectors
of the assembly before proceeding to the altar.

17:45 After a welcome from Mayor Berruti, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass.

18:45 After the Mass, the Pope will take the Popemobile to the Bishop's Palace, passing through Corso Italia,
in front of City Hall, then Via Sta. Maria Maggiore and Piazza Chabrol.
- The Pope will visit the three rooms in which Pope Pius VII was held prisoner for almost three years by Napoleon
Bonaparte in the early 1800s.
- The Popemobile will leave the Bishops's Palace, pass before the Cathedral and will head towards the port area,
to the Palacrociere, where the Holy Father will board a helicopter to proceed to Genoa.

Saturday-Sunday, May 17-18, 2008

20:45 The Holy Father arrives by helicopter at the Shrine of Nostra Signora della Guardia, Patroness of Genoa,
where he will be welcomed by local authorities and the rector of the Shrine. He will then proceed to the Shrine's
Hospitality House for dinner and overnight rest.

SUNDAY, May 18
09:00 The Holy Father will make a private visit to the Shrine of Nostra Signora della Guardia.
- He will then proceed to the city center where he will first visit the Giannina Gaslini Pediatric Hospital.

11:20 The Pope arrives at Piazza Matteotti for an encounter with young people.
- He will then be welcomed at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, for a meeting with the canonical chapter
of the Cathedral and members of religious orders, after which he will lead the Angelus.
- He will proceed to the Seminario Maggiore for lunch with the bishops of Liguria.

16:30 The Holy Father will preside at a Eucharistic Concelebration in Piazza della Vittoria.

After the Mass, the Pope will proceed to Cristoforo Colombo International Airport to return to Rome.

The Archdiocese of Genoa's handout brochure for the visit is available only on PDF:

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/29/2008 7:23 PM]
4/29/2008 8:10 PM
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VATICAN CITY , April 29 (Translated from Apcom) - Eight delegates from the Islamic Cultural Relations Organization of Tehran will meet Pope Benedict XV tomorrow, according to L'Osservatore Romano.

The delegates have been meeting with the leadres of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog (CIRD) since Monday, April 28. Their audience with the Pope tomorrow will conclude the meeting, which will be held in a salon of the Aula Paolo VI after tomorrow's general audience.

The theme of the meetings with the CIRD was "Faith and reason in Christianity and in Islam", which took place 'in the context of Vatican relations with various Muslim institutions," the newspaper notes.

"The Pope's desire for dialog with Muslim institutions and representatives is being actualized through the Pontifical CIRD, presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran." It cites Libya, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, as the countries where initiatives have been concretized so far.

It is within the same context that representatives of the signatories to A COMMON WORD, the open letter to the Pope and other Christian leaders sent by Muslim religious leaders in October last year, will meet the Pope in November during a Catholic-Muslim seminar that will take place on November 4-6.

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Pope Benedict on marriage:
A key to world peace

MANASSAS, Va., April 27 (AP) — A new analysis titled “Pope Benedict XVI on Marriage: A Compendium” and published by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy just before Benedict’s historic U.S. visit, finds that in the first three years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has spoken publicly about marriage on 111 occasions, connecting marriage to such overarching themes as human rights, world peace, and the conversation between faith and reason.

“Over and over again he has made it clear that the marriage and family debate is central - not peripheral - to understanding the human person, and defending our human dignity,” says Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

For example, when receiving the credentials of the new U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his appreciation for America’s recognition of the importance of a dialogue of faith and faiths in the public square and linked this to respect not only for religious freedom but for marriage as the union of husband and wife:

I cannot fail to note with gratitude the importance which the United States has attributed to interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a positive force for peacemaking. . . .

The American people’s historic appreciation of the role of religion in shaping public discourse and in shedding light on the inherent moral dimension of social issues - a role at times contested in the name of a straitened understanding of political life and public discourse - is reflected in the efforts of so many of your fellow-citizens and government leaders to ensure legal protection for God’s gift of life from conception to natural death, and the safeguarding of the institution of marriage, acknowledged as a stable union between a man and a woman, and that of the family.

Pope Benedict devoted about half of his message for the January 1 World Day of Peace to the significance of marriage in developing a culture of peace:

Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.

This point merits special reflection: everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace.

Marriage essential to world peace? This may strike American ears as an oddity. If so, Benedict has made clear it is not an unintentional one. On September 21, 2007, in an address to participants in a conference of the Executive Committee of Centrist Democratic International, Pope Benedict prefigured the same theme:

There are those who maintain that human reason is incapable of grasping the truth, and therefore of pursuing the good that corresponds to personal dignity.

There are some who believe that it is legitimate to destroy human life in its earliest or final stages. Equally troubling is the growing crisis of the family, which is the fundamental nucleus of society based on the indissoluble bond of marriage between a man and a woman.

Experience has shown that when the truth about man is subverted or the foundation of the family undermined, peace itself is threatened and the rule of law is compromised, leading inevitably to forms of injustice and violence.

“The short pontificate of Benedict XVI is already a standing rebuke to those voices of our time who seek to make us ashamed or embarrassed of caring about marriage and sexual issues, who try to get us to view the contemporary marriage debate as merely a distraction from more important issues,” notes Gallagher, “Pope Benedict clearly connects life and marriage, the human person in the human family, with the most fundamental international issues of peace and human rights facing our times.”

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/29/2008 8:47 PM]
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Three months since
a shameful episode

Translated from
the 4/25/08 issue of

What is a university and what is its mission?

What is truth and how do we recognize it?

What is reasonable? How can reason demonstrate truth?

These are the radical questions that professor Ratzinger - who knows universities well, having been a university professor for 25 years - wished to propose to his 'colleagues' at La Sapienza University when he was invited to attend the opening of the academic year last January.

But it was not to give his own answers ex cathedra, as presumed by the 67 professors who prejudicially opposed his presence, but to re-state the questions that are the foundation of all study and research activities. But things happened otherwise, as we know.

The protest by the 67 professors and their mobilization of a tiny minority of students more inclined to putting up barricades than to exercise their brains led the Pope to decide not to come to the University at all.

But the lecture he had prepared for the occasion was sent over, read at the University and applauded. Not only at La Sapienza but in many other universities throughout Italy, where its contents became the subject for academic debate over the next several weeks.

Thus, out of a complex heterogenesis, the lecture that was never delivered caused far more widespread ripples and multipled its effects accordingly.

A few days after that fateful January 17, 2008, a group of university professors promoted an appeal which gathered 500 signatures overnight asking for further reflection on widening the scope of reason and the ultimate goals of university activity and learning.

In the next two months, thousands participated in some 20 encounters to discuss the issue, in which Catholic and lay professors took part.

At the Catholic University in Milan, an overflow crowd at the Aula Magna listened to a discussion of the issues raised by the La Sapienza episode by the Jewish mathematician Giorgio israel (who teaches at la Sapienza), Russian scholar Serena Vitale and philsopher Salvatore Vaca.

Vaca pointed out that Papa Ratzinger had "indicated that which should nourish university activity: the desire for knowledge, the thirst for truth."

There are different ways of arriving at the truth, but one should have the courage to persevere in the quest, he said, but on two conditions: consciousness of one's own identity, and an openness to the other - a respect for reciprocal differences. As Confucius said, one must be faithful to oneself and attentive to others.

If the university cannot be a place of public confrontation between different positions, then what purpose does it serve? This was the topic at another well-attended gathering at Milan's Polytechnic University, moderated by Giancarlo Cesena, professor of general and applied hygiene at the Bicocca of Milan, and Carlo Bottani, professor of Chemistry.

Cesana pointed out that "The Pope does not define what truth is but indicates the attitude one must have to seek it - an attitude illumined by the words with which he concludes the lecgture for La Sapeinza: to always invite reason to be in the service of the quest for truth."

But "one cannot perceive a particular truth if one does not start from the principle of an ultimate truth," Cesena observed.

Bottani condemned the "sectarian thinking of those who think there is only one method to reach the truth. In this way, they can only resolve small problems without ever understanding anything larger."

Stefano Zecchi, professor of esthetics and protagonist at a debate held in the State University of Milan, paid tribtue to Benedict XVI "for relaunching a question that is as fundamental as it is repressed: what is the real purpose of university activity?"

If study and research activities are not continually nourished by the desire for truth, then our work is reduced to bureaucratic practice, Zecchi said, as it now in so many universities - with harmful consequences to the youth, both in their fundamental cultural formation as well as for their professional training.

"The decline in the level of university learning," Zecchi said, "has its origins in the loss of that sense of purpose referred to by the Pope."

In Catania, Sicly, philosophr Pietro Barcellona expressed a similarly severe judgment: "Universities no longer seem to constitute an authentic space for the confrontation of ideas, which is the principal event in the quest for the truth."

The Roman campus of the Catholic University hosted a discussion moderated by rector Lorenzo Ornaghi, between journalist Giulianio Ferrara and Mons. Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontiifical Council for Culture.

Ferrara described Ratzinger's lecture for La Sapienza as "a tribute to the secular university, to its founding concept of being linked exclusively to the authority of truth."

And with respect to the reasonablenes of faith: "There is a source which emanates a special light and which acts on history: Christ. I can say that reasonably even if I am outside the Church, because he lives in history not only for those who have Christian hope, but even fro those who do not have it."

Ravasi cited St. Augustine: «Intellectum valde amat - love the intellect strongly."

"The dissolution of the fog of mythological reason gave way to that God who is creative reason and love: the two paths are both oriented towards the light before us and which we must continue to pursue," he said.

After three months of debate, one can legitimately speak of 'the Sapienza effect', even if in a direction quite opposite that desired by those who opposed the intervention of Professor Ratzinger.

Astrophysicist Marco Bersanelli, one of the promoters of the appeal by the pro-reason professors and the 'campaign for reason and freedom' that resulted from it, observed, "The debates brought out many different and even divergent opinions, but it never came to polemics or clashes. The confrontations were civil and mutually enriching, which was edifying for the hundreds of professors adn thousands of students who took part."

He goes on, "The preemptive opposition carried out by our colleagues at La Sapienza and the handful of students they influenced made news for weeks in the newspapers and on TV. But what did they accomplish? On the other hand, the encoutners we have promoted in many other universities were hardly reported in the media, but we believe they have contributed to put the focus on the necessity to widen the scope of reason."

"The Pope is not advancing clerical claims, as some falsely maintain: what he's doing is to put contemporary man on guard against the danger of yielding on the question of truth - precisely in the face of progress that has been achieved in science and technology. With the risk that reason may yield to the pressure of interest groups and utilitarianism, which ends up becoming the ultimate criterion."

In short, fortunately, there is the Pope's wisdom ('sapienza'). A few days after the cancelled appointment at La Sapienza, he told 200,000 persons gathered in St. Peter's Square in his support: "I encourage you, dear universitarians, to always be respectful of the opinions of others, and to search for the true and the good, in a free and responsible spirit."

And they accuse him of obscurantism!

4 university rectors and 500 professors
sign up 'for reason and freedom
in the university'

It is entitled "Appeal for reason and freedom in the university" initially signed by professors and researchers in the sciences, and quickly joined by colleagues from other discplines, gaining 500 signatures overnight.

The four university rectors who signed originally were Lorenzo Ornaghi (Catholic Unviersity, Milan and Rome), Giu­seppe Dalla Torre (LUMSA, the University of Mary of the Assumption, Rome), Roberto Sani (University of Macerata, southern Italy), and Paolo Scarafoni (European University of Rome).

The document, found on, condemns what happened at La Sapienza and underscores how much the statements made by Benedict XVI "are profoundly pertinent to the university experience"

"We see in his statements the prospect of a more conscious and vigorous defense of that amplitude and vastness of reason, of that freedom of research and confrontation, which we consider essential to the exercise of our responsibility as professors, for the present and future of the university, and therefore, of our coexistence and civilization."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/1/2008 6:25 AM]
4/30/2008 4:50 AM
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Benedict’s own five issues
BY The Editors

May 4-10, 2008 Issue
Posted 4/29/08

Before Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States, we identified five key issues in his Pontificate that we should watch for. The list was a good guess — but the man we once called the “Pope of Surprises” didn’t stick to our script.

With the benefit of a little hindsight, here is a more accurate list of the key issues that were on Benedict’s mind when he came to America.


When Pope Benedict himself declared (at Nationals Park) the purpose for his coming, he used this formal language: “In the exercise of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have come to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the apostles.”

He hammered home the same point in his address to Catholic universities, reminding them that the Church is mater et magistra (mother and teacher) and reiterating Church teaching on their relationship to the magisterium.

He told the bishops on April 16: “It cannot be assumed that all Catholic citizens think in harmony with the Church’s teaching on today’s key ethical questions. Once again, it falls to you to ensure that the moral formation provided at every level of ecclesial life reflects the authentic teaching of the Gospel of life.”

In most analysis after the visit, the Pope’s comments on abuse have been called the true story of his trip. But Benedict put even the abuse question in the context of a larger doctrinal crisis.

When he talked about the abuse crisis, he called its “among the countersigns to the Gospel of life.”

Abuse crisis

When, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he spoke of the scandal — decrying the “filth” in the Church — his words were well-chosen and direct.

So were Pope Benedict’s in America. On the airplane coming to the United States, he spoke of his “deep shame,” and said, “we will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.”

To the bishops he spoke of the Church’s “enormous pain,” and said the scandal was “sometimes very badly handled.”

To the congregation at Nationals Park, he said “No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse.”

When he spoke to the bishops, he put the abuse in the larger catechetical crisis.

“The policies and programs you have adopted need to be placed in a wider context,” he said. “Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. They should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person.”

But perhaps his most stinging remark was the one he directed at the culture at large in the 21st century, and at all who participate in it: “What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?”

World unity

Pope Benedict didn’t speak about peace to the extent we expected. But he did speak about a concept that’s very much connected with it: world unity.

Americans have always had a certain suspicion of the United Nations — and of world unity. With good reason. It’s right to fear for the loss of sovereignty and to be watchful that worldwide anti-life policies aren’t foisted on entire nations.

The Holy Father’s remarks to the United Nations raised those issues pointedly. But they also almost eagerly anticipated a globalized world that would function on new models of international relationships and national sovereignty.

He repeatedly drew out the analogy of the United Nations as at the center of a “family of nations.”

He was spelling out a vision he told the Nationals Park congregation about the world Catholics must influence. “It is a time of great promise, as we see the human family in many ways drawing closer together and becoming ever more interdependent.”


It’s only natural that he would focus so much on inter-religious and ecumenical dialog, given this larger theme of global unity. It’s as if Pope Benedict were calling people to understand each other despite their differences, and providing an example in himself by demonstrating how a Pope interacts with leaders in other major religions.

And how does a Pope interact with other major religions? In a way that shows deep respect, by allotting time to them in a busy schedule — but also by seeing the truth in them and spelling out exactly what the Church’s beliefs are.


The over-arching theme of the Holy Father’s visit, though, was renewal. He called the Church in America to return to the faith, reconcile with the past and build the Kingdom of Christ in the future. And to do so, Pope Benedict used language we haven’t heard for years.

He declared “a great jubilee of the Church in America.” He told the bishops to prepare for “the new springtime of the faith.” He spoke of “the New Evangelization” and prayed for “a new Pentecost” for America’s Church. And he summed it all up with his “Thy Kingdom Come” message at Yankee Stadium, about the apostolate.

Was the visit a success? That will depend on how well it fulfills the hopes — and directives — of the Holy Father.

In particular, its success will depend on whether or not:
- Bishops (and colleges) follow his instructions to guard the faith; families make headway against a culture of sexual excess;
- Catholics engage in the battle for hearts and minds in an interconnected world; and
- We all take up his call to the new evangelization.


I think that fundamental to three of the five issues identified by the Register above - to doctrine, dialogue, and renewal - is the issue of affirming and asserting Catholic identity. Hugh McNichol devoted a commentary to this earlier.

The global imperative of
of regaining our Catholic identity

By Hugh McNichol
April 27, 2008

In an interview last year, Cardinal Avery Dulles alluded to what he considered the greatest difficulty the Catholic Church will face in the 21st century…that is the growing trend towards the lack of Catholic identity within our own Catholic Church. Pope Benedict also spoke of it during his recent apostolic visit to the United States.

The reason for this malaise and loss of Catholic identity: Four decades of neutering Catholic traditions. What I mean by this is that in the 1960s and the 1970s, there was a large movement to replace traditional Catholic modes of worship and celebration with somewhat "ecumenical" expressions of universal faith and global brotherhood, as opposed to Catholic Sacraments of richly imbued moments of theological signs and symbols of the Catholic Church's anciently rooted ceremonies.

It seemed that no matter where one went to Mass, there was an attempt to subtly "neutralize" Catholic ritual and traditions in not only the Sacraments, but also in Catholic art and architecture as well. The result was often a bland cornucopia of ritual symbolism that often one had a hard time comprehending the sacredness of the actions, let alone the Catholicity of the celebration.

Perhaps, the worst fear of the Catholic Church had been realized, even after great strides to avoid it. Modernism in its most revolutionary sense invaded and permeated our Catholic Sacraments and Liturgies.

The modernization of the Roman Church as foreseen by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council was compromised with institutional and sacramental barbarism that equaled the "sacking" of Rome centuries before.

Catholic institutional strength and universal conformity since the Council of Trent were compromised, and all of the forces of the liberal left took equal opportunities to dismantle the visible manifestations of Catholic traditional signs and symbols, actions and responses that made our faith uniquely independent from the generic celebrations of other faiths and denominations.

The fascination with liturgical space and its "renewal" according to the norms of the Second Vatican Council was instant. Within a few years after the Council; parishes replaced their Altars, removed their Communion rails, silenced great organs and replaced them with strumming guitars and tambourines.

Gregorian chant was replaced with refrains from Peter, Paul and Mary's latest hits, the priest celebrant became the "presider," and the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass became commonly referred to as a "communal meal!"

No wonder the threat of losing our Catholic identity is so large a problem in the 21st century, we spent over 40 years dismantling our historically rooted notion of Church, only to replace it with Modernist examples of generic art and architecture that reflected the generic chaos of the contemporized period and neglected to appreciate the transcendent nature of all of our Catholic signs and symbols.

The growing awakening to and awareness of our Catholic history and ritual traditions is, in this author's mind, a great rebirth of the Catholic Church's awareness of its need to uniquely herald the Gospel message through our sacred and transcendent signs and symbols, our eschatological mission to sanctify a temporal world that deeply needs and desires the inclusion of sacred rituals into global daily life.

The modern Catholic in my estimation needs to boldly proclaim in sacramental words and ritual actions the presence of Jesus Christ in the world…and be visibly identified through our visibly Catholic sacraments and actions.

One of the greatest dilemmas for the modern world is the conflict that is rising between Catholics and Moslems. This conflict is nothing new, but rather the resurgence of Islamic desire for theological dominance in the Western world.

The Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from 711-1492, the rise of the Spanish Inquisition and the spread of European colonialism all stem from the perpetual struggle that exists between the theological nuances of East versus West.

Islamic radicalism that threatens to engulf Europe, the Middle East and even the Western hemisphere, now more than ever requires a strong Catholic restoration of its sacramental identity and social purposes.

Our Catholic Church is awakening from a slumber imposed by Modernism in the 20th century, and the need for Catholic resurgence of identity is perhaps the best cure for our global Catholic Church in the 21st century.

The need to restore Catholic identity goes far beyond just the institutional signs and symbols of our ancient faith. There is need for a rekindling of internal evangelization within Catholicism that hopefully will result in not only a global evangelization of the non-Catholic world, but will provide an apologetical platform from which Catholic sacramental, social and ethical moral teachings will prevail in an increasing world of secularism and cultural homogeneity.

Benedict XVI understands the need for internal evangelization within the Catholic Church. His outreaching messages to youth in the Church make it plainly clear that the future of theological conversion within Catholicism is rooted deeply in a historically rooted appreciation of the radical call that the Gospel message and Catholic sacraments signify for the global development of the Western world.

I agree wholeheartedly with the diagnosis that the constant threat of losing our Catholic identity is perhaps the greatest difficulty that the Church of the 21st century will encounter.

Thankfully, the direction we are taking as an institution now permits Catholics worldwide to experience Catholicism for not only its historically significant contributions to the life and education of the world in the past, but the continuing contemporary message of Catholic moral, social and ethical teachings that will guide an ever needing society towards strong Catholic principles of moral certitude in a world that increasingly needs a strong Catholic expression of identity in an increasingly nihilistic world and society.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/30/2008 5:00 AM]
4/30/2008 3:21 PM
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Cardinal Dulles
Cardinal Dulles is somewhat responsible for the attenuation of Catholic identity, with his constant fuzzy, ecumenical outreach. Just check some of the statements he has made over the years, particularly in the context of "Evangelicals and Catholics Together." He has found resemblances where none exist, sympathies that are not there, and, at times, his doctrinal exegesis leaves a lot to be desired.
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The General Audience was held today at St. Peter's Square, with some 30,000 faithful present.

Before the 10:30 audience, the Holy Father went to Via della Fondamenta to bless the statue of San Giovanni Loenardi (1541-1609), founder of the Chierici della Madre di Dio.

As he announced earlier, the Holy Father used the occasion to report on his recent trip to the United States and visit to United Nations headquarters. Here is a translation of his report.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Although several days have elapsed since my return, I wish to dedicate today's catechesis, as is usual, to the apostolic voyage that I made to the United Nations Organization and the United States of America on April 15-21.

First of all, I renew my most heartfelt acknowledgment to the United States Catholic bishops conference and to President Bush for having invited me and for the warm welcome that I was accorded.

My 'thank you' extends to all those who, in Washington and New York, came to greet me and to show their love for the Pope, or who accompanied and sustained me with prayer and offering their sacrifices.

As you know, the occasion for the visit was the bicentennnial of the elevation to a metropolitan see of the country'[s first diocese, Baltimore, and the foundation of the dioceses of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville.

On such an ecclesial occasion, I had the joy of coming, for the first time as the Successor of Peter, to visit the beloved people of the United States of America, to confirm Catholics in their faith, to renew and increase fraternity with all Christians, and to announce to all the message of 'Christ our Hope', which was the theme of the visit.

In the meeting with the President at his residence, I paid tribute to that great nation which, from its beginnings, was founded on the basis of a happy conjunction between religious, eethical and political principles, and which still constitutes a valid example of healthy secularity, where the religious dimension, in the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but valued as the 'spirit' of the nation and the fundamental guarantee of human rights and responsibilities.

In such context, the Church can develop with freedom and commitment its mission of evangelization and human promotion, and even of being a 'critical conscience', contributing to the construction of a society worthy of the human being, and at the same time, stimulating a nation like the United States - which everyone looks to as one of the principal actors on the international scene - towards global solidarity, which is ever more necessry and urgent, and towards the patient exercise of dialog in international relations.

Naturally, the mission and the role of the church community were at the center of my encounter with the bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. In the liturgical context of Vespers, we praised the Lord for the path taken by the People of God in the United States, for the zeal of its pastors, and the fervor and generosity of its faithful, manifested in their high and open regard for the faith, and in innumerable charitable and humanitarian initiatives within the country and abroad.

At the same time, I sustained my brother bishops in their not-easy task of sowing the Gospel in a society marked by not a few contradictions which threatens the coherence of Catholics and even the clergy themselves.

I encouraged them to make their voices heard on actual moral and social questions and to form faithful lay persons in such a way that they may be good 'yeast' for the civilian community, starting with the fundamental cell of society which is the family.

In this sense, I exhorted them to re-propose the sacrmament of Matrimony as a gift and an indissoluble commitment between a man and a woman, the natural environment for nurturing and educating children.

The Church and the family, together with schools - especially those of Christian inspiration - should cooperate to offer young people a solid moral education. But in this task, those who work in communications and entertainment also have a great responsibility.

Thinking of the sorrowful events of sexual abuses committes by ordained ministers against minors, I wished to express to the bishops my closeness, encouraging them in the committment to bind up the wounds and to strengthen their relationship with their priests.

Responding to some questions posed by the bishops, I was able to underline some important aspects: the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and 'natural law'; a sane concept of freedom with includes love and is realized in love; the ecclesial dimension of the Christian experience; the exigency of announcing in a new way, especially to young people, 'salvation' as the fullness of living, and to educate them in prayer, from which generous responses to the call of the Lord may germinate.

In the great festive Eucharistic celebration at the Nationals Park Stadium of Washington, we invoked the Holy Spirit on the entire Church in the United States of America, so that, firmly rooted in the faith transmitted by their fathers, profoundly united and renewed, it may face present and future challenges with courage and hope - that hope which "does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Rm 5,5).

One such challenge is certainly that of education, and therefore, at the Catholic University of America, I met the rectors of Catholic universities and colleges, the diocesan officials responsible for teaching, professors and student rerpresenatives.

The educational task is an integral part of the mission of the Church, and the ecclesial community in the United States has always been very engaged in it, rendering at the same time a great social and cultural service to the entire nation. It is important that this goes on.

It is equally important to look after the quality of Catholic institutions, so that they may truly be able to form students according to 'the full stature' of Christ (cfr Eph 4,13), uniting faith and reason, freedom and truth. It was with joy that I confirmed the educators in this, their precious task of intellectual charity.

In a multicultural country like the United States of America, my meetings with the representatives of other religions were especially important: in Washington at the John Paul II Cultural Center, with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jains; in New York, the visit to a synagogue.

These were very heartfelt moments, especially the latter, which confirmed a common commitment to dialog and to the promotion of peace and spiritual and moral values.

In that nation which may be called the homeland of religious freedom, I wished to underscore that this must always be defended with united efforts to avoid any form of discrimination or prejudice. And I pointed to the great responsibility of religious leaders, both in teaching respect and non-violence as well as in keeping alive the most profound questions of the human mind.

The ecumenical celebration in the parish church of St. Joseph was likewise characterized by great cordiality. Together we prayed to the Lord so that he may increase in Christians the capacity to give reason - especially with increasing unity - for the great hope that is in us (cfr 1 Pt 3,15) through our common faith in Jesus Christ.

Another principal objective for my trip was the visit to the central headquarters of the Untied Nations Organization - the fourth by a Pope, after that of Paul VI in 1965 and John Paul II's two visits in 1979 and in 1995.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Providence gave me the opportunity to confirm, in the widest and most authoritative [forum for] universal consensus, the value of that declaration, recalling its universal basis, namely, the dignity of the human being, created by God in his image and likeness, in order to cooperate on earth with his great design of life and peace.

Like peace, even respect for human rights is rooted in 'justice' - that is to say, an ethical order that is valid for all times and for all peoples, that can be summarized in the famous maxim, "Do not do to others what you do not wish done to you", or expressed positively in the words of Jesus: "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you." (Mt 7,12).

On this basis, which constitutes the typical contribution of the Holy See to the United Nations, I renewed - and even today, I renew - the concrete commitment of the Catholic Church to contribute to the strengthening of international relations that are imprinted with the principles of responsibility and solidarity.

Also firmly impressed in my spirit are other moments of my stay in New York.

At St. Patrick's Cathedral, in the heart of Manhattan - truly a 'house of prayer for all people' - I celebrated the Holy Mass for priests and consecrated persons who came from every part of the counhtry.

I will never forget the warmth with which they wished me well on the third anniversary of my election to Peter's Chair. It was a moving moment, during which I directly experienced - in sensory form - the support of the entire Church for my ministry.

I can say the same for my meeting with the young people and seminarians which took place in the diocesan seminary, preceded by a very significant visit among handicapped children and youths, along with their families.

To the young people, by nature thirsting for truth and love, I proposed the example of some men and women who testified in exemplary manner on Amerian soil to the Gospel of truth which gives us freedom to love and to serve in a life spent for others.

Facing the shadows which threaten their lives today, the youth may find in the saints the light which disperses these shadows: the light of Christ, hope for every man!

This hope, stronger than sin or death, also inspired the emotion-charged moments which I spent in silence at the vortex of Ground Zero, where I lit a candle and prayed for all the victims of that terrible tragedy.

Finally, my visit culminated in the Eucharistic celebration at New York's Yankee Stadium. I still carry in my heart that feast of faith and fraternity with which we celebrated the bicentennials of North America's oldest dioceses.

The small flock from those beginnnings has developed enormously, enriching itself in faith and with the traditions of successive immigrant waves. To that Church, which is facing the challenges of today, I had the joy of announcing once more "Christ our Hope" -yesterday, today and always.

Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to join me in giving thanks for the comforting success of this apostolic voyage and in asking God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that it may produce abundant fruits for the Church in America and in all parts of the world.

In English, he said:

My recent Apostolic Journey to the United Nations and the United States of America was inspired by the theme, "Christ our Hope". I am most grateful to all who helped in any way to make the Journey a success.

My visit was meant to encourage the Catholic community in America, especially our young people, to bear consistent witness to the faith, and to carry on the Church’s mission, especially with regard to education and concern for the poor.

American society traditionally values religious freedom and the need for faith to play its part in building a sound civic life. In my meetings with President Bush, and with Christian leaders and representatives of other religions, I reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to cooperation in the service of understanding, peace and spiritual values.

My address to the United Nations stressed the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which grounds respect for human dignity in a universally valid ethical order.

In a particular way, my visit to Ground Zero, charged with sober silence and prayer, was a moving testimony to the hope which is stronger than evil and death.

I ask all of you to join me in praying that this Visit will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the growth of the faith in America and for the unity and peace of the whole human family.

I offer a warm welcome to the participants in the third Christian-Buddhist Symposium, meeting in Castel Gandolfo during these days. Upon all of you and upon the English-speaking pilgrims from England, Ireland, Scandinavia, Malta, South Africa, Korea, Thailand, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.

Later, in his greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims, he said:

Today, the liturgy commemorates the Holy Pontiff Pius V who, moved by profound love for the Church, promoted with tireless ardor the propagation of the faith and the reform of liturgical worship.

May his example and intercession ecnourage you, dear young people, to realize in an authentic and consistent way your Christian vocations; support you, dear people with afflictions, to persevere in hope and offer your sufferings in union with those of Christ for the salvation of mankind; and make you grow, dear newlyweds, in a reciprocal commitment of faithfulness and love.


Pope meets Iranian delegation

Vatican City, April 30 (dpa) - Pope Benedict XVI met Wednesday a high-level Iranian Shiite Muslim delegation visiting the Vatican for bi-lateral talks on the theme "Faith and Reason in Christianity and Islam".

Benedict was "particularly satisfied with the choice of the theme and the venue of the meeting," both sides said in a joint statement issued afterwards.

The Vatican and the eight-man delegation from Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, said in the statement that in talks that preceded the meeting with the Pontiff, they had "agreed" on several issues.

Some of these are apparently related to recent controversies between Catholics and Muslims, including remarks made in 2006 by Benedict in Regensburg, Germany, when he appeared to associate Islam to irrational thought and violence.

"Faith and reason do not contradict each other, but faith might in some cases be above reason, but never against it," the statement said.

Both sides also agreed that "faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent".

"Neither reason nor faith should be used by violence; unfortunately, both of them have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence," the statement said.

Another point appeared to touch on the Vatican's demands that Muslim-majority nations allow followers of other faiths religious freedom, as well as a row over satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in the West.

"Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalities and thanking God for them. They are called for mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs," the statement said.

The two sides also agreed that religions should not be judged on selective interpretations of texts taken from their holy books, but that they should be interpreted according to a "holistic view".

During the talks which began in Rome on Monday the Vatican delegation was led by the Holy See's top inter-faith dialogue official, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, while the Iranian delegation was headed by Mahdi Mostafavi, president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization.

"Both Iran and the Vatican have religious governments, so there are many issues the two states have in common, such as morality," M. Anvarian, spokesman for Iran's Embassy to Vatican, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, earlier Wednesday.

The visit marks the sixth round of such talks between the Islamic Republic and the Holy See on religious issues since 1996, the embassy spokesman said.

The next round of bilateral talks between the Holy See and the Islamic Republic would be held in 2010 in Tehran.



VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter, written in Latin and dated 4 April, in which Benedict XVI appoints Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as his special envoy to celebrations on May 8 to mark the eighth centenary of the translation of the relics of the Apostle Andrew to Amalfi, Italy, ON mAY 8.

The delegation accompanying the cardinal will be made up of Msgr. Carlo Papa, vicar general of the archdiocese of Amalfi - Cava de' Tirreni, and Msgr. Riccardo Arpino, president of the cathedral chapter and chancellor of the Curia.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/5/2008 9:55 PM]
4/30/2008 3:42 PM
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Agence France Presse (AFP) Press has just filed a report claiming that the Vatican has announced the Holy Father's visit to Australia from July 12-21.

It is, of course, in error, as the dates for the visit have always been July 17-21, and that the World Youth Day celebration itself does not start till July 15 (July 15-20), and we know the Holy Fahter will not be there for its opening. I expect AFP will soon correct itself.

The error comes from the fact that the AFP picked up the 'announcement' from the calendar of May-August liturgical celebrations with the Holy Father released today, in which the only entries for July are, as follows

12 Sabato

21 Lunedì

Viaggio Apostolico in Australia per la Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù a Sidney

Pope's trip to Australia
set for July 12-21

VATICAN CITY, April 30 (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI will be in Australia from July 12 to 21 on the occasion of the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day in Sydney, the Vatican announced on Wednesday.

The 81-year-old pontiff will make his first visit to Australia as pontiff to take part in the July 15-20 event designed to bring young people from around the world together to learn about the Catholic faith.

The Vatican gave no further details of the trip.

Organisers in Sydney say they expect 125,000 international visitors to come to Australia's largest city.

The Pope will cruise Sydney's famous harbour as part of his official welcome, they said last month.

The planned visit has sparked complaints over the costs involved after it was revealed that taxpayers would contribute 86 million Australian dollars (51.7 million euros, 80.4 million US dollars) towards the event.

New South Wales Premier Morris Lemma defended spending taxpayer money, saying it would showcase Sydney to a global audience while generating 150 million dollars in revenue.

Catholics make up about a quarter of Australia's population of 21 million.

The first World Youth Day was held in Rome in 1986 and is now held in an international host city every two to three years. The last was in Cologne, Germany in 2005, a few months after Benedict's election as Pope.




- Saturday, May 3
18:00 Recitation of the Rosary
Basilica of Sta. Maria Maggiore

- Sunday, May 11, Pentecost Sunday
10:00 Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

- Saturday, May 17, and Sunday, May 18
Pastoral visit to Savona and Genoa, Italy.

- Thursday, May 22: Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
19:00 Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, followed by
Procession to the Basilica of Sta. Maria Maggiore
for Eucharistic blessing.


- Saturday, June 14,and Sunday, June 15
Pastoral visit to Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi, Italy.

- Saturday, June 28
18:00 First Vespers at Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls,
for the solemn opening of the Pauline Year

- Sunday 29: Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.
09:30 Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.
Blessing and imposition of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops


- Saturday, July 12* to Monday, July 21
Apostolic trip to Australia for World Youth Day in Sydney.

*The Holy Father will participate in the WYD events from July 17-20 only. Before that, he will spend three days in an undisclosed vacation spot near Sydney to allow him to adjust from a 20-hour intercontinental flight and the radical change in time zone between Italy and Australia. He will be officially welcomed in Sydney in a 'boat-a-cade' on July 17.


- Friday, Aug. 15: Solemnity of the Assumption
08:00 Mass in the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Castelgandolfo.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/5/2008 9:02 PM]
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