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1/31/2009 3:36 AM
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In reply to a number of messages from new users (as well as a few veteran users but non-members) about the 'difficulty' of navigating within the Forum, I hope this helps:

FOR NEW VISITORS TO THE FORUM: To navigate within the page you are now on, scroll up or down as needed.
To see preceding entries in NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT, Click on 'Previous page', above right.
To get to other topic threads of the English section, click on the 'envelop' above right, tagged 'Fans speaking English' -
it will get you to the board with all the topic threads available in the section.
On that board, to get to the latest page containing the most recent entries on the topic you choose,
click on 'Last' in the parentheses indicating page numbers right after the subject title,
Once you get to that page, proceed as above.

All the 1/20/09 posts are in the preceding page!

I'm posting this 'blind' - meaning I'll be reading ti for the first time as I go through it to break it up
into shorter paragraphs, do any necessary text enhancements and comments as called for. So here goes...

Benedict’s high-risk strategy
by Robert Mickens

31 January 2009

What a terrible caricature! Also, The Pope
never wears black pant and black shoes

It came during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of Pope John XXIII's announcement of the Second Vatican Council - news that Pope Benedict had decreed that the "Lefebvrists", the four bishops excommunicated for disobedience and who have never fully accepted the Council, could return to the Church.

The Pope instructed the Congregation for Bishops to "remit" the excommunications of four leaders of the schismatic Society of St Pius X (SSPX) otherwise known as Lefebvrists.

The four men - Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso del Gallareta - incurred automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication in June 1988 when they were illicitly ordained bishops by renegade Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (d. 1991), who founded the SSPX in 1970 and the Seminary of Ecône in south-west Switzerland.

According to the Vatican statement issued last Saturday, the Pope hopes that full communion would be reached as soon as possible. But the decree has raised many questions about the relationship between the SSPX and the Vatican, concerns among the faithful about the impact on the Church, and shock at the apparent welcome to one of the bishops, Richard Williamson, who has made outrageous anti-Semitic statements (which Vatican officials have roundly condemned).

The decree, which was actually dated and took effect on 21 January, was immediately applauded by the SSPX, which claims to have some 500 priests and between 400,000 and 600,000 followers, half of whom are believed to be in France.

While the director of the Holy See press office, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, said soon after that one "could already speak of full communion", the situation is not that simple.

The Vatican's statement indicated the contrary and, even though the one-page decree did not offer any clarification, it appears that the whole order of SSPX priests remain suspended from celebrating the sacraments, as decreed by Pope Paul VI in 1976.

And what was particularly noticeable in the decree is that there is no indication that the SSPX is repentant for the act of disobedience to Pope John Paul II by which they incurred the excommunication in the first place.

Yet Pope Benedict's decision to take this dramatic step should come as no surprise. It follows other key initiatives that he has undertaken, most specifically a series of actions two years ago to assure traditionalist Catholics that Vatican II did not substantially change Catholic liturgy or doctrine.

In 2007 the Pope fully restored use of the Tridentine Rite and also ordered the publication of two doctrinal instructions that, according to a number of theologians, narrowed the interpretation of the Council's teaching on the nature of the Church and its relationship to other religions. [Baloney! The instructions cite chapter and verse from Vatican-II documents to support each point. And what is it these theologians advocate anyway - a dilution of Catholic doctrine to say that other Christian confessions are equivalent to the Roman Catholic Church? Then why be a Catholic? And a syncretistic movement to incorporate elements from other non-Christian religions? Vatican-II never intended to dilute or adulterate Christian doctrine in this way!]

Those actions were all welcomed at the time by Bishop Fellay, the SSPX superior who had private talks with Pope Benedict XVI shortly after his election in 2005. It was that meeting, the Vatican's press statement of 24 January said, that was the start of the reconciliation between the SSPX and Rome.

"On that occasion, the Supreme Pontiff manifested the will to proceed by steps and in reasonable time on such a path," the statement said, and by lifting the excommunications the Pope was acting "benignly" and "with pastoral solicitude and paternal mercy".

It seems that he was also acting on his own initiative and did not widely consult other bishops - with the notable exception of Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos. Sources at the Vatican have told The Tablet that the almost-80-year-old head of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" is intent on healing the Lefebvrist schism before he retires.

It was to Cardinal Castrillón that Bishop Fellay wrote on 18 December last year asking for removal of the excommunications and the decree says Pope Benedict acceded to the request.

It even quotes part of Bishop Fellay's letter to the cardinal in which he claims that he and the other three SSPX bishops accept the Roman Catholic Church's teachings "with a filial spirit" and believe "firmly in the Primacy of Peter and its prerogatives".

But in a note to his followers on 24 January the bishop revealed another section of his December letter to Cardinal Castrillón that the Vatican decree does not mention. "We are ready to write the Creed with our own blood, to sign the anti-modernist oath (and) the profession of faith of Pius IV," he quoted from the letter. "We accept and make our own all the councils up to the Second Vatican Council about which we express some reservations."

Vatican II is mentioned nowhere in the decree that remits the excommunications, and Fr Lombardi would not comment on whether the society was asked to adhere to the council's teachings.

However, French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, a member of the "Ecclesia Dei" Commission, said in a statement: "At a certain moment the question of the text of the Second Vatican Council, as a document of the Magisterium of primary importance, must be faced."

This will evidently be discussed during talks aimed - as the decree states - at resolving "the still open questions, in order to quickly arrive at a full and satisfactory solution at the origin of the problem".

But will the talks really resolve the impasse? Archbishop Lefebvre (who is also not mentioned in the decree) rejected several important teachings of the Council, including those related to religious liberty, ecumenism and liturgy. And his followers have remained in defiance of those teachings.

The official SSPX website for the US region says the Fraternity rejects the teaching on the "right to religious freedom" and a number of other statements in contained in the Vatican II declaration Dignitatis Humanae because they are contrary to Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors.

The assertion in the Council declaration Nostra Aetate that the Catholic Church "rejects nothing of what is good and holy" in non-Christian religions, it says, is contrary to tradition.

And it also flatly rejects ecumenism as found in the decree Unitatis Redintegratio because it holds to the belief that the Roman Catholic Church is the "unique ark of salvation" and that "Protestants and other non-Catholics do not have the faith".

No wonder Cardinal Ricard cautioned that lifting the excommunication was only "the beginning of a process of dialogue" that would "undoubtedly be long".

The cardinal noted that talks must resolve "two fundamental questions": the juridical structure of the SSPX and "an agreement on dogmatic and ecclesiological questions".

The first could be resolved fairly soon, given that the new decree says Pope Benedict is to reconsider the canonical situation of (the four bishops) concerning their episcopal consecration. But what type of "agreement" can be forged with a group whose only reason for existence is to "achieve a lasting restoration of the Church", namely as it existed before Vatican II?

Many saw the timing of this decree as untoward, given that the Lefebvrists flatly reject ecumenism and most Vatican II reforms. But according to Fr Lombardi, it would be wrong to see the removal of their excommunications as an attack on Vatican II.

"On the contrary," he said, "I think it is a beautiful thing that the Council is no longer considered an element of division, but as an element in which every member of the Church can meet."

A front-page editorial in L'Osservatore Romano on 26-27 January bitterly complained that critics of the decree had unfairly attacked the Pope. It said he was "inspired by the new style of Church desired by the council, which prefers the medicine of mercy rather than condemnation". Bishop Fellay also saw it as a "unilateral, benevolent and courageous act".

By Wednesday, after the Chief Rabbinate of Israel had announced the breaking off of relations with the Vatican following the Pope's decision to lift the excommunication of Bishop Williamson who denies the Holocaust, Benedict spoke out again.

The move was a paternal act of mercy, he said, reiterating his own unequivocal opposition to anti-Semitism.

The Vatican's top ecumenical officer, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said he was never consulted. "It was the decision of the Pope," the soon-to-retire cardinal told The New York Times last week. [You know what? Only the Pope has the power of the keys to 'loosen and unloosen'. With power comes responsibility. Since it is his prerogative alone - for which, by the same token, he alone will bear responsibility - he really did not need to consult anyone but Cardinal Castrillon who was in direct contact with Fellay.

Besides, it was not as if this was a secret to anyone in the Vatican. They knew he was working for this from the time he met with Fellay in Castel Gandolfo. The only question was when it would happen. Everyone knew about the Ecclesia Dei 'ultimatum' to FSSPX in June 2008, which was pretty specific, as well as unmistakably generous - that surely was a give-away that the day was coming.]

In sharp contrast L'Osservatore Romano defended the remission of the excommunications as a "collegial choice" and not some "sudden and unforeseen gesture" taken unilaterally by the Pope. Some wonder if these attempts to move the Lefebvrist back to Rome could actually end up moving the rest of the Church towards Ecône.
[Hah! Mickens thinks he is being clever! Does he really think there is a snowball's chance in hell that the tail will end up wagging the dog in this case?

It's a cheap shot to suggest Benedict XVI is really headed back to restoring the pre-Conciliar Church - this preposterous canard that his detractors keep fattening up in the face of all available evidence.

It seems to me Mickens and his fellow seance-masters manipulating the glass on the Ouija-board of that mythical 'spirit of Vatican II' canot spell out the words 'renewal in continuity' or have blotted it out of their minds!]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/3/2009 12:38 AM]
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1/31/2009 5:56 AM
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For some reason, has come out with a translation of one of the presentations made at tHE November 12, 2008, presentation in Munich of tHE Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Foundation. Which reminded me that I haev not done any of my good intentions about this. Because the Foundation does have a website,
and though it is still in progress, it already has a lot of information and material (example, pictures from the four Schuelerkreis reunions held so far in Castel Gandolfo) and information (all in German, of course).

The key aspects of Joseph Ratzinger's theology

Here is a translation of the introduction given by Siegfried Wiedenhofer, emeritus professor of theology at the University of Regensburg, who served as teaching assistant to Prof. Ratzinger from 1967-1977, at the launching last Nov. 12 of the Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Foundation, held at the Catholic Acedemy of Munich.

The foundation was set up by the Ratzinger Schuelerkreise (student circle) - a group of Joseph Ratzinger's former doctoral and postdoctoral students who have been meeting with him every year since 1970 for a reunion-seminar. The last four have been held in Castel Gandolfo since he became Pope.

Porgram for the Nov. 12 launching; Dr Wiedenhofer; and the roundtable discussion afterwards, with (from left), Dr. Michaela C. Hastetter of Munich; Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, president of the Foundation; moderator Martin Posselt, Bayerischer Rundfunk; Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke, Hamburg; and Fr. Vincent Twomey, Maynooth (Ireland).

by Dr. Siegfried Wiedenhofer

In seeking to give a brief overview of the theology of Joseph Ratzinger, one is of course first confronted by the problem of its range.

Joseph Ratzinger is among the most prolific theologians of our time, and probably of the history of theology as a whole. His published work to date is contained in the bibliography that has been produced by the Schülerkreis, and in particular by Vinzenz Pfnür, and which will soon be published: 130 books and writings, numerous of which have been translated into many languages, and over 1300 articles, many of which are also available in translation.

But the breadth of the themes is also stunning. Most of these writings are from the field of dogmatic theology and take up the exposition of the main tenets of the Christian faith.

However, he began as a fundamental theologian and has continually dealt with particular foundational questions, such as the question of faith and reason, questions of theological method, and especially questions of ecumenical theology. But this is also a theology that understands itself to be particularly in the service of the ecclesial praxis of the faith.

Thus there are also many writings such as homilies and meditations that emerged directly from pastoral tasks, and writings that pertain to ecclesial praxis and would ordinarily be considered to belong to the field of practical theology: writings about spirituality, about the liturgy, but also about ethics, particularly political ethics.

In addition, his interpretations of dogma almost always have a strong exegetical dimension, and he has also contributed several recognized works of theological and dogmatic history.

A final characteristic that makes an overview of Joseph Ratzinger's theology difficult is the fact that his theology is a dialogical theology through and through -- a theology that develops not only through a listening to what the sources have to say, but also through a critical conversation with other perspectives, a conversation that is not afraid to identify errors and sometimes to argue quite polemically.

What Joseph Ratzinger said in his first book, his dissertation on Augustine, surely applies to his own work as well: "Like every great theology, Augustine's grew out of polemics against error, which here too showed itself to be the fruitful power without which living intellectual movement is hardly imaginable."

On the other hand, like probably every other great theology, Joseph Ratzinger's is marked by a great inner unity. By this I mean not only a deep integration of thought and belief, reflection and meditation, but also the unity of his fundamental theological vision.

It is true that the theology of Joseph Ratzinger has in fact been read, criticized, and taken up in quite different ways, but the decisive aspect of this basic vision can be fairly clearly identified, in my opinion.

1. The theology of Joseph Ratzinger is not a theology for all times or a theology about history, but rather a theology for this time, and this time is for him above all the time of a fundamental crisis.

In the first place, there is the crisis of the Catholic Church, out of which the Second Vatican Council - prepared for and accompanied by a broad stream of Catholic reform theology - sought to lead us.

The theology of Joseph Ratzinger is a part of this theology of reform. Nonetheless, it differs from the work of the other theologians of reform, in the main, in that the question of the identity of faith and Church soon found its way to the fore in his theology.

This came about because for Joseph Ratzinger after the Council, the ecclesial and theological situation in the Catholic Church increasingly emerged as a crisis such as had not been seen since the 13th century, as he once said.

In addition to this first diagnosis of crisis, there is - in connection with the great departure from tradition in the last third of the 20th century, and also in connection with the collapse of communism - his diagnosis of a fundamental crisis in morality and meaning in modern culture and society, which finds increasingly decisive expression in the charge of relativism.

Finally, toward the end of the second millennium and in the beginning of the third, in light of the new sense of globalization, he also diagnoses and reflects upon a fundamental crisis of Christianity and its truth-claim.

2. A theology in such a time of crisis and transition must concentrate upon what is essential in Christian faith, its identity and specificity, as these are recognizable in the basic structure and constitution of the faith.

This essence of the faith can be summarized in three decisive aspects of Ratzinger's understanding of Christian faith: the rationality of faith, faith's historicity as centered in the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the personal nature of faith as summed up in love.

The theology of Joseph Ratzinger had developed above all in conversation with the Fathers of the Church and with the theology of the High Middle Ages, especially in conversation with Augustine, then also in conversation with Bonaventure -- thus on the whole much more strongly in dialogue with the tradition of Christian Platonism than with Christian Aristotelianism.

It is from the ancient Church's constitution of Christian theology, to which he continually makes reference, that 1) the epistemological claim of Christian faith, its truth claim, and 2) a dialectical relationship of faith to reason, philosophy, and science, come to be a dominant strain of his own theology.

On the one hand, the truth of God has, according to the witness of Christian faith, entered history definitively with the final revelation in Jesus Christ. But this knowledge of faith necessarily requires thought, requires philosophy, because it claims to be a knowledge of all of reality, and because, in any case, it has to make its witness to the truth comprehensible.

On the other hand, thinking needs the challenge of faith's recognition of truth, so that it can remain on the right path in the search for the real, one, whole truth, amid the intensifying Western dichotomization of faith and reason, theology and philosophy.

In his conversation with Jürgen Habermas on April 19, 2004, here in the Katholische Akademie Bayern in Munich, Cardinal Ratzinger could speak, in the face of dangerous pathologies of both religion and reason that cannot be ignored today, “of a necessary correlationality of reason and faith, reason and religion, which are called to mutual purification and healing, and which need one another and must each acknowledge this” (Habermas/Ratzinger 2005, 57).

It was only through a prolonged struggle with the present intellectual situation that it became evident to him that the question of truth must become a basic question for theology and philosophy: as he says, we do not dispose over truth -- rather, only in acknowledging ourselves to be claimed together by the truth can we escape the dictatorship of arbitrariness and relativism and rescue the true humanity and human dignity.

Against this backdrop, the doctrine of creation, for instance, which J. Ratzinger has continually taken up since his early lectures in dogmatics, acquires an elevated theological significance. Ethical questions, too (regarding education, culture, politics, the state, democracy, and so on) are increasingly discussed.

On the other hand, the thought of modernity finds itself the object of a radical critique (explicit for the first time in Introduction to Christianity): While in the metaphysics of antiquity and the Middle Ages the world, as an expression of the (creative) divine reason, was meaningful, comprehensible, reasonable, and transparent to its finality, the dominant modern notion of reason restricts itself to the knowledge of phenomena and the bare facts of history and to the cultural and technical production of goods in the service of man's self-realization.

In this reconfiguration of values, according to Ratzinger, reason becomes blind not only with respect to the truth of God, but also -- and in connection with this -- with respect to the difference between bare human existence and truly being human, a distinction essential for man's humanity.

According to the Christian confession of faith, the truth of God, the subject matter of theology, has appeared definitively in history in the person and history of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, the decisive sign of God's revelation and salvation in the world -- a revelation which, by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Church, is ever made newly present and effective.

God has really bridged the abyss of infinity and has become approachable in a wholly human way, in Jesus Christ and in the witness of the ecclesial community of faith immersed in history. And here we find not only that Christian faith bears a certain claim to absoluteness, but also the importance of the Church as a theme in the theology of J. Ratzinger.

The significance of this historical positivity of Christian faith can be seen also in J. Ratzinger's important historical works, in his lectures on dogma, which interpreted faith as a living path through history, and in his dogmatics, which, like few others, rests upon an intensive personal exegetical study of the biblical sources.

According to the logic of Christian faith, the question of truth is, in the final analysis, the quest for a truth that is really humane, that is, the truth of love, which permits the person to realize himself precisely in what most fully characterizes him: his being a person.

In this emphasis on personhood as entailed in being human and in faith, we certainly see resonances of the personalist thinking of the period between the World Wars (Scheler, Guardini), which greatly influenced the theological development of Joseph Ratzinger in his early years.

For it was possible to show, from this perspective, that the Christian message of the truth of God does not reach man as a foreign message that imposes itself from the outside, but rather that it is a message of life that permits him to live in the full and proper sense. And it is this precisely because it is a message of love.

For man lives, finally, from the love that he receives and passes on, first and finally from the love that God is and that has become visible in the history of Jesus Christ.

No one can live if he is not able to accept himself. But no one is able to accept himself if he has not already been accepted and loved by another.

Truly being human is dependent upon being loved -- but of course what we mean here is true love. For love, in its own concrete expression, is no less multifarious and ambivalent than faith and hope. Thus it is only where love is identical with truth that love is able to offer the salvation of man.

And, of course, the inverse is also true: Only where truth is connected with love does truth become a possibility that does not need to be forced upon a person, but rather one that he can take up in freedom. Love is thus the true center of Christianity.

Naturally one might ask in closing, in light of all this: Why establish a foundation? Do we not have before us a very attractive understanding of Christian faith without the need for such a thing? And don't the unbelievable book sales (Jesus of Nazareth alone, for instance, began by selling 200,000 copies just in the first edition of the German) show that this message has in many ways arrived -- that this theology has already generated a strong response?

But in order to remain alive and effective, every great intellectual impulse needs cultivation, elaboration, interpretation, application, concretization, defense against misunderstanding and false criticism, but also expansion, debate, and critique.

It was never the goal of Joseph Ratzinger, the theology teacher, to found a school in which every member would be bound to his own theological conceptions. His purpose was always, in the first place, to understand and articulate for the present day the liberating and redeeming claim of the truth of faith -- most often through dialogue but also not infrequently through quite polemical disputation for the sake of this truth.

A foundation that wishes not only to promote the study of his theology but also to foster a theology in his spirit might be aided by a word of guidance from the Council.

The Second Vatican Council's constitution on revelation summarizes its fidelity to the previous councils in the expression "vestigiis inhaerens": cleaving to the paths of these councils. To which, however, we ought to add Karl Barth's suggested translation (which, incidentally, Joseph Ratzinger affirmed in his commentary): “going forward along the paths of these councils.”

For this foundation is not merely dedicated to the study and cultivation of the powerful theological work that we find before us, but is still more committed to its living future -- in the various modes of reception, continuance, debate, and also criticism -- as an effective orientation along the path of faith.

[Translation by Lesley Rice]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/3/2009 12:40 AM]
1/31/2009 3:26 PM
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January 31

St. John Bosco, Priest

OR today.

Benedict XVI to the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialog
between the Catholic Churches and the Eastern Orthodox Churches:
'The world needs visible signs of Christian unity'
Other Page 1 stories: Cardinal Bertone reports on the recent World Encounter of Families in Mexico; President Obama
denounces 'shameful' bonuses received by US business executives in 2008; and a commentary on the relations between
the new leaders of the USA and Russia. There are a couple of articles in the inside pages on St. John Bosco as educator.


The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
- Mons. Javier Echevarría Rodríguez, Superior of Opus Dei
- Leaders of the Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori (CISL),
Italy's confederation of labor unions.
Address in Italian.

The Holy Father named several new members and consultants to various Curial dicasteries.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/31/2009 5:06 PM]
1/31/2009 4:56 PM
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This blog article gives a fairly good summary of the FSSPX episode thus far, from someone who has written numerous articles on Catholic moral, social, political, and historical issues and is executive editor of Chronicles, 'a magazine of American culture'. He has an excellent educational and parish experience background and belongs to a traditional Catholic community in Illinois.

However, as I try to point out where necessary, even someone like him can make a couple of slips that aggravate the circumstances against the Vatican unnecessarily, because they are based on wrong premises or false information.

Additionally, I object to the title - it's not the Pope who needs the lesson - it's his media people!

Does the Pope Need a Lesson in P.R.?
By Scott P. Richert Guide to Catholicism
Thursday January 29, 2009

The announcement on January 24 that the Holy See had lifted the excommunications of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) was greeted with joy in many circles, but with horror in others.

The primary cause of the distress is found in numerous public pronouncements by one of the bishops, Richard Williamson, denying the Holocaust and expressing views that are hard to characterize as anything other than antisemitic.

The distress deepened when it was revealed that, on January 21, the very day the decree lifting the excommunications was signed, Swedish television had broadcast an interview with Bishop Williamson, in which, in the words of John Allen in the National Catholic Reporter, "he denied that the Nazis had used gas chambers and asserted that no more than 200,000 to 300,000 Jews had died during the Second World War."

[It is unfortunate that the writer makes the observation in a way as to imply that the decree was signed despite the fact that Williamson's interview had already been broadcast! A little thought might have made him realize that 1) Rome and Stockholm are more or less in the same time zone and 2) decrees, especially important ones, are generally signed during office hours, while highly pre-publicized broadcasts generally take place in the evening. So it is unlikely - even if both the Pope, Cardinal Castrillon and Cardinal Re (who actually signed the decree) watched Swedish TV regularly, they would have seen the interview at the time the decree was signed.

This is the kind of seemingly trivial but deeply undermining remark that even obvious sympathizers, such as Mr. Richert obviously is, sometimes make carelessly.]

Even many of those who supported Pope Benedict's move began to wonder whether he had fully considered the ramifications of his actions. They shouldn't have.

The lifting of the excommunications is the first step toward the full reconciliation of the schismatic SSPX with the Holy See, but it is also the result of over 20 years of consideration and negotiation. And, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict has been at the very center of that process all along.

Some Catholic critics of the move, such as Andrew Sullivan [For those who do not follow US media very closely, Sullivan is a prominent Catholic gay activist, journalist. blogger, and consummate opponent of the Church and the Pope because of the homosexual issue], fundamentally misunderstood the dynamics of this process. ['Fundamentally'? I think not, as they are far from stupid and could have easily checked out the basic facts about excommunicati9ons. I think the right adverb is 'deliberately'.]

Williamson and the three other bishops -- Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, and Alfonso de Galarreta --d id not incur excommunication for their views on any particular topic, historical or dogmatic. They were automatically excommunicated on canon law for accepting episcopal ordination at the hands of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without the approval of Pope John Paul II.

While acknowledging that fact, Sullivan argued that Pope Benedict should have refused to lift the excommunication of Williamson, even though he, along with the other three bishops, had petitioned the Vatican for the lifting of the excommunication and expressed sorrow for his action. Sullivan's reason?

I argued that rescinding excommunication when the man still holds this kind of dark Vatican I view of the world and the church is a provocation - to the Jewish people, civilized people everywhere and to Catholics who thought we had left this kind of poison behind in the 1960s.

But if Williamson was not excommunicated for holding such views, then holding such views now is not grounds for refusing to lift the excommunication. [But Sullivan does know better, and would never use that argument, for instance, to dispute, say, a presidential pardon for a man shown to have been wrongly convicted for murder but who also happened to be anti-Semitic!]

It's a simple point, really, and Sullivan's refusal to acknowledge it even when confronted with clear explanations of the matter by John Schwenkler and Damian Thompson says more about his ongoing blind anger at Pope Benedict for refusing to reconsider the Church's teaching on homosexuality than it does about this particular issue.

Setting aside Sullivan's vendetta, is there a lesson that the Vatican can learn from the reaction to the lifting of the excommunications? Ross Douthat thinks so:

If the Pope de-excommunicates a Holocaust denier, the Vatican press office should be working around the clock, with press releases flying, to provide context and do damage control.

What's more, if the Pope de-excommunicates a Holocaust denier, the Pope himself needs to say something about it, and not just obliquely nod to the decision in his latest homily.

Yes, the Church's primary business is saving souls, not public relations - but in this day and age, public relations is part of the business of saving souls. And nobody in Rome, from Benedict on down, seems to have figured that out.

On one level, that seems entirely reasonable - until one asks: Would it have made a difference? In the wake of the uproar, Pope Benedict made a statement at his weekly audience on January 28, commemorating the Holocaust.

Since an annual memorial of the Holocaust occurred earlier in the week, the statement was likely planned well before the excommunications were lifted. Indeed, Benedict has made such statements in previous years.

[As Douthert is an old hand in Catholic journalism, he might also know that 1) the Pope's weekly catecheses are finalized the day before the audience, especially as this Pope writes them himself; and 2) it is not true that the Pope automatically gives a message on the Holocaust on or around January 27 - last year, for instance, he spoke about the Week of Christian Unity in his weekly catechesis, and on the World Day for Lepers and the Rome Catholic Action March for Peace in the Angelus, not about the Holocaust... Once again, even the Pope's well-wishers are unwittingly doing him a disservice. The situation is bad enough without piling on other negative circumstances which happen to be wrong!]

Yet Catholic blogger Rocco Palmo declared that the remarks were "an effort to stem the nightmare of perception born from his lifting of the excommunications," while Andrew Sullivan provided an excerpt of the remarks under the headline "Damage Control." [And even if it was damage control, is this relevant? It is a reasonable deduction any ordinary observer might make, not inside information Palmo or Sullivan might have had!]

The lifting of the excommunications is an internal matter for the Church, under the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, who clearly has a long-term plan in mind. Subordinating that decision to the demands of short-term public relations would do more harm than good in the long run.

What decision would be next? Should the Church no longer take stands on moral issues, such as homosexuality, contraception, and abortion, until such dissenters as Andrew Sullivan are satisfied with the Church's explanation for those positions?

Almost lost in all the controversy is the remarkable fruit that's already been borne of the lifting of the excommunications.

Bishop Williamson has been a loose cannon within SSPX for years, but now Bishop Fellay, the Superior General of the Society, has "forbidden Bishop Williamson to issue any public opinion on any political or historical matter until further notice."

Fr. Franz Schmidberger, the district superior for Germany of SSPX, issued his own statement, declaring that:

The banalization of the genocide of the Jews by the Nazi regime and of its horror are unacceptable for us.
The persecution and murder of an incalculable number of Jews under the Third Reich touches us painfully and they also violate the Christian commandment of love for neighbor which does not distinguish ethnicities.

I must apologize for this behavior and dissociate myself from such a view.

Such dissociation is also necessary for us because the father of Archbishop Lefebvre died in a KZ [concentration camp] and because numerous Catholic priests lost their lives in Hitler's concentration camps.

Meanwhile, Rorate Caeli notes that the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera reports that, in discussion with the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei, "Bishop Fellay recognized the Second Vatican Council, he recognized it theologically. Only a few difficulties remain . . . "

And in an interview with the French Catholic magazine Monde & Vie (also noted on Rorate Caeli), Bishop Fellay declared that SSPX's relationship with Rome changed "From the accession of the current pope. I first evoked the Holy Virgin but, at a human level, there should be no fear of ascribing to Benedict XVI what has just taken place."

And finally, the traditionalist Catholic paper The Remnant, long supportive of SSPX and critical of Rome, is reporting that "full regularization" of SSPX "may occur as early as February 2, 2009"--next Monday, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the traditional end of the Christmas season.

If the Vatican had more concern for public relations, might this controversy have been avoided? Certainly--but it is hard to imagine how it could have been avoided without continuing the schism in the Body of Christ.


There would have been controversy in any case, as there always is when hot-button issues are concerned, but foresight and planning on the part of the Vatican Press Office would certainly have helped.

The fact that this office failed so miserably once again - on the heels of previous similar media disasters in which the only real victim is the Pope - is in itself a scandal.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/31/2009 5:13 PM]
1/31/2009 9:00 PM
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That Tablet article
The Tablet article quoted above didn't blow my gasket as much as the Times Online thing about Obama and Kung. I know who reads the Tablet - a lot of liberal Catholics who THINK they are oh so intellectual and must be seen leaving church after Mass every Sunday with a copy under their arm. Writers in the Tablet keep themselves tongue in cheek and ever so slightly on the right side of the Magisterium, while getting their digs in.
There used to be an advertisement here: "Top People Read The Times"
Now I'd change that to "People who accept the authority of the Pope and the Magisterium of the Church read THE CATHOLIC HERALD". I'm proud to walk out of church with my copy of the Herald and, during the week, I always put the copies of the Tablet behind some other magazines!!!!!!!
[Edited by maryjos 1/31/2009 9:01 PM]

2/1/2009 4:04 AM
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Even in the Catholic world,
there are those who would divide
where Benedict XVI seeks to unite

by Gianteo Bordero

January 21, 2009

it is true that today so many observers are saying this: Mons. Marcel Lefebvre, in ordaining 4 bishops in 1988 without
the necessary authorization of the Pope, thus automatically incurring excommunication [for himself, his fellow bishop
who took part in the ordination, and the 4 bishops they ordained], inflicted a severe wound to the unity of the Church -
Love for which requires the willingness to obey the Vicar of Christ, even if it means sacrificing insistence on one's
own ideas.

Instead of which, Lefebvre and his followers made of those ideas a battle standard, perhaps even transforming them into
a true and proper ecclesiastic 'ideology' that is prejudicially opposed to everything that has to do with the words
'Vatican-II', 'aggiornamento', or modernity.

Nonetheless, Lefebvre was not excommunicated by Pope John Paul II because of his ideas. Not even those against Vatican II.

And everyone who is stoking the fires of the controversy that followed Benedict XVI's decision to revoke that
excommunication forgets to say this, as if it was not relevant.

And so they help to muddy the waters further, by allowing the impression that it was the personal opinions of
the 4 Lefebvrian bishops that has kept them formally outside the Church.

Indeed, many of those who, whether in the newspapers or on TV, deliberately promote this wrong impression among
their readers and viewers, almost also point out with ill-concealed glee that the bishops have not been fully readmitted
to the Church and that there are still a number of steps to be done - as though the recall of the excommunications was not
that important.

They are the same ones who gloatingly report Bishop Williamson's anti-Holocaust statements, and have since jumped on
similar statements from another Lefebvrian priest.

They have been combing the archives and newspaper files, Google and YouTube, in search of other 'negatives' with which
not only to rebuke the Lefbevrians but also to 'prove' that Benedict XVI erred in his decision.

Let us grant for a moment that what the intellectuals and Vaticanistas who are progressivist, Martinian or Dossettian
[advocates of the liberal ideas of Cardinal Martini and Vatican-II historian Dossetti] claim about the Lefebvrians is true - namely,
that the break with Rome was due to their anti-Vatican-II views and had nothing to do with the illicit ordinations.

Then that means that they are saying that dissent from the documents of Vatican-II is cause for excommunication!

Are they so sure - these Torquemadas of modern times - that they would emerge guiltless in any new Inquisition which
would be 'conciliarily correct'?

For example, are they so sure that their sympathies (if not outright preference) for pop Masses - those which they believe
would bring the faithful closer to the Church but which has instead turned off many - would find validation in the decrees
of Vatican-II?

Or that their openness to everything that is modern - even in terms of family, procreation, and sexuality - has any basis
at all in any of the Vatican-II constitutions?

Why are they grasping on totally to their idea of the 'spirit of Vatican II' while completely ignoring what the texts
actually say?

Perhaps because they can imagine the 'spirit' to be anything they wish it to be, whereas the 'letter' is concrete and actual?

Paraphrasing the famous Latin saying, we can say to Benedict XVI's most fervent critics «Spiritus volant, scripta manent»
(the spirit flies, the letter remains). [The original saying is, "Verba volant, scripta manent" (The spoken word
flies away, the printed word remains

Fortunately for them, and thank God, they are under no risk of excommunication, because the Church has its specific
criteria for this, and it is not theirs.

That is why the Pope did not require the Lefebvrians to publicly swear loyalty to Vatican II before he revoked
their excommunication.

His criterion was forgiveness of their offense (disobedience to John Paul II) in the name of unity among the members of
the mystical Body of Christ.

It is surprising that intellectuals, commentators and journalists who had always hailed - without sparing their
enthusiasm nor rhetoric - the 'openings' of Papa Ratzinger's predecessors to people who are not even Christian
would now see him as the devil for being open towards separated Catholics - one of the primary duties of a Pope
- in order to heal a schism

Perhaps because it is an 'opening' to the 'wrong' side, one that is not 'politically correct' even in the ecclesiastical
sense, to a group that has been ostracized and scorned by the Vatican-II progressives.

It is a strange way to think about the Church - and just as sectarian and ideological as that which they decry about
the Lefebvrians. With the difference that the Lefebvrians, for 40 years, have been regularly and continually attacked,
criticized, 'excommunicated' in the eyes of media and the public opinion they shape, without anyone to come to their aid.

Pope Benedict, a wise and merciful man, has been above the fray and exercises his mission on another plane: not by
affirming or confirming any church ideology, or his personal point of view, no matter how theologically brilliant, but by
carrying out the mission assigned by Christ to St. Peter: to bring together (and not to divide) the flock of Christ.
And if necessary, to go after the stray sheep


It is precisely that image of the Good Shepherd going out of his way to take back the lost sheep that
immediately came to my mind when the lifting of the excommunication was announced - as I expect it did to all Catholics
who see the Pope as the Universal pastor.

But they forget, willingly or not - those critics of the Pope and of the Church who eagerly seize on the slightest pretext
they can find to discredit one and the other - that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and the Successor of Peter, and thus
mandated to be the Universal Pastor.

All they see in him is the 'head of the Roman Catholic Church', which in their minds, is analogous to the head of a nation
or a large political party. And so, they attack him as if he were a secular political figure.

But even a political leader is expected to heal divisions within his own party, so why should the leader of the Roman Catholic
Church be denied the right to do that?

The only thing that went wrong about what is otherwise an exemplary act of charity from the Pope was the failure of the Vatican
communications machinery to prepare adequately for the evident negative fallout that was bound to come because of Bishop
Williamson's outrageous views, especially as and since it concerns the Jews.

Even if Williamson had not given that interview on Swedish TV, his spoke and written record on the subject in the past was
already substantial - and it would most certainly have been dredged up immediately as soon as the revocation was announced

And the negative whammy was instantaneous and immediate, because Swedish TV, reading the speculation in the Italian press
that the revocations were coming, knew they had explosive material on their hands - and acted expeditiously to make the most of it.

We can only wish their Vatican counterparts had been as alert to the media implications of an unsavory character like Bishop
Williamson being among the beneficiaries of the Pope's generosity. Especially because some of his most outrageous opinions
have been openly anti-Semitic.

It's hard to believe that among the hundreds of Vatican employees - priests and laymen alike - in Vatican Radio, the Vatican
Press Office, the Osservatore Romano, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Secretariat of State, and
the curial dicasteries, not one had the initiative, upon reading the speculation in the Italian media, to sound
a warning bell

Surely, in all of the offices that are not directly concerned with media, there is a section, or at least one responsible
person, whose duty is to keep track of what is written and said about the Pope, the Church and the Vatican. So even if
the communications people themselves fell short in terms of awareness, initiative and prompt action, there should have been
no lack of human sensors with the commons sense to do something about what they 'sensed'.

What makes their virtual dereliction of duty worse is that there was time to do something about it - because the Swedish
TV interview was broadcast January 21st and the Vatican did not have to make the formal announcement till January 24
(to fall within the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity). But obviously, no one was minding the store, or even thought
it had to be minded at all!

It's all such an appalling humdinger of a black eye for Vatican media - and completely unnecessary aggravation, if not
an outright affront, for the Pope - that I can't stop ruing it (and casting maledictions in my minds!)

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/3/2009 12:57 AM]
2/1/2009 11:01 AM
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Wait for it........................
The next criticism of our beloved Papa is about to blow in on a foul-smelling wind.
Our early morning radio news today reported that he has promoted an extreme right wing Austrian priest to be assistant bishop of Linz. I can't remember the name of the priest. The television news did not carry the item.....the Eurovision Song Contest was obviously considered to be of greater importance to the cretins who watch it.

Apparently this priest has stated that Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans because it was retribution from God for all the homosexuality going on in that city. I didn't know that New Orleans was the US equivalent of Brighton, but he could have been right. These are awesome times. Anyway, whatever his opinions, he must be a good priest and pastor or Benedict wouldn't have appointed him.

We must brace ourselves for today's press onslaught!!!!!!!!


2/1/2009 2:12 PM
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I saw that news last night in a Babelfish translation of an Austrian news report on a blog, but it was much more positive.
It did mention the priest's weird views about Katrina, but it also presented the appointment as the Holy Father sending
a signal to the Diocese of Linz and to the Austrian hierarchy in general that he was no longer going to tolerate ultra-
liberal bishops such as, apparently, the diocese of Linz has had all these years.... Now I can't find the blog I saw but
I do see the BBC account which focuses on Bishop Wagner's views about Katrina... Let's see how it plays out.
And let's see what Cardinal Schoenborn says about it.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/3/2009 12:42 AM]
2/1/2009 2:49 PM
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February 1

OR today.

The Pope calls on Italian labor leaders to put aside self interests in facing the problems today:
'Work together in solidarity to overcome the crisis'
Other Page 1 stories: An editorial on the coming Darwin commemorative year points out that biology alone
does not explain man; and the UN refugee commission's appeal to the world economic forum in Davos for more support.

The Sunday Angelus - On Jesus as our best defense against the devil, on the Day for Life observed today
by the Church in Italy, and on the Day for Consecrated Life as the Church observes the Feast of
the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple tomorrow.

2/1/2009 2:58 PM
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here are some reports from german magazins which don't belong to "scandal sheets" concerning papa's newest decision.
perhaps it is informative for the ones of you who understand german!

Papst ernennt ultrakonservativen Weihbischof

Die Pläne von Papst Benedikt XVI., vier exkommunizierte Bischöfe, unter ihnen den britischen Bischof Richard Williamson, zu rehabilitieren, hat zu einem schweren Zerwürfnis mit Vertretern des Judentums geführt.

Rom (dpa) - Nach dem weltweiten Sturm der Entrüstung um die Rehabilitierung des Holocaust-Leugners Richard Williamson hat der Papst jetzt eine Personalentscheidung getroffen, die neue Kritik hervorruft.

Benedikt XVI. ernannte den ultrakonservativen österreichischen Priester Gerhard Wagner zum neuen Weihbischof der Diözese Linz. Das teilte der Vatikan am Samstag in Rom mit. Der 54-jährige Wagner, seit 1988 Pfarrer in Windischgarsten, hat durch umstrittene Äußerungen Schlagzeilen gemacht.

So warnte er die Jugendlichen vor den Harry Potter-Büchern von J.K. Rowling, weil er darin «Satanismus» am Werk sah, und nannte den Hurrikan «Katrina», der New Orleans verwüstet hatte, eine Art göttliche Strafe für eine unmoralische Stadt. Nicht zufällig habe der Hurrikan die fünf Kliniken zerstört, in denen abgetrieben worden sei. «Ich bin einer, der die Konfrontation geradezu sucht», sagte Wagner am Samstag dem ORF-Fernsehen.

Die Ernennung löste in der Diözese Besorgnis aus. «Die Vorgangsweise ist wirklich eine Katastrophe», sagte der Pfarrer von Traun, Generaldechant Franz Wild, dem ORF. Er befürchte, dass der Diözese eine schwierige Zeit bevorsteht. Laut österreichischen Medien war die Entscheidung weder mit Wagners zukünftigem Vorgesetzten, dem Linzer Diözesanbischof Ludwig Schwarz, noch mit Kardinal Christoph Schönborn abgesprochen.

Zuvor hatten die Anfang vergangener Woche bekanntgewordenen Pläne des Papstes, vier exkommunizierte Traditionalisten-Bischöfe, unter ihnen Williamson, zu rehabilitieren, zu einem schweren Zerwürfnis mit Vertretern des Judentums und zu massiver Kritik seitens katholischer Theologen geführt.

Nach Berichten der italienischen Nachrichtenagentur Ansa vom Sonntag, steht ein Abbruch der diplomatischen Beziehungen zwischen dem Heiligen Stuhl und Israel allerdings nicht zur Debatte. «Die hypothetische Frage einer Unterbrechung jeglicher diplomatischer Beziehungen zum Vatikan steht in keinster Weise auf der Tagesordnung», sagte Sprecher des israelischen Außenministeriums Igal Palmor der Ansa. Palmor nahm damit Bezug auf einen Bericht des Magazins «Der Spiegel», nach dem der israelische Minister für Religionsangelegenheiten, Jizchak Cohen, wegen der Rehabilitierung Williamsons mit dem Abbruch der diplomatischen Beziehungen zum Vatikan gedroht hatte.

«Der Minister hat das Recht, sich frei zu äußern, aber im Staat Israel sind diplomatische Beziehungen Angelegenheit des Außenministeriums und nicht des Ministeriums für Religionsangelegenheiten», erklärte Palmor. Auch einen Besuch Papst Benedikts XVI. in Israel hielt er weiterhin für möglich. Die Vorbereitungen - im Gespräch ist eine Reise ins Heilige Land im Mai - «gingen voran wie geplant».

Auch der israelische Botschafter in Deutschland, Yoram Ben-Zeevnach, hofft, dass die Angelegenheit bereinigt werden könne. «Die diplomatischen Beziehungen zwischen Israel und dem Vatikan waren, sind und werden immer sehr wichtig sein für Israel und ich denke, auch für den Vatikan», sagte Zeevnach der «Bild am Sonntag» zu den Forderungen nach einem Abbruch der diplomatischen Beziehungen.

Der Vatikan distanzierte sich erneut von Williamson. «Sicher ist, dass wer auch immer die Shoa leugnet, nicht nur historischen Unsinn behauptet, sondern auch nichts versteht weder vom Mysterium Gottes noch von Christus am Kreuz», sagte Vatikan-Sprecher Federico Lombardi «Bild am Sonntag».

Unterdessen gehen die Proteste weiter. Der Rottenburger Bischof Gebhardt Fürst wandte sich in einer Erklärung gegen den Beschluss des Papstes, den Holocaust-Leugner zu rehabilitieren. «Es belastet mich als Bischof und als Seelsorger, dass diese Vorgänge zur äußeren und inneren Entfremdung zahlreicher Gläubiger von der Kirche, zu einem Vertrauensverlust besonders der jüdischen Schwestern und Brüder gegenüber der Kirche sowie zu einer erheblichen Störung des christlich-jüdischen Dialogs geführt haben.»

Er habe als «Katholik seine Probleme» mit der Rehabilitierung des Holocaust-Leugners, kritisierte auch der Präsident der Deutsch-Israelischen Gesellschaft und langjährige Leiter der CDU-nahen Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Israel Johannes Gerster den Vatikan. Von Rom hätte man sich «mehr Sensibilität» erwarten können, erklärte Gerster nach Berichten des «Tagesspiegel». Er hoffe nun, dass der Vatikan wenigstens eine Kursänderung in Sachen Seligsprechung Pius XII. vornehme. Pius XII. - Papst von 1939 bis 1958 - ist immer wieder vorgeworfen worden, zur Verfolgung der Juden durch das Nazi-Regime geschwiegen zu haben. Benedikt XVI. hatte jedoch seinen Vorgänger immer wieder nachdrücklich gegen diesen Vorwurf verteidigt.

Aus Protest gegen die Rehabilitierung der Piusbrüder und speziell des Holocaust-Leugners Williamson trat jetzt der bekannte belgische Theologe und Ethiker Prof. Jean-Pierre Wils aus der Kirche aus. «Ich will nicht mehr mit dem anti-modernen, anti-pluralistischen und totalitären Geist dieser Kirche identifiziert werden», sagte der Professor, der in Deutschland lebt und an der katholischen Radboud-Universität im niederländischen Nijmegen unterrichtet, in einem Interview mit dem holländisch-katholischen Online-Magazin «Katholiek Nederland». Die Priesterbrüderschaft sei eine «extrem reaktionäre und zutiefst antisemitische Gruppe, die mit Diktatoren und rechtsgerichteten Regimen sympathisiere».

Die Priesterbruderschaft St. Pius X. lehnt die Ergebnisse des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils (1962-1965) ab. Sie fordert eine Rückkehr zur lateinischen Messe und ein Ende des ökumenischen Dialogs mit anderen Konfessionen und Religionen.

Die Niederlassung der Piusbruderschaft in Deutschland soll jetzt Williamson ausgeladen haben. Nach einem Bericht des Nachrichtenmagazins «Focus» darf der 68-jährige bei den deutschen Piusbrüdern nicht mehr auftreten. Der Holocaust-Leugner habe ursprünglich in einem Priesterseminar Ende Mai in Zaitzkofen (Kreis Regensburg) Diakone weihen wollen. «Wir haben ihm mitgeteilt, dass wir ihn hier nicht mehr sehen wollen und dass er die Weihen nicht mehr durchführen darf», begründete der Leiter des Priesterseminars, Pater Stefan Frey, die Entscheidung. Williamson habe mit seinem jüngsten Interview den Pontifex zu sehr vor den Kopf gestoßen.m (dpa) - Nach dem Streit um den Holocaust-Leugner Richard Williamson hat der Papst jetzt eine Entscheidung getroffen, die neue Kritik hervorruft. Benedikt XVI. ernannte den ultrakonservativen österreichischen Priester Gerhard Wagner zum neuen Weihbischof der Diözese Linz.

Das teilte der Vatikan in Rom mit. Der 54-jährige Wagner, seit 1988 Pfarrer in Windischgarsten, hatte durch umstrittene Äußerungen Schlagzeilen gemacht. So warnte er die Jugendlichen vor den «Harry Potter»-Büchern von J.K. Rowlings, weil er darin «Satanismus» am Werk sah, und nannte den Hurrikan «Katrina», der New Orleans verwüstet hatte, eine Art göttliche Strafe für eine unmoralische Stadt. Nicht zufällig habe der Hurrikan die fünf Kliniken zerstört, in denen abgetrieben worden sei. «Ich bin einer, der die Konfrontation geradezu sucht», sagte Wagner am Samstag dem ORF-Fernsehen.

Die Ernennung löste in der Diözese Besorgnis aus. «Die Vorgangsweise ist wirklich eine Katastrophe», sagte der Pfarrer von Traun, Generaldechant Franz Wild, dem ORF. Er befürchte, dass der Diözese eine schwierige Zeit bevorsteht. Laut österreichischen Medien war die Entscheidung weder mit Wagners zukünftigem Vorgesetzten, dem Linzer Diözesanbischof Ludwig Schwarz, noch mit Kardinal Christoph Schönborn akkordiert.

Zuvor hatten die Anfang der Woche bekanntgewordenen Pläne des Papstes, vier exkommunizierte Bischöfe, unter ihnen Williamson, zu rehabilitieren, zu einem schweren Zerwürfnis mit Vertretern des Judentums und zu massiver Kritik seitens katholischer Theologen geführt.

Der israelische Minister für Religionsangelegenheiten, Jizchak Cohen, drohte wegen der Rehabilitierung des britischen Bischofs mit dem Abbruch der diplomatischen Beziehungen zum Vatikan. Wie das Magazin «Der Spiegel» schreibt, sagte Cohen, er empfehle, «die Verbindungen mit einer Körperschaft, in der Holocaust-Leugner und Antisemiten Mitglied sind, vollständig abzubrechen». Der erzkonservative Bischof hatte sich zwar beim Vatikan für den von ihm ausgelösten «Sturm» entschuldigt, seine Äußerungen zum Holocaust aber nicht zurückgenommen. Er hatte unter anderem im schwedischen Fernsehen erklärt, von den Nazis seien nicht sechs Millionen Juden ermordet worden, und es habe keine Gaskammern in den Konzentrationslagern gegeben.

Salomon Korn, Vizepräsident des Zentralrats der Juden in Deutschland, sagte dem «Spiegel», mit der Rehabilitierung von Bischof Williamson «einen Holocaust-Leugner gesellschaftsfähig gemacht» zu haben, sei «unverzeihlich». Dies zeige, dass der Papst «die Versöhnung mit den Juden, die seine Vorgänger vorangebracht haben, infrage stellt». Israel Meir Lau, ehemaliger Oberrabbiner Israels und Überlebender des Konzentrationslagers Buchenwald, fragt im «Spiegel»: «Wie kann ein solcher Lügner den Schutz und die Rehabilitierung des Führers der katholischen Kirche bekommen?»

Bundestagspräsident Norbert Lammert (CDU) zeigte Verständnis für die «Irritation und Betroffenheit der jüdischen Gemeinde». «Solche Äußerungen und Vorkommnisse gefährden den vom heutigen Papst und seinen Vorgängern ausdrücklich für unverzichtbar erklärten Dialog mit den jüdischen Organisationen», sagte Lammert dem «Spiegel». Der Freiburger Erzbischof Robert Zollitsch betonte in dem Magazin: «Weder für Antisemitismus noch für die Leugnung des Holocaust gibt es Platz in der katholischen Kirche.»

© Die Welt erschienen am 01.02.2009 um 13:55 Uhr

Thanks for the post, B-fan - it is very much along the negative lines of the BBC report, DPA being a secular news agency like them. However,
I have also found the original kath-net report on it (Austrian Catholic news agency)
which is quite positive about Bishop-to-be Wagner, saying how much he is beloved and respected by his flock, and how he made his parish
into one of Austria's model parishes in terms of Catholic practice. It includes a statement from the Bishop of Linz himself expressing
happiness at the Pope's choice to be his right-hand man. After I finish translating the Holy Father's Angelus message today,
I'll have a go at this.

I just noticed Rocco Palmo quoted some English news reports about this in his blog yesterday.

Obviously, all the Pope's critics and MSM in general are trying to ride the hype generated by the Williamson episode before it loses steam,
and so Wagner's nomination [some will even make much of that family name and tie it up to the great composer's anti-Semitism!] this comes
just in time to whip up the frenzy again.

I also notice Newsweek has an article by rabid Pope-hater and religion-basher Christoper Hitchens...



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/3/2009 12:59 AM]

2/1/2009 3:19 PM
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The Holy Father started out his Angelus message today by reflecting on today's Gospel, saying, among other things,

The devil sought to lead Jesus towards the human logic of a powerful Messiah full of worldly success. The Cross
of Christ is the devil's ruin, and so Jesus did not cease telling his disciples that in order to enter into his glory,
he must suffer a lot, be rejected, condemned and crucified (cfr Lk 24,26), suffering itself being an integral part
of his mission.

Indeed, the theme chosen by the Italian bishops for this year's celebration of the Day for Life today is "the power of life
in suffering". Therefore, he said, euthanasia, for instance, is a false solution to the tragedy of suffering and is unworthy
of man.

This is what he said in English:

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals his divine authority in his teaching and his work of healing. Let us ask the Lord to open
our minds ever more fully to his saving truth, and our hearts to his merciful and gracious love.

Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Here is a full translation of the Holy Father's words at the Angelus today:

Dear brothers and sisters!

This year, on this Sunday, the liturgy offers for our meditation the Gospel of St. Mark, of which a singular characteristic
is the so-called 'messianic secret' - the fact that for the moment, Jesus did not wish it known to others, outside of
the tight group of disciples, that He was the Christ, the Son of God.

That is why he repeatedly admonished the apostles, as well as the sick whom he cured, not to reveal his identity to anyone.
For example, the Gospel passage today (Mk 1,21-28) tells of a man who was possessed by the devil, who suddenly cries out:
"What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"

Jesus rebukes him and says, "Quiet! Come out of him!" And immediately, notes the evangelist, the evil spirit with a piercing cry
came out of the man.

Jesus not only chased out the demons from persons, freeing them of their worst slavery, but forbade the devil himself
from revealing his identity.

He insisted on this 'secret' because the success of his very mission was in play, a mission on which our salvation depended.
He knew that to free mankind from the dominion of sin, He had to be sacrificed on the Cross as the Paschal Lamb.

For his part, the devil sought to dissuade him and turn him to the human logic of a powerful Messiah filled with worldly
success. The Cross of Christ is the ruin of the devil, and that is why Jesus did not cease to teach his disciples that
in order to enter into his glory, he had to suffer much, be rejected, condemned and crucified (cfr Lk 24,25), suffering
being an integral part of his mission.

Jesus suffered and died on the Cross for love. In this way, we can see, he gives sense to our suffering, a sense that
many men and women today have understood and made their own, experiencing profound serenity even in the bitterness
of harsh physical and moral trials.

It is precisely "the strength of life in suffering' that the Italian bishops have chosen as the theme for their message on
the Day for Life today. I join with all my heart in their words which express the love of Pastors for their people, and
the courage to announce the truth, the courage to say clearly, for instance, that euthanasia is a false solution to
the tragedy of suffering, a solution that is unworthy of man.

In fact, the true response cannot be to grant death, no matter how 'gentle', but to bear witness to love which helps
to face pain and agony in a human way. We can be sure of this: no tear - neither of those who suffer or those who
are near them - is lost before God.

The Virgin Mary kept in her heart the secret of her Son and shared the sorrowful hours of his Passion and Crucifixion,
sustained by the hope of the resurrection.

Let us entrust to her the persons who are suffering and those who try to sustain them every day, serving life in its every
stage - parents, health care givers, priests, religious, researchers, volunteers, and many others. Let us pray for all.

After the Angelus, he said this:

Tomorrow we will celebrate the liturgical Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Forty days after the birth
of Jesus, Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem, following the prescription of the Mosaic Law.

Every firstborn, according to Scriptures, belongs to the Lord, and should therefore be ransomed with a sacrifice.
In this event, Jesus was consecrated to God the Father, and linked to that consecration, was that of the Virgin Mary.

That is why my beloved predecessor John Paul II wished that this occasion, on which many consecrated persons make
or renew their vows, also become the Day for Consecrated Life.

Tomorrow afternoon, therefore, after the Holy Mass at St. Peter's Basilica presided by the Prefect of the Congregation
for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, I will meet with consecrated persons present
in Rome.

I invite everyone to thank the Lord for the precious gift of these brothers and sisters and to ask him, through
the intercession of Our Lady, for many more new vocations in the variety of charisms of which the Church is rich.

And in his concluding greeting in Italian, he said:

I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, particularly the Movement for Life, the delegations of the faculties of medicine
and surgery from the various universities of Rome, and all those who are committed to the defense and promotion of
the fundamental good which is life.

I appreciate and encourage the commitment of the Diocese of Rome in this field, and I extend my most heartfelt wishes
as well for Family Week which begins today.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/3/2009 1:03 AM]
2/1/2009 5:15 PM
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I am grateful to New Catholic in Rorate caeli for the following initiative and its call for prayer,
which I hope all Catholic bloggers and columnists will follow and not take for granted:

Shame on you, "Liberal Catholics", Pharisees of the "New Springtime"! You proclaim to tolerate all, and
to respect diversity, but you loathe those whose only wish is to preserve the purity of what was always
taught and of the prayers that were always offered, because their continued presence in the Church
contradicts the new "house" you tried to build.

Shame on you, "Progressives", official Scribes of the "Spirit of the Council"! You build monuments to
the "Good Pope John", but reject all that he stood for, in traditional doctrine and in liturgical beauty.
You hail Paul VI, but have done all you could to ignore his greatest magisterial document, Humanae Vitae,
and discredit him in the eyes of the world.

You maligned John Paul II every single day of his pontificate, but now you praise him, for you have
found your new scapegoat - Benedict XVI, a man who, as his last work on earth, has accepted the heavy
burden of the Fisherman, trying to bring unity to the flock God entrusted him.

You crucify Peter in the global public square. You deliver him to the enemies of the Church of Christ.
You hate him for his struggle to rehabilitate what the Church has always believed and the way
the Church has always prayed. You persecute him for he removed the scarlet sign of "excommunication",
which you used to despise, but which you now view as good!

You hypocrites! You are accommodating towards abortionists and you pander to politicians dedicated
to the culture of death - but you misrepresent Peter's legitimate gesture of mercy as an act of
uninformed weakness. Liberal serpents, pseudo-Conservative vipers, you are "witnesses against
yourselves" for your relentless persecution of Peter.

Yet, Peter will keep working for unity with charity, charity in Truth.

Those who love the Vicar of Christ will keep praying daily for him, so that he "will not flee
for fear of the wolves", so that he may persevere in the mission he set out to accomplish.

What about you? "Your house shall be left to you, desolate."


Let me add on this fresh item from

Posted by Shawn Tribe

This came into the NLM from Dr. Alcuin Reid this morning:

On Friday BBC Radio asked me to discuss recent events concerning the SSPX on 'The Sunday Programme' this morning.

Following that request I asked the SSPX for comment on the issues to be discussed. Unfortunately Bishop Fellay's reply
reached me only after the programme aired. His reply, written for publication, states:

The position of Bishop Williamson is clearly not the position of our Society.

Antisemitism has no place in our ranks. We follow fully God's commandments on justice and charity
and the constant teaching of the Church.

Antisemitism has been condemned by the Church. So do we condemn it.

I fully agree with Fr Schmidberger's statement about Bishop Williamson's words. (

God bless you!

+Bernard Fellay

For those who may not be acquainted with Alcuin Reid, he is a recognized authority on liturgical reform, and has edited and published
a number of books, including Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger (2003)(on the proceedings
of the Fontgombault Conferencee keynoted by the cardinal) and The Monastic Diurnal (2004). The second edition of his principal work,
The Organic Development of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2005), carries a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. His second
major liturgical work is Continuity or Rupture? A Study of the Liturgical Reform of the Second Vatican Council.

P.S. Subsequently, reported the following, translated from a Le Croix account:

Bishop Bernard Fellay welcomed Famille Chrétienne [French Catholic weekly] on January 31, in his General House of Menzingen,
Switzerland. He responded in particular to the accusations of Antisemitism cast at the Fraternity of Saint Pius X.

We evidently condemn every act of murder of the innocent. It is a crime that cries to heaven! Even more so when it is
related to a people.

We reject every accusation of Antisemitism. Completely and absolutely. We reject every form of approval of what happened
under Hitler. This is something abominable. Christianity places Charity at a supreme level.

Saint Paul, speaking of the Jews, proclaims, 'I wished myself to be an anathema [from Christ], for my brethren!" (Rom. 9, 3).
The Jews are "our elder brothers" in the sense that we have something in common, that is, the old Covenant. It is true that the
acknowledgment of the coming of the Messiah separates us.

It is very interesting to notice that the Church did not await for the Council to prescribe courses of action regarding
the Jews. Since the 30s, even during the war, several texts of Rome provide a very just position: the abominations
of the Hitlerist regime must be condemned!

'Spiritually, we are all Semites', Pope Pius XI had said. It is a truth which comes from Sacred Scripture itself,
'we are sons of Abraham,' Saint Paul also affirms.

It is very welcome that Mons. Fellay has been making these very explicit statements of the position of the FSSPX
regarding the Jews.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/3/2009 1:06 AM]
2/1/2009 6:25 PM
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You know what ?
I fully approve the holy father's decision but when I read what the integrists are saying on their websites, I just think they don't
deserve so much generosity. They are the same than 40 years ago. They haven't learnt anything. When reading what they dare
to write, I wonder if I belong to the same church and if I live in the same world.

Let us pray [SM=g27813]

Dear Flo -

I don't have the time to read what the 'integristes' are saying on the Net, but let us remember that the Church is addressing
the schism of the FSSPX, not the views of their individual members
, and it is doing so through Mons. Fellay, who is their
Superior General and therefore authorized to act in behalf of the FSSPX.

Of course, there will always be diehard 'integristes' who will stick only to what Mons. Lefebvre said and did, but Mons. Lefebvre is long gone,
and Mons. Fellay now leads the movement.

I imagine that what he decides and does will be followed by the majority of his members, and once the FSSPX is back into full communion
with the Church of Rome, then the diehard, closed-mind traditionalists will be in the same position as the diehard, closed-mind
progressives who are now in the Church, and who are just as bitterly opposed to Rome as their traditionalist coutnerparts are

I have just seen on Lella's blog an Italian translation of the agreement that Mons. Lefebvre signed with then Cardinal Ratzinger. I think
what Mons. Lefebvre agreed to is the best answer to the diehards who tend to forget that he did sign such an agreement.

There are just too many things happening today that I don't know where to begin translating!


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/1/2009 7:33 PM]
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Thanks to Lella and her invaluable blog

for this item based on a commentary in Germany's most prestigious paper, Frankfuerter Allgemeine Zeitung.

I have looked up the article, written by Heinz-Joachim Fischer, who has known and covered Joseph Ratzinger
since he was Archbishop of Munich (he also wrote a biography of him after he was elected Pope).

However, let me pass on first the Italian report about it, because it will take me more time to translate all of Fischer's piece:

A defense of the Pope
in the German newspaper FAZ

ROME, Feb. 1 (Translated from AGI) - A column in the Sunday edition of the Frankfuerter Allgemeine Zeitung today defends
the Pope against what the writer sees to be a media campaign against Benedict XVI.

Under the title, Der Grundzufriedene [literal meaning, 'the one who is fundamentally satisfied'], to mean 'perfectly contented',
the article says that the controversy unleashed in the past few days "has to do with the fact that Joseph Ratzinger is
above all a Catholic who is perfectly contented to be one."

"In 'intellectual' Europe, this attitude is quite rare, and even if it exists, it is often hidden."

But with such an attitude, the writer says, "Papa Ratzinger draws all the arrows to him like St. Sebastian. A Catholic who is
happy to be one! What a provocation!"

The article concludes that "with the hateful statements of a marginalized person like Williamson, who has not been fully
accepted into the Church as a bishop, we (the media) have produced a campaign against the Pope and accused him of
anti-Semitism. Is this just media over-dramatization or a small Kulturkampf [cultural war]?

AGI adds this explanatory note:

Kulturkampf is the term used to define the inflamed political and cultural struggles between the Catholic Church and
the German states during the period that began after the First Vatican Council (1967-1870) to the decades (1871-1919)
following the establishment of the German Empire.

More specifically, the term sums up all the anti-Curial and anti-clerical legislation put into place by the German government
during those years.

P.S. I have no idea what is causing the line lengths on the entire page to be a bit too long, as there are no oversize
pictures posted. I have tried to go back and remedy the line length of my own entries for more convenient reading.

The well-contented Pope
by Heinz-Joachim Fischer
Translated from

Feb. 1, 2009

Joseph Ratzinger, who has been Pope for almost four years now, has in his life (born 1927) stirred up quite a bit - arousing
contradiction and outrage in some, enthusiastic agreement in others.

As an 'extraordinary' Professor of Theology (starting in 1958), he disquieted conservative Catholics, because he drew forth
new insights from the old and virtually ignored treasury of the Church, and amplified these insights persuasively at
the Second Vatican Council.

As 'ordinary' [in the academic sense] university lecturer (since 1959) in Bonn, Munster, Tuebingen and Regensburg,
he irritated the 'progressives' because he refused to swim with the mainstream of 'acceptable' ideas in the 1960s
and 1970s.

As Archbishop of Munich and Freising (1977-1981), he embarrassed some of the faithful because of his erudition.

And as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he became since (1981), he was soon labelled as
a Panzer in the army of John Paul II.

He drew the ire of peace movements because as early as September 1984, he called Communism 'the shame of our time',
and of Protestants, because from the front ranks of the Church hierarchy, he reminded the world of the fundamentals
of Catholic belief that it is the only Church of Christ.

As Pope (since 2005), Benedict XVI provoked the ire of Muslims in a lecture in Regensburg where he sought to shed light
on the relationship between faith and reason, and on the misuse of religion to justify violence - not unimportant in
our time - by using a citation that was critical of Mohammed.

And now Benedict stands accused - after revoking the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops, among them Richard
Williamson, who has questioned the Holocaust - of rehabilitating a Holocaust-denier, of sympathizing with the extreme right,
and of once again harboring anti-Semitism and other dark and reactionary tendencies within the Catholic Church.

But one hopes this devilish operation may be stopped once and for all. For some time now, some Jewish leaders have
from time to time professed to be offended by certain actions of Benedict, criticizing what they claim to be his lack
of goodwill for Israel and his veneration of his predecessor Pius XII.

And now it seems Benedict - the humble Pope who visited Auschwitz in May 2006 - has thoroughly ruined himself with them.
With quite a long list of sins.

What is it then that makes Joseph Ratzinger from Marktl am Inn seem to provoke so much? He certainly does not appear
aggressive by nature. Gun salutes and the weapons of rifle clubs still terrify him.

It must be for what Joseph Ratzinger is, above all: a perfectly contented Catholic. This is quite rare in intellectual
Europe and where it exists, it is often hidden. And that is why, like St. Sebastian, he appears to draw all the arrows
towards him at every opportunity.

Catholic - and happy about it: What a provocation! But so he is.

Since his childhood in a devout family, since his early years in Bavaria. His intelligence has led him to draw forth
all the good there is in his Church, to demonstrate what is joyful in her history, to explain what is best
about its present
. He cannot do otherwise.

He is not constrained by her shortcomings - he knows very well what they are, and that the Church is dealing with them.
He looks around him and finds that under God's earth, the ideas of the Catholic Church on what is good for mankind are,
all in all, particularly right. In which, he is certainly opposed by critics within the Church itself and by skeptics
outside it.

His contentment is surprising, Because since John XXIII 50 years ago, on January 25, 1959, in the Chapter Hall of
the Monastery of St. Paul outside the Walls, announced that he was calling a Council of all the bishops of the world,
and opened it in October 1962, the whole world interpreted it to mean that the Catholic Church would change itself
fundamentally and in detail, in order to keep abreast of the times and its progress.

It was thought Catholics themselves would seek out the smallest splinter in the beam and make every effort to
smooth it. That, the outside world thought, was what the Good Pope John meant by 'aggiornamento'. Since then,
the pressure for change has weighed heavily on the Church.

In that same year of 1959, on April 15, one day before his 32nd birthday, Ratzinger, as Professor of fundamental
theology, the foundation of the doctrine of the faith, began lecturing at the University of Bonn. In a 'new tone',
as he describes the reaction of his students in his memoir Aus meinem Leben(Milestones, English edition).

The theology professor experienced then that the announcement made by the rotund Pope "had reanimated and,
for many, even intensified to the point of euphoria, the atmosphere of renewal and hope" in the Church.

The young Ratzinger shared the enthusiasm for the coming Council of the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Josef Frings,
40 years older than he, and as his expert consultant in Rome - who came to be called a 'teenage theologian' half-
admiringly, half in jest - he was able to have some influence through four Council sessions, from 1962 to 1965.

Therefore Ratzinger rather quickly distinguished between 'true and false renewal' in the Church. Such that after
a lecture Ratzinger gave at the Katholikentag [Catholic Day] in Bamberg in 1966, the then chairman of the German
bishops' conference, Cardinal Julius Doepfner, one of the four influential moderators of the Council, publicly
and frowningly reproached him for his 'conservative streak'.

But the Professor was 'deeply disturbed' by the Church in Germany and German Catholicism. Because, as he wrote:
"Now everything in the Catholic Church, at least in its public consciousness, seemed to be open to revision...
subject to control by academics. Behind this tendency towards domination by the specialists, one could already
sense another tendency - the idea of a people's sovereignty in the Church, in which the faithful themselves would
decide what they understand by 'Church', which seemed to be defined only as 'the people of God'. The idea of a Church
from beneath, the 'people's Church',... was introduced." A people's democracy in the Church? No. Rather, the opposite -
the Pope thinks.

Now, with the revocation of the excommunications, it is Benedict's intention to heal an unnecessary schism between
tradition and renewal within the Church. Perhaps he also desires to tone down the blind defamation of conservatives
within the Church itself, the hysterical fear towards those who happen to love the conventional and the orthodox.

That some traditionalists may also have gross ideas - some that need to be dramatically condemned even - and that their
politics may be rightwing, is nothing new. Thus it seems most remarkable that because of condemnable statements made
by the marginalized Bishop Williamson - who has never been accepted as a bishop by the Church [and still is not, formally,
as none of his other three colleagues are]
- there is now this campaign against the Pope, this accusation of anti-Semitism
against the Roman Catholic Hierarchy. Is this just an over-dramatization by the media or a mini-Kulturkampf?

The theologian Ratzinger, in all his post-Council actions, has never rejected any iota of the constitutions,
decrees and declarations of the Second Vatican Council. He has always demonstrated with impressive words
and actions that the Catholic Church has brought itself alongside the spirit of the times without falling
victim to it.

So says the Pope. Who will berate him for that?

P.S. I am not quite satisfied with my translation of the title to the article, but I believe
it captures the sense of it.


Forgive the frivolity, but I couldn't wait to share this really hilarious bit, from Father Z, who advises
his readers to look up a 'widely amusing thought' from the British blogger Mulier Fortis ('strong woman').

The thought being: What if the Pope should decide, after all is said and done, to parachute Mons. Fellay
into Westminster to be the next Primate of England and Wales? I split my seams LOL!!!!!

I've also thought a bit about the Holy Father's noimination of Mons. Wagner to be auxuliary Bishop of Linz. There may or
may not be more rivers of ink and gigabytes expended excoriating the Pope for naming someone who disapproves of Harry
Potter and sees natural catastrophes like Katrina as a punishment- both ueberhaupt politically incorrect more than
they are wacky {they are personal opinions, after all, that are arguable).

But from all accounts, Wagner is a well-prepared and grounded orthodox theologian and excellent pastor. In which case,
the Holy Father has opted yet again for what he thinks is right for the Church - and the diocese of Linz, specifically -
rather than for what is politically correct.

So those who too easily accuse him of being tone-deaf are a bit off - not that he is tone-deaf, but that he places what
he believes to be right above a momentary ruffling of some feathers which ultimately are insignificant in the context of
what he wants to do for the Church. (Certainly, no one can say he is insensitive. He's too intelligent not to be sensitive
enough to obvious things, beyond which he must calibrate his level of sensitivity to his greater purpose, as I would imagine
he did in the case of Williamson, assuming he was aware of the latter's record.)

Of course, one also prays that out of consideration for the Pope who has placed such trust in him, Mons. Wagner [like Bishop
Williamson] will refrain henceforth from making statements that could be considered offensive to some.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/2/2009 4:49 AM]
2/2/2009 1:35 PM
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[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/2/2009 1:37 PM]
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February 2

Feast of the Pressentation of Jesus in the Temple

No OR today.


The Holy Father met today with
- H.E. János Balassa, Ambassador of Hungary, who presented his credentials. Address in English.
- Bishops of Turkey on ad limina visit, individually, then as a group. Address in French.

In the early evening, he addressed the religious of Rome after Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on the occasion
of the Day for Consecrated Life today observed on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
Address in Italian.

The Vatican released the text of the message sent by the Holy Father too His Holiness Kiril, Patriarch of Moscow,
on his enthronement yesterday. Text in English.



General prayer intention:
"That the pastors of the Church may always be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in their teaching
and in their service to God's people".

Mission intention:
"That the Church in Africa may find adequate ways and means to promote reconciliation, justice and peace
efficaciously, according to the indications of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops".


VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Turkey were received this morning by
the Holy Father, at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

A visit, he told them, "that is providentially taking place in the year dedicated to St. Paul", and assumes particular
importance because the prelates "are pastors ... in the land where the Apostle of the Gentiles was born and where
he founded many communities".

"I know that in your country you have given particular emphasis to this Jubilee Year, and that many pilgrims are visiting
the sites so dear to the Christian tradition. My wish is that they may find easier access to those places which are
so significant for the Christian faith, and to liturgical celebrations", said the Pope.

Commenting on the "ecumenical dimension" of the Pauline year, he expressed the hope that this "may make further progress
possible along the path of unity of all Christians".

Benedict XVI went on to recall the "rich history" of the Church in Turkey, a history marked "by the development of
the first Christian communities" and by such names as St. John and St. Ignatius of Antioch.

As for the modern age, "Benedict XV and Blessed John XXIII also figure in the life of the nation and of the Church
in Turkey", said the Pope, going on to mention Fr. Andrea Santoro, an Italian priest killed in the Turkish city of Trabzon
on 5 February 2006.

"May this prestigious history be for your communities - the vigour of whose faith and abnegation under trial I am well aware -
not only a reminder of a glorious past, but also a stimulus to continue with generosity along the journey you have begun,
bearing witness among your brothers and sisters to God's love for all human beings".

"In ecclesial communion the people of God will find an effective support for their faith and hope", he said. "Bishops are
primarily responsible for the concrete realisation of that union. The profound communion that must exist among them, in
the diversity of rites, is expressed above all in the true fraternity and mutual collaboration that enables them to carry out
their ministry in a collegial spirit, strengthening the body of Christ".

"The Christian community in your country, lives in a nation governed by a constitution that affirms the lay nature of the State,
but where the majority of the population is Muslim. For this reason it is very important for Christians and Muslims to work
together to promote humanity, life, peace and justice, The distinction between the civil and the religious sphere
is clearly a value that deserves to be protected".

Holy Father calls for
freedom of religion and worship in Turkey

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2009 (CNA) - In his address to bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Turkey, who are visiting the Vatican
for their “ad limina” visit, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that it is up to the Turkish State to “provide effective guarantees that
all citizens and all religious communities may enjoy freedom of worship and religion.”

“In this context,” explained the Pope, “I am well aware of your desire and readiness to open a sincere dialogue with
the authorities in order to find a solution to the various problems your communities have to face, such as recognition for
the juridical status of the Catholic Church and her property."

He then stressed that the Turkish Christian community “lives in a nation governed by a constitution that affirms the lay nature
of the State, but where the majority of the population is Muslim. For this reason it is very important for Christians and Muslims
to work together to promote humanity, life, peace and justice.”

“The distinction between the civil and the religious sphere is clearly a value that deserves to be protected," he said.

Examining the religious sphere more closely, the Holy Father explained that within the Church “the people of God will find an
effective support for their faith and hope.” The bishops, he added, are “primarily responsible for the concrete realization”
of a union between the “diversity of rites” in the Turkish Church.

The Pontiff also noted that the visit of the bishops “is providentially taking place in the year dedicated to St. Paul”
and assumes a particular importance because the prelates “are pastors…in the land where the Apostle of the Gentiles was born
and where he founded many communities.”

Given the special emphasis brought by the Pauline Year, the Pope noted that many are traveling to see “the sites so dear
to the Christian tradition.” “My wish,” he said, “is that they may find easier access to those places which are so significant
for the Christian faith, and to liturgical celebrations.”

Benedict XVI also recalled the “rich history” of the Church in Turkey which is marked “by the development of the first Christian
communities” and by the likes of St. John and St. Ignatius of Antioch. More recently, the Church has also seen
the witness of Fr. Andrea Santoro, an Italian priest killed in the Turkish city of Trabzon on February 5, 2006,
Pope Benedict said.

"May this prestigious history be for your communities - the vigor of whose faith and abnegation under trial I am well aware -
not only a reminder of a glorious past, but also a stimulus to continue with generosity along the journey you have begun,
bearing witness among your brothers and sisters to God's love for all human beings," Benedict XVI prayed.

Wrapping up his address, the Holy Father asserted that inter-religious dialogue “cannot but have positive consequences
for everyone. It would be appropriate for permanent contacts to be established, for example through a bilateral commission,
in order to study as-yet unresolved questions."

Pope urges Hungary to defend Europe
by protecting the family

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2009 (CNA)- Pope Benedict took the occasion of welcoming Hungary’s new ambassador Monday morning
as an opportunity to encourage the country to defend the role of the family in Europe. In particular, the Holy Father
highlighted the right of parents to be the "primary educators" of their children.

After Janos Balassa presented his Letters of Credence, the new ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See, was addressed
in English by the Pope.

The Pope first spoke with Balassa about the "forces that govern economic and political affairs in the modern world," which
he said need to be "built upon an ethical foundation, giving priority always to the dignity and the rights of the human person
and the common good of humanity."

This task is one that Hungary is well-suited for by its "strong Christian heritage, stretching back over a thousand years,"
Pope Benedict pointed out.

"Hungary," he added, "is well placed to assist in the promotion of these humane ideals within the European community and
the wider world community, and it is my hope that our diplomatic relations will serve to support this vital dimension
of your country's contribution to international affairs."

The importance of the family for a vibrant society was also emphasized by the Pope.

Drawing upon his message for the 2008 World Day of Peace, Benedict XVI reminded the new diplomat that the family
is essential for "building peaceful community relations at every level."

Unfortunately, the "vital cohesive role" of the family is "being called into question and even endangered as a result
of misguided ways of thinking that at times find expression in aggressive social and political policies" in much
of modern Europe, he lamented.

"It is my earnest hope," the Pope said, "that ways will be found of safeguarding this essential element of our society,
which is the heart of every culture and nation."

"One of the specific ways government can support the family is by assuring that parents are allowed to exercise their
fundamental right as the primary educators of their children, which would include the option to send their children to
religious schools when they so desire," the Pontiff stated.

The difficult history of the Catholic Church in Hungary was also touched upon by Pope Benedict, who noted that "after
decades of oppression, sustained by the heroic witness of so many Christians," the Church has emerged to "take her place
in a transformed society, able once more to proclaim the Gospel freely. She seeks no privileges for herself, but is eager
to play her part in the life of the nation, true to her nature and mission."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/2/2009 10:52 PM]
2/2/2009 5:32 PM
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Peter Seewald
Teresa. I know you're very busy and please let me assure you that your work is very, highly appreciated.

Anyway. I just read a piece by Peter Seewald which moved me to tears ->

Please have a look and let me know how you feel about it.

Coming from a journalist who used to be one of the wolves, it gives it even a deeper meaning.

Thanks you so much for all your efforts!!!

Dear Heike -

Thank you very much for the link, and for your kind words.

Seewald's piece moved me to tears as well, not only for what he says and how he says it, but also because he is the seocnd German writer I have read
in two days to come to the defense of our Pope, and I cannot thank him and Heinz-Joachim Fischer enough for doing so. God bless them!

I am still looking for an Anglophone writer to do a similar job. As you can see in my post below, even the usually reliable George Weigel was
more focused on examining the effects of the Pope's move on the part of the Lefebvrians than on seeing what those of who have followed these
developments closely with an open mind have seen from the start:

Lifting the exommunications was the Pope's gesture to say, "All tight, I am doing what you asked. Now, let us proceed reasonably
and try to heal this rift completely." He has done as much as he can do - the ball is now in Mons. Fellay's court.

Also, Seewald is the second writer I've read today who validates my analogy of the Chinese bishops illegally ordained by the Patriotic Association
and yet getting recognized later by the Vatican.

Of course, I will give priority to translating Seewald's piece, as it is about the Pope directly. I can afford to delay for the piece on Fr. Wagner,
say, because he is a secondary figure. I will post the translation as soon as I can.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/2/2009 10:55 PM]
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I missed this one from days ago! Sorry....

Did the Pope heal, or deepen,
the Lefebvrist schism?

by George Weigel
Newsweek Web Exclusive

January 26, 2009

What do the Cardinal Richelieu and King Louis XVI, the Bastille and the Reign of Terror, the Bourbons and Robespierre,
the revolutionary depredations in the Vendée, the Dreyfus Affair, the anti-clericalism of the French Third Republic, and
the World War II Vichy regime have to do with the schismatic movement that the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre led out
of the Roman Catholic Church in 1988 — a movement that Pope Benedict XVI is now trying to move toward reconciliation
by lifting the excommunications of its four illegally ordained bishops on Jan. 21?

In a word: everything.

There are, of course, many different kinds of people in the Lefebvrist movement; the great majority of them are men
and women who find the older forms of Catholic piety — especially the Latin Mass celebrated in the Tridentine form —
more spiritually beneficial than the reformed liturgy that followed the Vatican Council II (1962-1965).

And it is also true that Archbishop Lefebvre, one of the leaders of the anti-reformist faction at Vatican Council II, was
very unhappy with what was done to the Church's liturgy after the council.

But Lefebvre was also a man formed by the bitter hatreds that defined the battle lines in French society and culture from
the French Revolution to the Vichy regime.

Thus his deepest animosities at the council were reserved for another of Vatican Council II's reforms: the council's
declaration that "the human person has a right to religious freedom," which implied that coercive state power ought not
be put behind the truth-claims of the Catholic Church or any other religious body. [Which is, of course, a fallacious
implication. Religious freedom neither denies the claim of each religion to be the 'true' one nor the right of every religion to try to win
others to them (evangelization)! It simply leaves it to the individual to decide what faith he wants to profess.]

This, to Lefebvre, bordered on heresy. For it cast into serious question (indeed, for all practical purposes it rejected)
the altar-and-throne arrangements Lefebvre believed ought to prevail — as they had in France before being overthrown
in 1789, with what Lefebvre regarded as disastrous consequences for both church and society.

Marcel Lefebvre's war, in other words, was not simply, or even primarily, against modern liturgy. It was against
modernity, period. For modernity, in Lefebvre's mind, necessarily involved aggressive secularism, anti-clericalism, and
the persecution of the church by godless men.

That was the modernity he knew, or thought he knew (Lefebvre seems not to have read a fellow Frenchman's reflections on
a very different kind of modernity, Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America"); it was certainly the modernity he loathed.
And to treat with this modernity — by, for example, affirming the right of religious freedom and the institutional separation
of church and state — was to treat with the devil.

The conviction that the Catholic Church had in fact entered into such a devil's bargain by preemptively surrendering to
the modern world at Vatican Council II became the ideological keystone of Lefebvre's movement. [Why then did Lefebvre put
his signature to the Council documents, according to all the reports I have read? I need to check this out!]

And the result was dramatic: Lefebvrists came to understand themselves as the beleaguered repository of authentic
Catholicism — or, as the movement is wont to put it, the Tradition (always with a capital "T").

For 10 years, Pope John Paul II tried to convince the recalcitrant Archbishop Lefebvre otherwise; he got nowhere.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger then tried to mediate. But at the end of the day, Marcel Lefebvre hated modernity more than
he loved Rome.

So in 1988, rejecting the personal pleas of John Paul II and Ratzinger (men who could hardly be accused, reasonably,
of preemptive concessions to modernity), an aging Lefebvre ordained four bishops to carry on his work, without the requisite
authorization from Rome.

[I find it odd that Weigel should omit to mention here - and it is not irrelevant! - that Lefebvre proceeded with the ordinations after he had
signed an agreement with Rome, brokered by Cardinal Ratzinger. Again, I need to read more about why Lefebvre decided to renege
on his signed agreement. I hope I can find a ready English version of that agreement, which is available in Italian.

It bears translation because it would basically foreshadow the arrangements that the Vatican and the present FSSPX leadership
may reach to arrive at full communion. It appears to be similar to the arrangemennt granted by the Vatican to the French-based
Institut du Bon Pasteur
, composed of ex-Lefebvrians who came to an agreement with the Vatican in 2006.]

Those four bishops (whose orders, while illegally conferred under Church law, are nonetheless valid sacraments in the Church's
eyes) automatically incurred excommunication by participating in a schismatic act — an act in conscious defiance of Church
authority that cuts one off from the full communion of the Church.

It is those excommunications that have now been lifted by Benedict XVI, in an effort to move the Lefebvrist movement
toward reconciliation with Rome and toward the restoration of full communion.

That one of the Lefebvrist bishops, Richard Williamson, is a Holocaust denier and a promoter of the "Protocols of
the Elders of Zion" has drawn considerable attention and commentary, particularly from Jewish scholars and religious leaders
who have made large investments in Jewish-Catholic dialogue since Vatican Council II.

Their concern is entirely understandable, although it has to be said that the lifting of Williamson's excommunication in no way
constitutes a papal endorsement of Williamson's lunatic view of history, or a retraction of John Paul II's 1998 statement
deploring the Holocaust, or a revocation of Vatican II's teaching
on the sin of anti-Semitism.

At the same time, it ought to be recognized that Williamson's Holocaust denial and his embrace of a crude anti-Semitic
canard like the "Protocols" is not all that surprising, given that Lefebvrist political ideology grew out of the same French
fever swamps that produced the anti-Dreyfusards. (Even as it ought to be recognized that the hypersecularists of
the Third French Republic hated Catholics as much as some anti-Dreyfusards hated Jews.)

Williamson's inanities, while deplorable and disgusting, are something of a sideshow, however. For the highest stakes
in this drama hove into view when Bishop Bernard Fellay, the current head of the Lefebvrist movement, issued a Jan. 24
letter on the lifting of the excommunications to the movement's faithful.

It is an astonishing document, declaring as it does that "Catholic Tradition is no longer excommunicated" and that
the Lefebvrists constitute those "Catholics attached to Tradition throughout the world."

The letter goes on to affirm "all the councils up to the Second Vatican Council about which we express some reservations."
And it implies that the talks that will now commence between the Vatican and the Lefebvrists, now that
the excommunications have been lifted, will focus on those "reservations."

Responsible canon lawyers have raised questions about whether this arrogance on the part of Bishop Fellay does not cast
into question his fulfillment of the canonical requirements for a lawful lifting of his excommunication.

In any event, non-canonists will read his letter as Fellay's unilateral declaration of victory: the Lefebrvists have
been right all along; the Holy See has finally recognized the error of its ways; the only things left to discuss are
the terms of surrender.

[In fact, the Vatican under Benedict XVI has chosen to leave apart discussion of any dispute on Vatican-II - as it did with the IBP - from
the excommunication issue, for the simple reason that dissent with Vatican II (which is part of the Magisterium) is not an excommunicable

To argue that the Pope should have insisted on threshing this out first with the FSSPX would be to argue that dissent is
excommunicable - and what would that make of the millions of Catholics who dissent on contraception, abortion, assisted
reproduction, women priests, married priests, you name it? Not to mention the theologian priests who even teach against
the divinity of Christ - they are not excommunicated, and unlike the lefebvrians, their ministry is rarely suspended
(not recognized as valid by the Church), because they can go on administering the Sacraments

Ironically, but hardly coincidentally, the Catholic left (which has been clever enough to avoid formal schism while living in
intellectual and psychological schism since Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical on family planning, Humanae Vitae) has welcomed
Benedict XVI's canonical rescue of the Lefebvrist bishops, with numerous left-leaning Catholic dissidents now saying, in effect,
"Where's my bailout?" [And this is the very consequence of the fallacious reasoning that dissent with the Magisterium is cause for excommunication!

In modern times, the Church has never prohibited personal dissent, even if organized (but not enough so as to break away as the Lefebvrians
did), because that is an individual freedom. She disapproves of it, and it is harmful to the Church because it means secularity has overcome
loyalty to the principles of the faith in the dissenting individuals, but it becomes the individual's personal responsibility for which
he must answer to God if not to the Church.]

Benedict XVI undoubtedly intended this lifting of excommunications as a step toward healing a wound in the church. Bishop Fellay's
letter, in response to the Pope's gesture, suggests that the healing has not taken place.

Moreover, Fellay's letter raises the stakes for everyone, and to the highest level. For what is at issue, now, is the integrity
of the Church's self-understanding, which must include the authenticity of the teaching of Vatican Council II.

Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Pope's spokesman, emphasized to reporters on Jan. 24 that the lifting of the excommunications
did not mean that "full communion" had been restored with the Lefebvrists.

The terms of such reconciliation are, presumably, the subject of the "talks" to which Bishop Fellay referred in his letter.
Those talks should be interesting indeed.

For it is not easy to see how the unity of the Catholic Church will be advanced if the Lefebvrist faction does not publicly and
unambiguously affirm Vatican Council II's teaching on the nature of the Church, on religious freedom, and on the sin of
anti-Semitism. [Mons. Fellay has in recent days given very clear and explicit statements of the FSSPX position against anti-Semitism and
its consequences.]

Absent such an affirmation, pick-and-choose cafeteria Catholicism will be reborn on the far fringes of the Catholic right,
just when it was fading into insignificance on the dwindling Catholic left, its longtime home. [Am I reading right here? How can
anyone say that cafeteria Catholicism is 'fading into insignificane'? In the United States alone, all those Catholics who voted for Obama
are mostly cafeteria Catholics - liberals who cannot abide the moral orthodoxy of the Church - and they were certainly not insignificant!
National Catholic Reporter, America, Commonweal and their ilk may well have something tp say about this 0"how dare you say that
our constituencies are 'fading into insignificance'? And what does that make of us, then?". And think of all the tens of millions of
nominal Catholics in Europe.]


Mr. Weigel gives a very useful background to understand Mons. Lefebvre's anti-modernity which is shared by many French
traditionalist Catholics like him who were shaped by the same history and influences.

But I am disappointed with his treatment of the excommunication issue itself because it tends to reinforce false ideas about
excommunication. Also, he fails to make the connection to the IBP in terms of precedent for 'regularizing' a splinter group, even if the IBP
had no excommunicated bishops.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/3/2009 12:05 AM]
2/2/2009 9:59 PM
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Raphael, Presentation in the Temple, 1502-1503. Part of Oddi Altarpiece.
Oil on canvas, 20x11 in, Pinacoteca Vaticana

Pope Benedict today called on priests and nuns 'to radically imitate Jesus', as he addressed the congregation in St. Peter's Basilica
after Holy Mass presided over b Cardinal Franc Rode, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies
of Apostolic Life, as he asked them to "bring the light of Christ to the church and to the world".

Pope holds up St. Paul
as model for religious

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 2 (CNS) -- Catholic men and women who have consecrated their entire lives to serving God and the church must live like St. Paul, "for, with and in Christ," Pope Benedict XVI said.

The Pope greeted men and women religious Feb. 2, joining them in St. Peter's Basilica after a special Mass marking the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and World Day for Consecrated Life.

Pope Benedict said St. Paul is a model of living for all Christians, but especially for those who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

"In the life of poverty he saw the guarantee of a proclamation of the Gospel conducted with total gratuity, while expressing at the same time concrete solidarity with his brothers and sisters in need," the Pope said.

"Accepting God's call to chastity, he gave his heart to the Lord in an undivided way in order to serve his brothers and sisters with greater freedom and dedication," the Pope said.

"As for obedience, it is enough to note that the fulfillment of God's will and the daily pressure and concern for all the churches animated, molded and consumed his existence, making it a sacrifice pleasing to God," he said.

Pope Benedict said St. Paul also is a model for religious in their efforts to combine mission and contemplation, to serve others and to worship God.

The Pope said he hoped that during this year dedicated to St. Paul women and men religious would "welcome the witness of St. Paul, meditating every day on the word of God" and fulfilling their "apostolic service in and with the Church in a spirit of unreserved communion, allowing their charism to be a gift for others and witnessing to the fact that the greatest charism is love."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/3/2009 12:11 AM]
2/3/2009 12:43 AM
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Peter Seewald's article

cowgirl2, thanks a lot for posting the link to Peter Seewald's article.
He's such a terrific writer, I love him.
All his words are soothing my heart and my soul. He is defending Papa in such a gorgeous way.

The German media are constantly reporting about the case and mostly there are beating on Papa, that makes me so sad.

Teresa, thanks a lot in advance for translating the article, it is worth to be translated.

Wer glaubt, ist nie allein, im Leben nicht und auch im Sterben nicht.
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