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4/25/2009 3:30 PM
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April 25

St. Mark, Evangelist and Martyr (1st cent.)
Founded Christianity in Africa

OR today.

Strange editorial choices today: No papal news on Page 1,
not even the usual RINUNCE E NOMINE, even if the Holy Father
met yesterday afternoon with the Secretary-General of the
Arab League, and there is no reference to an inside-page article
by Rabbi David Rosen [translated in the preceding post] which
is rightly a 'first' for the OR, and which has to do with the
Pope's upcoming trip. Yet there is Page 1 pride of place for
a book review on a new book about the brain, even if the reviewer
does say that the brain does not explain who and what man is.
Go figure! Otherwise, Page 1 is a review of the world's crises:
the Taliban threat in Pakistan; new terrorist massacres in Iraq;
thousands of civilians trapped in Sri Lanka's chronic civil war;
and the US would accept Hamas in a future Palestinian government.


The Holy Father met today with

- H.E. Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent-Grenadine, with his wife and delegation
- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (weekly meeting
- Participants in a national meeting of Italian religious instructors at the Aula Paolo VI. Address in Italian.


April 25 (RV) - On the occasion of the closing of the Year dedicated to Saint Paul which will take place simultaneously in different locations on June 29, Pope Benedict has named seven Cardinals to be his special representatives for the respective celebrations:

The Holy Land: Card. Walter KASPER, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

Malta: Card. Ennio ANTONELLI, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Cyprus : Card. Renato Raffaele MARTINO, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Turkey: Card. Jean-Louis TAURAN, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Greece: Card. Jozef TOMKO, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Syria: Card. Antonio María ROUCO VARELA, Archbishop of Madrid;

Lebanon: Card. André VINGT-TROIS, Archbishop of Paris.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/25/2009 4:20 PM]
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4/25/2009 3:45 PM
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Meeting with Catholic Teachers of Religion
I happened to have EWTN on this morning and watched this. I don't think it was advertised anywhere, or I'd have alerted forum members. It was in the Paul VI Hall and when I switched on there were dancers - well, dancing!!!!! and doing various contortions. I didn't understand the significance of any of this. Then various teachers made contributions and there was film of Italian schools - both junior, middle and senior- youngsters at work in the classrooms. I found that very interesting.
Finally, Papa arrived and sat in his special chair. The hall erupted on his arrival - they would hardly let him start his address. He seemed relaxed and happy.
I do hope some of you saw it. I assume we got the satellite feed from CTV.

[Edited by maryjos 4/25/2009 3:51 PM]

4/25/2009 4:09 PM
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Pope tells religious instructors:
Catholic education is at a fundamental crossroads

April 25 (RV) - The Holy Father addressed today at the Aula Paolo VI thousands of religious instructors from all over Italy who have been meeting in Rome under the auspices of the Italian bishops conference (CEI).

After a brief moment of prayer he spoke to them of the role Catholic education plays in Italian society, underlining it's contribution to modern culture. He told the men and women, their "daily work stands out because at the heart of [their ]teaching is the dignity of every human person made in the image and likeness of God".

Echoing his October 2006 address to the Verona Convention on the theme of education, Pope Benedict once again reaffirmed that the religious dimension of education is “intrinsic to the culture of education” because it adds to the “global formation of the person transforming consciousness into knowledge of life”.

Moreover he told the religion teachers that their work now stands at an important crossroads; “There, the universal tension regarding Truth and the bi-millennial witness offered by believers meet, without confusion or clash of roles. There too meet, the extraordinary heights of awareness and of art attained by human spirit and the richness of the Christian message which is so imbedded in the life and culture of the Italian people”.

Pope Benedict remarked that their main task is to communicate the beauty and truth of the Word of God. Knowledge of the Bible is an essential element of Catholic education.

But he added, “there must always be a nexus between the scholastic teaching of religion and the deepening of students awareness of their faith”.

In this he concluded “you as teachers of the Faith must show that the God you teach in the classrooms, is the reference point for your own lives. Your example must be a valid witness of that constructive civil coexistence and loyal dialogue which every nation needs”.

Here is a translation of the Pope's address:

Dear brothers and sisters,

It is truly a joy to meet you today in order to share with you some reflections on your important presence in the Italian scholastic and cultural panorama, as well as in the heart of the Christian community.

I greet you all with affection, starting with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops conference, whom I thank for the kind words he addressed to me in presenting this numerous and lively assembly. Likewise I address a heartfelt greeting to all the authorities who are present.

Catholic religious instruction is an integral part of the history of schools in Italy, and the religious instructor is a very important figure in the teaching faculty. It is significant that many of your pupils continue to be in touch with you even after their courses.

The high number of those who choose to avail of this discipline is also a sign of the irreplaceable value that it has in their formation and an index of the elevated levels of quality that religious instruction has achieved.

In one of its recent messages, the presidency of the CEI stated that "Catholic religious instruction favors reflection on the profound sense of existence, and helps to recover, beyond individual consciousness, a sense of unity and global intuition".

This is possible because religious instruction places the human being, with his insuppressible dignity, at the center, allowing him to be illumined by the unique example of Jesus of Nazareth, whose identity is carefully investigated, and who has not ceased for 2000 years to interpellate men.

To place in the center man who was created in the image of God (cfr Jn 1,27) is, in fact, what daily distinguishes your work, in unity with the aims of other educators and teachers.

On the occasion of the ecclesial convention in Verona in October 2006, I myself had the occasion to touch on 'this fundamental and decisive question' of education, indicating the need to "amplify the spaces of our rationality, reopen it to the great questions of what is true and what is good, to conjugate among themselves theology, philosophy and the sciences, in full respect of their respective methods and their reciprocal autonomy. but also conscious of the intrinsic unity that holds them together" (Address on Oct. 19, 2006: Teachings of Benedict XVI,,, II, 2(2006), 473; 471).

The religious dimension, in fact, is intrinsic to the fact of culture itself. It is part of the global formation of persons and allows the transformation of knowledge into the wisdom of life.

Your service, dear friends, is situated precisely at these fundamental crossroads, in which - without improper encroachment on each other nor role confusion - there is an encounter between the universal reaching out to truth and the bimillenial testimony offered by believers in the light of their faith' between the extraordinary peaks of knowledge and art achieved by the human spirit and the fecundity of the Christian message which so profoundly innervates the culture and life of the Italian people.

With the full and acknowledged scholastic worthiness of your teaching, you contribute, on the one hand, to give a soul to the school, and on the other hand, to assure the Christian faith of full citizenship in the places for education and culture in general.

Thanks to Catholic religious instruction, then, schools and society are enriched by true laboratories of culture and humanity in which, by decipheringing the significant contributions of Christianity, the person is enabled to discover what is good and to grow in responsibility, to seek out comparisons in order to refine his critical sense, and to draw from the gifts of the past to better understand the present and project himself consciously towards the future.

Our meeting today also takes place in the context of the Pauline Year. The fascination that the Apostle of the Gentiles continues to exert on all of us is great: in him we recognize the humble and faithful disciple, the courageous preacher, the genial mediator of the Revelation.

I invite you to look to these characteristics of his in order to nourish your own identity as educators and witnesses in the world of the school. It is Paul, in the first Letter to the Thessalonians (4.9) who defines believers with the beautiful expression theodidaktoi, meaning 'taught by God', those who have God as teacher.

In this word, we find the secret of education itself, as St. Augustine also reminds us: "We who speak to you who listen recognize each other as faithful disciples of the one Teacher" (Serm. 23,2).

Moreover, in the Pauline teaching, religious formation is not separate from human formation. The last Letters of his apostolate, those called 'pastoral', are full of significant references to the social and civil life which disciples of Christ would do well to keep in mind.

St. Paul is a true 'teacher' concerned with the salvation of the person who is educated in a mentality of faith, as well as in his human and civil formation, so that the disciple of Christ may fully express a free personality and human living that is 'complete and well-prepared', which is also manifested in an attention to culture, professionalism and competence in the various fields of knowledge for the benefit of all.

Thus, the religious dimension is not a superstructure: it is an integral part of the person, from his earliest infancy. It is a fundamental opening to otherness and to the mystery that presides over every relationship and encounter between human beings. The religious dimension makes man more human.

May your teaching be always capable, as Paul's was, to open your students to this dimension of freedom and of full appreciation of the person redeemed by Christ according to God's plan, thus expressing, to so many young people and their families, true intellectual charity.

Certainly, one of the principal aspects of your teaching is the communication of the truth and the beauty of the Word of God, since knowledge of the Bible is an essential element in the program of Catholic religious instruction.

There is a nexus that links the scholastic teaching of religion and an existential examination in depth of the faith, such as that which takes place in the parishes and different ecclesial realities. This link consists in the very person of the Catholic religious instructor: Indeed, other than the duty of human, cultural and didactic competence required of every teacher, you also have the vocation to make it clear that the God of whom you speak in schoolrooms constitutes the essential reference point of your own life.

Far from constituting an interference or a limitation to freedom, your presence is rather a valid example of that positive spirit of secularity which allows the promotion of constructive civil coexistence, founded on reciprocal respect and on faithful dialog, values which a nation always needs.

In the words of the Apostle Paul which give the title to your assembly, my wish for all of you is that the Lord gives you the joy of never being ashamed of his Gospel, the grace to live it, and the passion to share and cultivate the novelty that comes from it, for the life of the world.

With these sentiments, I bless you and your families, along with all those - students and teachers - whom you meet everyday in that community of persons and life which is the school.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/26/2009 12:42 PM]
4/25/2009 4:38 PM
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Mass libretto and biographical data on the new saints can be found on


by Simon Caldwell

April 25, 2009

The Vatican has cleared the way for the beatification of John Henry Newman, the English Roman Catholic Cardinal.

A panel of theological consultors agreed unanimously that the inexplicable healing of an American man who was "bent double" by a severe spinal disorder came as a result of praying to Newman for a miracle, according to sources. Their decision was the final hurdle before Pope Benedict XVI can declare him "Blessed".

The Pope, who is known to be keen to make Newman a saint and who asks about the progress of his cause on a regular basis, was informed of the panel's decision straight away.

The vote means that the Pope can now beatify Newman at a date of his choosing. A second miracle will be required before Newman can be declared a saint.

The move was welcomed by Oxford University theologian Father Ian Ker, the author of the definitive biography of Cardinal Newman.

Father Ker said: "Newman was definitely a saint and he was a very English saint. He had a great sense of humour like St Thomas More.

"He also had a great gift for friendship which has been lost in the modern age." The priest said Newman was a significant figure to Catholics worldwide because he pre-empted the reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s that modernised the Church.

Father Ker added: "As soon as he is canonised he will definitely be made a theological "doctor of the Church" and he will be seen as a doctor of this period we are living in.

"He would thoroughly agree with Pope John Paul II's and Benedict's understanding of the reforms of the council. While Newman was open to new ideas he was extremely loyal to the authority and the tradition of the Church."

A formal announcement by the Vatican on Newman's beatification is expected within the next two months.

He could be beatified as early as the autumn but it is more likely to go ahead next year.

When Gordon Brown visited the Vatican in February he invited Pope Benedict to Britain to perform the ceremony in person, possibly at Wembley Stadium.

But there have also been suggestions that the beatification should take place in St Peter's Square, Rome, because of Newman's international significance as a modern theologian.

The breakthrough concludes the work of the theological consultors who spent six months examining doctrinal issues surrounding the healing of Jack Sullivan, 69, a deacon from Marshfield, Massachusetts.

A panel of medical experts had earlier concluded there was no scientific explanation for the healing.

All that remains for the beatification to go ahead is the miracle to be rubber-stamped by the cardinals of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood and the Pope's signature.

Benedict XVI has been an admirer of the writings of Cardinal Newman since the 1940s, especially his "theology of conscience".

He learned about this from a German scholar called Theodor Haecker, who translated Newman's works from English into German, and who was close to the White Rose, a German resistance movement in the Second World War.

It was revealed last month that German academics have discovered that Newman's writings on conscience were a key inspiration of the White Rose – in particular of Sophie Scholl, a student beheaded in 1943 at the age of 21 for distributing leaflets urging students at Munich University to rise up against "Nazi terror".

Newman was born in the City of London in 1801. He became a Church of England vicar and led the "Oxford movement" in the 1830s to draw Anglicans to their Catholic roots.

He converted to the Catholic faith at the age of 44 after a succession of clashes with Anglican bishops made him a virtual outcast from the Church of England.

He continually clashed with both Anglicans angry about his conversion and Catholics who suspected him of being "half-Protestant" but his brilliant mind combined with his care for the poor won him his cardinal's red hat from Pope Leo XIII in 1879.

He died in his room at Oratory House, Birmingham, at the age of 89 years and more than 15,000 lined the streets for his funeral a week later. His cause for sainthood was opened in 1958.

Last October undertakers attempted to exhume his body from a grave in Rednal, Worcestershire, but found that it had completely decomposed.

If Newman's cause progresses swiftly he could become the first English saint since 1970 when Pope Paul VI canonised 40 martyrs of the Protestant Reformation.

The last British saint was St John Ogilvie, a Scottish Jesuit martyr, canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1976.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/25/2009 5:54 PM]
4/25/2009 10:21 PM
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A couple of news items about the FSSPX:

FSSPX launches new rosary crusade
to confront their opposition

, the site of the French district of FSSPX, published today the latest 'Letter to Friends and Benefactors' that Mons. Bernard Fellay regularly sends out - this one on the occasion of Easter.

The letter is in French, and I have no time to translate just now, but he calls for a new rosary crusade, targetting 12 million by March 25, 2010, in the face of 'violent opposition' to the FSSPX following the lifting of the bishops' excommunication by Benedict XVI and the 'unfortunate statements by Mon. Williamson'.

"This is a deeper struggle", he says, "and it is clear that the one who is ultimately targeted is the Vicar of Christ in his efforts to begin a restoration of the Church."

Mons. Fellay says he is launching the new rosary crusade on the 25th anniversary year of the dedication of FSSPX to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Our Lady of Fatima.

The FSSPX launched two rosary crusades earlier: the first in 2006, to pray for the 'restoration' of the traditional Mass (which Pope Benedict XVI did in 2007), and the second in 2008 , for the lifting of the excommunications (lifted in January 2009).

On the unsettled doctrinal questions that the FSSPX has with regard to Vatican-II, he writes:

"[The opposition] fears a rapprochement between the head of the Church and us, they fear losing what they acquired with Vatican II, and they are setting everything in motion to neutralize that possibility.

What does the Pope really think? Jews and progressivists in effect are making him choose between Vatican II and us... to the point that in order to reassure them, the Secretariat of State found it best to state that a condition for our canonical existence would be a complete acceptance of what we consider as the principal source of the present problems [of the Church] and which we have opposed from the start...

Nonetheless, they (their opponents0 as well as we are bound by an anti-modernist vow and all the other condemnations made by the Church. That is why we cannot accept Vatican II except in the light of these solemn vows (profession of faith and anti-modernist vow) made before God and the Church. If there are incompatibilities then necessarily, it would be the novelties that are wrong.

We are looking forward to the doctrinal discussions announced [by the eh Vatican] in order to clarify all the questionable points as best as possible.

*I am still trying to determine what this 'anti-modernist vow' is, and is it something priests affirm perhaps following Pius IX's anti-modernist [not anti-modernity]Syllabus of Errors'? If someone knows what it is, exactly, please share!

News about when those doctrinal discussions will begin comes from Cardinal Kasper, who had famously complained last January that he was never consulted about the Pope's decision to lift the FSSPX ecommunications:

Cardinal Kasper says discussions
with FSSPX may start this summer

Translated from

TRIER, GERMANY, 24.4.09 (KIPA) - Unity discussions between the Vatican and the traditionalist FSSPX could begin this summer, according to Cardinal Walter Kasper.

"This cannot be pushed off forever," said the President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Friday. "The FSSPX must agree to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church," he said.

"There is no other way," he added, but denied that he was stating an ultimatum.

He said the Lefebvrian community must take steps in the direction of the Vatican, with the goal of reintegrating them into the Church and avoid a lasting schism.

Kasper accused the Lefebvrians of having 'a foolish understanding of tradition'.

[So the good cardinal continues to express his hostility to the Lefebvrians in public. Since 'doctrinal discussions' will take place, what is the point in name-calling now?

And I believe the cardinal also spoke out of turn on this matter, now that the Pope has assigned the question to the CDF.]

What is the 'neo-modernism'
that the Lefebvrians oppose?

Meanwhile, Mons. Richard Williamson, continues to blog every Saturday,

and has replaced the dodo on his logo with a photo of himself.

Today, in response to a comment by Father Z, he defines what he means by neo-modernism, and in doing so, shows us the mindset of the diehard traditionalist:

Let me begin by defining Neo-modernism. It is the revival ("Neo-"), let loose within the Catholic Church by Vatican II (1962-1965), of the all-embracing heresy of Modernism.

Modernism is the dreadful system of mind-rot, emerging over a century ago within the Church and solemnly condemned by St. Pius X in his Encyclical "Pascendi", whereby the Catholic Church must be adapted to fit the modern world, as shaped by Protestantism and Liberalism.

It is in fact the ultimate form of Liberalism, because by its Kantian principles it pretends to liberate man's mind (and will) from any truth (or law) whatsoever.

Modernism is an especially hypocritical and dangerous error because it can leave intact the appearances of Catholicism even while emptying out its reality.

Thus Jesus Christ is not really God, but I am free to make him God (for me) if I want to.

Thus Catholic Truth and Law become whatever I care to make of them.

Thus out of the Ten Commandments, I become free to obey none or all ten, because either way I am only obeying me.

Neo-modernism is even more dangerous than Modernism, because by it the very highest of churchmen, instead of continuing like St. Pius X utterly to condemn Modernism, adapted it to establish it officially inside the Church!

I agree with Williamson's objections to these tendencies - which all come under the heading of relativism that Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI continually denounces.

The problem is the refusal of Williamson and diehards like him to see that a correct interpretation of Vatican II, as Benedict XVI advocates, avoids and eschews relativism of any kind; and that it is possible to recognize 'some truth' in other faiths, and live with the Novus Ordo while trying to make it as reverential and meaningful as the traditional Mass.

These are two consequences of Vatican II that cannot be reversed and also the main points disputed by the FSSPX, which must find some way to accommodate themselves to them, perhaps by the CDF spelling out the necessary clarifications.

And BTW, this is what Williamson wrote about the 'doctrinal dicussions' last Saturday:

April 18, 2009

From Bishop Tissier de Mallerais speaking in Paris we hear that terms have been fixed for the doctrinal discussions due to take place between the Society of St. Pius X and the Church authorities in Rome.

The discussions are to be in writing, which is wise, insofar as there is less room for passion and more time for careful thinking.

Also they will not be made public, a provision which at best eliminates "grand-standing" by either party, otherwise known as playing to the gallery, because there will be no gallery present.

From Rome we hear that the impetus towards a Rome-SSPX understanding which was generated by the Pope's January "re-incommunication" of the four SSPX bishops, was seriously slowed down by the distrust generated by the media uproar of January-February, which is what that uproar was designed to achieve.

Yet subjectively speaking, there is certainly still good will on the part of the Pope towards the SSPX, and there is no lack of good will on the part of the SSPX towards the person of the Holy Father.

P.S. The British district of the FSSPX has published the English translation of Mons. Fellay's spring Letter mentioned in the first item above:


Just as we were launching a second Rosary Crusade at our Lourdes pilgrimage last October, we hardly expected such a swift answer from Heaven!

As for the Vicar of Christ’s Motu Proprio liberating the traditional Mass, our second entreaty was answered even more swiftly by the Blessed Virgin, because on the very same visit I made to Rome in January to put in the Sovereign Pontiff’s hands our bouquet of 1,703,000 Rosaries, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos put in my own hands the decree lifting the “excommunications” of 1988!

That is something we had asked for back in 2001, as a sign of good will on the part of the Vatican towards the Traditional movement. For, ever since the Council, everything Traditional or seeking to be Traditional in the Church has been undergoing one vexation after another, up to and including our being cast into exile.

Naturally that undermined partially or even totally, ones trust in the Roman authorities. As long as that trust is not partially restored, as I said at the time, the relations between Rome and ourselves will hardly exist.

Trust is not just a nice feeling, it is a fruit that grows all on its own when one can recognize in the Roman authorities shepherds who have the interests of everything Traditional at heart. That was the meaning of our two preliminary requests.

It is impossible to understand our present position and attitude towards the Holy See if one does not take into account the state of crisis prevailing in the Church, which is no superficial matter, nor just a personal opinion.

It is a reality quite independent of our way of looking at it, which is admitted now and again by those authorities, and verified all the time by the facts. There are numerous and varied aspects to the crisis, some profound, some merely circumstantial, but everyone suffers from it.

What strikes the faithful above all are the 'updated' liturgical ceremonies — very often scandalous, alas! and the day-to-day preaching from the pulpit of positions on moral questions in direct contradiction to the age-old teaching of the Church and the example of the Saints.

Very often parents have been grieved by their children’s losing the Faith, after having been entrusted to Catholic schools, or by their almost complete ignorance of Catholic doctrine, thanks to the lack of any proper catechism.

A countless number of members of religious orders, through their Constitutions having been re-written and their minds re-trained according to Vatican II, show that they have lost the spirit of the Gospel, in particular, self-renunciation, poverty and sacrifice.

This loss has almost immediately resulted in such a falling off of vocations that a number of Orders and Congregations are closing their houses one after another, or disappearing altogether. The situation of many dioceses is just as dramatic.

All of which forms a coherent whole that did not happen merely by chance, but arose out of a Council setting out to reform everything, and claiming to bring even the Church up to date.

Yet we are accused of either seeing a crisis where there is none, or of wrongly blaming the Council for a disastrous and enormously serious situation which anyone can recognize, or again of profiting by that situation to justify a wrongful attitude of rebellion and independence.

On the contrary, pick up the writings of the Church Fathers, or the Magisterium, or the Liturgy or Theology down the ages, and you find a unity of teaching and example to which we cleave with all our heart.

This unity of doctrine is in practice heavily contradicted, thwarted and attacked by present ways of doing things. We are not imagining things when we say there has been a break. The break is all too real.

To observe how the Bishops of certain countries treat us even after the “excommunications” were withdrawn, is enough for one to see how deeply the up-dated churchmen reject anything that smacks of Tradition. The only name that can be given to such an occurrence is a break with the past.

For again, as surprising as was the appearance of the Decree of January 21, just as astonishing was the violence of the reaction of the progressives and leftists in general with regard to ourselves.

By Bishop Williamson’s unfortunate words they may well have been handed a golden opportunity to smear the whole Society of St. Pius X and to treat it as a scapegoat, but the truth of the matter is that we were merely an instrument in a much more important struggle, the struggle of Mother Church, truly called the Church Militant, against the evil spirits prowling through the atmosphere, as St. Paul says.

It is no presumption on our part to say the Society has just now been playing a part in Church history, the history of the titanic struggle for the salvation of souls, announced in the Book of Genesis and described so dramatically in the Revelation of St. John.

Normally this struggle confines itself to the spiritual domain, but every now and again it flows over from words and souls into the bodily domain, and then it becomes visible, as with open persecutions.

In all that has happened these last few months we should see a particularly intense moment of this struggle. It is clear as clear can be that the main target being aimed at is the Vicar of Christ as he attempts to undertake a certain restoration of the Church.

A coming together of the Head of the Church and the Traditional movement is much feared, as is any going back on the novelties of Vatican II, so everything possible is done to prevent it.

What does the Pope truly think? What position is he taking? Jews and progressives want to force him to choose between Vatican II and ourselves…. to such a point that to re-assure them, the Secretariat of State could find nothing better than to lay down as a necessary condition for our canonical re-instatement the complete acceptance of what we consider to be the main source of the current problems we have always been opposed to!....

Yet those churchmen are bound, as are we all, by the Anti-modernist Oath and all the other Church condemnations of modern novelties. Thus we refuse to approach Vatican II from any other angle than that of the Solemn Declarations (Profession of Faith and Anti-modernist Oath) drawn up before God and the Church. And if the Council is incompatible with such Declarations, then it is the novelties that must be wrong.

We are relying on the up-coming doctrinal discussions to clarify these points as much as possible.

Profiting from the new situation arising from the withdrawal of the “excommunications” which has actually left the canonical status of the Society unchanged, several Bishops try to square the circle by demanding that we obey Canon Law to the letter on every point, as though we were perfectly in order, at the same time as they declare we have no canonical existence!

One German Bishop has announced that by year’s end the Society will once more be out of the Church… Nice of him! In fact the only possible solution is the one we already asked for, namely an intermediary status, necessarily incomplete and canonically imperfect, but generally accepted as being intermediary, without our having to be constantly accused of disobedience and rebellion, without our having ridiculous prohibitions thrown at us.

When all is said and done, one more proof that the Church finds itself in an abnormal state, which we call a state of necessity, is the present words and deeds of certain Bishops with regard to the Pope and Tradition.

So how will things develop from here? We have no idea. We stand by our proposal to accept our present imperfect situation as being temporary, even while we enter into the doctrinal discussions that have been announced, in the hope that they will bear fruit.

But on this difficult path, in the face of such violent opposition, we ask you, dear faithful, once more to resort to prayer. It seems to us that the moment has come to launch a major offensive, firmly anchored in the message of Our Lady at Fatima, where she promised us success, announcing that in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph.

This is the triumph we are asking her for by the means she herself requested, namely the Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart by the Supreme Pastor and all the Bishops of the Catholic world, and the spread of the devotion to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

So for this purpose we wish to offer her by March 2010 a bouquet of 12 million Rosaries, like a crown of 12 million stars all around her, to be accompanied by a similar quantity of daily sacrifices to be drawn above all from the faithful accomplishment of our duty of state, while we promise to spread the devotion to her Immaculate Heart.

We are firmly convinced that if we take care to do what she says, we will obtain much more than we could ever have hoped, and above all we will make sure of our salvation by benefiting from the graces she has promised us.

So we ask also of our priests a special effort to make this devotion easier of access for our faithful, by putting the accent not only on the Communion of Reparation of the first Saturdays of the month, but also on living very close to Our Lady through the consecration to her Immaculate Heart.

It would also be good to know better and to deepen the spirituality of Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, the great herald of the Immaculate.

Our Society was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart 25 years ago this year. We wish to renew this happy initiative of Fr. Schmidberger by wholly devoting ourselves to that Heart and by reviving our own hearts in this spirit.

Obviously we are not going to tell Providence what it should do, but we have learned from the examples set by the Saints and in Scripture itself that to have great desires can bring forward the designs of the good Lord in a remarkable way.

Thus today we make bold to entrust this intention to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, by asking her to take you all under her motherly protection. May God bless you abundantly!

On the feast of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

Winona, Easter 2009

+Bernard Fellay

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/26/2009 3:00 PM]
4/26/2009 12:32 AM
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If you read the venomous screed written by Marco Politi for The Tablet two weeks ago, you would easily suspect he is a seriously schizoid Jekyll-and-Hyde from this article in his home newspaper, the ueber-liberal anti-Church newspaper La Repubblica.

It's a belated translation, and the article is no brilliant analysis in depth, but it is surprising coming from Politi, even if I must begin by disputing the assumption in his title and in his lead paragraph.

Only now he discovers the Pope's gifts as a preacher? Where was he all these four years? But should we ask rational questions anyway about a schizoid - one who is a merciless, thoroughly unscrupulous bigot when he is Mr Hyde?

And of course, what he calls 'the secret Ratzinger' is not 'secret' at all to anyone who approaches this Pope - even through the media - with an open mind and an open heart

And Papa Ratzinger reveals
himself to be quite a preacher!

Translated from

April 22, 2009

The secret Ratzinger, whom few know, is Ratzinger the preacher. His books on theology can be found anywhere, and the activities of the reigning Pontiff are under the eyes of everyone, but to grasp the intimate core of Benedict XVI, one must go listen to him.

Not only in the basilicas, but in a parochial church or in a halfway home for sick people.

It is where he reveals - with words that are pregnant and simple at the same time - his desire for an essential Christianity that is pure, not burdened by superstructures.

Ratzinger found this purity in the intensity with which the African faithful abandoned themselves to song at the the Masses during his recent visit to Cameroon and Angola.

Whether singing in Latin or in their African languages, they manifested that fullness of faith that he seeks in all believers.

Because "Christian hope", he reiterated during the recent death anniversary of Papa Wojtyla, cannot be reduced to "ideology, group slogans, or exterior trappings". Christ, he said, does not wish believers merely to play at being his disciples.

Nor, he has said on other occasions, does it make sense to present Christianity as a package of rules or claims to hegemony of one 'single' culture or one homogeneous world.

The word that appears most often in the Pope's vocabulary is love. Which is the title [and subject] of his first encyclical, Deus caritas est.

For Benedict XVI, to be Christian consists basically in 'free adherence to love'. Love for God inseparably linked to love for one's neighbor.

It may surprise those who see the Pope primarily as a leader who expresses himself controversially on the international scene, but Ratzinger's soul, nourished by the teachings of St. Paul and St. Augustine, is really oriented towards an intimate faith which, even when expressed as social commitment, remains anchored to the two cardinal tenets of the Christian experience: the Cross and the Resurrection.

If Christ had not resurrected, he said on Easter, echoing the apostle Paul, "the void would have gained the upper hand".

Reaching his 82nd birthday and starting the fifth year of his pontificate, Benedict XVI has condensed in the past several days some of the most important themes of his thinking.

Above all, there is the incessant quest to encounter the Face of Christ.

For Ratzinger, to be Christian is nothing but empty words unless it is translated to the desire and need to find oneself face to face with that Face. Which belongs to a man of flesh and bone, who is 'historical', not mythical.

In the disorientation of the contemporary world, the Christian must learn how to pause and contemplate "the face of the Man of sorrows, who took upon himself all of our mortal anguish".

The face of Christ, Ratzinger says, is reflected in every person who is humiliated and insulted, who is sick and suffering, or alone, abandoned, despised. "You will be lost, unless you arrive first," St. Augustine said.

Why then don't we welcome this Face into our lives, the Pope asks.

He sees a special role for the clergy in all this. This is a man who basically rejects everything that is clerical [in the pejorative sense] and affected.

In the Chrismal Mass on Maundy Thursday, the Pope questioned the concept of absolute freedom proposed by the philosopher Nietzsche, but he even denounced the caricatures or humility and submission in the Church "which we do not wish to imitate".

Ratzinger drew the line between priesthood considered as a profession and vehicle for 'self-realization' and priesthood as a daily asceticism focused on service and abandonment to Christ.

These are demanding words - but they are fascinating to many Catholics and often, even to followers of other religions or agnostics.

The discussion is different in terms of the Church confronting today's society, which is seen as prey to materialism and nihilism.

The Pope sees a Church that is always in danger, besieged by hate, drawn towards the abyss, to the point of giving the impression 'that it is about to drown', were it not constantly rescued by Christ.

In this respect, Augustinian pessimism colors the words of the Pope. and perhaps some of the decisions he has made as Pope are born from that pessimism.

I think Cardinal Ratzinger once said that what others call pessimism is simply realism about human nature. Human nature is why Christ warned that his teachings would always be 'a sign of contradiction'.

And the Christian experience is precisely trying to overcome the human nature receptive to temptation and evil that is imposed on each of us by Adam and Eve's original sin.

But Politi's deep-seated Hyde persona gets the upper hand by the simple fact that he does not cite at all Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's unalloyed joy in the faith.

Very telling, that he omits mentioning 'joy' as the other word most frequent in the Pope's vocabulary, in favor of ending his piece with a fallacious riff on the Pope's supposed pessimism.

One wonders what made Politi write this piece, what triggered his Hyde persona to give way somewhat to Jekyll. And while he must have dashed off this article without taking the trouble to synthesize the Pope's major texts 'in the past several days' - as someone like Tornielli or Magister would have done - it is remarkable enough that for once, he reports about the Pope and his spiritual mission rather than in the secular-political context that he generally does.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/26/2009 12:49 PM]
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April 26

St. Pedro de San Jose Betancur (1616-1667)
Spanish Missionary to Guatemala
'St. Francis of the Americas'

OR today.

To Italian religious instructors, Benedict XVI reaffirms the full citizenship of the faith
in places of education and culture:
'The religious dimension makes man more human'

Other Page 1 stories: The Pope's meeting on Friday afternoon with the Secretary of the Arab league (above
photo, left), and with the Prime Minister of St. Vincent-Grenadines; and an editorial on the ethical State,
'Law is not neutral'.


Mass of Canonization followed by the Regina Caeli, at St. Peter's Square.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/26/2009 6:50 PM]
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5 new saints include
Portugal's national hero

Below left, St. Nuno; Right photo: New saints, from left, Gertrude Comensoli, Bernard Tolomei, Arcangelo Tadini, Nuno Alvarez Pereira, Caterina Volpicelli.

Pope Benedict proclaims new saints
By Stephen Brown and Andrei Khalip

VATICAN CITY/LISBON, April 26 (Reuters) – Pope Benedict created five new saints on Sunday, including Portugal's national hero Nuno Alvares Pereira, a medieval warrior-friar credited with securing Portugal's independence from Castile.

The Pope told pilgrims at the canonization in the Vatican that the 14th-century nobleman had shown that "in any situation, even of a military and warlike nature, it is possible to act and live out the values and principles of Christian life."

His canonization has been the subject of much excitement among Roman Catholics in Portugal, with exhibitions about his life drawing large crowds, biographies published and the launch of a commemorative postage stamp carrying his portrait.

The Portuguese Bishops' Conference drew comparisons between the 1383-1385 crisis of succession in Portugal and the current global economic crisis "stemming from a vacuum of moral values," citing the saint's example of sobriety and sharing of wealth.

"We want this to be an anti-crisis celebration. We want the canonization to be a sign of hope," friar Francisco Rodrigues, who led the canonization effort, said earlier this week.

Born in 1360 and appointed Constable of the Kingdom at just 24, his 6,500 Portuguese troops defeated over 30,000 Castilians in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 to quash Castilian claims on Portuguese lands, bringing about two centuries of peace.

The richest man in Portugal, Alvares Pereira gave up all his titles and wealth to become a friar in the Carmo Convent he had built in Lisbon, spending his last years in prayer and penitence under the name Friar Nuno of St Mary.

Long venerated in Portugal and its former colonies, there were attempts to canonize him at least as long ago as the 15th century and he was beatified in 1918. But it took a miracle attributed to him in 2000 - believers say he intervened to cure a woman's eye burned by boiling oil -- to culminate the process.

The other saints created included early 14th-century Sienese aristocrat Bernardo Tolomei, who died along with 82 monks of his order while helping victims of the Great Plague of 1348.

Three 19th-century Italians -- the priest Arcangelo Tadini and two women, Geltrude Comensoli and Caterina Volpicelli, who took vows of chastity and founded congregations of nuns -- were canonized for helping the poor and their dedication to prayer.

VATICAN CITY, April 26 (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints today, including Portugal's 14th century independence leader and an Italian monk who died of the plague after tending to the sick.

Benedict presided over the ceremony in St. Peter's Square, decorated with tapestries featuring pictures of each of the five.

The only non-Italian in the lineup is Nuno Alvares Pereira, who led Portuguese forces to defeat the Castilians at the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, securing the independence of Portugal. After leaving the military, he entered religious life as a Carmelite.

Also canonized was Bernardo Tolomei, who founded the Congregation of St. Mary of the Mount of Olives in the 1340s. He died in 1348 along with 82 of his monks after tending to plague victims.

ROME, April 26 (dpa) - Pope Benedict XVI has canonized five new saints - including the heroic 14th century Portuguese General Nuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira.

Thousands of Portuguese faithful travelled to Rome to hear the pontiff's announcement at St Peter's Square on the military man turned Carmelite monk and four others Sunday.

During the ceremony, Benedict renewed his appeal for a just society and solidarity in the struggle against economic inequality affecting the better part of the world.

The latest canonization also included Italy's Arcangelo Tadini (1846-1912), who founded the Benedictine order of Monte Oliveto; the 14th century monk, Bernhard Tolomei (1272-1348) and nuns Gertrude Comensoli (1847-1903) and Caterina Volpicelli (1839-1894).

Here is a translation of the homily today:


Dear brothers and sisters,

On this third Sunday in Easter time, the liturgy once again places at the center of our attention the mystery of the risen Christ.

Victorious over evil and death, the Author of our life, who immolated himself as expiatory victim for our sins, and "continues to offer himself for us and intercedes as our advocate; sacrificed on the cross, cannot die any more, and with the signs of the passion, lives immortal" (cfr Paschal Preface 3).

Let us allow ourselves to be flooded interiorly with the Easter splendor that comes from this great mystery, and with the Responsorial Psalm, let us pray, "Lord, let your face shine on us".

The light from the face of the risen Christ shines today on us particularly through the evangelical traits of the five Blessed Ones who in this celebration we inscribe into the album of saints: Arcangelo Tadini, Bernardo Tolomei, Nuno de Santa Maria Álvares Pereira, Gertrude Comensoli and Caterina Volpicelli.

I gladly join the homage rendered to them by the pilgrims who have gathered here from many nations, to whom I address my heartfelt greeting with great affection.

The different human and spiritual experiences of these new saints show us the profound renewal that the mystery of Christ's resurrection works in the heart of man: a fundamental mystery which orients and guides the entire story of salvation.

That is why the Church rightly and always - more so in Eastertide - invites us to turn our attention towards the risen Christ who is truly present in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

In today's Gospel, St. Luke recounts one of the apparitions of the risen Christ (24,35-48). At the start of this passage, the evangelist notes that the two disciples of Emmaus, who returned in haste to Jerusalem, related to the Eleven how they recognized the Lord 'in the breaking of bread" (v. 35).

And while they were recalling this extraordinary experience of their encounter with the Lord, 'he stood in their midst' (v. 36). Because of his unexpected apparition, the Apostles were startled and terrified, to the point that Jesus, to reassure them and overcome their every hesitation and doubt, asked them to touch him - he was not a phantasm, but a man of flesh and bone - and then, he asked them for something to eat.

Once more, as it had been with the two disciples at Emmaus, it is at table, eating with his own people, that the risen Christ manifests himself to the disciples, helping them to understand the Scriptures and to reread the events of salvation in the light of Easter.

"Everything written about me," he said to them, "in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled" (v. 44). And he invited them to look to the future: "Repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations" (v. 47).

It is this same experience that every community relives in the Eucharistic celebration, especially on Sundays. The Eucharist, the privileged place in which the Church recognizes 'the Author of life' (cfr Acts 3,15) is the 'breaking of bread' as it is called in the Acts of the Apostles.

In the Eucharist, through faith, we enter into communion with Christ, who is 'altar, victim and priest' (cfr Easter Preface 3). We gather around him to commemorate his words and the events contained in Scripture. We relive his passion, death and resurrection.

Celebrating the Eucharist, we communicate with Christ, victim of expiation, and from him, we draw forgiveness and life. What would be our lives as Christians without the Eucharist? The Eucharist is the perpetual and living heritage left to us by the Lord in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, which we must constantly rethink in depth so that, as the venerated Pope Paul VI said, it may "imprint its inexhaustible efficacy on all the days of our mortal life" (Teachings, V [1967]. p.779).

Nourished by the Eucharistic Bread, the saints we venerate today brought their mission of evangelical love to fulfillment in the various fields where they worked their individual charisms.

St. Arcangelo Tadini spent long hours in prayer before the Eucharist, and, always keeping in sight his pastoral ministry of the human being in his totality, helped his parishioners to grow humanly and spiritually.

This sainted priest, completely a man of God, ready at all times to let himself be guided by the Holy Spirit, was also able to grasp the urgencies of the moment and find remedies for them.

That is why he took on not a few concrete and courageous initiatives, like organizing the Società Operaia Cattolica di Mutuo Soccorso (Catholic Workers' Society for Mutual Aid), construction of a spinning mill and boarding school for the workers, and the foundation in 1900 of the Congregation of Working Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth, with the aim of evangelizing the world of labor through work sharing, following the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

How prophetic was Fr. Tadini's charismatic intuition and how relevant his example remains even today, in a time of grave economic crisis! He reminds us that only by cultivating a constant and profound relationship with the Lord - especially in the sacrament of the Eucharist - are we able to bring the ferment of the Gospel to our various work activities and in every field of society.

Likewise, what stands out in St. Bernardo Tolomei, who began a singular Benedictine movement, was his love for prayer and manual labor. His was a eucharistic existence, totally dedicated to contemplation which he translated into humble service to his neighbor.

For his singular spirit of humility and fraternal hospitality, he was one of those monks who kept being re-elected abbot, in his case for 27 consecutive years until his death.

Moreover, in order to insure the future continuation of his work, he obtained from Clement VI on January 21, 1344, pontifical approval for a new Benedictine Congregation named after Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto.

During the great plague of 1348, he left the solitude of Mt Olivet for the Monastery of St. Benedict in Porta Tufi, Siena, to help his monks who had been struck by the plague, and died himself as a victim of the disease, an authentic martyr of charity.

From the example of this saint, we are invited to translate our faith into a life dedicated to God in prayer and spent in the service of our neighbor, urged on by a charity that is ready even for the supreme sacrifice.

The Pope switched to Portuguese to speak about the next saint:

"Know that the LORD works wonders for the faithful; the LORD hears when I call out." (Ps 4,4). These words of the Responsorial Psalm express the secret of the life of the blessed Nuno de Santa Maria, hero and saint of Portugal.

The 70 years of his life in the second half of the 14th century and the first half of the 15th, which saw that nation consolidate its independence from Castile and to extend its rule across the oceans -
according to God's design - offered new routes that were propitious for bringing the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth.

St. Nuno felt himself to be an instrument of this superior design, as someone enlisted in the militia Christi, that is to say, in the service of the testimony that every Christian is called on to give to the world through an intense life of prayer and absolute confidence in divine help.

Although he was an outstanding soldier and a great leader, he never allowed his personal gifts to get in the way of the supreme action that comes from God. St. Nuno sought not to place any obstacles to God's action on his life, imitating Our Lady to whom he was very devoted and to whom he publicly attributed his military victories.

In the twilight of his life, he retired to the convent of Carmo which he had earlier ordered to be built. I am very happy to indicate to the entire Church this exemplary figure for his life of faith and prayer in circumstances that are apparently not very favorable for them, as proof that in any situation, even of military circumstances and war, it is possible to carry out and realise the values and principles of Christian life, especially if it is in the service of the common good and the glory of God.

He resumed the homily in Italian:

From her childhood, St. Gertrude Comensoli felt a special attraction to Jesus present in the Eucharist. The adoration of Christ in the Eucharist became the principal aim of her life - we might even say, the habitual condition of her existence.

Indeed, it was in front of the Eucharist that St. Gertrude understood her vocation and mission in the Church: to dedicate herself without reservation to apostolic and missionary activity, especially for the benefit of the young.

Thus was born, in obedience to Pope Leo XIII, her institute which aimed to translate the 'contemplative charity' before the eucharistic Christ into a 'lived charity' of dedicating onself to one's needy neighbor.

In a disoriented and often wounded society, like ours is, to a youth such as those of our time, who are in search of values and a sense to their own existence, St. Gertrude points to God as a firm reference, who has made himself our travelling companion in the Eucharist.

She remidns us that "adoration should prevail over all works of charity" because it is from the love of the resurrected Christ, who is truly present in the Eucharistic sacrament, that all evangelical charity comes which impels us to consider all men our brothers.

Also a witness to divine love was St. Caterina Volpicelli, who strove "to be of Christ, in order to bring to Christ" everyone she could encounter in late 19th-century Naples, at a time of spiritual and social crises.

For her, too, the secret was the Eucharist. To her first co-worker, she urged cultivating an intense spiritual life in prayer, and above all, in vital contact with the eucharistic Christ. Even today, this is the condition for continuing the work and mission started by her and left as a legacy to her 'Ancelle del Sacro Cuore' (handmaids of the Sacred Heart).

In order to be authentic educators in the faith, desiring to transmit to the new generations the values of Christian culture, it is indispensable, she liked to repeat, to liberate God from the prisons in which men had confined him. And that indeed, only in the Heart of Christ could mankind find its 'stable dwelling'.

St. Caterina shows her spiritual children and all of us the demanding path of a conversion that changes the heart radically, and translates itself into actions consistent with the Gospel.

This way, it is possible to lay the bases for a society that is open to justice and solidarity, in order to overcome the economic and cultural imbalance that continues in a large part of our planet.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank the Lord for the gift of holiness, which today shines brilliantly in the Church with singular beauty in Arcangelo Tadini, Bernardo Tolomei, Nuno de Santa Maria Álvares Pereira, Gertrude Comensoli and Caterina Volpicelli.

Let us allow ourselves to be drawn by their examples, to be guided by their teachings, so that our own existence may become a canticle of praise to God, in the footsteps of Jesus, whom we adore with faith in the eucharistic mystery and whom we serve generously in our neighbor.

May we realize this evangelical mission with the maternal intercession of Mary, Queen of the Saints, and of these five new luminous examples of holiness whom we venerate with joy today. Amen!


At the end of tdoay's Mass, the Holy Father led the recitation of the noontime Regina Caeli, before which he said the following words, translated here:

As we prepare to conclude this solemn celebration, I wish to address a heartfelt greeting to all of you who decided to come in person to pay homage to the new saints.

First of all, I express my acknowledgment to the delegation of the Italian government and to the other civilian authorities, particularly the mayors and prefects of the natal cities of your four compatriots who were elevated today to the honors of the altar.

I greet the delegation of the Order of Malta. And with great affection I thank the numerous pilgrims from many parts of Italy. I hope that this pilgrimage in the sign of holiness and enirched by the grace of the Pauline Year, may help everyone 'run' with greater joy and impulse towards the final 'goal', towards the "prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus" )cfr Phil 3,13-14).

In this context, I am happy to call attention as well to the Day of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which is celebrated today. Fifty years since the death of its founder, Fr. Agostino Gemelli, it is my hope that the Catholic University may always be faithful to its founding principles in order to continue providing a valid formation to the young generations.

In Portuguese he said:

I address my grateful and deferential greeting to the official delegation from Portugal adn her bishops who have come for the Canonization of Frei Nuno de Santa Maria, and to all your compatriots who look to the heart of the testimony of your 'Santo Condastavel' [Saint-General], the name by which already the poor people in his time called him, who saw or heard of his compassion and how he gave up all his wealth for the benefit of the less fortunate.

Indeed he left us a noble lesson in renunciation and sharing, without which it would be impossible to reach that fraternal equality that is the ideal of a modern society which recognizes and treats everyone as members of the same single human family.

I particularly greet the Carmelites, to whom one day this soldier believer came and took on himself the habit of the Most Blessed Virgin, in which he eventually died.

In wishing an abundance of God's gifts for all the pilgrims and the devotees of St. Nuno, I leave you with this word: "Consider the outcome of his way of life and imitate his faith" (cfr Heb 13, 7).

In English, he said:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims who are here with us today, especially those who have travelled to Rome to be present at the canonization of today’s new saints.

Through their intercession, may all of you be filled with joy in the Risen Lord, and bear witness to him courageously in your daily lives. I invoke God’s abundant blessings upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/26/2009 8:39 PM]
4/26/2009 2:32 PM
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Israeli security say Popemobile
won't be protectivw in Nazareth

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

April 26, 2009

JERUSALEM -The Shin Bet security service does not want Pope Benedict XVI to use his so-called Popemobile in Nazareth next month, saying it may not be enough against any attack by radical Islamic groups. Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov will discuss the issue at Sunday's cabinet meeting.

The Holy See told the Israeli government that the Pope wants to get as close as possible to his followers, so the Vatican hopes the Pope will use the vehicle.

But the Shin Bet opposes this, citing pamphlets in Arab towns in the north calling for demonstrations during the visit. Other pamphlets by radical Islamists allegedly call for physical attacks on the Pope.

The Vatican said it understood the security concerns and wanted to find a solution.

The Pontiff is due to arrive in Israel on May 11 for a four-day stay, which will include visits to the Palestinian Authority and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

He will visit Christian sites in Jerusalem and Nazareth, as well as Yad Vashem. The Pope is also set to hold meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, who will be his official host.

Another factor raising concerns is the timing. It falls on May 14 - Nakba Day, when Palestinians mourn the events of 1948. The Shin Bet expects riots in the West Bank and over the Green Line.

The visit is only two weeks away, but several issues appear unresolved, notably security and financial arrangements. The Finance Ministry has only released 20 percent of its budget of NIS 43 million to other ministries.

The renovation of two Christian sites is not yet complete, including the church in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. Goats are currently kept in that area, which would prevent thousands of pilgrims from taking part in a Mass. [Since when have they kept goats there? There is a Church right next to that garden of olives, which has to be the most important part of the shrine!]

The Tourism Ministry hopes to use the visit to promote pilgrimages to Israel, something Misezhnikov will stress to the cabinet ministers.

The previous Pope, John Paul II, visited Israel in 2000. He was the Pontiff who established diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, in 1994.

The Polish-born Pontiff was also the first Pope to visit a synagogue, in Rome in 1986.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/26/2009 2:34 PM]
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Stray thoughts

-It is certainly wonderful to see St. Peter's Square so jam packed for the canonization Mass today. It is uplifting to think that so many people traveled great distances and showed such remarkable enthusiasm and delight over five exemplary persons who, in some cases, lived hundreds of years ago. Such faith and joy is inspirational.

-The Israelis need to quit complaining and quarreling about the costs of the papal trip to Israel and finish all the preparations already, especially proper security measures. They will get all sorts of great media coverage out of the trip and probably increased tourism dollars as well.

-If the Australians could move dozens of expensive race horses off the track that was the site of the big World Youth Day Mass, the Israelis can move a herd of goats out of the Garden of Gethsemane. My gosh. Hire a shepherd, for heaven's sake.

4/26/2009 11:59 PM
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Right on, Benefan!
I agree with you, Benefan!!!!!!

And thanks to Teresa for the huge input from today's Canonisation Mass, including pictures of the new saints, cover of the liturgy book and so all - all of which are relevant and will be saved. I'll soon need several more GB added to my hard drive!

Cardinal Newman's beatification! Hurry up! Of course, I'll get a special invitation, as my maiden name is Newman.......honestly, it is!
[SM=g27823] [SM=g27823] [SM=g27823]

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Conscience and the Papacy:
What Cardinal Newman meant

by Andrea Tornielli
Translated from

In a book of Joseph Ratzinger's writings on the role of religion, he writes: "The Pope cannot impose commandments on faithful Catholics because he wants to or finds it expedient. Such a modern, voluntaristic concept of authority can only distort the true theological meaning of the papacy".

And Ratzinger raised a toast to conscience and its freedom, adapting the famous statement by Cardinal John Henry Newman: "Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing), I shall drink — to the Pope, if you please — but, still to conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards."

These are very relevant words, and although it may sound surprising, those words were said by Joseph Ratzinger 19 years ago at a conference dedicated to the subject of conscience, a text which together with others from the future Pope is now published in the book
Elogio della coscienza. La verità interroga il cuore ('Eulogy on conscience: Truth interrogates the heart', Edizioni Cantagalli, pp. 176, euro 13,50), which will be in bookstores next week.

It is significant, in fact, that Benedict XVI decided to publish these reflections dedicated to the 'dictatorship of relativism', to the 'end of the State', to the problem of "moral evidence' - and to publish them at a time when the Pope and bishops are often under fire.

Criticized harshly, that is, for allegedly wanting to impose the yoke of their precepts and moral norms even on non-believers: just think of the recent dust storm raised over the Pope's sttements on AIDS and condoms.

Criiticized for having transformed the Church into "The Church of NO", which is th title of a recent book by Marco Politi, the chief Vatican correspondent of La Repubnblica.

In Eulogy of Conscience, Ratzinger observes that it has become "the bulwark of freedom in the face of encroachments of authority on existence".

If the ecclesiastical Magisterium "wants to speak about morals, it can certainly do so, but only ro propose elements for an autonomous decision by the conscience, which would always have the last word".

Faith is therefore seen, he explains, as "a burden which can hardly be borne and which was no doubt intended only for stronger natures - faith almost as a kind of punishment, or in any case, an imposition not easy to cope with".

Notions of this kind in the last few decades "have discernibly crippled the disposition to evangelize: Whoever sees faith as a heavy burden or a moral imposition is unable to invite others to believe, and would rather leave them in the presumed freedom of their consciences".

Ratzinger explicitly criticizes the liberal concept of conscience:

Conscience does not open the way to the redemptive road to truth which either does not exist, or, if it does, is too demanding. It is the faculty which exempts from the truth. It thereby becomes the justification for subjectivity, which will not allow being called to question. It also becomes the justification for social conformity, which, as the least common denominator among various subjectivities, makes life in society possible.

The obligation to seek the truth ceases, as do any doubts about the dominant tendencies in society and what it has become accustomed to. Being convinced of one;s opinions, as well as conforming to others, are aufficient.

Recalling some academic discussions in which he had participated, Ratzinger warns against the modern idea of justifying personal conscience as the last resort that justifies everything.

If that were so, then the Nazi SS would be justified and we should look for them in paradise since indeed, theyc arried out all their strocities with fanatic conviction and absolute certainty of conscience.

He adds, "Since that conversation, I was absooutely sure that something was wrong with the theory of the justifying power of subjective conscience - that, in other words, a concept of conscience which leads to such conclusions must be false."

Here, Benedict XVI introduces the famous citation from Newman, who said he would raise a toast to conscience before he did to the Pope. Ratzinger explains that with those words, Cardinal Newman "sought to make a clear avowal of the papacy", "an interpretation of the papaccy which is only correctly conceived when it is viewed together with the primacy of conscience - not opposed to it but based on it and guaranteeing it".

He notes that it is difficult for modern man to understand this, because he thinks in terms of an opposition between authority and subjectivity. "For him, conscience is on the side of subjectivity and is an expression of the subject's freedom, (whereas) authority restrains, treatens or even negates such freedom".

But the view is totally different if one considers conscience as "the perceptible and imperious presence of the voice of truth within the subject himself".

A man of conscience, says Ratzinger, "is one who would never acquire tolerance, wellbeing, success, public standing and the approval of prevailing opinion, at the expense of truth".

Therefore, conscience "is not identical to one's personal wishes and preferences; and it cannot be reduced to social advantage, group consensus or the demands of political and social power".

The 'voice of truth', Benedict XVI insists, is not something imposed from outside - "The sense for what is good is already stamped on us", St. Augustine said.

Starting from this, "we can now appreciate Newman's toast to conscience first ahead of the Pope".

"The Pope does not impose from the outside, but elucidates Christian memory and defends it. And that is why a toast to conscience should precede a toast for the Pope, because without conscience, there would not be a papacy at all. All the power that he has is the power of conscience".

Of course, Ratzinger concludes, "the high road to truth and goodness is not a comfortable one (but) we would dissolve Christianity into moralism if we are not clear thsat our message surpasses own actions".

The 'real novelty' of Christianity is that truth is incarnated in a person, Jesus Christ, who is, at the same time, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation.

"Wherever this central Christian message is not sufficiently expressed and appreciated, truth becomes a yoke that is too heavy for our shoulders and from which we seek to free ourselves".

Tornielli's review focuses on one essay in the new book entitled 'Conscience and Truth' in its original English version as a keynote address by Cardinal Ratzinger to a bishops' conference in Dallas, Texas, in 1991. I have posted the entire essay in the thread IN HIS OWN WORDS.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/27/2009 7:38 AM]
4/27/2009 12:23 PM
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I must thank Avvenire for leading me to find the English text online of a 1994 addreess by Cardinal Ratzinger about the Jewish-Christian relationship.

Cardinal Raatzinter in Jerusalem, 1994, with his then secretary, Mons. Josef Clemens.


by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Keynote Address
First International Jewish-Christian Conference
on Modern Social and Scientific Challenges
Jerusalem, February 2, 1994

The history of the relationship between Israel and Christendom is drenched with blood and tears. It is a history of mistrust and hostility, but also — thank God — a history marked again and again by attempts at forgiveness, understanding and mutual acceptance.

After Auschwitz, the mission of reconciliation and acceptance permits no deferral.

Even if we know that Auschwitz is the gruesome expression of an ideology that not only wanted to destroy Judaism but also hated and sought to eradicate from Christianity its Jewish heritage, the question remains:

What could be the reason for so much historical hostility between those who actually must belong together because of their faith in the one God and commitment to his will?

Does this hostility result from something in the very faith of Christians?

Is it something in the "essence of Christianity," such that one would have to prescind from Christianity's core, deny Christianity its heart, in order to come to real reconciliation? This is an assumption that some Christian thinkers have in fact made in the last few decades in reaction to the horrors of history.

Do confession of Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living God and faith in the cross as the redemption of mankind contain an implicit condemnation of the Jews as stubborn and blind, as guilty of the death of the Son of God?

Could it be that the core of the faith of Christians themselves compels them to intolerance, even to hostility toward the Jews, and conversely, that the self-esteem of Jews and the defense of their historic dignity and deepest convictions oblige them to demand that Christians abandon the heart of their faith and so require Jews similarly to forsake tolerance?

Is the conflict programmed in the heart of religion and only to be overcome through its repudiation?

In this heightened framing of the question, the problem confronting us today reaches far beyond an academic inter-religious dialogue into the fundamental decisions of this historic hour.

One sees more frequent attempts to mollify the issue by representing Jesus as a Jewish teacher who in principle did not go beyond what was possible in Jewish tradition. His execution is understood to result from the political tensions between Jews and Romans. In point of fact, he was executed by the Roman authority in the way political rebels were punished.

His elevation to Son of God is accordingly understood to have occurred after the fact, in a Hellenistic climate; at the same time, in view of the given political circumstances, the blame for the crucifixion is transferred from the Romans to the Jews.

As a challenge to exegesis, such interpretations can further an acute listening to the text and perhaps produce something useful. However, they do not speak of the Jesus of the historic sources, but instead construct a new and different Jesus, relegating the historical faith in the Christ of the church to mythology.

Christ appears as a product of Greek religiosity and political opportunism in the Roman Empire. One does not do justice to the gravity of the question with such a view; indeed one retreats from it.

Thus the question remains: Can Christian faith, left in its inner power and dignity, not only tolerate Judaism but accept it in its historic mission? Or can it not?

Can there be true reconciliation without abandoning the faith, or is reconciliation tied to such abandonment?

In reply to this question which concerns us most deeply, I shall not present simply my own views. Rather, I wish to show what the Catechism of the Catholic Church released in 1992 has to say.

This work has been published by the magisterium of the Catholic Church as an authentic expression of her faith. In recognition of the significance of Auschwitz and from the mission of the Second Vatican Council, the matter of reconciliation has been inscribed in the catechism as an object of faith. Let us see then how the catechism sounds in relation to our question in terms of its definition of its own mission.


I begin with the text of the catechism explaining the significance of the account of the journey of the Magi from the East. It sees in the Magi the origin of the church formed out of the pagans; the Magi afford an enduring reflection on the way of the pagans. The catechism says the following:

The Magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.

Their coming means that the pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and savior of the world only by turning toward the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament.

The Epiphany shows that the "full number of the nations" now takes its "place in the family of the patriarchs," and acquires "Israelitica dignitas" (are made "worthy of the heritage of Israel").(CCC 528)

In this text we can see how the catechism views the relationship between Jews and the nations as communicated by Jesus; in addition, it offers at the same time a first presentation of the mission of Jesus.

Accordingly, we say that the mission of Jesus is to unite Jews and pagans into a single people of God in which the universalist promises of the Scripture are fulfilled which speak again and again of the nations worshiping the God of Israel — to the point where in Trito-Isaiah we no longer read merely of the pilgrimage of the nations to Zion but of the proclamation of the mission of ambassadors to the nations "that have not heard my fame or seen my glory.... And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord" (Is. 66:19, 21).

In order to present this unification of Israel and the nations, the brief text — still interpreting Matthew 2 — gives a lesson on the relationship of the world religions, the faith of Israel and the mission of Jesus: The world religions can become the star which enlightens men's path, which leads them in search of the kingdom of God.

The star of the religions points to Jerusalem, it becomes extinguished and lights up anew in the word of God, in the sacred Scripture of Israel. The word of God preserved herein shows itself to be the true star without which or bypassing which one cannot find the goal.

When the catechism designates the star as the "star of David," it links the account of the Magi furthermore with the Balaam prophecy of the star which shall come forth out of Jacob (Nm. 24:17), seeing this prophecy for its part connected to Jacob's blessing of Judah, which promised the ruler's staff and scepter to him who is owed "the obedience of the peoples" (Gn. 49:10). The catechism sees Jesus as the promised shoot of Judah who unites Israel and the nations in the kingdom of God.

What does all this mean? The mission of Jesus consists in leading the histories of the nations in the community of the history of Abraham, in the history of Israel. His mission is unification, reconciliation, as the Letter to the Ephesians (2:18-22) will then present it.

The history of Israel should become the history of all, Abraham's sonship become extended to the 'many.' This course of events has two aspects to it: The nations can enter into the community of the promises of Israel in entering into the community of the one God who now becomes and must become the way of all because there is only one God and because his will is therefore truth for all.

Conversely, this means that all nations, without the abolishment of the special mission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the chosen people; they become people of God with Israel through adherence to the will of God and through acceptance of the Davidic kingdom.

Yet another observation can be important here. If the account of the Magi, as the catechism interprets it, presents the answer of the sacred books of Israel as the decisive and indispensable guide for the nations, in doing so the account of the Magi varies the same theme we encounter in John's Gospel in the formula: "Salvation comes from the Jews" (4:22).

This heritage remains abidingly vital and contemporary in the sense that there is no access to Jesus, and thereby there can be no entrance of the nations into the people of God without the acceptance in faith of the revelation of God, who speaks in the sacred Scripture which Christians term the Old Testament.

By way of summary we can say: Old and New Testaments, Jesus and the sacred Scripture of Israel, appear here as indivisible. The new thrust of his mission to unify Israel and the nations corresponds to the prophetic thrust of the Old Testament itself.

Reconciliation in the common recognition of the kingdom of God, recognition of his will as the way, is the nucleus of the mission of Jesus in which person and message are indivisible.

This mission is efficacious already at the moment when he lies silent in the crib. One understands nothing about him if one does not enter with him into the dynamic of reconciliation.


Nevertheless, the great vision of this text gives rise to a question. How will that which is foreshadowed here in the image of the star and those who follow it be historically realized?

Does the historic image of Jesus, do his message and his work correspond to this vision, or do they contradict it? Now there is nothing more contested than the question of the historical Jesus.

The catechism as a book of faith proceeds from the conviction that the Jesus of the Gospels is also the only true historical Jesus. Starting here, it presents the message of Jesus first under the all encompassing motto "kingdom of God," in which the various aspects of the good news of Jesus coalesce, so that they receive from here their direction and their concrete content (541-560).

Then the catechism goes on to show the relation Jesus-Israel from three vantage points: Jesus and the law (577-582), Jesus and the temple (583-586), Jesus and the faith of Israel in the one God and savior (587-591).

At this juncture our book comes finally to the decisive fate of Jesus, to his death and resurrection, in which Christians see the Passover mystery of Israel fulfilled and brought to its final theological depth.

The central chapter on Jesus and Israel interests us here particularly. It is also fundamental for the interpretation of the concept of kingdom of God and for the understanding of the Easter mystery.

Now, to be sure, the very themes of law, temple and the oneness of God are the volatile ones supplying the material for Jewish-Christian disputes. Is it even possible to view these things simultaneously in fidelity to history, according to faith, and under the primacy of reconciliation?

It is not only earlier interpretations of the history of Jesus which have given generally negative images to Pharisees, priests and Jews. Indeed, crass contrasts have become a cliché in modern and liberal descriptions where Pharisees and priests are portrayed as the representatives of a hardened legalism, as representatives of the eternal law of the establishment presided over by religious and political authorities who hinder freedom and live from the oppression of others.

In light of these interpretations one sides with Jesus, fights his fight, by coming out against the power of priests in the church and against law and order in the state.

The images of the enemy in contemporary liberation struggles fuse with those of Jesus's history, which is reduced to a struggle against religiously veiled domination of man by man, the inauguration of that revolution in which Jesus is to be sure the underdog but precisely by his defeat establishes a first step which will necessarily lead to definitive victory. If Jesus is seen thus, if his death must be conceived in terms of this constellation of antitheses, his message cannot be one of reconciliation.

It goes without saying that the catechism does not share this outlook. Rather it holds principally to the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, seeing in Jesus the Messiah, the greatest in the kingdom of heaven; as such he knew he was "to fulfill the law by keeping it in its all embracing detail ... down to 'the least of these commandments'" (578).

The catechism thus connects the special mission of Jesus to his fidelity to the law; it sees in him the servant of God who truly brings justice (Is. 42:3) and thereby becomes "a covenant to the people" (Is. 42:6; Catechism, 580).

Our text is far removed here from any superficial smoothing over of Jesus's conflict-laden history, however. Instead of interpreting his way superficially in the sense of an ostensibly prophetic attack on hardened legalism, it strives to fathom its real theological depth.

This is seen clearly in the following passage: The "principle of integral observance of the law not only in letter but in spirit was dear to the Pharisees. By giving Israel this principle they had led many Jews of Jesus' time to an extreme religious zeal. This zeal, were it not to lapse into 'hypocritical' casuistry, could only prepare the people for the unprecedented intervention of God through the perfect fulfillment of the law by the only righteous one in place of all sinners" (579). This perfect fulfillment includes Jesus taking upon himself the "'curse of the law' incurred by those who do not 'abide by the things written in the book of the law, and do them (Gal. 3: 10)'" (580).

The death on the cross is thus theologically explained by its innermost solidarity with the law and with Israel; the catechism in this regard presents a link to the Day of Atonement and understands the death of Christ itself as the great event of atonement, as the perfect realization of what the signs of the Day of Atonement signify (433; 578).

With these statements we find ourselves at the center of the Christian-Jewish dialogue, we reach the juncture where we are faced with the decisive choice between reconciliation and alienation.

Before we pursue further the interpretation of the figure of Jesus as it emerges here, we must, however, first ask what this view of the historic figure of Jesus means for the existence of those who know themselves to be grafted through him onto the "olive tree of Israel," the children of Abraham.

Where the conflict between Jesus and the Judaism of his time is presented in a superficial, polemical way, a concept of liberation is derived which can understand the Torah only as a slavery to external rites and observances.

The view of the catechism derived essentially from St. Matthew's Gospel and finally from the entirety of the tradition of the Gospels, leads logically to quite a different perception, which I would like to cite in detail:

The law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the law (= the Torah). The Lord's Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the old law, releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them:

It reveals their entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external precepts but proceeds to renew the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and impure, where faith, hope and charity are found, and with them the other virtues. The Gospel thus brings the law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father. (1968)

This view of a deep unity between the good news of Jesus and the message of Sinai is again summarized in the reference to a statement of the New Testament which is not only common to the synoptic tradition but also has a central character in the Johannine and Pauline writings:

The whole law, including the prophets, depends on the twofold yet one commandment of love of God and love of neighbor (Catechism, 1970; Mt. 7:20; 22:34-40; Mk. 12:38-43; Lk. 10:25-28; Jn. 13:34; Rom. 13:8-10).

For the nations, being assumed into the children of Abraham is concretely realized in entering into the will of God, in which moral commandment and profession of the oneness of God are indivisible, as this becomes clear especially in St. Mark's version of this tradition in which the double commandment is expressly linked to the "Sch'ma Israel," to the yes to the one and only God.

Man's way is prescribed for him: he is to measure himself according to the standard of God and according to his own human perfection.

At the same time, the ontological depth of these statements comes to the fore. By saying yes to the double commandment man lives up to the call of his nature to be the image of God that was willed by the Creator and is realized as such in loving with the love of God.

Beyond all historic and strictly theological discussions, we find ourselves placed in the middle of the question of the present responsibility of Jews and Christians before the modern world.

This responsibility consists precisely in representing the truth of the one will of God before the world and thus placing man before his inner truth, which is at the same time his way.

Jews and Christians must bear witness to the one God, to the Creator of heaven and earth, and do this in that entirety which Psalm 19 formulates in an exemplary way: The light of the physical creation, the sun, and the spiritual light, the commandment of God, belong inextricably together.

In the radiance of the word of God, the same God speaks to the world who attests to himself in the sun, moon and stars, in the beauty and fullness of creation. In the words of the German hymn, "Die sonne ist des himmels ehr, doch dein gesetz, Herr, noch viel mehr." (The sun does honor to the heavens, Lord, but your law, far more.)


The inevitable question follows. Does such a view of the relationship between the law and the Gospel not come down to an unacceptable attempt at harmonization?

How does one explain then the conflict which led to Jesus' cross?

Does all of this not stand in contradiction to St. Paul's interpretation of the figure of Jesus?

Are we not denying here the entire Pauline doctrine of grace in favor of a new moralism, thereby abolishing the "articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae," the essential innovation of Christianity?

With respect to this point, the moral section of the catechism from which we took the discussion of the Christian way corresponds closely to the depiction of Christ taken from the dogmatic section.

If we attend carefully we see two essential aspects of the issue in which the answer to our questions lies.

a) In its presentation of the inner continuity and coherence of the law and the Gospel which we have just discussed, the catechism stands squarely within the Catholic tradition, especially as it was formulated by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.

In this tradition the relationship between the Torah and the proclamation of Jesus is never seen dialectically: God in the law does not appear "sub contrario," as it were, in opposition to himself.

In tradition, it was never a case of dialectics, but rather of analogy, development in inner correspondence following the felicitous phrase of St. Augustine: "The New Testament lies hidden in the Old; the Old is made explicit in the New."

In regard to the interrelation of both testaments, the catechism cites a significant text of St. Thomas: "There were ..., under the regimen of the Old Covenant, people who possessed the charity and grace of the Holy Spirit and longed above all for the spiritual and eternal promises by which they were associated in the new law. Conversely, there exist carnal men under the New Covenant" (Catechism 1964; Sum. Theol. I-II 107, 1, ad 2).

b) The above also means that the law is read prophetically, in the inner tension of the promise. What such a dynamic-prophetic reading means appears in the catechism first in twofold form: The law is led to its fullness through the renewal of the heart (1968); externally this results in the ritual and juridical observances being suspended (1972).

But here, needless to say, a new question arises. How could this happen? How is this compatible with fulfillment of the law to the last iota?

For, to be sure, one cannot simply separate out universally valid moral principles and transitory ritual and legal norms without destroying the Torah itself, which is something integral, which owes its existence to God's address to Israel.

The idea that, on the one hand, there are pure morals which are reasonable and universal, and on the other that there are rites that are conditioned by time and ultimately dispensable mistakes entirely the inner structure of the five books of Moses.

"The Decalogue" as the core of the work of the law shows clearly enough that the worship of God is completely indivisible from morals, cult and ethos.

"In Jesus's exchange with the Jewish authorities of his time, we are not dealing with a confrontation between a liberal reformer and an ossified traditionalist hierarchy. Such a view, though common, fundamentally misunderstands the conflict of the New Testament and does justice neither to Jesus nor to Israel."

However, we stand here before a paradox. The faith of Israel was directed to universality. Since it is devoted to the one God of all men, it also bore within itself the promise to become the faith of all nations. But the law, in which it was expressed, was particular, quite concretely directed to Israel and its history; it could not be universalized in this form.

In the intersection of these paradoxes stands Jesus of Nazareth, who himself as a Jew lived under the law of Israel but knew himself to be at the same time the mediator of the universality of God.

This mediation could not take place through political calculation or philosophical interpretation. In both of these cases man would have put himself over God's word and reformed it according to his own standards.

Jesus did not act as a liberal reformer recommending and himself presenting a more understanding interpretation of the law. In Jesus's exchange with the Jewish authorities of his time, we are not dealing with a confrontation between a liberal reformer and an ossified traditionalist hierarchy.

Such a view, though common, fundamentally misunderstands the conflict of the New Testament and does justice neither to Jesus nor to Israel.

Rather Jesus opened up the law quite theologically conscious of, and claiming to be, acting as Son, with the authority of God himself, in innermost unity with God, the Father.

Only God himself could fundamentally reinterpret the law and manifest that its broadening transformation and conservation is its actually intended meaning.

Jesus's interpretation of the law makes sense only if it is interpretation with divine authority, if God interprets himself.

The quarrel between Jesus and the Jewish authorities of his time is finally not a matter of this or that particular infringement of the law but rather of Jesus's claim to act "ex auctoritate divina," indeed, to be this "auctoritas" himself. "I and the Father are one" (Jn. 10:30).

Only when one penetrates to this point can he also see the tragic depth of the conflict. On the one hand, Jesus broadened the law, wanted to open it up, not as a liberal reformer, not out of a lesser loyalty to the law, but in strictest obedience to its fulfillment, out of his being one with the Father in whom alone law and promise are one and in whom Israel could become blessing and salvation for the nations.

On the other hand, Israel "had to" see here something much more serious than a violation of this or that commandment, namely, the injuring of that basic obedience, of the actual core of its revelation and faith: Hear, O Israel, your God is one God.

Here obedience and obedience clash, leading to the conflict which had to end on the cross. Reconciliation and separation appear thus to be tied up in a virtually insolvable paradox.

In the catechism's theology of the New Testament the cross cannot simply be viewed as an accident which actually could have been avoided, nor as the sin of Israel with which Israel becomes eternally stained in contrast to the pagans for whom the cross signifies redemption.

In the New Testament there are not two effects of the cross: a damning one and a saving one, but only a single effect, which is saving and reconciling.

In this regard, there is an important text of the catechism which Christian hope interprets as the continuation of the hope of Abraham and links to the sacrifice of Israel: Christian hope has its origin and model in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promise of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice" (1819).

Through his readiness to sacrifice his son, Abraham becomes the father of many, a blessing for all nations of the earth (cf. Gn. 22).

The New Testament sees the death of Christ in this perspective, in analogy to Abraham. That means then that all cultic ordinances of the Old Testament are seen to be taken up into his death and brought to their deepest meaning.

All sacrifices are acts of representation, which in this great act of real representation from symbols become reality so that the symbols can be foregone without one iota being lost.

The universalizing of the Torah by Jesus, as the New Testament understands it, is not the extraction of some universal moral prescriptions from the living whole of God's revelation.

It preserves the unity of cult and ethos. The ethos remains grounded and anchored in the cult, in the worship of God, in such a way that the entire cult is bound together in the cross, indeed, for the first time has become fully real.

According to Christian faith, on the cross Jesus opens up and fulfills the wholeness of the law and gives it thus to the pagans, who can now accept it as their own in this its wholeness, thereby becoming children of Abraham.


The historic and theological judgment about the responsibility of Jews and pagans for the cross derives in the catechism from this understanding of Jesus, his claim and fate.

a) There is first the historic question of the course of the trial and execution. The headings to the four sections in the catechism which treat this matter already show the direction: "Divisions among the Jewish authorities concerning Jesus," "Jews are not collectively responsible for Jesus' death."

The catechism recalls that esteemed Jewish personages were followers of Jesus according to the witness of the Gospels, that according to St. John, shortly before Jesus' death, "many even of the authorities believed in him" (Jn. 12:42).

The catechism also refers to the fact that on the day after Pentecost, according to the report of the Acts of the Apostles, "a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7).

St. James is also mentioned, who commented, "How many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; they are all zealous for the law" (Acts 21:20). Thus it is elucidated that the report of Jesus's trial cannot substantiate a charge of collective Jewish guilt.

The Second Vatican Council is expressly cited: "Neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his passion.... The Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture" (597; "Nostra Aetate," 4).

b) It is clear from what we have just now considered that such historical analyses — as important as they are — still do not touch the actual core of the question, since indeed the death of Jesus according to the faith of the New Testament is not merely a fact of external history but is rather a theological event.

The first heading in the theological analysis of the cross is accordingly: "Jesus handed over according to the definite plan of God;" the text itself begins with the sentence: "Jesus's violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God's plan" (599).

Corresponding to this, the part of the catechism which explores the question of responsibility for Christ's death closes with a section titled: "All sinners were the authors of Christ's passion." The catechism was able here to refer back to the Roman Catechism of 1566. There it states:

If one asks why the son of god accepted the most bitter suffering, he will find that besides the inherited guilt of the first parents it was particularly the vices and sins which men have committed from the beginning of the world up until this day and will commit from this day on till the end of time.... This guilt applies above all to those who continue to relapse into sin. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes 'crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt' (Heb. 6:6).

The Roman Catechism of 1566, which the new catechism quotes, then adds that the Jews according to the testimony of the apostle Paul "would never have crucified the Lord of glory had they recognized him" (1 Cor. 2:8).

It continues: "We, however, profess to know. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him" (Roman Catechism, 5,11; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 598).

For the believing Christian who sees in the cross not a historical accident but a real theological occurrence, these statements are not mere edifying commonplaces in terms of which one must refer to the historical realities.

Rather these affirmations penetrate into the core of the matter. This core consists in the drama of human sin and divine love; human sin leads to God's love for man assuming the figure of the cross. Thus on the one hand sin is responsible for the cross, but on the other, the cross is the overcoming of sin through God's more powerful love.

For this reason, beyond all questions of responsibility, the passage of the "Letter to the Hebrews" (12:24) has the last and most important word to say on this subject, namely, that the blood of Jesus speaks another — a better and stronger — language than the blood of Abel, than the blood of all those killed unjustly in the world.

It does not cry for punishment but is itself atonement, reconciliation. Already as a child — even though I naturally knew nothing of all things the catechism summarizes — I could not understand how some people wanted to derive a condemnation of Jews from the death of Jesus because the following thought had penetrated my soul as something profoundly consoling: Jesus's blood raises no calls for retaliation but calls all to reconciliation.

It has itself become, as the "Letter to the Hebrews" shows, a permanent Day of Atonement to God.

The presentation of the teaching of the catechism, which for its part intends to be an interpretation of Scripture, has taken a long time, longer than I foresaw.

Thus I cannot draw any detailed conclusions for the mission of Jews and Christians in the modern secularized world. But I think the basic task has nevertheless become clearer without my having to do this.

Jews and Christians should accept each other in profound inner reconciliation, neither in disregard of their faith nor in its denial, but out of the depth of faith itself.

In their mutual reconciliation they should become a force for peace in and for the world. Through their witness to the one God, who cannot be adored apart from the unity of love of God and neighbor, they should open the door into the world for this God so that his will be done and so that it become on earth "as it is in heaven;" "so that his kingdom comes."

4/27/2009 12:43 PM
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April 27

St. Louis-Marie de Montfort (France, 1673-1716)
Confessor and Founder,
Congregation of Mary and
Daughters of Wisdom

No OR today.


The Holy Father met today with
- President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus (beylorussia) and delegation
- Argentine bishops (Grpup 7) on ad-limina visit
- Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/27/2009 5:01 PM]
4/28/2009 1:07 AM
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VATICAN CITY, April 27 (Translated from ASCA) - Pope Benedict XVI spent 25 minutes this morning in private converstion with President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus, who was making his first trip to Western Europe since 1995.

"Holiness, we will see each other again on Byelorussian soil, God willing," Lukashenko was heard to tell the Pope as he said goodbye.

H eas accompanied by his foreign minister as well as by his five-year-old son. who rpesented the Pope with a an alphabet-learning children's primer in Cyrillic .

The President himself gave the Pope an icon fo Jesus made by a Belarus arisan using tradtional materials.

Later, the Vatican Press Office released the following statement:

This morning, His Holiness Benedict XVI received in audience Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus. Subsequently the president, accompanied by Sergei Martinov, foreign minister, met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the discussions, which took place in a positive atmosphere, consideration was given to various matters concerning the relationship between faith and reason, and to inter-confessional and inter-cultural dialogue.

Attention also turned to the international issues associated with promoting peace and the true progress of humankind, as well as to certain internal problems of the country, questions concerning the Catholic Church in Belarus and the prospects for deeper collaboration between the two sides.

Finally the peaceful coexistence characterising relations between the Catholic and Orthodox communities, and with other religious confessions, was noted.


5-year-old Nikolai presents the Pope with a copy of his alphabet-learning primer.


A happy alliance: royal divorcees
swap gifts with the Pope

BY Richard Owen in Rome

April 27, 2009

The Prince of Wales today presented his second wife to the Pope for the first time, at the start of a visit to Italy largely dedicated to climate change and sustainable agriculture.

The Duchess of Cornwall met Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff offered the couple a private audience at the Vatican. The royal couple arrived yesterday and are staying with President Napolitano at the Quirinal Palace, before travelling to Venice tomorrow and then to Germany.

Under Vatican protocol the Prince was expected first to hold talks with the Pope before being joined by the Duchess. However, the royal couple were received together for the 15-minute audience, with the Duchess wearing a black silk dress designed by Anna Valentine and a matching veil or mantilla.

The Prince also held talks with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State, for over half an hour.

A Vatican communique said there had been "cordial discussions" and an "exchange of views" on "the human promotion and development of peoples, environmental protection and the importance of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue for furthering peace and justice in the world".

There was no immediate indication of whether the Prince had reinforced an invitation to Pope Benedict to visit Britain, extended in February by Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister.

The Prince, who was wearing a dark blue suit with a black tie, gave the Pope 12 dessert plates decorated with paintings of flowers from his Highgrove estate, adding: "I don't know whether these will be of any help to you," as he handed them over.

He also gave him a framed and signed photograph of himself and his wife. The Pope, who thanked his guests in English, gave the royal couple an etching depicting the pre-16th century St Peter's Basilica, before it was redesigned by Michelangelo and other Renaissance masters, and a set of papal medals.

Prince Charles told the Pope he was "most touched" by the gifts. As he was leaving he was heard to say, in an apparent reference to John Paul II, Benedict's predecessor, "he was such a wonderful man, we miss him terribly".

The Prince met Pope John Paul II in 1985 when he visited Rome with Diana, Princess of Wales. His meeting with Pope Benedict was his first audience at the Vatican since his divorce in 1996 and Diana's death in 1997.

The Prince and the duchess, formerly Camilla Parker-Bowles, were divorcees when they married in a civil ceremony in 2005 followed by a service of blessing at Windsor. Their wedding was delayed by a day so that Prince Charles could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II. He has made many visits to Italy, but his last official visit was five years ago.

At one point the Prince presented Arthur Edwards, the royal photographer of The Sun newspaper, to the Pope, saying: "He's a marvellous man. He has been following me for 35 years, and he's a Catholic."

Before the meeting at the Vatican, the Prince delivered a speech on climate change to an invited audience at the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament, and later joined a meeting of Italian business leaders to discuss environmental issues.

He also held a reception to promote the "slow food" culture of local sourcing and organic production. He has brought with him beef from his Highgrove estate and lamb from Wales, served at the reception by two leading Italian chefs, Andrea Berton and Carlo Cracco.

In a front-page article in La Repubblica today, the Prince called for a "new Renaissance", saying that tackling climate change and "sustainable agriculture" were vital "if we want to protect our planet for future generations". He said scientific predictions on global warming were "ever more alarming" and called for "collaboration between communities, nations and continents" to provide a "global response".

The Prince said: “I believe strongly that the response we make to the challenge before us will define our era. Just as the Italian Renaissance defines for so many of us in Europe a reawakening of cultural and intellectual identity at the end of the medieval period, so our actions today could be remembered as a renaissance in how we live, and the beginning of a new era in the effective stewardship of our planet.”

He added: “While in Italy, I will attempt to set out some of the forms that such co-ordinated action might take and outline some of the principles which might help us in our quest for greater environmental sustainability. But whatever the specifics, the crucial point I want to emphasise is that we need to act now - with real urgency. I wish it wasn’t the case and it was possible to continue with business as usual. But, unfortunately, it is the case and, if we continue as usual, then we will bequeath a terrible, poisoned legacy to our children and grandchildren."

And a last image of 5-year-old Nikolai who was today's scene-stealer:

4/28/2009 1:17 AM
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April 28

St Peter Chanel (1803-1841)
French missionary to Oceania

OR for 4/27-4/28:

Benedict XVI proclaims 5 new saints in St. Peter's Square:
'Examples of evangelical love for a time of crisis'

Other Page 1 stories: IMF and World Bank say 50 million 'new poor' in the world; an editorial commentary about international Caritas
aid to the earthquake victims of the Abruzzo, with even Caritas in Somalia offering a thousand euros in aid; and the Holy Father's
meetings yesterday with President Lukashenko of Belarus (right photo above) right).

IN ABRUZZO, April 28, 2009


09.00 Departure from the Vatican by car.
NB: Planned helicopter transport was cancelled due to bad weather.

10.30 Arrival at the Onna temporary shelter.
Greeting from the Holy Father
and Prayer for the Dead

11.30 Departure for L'Aquila city center by car.
The Holy Father will venerate the urn of Pope Celestine V
and will leave a Pontifical Pallium in homage.

Meeting with student representatives.

12:00 Arrival at the Finance Guard barracks in Coppito
of the towns most severely affected by the earthquake.

(Volunteers, Civil Protection, Military, Firemen, Health Workers, etc)
- Greeting by Mons. Giuseppe Molinari, Archbishop of L'Aquila
- Greeting by the Hon. Massimo Cialente, Mayor of L’Aquila.
- Address and Prayer by the Holy Father
- Recital of the Regina Caeli.
(This will be done in front of the statue of the Madonna di Roio*,
also known as Our Lady of La Croce, before which the Holy Father
will offer a Golden Rose.)
- Greeting by the Holy Father to all the representatives of various categories
involved in the recovery work.

13.00 Departure by by car from Coppito.
NB: If the helicopter flights had not been cancelled, the Holy Father was supposed to be flown over
the earthquake zone to see the extent of the damage before flying back to Rome.

15.00 Arrival at the Vatican.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/29/2009 8:18 PM]
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The Holy Father left the Vatican at 9:00 to visit the earthquake-hit zone of the Abruzzo. Because of bad weather, he travelled by car instead of by helicopter as originally planned. He arrived in Onna at 10:30, where he met with the homeless victims temporarily sheltered there.

Pope visits quake victims

ROME, Italy, April 28 (CNN) -- Pope Benedict XVI met with survivors and offered prayers Tuesday as he visited towns hit hard in this month's Italian earthquake.

The Pope flew by helicopter from Vatican City to a tent camp near the village of Onna, where he led a prayer in the cold and rainy weather for the hundreds killed in the April 6 quake. .

The camp houses hundreds of families left homeless when the magnitude-6.3 quake destroyed their homes. Residents there welcomed the Pope, who kissed and hugged some of the children.

"I have come here personally to this splendid and hurt land of yours, which is living days of great pain and precariousness, to express in the most direct way my kind closeness," the P ope told residents. "I've followed the news with apprehension, sharing with you your consternation ... for the dead, along with your anxious worries about how much you've lost in a brief moment.

"I am now here with you and would like to hug each one of you with affection," he said. "The Church is all here with me, near your suffering."

The Pope then headed to the town of L'Aquila, near the epicenter. He planned to stop in the town's most venerated church, the 13th-century Basilica of Collemaggio, whose dome collapsed in the earthquake.

The basilica is the biggest in the surrounding Abruzzo region and is the burial place for Pope Celestine V, who has been interred there since 1327. Pope Benedict planned to kneel in prayer in front of Celestine's urn, the Vatican said.

The earthquake struck early in the morning, as many people slept. Nearly 300 people were killed and tens of thousands left homeless.

Eight of the victims died in a dormitory of the University of L'Aquila. The Pope visited the site of the dorm, then proceeded to the school of the Finance Police, in the small town of Coppito, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from L'Aquila.

The Pope went there along with L'Aquila Mayor Massimo Cialente and Archbishop Giuseppe Mulinare and thanked the volunteers, rescue workers, and emergency workers who have helped in the wake of the disaster.

"It was especially moving to pray in front of the student house, where not a few young lives were destroyed by the earthquake violence," the pope said. "Going through the city, I have realized further how grave the earthquake consequences have been."

A few hundred people, including many rescue workers, were in the crowd. The Finance Guard school has been turned into the headquarters of the government's Civil Protection Agency, which is handling the emergency response and reconstruction in the quake zone.

Among those in the crowd was Tonino Risdonna, a resident of the small village of Tempera, near L'Aquila. Risdonna said he is too scared to return to his house, which was damaged by the quake, and that he won't go back until there have been no earthquakes for at least two or three months.

Risdonna said he came to see the Pope because "it is an emotional experience" that helps him release his "sorrow and tension."

Another man who lost two houses in the nearby town of Paganica and is now living in a tent said he came to hear the Pope because he "brings a word of comfort and a message of hope."

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said he plans to host a meeting of the G-8 in July at the school, an idea that is drawing mixed reactions in the area.

Risdonna, however, said he likes the idea because "it will put L'Aquila in the spotlight, and this will help uplift spirits and also bring some economic help."

Here is a translation of the Pope's words before he led the community in a prayer, and of the prayer itself:


Dear friends:

I have come in person to your splendid but wounded land which is living through days of great sorrow and precariousness, in order to express to you in the most direct way my heartfelt closeness.

I have bean close to you from the first moment, as soon as I learned thews of the violent earthquake which claimed almost 300 victims that night of April 6, along with numerous injured persons and great material damage to your homes.

I have been following the news closely, sharing your perplexity and your tears for tHE dead, as well as your fearful concern over all that you lost in one instant.

Now I am here with you: I would like to embrace you all, one by one, with affection. The entire Church is with me, alongside you in all your suffering, sharing your pain for the loss of family and friends, and desirous to help you rebuild your homes and churches and businesses that have collapsed or were gravely damaged by the earthquake.

I have admired and continue to admire the courage, dignity and faith with which you have faced this hard trial, showing great will not to fall down in the face of adversity.

Indeed, it is not the first earthquake that your land has known, but now, as in the past, you have not given in - you have not lost your spirits. There is in you a strength of the will that inspires hope. A saying dear to your elders becomes very relevant: "There are still so many days behind the Gran Sasso" [the great mountain chain that is the main geographic feature of the Abruzzo].

Arriving here, in Onna, one of the centers that has paid very highly in terms of human lives, I can imagine all the sorrow and suffering that you have had to bear these past few weeks.

If it were possible, I would have wanted to visit every town and every neighborhood, to visit all the temporary shelters and to be able to meet everyone.

I am very well aware that despite the great commitment of solidarity shown to you from everywhere, living outside your own homes, in tents, or in your cars, brings so many daily discomforts, especially because of the cold and the rain.

I think also of all the young people who have suddenly been forced to measure themselves against grim reality, to the boys and girls who have had to interrupt their schooling, and the older people whose daily routine has been disrupted.

One could say, dear friends, that you find yourselves somewhat in the state of mind of those two disciples at Emmaus, about whom the evangelist Luke narrates.

After the tragic event of the Cross, they were going back home, disappointed and quite bitter at the 'end' to which Jesus came. It seemed there was no hope left, that God had hidden himself and was no longer present in the world.

But, on the way, He joined up with them and started conversing with them. Even if they did not recognize him with their eyes, something was 'awakened' in their hearts: the words of that 'unknown man' rekindled in them the ardor and the faith that the experience of Calvary had extinguished.

And so, my dear friends, my presence among you today is simply a tangible sign of the fact that the Crucified Lord lives: he is with us, he rose again, and does not forget us and will never abandon us.

He will not leave your questions about the future unanswered. He is not deaf to the anguished cries of so many families who have lost everything: their homes, their savings, their work, and for some, even their loved ones.

Of course, his concrete response will come through our solidarity, which cannot be limited to the initial emergency but should become a plan that is stable and concrete in time. I encourage everyone - institutions and businesses -in their work to make this land rise again.

The Pope is hear today, among you, to give you a comforting word as well about those who died: they live in God now and expect from you a testimony of courage and hope. They hope to see this land be born again, to be adorned once more with homes and churches that are beautiful and solid.

And it is precisely in the name of these brothers and sisters that you must commit yourself to living, availing of that which does not die and which the earthquake has not destroyed and cannot destroy: love.

Love remains even beyond the abyss of our precarious earthly existence, because true love is God, and in God, whoever loves, wins over death and knows he does not really lose those he has loved.

I wish to conclude my words by addressing to the Lord a special prayer for the victims of the earthquake:

We entrust all our dear ones to You, Lord,
knowing that you do not take away life from those you love but transform it,
and that at the moment when our mortal dwelling
during our exile on earth is destroyed,
you are preparing an eternal and immortal one for us in paradise.
Holy Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
listen to the cry of sorrow and hope
that rises from this community so sorely tried by the earthquake.
It is the silent cry of mothers, fathers, young people
and even of the tiny innocents who have left this earth.
They have been torn away from their loved ones -
welcome them all to your peace, oh Lord, who is God-with-us -
the Love capable of giving life without end.
We need You and your strength
because we feel small and fragile in the face of death.
We pray to you, help us, because only your support
can make us rise again and lead us to recover together,
holding each of us, trustingly, by the hand along the path of life.
We ask this of you through Jesus Christ, our Savior,
in whom the hope of blessed Resurrection shines. Amen

Now, let us pray together the prayer our Lord taught us.
[Our Father....]

The Holy Father imparted his blessing, and then added:

My prayers are with you. We are all together, and the Lord will help us. thank you for your courage, your faith adn your hope.

He then proceeded to look at some of the ruins of the village,. and at 11:15, proceeded by car to L'Aquila, where he first visited the Basilica at Collemaggio.


Welcomed by the Rector, Don Nunzio Spinelli, the Pope entered through the Holy Door and venerated the urn of Pope Celestine V, leaving behind in tribute the pallium which was imposed on him at the Inaugural Mass of his Pontificate.


Shortly after 11:30, the Pope arrived in the vicinity of the House of Students serving the University of L'Aquila. Eight students died when the dorm building collapsed. The Pope spoke to the firemen who had been on the scene and to twelve students who represented the student body.

From L'Aquila, the Pope was driven to the Finance Guard School in Coppito to meet with the mayors and parish priests of the 69 towns most severely affected by the earthquake.

Afterwards, in the parade ground, where the funeral Mass had been held on Good Friday for the earthquake victims, the Pope addressed policemen, firemen, healthcare workers, and volunteers who have been working to help the victims. [Photos and story in the next post.]

Pope hears quake victims' 'silent cry'
By Philip Pullella

L'AQUILA, Italy, April 28 (Reuters) – Pope Benedict comforted survivors of Italy's earthquake Tuesday and asked God to heed the "silent cry" of its victims rising from the earth.

During a four-hour visit to the central Italian region devastated on April 6, he called for a "serious examination of conscience" about the destruction caused by the quake, some of which has been blamed on shoddy construction.

The Pope visited a tent city and consoled survivors, many of whom lost everything in the quake that killed nearly 300 people and left some 63,000 homeless.

In the regional capital of L'Aquila, which took the brunt of the tremor, he visited the destroyed basilica and prayed at the ruins of the university dormitory where eight students died.

L'Aquila means eagle in Italian and the Pope said: "This way, L'Aquila, even though it is wounded, will be able to fly again."

Speaking to officials and volunteers in the grounds of a police academy that has become the headquarters for relief efforts, the Pope touched on one of the most controversial issues arising from the disaster.

Magistrates have opened investigations into why some modern buildings, including L'Aquila hospital, were severely damaged even though they were supposed to have been built according to strict anti-quake regulations.

"There has to be a serious examination of conscience so that the level of responsibility, at any moment, is not lacking," he said to applause.

Investigators suspect that inferior quality sand and steel may have been used in some of the recent construction by builders who wanted to save money.

Benedict began his visit in the devastated village of Onna. Bad weather forced him to scrap plans to fly by helicopter to the area east of Rome and he was driven instead to the village that has been left completely uninhabitable.

Speaking under a light drizzle in a tent town for Onna's survivors, he read a haunting prayer: "It is the silent cry of the blood of mothers, fathers, little innocent children that rises up from this earth."

In a tent where the villagers of Onna brought broken statues and religious paintings damaged in the quake, residents prayed in what is now their church.

"It's difficult to pray in a tent but we do it with so much love," said Giovanni Paoletti, 48, who lost his mother-in-law and nephew.

"We hope to be able to return to the old church, to bring these statues back to where they belong. We dream of a normal life, to start living again."

NB: I found this paragraph in the AFP account of the Pope's visit questionable:

At a tent camp near L'Aquila, some people were critical of the pope for waiting three weeks before visiting the region. "Everyone came except him," Giovani Nobile told AFP. "It's been 22 days that we've been in the tents. I expected him at least at the funeral."

Not that some people would feel that way and say so, but that AFP would report it without adding the simple statement that the Vatican had explained from the beginning that the Pope did not wish his visit to get in the way of urgent rescue, recovery and aid efforts, as his visit would inevitably, because of all the necessary organizational and security preparations necessary when the Pope visits anywhere outside the Vatican.

In this case, there was also concern because 1) aftershocks continued for several days after the first episode could conceivably expose the Pope to unnecessary risk; and 2) the earthquake took place right at the start of Holy Week, which is traditionally the most demanding time of year for the Pope to preside at a number of liturgies, which do take their physical toll especially on an 82-year-old.

Also, John Paul II did not visit Assisi till three months after the earthquake of 1996, for the same practical reasons that kept Benedict XVI from being in the Abruzzo earlier. I'm sure both Popes would have wanted to be on the spot ASAP, but they are not first-aid workers, and they do not need to be physically present to provide their moral support and their prayers.

P.S. The following AP report, towards the end of the piece, refers to this issue:

Pope demands soul-searching
after Italy quake


L'AQUILA, Italy, April 28 (AP) Pope Benedict XVI visited the scene of Italy's earthquake Tuesday to comfort survivors and demand "serious soul-searching" from those responsible for the shoddy construction blamed for many of the deaths.

Benedict visited a tent camp, a basilica and a university dormitory whose collapse epitomized the anguish of L'Aquila, a city of 70,000, and spurred criminal investigations into who was to blame for so many of the nearly 300 deaths in the 6.3-magnitude quake.

"As a civil community, some serious soul-searching is necessary, so that at any moment responsibilities never fail," the Pope told survivors and rescue workers during his first visit to the disaster site. "If this happens, L'Aquila - though wounded - will be able to fly again," Benedict said, referring to the city's name, eagle.

The April 6 quake claimed 296 lives in the dozens of towns and villages in the Abruzzo region of central Italy affected. About 50,000 people were driven from their homes, and thousands of buildings were toppled or heavily damaged.

Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the shoddy construction blamed for many of the building collapses, looking into both the construction work and materials used amid allegations that sea sand was illegally mixed with cement, corroding it and weakening it.

The Pope's first stop was the tiny hamlet of Onna, which was leveled by the temblor, and where around 40 of its 300 residents were killed. Some 267 survivors live in a handful of tents clustered in a parking lot left muddy by a steady rain that fell as the Pope arrived.

The pontiff kissed a baby held up to him by his mother, and held the hands of many of the homeless who gathered for the intimate, brief visit.

"Had it been possible, I would have liked to visit each village, each neighborhood, go to each tent camp and meet everyone," the Pope told them, standing on a makeshift stage in front of a tent, a few hundred survivors just steps a way.

He appealed to government institutions and companies to turn the relief work into a long-term project for quality rebuilding.

The victims, the pope said, "are waiting to see the rebirth of their land, which must go back to be adorned with beautiful and solid homes and churches."

In L'Aquila, the regional capital, Benedict met with a dozen students outside what remains of L'Aquila's collapsed university dormitory, for days a main focal point of grief as rescue workers searched the debris for students trapped inside. Seven died at the site.

The students knelt before the pope and kissed his hand, some visibly emotional. One gave him a letter.

The dorm is one of the focal points of prosecutors' investigations, as well as L'Aquila's hospital, both of which were built after seismic standards in this quake-prone region were raised.

The Pontiff also visited the ruins of the 13th-century Santa Maria di Collemaggio basilica, the symbol of the city whose roof partially caved in during the quake.

Rubble was piled up inside the church and pillars were covered to support them as the Pope entered the ruins, firefighters by his side. The Pontiff prayed before the salvaged remains of Pope Celestine V, the 13th-century hermit and saint who was the only Pope to resign.

The Rev. Nunzio Spinelli, rector of the basilica, quoted the Pope as saying, "Now that I see the destruction with my own eyes I can see that it is even worse than I had imagined."

The Pontiff had been scheduled to fly to the area by helicopter, but heavy winds and rains forced the Vatican to scrap that plan. Benedict was driven instead, but by the time his speech was concluded in Onna, a strong sun had broken through the clouds.

"Imagine the Pope, coming to this village," marveled Concetta De Angelis, tears in her eyes just moments after the pope greeted her in Onna. "A Pope has never come here. This village isn't even on the map!"

Her friend, Silvana Paolucci, was even more emotional, saying she had wept as soon as she was face-to-face with the Pontiff. "He embraced us, he touched my cheek. It was beautiful," said Paolucci, who lost an aunt and nephew in the quake and whose home was rendered uninhabitable.

Among the civil protection workers greeting the Pope was Germana D'Onofrio, who cooks meals for the homeless. "I feed the body and the pope feeds the spirit," she said.

Benedict had said he had wanted to visit the area sooner, but didn't want to interfere with relief work.

In 1980 Pope John Paul II traveled to Naples almost immediately after a devastating quake - a visit that was criticized because the heavy security arrangements complicated rescue work. After the 1997 quake in Umbria, John Paul waited over three months before visiting the area.

Volunteer civil protection member Gianpiero Trulli, tending to the homeless in Onna, said the Pope's visit had slightly increased the workload of the relief workers. But he said he understood the significance of the visit for the survivors' spirits.

"For them, it's important that the Church is here," he said.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/29/2009 9:46 PM]
4/29/2009 1:44 AM
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There were as many pictures filed by the news agencies for the Holy Father's four-hour visit to Abruzzo as there are for a daylong pastoral visit, so until I can organize the rest of the photos (at the Onna camp, aat the student dorm, and at theFinance Guard school, I am posting first the two religious highlights of the visit - a rare conjunction and perhaps the first time it has occured: the Pope's visit to the remains of a predecessor buried outside Rome and offering the papal Golden Rose to a regional Madonna though not at her own shrine.


S. Maria di Collemaggio is a large medieval church in L'Aquila, built in 1287, and celebrated not only for its architecture, but also as the site of the original Papal Jubilee, a penitential observation devised by Pope Celestine V (1215-1296), who was crowned as Pope here and is buried here. The Church is a basilica because of its importance in religious history.

The church is a masterpiece of Abruzzese Romanesque and Gothic architecture and one of the chief sights of L'Aquila. The striking jewel-box effect of the exterior is due to a pattern of blocks of alternating pink and white stone; the interior, on the other hand, is massive and austere. Outbuildings include a colonnaded cloister, with the central fountain typical of many other similar Italian cloisters, and the former monastic refectory.

The Basilica was given Gothic embellishments during the 15th century, but a major restoration, completed in 1972, restored the Romanesque elements of the Basilica.

Right photo below showing the collapsed dome of the Basilica does not indicate the extent of the structural damage to the church interior.

Collemaggio's renowned facade (pre-earthquake photo) appears to have survived fairly intact. None of the news agency photos taken yesterday showed the full facade.

St. Celestine V in the chapel dedicated to him on the right side of the nave. His urn survived the quake.

Collemaggio was the Pope;s second stop yesterday after Onna. He lef the pallium imposed on him at his Inaugural Mass as Pope in 2005, as a tribute to his predecessor.

John Paul II was a frequent visitor to the Abruzzo where he liked to make skiing trips to the Gran Sasso mountains, but I have not found any reference so far as to whether he ever visited the remains of Pope Celstine V.


TThe story about the Madonna di Roio it is one of those fascinating tales that abound in religious literature, but I have not found any references in English.

The image and the sanctuary in Poggio di Roio, a village of L'Aquila.

The image itself is a lifesize wooden statue dating to the 14th century, but the story goes that it was found in 1548 by a shepherd from Abruzzo who was pasturing sheep in neighboring Puglia where it was the custom to bring the flocks in winter.

The shepherd lost one of the flocks he was grazing and prayed to the Virgin to help him in his plight. She appeared to him with the Baby Jesus in her arms, telling him where his sheep had found refuge. Going back to the site of the apparition later with other shepherds to whom he told the story, it is said they found the statue.

With the warmer weather, they headed back to the Abruzzo, bringing the statue home with them, on a mule. Nearing their destination, the mule suddenly dropped to its knees just opposite a Cross in front of the Castle of Roio and refused to go farther. So they took the statue on their shoulders and carried it to the nearby Abbey of St. John. The following day, to their surprise, the statue was no longer there - the people of Roio found it in front of the Cross where the mule had stopped. They gratefully took custody of it and eventually built a sanctuary for it.

The image of the Madonna di Roio graced the stage from which the Holy Father addressed civil servants and volunteers who have been involved in the first aid, rescue and assistance operations since the April 6 earthquake.

The event took place in Coppito near L'Aquila,at the parade grounds of an Italian Finance Guard training facility, where the funeral for the earthquake victims was held on Good Friday.

The pictures here are all I could find that show the Madonna di Roio, because obviously, the news agency photographers did not consider it of special interest, even if there are three photographs that show the Golden Rose offered in homage by the Pope (probably the first Golden Rose tribute done outside of the shrine for the image).

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/29/2009 2:10 PM]
4/29/2009 1:52 PM
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Pope Benedict's last stop on his visit to L'Aquila yesterday was at the Finance Guard School in Coppito, where he met with the mayors and parish priests of the 69 towns most hard hit by the earthquake.

Afterwards he addressed the thousands of civil servants (policemen, firemen, rescue teams, healthcare workers and assorted volunteers) who have been involved in assisting the victims during the emergency and in trying to bring daily life back to normal.


Before the Pope addressed the assembly, there was a greeting from Mons. Giuseppe Molinari, Archbishop of L'Aquila; Gianni Chiodi, president of the Abruzzo Region, and Masimo Cialente, mayor of L'Aquila.

As in Onna, the Holy Father ended his address with a prayer, after which he led the assembly in a recitation of the Regina Caeli.

Here is a translation of his remarks and prayer:


Dear brothers and sisters!

Thank you for your welcome which touches me profoundly. I embrace you all in the name of Christ, our firm hope.

I greet your Archbishop, dear Mons. Giuseppe Molinari, who as a pastor, has shared and is sharing with you this difficult trial; and I thank him for the words full of faith andvangelical trust with which he expressed your sentiments.

I greet the Mayor of L'Aquila, the Hon. Massimo Cialenta, who has been working with great commitment for therebirth of this city, along with the President of the Region, the Hon. Gianni Chiodi. I thank them both for their words.

I greet the Finance Guard who are hosting us here. I greet the parish priests, other priests and religious. I greet the mayors of the towns struck by this disaster and all the civilian and military authorities; the men and women of Civil Protection, the firemen, the Red Cross, the first-aid and rescue teams, and so many volunteers from so many diverse associations. It would be difficult for me to name everyone, but I wish to give my personal word of thanks to each and everyone.

Thank you for what you have been doing ,and above all, for the love with which you have done everything. Thank you for the example you have set. Continue forward united and well coordinated so that efficient solutions may be had as soon as possible for those who still live in temporary shelters. I wish this from the heart, and I am praying for this.

I started my visit in Onna which was hard hit by the earthquake, but I also thought of all the other affected communities. All the victims of this catastrophe are in my heart: children, young people. adults, older people, whether they are from Abruzzo or other parts of Italy, and even from other nations.

My stop at the Basilica of Collemaggio to venerate the remains of St. Pope Celestine V, gave me an occasion to touch the wounded heart of this city.

I wanted to pay homage to the history and faith of your land, and to all of you who identify yourself with this saint. On his urn, as the mayor mentioned, I left as a token of mu spiritual participation the pallium that was imposed on me on the day my Pontificate began.

Also very moving for me was to pray before the Casa dello Studente, where not a few young lives were ended by the violence of the earthquake. While being driven through the city, I realized even more how serious the consequences of the earthquake are.

And now here I am, in this space in front of the Finance Guard School, which almost from the first moment served as headquarters for all the assistance work.

This place, since consecrated by the prayers and tears for the victims, is a symbol of your tenacious will not to yield to discouragement.

'Nec recisa recedit' (No retreat even when broken), the motto of the Finance Guard, which we can admire on the facade of the building, seems to express well what the mayor described as the firm determination to reconstruct the city with the constancy that is characteristic of the Abruzzesi.

This spacious field, which held the coffins of the victims during the celebration of the funeral Mass by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State, today welcomes all those who are involved in aiding L'Aquila and the Abruzzo to rise again soon from the ruins of the earthquake.

As the Archbishop recalled. my visit among you, which I wanted to do from the first moment, is a token of my closeness to each of you and of the fraternal solidarity of the entire Church.

Indeed, as a Christian community, we constitute one single spiritual body, and if one part suffers, all the other parts suffer, too; and when one part tries to lift itself, then everyone participates in the effort.

I must tell you that manifestations of solidarity for you have come to me from all over the world. Many ranking personages of the Orthodox Churches have written to assure me of their prayers and spiritual nearness, and have also sent economic aid.

I wish to underscore the value and importance of solidarity which, although it is particularly manifested in times of crisis, is like a fire burning under the ashes. Solidarity is a sentiment that is both civic and Christian, and is a measure of society's maturation.

In practice, it is manifested in works of assistance, but it is not just an efficient organizing machine: there is a spirit, a passion that derives precisely from the great civic and Christian history of our people, whether it comes in institutional forms or from volunteer work, to which today, I also pay tribute.

The tragic event of the earthquake invites the civilian community and the Church to profound reflection. As Christians we should ask ourselves: "What does the Lord wish to tell us through this tragic event?" We experienced Easter in the face of this trauma, interrogating the Word of God and receiving new light from the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of the Lord.

We celebrated the death and resurrection of Christ carrying your pain in our minds and hearts, praying that the persons who have been affected may not have less trust in God nor less hope,

But even as a civilian community, we must make a serious examination of conscience so that the level of responsibilities at every moment is never lowered. On this condition, L'Aquila,. though wounded, can soar once again.

Now I invite you, dear brothers and sisters, to turn towards the image of the Madonna of Roio, venerated in a shrine that is very dear to you, in order to entrust to her, Our Lady of the Cross, the city and all the other towns struck by the earthquake.

To her, the Madonna of Roio, I leave a Golden Rose as a token of my prayers for you, as I commend to her maternal and celestial protection all of the communities that were hit.

And now, let us pray:

O Mary, our most beloved Mother!
You are near to our Crosses
as you remained near to that of Jesus,
sustain our faith, so that even if assailed by sorrow,
we may keep Our eyes on the face of Christ
who, in his extreme suffering on the Cross,
showed God's pure and immense love.
Mother of our hope, give us eyes to see
beyond suffering and death, the light of thr Resurrection.
Give us the heart so we may continue
even under trial, to love and to serve.
O Mary, Madonna of Roio,
Our Lady of the Cross, pray for us!

The Pope then proceeded to lead the recital of the Regina Caeli.


Afterwards, the Holy Father greeted a number of faithful representing the various service present.

He then returned by car to the Vatican, where he arrived around 3 p.m.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/30/2009 1:49 AM]
4/29/2009 1:52 PM
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Shroud of Turin public expo
April 10-May 23, 2010:
Pope will visit but
date has not been set

By Cindy Wooden

ROME, April 28 (CNS) -- The Italian Archdiocese of Turin has announced that the Shroud of Turin, which many believe is the burial cloth of Christ, will be on public display April 10-May 23, 2010.

The public exposition in Turin's cathedral will offer members of the public their first opportunity to see the shroud since it underwent major cleaning and restoration in 2002.

The work involved removing 30 fabric patches and a fabric backing, known as the Holland Cloth, sewn onto the shroud in 1534 after a fire.

At the time of the work, Cardinal Severino Poletto of Turin said trapped particles of dirt and scorched fabric had darkened parts of the Shroud of Turin and eventually could have made it difficult to see the shroud's image of a crucified man.

The removal of the Holland Cloth also permitted experts to photograph and digitally scan the back of the shroud.

Pope Benedict approved the expposition at a special audience for pilgrims from Turin led by Cardinal Poletto, at teh Aula Paolo VI last June 2, 2008.

Negatives of the Shroud photos show a full-length portrait of the Body encased by the Shroud.

The last public exposition of the Shroud of Turin was in 2000. It remained hidden in its specially designed protective case even in 2006 when the Winter Olympic Games brought tens of thousands of visitors to the city.

The Archdiocese of Turin's official Web site for information about the shroud -- -- is operational even though it is undergoing a redesign in conjunction with the 2010 exposition. Visitors will be able to reserve an appointment in advance to see the shroud.

The archdiocese also said it expects Pope Benedict XVI will visit the city during the exposition period and celebrate Mass on the grounds outside the cathedral. A specific date for the papal visit has not been announced.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/29/2009 1:53 PM]
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