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@Andrea M.@
00Friday, May 25, 2007 10:05 AM
Harsh criticism
It would seem like Jeff Israely has had enough of the Holy Father's statements and prompt denials:

Thursday, May. 24, 2007

Pope Benedict: 'What I Meant to Say...'


The term Papal Infallibility is often misunderstood to mean that pontiffs don't make mistakes. They do, and a Holy Father only invokes his own infallibility when he is laying out incontrovertible Church doctrine. Still, the Pope is not expected to err, and the faithful are not accustomed to hearing him publicly correct his own missteps. And certainly Benedict XVI, a man of rock-solid (some might say stubborn) convictions, would be the last person you would expect to waffle or backtrack on his key pronouncements. Which is why perhaps the most troubling pattern of his reign is Benedict's notable tendency to do just that.

For the most part, his major writings and speeches, which by all accounts are the work of his pen alone, are consistently clear and often quite potent. But more and more, it seems, there will be some sentence or citation - or a blatant omission - that inadavertently ignites controversy, if not outright rage against the Pope. The Vatican eventually kicks into damage-control mode, and finally, Benedict is left with the awkward task of serious papal (and public) backtracking. Indeed, there was a "here-we-go-again" buzz circulating among Vatican insiders as the Pope went out of his way this week to clarify his view of the Christian colonization of Latin America that he'd laid out on his recent trip to Brazil.

Benedict's supporters say that the world simply isn't adept at digesting a man of such conviction and confidence who, even they would admit, doesn't have the deft diplomatic touch of his predecessor. Particularly in these high-profile speeches, his main objective is to push the intellectual envelope, and prove a point with whatever historical and philosophical means are at his disposal. The Pope's critics, by contrast, warn that Benedict is missing advisers who can help edit his speeches and tell him what he might not want to hear, so he isn't forced to eat his words after the fact. In the 25 months of the papacy, the following five diplomatic incidents and subsequent papal corrections stand out.

July 7, 2005: Response to London Bombings

THE STATEMENT: According to a leaked draft of Benedict's condemnation of the suicide bombings in the London transit system, the Pope was going to characterize the attacks as "anti-Christian."

THE REACTION: Such a phrase immediately seemed ill-advised, both in light of the varied faiths of the victims and the potential for adding fuel to anti-Muslim sentiment

THE CORRECTION: Though it wasn't clear if the phrase from the draft speech was actually the Pope's or that of then Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, it was excised from the official version released by the Vatican. It was an early sign that there might be problems in the way the new pontiff and his aides respond to diplomatic crises.

May 28, 2006: Discourse at Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp

THE STATEMENT: In an otherwise poignant theological meditation on the Holocaust, the Pope made no mention of anti-Semitism, or the fact that the Nazis killed millions of Jews because they were Jewish. Benedict also failed to acknowledge that there might be some degree of collective responsibility of the German people, blaming the Holocaust solely on a "ring of criminals."

THE REACTION : Jewish leaders and historians criticized the speech, and commentators wondered why the German Pope did not mention his own experience during the War.

THE CORRECTION: Two days after he'd returned to Rome, the Pope addressed the issue again, using a general audience to cite the "six million Jews" killed, and to explicitly condemn anti-Semitism.

Sep. 12, 2006: Lecture on Faith and Reason at the University of Regensburg

THE STATEMENT: Benedict cited a Byzantine emperor's insults about the Muslim prophet Mohammed, without explicitly saying that he didn't agree with the remarks. He also said Islam's absolutist conception of God precluded reason, and was perhaps a source for religious-inspired violence. He never mentioned Christianity's faith-based violence of the past.

THE REACTION: The speech prompted widespread anger in the Muslim world Muslim world, with mass demonstrations and violence erupting among some extremists that included the burning of churches and the killing of a nun.

THE CORRECTION: The Pope repeatedly expressed remorse for how his comments had been perceived, and stated both out loud and in the revised text of the speech that he did not agree with the emperor's characterization of the Muslim prophet. He also added a visit to Istanbul's Blue Mosque to his subsequent trip to Turkey.

May 9, 2007, Press Conference on Papal Flight to Brazil

THE STATEMENT: The Pope said he agreed with Mexican bishops' apparent excommunication of pro-choice Catholic politicians.

THE REACTION: Even before he landed in Brazil, a flurry of news stories circulated about how the Pope's pronouncement could mean that thousands of Catholic politicians who support abortion rights were at risk of excommunication. Several Mexican pols said they would ignore the Pope's declaration, though U.S. presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani quipped that it's best not to argue with the Pope.

THE CORRECTION: While still on the plane, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi repeatedly tried to clarify the Pope's remarks. In the official transcript of the press conference released the next day, the Pope's response to the excommunication question was "cleaned up," and made to look as though he had merely been stating a general principle of Catholic canon law rather than responding to the current situation in Mexico.

May 13, 2007, Speech to Latin American bishops in Aparecida, Brazil

THE STATEMENT: Speaking about the Church's role in colonizing Latin America, the Pope said: "The proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbian cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture." He made no mention of the long history of forced conversions and other forms of violence perpetrated by Catholics.

THE REACTION: Various South American indigenous groups - as well as leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - demanded a papal apology.

THE CORRECTION: At his Wednesday general audience, the Pope went out of his way to declare: "It is not possible to forget the sufferings and injustices inflicted by the colonizers on the indigenous population, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled upon." As in the past, one wonders why, if "it is not possible to forget," the Pope apparently forgot to put the remarks in the original speech in the first place.


Given that I have expressed myself quite often in the past two weeks about MSM treatment of the Pope's statements, I still hope to comment on Mr. Israely's latest broadside later when I have the time.

Let me just point out that it has never been a case of 'waffling' or 'backtracking', much less of 'denials' on the Pope's part, but rather the initial mis-reporting (by selective quotation, as it was with Regensburg, or quoting out of context, as it was with the Brazil statement, or by deliberate misreading of 'omissions' in the Pope's statements, as at Auschwitz and on the London bombings) by MSM.

Surely, after all this, though, Benedict - who is obviously no stubborn fool - sees what media is up to and will in the future
guard against statements that could be taken equivocally and used to beat him with, because they will never give him 'that initial goodwill with which there can be no understanding', as he so well put it about his book.


00Friday, May 25, 2007 2:44 PM

All the Italian papers today played up the Pope's address to the Italian bishops yesterday with predictable emphasis on what he said about the recent Family Day, which was, of course, only a couple of sentences in the address. The full text may be found in HOMILIES, DICOURSES, MESSAGES. It should be read in full.

Luigi Accattoli's account for Corriere della Sera is typical but more balanced than the rest. The headlines given to his story are equally typical - even if the Pope never once mentioned DICO yesterday or ever! Here is a translation:

POPE: Family Day was a people's feast
To the bishops - "You did well on DICO"

By Luigi Accattoli

VATICAN CITY - He referred to the 'extraordinary people's feast" that Family Day was, he declared himself in 'full consonance' with the Italian bishops' pastoral note on DICO as well as respectful of the 'distinction' between Church and politics, he encouraged "every initiative by the State in favor of the family" - this was Pope Benedict XVI speaking to Italian bishops meeting in general assembly.

With the third of these statements, he seemed to welcome the government conference on the family which President Napolitano opened in Florence yesterday.

It was an address of proposals and less of denunciations compared to others given by the Pope to Italian bishops. For instance, he did not refer to 'non-negotiable' principles, which were invoked by Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops conference, in his opening address at the Synod Hall of the Vatican.

Bagnasco noted that often it is 'necessary' for the Church to raise its voice "firmly and clearly, united around Peter, to reaffirm inviolable principles" of 'personal and public life."

The Pope later noted that the bishops' pastoral note about families and de-facto unions was 'in full consonance with the constant teaching of the Apostolic See."

This was the most important passage of the Pope's address: "The recent demonstration in favor of the family, also shared by many non-Catholics, was a great and extraordinary people's feast, which confirmed how the family itself is profoundly rooted in the heart and life of Italians. This event certainly contributed to making visible to all that significance and role of the family in society which must be particularly understood and acknowledged today, in the face of a culture which deludes itself in insistently promoting individual happiness based unilaterally on individual freedom. That is why every initiative of the State in favor of the family as such can only be appreciated and encouraged."

It is undeniable that Papa Ratzinger sees Italy as the setting of a great stand-off between secular culture and Catholic tradition. He referred to the 'pressures' exercised by "those secularizing tendencies which would dominate society and culture in this country and in all of Europe."

But he also said that in Italy, "the Church is a reality among the people," and that the Catholic faith remains "the great unifying factor in this beloved nation and a valuable deposit of moral energies for its future."

Referring to the actions of the Church in public life, he said: "In full and cordial respect of the distinction between Church and politics, between that which is Caesar's and that which is God's, we cannot not concern ourselves with the common good in Italy."

It is a fact that often the Church is appreciated for its charitable work but opposed for its moral teachings, and here is how the theologian Pope called on the bishops to use the appreciation to overcome the hostility: "You must persist in promoting and animating this service [to the poor] so that everyone may palpably feel that there is no separation whatsoever between the Church as custodian of moral law, written by God in the hearts of man, and the Church that invites the faithful to become good Samaritans who recognize a neighbor in every suffering person."

00Friday, May 25, 2007 3:12 PM
Why is AP running photos of the Tridentine Mass on the Yahoo photo service today?

00Friday, May 25, 2007 9:41 PM

Here's some information picked up from a Gazzetta del Sud item on Lella's blog:

The Vatican rumor mill has it that Pope Benedict XVI will soon announce a consistory for new cardinals to take place June 29 (feast of Saints Peter and Paul), and a new sostituto, number-2 man in the Secretariat of State.

Sources claim that Mons. Fernando Filoni, currently Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, will be named shortly to replace Archbishop Leandro Sandri, an Argentine, at State, and that the Pope will announce his second consistory on Pentecost Day, May 27.

Filoni, 60, is an experienced Vatican diplomat. The speculation has been that Sandri may be named Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. [It would be a strange choice, since the person who is now Prefect belongs to an Eastern Church.]

If the Pope names new cardinals, he may name at least 15 to make up for those who have turned 80 since the last Consistory. There are at least three archbishops expected to be named cardinal in a new consistory - Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, and Paolo Romeo of Palermo.

Continued speculation also over the editorship of Osservatore Romano. Considered leading candidates now to replace Mario Agnes are Andrea Riccardi, Church historian and founder of the SantEgidio community, and Gian Maria Vian, professor of history at one of the pontifical universities, frequent editorialist for Avvenire, and a 'Montinian' (follower of Paul VI).
00Saturday, May 26, 2007 3:14 AM
Poor Papa is getting bashed left and right!

Theologians say Vatican doctrine office needs overhaul

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - Pope Benedict is coming under mounting criticism from his former German theologian colleagues, one likening the Catholic Church's doctrinal office, that the pontiff once headed, to a 19th century censorship bureau.

Its censure in March of Father Jon Sobrino, a leading liberation theology proponent, prompted an appeal for a thorough overhaul of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the modern-day successor of the Inquisition.

"The structure of the CDF must be reformed," Peter Huenermann told Reuters by telephone from Tuebingen, Germany.

"It still operates just like the censorship bureaus most European countries had until the end of the 19th century," Huenermann, the appeal's author and a retired theology professor from Tuebingen University, said.

About 130 theologians in Germany and Austria have backed the appeal and messages of support are starting to come in from other countries as it gets translated.

The protest amounts to a vote of no confidence in the way Benedict, who headed the CDF for 24 years before becoming pope in 2005, deals with critical thinkers in the Church.

The European Society for Catholic Theology, based in Leuven, Belgium, has also protested against the CDF censure, saying it was badly argued and had ignored "the theological developments of the last 50 years."

Huenermann, whose Tuebingen colleague Hans Kueng the CDF banned from teaching Catholic theology in 1979, said there was a need for change.

"It has a small staff of functionaries ... who work from denunciations they get," he said. "But we live in a time when theologians everywhere are constantly researching new topics. There are many new issues, like bioethics and technology."


The CDF, now headed by Cardinal William Levada from the United States, said Sobrino's "Jesus the Liberator" and other writings contained "erroneous or dangerous" passages that stressed Christ's humanity more than his divine nature.

In his article, Huenermann disputed the criticisms the CDF made and said some were wrong, unsubstantiated or "based on a hasty reading" of Sobrino's books.

He said the CDF should work like an academic review board, using modern methods such as peer review for publications to allow theologians to test out new ideas. He said he and some colleagues were considering drawing up a proposal for reforms.

Huenermann launched the protest wave in April by publishing an article in the German Catholic monthly Herder Korrespondenz calling for "modern quality control" for Church theology.

Colleagues created a virtual petition by sending in emails declaring their support for his appeal. The article has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French and Czech.

Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, taught theology in several German universities including Tuebingen before taking over the CDF, where he disciplined many liberation theologians and kept close tabs on Catholic theology professors.

Asked why German theologians were leading the protest against the office once led by the German Pope, Huenermann laughed and said: "Maybe because we still trust him enough to show some understanding for this."


Can these people please explain why they waited a quarter of a century to make this complaint? Although Ratzinger was named Prefect in November 1981, he did not actually take office till early 1982. They had all of 23 years to complain while he was there, and the past two years now that he is Pope.

Why is this such an issue all of a sudden? It's obviously rigged and fabricated! Sobrino was just a pretext.

And as for so-called "Religion Editors" like Reuters's Tom Heneghan, he should be ashamed of himself, for not providing the right background and stating the simple statistic that in those 23 years Ratzinger had at CDF, a grand total of 11 theologians were sanctioned - that is 'many' by any standard? When he reports that there are 130 theologians in Germany and Austria alone who have reportedly 'signed' this protest? Imagine how many theologians there are worldwide, then, and yet only 11 (12 now with Sobrino) were disciplined in 23 years!

And if the CDF "keeps close tabs on Catholic theology professors", that is one of its functions, because no one can teach "Catholic theology" if he preaches or teaches anything that is against the Magisterium.

Most times, it costs the journalist just a few more sentences to give both sides of the picture, but the dishonest or lazy journalist won't even take that effort. TERESA
00Saturday, May 26, 2007 4:17 PM
So there was a 1989 protest signed by persons like Kueng and Schileebeeckx, who were among the CDF-disciplined theologians (although Kueng was disciplined under the Prefect before Ratzinger), and Prof. Ratzinger signed a similar protest in 1968, according to John Allen. If the protestors of 1989 were so unhappy, why didn't they just renew and republish their protest year after year after year - the MSM would gladly have accommodated them any time! Why wait 18 years till speaking up again in public? And how come Hans Kueng, its leading signatory, has not said anything about it at all, in the numerous prolix interviews he has given about Ratzinger in the past two years?

German theologians demand
'intelligent restructuring'
of Vatican's doctrinal office

New York
Posted on May 25, 2007

More than a hundred German theologians have expressed support for a call from an emeritus professor of dogmatic theology from the University of Tübingen, named Peter Hünermann, for an 'intelligent restructuring' of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's doctrinal agency.

Hünermann published his proposal in a German theological journal titled Herder Korrispondenz, in response to the recent critical notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on two works by the Jesuit liberation theologian Fr. Jon Sobrino.

Among those who have backed Hünermanns position are prominent German theologians such as Johann Baptist Metz, Dietmar Mieth, Bernd Jochen Hilberath, and Otmar Fuchs. [No surprise - all known Ratzinger foes!]The response from German theologians was reported by the Italian news agency Adista. In terms of church politics, many of these theologians would broadly be considered left of center.

After criticizing the notification on Sobrino, Hünermann offered a set of general observations about the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, arguing that since the middle of the 19th century it has been responsible for a series of "serious conflicts which are damaging to the image of the church and to its journey of faith."

For one thing, Hünermann asserted, deficiencies in the theological preparation of personnel in the doctrinal congregation sometimes "aggravate the conflicts."

More deeply, however, Hünermann said the real problem lies with the congregation's mentality.

"At bottom, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the successor to the Holy Office - has preserved the structure of a censor's office which it had at the beginning of the modern era."

By way of contrast, Hünermann said, "the guarantee of quality in the scientific field today is structured differently: essentially, it's a matter of collaboration with the sciences, and possibly includes scientific authorities in the decision-making procedures relative to the politics of scientific research, and in the administration of scientific discoveries." [Hey, it isn't the research that the CDF questions - it's the teaching! If we are to be 'scientific', let's start by being precise about what we are discussing. And what do scientific discoveries have to do with preaching that Christ was not divine at all? That's beyond science to prove!]

For that reason, Hünermann said, the time has come for an 'intelligent restructuring' of the doctrinal congregation.

"Today, it's necessary to elaborate the ratio fidei (reason of faith) in a very complex culture, with its grave social, scientific and human problems," Hünermann wrote. "This presents a degree of complexity which a censor's office according to old models is absolutely not capable of handling, even on an organizational and technical level." [Oh yes, lecture Joseph Ratzinger about ratio fidei From what I read, none of the cases that resulted in CDF sanctions dealt with ratio fidei at all, but with outright contradictions of Catholic doctrine!

This is not the first time a group of German theologians has demanded reform in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 1989, an international group of 163 Catholic theologians, including a large contingent of Germans, signed a document known as the Cologne Declaration, sparked by the decision of Pope John Paul II to appoint the conservative Joachim Meisner as Archbishop of Cologne.

The heart of that statement was a defense of the right of free and open discussion in the church. It decried a 'new Roman centralism,' and argued that "the church exists for the service of Jesus Christ. It must resist the permanent temptation to abuse its gospel of God's justice, mercy and faithfulness for its own power by making use of questionable forms of control."

With respect to theologians being banned from teaching in seminaries and theological faculties, the signers rejected what they called 'intolerable' interference. [To tell them they cannot teach 'Catholic theology' if they persist in teaching contrary doctrine is 'intolerable'? What happened to the concept of discipline, not to mention obedience and responsiblity, i.e., you must take the consequences for what you do?]

Among the signatories were famed Swiss theologian Hans Küng, and the Belgian theologian Edward Schillebeeckx.

At the time, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger rejected the Cologne Declaration, stating that "there is no right of dissent" in the church and suggesting that the theologians who signed the declaration were engaged in a 'political power ploy.'

Critics of Ratzinger viewed those statements as ironic, given that in 1968, another group of predominantly German-speaking theologians had issued a similar call for reform, known as the Nijmegen Declaration. Among the signatories at the time was Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, then a member of the faculty at the University of Tübingen.

The Nijmegen document asserted that "the freedom of theologians, and theology in the service of the church, regained by Vatican II, must not be jeopardized again." The signatories pledged their loyalty to the pope, but argued that the teaching office of pope and bishops "cannot and must not supersede, hamper and impede the teaching task of theologians as scholars" [It cannot have meant "even if they teach deviant or contrary doctrine", because that would not be serving the church but one's ego!]

"Any form of inquisition, however subtle, not only harms the development of a sound theology, it also causes irreparable damage to the credibility of the church as a community in the modern world," the statement asserted.

The document [Is this the Nijmegen document?] offered seven concrete proposals for reform:

- That the Roman curia, especially the doctrinal congregation, must take into account and express in the composition of its members 'the legitimate pluriformity of modern theological schools and forms of mental outlook';
- This should apply first of all to the decision-making organ of the doctrinal congregation, the plenary assembly of cardinals, where an age limit of 75 should be imposed;
- Only those acknowledged as outstanding professional theologians should be consultors to the congregation, with a fixed term of office and no one appointed who is over 75;
- The members of the International Theological Commission, set up to advise the congregation, must be representative of the different theological schools; the congregation must consult with the commission; and the authority of the doctrinal congregation, and of doctrinal committees within national bishops' conferences, must be clearly circumscribed and limited;
- When the congregation feels obliged to disapprove of a theologian, this must be done in an orderly and legal fashion, with the proceedings worked out and published;
- The defendant should have certain rights, such as to have his thinking judged solely on the basis of his actual published works in the original language, to have counsel from the start of the investigation, to get all relevant documents in writing, to refer any dispute to two more professional theologians (one appointed by the defendant), to be accompanied by a professional theologian and to speak whatever language he or she chooses in the event of a personal interview, to not be bound by secrecy, and to have any eventual condemnation backed up by argument;
- Concern for truth in the church "must be carried out and fulfilled in accordance with the tenets of Christian charity."

The statement also said that any administrative or economic measures against authors or publishers "are to be avoided in the present social situation, as they are as a rule useless or even harmful."

Over the years, Ratzinger has argued that many of these proposals were, in fact, adopted during his term as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, such as the publication of a ratio agenda, or method of procedure, for doctrinal investigations, issued in 1997. Critics, however, contend that the spirit of the reforms proposed in the Nijmegen document has not been embraced.


Oh no, not 'spirit' again! Who is to say what the 'spirit' of anything is? Anyone can claim to represent the 'spirit depending on how he himself personally interprets anything!

But why invoke the 'spirit' when you can look at the concrete proposals and judge according to that? If these proposals had never been carried out, do you think the critics would protest only that "the spirit of the reforms proposed in the Nijmegen document has not been embraced"? No, they would cite the specific proposal that had not been followed. So, I think it is safe to assume that all those seven proposals are more or less in place at CDF - none of them appears to be difficult!

Also, we can be sure Joseph Ratzinger is intellectually and morally honest enough to have been conscious, all the time he was at CDF, that he signed the Nijmegen document, and that he could not possibly act in any way contrary to its 'spirit' as spelled out in the concrete proposals!

The current protest arose from the Sobrino Notification. From what both Reuters and Allen report, the protest is against the Notification and the CDF's conclusions about Sobrino's questionable writings, not against the process he underwent.

Remember that the CDF accompanied the Notification with an explanation of the process that it followed to arrive at its conclusions. Did we read any protests or even comments about that explanation at all in the MSM? No! And we can be sure if thee had been the slightest hint of unfairness in the process, MSM would have been relentless about it.

Even the current protest apparently does not refer to it at all. Sobrino complained in public that he was unfairly treated, but did any of his colleagues rush to his defense then, three months ago, about the 'unfairness' of the process?

We haven't seen the entire protest document, but Reuters and Allen could not have both missed it if the protest involved questioning the process, not the outcome.

Instead, Huenermann's main beef is about the 'mentality' at CDF, which he claims has been responsible "since the middle of the 19th century" for a series of "serious conflicts which are damaging to the image of the church and to its journey of faith."

Well, what did the CDF do in the 23 years under Ratzinger that could have 'damaged the image of the church and its journey of faith'? Two concrete accusations against him as CDF prefect by dissenting Catholics have been constant: 1) that he disciplined dissenting theologians [it was his duty to do so, and he disciplined a total of 11 in 23 years]; and 2) Dominus Iesus.

In what way are these damaging to the image of the Church and its journey to faith? Don't they, in fact, reinforce the Church in that journey? As for image, 'damaged' in whose eyes? Only the dissidents and liberal bleeding hearts! Who protested Dominus Iesus? Again the dissidents and liberals who really did not see anything it it but the line 'other religions are deficient'.

Allen informs us that Cardinal Ratzinger once said "There is no right of dissent" in the Catholic Church. He apparently said it in the context of protestors like Kueng and Schillebeeckx who had been disciplined, and in that context, there can be no dissent on Catholic doctrine.

By definition, one of the functions of the CDF is to defend the doctrine against any deviations. Of course, it entails censorship in the sense that it must monitor what is being preached and taught as Catholic doctrine, and nip any deviations in the bud. That's the basic 'mentality' it ought to have. It doesn't have to defend that!

But now, that new protest is out there, and Ratzinger is Pope. We can be sure he will know how to deal with it.

00Saturday, May 26, 2007 5:43 PM
Chavez hails pope's 'rectification'
on conversion of natives

CARACAS, May 25 (AFP) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on Friday hailed what he called Pope Benedict XVI's move to "rectify" comments the pontiff made on the religious conversion of natives in Latin America.

"I think he wisely made a rectification, for what he said in Brazil does not correspond to the harsh and terrible historical truth of what occurred here," the firebrand leftist leader said in a speech at a military base.

Chavez last week called on Benedict XVI to apologize for offending native peoples during the pope's recent trip to Brazil to reach out to Latin American Roman Catholics.

The pontiff had said on the last day of his May 9-13 trip to Brazil that "Christianity was not imposed by a foreign culture," drawing a sharp reaction from leaders of indigenous groups to whom the remark smacked of revisionism.

"Christ was the Savior (America's natives) silently yearned for," the intellectual pope told Latin American bishops in a speech in the Marian shrine town of Aparecida.

On Wednesday he moved to control damage caused by the remarks, acknowledging the "suffering" of indigenous Latin Americans.

Indigenous and missionary groups in Brazil also hailed the pope for revising his comments, which had caused offense on the grounds that colonists in Latin America abused the rights of indigenous people. [How about identifying those groups?]

The incident followed other damage limitation moves in September 2006, when he inflamed the Muslim world with comments linking Islam to violence.


AAARGHHHHH again! Damage limitation...damage control...New phrase to forever associate with Benedict and forever dredge up related incidents!
00Saturday, May 26, 2007 5:52 PM
There was some news a few days back about the Pope going to Lourdes some day, but Beatrice's site carries an report that says -

The Pope may go to France in May 2008 for the 150th anniverary of the Marian apparitions at Lourdes, which may include a visit to Paris and to Strasbourg, site of the European Parliament, which he has been invited to address. The online news agency attributes this to Vatican sources.

John Paul II visited Lourdes in 2004.
00Saturday, May 26, 2007 9:03 PM
Here is the translation of the extraordinary appeal sent by 20 Catholic parliamentarians and more than 80 Italian intellectuals to RAI, Italian State TV, seeking to stop airing the BBC documentary called "Sex Crimes and the Vatican". It probably will not stop it, because RAI already paid 24,000 Euro for the rights, but at least it establishes that right-thinking people are not just standing by but are acting to oppose unprecedented and unwarranted calumny against the person of the Holy Father.


We, the undersigned, having seen the BBC documentary called "Sex Crimes and the Vatican, which RAI has acquired and which could be broadcast on one of its programs, address ourselves to the directors of RAI and to the Parliamentary Watchdog Commission, not to allow this documentary to be shown on a public channel supported by Italian taxpayers.

We are not against a frank discussion of the problem of pedophilia and the tragic cases of Catholic priests guilty of committing abuses on minors, provided this is done in conjunction with ample scientific knowledge now available on this subject, with the intention of - in the words of Benedict XVI to the bishops of Ireland on October 28, 2006 - "establishing the truth about what has happened, taking all the measures necessary to avoid that these are repeated in the future, and above all, to heal the victims and all who are involved in these enormous crimes."

But we are against the projection of this specific documentary which - far from tackling the issue correctly - is a simple anti-clerical rap list against the reigning Pontiff, punctuated by blatantly false statements or based on ignorance about the most elementary principles of canon law.

For instance, the instruction Crimen of 1962 is presented as a document that intended to cover up sex abuses with a layer of secrecy for which "the penalty for breaking it is excommunication."

Leaving aside the fact that this document is concerned in its first 70 paragraphs with sexual relations with women (not girls) and addresses the issue of priestly abuses with prepubertal minors only in a reference found on Paragraph 73, what it says is exactly the opposite of what the BBC alleges:

Paragraph 16 says the victim of abuse must denounce it within a month. Paragraph 17 extends the duty to denounce it to any Catholic who has 'sure information' about such abuses. Paragraph 18 says that whoever does not make this denunciation 'risks excommunication.' The risk is for the person who fails to denounce a known abuse, not for who denounces it.

One other very serious lie in the documentary is about the letter De delictis gravioribus of 2001, signed by Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in execution of norms laid down by John Paul II a few weeks earlier regarding jurisdiction on crimes by different ecclesiastic tribunals. It is presented as a follow-up to Crimen sollecitationis which, the documentary claims, once again "stresses secrecy, under pain of excommunication."

The word 'excommunication' is not even found in that 2001 letter. If there was anything new in De delictis gravioribus regarding preceding penalties for sexual abuses, it was that it sets up a more severe discipline for sexual abuse of minors, making them prosecutable far beyond normal statues of limitation, up to when whoever claimed to have been sexually abused as a minor would have reached the age of 28.

This means, to make a concrete example, that if a four-year-old boy is a victim of abuse in 2007, he has until 2031 to press charges - which shows the intention of the Church to prosecute such crimes even several years after they are verified and far beyond normal statues of limitations.

Of course, there have been sad and tragic episodes which have involved priests guilty of pedophilia, and that sometimes, even bishops failed to sanction them as soon as a charge was verified.

But completely opposite to what the documentary claims, the energetic action of Cardinal Ratzinger, first, and then, of Benedict XVI - against whom, not accidentally, this mud-slinging attempt began right after the success of Family Day - even if it has not resolved every single case, has set standards and procedures and promoted an attitude and practice of severe discipline, rigor and courage, for which anybody who has studied this problem without ideological prejudices would credit the Pope.

Sexual offenses by priests is a real and painful problem. But it should be confronted with truth and correctness, without offering sensation-mongering and false documentaries which make up part of the problem, not their solution.

Massimo Introvigne
Director, CESNUR (Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni), Torino

Click here to see the names and designations of all the signatories.
00Sunday, May 27, 2007 11:57 AM
This article today is why the AP carried two photos of an Old Mass celebrated in Rome two days ago - a Motu Proprio alert of sorts, which does not add anything to what has previously been said, and recycles all the stereotypes, including misinformation.

Pope considers return to Latin mass

VATICAN CITY, May 26 (AP) - It was one of the most radical reforms to emerge from the Second Vatican Council. The Mass, root of Roman Catholic worship, would be celebrated in the local language and not in Latin.

Now, little more than a generation later, Pope Benedict XVI is poised to revive the 16th-century Tridentine Mass.

In doing so, he will be overriding objections from some cardinals, bishops and Jews  whose complaints range from the text of the old Mass to the symbolic sweeping aside of the council's work from 1962-65. Many in the church regard Vatican II as a moment of badly needed reform and a new beginning, a view at odds with Benedict, who sees it as a renewal of church tradition.

A Vatican official, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, confirmed earlier this month that Benedict would soon relax the restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass because of a "new and renewed interest" in the celebration  especially among younger Catholics.

In recent decades, priests could only celebrate the Tridentine Mass with permission from their bishop. Church leaders are anxiously awaiting Benedict's decision, to see how far he will go in easing that rule.

Castrillon Hoyos denied the move represented a "step backward, a regression to times before the reforms." Rather, it was an attempt to give the faithful greater access to a "treasure" of the church.

Benedict also was acting, Castrillon Hoyos told bishops in Brazil, to reach out to an ultratraditionalist and schismatic group, the Society of St. Pius X, and bring it back into the Vatican's fold.

The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the society in 1969 in Switzerland, opposed to Vatican II's reforms, particularly its liturgical reforms. The Vatican excommunicated Lefebvre in 1988 after he consecrated four bishops without Rome's consent. The bishops were excommunicated as well.

Benedict has been keen to reconcile with the group, which has demanded freer use of the old Mass as a precondition for normalizing relations.

But bishops in neighboring France, where Lefebvre's group is strong, have objected publicly to any liberalizing of the old rite, saying its broader use could lead to divisions within the church, and could imply a rejection of other Vatican II teachings.

"Such a decision risks endangering the unity among priests as well as the faithful," according to a statement issued late last year from the bishops of Strasbourg, Metz and Besancon.

Progressive Belgian Cardinal Godfried Daneels echoed that concern, saying that greater celebration of the Tridentine Mass could polarize the church and, depending on how the document is written, could lead to the "negation" of Vatican II reforms such as support for religious freedom.

"The rite is not the important thing, but what comes after," Daneels told The Associated Press. "We can't go back. Vatican II is a council like all the others." [How can someone like Daneels not acknowledge that Vatican-II never 'abolished' the Old Mass?]

Other concerns have come from groups involved in Christian-Jewish dialogue, because the Tridentine rite contains prayers that some non-Christians find offensive. By its very nature, the Tridentine liturgy predates the landmark documents from Vatican II on improving relations with Jews and people of other faiths.

Rabbi David Rosen, who is in charge of interfaith relations at the American Jewish Committee, said he wrote to several cardinals in March expressing concern about a prayer for the "unfaithful" in the Mass, as well a prayer used during the church's Holy Week liturgy which had contained references to "perfidious," or faithless, Jews.

He was assured by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is in charge of the Vatican's relations with Jews, that the Tridentine missal used now doesn't contain the reference to the "perfidious" Jew.

But in a letter, Kasper added: "I was unable to obtain a clear answer" concerning the prayer for the unfaithful.

Monsignor James Moroney, the liturgy expert at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he didn't think the move would have a terribly significant impact because it affects so few people.

However, he said that in resurrecting and promoting the old rite "by definition you are rejecting the judgment on liturgical matters of pontifical and episcopal development" over the last 40 years.

Despite such concerns, Benedict is going ahead with the document, though a date for its release hasn't been announced.

The Tridentine rite differs significantly from the New Mass that emerged after Vatican II.

In addition to the Latin prayers, which are different from those used in the modern liturgy, the priest faces the altar, so that he is seen as leading the faithful in prayer. The rank and file don't participate actively in the service.

The pope's plans are being welcomed by "traditionalist" Roman Catholics who are still in good standing with Rome. These Catholics simply prefer the Tridentine service over the modern one  and their numbers are reportedly growing, particularly among the young for whom the old Mass is actually new.

"I don't think the pope would be addressing this if there weren't a growing number of people ... an increased interest not just among laity but among clergy," said Michael Dunnigan, the U.S. chairman of Una Voce, an international lay movement that seeks to preserve the Latin liturgy.

There are no global statistics on participation in Tridentine Masses. But in the United States  where demand appears to be higher than in much of Europe  105 of the 176 Roman Catholic dioceses offer at least one traditional Mass each Sunday, Dunnigan said.

Ginevra Crosignani, 34, is a regular at the 10 a.m. Tridentine rite celebrated each Sunday at the Gesu e Maria church in central Rome. She says she started coming about 10 years ago and finds it a much more transcendent experience than the modern services, which she said were more like going to a "nightclub" because of the music and showman-like role of the priest.

"The New Order became a social celebration rather than a religious celebration," she said one recent Sunday as she put away the white lace scarf she wore over her head.

The pews at the Mass had been full  and more than half the people looked to be under 40.

"Before, it was more old people attached to that rite," she said. "I think young people (now) are looking for something, they're eager to find it and they don't find it in the New Order."

In a 1988 document, Pope John Paul II urged bishops to be generous in granting the so-called indults to allow the Tridentine rite to be celebrated. But many proponents say bishops have been stingy  either for personal reasons or because they simply don't have enough priests who know how to celebrate it.

To counter that, Una Voce is teaming up with the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, a traditionalist community, to run a training seminar for priests to teach them the ritual-filled Latin Mass. "We've got a waiting list now," said Dunnigan.

Similarly, the seminaries of another small traditionalist community, the Institute for Christ the King, are overflowing, said the institute's vicar general, Monsignor R. Michael Schmitz.

"There is no vocation shortage at all," he said. "On the contrary, we have so many vocations we can't take them all."

Benedict has made clear for years that he greatly admires the Tridentine rite and has already incorporated Latin into Masses at St. Peter's.

In a recent document, Benedict urged seminarians and the faithful alike to learn Latin prayers, and in the 1997 book "Salt of the Earth" he said it was "downright indecent" for people who are still attached to the old rite to be denied it.

"I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it," then- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said. "It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that."

Associated Press writer Rachel Zoll contributed from New York.
00Sunday, May 27, 2007 2:24 PM
A full translation of the Pope's words at Regina caeli today has been posted in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS.

Pope: the Church, as a community of believers,
missionary and 'Roman', was born on Pentecost

Vatican City, May 27 (AsiaNews) - In his address before the Regina Coeli prayer Benedict XVI gave a short catechesis on the nature of the Church, as is recited in the Credo, to the tens of thousands gathered in St Peter's Square.

Reflecting on today's feast of Pentecost, which commemorates the descent of the the Holy Spirit on the Virgin Mary and the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle, the pope said this event marked 'the solemn birth of the Church'.

"In this extraordinayy event," he continued "we find the essential and qualifying characteristics of the Church: the Church is one, as was the community of Pentecost gathered in prayer and 'agreement': 'the community of believers was of one heart and mind' (Acts 4,32). The Church is holy, not because of its own merits, but because it is animated by the Holy Spirit, it keeps its gaze fixed on Christ, so as to become one with Him and his love. The Church is Catholic, because the Gospel is destined for all peoples, thus from the very begining, the Holy Spirit makes it so it is announced in all tongues. The Church is apostolic, because it has been built upon the cornerstone of the Apostles, and is the faithful custodian of their teachings down through the unbroken line of episcopal succession".

Moreover, the 'Catholic' characteristic of the Church, capable of reaching out to all peoples in all languages, also renders it 'missionary'. "The Church," continued the pontiff, "is in its very nature a missionary Church, and since the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit has ceaselessly propelled it and continues to guide it along the world's paths, to the very edges of the earth and the end of all time".

The pope then added a further 'essential point': the Church is also 'Roman', not in the context of geographical limitations, but as an expression of its catholic and missionary nature : "In the Acts of the Apostles" explained the pope, "the passage of the Gospel from the Jews to the pagans, from Jerusalem to Rome is described. Rome represents the pagan world, thus all of the nations of people who are beyond the circle of God's ancient people. In fact, the Acts conclude with the arrival of the Gospel in Rome. Thus we can say that Rome is synonymous of Catholicism and Mission, it expresses faithfulness to the origins, to the Church of all times, to a Church which speaks all languages and to all cultures".

Following the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI greeted the pilgrims in various languages, among them brass bands from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, who played some traditional German hymns.


I will pick up the information from a May 22 CWN item posted by Benefan in Pope-Pourri...

Marching bands at Vatican

Sixteen marching bands from Germany and Austria took part in a festival at the Vatican this weekend, May 25- 27.

Vatican officials said festival was a celebration of the 80th birthday of Pope Benedict XVI, although the Pontiff's birthday was April 16. The festival, sponsored by the International Association of Friends of Sacred Music, repeats a similar event which proved very popular last year.

After meeting for Mass on Friday afternoon, May 25, in St. Peter's basilica, the bands performed Saturday, marching down the Via della Conciliazione and through surrounding streets to arrive at St. Peter's Square.

Today, they participated in the Pope's regular Regina Caeli audience In his greeting to German-speaking pilgrims after the prayer, the Pope expressed his thanks for their birthday offering. The bands answered by playing the first bars of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

At the end of the Pope's greetings to everyone, the bands played the hymn 'Groesser Gott wir loben dich'.

00Monday, May 28, 2007 3:39 PM
Pope Made a Key Distinction in Brazil, Says Aide

VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2007 ( Benedict XVI showed that the responsibility for colonizers' crimes in Latin America must not be confused with the richness of the encounter between indigenous cultures and the Gospel, says an aide.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, explained this in the most recent episode of the Vatican television program "Octava Dies."

The Vatican spokesman commented that Benedict XVI left a central message to the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean: "It is love that gives life."

The Pope, said Father Lombardi, left the assembly of bishops gathered in Brazil "the perspective of the encyclical 'Deus Caritas Est' -- 'God is Love.'"

"He himself said this once again at the general audience after his trip in concluding his usual reflections on his travels, proposing a synthetic and effective formula: 'It is love that gives life,'" said the priest.

In his analysis the Vatican spokesman added: "In this sense [Benedict XVI] re-proposes John Paul II's call for an evangelization that is 'new in its ardor, in its methods, and in its expression.'

"These reflections are truly precious because they give the Pope another occasion to enrich and complete what he already said in his addresses during his trip."

Father Lombardi continued: "Thus, on the delicate theme of the relationship between evangelization and pre-Columbian culture, the Pope has shown that the responsibility for the deplorable crimes committed during the course of colonialization must not be in any way confused with the richness of the dynamic synthesis -- purifying, enriching and diversifying -- between those cultures and the Gospel.

"This is a synthesis that is still fundamental for confronting the new problems of the modern world and of globalization itself with the guidance of Christian social doctrine."

The Pope said in Brazil that "God's presence, friendship with the Son of God incarnate, the light of his word -- are always basic conditions for the presence and effectiveness of justice and love in our society."

Father Lombardi asserted that the Pope's words are certainly valid for Latin America, "but they of course, have a universal validity as well."
00Monday, May 28, 2007 3:50 PM
A story in one of the Italian newspapers today points out that a second consistory for new cardinals under Benedict XVI gives him the chance to name 15 to bring the College of Cardinals to 120.

The Pope was expected to announce a new consistory at Pentecost for a June 29 (Feast of St. Peter and Paul) ceremony, but no announcement came.

Since the last Conclave, in which 115 participated, the humber of eligible cardinal-electors has dropped to 106 because of cardinals who reached the age of 80 (including Cardinal Vithayathil in the following story). Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, will also turn 80 soon.

Pope Benedict XVI could therefore name at least 15 new cardinals to reach the figure of 120 set as the ceiling for cardinal-electors. H

Indian cardinal to mark 80th birthday

Vatican, May. 28, 2007 ( - Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, will celebrate his 80th birthday on May 29, and thus become ineligible to take part in a papal election.

Cardinal Vithayathil was named apostolic administrator of India's Ernakulam diocese in 1996. In 1999 Pope John Paul II (bio - news) named him the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals by the same Pontiff in 2001.

The Syro-Malabar Church, tracing its roots back to the missionary work of St. Thomas the apostle, has seen enormous growth in India in recent decades. There there are nearly 4 million Syro-Malabar Catholics, concentrating in India's Kerela state.

There are now 184 living members of the College of Cardinals. With Cardinal Vithayathil dropping from the list of eligible electors, there will be 106 cardinals eligible to participate in a papal conclave.

Two more prelates will turn 80 before the end of this calendar year: Cardinal Edmund Szoka on September 14 and Cardinal Angelo Sodano (bio - news) on November 23. Vatican-watchers generally believe that Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) will call a consistory to name new cardinals before the number of cardinal-electors dips further.
00Tuesday, May 29, 2007 10:00 AM
I wish I had seen the La Stampa article this is based on, then I would have posted a translation, instead of posting the news this way, where 1) everything is made to appear 'negative' - note the terms 'about-face' and 'downgraded'; and 2) Regensburg, etc is dredged up all over. I am surprised Pullella did not also say this 'about-face' was analogous to the 'rectifications' made on previous Papal 'mis-statements' .

Second, the Inter-Religious Council was not abolished at all, as Cardinal Poupard has repeatedly maintained [I must have posted three different items over the past few months to that effect], and tht it has continued to keeep its own staff . The only change, Poupard said, was that he was also named head of it, as he is of the Council for Culture. Two Councils, one President.

I think in this case, it is Cardinal Bertone who mis-spoke, if he is quoted right here, by saying it will be a 'separate' department again.

Pope in about-face
over Muslim dialogue office

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, May 28 (Reuters) - In a surprising about-face, Pope Benedict has decided to restore power and prestige to the Vatican department that oversees dialogue with Islam a year after he controversially downgraded it.

The department's return to its former status occurred as Catholic-Muslim dialogue is still suffering the negative effects of Benedict's Regensburg speech last September in which he appeared to equate Islam with violence.

Catholic and Muslim officials on Monday hailed the decision as a positive step that could help improve relations.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said in Italy's La Stampa newspaper at the weekend that the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue would again become "a separate department."

Benedict downgraded the office in March 2006 by putting it under joint presidency with the Vatican's culture ministry and removing its president, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, a Briton.

"This would be a very positive thing for Muslims," said a senior Muslim official active in inter-faith dialogue who asked not to be named. He said Muslims had seen the council's downgrading as a sign Benedict was not very interested in Islam.

"I think it's a great idea," said Father Tom Reese, senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center and a world-renowned Vatican expert.

In France, home to Europe's largest Muslim minority, the priest in charge of relations with Islam said the change would help him in discussions and debates with Muslims.

"This is a sign, to Muslims and people of other faiths, that the policies of Pope John Paul will continue," Father Christophe Roucou said, noting Muslims respected the late Polish-born pontiff for his pioneering openness towards other faiths.

Vatican sources said Bertone's comments meant the department would soon get its own head again.

In his speech last September in Regensburg, Germany, the Pope quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as saying Islam had only brought evil to the world and that it was spread by the sword, which was unreasonable and contrary to God's nature.

He later said he regretted any misunderstanding it caused among Muslims, after protests including attacks on churches in the Middle East and the killing of a nun in Somalia.

But as late as this month, the Regensburg speech was still having repercussions on Catholic-Islam dialogue.

When former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami met the Pope on May 4 he said wounds between Christians and Muslims were still "very deep" as a result of the Regensburg speech.

Some observers saw the Regensburg issue as a direct consequence of the Pope's downgrading of the Muslim dialogue office and the removal of Fitzgerald, since the Vatican no longer had a world-class expert on Islam to advise the Pope.

The Muslim official said he hoped Fitzgerald would be reappointed to head the council. Catholic officials spoke in more general terms.

"I just hope they get the right man," Reese said. "In the 21st century, inter-religious dialogue is too important not to have experts advising the Pope so that we don't have the kind of disaster that we had in Regensburg.

(Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan)


Glad to note Rocco Palmo also protested the 'downgrade described by Reuters in hsi blog today -

(As a matter of precis, the councils were never "downgraded," but simply shared a head; both maintained separate officials and staffs. Their status and competencies continued unchanged.)


SO! It looks like Cardinal Bertone was misquoted by Reuters and AP! In this CNS story, see the difference: his words are given here as "will get its own leader" not "will be separated", and that what happened last year was a 'joint presidency' which would be 'temporary', not a merger!

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
to get its own leader

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which has shared a president with the Pontifical Council for Culture for more than a year, will get its own leader shortly, the Vatican secretary of state said.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, speaking May 26 at a conference on interreligious dialogue in Vercelli, Italy, said, "the change demonstrates the importance of interreligious dialogue" for the Catholic Church.

The Vatican press office confirmed Cardinal Bertone's remarks but said it had no information on when Pope Benedict XVI would name the new president.

Since March 2006, French Cardinal Paul Poupard, 76, has led both the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The Vatican said at the time that the joint presidency would be temporary.

Still, many people involved in interreligious dialogue saw the move as a downgrading of the council's importance or as a shift in emphasis from focusing on the faith and practice of the Catholic Church's dialogue partners to focusing on their contributions to local culture and on fostering joint cultural projects.

Italian newspapers also reported that Cardinal Bertone said the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church would become part of the Pontifical Council for Culture, but the Vatican press office would not confirm the statement.

In early May, Pope Benedict named Benedictine Abbot Christopher M. Zielinski of Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Pecos, N.M., to be vice president of the commission.


00Tuesday, May 29, 2007 11:01 AM
World Food Program Director Thanks Pope
Calls His Support in Favor of World's Hungry "Invaluable"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2007 ( Benedict XVI met with the executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, who thanked him and expressed her wishes that collaboration with the Church can continue and be strengthened.

Josette Sheeran said of today's meeting: "It is a great honor to express in person my gratitude to His Holiness for his invaluable support in favor of the world's hungry.

"I hope that the already excellent collaborative work with the Catholic Church which, like WFP, is an institution with truly global reach, can be strengthened further."

A number of Catholic organizations work with the WFP. The list includes Caritas Internationalis, which distributed 85,000 tons of food in 2006.

Sheeran said: "In crisis and conflict areas around the world -- as in Darfur, Somalia, Chad, the Occupied Palestinian territories -- WFP staff often work in dramatic situations where their own safety may be at risk, to help those who are most vulnerable.

"The moral authority of the Holy Father and his appeals for peace, justice and security are highly encouraging for us. We know we can always count on the partnership and precious help of Catholics and Catholic organizations."

During the audience, Sheeran invited the Pope to visit WFP's headquarters in Rome. Afterward, she met with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

Benedict XVI Greets Indian Church Leader
Affirms Value of Eastern Tradition and Union With Holy See

VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2007 ( Benedict XVI received in audience the leader of the Syro-Malankars, and encouraged him to maintain both the union with the Apostolic See and the specifically Eastern features of that tradition.

This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received Major Archbishop Issac Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India.

The archbishop was elected to his current office by the Synod of the Syro-Malankar Church on Feb. 8.

The Holy Father told him: "Now the universal Church, together with all those who belong to your ecclesial tradition, is counting upon Your Beatitude to ensure that the Malankar community can proceed along a twofold path.

"On the one hand, through faithfulness to the Apostolic See you will always participate fully in the universal breath of the one Church of Christ; on the other hand your fidelity to the specifically Eastern features of your tradition will enable the whole Church to benefit from what in his manifold wisdom the Spirit is saying to the Churches.'"

The Pontiff said: "Now is a time of new evangelization, a time of constantly renewed and convinced dialogue with all our brothers and sisters who share our Christian faith, a time of respectful and fruitful encounter between religions and cultures for the good of all, and especially the poorest of the poor.

"Our commitment to evangelization needs to be constantly renewed, as we strive to build peace, in justice and solidarity, for the whole human family."

Pontiff Urges Mozambique Bishops to Welcome New Movements
Says Evangelization Is Top Priority

VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2007 ( Evangelization is the first priority for bishops, Benedict XVI told the prelates of Mozambique, who were in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

During the meeting on Saturday, the Pope reminded the bishops from Mozambique that they are responsible "for announcing the word of God throughout the area entrusted to you," including everything "from the celebration of the liturgy, formation in prayer and in preparation for the sacraments."

Bishops are also responsible for "the organic unity of the diocese and its charitable, educational and apostolic institutions," he said.

"For this reason you were clothed with pastoral authority," the Holy Father observed, pointing out that this authority "takes the form of a servant that offers his life, his time, his strength and his heart for his sheep."

The Pontiff added: "One providential avenue to create a new missionary impulse is the ecclesial movements and new communities.

"Welcome and promote them in your dioceses, because the Holy Spirit is using them to reawaken and deepen the faith in people's hearts and to proclaim the joy that comes from belief in Jesus Christ."

The Pope told the bishops he was aware of the great challenges they face because of "a modern society full of sensuality and individualism," which will not get better without "a dynamic and well-rooted pastoral plan to promote families, which is based on family associations coordinated at the diocesan and national level."

Benedict XVI said that other areas which require the bishops' attention includes "assistance to the poor, sick and the marginalized, countering the advance of sects and developing the social communications media."

00Wednesday, May 30, 2007 12:45 AM
The New Evangelization:
Benedict XVI calls the Church
to re-launch its missionary activity

Vatican City, May 29, 2007(CNA).- In anticipation of World Mission Sunday, the Holy Father released his message on missions today. Benedicts call to the Church is to respond to, the urgent need to re-launch missionary activity to meet the many grave challenges of our time."

Pope Benedict also recalls, that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Servant of God Pius XII's Encyclical "Fidei donum," which "promoted and encouraged cooperation between Churches for the mission 'ad gentes,' or to the nations.

Contrary to those that claim that the Church is one that is humanitarian only, Benedict insightfully asserts that evangelizing efforts necessarily impact the whole of society.

"Missionary commitment, then, remains ... the Church's primary service to humanity today, in order to guide and evangelize cultural, social and ethical transformations, and to offer Christ's salvation to modern mankind, humiliated and oppressed in so many parts of the world because of endemic poverty, violence, and the systematic negation of human rights."

The Holy Father also highlights how "all Christian communities are born missionary." Hence, "for the individual faithful it is not just a matter of collaborating in evangelizing activity, but of being protagonists in and jointly responsible for the mission of the Church."

The experience of the Church shows that when the faithful share in the mission of the Church collectively it, "brings about the growth of communion between communities and an increase of reciprocal aid, both in terms of personnel (priest, religious and lay volunteers) and of the means necessary to evangelize today."

Nonetheless, the Pope continues, it must not be forgotten that "the first and principal contribution we are called to make to the Church's missionary activity is prayer. ... May all communities join in the choral invocation to 'Our Father Who art in heaven,' that His kingdom may come on earth!

The Holy Father makes his final appeal to the young and the infirm. "I appeal particularly to children and young people, always ready for generous missionary commitment, ... to the sick and suffering, recognizing the value of their collaboration, so mysterious and indispensable for the work of salvation, ... and to consecrated people."

Benedict XVI concludes by calling on the Virgin "to guide our footsteps" to "a Pentecost of love. In particular, may she make us aware that we are all missionaries, ... called by the Lord to be His witnesses in every moment of our lives."

00Wednesday, May 30, 2007 1:48 PM
A full translation of the Holy Father's catechesis has been posted in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS. Following is a translation of the AsiaNews Italian report on the audience.

Lesson from Tertullian:
'Be humble and be with the Church,
accepting its weaknesses

VATICAN CITY, May 30 (AsiaNews) - One must have 'simplicity' and the 'humility to be with the Church and acccept its weaknesses and one's own, because only God is really holy and we all need his forgiveness."

Pope Benedict said this today, speaking of the limitations of one of the great figures of the early Church, Tertullian, to more than 40,000 who were at St. Peter's Square today for the general audience.

Among them were the parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, of Maddie, the four-year-old English girl who was kidnapped on May 3 in Portugal. The Pope spoke to them later.

Resuming the "line of the great personalities of the early Church - masters of the faith even today", Benedict XVI spoke about Tertullian, the African apologetist who lived between the end of the second and the beginning of the third century, who "inaugurated Christian literature in Latin," positively communicates the essence of Christianity and illustrates its rational foundations.

He recalled Tertullian's famous writings of an apologetist nature in which he sought to "refute the worst accusations of the pagans" and "to communicate the correct Gospel" in dialog with the culture of his time, but above all, "to denounce the unjust behavior of the political authorities towards the Church, explain the customs of Christians, illustrate the new religion" and demonstrate the triumph of the spirit, which opposed the violence of the persecutors with the fact that "the blood of Christians is an effective seed (and) suffering is victorious at the end."

In a special way, the Pope said, Tertullian exhorted Christians to hope in those days of persecution, exalting hope not only as a virtue in itself but as a "modality that invests every aspect of Christian existence."

The Pope also recalled that Tertullian defined the human soul as 'naturaliter Christiana' (Christian by nature) and maintained that "the Christian cannot hate even his own enemies", that this is the moral development of this faith that "proposes non-violence as a rule of life."

But from the human point of view, the Pope said, one can speak about Tertullian's tragedy: with the passing of the years, he became increasingly exigent towards Christians, demanding heroic behavior during the persecutions.

He ended up finding himself isolated: "An overly individual search for the truth and intemperance of character brought him outside the church to adhere to the sect of montanism" and so even today, "many questions about his behavior remain open."

The Pope commented: "This great personality, who was so rigid in his convictions, who asked every Christian to be always heroic even on the face of persecutions, makes me think. One sees that ultimately, he lacked the simplicity, the humility to be part of the Church, accepting its weaknesses."

At the end of the general audience, Benedict XVI greeted participants in the General Assembly of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missionaries (PIME from the Italian acronym).

Among those present was the Superior General Fr Gianbattista Zanchi, who was elected to his second term as head of the Institute on May 24th.

"I warmly greet PIME members, who are celebrating their general assembly these days," the Poe said."I hope that this important assembly is stimulus and encouragement for all to be eloquent signs of God's love and missionaries of His peace."

00Wednesday, May 30, 2007 2:05 PM

Pope blesses picture of missing British girl
By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, May 30 (Reuters) - The parents of a four-year-old British girl snatched from a Portuguese holiday resort nearly a month ago met Pope Benedict on Wednesday and the Pontiff blessed a photograph of the child.

The mother of Madeleine McCann appeared to be holding back tears as she held up the picture of her daughter, which the Pope touched gently and then blessed with the sign of the cross.

Gerry and Kate McCann were in a section reserved for special guests at the Pope's weekly general audience in St Peter's Square. The Pope walked over to the section at the end of his audience.

The girl's father kissed the Pope's hands. Both parents appeared to be very emotional as they spoke to the Pope and he touched their hands.

Kate carried a pink fluffy toy cat that belongs to her missing daughter.

In his public comments during the audience, the Pope made no reference to Madeleine who disappeared on May 3.

The McCanns, who are due to hold a news conference later, told reporters before the audience that they would seek comfort from the Pope.

"We have mixed emotions about being here," Gerry McCann told reporters.

"Under normal circumstances it would be one of the most exciting things we could do in our own lifetime, but very much on our minds is the fact that we're here without Madeleine."

"This is a very nerve-racking experience."

Both parents, who are Catholics, wore dark suits to the outdoor audience in St Peter's square, which was attended by tens of thousands of people.

Madeleine was snatched in the evening from a holiday resort apartment as her parents ate at a restaurant about 100 yards (meters) away, in sight of the apartment.

Britain has been gripped by the McCann's tragedy and photographs of the blonde-haired child have rarely been off the front pages of British newspapers since her abduction.

Parents of Madeleine meet pope

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI met Wednesday with the parents of Madeleine McCann, the four-year-old girl who disappeared in Portugal nearly a month ago, and said he would pray for her safe return.

The pope spent several minutes talking with Gerry and Kate McCann - both devout Roman Catholics - following his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square.

During the meeting, the pontiff placed his hand on a photograph of Madeleine that Kate McCann carried with her.

The McCanns, both dressed in black, were visibly moved by their meeting with Pope Benedict, although Gerry confessed afterwards to mixed emotions.

"In ordinary circumstances of course it would be the highlight of any catholic to come and meet the pope," he told reporters.

"Of course it is saddened with the very marked realisation that our daughter is still missing."

Kate McCann said the pope had some comforting words for them both.

"He said he would pray for us and our family and that he would continue to pray for Madeleine's safe return," she said.

The McCanns, who were set to return to southern Portugal later Wednesday, are also planning to travel to Madrid on Friday and to Berlin on June 4 to mobilise the media and missing children groups there to help find their daughter.

Investigators think there is a possibility the girl may have been taken out of Portugal to another European country.

Madeleine is believed to have been abducted as she slept with her two-year-old twin brother and sister in a hotel apartment at the Ocean Club Resort while her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.

Portuguese police have said they are looking for a white man of medium build, measuring 1.70 metres and aged between 35 and 40, who was seen in the Praia da Luz area around the time Maddie disappeared.

"We have had tremendous strength from the outpouring of goodwill from all over the world, but particularly from the local Catholic community in Portugal and from the church that we've been attending regularly," Gerry McCann said after the papal audience.

"And we know that many people, both here and elsewhere, are praying for our daughter and that helps sustain our belief that we can get her back safely," he added.

Last week, the McCanns visited a grotto near the town of Fatima, 80 miles north of Lisbon -- a revered Catholic shrine where the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared to three cousins in 1917.

Late pope John Paul II had claimed that the Virgin of Fatima saved his life after he was shot and wounded by a Turkish gunman in Saint Peter's Square in 1981.

Parents of missing girl meet pope

VATICAN CITY, May 30 (AP)- Pope Benedict XVI held the hands of the parents of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann, blessing them and a photo of the girl as they asked for prayers Wednesday for their daughter who disappeared while vacationing with her family in Portugal.

The pope spoke with the parents, each dressed in dark suits, as he greeted dignitaries seated in the front row during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"He was very kind, very sincere," Kate McCann told a news conference. She said Benedict assured that he would "continue to pray for Madeleine's safe return."

The Vatican had readily accepted the British couple's request to meet with the pope, as they press their campaign to publicize their daughter's disappearance. Devout Catholics, they recently prayed at the pilgrimage site in Fatima, Portugal, for her safe return.

The couple also outlined plans in the hunt for their daughter, saying they would travel to Spain, Germany and the Netherlands  countries that send many tourists to the holiday area in Portugal.

"Obviously we have very mixed emotions about being here, and of course why we are here." Gerry McCann said as he arrived in St. Peter's Square. "In normal circumstances it would be one of the most exciting things we could do in our own lifetimes, but very much on our minds is the fact that we are here without Madeleine."

Earlier this week, Vatican officials said that the McCann family would be among the dignitaries and other notables brought up to greet the pope at the end of his weekly audience.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor had requested the meeting.

"We are talking about a family drama that has touched world public opinion. It could not but touch the Holy Father, especially since these people are Catholics," Benedettini said.

"The Holy Father is considered the father of all, therefore he was personally touched as a father," the spokesman said.

Madeleine McCann disappeared May 3 when her parents left her and her 2-year-old twin siblings alone in their hotel room while they went to a restaurant in their hotel complex in Praia da Luz, a resort town in Portugal's Algarve region. Gerry and Kate McCann have said they won't return to Britain without their daughter.

00Wednesday, May 30, 2007 4:48 PM
John Allen does us all service by writing this in the Op-Ed page of the New York Times today - provided closed minds will open up enough to see the 'realistic' and sensible perspective he gives on this issue. It's the sort of presentation more Catholic writers should transmit through MSM about the issue to enlighten both the ignorant and the prejudiced, whatever side of it they are on.

The Pope's Language Lesson
Published in the New York Times
May 30, 2007

A SENIOR Vatican official has confirmed that sometime soon Pope Benedict XVI will expand permission for use of what's popularly known as the Latin Mass, the service that was standard before the Second Vatican Council.

Though some details remain vague, one point seems all too clear: When the decision officially comes down, its importance will be hyped beyond all recognition, because doing so serves the purposes of both conservatives and liberals within the church, as well as the press.

Pope Benedict's intent, according to Vatican authorities, is to make the pre-1960s Mass optional, leaving Catholics free to choose which Mass they want to attend. Because the older Tridentine Mass, named for the 16th-century Council of Trent, has come to symbolize deep tensions in Catholicism, the pope's decision is sure to trigger an avalanche of commentary.

Many on the Catholic right will hail the move [wrongly and stupidly] as a death knell for the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, such as use of the vernacular languages and modern music, and participation by the laity, most of which conservatives have long derided as misplaced efforts to make the church 'relevant'. The older Mass, many argue, has such beauty and elicits such a sense of awe that, over time, it will triumph, leaving the changes of the last 40 years as a failed experiment.

That argument fails the smell test of contact with reality. For one thing, Catholics old enough to remember the pre-Vatican II Mass know that it's as capable of being celebrated in drab, uninspiring fashion as any other rite. Moreover, four decades after Vatican II, many Catholic priests don't even know the old Mass. Given the other demands they face in light of a priest shortage, a good number won't take the time to learn it.

Most basically, there's scant evidence of a huge pent-up demand for the old Mass. Since 1984, celebration of the old Mass has been permitted with a dispensation from the local bishop. While some dioceses where it's allowed report that the celebrations are often well attended, sometimes with a surprising number of younger Catholics, there's been no widespread exodus from the new rite to the old.

In the end, the normal Sunday experience for the vast majority of Catholics will continue to be the new Mass celebrated in the vernacular. (It's worth noting, however, that the new Mass can also be celebrated in Latin, with all the 'smells and bells' dear to the high-church set.)

Many on the Catholic left, meanwhile, will make a cause célèbre out of the document because, to them, it symbolizes a broad conservative drift in Catholic affairs. They will read it as another sign of a 'rollback' on Vatican II.

That argument, too, depends on selective perception. While Benedict certainly wants to call the church back to some Catholic fundamentals, evidence of a systematic lurch to the right is hard to come by. This is the same pope, after all, who scandalized Catholic traditionalists by jettisoning limbo and by praying alongside the grand mufti of Istanbul inside the Blue Mosque in Turkey.

On the political front, Benedict has demanded debt relief for impoverished nations, said that 'nothing positive' has come from the United States-led war in Iraq, and denounced capitalism as an 'ideological promise' that 'has proven false.'

And, of course, we in the press will abet the hype because it's about conflict, which is the motor fuel of storytelling, and because we need to 'sell' the story in order to win air time and column inches.

Benedict, a quintessential realist, will probably be among the few who understand right away that his ruling is not terribly earth-shattering. Sources close to the pope I have spoken to say his modest ambition is that over time, the old Mass will exert a 'gravitational pull' on the new one, drawing it toward greater sobriety and reverence.

Perhaps - although it's equally possible that traditionally minded Catholics will now have a broader 'opt out' clause, making them less likely to pester priests and bishops about what they see as the defects of the new Mass.

In any event, the real impact of Benedict's ruling is likely to be measured in small changes over a long arc of time, not in upheavals or revolutions. That reality, however, will do little to lower the rhetorical volume. If only we could convince the activists to slug it out in Latin, leaving the rest of us blissfully oblivious, then we might have something.

00Thursday, May 31, 2007 8:38 AM
Thanks to Crotchet for tipping me to this sharp if rather unorthodox analysis of what Benedict XVI has been trying to accomplish in the Church. IT's from a blog called CLERICAL WHISPERS on
by someone with the nick Sotto Voce, who only identifies himself as an Irish Roman Catholic priest (I wish he would comment on the BBC docu which is mostly about Irish Catholic priest offenders).

Apparently, his blog has only been about 5 months old, and from what I can see, his daily posts are generally Anglophone news items online that have to do with the Church and the Papacy. This was posted May 28.

Any astute observer of Joseph Ratzinger is aware of his deliberate and calculated agenda to wind back the clock during his papacy.

He wants the Roman Catholic Church to reverse the damaging liberal social politics and rationalist theology that so weakened its political and moral authority in the decades following World War II and return to the position it once enjoyed at the peak of its power.

Ratzinger accomplished much of this agenda in tandem with Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II.

The closeness of the relationship enjoyed by the Polish pope and the Bavarian cardinal was evident by how religiously they adhered to their weekly scheduled private Friday meetings, and the fact that Ratzinger was the only cardinal permitted to address the pope in his native German tongue.

The papal political platform Ratzinger built in association with Wojtyla established the ideal launching pad for his now increasingly aggressive evangelizing papal agenda for the Roman Catholic Church.

Benedict's most recent evangelizing initiatives have been directed at Latin America, specifically during his recent visit to Brazil to open the Fifth General Assembly of the Latin American bishops' conference CELAM just north of the city of Sao Paulo.

This visit to Brazil was not by invitation.

It was by Benedict's own personal choice - thus, no doubt, in pursuance of the latest phase in his agenda to progressively evangelize the world. [I'm glad he made this point- critics of the Brazil trip, the same ones who often say Benedict thinks only of Europe, really forget that Aparecida and going to Brazil was the Pope's own idea in October 2005 - one of the pleasant surprises of that Bishops Synod - as Cardinal Hummes had occasion to recall on the eve of the Pope's departure for Brazil.]

That this pope is in a hurry to fulfill his agenda is made obvious by the fact that he has, just two years into his papacy, enjoined war on not one, but now on four distinct fronts - and has done so with elegance and panache, using rapier-like thrusts of both tongue and pen.

On the home front, Benedict wasted no time in making a number of deliberate personnel changes at the Vatican after he took over in April 2005.

He is intent on building a team in Rome that will support his agenda. He closed some Vatican offices and consolidated others, thus ensuring that no individual Vatican functionary is left with a degree of undue power that might frustrate his efforts at returning to a more traditionalist approach to liturgy, nor interfere with his wider global political agenda.

We should expect to see further refining of the papal base of support in Rome as Benedict gains ground on the other three fronts of his evangelical crusade.

Benedict opened a second front in his onslaught last September at his old alma mater [Not! He only taught there], University of Regensburg, when he, in the words of Dr. George Friedman, CEO of Stratfor, "thr[e]w a hand grenade" into the Islamic arena.

The outcry over the pope's deliberately chosen words in his verbal attack on Islam is now a matter of history. It was, as Friedman pointed out, "an elegant move. He has strengthened his political base and perhaps legitimized a stronger response to anti-Catholic rhetoric in the Muslim world. And he has done it with superb misdirection. His options are open" (Sept. 19, 2006).

That's the way of this pope. He will go for the jugular, but with such finesse that it leaves his options open. This is the mark of a quintessentially expert diplomat.

Benedict is working to stem the Islamic onslaught that has brought the crusading imams right up to the Vatican's doorstep.

On a third front, the pope frontally attacked European secularism when he used the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the European Union to castigate the leaders of the EU for their failure to recognize the traditional religion of Europe, which grew out of Rome, in its declaration of fundamental values.

He accused Europe of being "built upon a cynical form of pragmatism that compromises on all principles, sacrificing fundamental ideals and undermining the dignity of human nature and freedom". recently ran a story pointing out how Benedict's attacks on secularism were further endorsed by Bishop Giuseppe Betori, secretary of the Italian bishops' conference.

Betori declared that "the Christian people face a new challenge," in the form of political forces that are "attempting to storm our cities, undermine their peaceful order, and bring turbulence into their lives" (May 16).

Benedict drew a fourth line in the sand in his global crusade during his most recent trip to Brazil.

In his address to the bishops of Latin America, Benedict challenged them to galvanize a continent-wide evangelical crusade to rout the competing non-Catholic religions - 'sects' as he called them - that have penetrated Latin America on the heels of the liberalizing wave that hit the church in the 1960s and 70s. [They are sects, aren't they? - a sect being defined as a group that has broken away from a larger body. These are almost 'personal' churches established by evangelical preachers who certainly started out with one of the major Protestant confessions but who have since set up on their own without belonging to, adhering, owing allegiance or reporting to any particular denomination.]

Having declared, before gaining papal office, that no Protestant church could be regarded as a true church, it would seem that Benedict's ecumenical thrusts will be primarily directed to the Orthodox religions. [Right now, obviously, because rapprochement with the Greek Orthodox Churches appears to be the most promising. That is not to say the Pope has not maintained the closest contacts with the Anglican Church and the world body of evangelical churches.]

But it is the evangelical sects largely emanating from North America that have most significantly penetrated Catholicism in Latin America.

A purge of these competing religious groups may well be on the horizon as Latino bishops lobby national governments for legislation to ban their operation within Latin America. [a)They can't be serious! and b) They could not and would not do that - it would be a blatant violation of religious freedom.]

Pope Benedict has high hopes for his challenge to the Latin American bishops to evangelize afresh that which he calls 'the continent of hope.' [JPII actually started that.]

His intentions are to create the springboard within Latin America that will lead to a re-energizing of Catholicism not only in Europe, the continent of Rome's religious roots, but also, indeed, across the whole globe!

That this is the ultimate goal of his evangelical agenda was made obvious during his weekly address in St. Peter's Square Sunday, May 20.

Addressing the crowd assembled below, Benedict called for a "renewed Pentecost" for the entire church, and especially for the church in Latin America...(, May 21). But this pope's agenda is broader than juist an appeal for Catholic laggards to return to their faith. It has definite political overtones - of a global nature.

On the eve of the G8 conference shortly to convene under Germanys leadership, ran an article headlined, "Global Economy Needs Catholic Insights, Pope Says."

Receiving delegates of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, established under John Paul II to promote the social teachings of the church, Benedict noted that their recent conferences have studied "Asian countries characterized by strong economic growth which, however, does not always lead to real social development; and on African nations where, unfortunately, economic "growth and social development face many obstacles."

In both cases, the holy father said, societies could profit from the insights of church teaching (May 21).

As we have often pointed out, this is a pope worth watching: A real mover and shaker whose small, somewhat unimpressive physical appearance is belied by the strength and force of his public pronouncements. [As a Benaddict, I would, of course, take strong exception to that very unobservant statement! But why do they call B16 'small' when he and John Paul II were exactly the same height, and no one ever referred to JPII as small?]

Here, indeed, is a pope intent on evangelizing the world using religion, the world economy, social issues, global politics or whatever weapon he chooses that suits the time, place and public mood.

And Benedict is making it increasingly clear that he is prepared to take on all comers in his quest to revive the global dominance of the Vatican's religion.

Benedict XVI won't rest until he has achieved that goal!
00Thursday, May 31, 2007 7:26 PM
Re: " Small man"
hehehe - you ask why Papa should be labelled small if he is the exact height of John PaulII. I didn't know that Teresa. How tall or short is Benedict? I'm only reacting here because a male friend of mine has twice stood almost next to Papa while visiting Italy. The first thing he reported on his return was that the Pope is a small man - shortish. And he added the words "almost frail-looking". But then, my friend is just above medium height for a man.
Thanks for posting the blogger-priest's views. [SM=g27835]


From all accounts, the Pope is 5'7" tall - and if you look at all the pictures where he and JPII are standing next to each other, they are the same height. TERESA
00Friday, June 1, 2007 12:16 AM
As the defamatory video on the Pope was being shown on Italian TV tonight, Catholic broadcasters SAT 2000 and Telepace were transmitting CTV's coverage of the Holy Father leading prayers at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens, to mark the end of May, the month devoted to Mary.


VATICAN CITY, JUN 1, 2007 (VIS) - At 8 p.m. yesterday, the traditional procession marking the end of the month of May wound its way from the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians - located near the apse of the Vatican Basilica - to the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens. Hundreds of people participated in the ceremony, which was presided by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, His Holiness' vicar general for Vatican City State.

Benedict XVI arrived at the Grotto at 9 p.m. and, before imparting his apostolic blessing, delivered a brief address.

The Pope referred to today's Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin St. Elizabeth, saying: "The visitation can be understood in the light of the announcement of the angel and the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descended upon the Virgin and encouraged her to 'arise' and leave in haste to help her aged relative."

"Along the road leading from Galilee to Judea, it was Jesus Himself Who 'urged' Mary on, infusing her with the generous commitment to go out towards others in need, and with the courage not to give first place to her own legitimate requirements, difficulties, concerns, and the dangers to her own life."

"May Mary," said the Holy Father, "obtain for us the gift of knowing how to love as she did. To Mary we entrust this particular portion of the Church that lives and works in the Vatican. To her we entrust the Roman Curia and the institutions associated with it, that all jobs and all services may be animated by the spirit of Christ.

"From this hill," Pope Benedict added in conclusion, "we look out over Rome and over the entire world, and we pray that all Christians may say, with St. Paul, 'the Love of Christ drives me on,' and that they may spread, with Mary's help, the dynamism of charity throughout the world

00Friday, June 1, 2007 4:43 PM

VATICAN CITY, JUN 1, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received prelates from the Central African Episcopal Conference who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

"You must accomplish your mission of serving people, which the Lord entrusted to you in difficult circumstances," the Pope told them. "When facing the challenges to the Church in your country, real collaboration is a guarantee of greater effectiveness; but such collaboration must be based above all on a living awareness of the collegial dimension of your ministry. ... You are called to bear witness among your people through ever stronger communion and an exemplary daily life."

Going on to consider the most urgent problems facing the Central African Church today, the Holy Father mentioned the question of "peace and national harmony." And he highlighted how "the poorest are, above all, the victims of dramatic situations that inevitably lead to profound divisions in society and to despair." On this matter, he recalled the fact that the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, currently being prepared, "will provide an opportunity for profound reflection upon the announcement of the Gospel in a context marked by many signs of hope but also by worrying situations."

"It is my heartfelt hope that this rapidly-changing world does nor forget Africa and that hope may open its doors to the peoples of that continent."

"The Church has the duty to defend the weakest and to be the voice of those who have no voice. For this reason I wish to encourage people to commit themselves in the defense of the dignity of individuals and their inalienable rights. ... Promoting peace, justice and reconciliation is an expression of Christian faith in the love that God nourishes for each human being."

"Through her social work, especially in the fields of healthcare and the education of young people, the Church also contributes, in her own way, to the construction of the fraternal and united society to which your people aspire," said the Pope.

However, he went on, "in order for society to have access to real spiritual and human development, it is also necessary to change its mentality," and "this painstaking task especially involves the family and marriage." The Holy Father stressed that "Christians show everyone the greatness and truth of marriage when they undertake to practice conjugal fidelity and to live in the unity of the couple," and he insisted that marriage "is always founded upon a 'yes' freely and knowingly pronounced by a man and a woman."

Benedict XVI then went on to speak of the importance - "an importance that cannot be underestimated" - of the formation of candidates to the priesthood. "It is more than ever necessary to be exigent," he said, "because priests are called to bear weighty responsibilities." Hence, "candidates must be required to have an assortment of human qualities that make them capable of achieving a real discipline of priestly life." It is of particular importance "to ascertain the emotional balance of seminarians and to form their sensibilities so as to ensure they possess the right attitude to practice the requirements of priestly celibacy. This human formation must be accompanied by a solid spiritual formation, because it is vital that a priest's life and activities be rooted in a living faith in Jesus Christ."

Finally, the Pope affirmed the importance of "the active and fruitful participation of the faithful in the 'Sacrament of Love'," observing that "appropriate adaptation to the various cultural contexts must be based on an authentic understanding of inculturation, so that the Eucharist truly remains 'a criterion for our evaluation of everything that Christianity encounters in different cultures'."


VATICAN CITY, JUN 1, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of five new ambassadors to the Holy See: Ayesha Riyaz of Pakistan, Larus Stefansson of Iceland, Juri Seilenthal of Estonia, Domitille Barancira of Burundi and Ahmed Hamid Elfaki Hamid of Sudan.

In his address to the diplomats, the Pope affirmed that "in the modern world it is more than ever important to affirm the bonds that unite countries, with special attention towards the poorest nations.

"It is not possible," he added, "to continue using the wealth of the poorest countries with impunity, without them also being able to participate in world growth. Authorities in all countries have a duty to work together to ensure greater distribution of the wealth and resources of the planet. Collaboration to this end will also have an effect on solidarity, peace and fraternity, within countries and between countries."

Benedict XVI expressed his desire "for a renewed commitment among all nations, especially the richest, to ensure that all human beings may become aware of their responsibility in this matter, and accept a transformation of lifestyle with a view to an ever more just distribution" of wealth.

Referring to the role of religions in this field, the Holy Father highlighted "the duty they have to form their members with a view to creating fraternal relations among all the inhabitants of a country, and with ever more respectful concern for all mankind. No one should be subject to discrimination or be relegated to the margins of society for their religious beliefs and practices, which are such fundamental elements of people's freedom."

"Authentic religion," he concluded, "cannot be a source of division or of violence between people or between human communities. On the contrary religion lies at the basis of the awareness that all people are brothers, who must be protected and helped to develop."

The Pope then gave each ambassador the text of a talk concerning the situation in his or her own country. In the text given to the representative from Pakistan, Benedict XVI praises the country's "commitment to work together with the international community to bring greater stability to your region and to protect innocent lives from the threats of terrorism and violence."

"A robust democratic society depends on its ability to uphold and protect religious freedom - a basic right inherent to the very dignity of the human person. It is therefore essential to safeguard citizens who belong to religious minorities from acts of violence."

In the talk given to the ambassador from Burundi, the Holy Father calls upon God to support all that country's citizens "in their valiant and generous commitment ... to build together an ever more fraternal and united society, may this also be a concrete sign and a clarion call for consolidating peace and stability in the region of the Great Lakes."

Recalling Archbishop Michael J, Courtney, the apostolic nuncio to Burundi who was murdered in 2003, the Pope calls on the State authorities "not to cease their efforts to clarify the causes of the crime and to ensure those responsible are brought to justice."

To the ambassador from Sudan, Benedict XVI mentions the conflict in the Darfur region, which has been going on since 2003, calling for a political solution "that respects cultural, ethnic and religious minorities." The Pope emphasizes how peace cannot be achieved "by force of arms, but rather by a culture of dialogue and negotiation."

The Holy Father also highlights the fact that, "in order for all human beings to be able to establish fraternal and sincere relations, and to build a more just society, the contribution of the different religious traditions present in the country, with their rich heritage of human, moral and spiritual values, is of fundamental importance."


VATICAN CITY, JUN 1, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon Benedict XVI visited the Palace of the Governorate, which houses various offices responsible for the administration and governance of Vatican City State.

After greeting Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate, and members of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, the Pope expressed his thanks to the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, a group that finances the maintenance and restoration of works of art held in the Vatican.

The Holy Father then addressed all the personnel of the Governorate saying: "Every day I am aware of and appreciate the fruits of your commitment and your competency, and I have come here to express my sincere thanks."

"The Governorate ... has an important function," he continued. "When my venerated predecessor Pius XI undertook the negotiations for the Lateran Pacts he was concerned to ensure that the Holy See could depend on just enough territory to guarantee it 'absolute independence for the fulfillment of its exalted mission in the world.'

"In accomplishing your duties," he added, "you ensure the continuance of daily life within the State and help the Pope undertake the ministry the Lord entrusted to him at the service of the Church and the world. It is not inappropriate, then, to describe you as 'the collaborators of the Pope'."

"You work in the Vatican, for and with the Pope," Benedict XVI went on. "You work in a place that has seen the witness of so many martyrs, in particular that of the Apostle Peter. This calls for ... competence, professionalism and dedication, as well as a serious commitment to evangelical witness. I rely upon you, and I ask you to grow every day in knowledge of the Christian faith, in friendship with God and in generous service to your brothers and sisters."

May the presence of the Church in your offices and workshops," he concluded, "be a daily reminder of the paternal gaze of God Who, in His providence, follows you and watches over each one of you."


I've not made a secret of how unsatisfactory I find the VIS as an information service because it seems to me they don't send their writers to cover the events they 'report' on, but that they simply sit in their cubbyholes and churn out stories, like the three posted above, based on Papal texts and any other Vatican documents they think should be disseminated.

You can tell that by the remarkable lack of detail or color in their reports. They don't tell you anything that you can't find out by looking at the original bulletin reporting the text on the Vatican website. That's not reporting - that's simply 'summarizing' a text, and doing it badly.

Forgive me for expressing myself often against some media practices that are quite obviously poor, but I believe that if you take pride in your profession, it deserves your best, not just the minimum you can get away with. The fact that their superiors tolerate such substandard, almost unprofessional work is just another indication of the gradual loss of editorial standards even in once-respectable institutions of journalism (think BBC and New York Times, where intellectual and moral dishonesty in reporting has become the rule rather than the exception).

I will acknowledge that lately, I have found it convenient to post some VIS stories such as these three above if they are not available elsewhere in English - better something than nothing, and hopefully, something better wil turn up. And I'm forced to do this because I do have a daytime job into which I have to put it in 10-12 hours a day, so I can't turn out instant translations of everything that comes from the Vatican the way the VIS is staffed to do), albeit they only do it for purposes of excerpting, it seems.

I agree that's a service for most people who don't want to be bothered reading the full text of anything. But reporting an address well is one of the difficult challenges of journalism. There is an art to excerpting and an even greater art to sequencing the excerpts so that there is a logical flow that reflects the flow of the original text itself.

Sometimes, the excerpts are so poorly chosen and the sequencing so haphazard that one is shocked to see how different it all reads and sounds when you see the full text! That's been one of the problems with AsiaNews's 'instant' reporting of the Pope's catecheses and homilies, as commendable as they are for coming out with a report gnerally with two hours of the event.

As an ordinary reader, who also happens to have spent half of my adult life doing multimedia work, I truly think that instead of quoting huge chunks of the Pope's messages haphazardly, AsiaNews would do much better if it simply introduced the story with a capsule statement of the gist, or the main point, of the message, add a paragraph or two for color (about the crowd, the weather, how the Pope looked, anything else that may have distinguished the particular occasion), and then go on to present the full text as it is.

The Papal texts are never unreasonably long, and even major programmatic statements like the address in Verona or at Aparecida can be presented as reader-friendly with thematic subtitles and short paragraphs. With this Pope, you really serve him best, media-wise, by conveying his texts in full.

But let's turn to a simple story like the Pope's visit to the Governatorate yesterday. And compare the VIS story above to the following news report posted today on the blog CLERICAL WHISPERS.(Unlike the overwhelming majority of blogs, it posts entire articles and not just excerpts). The report is by no means a model news story, but it is more interesting, provides us with more information, and gives us a better physical sense of the two events described.

CLERICAL WHISPERS is really one of the more comprehensive, up-to-date English rounds-ups of Papal and church news on the blogosphere today. My only quibble is that, for some reason, it never identifies the news source - though these sources are obviously newspapers or new agency reports. I can understand not providing links, but at least a short line to identify the source and probably the byline if there is one!

P.S. 6/2/07 I have now seen the original article and am therefoe giving it the appropriate credits. I missed it originally because I was away effectively the whole day yesterday...

Pope spends evening with
Vatican civil servants

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

Pope Benedict XVI spent a breezy spring evening with the Vatican's civil servants - gardeners and judges included - thanking them for their work, praying with them and encouraging them in their faith.

The first appointment May 31 was an early evening visit to the governor's palace of Vatican City, where the pope blessed a new 1,012-pipe organ in the palace chapel before addressing employees outside.

"Besides competence, professionalism and dedication," working in the Vatican also requires "a serious commitment of evangelical witness," Pope Benedict said.

The governor's office runs Vatican City State and is responsible for the motor pool, the police and fire departments, the Vatican Museums, the gardens and buildings, postal service, stamp and coin office, grocery store, health service and a court that deals with both civil and penal matters, usually involving minor infractions such as parking violations.

Pope Benedict thanked those who "work in the different sectors of our little state, from the most visible to the most hidden. I am aware of and appreciate each day the fruits of your commitment and your competence."

The Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums, a predominantly U.S. group, joined the Vatican employees for the event.

The pope said their generosity "gives splendid witness to the beauty of the faith, expressed so richly in the works of art you have generously helped to restore."

Later in the evening, after the sun had set, Pope Benedict joined many Vatican employees and members of the public marking the end of May, the month dedicated to Mary, with a candlelight rosary procession through the Vatican gardens.

The pope joined the crowd at the Vatican's replica of the grotto of France's Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes."I entrust to Mary the little community that lives and works in the Vatican," he said.

Pope Benedict spoke about the day's feast, marking the Blessed Virgin Mary's visit to her pregnant cousin Elizabeth.

"Jesus had just begun to form in Mary's womb, but his spirit already had filled her heart; the mother had already begun to follow her divine son" by setting out to visit her cousin who was in need, the pope said.

"Every gesture of genuine love, even the smallest, contains within it a spark of the infinite mystery of God," he said, because God is love.

00Friday, June 1, 2007 5:18 PM
Here is a translation of the statement made by Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, in the Italian service of Vatican Radio today:

The much discussed transmission by RAI within the program AnnoZero of the BBC documentary on the Church and pedophilia finally took place. Allow us to make this brief reflection.

Animated by the sentiments of a wounded victim himself, the video presents tragic facts in a context that is obviously partial, but which becomes seriously unjust when it directs its criticism to the purposes and reasons behind certain church documents, whose nature and true purpose are misrepresented, and when it directly targets the person of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI.

But the participation of Mons. Rino Fisichella and Fr. Fortunato di Noto in last night's discussion has shown that - contrary to the thesis of the documentary - the Church has the strong determination to face these problems directly with objectivity and to address them faithfully. Also, that it has persons engaged with competence and dedication in the fight against pedophilia, persons who know far better the nature and the dimensions of this problem than those who simply look at it from an anti-Church perspective.

Denunciations can certainly impel (the Church ) to face and resolve problems which are under-estimated or not seen. At the same time, they must not be untruthful in a way that they are exploited to be destructive rather than constructive.

The Catholic Church has had to learn, at some cost, the consequences of serious errors and offenses by some of its members but it has thereby become more capable of acting on them and preventing further missteps.

It is only right that all of society should realize that in the area of defending minors and in the fight against pedophilia, we all have a long way to go. The experience of the Church, which in its history can point to incalculable acts of commitment in favor of young people, should be an important element in its constructive collaboration toward this end.

Radio Vaticana
00Saturday, June 2, 2007 5:05 AM
Suppose this time the tip is right? For what it's worth, here's one tip-off shared with us today by Damian Thompson, editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald (I think it is Britain's 'conservative' Catholic weekly, as opposed to the Tablet - Wulfrune and MaryJos will correct me if I'm wrong), who also writes the blog Holy Smoke for the Guardian. This was his blog today.

Blessed mutterings surround Latin Mass
Posted by Damian Thompson on 01 Jun 2007

A senior figure in the Vatican, a monsignor close to the Pope, has been told that the long-awaited motu proprio lifting restrictions on the Tridentine Latin Mass will be issued tomorrow (6/2/07).

I've cried wolf on this subject before, so don't bet on it - but the announcement seems imminent, and traditionalists MUST be ready to react the second the document appears.

For, make no mistake about it, liberal European bishops - including English ones - already have a strategy in place to smother the Pope's ruling. My guess is that the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales will try to claim that the motu proprio won't make much difference in practice, that there already lots of Old Masses celebrated, that there's not much demand for any more, etc etc.

Be very suspicious. If this ruling is just a minor adjustment, why have the ageing trendies in the Church fought tooth and nail to try to stop Pope Benedict issuing the document?

We don't know the contents of the motu proprio, but it is expected to curb the power of local bishops to restrict the celebration of the Tridentine Rite, in which the priest celebrates Mass facing in the same direction as the congregation - eastwards, towards a symbolic Jerusalem.

To my mind, this Mass, in which the celebrant says the Latin words of the canon sotto voce - the 'blessed mutter' - is one of the most profound and numinous experiences in the history of worship, so different from the game-show mateyness of modern services.

I hope the media will grasp the magnitude of the cultural shift signified by Benedict's decision to restore parity to the Old Rite, and will put the Bishops of England and Wales (and those of America and Europe) on the spot.

The motu proprio may contain an opt-out clause which allows a local bishop to refuse to grant permission for the Old Rite, sending the decision to Rome (which will grant it in most cases).

If this clause exists, each bishop must be asked: will you be one of those invoking it, and therefore forcing traditional Catholics to go through some sort of appeals process?

Once the ruling is out, I'd like to see a detailed response from every bishop in this country, so we can work out which dioceses are prepared to enter into the spirit of Pope Benedict's reform - and, equally, which ones will surreptitiously try to ignore it.

00Saturday, June 2, 2007 1:33 PM

Here is a translation of an interview in ZENIT's Italian service today.

The challenges that Ratzinger has met
like a 'Father of the Church'

ROME, June 1, 2007( For Cardinal Julian Herranz, the historical circumstances of the Church and the world today, along wit the personal traits of the theologian Pope Benedict XVI make him spiritually and pastorally akin go the 'Fathers of the Church."

The Spanish cardinal pointed out that the Fathers, in the early centuries of Christianity, "lived the ecclesial and social events of their time with special doctrinal clearsightedness and a profound sense of pastoral responsibility."

Herranz spoke Wednesday at one of the lectures presented by the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See as a homage to Benedict XVI on the occasion of his 80th birthday and the second anniversary of his Pontificate.

Herranz is currently President of the Curia's disciplinary commission, immediate past President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (canon law), and a member of various Vatican dicasteries.

He described three historical moments corresponding to the three great pastoral challenges which particularly reflect the patristic personality of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict XVI.

The first relates to the post-Conciliar crisis, which he described as a paradoxical situation, between 1965-1985.

"While the Holy Spirit had infused the Church with the powerful illumination of the Second Vatican Council on how to present the redemptive truth of Jesus Christ to the world today, what followed instead was a dramatic period of darkness and confusion in many ecclesiastical sectors," Herranz recalled.

That led, he says, "to many priests secularizing their lifestyle, leading eventually to a tremendous defection of priests and religious, along with liturgical experimentalism that was often anarchic and de-sanctifying, committed in the name of what came to be abusively called 'the liturgical reform intended by the Council'."

Joseph Ratzinger, interpreting the doctrinal and disciplinary magisterium of the Council, "was and is constant in affirming the intimate harmony between faithfulness to the requirements of true Tradition and those of the evangelization of modern society which is tendentiously scientific and agnostic."

It is a society "oriented to live 'as though God does not exist,' which the Pope invites to live 'as if God exists'", he said.

Herranz presented the second challenge in the light of the 20 years that preceded the Conclave of 2005 and the 'dictatorship of relativism.'

He recalled how forcefully Ratzinger, even as a Cardinal, "re-proposed the redemptive truth of Christ in the face of the rational and moral decadence of agnosticism and relativism which dominate certain political and cultural sectors today."

In his homily to the Cardinal electors before the Conclave of 2005, Ratzinger, he said, warned that relativism does not recognize anything as definitive and holds up the individual ego and its whims as the ultimate measure.

The 'relativist utopia' of 'freedom without truth', Herranz said, represents "an urgent menace of cultural and anthropological perversion, especially since it finds in the political and legislative fields the support of absolute juridical positivism which denies natural law," which means, "it denies the reality of human nature as a universal concept and value."

As Pope, Herranz pointed out, Papa Ratzinger has stated that a democracy without values becomes relativism, results in a loss of its own identity, and in the long run, could degenerate into open or occult totalitarianism.

However, he adds, Ratzinger 'is not a man who limits himself to indicating errors and dangers. He knows that Christianity is, above all, the encounter with the Truth incarnate, with Christ who reveals to the world and to man not only the mystery of God, but the mystery of man himself, his dignity, his nature and his eternal destiny."

And so, Herranz said, "in the Mass pro eligendo Pontefice, at the end of his homily to the 115 cardinal-electors who were about to enter into Conclave, the Cardinal-Dean said: 'Our ministry is a gift of Christ to men, in order to build the body of the Church - a new world.'"

In this new world, Herranz said, Christ would be the measure of true humanism; and a healthy concept of secularity - which respects the natural dignity of the human person and the universal human rights that emanate from that nature, including freedom of religion - allows for overcoming the dictatorship of relativism which prevails in some national and international political institutions, especially in old Europe."

"Benedict XVI is well aware of the fact that secular fundamentalism - which is hostile to any familiar, cultural or social relevance of religion - is seeking to impose a sick form of agnostic state philosophy that would cut off the cultural and historical roots of nations and entire continents."

Herranz identified the third challenge faced by Joseph Ratzinger as the 'encounter between faith and reason' in which both concepts find harmony and complementarity.

"The Pope in his encyclical underscores that the God of the Christian faith is not inaccessible; that, on the contrary, the God of the Bible loves man and therefore entered our history, our space and time. The Word was incarnated in the Virgin, giving life to a wondrous story of love and salvation which would culminate in the Cross and the Eucharist."

Herranz made particular reference to the 'historic lectio magistralis at Regensburg', during which the Pope explained that "since God loves, creates and gives freely, faith in him should be a rational and free act, that no civil or religious authority can impose or prohibit such faith, violating human freedom and reason."

Herranz thinks that the Pope's exhortation that modern man to have more faith in his reason is extraordinarily important, "so that modern man may see that the free exercise of reason can lead to God."

"It has been said that four factors led to the rapid election of Cardinal Ratzinger to succeed John Paul II: his intellectual prestige as a great theologian; his institutional legitimacy as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; his reputation a a man of profound spirituality and pastoral experience; and finally, the legitimacy of being John Paul II's trusted collaborator," Herranz said. "Without violating any Conclave secret, I think that all these factors weighed in."

"And in these two years of the Pontificate so far, he has confirmed the Papal Magisterium as both the obligation and the fundamental joy of the divine apostolic mandate received - to preach to the world the person and the Gospel of Christ; to make known and teach, deal with and love the Word of God incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth, principle of life and salvation for souls, whom Papa Ratzinger knows how to anchor in the daily realities of the faithful: Jesus as the light that we need to understand and safeguard truths and non-negotiable fundamental values - to use the Pope's expression - starting with the dignity of the human being and human life, matrimony and the family based on matrimony."

Herranz concluded, speaking as a priest: "And so I say affectionately to Benedict XVI: thank you, Holiness, for teaching us to live with a contemplative spirit and in joyous friendship with Jesus of Nazareth, in full awareness of the events around us and the intellectual and apostolic challenges of our time."

00Saturday, June 2, 2007 2:30 PM
Sorry...Still catching up on many stories that broke yesterday while I was away almost the whole day....

Benedict and Bush:
Meeting to highlight shared values, objectives

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY, June 1 (CNS) - U.S. President George W. Bush is coming to the Vatican for his first formal audience with Pope Benedict XVI, a meeting seen on both sides as immensely important.

Vatican officials said the June 9 encounter would give the pope and the president a chance to sit down for a survey of dramatic situations around the world, including Iraq, where thousands of Christians have been forced to flee.

The Bush administration believes the audience will highlight the shared values and common objectives of the Vatican and the United States.

In an interview June 1 with Catholic News Service, the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Rooney, said the meeting was "a hugely important reflection" of the president's respect for the role of the pope and Vatican agencies around the world.

"It opens up opportunities for doing good in the world ... by leveraging our mutual values and interests in promoting human dignity and religious liberty and for broadening all freedoms," Rooney said.

One specific area of common concern is global terrorism, Rooney said.

"Certainly, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the use of religion as an excuse for terror are areas the Holy Father has spoken clearly about," he said.

Vatican officials said one sure topic would be the fate of Iraqi Christians, who have faced increasing violence and discrimination since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003 and the overthrow of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Rooney said the Bush administration is also troubled that thousands of Christians have left Iraq.

"The whole reason we're in Iraq is to try to build a country in which all the people of Iraq can lead a peaceful life," Rooney said.

As for the pope's recent comment that "nothing positive" was coming from Iraq, the ambassador said that should not be read as a blanket criticism of U.S. operations there.

"I don't think the Holy Father was indicting the nation-building, democracy- and freedom-building and institutional development aspects of the coalition's work," Rooney said.

"I think he was rightly -- and how can you argue? -- reflecting on the sadness of the continued violence being perpetrated by the few against the many," he said.

Global economics could also be an important topic during Bush's meeting with the pope and in separate talks with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Bush will come to Rome immediately after participating in a G-8 summit in Germany, where the leaders of the world's most powerful nations were to discuss, among other things, proposals to increase aid to developing countries.

Pope Benedict has strongly encouraged countries to implement the Millennium Development Goals, a plan that aims to cut global poverty in half by 2015. To accomplish this, richer countries have been asked to increase development aid to 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product.

The Bush administration has endorsed the goals but balked at supporting numerical aid targets.

Rooney said that position was based on the principle that "you can't necessarily apply a rigid mathematical formula to economies and circumstances that are radically different in scale and type."

"You've got to factor in the private charities, NGOs and things like that, where the United States is far and away the world leader," he said.

"The United States is the world leader in private charity and generosity to underprivileged and disadvantaged people. No country gives more," Rooney said.

The ambassador noted that Bush recently had asked Congress for $30 billion toward fighting the global AIDS crisis, a doubling of the previous U.S. commitment.

That's an area Rooney said the Vatican and the Bush administration were working on "parallel tracks" to arrive at the same goal -- alleviating the suffering of the sick, particularly in Africa.

Perhaps to underline his appreciation for faith-based private charity, the president will pay a visit to the Rome headquarters of the Sant'Egidio Community. The community has been one of the church's most active humanitarian agencies, running soup kitchens and immigrant assistance programs in Rome and sponsoring a major anti-AIDS project in Africa.

"These are all important things, and they are the kinds of things that are important to the president, too," Rooney said.

The success of a pope-president meeting cannot always be measured by official statements or speeches on the day of the encounter. Weeks of planning go into such an encounter, accompanied by a proliferation of U.S.-Vatican contacts and exchange of briefing papers on important topics.

When diplomacy is put in motion, related projects are sometimes given a boost. Some believe the pope-president encounter could favor the chances for a papal visit to the United Nations and the United States sometime next year.

Vatican officials, who spoke off the record, said there were no burning U.S.-Vatican issues on the agenda for the papal audience. At least the public part of the meeting, they said, would probably focus on areas of shared concerns and shared values.

Privately, the situation of Christians in various parts of the world, including China, may also come up in the talks, but the Vatican does not want to encourage a public criticism of China at this delicate moment, when a papal letter on the church in China is expected to be released soon.
00Saturday, June 2, 2007 2:44 PM
This story, too, from June 1, I picked up from CLERICAL WHISPERS, but have not traced it to its original source. It is based, however, on a Vatican bulletin yesterday after the Holy Father had met with Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Sainthood. The meeting was not originally listed in the Vatican's list of the Pope's audiences for yesterday.

Don't forget - the Holy Father presides tomorrow at the Canonization Mass for four new saints...

Pope Canonises 2, Beatifies 327

POPE Benedict XVI today authorised two new sainthoods and 327 beatifications, the Vatican said.

The Pope recognised a new miracle by an Indian nun, Anna Muttathupandathu, who had previously been beatified in 1986 by Pope John Paul II.

The woman, who went by the name Alfonsa dell'Immacolata Concezione, will now be canonised.

A new miracle has also been recorded for Narcisa De Jesus Martillo Moran, an Ecuadoran woman beatified in 1992.

Those authorised for beatification today include Italian priest Antonio Rosmini; Endrina Stenmanns of Germany; Maria Anna Donati of Italy; and Maria Merkert, who was born in Silesia, which lies primarily in modern-day Poland.

Another 323 have been recognised as martyrs or as having heroic vitrues and will be beatified, including 127 people killed in 1936 during the Spanish civil war.

There were 188 religious and nonreligious members of the Society of Jesus killed in Japan between 1603 and 1639 eligible for beatification, as well.

The list of those gaining beatification also includes Francesco Jagerstatter, an Austrian Catholic who refused to enrol in Hitler's army and who became a symbol of Austrian resistance against the Nazis.

Beatification, officially the Catholic church's recognition that a dead person has entered Heaven and can intercede on behalf of those who pray in their name, is the first step towards declaring sainthood.
00Sunday, June 3, 2007 3:31 PM
A translation of the Holy Father's homily has been posted in HOMLIES, DISCOURSES, MESSAGES.

Pope:' Let us admire the glory
of the Holy Trinity, 'which is reflected
in the lives of the Saints'

Vatican City, June 3 (AsiaNews) - The rain was the most obvious protagonist of this morning's canonization of 4 new saints, as it poured down relentlessly on the ocean of coloured umbrellas, on the sick, on the ministrants and bishops gathered in St Peter's square.

Every step of the ceremony, including readings and processions - except the rites performed at the papal altar - was hindered by the opening and closing of umbrellas as they were passed from hand to hand, covering heads but drenching the shoulders and robes of the cardinals and 40,000 faithful.

But the principal protagonist, said the pope, was the Glory of God reflected in the lives of the saints." Benedict XVI, thus united the solemn feast of the Holy Trinity - in which we "lift our gaze to the 'open skies' &to the profound depths of God's mystery, who is one being in three persons" - to the ceremony of the canonization of 4 blessed from Malta, Poland, Holland and France.

They are George Preca (1880-1962), priest and founder of Societas Doctrinæ Christianæ, Malta's first saint; Szymon z Lipnicy (1435 ca.-1482), priest of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, and great preacher who died after caring for the sick during the plague in Poland; Karel van Sint Andries Houben (1821-1893), Passionist priest, born in Holland but missionary in Ireland, the so called 'healer' of Dublin; and Marie-Eugénie de Jésus Milleret (1817-1898), founder of the Institute of the Sisters of the Assumption.

All of them lived through times of great social tumult and de-Christianisation; all of them worked as missionaries, and their work has spread not only in their own country, but also abroad. The Pope defined them as "exemplary witnesses of the Gospel."

Cardinals from across the world participated in the ceremony as well as the Presidents of Ireland, Malta, Poland and the Philippines, where the miracle which guaranteed sainthood for Sr. Marie Eugenie took place.

In his homily, Benedict XVI, underlined that "God's wisdom manifests itself in the cosmos, in its variety and the beauty of its elements, but his greatest masterpiece are the saints". More precisely, explained the pontiff, inspired by the mass readings - "Every single saint participates in the richness of Christ, given to him from the father, through the Holy Spirit. It is always the Holiness of Christ that the Spirit imprints in 'saintly souls', creating in them friends of Christ and witnesses of his Holiness".

The pope then went on to reflect on the character and work of the 4 new saints.

Fr. George Preca was "A friend of Christ and a witness of his holiness, moulded by Him ... born in La Valletta on the island of Malta. As a priest he dedicated himself entirely to evangelization: through preaching, writing, catechesis, the administration of the sacraments but first and foremost through the example of his way of life.

The expression in St John's Gospel, Verbum caro factum est, guided his soul and his every action, thus the Lord through him was able to bring a great work to fruition, the Society of Christian Doctrine, which aims to ensure Parishes the service of qualified, well prepared and generous catechists.

St George Preca (Malta),left, and St Simon of Lipnica (Poland)

The Pole Simon of Lipnica, "a witness of Christ and follower of St Francis of Assisi, lived in a distant time, yet today he is proposed to the Church as a model of that type of Christian, who animated by the Spirit of the Gospel is ready to give their entire life to their fellow man. He was filled by the mercy of the blessed sacrament, and did not hesitate to come to the help of the sick and dying of the plague, countering that disease that would in the end bring about his own death. Today we entrust all those who suffer from poverty and disease, loneliness and social injustice to his care. Through his intercession we ask for the grace of Christ's persevering love."

The pope then presented the figure of the Passionist Karel van Sint Andries Houben, "totally dedicated to the care of souls. During his many years of priestly ministry in England and Ireland, the people flocked to him to seek out his wise counsel, his compassionate care and his healing touch. In the sick and the suffering he recognized the face of the Crucified Christ, to whom he had a lifelong devotion. He drank deeply from the rivers of living water that poured forth from the side of the Pierced One, and in the power of the Spirit he bore witness before the world to the Father's love. At the funeral of this much-loved priest, affectionately known as Father Charles of Mount Argus, his superior was moved to observe: 'The people have already declared him a saint'."

St. Charles of Argus (Holland) and St. Marie-Eugenie (France)

In his reflections on Marie-Eugénie Milleret the Pope underlined her strong bond with the Eucharist. As a child she had received First communion, but her family were followers of Voltaire and never gave her any religious instruction. It was only when she reached 15 that Marie Eugenie discovered the faith.

"Christ who was present in the depths of her heart," observed Benedict XVI, "allowed time to mark its own rhythm, eventually guiding her heart and soul to dedicate herself totally to Him, by entering into religious life. She perceived the importance of transmitting the faith to the young generations, particularly to young women, an intellectual, moral and spiritual formation which would turn them into adults capable of taking charge of their family life, as well as contributing to the life of the Church and society. All along her path of her lifes journey she found the inspiration and strength for her mission in prayer, assoaciated with contemplation and action."

The pontiff concluded: "Let us be drawn by their examples, let us be guided by their teachings so that our entire existence become as theirs a song of praise and glory to the Holy Trinity. May we obtain this grace through Mary, the Queen of Saints and through the intercession of this our 'Elder Brothers' whom we venerate today."

At the end of the celebration Benedict XVI greeted those present in different languages, thanking them for their 'patience' despite the rain.

"But water," said the Pope with a smile, is a precious gift and so we must also give praise for the rain." The faithful loudly applauded, waving flags, hats and rain-drenched umbrellas.


After the Mass, the Pope met with the four Presidents who came for the canonization rites:

President Eddie Fenech Adami of Malta (left), and President Lech Kaczynski of Poland

President Mary MacAleese of Ireland (left), where St. Charles worked;
and President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines, where the miracle that led
to Sister Marie-Eugenie's canonization took place

00Monday, June 4, 2007 6:24 PM
Today's audience
Mexico's President Calderon visits Pope

Vatican, Jun. 4, 2007 ( - Mexicos President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on June 4, for a brief conversation that covered topics ranging from the prospects for the G-8 meeting in Germany to the future of diplomatic ties between Mexico and the Holy See.

Calderon renewed an invitation for Pope Benedict to visit Mexico. The Vatican did not indicate the Popes response to that invitation.

A brief statement issued by the Vatican press office after the meeting said that the talks had been cordial, as the Pope spoke with President Calderon about Mexican problems including emigration, poverty, drug traffic, and the status of native Indian tribes.

The Pope also noted with satisfaction the improvement in relations between Church and state in Mexico during the past decade, the Vatican said. Pope Benedict said that he looked forward to still more improvement in the future.

The Vatican statement issued after the meeting made no direct reference to the Church-state tensions that have arisen in the Mexico City province with the legalization of abortion there. The Mexican hierarchy has warned that Catholic politicians who supported the bid to legalize abortion are excluded from Communion.

President Calderon, who is meeting with various European leaders in the days before the G-8 meeting, spoke with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, after his visit with the Holy Father.
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