POPE-POURRI: 'Light' news items, anecdotes about Pope Benedict now

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00Saturday, July 15, 2006 2:48 PM
Here is a translation of an Italian news agency item posted by Ratzigirl in the main forum just now:

Benedict XVI follows what happens in the world even while on vacation.

Friday afternoon (7/14) he visited the cloister of the Carmelite sisters in Quart, near his vacation villa in Les Combes, where he told the nuns: "I thank you for what you do to help alleviate suffering in the world," referring to a contribution they had made to the Pope's charitable works.

"We know how mankind suffer today from violence of all kinds. There is much suffering in the Holy Land, much suffering in Lebanon and other parts of the world.

"I thank you for the works of charity which you do, because you do not only help to relieve material hunger but also the hunger for God resulting from great spiritual poverty. The absence of God is poverty itself. I trust your prayers as well in behalf of suffering people in the Middle East and other parts of the world."

The Pope also spoke of the Middle East in a brief talk with newsmen who awaited him in Les Combes: "Let us pray, above all, that the violence will stop, and let us place our trust in the Lord."

About his vacation, he said: "To see these mountains is to see something of the Creator Himself. I am very happy here, the place is so beautiful and the Lord has also given us good weather. I thank God that I am able to live these days in holy peace."


Hmmm...Is Papa setting a trend here? He doesn't seem to mind answering newsmen's questions when they have a chance to be up close to him, much like the extrovert JPII did - something, of course, that no other Pope before them did. An interview with the Pope? Unthinkable! (Until B16 granted that exclusive interview to Polish state TV late October!)

'Ambush' interviews of the Pope like those in Les Combes? Even more unthinkable before JPII. And did we ever imagine a Pope commenting about the World Cup results on live television, for instance? The Vatican-based newsmen better figure out ways to get close enough to B16 when he is in the Vatican to ask him questions directly once in a while! He may not be media-savvy as JPII was, but he is too nice and too open not to answer any respectful and appropriate question.

Perhaps it is all in keeping with the general conclusion reached by most commentators after the retirement of Joaquin Navarro-Valls - that Fr. Lombardi, his replacement, will be Director of the Vatican Press Office (an of CTV and Radio VAtican) and Vatican spokesman, if you will, but not necessarily 'Papal spokesman" - as Navarro-Valls was often described and was, in fact, for JPII - because "Benedict XVI does not need a spokesman - he is his own best spokesman."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 15/07/2006 15.16]

00Sunday, July 16, 2006 1:56 AM
Posted by Ratzigirl from the Italian press:

As in 2005, the Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Severino Poletti, will be a guest tomorrow of Benedict XVI at Les Combes.

He will then join the Pope for the recital of the Angelus at the Plan du St. Pere, the clearing in front of the chalet where the Pope is staying.

The commune of Introd, in which Les Combes is located, expects about 5,000 people to arrive for the Angelus. Mayor Osvaldo Naudin and his council have limited the number of vehicles allowed to drive up to Les Combes: no more than 1000 cars, 20 buses and 20 trailers.

The road up will be closed at 11 a.m. But for those who wish to walk, two paths have been cleared from Introd which will allow the pedestrian to reach Les Combes in 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The local authoriteis advise those who can to do this to avoide the traffic going up and later coming down.

A 'rainbow pol' raises dust about the Pope

Would you believe a Rainbow coalition even in Val D'Aosta? Not that Rainbow coalition, but a center-left political alliance.

Councilor Alessandro Bortot [a family name that sounds appropriately onomatopoietic, forgive the unkind words!] has complained that the regional authorities showed lack of 'cultural pluralism' in not allowing Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic intellectual who resides in Italy, to attend a conference in Val D'Aosta because he had made extremely anti-Semitic statements.

During intervnetion time at the last council meeting, Bortot contrasted this to the warm welcome that regional and local authorities have extended to 'Signore Ratzinger'.

Four members of Stella Alpina (an autonomous movement composed of ex-Christian Democrats) now prOpose to present a motion at the next council meeting on July 25 that would express to the Regional Board the council's "full pleasure at the presence in Val d'Aosta of His Holiness Benedict XVI, while deploring the behavior of whoever tries to state irreverently a regard for the principle of cultural pluralism."

The motion continues: "Words have been said that are unfortunate, accompanied by a comparison completely out of place involving His Holiness, who is a very welcome guest at Les Combes of Introd. The term of comparison used to show a supposed discrimination of treatment is totally out of place."

[The motion should be more direct and say that anyone who refers to the Pope as "Signore Ratzinger" is deliberately and contemptuously denying the Pope's priesthood and position!]

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00Sunday, July 16, 2006 4:54 PM
The Italian girls are all excited about a video clip from les Combes that RAI-1, the main state TV channel,
put on its newscast today after the Angelus. In stupor-mundi's words:

"...FANTASTIC! The Pope plays the piano, the Pope in his little private study working [apparently writing something
- a new encyclical?], and then he looks out the window at the majestic panorama of the Alps! (Also), the Pope
in pilgrimage to Carmel! SPLENDIDO! SPLENDIDO! SPLENDIDO!"

(About this last reference, I am not sure if she meant Papa going to the Carmelite monastery Friday, or if
she actually meant Ratzi on pilgrimage to Mt. Carmel in Israel when he visited there, but it's more likely
the former).

In any case,someone else notes that it's the first time Papa is shown playing the piano as Pope - from all accounts,
he played beautifully. No one has yet identified the music, though.

Another comment was whether making such a video available was an idea of Father Lombardi.

Whatever, let us pray someone captured it on video and can share it with us soon!

P.S. Well, instant gratification of some sort! Ratzi.lella has just posted video-caps picked up from the
La Repubblica online site, which credits ANSA, the Italian news agency, for the pics:

First photo of Pope Ratzi at the piano! The caption says he played Bach and Mozart.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/07/2006 19.31]

00Sunday, July 16, 2006 6:03 PM
just amazing!!! seeing Papa relaxed playing the piano [SM=x40799]
00Sunday, July 16, 2006 6:46 PM
Here is a translation of an Italian news agency item about the Papal video described above. The item
was posted was Eugenia in the main forum

Les Combes, July 16, 2006 - Benedict XVI at the piano, in the chalet of the Salesians at Les Combes, playing
with inspiration the music of Bach and Mozart.

These are among the previously unseen images distributed today by the Centro Televisivo Vaticano (CTV),
which has made available to all television stations around the world a video taken during the first few days
of the Pope's vacation.

Today, more than 5,000 pilgrims came to pray the Angelus with him. He ended his greetings to various language
groups in the patois of the region [a dialect with elements of Italian and French].

The video also shows the Pope on a walk with his secretary Don Georg, in his study, and praying before
a Marian shrine in an Alpine meadow.

It includes the Pope's visit to the Carmelites in Quart on Friday, commiserating with them the aggression a
gainst the Israeli city of Haifa, where Mount Carmel is located, near the border of Lebanon, as he
reminded the faithful at Angelus today.


[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/07/2006 19.32]

Music of Lorien
00Sunday, July 16, 2006 7:15 PM
Teresa, if it's this widely distributed, and if we don't catch in on regular TV, we should be able to see it on CTV's weekly program, and eventually get it from EWTN's "Rome Reports", don't you think? However, I'm sure one of the resident computer GENIUSES on this forum will post it within hours....minutes...

They just started a new Rome Reports, so it may be a week or so before we get the next one.

00Sunday, July 16, 2006 7:36 PM
Dear Music...I'm looking out too on the regular networks, because any news editor worth his salt would not -
and should not - think twice about using an unprecedented video of a Pope playing the piano (not to mention
all the other interesting things he does in the video, as described)!
00Saturday, July 22, 2006 9:07 PM

Altar boys to hand out Pope’s favorite cookie in preparation for September visit

Ratisbona, Jul. 21, 2006 (CNA) - A group of altar boys from the Bavarian city of Ratisbona have come up with a curious plan to promote Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Germany, scheduled to take place in just under 50 days. They have announced they will be handing out the Pontiff’s favorite cookie to passers-by to encourage participation in the papal events.

According to the Kath.net news agency, some 20 altar boys from Mindelstetten in Ratisbona will hand out the cookies this Saturday. One of the organizers of the project, Georg Fesslmeier, said, “With this undertaking, the altar boys of Mindelstetten want to do something specific so that this Pontifical visit will be remembered as the event of the century in our city.”

During the Pope’s visit to Ratisbona on September 12, 15,000 altar boys from all of the dioceses in Bavaria will take part in the Papal Mass.

The leader of the diocesan altar boy program, Johann Graf, said, “To be close to the Pope and experience this event with him will undoubtedly be a special experience in the lives of this large group of altar boys. With their presence, their prayers, and their song the boys will participate in the Mass in a very intense and active way.”

Graf said it was very satisfying to see the altar boys preparing so enthusiastically for the papal visit. He also revealed that an unprecedented 35,000 altar boys from Germany would participate in the international altar servers pilgrimage to Rome on August 1st and 2nd.

00Sunday, July 23, 2006 2:10 AM
For the life of me, I cannot see why CNA, an English news agency, would not use REGENSBURG instead of Ratisbona,
which is the Latin/Romance name for that city, in its dateline and in the body of the report itself, unless both
the editor and the reporter were thinking that Ratisbona is a completely different city!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 23/07/2006 6.14]

00Sunday, July 23, 2006 6:25 AM
I posted this last night in NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT since at that point, it had been the only story out of Les Combes, but
of course, it's another charming anecdote as well about our endlessly fascinating Papa -

From an Italian news agency story posted by Ratzigirl last night (the story led off with a recap of the Pope's appeal
for a worldwide day of prayer and penitence tomorrow, Sunday, for peace in the Middle East):

....This evening (July 21), after a walk in the area of Buillet, the Pope spoke to journalists briefly and said he hoped
that Jews and Muslims would join in tomorrow's prayer for peace.

"I find this resonates greatly throughout the world - it is an important gesture, a gesture before God but something
that men can perceive, even politicians," he commented.

"We are not encroaching into politics here, although we would do everything for peace. Our objective is simply peace
and we support everything that can help lead to peace."

On the speculations about what he may be writing in Les Combes, such as a social encyclical, or a theological compendium
on Jesus, the Pope explained, with some irony, the discretion observed in this matter.

"I am trying to write a book." he said, "but it is better not to talk about it. One must be cautious when one is
attempting something, because it may not go through at all."

The Pope is known to have started writing a book about Jesus before he was elected.

Despite the fact that rain was starting to fall on his return from his afternoon excursion, the Pope also accommodated
some pilgrims who had waited to catch a glimpse of him. He shook hands and posed for pictures with them.

"I had a beautiful walk," he told them, "and seeing all this beauty that the Lord gives us, enjoying the calm here,
I feel even more strongly for the suffering of so many people elsewhere."

And there is a post-script to the anecdote. The Italian girls are reporting that one of the TV newscasts recounted
another sidelight of Papa's informal interview with the newsmen

The Pope learned that Orazio Petrosillo, Vatican correspondnet for Il Messaggero, had been taken sick the night before
and brought to a hospital in Aosta. He therefore asked the other newsmen how he was doing, and requested them to convey
his best wishes to Petrosillo and to assure him of his prayers.


[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 23/07/2006 6.27]

00Sunday, July 23, 2006 6:38 AM
Sybella reports in the main forum that she has seen Octavo Dies for this week and not to miss it when it is played after the Angelus tomorrow on CTV, because it features, as she describes it -

"a very beautiful opening editorial by Father Lombardi [on his new role, presumably], and above all for the feature 'With God in nature,' a more amplified version of the now historic CTV video of Papino at Les Combes that we saw last Sunday.

It has everything: the visit to the kennels, the Pope praying the rosary while walking along the lake, his visit to the nuns' monastery at Quart and the festive welcome he was given, moments at prayer, the Pope's study, the fountain at the villa, Papa gathering cherries, Papa contemplating the mountains,a nd of course, playing the piano - too short, alas, but BELLISSIMO!"


[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 23/07/2006 7.16]

00Sunday, July 23, 2006 7:24 AM
Belated 'lift' from Fr. Selvester at shoutsinthepiazza.blogspot.com/ -

Postcard From The Edge (of The Alps)

"Just a little note to let you know I'm still fabulous.
Weather is beautiful. Wish you were here."

BILD, the German tabloid, used the same picture and captioned it

"Papa-Cool enjoys the holiday sun...
but never without his Serengeti..."

What I like best about the picture is how you can see
Papa's eyes sparkling through the lenses

Here's a slightly larger version - but with those darned marks -
in case the first photo disappears [but if you see the little red cross
in a box, just click on it and then on 'Show picture"].

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 23/07/2006 7.46]

00Sunday, July 23, 2006 12:41 PM
Thanks, Teresa!
Thanks, Teresa! I have EWTN switched on, so I'll hurry out to the television now. Don't want to miss all that!!!!!!
Love, Mary x [SM=g27811]
00Wednesday, July 26, 2006 2:36 PM
A brief item from the Italian regional press about one of Papa's monastery visits during his current vacation in Val d'Aosta-

On Wednesday, July 18, the Pope, en route to Great St. Bernard on the Swiss border, made a 50-minute visit to the Benedictine monastery of Regina Pacis (Queen of Peace) at Saint-Oyen.

The monastery is under Mother Anna Maria Canopi, who recounts:

"It was shortly after 4 p.m. when the Pope arrived. We received him in the chapter hall. Present were all the novices as well as the sisters who are mostly German and Polish. There were 31 of us altogether.

"I gave a brief greeting, to which the Pope responded with great spontaneity and amiability. Later, he gave each of us a rosary.

"We sang a German hymn which is particularly dear to Papa Benedetto: the same hymn that his brother Georg played on the piano upon his return from the war." [We know from papa's autobiography this hymn was 'Grosser Gott, wir loben dich' (Great God, we praise you)]

John Paul II had also visited St. Oyen in 2002. Pope Benedict, according to the abbess, asked to be taken to the spot in the garden where John Paul had met with the community.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 26/07/2006 14.44]

00Friday, July 28, 2006 3:16 PM
Josie in the main forum complained that during the Pope's vacation in Les Combes, the Italian newcasts hardly ever reported on the Pope.

Which I find very strange indeed - because one would have thought that all those off-the-cuff interviews he gave to reporters who 'ambushed' him after his excursions outside the confines of the papal villa would naturally get play on TV!

It is possible the TV stations, not even Italy's state-owned RAI, sent any correspondents to cover the Pope in Les Combes regularly (outside of his arrival and thetwo Angelus sessions and possibly his departure today), and that only the print journalists availed of the opportunity to speak to the Pope informally!

Anyway, Sybella today gives Josie answer, to wit:

The TV newscasts have been showing a wrap-up of the Pope's activities in Les Combes...and on TG1 [RAI's premier newscast], (Giuseppe)de Carli [a leading TV commentator] said something very beautiful: that in general, it is not easy to speak with a Pope, but Benedict, with "disarming simplicity," has made himself "his own spokesman" with great availability, thus giving the journalists covering him in Val d'Aosta a sense of being involved "in a greater story."

I must note that our Italian sisters in the past have not been very happy about De Carli's coverage (or non-coverage) of the Pope, but he has seemed to be making up for that lately.

His comment speaks for itself...and as always, we can only say

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 29/07/2006 1.59]

00Friday, July 28, 2006 5:30 PM
VIS just dropped in
My VIS newsletter just dropped in. It states that Papa will be leaving from Aosta airport at about 5.30 pm [that's any minute now!] and flying to Ciampino Airport, Rome, a flight of about one hour. From there he will go straight to Castel Gandolfo.

He formally took leave of the local dignitaries at Les Combes this morning.

Hope you are feeling well and rested, dear Papa!

Love to all - Mary x [SM=g27811]
00Friday, July 28, 2006 5:31 PM
[Sorry, didn't see Mary's post above till after I copied this from the Vatican site--the official version.]


VATICAN CITY, JUL 28, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father's vacation at Les Combes, in the municipality of Introd in Italy's Valle d'Aosta, where he has been staying since July 11, is due to come to an end this afternoon.

After bidding farewell to Osvaldo Naudin, mayor of Introd, to Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta, and to other civil and religious authorities, the Pope is due to travel to the airport of Aosta whence his plane will depart at 5.30 p.m. He is expected to land at Rome's Ciampino airport an hour later and from there to travel to the apostolic palace of Castelgandolfo, south of Rome.

Beginning on Sunday, July 30, Benedict XVI will pray the Angelus from his summer residence at Castelgandolfo. General audiences will be held regularly in the Vatican from Wednesday, August 2.

[Modificato da benefan 28/07/2006 17.34]

00Friday, July 28, 2006 7:55 PM

Pope says he's starting to learn job

Fri Jul 28, 2006 4:57 PM BST

INTROD, Italy (Reuters) - Being leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics is not an easy job, but Pope Benedict says he's starting to get the hang of it.

"I am starting to learn my job," the Pope told reporters on Friday when asked how he felt 15 months after a conclave of cardinals chose him to succeed the late Pope John Paul.

The Pope was speaking at the end of a private holiday in the northern Italian mountains, from where he will move to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, where he is expected to stay until late September.

"During this period I have also been working, because holidays are good only if you do some work. Without doing anything, they are not holidays," the German-born Pope said.

00Saturday, July 29, 2006 2:34 AM
Eugenia in the main forum posted these brief news agency bulletins on the Pope's return to the lowlands, and Emma had the pictures!

Castel Gandolfo, 20:11 (Rome time)

Benedict XVI appeared this evening at one of the front windows of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo to greet the faithful who had gathered to await his arrival from Val d'Aosta.

"Thank you for the welcome," he said. "We will be spending the next few weeks together." Reminding everyone of next Sunday's Angelus, he said, "We will see each other again on Sunday."

The transcript as released later by the Vatican Press Office:

"Dear friends, I only wish to greet you with all my heart.

"I am happy to be back in your beautiful city, and in this Palace which has a renovated facade and is extraordinarily beautiful.

"I will be here for a few weeks with you, and let us hope these will be good weeks - weeks we can live in peace and with the blessing of the Lord, in whose name I give you my blessing. May God almighty - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - bless you all. I wish you all a good dinner. We will see each other again on Sunday, God willing."

The pope returned from his 18-day vacation at Les Combes in northern Italy earlier, arriving in Rome's Ciampino airport at 18:57, on board a special Air Vallee flight from Aosta. He was welcomed by the Vatican's outgoing foreign minister, Mgr. Giovanni Lajolo (who will become the Governor of Vatican City State); Mgr. Paolo Romeo, the Apostolic Nuncio to Italy; and Col. Giuseppe Gimondo, commandant of the 31st Air Group of Italy's air force.

After an exchange of greetings, the Pope boarded a car which was escorted by police, carabinieri and Vatican security all the way to Castel Gandolfo.

Arriving in Castel Gandolfo

Sidelight of Papa's departure from Aosta, reported by APCOM yesterday-
Aosta, 28 July (Apcom) - Benedict XVI arrived punctually at Aosta airport, and with the courtesy that has marked his vacation in Val d'Aosta [Only the vacation? Unfailing courtesy anywhere and at all times is one of his hallmarks!], he stopped to greet all the faithful who had gatehred to see him off at the invitation of the diocese.

Once on board the airplane, however, there was a slight delay after the engines had started up. A bag had been left behind in the trunk of the car that took the Pope to the airport.

When the bag was brought to the plane, the motors re-started and the plane finally took off, to the applause of the crowd and the amused smiles of the men who had kept order during the Pope's vacation.

Ratzigirl comments in the main forum that the Pope's brother Georg once remarked how absent-minded Joseph often is with his keys and similar things. But in this case, since the bag was in the trunk of the car, the absentmindedness would not have been his, but his valet's or Giorgio's!

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00Saturday, July 29, 2006 2:32 PM
awesome!! [SM=x40799] [SM=x40800]
00Saturday, July 29, 2006 11:38 PM
Amy Welborn calls our attention to the fact that her husband Michael, who blogs on michaeldubruiel.blogspot.com/ is writing a book for which he is is soliciting appropriate anecdotes. He explains -

Those educated in Catholic institutions know of what I speak and not a few converts have been surprised to encounter someone in a parish who was less than enthusiastic about the faith...all of this contempt seemed to reach its zenith with the mention of one name, "Ratzinger."

As I tell people I'm planning to write a book "Where Ratzinger Was a Swear Word", they share with me their own experiences, and I'd like to start sharing them here. I'd also invite readers to e-mail me their own experiences with the caveat that in doing so they are giving me permission to use them in the book insuring of course their anonymity.
From a Campus Minister who is faithful, charismatic and was shocked the first time he attended a national conference of campus ministers and at Mass witnessed a priest shadowed by a woman who repeated everything he said as he said Mass.

He wasn't terribly thrilled when Sister Minus Mary got up and invoked the four winds in imitation of the Native Americans she was sent as a missionary to and they evidently succeeded in converting her.

But the relevant point to my story came when the campus ministers: clerical, religious and lay gathered for a small group session and brainstormed what they would do if they could be pope for one day.

My friend said that in his group there was a nun, two priests and himself. The nun spoke up first and she had only three words to say as to what she would do if she were the Supreme Pontiff and she said them loud enough for the adjacent groups to hear, "I'd fire Ratzinger."

The two priests nodded approvingly. One of the priests spoke up next, "I'd make the church more gay-friendly, more inclusive." My friend wondered what he had gotten himself into.

An early contribution:

While watching the white smoke on the computer stream (thanks to MSNBC, among others, for streaming live video) preceding the announcement of the election of the new pontiff, I enjoyed the looks of expectation on everyone's faces.

As all but one of the 12 or so people huddled around the computer monitor, in a cramped office of the Newman Center cheered, we were silenced as the then acting director of the Newman Center actually cursed "sh*t" and walked out of the room when Benedict XVI walked onto the balcony.

Literally, Ratzinger was a swear word to this particular Catholic.

It was mind-blowing to sit with this respected woman who has dedicated her life to working with young Catholics and see her express dismay at the election of our new Pope. I sometimes find it incredible that any Catholics escape the student centers at our universities with any hint of orthodoxy.

By Anonymous, Saturday, July 29, 2006

Do you think any rabid anti-Ratzinger Catholics would have changed their mind after more than a year of his being Pope? If their rabidity was due to dissent from the Magisterium which the Prefect of the CDF upheld at every occasion, as he does now that he is Pope, then they're zebras who will never lose their stripes - apoplectic zebras by now, who can only sputter in frustration!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 29/07/2006 23.41]

00Saturday, July 29, 2006 11:59 PM
Here's the translation of an anecdote recounted by the Italian news agency ANSA and posted just now by Elena in the main forum:

INTROD, 28 July (ANSA) - "Holiness, on behalf of my little girl, may I ask you a question? As Pope do you still keep cats?"

Shortly before the Pope left Val d'Aosta councilor Ennio Pastoret posed the question to the Pope for his 11-year-old daughter Elizabeth.

"In the living room of the chalet at Les Combes, where all the regional government authorities were present, there was silence for a moment. The bishop, Mons. Giuseppe Anfosi who was seated to my left, and myself exchanged a shocked look," recounts an amused Luciano Caveri, president of Val d'Aosta.

"But the Pope answered right away with a smile, "Of course, I continue to keep cats.' The room erupted in laughter." [But no one dared to follow up, unfortunately!]

So thanks to little Elizabeth, the mystery of the papal cats, which filled not a few newspaper columns in the days following the conclave, appears to have been....resolved?

Does the Pope keep cats in the papal apartment then, or is the cat(or cats) in the care of others?

Councillor Pastoret should have found an occasion to make Elizabeth ask the Pope herself - she would not have been hesitant to get a clearer answer! Meanwhile, if I were a journalist who had access to Father Lombardi or Cioccio, I would ask them outright to clear up this minor but intriguing and ongoing mystery at the Vatican, once and for all!

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00Sunday, July 30, 2006 9:21 AM
Nice articles above, thanks to everybody for posting [SM=g27822] [SM=g27827]: The article about the "zebras" was very interesting, some people will never change. People should just pray for them and hope that they realize the good that Pope Benedict is doing and has done. Unfortunately, there will always be people who are bitter about him.[SM=g27812]The cats article was very cute. Teresa, I wish you had been there b/c you would have asked more [SM=g27828]
00Sunday, July 30, 2006 4:59 PM
Studiosus, who turns out to be a young priest-to-be in Salzburg (he is finishing his graduate thesis and expects to be ordained next year), posted the following item in the German section, translated here.

He says a Bavarian newspaper made it possible for children to place questions about the Pope to Mons. Georg Gaenswein, the Pope's personal secretary

Children ask the best questions. This was shown again when the MZ (Mittelbayerischer Zeitung) offered to get information about the Pope directly from Mons. Georg Gaenswein.

Originally, Mons. Gaenswein promised to answer the 10 best questions, but since the children fielded over 150 questions, Don Giorgio, as he is affectionately called in Italy, agreed to answer 19, although he passed over a brash question about what the Pope wears under his white cassock!

Thomas Gruber, class 4A, Pielenhofen:
What does the Pope do when he needs more information about any problem?
For all serious questions, the Pope always seeks the advice and assistance of his closest co-workers. But he also brings all his concerns and cares to God in prayer, asking for help and guidance. Then he makes a decision based on thorough consideration and study.

What was the Pope's report-card rating when he was in fourth grade?
Unfortunately, I do not know that, but I am convinced it was "ausgezeichnet" (Excellent}.

Veronika Schmidbauer, 8, Dietfurt (Neumarkt district):
Does the Pope ever feel homesick?
Certainly he often thinks of his beautiful Bavarian homeland. It used to be that he went home regularly to his house in Pentling in the month of August and for a few days after Christmas. Of course, he misses it now that he can no longer visit home regularly.

Does the Pope only read serious books or does he read novels sometimes?
His spare time has become so limited that the Holy Father no longer has the time to read novels, only serious books.

When was the last time the Pope cried?
I would not know.

Julia Schmid, Class 2A, Dietfurt, and Selina Fisher from Hausen, are concerned that the Pope may be lonely:
Why does the Pope not have a wife?
Catholic priests, and that includes the Pope, must be unmarried for the sake of God. That means that they have freely chosen to give up marriage and having their own families - they give up these things for a greater good. That is not something negative, but on the contrary, something they do for the love of Jesus.

Matthias Meier, 8, Dietfurt:
Was Joseph Ratzinger happy when he was chosen Pope?
The Holy Father himself decribed once how he felt when the cardinals had elected him. As he "saw the guillotine coming down on him," he said, he was deeply frightened. But he reconciled himself to it because he accepted it as God's will.

Andreas Schönberger, 6, Kleinwinklarn (Schwandorf district):
Why does the Pope wear red shoes?
It has something to with the Church's liturgical practice, with the different colors of the garments that the priest wears at Mass. We know that the colors change depending on the occasion. In the past, Popes also wore shoes of the same color as the Mass garment they wore. In time, however, that practice stopped, except the red shoes which became carried over for the Pope's daily wear.

Eliana Abele, 7, Barbing (Regensburgdistrict); Michael, Florian, Klaus and Stefan, Class 5B, Berching (Neumarkt district), and Matthias Meier,8, from Dietfurt:
Why does the Pope wear a white cap?
The white cap is a skullcap called pileolus in Latin. It is white for the Pope because he wears a white robe, which is called a cassock - so, a white skullcap with a white cassock. The Pope wears it regularly, and it is only taken off in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Skullcaps are also worn by bishops - violet for them because they wear violet; red for cardinals, because they wear red.

Julia Führbach, Class 3A, Alteglofsheim (Regensburg district and the entire Class 2B of Dietfurt public school:
Does the Pope take holidays?
Yes, until a few days ago, he was in the North Italian Alps for more than two weeks, in the vicinity of the highest mountain Europe, Mont Blanc. There, he recovers from the stress and strain of the preceding months. In any case, his vacation is limited somewhat because, daily, he must be in touch with the most important events in the Church and in the world, so even on vacation, he is also at work.

Ramona Hendlmeier, 3A, Alteglofsheim:
How many languages does the Pope speak?
The Holy Father has mastered several languages. Besides his mother tongue German, he speaks Italian daily, because that is the service language at the Vatican. In his daily meetings with cardinals, bishops, government leaders and other visiting personalities, he often uses English or French.

Anja Ebenhöch, also in 3A:
How does the Pope know that God exists?
Because God Himself has said so. Through his Son Jesus Christ, He has spoken to us, and through prayer, the Holy Father, like every Christian, stays in touch with God.

Anja's classmate, Christina Allkofer:
Why does the Pope wear a Fisherman's Ring?
The ring is really a seal, with which important documents are stamped to certify them. The ring points us back to a beautiful passage in the Gospel, in which Jesus tells Peter and his other disciples that they will be 'fisher of men.' Jesus meant that they would draw men towards Him. Therefore, the ring is a symbol of the Pope's trust in Jesus and constantly reminds him of his responsibility for the Church.

Dominic Schmidt, 4A, Pielenhofen:
Has the Pope ever been disappointed in God?
The question is not properly phrased. I can be disappointed in other people or in myself, but not over God. One cannot be disappointed with God, because God is not in the same category as human beings.

It is true that I may not often understand what He does and may fail to see the sense that such and such event may have, which often leaves me at a loss for words and even aghast. But if you trust in God, then he will gradually open your eyes to understand His ways.

Tino Rudolf Spieß, also a fourth-grader in the class of the Regensburger Domspatzen, is concerned that becoming Pope has lessened the contact between Benedict and his brother.
Does the Pope visit his brother often?
That is no longer possible, but now it's the other way around. It is his brother who now comes to Rome often or to Castel Gandolfo to visit the Pope.

Tino's classmate, Lukas Merkl:
Does the Pope have time to celebrate Easter and Christmas with his brother?
The Pope celebrated the last Christmas and Easter in the Vatican, his brother in Regensburg. But after Christmas, his brother came to Rome for a visit.

Philipp Stumpe, another Domspatz in 4th grade:
Is the Pope looking forward now to his visit to Regensburg?
Oh yes, very much!

Domspatz Josef Wendl looks forward to more Papal visits:
After the Pope visits in September, when is the next time he will come to Regensburg?
The Pope does not lack for invitations but to plan further visits is more difficult. It may be a long time before he returns to Regensburg...

Ludwig-Maximilian Wolf,4A, Pielenhofen, wanted to know what everyone else would:
What is the Pope's telephone number?
If I revealed that, the phone would not stop ringing, and the Pope will not be able to rest!


What? No one asked about cats????

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 30/07/2006 18.02]

00Sunday, July 30, 2006 8:07 PM
Danich in the main forum posts the transcript of an interview with Mons. Giuseppe Anfossi, Bishop of Aosta, published in a Val d'Aosta newspaper on 7/24/06. Here is a translation:

The host speaks about
his most welcome guest

Interview by Salvo Anzaldi

Born in Marebbe, Trentino, on March 7, 1935, Giuseppe Anfossi was ordained priet in 1959, named to the bishop's chair in Aosta on December 30, 1993 and ordained bishop the following month.

He is the president of the Italian bishops conference commission on the family and life, and in the past two years, has acted us regional Church host for the Pope during his summer vacation.

Monsignor, On July 16, you introduced the Pope's Angelus prayer, saying that the Holy Father "finds himself well and truly well-received" in our region. This must make you very happy.
I think the Pope returned to Val d'Aosta this year because he liked his experience last year. We are well-organized for this. We have welcomed Popes here for the past 20 years. We work with the regional authorities, with the police, and with a mayor who is very friendly and straightforward, always ready to do whatever he can possibly do.

Furthermore, the place is just beautiful - the woods, the private spaces within which the Pope can move about freely, the flowers which, as a German, he is used to seeing around him. Everything together makes Les Combes a very welcoming place.

At the same time, we have managed to be discreet. We have not asked him to go out of his way for anything, because we understand that his visit is primarily for a vacation.

Beyond official pleasantries, is there any informal incident that shows the Holy Father's affection for this region that you can tell us about?
His greeting in patois during the Angelus for the inhabitants of the region was entirely his idea. It was a sign of respect for our region and our people. It is the kind of attention that the Pope shows with everyone he encounters during his excursions.

He is very attentive to everyone, and does not demand protocol - he prefers simplicity and is very sensitive even to small details.

A personal example? One year exactly after his previous visit, when he arrived in Les Combes this time, he asked me right away about my mother and my recent trip. He remembers distinctly what I told him last year and what we did.

And he always puts himself in the place of whoever he is talking to, even at table. He does not impose a conversation. One speaks to him about art or for instance, my most recent trip to Canterbury, just like one would among friends. Just with great simplicity!

The other Sunday you spoke of the Diocese of Aosta, saying it is "also touristic" because of the number of visitors that spend time in our region throughout the year. What does it involve to govern a diocese of this type?
I never lose sight of our own people. In our daily activities as well as in occasional special events, like the New Year's Day Mass in Courmayeur.

But we also pay attention to the tourists who are, on the whole, well-disposed towards us. I think Val d'Aosta should also project itself as a religious community with a regard for human relations at a high level even with visitors.

I imagine two communities encountering each other. And our goal is that the human and religious dimension of this relationship is not prejudiced by the commercial nature of tourism.

You have also been emphasizing the importance of family, as the Pope has done throughout his pastoral activity, you being the responsible prelate for life and the family in the CEI. Why is the family so important?
That responsibility that I have at CEI goes back to even before I became a bishop. Today, we see how relations between man and woman, between parents and children, are suffering from degradation. The relationship between man and woman is weakened by the dominant culture, by a lifestyle that undermines it.

The Church offers to the faithful an opportunity to believe again: not through imposing ethical rules, but through an alliance between the Church and the family which can help young couples to enjoy the sacrament of matrimony in the best possible way and to improve their relations with their children.

When one speaks about marriage, one thinks immediately of the high incidence of separations here in Val d'Aosta, much higher than the national average.
Yes, it is a concern that merits our full attention and requires productive reflection to prevent it. I would repeat that pastoral work for the family does not mean moral preaching nor obsession with morality. It is incumbent on us to explain the beauty of living a certain quality of relationship.

Today women may offend by acting frivolously, but the men should learn how to take them in hand, without fear of expressing themselves and their feelings. Only this way, they may rediscover the presence of God and the value of matrimony.

What is the state of the Church in Aosta? Last Sunday, you referred to the presence of young people at the mass. Are the youth coming closer to the Church?
The Church encounters the youth through choirs, through volunteer work - thanks to Catholic Action and the Scouts movement - or sometimes, in oratories. But the situation is not bright at the moment in Val d'Aosta - not many of them are in direct contact with the diocese.

The causes may for this distance may include early dropouts (from school and religious instruction), alcohol, drugs, loneliness, isolation. These are problems with youth everywhere, but with us, it is made worse because we do not have enough priests and we are spread out in difficult terrain. To do anything, one has to drive, so people must go out of their way to come to Church.

However, we see much willingness among our volunteers, and we appreciate every way in which they can help, just as we find it a positive thing that the region is organizing sports in order to involve more youth.

Our contacts remain traditional but also casual. I can't say whether there is a coming closer to the Church, but I do sense curiosity, and so, much will depend on how we can best respond to that.

What about the problem of the so-called new poverty in the region?
Caritas has a consistent budget that allows us to pay attention even to non-residents by providing meals, welcome centers, and in some cases, even shelter for the night.

It's easy to fall into such 'new poverty' - one of the most serious is women who lose a job and opt out of marriage but are left with the children. Most housing arrangements do not favor separations, and they do involve doubling of costs.

But a minor economic crisis is also related to any decline in tourism which means the loss of many seasonal jobs.

And old people?
Those who are all alone are increasing in numbers. But the region has been responding well. The social services are functioning effectively, and so far, charitable institutions have not needed to intervene.

Back to the Holy Father. Could you give us a personal portrait of Joseph Ratzinger - does the man correspond to the image that one perceives exteriorly (that he is cultured, thoughtful, reserved if not outright shy?
Above all, he is very attentive to others. He is very humble- he always places himself as someone in the service of the Church, never as an authority. Of course, he is a very cultured person who knows Europe very well, its history, its philosophy.

He wants to show everyone that the Church is a daughter of early Christian culture, and one sees that in the way he interprets Sacred Scripture.

In the ministry for the family, he places even greater emphasis on man-woman and parent-child relationships than did his predecessor. He does not fail to place it in contemporary context and proposes a constructive image of the family. He affirms its principles, proposing not an ethical model but an existential one. He does not preach moral theory but a way of living and of relating to others.

Will we have the Pope back in the summer of 2007?
We consider every possibility, but obviously, it is his choice to make. The conditions to make him feel happy here will always be here, and he knows it. But he should take the kind of vacation he wants to have. For us, it's a sign of respect.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 30/07/2006 20.13]

00Sunday, July 30, 2006 9:18 PM
Benedetto-fan in the German section contributes these items, here in translation. They are about a book, but since the items contain 'news' value, I am posting them here first -
The Pope is happy about a book called
„Mit den Augen des Heiligen Vaters, Benedikt XVI -
Was Ihn sah, Was Ihn Praegte"

(With the Eyes of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI:
What He Saw, What Shaped Him)

During the general audience on July 5, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI was presented with the copy of this book fresh off the press by Carel Halff, chairman of the board for the publishing group Weltbild.

The Pope told his visitors from Germany that it was 'an important book, that he would look through with pleasure."

"I am glad and thankful," the Pope told the co-authors Hans-Guenther Kaufman (photographer) and Martin Lohmann (writer), "that you produced this book."

He expressed regret that because of time constraints, he was unable to write the text himself, but he told Lohmann he was especially thankful that "you took my place - you are just the right person for it, especially as we have known each other for so long."

The picture book shows images from the Bavaria in which the young Joseph Ratzinger spent his childhood and youth.

In a letter to Kaufman later, Benedict acknowledged his photographs, saying "you sought them out and found them with the eyes of your soul."

The photographs are impressions of the world in which Joseph Ratzinger moved, lived and worked as a child and as an adult.

Together with Lohmann's text, the pictures open up a very personal access to the Pope's personality.

The introductions by Dr. Rupert Berger, who had studied with Joseph Ratzinger, and Dr. Notker Wolk, a Benedictine abbot, take the reader on a trip through the life stations of the Holy Father, from Marktl to Rome.

Hans-Günther Kaufmann/Martin Lohmann
Mit den Augen des Heiligen Vaters
Original Edition, 96 pp.
ISBN 3-89897-475-8
14.95 Euro


Benedetto-fan adds -

Earler, Domradio Koeln had an interview with Martin Lohmann who gave some background on how the book came about and recalls his contacts with Joseph Ratzinger. I hope I am able to summarize it well-

Two bishops, whose names I could not catch, were friends of Lohmann's parents, and it was through them that they met then Prof. Ratzinger. Therefore, Lohmann says he can look back to four decades of acquaintance with Ratzinger.

He had his first interview with him in 1986, during a holiday, an interview through which Lohmann got started in journalism.

Originally, the Pope had intended to write the text himself for this book but he did not have time to do it, so he asked Lohmann to write it for him, that is, to write it from Ratzinger's point of view.

It was a challenge Lohmmann accepted after clearing up some reservations. He was concerned that he would not be able to match the pictures with the "right thoughts", but the Pope told him he had full trust in him and had "absolutely no reservations." [What better compliment could the Pope make!]

Lohmann made it clear that this was not in the strict sense yet another biography, but that the book expresses certain important themes for Joseph Ratzinger - for instance, his closeness to nature and to persons; the places that shaped him and that moved him - that are symbolically interpreted through image and text.

At the same time, he says, the reader can learn more personal things here about Ratzinger than in most 'proper' biographies.

Now, I am really curious. First, I thought this was just another picture book of which there are so many already, only that this was done by a special author. After this interview, I could better understand how much Papa must have wanted to be released from his earlier obligations so that he could go back to writing and scholarship.

In this connection, I am asking myself these days whether Papa and Georg, under normal circumstances [Joseph not being Pope] would have been at the Salzburg Festival these days. Being mega-Mozart fans, they would be!

Studiosus from Salzburg, who had earlier recounted Georg and Joseph's frequent vacations in Austria at Bad Hofstein near Salzburg, answered, "Oh yes, they would be at Hofstein now!"

From what I have read, the last time the brothers were in Salzburg for the Festival was in the summer of 2002 thereabouts. The Pope remarked to a German actress at an audience in the Vatican that he had seen her act in the morality play "Everyman" in Salzburg that year

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 31/07/2006 0.31]

00Monday, July 31, 2006 12:55 AM
Here's another review of a book we may not, if ever, get to see in English. But if you read Spanish, it sounds like a good read. This is a translation of an item posted by Nessuna in teh Iberian section, taken from Periodico Digital, an online newspaper in Spanish.

Benedict XVI,
a convincing Pope

This is not the usual biography. Nor is it just another biography of Papa Ratzinger. It is a work that is meditative, measured, and well thought out, and like most good biographies, it is not in search of a thesis.

José Luis González-Balado offers us, in his book "Benedicto XVI, un Papa convincente" (Editorial San Pablo) a calm, balanced and unprejudiced approach to the personality of the German Pope.

And this is despite the fact that, as the author admits on several occasions, he was never devoted to Joseph RAtzinger as a cardinal. But as Pope, it's an entirely different matter.

This is the work of a magnificent writer who has had years doing what he does with many successful books in the bag. He tells his story so well that he grabs the reader from the very beginning. But of course we are speaking of someone who is the best Spanish biographer today of religious personalities, and he has written about the greatest contemporary ones.

Since the early 1960s, as writer and journalist, Gonzalez- Balado started gaining profound acquaintance with the person, work and message of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He has also written biographies of John XXIII and Paul VI as well as two Spanish personalities, Jose Maria de Llanos and Joaquin Ruiz-Gimenez.

And now, of Benedict XVI. A work that comes off very well indeed, avoiding stereotypes, but with what might be considered a catch: it is obviously the work of a convert. That is to say, someone who is a convert to Papa Ratzinger. But a convert who defends his change of heart with good arguments.

He is convinced that 'before' and 'after' the white cassock, the life of this Pope has been marked by his 'belief in God' - by which he means this is not a man who is after power nor fame, that this is a man who is "gentle and meek of heart" as God wants His creatures to be.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 31/07/2006 0.58]

00Monday, July 31, 2006 9:13 PM
Lost in translation

By Joe Sinasac
The Catholic Register (www.catholicregister.org)

Modern journalism gets many things right, but when it goes wrong, it can go spectacularly wrong. This summer’s episode featuring Pope Benedict XVI and rock music is one such time.

In late June and early July a startling crop of headlines appeared in daily media around the world. A sampling: “Pope bans rock ‘n’ roll music” (Irish Independent); “Pope wants guitars silenced during Mass” (various publications); and, most intriguingly, “Pope hints at Latin Mass resurgence” (The Universe, a Catholic publication from England).

All these reports, in varying terms, described the pope as having “decreed,” “ordained,” or “ordered” that henceforth church music should be based on Gregorian chant or its choral cousins. This, if true, is a remarkable counterrevolution in liturgical music. So, curious, we went to the source. Here is what the pope actually said in the Sistine Chapel on June 24, after a concert sponsored by the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation:

“All the passages we have heard — and especially the performance as a whole in which the 16th and 20th centuries run parallel — together confirm the conviction that sacred polyphony, particularly that of the so-called ‘Roman School,’ is a legacy to preserve with care, to keep alive and to make known, not only for the benefit of experts and lovers of it but also for the entire ecclesial community, for which it constitutes a priceless spiritual, musical and cultural heritage.

“The Bartolucci Foundation aims precisely to safeguard and spread the classical and contemporary tradition of this famous polyphonic school that has always been distinguished by its form, focused on singing alone without an instrumental accompaniment. An authentic renewal of sacred music can only happen in the wake of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.

“For this reason, in the field of music as well as in the areas of other art forms, the ecclesial community has always encouraged and supported people in search of new forms of expression without denying the past, the history of the human spirit which is also a history of its dialogue with God.”

Nothing about popular music there. Or guitars. Or Latin Masses, for that matter. No bans, prohibitions, decrees or stern warnings either. It appears more of an appreciation by Benedict — known for his love of classical music — of one of the Catholic Church’s great cultural treasures.

The only accurate conclusion that can be drawn from the pope’s remarks is that he would like to see the tradition of polyphonic music preserved and given its proper due in the ongoing composition of sacred music. That is a worthy opinion, but hardly accounts for the headlines.

Choir directors, church musicians, composers of liturgical music, relax. The pope isn’t out to get you. To be charitable to the media, let’s assume that something was lost in translation.

- - -

Joe Sinasac is the publisher/editor of The Catholic Register.

00Tuesday, August 1, 2006 7:59 PM
One of our favorite Italian commentators, author and veteran Vatican correspondent Renato Farina, has written one of his usual off-the-beaten-track commentaries on current papal news for the online journal Libero (7/30/06). Here is a translation of the item posted by Emma in the main forum:

I'll tell you what
Mr. Ratzinger wants

By Renato Farina

«Signor Ratzinger»! What does «Signor Ratzinger» want? That's how a regional councillor in Val d'Aosta expressed himself in a recent speech before his council.

This representative to the regional assembly, a leftist, was protesting because this white-robed character he called Mr. Ratzinger was being honored in Val d'Aosta. He was just another religious leader - why all the ballyhoo and even a gift of a wooden statue of St. Orso [apparently a popularly venerated local saint] from the regional government?

In contrast, the man called Alessandro Bortot said, [Teresa's note: The first time we reported on this I noted that he had an appropriate-sounding surname, especially if one does not pronounce it the French way!], the region had refused to allow Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan to participate in a conference at the University of Aosta last year.

Why, he asks, was "the warm welcome given to Mr. Ratzinger denied to Ramadan"? For background, Ramadan is a most intelligent man and his positions have authoritative ambiguity, but Magdi Allam [Corriere della Sera's deputy editor and resident Islamist has shown that the right key to read Ramadan's statements is his desire to ‘islamize” Europe, to turn it into a subsidiary of Arabia.

[Further on Ramadan: According to the first story we posted on this, he was denied permission to give a lecture in Aosta last year because he had just made some openly anti-Semitic statements.]

But right now, this is not about Tariq Ramadan. Let's stay with Mr. Ratzinger.

Have we really come to this in Italy? That a supporter of the Prodi government can speak this way, with not one of his colleagues in the Prodi coalition speaking up to object to it?

It is not by chance that the motion presented to express the regional council's support for the Pope and its censure of Bortot's discourtesy to the Pope was not voted for by the leftists. Their way of saying: " Well, yes, religious pluralism also calls for a slap at Mr. Ratzinger if anyone so desires."

But beyond this absurd analogy drawn between the Pope and a Muslim fundamentalist, what is most striking is the refusal even to acknowledge the Pope for who he is, as the leader of the world's Catholics.

Let's see where we have encountered something similar before. In 1979, when John Paul II first came to Mexico, the president of Mexico addressed him as "Mr. Pope" (Signor Papa). Which was at least more respectful than Bortot's expression. It reflected Mexico's anti-clerical Constitution which was the result of long persecution against the Catholic Church in that country.

Not addressing the Pope as "Holy Father" [the protocol recommendation for how to address the Pope directly] is to say that the Catholic Church has no civilian status, no citizen rights, that only the State counts, that there cannot be any religious tradition, much less Christian, that can be proposed as a conceptual backbone for the people.

I also found a reference to "Signor Wojtyla' in a document from one of the satellites of the Red Brigades in 2000, when they carried out one of their assassination attempts in Rome. The document questioned precisely the prerogatives of the man it called 'Signor Wojtyla.'

At which time, writer Giovanni Falcone, who had co-authored a book about a Mafiosi called "Signor Falcone" commented on that document: "Please call me Dottore," [Dottore is an Italian honorific for anyone who has an advanced degree or is an academic] - not because, he pointed out, he needs a title, but because names or titles often convey the substance of the persons spoken of or spoken to.

By calling Papa Ratzinger "Signor", this leftist councillor (anti-Catholic, radical, in any case typical of those who have coalesced around Prodi) is not just violating etiquette but cuts to the heart of the people.

To think that this week I had intended simply to write about a Pope's vacation! The value that he gives to rest. The way in which he enjoys Nature. Of how, at the same time, he does not neglect anything, above all, not the war.

What an occasion he has lost, this poor little figure of the left, to learn something about the simple things of life!

Benedict XVI spent his summer vacation at Les Combes, an isolated village which houses a small Salesian vacation colony. Only one road leads into this colony [which simplifies arrangements for the Pope’s security], so the Pope’s stay really caused no significant bother either to the locals nor to tourists.

Up there, the Pope had privacy to take a walk in an adjoining birch and larch forest, where towards sunset, he walked with his secretary, Don Georg, chatting or praying the rosary. With only the rustling of leaves and an occasional bird flying overhead. Prhaps occasionally picking berries from a roadside bush. A bit of peace.

During the day, he may have worked on a book, one about Jesus, the Great Forgotten One of our time, when everyone talks about inter-religious dialog or about Allah, but hardly ever of Christ so as not to ‘offend’ non-Christians.

This time, the Pope’s excursions were made to monasteries and churches, speaking with sisters, brothers and priests. His thinking is that peace does not come about by obscuring the Church’s distinction from other religions but precisely in bearing public witness of its identity.

I will quote something a bit long but quite important which tells us about this Pope’s vision of God and Christianity.

“Today in the world, many men of culture, many religious persons, many are tempted to say: It is better for the peace of the world among religions and cultures not to speak too much of the specifics of Christianity, that is, not speak too much of Christ, of the Church, of the sacraments. It is better, they say, to limit ourselves to the things that can be common to everyone.

“But that is not true. Precisely at this time, which is also a time of great abuse of the name of God, we need the God who triumphs on the Cross, who wins not through violence but through His love. Precisely at this time, we need the face of Christ so we may recognize the true face of God and thus bring reconciliation and light to the world.

“That is why, together with the message of love, with all that we can possibly do for those who suffer in our world, we should also bear witness on behalf of this God, for the victory of God in non-violence on His Cross. “

This was not a prepared text. He spoke in a small parish church in the mountains, on Sunday, July 23, at Rhemes-St. Georges.

His idea of vacation is tied up with doing some work as well, not total escape from work but a time to recharge himself in the contemplation of beauty.

Leaving Val d’Aosta, he said, “During this time I have also worked, because only with some work can a vacation also be good. Doing nothing is not a vacation.”

These weren’t the words of a Bavarian workaholic, but of a man who knows that one never stops working on oneself, otherwise one ‘dies,’ becomes nothing but a cog in a machine.

There’s another sentence to quote from Benedict XVI this time around: “To look at the mountains is like looking at the Creator.” We could say the same thing about the sea. “The sea is immense,” said Chekhov, and I challenge anyone to find a different adjective.

In the chalet where he vacationed,0 his hosts had placed an upright piano (“clean and well-tuned”), where the Pope could play his favorite pieces by Bach and Mozart [Teresa’s note: although as perhaps our Forum members - particularly Maklara who recognized the sheet music first - were the only ones ever to point out, in the pictures released by the Vatican of the Pope at the piano, he was playing a Schubert sonata.]

His friendship with (Hans Urs) von Balthasar and with don Giussani [founder of Communione e Liberazione, who died last year] was born, among other things, out of their shared identification of music with the sense of religion.

To cultivate this corner of the heart that we may often neglect is among the more important things, along with family, friends, smiles, laughter, good wine.

And what about those pictures with the St. Bernards? He’s the first Pope since 1306 to have visited the Hospice of the canons of Great St. Bernard. He recited Vespers with the four monks and resident nun, along with other guests.

Then, he walked along the via francigena [medieval pilgrims route from France and Switzerland towards Rome] over the Swiss border into Italy. “I took a little walk up there, up to the lake,” he said later.

He also wanted to see the dogs. He loves animals. He petted some of them. He said of them, “They were very good, very smart.”

It was a papal magisterium on vacations. Or, if you wish, the teachings of Mr. Ratzinger.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 02/08/2006 6.39]

00Tuesday, August 1, 2006 9:35 PM

Darwin and Islam on Pope’s summer agenda, says Vatican analyst

Rome, Aug. 01, 2006 (CNA) - In a column to be released this Wednesday, renowned Vatican analyst Sandro Magister of the Italian weekly “L’Espresso” says the Pope’s summer agenda at Castel Gandolfo will focus on Darwinism and Islam.

According to Magister, this summer the Pontiff will host another of his study circles with his former students that he began decades ago and which he has maintained during his pontificate. This time discussions will focus on “Christianity and Evolution,” although the subject of Islam, which was the focus last year, will also be on the agenda.

Magister will reveal in his column the name of the individual who will lead the discussion on evolution and which texts will be analyzed during this year’s sessions.

The complete column will be published on Wednesday at www.chiesa.espressonline.it

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