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

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00Wednesday, August 2, 2006 3:55 PM
People get there in the end!

Here's a cutting sent from a Torbay local newspaper! The letter from Monsignor Gabriele Caccia is of interest to us. As for the lady being a "Papal Sleuth" - if she had Googled at once or asked one of us, we could have told her the answer at the time of our Papa's election.
But it shows that there is interest in Papa everywhere - even in darkest Torbay, Devon!
Love, Mary x [SM=g27811]
P.S. She's a lady not to be trifled with !!!! They haven't met ME!!!!! [SM=g27835] [SM=g27835] [SM=g27835] [SM=g27835] [SM=g27835]

[Modificato da maryjos 02/08/2006 15.58]

[Modificato da maryjos 02/08/2006 15.59]

00Saturday, August 5, 2006 9:18 PM
Benedetto-Fan in the German section shares with us this item from KNA, a Catholic news agency.
Here is a translation

The Pope's caretaker
By Christoph Renzikowski, KNA

Pope Benedict's private residence
is a rather simple house in a suburb
of Regensburg. Rupert and Therese Hofbauer
are its caretakers

Rupert Hofbauer could easily be a rich man. The Pentling resident is most sought-after for interviews
in the days preceding the Pope's visit to Bavaria.

A camera team has offered him outright 100,000 Euros if he allows them to try and catch a glimpse of
the Pope from his house when the Pope visits his private residence in Pentling on September 13.
The visit will be kept strictly private.

But Hofbauer is not only the Pope's next-door neighbor. He is also his house custodian. Of course,
he turned down the unethical offer!

"How could I spoil my friendship with the Pope?" he asks simply.

For 28 years (since Joseph Ratzinger moved to Pentling), hardly anyone paid attention to the Hofbauers.
In 1977, when their next-door neighbor was surprisingly named Archbishop of Munich and Freising, he asked
Rupert and his wife Therese to look after his house and garden in his absence.

But since April 19, 2005, when he was elected Pope, some of the limelight has also fallen on the Hofbauers.

Their sign in front of the Pope's residence directs inquiries to their address. The retired fire chief
of Regensburg and his wife provide information to visiting fans of the Pope - among them, nuns from the
United States, many Vatican clergy and civilian workers, and most of all, Polish pilgrims.

At the time of this interview, there were piles of earth on the Pope's lawn. Much work remained to be done.
Therese Hofbauer would be responsible for the seasonal planting.

"She knows exactly what the Pope likes best," he says. "Elder bushes must be planted, and some rose
bushes, too. And a clematis species called 'Polish spirit' with lilac flowers."

A Pentling master housepainter, who was once an altar-server for Cardinal Ratzinger, recently gave
the house a fresh coat of paint, for which he received a letter of thanks from the Pope. His apprentices
put up a beautiful larch fence on the street side.

The terrace has been re-paved, and the space in front of the doorway is now ornamented with a mosaic
in the form of the early-Christian fish symbol.

Shortly before the visit, a flower tapestry depicting the Pope's coat of arms will be set into the lawn.

"I am hoping I will unlock the door for him, " Hofbauer says. The Pope may carry the Keys of the
Kingdom on the Papal seal, but right now, he does not have the keys to his own house.

Two other members of the Hofbauer household will be happy to see Joseph Ratzinger again -
Chico the cat, and Ingo, an 11-year-old golden retriever.

"I am sure the Pope misses them," says their master. "Every time someone from Regensburg
visits him in Rome, he asks, 'How are the pets?'"

As the news agency picture accompanying the article was minuscule, I am taking the liberty
of re-posting here the pictures taken by Simone in Pentling last June.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 05/08/2006 21.41]

00Saturday, August 5, 2006 11:18 PM
Very interesting article!!!
What a fascinating article about Papa's house! And it's always good to see again those amazing photos taken by Simone.
Dear Rupert Hofbauer would never betray his friend, not for 100,000 Euros or for a million - I truly love him for that! If I ever meet Rupert I'll hug him for that! I just pray that Papa IS left alone to see his house, for it will be a very emotional moment for him.
I expect we'd be surprised at the lengths some obsessive nitwits would go to, just to see him on that day. Good job I shall not be there - I wouldn't be responsible for what I'd do to them.
Simone and her husband were the sensible ones, going several months early and getting all those photos. Right on, Simone!
Love to all! Mary x [SM=g27811] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822]
00Sunday, August 6, 2006 2:06 AM

How are the pets?

[SM=g27819] [SM=g27819] [SM=g27819] [SM=g27825] [SM=g27825] [SM=g27825] Ohhhh that is just too sweet! I'm sure the pets miss him too. Good for Rupert Hofbauer for not accepting money... trying to protect Papa's privacy. You're right Mary, some idiots will go to any length to see him on his private day. I pray that Papa will be able to visit his house as well as the graves of his beloved parents and sister in peace. [SM=g27823] [SM=g27823] [SM=g27823]
00Sunday, August 6, 2006 8:21 PM
What a loyal friend! [SM=x40799] And Papa asking about his pets is too cute. [SM=x40800]
00Monday, August 7, 2006 4:45 AM
I think this is an appropriate place to insert this additional image of Papa with the Saint-Bernards,
posted by Emma in the main forum. It must be one of the first pictures in the series.

00Tuesday, August 8, 2006 6:40 AM
Ratzi-lella posted these two news briefs earlier today. The first one was from Televideo RAI-

Benedict XVI has donated two ambulances completely equipped for first aid and emergency medicines for civilian victims of the Lebanon conflict.

The ambulances arrived today at the base for humanitarian missions of the United Nations in Brindisi, southern Italy, to be placed on a ship to Lebanon.

Last July 22, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum made a first allocation of 100,000 Euros for immediate aid to refugees under the auspices of Caritas in Lebanon.

The ambulances, however, are a personal gift from the Pope.

[Wasn't there an item several months back about him requesting a car company who wanted to donate cars for the Papal fleet, to send the Vatican fully-equipped first-aid ambulances instead? He certainly found appropriate use for the vehicles.]

And from the blog yesterday (8/6) of Luigi Accatoli (Corriere della Sera's senior Vatican correspondent):

I send an embrace to Orazio Petrosillo, to Claudia and their two daughters. Since yesterday, Oraazio - our dear fellow Vaticanista from Messaggero - has been at tHhe Gemelli Polyclinic, after two weeks in the hospital in Aosta where he was operated on following a stroke on July 23. He had been in Introd to cover the Pope's vacation.

On the last day of his stay in the Alps, Papa Ratzinger prayed with Claudia and blessed her and Orazio's wedding rings on their 30th wedding anniversary.

"A light against the daily darkness" was the title of Orazio's commentary on the Sunday Gospel dedicated to the Transfiguration of our Lord, which appeared today in Messaggero. Orazio had written it before leaving for Val d'Aosta.

I use the words of his commentary's title to express best wishes to my colleague, great worker, and happy friend. And I send a kiss to Claudia to convey to Orazio. May he triumph over this challenge.

00Tuesday, August 8, 2006 3:36 PM
echt bayern

Sorry, I put it into wrong thread, please forgive me...

[Modificato da Maklara 08/08/2006 15.40]

00Tuesday, August 8, 2006 8:45 PM
00Tuesday, August 8, 2006 10:10 PM
Post it on every thread!!!!
What a photo!!!!! As you all know, I love photos of our Papa in "ordinary clothes". Any idea of the date when this was taken? I would guess it could have been 2004, the last year he was able to take a holiday in relative peace.

Talking of which, I'm willing to bet that some obsessed people will follow him everywhere in Bavaria. OK - I KNOW we adore him, but we are reasonable human beings. If I find out anyone [and it won't be one of us!] has attempted to undermine his privacy, I, personally will get them! [SM=g27826]

I'm a little bit sorry about the television interview, though I admit I'd love to be able to see and video it. We shall not be able to see it in Britain. But, apparently he was very nervous while it was being filmed [according to some agency report I found when Googling] and said "Thank goodness that's over" at the end of it. He's still supposed to be on holiday in Castel Gandolfo. I bet there will be some manic people waiting for him on August 15th, when he celebrates Mass in the parish church there.
I can boast of only one thing about CG - I was extra-ordinary minister of Holy Communion for our group's priest in that very church, at that very altar, last September. That was enough for me.
Love and Peace to all here - Mary x [SM=g27811]
[SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822]
00Wednesday, August 9, 2006 5:35 AM
Re: echt bayern

Scritto da: Maklara 08/08/2006 15.36

Sorry, I put it into wrong thread, please forgive me...

[Modificato da Maklara 08/08/2006 15.40]

I'm not complaining... I'm not complaining at all!!!!! [SM=g27828]
[SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27838] [SM=g27838] [SM=g27838] [SM=g27838] [SM=g27838] [SM=g27838] [SM=g27838]
00Wednesday, August 9, 2006 7:13 AM


Yes, you have, Teresa. It was a black and white photo in a newspaper article in Simone's account of her trip through Bavaria. The article referred to Ratzinger Heights and was printed in 1999. Check the link below and scroll down near to the end of the page. Maklara's photo looks different because it is in color.

00Wednesday, August 9, 2006 7:19 AM
Re: echt bayern
Ratzinger auf Ratzinger Höhe Aug. 1999.

gRA(T)ZIe!!!!! Maklara! This is the pict used in the newspaper article Simone found in the menu booklet at “Der Weingarten”, the guesthouse in the Ratzinger Heights.
Lovely, Lovely, Lovely, Lovely, Lovely, Lovely!!
[SM=x40799] [SM=x40799] [SM=x40799] [SM=x40799] [SM=x40799]

Simone’s pict: http://s2.bilder-hosting.de/img/CNGQ3.jpg
Sorry, benefan. I didn't see your post.

[Modificato da lutheranguest 09/08/2006 7.22]

00Wednesday, August 9, 2006 10:42 AM
I fact I received this photo by email from my friend Monika from Slovakia, who is also fan of Papa.
I don't have any idea how she got it, but I may ask her.
00Thursday, August 10, 2006 4:17 PM
A small Italian news agency item from Monday posted by Elena in the main forum escaped my attention,
but here is a translation, as well as a photo from the Vatican site

This afternoon, Benedict XVI made a small pilgrimage of a few kilometers, with his thoughts
on the Middle East. It was a brief trip to ask for special Marian intercession to end
the ongoing hostilities in Israel and Lebanon.

Far from the eye of crowds and of TV cameras, Papa Ratzinger went to the 6th-century sanctuary
of Madonna del Tufo (Madonna of the Rock), a very old Marian center in Rocca di Papa in the Alban
Hills, where the Papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo is also located.

There is also another Papal residence, Villa Pocci, located in Rocca di Papa itself.

The shrine owes its existence to yet another of those charming legends of miraculous rescues.
It is said that one day, a huge chunk of rock broke off from the mountainside and narrowly
missed hitting a traveller on the road. In gratitude, he erected a chapel on the site
to honor the Virgin Mary.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 10/08/2006 16.33]

00Monday, August 14, 2006 4:12 PM
Looks like GG is on vacation. Fr. Mietek Mokrzycki is his substitute now.

@Andrea M.@
00Monday, August 14, 2006 6:35 PM
GG is on vacation!!!
Hi Sue!

You are right. GG is on a two-week vacation back in his home-town of Riedern.

00Monday, August 14, 2006 10:57 PM
Volcanic rock
I've been musing about Madonna del Tufo. For tufo I could read the English "tufa" a kind of volcanic rock. It makes sense, because of the volcanic nature of the whole area. Lake Albano formed in the caldera of an extinct volcano and is a crater lake, hence its almost circular shape. The catacombs were created from tufa rock, so it extends northwards to Rome. I'd need to see a geological map to find out the total extent of it in that region. It's interesting. Then, there are the well-known volcanoes of southern Italy: Vesuvius, Etna and the fascinating Stromboli [constantly active].The whole area is volatile.
And.....what a serene photo of Papa, praying in peace in that little chapel! Peace is what he needs the whole summer.
Love, Peace, Choy!
Mary x [SM=g27811]
00Monday, August 14, 2006 10:58 PM
sorry sisters about the german information, but thank god you have good [SM=g27811] translaters!


Einfach nur der Georg


Da steht er also. Trägt die Soutane, hält den Schirm, damit ihm der prasselnde Regen nichts anhaben kann und lächelt. Genau wie man ihn immer sieht, wenn er den Papst begleitet. Nur nennen ihn dort in Rom oder sonst wo auf der Welt die meisten Monsignore Gänswein und er ist der Sekretär von Benedikt XVI. In Riedern am Wald ist er für viele einfach "der Georg". Hier unterscheiden sich Rom und Riedern.

Georg Gänswein ist wieder auf Besuch in der Heimat. Zwei Wochen hat ihm der Papst freigegeben, erzählt er am Schluss der Messe, die er in der vollen Kirche St. Leodegar in Riedern feiert. Ansonsten sagt er an diesem Sonntagvormittag nicht viel über sich. "Es geht mir gut, ich bin gesund. Und ich habe viel Arbeit." Herzliche Grüße von Benedikt kann er noch ausrichten: Der Papst hat sie ihm extra aufgetragen. Georg Gänswein predigt lieber über die Eucharistie. Er hätte das alles kompliziert und hochtrabend erklären können, schließlich hat er einen Doktor in Kirchenrecht und gilt als kluger Mann mit einem scharfen Intellekt. In Rom vor anderen Zuhörern hätte er es vielleicht getan - in Riedern nicht. Da bleibt er verständlich: Die Eucharistie sei - mit der richtigen Einstellung - Stärkung für die Christen im Leben.

Wer also auf Erzählungen aus dem Inneren des Vatikans gehofft hatte, vielleicht sogar einen Einblick ins Innenleben seines Chefs, des Papstes, musste nach diesem Gottesdienst enttäuscht sein. Wer aber einfach nur Georg Gänswein treffen wollte, hatte sein Ziel erreicht. Er müsse sich Geduld abringen, hat er in einem Interview zu seinem 50. Geburtstag kürzlich Radio Vatikan gesagt. Nach dem Gottesdienst in Riedern merkt man davon nichts: Er schüttelt Hände, begrüßt die Menschen, die im Regen vor der Kirchentüre warten und lässt sich von einem italienischen Fotografen - man hört er komme von der "La Stampa" - in Position bringen. Dabei übersetzt Gänswein die italienischen Anweisungen ins Alemannische, denn auch die Umstehenden dürfen modeln.

Eine davon ist Heidemarie Ebi aus Aichen aber gebürtig aus Riedern. Und eine Schulkameradin von "Georg". Sie erzählt dass sie ihre Tochter Martina extra mit den Ministranten aus Aichen nach Rom geschickt habe, damit sie ihn dort trifft. "Und jetzt bist du hier." Locker war die Predigt, schön, "einfach und schlicht", sagt sie. Das ein Papstsekretär aus dem Kreis Waldshut komme, ist "gigantisch": "So etwas erleben wir hier nicht mehr."




00Monday, August 14, 2006 11:13 PM
Thanks, Benedetto-fan. I'll post an English translation in PEOPLE AROUND THE POPE. How welcome to see
(and read about) GG as Mass celebrant and preacher, for a change.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 15/08/2006 8.46]

00Tuesday, August 15, 2006 9:43 AM
Two German teenagers meet each other at a POW camp among tens of thousands of fellow soldiers rounded up by the Allies at the end of the Second World War. One ends up being Germany's most celebrated postwar writer and 1999 Nobel Prize winner for Literature, and the other becomes Pope.

Here is the translation of a most interesting story from AGI, an Italian news agency...

Gunter Grass, Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1999, tells the German newspaper Frankfuerter Allgemeine Zeitung that he was a member of the infamous Waffen-SS as a youth.

The 78-year-old author of The Tin Drum, an incisive satire of Nazi Germany, indicates in an interview to be published 8/13/06 that he is revealing this fully in his memoir called Peeling Onions [translation of the Italian title given - I am not sure if it is also the original title in German] which will come out next month.

In the same interview, he remembers being a prisoner of war together with Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Benedict XVI.

Till now, it had only been known that the writer had been conscripted into Germany's air defense corps during the war. But in the forthcoming autobiography, Grass recalls that at age 15, he tried to enlist in the Navy of the Third Reich because he wanted to be a submarinist, but he was turned down for being too young. The following year, he was enrolled into the Waffen-SS.

Grass, who would become an active pacifist, was wounded in combat in 1945, then captured by the Americans and kept in a POW camp.

"Together with other 17-year-olds," he remembers, "I was in the lager of Bad Aibling, where some 100,000 POWs were interned without a roof, and when it rained, some of us crouched together in a hole we had dug in the ground over which we stretched a tarp to protect us from the rain."

"One of my fellow POWs was named Joseph, he was very Catholic, and often spouted quotations in Latin. We became friends and we played dice together, because I managed to get a dice jar in the lager. To pass the time, we chatted and speculated about the future, as boys often love to do. I wanted to become an artist, while he wanted to enter into the service of the Church. He gave me the impression of being a bit awkward, but he was a most likeable type. This is a beautiful story, don't you think?"

Corriere della Sera's Luigi Accatoli commented in the 8/13/06 issue of the Italian newspaper. Here is a translation -

"It's a beautiful story, don't you think?" Gunter Grass says of the acquaintance he made in POW camp with the young Joseph Ratzinger. "He wanted to become an ecclesiastic and I wanted to be an intellectual."

Grass's account of the POW camp uses words similar to those used by Ratzinger in his autobiography My Life [translation of the Italian title for what appeared as Milestones in the English edition].

But Ratzinger does not mention meeting Grass during his internment at Bad Aibling, where he was kept a couple of months in 1945, when both were teenagers.

"Maybe he did not remember the family name and had no way of recognizing in the writer the prisonmate with whom he played dice," hyppthesizes Ludwig Ring-Eifel, editor-in-chief of the Catholic news agency KNA and someone who knows Ratzinger's biography well. [He recently co-produced and wrote a TV documentary on Benedict XVI.]

The hypothesis is shared by Ingrid Stampa who has been a close associate of Ratzinger as cardinal and Pope for the past 15 years, in his writings for publication.

"I never once found in his writings any indication that he had any acquaintance with Grass, nor has he ever mentioned it whenever Grass's name came up in conversation," she said.

There is total coincidence between what the novelist and the cardinal have written about their POW camp, except in the number of POWs.

Grass says that "under open skies" some 100,000 prisoners were interned." Ratzinger writes that in that "agricultural terrain", some 50,000 prisoners were "quartered."

One can imagine that neither of them had exact information, and that the novelist - who might tend to color his memories - chose the high figure, while the theologian, trained in rigorous thought, kept to a more cautious estimate.

But their recollections agree on the problem of being roofless and other discomforts: "We stayed in the open till the end of our imprisonment," writes Ratzinger, noting that "when it started to rain, we formed into groups, each seeking whatever miserable shelter we could from the bad weather." He adds, "Some of the more fortunate had tent material to protect them."

Grass would have been one of the "fortunate" because he narrates, "When it rained, we crouched together in a hole we had dug in the ground, over which we stretched a tarp to protect us from the rain."

The author says that his prisonmate Joseph "often spouted Latin quotations." Ratzinger remembers that he was able to bring with him - at the time he was caught by the American dragnet -
"a notebook and a pencil" with which "I managed to challenge myself by composing Greek hexameters."

Going through the books written by the cardinal, one finds at least one reference to a book by Gunter Grass. In Fede e Futuro[Faith and the Future, Queriniana 1971), Ratzinger writes that "truth is taken away from man and he seems - to cite the title of Gunter Grass's most recent book - under 'local anesthesia,'" namely, "capable of grasping only deformed pieces of reality." The footnote identifies Grass's novel Local Anesthesia, published in Italian by Einaudi in 1971.


Not incidentally, will anyone place bets whether the media will take Grass to task for having been an SS member - and one who apparently sought to be one - the way they have been hyperventilating on Ratzi's having been in the Hitler Youth? Watch the 'progressive' and 'liberal' double standard come into play!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 15/08/2006 10.30]

00Wednesday, August 16, 2006 2:52 PM
During General Audience today Papa reminded that it's been a year since the assasination of Br. Roger Schutz.

As you may remember he was the founder of the ecumenical community of Taize and was killed during an evening prayer by a mentally ill woman.

Br. Roger with Pope John (undated) ...

... with Pope John Paul (undated) ...

... and with (future) Pope Benedict (08-04-2005)

00Wednesday, August 16, 2006 9:14 PM
Just to give us an idea of how Italian TV newscasts (the Pope after all resides in Italy, that is to say, in Vatican territories within Italy) covers Papal activities, RAtzi-lella in the main forum gives us her rating of the various nationwide services. [tg is short for tele-giornale, literally 'TV newspaper".]

To begin with, she informs us however, that, notwithstanding Raiuno (RAI-1, premier channel of Italian state TV) giving short shrift to coverage of Benedict [see below], it does carry the Pope's Angelus live on Sundays and major religious feastdays, and that -


Here's another one for all those who keep saying that Benedict XVI is not as 'mediatic" as his predecessor -
The Angelus from Castel Gandolfo yesterday, 8/15/06, had a 33.11% share of the audience at noontime (2,029,000 sets tuned).
One must tip the hat to the Italians, because it means that one out of 3 Italians who had the TV on at noontime tuned to the Angelus.

Herewith, Lella's ratings of the various tg -

skytg24: Excellent, always conscientious, never once misses a papal event or any intervention by the Pope. 10 points, with praises!

tg2: Tries, within what is possible on the RAI network, to follow the Pope's activities. Often shows images that the other TV channels do not have or choose to ignore. 8 points, on a scale of 0-10.

tg5: Not much time given, but Vatican correspondent Alessandra Buzzetti tries her best and always grasps the essential aspects of Papal activity. Rating 7.5.

tg4: The good Fede [I assume it must be a nickname for the newscaster] is very affectionate about Ratzi and often airs excellent reports praising the Pope. Rating 7+.

tg3: Aldo Maria Valli is an excellent Vaticanista, but his context is generally not favorable for the Pope. Rating 6-.

tg1: Very brief reports, perfunctory comments, endless comparisons (with JPII), indulges in inconclusive details. Rating 4.

studio aperto [Open Studio}: When have they ever reported about the Pope? NO RATING


P.S. Stupor-mundi said in the main forum yesterday that TG-2 reported the Pope's Mass in Castel Gandolfo, and that after the Mass, he walked back to the Papal residence, and greeted pratically each and everyone of the faithful who waited outside the Church. The newscast showed some video of it.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/08/2006 23.06]

00Wednesday, August 16, 2006 10:03 PM
Mona in the German section points us to this story in today's Der Tagesspiegel, a German online newspaper.

In the Holy Father's garden
By Philippe Grull

Pentling, 16 August 2006 (ddp) - For Chico the cat, everything changed after that day in April last year when white smoke came out of the Sistine Chapel chimney. His beloved Joseph Ratzinger became Benedict XVI - and will no longer be able to visit him as he used to do.

Gone are those hours spent together in the garden of the house in Pentling. Gone are those evenings by Ratzinger's warm stove.

And the media! Chico has even made headlines in the Italian newspapers. Everyone wants to pet him, photograph him and film him.

"He has become quite shy," says Chico's owner Rupert Hofbauer, who lives next to the Pope's private residence. "He feels the to-do about him and misses the Pope."

But the seven-year-old tomcat with the beige and brown stripes may look forward now to one sure visit. On September 13, the Pope will come to Pentling to spend a few hours at home. Maybe Chico will join him. Perhaps everything will be as it was for a few hours.

Hofbauer and Ratzinger have known each other for decades. "The Pope built his house in 1969, we built in 1970," says the retired firechief of Regensburg.

He considers Ratzinger "a kind man and an outstanding neighbor - one cannot imagine a better one." Ratzinger always took part in family events for Rupert, his wife Therese and their three children, and "he spoke to us about every possible topic." Except, that is, "I withdraw from any discussion of spiritual matters, and he knows it."

According to Hofbauer, Chico was "totally attached to the Pope." He would wait for him to come back from Mass, and once he arrived, he would quickly go over to his house. The cat always sensed that Ratzinger was unusually cat-friendly.

Hofbauer is not only Ratzinger's neigbor, but since 1977, his house custodian. While he is talking to us, a car is driving slowly past the Pope's driveway. Two elderly ladies and a man inside the car are pointing to Hofbauer and teh house. Chico scoots out of the way.

"A car once almost ran over him," Hofbauer explains. "Since then, he is very careful - when he hears one, he gets out of the way." And he will, too, when the Pope arrives in his convoy.

"But when he sees the Pope, then he will surely come right out." Hofbauer is sure of this.

Hofbauer walks through the Pope's front garden, to a beehive which has stood there for years. "He thought that was good, because he knows what bees need, and he likes bees as well."

According to honey connoisseurs, the honey harvest in this year of the papal visit will be especially good. "We have already gathered 35 pounds. On September 13, much of that will be going to Rome," Hofbauer says. "It's the Pope's honey, after all."

Hofbauer and his wife have been preparing the Pope's house for the visit for months. They went over details with the Pope during a five-hour meeting with the Pope in December.

Since then, they have both been busy. Apprentices have rebuilt the fence, repaved the terrace and replanted the garden.

Hofbauer says the rosebushes have been carefully pruned so that they will bloom by September - roses are the Pope's favorite flowers.

He points to a fountain in the middle of the garden. "We will put up a Madonna there, but only shortly before the Pope arrives. We don't want it to be stolen."

Until the beginning of September, a lot remains to be done. To begin with, a general housecleaning. And a new sign at the doorbell must be placed to read "Pope Benedict" instead of "Professor Ratzinger."

Beside the doorbell is the house number 9. Actually, the house is on Bergstrasse 6. Hofbauer takes the number, turns it upside down and attaches it properly.

"Now, that's better," he says. "Someone was playing a trick here. Well, once in a while, these things happen."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/08/2006 4.51]

00Thursday, August 17, 2006 5:42 AM
In www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=402
contributor Robert T. Miller, who teaches law at Villanova University, has this to say

August 16, 2006
On August 1, I criticized Pope Benedict XVI’s call for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Since then, he has granted an interview to some German journalists in anticipation of his upcoming trip to Bavaria.

Asked about the fighting in the Middle East, he said in part:
"We do want to appeal to all Christians and to all those who feel touched by the words of the Holy See, to help mobilize all the forces that recognize how war is the worst solution for all sides. It brings no good to anyone, not even to the apparent victors. We understand this very well in Europe, after the two world wars."

I find it difficult to understand how the pope says this. Along with many others, I often invoke the Second World War as the paradigm example of a just war, of a case where morality not only permitted but required the use of armed force in order to combat evil.

But here Benedict, expressly mentioning the world wars, says that they brought no good to anyone.

No good to Elie Wiesel, and all the other prisoners liberated from Buchenwald?

No good to the peoples of France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and others saved from Nazi domination? No good to the Poles and other Slavs, destined to slavery to support the Third Reich?

No good to the young Joseph Ratzinger, who, freed from service in the Wehrmacht, was able to enter seminary, study theology, become a priest and a professor, and live to become pope?
[Teresa's comment: This question is out of place here - The war did not have to happen for Joseph Ratzinger to become a priest!]

As it stands, this statement from Benedict is unsupportable. All serious people know that war is a terrible reality to be avoided whenever possible, and Benedict should certainly say this. But he is also a great theologian, well able to make moral distinctions. He ought not make statements that can so easily be understood as endorsing a dangerously naive pacifism that is incompatible with the Catholic moral tradition.

Mark P. Shea in "Catholic and Enjoying It' says -

I basically agree with Miller...though I'd like more context to what the Holy Father is saying.

On the other hand, I'm also reminded of something Ross Douthat was pointing the other day: namely, that much of our foreign policy seems to be driven by a curious tendency to view the world through the prism of various years, depending on our ideology. For some people, it's always 1938, for others, 1919, for others, 1948....

For me, it's 2006 and I'm highly suspicious of all moral calculations that appeal to a clock for legitimacy. I plod along, looking at just war teaching, and find myself increasing puzzled as to how to unscramble the various eggs our Best and Brightest have scrambled for us in recent years.

On the whole, though I disagree with the Pope's remarks as they stand (since I believe in Just War teaching), I find myself thinking that I'd rather live in a world of people who err as the Pope does, than in a world of War Zealots and Master Planners with big ideas for a New American Century based on "creative destruction" and other Machiavellian schemes.

In short, I don't have much in the way of solutions, but I have a clearer and clearer idea of who I trust as I try to think things through.

I hope you will excuse my ruminating aloud. Nothing final here. I'm still feeling my way.

Then, Shea adds this update:

Reader M.Z. Forrest notes:
"For perspective, I think we should take into consideration that he was speaking to German reporters. What grievances did WWI and WWII solve for the Germans? WWI brought them the lost of some of their most productive land in the west and economic collapse. WWII gave them 1/4 of their country put in communist oppression."

D'oh! Why didn't I think of that? Makes perfect sense. Thanks, M.Z.


MMMM....I agree that the Pope's statement "Wars bring no good to anyone" was too sweeping. And I was too taken by the charm and novelty of the whole interview that this escaped my critical faculties.

Wars are bad and must be avoided whenever possible, but although I have read very little of the Catholic concept of a just war, my common sense tells me that there are necessary wars, as World War II was, or the wars Israel has fought to defend its existence. Even the war that toppled the Taliban mullahs in Afghanistan. Or a war to topple the current crazies in Iran, if it came to that.

And that the achievement of one's goal in a necessary war (or a just war, if the necessary war meets the criteria) - for instance, to defeat Hitler and the Nazi ideology - is certainly to be seen as "good." Even Joseph Ratzinger has said so in many ways! So why would Pope Benedict say something else now?

I could say he was probably thinking of Iraq and the perpetual intifadah in the Holy Land and assorted civil wars in Africa... but he mentioned the two world wars specifically. World War I probably deserves what Benedict XV called it, 'inutile strage', useless massacres, because no core principles were involved, just conflicting national interests. But World War II? And after Benedict XVI's discourse in Auschwitz-Birkenau?

Reader Forrest's comment that the Pope's context was what happened to Germany after both world wars may be extenuating, but the Pope clearly said "We understand this very well in Europe..." so he was not referring to Germany alone.

If he had not added the sentence, "We understand this very well in Europe, after the two world wars," the whole quotation would have been unexceptionable, what one expects the Pope, any Pope to say. Basically, it's the reference to World War-II in that sentence that threw the statement out of kilter.

I hope the Holy Father clarifies this issue!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/08/2006 14.46]

00Thursday, August 17, 2006 2:53 PM
Little news snippets seen overnight-

Pope meets Merkel at CG

Vatican sources confirm that the Pope will receive German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a private audience in Castel Gandolfo on August 28, preparatory to the Pope's visit to Germany next month.

The Pope met Merkel in Cologne last year when she was still the leader of the opposition.

6 million watched Papal interview

The Papal interview was watched Sunday night by 2.94 million during its 19:15 transmission on AARD, the first Gernam public channel, and by another 3.14 million on its 22:00 broadcast on ZDF, the second German public channel.

00Friday, August 18, 2006 1:51 PM
RatziLella in the main forum contributes this item from Il Messaggero of 8/17/06, translated here -

At parish Mass with Benedict XVI:
A "Ferragosto' crowd act for the Pope
who walks to and from the Church

Crowd act for Benedict XVI. On Ferragosto [as the Italians familiarly refer to the August 15 holiday], the Pope followed a tradition and walked to the parish church of Castel Gandolfo to celebrate a Mass in honor of the Virgin of the Assumption.

It wasn't more than 300 meters from the Papal residence to the Church but it required awesome security arrangements. And only 200 persons [the little church's capacity], rigorously screened, were admitted into the church.

After the Mass, the Pope lingered in greeting the people who lined the barriers along Liberty Plaza leading to the Papal residence.

And yesterday, Wednesday, some 4,500 people showed up for the general audience, causing serious difficulties for the local forces of law and order who were not expecting that size of a crowd.

At least 400 agents of law and order are on duty at Castel Gandolfo to safeguard the security of the Pope and the pilgrims. This includes the carabineri's canine unit and State police. Sharpshooters were stationed on rooftops to watch every step of the Pope's progress on foot between the residence and church and back.

Meanwhile, everyone was happy at the Pope's demonstration of affection.

"Bneedict XVI knows our history and traditions in this city," said Mayor Maurizio Colacchi. "He is doing us great honor with hi s simple and sincere actions."

The Mass of the Assumption was also attended by CArdinal Angelo Sodano, outgoing Secretary of State, the Bishop of Albano, Mons. Marcello Semeraro, and all the civil and military authorities of the region called Castelli Romani [the towns on the Alban Hills outside Rome, including Castel Gandolfo].

And although the city of Castel Gandolfo is in 'armored' state for the Pope's security, the screening processes have been discreet, and the people have been able to get within a few meters of the Pope to greet him.

"In this city," the Pope has said, "the rapport between the people and their Pope is more immediate and direct."

And how!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 18/08/2006 13.52]

00Saturday, August 19, 2006 1:53 AM
Oooops! There are a few items in the main forum to the effect that apparently Gunter Grass is saying now that the Joseph he played dice with in POW camp may not have been our Joseph, after all....

In any case, I had wondered how the German media - generally liberal and admirers of Grass as the embodiment of post-war German pacifism and moral rectitude - would react to his confession that as a teenager, he actively sought to be a uniformed man in the Nazi armed forces and succeded in joining the Waffen-SS...I studiously avoided commenting on the irony of it, but...

More of media reaction to Grass's confession later...and how, unbelievably, some prominent Italian liberals are trying to turn it around by claiming that Ratzi must have been an SS-man himself if he was in the same camp as Grass, because SS POWs were kept separate from other POWs! (Forget the fact that the East German Stasi in decades of trying to dig anything bad against Ratzi turned up ZIP!)- And one of these calumnists actually won a Nobel Prize for Literature himself (Dario Fo, an Italian playwright who is certainly no Pirandello)...More later, as I have to go out now...

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 19/08/2006 6.38]

00Saturday, August 19, 2006 7:15 AM
Here is a translation of a genuinely curious item posted by Ratzi-lella from Dagospia, a popular Italian online gossip column:


There are two weeks left before the Pope's second visit to Germany as Pope...He will be celebrating Mass on September 12 in a vast area outside Regensburg known as Islinger Field. Some 350,000 faithful are expected to attend - among them some women who apparently are determined to deliver during the Mass!

This was reported today by the Munich newspaper "Tz", promptly picked up by all the German media.

It was confirmed by Peter Kittel, one of the executives in the organizing comittee for the Pope's visit. "We have received at least five requests so far," he sasid, "from women who are asking permission to be able to deliver during the Papal Mass at Islinger Field."

The requests, he added, "were a bit unexpected, but on that day, we will have ambulances. helicopters, general doctors and medical specialists on hand anyway, for any eventuality."

These will almost certainly be the first persons ever to be able to say later, "I was born while the Pope was saying Mass" - and what a beautiful occasion to be born, especially if the Pope is Benedict XVI! But is there some folk superstition out there in Bavaria that is responsible for this un-isolated incidence?

Are the mothers going to have their obstetricians inject them with a labor-inducing or labor-retarding drug that would allow them to deliver at some point during the three-hour event at Islinger Field? Is this the beginning of a new Ratzinger cult? [Obstetric Benaddiction?]

Mainstream media may still be oblivious to it, but Papa is certainly generating a popular following that even JP-II did not have this early in his Papacy! Did you see all those rapt and joyous faces at the Angelus in Castel Gandolfo raised up to the white figure on the balcony in obvious awe and affection? It was fantastic!....

00Saturday, August 19, 2006 9:39 AM
Holy Places and Holy children
I feel uneasy about this. Certainly it's wonderful if women wish their babies to be born the day the Pope says Mass on their home ground, but there are other and better ways of helping one's children to be holy. It cannot be safe to give birth in such a crowded place, infections will be rife, and if something goes wrong then a dash to hospital could take longer from there than from home. Induced labours are more painful, by and large - will there be adequate pain relief available/possible?
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