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

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00Thursday, December 28, 2006 6:52 PM

Vatican says more than 3.2 million attended papal events in 2006

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With two public events still to go in 2006, the Vatican reported Dec. 28 that more than 3.2 million people attended papal audiences and liturgies during the past year.

Almost 1.3 million people joined Pope Benedict XVI for the recitation of the Angelus on Sundays and feast days at the Vatican and at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, the Vatican reported.

The faithful still had one more opportunity -- Dec. 31 -- to raise the number for reciting the midday Marian prayer with the pope in 2006.

The statistics, compiled by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, do not include figures from Pope Benedict's four trips abroad in 2006, or from his trips to different Italian cities.

With a Dec. 31 evening prayer of thanksgiving still on the schedule, the Vatican said 539,200 people had attended papal liturgies at the Vatican and at Castel Gandolfo during the year.

Another 357,120 people took part in special audiences for particular groups.

In addition, the Vatican said a total of just over 1 million people attended one of the pope's weekly general audiences on Wednesdays at the Vatican or Castel Gandolfo.

According to the statistics, the biggest crowds were registered during June, when more than 556,000 people attended the pope's general audiences, special audiences, liturgies and Angelus prayers.

The low point came in July, when the pope spent 18 days in the Italian Alps. At the beginning and end of the month, the general audience attendance added up to 20,000 people; 100 more were part of special audiences and 35,000 participated in the Sunday Angelus.

Pope Benedict held no public liturgies in July or September. In August, an estimated 500 people joined him inside and outside the tiny parish Church of St. Thomas in Castel Gandolfo for the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
00Friday, December 29, 2006 12:01 AM
I could not resist going back to see the attendance numbers in Benedict XVI's first year as Pope (eight months, in effect).

VATICAN CITY, December 28, 2005 - In only eight months of being Pope, Benedict XVI has attracted records crowds of pilgrims to his general audiences, and to liturgical celebrations and the Angelus at St. Peter's Square. So far, 2.8 million faithful have come to take part in Papa Ratzinger’s public appearances, according to data provided by the Pontifical Prefecture.

In the Wednesday general audiences, 810,000 have attended the Pope’s weekly catechesis since April, a number greater than John Paul II who had 200,000 during his first 8 months. However, John Paul’s peak number in 26 years was reached the next year – 1,585,000. Then the numbers decreased, and did not pick up again except in the Jubilee Year of 2000, when there were 1,400,000.

Excluding those two years, Papa Ratzinger seems to be drawing descisively far greater crowds than his beloved predecessor. The breakdown is as follows: April – 20,000 (for the only audience given after the Pope’s election); May 89,000; June 130,000; July 20,000 (only one audience – the Pope was on summer vacation); August 45,000; September 126,000; October 190,000; November 117,000; December 73,000(not counting today).

The Sunday Angelus has drawn about 200,000-250,000 pilgrims a month, peaking at 350,000 in December.

Not counted in this reckoning is the unprecedented number of faithful who came to St. Peter’s Square on the day of the Pope’s election.
00Friday, December 29, 2006 12:58 AM
In the German section, Jil calls attention to a readers poll in Frankfuerter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) - considered by most media men themselves as the world's best newspaper for several years running now - for Man of the Year in Germany. Jill will probably identify the other 'candidates' for us (I am only familiar with Angela Merkel and Michael Schumacher), but at the moment, B16 is way ahead in the lead ---

Jürgen Klinsmann: 7763 (23.05%)

Papst Benedikt XVI: 17573 (52.17%)

Thomas Reiter: 1848 (5.49%)

Michael Schumacher: 1405 (4.17%)

Angela Merkel: 2598 (7.71%)

Natascha Kampusch: 2497 Stimmen (7.41%)

Maybe Jil can also tell us if there was a similar poll for 2005, was B16 in it (the year of his election, after all) and who won.

I think if you go to
you may be able to add your vote by clicking on Papino's name - I did (the 'ballot' is on the left-hand side of the home page).
00Friday, December 29, 2006 2:10 AM
As it appears on the previous page, I am re-posting this item because we have the picture of the portrait, courtesy of Beatrice on her blog beatriceweb.eu, from Foto Felici:

Avvenire reports that Ulisse Sartini, who was commissioned by the Vatican in 2005 to paint the portrait of Benedict XVI that was the basis for the mosaic reproduction now featured in the gallery of mosaic papal portraits lining the upper walls of the Basilica of St Paul-outside-the Walls, was scheduled to present the Pope after the general audience today with a lifesize oil
portrait (2.2 meters tall, or approximately 5'10", counting margins, the Pope being 5'7").

Sartini, who lives in Milan, painted a portrait of John Paul II which is kept in the Vatican's Hall of Congregations. His works appear in many other Italian churches. He also painted two altar panels (the Annunciation and the Baptism of Jesus) for the only Catholic Church in Kabul, Afghanistan, which is located inside the Italian embassy grounds there.

Very early on in this thread, there is a translation of Sartini's wondrous recollection of his meeting with Benedict XVI at the time he presented the portrait for thhe mosaic.

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00Friday, December 29, 2006 5:17 PM
In the German section, benedetto-fan gives the link to the Bayerische Rundfunk poll on Event of the Year
in which participants are asked which event they considered the most significant that took place in Germany in 2006.

The Papal visit to Bavaria leads the World Football Cup 54.4% to 22.04%.

Benedetto.fan notes ironically that if these polls (FAZ's Man of the Year and BR"s Event of the Year) had been held two years ago, people would have written in to complain that Cardinal Ratzinger (as he was then) would even be considered.

Germany appears to have come a long way, indeed, from its conflicted attitude to Benedict XVI right after he became the first German Pope in close to a millennium.

00Saturday, December 30, 2006 6:31 PM
In a survey commissioned by Sky TV in Italy, conducted among a much greater sample than usual in modern polls (4,192 respondents older than 17 - compared to the usual statistical sample of 1000), respondents chose Pope Benedict XVI as the most important international Person of the Year, followed by George W. Bush and Michael Schumacher (the German racecar ace).

According to a summary by ANSA, shared with us by Lella, Italians overwhelmingly considered their politicians as the leading personalities of the year.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his successor Romano Prodi were in first place (although Berlusconi was voted Male Personality of the Year), followed by former President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and current President Giorgio Napolitano. [This high regard for a government that was recently unseated perhaps tells us much about the way Italians are split today.]

Event of the year for the Italians was the election of Prodi's coalition to a majority in the government (but it also ranked #3 on the question of the 'worst events of 2006'!), followed by Italy winning the World Cup in soccer, and the Pope's trip to Turkey. The last two, however, ranked #1 and #2 as 'the best events of 2006'.

Most-watched TV events were the pre-election Berlusconi-Prodi debates.

The persons the respondents would 'most like to push from a high tower' were led by Osama Bin Laden, followed by... Berlusconi and Prodi! [These Italians are surely ambivalent - but one thing is clear, they take their politicians very seriously indeed!]

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00Sunday, December 31, 2006 2:41 AM
I wasn't aware of this till just now, but the Fall 2006 issue of COMMUNIO, the international theological journal of which Joseph Ratzinger was a co-founder, is devoted to a symposium on Deus caritus est, his first encyclical as Pope.

Unfortunately, the journal does not place its articles online, and if you cannot get to see the journal through your library, single issues can be ordered as 'back issues' at $10 including postage, through


ThE Fall 2006 issue is still considered the 'current issue', but as the Winter issue should be out soon, we could order it soon as a back issue. I am placing my order now, because I am afraid they may have sold out!

The journal describes the articles for the symposium in this online Introduction:


?The editors of Communio are pleased to devote the Fall, 2006 issue of the journal to a symposium on Pope Benedict XVI’s inaugural encyclical, Deus caritas est.

We have taken this step for three interrelated reasons. First, out of gratitude for the election of Joseph Ratzinger, one of the founders of Communio, to the papacy.

Second, because, as the discussion of the encyclical in the following pages will make abundantly clear, the document is a timely, original, and intellectually interesting text by one of the most acute theological minds working anywhere in the Christian world.

Third, because the Church must wrestle with the question of eros if it is going to find the resources to counter the evacuation of significance from the physical world that is one of the greatest obstacles to the Gospel today.

As Benedict explains in the encyclical, the word “love,” though of course much abused, names not only the fundamental human experience, but the foundation, the core, the really real itself, which took on a human face in Jesus: “God is love.”

Deus caritas est is, among many other things, a reminder that St. John’s affirmation of God’s being love is not at all banal or harmless, but connotes the energy of a raging fire that implacably consumes everything that it touches - which is precisely everything.

In “The Unity of Love and the Face of Man: An Invitation to Read Deus caritas est,” Angelo Cardinal Scola offers a complete section-by-section commentary on the encyclical; he highlights the anthropological significance of the unity of eros and agape and finds in this unity the key to the coherence of the two parts of the document.

David L. Schindler’s “Charity, Justice, and the Church’s Activity in the World” also provides a comprehensive commentary on Deus caritas est, in which Schindler stresses how the unity of eros and agape in the first part of the text indicates a reading of the second part that takes us beyond the conventional manner of merely juxtaposing the demands of love and justice. What Benedict is proposing, Schindler argues, is that ecclesial communio is the inner form of the Christian exercise of intelligence in worldly order.

John Milbank, in “The Future of Love. A Reading of Benedict XVI’s Encyclical Deus caritas est,” then complements Scola and Schindler with a brief panorama of the encyclical’s concerns, especially of its defense of eros.

The encyclical’s recovery of the unity of eros and agape has already been noted. It may be regarded as a golden thread linking together the contributions that follow.

D. C. Schindler explains the radicalness of the pope’s understanding of the unity of love in “The Redemption of Eros: Philosophical Reflections on Benedict XVI’s First Encyclical.” Here Schindler shows that the real novelty of Christianity is not that it attributes generosity to God, but that it builds eros into the heart of that generosity.

In “The Logic of Love and the Unity of Catholic Truth: Reflections on Deus caritas est,” Michael Hanby draws on the same oneness of love in order to exhibit the encyclical as an example of Ratzinger’s and the Church’s unified response to a range of seemingly disparate contemporary issues; whether it is dealing with gay marriage or biotechnology, the Church is resisting the evacuation of the significance of the physical world, which is to say its intrinsic lovability.

Rodney Howsare’s “Why Begin With Love? Eros, Agape, and the Problem of Secularism,” similarly focuses on Benedict’s recovery of the differentiated unity of love as an answer to secularism that, in Howsare’s view, preserves both the distinctiveness and the universal relevance of Christianity to this world in its worldliness.

In “Deus caritas est and the Retrieval of a Christian Cosmology,” Larry S. Chapp confirms the fruitfulness of the pope’s rediscovery of the unity of love for the understanding of worldly being: the unity of eros and agape, of interiority and exteriorization, becomes for Chapp the key to a rehabilitation of teleology and to a recovery of the goodness of the world beyond the sterile alternative of evolution versus Intelligent Design.

Our two final articles on the encyclical focus on aspects less directly touched on by the others. Thus, Roch Kereszty’s “Deus caritas est: A Potential to Renew Christian Life and Thought” examines not only the unity of love — a concrete expression of the unity of reason and revelation — but also the unity of the two Testaments, the unity of faith, worship, and ethos, and the significance of the encyclical for a genuine liberation theology and for interreligious dialogue.

Finally, Ricardo Aldana, writing in “‘The Word of God is not chained’ (2 Tim 2:9). The Encyclical Deus caritas est as an Exercise in Biblical Thinking,” presents the document as an expression of the freedom of thought that flows from the adoption of revelation as the standpoint for addressing the fruitful tension between love of God and love of the world in the unity of eros and agape.

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00Sunday, December 31, 2006 2:43 AM
Apropos year-end reviews, two of the biggest events of 2006, not only for the Catholic world, but globally, are both non-pictorial but very seminal in nature -

1. 'Deus caritas est' - an encyclical that has met only universal praise from Catholics, non-Catholics and non-believers alike, because it re-proposes the central tenet of the Christian faith in terms that can be universally appreciated and applied; and which became an instant multi-million-copy best-seller in many languages - something unprecedented for an encyclical. And which encyclical has ever provoked such widespread discussion without being controversial?

2. The Regensburg lecture - much less for the unmerited hostility it aroused that made it a worldwide cause celebre, than for presenting Christianity as the synthesis of faith and reason, Eastern religion and Western thought, which shaped civilization as we know it (and as we are in danger of losing), challenging the Western world not to reject its formative values but to use them creatively to meet the major problems it faces today. And in defining violence as unreason and an offense to God, the Pope calls on contemporary Islam to reject violence in the name of faith, as Christians have long denounced it, so that reason can be a basis for genuine dialog among religions and among cultures.

It's a remarkable intellectual double-header of Christian thought, understandable to the average person, that by itself could already be regarded as crowning feats of any Papacy - and this, only in the first full year of the B16 Pontificate.

And now, we know that 2007 has in store the first volume of the book on Jesus and very possibly, a second encyclical reportedly on social issues.


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00Sunday, December 31, 2006 7:21 AM
Talk about synchronicity - not long after I posted the piece about COMMUNIO above, I find that stupor-mundi has posted a beautiful article from today's Il Foglio about Hans Urs von Balthasar and how Communio was founded and what tied Balthasar and Ratzinger together... And if you haven't checked it out, two days ago, I posted on READINGS an exchange between two theologians about Balthasar's unorthodox interpretation of Jesus's descent into Hell...

Here is a translation of the Foglio article

Balthasar has been called 'the wisest man of the 20th century'
and he said of Ratzinger: 'He's the decisive man on theology'
By Luisa Gandini

They are walking under the sky of Basel in a painting by Franco Vignazia. The 'most learned man of his time' is followed by a heterogeneous group of disciples, in this 1968 iconography, among them a red-bearded student of theology.

It is the mid-1960s. Soon after the Second Vatican Council, Hans Urs von Balthasar, "the wisest man of the century', as his mentor Henri de Lubac called him - 'started to bring together friends to build with them an effective way to realize a genuine renewal [called for by Vatican-II] as opposed to all falsifications."

That was how he became "the father of the great family of Communio, which is active today in all the continents - and which, while remaining a small seed, synmbolizes the power of community. Of life, of transformation, and of renewal."

The words are from an emotional Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, at the funeral of Balthazar in 1988. he too was a founder and moving spirit behind Communio, an international theological journal. hE WAS A friend and admirer of Balthasar, that symphonic genius in whose works converge poetry, music, literature, philosophy, theological reflection and mysticism.

Balthasar's bibliography is impressive, under the sign of Herrlichkeit, or glory - Christian theology in the light of the third transcendental value 'pulchrum' (the beautiful), which opens us to the consideration of 'verum' (the true) and 'bonum' (the good).

Years later, that red-bearded student, Elio Guerrero, his beard now hoary, who was editor of tHE Italian edition of Communio for quite a time and is now deputy editorial director at Edizioni San Paolo, says: "The connection between our magazine and Cardinal Ratzinger goes back to the very beginning. In the mid-60s, some disciples of don Giussani [founder of the movement Communione e Liberazione], among them Eugenio Corecco, Angelo Scola [now Patriarch of Venice], and Sante Bagnoli [now editor of Jaca Books] approached Balthazar and offered to publish the new journal in Italy. Balthasar told them explicitly - 'You should speak to Ratzinger. He is today the decisive man for theology, as far as Communio is concerned.'"

Communio was not only the attempted answer to the betetr-known Concilium, or at least, it wasn't meant to be just that. It was born out of the concrete theological perception that communion is created out of the presence of God as a gift to man.

Guerriero, who recently published a new monograph, "Hans Urs von Balthasar", says: "Both Balthasar and Ratzinger were members of the International Theological Commission and of the editorial board of Concilium. They were both concerned at the time about the unconcealed intention of so many theologians - some of whom had taken part as experts in Vatican-II - to go beyond its intentions, to go on some sort of continuous assembly line of changes. Their reaction (Balthasar and Ratzinger], if we may call it that, was in behalf of a theological conception according to which Christianity is above all, the participation of God in our life, or better said, an acceptance of God as He gives Himself to us in communion. Therefore, it is not the faithful who gather and 'perform' the Eucharistic sacrament, rather it is God's call itself that results in the gift of Communion in the Spirit of love, that constitutes the Christian life. Therefore, communion is received through the mediation of the Holy Spirit and renders fact all that Jesus Christ has said."

The new jounral was infused with enthusiasm through the enormous intellectual drive of Balthasar and his two collaborators, Henri de Lubac and Joseph Ratzinger, leading exponents of a rebirth of ecclesial theology, controversial and risky, whose central concern was the unmediated study and deepening of the faith.

Balthasar's own formation, asystematic and characterized by disputing neo-scholasticism, was itself an example. He says in one of his autobiographical notes: "In Vienna, I did not study music only. I also learned Germanistics...which teaches the value of seeing, evaluating and interpreting form - let us call it, the synthesizing look (as opposed to Kant's which was merely critical or that which is merely analytical in the natural sciences). I owe this attention to Goethe who, emerging from the chaos of the Sturm und Drang period, never stopped seeing, creating and appreciating living figures."

From this concept of Gestalt, the concrete figure, it was possible not to get lost in the abstractions of metaphysics, it was possible to speak of the destiny of man from the vision of individual writers and thinkers, from their heroes, myths and poetics.

This was an idea that Balthasar, also called the theologian of beauty, had cultivated from his youth, which was dedicated to a study of patristics, on the advice of Henri de Lubac.

Dionysus the Areopagite and Maximus the Confessor so impressed Balthasar that he planned (and eventually wrote) a book about them. But the lightning bolt was his encounter with Origen's work. There are four parts to the anthology "Spirit and fire' in which he proposed to reconstruct the thouight of that eminent Alexandrian based on available fragments of his work.

The basic idea was the rediscovery of Logos as the image of the Father in eternity - the archetype for the creation of the world. All creation therefore acquires sense from the moment when adherence to the Word goes from being objective and indiscriminate to being subjective and voluntary.

The link to Tradition - polar star of Communio's commitment - was another trait-d'union between the thinking of the future Pope and that of the theologian of beauty.

Balthasar had taken part, even if tangentially, in the 'nouvelle theologie' of whom his mentor Henri de Lubac was the vanguard. The 'new theology' had recourse to Tradition in order to overcome the immobility of scholasticism in the period between the two world wars, in order to show that there were not two orders which were super-imposed on each other - the natural and the supernatural - but rather that there was only one order, the natural which is open to the supernatural.

Ratzinger, explains Guerriero, read the workds of de lubac in the 1950s. He became impassioned with his great theological work. He adopted the concept of Revelation not as a concentration of truth but as God himself, Logos which makes a gift of Himself and makes Himself known. This is the concept of Revelation that Ratzinger brought to Vatican-II.

Revelation (and Ratzinger verifies this in his work on St. Bonaventure) is not a collection of revealed truths, it not even Luther's 'sola Scriptura', it is God revealing Himself. For this, the concept of tradition is fundamental.

Revelation has followed a course over the centuries in which the Word makes itself known. Therefore, it is not enough to look at revealed data or Scriptures alone; one must put oneself in the attitude of someone who receives something from God - through the saints, through Scriptures, through reason. That is an aspect that cannot be eliminated in this concept of Revelation as opposed to manufactured 'truths.'

This vision also led Balthasar and Ratzinger to fight against yet another post-Conciliar reductionism: the so-called de-Hellenization of the faith. It was a process launched by some exegetes and which now occupies so many Biblical scholars. But de-Hellenizing Christianity would mean impoverishing it.

Christian doctrine was not born from Pericles's Greece, but in the context of Hellenism, a confluence of Greek thought, Jewish thought and Roman order.

Cardinal Ratzinger, before becoming Pope, returned to these themes in his recent books about Europe, in which he concerns himself with individual freedom and the organization of society, the rules of democracy and the contributiion of Christianity - convinced about the importance of its positive input, the possiblity of its participation in constructing the 'polis' by being the voice of reason and of truth, especially where sheer will and arrogance threaten to dominate.

[The rest of the essay is a recapitulation of Balthasar's theological work, in which I find the words easy to translate, but not the concepts.]

00Tuesday, January 2, 2007 9:14 AM
I came across this picture on Beatrice's Papal site, beatriceweb.eu.
She writes she got it from an Osservatore Romano issue some time in
November. The photo was taken during Papinos's visit to the Benedictine
nuns in St. Oyen near Les Combes last summer. I love photos like these-
I can almost smell the pines...It's so sylvan...And the monastery is
Regina Pacis, Queen of Peace...Papino was so concerned over the war in
Lebanon at the time...How I wish we could see any photo from when he
went to that little church in the mountains for Vespers and delivered
that beautiful little homily about peace!

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00Wednesday, January 3, 2007 2:17 AM
In his New Year's Day blog yesterday, Sandro Magister cites the Pontifical Prefecture's Vatican attendance figures for 2006. At the end, he gives a one-sentence comment:

On average, these are figures that are more than double those registered with John Paul II at the peak of his Papacy.

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00Wednesday, January 3, 2007 4:15 PM
Thanks to Rocco Palmo, who leads us to this site
for the results of their Person of the Year 2006 online poll.
13,125 persons participated. It's an Islam-centered news site,
that looks rather comprehensive, with an English service.
I must check it out more often - but don't have time at this moment
to search what else it may have on B16.

Person of the Year

Who do you think was the most influential person in shaping events this year?

Hugo Chavez 0.42%

Hassan Nasrallah 4.58%

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 2.21%

Ayatollah Sistani 0.13%

Donald Rumsfeld 10.06%

Abdullah Ahmed Badawi 0.29%

Pope Benedict XVI 72.3%

Fuad el Siniora 0.14%

Muhammad Yunus 1.06%

Ismael Haniya 7.38%

Saddam Hussein 1.38%

Kim Jong Il 0.05%

Total - 13135


P.S. I did a quick search of the site on 'Benedict XVI' and came up with 78 articles on their News pages alone, plus articles, etc in other sections - reporetd from the Islamic point of view, of course.

This is what Islam Online says it is -
But I have not found an indication of where it is originating from and who exactly are the people behind it

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@Andrea M.@
00Wednesday, January 3, 2007 5:38 PM
Since you were asking ...

Teresa, earlier on this page you were asking who these people listed for "Person of the Year" in the FAZ poll quoted by Jil are:

Jürgen Klinsmann: 7763 (23.05%)

was the coach of the German national Soccer team in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He retired after the German team came in third place

Thomas Reiter: 1848 (5.49%)

Is a German astronaut who spent 6 months in orbit on board the international Space station ISS

Natascha Kampusch: 2497 Stimmen (7.41%)

is an Austrian Girl who was kidnapped and held by a man for the unbelievable period of eight years in a room in his cellar. In August 2006 she managed to escape her kidnapper who as a result committed suicide.





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00Wednesday, January 3, 2007 6:40 PM

From the general audience today.

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00Thursday, January 4, 2007 1:38 PM
Doubleday will come out with the Holy Father's book JESUS OF NAZARETH - Vol. 1, on Easter Tuesday, 4/10/07. You may now pre-order it from
00Friday, January 5, 2007 2:11 PM

From an affariitaliani.com account of the Pope's visit to a Caritas shelter in Rome yesterday:

The Pope was smiling, and mindless of the cold, had taken off his overcoat to greet affectionately onlookers, guests, wards and volunteers.

One volunteer, overcome with emotion, dropped his camera, and the Pope bent to pick it up and hand it back to him

The Avvenire account of the story says that as the Pope was driven back to the Vatican after the visit to the shelter, some 10,000 people lined Via della Conciliazione to cheer him and shout greetings of "Happy New Year, Holiness!"

P.S. Lella in the main forum notes two things about these sidelights:
1) No one published a photograph of the Pope bending to pick up the volunteer's camera - whereas all the world's papers made a big to-do when Princess Diana did something similar years and years ago; and
2) No one published a photograph of the crowds lining Via della Conciliazione to watch the Pope go back to the Vatican, despite the fact that such a crowd for a 'non-event' (returning to the Vatican from an event) is most certainly unusual, to say the least.

In short, the MSM seem to ignore all the 'man-bites-dog' novelties about this Pope if such novelties do not fit their preconceived view of what he is (namely, how 'un-mediatic and un-charismatic' he is compared to his predecesssor)! We can at least hope that Osservatore Romano has these pictures.

Le Suore delle Sante Coccole:

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00Saturday, January 6, 2007 9:19 PM
This item from Rocco Palmo's blog yesterday is intriguing. I just wish Rocco were more up-front about indicating who his sources are - e.g., 'my C&L contacts in Rome' or wherever - instead of simply passing on an account of what is 'believed' to take place in the Papal apartments every Saturday.

The Pope's Saturday "School"

Veteran readers are well aware of Benedict XVI's longtime affinity for the Communion and Liberation movement.

Cardinal Ratzinger once said that the project of the late Msgr Luigi Giussani "changed [his] life." As the former's gem of a homily before tens of thousands at Don Gius' 2005 funeral in Milan propelled the then-Grand Inquisitor into a new light, kicking off a cascade of events which led to his election as Pope two months later - not to mention the gentle hand of the founder's writings and approaches in the formulation of this pontificate's playbook - Giussani was named these pages' 2005 International Churchman of the Year.

While B16 is said to have praised the CL for being the only one of the "new movements" to remain faithful to the ideals of building up the wider ecclesial community as opposed to becoming an entity unto itself (an element of great importance to Giussani), he's not the type who would seek to promote or elevate it to a wider context by force of personality or the prerogatives of office.

At the same time, however, to properly understand Ratzinger, his spirituality and concept of the church, Don Gius' exposition of Christianity as "event," the centrality of the "living encounter with Christ" and its resulting engagement with the culture, is central. If there's one thread running through every text, action and utterance of this Pope, both before and since his election, that's it.

Since his ascent to Peter's chair, the honorary cieline [Italian term for a C&L member, from the Italian for C (ci) and L (el), which together happen to form the word 'ciel' which is Italian for heaven, and so the resulting cieline is a very flattering term] has expressed his affection for the movement in his typically quiet, but still palpable, style.

Benedict wrote an affectionate (and rare) personal message to its adherents on the first anniversary of Giussani's death and another heartfelt note to the cielini's annual August mega-conference at Rimini (which John Allen's called Italy's largest annual gathering); the current CL president Fr Julian Carron has been received in audience more often than most major superiors; and Carron was given a coveted keynote slot before the papal presence at last year's Pentecost Vigil for the New Movements, where the Pope's extensive address drew more noticeably from the Comunione playbook than anything else.

The cielini influence on Benedict is further underlined by reports, which have spread within the movement for the better part of a year, that the pontiff has made it his practice of holding the weekly "School of Community" - one of CL's hallmarks - in his apartment at the Apostolic Palace.

As Giussani himself envisioned it, the SOC is a place where "reality, insofar as you face up to it, becomes an epiphany, a revelation of your awareness of belonging."

"[W]e must talk about life, but in the light of the new experience that we have encountered [with Jesus]," he once said of the sessions. The exercises "must be a development of the encounter" with Christ and that the "sign" that the school "is [successfully] led is that you come away from it changed."

The weekly sessions involve prayer, reflection and exchange on a set program of scriptural texts arranged by the movement. The founder envisioned the SOC as a place where "the affective impulse to communicate" with culture is strengthened in the light of faith, serving to engender an enhanced "attention to people’s needs, [a] charity that expresses itself in an organic consistency of works."

The Pope's School of Community is believed to take place on Saturday afternoon in the papal apartments. Given Benedict's liturgical leanings, it would make sense that he would schedule the immersion experience in the run-up to the celebration of Sunday, and as a recharge at week's end.

As with everything Papa Ratzi does, he's said to take his SOC with no small amount of diligence; such is his workload that he's confessed to not spending enough time as he'd wish with the weekly readings in advance of the sessions.

As the pontiff is, himself, not a formal adherent of the CL, word is he's entrusted the encounter's leadership to the pros; the Pope's school is led by one of the laywomen of the Memores Domini who serve in Benedict's household, as they did prior to his election. The MD is the branch of CL's lay affiliates who, practicing celibate chastity, "follow a vocation of total dedication to God while living in the world" and residing in common.

MD community houses have been gradually popping up across the US in recent years. And, speaking of the Comunione's rising profile in America, later this month one of its leading Italian exponents will be paying a visit.

The patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Scola, will be at the UN in New York for the US presentation of Oasis, the journal he oversees focusing on Christian-Muslim relations, particularly on Christian communities in majority-Muslim nations. An all-star lineup, featuring Jewish and Muslim leaders and Carl Anderson, supremo of the Knights of Columbus, is planned for the 17 January event.

Touted as papabile in advance of the 2005 conclave, Scola is believed to be a member of Benedict's "kitchen cabinet" alongside two other CL-friendly cardinals: Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and the Sulpician Marc Ouellet of Quebec, the primate of Canada.

00Saturday, January 6, 2007 11:50 PM
Thanks to our Italian sisters who keep track of the TV ratings -

The Epiphany Mass and Angelus today were once again watched by a third of Italian daytime viewers - 2.552 million households (30.87% share) for the Mass and 3.39 million households (28.94% share) for the Angelus.[The higher number of households but lower percentage for the Angelus simply indicates there are more Italians watching TV at noon than at mid-morning.]
00Sunday, January 7, 2007 8:27 AM
Another item from Beatrice's papal site beatriceweb.eu concerns some remarks made by two Canadian bishops about the Holy Father. Here is a translation:

MONTREAL (PC) - The president of the Canadian bishops conference, Mon. Andre Gaumont, believes that in 2006, Benedict XVI estalished his papacy forcefully.

Admitting that Benedict XVI may not have the charisma of his predecessor John Paul II, Mons. Gaumont says the Pope is a man of words, with dazzling intelligence, therefore instead of providing mediagenic photo opportunities, he relies on the power of reason and the quality of being listened to.

Mons Gaumont also underscored that the Pope's recent trip to Turkey, which was fraught with potential pitfalls, served to prove Benedict XVI's strength, in having succeeded to re-establish relations on the rightfooting with Muslims.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte expressed similar opinions.

Mons. Turcotte believes the Pope showed great courage in traveling to Turkey, after having provoked the ire of many Muslims for statements he made about Islam and violence and which were mis-reported and misunderstood.

He also calls attention to the Holy Father's great spiritual sense and his desire for peace and genuine rapprochement among the different religions.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 07/01/2007 8.28]

00Sunday, January 7, 2007 6:32 PM
This one is from benedetto.fan in the German section:

MUNICH - Co-workers of the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, will present Pope Benedict XVI with a specially composed Missa Solemnis for his 80th birthday on April 16, according to the newsmagazine FOCUS.

The Mass, called "Tu es Petrus", composed by church musician Wiofgang Seifen, will be performed for the first time at Berlin's St. Hedwig Cathedral on April 15.

Majority of the performers - 230 musicians and choir members from Berlin's Humboldt University, are either Protestant or have no church affiliation.

Cardinal Meisner will present the composition itself to the Pope in Rome.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 07/01/2007 18.33]

00Monday, January 8, 2007 4:39 AM
I thought I had posted this item before Christmas but obviously I had not.

From the German service of Radio Vatican on 12/22/06 comes this quotation from Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Inter-Religious Dialog. He was asked to look back at 2006 and pick its most significant event.

"What has most moved me," he said, "is not a single event, but what Benedict XVI showed himself to be in 2006. He was very 'personal.' I observed with great joy the big crowds that haev gathered in St. Peter's Square at the general audiences and for the Angelus. But most specially, what most impressed me was that significant moment in the Blue Mosque of Istanbul when the Pope was in utter silence. At that moment, I felt myself very strongly bound to our Muslim brotehrs and sisters."

Cardinal Poupard thinks that the friendly and openhearted demeanor of the Pope was a very important element in the success of the papl trips not only yo Turkey but also Poland and Bavaria.

"I would say that Pope Benedict XVI has the same charisma as John Paul II had. Both simple folk as well as intellectuals see him as the Good Shepherd and a true friend of Christ."


Thank you, Cardinal Poupard. You may well be the first person of consequence to have articulated what we Benaddicts have instinctively and instantaneously grasped about Papi Ratzinger - almost from the moment he 'held the Piazza' with his memorable eulogy for his predecessor. That was certainly no mean feat, considering the titanic stature that JP-II had. And now, here we are, with another gentle giant of a world figure, but very much in his own image and his own dazzlingly extraordinary personality.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 09/01/2007 5.08]

00Monday, January 8, 2007 10:42 AM
Americans Pick 50 Most Admired Men, Women
Americans ranked the 50 most admired people in the world in a recent Gallup poll. And topping the list is President George W. Bush.

Bush was rated as the most admired man by 13 percent of Americans. With presidents usually listed as the most admired, this is Bush's sixth time leading the rankings.

The Rev. Billy Graham finished in the top 10 for a record 50th time. The evangelist was ranked fifth this year behind former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

Graham has preached to over 210 million people around the world and is continuing his ministry through television and the upcoming Billy Graham Library. He is currently deciding where he and his wife Ruth will be buried. The 88-year-old evangelist suffers from Parkinson's disease among other ailments while his wife, 86, is bedridden with degeneration of the spine.

Men finishing in the top 10 list include Colin Powell, Pope Benedict XVI, Nelson Mandela tied with George H.W. Bush, and Bill Gates.

Topping the most admired women list is Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who finished first for the 11th time. Following Clinton are Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush and Margaret Thatcher.

Of the 58 most admired women, 20 have been former first ladies, 18 have been sitting first ladies, 14 have been politicians, and 6 have been humanitarians.

More women than men voted for Winfrey in their choice for most admired woman. Women also included actress Angelina Jolie, who finished sixth, in their list. Following Jolie, Nancy Pelosi, Madeleine Albright, Barbara Bush and Maya Angelou rounded out the top 10.

Survey results are based on telephone interviews with 1,010 adults, conducted Dec. 11-14, 2006.
00Monday, January 8, 2007 10:43 AM

[Modificato da Maklara 08/01/2007 10.46]

00Monday, January 8, 2007 1:29 PM

Women also included actress Angelina Jolie, who finished sixth, in their list.

Ewwww, how disappointing.

00Tuesday, January 9, 2007 3:12 AM

An item in Repubblica online today, shared by Lella in the main forum, puts together some fashion notes about what's 'in' for clerics and religious.

Based on an informal survey of clerical clothing shops in Rome and Milan, the following trends are noted:

First, cassocks are back for priests - the classic one, in all its simple sobriety. This reverses the casual trend in priestly dressing noted over the past 2-3 decades.

Nuns, however, would prefer to have habits other than black. The less traditional and newer orders choose light grey, beige or blue.

Many cardinals now choose to have a more streamlined silhouette and finer,lighter fabrics for for their outer robes, as opposed to bulky clothing that drapes the figure indifferently.

It isn't clear what dictates the trends for priestly pret-a-porter. Certainly, not any explicit instructions from the Pope. But, say some of the clerical tailors, it's probably a reflection of Pope Benedict's own style, which is always correct but elegant.

Raniero Mancinelli, whose company has dressed Popes and Cardinals for decades, says there is no question who the most elegant man in the Church is.

"It's the Pope. All you have to do is look at him. It's true that there were some little mishaps the first few days, but now, he cannot be faulted. There are little refinements that add to the elegance. For instance," he says, "he has chosen to use the Papal oversleeve, which Papa Wojtyla did not." Not to mention that the Pope has 'dusted off" various papal headgear appropriate for the season or the weather.

As for the comeback of the cassock, Mancinelli notes: "Before Papa Ratzinger, priests were generally rather cavalier about the way they dressed. Now they are more attentive. With John Paul II, many priests tended to be rather 'sportive' in their look, even for ceremonies. Now, the cassock is de rigueur."

He recalls a priest who came to get new cassocks and said, "I haven't worn one of these in 20 years."

A clerical clothing shop in Verona begs to differ, however. Its owner claims that priests in northern Italy still prefer to be casual. "They go to regular shops for their clothing, not to us."


By the way, it may seem strange to Western eyes, but a Pope travelling to a tropical country will find himself amid a sea of priests and nuns all dressed in white! In the Philippines, I grew up among bishops, priests and nuns all dressed in pristine white. White,is of course, a concession to the weather. Imagine the perpetual penance of having to wear black robes all the time in a country where the average temprature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, with 90% humidity! (On the other hand, that's not such a bad idea perhaps?)

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 09/01/2007 5.11]

00Thursday, January 11, 2007 3:22 PM
This is from the Italian service of ZENIT today, which for some reason, since it started its 2007 reporting on 1/7, has not added anything to its English service since that day.

I decided to put this item here, because half of the documents in the anthology were issued by Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect from 1981-2005.

Volume has 105 texts
important for the Magisterium -
55 under the signature of
Joseph Ratzinger

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 11 (ZENIT.org) - A book published recently puts together all the documents issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1966 to 2005.

It has 662 pages, most of it in Latin. Of the 105 texts prsented, 52 are signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Prefect of the CDF from 1981-2005.

Cardinla William Levada, present CDF prefect, writes in the Introduction that these are 'magisterial interventions which, in rejecting objections to and deformations of the faith or authoritatively proposing miore profound consideration of frevealed doctrine, will accompany and assist theological research."

He continues: "It is not enough to denounce errors...(but) it is necessary to recall the facts of tradition and other elements of the Christian faith which can illuminate the way."

The Congregation does not intend to replace the task of the theologian, Levada says, nor does it propose a particular theology as unique and normative. Rather, the CDF aims to "reformulate many elements (of the faith) which may be unexpected but indispensable for the elaboration of a ehalthy Catholic theology."

“Documenta. Inde a Concilio Vaticano Secundo Expleto Edita (1966-2005)” is published by the Vatican publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (www.libreriaeditricevaticana.com) and costs 40 Euro. It updates a 1985 compilation which covered the years from 1966-1985.

The last document included is the "Note on the administration of the Sacrament of Unction for the sick", signed by Cardinal Ratzinger in February 2005. The document makes clear it can only be administered by priests or bishops, and that any administration by a deacon or layman is merely 'simulation of the Sacrament.'

Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the CDF, said the documents reflect a "high theological quality strongly rooted in the great tradition of the Church."

The book ends with an index (Index rerum notabilium) that alphabetically lists the various topics covered by the documents, from abortion (abortus) to the Virgin Mary (Virgo Maria) and nascent life and procreation (Vita nascens et procreatio).

One of the mmost infotrmative texts is that dedicated to the reduction of priests to lay status (reductio ad statum laicalem), which also refers to doctrinal errors about matrimony (matrimonium).

Other noteworthy documents are those about excommunicati0n(excommunicatio), homosexuality (homosexualitas), prohibited books (index librorum prohibitorum), Masonry (massonica associatio) and private revelations (revelationes privatae).
00Thursday, January 11, 2007 6:13 PM
Pope "recruited" by priests' soccer team

Rome, Jan. 11, 2007 (CWNews.com) - During his regularly weekly audience on Wednesday, January 10, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) acknowledged the presence of a soccer team composed of 80 priests.

The priests’ team, which organizes games to raise funds for charitable causes, gave the Pope one of the team’s yellow jerseys, with “Benedict XVI” written across the back. The team had previously given a similar jersey to Milan’s Archbishop Dionigi Tettamanzi, at a pre-Christmas event.

The prospects for soccer teams composed of priests had been the topic of some whimsical headlines in December, when Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (bio - news), who is known as an ardent soccer fan, was quoted as saying that the Vatican could field a “magnificent” team, using priests and students studying at pontifical universities. The cardinal’s offhand remark drew so much attention that he was forced to issue a clarification, telling Vatican Radio that he had not intended the suggestion seriously. “I have more important things to do than managing a soccer team,” the Vatican Secretary of State observed.
00Friday, January 12, 2007 2:33 AM

[Sorry, Mary and Nan. I hope you didn't pay full price for those tickets.]

False priest arrested for selling Pope tickets

Wed Jan 10, 8:31 AM ET

A man posing as a Catholic priest was arrested for selling phony tickets to get near Pope Benedict on his scheduled trip to Brazil in May, authorities said on Tuesday.

Erivandro Ferrer de Lima had charged believers 175 reais ($81.78) in cash and another 375 reais in installments for the possibility of "getting close and touching" the Pope, Police Inspector Rosicleide de Castro said by telephone from Fortaleza in the northeastern Ceara state.

Lima carried a false credential from the Brazilian Bishops Conference, held mass and heard hundreds of confessions to prey on his victims, Castro said.

"There are a lot of upset people," Castro said.

Brazil has more Catholic believers than any other country in the world.

In May, Pope Benedict will open the Latin American Episcopal Conference.

($1 = 2.15 reais)

[Modificato da benefan 12/01/2007 2.34]

00Saturday, January 13, 2007 2:52 AM
Sihaya alerts us to two new book releases, but since she provides no information
on either, I'm posting them on this thread rather than the BOOKS... thread.

The title of the German book translates as
'JOSEPH RATZINGER/BENEDICT XVI: The development of his thinking'.
Isn't the cover picture very sweet?

That of the Italian is "5 Minutes with God' - it must be a book of meditations based on Ratzi-Papi's writings.


And from Beatrice....If you read French,this would be a great collection to keep. In a country like France where recent surveys show the number of Catholics down to 51% in 2007 compared to 69% in 2000 and 80% in the early 1990s, it is surprising to find a publishng house like TEQUI which has come out with 6 volumes so far about Benedict XVI devoted to his speeeches during the two weeks in April 2005 between the funeral of John Paul II and his installation Mass as Pope, and during each of the five trips abroad that he has made.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 14/01/2007 7.20]

00Saturday, January 13, 2007 5:07 AM

[Sorry, Mary and Nan. I hope you didn't pay full price for those tickets.]

Thanks for your concern Benefan! I can honestly say neither Mary nor I were even considering going to Brazil. That's not to say that we don't have plans for possible future trips to Rome. But lets face it Rome is Rome!!!
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