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

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00Tuesday, January 30, 2007 9:13 PM
If you will check the NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT thread, I posted a translation of Andrea Tornielli's Il Giornale article last night before going to bed (or was it early this morning?) Lella in the main forum is usually very good about promptly posting any items in the Italian media about the Pope particularly, so I was lucky to catch her post as soon as I did.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 30/01/2007 23.17]

@Andrea M.@
00Tuesday, January 30, 2007 10:20 PM
So, I have put my foot in it again, right ??
I apologize !!!!!

[Modificato da @Andrea M.@ 30/01/2007 22.21]

00Wednesday, January 31, 2007 11:06 PM
Nahhh, don't worrry about it, Andrea! I just thought it might help save you or someone else from having to look up Tornielli's article and translating it when Lella has been so prompt about keeping us abreast of the Italian media.

Here's from something else Lella posted - today, from korazym.org. I'll use some of the pictures but not the entire story, which is really a blurb for the manufacturers.

Korazym's Barbara Marino reports that Hermann Spielwaren Gmbh, toymakers of Coburg, Germany, have created their third teddy bear in honor of Pope Benedict XVI. The market for the Papa-bears must be doing well, indeed.

This one (on left) will mark his 80th birthday;
last year, the bear on the right was created for
his visit to Bavaria.

Hermann created its first 'Papstbaer' (below)
right after Benedict's election.

Hermann's bear catalog also contains a Petrus bear,
a Swiss Guard bear, and a Corbinian bear from the
Pope's coat of arms).

I certainly hope Hermann's have not failed to send
Pope Pepperl at least one each of the Papa-bears in
his honor!

The bears would have a couch of their own by now in the Papal apartment!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 08/02/2007 17.44]

@Andrea M.@
00Wednesday, January 31, 2007 11:30 PM
Would you rush to a store ...
Hi Teresa,

interesting piece there on the teddy-bears. But seriously, would you rush to a store and buy one????

I would imagine they come at a price which you simply cannot afford ...

00Wednesday, January 31, 2007 11:49 PM
Noooo! I wouldn't rush out to buy a 'designer' teddy-bear for a fortune! But as an inveterate collector of stuffed toys - hate to admit it but I have a little room full of them, particularly teddy bears and monkeys (yes!) - I made it my little home project in Christmas 2005 to make myself a Papa-bear like the first one that Herrmann's put out. I bought a snow-white bear that is about 18 inches tall (seated) and went to a passementerie shop to buy what I needed to make a Papal mozzetta and stole in the right colors, and - done, at minimal cost but great satisfaction.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 01/02/2007 0.15]

00Thursday, February 1, 2007 12:19 AM
Vatican defends choice
of Doubleday

Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY, jAN. 31 - The Vatican on Wednesday defended the choice of Doubleday to publish Pope Benedict XVI's new book in North America, responding to an Italian newspaper's barb that the company is part of the publishing giant holding the rights to "The Da Vinci Code," which was assailed by the church.

Benedict, a theologian and prolific author as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is coming out with his first book as pontiff this spring, titled "Jesus of Nazareth."

The conservative daily Il Giornale ran a front-page story Monday headlined "A 'Ratzinger Code' by Dan Brown's Publisher."

Doubleday is an imprint of Random House, the publisher of Brown's worldwide best-selling novel. It was heavily criticized by church officials for contending that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had descendants, and that Opus Dei, a conservative religious organization, and the Catholic church were at the center of covering it up.

Several cardinals warned that the book would turn people against Catholicism.

In November, the Vatican's publishing house announced it had signed an agreement with Italian publisher Rizzoli for the worldwide rights to Benedict's book. Rizzoli then reached a deal with Doubleday for North America.

In its statement Wednesday, the Vatican Publishing House noted that Doubleday has previously published works by Popes John XXIII and John Paul II as well as "The Catechism of the Catholic Church."

It did not mention Brown's book but made clear it approved of the choice.

"On account of this respectful editorial curriculum, Doubleday deeply desired to publish also the first book by Benedict XVI," the statement said.

"Finally, it is important to note that Doubleday has always published the most important documents of the American Bishops Conference before the establishment by the latter of its own publishing house."

Benedict has said the book is a purely personal work about Jesus Christ that is meant for general Catholic readers. In a preface released by the Italian publisher, Benedict said it is "absolutely not an act" of church authority and "therefore, everyone is free to contradict me."


The article clears up my ignorance about Doubleday beging just an arm of Random House now. I raised a question when I translated the Giornale article a few days ago.
00Thursday, February 1, 2007 2:34 PM
Deus Caritas Est:
Pope Benedict’s “love letter”
continues to sell out

Rome, Jan 31, 2007 (CNA).- Its been just over a year since its release, yet Pope Benedict XVI's first Encyclical letter continues to be a best seller. According to the Rome-based ANSA news agency the Pontiff’s profound discussion of human and divine love is proving to be one of the most commercially successful doctrinal tracts ever written by a Pope. ['One of the most'??? Name one that was before this!]

The 72-page document, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), has been reprinted three times in the German Pope's own language, three times in Spanish and sold almost 1.5 million copies in Italian.

Its success has also meant that, for the first time in modern history, the Latin version of a papal document has had to be reprinted. The initial run of 1,000 copies sold out in two months.

"Even now, a year after its publication, we're still shifting a few copies every day in the various languages," Claudio Rossini, director of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana bookshop next to St Peter's Square told ANSA.

Some attribute the success of the Pope’s letter to the fact that it is his first, coupled with his reputation as a scholar and theological expert.

But Prof. Ilaria Morali, who teaches dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, believes the subject matter of the encyclical has also played a role.

"Love is something that everyone is interested in. People know that here at least the subject will not be treated lightly or in a banal way," she said.

In the letter, Pope Benedict reflects upon the concepts of eros, agape, and logos - the three ancient classifications of love - and their relationship with the teachings of Jesus. The Holy Father calls all men and women to seek the divine origins of each type of love.

“I wanted here,” the Pope says in the document, “to clarify some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously and gratuitously offers to man, together with the intrinsic link between that Love and the reality of human love.”
00Thursday, February 1, 2007 3:57 PM
Emma in the main forum shares this brief item she found in the current issue of the Salesian organ Sacro Cuore written by someone whose byline we often see in Avvenire. Here is a translation:

'What joy for us Orthodox
to find in Benedict
the heart of a father!'

By Salvatore Mazza

The first adjective he uses is definitely unusual, "Marvelous!" Unusual, especially if used to describe a meeting of ths sort. But that 'marvelous' proves to be the indelible impression.

By the Orthodox Arhcbishop of Italy, Gennadios, who was describing how he experienced the meetings between Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Istanbul.

"Aboslutely marvelous" he says. "I think it was a most important historic meeting, very different from those that had preceded it, during which we saw and came to know a Pope who is a true pastor, like a father."

Gennadios describes the Pope as "humble, simple, accessible and warm." He continues: "All of us Orthodox who were there found ourselves filled with joy and hope, because, I think, that meeting between the two Holinesses - who between them are responsible for most of the Christian world today - was truly wonderful for the reciprocal acquaintance and brotherhood they had for each other."

Looking to the future of ecumenical dialog, the Orthodox Archbishop of Italy said "the meeting made visible the Lord's commandment 'that all may be one' and serves as a great example for all of us who are committed to this process."

"It was an invitation to banish a new 'original sin' - fanaticism and hatred - so that together, we may all serve man, the image of God," he said.

00Friday, February 2, 2007 7:22 PM

Lost in translation: Pope's asides might be changed in official texts

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Rarely is a general audience talk interrupted by spontaneous applause, and Pope Benedict XVI seemed as surprised as anyone when the clapping began in the Vatican's audience hall.

The pope had been talking about the church's early times, and he set aside his text to drive home a point: The apostles and first disciples weren't perfect, but had their own arguments and controversies.

"This appears very consoling to me, because we see that the saints did not drop as saints from heaven. They were men like us with problems and even with sins," he said Jan. 31.

That's when the applause erupted among the 6,000 people in attendance. The pope paused, looked up and smiled awkwardly, then continued to ad lib about how holiness doesn't mean never making a mistake.

The moment marked a milestone for Pope Benedict as a communicator and demonstrated two important facts: First, the scholarly pontiff is focusing on uncomplicated lessons about the church and the faith. Second, when he talks, people listen.

The simple idea that saints were also sinners resonated with his audience, and journalists were among those eagerly awaiting the Vatican's official text of the pope's remarks. But a funny thing happened on the way to the printing presses.

When the Vatican press office released the text two hours later, gone was the line about the sins of saints. Instead, the official version had the pope saying that the early saints "were men like us with problems that were complicated."

The pope spoke in Italian, and "con peccati" ("with sins") sounds like "complicati" ("complicated"). But a close listening to a tape confirmed that the pope had indeed been speaking about sins. The Vatican spoiled his applause line.

What happened? The discrepancy was said to be a simple transcription error. Two days later, however, it had still not been corrected -- which meant that many media reported the mistaken version.

It's not always easy to catch every word the pope delivers off-the-cuff. But on some occasions, the pope's words have been deliberately tweaked by his own aides. The process was explained recently by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in a meeting with a group of news agency reporters.

When Pope Benedict extemporizes, the Vatican press office scrambles to transcribe the talk and put it in the hands of the media. But before that happens, the transcript is sent to an office of the Secretariat of State, where it undergoes a "final polishing in Italian," Father Lombardi said.

The reasoning is that the German pope, although fluent in Italian, might use an awkward or imprecise phrase that could be rendered more elegantly.

Reporters have noticed these changes from the beginning of Pope Benedict's pontificate. Most are minor stylistic modifications. But some are more substantial and seem to suggest the presence of an overly cautious editor.

For example, when the pope learned in 2005 that Brother Roger Schutz of the Taize community had just been stabbed to death, he went out and told a general audience about what he called the "terrifying news." That was changed to "dramatic news" in the official version, which toned down his spoken remarks and drained it of the emotion the pope had expressed so well.

Father Lombardi, who also directs Vatican Radio and knows the journalistic profession well, said there's no question that journalists are authorized to report what the pope actually says, even if it differs from the official text.

That poses a problem of consistency, however, even inside the Vatican. After the pope's recent audience talk, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported the "saints had complicated problems" version, while Vatican Radio went with "the saints had sins."

The problems stem partly from Pope Benedict's less formal style at the Wednesday general audiences.

In Pope John Paul II's later years, general audiences were primarily a mass photo op instead of a catechizing moment for those who attend. Most people came to see the pope, not hear a speech. That explains why reporters seeking reaction to papal remarks at the audience were usually met with blank stares.

But that is changing under Pope Benedict. For one thing, his diction is clear -- in contrast to that of his ailing predecessor.

Another big reason people pay attention is that the pope often puts down his printed text and drives his ideas home in simple asides. He seems to have a keen sense of when he's engaging people and when he risks going over their head.

The pope has a purpose in all this, which is reflected in the themes of these weekly talks. For months now, he's been speaking about the apostles and the evangelizers of the early church, trying to make them more real and less distant to modern Christians.

The general audiences used to be a place where reporters looked for commentary on current events. They are finding less of that these days, and more on Scripture, the church and salvation. The pope's goal is to bring people back to the roots of their faith, aware that many Christians in the audience hall and beyond are hearing these New Testament stories for the first time.

00Friday, February 2, 2007 7:54 PM
Oh dear, and I, of course, translated the catechesis from the Vatican text! I am going in to correct that line now in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS...

AsiaNews, which is usually very efficient about reporting changes or additions to the Pope's prepared text, just happened not to report that particular sentence in their account of the Jan. 31 audience. They quoted the rest of the paragraph about sinners and holiness, but fior some reason, omitted that first line! Here is how they reported it:

For Benedict XVI this shows that “even among the saints there were disagreements” and this is “comforting”.

“Holiness does not come from the capacity of not making mistakes;” instead, it grows from “the capacity to convert and repent, to start all over. [. . .] The capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness makes us saints,” he repeated.

That said, I have a few comments about some statements in the Thavis article, which sort of make me question his reliability and journalistic competence now:

The moment marked a milestone for Pope Benedict as a communicator and demonstrated two important facts: First, the scholarly pontiff is focusing on uncomplicated lessons about the church and the faith. Second, when he talks, people listen.

A milestone for Benedict as a communicator? I expected better from a Vatican-based correspondent - who should have read by now at least a few accounts of how Joseph Ratzinger always had the capacity to hold a crowd - whether it was as a professor or as a preacher in Munich, a man who was called Goldmund from an early age, and who attracted crowds to his theology lectures! And where is it written that a 'scholarly' person cannot be a good communicator as well?

It's not always easy to catch every word the pope delivers off-the-cuff.

Fine, but if you have any doubts, go to Vatican Radio next door to St. Peter's. Listen to their audio recording, look at their transcript! They've been doing this for Popes for 75 years. They know their business, it looks like, and the Vatican Press Office would do well to learn from them!

When Pope Benedict extemporizes, the Vatican press office scrambles to transcribe the talk and put it in the hands of the media. But before that happens, the transcript is sent to an office of the Secretariat of State, where it undergoes a "final polishing in Italian," Father Lombardi said.

Apparently, Vatican Radio, which Fr.Lombardi has run for years, does not have to go through the Secretariat of State - otherwise, it would never meet its deadlines! Why does Fr. Lombardi not follow the same practice with the Press Office? If the practice has been acceptable for Vatican Radio, which broadcasts regularly and continuously and in a timely manner in a score of languages, why this unwarranted fastidiousness in the press office which generally only has to worry about the speech as delivered (it takes its time about translations, as we know, unless the Pope is travelling abroad). I would personally put more trust in a Vatican Radio translator who does nothing but that the whole day than some bureacrat in the Secretariat of State who is more concerned with 'correct' language than to get out the information ASAP!...And the very idea of a bureaucrat 'polishing' the Pope's ad-libs to make it 'more elegant' is just absurd!

That explains why reporters seeking reaction to papal remarks at the audience were usually met with blank stares.

Will Mr. Thavis have us believe that reporters actually bother to ask the audience about their reactions to a catechesis or an Angelus message or a homiiy, for that matter? Would that they did! But his own agency, for all the good work that it otherwise does, never reports on the catechesis that I know of [as opposed to a report on a papal trip given at the Wednesday audience]- and if a Catholic news agency does not, why expect AP and the other secular agencies to do, which they most certainly don't, because for them the Gospel or Scriptures is not news, evidently! That is why if one wants an immediate idea of what the Pope said at Angelus or at the catechesis - and one does not happen to read Italian - then the only source for English news on these two Papal staples are AsiaNews (which generally comes out with its Italian and English news report way before the Press Office places the original text online) and VIS, which is always late, usually 24 hours late.

The general audiences used to be a place where reporters looked for commentary on current events.

Has Thavis really been at the Vatican all these years? I did not follow John Paul's catecheses at all, but Zenit has an archive of them, and I just went back and looked at his catecheses between 2001 and the last few brief ones he delivered in early 2005. As with Benedict, the catecheses were not an occasion to comment on current events - they have been strictly teachings or meditations on the faith. The only occasion when they are not used for catechesis is when the Pope reports about a pastoral trip. John Paul did that when he came back from every trip, just as Benedict has done. What current events at catechesis is Thavis talking about? It is generally the Angelus that is the occasion for these current events comments, not the catechesis.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 03/02/2007 4.56]

00Saturday, February 3, 2007 1:47 AM
It's been some time since I visited the thread RISORSE in the main forum, during which the following items
have appeared, all seen on e-bay by our Italian sisters:

Pocket calendars for 2007

A shoulder bag with the Papal picture, and a German telephone card (probably issued during the Bavaria visit).
I think the shoulder-bag idea is COOOOL! Except I wouldn't use an 'official' photo but an informal one.
For starters, I am thinking an adaptation of the 'I LOVE MY GERMAN SHEPHERD' mini-banner with that
picture of Papi and his hair falling over his forehead!

And this is a DVD put out by CTV, but Sihaya says that
as far as Papi's part in it, it only gets up to his election
at the Conclave.
00Wednesday, February 7, 2007 11:35 AM
Here is the translation of quite an amazing story from korazym.org, shared with us by Lella, of course, in the main forum:


A Christmas concert in the Sistine chapel:
The Pope's gift to his brother Georg

By Serena Sartini

A special gift indeed: a most private concert last January 4 presented by the Pope to brother Georg in the Sistine Chapel, no less, as a Christmas gift, if somewhat belated, when his older brother visited him for the New Year.

Singing for the honoree and his brother,the Pope, was the Sistine Chapel Choir, directed by Mons. Giuseppe Liberto, who has led them for 10 years.

It was him who recounted the story to the Italian news agency Apcom recently. "It had been the Pope's wish to offer a concert for his brother. It was something very private and intense - an occasion of great emotion. The Pope always listens with such intuitive intelligence and offers original responses."

The progtram was nevertheless ad hoc, says Liberto. "We performed Palestrina, Bartolucci [the legendary former choir master] and many others, and then I offered the Pope my own gift - a motet for six voices written for a text from St. Augustine. And he told me, 'Tonight, St. Augustine will be very happy to hear this motet.'"

Liberto recalls: "After the first part of the concert, I approached the Pope and said: 'Tonight, I am realizing a dream. Holiness, from the heart of your chapel, we sing our hearts out to the Lord.' Then I presented him the motet, which I told him had been performed the first time in Pavia, at St. Peter's in Ciel d'Oro [where Augustine's tomb is], which the Pope is visiting in April."

At the end of the concert, he said, "we even shared a joke. The Pope had clapped his appreciation and then thanked us all. Then he came to where I was in order to greet the choir. He said, 'At ease! I am not going to take your Maestro's place!' And I said, 'Holiness, if you wish, we could change places.' And we all laughed."

These were Benedict's words to 'his choir'. "Thank you for this hour of Paradise that you have given us. Of course, we all know that art means effort. The Psalms tell us we must sing with art, and tonight you have sung with art - an art that presupposes work, effort, research, giving of yourself. And thank you because I see and hear the results of all this daily work of yours during our liturgical celebrations. Thank you for the beauty of sounds that you give us."

Liberto said the Pope had two baskets of chocolate to be given to the choirboys. "He took time to speak to the pueri [the youngest boys]."

Then, Liberto says he told the Pope: "Holiness, your brother looks so well. Why can't you give him to us so he can teach us and help us?"

"But you are all so good," the Pope replied. "You don't need my brother."

Finally, the Pope greeted the choir one by one, and he asked for a copy of the scores used for the program. "It will remind me always of this occasion with you."

The Sistine Chapel Choir will be taking part in the anniversary Mass for John Paul II and in the liturgical celebrations for Holy Week and Easter.


I have one big problem with this story. Mons. Liberto never talked about how the honoree reacted and what else he may have done - nor, apparently, did his interviewer think to ask Liberto! How can you give a concert in someone's honor and hardly mention him except in passing? Besides, surely, as a veteran choirmaster himself, Mons. Georg would have spoken to Liberto and to the boys!

Also, I wish there were pictures!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 10/02/2007 16.30]

00Friday, February 9, 2007 8:46 PM

Papal visit costs confirmed
By: thinkSPAIN

Responding to a question tabled by the EU-l'Entesa party yesterday, regional vice-president, Víctor Camps, finally confirmed the total cost of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Valencia last July - €1,943,778.

EU party representatives point out, however, that this total does not include revenue lost through the closure of installations such as the City of Arts and Sciences. Mr Camps countered by pointing out that the total economic benefit to the region of the visit has been €223 million, which means that "all the effort was worthwhile."

For only the fourth time in its history yesterday, the Valencian parliament met in plenary session not in Valencia but in Elche to mark the three hundredth anniversary of the battle of Almansa, the twenty fifth anniversary of the initial statutes of autonomy and the first anniversary of their reform.

@Andrea M.@
00Friday, February 9, 2007 9:04 PM
Pecuniary news ...
Hello benefan,

Interestingly, as far as the Holy Father's visit to Brazil on the occasion of CELAM is concerned, people in the media are already now calculating the possible cost of that conference ... that is way before it has even begun [SM=x40796] !!!


[Modificato da @Andrea M.@ 09/02/2007 21.05]

00Saturday, February 10, 2007 4:53 PM
Something I picked up from the Papal biography found on the Sao Paolo Archdiocese website for the Pope's visit is a list of all the organisms in the Curia to which Cardinal Ratzinger belonged while he was Prefect of the CDF. It shows even more why Curial experience can be a true window on the world and on the universal Church for those who know how to avail of it:

In the Roman Curia, he was a member of:
o the Council for Relations with Other States, in the Secretariat of State
o the Congregations for
- Oriental Churches
- Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments
- Bishops
- Evangelization of Peoples
- Catholic Education
- Clergy
- Cause of Sainthood
o The Pontifical Councils for
- Promotion of Christian Unity
- Culture
o The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Segnatura
o The Pontifical Commissions for
- Latin America
- Ecclesia Dei [supervising the 'tradtionalists']
- Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law
- Review of the Code of Oriental Canon Law

On 11/13/2000, he was named honorary member of the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

He was elected Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals on 11/6/98,
and Dean on 11/30/2002.

[It's strange he was not named to the Council for Inter-Religious Dialog, or
the Commission on Health, given the emerging importance of biomedical/bioethical
issues from the 1980s on

@Andrea M.@
00Saturday, February 10, 2007 4:59 PM

I think during the Pontificate of John Paul II then Cardinal Ratzinger was not particularly fond of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.

If you remember he went to Assisi only because he was asked to do so as head of a Vatican Congregation - in a way - not because he wanted to go there. Inter-regligious dialogue was an issue that was more dear to John Paul II than it was to Joseph Ratzinger. He was even sitting in a different compartment than the other leading Church members and even the Pope on this occasion and he could live with it back then. Asked by a reporter what he thought of this trip to Assisi, he said: "As you can see, I am part of this trip, but I am sitting against the direction of train"

Now, as pastor of the universal church he has certainly taken on a different view.


[Modificato da @Andrea M.@ 10/02/2007 17.09]

00Sunday, February 11, 2007 2:55 AM

Vatican To Celebrate Pope's 80th Birthday With St Peter's Mass

04:12 PM, February 10th 2007
by News Staff

The Vatican plans to celebrate the 80th birthday of Pope Benedict XVI with a mass at St Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Pope's Vicar for Rome Cardinal Camillio Ruini announced Saturday.

The mass is due to take place on April 15, a day before the birthday of the head of the Catholic Church.

The celebratory mass will be an opportunity for Romans to congratulate the pope and to express their affection for him.

Cardinal Ruini also called on the faithful to pray on April 19, the second anniversary of Pope Benedict's election as pope.
00Sunday, February 11, 2007 5:28 PM
Here is a translation of the full text of Cardinal Ruini's diocesan letter referred to above:

Dearest ones,

The Holy Father, out of the special affection for the Church of Rome, has accepted to celebrate with us his 80th birthday anniversary, with the celebration of Holy Mass which he himself will preside over, at St. Peter's Square on at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 15, the eve of his birthday.

Therefore, on that Sunday, all parish priests, priests, deacons, seminarians, re.ligious and lay faithful of the Diocese are warmly invited to take part in this Eucharist.

This will be a particularly happy day for us, on which we shall thank the Lord for the gift he has given us in our Bishop and Pope, Benedict XVI. On that day, in an intensely Paschal climate, we will pray with the Pope and for the Pope, asking for him an abundance of divine blessings that may sustain and comfort him, physically and spiritually, as model and sure guide in the faith for all of us, with the love of God and of our brothers, and with the hope that does not disappoint.

On that Sunday, dedicated to Divine Mercy, we will also pray with the Pope for our Church in Rome, so that, responding to the invitation of our Bishop, the Pope, the Church can testify generously to the joy of the faith and commit itself to the education of the new generations, and to the promotion of Christian love, of life, and of the family.

Even in the succeeding days, esopecially on April 19, second anniversary of Pope Benedict's election, every parish, church and religious or lay community is invited to pray for the Holy Father and to renew the links of affectionate communion that bind us to him.

Dearest brothers and sisters, may the celebration of the Holy Father's birthday be for all of us an occasion to sing once more 'Tu illum adiuvai' - Sustain, o Lord, the Successor of Peter - the same prayerful song that the Holy Father himself, in the homily marking the start of his Pontificate, said he heard "as a great consolation' for the whole Church, a Church that is alive and young because she believes in the Risen Christ, who is living and present among His people.

Roma, February 9, 2007
Camillo Card. RUINI
Vicar General of His Holiness
for the Diocese of Rome
00Tuesday, February 13, 2007 3:37 AM
How welcome it is when a journalist who covers the Vatican turns out to be an admirer of the Pope - and for all the right reasons.

Angela Ambrogetti was a TV presentor and interviewer on the Italian channel Telepace, which for many years, was considered the unofficial Vatican channel. Not only did it broadcast all events fed by CTV, it also maintained a daily Vatican TV news service that featured something almost exclusive to them - they managed to get interviews with almost every personality, including heads of state, after they meet the Pope.

Last fall, the station decided to close down its Vatican news service (although it continues to carry CTV broadcasts) nd fired the four journalists who were running it. Ms. Ambrogetti is probably with another TV channel now, but she wrote this piece for PETRUS, the online 'newspaper' about the Pope that Gianluca Barile of Papa Benedetto Fan Club started earlier this month. Too bad it's only in Italian at the moment.


By Angela Ambrogetti

When I listen to Benedict XVI, I always feel like taking pen and paper, seating myself comfortably and start taking notes. Like I did at university.

When I was actually a student following philosophy lectures or seminars, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was simply a name to me. I barely knew how the Roman Curia was organized, but I read his name in bibliographies. Then, slowly, he became my reading 'friend.'

As a conscientious philosophy student committed to Christian living, I sought to be interested in theology as well. And veyr often, I would come across Joseph Ratzinger's name.

With the years there developed a true intellectual 'falling in love' with the reflections and manner of argument employed by one of the best scholars of the century who succeeded to translate into imagery the concepts and principles that were the fruit of years of academic speculation.

The more time passed, the more my home library of Ratzingeriana grew. And the professor-cardinal's texts became ever clearer, crystalline, pure and clean as the distillate of a precious perfume.

Then as a journalist, following his lectures, presentations and various encounters as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I noted that with time, he spoke with more imagery, with more passion. Even if the tone remained calm, sometimes professorial, always persuasive.

Like a grandfather who, in narrating a story, wants his grandchild to enter into the world of the story itself. He never uses grand gestures, he never raises his voice, he never 'performs.' But he takes him by the hand and accompanies him into a world of disovery that will make him big and strong!

As I said earlier, when I listen to Pope Benedict XVI , I always take pen and paper in hand...And then I stop there. I listen to him, and that's enough. I meditate with him. I relive events from the Gospel, I hear again the wisdom of the early Fathers of the Church, I am back at university listening to lectures by learned professors, I hear the interventions of the fathers of Vatican-II.

Benedict XVI is a Pope who accompanies us. John Paul II urged us to overcome obstacles, he showed us a goal. He conveyed his message with gestures, with big events - in short, he created a physical image. For me, who lived my adolescence and early adult years through his Papacy, he was an indicator of direction.

He called on people to listen. Unfortunately, the crowds only seemed to see his gestures, and were really remote from the true content of his message.

And then the Holy Spirit gave us Benedict. Discreet, shy and very attentive. He does not communicate with gestures, he goes directly to the content. About which there can be no misunderstanding.

People don't follow him simply because he attracts them, but because he teaches them. What a great thing the Holy Spirit has done that in order to make us 'digest' Vatican-II properly, first He sent us John Paul II and then Benedict XVI. In the right order.

Benedict XVI communicates directly to our minds to make us fall in love with Jesus the way he did: like a child who puts his hand in the hand of a Father, in an intimacy which is so alien from the strident world.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 13/02/2007 4.24]

00Tuesday, February 13, 2007 10:08 AM
Angela Ambrogetti summarises our Papa's charisma very well! Good for her. Her last sentence touched me very much, as this is how it was/is for me. Thanks for the translation, Teresa. Pity Petrusappears only in Italian.
00Wednesday, February 14, 2007 12:28 AM

Photo found by Paparatzifan, of course!
00Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:14 AM
Emma in the main forum reports that Alessandra Borghese has written a book called SULLE TRACCE DI JOSEPH RATZINGER (In the footsteps of Joseph Ratzinger), in which she seeks to create a portrait of the man by visiting the places he lived and worked in. Corriere della Sera magazine, for which she writes a brief 'Style' column once a month, is running a story about the book in its issue out Thursday on news stands.

I have to leave unexpectedly...Will someone check out Alessandra's website and see if she has anything on it yet?

00Wednesday, February 14, 2007 4:14 AM


Teresa, Alessandra doesn't seem to mention her new book on her website. However, she does have there a rather long article about Papa's trip to Turkey, which I believe she went on too. Might be interesting.

00Wednesday, February 14, 2007 2:32 PM
I'll check out Alessandra's Turkey article, Benefan...

Meanwhile, DIE TAGESPOST of 2/13/07 carries a long article about philosopher Jurgen Habermas commenting on the Pope's Regensburg lecture - his first comments ever although it's been 4 months since then. It's not an easy piece to translate, but he has a few points to dispute with the Pope.

In general, he thinks his own philosophy of history is not up to the 'wider breath of Benedict's metaphysics of being and thinking' in that he thinks the Pope, in effect, is asking too much from the world today in regard to a new synthesis of faith and reason, given that both of them agree on the 'defeatism of post-modern reason.' I hope I understood right.

I'll post a translation when I can.
00Thursday, February 15, 2007 4:05 PM
Here is a translation of a recent article by one of France's leading Catholic journalists about the Pope's forthcoming book on Jesus, posted by Beatrice on her papal website beatriceweb.eu.

'JESUS' by Benedict XVI

Among all the news that has come out of Rome recently, one must be singled out for its primary importance. We can now expect that around Easter, a book by Pope Benedict XVI about Jesus Christ will come out in various languages (Flammarion has announced it is publishing the French edition).

The book was started by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and is being brought to completion by Pope Benedict XVI (the book coming out in Easter is volume 1 of a two-volume work). Already, it promises to be the literary event of 2007.

A personal work by the Pope does not constitute an act of Magisterium. As a personal book, the author develops his own thoughts, and eventually, some original concepts, specific points of view, and discoveries made by a researcher-scholar and a theologian free to pursue his course without the normative authority of the Church.

Coming from the Successor of Peter, such a book is nevertheless distinguished by the singular prestige of the author who, in writing about this subject, can only proclaim to the world Him who brings him light and health.

From a Christian intellectual like Joseph Ratzinger, one can expect a discernment which takes into account the totality of Biblical issues in their most profound roots and through all the currents of thought stirred by up modern historical exegesis.

(One expects this) Especially from a theologian formed in German universities and who, in order to re-establish the transcendence of Revelation and the unprecedented event of the Word, has always confronted contemporary historiography which has been continuously trying to discover a 'historical' Jesus other than the one described in the Gospels. This is a venture that has been ruled by the caprice of demythologizing Christ, with perilous transpositions ultimately subjected to the Bartheian reaction [so-called deconstruction].

Moreover, Benedict XVI is well aware of the pastoral difficulties encountered today by the different churches in announcing the Good News of Christ.

The great crisis of culture and communications today - which is not exclusively a problem for the religious message - destabilizes all teaching. The Western public, uprooted from its own historical memory, is always ready and willing to give in to the pretensions of any superficial essayist, to the TV 'montage' presented by manipulators, and even the dishonest hoaxes of novelists who play on the ignorance and credulity of such a public to seduce it.

It is enough to say then that a book written by the Pope about Jesus constitutes today the most magnificent of apostolic projects, adn we should now think of how to receive this message so we can give it the most widespread dissemination in the hearts of the vast audience that it should reach.

00Thursday, February 15, 2007 11:02 PM

Alessandra Borghese's website now has this on her new book but I can't access the Preface, which is supposed to be accessible on clicking!

And it's about time someone used that delightful picture (definitely one of my desert-island pix!] as a book cover!
00Saturday, February 17, 2007 3:55 PM
Omigosh, DIE TAGESPOST has yet another long article about Juergen Habermas's comments on Pope Benedict's Regensburg lecture, this time by another philosopher, Nikolaus Lobkowicz, who is identified as a philosopher who was past president of the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich (the Pope's Alma Mater) and the Catholic University of Eichstaett.

In his introduction, he cites the original source of the Habermas comments, a long article (4-1/2 pages when transcribed to a Word document) published in the Neue Zuercher Zeitung on 2/10/07 entitled "Ein Bewusstsein von dem, was fehlt" (A consciousness of what is lacking).

Tagespost obligingly reprints the entire Habermas article, and I find that it is subtitled "Über Glauben und Wissen und den Defaitismus der modernen Vernunft" (About faith and knowledge and the defeatism of modern reason) - and to my surprise, find that the direct reference to Benedict XVI's Regensburg lecture only comes in its last two paragraphs.

That is what Armin Schiwbach commented on lengthily in the Feb. 13 Tagespost, and which Lobkowicz further comments on today.

I said 'direct reference' earlier, but in effect, as his subtitle shows, the entire Habermas article is the philosopher's riposte to Benedict's lecture. A secular atheist philosopher's view of the faith-and-reason synthesis by a Catholic theologian.

As I said earlier, because of the nature of the subject - to translate something about philosophy from German is daunting for me - the Schwibach article was not something I felt I could translate easily, certainly not as I do other things, in between tasks at work, or even while just sitting home at night trying to update my posts on the Forum. Now, there's the entire Habeermas article as well and the Lobkowicz answer.

Here, for those who read German, are the concluding paragraphs of the Habermas article that directly referred to the Regensburg lecture:


Papst Benedikt XVI. hat mit seiner jüngst in Regensburg gehaltenen Rede der alten Auseinandersetzung über Hellenisierung und Enthellenisierung des Christentums eine unerwartet modernitätskritische Wendung gegeben. Er hat damit auch eine negative Antwort auf die Frage gegeben, ob sich die christliche Theologie an den Herausforderungen der modernen, der nachmetaphysischen Vernunft abarbeiten muss. Der Papst beruft sich auf die von Augustin bis Thomas gestiftete Synthese aus griechischer Metaphysik und biblischem Glauben und bestreitet implizit, dass es für die in der europäischen Neuzeit faktisch eingetretene Polarisierung von Glauben und Wissen gute Gründe gibt. Obwohl er die Auffassung kritisiert, «man müsse nun wieder hinter die Aufklärung zurückgehen und die Einsichten der Moderne verabschieden», stemmt er sich gegen die Kraft der Argumente, an denen jene weltanschauliche Synthese zerbrochen ist.

Der Schritt von Duns Scotus zum Nominalismus führt jedoch nicht nur zum protestantischen Willensgott, sondern ebnet auch den Weg zur modernen Naturwissenschaft. Kants kritische Wende führt nicht nur zu einer Kritik der Gottesbeweise, sondern auch zu dem Autonomiebegriff, der unser modernes Verständnis von Recht und Demokratie erst möglich gemacht hat. Und der Historismus führt nicht zwangsläufig zu einer relativistischen Selbstverleugnung der Vernunft. Als Kind der Aufklärung macht er uns für kulturelle Unterschiede sensibel und schützt uns vor der Überverallgemeinerung kontextabhängiger Urteile. Fides quaerens intellectum - so begrüssenswert die Suche nach der Vernünftigkeit des Glaubens ist, so wenig hilfreich scheint es mir zu sein, jene drei Enthellenisierungsschübe, die zum modernen Selbstverständnis der säkularen Vernunft beigetragen haben, aus der Genealogie der «gemeinsamen Vernunft» von Gläubigen, Ungläubigen und Andersgläubigen auszublenden.

I hope I can post a translation of that, at least, later today.

Meanwhile, the interesting thing about Lobkowicz's article is that he says at the start: "When, shortly after publication of the Pope's Regensburg lecture, a journalist from a Rome-based Catholic newspaper called Juergen Habermas to ask him for an interview, Habermas declined with the remark that he was 'horrified' [entsetzt] by the Pope's lecture [in his case, obviously nothing to do with the peripheral Islam citation]. The journalist, whom I have known for several years, called me to ask if I understood what Habermas meant. I could not give an answer! Now, Habermas has published an essay... which holds the answer."

From a first reading of the Habermas article, and while he strongly disagrees with Benedict's formulation, I think 'horrified' was an exaggeration of his reaction... and I also find it interesting that it took him all of four months to come up with this reply.

Given Habermas's conclusion, at the discussion he had with Cardinal Raztinger in Munich in January 2004, that even secularized citizens should not "deny that religious worldviews basically have the potential for truth nor deny to citizens who are also believers the right to contribute to public discussions in religious language," Lobkowicz says Habermas is saying this again implicitly in his recent essay. Lobkowizc believes Habermas is expressing the hope that religious beliefs could be publicly expressed accessibly, that is, in words that even an atheist can acknowledge to be right.

Synchronously, an article in Il Foglio today, reporting an interview with the secretary to Bettino Craxi, the socialist Prime Minister who signed a revision of the Lateran treaties in 1984 with the Holy See (which clearly re-stated the independence and sovereignty of the Italian Republic and the Holy See), quoted Craxi as saying: "A secular society has an interest in the public presence of religion - it enriches it, it does not make it poorer. In Italy, the Church - whether it is in the majority or in the minority - is a relevant social force, its public dimension is unavoidable, and I would even say, desirable."

Obviously, Habermas's views on the role of religion and its right to be heard on public issues even in secular states is very relevant to the current political discussion in Italy.

Andrea, Crotchet, anybody out there, if you are able to come in with an earlier translation of one or all of these articles by and on Habermas, please do so! Links to all three articles can be found on
If you do, please post in APOSTOLIC VOYAGE TO BAVARIA, which contains the major discussions and replies to the Regensburg lecture.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/02/2007 23.53]

@Andrea M.@
00Saturday, February 17, 2007 5:39 PM
The Habermas article in NZZ
@Teresa and everyone else,

for your information: the entire Habermas article in German from the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" can also be found in the German section. I posted it under "AKTUELLES".

As to your request: You are right, the content is tricky to translate, I am not sure whether I can come up with something worthwile ...


[Modificato da @Andrea M.@ 17/02/2007 17.45]

00Sunday, February 18, 2007 11:40 AM
From the League of Warm and Fuzzy Traditionalists:

Just love the little pawsies - but where are the red shoes? Maybe kitty feet don't fit into shoes? [SM=g27824]
00Sunday, February 18, 2007 12:19 PM
Late Valentine's
From the Curt Jester:

[SM=x40799] [SM=x40799] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800]
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