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

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00Friday, April 13, 2007 9:17 PM
more detailed

00Saturday, April 14, 2007 1:25 AM

In the PAPAL TRAVELS thread, I have posted the official programs in both Vigevano and Pavia on separate posts.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/04/2007 8.00]

00Saturday, April 14, 2007 3:14 PM
00Saturday, April 14, 2007 6:01 PM

Interview: Cardinal Kasper on papal birthday presents

By Carola Frentzen
Apr 13, 2007, 14:53 GMT

Vatican City - German-born Cardinal Walter Kasper has known Joseph Ratzinger for more than 40 years. In this interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, the prefect of the Papal Council for the Unity of Christians speaks about papal birthday presents, teddy bears and Bavarian beer.

dpa: Cardinal Kasper, the pope turns 80 on Monday. What will he be doing on the day, and how will you wish him a happy birthday?

Kasper: He has invited all the cardinals to a big lunch, and in the evening there will be a concert in his honour. The day before, on Sunday, there will be a Mass on St Peter's Square. I'll be there, and I'll be congratulating him personally.

dpa: We were under the impression that popes don't generally celebrate their birthdays. If Benedict is inviting his closest friends around on the day, isn't that rather exceptional?

Kasper: Well, the tradition was that Catholics celebrated the feast day of their patron saints, whereas Lutherans celebrated their birthdays. But that doesn't really apply any more, times have changed. What's so bad about celebrating your birthday anyway? You have every reason to thank God if you've been able to live reasonably well and in good health for 80 years, and you can rightly pray that you'll get a few more good years.

dpa: What do you wish a pope on his birthday?

Kasper: Basically the same thing you wish anybody who has just made it to 80: many more years of health. At 80, that's no longer automatic, and he needs a lot of strength to keep exercising his office. So we'll be telling him we hope he carries on for a good many more years in full health and mental alertness. And of course we'll wish him God's blessings.

dpa: Do you plan to give the pope a present?

Kasper: It is quite difficult to find a gift for the pope. He's got most things already, especially books, and he hardly has any time left to read. We cardinals plan to club together and make a big donation to charity as their present to him. However, I'll probably find a little thing of my own to give him, such as an old photograph from some occasion where we were together years ago. We've known each other for more than 40 years, and I know he would really enjoy seeing something like that.

dpa: They are selling a commemorative-edition teddy bear in Germany which is dressed in papal robes and a cross to mark Benedict's birthday. What's your view and the Vatican's opinion about such giftware?

Kasper: Well, there isn't any official Vatican opinion about it. But personally speaking, I don't like it all. It's just tasteless. If people want to buy something, why not make a donation to a good cause?

dpa: A Bavarian bishop plans to bring beer from home as a present to the pope. Is that a good present for Benedict?

Kasper: I don't think beer is a good choice for this pope. He hardly drinks any alcohol, he has an occasional small glass of beer, but that isn't his style. Sure, I understand that Bavarians would want to bring him their beer, but I don't think it's going to thrill him.

dpa: There are a lot of pilgrims due in Rome who want to congratulate the pope on his birthday. How do you think he will react?

Kasper: He'll definitely be very pleased. It's an expression of esteem on a personal level and esteem for his office and for the way he is exercising it. So he'll be very pleased to encounter so much affection.

00Sunday, April 15, 2007 6:19 PM
BILD newspaper, from which these pictures come,
calls them 'Benedict fan articles', and includes,
of course, teddy bears and dolls.

This is supposedly the first postage stamp
made with 22-kt gold, issued by the government
of Guyana in the West Indies, and available
from the stamp dealer Richard Borek in Braunschweig
for 20.80 Euro.

A new golden Liberian coin
(25 Liberian dollars=0.33 Euro)
is available for 49 Euros from the Bavarian Mint.

In addition to the postage stamp issued earlier,
Deutsche Post (German Post Office) also sells
an 80th birthday medallion for 29.90 euro.

These are the stamps issued by Germany and Austria, respectively, to honor the Pope.
Outside of the Federal President, German postwar stamps have not featured any living person,
but an exception was made for the Pope.

@Andrea M.@
00Sunday, April 15, 2007 8:19 PM
Georg Gänswein on the Holy Father's 80th birthday
I have decided to translate an article from the Italian that I found on the web-site "Petrus" of Gianluca Barile concerning the interview with Georg Gänswein. It has all the interesting information:

The pope’s secretary: "Also a plush teddy-bear for the 80th birthday of Pope Benedict"

By Angela Ambrogetti

VATICAN CITY - "What I can say, it is that I am very grateful for this book. It is a reading that enriches and that nurtures; I can surely invite anyone to read it". The personal secretary to the Pope sums up the book "Jesus of Nazareth" - signed Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI - in this way.

In an interview released on the occasion of the 80th birthday of the Pope to the German program of Vatican radio, monsignor Georg Gaenswein opens a window on the "Appartmento" and leaves it up to us to imagine the festivity of the birthday for the Pope which will be celebrated within the Papal family, comprising letters of congratulations and gifts.

"A large number of letters and many small gifts – he discloses - like CDs, flowers, books, writings arrive and surely much more will still arrive, many things within the proximity of the birthday and also thereafter. As far as gifts are concerned the Pope has said explicitly that he prefers not to accept personal gifts: who wants to offer him a present can make a donation that he will then use for a purpose he will make public in due course, like - for example the Holy Land or other areas of crisis in the world or also in Africa. The most curious gift has been an enormous bear. It is an animal made of plush that has not come from the Germany but from Italy, a beautiful piece that the Holy Father suggested should go to the Paediatric hospital Bambin Gesù where it was received with great enthusiasm by the small children: those who knew how to write, thanked him with a most beautiful letter, while for smallest ones the president of the hospital has answered".

Also the papal family will offer a present to the Pope. Is it easy or is it difficult to make a gift to the Holy Father? "Who knows the Holy Father at close range soon learns to recognize what appeals to him and we hope that we have found something that will please him. We will give it to him on the big day itself, probably before breakfast, after mass".

But the true gift for Pope Benedict, says Gaenswein, "is when he sees that there are persons who accept the Word of God that he, and the Church announces and that this Word is not considered a load but an aid, like wings that carry the burden of the life, and that this faith then takes root in the personal life of the individual. You meet persons who are touched and affected by that and who draw great advantage / use their from faith . This is an experience that offers great joy to the Pope". The German specialist in Canon Law - who since 2004 is personal secretary to the former cardinal Ratzinger and now to the Pope – reveals also the daily routine of his job. In particular opening and processing the mail that all through the days of anniversary increased considerably. "There are many, many persons, private citizens but also many persons with official assignments, many organizations, many bishops have approached the Pope with the request that he not skip or consider second in importance his 80th birthday; the Holy Father has responded positively to this request and has offered the possibility to people to extend their best wishes for the occasion".

Many have even thought of sending an e-mail. "An official e-mail address of the Holy See obviously does exist; I did not want to give my private address for these purposes, because my computer already "is exhausted" and is surely happy to be able to avoid receiving also this enormous load of e-mails". The daily correspondence is already too much, don Georg goes on saying: "obviously official letters addressed to the Holy Father, then of course there are also letters that come from the personal, private background of the Pope: [coming from persons who] have many years of way completed with him, many years of friendship or relationships of student times ... It is important to succeed in finding the key that opens the door in such way that has then not been submerged from a true alluvium but also that the flow is not reduced to a small river. There is no specific recipe: A certain ability to value is helpful, a sensibility to hand on this flow to the Holy Father. Twice a day I have a kind of audience with the Holy Father, in which I must present him "in cumulus" all the mail that arrives by means of the Secretariat of State and several of the ministries.

Beside this "official bundle", obviously there are also many private letters, and I have the task to submit these letters to the Pope. Normally, it is easy enough to characterize who writes: there is the heading and then, when the letters are written by hand, you can acknowledge the handwriting and moreover, the Holy Father has an incredible ability of identifying immediately who writes him. Therefore, besides the official mail, there is also the private mail."

Does it all end up on the table of the secretary? "If it all ends on my writing desk, I do not know. At times, the ways of the correspondence of the Holy See are impenetrable. I can say however that what arrives on my table is more than sufficient". Then congratulations to the Pope and good job [done] to don Georg!

[Modificato da @Andrea M.@ 16/04/2007 20.07]

00Monday, April 16, 2007 3:35 PM
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, one of the most sought-after Vatican personalities for interviews these days, tells TG-1, the premier newscast of RAI, how his daily meetings with the Pope get started, according to an item posted by Ratzigirl in the main forum.

As Secretary of State, he gets to meet the Pope every weekday afternoon to discuss business, but he says they always start off by exchanging jokes and some banter about football before they get down to "the serious business about the life of the Church and the world in general."

"I usually tell him the latest jokes I have heard, so we can start with a good laugh, then settle down to discuss business.
We also talk about football. When the Pope knows or hears about a game, he asks me 'How did it go with Juve'? [Juventus, the Milan team of which Bertone has been a lifelong fan]. And I should ask him how it goes with Bayern, the Bavarian team he rooted for as Archbishop and Cardinal..."

00Tuesday, April 17, 2007 1:13 AM
other gift, today presented to Papa

by Natalia Tsarkowa

Thanks, Maklara. Is she the same Russian lady who is supposed to have done many portraits of John Paul II? Actually, this one of Benedict is not bad, and she'S very detailed. TERESA

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/04/2007 3.06]

00Tuesday, April 17, 2007 3:02 AM
Picked up from the Bayerische Rundfunk site -

They urged their listeners and watchers to write the Pope on his 80th birthday, and they set a deadline so that all the mail could be put together and sent to Rome where they wree bound overnight Saturday, then the "Wish Book' was handed by a BR official to Fr. Lombardi, who would in turn give it to the Pope today.

A couple of letter-writers remembered the Pope from way back.

"The 7 Rosenegger brothers" wrote "from Traunstein, where you [the Pope] and your brother Georg as schoolchildren came to our house in Rosenthal to get milk and eggs from our parents."

And Johanna Boettcher wrote from Lille (France): "My Papa knows you from the time you were in Muenster, riding to the University in your bike, and then giving the best lectures he had ever heard."

Karl and Helga Weick, vintners from Nuernberg, propose something for the Marktl 'birth-house' museum: to plant a Franconian grapevine in its garden, so that "it will always remind the visitors about the Pope's words when he was elected" that he is a 'humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/04/2007 3.04]

00Tuesday, April 17, 2007 9:52 AM
A retrospective article in DIE WELT this weekend had a paragraph that is the first 'recognition' I have seen in print of the 'Benaddict' effect.

After describing the false image that the media had built of Cardinal Ratzinger, the article goes on to say:

"This media filter was shattered on April 19, 2005. From that moment on, numberless cameras have zoomed into Joseph Ratzinger and brought his face in close-ups to television screens around the world on one occasion after another. From that day on, countless women (and men) around the world have fallen in love with the shy smile of the Pope from Germany, who had already previously attracted Romans by his 'bella figura' and rhetorical brilliance.... Popular interest in the Pope and the papacy has been undergoing a boom that has not been known before."

The article is titled "The German Pope is changing the world".
00Wednesday, April 18, 2007 11:01 AM
Robert Imbelli, A professor of theology at Boston college, points out in Commonweal online an error in Pope Benedict's book, after reading Sandro Magister's overview of it Monday.

Magister had pointed out that-

'For each of the ten chapters, Ratzinger cites the main books to which he refers, and which can be read for further study. Furthermore, he points out “some of the most important recent books about Jesus,” including those of Joachim Gnilka, Klaus Berger, Heinz Schürmann, Thomas Söding, Rudolf Schnackenburg, and John P. Meier. Of the last of these, a work in three thick volumes entitled “A Marginal Jew. Rethinking the Historical Jesus,” he writes: “This multi-volume work by an American Jesuit represents in many ways a model of historical-critical exegesis, and clearly displays both the importance and the limitations of this discipline." (in p. 410 of the Italian edition)'

Imbelli corrects the Pope: Monsignor John P. Meier of the University of Notre Dame...is not a Jesuit but a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

I hope Doubleday catches that one before the English edition comes out. And more importantly, that Rizzoli be informed, so that subsequent reprints and editions still to come out will carry the corrected form (all it takes is to replace the word 'Jesuit' with 'priest'). I am sure by now, someone will have brought this to the Pope's attention.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 18/04/2007 11.04]

00Wednesday, April 18, 2007 1:16 PM

Scritto da: TERESA BENEDETTA 18/04/2007 11.01

Imbelli corrects the Pope: Monsignor John P. Meier of the University of Notre Dame...is not a Jesuit but a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.


I think this is SIGNAL: Mons. John P. Meier should access to Societas Iesu.
The will comes from the highest place. [SM=g27828]


That's one way to look at it!...But personally, I don't think he has anything to gaIn by doing that! [SM=g27828] TERESA

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 18/04/2007 14.11]

00Wednesday, April 18, 2007 3:57 PM
RE: Pope's "mistake" re John P. Meier
I have just emailed to Monsignor Meier personally to get the correct facts from him. Let's hope he answers my mail! He seems a very nice person, judging from his photographs on the web and at the site of Notre Dame University. I am interested in him because I have read the first two volumes (two tomes!) of his famous "historical Jesus" study. And it is hugely impressive, purely from the point of view of historical method. He tries not to write from the standpoint of "faith", but as objectively as possible, but IMHO, compared to other scholars like Crossan and Vermes, he cannot fully hide his faith and his Catholicism. It shimmers through. I hope Papa won't be too critical about his work when he discusses its pros and cons.

In the meantime, can someone help me in my ignorance regarding Jesuits and "diocesan priests" please? Can't a Jesuit be a diocesan priest? And can one be both a diocesan priest and teach at a university? Why should the one cancel out the other? I'm a bit foggy about these customs in the RCC.


Diocesan priests do not belong to any religious order like the Jesuits (SJ) or Augustinians (OSA) or Dominicans (OP), etc. Like Ratzi, they are trained at a diocesan seminary, not at a seminary belonging to any religious order. [So, they don't have letters after their name!] TERESA

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 18/04/2007 20.41]

00Wednesday, April 18, 2007 10:46 PM
Teresa, a million thanks for answering my questions so quickly. At last I understand why some have S.J. (etc.) behind their names and others do not.
00Wednesday, April 18, 2007 10:55 PM
YUMMMM! 3 cakes here - Easy to see the first is the Marktl house, the second is St. Peter's - is the third one the Frauenkirche in Munich? [P.S. MaryJos writes later to tell us this is the church in Altoetting, not Munich.]

Of course, the Pope wasn't keeping any of the many cakes that came his way yesterday and today. He's having them sent off to various charities and hospitals. The St. Peter's Basilica creation went to the 'soup kitchen' at Colle Oppio which he visited a few months back. They apparently got 300 portions out of the cake. I wonder what he sent the young wards at Casal del Marmo.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 27/04/2007 17.16]

00Friday, April 20, 2007 6:49 AM

The first of several treats available on
a special section of the Pentling community site.

The Pope displays a watercolor impression of his 'Hauesle' in Pentling presented to him
by a delegation who visited him in Castel Gandolfo on September 8, 2005.

Here's a translation of the words he said to them on the occasion. As he did last December
when he reminisced about his Christmas experience as a nursery school kid in Traunstein,
he gives us details we did not know before:

I am a citizen of Pentling and I still have residence there. And so I will always be at home there.

It has been 36 years since I first saw Pentling and made my home there. In the summer of 1969, I had taken up my new position at the University of Regensburg. Then Canon Haegelsperger of the Cathedral showed me a house lot that I could acquire, and that is where the house now stands, built in 1970.

Pentling was still quite pastoral then, with agriculture as the main occupation, and the heartfelt simplicity of an old Bavarian village. Then we university types started coming in, and gradually Pentling changed in appearance, but without losing its heartiness and warmth.

First I lived for about a year [while the house was being built] in the next village but took part in their daily life. The school was still a school - it had a very good teacher, who also carried out clerical tasks for the community.

The assignment of street names took place in a most archaic manner. I needed an address so I told the mayor that the street on which my house is located did not have a name.

He said, "We're having a meeting next week. Why don't you come after the meeting when we will have chosen a name?" So I came after the meeting. Somewhat embarrassed, he said, "Ach, I forgot all about it." Then he caught sight of the schoolteacher and said to him, "Let's say it is called Bergstrasse." And that is how the street got its name. [Someone has written that there is neither a mountain nor a hill nearby - 'Berg' means mountain!]

I was able to move into the house in November 1970, and until I was named Archbishop of Munich, that is, until May 1977, I spent many happy years there with so many beautiful memories. After that, I spent all my vacations there: All Souls Day, Christmas, most of August.

Vacations are really specially happy times, when one is free of the yoke of daily routine, so therefore, my later memories of Pentling are even more beautiful and joyous.

And that is why Pentling is, for me, in the deepest sense, home.

The site has several 2006 pictures of the Pope's house, but except for this one displayed
in its original size on the page, the rest can be viewed in larger format but can be reproduced
only as thumbnails. As we can see, his home has far more greenery than one imagined.

Here are the thumbnails:

Bergstrasse 6, Pentling
(photographed in autumn)
"'Mein Hauesle', as I like to call it"

According to the the Regensburb diocesan museum site, the statue
which adorns a little fountain the Pope's garden was a gift to
the Cardinal by sculptress Christine Stadler. It is called a
Schutzmantel Madonna (Our Lady of the Protective Mantle?) -
does it have something to do with the image on the Church door
in Altoetting that Clare and Mary took pictures of? Stadler
also gave him the cat sculpture.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 20/04/2007 7.51]

00Saturday, April 21, 2007 1:04 AM
Here is one account (translated) by a reliable witness:

Mons. Georg Ratzinger has told the Passauer Neue Presse how his brother Joseph spent his 80th birthday last Monday.

He thinks the most intimate moment was when the Pope's 'family' surprised him at breakfast time, around 8 a.m., by singing together a German canon, „Wir kommen alle und gratulieren, zum Geburtstag Gottes Segen“ (We have all come to wish you God's blessing on your birthday).

After which they gave the Pope their gift - a gold-embroidered ceremonial stole that they had ordered made for him in Rome. They then sung a second song, the hymn "Fest soll mein Taufbund stehen“ (May my baptismal bonds stay ever firm).

This appeared to have touched the Pope very much, says his brother, because he was baptized on Easter Saturday just a few hours after he was born.

The Pope's 'family' includes his two secretaries Mons. Georg Gaenswein and Mons. Mietek Mokrowycz, the four Memores Domini nuns who run his household (Carmela, Cristina, Emmanuela and Loredana) and Paolo, his valet - and of course, his older brother when he is visiting, like this time.

Mons. Georg has a two-room apartment on the fifth floor of the Apostolic Palace, directly over the Papal apartments.

The day began for the Pope, as usual, with 7 o'clock Mass in the private chapel, with his family in attendance. Here too, they sung German church songs like „Großer Gott, wir loben Dich“ (Great God, we praise you) or Schubert's „Heilig, heilig, heilig“ (Holyl, holy, holy).

Afterwards, between 7:30-8:00, the brothers prayed the breviary together, with the Pope reading out the prayers as Georg's eyesight is now very poor.

Breakfast was a bit more special than the usual bread and honey. They had Sacher-Torte ("Very good!", says Georg Ratzinger) and crostata ("It like a Linzertorte").

At lunchtime, the Pope went to the luncheon with all the cardinals of the Curia and other cardinals present in Rome, including the Archbishop of Munich, Friedrich Wetter, who had come to Rome for the Pope's birthday.

But he was back in time for the brothers' mid-afternoon 'digestive' walk on the roof garden of the Apostolic palace. The Pope told his brother that at noon, Russian Presiddent Putin had called him on the telephone to personally wish him Happy Birthday.

Putin had earlier sent the Pope his birthday gift - a portable triptych that depicts the Passion of Jesus on its three inner panels, and on the outer panels, scenes connected with the evangelization of Russia 1,000 years ago.

But there were presents everywhere, Georg says. He had given his present - a ceremonial cope of gold brocade which was woven, fashioned and embroidered by some nuns in a Bavarian monastery - to the Pope last December, to cover three ocasions - Christmas, his name day (March 19) and his birthday.

He says the Pope has not seen all the birthday gifts yet because the Vatican has been flooded with gifts from around the world. Someone sent the Pope a giant bouquet of 80 red roses, he said.

However, on Sunday afternoon, after the birthday mass in the morning and after lunch, the Pope was able to look through the gift envelops that his brother had brought with him from the Pope's friends and neighbors in Regensburg. Apparently, the Pope had made it known that he would prefer them to send a donation for charity instead.

Said his brother: "It doesn't matter, whether it's a small sum from simple folk or big amounts from important personalities, he is very happy over every birthday wish and every good intention for a worthy cause."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 22/04/2007 0.36]

00Saturday, April 21, 2007 1:29 AM
Corriere della Sera, which has been keeping track even of trivia on the Pope's vist to Lombardy this weekend, gives their latest version to date of what the food will be at the luncheon with the Bishops of Lombardy on Sunday at the Bishop's Palace in Pavia. [The Corriere main office is in Milan, capital of Lombardy - Vigevano and Pavia are both about 50 kilometers southwest and southeast of Milan, respectively]

PAVIA - The food will be light, tasty and very much in the Pavese tradtion. The menu for the Pope's luncheon with the bishops of Lombardy on Sunday has been decided.

It will start with an antipasto of local sausages with pickled onions, quail eggs in green sauce, and seafood salad.

The so-called 'primi piatti' (first dishes - usually pasta or risotto) will feature a Pavese risotto and a sampling of 'caramelle piacentine' [???I can only translate it as caramels from Piacenza, but why would they have sweets with rice???]

The 'second dishes' (the entrees, actually) will be pork bocconcini with lemon, and roast veal with beans and green salad.

Dessert will be fruit macedoine and the 'torta diplomatica' described earlier as made with a base of almond paste and cream.

Wines will include La Versa, a Pinot grigio called Terre d'Alteni al Donelasco, and a Spumante Fior d'arancio with dessert.
00Monday, April 23, 2007 8:21 AM
Ratzigirl posted this item without attribution - it sounds like something korazym.org would do - but here's a translation:

The volunteers of Vigevano

They had been standing since dawn guarding the police barriers set up in the city - over 250 men and women volunteers who assisted in keeping order during the Pope's visit to Vigevano.

Nives Terreni, 36, has the look of someone who has experienced something unforgettable. "I was very struck by the Pope's simplicity, his gentleness, his intelligence!"

"I am going home with the memory of an extraordinarily beautiful encounter," says this man, a travel agent who has also been a Scout master since 1998. On a lanyard, he wears the name card that specifically allowed him to be where he is for the events of the day.

It was not the first time for him to see a Pope. "I saw John Paul II at the end of the 1980s," he remembers, "during a meeting with educators."

Of that meeting he remembers the infectious enthusiasm of John Paul. Of Benedict XVI, he says he will never forget the smile.

The heat in Piazza Ducale is ferocious. The April heat would wear down anyone, especially if one has been standing for hours on these black cobblestones.

But Ilaria Guzzardi, 27, says she 'doesn't feel tired at all.'
"In 2000, I saw John Paul II in Rome on World Youth Day." The emotion that time was as great as she felt here in Vigevano.

Ilaria, who works for a law office, looks at the street lamps that have lit up with the sunset. The pilgrims have been leaving the city, but she - leaning on one of the barriers that had been set up near the altar - was wishing the day would never end.

Valeria Francese, 34, also said she did not feel tired at all. She had been assigned to welcome official guests. "I saw a lot today." she had been in the piazza at her post since 8 a.m., but she still felt as enthusiastic as she was when she woke up.

"It is hard for me to say what I felt seeing this Pope. My generation grew up with John Paul II and now, still has to know Benedict XVI better. Wojtyla remains in our hearts. We're starting to get to know Benedict bit by bit." [Isn't there a certain closedness in this attitude?]

Piazza Ducale is almost empty by now. The Pope has gone, but it is as if he is still among most of these 'Papa-boys'. They are staying until the last pilgrim has left.

Marco Rossetti, 17, a volunteer, turns to a friend and says, "I miss the Pope already."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 24/04/2007 2.33]

00Tuesday, April 24, 2007 9:24 AM
In Germany, they have at least one book out on children's questions for the Pope (answered by Georg Gaenswein). Italian publishers may have material for something similar, if these kids' questions get attention from the Apostolic Palace.


Giulio: "Dear Pope, how many times a day do you pray? Me? Twice a day."

Luca: "Is it hard to be Pope? Do you ever have any moments of discomfort?"

The schoolchildren of Vigevano were asked to write down questions for the Pope, and the Association of Catholic Teachers is asking the diocesan office for schools, to help them get the questions to the Pope.

So, more questions:

Simona: "Dear Pope, do you ever see your guardian angel?"

Cristian: "Dear Pope? How were you as a teenager? Were you a well-mannered boy? Because I am not!"

Chiara: "When we are grown-ups, can we have a better world without all these wars and problems?"

Paola: "Why are we not all alike? There should be no beautiful or ugly persons, no black or white. I am a colored girl."

Alessia: "Dear Pope, who do you confess to when you commit a sin?"

Xhulian: "Dear Pope, I would like to know if you went to university."

Giuseppe: "I am curious to know if you played football when you were a kid, like my parish priest did."

Teresa: "When you were a priest, did you ever think, I would like to become Pope?"

Giovanni: "Dear Pope, at least you don't have to worry- you will surely go to heaven, won't you?"

Avvenire, 22 aprile 2007

Other questions/comments gathered by a news agency from the children's letters:

Federica: "Signor Papa, I would like peace in the world - enough of war - and please help poor people."

Chantal: "Will you give us all your blessing and also Communion?...But please, stay with us longer in Vigevano!"

Omar: "I would like peace in the world...But it's enough that you are coming here!"

Davide: "Dear Pope, I would like to ask if you could please come often to Vigevano!"

Chiara: Dear Pope Benedict XVI, I would like to ask you only one thing, but it is very important: to bring peace to the whole world, because war is a very ugly thing."

Juergen: "Papa, I love you so much!"

Emanuele: "Dear Pope, excuse me for bothering you. I want to ask a question - is the work of a Pope difficult? Do you trust your cardinals?"

Alberto: "Holiness, I ask you to give a special blessing to my father because he married twice. Please give him your pardon."

But there was a 'political' letter coming from a third-grade class at a school named for Leonardo da Vinci:
"We would like to ask Benedict XVI if it is possible to renew the Church by giving it a less opulent image. We understand that all the luxury is intended to honor Jesus by giving him the riches which he did not have during his earthly life. But the emotions aroused in us by the film taken in Korogocho (???) by Fr. Alex Zanotelli, showing thousands and thousands of persons packed like sardines in barracks has made us ashamed of everything we own." [Now, who would believe that such a letter can possibly come from Grade-3 children, rather than perhaps from their teacher, shamelessly using the kids to push his agenda, and his terribly wrong notions about the Church! I believe, from what I read in other sources, the same letter went on to make the demand that the Pope should not wear his pectoral cross while visiting Vigevano because that was a very visible sign of this 'improper Church opulence.'...Well, there will always be rotten apples in the barrel.]

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 26/04/2007 14.46]

00Wednesday, April 25, 2007 6:40 PM

The Vatican correspondent of the Times of London - who lives in Rome, obviously, and so, could not have been unaware of this earlier - joined his Italian MSM colleagues yesterday in belatedly reporting on the 'behind the scenes at the Papal apartment' footage that was in the RAI documentary to commemorate the Pope's 80th birthday.

The documentary, BENEDETTO XVI: IL PAPA DALL'AMICIZIA CON DIO, was first shown April 15-16 (the 'behind the scenes' found in Part 2 aired April 16 for the first time) and has since been re-run at least twice on RAI - not to mention videoclips from it that have played around the world since then.

But it took the replay of the documentary preceding the Papal Mass in Pavia on Sunday, April 22, to make the Italian newspapers finally report on it on April 24 - as if just discovering something that had been well-publicized by RAI, Italian state TV, before the fact, and which was first actually seen a full seven days earlier!

Here's how the British newspaper's Vaticanista joined the chorus of 'discovery' and managed to twist it somehow.

Everyday life softens Pope’s image
Richard Owen in Rome
April 24, 2007

The Vatican has released film and photographs offering a rare glimpse of the private life of Benedict XVI.

The images show the Pope — who turned 80 last week — watching the evening news on a flat-screen television with Monsignor Georg Gänswein, his German personal secretary; eating lunch with his assistants in his private dining room; saying the rosary in the Vatican gardens; and putting on his vestments to say morning Mass in the papal chapel.

Father Gänswein is seen to be in charge of the TV remote control.

The pictures of the pontiff dining confirm that he enjoys a modest amount of wine with his meals, prepared by a staff of German nuns in what appears to be a high-tech papal kitchen. [About the wine, that's a rather sweeping conclusion to draw from a social meal with an invited guest, as opposed to his regular meals - especially since the picture to illustrate Owens's story clearly shows OJ being poured for the Pope. They could have chosen a video-cap that showed a glass with red wine by the Pope's OJ glass. And don't pretend the 'high-tech kitchen' is 'news' to a Vaticanista, either, because it was rather well-publicized at the time the Pope first moved into the renovated Papal apartment. Lastly, the 'German nuns' are really Italian lay sisters. ]

The Vatican has been at pains to convey a more relaxed, “human” and media-friendly image of Pope Benedict XVI since his election two years ago, when he was filmed by Vatican Television taking possession of the papal apartments. [Is Owen seriously telling readers who watch TV and see the Pope as he is, despite all the media filters, that the Vatican must be 'at pains' to convey the 'real Benedict'?]

At Christmas it authorised the sale for charity of a calendar featuring photographs of the Pope playing the piano, reading and writing, and strolling through the gardens of Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence.

Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman, told The Times that the footage had been filmed in response to a “huge number of requests” from television stations in the pontiff’s native Germany and around the world for images with which to mark his 80th birthday and the second anniversary of his election. [Once again, Owen is taking the liberty of appropriating a statement made to others as something made to the Times exclusively. Lombardi's statement was made to La Stampa's Giacomo Galeazzi who wrote about the RAI documentary on April 24. Owen did this shameless appropriation without attribution recently, in his putdown two-year 'report card' on the Pope, when he picked up comments made by Vittorio Messori and Giuseppe Alberigo to Corriere della Sera as though they made it to him! The consistent dishonesty is just pathetic!]

The pictures show the Pope riffling through a compilation of daily press cuttings assembled and presented to him by Father Mietek Mokrzycki, his Polish second-secretary, who was also personal assistant to John Paul II.

The film, extracts from which were broadcast on Italian television, also shows the pontiff consulting Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, his Secretary of State, or Prime Minister.

The Pope, who made a two-day visit to Pavia in northern Italy at the weekend to pray at the tomb of St Augustine of Hippo and meet patients at a local hospital, is preparing a gruelling trip to Brazil next month. [The implication being, "Poor Benedict! At 80, how on earth will he cope with all that!"]

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 25/04/2007 18.55]

00Wednesday, April 25, 2007 8:05 PM
I hope we get a picture of this eventually! Lella just posted an ASCA item reporting an incident at the general audience today, translated here:

VATICAN CITY, April 25 (ASCA) - Unusual gesture from a Pope: Benedict XVI bent down to pick up a medal from the ground that a little girl had offered him at the General Audience today.

Benedict's personal greetings to fortunate individuals after the catechesis today was particularly long with lots of participation. Especially children held out by their parents across the barricades to be blessed and caressed by the Pope.

When he came to a little girl who had something in her hand to give the Pope, he opened his hand, and the child gave him a medal but it fell to the ground.

Holding on to his secrtary with one hand, the Pope quickly bent down to pick up the medal, then straightened up to caress the child.


How many 80-year-olds are there who are even physically able to do something like that? The media reported a similar gesture by the Pope when he visited the Caritas soup kitchen in Colle Opio last January. He immediately bent and picked up sunglasses that one of the 'customers' had dropped when he was in line to greet the Pope.

It isn't just that he is able to do it - it's the simple spontaneity of his action, reacting reflexively even if he knows very well that everyone else around him would inevitably and naturally do it in his place.
00Thursday, April 26, 2007 8:02 AM

Scritto da: TERESA BENEDETTA 25/04/2007 20.05
I hope we get a picture of this eventually! Lella just posted an ASCA item reporting an incident at the general audience today, translated here:

What a sweet story! And sweet Papa! [SM=g27836]

I think this is the moment...


TERRIFIC, SUE, THANK YOU! Too bad the photog didn't snap him when he was bent down,
[maybe he was thinking 'it's un-Papal' and let a rare occasion go 'unused'!, what a pity!]
but clearly in the third picture, he has the medal back...


[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 26/04/2007 12.47]

@Andrea M.@
00Thursday, April 26, 2007 11:17 PM
The Times of London article
on the documentary:

The pictures of the pontiff dining confirm that he enjoys a modest amount of wine with his meals, prepared by a staff of German nuns in what appears to be a high-tech papal kitchen. [About the wine, that's a rather sweeping conclusion to draw from a social meal with an invited guest, as opposed to his regular meals - especially since the picture to illustrate Owens's story clearly shows OJ being poured for the Pope. They could have chosen a video-cap that showed a glass with red wine by the Pope's OJ glass. And don't pretend the 'high-tech kitchen' is 'news' to a Vaticanista, either, because it was rather well-publicized at the time the Pope first moved into the renovated Papal apartment. Lastly, the 'German nuns' are really Italian lay sisters]

In this pic here you can clearly see, however, that both OJ and wine are on the table in front of the Holy Father:


[Modificato da @Andrea M.@ 26/04/2007 23.18]

That's what I meant, precisely. That it was a social meal, and that wine was served, and it was seen on the video. I was being ironic about their choice of picutre, obviously! TERESA

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 26/04/2007 23.51]

00Friday, April 27, 2007 12:56 PM
Birthday cakes
Going back to the top of the page: I think the pistacchio-coloured third cake could be Altoetting. It isn't the Frauenkirche in Muenchen.
Mary x [SM=g27811]


Thanks, Mary! I will go in and put the correction. TERESA.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 27/04/2007 17.14]

00Friday, April 27, 2007 6:05 PM
Elena has posted two brief anecdotes, translated here, from the newspaper PROVINCIA PAVESE'S special on the Pope's recent visit to Pavia.

'Holiness, I am an opera singer...'

"It was a splendid moment, one that will be hard to forget," says Ambrogio Maestri.

In front of the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, this big man who towers over everyone and whom every one in Pavia recognizes, a baritone used to facing enthusiastic fans with jovial cordiality after each adrenaline-powered performance, now seems to be in need of recovering his breath himself.

He looks around him as he tries to decide how best to express himself. "I kissed the Pope's ring," he finally says. "And I told him, 'I am an opera singer, Holiness, and I was recently in Munich where, at the Opera House, I sang Falstaff, my signature role.'"

And what did Papa Ratzinger say?

"He showed his familiarity with the subject. 'Falstaff!! How wonderful,' he said - and this drew a smile from him even if he seemed a bit tired. He added, 'One needs a powerful voice for that role - and one can certainly hear that you have it!"

The following story provides us with a very reassuring behind-the-scenes look at how nothing is left to chance in anticipating even emergency needs when a VIP like the Pope is on the move.

The Pope's guardian angels in Pavia

To be nearby just in case, they all slept in the Bishop's palace themselves that night, "on the floor below him," says Raimondo, a heart specialist who was part of a multi-disciplinary team organized to be ready for any medical emergency during the Pope's visit to Pavia. [This is SOP for most heads of State, both within the VIP's own entourage and/or on the part of the host government or organization.]

He says that they were informed the week before by the Vatican that although the Pope would be travelling with his personal physician as customary, Pavia was requested to provide a support team, including a cardiologist.

Three doctors were recruited, each with their own drivers. Raimondo said that the whole team - 30 in all - including nurses, paramedics and drivers, all decided to be present and available for the duration of the Pope's stay in Pavia, from Saturday evening till Sunday evening when he headed back to Rome.

But they were all requested to use dark suits, like the security people. "Obviously, we were asked not to wear the usual orange suits worn by emergency personnel."

But they did carry around a 20-kilogram knapsack that contained basic equipment like an EKG machine and a defibrillator. Even the knapsack was a discreet grey-green instead of orange.

"The rule in such cases is to stay within easy distance of the VIP at all times," he says. "An ambulance is always at the tailend of a VIP motorcade, and at the Papal events in Pavia, it was parked discreetly in the garden of St. Matthew's hospital, behind the altar for the Mass and behind the stage used at the University of Pavia."

"The chief of Vatican security asked us, 'How far is the hospital from the Bishop's residence?" We said, 5 minutes. So he said, 'Then you better sleep in the residence yourselves.' So we were given quarters for the night on the ground floor.

"As for our personal emotions, we are not supposed to show that on the job. But it was such an important experience. The Pope emanates a special aura, and to meet him in person is very moving."

On Sunday, he said, the Pope thanked everyone personally before leaving the Bishop's residence - doctors, volunteers, cooks, the curial staff, the guards.

The cardiologist notes that "Even the Pope's staff was impeccable, and we should all learn something from their perfect organization."

00Friday, April 27, 2007 6:35 PM
From Lella's blog, here is an item by the Berlin correspondent of La Stampa in today's paper, translated here:

The Pope surpasses Guenter Grass
By Marina Verna in Berlin

Guenter Grass is no longer the icon of German intellectuals. Not a surprise after the scandal of his confession, made only recently, that he was a member of the SS in his youth.

The surprise is who has taken his place on their pedestal: Joseph Ratzinger, the conservative theologian who became Benedict XVI.

In 2006, he was the German thinker most cited in newspapers, magazines and 160 data banks, in the much-awaited survey by the monthly magazine Cicero of the 500 intellectuals who count most in Germany.

The Pope came up to #1 from only #13 in 2005, the year he was elected, while Grass came in #3 this year, behind writer Martin Walser. The Pope's 'intellectual' year was highlighted by his lecture at Regensburg and by his book JESUS OF NAZARETH.

Also in the top 10 are philosopher Juergen Habermas and essayist Hans Magnus Enzensberger.

The rating is not based on the content of the person's thought but only on the frequency of citation, which is considered an absolute indicator of his influence.

The list includes writers, professors and even some show business people but no politician! Here, at least, the Pope is not being treated as a politician. But what he says, counts. And most of all, he is often quoted.

La Stampa, 27 aprile 2007
00Friday, April 27, 2007 7:41 PM
Munich Archbishop, Cardinal Wetter, with a picture of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger -
one I had not seen before. Ratzigirl picked this up, along with those precious pictures of
baby Joseph and the Ratzinger siblings in the 'youngest' photo of them together that
we have seen of them so far [posted in ALBUM FOR JOSEPH].

And the smaller picture next to it, despite its small scale here, shows a scrumptious
cardinal in clergyman suit!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 27/04/2007 19.49]

00Friday, April 27, 2007 7:58 PM

He's always scrumptious, even in the baby pic. The cutest little pope ever!

00Monday, April 30, 2007 5:19 AM
Pope ordains 22 men, including Vatican photographer's son, in ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI ordained 22 men on Sunday in St. Peter's Basilica, including the son of the man who has been the Vatican's official photographer for decades.

Juan Carlos Mari was ordained as a member of the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative religious order, the order said. His father Arturo has been taking photographs of pontiffs on pilgrimages and during ceremonies for decades for the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. The elder Mari was among the faithful in the pews on Sunday.

Benedict called for prayers for the new priests to persevere in their ministry and remain faithful.

He also asked for prayers for more vocations for the priesthood. The Catholic Church has seen candidates for the priesthood decline in parts of the West, and far-flung parishes in developing countries are sometimes short of priests.

At one point in the ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica, the men prostrated themselves on a carpet in front of the central altar.

Wearing simple white cassocks, they replied one by one, "Here I am,'' as their names were called out.-AP


And here's the AP photo and caption for it from Yahoo's newsphoto service:

AP - Sun Apr 29, 4:30 PM ET In this photo released by Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI ordains Juan Carlos Mari...

The fact that Mari was among the ordained was mentioned in the captions of the first photos released this morning on the Yahoo servic,e but of the two photos they had showing the Pope ordaining somebody, neither of neither of them was Mari. Yahoo just added this photo tonight.

It's a wonderful story...In his homilies today, the Pope once again pointed out how important the family was as a cradle for vocations. And Benefan, you know this firsthand, of course. What a blessing for all families who have the privilege of having a priest..


[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 30/04/2007 5.47]

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