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

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00Thursday, May 3, 2007 10:55 PM
The Time 100

Leaders and revolutionaries

Pope Benedict XVI

By Vittorio Messori

It was never going to be easy to follow a man like Karol Wojtyla, a "Technicolor" Pope, with his unmatched skills as a preacher and an actor. Everyone thought that when Joseph Ratzinger, 80, became Pope, the crowds in St. Peter's Square would greatly diminish and the mass interest in the papacy would disappear. But just the opposite has happened. And therein lies the enigma of Pope Benedict XVI: Why are the faithful (and others) drawn to an intellectual who concedes nothing to the show, who says difficult things (like his September speech about faith and violence in Regensburg, which touched off anger among Muslims), who doesn't bargain with the Gospel? What makes people rush to this fragile man who speaks softly and politely without moving his hands, without ever acting? Evidently, there is a sort of secret attraction, as if many can sense the fascination of the sacred through the witness of Benedict's thoughts and his modest and humble life. After the Slavic sentiment arrives German seriousness—different charismas that confirm that the Catholic Church knows how to make room for every kind of temperament, letting the human qualities of such different men shine through.
00Thursday, May 3, 2007 11:16 PM
It's too late to be an April Fool's joke, but this item from Libero today carried by Lella on her blog had me wondering... And also thinking that just two days ago, I posted a coomentary by Avvenire's Davide Rondoni in which he remarked that with the release of teh Poep's book on Jesus, even in show business, everyone seems to be talking about Jesus.

And yet, among the three notable examples he cited, he of course failed to mention two films about Jesus that have come out in Italy in the past two months to great publicity - the first one being Ermanno Olmi's literally iconoclastic Jesus in Centochiodi (100 Nails), and this one.

It's almost like a sign for Benedict that his intentions of placing Jesus as God-made-man in the center of the world's consciousness is starting to bear fruit. Let us pray that indeed Jesus becomes the dominant and literal Zeitgeist in the age of Benedict XVI.

And this story which I first thought was just a make-do item on a slow news day is not trivial after all.

Jesus drinking Coke -
and the Pope approves!


It isn't everyday one comes up against a Jesus in jeans and T-shirt who, sipping a Coke, philosophizes on "an ecclesiastical system which has become old and creaky..." Especially not when one is on a leisurely walk in the Holy Land.

But this is the key scene in "Seven Kilometers from Jerusalem", a film directed by Claudio Malaponti which opens in movie theaters throughout Italy tomorrow.

Taken from the novel of the same title by Pino Farinotti, a scholar of the cinema and well-known film critic, the film has a very original plot.

An Italian (played by Luca Word), is in a spiritual crisis after divorce and comes to the Holy Land. On the road that eventually leads to the Holy Sepuclhre, he meets a very likeable Jesus, who is iconoclastic and very hip (played by Alessandro Etrusco).

The Vatican has shown remarkable elasticity in dealing with the film. In the past, some of the statements made by the Jesusus in the film would have raised much controversy.

Director Malaponte underscores it this way: "Statements like 'The Holy Shroud is a fraud but it works. People flock to it to pray..' or 'You ask me for a miracle to save your friend from cancer? I can't do anything for you - disease is your problem' would have raised scandal in a Church that was somewhat schoolmarmish and antiquated. This Jesus is a universal figure, modern. Who is liked even by Muslims and Buddhists, who goes beyond the rigid dogmas of the Church."

After the first favorable remarks by the Bishop of Vincenza, Cesare Nosiglia, Pope Benedict XVI himself expressed in a letter "his satisfaction ... with the hope that its cinematic proposition may help the viewers grow in their love for Jesus and in their knowledge of the richness of his message."

But although the film my have been blessed by Benedict [benedetta da Benedetto], it had other problems earlier, A few days before the original release date of April 6, Coca-Cola went on the rampage in Italy because of a scene in which the Jesus character downs a whole can of Coke.

Coke-Italy threatened to get an order blocking its release and asked the producers to cut out the scene in which Jesus of Nazareth provides an unwitting testimonial for the drink. [I don't undertstand what objection they could have had to this! Unless Coke wants to be paid for the product placement, but I thought it was the other way around - that they should pay for it because it advertises them!]

An exaggeration! [Or a PR ploy, rather!] A few days later, Coca-Cola gave the go-ahead for the film to be released as is.

"But we already paid dearly for it," said producer Graziano Prota. "The film, which is about Christ, was supposed to have come out on Good Friday. Instead, it will come out on an ordinary Friday in May."

So tomorrow, with the waters calmed, people can sit back in the dark to watch "7 Kilometers from Jerusalem" - a story on Jesus with Jesus. A modern film, daring, and to be enjoyed, with- why not? - an ice-cold Coke.

Libero, 3 maggio 2007


I'm going about this backwards, but before hitting RISPONDI to post this item, I decided to open another window and check out what I could of the film - and sure enough it has a home page, with a press release about Coca-Cola withdrawing its objections, with a link to this letter from the Vatican, apparently to Farinotti.

The translation:

The Supreme Pontiff has received with pleasure your letter of March 6 in which you briefly explained the intentions you have regarding your work and sent him a DVD of the film based on your novel.

In conveying to you the sense of his appreciation for your thoughtful and courteous gesture and for the gift (of the film), the Holy Father wishes to express his satisfaction for the commitment you expressed in your letter. He hopes that this cinematic proposition may help the viewers grow in their love for Jesus the Son of God and in the knowledge of the richness of His message, inspiring in everyone good intentions and Christian commitment.

His Holiness, while invoking on you and those dear to you the protection of the Virgin Mary of Nazareth, is happy to send you his special blessing as a token of generous divine gifts, and extends it gladly to those who have helped realize the work, with a special thought for director Ckaudio Malaponti.

Mons. Gabriele Caccia, Councillor

The Bishop of Vicenza's message was published in the April 18 issue of Avvenire, and said:

"I think it (the film) is an adequate representation of Jesus, in His identity as the Son of God and as a man, as a real and not just a virtual presence. Morepver, I find the final emssage very beautiful: once he has encountered Jesus, the protagonist brings back an answer of concrete hope to all his friends."

In March, the film received the 2007 Jean Rouch Prize from UNESCO for Cinema as a bridge between cultures, with the following citation:

"A work appreciated for the beauty of its photography, masterfully filmed in the spectacular scenery of the Middle East, withconstructive contribution of Muslim workers in a film with deeply Christian roots."

On the issue with Coca-Cola, here is what the producers said on April 4: " Coca-Cola has sent us a letter asking us to eliminate the scene where Jesus drinks Coke. Coca-Cola thinks it is unacceptable that the scene could use the image of Jesus for advertising...We are trying to see if we can work out an arrangement...but in the meantime, the film cannot come out as scheduled on April 6."

Finally, in accouncing that the film would be released May 4, the producers said they had received a letter from Coca-Cola Italia saying they now understood that the use of their brand-name on the film "was a creative and artistic necessity for the director who wanted to use a universal symbol of today's society, adding that the it [the use of Coca-Cola in the film] was in no way offensive, authorizing its use in the film so that it can appear in its integral version."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 07/05/2007 0.01]

00Saturday, May 5, 2007 3:10 PM
Unlike pesky paparazzi,
pope's photographers snap coolly,
with class

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY, May 4(CNS) -- They are not pushy or pesky; rather, the pope's own paparazzi are the epitome of discretion and class.

Vatican photographers stand out from other media shutterbugs, not just because they're always dressed in ironed dark suits and ties, but because, coolly clicking away, they are the ones standing right next to the pope.

The papal photographers are also the only ones allowed to shadow the pontiff almost everywhere he goes, even during more private moments -- be they special audiences inside the Vatican with heads of state or an intimate luncheon with cardinals or bishops.

According to the head of the Vatican's photo service, Salesian Father Giuseppe Colombara, the job of the four official papal photographers is to create a visual record of the pope's activities and important Vatican events.

With the click of a shutter, photographers immortalize an "unrepeatable masterpiece of an instant," he said.

For the past 30 years, papal photographers have captured and preserved thousands of unforgettable scenes as varied as Pope John Paul II collapsing into the arms of his aide after being hit by a bullet in 1981 to him trying on U2 singer Bono's sunglasses during a 1999 meeting with the Irish rock star.

These photos and more are on display April 25-May 27 at a special exhibit at the Braccio Carlo Magno, a hall next to St. Peter's Basilica, to celebrate the photo service's 30th anniversary and the second anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's election.

Called "Vatican Click," the exhibit showcases 382 photos from the more than 5 million housed in the Vatican's photo archives.

The exhibit also shows early black-and-white shots of life in and around the Vatican during the 1930s-1960s: Ethiopian seminarians leaping in a rare Roman snowfall, and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini watching workmen build the Via della Conciliazione, the wide boulevard leading to St. Peter's Square.

Before the Vatican photo service was established, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, hired professional photographers "from the outside" to take papal pictures, Father Colombara told Catholic News Service.

Then in 1977, the newspaper's editor in chief decided the paper should hire its own photojournalists who would work exclusively and specifically on covering the Vatican and the pope.

The timing was providential as just one year later, the most media-friendly pope in modern times, Pope John Paul, was elected.

Father Colombara said the late pope was a natural.

"He had an extraordinary sensibility. He just knew, felt when a photographer was near and instinctively, almost automatically, would smile," move or turn in a way that was perfect for a picture, he said.

A close, though professional, rapport grew easily over the years between Pope John Paul and the Vatican photographers, said the Salesian priest.

But the shooting and snapping ease hit a speed bump in 2005 after the election of Pope Benedict, who was not used to being trailed by cameramen and having bulbs flash and shutters click at his every move.

However, Pope Benedict is much more comfortable now with his personal paparazzi, Father Colombara said, and has often directly expressed to the photographers his appreciation for their hard work.

Pope Benedict is also the first pope to have granted the Vatican's television and photography crews wide permission to film him in his private apartments, showing "without mystery, without secrets that the day in the life of a pope is made up of a lot of work and simplicity," he said.

Father Colombara said the best pictures of any pope are the ones in which he "radiates human warmth" and when his fatherly face "points to the very meaning of (his) mission: the person of Jesus."

While pictures of Pope John Paul at Jerusalem's Western Wall or Pope Benedict in a Turkish mosque have important historical value, sometimes it's the simpler shots of a pope hugging a child or praying the rosary that have a greater, more emotional impact on the viewer.

"A beautiful photo, a beautiful image offers an entryway, the first step of evangelization," Father Colombara said.

When a picture of a pope expresses "love, welcoming, understanding, acceptance," it can "make the church loved very, very much and be very appreciated by almost everyone," whatever their faith belief may be, he said.

Just as the church hired great painters and sculptors to depict the beauty and mystery of God and the Gospels, it also has employed the power of the photograph, which can be highly effective in a world where "the image is everything," he said.

Father Colombara said that since last summer Vatican photographers have switched to shooting exclusively in digital, which has not only facilitated archiving and research, but has also widened the public's access to their treasures.

A self-described computer buff, Father Colombara led the creation of the Vatican photo service Web site, www.photo.va, which was launched last year.

With Vatican photographers churning out at least 2,000 photos on a typical Wednesday, when the pope's general audience is held, the Web site's pictures are simply arranged chronologically in flipbook fashion, giving viewers a chance to feel as if they are right next to the pope.

Vatican Library to be renovated,
closed to public for three years

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican Library is closing its doors to the public for the next three years for renovation.

Starting July 14, the library will be closed until September 2010 in order to carry out "major structural renovation of one wing of the library," the library's vice prefect, Ambrogio Piazzoni, told Catholic News Service.

The library's ever-growing and massive collection of ancient and modern volumes had put too much stress and strain on its 16th-century building, he said May 4.

Workers will have to reinforce the floors and walls of one of the library's halls, making public access to the reading rooms impossible, he said. All renovation projects that could be done without disturbing visiting scholars "have already been done.

Now the big problem is left," he said. It involves revamping an entire wing. Founded in 1475, the Vatican Library is now home to almost 2 million books and manuscripts. About 100 scholars visit the library every day.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 06/05/2007 7.06]

00Saturday, May 5, 2007 4:19 PM
I wonder when was the last time Joseph Ratzinger actually rode a bike - a travelling one, that is, besides his health-regimen stationary bike at the Vatican. Hre's an interesting item from Lella's blog:

Last Wednesday, teh Madonna del Ghisallo sporting association from Cabiate, a municipality halfway between Milan and Como (20 km north of Milan, 20 km southeast of Como), presented Pope Benedict XVI with two bicycles and asked him to tbe their honorary president.

The Madonna del Ghisallo was named patron saint of cyclers in 1949 by Pope Pius XII. After the proclamation, a lighted torch was ceremonially brought by bicycle relay from the Vatican to Magreglio, site of the Madonna's Church. The torch was carried on its last stage appropriately by Coppi and Bartali, Italy's greatest bikers at that time.

Renato Conti, presidente, said the bikes were custom-made 'to the Pope's measure' by skilled artisans of Magreglio.

The bike in the picture is made of wood, while the other bike is an ultra-modern one in carbon fiber.

Il Gazzettino del nordest, 4 maggio 2007

I couldn't resist looking up what I could on the Madonna del Ghisallo:

The Madonna del Ghisallo church, located on a hilltop in the northern Italian hamlet of Magreglio, near Lake Lecco, has become equal parts functional religious site and cycling museum, filled with artifacts and photos tracing the sport's 100+ year history.

The greatest riders in the world like Coppi and Bartali have given their bicycles and jerseys to the church by way of thanks for winning races.

Bikers, of course, say the only way to reach it should be to make the 10.5-km climb, at a 14% inclination, from Bellagio. The lake area of Lombardy is one of the most beautiful regions in Italy.

00Monday, May 7, 2007 12:36 AM
Lella posted this charming and touching story on her blog today, from Il Messaggero of 5/6/07. Here is a translation:

Ratzinger helped prolong
my father's life, says
the owner of Cantina Tirolese

The Swiss Guards: imposing, immobile, colorful, they seem to have stepped out of a medieval tale. They have protected the Popes for half a millennium now...And following a group of them going out on their free time, I find myself at Cantina Tirolese, in Borgo Pio, about a hundred meters from the Porta Sant'Anna which leads into Vatican territory from this side.

The Guards usually come here to dine in groups of 10, 15: they come for the goulasch with onion soup or cabbage soup, and after eating food that reminds them of home, they indulge in more nostalgia singing Swiss children's songs.

"We are proud to be their hosts," says Marco Macher, 43, who runs the restaurant with his sister Manuella. But they are even prouder of Table #4 in the cellar dining room.

There's a bronze plaque on the wall by the table that says simply “A Sua Eminenza, Cardinale Joseph Ratzinger (ora Papa Benedetto XVI) 19 aprile 2005”.

So thanks to the Swiss Guard, I finally came to this place where for almost 25 years, at least once a week, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger came to dine.

«Papà Roberto and mamma Gertrude opened this place in 1971," says Marco. "We were both still kids and we would sit on the lap of clients. For instance, Fr. Martin, who is now Archbishop of Dublin."

The restaurant was Papa Roberto's real wedding gift to his wife, an Austrian from Graz [Arnold Schwarzenegger's hometown] who came to Rome to study and also found a husband. The fact they were both Catholics made their union more profound, says their son.

"Ratzinger would arrivere here before 8 p.m., usually in clergyman suit and carrying his black briefcase, almost always with friends. I remember Mamma would ply him with questions about heaven and such. He was happy here - it probably reminded him of the atmosphere in Bavarian pubs.Heloved soup with fine strips of crepe, smoked pork, strudel. He drank orange juice and some beer, very little ['un dito' - a finger's length]."

"Papa just made it to see him become Pope, because unfortunately, he left us for good last year. He was only 69."

Did mamma ask the cardinal for prayers? "Of course. The doctors had given him only three months to live." But Gertrude wouldn't accept that, and with the cardinal's blessing, she prayed....

"Papa lived another six years after that prognosis," says Marco, "and with a very good quality of life. Of course, I would say it was a small miracle, but I don't dare say that."

The entire family, says Marco, lived the hours of the Conclave with bated breath. "I made a bet, not for money, of course, it would be him. One of our waiters was for another client of ours, the Cardinal from Nicaragua. When the bells rang that day, I ran out to the Piazza, and when I heard over the loudspeakers 'Cardinale Josephum...', I was very happy for him, but most of all for Papa. Because I know that he was always spiritually close to Papa."

And on the wall, behind the cash resgister, there are two photographs: Roberto with eyes that inspire serenity, and Papa Ratzinger, the customer in Table 4 who had helped prolong his life.

Il Messaggero, 6 maggio 2007

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 09/05/2007 3.51]

00Tuesday, May 8, 2007 10:02 PM
This is an English translation of an Italian translation of a French item that originally came out in a Swiss newspaper, but which I have been unable to trace online. The Italian translation first came out in Lella's blog.

P.S. Andrea has traced the story to the newspaper LE MATIN, so I can now attribute it properly. the Itralian translation from the French was faithful so I have nothing to change.

The portrait that emerges of Benedict is what his friends have always had of him - Very very heartwarming!

Communication is so easy
with Benedict XVI

By Stéphane Penouel
Le Matin Dimanche

On the eve of the annual oath-taking of new Swiss Guards last Saturday, Jean-Daniel Pitteloud, the vice commandant of the elite Papal corps, spoke about his experience with John Paul II and with Benedict XVI.

Pitteloud comes from the French-speaking region of Switzerland. Of the 35 new Guards, 11 are from the same region, bringing to 25 the number of Francophones in the 110-man corps.

Pitteloud explains that the "Popes never attend the Guards' oath-taking, which is done before an Undersecretary of State who represents the Pope. Benedict XVI will give us an address during an audience Saturday morning - which is an unusual day for the ceremony - with the Guards and our families present. The Pope gets to talk briefly to each of us, sometimes even asking personal questions."

"When John Paul II became sick, he was unable even to read his address to us, and someone from the Scretariat of State did it for him. The text was then given to the Commandant who would give it to the new recruits. Towards the end, the Pope could not even talk to the new Guards any more.

"Because of his illness, my relationship with John Paul II was purely protocolar. When I joined the Guard in 1999, he was already quite weak. I never had an occasion to speak with him. We are there to render service, discreetly, not to call attention to ourselves.

"With Benedict XVI, it is different because he is able to speak to everyone. He approaches us, and likewise, we can approach him any time. He is a very warm person, perhaps because he is Bavarian.

"What struck me most about John Paul II was the depth of his look; in Benedict XVI, the simplicity of his language. John Paul II's eyes were penetrating. With Benedict XVI, the first impression is that he can speak accessibly to all. The Guards all understand him easily. Of course, the fact that he is German makes it easy for him to talk to the German-speaking guards. It puts them psychologically at ease. He even jokes with them in German, and John Paul could not do that, even if he spoke German as well as he did French or Italian.

"It's also easier for us to approach Pope Benedict because we already knew him when he was a cardinal, which had not been the case with John Paul. In fact, Cardinal Ratzinger's house was directly across from the Swiss Guard quarters - we could literally look into his apartment!

"At Castel Gandolfo, where the atmosphere is more like family, the Swiss Guard prepare his snacks for him and bring it into his room. When he takes his daily walk in the Gardens there, the Guards can always approach and talk to him. On his 80th birthday, our brass band offered him a little concert.

"Our hours of work have increased since the election of Benedict XVI. Our statistics show that each Guard puts in at least 10 extra hours each month, for a total of about 185 hours overtime during the year.

"That's partly because, for example, for the Wednesday audiences, where the usual peak audeince for John Paul II was 15,000-20,000, we now get at least 30,000-40,000 for Benedict. So we need to assign an additional 20 guards in uniform to assure order in St. Peter's Square.

"Another thing is that the Germans find it far easier to come to Rome to see 'their' Pope than the Poles did for John Paul II.

"However, it doesn't mean that everything changed because we had a new pope. Our guard duty roster has remained the same, like our protocols and our internal rules, and our annual holiday which is 30 days a year.

"One thing is sure. The Pope does not intend to send us abck to Switzerland! Our mission was reconfirmed on January 22, 2006, on the 500th anniversary of the Guard. So we are good for another 500 years at least!"


I've quite a number of excellentPOPE-POURRI material to be translated - a couple from regional German newspapers and some retrospective accounts from Pavia. I hope I can do them one by one in between 'guard duty' for the Brazilian coverage which starts in a few hours!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 09/05/2007 2.01]

00Wednesday, May 9, 2007 3:32 AM
It seems Beatrice went across the border to Saarebrueck in Germany from
her hometown Metz, and a bookstore had this display of Benedict books
and a poster greeting him on his birthday.

Note that besides the regular edition of JESUS VON NAZARETH, it also
comes in an encased edition.

00Wednesday, May 9, 2007 3:47 AM
Picked up and translated from the main forum, but it has no attribution.

He's been repairing Joseph Ratzinger's shoes since he was 20, and he's now 38. He's Peruvian Antonio Arellano who has a shop near Borgo Pio and has also repaired shoes for John Paul II.

"Ratzinger always came here personally before he became Pope. He must have heard of us first by word of mouth, because I do this for many people at the Vatican. Now that he is Pope, the shoes are brought to me by one of the sisters. They're either his red papal shoes or black moccasins, and it's usually to take away scratch marks and refinish scuffed areas."

Sometimes, he says, the Papal shoes are sent to him just before a trip abroad.

The Pope pays - or his messengers do - just like everybody else. But he has also promptly sent Arellano thank-you notes, which, he says, he prefers to keep private.

00Saturday, May 19, 2007 12:31 AM
Whirling dervishes to perform
for Pope Benedict XVI

New York
Posted on May 18, 2007

When Pope Benedict XVI said in the aftermath of his Regensburg lecture that he wanted a “frank and sincere” dialogue with Islam, this may not have been exactly what he had in mind, but here it is anyway: On June 5, a troupe of Whirling Dervishes from Turkey will perform for the pope in the Vatican.

Technically known as the “Mevlevi Sema,” a Sufi form of worship using ecstatic dance, the performance will take place in the Vatican’s Palazzo della Cancelleria, with a seating capacity of 300, as part of a “Dialogue between Religions” organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture.

“Dervish,” which literally means “poor person” or “beggar” in Persian, is one term for a follower of Sufi Islam, which accounts for roughly 20 percent of the global Muslim population of 1.6 billion.

The “Whirling Dervishes” take their inspiration from Jelaladdin Rumi, a 13th century Turkish philosopher and mystic born in what is now Afghanistan, known to his adherents as “Mevlana,” or “master.”

After Rumi’s death, his followers founded the Mevlevi order, known for their trademark dance as a form of dhikr, or “remembrance” of Allah. The dance symbolically depicts the ascent of the soul.

The inspiration for the dance is said to have come from Rumi himself, who, according to tradition, read his poems aloud while spinning around a column. The Mevlevi brand of Islam is considered moderate and open, premised on Rumi's belief that all created things point to mystical truth.

The Mevlevi order was banned by Atatürk as part of his secularizing program in Turkey, but was resurrected beginning in the 1950s as Turkish officials realized the Whirling Dervishes had value as a tourist attraction.

Since that time, their popularity has grown steadily. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has declared 2007, the 800th anniversary of Rumi’s birth, as a “Mevlana Year.”

June 5 will not mark the first time the Whirling Dervishes have performed for a pope. During the 1970s, a group of dervishes danced the sema for Pope Paul VI. When they meet Benedict XVI, the Turkish Sufis intended to present the pope with an Italian-language edition of the Mesnevi, considered Rumi’s masterpiece.

The performance for Pope Benedict XVI is part of a 22-city, 18-nation tour in 2007 for the Whirling Dervishes.


In the years when I took an interest in Eastern religions, I learned that the 'whirling dervish' routine is actually a physical means of inducing an altered state of consciousness that could lead to an 'ecstatic or mystic trance.'

You can approximate it yourself by putting on a non-stop tape of the most rousing dance music you can find and dancing to it as furiously and as energetically as you can until you literally 'lose yourself' as the saying goes - because you simply become the movement itself.

This form of 'active meditation' goes beyond the mere 'emptying the mind' which is the object of passive meditation, but it can be scary because it really takes you to an unknown edge...and I personally never had the courage to take the step that would take me over that edge!

00Saturday, May 19, 2007 1:46 AM
"You can approximate it yourself by putting on a non-stop tape of the most rousing dance music you can find and dancing to it as furiously and as energetically as you can until you literally 'lose yourself' as the saying goes - because you simply become the movement itself." Teresa

Didn't Zorba the Greek do that?


He sure did!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 19/05/2007 2.00]

00Sunday, May 20, 2007 5:05 PM
One of the little things we learn from this interview with RAI's Vatican bureau chief, TV host and writer Giuseppe de Carli, from Il Messaggero today, and posted on Lella's blog. Here is a translation:

RAI has 24-hour 'livecam'
coverage of the Pope

Sister Franceschina is more than 80 years old but has the eyes of a girl. She lives in Casa del Santo Rosario in Rome, and says, "I see Jesus every night and he tells me that the mass media constitute the Church's pulpit today."

Giuseppe de Carli knows something about the power of mass media. He has been in charge of Italian state TV's Vatican bureau for over 15 years.

"From the windows of my study in Borgo Sant'Angelo," he says, " I can see the windows of the Pope's apartment. Indeed, I feel close, day and night, to Christ on earth."

Born in Lodi, near Milan, to peasant parents, De Carli earned degrees in Philosophy and Political Science and went on to a degree in Theology.

"For 19 years, with RAI, I followed John Paul II around the world, with more than 400 live telecasts," he says.

He may have followed the previous pope, but he was a good friend of Joseph Ratzinger at the same time.

"We would meet each other in the late afternoons, and on those occasions, he honored me by letting me walk with him around Borgo Pio. On some occasions, I went up with him to his apartment at Piazza di Citta Leonina, a stone's throw from St. Peter's Square. It was a library! I remember he had two cats once, and of course, his piano."

What ever happened to the cats?
"The last time I was in Regensburg, I found out that the marmalade cat was in the local nursery school. It was playing with the dogs in the neighborhood. The piano is now in the Vatican - it was in the birthday documentary we filmed."

But is TV really the pulpit of the third millennium?
"The great popularity of the Popes, from John XXIII, appears to prove that. With an exception for Paul VI who really avoided any form of public display. But John Paul I, for instance, made himself unforgettable in only 33 days."

Is it true that RAI has 24/7 television access to the nerve centers of the Vatican?
"Yes. It was an agreement reached with the Pope. In case of an emergency, of any incidents, if the Pope is suddenly taken ill - all we need to do is press a button and we will be on the air and broadcasting to the world."

It's a little secret that few had known, he says. "Just as few know that as a policeman, Benedict's father asked to be assigned during the Nazi era to ever more hidden little places
to protect his family. Or that when Joseph was held a POW after the war, those mysterious Greek hexameters he wrote to occupy himself were all anti-Hitler attacks!"

And what did John Paul II have to say about the livecam that was always focused on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace?
"That's another little miracle. On January 7, 2005, he received my entire staff and myself in audience. We did not want to tire him, but he said, in a weak voice: 'I thank you all. You are the megaphone for the Pope, my television family. You will see - you will do even greater things in the future.'"

De Carli is the co-writer of L'ultima veggente di Fatima (The last seer of Fatima), based on an interview with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone about Sister Lucia.

"And I am very pleased that Benedict XVI wrote the Foreword for the book. I am sure he wanted to show me a gesture from the heart because of the recent death of my mother."

Il Messaggero, 20 maggio 2007
00Sunday, May 20, 2007 6:09 PM
And in fact, ZENIT's Italian service has the foreword written by the Pope, in the form of a letter to Cardinal Bertone:

Cardinal Bertone with Suor Lucia, Coimbra, 2000

To Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

In the book L'ultima veggente di Fatima, she has entrusted you, venerated brother, with so many memories so that they would not simply be a precious load of personal experience, but because they deal with events that marked the Church in the 20th century, they may become part of the collective memory as not insignificant traces of our secular history.

Actually, we lived together the chapter that deals with the publication of the third part of the Fatima message, during that unforgettable period of the Jubilee Year 2000 - I, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and you, as its Secretary-General.

My great predecessor, John Paul II, who was rich with prophetic inspirations and personally convinced that 'the maternal hand' of the Virgin had diverted the bullet that could have been fatal for him, saw that the time had come to clear up the aura of mystery that surrounded the last part of the secret conveyed by the Virgin to the three shepherd children of Fatima. And he gave that task to the CDF which had custody of the precious document written by Suor Lucia.

It was a time of light, not only because the message could now be known by everyone, but also because the truth was finally revealed about a confused picture of interpretations and apocalyptic speculations that circulated even within the Church, creating disturbance among the faithful rather than inviting them to prayer and penitence.

At the same time, one could witness the comforting development of Marian piety, an authentic source for Christian living, around the impressive sanctuary which had arisen in Fatima, and in every part of the world where devotion to the Virgin, under the influence of the Fatima apparitions, had taken deep root in the faith of the people, inviting men and women to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The conversations between Suor Lucia, the only survivor among the three shepherds, and you, as the bishop sent by the Pope, were not only an important verification of the facts, but also an occasion to get to know the clear freshness of Suor Lucia's soul and the intelligence of the heart which was typical of her femininity, translated into robust Christian faith.

Through the experience of this humble nun we could see the role of the Virgin Mary who accompanies the Christian with maternal hand through the difficulties of life.

I myself provided the theological comment to the event, after having prayed intensely and meditated profoundly on the words of the third part of the secret of Fatima, found in the pages written by Suor Lucia.

What remained impressed on me, as a synthesis and precious seal, was the consoling promise of the most Holy Virgin, "My Immaculate Heart will triumph."

As I wrote then, "Mary's Fiat, the word of her heart, changed the history of the world, because in that way, she introduced the Savior - because thanks to her Yes, God became man within our world, as he is with us now, and will always be."

Moreover, "Since God himself took on a human heart and thus returned man's freedom for good, towards God, freedom for evil no longer has the last word." The message of Fatima confirms that.

I invoke the protection of the Most Blessed Virgin of Fatima on all those who approach the testimony offered in this book and on you, Lord Cardinal, and to Dott. Giuseppe De Carli, who shared in the editing of this work, I impart the Apostolic Blessing.

At the Vatican, 22 February 2207

© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 23/05/2007 5.15]

00Wednesday, May 23, 2007 4:12 AM

I wonder if Mary and Nan packed dirndls for their trip to Rome.

Marching bands to perform at Vatican

Vatican, May. 22, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Sixteen marching bands from Germany and Austria will take part in a festival at the Vatican this weekend, May 25- 27.

Vatican officials say that the festival is a celebration of the 80th birthday of Pope Benedict XVI, although the Pontiff's birthday was April 16. The festival, sponsored by the International Association of Friends of Sacred Music, repeats a similar event which proved very popular last year.

After meeting for Mass on Friday afternoon, May 25, in St. Peter's basilica, the bands will perform on Saturday, marching down the Via della Conciliazione and through surrounding streets to arrive at St. Peter's Square. On Sunday, they will participate in the Pope's regular Regina Caeli audience, then join in playing Grosser Gott wir loben Dich.

[Modificato da benefan 23/05/2007 4.13]

00Wednesday, May 23, 2007 3:59 PM

VATICAN CITY, May 23 (Apcom) - At the end of the general audience today in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI received gifts from two Veteran Vatican correspondents.

First, Giuseppe De Carli (shown in photo), head of the RAI Italian state TV's Vatican bureau, presented him with the DVD "Benedetto XVI - Il Papa dell'amicizia con Dio" (Benedict XVI, the Pope of friendship with God), the two-part documentary presented by RAI on the occasion of the Popes 80th birthday last month.

"Holiness," De Carli said, "we don't bring you gold or frankincense or myrrh, but your life in images", as he described the 100-minute video prepared by him and Elena Balestri of the RAI Vatican bureau.

"I liked it a lot," the Pope replied.

"Even if it did cost me something to be filmed by CTV behind the scenes," he added with a smile.

De Carli also thanked him for the Foreword he wrote for the book "L'ultima veggente di Fatima" (The last seeress of Fatima), a book he co-authored with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who reconstructed for the book all his meetings with Suor Lucia in Coimbra, Portugal.

The other Vaticanista, Andrea Tornielli, presented the Pope with his new book about Pius XII, Pio XII, Un'Uomo sul Trono di Pietro (Pius XII: A man on Peter's throne). Tornielli published a biography of Benedict XVI shortly after the 2005 Conclave.

The book on Pius XII is a major biography (660 pages) that brings to light many facts to contradict the black myth perpetrated about this Pope since the worldwide success of the play "The Deputy" in the 1960s, based on propaganda produced by the Soviet Union.

P.S. In NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH today, Benefan has posted a ZENIT report about Tornielli's book.

00Thursday, May 24, 2007 4:22 PM
I know I posted an item a few weeks back about two bicycles given the Pope after a Wednesday audience -
one of them was all wood, while the other is an up-to-to-the-minute carbon-fiber lightweight. I didn't
have a photo of this one then, but Josie in the main forum has found this.


Taken at the oratorio performance yesterday.
00Sunday, May 27, 2007 2:55 PM
Pope exibition
Yesterday Horst (without any resistance) and I went to the Pope exhibition, that started on the initiative of the diocese
of Cologne in April, when Papa's 80th birthday and his 2nd anniversary was.

It is a kind of traveling exhibition, they showed it in different places in our federal state Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany.
The diocese people seemed to be very proud about the 10000 people, who are supposed to have visited the exhibition. I find
that pitiful, just 10000, so we decided to increase the total rate to 10002.

At the moment the exhibition is in the small town Grevenbroich, the next bigger city is Duesseldorf, I guess.

The exhibition consists of double-sided illuminated pillars, on each side you can see and read Papa's personal record and
all important parts of his life, from his childhood till he became the pope. It is illustrated with photos, quotations,
explanations. On some pillars are video screens mounted, where they show different videos of some remarkable parts of
Papa's life.

Nothing new for a benaddict, but very informative. The whole exibit is very nice and interesting, all parts are arranged
in a loving way, the diocese people, who are responsible, really did a very good job.

I found it a bit strange, that the exHibit is shown in the middle of a small shopping mall, that means between clothes shops,
drugstore, hairdresser and cafeteria and some people are running through with their shopping bags. First I thought,
it might be a bit unworthy to show Papa in such a place, but later I thought, why not bring Papa closer to the people?
Maybe some people might be attracted, who never before had any interest for him.
I took some photos, please enjoy it.


Translation of handwritten letter to Cardinal Frings dated September 14, 1962 [I broke it up into 'paragraphs' for easier reading]:

Eminence, Most worthy Herr Kardinal!

I have meantime been able to go through the Councilbook. I have written modifications on the margins of the first persentation,
so that one can see the differences right away.

About your second and third questions (What can be taken out absolutely? How can it be better?), I will further work out
precise answers with proposals for improvement before the Council begins.

As the letter from Cardinal Cicognani that comes with the volume says that it is possible till mid-September to make recommendations
of a general nature, I have started to work on one of the relevant texts in Latin to formulate an overall impression about the
document as it now stands, and will write an appropriate letter to Cardinal Cicognani about it.

I enclose an outline of the most important thoughts that I and other 'council theologians' may speak about at a meeting with the
Bishop of Mainz.

With respectful regards, I remain, Your Eminence,

Very truly yours,



Translation of the dedication on the book entitled
"The First Session of the Second Vatican Council - A Review"
(written by Joseph Ratzinger, obviously):

"His Eminence, the Most Worthy Herr Cardinal Frings
with respect and gratitude from
The Author"

[Click on the thumbnail to get large format]

NB: I have Simone's permission (see posts below)
to replace the large pic with the thumbnail,
so as not to skew the whole page too much - Teresa


DANKE, DANKE, DANKE, SIMONE! So glad you finally saw the Aufstellung from Cologne. I love the photographs, and it was so great of you
to get close-ups of Ratzi's letter and book dedication to Cardinal Frings. What a pleasure to see his handwriting then - before it
became the tiny letters we have been used to seeing! I also see a
new photo from the Bonn days (the one with the briefcase)... Thanks for for this Pentecost present - the second unexpected and totally beautiful one for the Forum today, with Palma's reportage from
Transylvania....As you can see, I also went in and re-spaced your written post so that the lines are not too long across.
I hope you don't mind.


P.S. Below you will find a thumbnail of the second large picture. It can enlarge by clicking on it. Is it all right if we replace
the large picture with this so it does not affect the whole page? I thought it might be OK since a photo of the book that is bigger
than the thumbnail is already among the display photos you took. Please let me know....

And please, I want to say Hello to Horst from all of us!

P.P.S. I havenow inserted a translation of the handwritten letter and dedication.

00Sunday, May 27, 2007 3:16 PM
Thanks, Teresa.
It seems, I have forgotten everything.
That is the punishment I have to accept because I have
neglected to forum for such a long time.
I don't want to talk about the difficulties I had
to upload the photos. How embarassing.


What embarassing? You just gave us all a great`treat!
It happens to me all the time: if I have not used ImageShack for a few days,
let's say - I have to relearn the drill all over, because sometimes the
'Upload to ImageShack" function does not always work well (very very slow,
and it can freeze), so I have to do it the long way, by clicking on 'Properties'
first, etc...Anyway, you've made Pentecost Sunday memorable, thanks a great lot!

00Sunday, May 27, 2007 3:24 PM
Many thanks Simone for your great report on the exhibition!
[SM=g27821] [SM=g27822]
00Sunday, May 27, 2007 3:48 PM

P.S. Below you will find a thumbnail of the second large picture. It can enlarge by clicking on it. Is it all right if we replace
the large picture with this so it does not affect the whole page? I thought it might be OK since a photo of the book that is bigger
than the thumbnail is already among the display photos you took. Please let me know....

And please, I want to say Hello to Horst from all of us!

Horst says Hi to you all too, many thanks and all best to you.

Teresa, you're right. I removed the large photo of the book.
If you like, put a thumbnail of the letter in too and remove the large one.


00Wednesday, May 30, 2007 1:05 PM
Danke zum Herzen, Simone!!!
Simone, thank you for the great post and all the photos! Please post more often again. Nan and I think of you every time we are in Rome. I agree with you - there should have been many more people at the exhibition, but you and Horst made up in enthusiasm what was lacked in numbers!!!!

I think it was benefan above who mentioned the festival of marching bands in Rome last weekend. Yes, we heard them and they continued to play until Sunday evening. They played so well and the Italian audiences they attracted seemed to delight in them. I'll include more about all this in my Visit With Papa account.

Luff und Choy! Mary x [SM=g27811]
00Thursday, May 31, 2007 5:33 PM

From the German newspaper BILD:

A limited-edition de luxe 'BENEDICT BIBLE' will be offered to the public starting June 29 this year, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

The 1388-page edition (weight 800 grams), is bound in white calf leather and printed on fine gold-rimmed paper. It jointly published by BILD and Herder Verlag, which publishes many of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's books in Germany, including JESUS VON NAZARETH).

What makes it the "Benedict Bible"? It contains many photos of the Pope in addition to short quotations from him about Scriptures.

[Cost: 39.90 Euro]

00Thursday, May 31, 2007 7:23 PM
Simone, what cool pictures! Interesting that you saw it in a shopping mall, but that certainly helps more people to see it & become interested in the Pope. The picture of him as Cardinal holding a sparkler & the letter he wrote are great! Thanks alot![SM=g27828]
00Saturday, June 2, 2007 5:07 PM

Report: Pope traveled to Brazil without passport

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 31 (AP): Even the pope needs a passport.

But did Benedict XVI forget his when he flew to Brazil this month for his first papal visit to the world's largest Roman Catholic country?

A respected Brazilian newspaper columnist insists the pope didn't have it with him when he landed in Sao Paulo, and high-ranking officials from the Vatican to Brazil's presidential palace aren't commenting.

Merval Pereira, who writes for Rio's O Globo newspaper, reported Tuesday that the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, also showed up in Brazil without his passport.

The two were allowed to enter the country, but Pereira said the government found a way to penalize the oversight without causing a stir. It quietly fined Italian airline Alitalia SpA for allowing the two foreigners to travel without documentation to Brazil.

Pereira didn't cite a source for his report, but it came a day after another Brazilian columnist also said the pope arrived in Brazil for his May 9-13 visit without his passport.

On Wednesday, federal police in Sao Paulo who oversee passport control at the airport where the papal plane landed declined comment. Asked about the case, an officer who would not give her name in keeping with department policy said "that information is secret."

In the capital of Brasilia, a priest at the Apostolic Nuncio who would only identify himself as Father Marco said he wasn't authorized to comment.

Marcelo Baumbach, the spokesman for President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, wouldn't confirm whether the incident happened.

Across the Atlantic in Rome, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Ciro Benedettini declined comment except to say he hadn't heard of the report until an Associated Press reporter informed him. Alitalia spokesman Simone Cantagallo was also unaware of the matter but said he would look into it.

According to Pereira, federal police weren't sure what to do after the pope was greeted by Silva and authorities learned that Benedict and Bertone didn't have their passports. The Brazilians settled on fining Alitalia an undisclosed amount, Pereira reported.

The Nuncio formally protested the fine with Brazil's Foreign Ministry, the columnist said. The foreign ministry on Wednesday said it would not comment.


If it is true that neither the Pope nor Cardinal Bertone travelled with their passports - which it is difficult to believe (one of them might not have it, but both?) - it is no laughing matter.

It indicates a lack of regard, on the part of Papal trip organizers, for elementary rules of international courtesy. Everyone needs a passport, even Presidents and Popes, as well as the right visa (unless this requirement is waived between the country of origin and the host country).

In my own experience of covering presidential state visits as a journalist travelling with the Philippine president, a Protocol Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes care of making sure that the passports of everyone in the delegation - including Filipino journalists accredited to join the trip - are in order, starting with the President's passport itself. The Protocol Officer then has the responsibility of getting the required visas for everybody, including the President. If this efficient system is apparently routine for a Third World country like the Philippines, there is no reason the Vatican does not also have something similar, or even more efficient.

On the arrival (and departure) of a visiting high-level delegation, the host country extends every convenience, obviously - neither the President nor the members of his delegation have to go through Immigrations and Customs. The protocol officers are allowed to do this for them - they keep all the passports, fill out all the necessary forms for every member of the delegation, deal with the Immigrations and Customs officials and get everyone's baggage out and safely to one's hotel. This way, the visiting delegation - including us humble journalists - can attend to the business at hand without having to deal with the routinalia of travel.

But at least, someone in the visiting delegation should be responsible for getting the legal requirements and paperwork right!

00Saturday, June 2, 2007 6:30 PM
Pope and passport
well I think some people from Vatican entourage had very hot moments. [SM=g27828]

But generally for me it's little bizar. While pope is in fact absolute monarch and has absolut legislation and executive power, he could create passport document for himself and Bertone immediately. It silly idea, but it's possible. (it's just my legal brain idea [SM=x40791] )

The second solution would be ask german embassy for temporary passport (the same they give you if you lost your documents abroad).

And it is not first time when Joseph Ratzinger have such problem. Remember the story when he flight to US with vatican and german passoirt but without proper visa. [SM=g27828] But I of course think that papal entourage should look after more. Maybe he didn't use it when flying in European Union states, because you needn't have passport to cross boarders, only ID cards. I am wondering of he had passport when he was in for several hours in Switzerland last summer.

=================================================================== Dear Maklara ... All your points are well-taken. About the fact that maybe, the people around the Pope did not think of passports and visas at all, because before that, he had only traveled within the EU, would they not have had to deal with passports and visas on the trip to Turkey? I don't think there's any visa waiver agreement between Turkey and the Holy See. Of course, the simplest thing - in order to comply with the letter of Brazilian law about having the proper travel documents - would have been to have the Apostolic Nunciature in Brazil issue temporary passports for the Pope and Bertone. But perhaps, the immigration official at Sao Paulo airport simply said, "Well, he's the Pope, there's no doubt about who he is, so we'll let it go," but meanwhile, under international law, the airline carrier that transports anyone to a country without the proper visa is liable - so maybe that's why Alitalia was reportedly fined. I did think right away of that story of the Cardinal arriving in New York without an American visa (in 1999, I think) and having to wait at the airport for a few hours while the problem was straightened out....On the other hand, now that I think back on that story, by 1999, there would have been a visa waiver already for Europeans, including holders of a Vatican passport, who are travelling to the US for short visits.... As for showing his ID card in Switzerland, would they consider the Fisherman's Ring an acceptable ID? [SM=x40791]
00Saturday, June 2, 2007 8:26 PM
Re: Pope and passport
well I think it's only marginal affair...just some brazilian newspapers want to write something. The only result is for responisble people in Varican to care more and for cardinal Bertone, who should care if he has his documents. The only thing I can't get why whole papal encourage (from cardinal, personal secretaries to the last bodyguards) have passport, and don't take the papal one. He of course should have only passport to Turkey, the important fact is that Papa doesn't need visa, because he was invited by head of state and government by official document...that's more than visa. I think Brasilian officers didn't want to make diplomatic problems. Well, I think fine to Alitalia will annuled by protest of papal nuncio.

In fact majority of members of EU (old 15 states) don't have visa duty to travel to US. Only new ten members have to undergo very degrating immigration interview on US embassy, pay quite high fee for it and have no guarantee that visa will be granted. But president Bush is in recent interview promising it will be better.

Well, I think Fisherman's Ring is only ID card Papa has. And due to the fact he can seal documents with it. [SM=g27828]

00Sunday, June 3, 2007 9:17 AM
Pope exhibition
Simone, superb! gRA(T)ZIe !!
I understand from the link you provided, that the exhibition is available on CD.

Virtuelle Ausstellung auf CD-ROM
Zur Ausstellung ist eine CD-ROM erhältlich, die alle Texte, Bilder, Film- und Hörbeiträge der Ausstellung enthält. Sie ist der digitale Katalog zur Ausstellung.
Die CD-ROM kann gegen eine Schutzgebühr von 5,00 euro plus Versandkosten bestellt werden bei der Medienzentrale des Erzbistums Köln.
00Tuesday, June 5, 2007 2:43 AM
Pope meets Mexican president, but children steal the show
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI and Mexican President Felipe Calderon spoke about serious issues facing Mexico and the international community, but the president's children seemed to steal the show at the family's papal audience.

Maria, the 10-year-old daughter of the president and his wife, Margarita Zavala, gave the pope a teddy bear, which the pontiff blessed. Her 7-year-old brother, Luis Felipe, gave him a shirt from Mexico's national soccer team. And Juan Pablo, 4, had a soccer ball, which he showed to the pope; the ball did not appear to be on the gift table after the children left the room.
00Tuesday, June 5, 2007 7:46 PM

By Kim Goggins
June 5th, 2007

There wasn't a celebration ceremony, or special presentation.

In fact, there was no pomp and circumstance at all when local resident Paul Delaney was given a special scroll and the Golden Medal Benemerenti, bestowed to him by Pope Benedict XVI.

He simply drove to Nolet's Variety in Lafontaine and picked up the package. And that's just fine by the modest man who has spearheaded efforts to build and supply a school in Port Loko, Sierra Leone since 1992.

The scroll is written in Latin but translated, it roughly means: "Benedict XVI Supreme Pontiff has graciously decided to bestow the golden medal Benemerenti, constituted for those who are uniquely deserving to Christianity, to Mr. Paul Delaney and gives him the privilege of wearing it."

Delaney refuses to take all of the credit for the Port Loko Project, which has raised $160,000 for Sierra Leone in just over 15 years. He said everyone involved with the cause should be recognized.

"I really felt that the whole thing should have been for everybody but they can only give it to one individual," he explained.

While Bishop Giorgio Biguzzi of Sierra Leone wrote to the Pope to ask him to recognize Delaney for his work on behalf of the Catholic community, he was unable to set up a convenient time to come to the area to make the presentation.

"I said it will be a lot easier for you to send it and he did and I got it at Nolet's," grinned Delaney.

"Then I realized that it wouldn't be fair to Bishop Biguzzi because he obviously wanted to come and have a presentation ceremony to benefit the project. I knew that but I was also very embarrassed at the thought of that happening, so I was sort of torn. On the one hand, I didn't want to tell anybody and then I thought it wouldn't be fair to him."

Delaney compromised. At the Annual Port Loko Benefit Concert in Waubaushene on May 28, he told the group of supporters about the honour and showed them the scroll and medal. He emphasized the fact that the people in Port Loko were helped not because they are Catholics but because they needed the help.

"While it is true we have all been helping a Catholic school, orphanage and teacher, many of those we have helped are Muslim, and some are Anglican. We have been helping people in Port Loko because they need it, and not because of their religion," he said.

Perhaps one of the reasons Delaney is so humbled by the honour is that he, himself, is not Catholic.

"This is pretty unusual- a non-Catholic, whose maternal grandfather was a Freemason and whose paternal grandfather was an Orangeman, being honoured by the Pope," said Delaney.

"I wish my parents were alive to see it; it is primarily because of them that I have always had great respect for other faiths, nationalities and races."

00Friday, June 8, 2007 4:24 PM
Cool under pressure--Pope's guards handle pilgrims discreetly

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's security guards are known for composure under pressure, and they showed it when a deranged German tried to jump onto the pope's jeep at a general audience.

Within seconds, 11 Vatican plainclothes agents -- Swiss Guards and policemen -- subdued the 27-year-old man and pinned him to the ground. He was unarmed, and the pope was unharmed in the June 6 incident.

The whole thing happened so quickly and quietly that it went unnoticed by most people in the square, including the pope. No guns were drawn and no alarms were sounded. The pope's jeep never sped up, and most of the faithful, even those right in front of the scene, just kept snapping pictures of the pontiff.

It was a classic display of the Vatican's elegant and understated approach to security, which relies more on intuitive alertness than a show of force.

But despite the official sighs of relief, episodes like this inevitably raise apprehensions. With the pope passing through tens of thousands of people in an open jeep each Wednesday, it's very difficult to prevent an overly enthusiastic or mentally unstable person from running toward him.

Except during bad weather, popes riding through St. Peter's Square generally have not used the covered popemobile, which has bulletproof glass. Even after he was shot in the square in 1981, Pope John Paul II continued to use an open jeep for such appearances.

The whole idea, of course, is for the pope to get close to those who came to see him. The papal vehicle crisscrosses the lanes that divide seating sections in the square, about an arm's length from the people in the crowd, so that everyone can get a good look and a photo.

Tickets are required to attend the pope's general audience, but they are easily obtainable.

Since the pope insists on being out in the open, the Vatican relies on subtle layers of protection. Most importantly, before entering St. Peter's Square all pilgrims now pass through airport-style metal detectors and have their bags searched, in an operation carried out by the Italian police force assigned to the area around the square.

The metal detectors and bag checks were introduced during the Holy Year 2000, but were used much more routinely after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Italian police agents patrol St. Peter's Square when it's not being used for audiences, ceremonies or liturgies. But during papal events, the Vatican's own security teams take over.

The Vatican's uniformed gendarme agents and Swiss Guards are stationed throughout the crowd, and they are trained to notice potential troublemakers.

The more elite security contingent that accompanies the pope's jeep typically includes the head of the Vatican gendarme corps and Swiss Guards. Dressed in suits, this team of about 10 agents walks briskly alongside the moving vehicle, scanning the route and the crowd for potential problems.

Vatican security officials have hinted that on some occasions, sharpshooters keep vigilance over papal events from Vatican rooftops adjacent to the square.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing the pope's "guardian angels" is distinguishing a real threat from a pilgrim's overexuberance. Most of the people who have tried to rush the pope -- and there have been many over the years -- said they only wanted to be near the pontiff.

One of the best-remembered episodes was during World Youth Day ceremonies in 2000, when a young man broke through a buffer zone and "materialized" on the papal stage, as one security agent later described it. Pope John Paul reacted by giving him a big hug; then the youth was led away.

At a Vatican canonization Mass in 2002, a German man leaped barricades and was blocked near the altar. He said he wanted to hug the pope.

Such episodes are not infrequent on foreign trips. In Regensburg, Germany, last year, a young man wrapped in a Vatican flag was tackled as he tried to break through to a papal altar. During Pope Benedict's previous trip to Spain, a man got close to the moving popemobile before he was stopped.

In 2002, as Pope John Paul celebrated a Mass in an Azerbaijani gym, a shouting refugee on crutches managed to hobble almost to the pope's chair before he was blocked. The man said he wanted to have his picture taken with the pope and give him a booklet about Mount Ararat; at the end of the Mass, he was led back for a papal blessing.

If Vatican security seems low-profile during papal events, that is not true during visits by foreign dignitaries.

President George W. Bush, for example, was to see the pope June 9. The last time he came to the Vatican, his motorcade of armor-plated SUVs roared through St. Peter's Square, which had been closed off for hours for the presidential passage.
00Friday, June 8, 2007 7:19 PM
Also there is the young man or woman who approached Pope Benedict at the end of the mass for WYD 2005 while he was greeting people in different languages and chatted with him for like a minute. Then you could see security guards running around in the background. [SM=g27828]

Thank God so far none of these "enthusatic people" have bad intentions. Cool article on the security. Thanks for posting.
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