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

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00Monday, June 11, 2007 3:20 AM
Dallas man's walking stick reaches the Pope
via U.S. President George W. Bush

June 10, 2007
DALLAS (AP) - Walking sticks made by a once-homeless 62-year-old middle school dropout are owned by Dallas Cowboy football players, a former Dallas mayor, the Texas governor - and now Pope Benedict.

U.S. President George W. Bush gave the Pope one of Roosevelot Wilkerson's creations during a visit to the Vatican on Saturday. The walking stick is engraved with the Ten Commandments.

Bush described the stick as "a piece of art by a former homeless man from Texas . . . Dallas."

"The Ten Commandments?" asked the Pope.

"The Ten Commandments, yes, sir," the president responded.

Wilkerson caught a television news report about the president's visit but did not hear the exchange about his walking stick.

"This is the biggest step I've made in my life," said Wilkerson. "God does things in mysterious ways."

Until a few years ago, Wilkerson was homeless. Now, his income comes from the sale of his sticks.

Wilkerson's friend, Susan Nowlin, ships the 1.5-metre-long sticks to people around the United States. Each sells for US$75, although Nowlin said Saturday it may be time to raise the price.

She attended Southern Methodist University with first lady Laura Bush and told Wilkerson a few weeks ago the U.S. State Department had called and said the president wanted to give the Pope one of his sticks.

"He was very calm about it," Nowlin said. "He's very calm about everything."

Wilkerson said he has carved his entire life. About 15 years ago, the Dallas native began carving the Ten Commandments on ash and cedar walking sticks. "God gave me this gift," Wilkerson said. "He put the gift in my hand."

He gathers wood for the sticks from the Trinity River banks in southern Dallas. Then Wilkerson shears off the bark with a paring knife and sands the wood to a sleek finish.

At his one-room apartment above an East Dallas laundry, Wilkerson inscribes the first five Commandments lengthwise around the top of the stick. The second five are carved on the bottom half.

"I like to do it for people," he said. "It's something special."
00Monday, June 11, 2007 8:13 PM
I think by now, we already know that the Holy Father, for all his natural reserve, is also quite spontaneous - and will do things that are unscheduled or impromptu when the occasion presents itself, as he did a number of times when he was in Brazil, and as he often does in his public appearances,...Here's an account of Papino's latest Roman outing by one of PETRUS's Vatican 'insiders' who calls himself Fra Sistino, in translation:

Benedict's Roman evenings
by Fra Sistino

VATICAN CITY - If Papa Wojtyla loved to escape to the mountains for a bit of skiing, Papa Ratzinger gets out of his Vatican routine by going to dinner at friends' homes - and attending popular feasts.

Having lived 25 years in one of Rome's most traditional quarters has made him a 'borghigiano' -and just as he used to take part in the parochial acivities of Borgo Pio, now he ends his summer evenings by, maybe, dropping in on Vatican feasting. Not the solemn formal ones, but informal popular gatherings.

Recently, he surprised the families and friends of the latest recruits to the Vatican police force (32 of them), by dropping in on their celebrations. On that day, Vatican policemen and firemen had cheered up the neighborhood with marching bands and the aroma of grilled food - an atmosphere that must have reminded the Bavarian Pope of the childhood feasts he loved back home, usually in places where the parish priest was still looked to as the most important authority in town. It is probably the environment he would have retired to for prayer and study after he left the Roman Curia - a place 'where everybody knows your name.'

Residents of Borgo Pio, who have missed his discreet smiling presence everyday along their streets and in their shops for more than 20 years, were only too happy to have him back for this occasion.

But who can help loving Benedict? ends Fra Sistino (who is obviously an unabashed Benaddict).

00Thursday, June 14, 2007 5:57 AM

Pope's new state-of-the-art stage is handicap-accessible, portable

By Alicia Ambrosio
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI now has a new state-of-the-art stage that is handicap-accessible and portable.

Pier Carlo Cuscianna, head of the Vatican's department of technical services, told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that the new steel and aluminum stage took more than a year to design and was used for the first time June 3 when the pope celebrated a canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square. It will be used for outdoor audiences and liturgies.

The old stage required at least three days to set up and needed a crew of workers and specialized equipment. The new structure is portable and can be set up in a matter of minutes with remote-control mechanisms.

Four modules slide together to create a 1,076-square-foot platform covered in teak flooring. Once the base has been positioned, two side arms guided by remote control slide up 13 feet on either side of the stage. When the arms or pillars have fully extended, two wings expand to create a covering for the stage.

In addition, the stage is fitted with an infrared heating system and LED lights designed and produced specially for the papal stage. The rear section of the stage has stairs and ramps that make it handicap-accessible.

The stage was built by two northern Italian-based companies. Cuscianna did not say how much the new stage cost.
00Friday, June 15, 2007 6:35 AM
A Papal Audience Jostle
By Irene Lagan

ROME, JUNE 14, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The papal audience I attended last week provided a little more than its usual excitement. The relatively small crowd of 40,000 afforded the luxury of being able to stand along the fence to greet Benedict XVI without the usual jockeying and jostling for position.

When the Pope's open-topped jeep finally turned the corner, the usual cheers gave way to shock as a young German man managed to leap over the fence and grab the back of the jeep.

I happened to be standing across from him and witnessed the entire incident. Several police wrestled the apparently mentally disturbed man to the ground, put him in handcuffs and escorted him away. According to media reports, he was subsequently admitted to a psychiatric facility.

The anxiety was momentary and the general audience proceeded as usual. Indeed, neither Benedict XVI nor his driver seemed to notice the commotion.

As I watched, I was grateful for the civility and skill on the part of the Vatican police, something that reports about the episode failed to convey. The restraint and even respect for the man detained as well as for the crowd following the incident were remarkable.

Given the memory of the near-fatal shooting of Pope John Paul II in 1981, police could easily have been harsh or disrespectful, or used force disproportionate to what was necessary.

As soon as order was restored, the security guard in front of me allowed a young mother carrying an infant and several others to pass. This was pleasantly surprising, as I anticipated police to dismiss their personal needs in the interest of stricter security.

But a security guard with whom I spoke shared that while Vatican police are fully trained, they are also cautioned to maintain respect and to carry out their duties in as charitable a manner as possible, something that is both reassuring and fitting.
00Friday, June 29, 2007 2:34 AM
'Meeting the Pope was just wonderful'

Annie Edmundson, 83, from Pendleton, kisses the ring of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI while visiting Rome with her local church group

A pensioner from Salford, who met the Pope after a church trip to Rome, said that she was so overcome with emotion that she cried all day.

Annie Edmundson, 83, from Mulberry Court in Pendleton, met Pope Benedict XVI at a service in Rome when she went on a pilgrimage to the Italian capital with St James' Catholic Church in Salford Precinct, where she has been a life-long parishioner.

A group of worshippers from the church made the trip to Rome and Assisi to see sites of Christian significance.

While in Rome, the group went to a General Audience with the Holy Father, which is usually held in the magnificent surroundings of St Peter's Square, but because the weather was so hot, the audience was taken indoors.

The group went to the Pope Paul VI General Audience Hall, and Annie, who is in a wheelchair, was taken to the front by one of the chamberlains.

After the Papal address, the 83-year-old was invited to meet the Holy See, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected to the Papacy in April 2005.

Annie, who has attended St James' all her life, said: "It was wonderful experience. He smiled at me and held his arm out, and I grasped it.

"I then kissed his ring as a mark of respect to the Holy Father. I just felt thrilled and honoured to meet the Pope. I felt very privileged when I came away and I cried all day. I was just overcome with the joy of meeting him."

Father Shaun Braiden, parish priest at St James' said that the whole group of parishioners was thrilled for Annie.

He said: "We were all really proud of her and had a great trip.

"It was exciting for everyone to witness the General Audience, and when the Pope walked in, we all cheered. He speaks about seven languages, and when it came round to the English-speaking visitors being mentioned, he called St James' by name. There was a massive cheer then!"


00Sunday, July 1, 2007 9:16 AM

Here is a translation of an account written for GENTE weekly magazine by Alessandra Borghese.

Pope Benedict
and the youth of Umbria

By Alessandra Borghese

A few months ago, I got an email from Fr. Francesco Piloni, a Franciscan minor friar in charge of the youth ministry in Assisi. He invited me to address a group of young people who would be participating the next day in an encounter with Pope Benedict XVI.

He concluded his invitation by saying, "I know you will say Yes, because the rank and file of the Poor Clares have been praying so!"

Impossible to oppose Providence. So here I was before this young people who had walked from Spello to Assisi accompanied by a group of friars and nuns. It was Saturday, June 16, the eve before the Pope's visit.

There were about 600 boys and girls and they all seemed motivated and attentive. Tomorrow they would join thousands of their contemporaries to meet the Pope at Santa Maria degli Angeli. In the cool of an evening in Umbria, I spoke to them about my life and how I rediscovered a faith that was authentic and that I could live, about my conversion.

But that the big story, even today very relevant, which we had all come to relive in Assisi, was that of Francis. He lived in the 12th century, but he is so very relevant to our confused times. More than ever, he is a life to be emulated for his commitment to peace, for his love of nature, for his desire for dialog among peoples, religions and cultures.

It wasnt by chance, and in a far-seeing way, that in 1986 John Paul II chose Assisi to be the site of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, in which he was joined by representatives of other Christian confessions and of other religions.

For Pope Benedict, Francis is not just a pacifist or an environmentalist. Above all, he is a convert, a man who followed Christ according to the Gospel. And so, perhaps it was with this theme of conversion in mind that the friars asked me to speak to the young, in the hope that my example would help them understand further the value of conversion. And I can say a true conversion radically changes one's view of life, it enriches it, completes it, makes it more beautiful.

Pope Benedict spent 11 very intense hours in this 'place of the spirit', inspired by the desire, as he himself said, "to relive the interior journey of Francis on the occasion of the eighth centenary of his conversion."

It was a program which even a scoutmaster would have been challenged to comply with the same dynamism. But our 80-year-old Pope followed his schedules to the minute, without losing the occasion to send forth a strong and heartfelt appeal 'against the armed conflicts which bloody our earth, so that hate may yield to love, offense to forgiveness, and discord to unity."

How? "Through responsible and sincere dialog, sustained by the generous support of the international community, in order to restore life and dignity to individuals, institutions and peoples."

It must have been a great joy for Joseph Ratzinger to be back in Assisi, a place very dear to him and which he had visited often as cardinal. There's a greet 'feeling' between Pope Benedict and the Poverello.

In his book JESUS OF NAZARETH, the Pope cites him to illustrate the beatitude about the poor: "He was gripped in an extremely radical way by the promise of the First Beatitude."

The climax of his day in Assisi was the encounter with the youth who have a special attraction to Francis. Once more, Joseph Ratzinger used clear and direct language to warn them against the danger of drugs, of aimless wandering, of the traps of vanity. He also showed them he understood their difficulties about how to build a future, how to learn to see truth. And he warned them against selfishness as a mortal peril, reminding them that "we can be ourselves only if we open up to love, loving God as well as our brothers."

He reminded them that "one comes to Assisi to learn from St. Francis the secret of getting to know Jesus and to experience him." How? "By loving the church, its priests, nature, peace, prayer, and standing up for one's faith - even 'through the thousand little acts of our daily life."

Before heading back to Rome, the Pope - tired from his long day but radiantly happy - made a touching request to his audience. "Be my joy, as you were the joy of John Paul II." A request that had already found an answer in the hearts of many.

Gente, 20 giugno 2007

00Monday, July 2, 2007 12:47 AM
Oh, what a great article Teresa. Thanks for posting! [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828]
00Tuesday, July 3, 2007 3:43 AM
Paparatzifan found these on e-bay. Obviously, it wasn't
just Germany and Austria who thought of honoring B16 on
his big 8-0, but some little countries as well, whose
eclectic variety of postage stamps for every occasion
have made them the delight of philatelists of everywhere.
I can identify Grenada and Micronesia on these stamps,
but even from context I can't figure what country might
be called 'The C....' I'll see if I can enlarge the pic
enough on my primitive graphics program to read it!

00Saturday, July 7, 2007 4:19 AM
German publishers to issue Benedict's Bible

Jul. 6, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The Herder publishing house in Germany, in conjunction with the Bild newspaper, will publish a special-edition Bible next week entitled Benedict's Bible.

The new volume, which will appear on July 11, will have the coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI on its cover. It will include some passages that the Pope wrote on his election, on his choice of the name Benedict, and on reading the Scriptures. There will also be photos of the Pope.

Herder and Bild are planning a print run of 55,000 for the German-language volume.


P.S. We have the picture and the original press release from BILD at the top of this page. Teresa
@Andrea M.@
00Saturday, July 7, 2007 9:21 AM
Benedict XVI gets his Bible

In this picture here you see Mr. Kai Diekmann (left), the editor of Bild and Mr. Manuel Herder (center) of Herder publishing house presenting the Holy Father with a copy of the Bible and chatting with him.

P.S. Felici on page 3 & 4 of Baciamano has a whole series of photos covering the same subject from the last General Audience.

00Sunday, July 8, 2007 6:16 PM

Bust unveiled in Pope Benedict's 'true' home town

Posted on : 2007-07-08 | Author : DPA
News Category : Religion

Traunstein, Germany - A bronze bust of Pope Benedict XVI was unveiled Sunday in Traunstein, one of three German towns that competes for the title of Joseph Ratzinger's home town. Benedict, 80, who was in Rome Sunday packing for his summer holiday in northern Italy, was not present, but his elder brother, retired priest Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, 83, was.

Two other towns, Marktl-am-Inn, where Benedict was born but moved away at the age of two, and the city of Regensburg, where he owns a house with garden and is still on the civic role, claim to be his home.

Traunstein was where the Ratzingers, including their sister Maria, had their main schooling and their parents settled down.

"We first came here 70 years ago," said Georg Ratzinger on Sunday, "and we have always felt an attachment. The town has been special to us our whole lives long."

The bust, sculpted by Johann Brunner of Germany, was a belated civic birthday present to the pope, who turned 80 in April, and was unveiled on the 56th anniversary of the men's first mass, celebrated in Traunstein's Catholic church.
00Sunday, July 8, 2007 11:53 PM
The bronze bust of Pope Benedict XVI


Thanks again, Palma, for sharing these pictures. I must say I am very impressed at your apparent access to the German media - most of the articles and pictures you contribute appear to have German sources....

But I'll second MaryJos's negative reaction below to the bust itself. I don't mind that the sculptor chose to portray the Pope at his age now, but in being so slavishly literal to showing 'age', he totally falsifies his subject who does not generally convey a sense of age but of youthfulness and of timelessness- and I would think that's the challenge to any artist who would try to depict Benedict. Too bad that for now, it's the 'memorial' that Traunstein will have of him. Some artist should immortalize him for Traunstein as the boy, youth and young priest of his Traunstein years.
00Monday, July 9, 2007 1:12 AM
A great honour, but.....
This bust of Papa is a great honour, but oh dear, I don't like it. What do others think? It's not a good likeness [though there is a likeness when you look closely], and they have made him look tired by emphasising the dark under his eyes. Don't worry, Papa - I have those permanently too! And I'm 17 years younger than you are!
I prefer the one in the Marienkirche in Munich. Clare and I saw this really close up and it's very acceptable as a likeness and a work of art.
00Monday, July 9, 2007 8:12 PM
The Traunstein-bust
Nope. I don't like it at all from what we can make out from the photographs. It doesn't quite look like him and even if "modern" sculptors have, for all I know, different ideas about "reality", it is just not Benedict XV! But perhaps the pics are not to be trusted. Thanks anyway Palma!! You always come up with wonderful images. [SM=g27811]
00Monday, July 9, 2007 9:03 PM

The Traunstein Bust

The problem is that it lacks choy! The image looks tired and morose, not at all Benedictine.

00Monday, July 9, 2007 11:16 PM
The Traunstein bust

I must admit I rather like it...

00Monday, July 9, 2007 11:26 PM
The Traunstein bust
Thanks benevolens for the pics. Its nice to see Georg there...but I have to agree with the comments above. The bust isn't very bad, it just doesn't capture him. It looks quite serious.
00Tuesday, July 10, 2007 9:30 PM
The Curt Jester strikes again
This is really, really funny. It ranks up there with his all-time best jokes. It's a call for ailing liberals to take the medicine Milk of Magisterium.

Stomach cramping your style?

Have you identified yourself as a progressive Catholics and have looked forward to every issue of the National Catholic Reporter and other organs of Catholic dissidents and yet feel yourself moving towards obedience to the Church! Do the words "institutional Church" just not come out of your mouth the same anymore? Is the sneer when you say "hierarchical Church" just not what it was? Do you feel yourself even warming to Pope Benedict XVI and even found his book Jesus of Nazareth brilliant? Have you actually read the documents of Vatican II and actually see the purported spirit of it was a false spirit?

Have you found progressive ecclesiology to be defective and ultimately it leads only to confusion and to everybody being prophetic, but no one being obedient? Have you experienced any of these signs and yet your stomach starts to ache when you even think about obedience to the official teaching magisterium of the Church? Just the thought of a Mandatum still would give you an ulcer? That "Religious submission of mind and of will" makes you grab for a bottle of Pepto Bismal, but to no avail?

Nobody says that obedience is easy, but there is a way to make it easier! The problem is caused by exposure to too many column by Fr. McBrien, Gary Wills, and the like and a resistance to orthodoxy that shows itself in a upset to the stomach lining. This is a common mind-body response that unto now you just had to offer it up!

Introducing Milk of Magisterium from your local Latin Rite Aid.

Milk of Magisterium is primarily used to relieve that upset stomach when your will aligns with the will of the Church. Milk of Magisterium immediately starts acting on tiny bacterial critters know as dissidentium. Often times this can also result in painful cramping and severe diarrhea calleddissentery.

Milk of Magisterium is dosed at approximate 500mg to 1.5g in adults and works by simple dissidentium neutralization, where the Magisterium ions combine with progressive and acidic dissidentium bacteria producing progressive antibodies that works to root out disobedient bacteria and relieve any dissentery.

A half an hour after taking a dose try reading Dominus Iesus and if you experience no stomach upset than you know Milk of Magisterium is working! If you can subsequently say "The liberalization of the Tridentine Rite is a great idea" than congratulations you are cured. If you still have a stomach reaction try prayer and another dose of Milk of Magisterium.

Now to be honest if you are already faithful to the Church and just experience nausea reading some progressive Catholic articles, you don't need Milk of Magisterium - this is a normal reaction.

Milk of Magisterium also works as a Paxative bringing peace to you system by destroying dissidentium and letting you come to have the joy of not only being faithful to the authentic (accept no substitutes) teaching authority of the Magisterium, but also the joy of digger deeper into the plentiful mysteries of the faith.

So stop by your local Latin Rite Aid for a bottle of Milk of Magisterium and put problems behind you.

Ask a doctor before use if you are still subscribing to dissident magazines or are a member of groups such as Call To Action.

Do not use with contraceptives - severe moral interactions will occur.

May cause alertness making you realize just how silly some of your previous views really were. Best if taken with a high dose of humility.

If pregnant or breastfeeding: Congratulations!
00Wednesday, July 11, 2007 6:55 PM
I consider this to be the ultimate in stupidity and lack of creativity in the guise of intellectualism and artistic freedom. I'm glad they got slammed.

Art exhibit in Italy pulls controversial sculpture of pope in drag

2007-07-11 18:05:22 -

MILAN, Italy (AP) - Organizers of an exhibition on the relationship between homosexuality and art said Wednesday they were removing a controversial sculpture depicting Pope Benedict XVI in drag.

The exhibit drew protests from the Catholic Anti-Defamation League, which threatened to seek charges against the organizers for defaming a head of state.

The group expressed outrage at «the vulgar offense against Christ's vicar and the feelings of Roman Catholics,» the group said in a statement.

The sculpture, titled «Miss Kitty,» shows the pope in a blonde bob wig wearing nothing but a stole, a pair of panties and garter-less stockings.

Organizers postponed the opening by three days to remove the sculpture and another controversial piece featuring a photo that appeared in the Italian media of Premier Roman Prodi's spokesman talking to a transvestite, whose face is superimposed in the work with an image of Jesus Christ.

They also have withdrawn the catalogues and were reprinting new ones without photos of the two exhibits.

«It was made clear to us that it would be better to remove the pieces,» curator Eugenio Viola told The Associated Press.

Viola said the exhibit was intended to be provocative.

«The value of art from the period of the avant garde onward has been to free oneself from the dogmatic and ecclesiastic censors,» he said.

The «Miss Kitty» piece by Paolo Schmidlin has been bought by Milan's top culture official, Vittorio Sgarbi, who also helped backed the exhibit, his office confirmed. The price was not immediately known.

The exhibition opens Thursday in the Palazzo della Ragione and runs through Sept. 16. Organizers were to decide whether to ban to minors under 18.


I seems the CADL did much better with the Milan curators than they did in Venice where they failed to stip a blasphemous ballet on the Passion of Christ from being staged at the Dance Biennial.

We can only be thankful a work of pathologic hate masquerading as 'art' will not get to be exhibited. But I am perplexed that Vittorio Sgarbi would have backed the exhibit, and even worse that he bought this ultra-offensive piece of dreck. If he did, then he's nothing more than a poseur masquerading as a 'cultured' man. Here is what I posted about him when I translated a short item he wrote last May about the book presentation of JESUS OF NAZARETH at the Cathedral of Milan.

I had a chance to look up who Vittorio Sgarbi is. He's yet another one of those Italian political Wunderkinder with a most interesting life story. He started out as an art critic (he has written a book and several monographs on Caravaggio), and ended up being a politician, member of the European Parliament (for 3 terms, I think), and then undersecretary of culture in the first Berlusconi government.

He has since created his own party called the Partita della Bellezza, yes, Party of Beauty, dedicated to the preservation of the Italian cultural patrimony [Italy has the densest concentration of historical and cultural structures in the world, without even getting into what these structures contain in terms of works of art] which he sees as being seriously endangered already by development and its thoughtless consequences

And he goes and buys absolute crap like that????


00Tuesday, July 24, 2007 12:27 AM
From Time Magazine


Monday, Dec. 06, 1993
Keeper of the Straight and Narrow

The world's most powerful Cardinal lives a stone's throw from St. Peter's Square, above the terminus of the No. 64 bus, a line infamous for pickpockets. Each morning he sets off on foot at a brisk pace, crossing over cobblestones to arrive at 9 a.m. at the palazzo that once bore the title of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. Soft-spoken and courteous, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 66, looks too benign to be an inquisitor. But his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the Roman Inquisition's latest incarnation, and as the Catholic Church's chief enforcer of dogma, the Cardinal stands in direct succession to the persecutors of Galileo and the compilers of the index of banned books. The weight of history is borne in the attention Ratzinger receives. His staff, which includes some of the church's brightest men, is sensitive to every small sign of pleasure or displeasure -- a subtle glance, a pause, a bland word that has accrued special meaning over years. When he gets to his office, important documents are spread out on the desk, ready for his review. Says an associate: "He hates to be unprepared."

And he is prepared for everything, from opinions on candidates for bishoprics worldwide to subtle points of theology. Moreover, he seems prepared always to say no -- at least to Catholic liberals: no to women becoming ! priests, no to radical feminism, no to each instance of abortion, no to every incidence of premarital or extramarital sex. He has exerted his influence on a document, published last week, laying out the church's stand on interpretations of the Bible. Ratzinger sees his work as showing Catholics the proper way -- and the forbidden way. "I think there is an obligation to protect people, to help them to see this is not our faith."

The Cardinal wields immense clout in the hierarchy -- beginning at the top. The Pope and Ratzinger are, says one mid-ranking Vatican official, "two pieces of a puzzle. Without one, the other is not complete." Others point out an obvious primacy. Asked whether the Cardinal in practice was the undisputed No. 2 under the Pontiff, one insider in the Holy See responds, "Intellectually and theologically, he's No. 1."

"I wouldn't be surprised if someday he's looked upon as one of the great saints of our time," says Joseph Fessio, an American Jesuit and a former student. However, as the Pope's conservative eminence grise, the Cardinal is also one of the most despised men in Catholicism. Critics decry his hard-line ways and his apostasy from the seeming liberalism of his youth. They call the German-born prelate "Panzer Kardinal" and conjure up images of Huns and German despots. "He is very sweet -- and very dangerous," the Swiss theologian Hans Kung says. Ratzinger helped force Kung out of a professorship at the University of Tubingen for, among other things, arguing that the church -- speaking through the Pope and its bishops -- is not infallible.

The Cardinal likes to spend 15 minutes each afternoon at the piano. He is particularly fond of Mozart and Beethoven. "Brahms," he says, "is too difficult for me." Other difficulties include modern technology -- computers, stereos, gizmos and cars. He has never earned a driver's license. His talents lie in another realm. He can, say his associates, refine doctrine from a chaos of arguments. Says an aide: "He has the ability to synthesize a lot of collected, sometimes contradictory, information and put it into words that are compelling, straightforward and above all true to what he believes." And what he believes is often what the faithful are expected to accept.

Ratzinger's behind-the-scenes interrogations and investigations exert a subtle chill on Catholic intellectual life. His actions imposed an 11-month "penitential silence" on Leonardo Boff, Brazil's exponent of liberation theology (who has since quit the priesthood); they also led to the removal of Charles Curran, a proponent of birth control, from teaching theology at the Catholic University of America. (He is now at Southern Methodist University.) In fact, Ratzinger sometimes seems to be turning his back -- literally -- on modern notions. The pre-Vatican II church, he said last April, was theologically correct in having priests "oriented toward the Lord," facing away from the congregation at Mass. He agreed, however, that a reversal would be impractical.

In the early 1960s, no one would have thought Joseph Ratzinger would become the enforcer of conservatism. At the Second Vatican Council, from 1962 to 1965, Ratzinger and Kung were young theological stars advising the West German contingent. In those heady days, Ratzinger and Kung applauded from the sidelines as Joseph Cardinal Frings, the Archbishop of Cologne, electrified the council by calling the prosecutorial tactics of the very office Ratzinger now leads "a cause of scandal to the world." Ratzinger is said to have ghostwritten most of that speech.

The progressive views he expressed during the council evolved out of wartime experience. Though drafted into a paramilitary corps, the teenage Joseph saw no combat because of a badly infected finger. He never learned to fire a gun, and his weapons were never loaded -- even when he performed guard duty in a BMW plant. But there he saw laborers conscripted from a branch of the Dachau concentration camp. He also remembers seeing Hungarian Jews being shipped to their death. "The abyss of Hitlerism could not be overlooked," he said. The depredations of the officially atheistic regime led to his conviction that religion was crucial to civilization. "Only the Christian faith had the possibility to heal these people and give a new beginning," he says. He was ordained a priest in 1951, and moved on to a brilliant career as a theologian that reached its first peak at the Second Vatican Council.

And then came 1968 -- annus mirabilis for the world and for Joseph Ratzinger. "Something happened," says Kung. "He was deeply shocked by the student revolts." At the time, Ratzinger was theology dean of the University of Tubingen, where Kung was a professor. "He had big clashes with his most intimate students and assistants," says Kung. The rebellion, says a Ratzinger student, Wolfgang Beinert, "had an extraordinarily strong impact" on the future Cardinal, who saw something sinister at work. He resigned from Tubingen and sought intellectual refuge in the peaceful quarters of the University of Regensburg. Ratzinger, says Beinert, who remains close to his former mentor, had been "very open, fundamentally ready to let in new things. But suddenly he saw these new ideas were connected to violence and a destruction of the order of what came before. He was simply no longer able to bear it." Says the Cardinal of that time: "I had the feeling that to be faithful to my faith, I must also be in opposition to interpretations of the faith that are not ((true)) interpretations but oppositions."

After Pope Paul VI named him Archbishop of Munich in 1977, Ratzinger found an ally in a fellow Cardinal who shared his view of the church as the bulwark against barbaric atheism and dehumanizing secularism: Karol Wojtyla, the Archbishop of Cracow and the future John Paul II. Both were members of the worldwide Synod of Bishops -- an advisory council to the Pope. In 1980, two years after his accession, John Paul asked Ratzinger to join him in Rome. The Pontiff was turned down -- twice. Finally Ratzinger laid out his conditions. He would come only if he could continue to speak his mind on matters he felt strongly about. If John Paul was ever worried that he and Ratzinger would clash over ideas, that concern has dissipated. "In fact," says Ratzinger, "we do agree completely on all essentials of church doctrine and order. We arrive at the same conclusions, and our differences of approach, where they do exist, stimulate discussion."

Since 1981, Ratzinger has infuriated liberals as the church's Doctor No. He and his staff have issued a strong public denunciation of homosexuality; privately they have warned bishops to guard against gay-rights laws. The congregation has also released a statement against genetic engineering. And Ratzinger was behind a critique that seems to have doomed prospects for a reunification of the Catholic and Anglican churches in the near future.

Ratzinger's views resonate through the Pope's recent encyclical The Splendor of Truth, which sharply defined right and wrong. It also sought to instill a militant obedience in Catholics. Treating religion as a matter of mere emotion, says Ratzinger, has created a crisis in moral values for all societies. "It is essential to have common ground that can be attested to in moral and religious matters." The church's teachings, therefore, have to be unbending, Ratzinger believes. "Everyone, thank God, is free to decide whether or not he is able and willing to subscribe to the Catholic faith with responsibility before God and his conscience. If I come to the conclusion that I can no longer support this set of beliefs, then it is a matter of honesty to declare this and draw the consequences." If a theologian needs prodding to come to that realization, Ratzinger is happy to prod. And if this means many church members must drop out, so be it. Does this not betray his past? "I see no break in my views as a theologian," he says. "It is absolute nonsense to say Vatican II left it up to the individual to decide which religious ideas he would adopt and which he would not." As a participant in the council, "I would be making a liar of myself" to say such a thing.

Today the Cardinal, who is into his third five-year term at the Congregation, is the longest-serving major official in John Paul's Vatican. Might he be elected Pope one day? Vatican watchers say no: he is too controversial, and his brief record in pastoral work -- as Archbishop of Munich -- is at best spotty. Meanwhile, his health, while good today, has been precarious in the past. In September 1991 he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that affected his left field of vision. Then in August 1992 he fell against a radiator and was knocked unconscious, bleeding profusely. "Thank God, there are hardly any traces of it now," he says.

The Cardinal likes to explain his faith through the story of one of his theology professors, a man who questioned the thinking behind the church's 1950 declaration that the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven was an infallible tenet. "He said, 'No, this is not possible -- we don't have a foundation in Scripture. It is impossible to give this as a dogma.' " This led the professor's Protestant friends to hope they had a potential convert. But the professor immediately reaffirmed his abiding Catholicism. "No, at this moment I will be convinced that the church is wiser than I." Ratzinger asserts: "It was always my idea to be a Catholic, to follow the Catholic faith and not my own opinions." Theologians may wrangle all they want, he says, but faith in the end is something ineffable, springing from the heart. And once it is felt there, he says, "then the mind will accept it too."

00Friday, July 27, 2007 6:30 AM

Here is a translation of part of an interview given by Arturo Mari to L'Eco di Bergamo, a northern Italian newspaper, an article posted today on Lella's blog. I will simply translate the part that relates to B16, and will add on the rest of it later.

The photographer of Popes
By Maria Pia Forte

Arturo Mari, who was the official Vatican photographer for 51 years, says that with his pictures of the Popes, he wanted to show the faithful things that interest them about the man who is also the Vicar of Christ.

So, about Benedict XVI, he recalls:
"We were in the mountains, and the Pope was on vacation. But one afternoon, I told him, 'Holiness, Popes never really go on vacation, and now here's Arturo who also wants to be a despot and would like to take some pictures of you to share with the faithful.'
And that was how I started taking his pictures wiole he did everyday things - taking a walk, working in his study, saying the rosary...Then at one point, I dared to say, 'Of course, once in a while, yo do play the piano!' He smiled, took off his ring, and started to play for me."

And that is how Mari recounts how he took those photographs in Les Combes last summer, which among other things showed the Pope at the piano [the first picture taken of him as Pope playing the piano] which was almost instantly flashed around the world.....

Mari has photographed the Popes since 1956. Officially, he has retired, but he still goes to the offices of Osservatore Romano every day. He was born and raised in the Borgo and still lives in the Borgo...

[There's a little bit about Mari's background, then he is asked to say something about each of the popes he has photographed.]

What can you tell us of Benedict XVI? What's he like?

"A man who is full of sensitivity and delicacy. Shortly after he was elected, when he saw me, he came over and stroked my hand, almost as if to reassure me....He is such an industrious worker. Even if he is 80 years old, he never stops working, except for when he takes a walk or when he pauses to pray. His desk is always [piled with papers and folders....People don't realize how much work the Popes have to do. No such thing as 'a Pope's life'! All the problems of the Church end up on his desk..."

L'Eco di Bergamo, 26 luglio 2007
00Saturday, July 28, 2007 8:41 PM
Thanks for these news items!
Thank you for the moving item on Arturo Mari. I'm sure he can't keep away from the offices of Osservatore Romano and I hope I bump into him one day in the Borgo. As I've already told you all somewhere else, Nan and I saw him in the OR photo office - he just strolled in and walked along behind the counter as if it's his second home.

Also - Wulfrune: I've only just seen your "Milk of Magisterium" story from the Curt Jester. Hilarious!!!! Those liberals give me a stomach ache anyway.

Sihaya: A big thank you from me for this early article! I'm always looking for material about Papa from the 1990s!
00Saturday, July 28, 2007 9:14 PM
Re: The Traunstein bust
benevolens, 09.07.2007 23:16:

I must admit I rather like it...

Me, too. It's full of dignity.

Georg Ratzinger seems to be very happy and pride.
00Sunday, July 29, 2007 8:35 AM
Lest we take it for granted, the summer residence of the Popes is nothing to sniff at. It is remarkable for its location not far from Rome, on a hilltop overlooking one of Italy's most beautiful lakes.

"I am reborn here and love to stroll where one's eyes are intoxicated by sweeping across the vast expanse of fields. Here the body recovers its strength and old age recdes. Here, sweetly doing nothing [il dolce-far-niente] brightens the most exhausted mind - not magnificnet bulidings but serenity of soul makes men happy."
Pope Urban VIII Barberini (1623-1644)

The Pontifical Villas are at the top of the ridge, with the dome of the Vatican observatory.

The Papal residence is at the far end of the plaza towards the top of the first photo, left,
with a closer view in the center photo

We have a similar picture somewhere of Pope Benedict XVI showing the view
to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain in the summer of 2005

The modern town of approximately 7,500 inhabitants can look back upon a long history. According to legend, it was founded in antiquity by Ascanius, son of Aeneas, who named it Alba Longa; it was the oldest capital of the Sabine league.

In the 12th century the area was dominated by a castle belonging to the Roman noble family of the Gandolfi, who gave the town its name. In the 13th century this property came into the possession of the Savelli family. Heavily in debt, in 1596 they sold it to the Apostolic Camera for 150,000 scudi. Pope Clement VIII (1536-1605) approved this favourable acquisition.

Thus the first papal property in Castel Gandolfo was this palace, in which the Pope's apartment with a terrace overlooking Lake Albano are located. Urban VIII (1568-1644) was the first Pope to stay there for a prolonged period of time during the summer to preserve his health.

On the ruins of the previous construction Filippo Breccioli (1574-1627) and Domenico Castelli, commonly known as "II Fontanino" (died c. 1657), built the papal palace between 1624 and 1629, according to plans by Carlo Maderno (1556-1629).

In 1773 Clement XIV (1705-74) acquired the adjacent Villa Cibo. Under Pope Pius XI the complex was enlarged through the acquisition of the Villa Barberini, which had also been built between 1624 and 1629.

In paragraph 14 of the' Lateran Treaty of 11 February 1929 we read: "Italy recognizes the Holy See's complete right to possession of the papal palace in Castel Gandolfo with all its endowments, possessions and all its dependencies.... Likewise it commits itself to ceding to [the Holy See] the Villa Barberini in Castel Gandolfo with all its endowments, possessions and dependencies".

The entire complex of papal villas today covers a surface area of 55 hectares (136 acres) and is traversed by some 10 km. (6.2 miles) of roads and paths. At the beginning of Pope John Paul II's Pontificate, American Catholics financed the construction of an 18-metre (59-foot) covered swimming pool.

Approximately half the land is part of an agricultural enterprise, which is devoted to the biological cultivation of various types of fruit, vegetables, wine and olive oil. Sixty Holsteins give approximately 500 litres (442 imperial quarts) of full-cream milk daily. The milk is sold at regular market prices in the local shops in Castel Gandolfo and Albano as well as in the Vatican's "Annona" supermarket.

Villa Barberini also has a park which is not open to visitors; from it one can see the sea on a clear day. Some 5,000 visitors a year, however, are permitted to enter the park, which was restored in 1930. They must demonstrate a legitimate "historical, artistic or archaeological interest" in the excavations of the remains of the 14-square-kilometre (5.4 square-mile) palace of the Roman Emperor Domitian (51-96).

Other visitors also come to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo out of scientific interest. Since 1936 it has been the site of the Papal Observatory because the palace offered better working conditions at the time. Each year the institute invites young scientists from all over the world for continuing education.

The Observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, was first set up in the Vatican. In the meantime, because of the brightness of the sky in Castel Gandolfo, the researchers established a branch in Tucson, Arizona, which since 1993 has been equipped with a second Observatory. The Observatory's administration, library and computers remain in Castel Gandolfo.

In the tiny, idyllic market square there is a parish church that is exceptionally beautiful for such a small city. There is a very special reason for this. At the request of the Chigi Pope, Alexander VII (1599-1667), the papal architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) built a cruciform, domed church.

It is dedicated to Thomas of Villanova (1487-1555), the Augustinian hermit who later became Archbishop of Valencia. Alexander VII himself had canonized the esteemed Spanish pastor, highly renowned as an "almsgiver", in 1658. Noteworthy paintings are the altarpiece by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) and Carlo Marratta (1625-1713), who also worked together on the Roman Church of the Gesu.

Lake Albano lies 293 metres (961 feet) above sea level, is elliptical in shape and, with its smooth surface, functions as a natural amphitheatre. The most beautiful of Italy's volcanic lakes, it is fed by several underwater streams. The steep and precipitous banks of Castel Gandolfo's crater lake reaches 162 metres (531 feet) above its surface.

Frequent visitors and admirers of Italy such as Stendhal, Goethe, Winckelmann and Gregorovius are truly not alone in singing the praises of Castel Gandolfo and Lake Albano.

From L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
29 September 1999


What I did not realize - until I checked out the Castel Gandolfo municipal website and the new vaticanstate.va for what it has about CG - is the extent of the formal gardens attached to the Papal summer residence. We only had a hint of it in those pictures taken of the Pope for the Famiglia Cristiana calendar.

Like the fact that the Vatican is a medieval walled city [one of the obvious facts to any visitor there - the famed Leonine walls gave their name to the appelation 'citta Leonina'], it's hardly ever mentioned that Castel Gandolfo has one of the most magnificent formal gardens on earth. It may not be as huge as that of Versailles or those of the larger stately homes of England like Blenheim and Chatworth, but its longitudinal layout makes it much easier to appreciate than more sprawling gardens.

If we stick to Italy, I think, from the pictures alone, it beats the Boboli Gardens of the Pitti in Florence, or even the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, which is also in the Castelli Romani region like Castel Gandolfo. Too bad they don't let the public into the Castel Gandolfo gardens.

Here are some pictures:

Now imagine, Georg Gaenswein's 50th birthday party last year was held in the Castel Gandolfo gardens [but where exactly, in those 30 hectares, we were not told]! Can you think of a better place anywhere for a birthday party?

The new Vatican state site has detailed information about all the Popes who used Castel Gandolfo. Pius XII liked it so much he spent almost a third of his Papacy there - even if he couldn't use it during the war years, afterwards he spent up to 5 months at a time there. He became the first Pope to die there, in October 1958. His successor, Paul VI, also died there in August 1978. John Paul I never had a chance to go to Castel Gandolfo as Pope.

The last page of this backgrounder contains the dates when the last four Popes were in residence, and the dates so far for Benedict XVI.

For other pictures and a bit more information about the place, check out the ff:





00Sunday, July 29, 2007 3:46 PM


Now that the Cadore holiday has ended, I will be posting any lingering news from it in this thread.

Corriere delle Alpi, the regional newspaper whose reporter Francesco del Mas, provided us a daily chronicle of the Holy Father's vacation in Lorenzago - a resource not available to us during his vacations in Les Combes - has put together a special in its Sunday issue today, UN RICORDO BENEDETTO.

UN RICORDO BENEDETTO is a play on the name, of course, as it can mean both "A souvenir of Benedict" or "A blessed souvenir".
[I choose to translate 'ricordo' as 'souvenir' because remembrance,
remembering, or memory have other connotations, whereas
the word 'ricordo' is neutral, without nuances, in Italian.]

I am very sorry now I did not go directly to Corriere delle Alpi online during the Pope's vacation to have been able to caputre their daily front pages and to access their photo galleries.

Happily, these are still available - there are about 10 'collections' ranging from 5-50 photographs each, taken by the newsphoto agency Obiettivo, much of them we have not seen - which you can access on the first two pages of this site
I hope they stay online long enough for us to take our pick.

Here is the first of the two main articles in today's 'special'. Both of them are positive, but they both start from the premise that the people of the Cadore had an entirely negative image of Benedict XVI before he arrived there!

A different Ratzinger

Where was the 'German shepherd'? "Where was 'the Pope with eyes of ice'?

That was how was described when he arrived in Treviso, before flying on to Lorenzago. [Who did, and why on earth? We read the story, saw pictures and video, that he stayed 20 minutes to greet the military families at the Treviso airbase even if it was not on the schedule!]

Where was the 'gravedigger of the Council', 'the crusader against Islam'? [But where did all these epithets come from? I'm only familiar with 'German shepherd! I think they show the depth of the prejudice that Del Mas himself and other media in the area had about the Pope.]

Benedict XVI's vacation in the Cadore showed a different Pope - at least to those who only knew him by the familiar labels.

Lorenzago saw a Pope who looks you in the eye as he holds out his hand to greet you. They are eyes that place you at ease, that do not judge, with a look that makes you feel he is addressing only you personally, and that he hears you.

He asks how are you, where do you come from, what do you do - before you can even master your emotions at the surprise of the moment. And almost always, the emotions end in tears.

Benedict XVI has left his mark on the Cadore. More profound, in certain ways, than did Papa Wojtyla (who was here six times between 1987 and 1998).

The Polish Pope from the Tatra mountains disappeared into the mountain trails even in rain and snow. He left every morning at 9 and did not get back till 7 p.m. (usually to waiting crowds that resembled those waiting to watch the Tour of Italy cyclists pass by).

John Paul II presumably spent hours in meditative solitude. Very rarely did he meet up with excursionists or village folk - though when he did, these encounters were, of course, intense.

Ratzinger - who has admitted that in his younger days, he loved mountain walks - stayed home most of the time in Lorenzago - to write, read, study, play the piano, meditate. But promptly at 6 p.m., almost every day he went out for a brief drive and walk.

He prayed the rosary, he stopped at little churches or roadside shrines, and had at least 3-4 casual encounters with local folk or tourists during each walk. That's a lot, considering that the walks never took more than half an hour. All these, through country lanes passing through areas of flat woodlands.

The Pope allowed Lino Fontanive to throw an affectionate arm around his shoulders as he asked him about his mountain cottage, his garden, his life, telling him "It's a Paradise here."

He walked along chatting with Carla, around whose shoulder he threw an arm as they walked. He had two nuns - sisters to each other - throw themselves around his neck to kiss him. He asked a boy wearing an Inter shirt if he was a football player.

From a villager in Danta whom he asked why there seemed to be no flies around, he got back a question, "Are there flies where you come from, then?"

To everyone he met, he wished them "Have a good walk" or "Have a good vacation" before they could wish it for him themselves.

At the end of one his first walkabouts, he sat down at a park bench and watched a few minutes of tennis and pingpong.

To the photographers who complained they had not had an opportunity to photograph him exclusively, he gave them a chance at the bridge over the lake in Domegge.

One may well object that style does not necessarily mean substance. And yet, through the 'style' he showed, the 'hard' Ratzinger has now passed into the popular imagination as 'lovable', 'sensitive', 'tender', 'affectionate', 'paternal'.

Even 'light, in the sense of being bearable' ['leggero, nel senso del sostenibile' - there is no other way) to translate it, and it sounds awfully condescending, if not insulting, though it obviously wasn't meant to be, and the rest of the quotation is equally odd], 'for his respectful approach to the environment' - according to the mayor of Lozzo.

And as for substance: At the Angelus, the Pope appealed for conservation of 'creation', Nature, what God has created. Recalling the First World War and Benedict XV's futile pleas to end the 'useless slaughter', he spoke forcefully against war and violence, and for respect of international law.

To the 450 diocesan priests of Belluno and Treviso, he said Christians should make themselves 'neighbors' to everyone, including Muslims. He said evolution and creation were not mutually exclusive. He said priests should not be 'sacred bureaucrats'. And he reaffirmed fidelity to the teachings of Vatican-II .

To Catholics who have separated, divorced or remarried after divorce, he assured them that the Church continues to be close to them, with loving support, even if they cannot fully participate in the sacraments.

"A different Ratzinger," said many at they end of the Pope's sojourn in the Cadore.

No. More likely, the real Ratzinger. The warm welcome of the Cadore, which he himself said had 'stunned' and 'almost intimidated' him, simply revealed who he is.

Corriere delle Alpi, 29 luglio 2007

All very well, Mr. Del Mas. But where were all of you in the past two years? Is it possible none of you ever watched the Pope on TV, saw his pictures, read stories about him, that you could all have kept the negative stereotypes propagated by media during Joseph Ratzinger's more than two decades as CDF Prefect?

Or is this a ritual way to take back the prejudices you and your fellow journalists may have persisted in keeping about him - feigning that everybody was somehow the victim of a news blackout that kept them unaware of the Pope the world has known for over two years now, until he came to the Cadore and they could see for themselves?

Whatever, we can only be thankful you have all seen the light now. All's well that ends well, and we are indeed thankful to you for your conscientious daily reporting despite the paucity of data you had to work with. It is much more than anyone did for Benedict's two summers in Les Combes.


Here's the second story - and it's more of the same, although it extrapolates the 'Ratzinger effect' to a sea change in the self-confidence of a region that has been through an economic crisis.

The Pope brings confidence

The front-page photo yesterday in this newspaper was very beautiful, even quite moving. It summarized well the general sense of the three weeks that Pope Benedict XVI spent in the Cadore.

The photo showed the white helicopter taking off, and in the foreground, a group of mothers and children waving goodbye. .[I hope we shall be able to find this picture.]

A very good symbol. Modern technology and a tradition of spirituality that goes far into the past. The 'lightness' of the flight that was taking the Pope 'elsewhere', and the gravity that weighs down people in their daily lives. Their hope in the prayers of someone who can pray for them himself. Confidence recovered in themselves and in the potential of this land and this community.

[And here come the sterotypes]:
No one had imagined, before Benedict XVI arrived here, that this Pope would succeed in awakening such affection and emotion. In the collective imagination, this was an icy Pope, a German shepherd, frigid and remote, the Curial symbol of theological sophism, guardian of good morals and right conduct. A remote Pope coming from a remote world. [Dear ones, Bavaria is just across the Dolomites from you!]

Instead, we found a Pope who was intimate and gentle, who has simple feelings just like the simple folk, and not just the believers.

Flaminio Da Deppo, president of the 'mountain community' of the Cadore [22 towns], said in behalf of all the mayors, that the Pope's visit had brought an infusion of self-confidence to the Cadore.

It is not a convenient commonplace. It comes after years of analyzing the changes that have been taking place in the Cadore towns, where social and economic problems have caused thousands of inhabitants to move away to places with 'better opportunities'.

A study by the University of Venice, conducted from 2004-2006, showed a shift from a vertical structure that had been dominated by the single regional industry of manufacturing eyeglasses, to a horizontal levelling caused by the loss of that industry into an as-yet indistinct replacement by local artisanship, agriculture and tourism as the basis for a new development and regional identity.

All this, acccording to Da Deppo, also matched with a striving for 'quality work' - including art restoration of the region's cultural treasures and conservation of a unique environment.

But the anthropological consequences have been serious - the economic crisis made the local folk doubt whether they could take their destiny back in their own hands - and Da Deppo says that the Pope's brief sojourn has infused new confidence in a way that is "palpable and very obvious".

Pope Benedict XVI, he said, had given the local people a new awareness and pride in their land. On many occasions, the Pope praised the exceptional quality of these mountains, woods and valleys, the uniqueness of the Dolomite landscapes, the great value of this part of 'creation', as part of the divine design.

He said these in simple, almost timid words, to the people he met, in their language, and with great hope - and this generated unexpected sympathy for him, in the literal sense of 'feeling together.'

For the inhabitants of these mountain towns, not just for the believers among them, the words of the Pope carry an authoritative sense of hope.

They needed someone to speak to them about values, because they had long lost hope that politicians could give them answers, and this Pope, just by being himself and probably not even aware of the significance of his simple words and gestures, communicated to them through this very simplicity, and in his words, they have found self-validation and new confidence.

Corriere delle Alpi, 29 luglio 2007


I can only say how stunned I am at the persistence of all the wrong stereotypes about Pope Benedict XVI.

In the past two years, I thought: In this age of global technology, how could one doubt the power of images, and thank God, through that at least, the world can see the real essence of this holy man, as a man of God and a man of love and joy, a simple man even if he is one of the great thinkers of our time!

But if the Cadore is a template, then obviously media has continued to succeed in showing only the Joseph Ratzinger of their creation. The overwhelming majority of people do not watch entire telecasts of a Papal event. They get to see the soundbites and videoclips that editors decide to show them.

So we can only conclude that just as the newspapers - even in Italy - have mostly been unkind and unfair in their presentation of the Pope and what he does (reflected in the slant to their stories and in their choice of pictures to use, if at all), Italian TV has been equally capricious and negative, by omission and commission.

What is so clear to us - who follow the coverage of Benedict closely - is mostly not seen at all by the general public.

But then, he comes to Lorenzago for the first time, and what does an apparently far from Ratzinger-admiring reporter like Franceso del Mas conclude?

Benedict XVI has left his mark on the Cadore. More profound, in certain ways, than did Papa Wojtyla (who was here six times between 1987 and 1998).

Despite themselves, the media someteimes have no choice but to respect objective fact. And although Del Mas's statement many simply be his own personal impression and not the consensus of all Cadorans, it says a lot that he even made the conclusion.

It's a process of attrition, trying to get rid of all the wrong and unpleasant commonplaces about Joseph Ratzinger. But there is attrition, and hopefully, sooner rather than later, all these fallacies will crumble away.


00Tuesday, July 31, 2007 5:48 AM
At the end of his Angelus greetings yesterday, the Pope greeted the residents of Castel Gandolfo
on the occasion of their annual Peach Festival. I remembered then that last year, there was a picture
of him with baskets of peaches that had been sent to him at CG. And sure enough, he received them again
this year - from a delegation of residents with women and children
in festive folk costumes.

00Tuesday, July 31, 2007 1:22 PM

A wonderful excuse to use this photo from Paparatzifan's latest agency selection.

By Barbara Kralis
July 30,2007

Words cannot adequately express the joy — and the relief — that traditional Catholics the world over have experienced since Summorum Pontificum was publicly promulgated.

Many Catholics around the world would like to express personally their profound gratitude to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for his recent 'mandate' setting free this Traditional Latin Mass. Fortunately, this opportunity has been made possible for each one of us. Let me explain.

A Catholic couple living in New York City conceived an unusually beautiful idea. As a sign of gratitude and love, they reasoned, what could be better than to send a fresh bouquet of flowers, God's own artistry, to denote the accompanying gift of a spiritual bouquet — an offering of prayers — to the Holy Father?

Since Pope Benedict left Rome shortly after the Motu proprio was publicly announced, they reasoned that the best way to accomplish this would be to have the flowers delivered to the Papal summer residence in the Cíttà dí Castel Gandolfo, just 30 miles outside of Rome, where the Pope will be residing from July 27 until mid-September.

They enlisted the help of an American florist, From You Flowers, who arranged local florists in Italy to deliver our bouquets of flowers and bouquets of prayers to the Holy Father. Individuals and groups from all over the world can take part in this show of gratitude.

The New York couple contacted Monsignor Camille Perl, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission of Ecclesia Dei, who gave the project his blessing, noting that it would be "une belle surprise" for the Pontiff.

To benefit from the special discounts offered by From You Flowers, we can call them at 1-800-838-8853 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. We should ask for ext. 115. If calling outside those hours, we should ask for a supervisor and state we are interested in sending flowers to the Pope. It has been reported to this writer that already many groups and individuals have ordered these bouquets and are now being delivered to his summer residence.

From You Flowers will also attach a Spiritual Bouquet prayer card written in Italian to the flowers. We are to indicate to the operator how many prayers and/or Holy Masses we will offer for the Pope's intention.

This sounds like a wonderful project, designed to bring joy and encouragement to a spiritual leader who is regularly under siege. It is this writer's hope that a good number of souls will respond to this call, and join in a massive, collaborative voice to express their thanks, but especially their love, for the Holy Father in this beautiful way. Bouquets may be sent to either of the Holy Father's residences, Rome or Castel Gandolfo, depending upon where he is residing at the time. The florists will know where to deliver them for us.



Angelus at Castello Mirabello.
From Paparatzifan's selection.

Angelus at Piazza Calvi, Lorenzago.
Photo by Benevolens.

00Wednesday, August 1, 2007 5:16 AM
Not having checked out DIE TAGESPOST since the Motu Proprio on the Mass came out, I missed this July 12 item from DPA:

Even the Pope will share in the celebrations of the 1000-year anniversary of the Diocese of Bamberg. The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, with Jonathan Nott conducting, will be in Castel Gandolfo on September 4 for a concert to which 300 guests have been invited.

The concert, to be held in the inner courtyard of the Apostolic Residence [where the Angelus audience gathers], will feature Schubert's Fifth Symphony and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.

The orchestra management said it had been told that both are particular favorites of the Pope.

Oh, how thrilling it is to hear about specific preferences by the Pope. And both symphonies are very much in his spirit!

Schubert's Fifth is often described as Mozartian - it is joyous, sunny, enchantingly melodic. "It makes the birds seem to sing along," one critic described it....

And Beethoven's Seventh - is simply seventh heaven! Long long after I had first heard it at age 10, I came across Richard Wagner's description of it, and luckily I've been able to google the exact quotation tonight: "All tumult, all yearning and storming of the heart, become here the blissful insolence of joy, which carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature, through all the streams and seas of life, shouting in glad self-consciousness as we sound throughout the universe the daring strains of this human sphere-dance." Me, I can do with its sublime second movement alone

00Friday, August 3, 2007 2:02 AM

I was pretty sure I had posted this before, but it turns out I did not. Must have been during one of those regular blackouts this system has - it's happening twice a day now, I notice (around noon and around midnight, New York time). It's a great read, in every way!

Two Weeks in the Eternal City:
From the Vatican Secret Archives
to the Basilica of St. Charles Borromeo

By Anthony E. Clark, Ph.D.
Ignatius Insight
June 24, 2007

I just returned from spending two weeks in Rome. I've visited before, but I never fail to be moved by the Eternal City, the extraordinary place where St. Peter is buried in a tomb beneath the great dome of St. Peter's. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote, in This Is Rome, "to those whom years and faith has ripened, Peter is walking in Rome, not as a Ghost, but as a man dressed in white."

Those two short weeks, oddly enough, felt like two short years, in part because it seemed that every hour was filled with new and often overwhelming experiences. I worked in the Vatican Secret Archives examining official documents of the martyr saints of China.

I spent time in the Pope's Private Library reading and copying Chinese works from the seventeenth century - works that have not been read since men such as Fr. Matteo Ricci, S.J., wrote them during the Qing dynasty.

I attended the canonization of four new Catholic saints and sat a few feet away from the Pope Benedict XVI during his Wednesday Audience. My wife and I followed the Holy Father through the streets of Rome in Eucharistic adoration from St. John Lateran to St. Mary Major; we visited the tombs of Borromini and Bernini; prayed in front of the exposed heart of St. Charles Borromeo and the incorruptible body of St. Vincent Pallotti, and the altar where St. Ratisbone saw the Blessed Virgin Mary; visited several monumental churches; strolled through Rome's incredible palazzos; and received the Pope's blessing after Sunday Solemn Latin Mass at the Vatican.

But what impressed me most during those busy fourteen days in the city of martyrs was the profound holiness of the Holy Father. I saw him four times through my visit, and there is something striking about how he stretches out his arms before his flock, like the outstretched arms of our Divine Savior, reaching out in his last hour in an embrace of love.

June 3, 2007, was a very wet Sunday in Rome, but St. Peter's was brimming with people who didn't seem to notice the steady rain. It was the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, and Benedict was canonizing four new saints into the Church as pilgrims cheered, prayed, and waved large banners with depictions of the new saints who haled from their respective countries.

The celebration certainly resonated with me since I was in Rome working on a book about the martyr saints of China. I could not help but reflect on how truly difficult it is to ascend to the altars of the Church as a canonized saint, and how truly holy are the souls of those who do.

After reading numerous documents in the Vatican Secret Archives and the Pope's Private Library about the canonized saints of China, I became even more aware of how arduous and extensive is the process of canonization. It would be difficult to overstate how much care is given to discerning who is "certainly in heaven," as the Church believes of saints. The files I spent many hours reviewing were enormous, including several thousand pages of testimonies about miracles and historical records of the personal heroism and holiness of each person to be canonized.

The Church does not desultorily proclaim someone a saint. So as I listened to the Holy Father's solemn pronouncement of canonization I was quite moved, having observed first-hand the requisite holiness and sacrifice.

After the Vatican schola intoned Psalm 8 and chanted a litany to the saints, Benedict "exalted to the Catholic faithful" four new saints, St. George Preca (1880-1962), St. Simon of Lipnica (1435-1482), St. Charles of St. Andrew (John Andrew Houben, 1821-1893), and St. Anne Marie Eugenie (1817-1889).

The Church understands and presents sainthood as a significant form of witness to God; all saints in a certain way are martyrs, either "wet" by the shedding of their actual blood or "dry" by the suffering they endure in emulation of Christ's agony.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council explained that in the authentic cult ("cult" meaning public veneration) of the saints we seek in them an "example in their way of life, fellowship in their communion, and the help of their intercession" (LG, 51). In other words, the saints offer us an example for our own Christian pilgrimage, hope for a share in their communion with God once we've died, and the expectation of their assistance while we are still alive.

In his final "Testament," Pope John Paul II expressed both his concern for the difficulties of the present world, and his hope in the example of the saints. He wrote that "the Church finds herself in a period of persecution no less evil than the persecutions of the early centuries, indeed worse, because of the degree of ruthlessness and hatred" (Testament of the Holy Father John Paul II, 24 February to 1 March, 1980).

And then he simply quoted Tertullian's famous cry: "Sanguis martyrum - semen christianorum [The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians]." John Paul II thus called Christians forth to be saintly martyrs in today's world, "wet" or "dry."

Later, after enjoying a strong Italian cappuccino I passed the Swiss Guards with my letter of invitation and walked through an archway into the courtyard (now a parking lot) facing the bronze doors to the Secret Archives and the Pope's Private Library.

Vatican overseers of these two archives speak Italian and French; it was the first time I really appreciated the mandatory French fluency requirement to get my doctorate in Chinese. Once I passed through the obligatory (and quite extensive) interview, I finally consulted books from the seventeenth century rightly treasured by the Vatican.

I read through several Chinese books written by Jesuits who lived with emperors and brought the faith to both high officials and simple villagers. One book was especially interesting: it was a Chinese translation of the Roman Missal published in Beijing in 1670 by the famous Ludovico Buglio (1606-1682). It took that Jesuit twenty-four years to translate the Latin Missal into Chinese, and the Pope later allowed the Mass to be offered in the native language of China.

There were also Chinese catechisms produced by the Jesuits who lived in late-imperial China. Among the most moving documents were the personal letters of missionaries who were eventually tortured and killed for their faith. Holding the very papers once held, centuries ago, by such holy saints is summoning; their letters are entirely centered on Christ and his message.

During a break from working in the Secret Archives, I walked through Rome's hot and tourist-crowded streets to an out-of-the-way neighborhood beyond Trastevere, where the P.I.M.E. (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) House is located. There I met with P.I.M.E. Father Ciro Biondi, the head archivist of the Institute.

Fr. Biondi ushered me to a back room where they keep a number of personal belongings of P.I.M.E. missionaries who have been martyred for their faith in Christ. My initial interest was in St. Alberco Crescitelli, P.I.M.E., who was tortured and killed in China during the 1900 Boxer Uprising.

But Fr. Biondi shared accounts with me of Catholic missionaries being persecuted to this day throughout the world, some being martyred just as the Christians of the early Church were also killed for their faith in Christ.

I saw St. Crescitelli's personal crucifix and his ecclesial hat, worn during Mass and when administering the Sacraments. I also was shown the blood-stained white shirt of a P.I.M.E. priest who had been shot in the head for his faith in Christ. It was a vivid reminder that the Church is still being built on the blood of the martyrs.

One of the last churches I visited before leaving Rome was the Basilica of St. Charles Borromeo, the great Church intellectual who struggled in defense of Catholic belief and contributed to the Roman Catechism.

In several ways St. Borromeo reminds me of Pope Benedict XVI - a holy ecclesiastic and brilliant thinker devoted wholly to Christ and the Church he established. Sitting near the Holy Father I had been struck by how tired he seemed, though still entirely present and energetic. St. Borromeo was known to have been sleep-deprived from his long hours of prayer and study, and in his final hour he cried, "Behold I come; your will be done."

Imagining St. Borromeo's holiness I knelt in front of the reliquary containing his heart in the basilica named after him, and prayed for our Holy Father, for the Church, for the world, and that John Paul II's hope be fulfilled that Christians today become martyrs for the truth and love of Christ.

While I had been working in the Secret Archives I met another American professor, who was working on a book about seventeenth-century Jesuits. He made a point to inform me that he "wasn't religious."

This was ironic since the first thing I noticed when I first entered the Vatican Archives - perhaps the most impressive library in the world - was the massive Cross hanging at the front of the reading room. Just raise your eyes slightly from your manuscript and there it is, a reminder that at the heart of the Catholic Church is the Sacred Heart of the Savior, whose death is not only a witness but is The Way for those seeking true life and the eternal city, the New Jerusalem.

00Tuesday, August 7, 2007 6:49 PM

Lella has this item from Il Messaggero today, translated here:

CASTELGANDOLFO - A piano recital for a few intimates, unique more than rare, takes place at the Apostolic Residence tonight, when the Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil, Mons. Lonrezo Baldisseri, plays for Pope Benedict XVI.

It is reported that only about 20 guests have been invited to the recital.

Baldisseri, 65, is a music graduate of the Berlin Conservatory, and reportedly surprised the Pope during the latter's visit to Sao Paulo by playing a repertoire of virtuoso pieces for him.

At his own expense, he recently recorded a CD with 12 pieces by Albeniz, Debussy and Chopin. He wants any proceeds to go to charity.

Tonight, he is playing Chopin and Mozart for the Pope.

Il Messaggero, 7 agosto 2007

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