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

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00Friday, August 10, 2007 4:28 AM
Pope, nun, priest rated among world's
top environmental-friendly leaders

By Joshua Garner

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Pope Benedict XVI has been ranked as one of the top "green" religious leaders by the online environmental magazine Grist.

Dominican Sister Miriam MacGillis and Passionist Father Thomas Berry also made the list ranking the top 15 environment-friendly religious leaders in the world. According to Grist, these leaders are spreading the "ecogospel."

The pPope and the other Catholic leaders managed to crack the list because they have spoken out on environmental issues.

The Pope's use of an electric-powered popemobile and solar-power-friendly Vatican City helped him land at No. 6 on the list. Grist said the pope has been increasingly vocal about the suffering that climate change will cause for the world's poor.

"When he speaks out on an issue, the world listens," Lisa Hymas, senior editor of Grist, said in an Aug. 3 telephone interview from Seattle, where Grist is based.

But solar power and a popemobile could not land the pope the highest ranking on the list. The top spot went to Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for his involvement in international environmental causes.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people, took second place. He has become increasingly vocal about the environment since he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Elsewhere on the list, Sister MacGillis, whom Grist says "is on a mission to save the planet," came in at No. 10 for her crusade to sustain agricultural lands.

She is co-founder of Genesis Farm in New Jersey, which describes itself as "a learning center for earth studies." It focuses on "the connections between the health of our global commons of air, water, land and nature, and the health of our local communities and bioregions." The farm offers activities and courses in "earth literacy."

Coming in at No. 15 on the list was Father Berry, a cultural historian, theologian and author "who attests that the environmental crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis," and is "widely regarded as the most important ecotheologian of our time," says Grist.

The 92-year-old priest, now living in North Carolina, has said humans need to remember they are "integrated into the universe.''

Hymas said the list was compiled by herself and other editors of Grist. The idea originally focused on evangelicals but soon included leaders from other faiths.

"We wanted a mix of people from all kinds of religion," Hymas said.

Hymas said the editors wanted to show that religious leaders who speak on environmental issues can be taken seriously and as leaders they wield influence.

"People were glad to see us take these leaders seriously," she said. "I think religious people were glad to see the list."

The others on Grist's list and their rankings are:

- No. 3, the Rev. Sally Bingham, environmental minister at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco.

- No. 4, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England, who promotes carpooling, recycling, selling fair-trade items at church events and using organic bread and wine for holy Communion.

- No. 5, the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs in Washington for the National Association of Evangelicals, who urges Christians "to understand their duty to be environmental stewards."

- No. 7, Fazlun Khalid, founder and director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences in London.

- No. 8, Normal Habel, Australian editor and contributing author of the "Earth Bible" project.

- No. 9, Rabbi Warren Stone of Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Md., long involved in efforts to raise awareness about global warming and promote conservation and a familiar figure on Capitol Hill.

- No. 11, the Rev. Fred Small, minister of the First Church Unitarian in Littleton, Mass., who has been a co-chair of Religious Witness for the Earth.

- No. 12, the Rev. Joel Hunter, an evangelical who is senior pastor of Northland, a megachurch in Longwood, Fla., and a leader of the religious-based environmental stewardship movement.

- No. 13, Karen Baker-Fletcher, an ecojustice theologian and associate professor of systematic theology at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

- No. 14. Paul Gorman, co-founder and executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, based in Amherst, Mass.

00Friday, August 10, 2007 1:19 PM
For video via Rome Reports:

The Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo is surrounded by a lake and mountains. It’s the Pope’s summer residence.

During the month of August, Benedict XVI is taking advantage of the freshness of the landscape. And he can’t pass by the ice cream shop near his residence without having one himself, like anyone else.

That’s why Alfredo Carosi, the owner of the store, started a tradition that’s repeated every summer: “We have a tradition of inviting the Pope to enjoy some of our ice cream on August 15 every year”, he says. “We send 15 cups to the palace for his colleagues as well.”

The ice cream parlour has many flavours including cherry, vanilla and whipped cream, topped with chocolate and caramel – all favourites of Benedict.

This bar founded in 1897 holds many of the Pope’s gastronomic secrets. Apart from ice cream, the owner made two breakfasts for John Paul II. “He had breakfast here”, says Carosi, “a fruit salad, cheese, rosetta, a typical kind of bread, and ham. He was such a human person, so uncomplicated and he didn’t try to keep a distance.”

The milk with which the ice cream is made is produced at a Vatican-owned farm near the Apostolic Palace. “They produce it and sell it”, says Maurizio Colacchi, Mayor of Castel Gandolfo. “Here in Castelgandolfo we can use this milk. If we can make cappuccino here, it’s thanks to the Vatican’s city milk.”

A good part of Castelgandolfo’s economy depends on the Pope’s residence here. And the inhabitants of this village hope that the Pope will lengthen his stay here so they have more time to improve Benedict’s favourite recipe.
00Saturday, August 11, 2007 12:42 AM
Fascinating report !
I saw that edition of Rome Reports, Maklara! The feature about Castel Gandolfo came as a total surprise and I didn't have my VCR ready. I wonder - does Papa really wander about and "pop into" the bar that sells ice cream? I don't think our dearest, rather shy Papa would do this. But I think I can imagine John Paul II walking nonchalantly round the town.

Thanks for the video link, Maklara!
Luff as always - Mary x [SM=g27811]
00Saturday, August 11, 2007 2:49 AM

Very cool! Thanks for the video Maklara! I think that since the ice cream shop is very close to the residence, Papa might drop by on a quiet day with not alot of people around if he had to go out anyway. Even though he's shy (less now than he was before), I think if he had the opportunity he'd be unlikely to resist the sweets. Since they are sending some to the palace, I'm sure he'll eat it.
00Tuesday, August 14, 2007 1:40 PM
How long does it take for a Vatican correspondent in Rome to get wind of small Papal events, no matter if it is unusual as this one? Answer - a week maybe? Almost, anyway, because that's how long it took at least one Anglophone Vaticanista to get this story which we posted August 7.


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

So, here's the CNS report about it dated August 13.

Brazil's nuncio plays private piano concert for pope
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

ROME, August 13 (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI was so impressed with the piano skills of Brazil's Vatican representative that he invited the apostolic nuncio to give him a private concert in Italy.

After a dinner with a few guests Aug. 7 at the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italian Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri played for 50 minutes on the pope's Steinway piano.

The archbishop told Catholic News Service by phone from Brazil that he played classical compositions by Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy, Isaac Albeniz and others, including the late Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos.

The pope "was very pleased, very happy" and praised him for providing a "tranquil, serene musical interlude," Archbishop Baldisseri said.

The nuncio said he felt very nervous before playing. "I almost wanted to flee" from the scene, "but then, once the program began, it went very well," he said.

Among the handful of people present for the dinner and concert was the pope's brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who for decades had directed the boys choir of Regensburg, Germany.

The archbishop said the pope made the invitation after he heard him play some challenging piano compositions during the May 9-13 papal visit to Brazil.

"As apostolic nuncio I was with the pope and accompanied him (during the Brazil trip), and there was a moment when I just played a few pieces. The pope heard me play and invited me to Italy to Castel Gandolfo," he said.

The archbishop was unable to give the pope his first and still-untitled CD, due to be released in October.

He said the program he played for the pope Aug. 7 "is more or less what is on the CD," for which the proceeds from sales will go to charity.

The 66-year-old archbishop studied at the Italian conservatory of Luigi Boccherini near Florence and then at Rome's Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music before being called to study at the Vatican's school for training diplomats, the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

He has served the Vatican for the past 34 years, he said, and has headed the nunciatures of Haiti, Paraguay, India-Nepal and Brazil. Each time, he said, "I brought my piano with me all over the world."

00Tuesday, August 14, 2007 6:02 PM
TERESA BENEDETTA, 14/08/2007 13:40:

How long does it take for a Vatican correspondent in Rome to get wind of small Papal events, no matter if it is unusual as this one? Answer - a week maybe? Almost, anyway, because that's how long it took at least one Anglophone Vaticanista to get this story which we posted August 7.

Apart from that, when did Georg Ratzinger arrive at CG? I was actually wondering when he was due to arrive the other day and getting a little worried that no mention had been made of his presence yet. Or am I just not with it at the moment?


Last year, the first definite news we had that he actually was in Castel Gandolfo was when he was pictured coming out of the Assumption Day Mass. In 2005, it was when he was hospitalized during his visit with his brother. Eventually, we saw some pictures of him arriving in Castel Gandolfo from the airport, accompanied by Ingrid Stampa - from videocaps made by one of our members from a source I do not now recall.

Since he is a family member, his activities are considered private and not reported on by the Vatican itself. Obviously, no one among the Vaticanisti is avid enough to initiate any story about him unless he talks to the press, or accompanies the Pope someplace during the vacation, as when they visited the Crucifix in Rieti last year.

But it was a safe assumption that as in the past two years, he would join his brother for the summer at Castel Gandolfo. Maybe one of the local papers in the Regensburg area reported about him leaving for Castel Gandolfo, but I haven't checked.

And Gabriella who monitors everything there is to be picked up about Georg Ratzinger anywhere has not posted anything either.


00Tuesday, August 14, 2007 7:06 PM

[SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811]

Thank you very much, Fiona, for this appropriate remark!!!
Really, no mention had been made till now about Monsignor Ratzinger arrive in CG and J am very sad and worry for that, too. [SM=g27812] [SM=g27834]

And thank very much to you, too, dear Teresa, for the accurate answer.
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00Tuesday, August 14, 2007 7:19 PM
Il parroco Valdemar: "Grande gioia per nostra comunità"
postato 2 ore fa da APCOM

Città del Vaticano, 14 ago. (Apcom) - Messa nella Parrocchia di San Tommaso da Villanova, a Castel Gandolfo, e Angelus dal Palazzo apostolico della residenza estiva: giornata intensa quella di domani per Benedetto XVI che, come è consuetudine per la Solennità dell'Assunzione di Maria, alle 8 incontrerà i parrocchiani di castello nella chiesetta di padre Valdemar Niedziolka, parroco di S. Tommaso. "E' un momento di grande gioia per tutti noi - afferma ad Apcom il parroco, di origini polacche - un momento particolare per la nostra comunità di Castel Gandolfo. Partecipiamo sempre all'Angelus, ma quella di domani sarà proprio una visita alla nostra comunità".

Alla celebrazione ci sarà anche monsignor Georg Ratzinger, fratello del Papa, che in questi giorni si trova con l'illustre fratello nella residenza estiva di Benedetto XVI per qualche momento di riposo. Ci saranno anche il segretario di Stato, il cardinale Tarcisio Bertone, il vescovo di Albano, monsignor Marcello Semeraro, il segretario personale del Pontefice, don Georg Gaenswein, rientrato dalle ferie in Germania.

Parteciperanno alla solenne celebrazione anche il Sindaco di Castel Gandolfo, Maurizio Colacchi e l'intera giunta comunale. "Ci sarà tutta la comunità di castello - prosegue il parroco - nella Chiesa saranno presenti circa 250 fedeli, ma la piazza sarà piena, pronta ad accogliere e a salutare il Pontefice".

Al termine della messa, dopo aver salutato i fedeli presenti in piazza, il Papa si affaccerà dalla finestra del Palazzo Apostolico della cittadina per il consueto Angelus dell'Assunzione. Per l'occasione, il Papa rivolgerà anche un saluto ai partecipanti ad un pellegrinaggio giovanile al Santuario di Mariazell, in Austria, in vista dell'850esimo anniversario della fondazione e della visita di Benedetto XVI in terra austriaca, dal 7 al 9 settembre.

[SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811] [SM=g27811]


See, I told you Assumption Day would bring news! and as you see, Gabriella promptly posted the Apcom item above. I have posted the translation in NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT.

GRAZIE, GABRIELLA! L'ho visto anche nel blog di Lella.


00Tuesday, August 14, 2007 10:29 PM

Thank you from the heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[SM=x40800] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800] [SM=x40800]
00Wednesday, August 15, 2007 10:23 AM

Two Christmases ago, when Austria donated the Christmas tree for St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict told the Austrians when he thanked them that if he had been born 5 kilometers farther north, he would have been born Austrian. Now, research shows his forefathers lived in Austrian territory since the 16th century and therefore, Austrian subjects... Here is a translation of a KAP agency report....

LINZ, August 13 (KAP) – Pope Benedict XVI has Austrian roots. Authors Christoph Hurnaus and Martin Kugler make a compelling case in their book Papst Benedikt XVI und Oesterreich that the Linz daily newspaper Neues Volkblatt is now following it up.

Benedict’s paternal roots point towards Freinberg in the district of Shaerding, an area that came under Austria in the late 18th century.
With references to Passau diocesan archivist Wolfgang Fronhoefer, the details are to found in the book by Hurnaus and Kugler.

Around 1600, the peasant couple Georg and Apollonia Razinger lived in Ratzingerhof [literally, Ratzinger farm), Freinberg, which belonged to the parish of St, Severin in Passau-Innstadt till 1786. Since then, Freinberg has been a n independent parish of Upper Austria.

Around 1688, the forefathers of the Pope moved to Unterhaselbach near Tiefenbach, north of Passau. The next generation lived in
Thalham, Parish of Kirchberg vorm Wald, the succeeding one in the parish of Schwanenkirchen.

Around 1801, the paternal grandparents of Joseph Ratzinger bought a farm in Rueckering, parish of Schwanenkirchen in the Bavarian woods, where the pope’s father was born. It, too, came to be known as Ratzingerhof.

“I am very proud that people are always passing by who are interested to see the Pope’s origins,” says the present inhabitant of Ratzingerhof, Johann Schachner, speaking to the Volksblatt. His family has lived in Ratzingerhof since 1930. The name goes back to the 15th century, to a certain Jacob Ratzinger, from whom all Ratzingers trace their origns.

Diocesan archivist Fronhoefer’s research has to do with the family tree. This is currently on display in the Pope’s birth house inMarktl am Inn.

More and more people are becoming interested in the 15th centiry farmhouse and are visiting the Schachners in Freinberg.

“My father was married on the farm,” Schacner says. “The wooden house has kept up well, although we have done some renovation and changed the roof.”

But the Pope also has forefathers from Old Austria, namely the South Tyrol. His mother Maria Peintner was born on January 8, 1994 in Muehlbach at the entry to the Puster valley. A specific reference in a baptismal book was found three years ago.

[We must relate to this to research carried out by local people in Muehlbach, in Bavaria, Germany, where she was actually born. Not Muehlbach, Austria/Italy,which is the German name for Val Pusteria. See account in ALBUM FOR JOSEPH, translated from material found by Palma.]

But his mother did not stay long in South Tyrol. After she was born, her parents moved to Bavaria where his mother was baptized on February 25.

Ratzinger’s maternal grandparents are Maria Tauber and Anton Peintner. Anton was born in Muehlbach (South Tyrol) on May 3, 1862, but no birthdate has been found for Maria Tauber.

Both lived in a small house – a ‘shed’ by a mill on the Valser stream, according to parish priest Hugo Senoner. The shed was near Moosmuellerhof.

Daughter Maria was born on January 8, 1994. She would become the mother of Maria, Georg and Joseph Ratzinger. Soon after their daughter was born, the family left the village, most likely because a flooding of the Valser carried away both house and mill.

So the parents moved to Bavaria. Maria Peinter was baptized in Oberaudorf on February 25, 1884; she was born out of wedlock, but her parents were married in church later.

According to the baptismal registry, the marriage was not recognized officially without stating a reason, according to the South Tyrol newspaper Dolomiten. [Well, they weren't married at the time she was born - would they have m
arried in the few weeks between her birth and her baptism?]

The Muehlbach registry also gives information about the Pope’s maternal great grandparents who were Anton and Elisabeth Tauber. Fr. Senoner says Anton Tauber was a miller.

Even the Pope’s birthplace, Marktl am Inn, has an Austrian past, since it was an old parish of Salzburg. Today it belongs to the diocese of Passau in Germany. The jurisdiction of Salzburg over Marktl ended with the Napoleonic turmoils.

Until then, Marktl was part of the Salzburg-supported Archdeaconate Gars am Inn, which was under a Gars-based Provost. It had 50,000 Catholics in 70 parishes.

After secularization, the larger part of the Salzburg parishes west of the Inn river came under the jusrisdcition of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, and some under Passau. Gars, with its 1,100 Catholics, became a parish under royal patronage.

[The rest of the story is about Gars, and relaly does not have anything to do with the Ratzingers anymore].

The history of Gars goes back to 764. The Salsburg Bishop Virgil wanted the Benedictine monastery in Gars to serve as the starting point for an areawide evangelization of the whole district. A monks seminary was also set up here.

In 1122, Gars monastery passed over to the Augustinian canons.In the Thirty Years War the monastery underwent a profound crisis. As the Sweidsh retireated over the Inn in 1632, most of the canons fled to the Herrenchiemsee monastery.
In 1803, the secularization meas
ures for the Augustinian canon monastery were cancelled. In 1858 , the Redemptorists moved into the monasteyrbuildings which had meanwhile fallen into disrepair, and established a pre-gymnasium school, in which, among othes, Fr. Kaspar Stanggasingfer (1871-1899) who was beaitified in 1988, wserved as an educator.

In 1907, Gars had a Superior School for Philosophy and Theology, which provided theological training for priests in the ecclesiastical province of Munich. Sfter the schoolclosed, it was replaced by an Institutde for Teacher Development.
00Wednesday, August 15, 2007 5:39 PM
Uh, Teresa

Did you perhaps forget to translate this article (above)? Or is this a subtle hint that we need to learn to read German ourselves?

Papst Benedikt XVI. hat österreichische Wurzeln

Linz, 13.8.07 (KAP) Papst Benedikt XVI. hat österreichische Wurzeln. Die Autoren Christoph Hurnaus und Martin Kugler haben in ihrem Buch "Papst Benedikt XVI. und Österreich" darauf aufmerksam gemacht, die Linzer Tageszeitung "Neues Volksblatt" ist jetzt nachgestoßen. Die Wurzeln von Benedikt XVI. weisen nach Freinberg im Bezirk Schärding - einem Gebiet, das allerdings erst im späten 18. Jahrhundert österreichisch wurde.....




00Wednesday, August 15, 2007 9:43 PM

DVD Picks & Passes

Birthday Concert for Pope Benedict XVI (2007)

BY Steven D. Greydanus
National Catholic Register
August 19-25, 2007 Issue | Posted 8/14/07 at 11:50 AM

Newly available on DVD from German classical record label Deutsche Grammophon, Birthday Concert for Pope Benedict XVI presents the concert held this past April 16 at the Holy See’s Aula Paolo VI Hall in honor of the Pope’s 80th birthday.

Pope Benedict’s love of classical music is well known. The concert program includes a violin concerto of Benedict’s favorite composer, Mozart, chosen by the Holy Father himself and masterfully rendered by young virtuoso Hilary Hahn.

Also included are Dvorák’s “New World” Symphony and selections from Italian composer Giovanni Gabrieli. Welcoming speeches are included, as is the Holy Father’s expression of gratitude:

“I am convinced that music … really is the universal language of beauty which can bring together all people of good will on earth and get them to lift their gaze on high and open themselves to the absolute good and beauty whose ultimate source is God himself. … I thank those who combine music and prayer in harmonious praise of God and his works: They help us glorify the Creator and Redeemer of the world, which is the marvelous work of his hands.”

00Wednesday, August 22, 2007 5:37 PM
Benedict’s Gifts and ‘Gaffes’
By the Editors
National Catholic Register
August 12-18, 2007 Issue

The media is a double-edged sword: It can lift you up, and it can knock you down. Last year, headlines and commentators expressed surprise at the gifts the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI had brought to the Church. Now, their praise has been replaced by finger-pointing at the “gaffes” of the same Holy Father.

The problem: There’s not that much difference between those gifts and those gaffes. Consider:

A gift: Pope Benedict’s theme of friendship with Jesus.

In his homily before the papal conclave, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger introduced a theme that he would return to again after becoming Pope Benedict XVI.

He called Catholics to “friendship with Jesus,” invoking the Roman phrase that identified friends as those with the same likes and same dislikes.

In his inaugural Mass as Pope, the Holy Father returned to the same theme, saying, “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.”

He expanded on that theme in many ways afterward — in his first encyclical, 2006’s Deus Cartias Est (God Is Love) and in his book Jesus of Nazareth, which he wrote, he said, “to help foster the growth of a living relationship” with Jesus Christ.

A so-called gaffe: In his remarks to the bishops of Latin America meeting in Aparecida, Brazil, Pope Benedict said, “The Utopia of going back to breathe life into the pre-Columbian religions, separating them from Christ and from the universal Church, would not be a step forward. Indeed, it would be a step back. In reality, it would be a retreat towards a stage in history anchored in the past.”

Later, the Holy Father was quick to acknowledge the injustices that took place during the colonization of Latin America. [An unfortunate way to make this statement, because it places the Pope's statement out of context. What the Pope said in Aparecida had nothing to do with the colonial experience as a whole - he was referring specifically to going back to the pee-Columbian religions - which were all distinguished by human sacrifice.]

But his original remark was of a piece with the important theme of his pontificate: Friendship with Jesus isn’t an imposition on a life that would have been freer without it — it is a liberation for those who would be diminished without it. Everyone is bettered by that friendship — Indians included.

A gift: Pope Benedict’s insistence that God is love.

Hand in hand with his concept of friendship with Jesus is Pope Benedict’s emphasis on God as love. In his first encyclical, he had startling things to say. He calls God’s love for his people not just agape love but eros. In other words, he says God loves us with an almost romantic longing.

The Holy Father even writes: “God’s passionate love for his people — for humanity — is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice.”

He has returned to the theme again and again in homilies. In March 2006, he said: “God loves us in a way that we might call ‘obstinate’ and enfolds us in his inexhaustible tenderness.”

A so-called gaffe: On Sept. 12, 2006, the Holy Father gave a lecture about faith and reason — and the need to reject violence — at the University of Regensburg, Germany. In it, he quoted a 14th century emperor’s words about the incompatibility of faith and violence. But he also quoted the emperor’s harsh words about Muhammad, the founder of Islam — calling them “astonishingly brusque.”

Some Muslims reacted, ironically, with violence — but Pope Benedict was doing nothing more in his Regensburg address than expressing in concrete terms the consequences of the truth that God is love — renouncing violence in the name of God.

A gift: Benedict’s emphasis on the Eucharist.

All of these lessons are summed up in another constant theme of the Pope: The Eucharist. In his first message after becoming Pope, Benedict said: “I ask everyone in the coming months to intensify love and devotion for Jesus in the Eucharist,” he said, “and to express courageously and clearly faith in the Real Presence of the Lord, especially by the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.”

It’s another theme he returned to several times, most importantly in the recent post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity).

A so-called gaffe: In a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document, the Vatican reiterated the fact that only those Churches that retain the Real Presence of Christ are authentic.

The document was simply a reiteration of the key truth that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. The Vatican is saying that Churches are Christians gathered with Christ — not gatherings of those who reject the Eucharist.

Pope Benedict’s pontificate hasn’t been a series of gifts and gaffes at all, but a consistent application of key themes of the Christian life.


The Register is being very charitable to the media, actually - and rather naive.

First, the MSM hardly ever acknowledge any of the 'gifts' the Register lists - because these are all spiritual considerations that the MSM does not consider worthy of being reported on.

Second, they actually are always on the lookout for any 'gaffes' - or more accurately, any pretext to call a gaffe - because , negative reporting, is their coin of commerce.

And they welcome every pretext they can grab out of thin air because it gives them an excuse to dredge up all the other 'gaffes' they have pinned on this Pope. They have never failed this way.

00Friday, August 24, 2007 2:40 AM
Belated translation of an Il Messaggero item posted by Lella on her blog last weekend.

The Pope's floral horticulturist
By Paolo Mosca

Can we call you the Pope's 'flower man'? For Elio Cortellessa, 62, native of Molise, it is a great compliment. For the past 35 years, he has supervised the Vatican Gardens and coordinates placement of floral arrangements in St. Peter's Square, in St. Peter's Basilica, and in the Aula Paolo VI.

"I was 16 when I left my hometown of Pozzilli where my father was a forest ranger. For years, he and my mother Rosa put me to sleep at night by telling me stories and legends about plants, flowers, and spring. i went north to Minoprio on Lake Como and studied gardening and floriculture for 5 years."

But how did you get to Rome to become chief of the Vatican Gardens?

At a flower show in Verona, I met Dr. Ponti by chance - he was a civilian administrator at the Vatican who was looking for a new supervisor for the Vatican Gardens. Well, within a month's time, I was here in Rome. I couldn't believe my eyes being in the midst of 22 hectares of greenery. It seemed to me like one of my father's fabulous tales."

And as a wedding gift, you and your wife Celeste were given this little home in the midst of the gardens, just a few meters way from the dome of St. Peter's?

We were married in Ottati, near Salerno. But in this little home, two flowers were born, Antonio and Arianna.

Once a day, the Pope, when he is out walking, goes by your house.

His route takes him a little farther away, in the wooded area. He likes the shaded walks. In that area, among 60 fountains and 12,000 plants, there is a faithful reproduction of the grotto in Lourdes, with a Madonna and a rare altar which was a gift from the city of miracles to John Paul II. All the Popes, starting with Pius XII, always stop to pray there.

Whenever there is a new Pope, the gardens dedicate a large floral coat of arms to him. Can you describe this to us?

The outer frame with the keys of Peter always remains the same. What changes is the design within. Paul VI's coat of arms had towers and a castle. We did not have the time, unfortunately, to put together one for John Paul I. For John Paul II, it was a large M and a cross. And now, it's Papa Ratzinger's seal - with the bear, the shell and the Moor.

You have 32 persons working in your staff. Where do the flowers come from for the big celebrations?

From Maundy Thursday to the Tuesday after Easter, they come from Holland - tulips, hyacinths, irises, azaleas. On Palm Sunday, we decorate the Basilica and the Piazza with olive branches and palms that come from Puglia. At Christmas time, we decorate the Bernini columns with flowers from San Remo, along with the lower part of the Altar of Confession - with red and white flowers, holly and myrtle.

What would you say is the miracle of your life?

My Mamma Rosa, who is now 88, always tells me: "The Lord has made a miracle for you because he brought you from Molise almost to heaven."

What flowers did you use for the beatification ceremonies of Padre Pio and Mother Teresa?

For him - 12,000 roses, gladioli, aromatic evergreens from the Puglia, 350 ferns, thyme and other herbs to recall his miraculous aromas. For Mother Teresa, white roses and San Carlinos, a miniature chrysanthemum as white as her purity.

You've never been on TV?

I appear every night before my wife at the dinner table with a plate of lasagna cooked with love.

Il Messaggero (Roma), 19 agosto 2007

Since I was visiting the vaticanstate.va site to get pictures
of the Vatican Gardens, I thought I'd include these two pictures
here for their curiosity value:

Top, the Torre San Giovanni, where Cardinal Bertone stayed for
almost 6 months until Cardinal Sodano could vacate the SecState's
official apartment in the Apostolic Palace; above, the Collegio
Etiopico in the Vatican Gardens, where rooms were renovated to
make the present apartment for Cardinal Sodano

And this very good overview of Vatican city state:

The blue area is of course St. Peter's Square and basilica;
the black area is the Apostolic Palace;
the violet area represents the Vatican Museums;
and the red area, the Gardens.
The first gray building on the lower left edge is
the Palazzo Sant'Uffizio, home of the CDF.

00Thursday, August 30, 2007 12:24 PM

The Vatican Press Office said Tuesday that the Spanish edition of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's JESUS OF NAZARETH went on sale in Spain Monday, August 28, with a first printing of 50,000 copies.

The Spanish edition first came out August 17 in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Veneuela, Ecuador and Mexico.

The communique did not explain the four-month delay between the publication of the German and Italian editions and the book's translation into the most widely spoken language in the Catholic world.



P.S. Thanks to a reader of Lella's blog, here's part of an item about the Pope in the Spanish newspaper El Pais today, translated here.

The general audience yesterday coincided with the great success of the Pope's book JESUS DE NAZARET, whose Spanish edition sold out within hours of going on sale Monday.

I was going to ask why the Spanish publishers only decided to print 50,000 copies for a book that has sold about half a million copies at least in both Italy and Germany!

By the way, the two-paragraph news item about the General Audience did not even mention what the Pope talked about - not even the appeal for the disaster victims - but concentrated on his wearing the 'galero', as if it were the first time he had done so. [Surprisingly, even a couple of Italian newspapers today gave the same impression in reporting about it].

First of all, it was entitled EL PAPA PRESUMIDO, the word 'presumido' being used here in its meaning of 'vain'. Here is a translation of the first paragraph.

Pope Benedict XVI continues to show particular interest and meticulousness in what he wears. If, in an audience last Christmas, he surprised everyone with a red velvet cap trimmed in white (last used by Pope Jihn XXIII 40 years ago), yesterday, he protected himself from the summer heat with a red Saturno - a wide-brimmed hat so-called because its form recalls the ringed planet Saturn. But at the same time, this Pope also follows fashion is, as they say, he uses Gucci sunglasses and red shoes by Prada.


EL PAIS is Spain's most widely-circulated newspaper (daily circulation in 2005 2.1 million) and 'newspaper of record', it is leftist and anti-clerical and was inspired by the French Le Monde. It carries the New York Times weekly international edition.

00Friday, August 31, 2007 2:39 PM
I happened on this in the korazym.org site - it conveniently puts
together the absurd Esquire choice of Pope Benedict XVI as
the 'accessorizer of the year' (an item I consigned at the time
to the NOTABLES thread, I think). But here is how Esquire
presented it.

"Accessorizer of the Year: Pope Benedict XVI. The look: Ornate
papal habit paired with red leather loafers. The take-away:
The Office of the Holy See is mum about His Holiness's footwear,
but the point is: Have a signature. It could be a pocket square
or chunky watch or tie clip, but make it your own (and remember
that the whole red-shoes thing is already taken)".

And korayzm played along with the trivial pursuit, rehashing
all that the international press has said about the Pope's
sunglasses, his vacation wear, his choice of headgear, being
a stickler for the proper Papal vestments at formal and
liturgicaloccasions, and put together its own montage....

...and reminding its readers that as a Cardinal, Joseph
Ratzinger already made quite individual fashion statements:

Finally, it reminded everyone that last year, a German
publisher came out with a book entitled "Why does the
Pope wear red shoes?" in which Mons. Georg Gaenswein,
private secretary to the Pope, answered questions posed
by German schoolchildren before the Pope's visit to Bavaria:

The question was from Andreas, 6. Mons. Gaenswein's
answer: "It has to do with the liturgical practice of
the Church, according to which the priest wears
different colors for Mass vestments. The color depends
on the occasion. In the past, the Pope's shoes matched
his Mass vestment: if it was green, he wore green shoes.
But in time, red became the only color for the Pope's
shoes - that's why the Popes wear red shoes to this day."

00Friday, August 31, 2007 2:41 PM
From ZENIT's Italian service, translated here:

MADRID, 30 August 2007 (ZENIT.org).- The publishing house La Esfera de Libros confiormed today that its first printing of the Spanish edition of JESUS OF NAZARETH sold out in practically every bookstore in Spain since it was released Tuesday.

The have therefore printed another 30,000 copies.

"This confirms predictions that the Pope's book would become the publishing phenomenon of autumn, as it has been in the other countries in which the book has been published," the publishers said.

The book has so far sold more than 1.5 million copies.

00Tuesday, September 4, 2007 6:38 PM

Symphony concert at papal residence

Castel Gandolfo, Sep. 4, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The renowned Bamberger Symphony Orchestra will perform at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo on Tuesday evening, September 4.

The concert, honoring Pope Benedict XVI, is a part of the celebrations marking the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of the diocese (now archdiocese) of Bamberg, Germany.

00Tuesday, September 4, 2007 10:19 PM
Ecological coalition lauds 'green' pope, urges church action

September 4, 2007
UCANews (www.ucanews.com)

QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UCAN) – A network of NGO and other groups promoting "zero-waste goals" has praised Pope Benedict XVI for urging youth at a recent youth rally in Italy to put the environment first.

Ecological Waste Coalition of the Philippines Inc. (EcoWaste) urged the church in the Philippines to also "take extra steps to make traditional religious practices and celebrations greener and more environment-friendly."

"We are delighted to read from news dispatches that the mammoth youth festival in Loreto was very eco-friendly," EcoWaste secretary Manny Calonzo wrote in a Sept. 3 statement sent to UCA News. He noted reports stating "nearly everything" used at the rally "was biodegradable or recyclable."

"The local church should take a cue from the pope's environmental leadership and check the ecological soundness of the way religious festivals, prayer assemblies and other time-honored activities are observed by the faithful," he said.

International media on Sept. 3 carried reports of the Sept. 2 rally led by the pope in Loreto, Italy, during the annual local commemoration of "Save Creation Day." The 80-year-old pope, wearing green, urged the crowd to "safeguard creation" and make a "strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk making the situation of decay irreversible."

More than 300,000 people reportedly spent the night and 2,000 others joined them on Sunday for the gathering and Mass with the pope. The meeting was a prelude to the international World Youth Day 2008 celebration to be held in Sydney, Australia.

According to media reports, the pope is installing solar panels on the roof of the main audience hall at the Vatican, is funding a forestry project to offset the Vatican's carbon emissions and has hosted a scientific conference on climate change.

Pope Benedict is one of 15 religious leaders including Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury and the Dalai Lama who were recognized on July 24 by Grist, a U.S.-based environmental news and commentary website, for being environment-friendly. They were praised for "spreading the eco-gospel."

The EcoWaste statement described the pope's plea for the youth to shun "disposable love and consumerism" as "timely." According to the group, "More and more Filipinos fall for single-use, throwaway plastic items that are causing tremendous stress on the planet's limited resources."

The group expressed hope the pope's "eco-gospel message will resonate throughout the church and find concrete expressions in zero-waste celebrations of the holy sacraments and other faith-inspired communions and festivities."

The Philippines, where 81 percent of 76 million people are Catholics, has 2,774 parishes in 85 geographical church jurisdictions, each celebrating at least one major annual fiesta honoring its patron.

EcoWaste criticized in particular the high amount of waste and pollution generated by Christmas celebration. In Marikina City, east of Manila, the city's waste management operation estimated in 2006 that the 200,000 tons of daily waste in that city alone increases by about 30 percent during the Christmas season.

Last year, EcoWaste called for "alternative" gift giving and wrapping to control waste during the season.

SOURCE: www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?...
00Wednesday, September 5, 2007 12:20 AM
'Music reveals the truth of God'

PETRUS has this early story about the concert for the Pope tonight:

Music 'has the capacity' to refer us back to the Creator of every harmony, awakening in us resonances that are like 'tuning in to the beauty and truth of God....with a reality that no human since or philosophy can ever express."

Pope Benedict XVI once again expressed his own personal passion for music, in words delivered after a concert in his honor by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra int he Inner Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo tonight.

The concert was one of the special events to mark the first millennium anniversary of the Diocese of Bamberg, represented at the concert by Mons, Ludwig Schick, Archbishop of Bamberg, and Thomas Goppel, Bsvarian Minister of Science, Research and Art.

Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the Pope's Vicar in Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, led Vatican prelates present.

Conductor Jonathan Nott led the performance of Schubert's Symphony No. and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.

"The wondrous sounds of the two symphonies make me forget the quotidian and transported me tonight to a world which for Beethoven meant 'a revelation higher than every science or philosophy."

Of Schubert, he observed, "He once said of a minuet by Mozart, 'It seems as if the angels are taking part with their song' - and that is what I felt tonight, as perhaps did most of you."

Thanking the orchestra, the Pope said: "Through the vast range of tonal nuances and great expressive power of your interpretation of these two masterpieces, you have confirmed anew the excellent reputation of your orchestra. May your performances continue to be, for many, an experience of revelation."

He then thanked Archbishop Schick and Minister Goppel: "I interpret your gift as a token of the affection that the Diocese of Bamberg has for the Successor of Peter, since, in fact, for several centuries of your history as a diocese, it was under the direct supervision of the Holy See."


From our first post in this thread on 8/2/07 (preceding page) on this concert:

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.

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! Here is how Richard Wagner has described the Seventh: "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."

00Thursday, September 13, 2007 9:24 PM

It's most probably the first time anyone ever thought of publishing a book to inform non-believers about the thinking of the spiritual leader of the world's Roman Catholics.

Fabrizio Mastrofini
Ratzinger per non credenti
(Ratzinger for non-believers)
Laterza. 126 pp. Euro 10.00

From Pascal to Regensburg:
Benedict XVI's bet

A review by Antonio Giuliano
Avvenire, 9/13/07

You should live your life and try to make the world a better place for your being in it, whether or not you believe in God. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will be remembered fondly by those you left behind. If there is a benevolent God, he may judge you on your merits coupled with your commitments, and not just on whether or not you believed in him.
-Blaise Pascal, Pensees

Blaise Pascal(1623-1662) might well have been a reckless player, but his famous 'wager' was about the existence of God, which he framed this way:

"Let us weigh the gains and losses in case one bets that God exists. If you are right, you gain all; if you are wrong, you lose nothing. So, without hesitating, bet that God exists."

The French mathematician-physicist-philosopher, a late convert to Christianity, pointed out that making the wager was 'inevitable'; "Your reason will not be offended by either choice, since one has to choose in any case."

The wager has at stake the very sense of existence, and so it regards everyone, belivers as well as non-believers.

It wasn't by chance that Joseph Ratzinger, long before he became Pope, always called on 'laymen' to bet on gthe existence of God as Pascal advised. Ratzinger was always very conscious of addressing non-believers, as well, in all he wrote and said.

In this book, Fabrizio Mastrofino says that Ratzinger's attitude towards non-believers is one of the traits that mark him as a 'modern man', and that his 'modern-ness' and open-ness are both manifested in the Regensburg lecture - an invitation to all men of goodwill to bridge any 'gaps' between faith and reason for the common good.

Reason that is closed in on itself not only is incapable of explaining reality but has caused many failures and conflicts in history. Benedict XVI is well aware that many in the West now live as if God does not exist. At the same time, one muwt also address the non-believer which is in every man.

The author seeks to evaluate Benedict's Pontificate this far. Called on to assume the heavy mantle of John Paul II's legacy, Benedict XVI has been seeking to counter every prejudice agains the Church, by offering up daily his own witness which is gentle as well as firm on the principles of the faith and the message of the Gospel.

The challenges are many: Islam, the manipulations of science, the new poverty. Msstrofini asks whetther the Pope will succeed in his task without raising the image of a church that is all commands and prohibitions.

Ratzinger spelled out the way to the youth at Loreto. With full respect for the freedom of each person to decide for himself, the Church will never tire of proposing higher goals beyond the worldly, and urging everyone to have courage.

Again, Pascal: "The last step for reason is to recognize that there is an infinity of things which go beyond it."

00Tuesday, September 25, 2007 1:15 PM
Pope Benedict donates
shoes for the poor

When the Pope visited Vigevano last April, shoe manufacturers in that shoemaking capital donated 15,000 pairs of shoes for the Pope's charities. Here is a story about one of the beneficiaries.

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 24 (AP) — Some homeless Minneapolis residents are walking in the pope's shoes.

That's after two big boxes from Rome arrived at Sharing and Caring Hands, a homeless mission in downtown Minneapolis. Recently, the Rev. Joseph Johnson, the rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul gave some friends from the Vatican a tour of the facility while they were visiting the Twin Cities.

Sharing and Caring Hands has an on-site shoe room, but director Mary Jo Copeland didn't know what was in the big boxes when they arrived.

"Father (Johnson) says, 'That's from the Pope.' I said, What do you mean? The Pope," said Copeland.

She opened them to find several dozen pairs of handmade Italian shoes to give to the poor.

"These are just grand! This is just the best gift. That Pope Benedict, wherever you are, God bless you!" said Copeland.

Johnson said Benedict got the shoes from an Italian shoemaker who asked that they be distributed to the poor.

Tasha Allen, who received a pair of the shoes, said, "It's a blessing for everybody. All the kids love them. The parents love them, too. I just can't stop smiling. Thank you pope."

For herself, Copeland received a note from the Vatican and a picture of the pope.

"That was very nice because now the pope is praying for me," she said. "I know I'll keep going," said Copeland.

Blessings From The Pope
In The Form Of Shoes

Sharing and Caring Hands provides shelter and clothes for families in need and the local charity is getting a bountiful blessing from Pope Benedict XVI.

You might call them blessings in a box: Italian hand-made shoes from the Vatican.

"When I got them, I couldn't believe it." said Mary Jo Copeland, the Director for Sharing and Caring Hands.

The Pope heard of Copeland's good works and decided to lend a heavenly hand. Copeland sent the Catholic leader a signed book that caught his attention.

"The Pope is a very busy man ... and I'm sure that he has a lot of things on his plate … why would he think to open it? I don't know, God wanted him to, that's why," said Copeland.

With the boxes of shoes, Copeland also received a letter and a picture from the Pope.

However, the real gift is on the faces of the little kids. After all, it's hard not to smile after getting new shoes.

"They're so grateful, because they don't have much," said Copeland.

April Dehn is a single mom with three kids.

"It's very hard, with three of them in school, the young the age, the more they grow faster," she said. "I think it's a blessing, I'm really grateful."

D'sean Milligan also got a pair of new shoes. He said he's very grateful to Copeland.

"I feel God is blessing my work. It gives me a real peace that the Vatican is connected here," said Copeland.

The Sharing and Caring Hands shelter houses more than 500 people each night and nearly 400 of them are children.

[From WCCO in Minneapolis]

00Friday, September 28, 2007 4:21 AM

Thanks to Lella, for this account, translated here, from L'Eco di Bergamo, a leading regional newspaper in northern Italy, of the Wednesday night concert at Castel Gandolfo to mark the 110th birthday anniversary of Paul VI.

The concert was presented by the Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli International Music Festival of Brescia and Bergamo - a serendipitous pairing of two cities which are the home cities, respectively, of Pope Paul VI and of Pope John XXIII.

This is the only article I have seen that identified the music performed at the concert - although not specific enough. As the last part of this article shows, the program consisted of a Concerto in C minor by Vivaldi, Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor (the only one that is specific enough) and a Piano Concerto in E-flat major by Mozart (who wrote 4 piano concerti in this key - but I'm taking a stab it was the #22, which includes clarinets in its scoring - only because the Pope has said that his favorite Mozart instrumental compositions are the Clarinet Quintet and the Clarinet Concerto). Vivaldi wrote so many concerti for strings that without an opus number, I cannot narrow down which one might have been played at CG, because the only Vivaldi Concerto in C minor I can look up online is one for flute and guitar, and I doubt that was the number played, as the only soloists identified were a violinist and a pianist.

A musical evening
at Castel Gandolfo

By Paolo Aresi

The last notes of Mozart faded away in the Swiss Hall at the Apostolic palace in Castel Gandolfo, and at last the public could applaud after virtually holding its breath throughout the performance of a Mozart piano concerto.

Then the Pope rose and took the floor to thank the organizers of the concert to celebrate the 100th birthday anniversary of Pope Paul VI, the orchestra and its conductor Agostino Orizio, the soloists and the other guests at the concert.

Among the guests were the Bishop of Bergamo, Mons. Roberto Amadei, with his secretary, Mons. Alessandro Locatelli, and mayor of Bergamo, Roberto Bruni; and representing Brescia, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops; the auxiliary bishop of Brescia, Mons. Francesco Beschi; Mayor Paolo Corsini; Mino Martinazzoli, honorary president of the International Festival; its president, Andrea Gibellini; and the orchestra conductor himself, Agostino Orizio, whose association with Paul VI started when he was a boy and Giovanni Battista Montini was a young priest in Brescia.

The Pope said, "Thank you all for this evocative musical evening, for having perofrmed for us these well-known pieces which are always capable of rousing emotions, of helping our spirits perceive the intimate harmony in divine beauty."

Benedict XVI was clearly touched by the evening's program, but before going on to discuss the music, he dwelt on the figure of Pope Paul VI, who was born in Concesio, province of Brescia, on September 26, 1897, was elected Pope in June 1963, and died in Castel Gandolfo in August 1978.

Piercarlo Orizio, son of the conductor, told us earlier: "My father had close relations with Paul VI, whom he knew well before he became Pope. One time, Archbishop Montini came to our house. One of our guests was supposed to the Cardinal from Bergamo, Angelo Roncalli, but he was unable to come that night. A few months later, he became Pope."

Benedict XVI called Paul VI "a great Pope who made his mark on the history of the 20th century...with the spirit of evangelical wisdom with which he guided the Church during and after the Second Vatican Council, in times that were not easy and in social conditions characterized by profound cultural and religious changes."

"With prophetic intuition," he said, "he shared the hopes and unease of mankind in his day, and sought to bring out positive experiences to illuminate with the light of truth and Christ's love."

Nevertheless, "The love he had for mankind....(with) its progress, its marvelous discoveries, the achievements and conveniences made possible by science and technology," did not keep him from calling attention to "the contradictions, errors and risks of a scientific-technological progress uncoupled from a firm foundation of ethical and spiritual values," the Pope pointed out.

He recalled Paul VI's call for 'a civilization of love' which would bring authentic universal brotherhood and a just society. Benedict says this teaching "remains very relevant today and constitutes a spring from which we can draw upon", and that is why his successors have carried on the spiritual legacy of the Servant of God Paul VI and following in his footsteps.

Gibellini, president of the Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli international piano music festival of Brescia and Bergamo, said of the concert: "It is an important intiative that we are very happy to have carried out. The program was chosen with the Pope's own musical preferences in mind, knowing that he knows his music and plays the piano himself."

[Michelangeli (1920-1995) was born in Brescia and was considered one of the great piano virtuosi of the 20th century, Italy's greatest pianist along with Ferruccio Busoni. Maestro Orizio was a pupil of Michelangeli.]

The mayor of Bergamo noted: "A concert like this fits the efforts of Bergamo to promote itself as a city of culture and music."

The auxiliary bishop of Brescia, Mons. Beschi, opened the evening's program by thanking the Diocese of Brfescia for helping to organize the concert, praising "the inexhaustible capacity of music to evoke the mystery of God."

The program opened with Vivaldi's Concert in C minor, followed by Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor, with violinist Marco Rizzi, and finally, the Mozart Piano Concerto in E-flat minor, with the 23-year-old Ukrainian pianist Alexander Romanovsky, a prodigy who was discovered by Carlo Maria Giulini.

L'Eco di Bergamo, 27 settembre 2007


'We spoke about Pope John'

Meeting the Pope is always quite an experience. And so it was for Mayor Roberto Bruni of Bergamo, yesterday evening at the concert in Castel Gandolfo.

He had an opportunity to exchange some words with Pope Benedict XVI after the concert.

"He is very affable. As soon as I was introduced as the mayor of Bergamo, his first thought was for Blessed John XXIII. I reminded him that next year will be the 50th anniversary of his election as Pope. He smiled and he said to be sure that Bergamo will put on a grand celebration for our Pope."


Apropos, here is an article on Pope Benedict and Mozart, referring to the Pope's visit to Austria earlier this month:

What the Pope Learned From His Favorite Composer

By Fr. Andreas Kramarz, LC
National Catholic Register
September 23-29, 2007 Issue

Austria’s president honored Pope Benedict on the final day of his visit to the “Alp Republic” Sept. 9 with Mozart music in the Vienna Concert House. After the music, the Holy Father met with Church and civil volunteers in order to honor their service.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in the Austrian city of Salzburg in 1756, but that’s not why his music was played for the Pope. In fact, there have hardly been any cultural events that Pope Benedict has attended in which a piece of Mozart has not been performed.

That’s because it is well known that Mozart is the Pope’s favorite composer.

Consider what Pope Benedict contributed last year to a book collecting 58 testimonies for the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth:

When in our home parish of Traunstein on feast days a Mass by Mozart resounded, for me, a little country boy, it seemed as if heaven stood open. In the front, in the sanctuary, columns of incense had formed in which the sunlight was broken; at the altar the sacred action took place of which we knew that heaven opened for us. And from the choir sounded music that could only come from heaven; music in which was revealed to us the jubilation of the angels over the beauty of God. …

I have to say that something like this happens to me still when I listen to Mozart. Mozart is pure inspiration — or at least I feel it so. Each tone is correct and could not be different. The message is simply present. …

The joy that Mozart gives us, and I feel this anew in every encounter with him, is not due to the omission of a part of reality; it is an expression of a higher perception of the whole, something I can only call inspiration out of which his compositions seem to flow naturally.”

Music for the Pope is much more than mere entertainment. He possesses a profound sense of aesthetics.

Influenced by the great theological aesthete Hans Urs von Balthasar, in many of his essays the Holy Father has reflected upon the importance of beauty and harmony for the faith and, especially, for expressing faith in liturgy.

“The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgment and can correctly evaluate the arguments,” he wrote in August 2002 in a remarkable message, dedicated to the “contemplation of beauty” and directed to a meeting of the Communion and Liberation Movement in Rimini, Italy.

In the same text, he recalls an experience he had after listening to a Bach concert conducted in Munich by Leonard Bernstein.

After the last tone had faded away, he looked spontaneously at the person next to him “and right then we said: ‘Anyone who has heard this knows that the faith is true.’ The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness, but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in the composer’s inspiration.”

Since his childhood, the Holy Father had learned to appreciate music that “had a bigger and bigger role in our family life,” as he recounts in the 1997 book-length interview “Salt of the Earth.”

For 30 years, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the Pope’s brother, was the director of Regensburger Domspatzen (The Cathedral Sparrows of Regensburg), perhaps Germany’s most prestigious boys choir. And even as Pope Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger continues to play the piano in some free moments he may find in the midst of his heavy workload.

Before he became Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that he remembers that Traunstein, where he spent most of his youth, “very much reflects the influence of Salzburg. You might say that there Mozart thoroughly penetrated our souls, and his music still touches me profoundly, because it is so luminous and yet at the same time so deep. His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence.”

Pope Benedict’s sensitivity for the beauty in music and art as much as his particular affection for Mozart’s style may well be one of the explanations not only of his well-rounded style, but also of the intellectual architecture of his theological writings, which are characterized by a high degree of perfection, with a rare combination of simplicity, clarity, depth, and both logical and persuasive power.

That’s why Cologne Cardinal Joachim Meisner calls Pope Benedict the “Mozart of Theology.” Cardinal Meisner developed this further in a homily that he gave on the occasion of the Pope’s 80th birthday in St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin:

“Pope Benedict XVI has the gift of pointing out to people the sanctifying message of the Gospel in its beauty, fascination and harmony, so much so that he is called the ‘Mozart among the theologians.’ His theology is not only true and good, it is also beautiful. His words sound like music in the ears and hearts of people. He manages masterfully to transform the notes of the Gospel into thrilling music. That’s why the stream of pilgrims that flock to his audiences is growing every month.”

The Pope’s appreciation for beauty is by no means blind optimism.

In fact, the Holy Father has remarked that the “wounds of humanity” don’t justify a flight into irrational aestheticism, closing our eyes before the often difficult reality of life. In his 2002 reflection he said that Christ is recognized by the Church both as the “fairest of men” (see Psalm 45:3) and the disfigured one, during his passion:

“Whoever believes in God, in the God who manifested himself, precisely in the altered appearance of Christ crucified as love ‘to the end’ (John 13:1), knows that beauty is truth and truth beauty; but in the suffering Christ he also learns that the beauty of truth also embraces offense, pain, and even the dark mystery of death, and that this can only be found in accepting suffering, not in ignoring it.”

And he continues: “The icon of the crucified Christ, however … imposes a condition: that we let ourselves be wounded by him, and that we believe in the Love who can risk setting aside his external beauty to proclaim, in this way, the truth of the beautiful.”

So it is that the Holy Father’s words in praise of the volunteers in the concert hall on Sept. 9 could just as well be applied to the music that preceded it: “The value of human beings cannot be judged by purely economic criteria. Without volunteers, then, no state can be built up.”

And not without music, either.

Legionary Father Andreas Kramarz is a professor and music director at the Legionaries’ Novitiate and College of Humanities in Cheshire, Connecticut

00Saturday, September 29, 2007 4:30 AM
by Sante De Angelis

How propitious that one day after Paul VI's birth anniversary comes the anniversary of his immediate successor's death. Twenty-nine years ago today, on September 28, 1978, John Paul I died after only 33 days as Pope. For the occasion, one of the postulators for his sainthood cause, who has also written a biography of the 'smiling Pope', wrote this piece today for PETRUS, translated here. I have abridged his lengthy abstract introduction about the nature of the papacy to the first two paragraphs.

VATICAN CITY - The seat of Peter, his cathedra, is unlike no other in authority. It is the only cathedra directly instituted by Christ himself, a seat of authority in both magisterium and pastoral governance that embraces the universal Church.

Throughout the past 2000 years, men have looked to the Bishop of Rome, Peter's Successor, Vicar of Christ on earth, as someone who emanates the light, certainty and hope that come with the faith and are fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

And today, mankind looks to Benedict XVI, the present occupant of the seat, just as it looked to his immediate predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI, who were responsible for Vatican-II, and John Paul I and John Paul II whose task it was to carry forward the Council's legacy.

The sympathy that immediately engulfed the first John Paul, our beloved Albino Luciani, in the summer of 1978, the universal interest in him after his swift election, then the incredulity with which his sudden death was greeted 29 years ago, the enchantment that his warm personality worked over a multitude of faithful around the world and the profound devotion they continue to have for him - all tend to demonstrate the fascination that Peter's Cathedra and its occupant hold, a fascination that penetrates minds and hearts.

We love the Pope because he is the Successor of Peter, because we believe he has been chosen by the Holy Spirit to guide the Church of Christ. He is the 'mouth' of truth, the apostle of peace, love, justice, fraternity and freedom.

Pope Benedict XVI, evoking the figure of his predecessor John Paul I last year, after seeing the film "Papa Luciani: The smile of God", said:

"A gentle and kind figure, a Pope who was strong in his faith, firm in his principles, but always welcoming and ready to smile. Faithful to tradition but open to renewal, the Servant of God Albino Luciani - as priest, bishop and Pope - was tireless in his pastoral activity, constantly stimulating both clergy and laymen to follow, in the various fields of apostolate, the ideal of holiness.

"A teacher of truth and a passionate catechist, he reminded all believers - with the fascinating simplicity that characterized him - of the commitment and joy in evangelization, underscoring the beauty of Christian love, which is the only power able to defeat violence and construct a more brotherly humanity.

"Finally, I love to recall the devotion he had for Our Lady. When he was Patriarch of Venice, he wrote: 'It is impossible to imagine our life, the life of the Church, without the rosary, Marian feasts, Marian shrines, and Marian images.' It is beautiful to welcome his invitation, and to find, as he did, in his humble trust in Mary the secret of daily serenity and of a proactive commitment to peace in the world."

Luciani and Ratzinger. What do they have in common? They are both humble souls, gentle, warm, easy to smile and quick-witted, strong in faith, with a heart impassioned for the good of the Church.

Each was unaware of the common destiny that awaited them when they met each other for the first time on a summer day in 1977. For Luciani, 'the danger started' the following year; Ratzinger was to 'feel the guillotine about to descend' 28 years later.

These two Servants of the Servants of God also have sweetness in common. We have a very sweet Pope in Benedict XVI, a gift to us from the Holy Spirit. That uncertain 'white smoke' (like it was for Papa Luciani). The election after four ballots (again like Luciani). That first appearance before the crowd on the Loggia of St. Peter's...

The Loggia - I have the impression that the Holy Spirit hovers there for the appearance of the new Pope to show him to the world and watch whether the faithful welcome him or not. In my lifetime at least, the Holy Spirit must be very pleased with his work.

I must say that to be present there at St. Peter's Square when a new Pope is elected has to be one of the grandest 'spectacles' one could possibly hope to attend in life. 2005 was the first time that I lived the anxiety of waiting for a new Pope, even if I remember quite well that of both John Pauls - but I was only six years old in 1978.

On April 19, 2005, I had my eyes glued to the TV...The 'white smoke' did not quite look white, but the unusual time at which it appeared clearly said we had a new Pope! And soon I was running with everyone towards the Square...The wait to know who was the new Pope seemed very long indeed...The big bell of St. Peter's confirmed the happy event...Then, the appearance of my dear friend, the Cardinal Proto-deacon Jorge Medina Estevez, who pronounced the famous formula in Latin: 'Habemus papam....' and the other words that followed, spinning out the suspense, mddeningly for the impatient...and then "Josephum', followed some words later by 'Ratzinger.' (What did I do then? I applauded with everybody, and I knelt on the pavement to receive the new Pope's first Apostolic Blessing.)

But let's get back to that balcony scene. The baptism of fire.

The first words of the new Pope John Paul I, delivered at the Angelus on August 27, were: "Yesterday morning, I went to the Sistine Chapel to vote...Later, the two colleagues who were flanking me, whispered words of courage, 'If the Lord gives you a burden, he will also give you the means to help you carry it'...I must seek to serve the Church and I hope you will help me with your prayers."

Papa Ratzinger presented himself similarly: "Dear brothers and sisters, after the great John Paul II, the lord cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble workers in the vineyard of the Lord. I am comforted by the fact that the Lord knows how to work even with inadequate instruments, and above all, I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Resurrected Lord, confident of his permanent assistance, let us go forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary, his Most Holy Mother, will be by our side."

After hearing those words, I was overwhelmed by a wave of tenderness. I had met Cardinal Ratzinger and admired his work as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I had read his books Report on the Faith and My Life.

In 1998, I had the good fortune of accompanying him to visit the Papal Palace in Anagni [a medieval town 40 miles southeast of Rome that has been very closely linked to the history of the Papacy]...I needed no more than that half hour I spent with him on March 14, 1998, to appreciate his humanity and his fascinating personality. A few gestures give you a complete panorama.

And here in 2005, he shows himself with a black sweater under the new Papal vestments! A breach of protocol if you will; a black mark, if you ask the sticklers for following papal dress code to the letter. But for us, the common faithful, no big deal. Indeed, something most welcome.

Speaking of papal clothing, Edoardo, Papa Luciani's brother, recounted a story to me when he visited me in Anagni in December 1989. I was interviewing him for the book I was writing about Papa Luciani, and would visit him in the Luciani home in Canale D'Agordo the following summer to wrap it up.

The week that John Paul I died, Edoardo had spent the night at the Vatican on the eve of leaving for Australia. The following day, when it came time to say farewell, Papa Luciani embraced him. Now, among mountain folk - as the Lucianis were - it is not common to be demonstrative, so Edoardo asked with some surprise: "Are you doing this because you're wearing white robes now?"

We will never know if this was somehow John Paul I's premonition that this would be their last time together, or whether he had just become more sentimental with age. We don't know because the Pope did not answer his brother.

Perhaps, in some way, the white papal robe works some sort of transformation over the person who wears it. As it has done with Benedict XVI. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he was witness to that river in flood that was Papa Luciani's heart, how he incarnated poverty notwithstanding the perks of being a cardinal.

Cardinal Ratzinger's recollection of Papa Luciani perhaps tells us a lot about why the gentle, smiling Patriarch of Venice was elected Pope in August 1978:

"I first met Cardinal Luciani in August 1977 at the seminary in Bressanone. In May that year, I had been ordained a bishop, and on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul one month later, I became part of the College of Cardinals. In those days I spent part of my summer vacations with my brother and sister in Bressanone, that ancient bishopric on the banks of the Isar, as we had been doing for years.

"As a boy, Cardinal Luciani had often gone with his mother on pilgrimage to Pietralba [a Marian shrine in the Italian Tyrol],so he was familiar with the region. I don't know how, but that summer, somehow he learned that the new Archbishop of Munich was a holiday guest at the seminary in Bressanone, so for some reason, he decided to come and visit me.

"That noble gesture from the Patriarch of Venice struck me profoundly, but more than that, his spontaneous warmth and the great humanity he radiated. I can still see him, seated in front of me, wearing a simple black cassock and somewhat worn-out shoes, telling me about his childhood and youth, completely opening up his heart.

"When one year later, I saw him next at the Conclave, it occurred to me spontaneously that a man who had such gifts of heart and a mind illuminated by his heart would make a good Pope, and I was very happy that many others thought so...It was his greatness of heart that impressed me most. A goodness and a humility that in no way implied weakness.

"Papa Luciani was a man of great faith and great culture. His book Illustrississimi shows how much he read and reflected. And he had good theological preparation; indeed, his graduation thesis was about Rosmini [Antonio Rosmini(1797-1855), Italian priest, philosopher, theologian and patriot, and founder of a religious congregation, whose work re-addressed the balance between reason and religion which had largely been lost as a result of the Enlightenment; Benedict XVI approved his beatification last June].

"But speaking to him, one could see right away that he was a man of essentials. He preferred the simple, but was by no means a simplifier. He expressed his strong culture through his doctrinal firmness. For all these reasons, Papa Luciani was someone I loved very much."

00Saturday, September 29, 2007 4:45 PM
He said he was cold......
I'll always remember the black sweater that our dearest Papa was wearing on April 19th - well, I have the photos to remind me! - but wasn't there a report somewhere that he was asked to take it off but said: "But I'm cold" and who wouldn't have been, in those minutes after the election. I don't suppose a sweater in papal white had yet been provided. We know he has one now and, sensibly, wears it when the temperature drops.

Music: Thank you for supplying some of the information about the music played at that little concert, Teresa. Why are we never given the exact names of the pieces played? I always want to find them, see if I've already got CDs that contain them. But, sadly, people reporting these events assume that people aren't interested in such details.
00Sunday, September 30, 2007 4:56 PM

Here's a truly precious nugget from Father Z (John Zuhlsdorf), who once worked in the Roman Curia when Cardinal Ratzinger was CDF Prefect. Fr. Z refers now and then to those days on his blog, and this recollection was occasioned by John Allen's report on the recent poll in the United States about Benedict's 'popularity' with Americans.

I once asked Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger how he dealt with all the negative press all the time. He responded that if he didn’t read something awful about himself every week, he’d have to examine his conscience.

Pope Benedict has been applying needed medicine to some sick sectors of the Church. As as St. Augustine described many centuries ago, "The doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because his patient is screaming for him to stop."

00Monday, October 1, 2007 6:35 PM

In the 1990s, Barbara Bush, the current President's mother, wrote two best-selling books for adults about life in the White House seen through the eyes of her dog Millie. Don't knock the device because...

Jeanne Perego, who wrote the best-selling guidebook BENEDICT XVI'S BAVARIA, has now written a children's book, which recounts the life of the Pope as told by Chico, the cat. Here is a translation of the item from PETRUS today. All I could get from the publisher's site was the illustration above and the cover picture about it in the October issue of IL MESSAGGERO, the monthly magazine of the Antonian community (their publishing arm is printing and distributing ythe book); the cover article itself is not accessilble online.

VATICAN CITY - "It is not usual that a cat considers the Holy Father his friend and sets down to write his story," writes Mons. Georg Gaenswein, the Pope's private secretary in his foreword to the book JOSEPH E CHICO: Un gatto racconta la vita di Papa Benedetto XVI (Joseph and Chico: A cat tells the story of the life of Pope Benedict XVI).

This is a charming children's book written by the journalist Jeanne Perego and illustrated by Donata Dal Molin Casagrande for Edizioni del Messaggero di Sant'Antonio di Padova.

The initiative may raise some criticism from Vatican circles because it is the first time that the private secretary of a reigning Pope writes a foreword for a book. [The PETRUS writer forgets that Gaenswein wrote not only a foreword but an entire children's book about the Pope in German (Why the Pope wears red shoes) - his responses to questions sent by German schoolchildren to a German magazine before the Pope's visit to Bavaria last year - and drew no flak for that!]

Joseph Ratzinger's great love for cats is well-known, and some would say it's because they share this trait in common - a reserve that masks a great capacity for loving.

"How many things are written and said every day about the Pope!" writes Gaenswein. "But you, dear children, will find a different biography here because a cat will tell you the story."

Chico is the marmalade-colored cat belonging to the Pope's neighbors in Pentling, the Hofbauers.

"Do you know how I first knew that he is a great friend of cats? Because he has a sculpture of a cat in his garden. If it had been the sculpture of a dog, I would never have set a paw in that garden."

Then Chico goes on to recount the Pope's Life:

"My friend's story begins on April 16, 1927, on a very cold night," going back to 4:15 a.m. in house number 11 on Marktl's main square, when Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born.

In 44 pages, Chico describes the little Joseph's childhood, his early schoolyears, war and prison, his years at the seminary, his graduation and ordination, and his years as a professor which led him ultimately to Regensburg and Pentling, and how he rose in the Church to become Pope.

"Now," Chico concludes, "Joseph is no longer just my friend, but the great friend and guide of all Catholics."

You may order the book online (10 euros) from

00Monday, October 1, 2007 10:03 PM

Gemma, who contributes to Lella's blog, has this from the Style section of Corriere della Sera's weekly magazine, which regularly carries a brief rubric by Alessandra Borghese, who wrote this item, translated here:

It has been over a hundred years - since Anton Bruckner in the 19th century - since a Mass was composed to honor a Pope. One was composed for Benedict XVI on his 80th birthday April and was given a world premiere in Berlin's St. Hedwig Cathedral last in the presence of Chancellor Angela Markel and other prominent German dignitaries.

The Italian premiere of this symphonic and choral Mass, Tu es Petrus, will be held in St. Peter's Basilica on October 10.

The Mass was composed by Wolfgang Seifen, a famed organist who was a product of the Regensburg Domspatzen (directed for 30 years by the Pope's brother), is planned for October 10, by the 240 members of the student orchestra and choir of Berlin's Humboldt University, who also presented the Mass at its world premiere.


If I remember right, a news item said the Mass was commissioned by Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne as a gift for the Pope, but I have picked up the following facts about the Mass from the site of Humboldt University:

The mass “Tu es Petrus” is a festive, complete setting of the text of the Roman Catholic Mass.

It was written to mark the eightieth birthday of Pope Benedict XVI, commissioned by:
- Members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- Kirche in Not (Aid to the Church in Need), a relief organization under the authority of the pope
- PAX-Bank Group, Köln (Cologne)
[I suppose this is where Cardinal Meisner was involved, although he may still have had the original idea.]

The mass was composed by Wolfgang Seifen as a Latin Mass for full orchestra, choir and organ. In composing the mass, Wolfgang Seifen was inspired „to compose a jubilant, thankful mass for the Pope, which would emphasize the Pope’s role as father but would, most importantly, praise and thank God“.

The performances of the mass, under the direction of University Music Director Constantin Alex, involves a total of 180 singers and 130 musicians.

- Humboldts Philharmonischer Chor (Humboldt Philharmonic Choir)
- Humboldts Studentische Philharmonie (Humboldt Student Philharmonic Orchestra)
- Symphonisches Orchester der Humboldt-Universität Berlin (Humboldt University Symphony Orchestra)

Performances scheduled as of March 2007:

Sunday, April 15, 2007
Berlin, Sankt-Hedwigs-Kathedrale (St. Hedwig’s Cathedral)
(Pontifical service)
You may download the recording (MP3) from

Sunday, April 24, 2007
Regensburg, Cathedral (Pontifical service)

Friday, July 20, 2007
Berlin, Gedächtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Rome, St. Peter’s Cathedral

00Tuesday, October 2, 2007 12:27 AM

Caterina found this picture showing the Papal ring in detail, with the Pope's name in its Latin form.

00Wednesday, October 3, 2007 12:59 PM

Surprisingly, Corriere della Sera today ran a story about the book JOSEPH E CHICO, and reprinted Mons. Georg Gaenswein's Preface to it. Here are translations:

and the cat who wrote it

MILAN — "My friend's story began on April 16, 1927, on a very cold night..." when in the morning, before dawn, "in house number 11 on the main square of Marktl am Inn, in Bavaria, a newborn's first cry was heard..."

Thios was Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, now Pope. One of his dearest 'friends' tells those moments of joy for the Bavarian family, and stories from the childhood of a German boy who was destined to enter history.

It sounds like a fable, because it is told by Chico, a cat, 'his' cat, the cat he fed, the only one allowed to walk over the keys of his piano or to cuddle on his lap while he was immersed in reading.

Joseph e Chico. Un gatto racconta la vita di Papa Benedetto XVI (Edizioni Messaggero Padova), which will be available in bookstores next week, is a children's book written by Jeanne Perego, with a preface by Fr. Georg Gaenswein, the Pope's secretary.

Perego, a Milanese journalist who lives in Bavaria, recounts the Pope's life through the eyes of his beloved cat Chico. Who truly exists!

The writer has met him: "He is a big Siamese, nine years old, with marmalade fur. He lives in the Regensburg suburb of Pentling and belongs to a German couple who live next to the house that then- Professor Ratzinger built for him and his siblings, Georg and Maria."

"Do you know how I understood that he is a great friend of cats?" Chico asks in the book. "Because in his garden, he has a sculpture of a cat."

Every time Ratzinger as cardinal came home to Pentling, Chico's owners say, the marmalade cat 'moved over' to be with him day and night.

"Whenever the shutters of his house were open, I would know he was back. And I would run in to welcome him." And the future Pope took good care of him, feeding him, stroking him, cuddling him.

"Even that time I was a brat with him," he recounts. "It was Christmas, and I scratched him! He had wanted to send me out of the house for some fresh air. I didn't want to, and out came my claws. But he forgave me right away, saying 'But don't do it again!'"

Perego-alias-Chico's story gets up to the white smoke that indicated Cardinal Ratzinger's election as Pope. "I was so exicted that I even forgot to ask for my supper," says Chico.

Perego herself was in Freising when it happened, as she lives a few kilometers away. "All of a sudden, all the church bells started ringing - there was such joy!"

She has not met the Pope, but says she wanted to write this book for children "because he incarnates the beautiful values, such as constancy, commitment and serious purpose."

Chico has not seen the Pope since January 2005. Not even in September 2006, when the Pope was in his Pentling house for a couple of hours. The great to-do and the papal motorcade apparently frightened him and he kept away, although Fr. Gaenswein had a chance to 'meet' him.

Corriere della sera, 3 ottobre 2007

What we can learn from
this creature of God


Joseph e Chico. That's the title of the book you are about to read. A book with many illustrations, to tell the story of a person who is unique in the world: the Holy Father.

But here, dear children, you will find a biography different from others because it is told by a cat - and it isn't every day that a cat considers the Holy Father his friend and gets to write a book about him.

They have known each other a long time, and the things which Chicop narrates are really interesting - obviously told from his point of view as a cat. He is still a cat, although the Pope's friend.

For many years, I have lived alongside the Holy Father. My name is Don Georg - Don Giorgio in Italian - like the Holy Father's older brother.

The Holy Father is a special person, above all because he is a sincere friend of Jesus: that is most important.

Because he trusts Jesus completely, the Pope is never discouraged by difficulties and wishes only the best for all. He particularly loves you, dear children, and he knows that if you want to, you will be generous, and he prays every day that you may all grow healthy in your body and good in your soul. This way you will be happy and can help to build a better world.

Of course, the Pope also loves cats and all animals because they are cteatures of God. Often, like Chico, they can give us lessons which we would do well to heed.

For example, at the end of his story, Chico says that he now understands that the Holy Father is no longer just 'his' friend alone, but the great friend as well as the leader of all Catholics.

Even he, a cat, understands what the true mission of the Pope is: to be the friend of everyone, as Jesus was, who loved us to the point of giving his life on the Cross.

This is not the mission of the Pope alone, but of all Christians, of all who choose Jesus to be their best friend. It is a mission not only for grown-up people, but even for young ones like you, because love has no age and knows no limits. Love is God.

Corriere della sera, 3 ottobre 2007

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