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

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loriRMFC
00Monday, November 12, 2007 9:24 PM
RE: ORIANA AND THE POPE
A very interesting article. Thank you for posting and translating! I hope that you have the time to translate the rest of the article, too, if it is as interesting as what you have posted. It's wonderful to read that she felt that the cancer was drawing back when she was reading Papa Ratzinger's books. Did Fallaci ever speak in detail about what her meeting with Papa was like? I don't think so, but I could be wrong.

=====================================================================

No, unfortunately, the rest of the article is just about Oriana! I think even if she told Mons. Fisichella later all about her visit with the Pope, I don't think he would ever say anything about it in public. Since Oriana is gone now, the only one who can talk about it would be the Pope himself....Maybe one of these days, he will find an occasion to refer to the occasion in trying to illustrate some point, such as dialog with a non-believer....
TERESA
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Tuesday, November 13, 2007 3:38 PM
Catacomb Study Wins Pontifical-Academies Award:
Benedict XVI Congratulates Scholar




VATICAN CITY, NOV. 12, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI congratulated Antongiulio Granelli for his doctoral thesis that won the 2007 award of the Pontifical Academies.

Granelli's thesis "Il Cimitero di Panfilo sulla via Salaria vetus a Roma" (The Catacombs of Pamphilus on the Ancient Salarian Way of Rome) was recognized last Thursday. The Pope sent a message to the academy gathering through Archbishop Fernando Filoni, deputy at the Vatican Secretariat of State.

The Holy Father said the thesis "through deep study, guided by an interdisciplinary approach […] explains the little-studied Catacombs of Pamphilus […] situated within the meaningful intersection of Christian testimony."

In 1996, Pope John Paul II established this prize to encourage and sustain the research and commitment of studious young people and worthy institutions whose cultural or artistic activities contribute to the promotion of Christian humanism.

In Granelli's thanksgiving remarks, he said the research gave him the "fascinating experience of coming close to the atmosphere in which the Christian approached death and the transformation of his old life. With this sensation of sharing feelings and faith, one becomes more alive even in the catacombs of St. Phamphilus."

The secretary of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology, Olof Brandt, explained to ZENIT these catacombs are unique due to the confirmed presence of the martyr's tomb.

Granelli told ZENIT that preparing the thesis implied "long hours and a dark and narrow environment." But his work covered the entire length of the catacombs, including a topographic study and the distinct levels of the cemetery galleries.

With his research, he said he tried "to bring to light this martyr -- about whom little is known -- who gave his name to these catacombs."

"For archaeological studies, it is rare, sadly, to receive material help in this country," said Granelli. "One continues above all with passion, in the hope of finding a break in this most beautiful area."
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Tuesday, November 13, 2007 6:35 PM
BOOK ON 2006 RATZINGER SHCUELERKREISE SEMINAR NOW IN ITALIAN
by ANDREA GALLI

Translated from today's issue of Avvenire:

The coincidence is obviously by chance. But it also shows the climate of the times.

An English book has just appeared entitled There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed his Mind (Published by HarperOne), by the British philosopher Anthony Flew, who in the 1960s and 1970s was the idol of materialistic atheism, who explains the genesis and significance of his conversion to belief in god, which he announced in 2004.

It was a conversion that many may not have been aware of or paid attention to, simply because unaware of who Flew is. Let us just say that it had the same impact on those who followed him as it would if 20 years from now, Richard Dawkins were to acknowledge an intelligent Creator behind the evolution of the universe.

Which brings us to the related book event in Italy these days.

It's the release of Creazione e Evoluzione, the Italian edition of Schoepfung und Evolution - the book that puts together the acts of the seminar held by the Ratzinger Schuelerkreise in Castel Gandolfo on Sept. 1-3, 2006. The original edition came out in Germany in time for the Pope's 80th birthday last April.

It is edited by Stephan Horn and Siegfried Wiedenhofer, both members of the Schuelerkreise, a group of some 40 theologians who earned their doctorates under the guidance of then Professor Joseph Ratzinger in the various German universities where he taught.

The Schuelerkreise has convened annually since 1978 with their former professor to discuss a chosen theme at a private seminar. The 2006 seminar was the first one whose acts and documents have been published.

The topic of the 2006 seminar drew international attention because of the public debate in the West over the question of evolution vs. creation, complicated recently by the emergence of the so-called intelligence design hypothesis.

In a July 2005 Op-Ed article in the New York Times, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna called for a rethinking of Darwin's theory of evolution (Pope Benedict was quoted later as saying the article was 'providential'), leading to the conclusion by many that he was, in effect, supporting 'intelligent design.'

Therefore, there was great interest in what Benedict XVI would have to say about 'intelligent design', Darwin and the creation according to the Bible.

The answer can be found in this book, which reports the lectures and discussions that took place in Castel Gandolfo.

The lectures were given by invited resource persons: Peter Schuster, professor of theoretical chemistry at the University of Vienna and president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, on 'Evolution and design'; Robert Spaemann, emeritus professor of the University of Munich, on 'Descent and intelligent design'; and Jesuit Fr. Paul Ehrbirch, emeritus professor of natural philosophy at the Philosophical University of Munich, on "The problem of creation and evolution'; as well as Cardinal Schoenborn himself, who spoke on "Faith, reason and science."

Besides the lecture texts and the discussions following each lecture, there is a Preface by Cardinal Schoenborn, who presents a synthesis of Joseph Ratzinger's previous thoughts and writings on the subject; the reflections of Pope Benedict himself at the conclusion of the seminar; and a 'post-face' by Siegfried Wiedenhofer, co-editor of the volume and professor of dogmatic theology at the Goethe University of Frankfurt.

Avvenire, 13 novembre 2007


Avvenire also posts an excerpt from the Pope's reflections referred to above. Here is a translation:

EVOLUTION DOES NOT EXCLUDE A CREATOR GOD
By Benedict XVI


In the four reports we have heard, a wide spectrum opens up before us that we could discuss at great length but for which, unfortunately, we do not have enough time. After the break, we can continue to discuss some questions.

I think that above all, our speakers said some things in agreement with each other, for each other, or against each other, but always in a productive juxtaposition so that we may know the truth and take corresponding responsibility.

Let us think of what we can do with the treasures from these four lectures. Perhaps there is a telos(purpose) in all this.

I think it was Providence that led Cardinal Schoenborn to write an article in the New York Times that revived this subject in the public mind and indicated what the issues are: that it is not a question of deciding either for creationism, which is substantially closed off to all science, or for a theory of evolution which hides its own blanks and gaps and would ignore any questions about the methods used by the natural sciences.

Rather, it has to do with the interaction among the various dimensions of reason, which also includes the way to faith.

When they [who are closed to the possibility of transcendence] interpose science or philosophy between faith and reason, then fundamentally, this means we must recover a dimension of reason which has been lost. Without this dimension, faith would be exiled to a ghetto, and thereby lose its significance for the totality of reality and of the human being.

What I am going to say now has actually been in some way overtaken by the later lectures because it is derived directly from listening to the Professor Schuster's presentation, but I would like to comment nevertheless.

Prof. Schuster has, on the one hand, shown in a surprising manner the logic of the theory of evolution which has continued to develop, arriving little by little at a great cohesion, and even internal corrections to the theory as necessary (above all, to Darwin himself). On the other hand, he has also clearly highlighted the questions that remain open.

It is not that I would now plug God into the blanks and spaces - he is too great to be contained in these spaces. But I think it is important to underscore that the theory of evolution raised questions that should be assigned to philosophy because by themselves, per se, they are outside the scope of the natural sciences.

The first important point I wish to make is that the theory of evolution is, for the most part, not experimentally demonstrable - simply because we cannot introduce 10,000 generations into the laboratory! This means that there are relevant blanks or gaps in experimental verificability or falsifiability because of the enormous time scale over which evolution occurs.

The second important point is another statement made by Prof. Schuster: that the probability [of the theory of evolution] is not zero [i.e., completely improbable], but neither is it 1 (complete probablity, or certainty]. Which raises the question: what then is its degree of probability?

This is important in order to correctly interpret Pope John Paul II 's statement that "The theory of evolution is more than a hypothesis". When he said that, he had his reasons.

At the same time, it is also true that the theory of evolution is not yet a complete theory because it is not completely verifiable experimentally.

NB: In scientific language, a hypothesis is a tentative explanation for a phenomenon and is used as a basis for further investigation [Laymen would call it a 'theory']. A scientific theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. Given the time frame over which evolution takes place, the theory of evolution will continue to be incomplete, a theory in progress

As a third point*, I wish to refer to the evolutionary 'leaps' that Cardinal Schoenborn also spoke of. Evolution is not just the sum of small steps. There are 'leaps' whose significance must be looked into more deeply.

The fourth point* is that positive mutants are rare, and that the corridor of development available to them is narrow. But they have been able to open up this corridor and go beyond it.

The natural sciences themselves and the theory of evolution can respond in surprising ways to many things, but relevant questions remain open with respect to the four points mentioned.

Before getting to my conclusion, I wish to say something already referred to by Cardinal Schoenborn: Not only popular science articles, but even the ecientific ones, often say that 'nature' or 'evolution' did this or that.

Let us ask ourselves: Who or what exactly is 'nature' or 'evolution' as a subject [the agent that carries out an action]? In fact, neither exists! When one says nature does this or that, it is simply an attempt to group together a series of events or phenomena under a subject that does not exist per se. To me, it seems evident that this verbal expedient - perhaps inevitable - encloses some weighty questions.

In summary I could say: the natural sciences have opened up great dimensions of reason that had been closed before, and have thereby transmitted new knowledge to us. But in rejoicing over the greatness of their discoveries, scientists have tended to cut off dimensions of reason which we continue to need.

Their results raise questions which go beyond their methodological canon, within which it is not possible to find the answers. Nevertheless, they are questions that reason must propose and that cannot be left only to religious sentiment. They should be considered reasonable questions, for which reasonable methods to deal with can be found.

They are the great fundamental questions of philosophy which present themselves in new form - questions on the origin and the future of man and the universe.

Moreover, I have taken note of two things which the three lectures after Prof. Schuster illustrated.

On the one hand, there is the rationality of matter itself. It can be 'read'. Matter has an intrinsic mathematics that defines it; it is itself rational, even if, in the long course of evolution, there are irrational, chaotic, destructive elements. But matter itself is readable.

On the other hand, it seems to me that the (evolutionary) process as a whole has a rationality. Despite the trials and errors that have often led to evolutionary dead ends, along that narrow corridor taken by the few positive mutations within which they are able to take advantage of low-probability conditions, the process itself is rational.

This double rationality, which is accessible to us because it corresponds to our reason, inevitably leads to a question that is beyond the orbit of science but which is, nevertheless, a question of reason: where does that rationality come from? Is there an original rationality that is mirrored in these two dimensions of reason?

The natural sciences cannot and should not answer directly, but we should recognize that the question is reasonable and dare to believe in a creative reason and trust in it.

So, on the one hand, the rationality of matter, which opens a window on the Creator Spiritus - we should not give this up. It is the Bibilical faith in creation which has shown us the way to a civilization of reason, in whose possibilities there is also, of course, that of annihilating itself anew. This dimension of faith should be kept, which I would define as the dimension of contact between Greek thought and Biblical thought, melding into an internal reason and an internal necessity.

But we should also see the limitations.

Of course, there is a rationality in 'nature', but that does not allow us to have a total vision of God's plan. That is why contingency and the enigma of the horrible persist in nature, somewhat like Reinhold Schneider describes it after a visit to the Museum of Natural Sciences in Vienna. I too visited that museum once with my brother, and we were appalled at the sight of so many horrible things found in nature.

Despite the rationality present, there is also a component of horror which is not resolvable even philosophically. Philosophy demands something more, and faith shows us Logos - creative Reason which incredibly could make itself flesh, die and resurrect.

In this way, a face of Logos was revealed to us which was completely different from whatever we could presage or grope for, simply from reconstructing the foundations of nature. Even the two parts of the Greek soul allude to this: philosophy on the one hand, and on the other, tragedy to which ultimately there is no answer.

Avvenire, 13 novembre 2007
© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


*[The third and fourth points must be understood in terms of the 'leaps' that the Pope speaks of. Evolutionary leaps - which enable the process to take a quantitative and qualitative advance almost instantaneously that would normally take generations to achieve - generally occur through positive 'random mutations'. These are completely random changes in the organism's DNA resulting in the alteration or creation of a gene or group of genes that proves to be a significant improvement in some way or ways to the organism's functioning or even structure.

Random mutations happen all the time but they are mostly negative, such as, to take the most obvious example (even if not an evolutionary process), the multitude of possible DNA mutations (changes) that can lead to why a fertilized egg or an embryo will never lead to a viable baby.

The very rarity of positive mutants also restricts their initial development within a narrow corridor of conditions, because they represent a completely new stage of being, to which neither the evolving organism nor its environment has yet been able to adapt.
]



TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, November 15, 2007 12:54 AM
SO IT STARTS: TREATING THE PAPAL VISIT AS 'CELEBRITY TRIVIA'

From a column called THE RELIABLE SOURCE int oday's issue of the Wahington Post, which I am reproducing with its accompanying photo and caption:


Arriving in April,
From the Holy See to Downtown D.C.

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, November 14, 2007



Bigger than Queen Elizabeth II! Bigger than Brangelina! It's been 28 years since a pope visited Washington, so celeb spotters are already scouting tickets and primo corners to see Pope Benedict XVI next spring.

Will he hang out at the Ritz and Cafe Milano like the other A-listers? The early scoop on Papa Ratzi's (his affectionate nickname among Italians) three-day trip:

• There's no Air Pope One - the Holy Father arrives April 15 on a commercial jet owned by Italy's Alitalia and lent to the pope for the trip. And yes, he's bringing the Popemobile.


Pope Benedict XVI will be bringing his eponymous ride and taste in shades.
[What eponymous ride? He doesn't have one. The story even says so!]

• He'll stay at the Apostolic Nunciature - the residence of Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's ambassador to the United States - on Massachusetts Avenue NW, just across the street from Dick Cheney's house at the Naval Observatory.

• Tune up the pianos - the pope likes to practice 10 minutes a day on the ivories.

• He celebrates his 81st birthday on April 16, the same day he drops by the White House for a chat with the president and Laura Bush. (Perfect present for a pope? Pssst - he adores cats and has an extensive collection of porcelain kitty plates.)

• Favorite drink? Fanta orange soda. {Soda? No! The real thing - OJ.]

• Fashion plate! The papal loafers are red leather, sunglasses Serengeti (same as Val Kilmer's) and his iPod Nano filled with Vatican Radio programming.

• First-ever trip to Washington [It is not!] , and first U.S. visit since becoming pope. Way cool if he brings his crew to Ben's Chili Bowl.

=====================================================================

God knows what other media idiocies (can we say 'mediocies'?) we must steel ourselves for in the next six months!

The lighthearted and innocuous are fine if they 'humanize' his image for a country whose idea of him comes mostly from the very atypical and uninformative 15-second videoclips he occasionally gets on US TV - on which I have yet to see any decent reporting about him, or anything longer than 30 seconds since the day he became Pope. Outside EWTN, I mean - but the general public does not get to see EWTN.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Saturday, November 17, 2007 3:31 PM
PHILLY FEELS SNUBBED...

Rocco Palmo has some intersting chitchat about the coming Papal visit, from his belated posts on 11/16 on
whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/


...It's no secret that a bunch of places are rather bummed over their absence from next April's papal itinerary. Within minutes of Monday's formal announcement of the plans, it didn't take long for the Boston media to blare "Pope Snubs Hub" or something of the kind on their sites - further stoking the outrage by playing up B16's choice of Yankee Stadium for his final public appearance.

It seems that this whole "Why not us?" exercise is yet another commentary on the impact and legacy of John Paul II. While, before the fall of 1979, the previous 263 Roman pontiffs had spent a combined 14 hours in North America, the late Great's travels so transformed the Petrine ministry in the public eye that, now, everyone expects a pop-in. In other words, the exception has become perceived as the norm.

Among other spots wondering why they won't be getting a wheels-down from Papa Ratzi is, of course, here in Philadelphia. Candidly, it didn't help matters that, for weeks on end, the hometown media had been running with unfounded speculation that this city was a possible stop - even though, in truth, a papal dinner of soft pretzels and cheesesteaks was never in the cards in any credible sense (...a reality which, it must be said, two months of exclusive PopeVisit coverage on these pages consistently reflected).

Whatever the case, today's (Philadelphia) Daily News called on your narrator to help explain why the River City didn't make the cut. It's always a gift to lend an assist to my alma mater, the paper whose format and ethic influenced these pages more than any other, and especially to Gar Joseph's weekly Clout, the Philly political crowd's answer to Whispers.

But even so, one of Joseph's surmises in the final product was more than a little off-base.

"One big difference between John Paul's [1979] visit" and the next papal trip, he wrote, "is that Philly had clout with the former and has none with [Benedict]."

Sure, it could be (and has been) said that we Phillyans are a bit used to being spoilt, especially in the ecclesiastical realm. Lest anyone be misled, however, "no clout" in this pontificate could hardly be the case.

For starters, this Pope's unprecedented appointment of a Philly Pharaoh to the Congregation for Bishops (as the august body's only resident American, to boot), and a native son's 24 year-long wait for the red hat finally at an end are, especially when taken together, nothing to thumb one's nose at.

What's more, the former Cardinal Ratzinger's ties to the city stretch back decades. The future pontiff headlined a days-long 1989 moral theology conference at St Charles Borromeo Seminary, and one of his cherished "family" of CDF aides was local boy Msgr Thomas Herron, who died of pancreatic cancer a year before his Boss' election.

(Having returned home as a beloved pastor and seminary professor in the patristics, in Herron's final months the Pope-to-be kept close tabs on his good friend's condition, staying in close touch to keep him comforted and encouraged. If there's one personal sadness to Benedict's passing over, it's that he won't be able to take a private moment at Herron's place of rest - a tradition his Bavarian upbringing cherishes, one the burden of his office now prohibits, at least not without an attendant circus of security and logistics.)

Sure, nothing will ever equal the Krol-Wojtyla bond (without which, it could be said, the Krakowian mightn't have landed on Peter's chair) and, in his 81st year, B16 - who last came to these shores a decade ago -- doesn't have the same knack for seeming omnipresence.

But where it counts, American Catholicism's Last Empire is still holding its own and then some in the Vatican shuffle... even without a PopeStop... and even, so they say, with a certain enfant terrible still in residence.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, November 18, 2007 9:22 PM
AND NOW, A WORD FROM THE POPE'S OPTICIANS...
By Paolo Mosca




Translated from Il Messaggero today:


"Eminence, try to read the letters on the third row...Now, the fourth..."

It was January 0f 2005, and Cardinal Ratzinger was visiting his optician. In the 'back room' of the shop in Borgo Pio owned by Gladio and Walter Colantoni.

"That', Gladio says, "was the last sight test Cardinal Ratzinger ever had. Shortly afterwards, he became Pope. Now, he can no longer come by personally to have his glassed adjusted or to get new lenses."

Their parents, Bianca and Silvano, had started this shop 30 years ago, "For ten years, they worked out of a small shop in via Balduina. Then, with the help of two fresh graduates of optometry - my brother and myself - they set up this shop."

Their father gave them three basic rules : always make your customers happy, help pensioers with discounts, and maximum respect for priests.


When did the Vatican crowd first start coming here?
Oh, right away. With the Bishops synods which brings here bishops from all over the world. Following Papa's rules, we try to help those who come from the poorer nations. They bring with them prescriptions for other priests, nuns and the needy among their faithful. We don't charge professional fees. Perhaps that is why people in the Vastican look kindly on us.


You have been here since 1979. After Papa Luciani. But was Papa Wojtyla also your customer?
What do you think? Few people know that he could read perfectly with one eye, while the other eye was farsighted. How do you make up eyeglasses for that?

On the other hand, Cardinal Ratzinger came here the first time in 1988. He wa wearing his black cassock and black beret.

"Children," he said, "I need your help so I can read and write my books!" He was always humble, mdoest, as though he were an ordinary monsignor.


Is it true you now make 'house calls' at the Vatican?
That's right. My brother and I take turns. We go up there with a case of equipment and do what we have to do. Several cardinals use our services, including Cardinal Re (prefect of thje Congregation for Bishops).


The pope's assistant, Signora Ingrid, is also your customer...
Yes, she comes by on her bicycle. She needs glasses because of all the reading - books as well as music scores. We've probably made 5 or 6 pairs for her.


And how many have you made for the Pope?
About 7 or 8, I think. He would always say to us, "Make a robust pair of eyeglasses because it should last long." Now, when we see him on TV, we try to see if he is wearing one of ours.


Any small miracles you can tell us about?
To have worked for Benedict XVI, and the recovery of my wife from a difficult ailment - those are two emotional experiences I will always regard with wonder.


You were christened in St. Peter's Basilica. Do you go there often?
Every Christmas. First, under the Chrismas tree on the Square, and then for the Solemn Midnight Mass. For two Christmases now, we no longer have our father with us. But if I close my eyes, even without the eyeglasses, Papa Ratzinger makes him seem alive again.


For these holidays, Gladio and Walter will be going uo the Secretariat of State, through which they are sending dozens of eyeglasses to the Apostolic Nuncios in the poorest and most remote countries.

"Let us say it is a gift of light for those who need and deserve it most," says Gladio.


Il Messaggero, 18 novembre 2007

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, November 18, 2007 11:37 PM
A GREAT IDEA - AND BENEDETTO.FAN'S SERENDIPITOUS DISCOVERY!

BENEDETTO.FAN posted these earlier in BOOKS BY AND ON BENEDICT in large-format, but I am also posting them here in reduced size for the record. This thread is where we throw in 'light unclassifiables' like calendars and other Benedictiana/Ratzingeriana, including news about books that are not in English.

Benedetto.fan saw this on display at the parish Church of San Tommasso in Castel Gandolfo, wehere the Pope celebrated the Assumption Day Mass last August 15.







Anyone who has any information about how to order it and its companion CD, please share!
loriRMFC
00Sunday, November 18, 2007 11:37 PM
RE: THE POPE'S OPTICIANS

Lovely article! It's nice how they try to help out others as well. Thanks for posting Teresa.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, November 19, 2007 12:54 AM
A SEVEN-TIME ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER SPEAKS OUT
Interview by Bruno Volpe


The subject of this interview is not just Benedict XVI, and, in fact, the occasion for it was to solicit a reaction about the recent flap in the Italian media over a Jewish historian's claim in a book that Saint Padre Pio's stigmata were 'fake', among other allegations.

Giulio Andreotti, on top of the egregiously eminent CV mentioned in the article, is also the publisher and editor of 30 GIORNI. This is translated from PETRUS:





VATICAN CITY - His schedule is always crammed. Senator-for-life Giulio Andreotti begins his day with morning Mass which he never misses, and proceeds to a full schedule of meetings that are varied, intense and rich.

But when it comes to talking about the Church, the man who was one of the major figures of the Christian Democratic party in Italy, who was born in 1919 when Benedict XV was Pope, and was already a rising politician to reckon wit by the time of Papa Ratti (Pius XI), Andreotti will always find the time. Especially, in this case, if it is to go to the defense of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

The Senate had just finished voting on a finance bill, but the 88-year-old senator who has been Italy's Prime Minister seven times and has led out all of the cabinet ministries at some time or other [the only public office he has not filled is President of the Republic, which is mostly honorific) was as relaxed as a boy and carries his 88 years very well.


Excellency, you are a devout follower of Padre Pio. What did you think about the recent controversy over his sitgmata?

I think it's a case of much ado about nothing. But I also find the circumstances excessive and plain wrong. What's there to say? Evidently, a reputed intellectual [the reference is obviously to the historian Sergio Luzzato who wrote the book] does not respect popular devotion and commits the sin of arrogance.

I have always been, as you said, a devout follower of Padre Pio and I considered him a saint even in his lifetime, independent of his stigmata and of the official canonization that came much later. So believe me, I have suffered much from these accustions against him.


In the light of these personal attacks against the figure of Padre Pio, would you say that there is a dogged assault on the church by the secularized mass media?

'Dogged assault ' may be too gross a term. I would rather use the word hostility. But on the other hand, the Gospel says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted..."

Just think of all the noises that are being made about alleged fiscal privileges received by the Church in Italy; or on the 'vices' of the few priests who have committed sex offenses, as though no such thing happpened in other religions, and everybody else but Catholic priests were saints.

One thing is sure: the Italian state owes a lot to the Church which has supplemented institutional shortcomings with its own humanitarian and social activities, its works of charity.


Ex-President Francesco Cossiga said once that you would have made an excellent Vatican Secretary of State...

Well, Cardinal Bertone is carrying out that role very well. But I won't deny that I felt flattered. I live near the Vatican. Only a bridge separates me from St. Peter's Square, and of course, I have always been interested in what goes on in the Vatican.


You have known so many Popes. Which of them made the greatest impression on you?

Paul VI, beyond doubt, because I had a personal relationship with him even before he became Pope. But John Paul II also granted me a lot of attention.


Have you ever met Benedict XVI?

Not as Pope. But as cardinal, many times. One meeting I particularly remember. When the-Senate President Marcello Pera invited him to address the Senate.

I highly appreciated his address on Italian affairs which I thought was very forward-looking and long-range. The paradox struck me that I was in the presence of Cardinal Pera and Senate President Ratzinger...



Have you read his book JESUS OF NAZARETH?

Yes, most interrsting. I appreciate the extraordinary ability on the part of the Pope to be able to present difficult things so easily. It's not for me to say, but in my opinion, it is undoubtedly the work of a great theologian.


What do you think of his Pontificate so far?

It's still too early to make a judgment. What I can say is that he has shown himself to be s straightforward person, linear and rigorous in his principles.

Benedict XVI is an extraordinary personage - a refined intellectual as well as a theologian of the higest prestige. He is clearly one of the most brilliant intellects in our society. He settled very well in the wake of John Pauul II's Pontificate and is leading a just war against relativism.


I think the Roman air itself has helped him. He lived so long in Borgo Pio where he not only felt but assimilated the tolerance, the peaceableness and bonhomie of Rome and the Romans.


Perhaps because he is so tolerant, he has been getting unwarranted criticism for the Motu Proprio...

Conceding free use of the traditional Mass was an act of justice. Latin belongs to the history of the Church. As for the critics, many of them come from the ranks of the so-called 'devout atheists' and I wouldn't be worried. Many critics don't even go to Mass at all....

[Volpe should have pressed him on the critics within the Church!]

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, November 19, 2007 1:15 PM
New York Catholics anticipating
Pope Benedict's visit in April

By Jessica Mokhiber
Capital News (Albany, NY)



His visits draw crowds larger than most celebrities could even imagine and many will undoubtedly make a pilgrimage for even just a glimpse of Pope Benedict in April when he makes his first visit to the U.S. as pontiff. Many local Catholics say this visit may help people here feel more connected to the Pope and to their faith.


ALBANY, N.Y., Nov. 18 - For many people of faith, seeing a spiritual leader can be a life-changing experience.

News that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Washington, D.C. and New York City in April has many local Catholics hoping to make a connection with him, after feeling a very strong bond with the previous Pope, John Paul II.

Albany Resident Mary Lou White said, "When I was in Rome, I just saw John Paul in the little window miles away. It's just an exceptional thing. It makes you feel good."

Theresa Munafo of Albany added, "We all loved John Paul. People were sad when he died and we don't know the new Pope as well, Pope Benedict. A lot of people aren't too familiar. I think it's great that he's coming around."

Albany Catholic Diocese Priest Father Doyle said, "It's a great experience of faith for people to see the Pope and to be in his presence."

Before he worked here in Albany, Father Doyle worked thousands of miles away, covering the Vatican for the Catholic News Services. He traveled with and interviewed Pope John Paul in the 80s. Now he's looking forward to 2008 and working with Benedict during his first visit to the US as the Pope.

"You really get a sense of the otherworldly-ness of the Pope and it lifts your spirits to know there's more to life than what you see," said Doyle

During his April trip, Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit the White House, Ground Zero and the United Nations. He'll also celebrate public masses, one at the Nationals Park in DC and the other at Yankee Stadium. Old and young, people are already anticipating the visit.

Vivian Munafo, 11, said, "I think it's actually pretty exciting because I love when new things happen. I think it's great."

Her mother Theresa added, "Sometimes you feel like you're the only one out there, or one of a small group of people. I think it helps to know how many Catholics there are around the world and how connected we are."


Here was an earlier local reaction story around the time the visit weas first announced:


New Jersey Catholics look forward
to Pope's visit

By JOHN CHADWICK
North Jersey Herald-News



Pope Benedict XVI will travel to New York City and Washington, D.C., on his first U.S. papal trip next spring, church officials announced Monday.

The visit – the first to this area by a sitting pope in 12 years – will likely draw thousands of North Jersey Catholics.

"People are always interested when a pope comes to this area, but it's especially exciting when it's that pope's first visit," said the Rev. Robert Wolfee, an assistant pastor at Holy Trinity Church in Hackensack.

The pontiff's April 15-20 visit will include an address at the United Nations, a Mass at Yankee Stadium and a stop at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

And, with a presidential election year in full swing, some church officials say they expect the staunchly conservative pope to address church views on abortion and other hot-button issues.

"He will either directly or indirectly indicate that all Catholics, including politicians, have an obligation to live up to the teaching of their faith," said the Rev. Robert Wister, a professor of church history at Seton Hall's Immaculate Conception Seminary. "How specific he gets, we will find out."

The trip was announced during a meeting in Washington of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"This is a blessed moment for our nation," said Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, the conference president. "Pope Benedict is not just the leader of Catholics, he is also a man of inspiration for all those who work for peace."

Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese, said: "We are overjoyed that the Holy Father is coming to our area and we are waiting for more information about possibilities for local people to attend the Mass at Yankee Stadium."

Pope Benedict was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. Previously, he served as the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog, gaining a reputation as a strict enforcer of church teachings.

The visit will give American Catholics a chance to absorb the new pope's style – which is considered more contemplative and contained than his charismatic, globe-trotting predecessor.

Indeed, when Pope John Paul first visited the United States as pontiff in 1979, he made numerous appearances, including stops in Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago, Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Pope Benedict is visiting only New York and Washington.

Wister said Benedict's appearances will likely be more controlled and less spontaneous.

"That is simply the fact that we have an elderly pope who is essentially a pastor and a scholar," he said. "And his style is naturally quite different. John Paul II was a trained actor and extrovert. Benedict is a contemplative scholar."

Pope Benedict, who said fighting secularism will be a hallmark of his papacy, will address an American church recovering from a clergy abuse crisis, struggling with a priest shortage and facing deep divisions over church teachings on birth control and abortion rights.

In a visit to Austria in September, he spoke of the "crisis of the West" – a failure, he said, to believe in ultimate truth.

"If truth does not exist for man, then neither can he ultimately distinguish between good and evil," he said during a homily.

After arriving April 15, the pope will visit President Bush at the White House and celebrate a public Mass at the Washington Nationals' new baseball stadium.

He will address the United Nations on April 18, and visit Ground Zero and celebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium on April 20.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Tuesday, November 20, 2007 2:11 PM
RAISING MONEY TO SEE THE POPE IN ROME

New Jersey Drum corps
saved from heartbreak
by school foundation


If, for some reason, they don't make it after all this, they at least have the consolationn that they will have the chance to see him when he comes to New York.

Last week, it looked like certain heartbreak for the Hillcrest Highlanders Drum Corps and their parents. As one of only two women's drum corps in the country — the Central High School Kilties are the other — the Hillcrest girls had been asked to perform for Pope Benedict XVI at the first of the year.

They had just learned that despite a year and a half of fundraising for their trip to the Vatican — ceaseless baking, waiting on pizza customers, parents and sponsor Dawn Wood hawking tickets for a Toyota Highlander donated by Reliable Toyota, the girls working at outside jobs and other efforts, they had fallen at least $20,000 short of trying to raise the money for their trip.

Hillcrest administrators told the girls the cherished trip to Italy was canceled.

"They called us in and told us we didn't have any more time to raise the money," said Highlander majorette Amanda Larimore. "We were shocked and confused. We'd worked so hard and our parents had worked so hard. Several of the girls cried, but I tried not to. I try to lead by example."

Then Thursday, in came the chariots. The Springfield Public Schools Foundation board had met to discuss the issue. They decided to front the rest of the money.

"We have the money, and we already have one donor who has stepped up," said Foundation Executive Director Morey Mechlin. "Our mission is to raise, manage and distribute private money to benefit students of the Springfield Public Schools ... The Foundation has been been involved with the Highlanders from the beginning. ... My board said they are just not going to let these girls not go."

Mechlin is still looking for sponsors to help the effort, and the Highlanders will continue raising funds.

But Wednesday night, parents were distraught and furious. Eight of them had already paid 40 percent of their own travel fees. Many of the girls had raised their own expenses, and they'd all been told their money would be forfeited if they called off the trip.

"The travel agency said that if we cancel, there will be a cancellation fee that will make us owe a lot more money over what we've paid," said Larimore's mom, Melinda Larimore.

"These girls have known nothing but fundraising since they became Highlanders," said Highlander mom Sandy Vincent. "They spent their entire first year of competition having fundraisers to pay back debt for a trip the corps ahead of them took to Hawaii."

The corps already has to pay $200 to hire a school bus every time they go to a performance, plus $30 for the driver to wait for them. Again, the corps raises the funds for the fees. And now, they'd lose their travel money and have to scrape together a punitive cancellation fee?

Cliff Delyser of Gateway Music Festivals and Tours Inc. of Monticello, Minn., the agency that handled the trip arrangements, told me he was only authorized to talk to the corps' sponsor. Wood, who is not an SPS employee, said Tuesday that her understanding was that there would be no more fees in excess of what the group has already paid.

Thank God for the Foundation and its board. People all over the district know how hard the Highlanders and their parents have worked toward this trip, how much they deserve to go and how proud the city will be when the corps performs in Italy.

Three Springfield drum corps have been discontinued. District personnel cited lack of interest, although remaining corps members, though dwindling in number, disagreed.

The Highlander and Kiltie members have done nothing but try to bring their teams up in numbers and performance standards, through grit, sweat and determination. They all deserve our support, in crowds on the street and from our wallets.

To donate to the Foundation to help with the trip, call 523-0144.
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Wednesday, November 21, 2007 6:44 PM
B16 WILL BE THE FIRST POPE TO SAY MASS AT ST. PATRICK'S

This item from the site of the all-news cable channel NY1 does come as a surprise to me. I had always assumed that John Paul II must somehow have said Mass at St. Patrick's dueing one of his visits to New York (his visits to New York were before I came to live in the US)...


Cardinal Egan Says Pope's Scheduled Mass
At St. Patrick's Will Be A First

November 20, 2007


Edward Cardinal Egan tells NY1 that the pope's trip to the city next year will be a history-making visit.

Speaking at a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway in Harlem, Egan said the New York Archdiocese will witness a "first" when Pope Benedict the Sixteenth visits in April.

This will be the first mass ever celebrated by a pope in Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Now some of your audience is going to say what about Pope John Paul, or Pope Paul the VI? They did not ever celebrate mass in the cathedral so this is a first, and NY1 knows it first."

In his three-day visit to the city, the pope will also visit United Nations and the World Trade Center site. He'll also hold mass at Yankee Stadium.

It will be the Pope Benedict's first visit to America since being installed. He'll also spend several days in Washington.

===================================================================

How 'synchronous' is it that I just finished reading a 'legal thiller' called COUNTERPLAY by Robert Tanenbaum, published last year, which, even for me (who have followed Tanenbaum's plots through 18 books) - very unexpectedly has its climax inside St. Patrick's Cathedral during a Mass to be celebrated by the Pope (by all the descriptions, is meant to be Benedict XVI). A group of Muslim terrorists manage to sequester St. Patrick's during the event in order to hold the Pope hostage until the Vatican pays over $500 million....Needless to say, all turns out well, and the terrorists get their come-uppance, most of them anyway, because there's a homegrown biggie who may or may not have gotten away again...

Anyway, it's not as implausible nor 'awful' as it sounds. Tanenbaum is a lawyer who uses his experience in the New York district attorney's office and previousl, as counsel to the Warren Commission investigating the Kennedy assassination, to write a series of books about a New York district attorney with a spunky wife whose passion for vigilante justice is often at odds with her husband's duties and a genius child with a gift for languages (she has mastered more than 30) and a mystic bent (she has conversations with Teresa of Avila whom she claims to hear in her head) - and both wife and daughter often get involved in solving cases with the head of the household.
COUNTERPLAY is the 18th book in the series, which I have followed devotedly since I first discovered the first book accidentally by picking it up for airplane reading. Tanenbaum is an excellent and very inventive plotter, who makes his characters come alive for the reader, and gives one a great sense of verisimilitude in all other respects, so I got hooked.

In COUNTERPLAY, once again, the foresight and calm-under-pressure of all 3 come together in very disparate ways to beat the terrorists at their game. (The wife and daughter are both Catholic, but the DA himself is Jewish and was at St. Patrick's for the Mass because of his official position.) It gets to a point where a woman terrorist holds her knife to the Pope's throat but an altar server puts an end to the terrorist in a rather unusual manner, to say the least....

Anyway, it's in paperback, so if you don't mind reading thrillers, I definitely recommend this for a great holiday read....


===================================================================

When I posted something on Gloria's Benedictiana acquisitions in Germany recently , I also posted another picture from the 2008 OR calendar posted by Caterina. I must have been half-asleep when I did it, because there was a second picutre - this one, which shows Papino petting a police dog, evidently one of those used by the government security forces who watched over him in Lorenzago. Oh, to have been this dog!



TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, November 22, 2007 4:34 PM
MAKING A PITCH TO THE POPE
Could he please at least fly over the island where
the first Catholic colonists landed in the USA in 1634?

By Jenna Johnson and Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 22, 2007




St. Mary's County officials hope someday one of Washington, D.C.'s big-name, international visitors will add St. Clements Island to their sightseeing itinerary.

Earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth II gracefully declined an invitation, but that didn't deter Sen. Roy P. Dyson (D-St. Mary's) from extending the county's latest invite to Pope Benedict XVI, who is scheduled to visit Washington and New York in April.

With just a quick helicopter ride, the leader of the Vatican could see the small island where two vessels - the Ark and the Dove - landed with 140 predominantly Catholic pilgrims in 1634. The Rev. Andrew White, a Jesuit priest, assembled the new colonists after landing March 25 and conducted what is thought to be the first Catholic Mass in the colonies, Dyson explained in a letter to Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl.

"It would be great if he could say a Mass there," Dyson said of the pope. "We really just want him to step foot on the island. But if he could say Mass, that would be great."

The perks of visiting the island extend beyond Catholicism, Dyson explained in the letter: "April is a beautiful time of year here, and I believe that he would enjoy some of Southern Maryland's finest seafood." Plus, Dyson promised he could arrange security for a papal visit.

"An island is a very easy thing to protect," he said in an interview. "That's why the pilgrims landed there."

Despite the island's deep roots in Catholic and Maryland history, Dyson said he has not yet heard from the pontiff.

"I think - no, I am sure - probably a lot of different groups are making a pitch," Dyson said. "Nothing he will see in Baltimore or D.C. will be as historical as this."
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, November 22, 2007 5:34 PM
BENEDICT TO DON SOME HISTORIC VESTMENTS FOR CONSISTORY

Translated from PETRUS today:

The Office for Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations under Mons. Guido Marini has announced that for the consistory creating the new cardinals on Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI has decided to wear a miter used by the Blessed Pius IX and a cope in gold silk with a stole, both from the 16th century, with images relating to the lives of the saints, including Peter and Paul.

On Sunday, Feast of Christ the King, at the Mass concelebrated with the new cardinals, the Pope will wear the chasuble worn by John Paul II at his last consistory.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Friday, November 23, 2007 9:09 PM
THE POPE'S ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Translated from PETRUS today:




VATICAN CITY - "The Pope personally intervened to define the theme for the World Day dedicated to social communications in 2008," said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in an address to an internatioal conference of communications workers in Rome which opened yesterday.

He requested that after the statement of the theme 'The media at the crossroads of activism and service', we should add the phrase 'Seek the truth and share it'. And we are all called on to follow this in what we do," he told the conference participants.

According to SIR, the news agency of the Italian bishops conference, Celli said that since he was appointed to his position by the Holy Father last June (succeeding Cardinal-elect James Foley who headed the Council for 23 years), he has been working to acquaint himself better with the 'various realities' of the world of social communications.

He said he intended to dedicate his attention next year to Africa, where the various bishops conferences are trying to organize a continent-wide Catholic news agency.

====================================================================

This brings to mind Benedict's personal intervention in the choice of the site and theme for the fifth general conference of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM) last May in Brazil. As Sandro Magister recalled at the time:

“Disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ” was the main title, but he also wanted the sub-phrase of the title – “That all may have life” – to end by specifying: “in Him.” And that the statement of Jesus himself should be added: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

More recently, the secretary-general of the Italian bishops conference, Mons. Betori, revealed some of the Pope's susggestions in the revision of the Italian lectionary for the Mass.




TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, November 26, 2007 11:48 AM
Thanks to Beatrice for calling my attention to a recent entry on Luigi Accattoli's blog which I had not checked out for at least a week. In this Nov. 21 entry, he comments on a line from the Pope's Angelus homily last Sunday which did strike me as something particularly beautiful when I was translating it, especially as it came so unexpectedly, like so:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept Christ's invitation to face the events of every day, trusting in his providential love. Let us not fear for the future, even when it appears dark to us, because the God of Jesus Christ, entered history in order to open it to transcendent fulfillment, of which he is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end (cfr Ap 1,8).

He guarantees us that in every small but genuine act of love, is found all the sense of the universe, and that he who does not hesitate to lose his own life for Christ, will find it back in fullness (cfr Mt 16,25).

Now, here's a translation of Accattoli's blog:


My enthusiasm for Pope Benedict
November 21, 2007


"In every small but genuine act of love, is found all the sense of the universe! - Benedict said Sunday at the Angelus, and I was enthusiastic over these words.

Since I heard them, I've been ruminating on these words like I do at times on the Beatitudes and other sayings of Jesus.

Once, as a theologian, he had written: "Love alone suffices and saves man. Whoever loves is a Christian" (Joseph Ratzinger, Tempo di Advento, Queriniana 2005; the original in German was published in 1965).

Even in Deus caritas est, there is a pearl of great splendor: "(The Christian) knows that God is love, and that God's presence is felt at the very time when the only thing we do is to love" (No. 31).

But perhaps the statement from last Sunday is the most beautiful of the three, and I dedicate it to my readers as a small gift and as yet another proof of the power of the words of our Benedict."

[He then refers the reader to previous posts of a similar nature that he made on Feb. 17 and April 15 of 2007, and in particular, on Aug. 10, 2006. Will look up and translate.]


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, November 26, 2007 5:09 PM
Ohio woman meets pope at the Vatican
By MaryAnn Kromer
Advertiser-Tribune (Ohio)
Nov. 25, 2006


Here's a newspaper account that has more detail than usual about events like this.


The caption with the photo says that to Janet's left
is 'Tom Monihan, founder of Domino’s Pizza'
.



Last month, Janet Dell Freeman of Tiffin spent a week in Rome, Italy, on her first trip to the Eternal City. When Pope Benedict appeared in St. Peter Square, Freeman was given a seat on the platform with the pontiff.

Even more remarkable, she was able to hold the pope’s hand while she spoke to him as a representative of Serra International Foundation, which the Vatican recognizes as the global lay apostolate for vocations in the Catholic Church.

“It’s a wonderful foundation … and a great bunch of men to work with,” Freeman said.

The 13-member board includes men from Thailand, Italy, Nigeria and the United States. Serra clubs around the world contribute to the foundation, headquartered in Chicago, Ill. The board oversees the foundation’s corpus of $3.2 million.

Freeman became a trustee in 2003. Now she is about to complete a year’s term as the board president. She is to remain on the board in 2008 as past president. Freeman’s duties included scheduling a location for the group’s annual board meeting and presenting checks from the foundation to various beneficiaries.

“I was the first woman to ever to serve on this board and the first woman to chair it,” Freeman said. “The amount we gave out last year for vocation activities worldwide was $212,000. That includes the reason I went to Rome. We had a grant for $10,000 for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, for his private vocation activities. We also had a yearly grant — we established a scholarship fund — at the Pontifical North American College in Rome … for $20,000.”

The Serra representatives stayed at a hotel a 10-minute walk from the Vatican. Freeman marveled at the white stripe painted during World War II to mark the boundaries of Vatican City. As long as Pius XII stayed behind the line, he could not be harmed. Each morning, they attended Mass at 7 a.m. in “the hush and the dark” of the lower level of St. Peter basilica.

“It really reminded me of the Tower of Babel. You hear the other Masses going on and hear the people singing and praying in these different languages,” Freeman said.

On the day of the audience, the group was to report to their places at 9 a.m. Pilgrims already were crowding the grounds. An estimated 60,000 were there that day.

“What a crush. They’re all trying to get in those gates and you have to go through security. … I’ve never been so crushed in my life,” Freeman said.

The foundation was allowed to have two people on the platform, Freeman and the international president of the organization. Freeman said 24 groups were making check presentations that day.

Legatis, a group of Catholic business executives, also was in Rome. Two members spoke to Freeman and said they were familiar with Tiffin and Heidelberg College. Tom Monihan, representing a college in Florida [Ave Maria University], stood next to Freeman.

From the platform, Freeman said she could see security atop the circle surrounding the piazza. She also was able to watch the piazza fill up with people from all over the world, awaiting the appearance of the pope.

“It really was a very, very thrilling thing. There were groups out there singing, some of them were performing. … There were banners and flags waving,” Freeman said.

When the pope appeared in the “popemobile,” Freeman said a great cry went up from the crowd. Aisles had been set up all through the piazza, and the pontiff drove through them all, waving and smiling. The vehicle then drove up a ramp to transport the Holy Father directly to the platform where all could see him.

“Before the presentation, began, we all sang the ‘Our Father’ in Latin,” she said. “We sang ‘Pater Noster’ in chant. That was just beautiful to hear everyone sing together in one language.”

Then it was time for Freeman’s meeting with the pope. She and the other presenters had been briefed to address him as “Most Holy Father.” The customary protocol is for the pope to take each person’s hand, and each is to kiss his ring. Freeman said she introduced herself as an ambassador of the International Serra Foundation. She also gave him a greeting from her 10-year-old grandson, who asked her to say ‘hi’ to the pope.

“He nodded and smiled and thanked me,” Freeman said. “He speaks to you individually. He looks right at you. He doesn’t hurry. He takes his time. … He looks directly at you and speaks as if there were no one else around you.”

From the podium, an announcer recognized all the groups of pilgrims in attendance that day. The readings were done in six languages. After that, the pope also spoke in those languages.

“The message the Holy Father gives is an instruction. It’s a very beautiful message, and each group is able to hear it in their own language. When they call the names of the countries that are there, some of the groups stand up and sing. … It’s quite a celebration,” Freeman said.

When the pontiff gave his apostolic blessing, he included the families of all present. He also blessed religious articles pilgrims had brought. Freeman had bought rosaries for her grandchildren and holy water for her sister. Freeman was amazed when the pope thanked everyone for coming.

“It’s just a magnificent experience. I was very honored and privileged to be able to make the presentation,” Freeman said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience … and it’s as fresh in my memory as the day I was there.”

While in Rome, Freeman and other Serrans visited a number of historical and religious sites, including the tombs of the late Pope John Paul II and St. Peter himself.

“You just stand and think, I am standing this close to one of the disciples of Christ, the Rock of the church, and think how real it all is.”

That reality hit home even more when Freeman visited with Phillip Smith and Andy Haines of Tiffin. The young men are Calvert High School graduates who currently are studying at the Pontifical North American College.

“It truly is the Eternal City,” Freeman said. “You can feel the faith when you’re in Rome.”
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, November 26, 2007 10:11 PM
ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT THE POPE'S BAVARIAN ROOTS




Il sorriso Benedetto.
Pellegrinaggio nella terra d'infanzia di Papa Benedetto XVI

(The Benedict smile. Pilgrimage in the childhood land of Pope Benedict XVI)
Emanuela Zanotti, 96 pp, Editore Cantagalli

From the publisher's online blurb:

Il sorriso Benedetto takes us to Bavaria, beloved homeland of the Pope, to retrace his roots, his infancy and adolescence. It takes us by the hand alobng the steps of a simple life that led to an important road. What made the teenage Joseph who enters the seminary, then becomes a priest, professor of theology, archbishop of Munich and Freising, cardinal, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and finally Pope - maintaining unchanged throughout an extraordinary air that communicates serenity.


I looked up the author - she is 50 years old, a freelance journalist from Brescia (Paul VI's hometown near Milan) and has edited a regional magazine for 11 years. Her first book was a collection of interviews with famous italian women on the theme of maternity. She has also written fiction.

I must say she chose a very engaging title for this book on Benedict!


And since I can't enlarge the picture of the book cover,
I'll take any chance to re-post this 'original':



NanMN
00Tuesday, November 27, 2007 3:54 AM

Ohio woman meets pope at the Vatican


WOW! Now that is truly something to tell her grandson about!!!
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Tuesday, November 27, 2007 4:13 AM
...AND A ROCK SINGLE ON BENEDICT!




Rock Single Dedicated to Pope Benedict
11/26/2007
Catholic PRWire


MADISON, WI, Nov. 26, 2007 — What do Benedict XVI, Pontius Pilate and rock n' roll have in common? Not much, it would seem at first glance. It turns out, however, that they do all have one thing in common—they are featured in a Madison, WI-based rock band's newest single, due to be released December 8, 2007.

The Song of Benedict will be Oremus's first release since their self-titled debut album in 2006. “We sat down to start planning another album, but out came The Song of Benedict instead,” Chris Reitz, the band's guitarist and co-vocalist said.

Chris, 23, and his brother Tom, age 20, started the band in 2004 with the goal or reclaiming rock. “We all know what 'rock culture' means,” says Tom. “It's not pretty, and it sure isn't family friendly. We wanted to show people that rock could be used creatively and beautifully, and to glorify God. It isn't done often, but that doesn't mean it can't be done at all.”

So, what's to expect from the Song of Benedict? Close and complex harmonies were a staple of Oremus and there's more to be had in The Song of Benedict. There's lots of guitar, backed up by Tom's keyboard work. And lyrics.

Benedict’s haunting theme repeats itself several times throughout the song: “Speaking from my window / hope someone will hear. Listen to the Truth, now, Romans, lend me your ear.”

In another verse, Pilate agonizes about whether to allow Jesus to be crucified. His words echo at us across the millennia, “What is Truth?......” if it costs you your head?

What about the rest of the album the brothers were planning? Chris and Tom decided that The Song of Benedict couldn't wait that long – this song deserved to be released on its own.

For more information, including lyrics and a sneak preview of the Song of Benedict, visit the Oremus website, www.oremusmusic.net.

The Song of Benedict - Lyrics

Speaking from my window
hope someone will hear
listen to the Truth now
Romans, lend me your ear
won't you please remember
in whose image you were made
won't you please recall for us
what kind of price was paid?


Tell me what is truth now
the politician said
of what use is truth to you
if it costs you your head
won't you please remember
that I have mouths to feed
what is right will have to wait
I can't set you free.


Looking to the future,
what can we do now?
is there something you would change
what's your song about?
we can learn together
how to make things right
listen to the Truth now
lets set this world on fire.


Speaking from my window
hope someone will hear
listen to the Truth now
Romans, lend me your ear


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Tuesday, November 27, 2007 6:29 AM
...AND MORE 'JOSEPH AND CHICO'


Joseph e Chico
By Jeanne Perego
Illustrations by Donata Dal Molin Casagrande
Editions Messaggero Padova



Beatrice has scanned a couple of charming illustrations from the book:


One cold night in April 1927....



This is when the Ratzinger sibs learn to seek out
rocks and moss in the countryside for the Christmas creche....



And when Joseph comes back from the war hitching a ride on a truck....


.
AS the Pope told author Jeanne Perego two weeks ago:
"To think it is I who had wanted to write a book about cats..."


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Tuesday, November 27, 2007 4:44 PM
NEW BOOKS ON THE POPE

The Vatican publishing house LEV (for Libreria Editrice Vaticana) has released two new books this month on Pope Benedict XVI.

One is a photographic document of the recent Agora of Italian Youth in Loreto, and the other, a second volume of 'Spiritual Thoughts' drawn from the Pope's various texts.


INVINCIBILE ESPERANZA : Benedetto XVI e i giovani
(Invincible hope: Benedict XVI and the youth)
Photos by V.R.Francone and the Photogrpahic Service of L' Osservatore Romano
Text and poems by Davide Rondoni
Q00 pp, € 19,00
Format: 24 x 22.5cm


From the LEV blurb:

It is a collection of photographs taken during Pope Benedict's XVI's encounter with Italian youth in Loreto. This starts a LEV series of publications dedicated to religious photojournalism.

The book is a narrative in photographs of the Agora held September 1-2, 2007, with text captions and poems by Davide Rondoni, an editor at Avvenire. It closes with the message and the homily delivered by the Pope during the two days.

Rondoni presents the teenager and young adult in search of what can make their lives meaningful and mature.

"It was not simply a mass of young people. Of course, it was an extraordinary gathering. But they were not there for incidental reasons. Nor for entertainment.

"They were there to find answers, personal answers that were individual as well as collective. To take a risk for God. The risk of God's love which on this occasion had the voice, the testimony and the figure of the Pope. Who said to them: 'I respect your youth, and I assure you that you, each one of you, is made for something great."

"And they were there to respond. Perhaps with a thousand confused ideas. But with a single response."

This is a book for whoever wants to taste the poetry of youth and the profundity of the Papal Magisterium, illustrated by photographs that reflect the joy of life and the hope of the youth.



PENSIERI SPIRITUALI: La risposta di Dio
(Spiritual Thoughts: The answer of God)
144 pages, € 6,50
Format: 10 x 15cm


(I have not been able to find a blurb for this.)

====================================================================

And DIPL has just posted this in the main forum, from Lindau publishers:


SANTI. Gli autentici apologeti della Chiesa
(Sains: The true apologetists for the Church)
Edizioni LINDAU
160 pp, illustrated
FORMAT: 14x21 cm, Euro 12.50

The volume contains some 20 homilies delivered by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Benedict XVI . In it, he reflects on the central figures around Christ in the Gospels, and in the history of the Church.

These include Mary Joseph, John the Baptist, Peter, Andrew and Augustine, but also less-known saints like Rose of Lima and Francis of Sales. The homilies constitute an evocative and invaluable gallery of Christan lives and virtues.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Wednesday, November 28, 2007 4:53 AM
NEW CARDINALS GRATEFUL TO POPE

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Courtesy visits to the 23 new cardinals were characterized by warm embraces from the ecclesial community, represented by people of every age and condition, including those who have worn the red hat for years.

Families, friends, bishops, priests, religious and numerous members of the College of Cardinals filled the halls of the Vatican for a few hours after Saturday's consistory where men from 14 countries received the red hat.

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop of Prague, who received his red hat in 1994, joined the visitors and awaited his turn to greet the new cardinals. He spoke to ZENIT about the “beautiful event” that the universal Church had just lived.

"The cardinals have come from the entire world: One could say that the Pope increased his 'council' of collaborators, and this is a lovely symbol in this world” because the Church governs “with the brothers,” he emphasized.

“I found the Holy Father always content, smiling,” Cardinal Vlk said, recalling Friday’s day of reflection with the Pope, and the consistory itself. "It has been a joyous ceremony; everyone was glad to meet each other. It has been beautiful, beautiful …"

Each of the 23 new cardinals was given a place to receive his visitors in the Vatican. In a festive atmosphere, large groups and lines of friends waited to offer courtesy gifts, flowers, and above all their congratulations and an embrace.

Newly elevated Cardinal Agustín García-Gasco described to ZENIT his excitement: “I am very happy, thinking also that [my elevation] has been a great gift for Valencia,” where he is archbishop. That Spanish archdiocese hosted Benedict XVI last year on the occasion of the 5th World Meeting of Families.

Newly elevated Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, the Polish president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said that he accepted the honor “above all with a feeling of enormous gratitude toward the Pope for this new sign of trust," he said.

“I have accepted this appointment with joy, but with a trembling heart too, because I realize that it is a gift and a challenge at the same time,” he told ZENIT. “And I ask the Lord to grant me the strength to not disappoint, above all Jesus, but also the Holy Father.”

The Pope also gave the red hat to a Jesuit priest, Urbano Navarrete, former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University.

On Saturday, the emotions were described as many and intense, but the new Spanish cardinal related to ZENIT one feeling in particular: “When I was prostrate before the Roman Pontiff the only thing that I said to him was, 'Thank you for the trust that you have placed in me.'"

Cardinal Navarrete added: “In my heart there was also the idea that it is not only the trust that has been placed in me personally, but also the confidence that it implies in the institution in which I have worked all my life, which is the Gregorian University, and in a certain sense as well, in the Society of Jesus, where I have been since my youth."

In the middle of the bustle, in the atrium of Paul VI Hall, he spoke about another element of the experience: “The number of people I know, more from Rome that from other place, who came spontaneously to greet me -- also from the pastoral realm, because for 44 years I have dedicated every Sunday morning in Rome to hearing confessions, without missing a day, unless for health reasons."

And now that he is a cardinal, the Jesuit wishes to continue the ministry of confession -- "because it is to be present in direct contact with the people of God."


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Wednesday, November 28, 2007 11:27 PM
OUR HERO!

Thanks to Argent by the Tiber for pointing this out.



Or perhaps, THE END IS HERE....
In the USA, the first of the Baby Boomers/Gen '68ers
have started collecting their Social Security pensions!
My, time flies...


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, December 3, 2007 2:39 PM
POPE AT BIRTHDAY CONCERT FOR BERTONE




The following is translated information comes from two items in Repubblica (Genoese edition) and Il Secolo XIX, both posted on Lella's blog.


A very private concert to mark the 73rd birthday of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone yesterday, at his second-floor residence in the Apostolic Palace, was joined at the last minute by the resident of the third-floor apartment above, the Pope.

The concert performer was 13-year-old prodigy Masha Diatchenko, born in Rome of Ukrainian parents and now being trained at the Nicolo Paganini cocervatory in Genoa. The concert was organized by Davide Viziano, president of the concservatory.

The performance itself was actually held in a Vatican hall on the same floor as Bertone's residence - a room where the revised Lateran Pacts were signed in 1984.

Accompanied on the piano by Genoese concert pianist Massimo Spada, Masha played three Paganini pieces, including the 4th and 24th 'Caprice', a Zapareado by Sarasate, and a virtuoso piece composed for her by her professor, Massimo Coco.

During the performance, "Pope Benedict kept rhythm with his red shoes tapping on the carpet," said one of those present, which included eight siblings of Bertone and their famlies, whom he had invited to come to Rome from their hometown of Romano Canavese in Northern Italy.

At the end - congratulations in abundance and promises of a repeat performance. The Pope embraced Masha and gave her a rosary and gold commemorative medals.

A little-known fact is that Bertone is a great music lover himself - his father was a piano teacher. As a young man, he composed two pieces, a 'Zingaresca' (gypsy-inspired music) and a 'Frenesia primaverile' (Spring frenzy), which he apparently composed after visiting a prison.
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Wednesday, December 5, 2007 1:50 AM
MONS. GUIDO'S GRACE NOTES - #3

This is not a news item or an anecdote, but some observations.
Gloria posted this Spaziani photo, which shows Mons. Guido M.
and the other acolyte lifting the Pope's alb.



Father Z had commented on a similar picture a few days ago that
"The M.C. in the left of the photo is lifting the Holy Father’s alb as he steps. Just as one should when serving."

I'm happy to learn that, but in the Spaziani photo, they lifted enough to show the Pope's trousers underneath!

As for the dangling tassel, Fr. Z also explains that:

"The Pope’s cinture [cord belt) with the heavy fiocco (tassel) slipped down, exactly like they do when I use that type."





Father Z's other observations:

- Leo XIII’s great chair is back. It looks like it is going to be a keeper.

- The Pope is wearing a Roman style cope and stole with a classic pattern. Did someone find the keys for the old dusty wardrobes?



- The Holy Father’s alb looks pretty decent! Hard to see white on white, but it was nice. He needed a different miter, however.

- The M.C. Mons. Guido Marini has a very nice surplice in the traditional style.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Friday, December 7, 2007 3:55 PM
Pope’s Adventskranz has four RED candles
By Cindy Wooden
Dec. 6, 2007




This is a picture of the advent wreath in the Vatican library
from the Pope's meeting today with the Polish Prime Minister.



This is from Ms. Wooden's blog on CNS hub.

Thursday (Dec. 6) I walked past the Vatican Christmas tree on my way up to Pope Benedict’s private library to serve as the pool reporter for the pope’s meeting with Albanian President Bamir Topi.

Despite all the hustle and bustle going on in the square to prepare for Christmas, inside the papal palace all is still calm. In fact, the only seasonal touch in evidence was a small Advent wreath or Adventskranz on a side table in the papal library. One candle was lit, signifying the first week of Advent.

But I was surprised to note that all four candles on the kranz were red! Red? What happened to tradition … and in the papal palace of all places?

As it turns out, the Germans, who gave us Advent wreaths in the first place, generally use four red candles. The practice of using three purple and one pink candle was an adaptation made to reflect the colors of the liturgical vestments used on the four Sundays preceding Christmas.



But, searching for “Adventskranz” on www.google.de/ revealed a variety of practices, so I turned to the Rome correspondents of the popular German tabloid, Bild, for some clarification.

Andreas Englisch simply said, “I think they are always red.” And then he passed the phone to his colleague and wife, Kirsten, who knows a thing or two about decorating for the holidays in an exuberant German manner.

She said, “Using four red candles is the most traditional way. But, really, it is like decorating a tree, you can do what you want. But green and red are the Christmas colors and 80 percent of Germans would have an Adventskranz with four red candles in their house.”

The practice in churches is more varied, she said. Catholic parishes would have either four red candles or three purple and a pink candle, while Lutheran parishes — with more austere buildings in Germany — would tend toward four white candles.

A quick search of the blogosphere demonstrates that even on Advent-wreath candle colors there has been a bit of controversy.


Though the photo is terribly scarred by all the
marks, this is a better view of the Advent
wreath in the papal library - showing the first
candle appropriately lit
.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, December 10, 2007 1:59 PM
Bitter Pill's spiteful attack on the Pope
Daily Telegraph
HOLY SMOKE! blog
Posted by Damian Thompson
on 07 Dec 2007



“Once the Pope’s legs start giving out – he is 80, after all – maybe Mgr Marini will bring back the gestatorial chair.”

Vatican-watchers will have no difficulty identifying the author of that spiteful little sentence: it’s Robert Mickens, Rome correspondent of the Tablet, aka The Bitter Pill.

Surely the Pope deserves more respect?

Now, we all know that “Bobbie” Mickens burst into tears of rage when Ratzinger was elected – but couldn’t he do a better job of hiding his animosity towards the Holy Father? We get it week after week.

You might say I’m a fine one to talk about snide remarks. But I’m just trying to imagine the reaction if the Catholic Herald (as opposed to this blog) made a cheap crack about an ageing Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s legs giving out. There would be all hell to pay.

Mickens made his comment in a diary item about the return of dignified, beautiful worship to St Peter’s: “During Vespers two deacons were constantly at the Pope’s side, holding open the heavy silk-covered cope, while the lace-draped Mgr Marini piously followed a step behind with his head solemnly bowed and his hands pressed together.” And we’re supposed to disapprove?

I love the thought of Mickens holding his nose while these “reactionary” rubrics were performed. What he doesn’t tell us is that Mgr Guido Marini’s predecessor, his namesake Piero Marini, used to deck out the Pope in nylon tents that looked like something Margo Leadbetter might have worn for a 1970s safari supper. That’s one reason he was “let go” a few months ago, to Bobbie’s fury.

In the December 30 issue of the Bitter Pill last year, Mickens wrote about the Pope’s plans for 2007: “All these, though, are only proposed diary entries, because they could easily be changed by events beyond the Pope’s control or desire. After all, the Pope is still only a man. As the 15th-century Thomas à Kempis once said: ‘Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit’.”

But, alas for Mickens, God has not intervened to stop the Pope in his tracks; since those words were written, this great pontiff has liberated the Latin Mass, sacked his ghastly liberal MC, declared war on droning hippy folk Masses and written a magnificent encyclical that doesn’t mention Vatican II.

Hahahahahaha. My guess is that God will preserve Benedict’s mind - and legs - for years to come. Stock up on hankies, Bobbie.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, December 13, 2007 1:25 AM
ALL THE PAPAL Q&As UNDER ONE COVER

Life can be successful
only if we have the courage
to be adventurous
- Pope Benedict XVI




Thanks to Amy Welborn for alerting us to this new release, from Our Sunday Visitor. Someone was bound to take the initiative sooner or later, and I think, for a change, the Americans beat other countries to it. Of course, Mons. Tommaso Stenico (yes, he - before the TV scandal) had previously put together the Pope's extemporaneous Q&As with various groups of priests and seminarians in his CARI SACERDOTI (Dear priests) books.

OSV has put together all the Q&As so far, starting from that unforgettable session with the children at St. Peter's Square in 2005 to the Agora in Loreto. The volume was edited by Michael Dubruiel.


Amazon's blurb for the book:

Discover the Pope's insightful, personable, and refreshingly accessible responses to the questions we all want to ask.

Live audiences of children, clergy, young adults, and others gain unprecedented access to ask the Pope about everything from divorce and remarriage to the Mass, consumerism, relativism, sacraments, Scripture, music, sex, vocations, and more.

Questions include:

How is Jesus present in the Eucharist? I can't see Him.

How do we acquire a living faith, a truly Catholic Faith, a faith that is practical, lively, and effective?

How can women also have a hand in governing the Church?

What, in your opinion, are the greatest challenges we face in our time and what does the Lord expect of us?

What is the relationship between Catholics and people of other faiths?

What are the priorities that parish priests should strive for?

What should we do to bring God to others in the world?

I have many insecurities, questions, and fears and I want to feel near God. In this silence, where is God?


How I wish the Pope could have something similar with scientists or with healthcare workers or with family representatives or even with lawyers soon - where he could confront the major ethical concerns of society today with the sectors most concerned.

...And I wish the publishers of this book had chosen a less stereotype photograph for the cover.


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, December 13, 2007 2:23 PM
Russian Orthodox Artist
Presents Painting to Pontiff

by Mary Shovlain







VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2007 (Zenit.org).- It happens only once during a pontificate. Benedict XVI received his official portrait today from renowned Russian painter Natalia Tsarkova.

The unveiling took place during a private meeting in Paul VI Hall after the weekly general audience.

[The picture shows the Pope seated on the Cathedra of Leo XIII.]



Tsarkova is the first woman to be an official Vatican portrait painter. Pope John Paul II was the subject of her first official papal work. She painted him during the Jubilee Year 2000 and that portrait now hangs in the Vatican Museums.

Speaking to ZENIT after her meeting with Benedict XVI, Tsarkova said the Pontiff thanked her for her work and said he was very happy with the outcome. The Holy Father told her he is familiar with her painting and admires her past portraits of John Paul II and various cardinals.

The private audience, which was supposed to last five minutes, lasted for 20, as Tsarkova explained the "secrets" in the painting - specifically the angels that adorn the papal throne, which, she said, "come to life."

Tsarkova said the angels seemed to be the Pope's favorite aspect of the portrait, noting that in his recent discourse on the role of bishops, he compared their work to that of the angels, God's messengers.

Tsarkova said she wanted the painting to be symbolic. "The Holy Father," she said, "is seated on a throne and surrounded by angels and is symbolically resting upon them, a sign of the support they give him in his ministry."

"In his hand, the Pope is holding a book of his discourses as a sign of his dialogue with the modern world," the artist continued. "This is a sign of peace because it is through dialogue that we can achieve peace."

Tsarkova said the concept for the portrait began as soon as Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, when she began going to liturgical celebrations in the Vatican to observe him and get inspiration.

"I had met him as a cardinal and known him through his many writings but I had to know him as Pope," she said.

Project beginnings

The painting was financed by the Vatican's Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums.

Legionary of Christ Father Mark Haydu, international director of the patrons office, told ZENIT how Tsarkova received the commission: "The then 'sostituto' of the Secretary of State, recently elevated Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, now prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, had the idea of Natalia doing a portrait of the Holy Father. He then shared the idea with several friends who were Patrons of the Arts. From there she began to work to create this wonderful portrait."

Father Haydu said patrons were not hard to find for such a work: "Under my predecessor, Dominican Father Allen Duston, the office helped find sponsors for the Tzarkova portrait. [...] Mr. John Brogan, a longtime patron of the arts, helped make this portrait a reality, along with our chapter in the United Kingdom."

According to Father Haydu, the fact that a Russian Orthodox woman painted a portrait of a German Pope is symbolic: "I find it eloquent that, two individuals whose peoples were divided in the recent past, Germany and Russia, that is, are providentially united in this artistic endeavor."

"As we know," he continued, "Benedict XVI has made Christian unity one of the hallmarks of his pontificate, and this painting is just one more providential gesture of the coming together of the Orthodox and Catholic faiths."






Benedict XVI's Portrait
By Elizabeth Lev

Christmas came early for Benedict XVI. After the general audience on Wednesday, Russian artist Natalia Tsarkova presented the Holy Father with a full-length portrait of himself during one of the rare private audiences granted by the Pope.

Tsarkova, an extraordinarily gifted painter, has been working in Rome for over a decade. She produced five portraits of Pope John Paul II, the only portrait of Pope John Paul I, as well as the stunning "Our Lady of Light" commissioned by the Primavera Foundation in the United States to celebrate the institution of the luminous mysteries of the rosary by John Paul II.

The portrait of Benedict XVI was commissioned by the Patrons Office of the Vatican Museums a year ago. In the past, the Patrons Office has usually obtained funding for restoration and maintenance of the extensive collections of the Vatican Museums, but under its new director, Legionary of Christ Father Mark Haydu, the office decided to add a new masterpiece to the galleries.

Tsarkova toiled for almost a year on the painting, oil on canvas. She attended the audiences to capture the Holy Father among the faithful, and papal Masses to watch him celebrate the liturgy. Her portrait is a mixture of the public persona she studied as well as the private meditative man that she imagined.

Benedict XVI sits on a throne, which the artist describes as a reminder of his role of teacher from his chair, but also that of Successor of St. Peter. The Holy Spirit in the form of the dove hovers above his head, bathing him with light the same way Bernini's window of the Holy Spirit rains golden light on the Cathedra San Petri in St. Peter's Basilica.

The elaborately decorated chair belonged to Pope Leo XIII, and has carved cherubim over the shoulders and under the armrests. One angel, illuminated by the heavenly rays, turns its gaze lovingly toward the Pope.

Tsarkova's greatest labor of love in the work involved rendering Benedict XVI's facial expression. Magazine and newspaper photos rarely show the Pope in a flattering fashion, but after careful studies, she captured an intent look tinged with kindness; his far-seeing gaze looks toward the future of the Church out of concern for the souls under his care.

To portray the complexity of his expression, Tsarkova worked on preparatory drawings for months. A small but beautiful oil sketch remains as testimony to her work, in which the warm, gentle smile of Benedict XVI is recognizable to all those who have had the pleasure of seeing the Holy Father.

Unlike Tsarkova's earlier portraits of John Paul II, where the Pontiff was always portrayed standing as the "Pilgrim Pope," Benedict XVI's portrait shows him seated, emphasizing his role as teacher.

Also different from John Paul II's portraits, Benedict XVI wears a heavy crimson cope which sparkles with reflected light in its heavy folds. Tsarkova defines her use of red to frame the Pope as a symbol of both faith and love while the woven gold miter on his head represents the divine Kingdom.

A curious clasp closes the Pope's mantle. Amid the Baroque swathes of fabric highlighted with rich embroidery, a broad pewter buckle draws the cope across his heart. The design is almost primitive -- parallel waving lines trace the simple form of Christ embracing his mother.

It seems that Tsarkova is hinting that despite all his years of curial experience and the grandeur of his role as Pope, Benedict XVI remains a simple man at heart, unaffected by the pageantry that surrounds him.

Benedict XVI's unique gift of taking complex lessons and transmitting them in clear, understandable and even catchy language motivated the artist to place a slim volume under the Pope's fingers. Although Benedict XVI has written numerous books as one of the greatest theologians of the past century, his teaching is straightforward and accessible, allowing the faithful to gain a better understanding of the Church and its doctrines.

As I was standing in Natalia's studio, I saw copies of all her paintings of John Paul II around the rooms and I felt the now familiar pang of nostalgia for the Holy Father that I had known all my life. But then looking at her portrait of Benedict XVI, I saw St. Peter's Square depicted in the background, with the sun shining down on Bernini's colonnade as it embraces the obelisk that witnessed St. Peter's martyrdom.

Tsarkova's vision of Benedict XVI, both intensely passionate about his mission and warm and fatherly toward his flock, seems to herald the advent of an exciting new day in the life of the Church.


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