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

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00Friday, December 14, 2007 1:29 AM

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

We reported about this book earlier on this thread. This story is from the regional newspaper in Brescia (northern Italy).

How Bavaria shaped Benedict

BRESCIA - At the start of the 16th century, the historian Aventinus described Bavaria and its people as "spiritual and religious, simple and modest, believers because their character is imprinted with the faith."

Reason enough to inspire writer Emanuela Zanotti to look into the origins of Benedict XVI, who, from the start of his Pontificate - with choices that seem to turn the church away from dogmatic theology and towards a high medieval ritual - has inspired discussions among intellectuals and average faithful, conservatives and moderates alike.

The outcome is a book, Il sorriso Benedetto (The Benedict smile), which the author was to present tonight at the Salone Bevilacqua here. A book which will be in the libraries of the Lateran University, at the instance of its rector, Mons. Rino Fisichella.

Zanotti traced Joseph Ratzinger's life and career in Bavaria to understand how much his childhood and his education influenced the imprint that Benedict XVI is putting on his Pontificate.

What helped most to forge the life of a child who grew up to become a priest in Bavaria? Zanotti finds Joseph Ratzinger's strong bonds to the land of Bavaria itself, rich with Benedictine monasteries devoted to the 'golden rule' of St. Benedict of Norcia, which also explains his known preference for the name Benedict.

But she claims Joseph had an atypical childhood that was more like the education rabbis generally impose on their children than a typical Catholic childhood. [Hmmmm...in what way exactly?]

Ratzinger himself, echoing Goethe, has said he had 'no fixed home' [I do not know how the Italian edition of Milestones reads, but the first sentence in English reads "It is not at all easy to say what my hometown really is."]

His father, a policeman hostile to the Nazis, was forced to frequent reassignments, bringing with him an extraordinarily devout wife who sang Marian hymns at work, almost an illustration of the Benedictine 'ora et labora'; a daughter, Maria, who would eventually give up everything to serve her younger brother Joseph; a son Georg who regarded his younger brother with affection and surprise; and the little Sepp, treated like a rare pearl by his father, who at age five, stares out at the world, with a knapsack on his back and a smile on his face, with eyes that have the gravity of a Byzantine icon - as if at a tender age, he already felt the impact of a rural tradition of stainproof faith, or a precocious awareness of the great honors and burdens that would mark his future.

Within that fixed constellation of sacred sentiments that marked his childhood, Sepp lost himself enchanted in its masses and feasts, its prayers and baroque architecture, angels who sung in choirs or soared in stucco, which were for him, as he would write much later, an anticipation of celestial glory, the stuff of unfathomable mystery.

"What a pity," that schoolboy-now-Pope recently said, "that children have lost a sense of wonder, because as Aristotle said, silent wonder is the beginning of any philosophy."

Or, as Maimonides has said, "Let not a single lesson be interrupted even for the construction of a temple, because the world rests on the breath of children who are in the act of learning."

Brescia Oggi, 13 dicembre 2007

00Saturday, December 15, 2007 8:04 AM

I thought I had posted something about this book not too long ago, but I can't locate the post. As I recall, it puts together homilies that Cardinal Ratzinger had given about the saints, starting with Mary and Joseph to some less-known figures. But the quotation from Cardinal Ratzinger is new:

Joseph Ratzinger
Santi. Gli autentici apologeti della Chiesa
(Saints: The Church's authentic apologetists)
Lindau, 207, 160 pp., Format 14x21 cm, Euro 12.50

A quotation from what the author says about saints is translated here:

The saints are like stars in the horizon of history, who continually radiate their light into the world amidst the clouds of our time, in the middle of darkness, so that we may see something off the light of God.

And if from time to time, we are tempted to doubt the goodness of God because of the vicissitudes of history, if we are assailed by doubts about other men because we do not know whether he is good or intimately bad and dangerous, if we doubt the Church itself because of the controversies and problems which trouble it, then we should look at these men in whom God has taken shape. And from them, we shall receive new light.

And here's a recent item in Die Berliner Literaturkritik, translated. The project for the Collected Works has been reported earlier. The news here is the choice for the first book in the series, as one had expected it was going to be published in chronological order:

Regensburg Institute prepares
the Collected Works of Joseph Ratzinger

REGENSBURG, Dec. 12 (BLK) – According to the Diocese of Regensburg, Archbishop Ludwig Mueller will be the publisher of the 'Collected Works' of Joseph Ratzinger.

The first volume, Vom Geist der Liturgie [Of the spirit of liturgy], will come out from Herder in spring of 2008. The diocese said the Pope himself wanted the series to begin with a book on liturgy.

Archbishop Mueller set up the Pope Benedict Institute in Regensburg's seminary to publish the Collected Works. The Institute will be headed by Rudolf Voderholzer, professor of theology from Trier, who will edit the series. (dpa/wip)

00Saturday, December 15, 2007 11:20 PM

The headline below is as AFP filed it. With all due respect, and acknowledging that he has only good intentions, I find these statements attributed to Zeffirelli rather presumptuous, first of all; and second, just wrong in many ways. I must look up the original story in La Stampa to see if he has been quoted properly and in context.

Pope to get image makeover from director

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 15 (AFP) - Italian film and opera legend Franco Zeffirelli says he has agreed to become an image consultant to Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope does not have a "happy image", Zeffirelli tells the Italian daily La Stampa in an interview published today.

"Coming after a Pope as telegenic as John Paul II is a difficult task," he said.

Zeffirelli says Pope Benedict, elected in 2005, "comes across coldly, which isn't suited to his surroundings" and added that his wardrobe "should be reviewed".

The 84-year-old director of the 1977 miniseries Jesus of Nazareth and 1968 film Romeo and Juliet says the Pope's robes are "too sumptuous and flashy".

He says they should instead reflect "the simplicity and sobriety seen in the other echelons of the Church".

Zeffirelli says the Pope also wants him be a consultant to the Vatican "responsible for defending the faith in cinema, the image of the sacred".

"The Holy Father is very aware that the Church's cinematographic communication is in ruins today," he said.

"As a Christian I cannot stand by while this disaster unfolds.

"I should have the full authority - and the Holy Father would not deny me - to denounce the continual blasphemies committed with the intention of popularising the Christian message.

"You have to pay attention, as shown by the fallout from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ which irreversibly harmed the memory of millions of people."

"Images have invaded ... values that used to belong to preaching and the written word," he lamented. "Advertising language has become ubiquitous in the religious domain."

Zeffirelli has brainstormed ideas with the Pope and senior Vatican officials, but will get to work in earnest after his staging of Puccini's "Tosca," which opens at the Rome Opera on January 14, he said.


Well, I have seen the La Stampa interview, and Zeffirelli is properly quoted - and I can only say that in so many ways, his statements are flat out wrong, and in others, presumptuous. I will be charitable and think that may be at 84, Zeffirelli is not quite 'all there' as he should be. But first, here is a translation of the La Stampa interview - as if made to order for FISKING, which I will:

'I, adviser to the Pope' -
Franco Zeffirelli


Zeffirelli, photographed in Dec. 2006.

Mr. Zeffirelli, you have just inaugurated the academic year at the Pontifical Lateran University. In what way, exactly, 'inaugurated', and in what capacity?] Is it true that, behind the scenes, you are the 'director', the Pope's adviser on 'image'?
The Holy Father honors me with his esteem, and he is aware that today, the cinematographic communication of the Church is in ruins. Ratzinger has brought back order to doctrine and liturgy, and will not tolerate shameful anarchy in the representation of the sacred.

Just look at the creche planned this year for St. Peter's Square - it will have no cave, no manger, no donkeys and cows, no devotional features.

[That's not what it seemed from the descriptions given earlier - it appears the Nativity scene, with manger and all, will simply be imagined in the atrium of Joseph's house in Nazareth, with angels even, in the gallery overlooking the atrium - all this, in the context of the dream in which Joseph learns from an angel that Mary will give birth to the Son of God. But we'll see.]

Jesus is born in the house of Joseph, within the family. Then it will be the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, to reveal the universal value of his message. [Does he mean the Beatitudes are pre-figured in the planned 'creche'?????]

Is it true that you inspired the idea for this creche? [What a strange question, seeing that he seemed to be so disapproving of it in the previous answer!]
It isn't important...But it is true, that this year, the idea was to grasp the essence of the Nativity, purging it of fantasy and mythical elements. Zero setting, all theological substance. That's the way it is with Ratzinger.

[Whose idea was this interpretation of the Nativity scene, anyway - did the Pope have anything to do with it at all? though the earlier stories did not impyl this in any way - and is Zeffirelli referring to the planned creche as described in the earlier news stories?]

I have continuous contacts with the Pope's closest collaborators, like Cardinal Ruini and Mons. Rino Fischella, who are my very good friends.

With them, we often face the question. [It appears from the statements that follow that he is referring to 'controlling' the content of films with a religious subject....so he does not answer the question about the creche.]

We have not arrived at the stage of planning the necessary interventions but in the proposal phase. In effect, a Vatican organism to defend the faith in cinema, in (representing) the image of the sacred. The Holy See intends to be much more attentive in this respect.

Will you be an adviser on image, or a movie censor for the Vatican?
I am at the Pope's disposal. I should have the full authority (which the Holy Father will not refuse) to fulminate against the continuous blasphemies against the Christian message. I hear it said often at the Vatican: the films being made about the saints are a horror which the Holy See does not know how to stop.

If I am given official authority to supervise, I would dedicate myself to it fulltime, because it is very much needed.

I know Ratzinger personally - and he is very attentive to how the sacred is represented.

What about the Pope's own image?
It is not a fortunate image. To follow a mediatic Pope like Wojtyla is a serious undertaking, although even as far back as the Jubilee Year (2000), one had the intuition that Ratzinger would be elected to succeed him. [Really! As early as 2000?]

Benedict XVI still has a 'cold' communication ['Ha ancora una communicazione fredda' - I don't understand exactly what he means by this, that Benedict comes across as 'cold'? or that the way he is communicated is 'cold'?], hardly appropriate to what is happening around him. It is a problem that I have discussed with ecclesiastics who have key roles in the Vatican.

[Well, we can all agree that the vast Vatican communications machine has been unable to convey to the general public the Benedict that we see in this Forum because we get to see most of the photos that are never used in the newspapers and magazines, and we get an idea of what CTV itself deprives the viewers of, by its routinely unimaginative coverage of Papal events - rarely showing the Pope outside of the cut-and-dried papal stereotype (serious and hieratic), nor does it show his reactions to the crowd nor the crowd reaction to him, often limitings the coverage to the 'main event' itself, instead of staying with the Pope until he leaves the scene, thus missing out on all the 'human interest' episodes that follow. In fairness to them, it may be that the Pope himself discourages any such coverage of him. But by the same argument - and even without it - I cannot imagine Bdenedict even thinking of discussing the question of his 'image' with someone like Zeffirelli! The very idea of 'image' itself would not even come to him. !]

Even his wardrobe has to be reviewed: these are not times for high ecclesiastical fashion. We need the severity and simplicity observed by other high Church levels. The papal vestments have been refashioned into something too elaborate and showy.

[What exactly is he referring to? Unfortunate exaggerations like the 'multicolor dreamcoat' cope that John Paul II wore for opening the Holy Door at the start of the 2000 Jubilee year? And I cannot believe that criticism from someone whose production designs for his movies and his theater presentations have been described, almost universally, as 'magnificent and showy'!

Nor do I think that any of the Novus Ordo chasubles and matching accessories worn so far by Benedict XVI have been more 'magnificent and showy' than traditional papal chasubles and accessories, which were generally characterized by baroque display - products of anonymous gifted artisans who express their worship for the Supreme Being in creating such 'rich' vestments. Which the Church does not throw out, and which are used even by succeeding Popes

What would you advise him?
He is a Pope who does not smile very much. He has a most rigid Bavarian structure which reminds me very much of the character of his compatriot Carlos Kleiber, the greatest orchestral conductor after the Second World War.

[Did he just say earlier that he 'knows Ratzinger well personally'? If he does, how can he say that 'he does not smile very much'? Obviously, he has been seeing only the very constricted and misleading image of the Pope that the rest of the world has been seeing! Or say that Benedict has a 'most rigid Bavarian structure'? Since when are Bavarians supposed to be rigid anyway?

Why do you invoke an Inquisition-like supervision of religious films?
Because they are horrendous, and up to now, Church authorities have not done anything about it. On the contrary, the Franciscans were even pleased about that terrible TV movie 'Clare and Francis'. and the fiction films on the lives of saints are scandals to be consigned to the flames as blasphemies. [Examples????] The Pope does not intend to allow this trend.

One must be very vigilant, as we have seen with the evil that Mel Gibson caused with his film The Passion of Christ, which irreversibly wounded the memory of millions of persons. [How???? One must also remark that, as beautiful as Zeffirelli's JESUS OF NAZARETH film was, it came nowhere near the spectacular box-office success of Gibson's film, which although its aesthetics-of-gore may be disputable, was doctrinally sound.]

This is a menace to the faith?
Yes. Images invade and injure areas and values which used to belong to preaching and the written word. Now, it is images which corrupt and persist like wounds.

Ratzinger knows the value of the image at least as much as Montini, who used to repeat to me, as a film director: "There was a time I would have kept you from entering into sacred ground, but the Church has changed, and now, we welcome you as an instrument of spreading ideas and hope."

What remedies do you propose?
Fortunately for them, Muslims and Jews are forbidden to represent the divine in images. Whereas we Catholics have descended to the abyss of religious films today after the sacred images of Leonardo and Michelangelo. The advertising jargon of commercials has invaded religious subjects and the religious sphere.

I am Christian to the depths of my spirit, and I cannot assist at this disaster. I am at the disposal of the Church for a commitment in its service.

Paul VI, after seeing my film Jesus of Nazareth, asked me what the Church could do for me. And I said, "I wish that this film be seen even in Russia."

And he answered prophetically, "Have faith. Before long, the standard of Our Lady will be flying from the Kremlin in place of the Red flags". And on December 8, 1991, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Communist flag with the sickle and hammer was replaced with the flag of the Russian federation."

La Stampa, 15 dicembre 2007


Here is how Reuters reported the interview:

Film-maker Zeffirelli vows
to help Pope with image

ROME, Dec. 15 (Reuters) - Italian film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli is offering his services to Pope Benedict as an image consultant, saying the German pontiff comes across as cold and needs to review his wardrobe.

Zeffirelli, acclaimed for movies such as "Romeo and Juliet" and "Jesus of Nazareth," said in an interview with la Stampa daily on Saturday the 80-year-old pope did not have "a happy image."

"Coming after a media-savvy pope like John Paul II is a difficult task ... Benedict XVI still communicates coldly, in a way that is not suited with what is happening around him," Zeffirelli said.

"It's an issue I have been discussing with people who have key roles in the Vatican," said Zeffirelli, who has directed some Vatican television events.

"The Pope does not smile much, but he is an intellectual. He has a very rigid Bavarian structure," he said.

Zeffirelli, 84, added that papal robes were "too sumptuous and flashy." "What is needed is the simplicity and sobriety seen in the other echelons of the Church," he said.

Zeffirelli said he was in regular contact with the Pope's closest aides and had also made proposals to "defend the image of faith in cinema, the image of the sacred."

"The Holy See intends to pay a lot more attention to this," he said.

He said today's religious films were "a horror that the Holy See does not know how to stop.

"I am a Christian down to the depths of my spirit. I can't stand by while this disaster unfolds. I am available to put myself at the service of the Church," he said.

"If they officially give me a supervisory role, I will do it full-time."

The Vatican was not immediately available for comment.

00Sunday, December 16, 2007 6:58 PM

It dididn't take a prophet to see that the world media would seize on the Zeffirelli story yesterday mostly reprinting the AP or the AFP report - and run with it. Yahoo World News this mornign had already more than 30 listings of media outlets around the world that reported it - far more than those who reported on Spe salvi when it first came out, and certainly far far less than those who reported on the latest Doctrinal Note from the CDF.

Surprisingly, the comments posted on the BBC after it carried the AP report were sensible for the most part! I segregated the anti's at the end:


Don't forget that the Pope is from Bavaria, a region which wears their traditional clothes more than anywhere else in Europe, as far as I know. The area makes a big show of public Christianity - crucifixes everywhere, religious paintings, parades etc. It is sometimes difficult for foreigners to integrate in this tightly bound, very religious society. Religious fundamentalists have a way of forgetting to be kind to others. The Pope is a very intelligent man, I hope he will show himself to be as Christian as he is intellectually rigorous.
Isabella Jackman, Munich, Germany

I definItely don' think he needs a makeover by anyone. What he wears is part of a long tradition, and i think it gives him distinction and it is honestly quite cool. As for the comment on materialism. please get your facts right. First of all, the pope lives in an apartment in the building called "apostolic palace." The monks do not live in lavish palaces, i have seen the apartments of some famous cardinals, and they are no bigger than my grandmother's two bedroom apartment. the property owned by the Vatican is actually rented out at low prices for less fortunate people. And before judging him for not doing what Jesus instructed, you should read what he really says and learn the facts. I dont see anyone going crazy about the luxurious lifestyles of modern charity gurus like Brangelina, Oprah or Madonna. Benedict is modest in comparison. As for Zefirelli, thanks for the offer, but please stick to your area of expertise: directing cheasy films and staging bizzarre opera sets.
Stephen, Washington D.C.

If the pope can't dress differently from most people, who can? These calls for him to dress down aren't populist or democratic, but plain conformity and blandness of taste, which are more authoritarian than the Pope's current wardrobe.
Robert, Baltimore, MD.

Mother Teresa didn't need a Franco Zefferelli to carry Christ's message of love to the world. Truly I tell you,not Solomon in all his finest costume nor the Pope in his Zefferellian makeovers would come close to matching the image of that disciple of our times.
James, NSW Australia

Money would be better spent reconsidering the content rather than the clothing of the Catholic faith. Anyway, with all of his ridiculous and fluffy pompousness, Zeffirelli is not quite the man to do it. His teacher, rival and superior Lucchino Visconti would have pulled it off better. But he is dead and anyway was a Communist. Next idea, please!
Talleyrand, Basel, Switzerland

Lets face it, the pope looks like that because he's worth it. After all he is the dude next to God!
[no name], NY

His image is fine with me - I like his "German" mind, his historically-imprinted priestly vestments. However, what counts are his insight and teaching of ways up and out of the crises of our time. I hope Mr. Zeffirelli digests Benedict's Spe Salvi, a vital document for anyone who cares about contemporary life. Like characters in a decisive historical drama, the Pope brings together Francis Bacon, Karl Marx, St. Augustine, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Engels, Plato and others in an analysis that makes sense. Benedict XVI not only communicates clearly and with great intelligibility, he is in a mysterious way leading the forces of change...
John, Vancouver, Canada

Life is not a movie, Mr Zeffirelli. You want to stage-manage a production of your very own with a celluloid, fake pope at its centre.
henry, hong kong

The Pope's "job" is to please God, not the media. With all due respect for the incandescent genius of Zeffirelli, it really is not necessary to package every single person, story, item & institution in media-friendly glitz. The Church is popular with those to whom it matters: it is not necessary, nor indeed desirable, to court the approval of those for whom the Church is an irrelevant institution. And ultimately, the oft-overlooked rule in fashion is: please yourself! If a person is not inappropriately dressed, and likes how she or he looks, they are entitled to dress in whichever way they please, that they can afford. Does Mr Zeffirelli allow the Pope to influence how he should dress, or live?
Maria Amadei Ashot, London, UK

I think what Zeffirelli is voicing is a contemporary mindset that seeks to dilute the cultural, the traditional and the symbolic to a lowest common denominator. This is ridiculous, without our roots we are uncertain ground. The Pope wears the traditional attire of his office, most often a simple white cassock, his attire never changes with fads. I think the simplicity the Pope demonstrates is remarkable, and his link with tradition is important for a Catholic world in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath-water. His 'image' is that of the Pope, it is neither a statement on fashion ethics nor the loud manifestations of what is in actual fact a humble and spiritual pastoral personality.
Ed , Belfast, Northern Ireland

John Paul II was the first pontiff to wear designer robes, for instance (Nino Lo Bello, "The Incredible Book of Vatican Facts and Papal Curiousities". Liguori Publications, Vatican City. 1998.). That he is choosing articles that seem to emphasize a high station should not be entirely surprising when you consider that heads of state, which he is, are expected to wear thousand dollar suits or, the designer dresses when making formal public appearances.

Mr. Zeffirelli's observations include that His Holiness takes care to how the sacred is represented. Part of the "image" that Benedict can convey in his dress is that he is the ultimate authority on doctrine for Catholics, he is the worldwide head of over 700 million people spiritually, and so uses some of the trappings to lean on a soon to be two-thousand year apostolic legacy .

He is remarkably in touch with the times, but is willing to make a stand even if it is unpopular. What is amazing is, he seems to get more people showing up to listen; perhaps the red cape does emphasize the throne but it catches one's eye and attention.

It is not all a power play, though. For those who think that he stands for something medieval and anachronistic, I think the sunglasses should tell you what in year he lives and makes it just a little easier to relate to him.
William, San Francisco, California, United States of America

The Pope is a hard working man who has dedicated himself to improving relationships with Jewish communities and China. He treats his position and responsibilities with the reverence they require and command. Who cares about a cap?
John, London

The Pope's decision to wear more traditional attire is part of a wider campaign of restoration. The moto proprio allowing wider use of the tridentine rite and the removal of the former papal liturgist are also examples. Zeffirelli is producing the defeated liberal argument that the church should marry herself to the times in order to be relevant to a world that hates it. I pray His Holiness does not listen to this fool.
Jon, Bristol, England

"I pray His Holiness does not listen to this fool. ". Spoken like a true Christian, Jon. Or a true Catholic, at any rate.
Martil L, Skerries, Co. Dublin, Ireland

The anti's:

I think that Zeffirelli is making a pious offer and given his expertise, it should be taken seriously. On the other hand, I wish that I could afford Prada!
melanie, Germany

The Pope should give up much more than his fancy clothing. In fact, I sometimes think it would be best to keep the clothes, as museum pieces, and get rid of the man
Carlo Ungaro, Sacrofano, Italy

Jesus was a humble man who wore ordinary clothes and walked amongst humble people. The pope should take note. His showy lifestyle sends out entirely the wrong message. Ghandi was spot on when he said "You Christians are so unlike your Christ". Take a leaf or two from Ghandi's book and learn to be humble.
Elwood Herring, Birmingham

The Pope's obsession and delight with fancy clothes, shoes, hats sunglasses and skirts defy his attacks on people for consumerism and relativism. He lives in an enormous palace as do the monks and nuns which sparsely inhabit some of the most valuable property in Rome. They own 25 percent of historic Rome. Yes, he needs an image change. He should spend less money on frills and fancy wear and do what Jesus instructed.
S Reid, Rome Italy

Jesus Christ & his Apostles/disciples wore simple & unassuming clothing. Jesus Christ challenged his followers:'Go into all the world & preach the gospel.' I do not see any mention in my Bible about poncing around in fancy gear or living in marble palaces! Or for that matter, triping around behind a Swiss body guard in antique style clothing.
Dave T.Chew, West Bank. British Columbia. Canada.

00Sunday, December 16, 2007 11:28 PM

Michele, bless her, has provided our blessed Beatrice on her blogsite
with her latest reportage and photos from her own home city of Stuttgart.
The travelling modular exhibit on Benedict XVI, which is an initative of the diocese
of Cologne, was in Stuttgart for two weeks, and she 'chanced' on it. Simone saw
the exhibit in another city a few months back and provided us with pictures.
Here is a translation of Michele's account:

A grey and bleak Monday in Stuttgart...
But Koenigstrasse (King's Road), the main street, is dominated by the Mercedes-
Benz star and is all lit up for Christmas...

Amid all this is Eberhardkirche (St. Eberhard church), an oasis of peace where
I often go to say a prayer when I am in town. And on its side door, a well-known
smile on a little poster catches my eye:

BENEDICT XVI: The Pope from Germany
Exhibit from 11/25 to 12/8/07
Project Director: Dr. Peter Scharr

So I went to the exhibit site and dicovered a large villa typical of those found on the hills
overlooking the city. Everything seemed quiet except for a coat of arms atop the entrance
and on the door, the same small poster with the welcoming smile.

I rang the bell and someone opened the door. He asked me how I came to know about the exhibit.
I said "That's a good question, because unless one is specifically looking for it, no one
is likely to notice the small poster!" He said I was right.

Inside a medium-sized hall with muted lighting, there are large panels tracing the Pope's
biography with the stages that marked it - all of it accompanied by beautiful photographs,
captions, reflections and documents.

Two other visitors were in the hall with me. Except for sounds from the street and the clock
on the wall, we viewed the exhibit in silent concentration. I asked permission to take pictures.

The man in charge called attention to a wall with a beautiful wooden Crucifix and
a newspaper page showing Cardinal Ratzinger saying Mass under that very Crucifix.

He then explained that the exhibit was made possible by a student organization whose banner
I found on the wall. It appears they continue to be active in the diocese of Cologne and are
obviously supporters of the Holy Father.

[The press clipping is from the Akademische Monatsblaetter [Academic Monthly], the organ
of the German Catholic Students Association. And the caption reads, "Cardinal Ratzinger
with his Kartell- and Bundes-Brueder" . I don't know the precise equivalent in English of
'Kartell' and 'Bund' as they are used here, but obviously, it refers to his membership in the
same federated 'brotherhood'.]

The man said that the exhibit has not received many visitors, which did not surprise me,
given that it obviously is not well-publicized (if you judge by the stamp-size posters!), and
also since Stuttgart is a Protestant capital, even if the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg itself,
according to him, is at least 50% Catholic.

I took my leave and turned back with regret to the city and its dreariness.

Michele did not provide a caption for this picture,
but Ratzi is holding a sparkler!

Last word from her:

This is a travelling exposition. If it goes anywhere hear you, don't fail to visit it. But keep
your eyes open, Because you may not see the posters! Better yet, check out the schedule on

00Monday, December 17, 2007 12:23 AM

I'm double-posting in this thread the pictures that Simone and Horst took on their recent visit to Marktl, Altoetting and Traunstein.

Right photo, metal cruets used by Joseph and Georg when they played 'priest' as children.

The captions on the panels in the room where Joseph Ratzinger was born:
Left panel: "Here my parents gifted me with life..."
Center panel: "On Holy Saturday, April 16, 1927, I was baptized on the morning I was born with newly-blessed water,
and thus became a member of the church of Jesus Christ"
Right panel: "Here, I took my first steps on this earth.... And here I first learned to speak..."

First editions of Joseph Ratzinger's dissertation on Augustine and 'Habilitation' thesis on Bonaventure.

Right, Cardinal Frings's letter to Prof. Ratzinger in summer 1963, asking him to review the Schemata (draft documents)
about Vatican-II sent to the participants before the Council opened

The Pope donated the cardinal vestments and pectoral cross shown in this display.


In Altoetting.

In Hufschlag (Traunstein,
in front of what used to be the Ratzinger house.

00Monday, December 17, 2007 12:27 AM
I see my Yahoo news story about Zeffirelli has already been posted here in detail. Not to worry - at least I tried!!!!!!
[SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824]
00Monday, December 17, 2007 12:33 AM

So many goodies from Beatrice's site today - here's the third, translated:

I bought the book from this very reliable site, which sells other religious books (including Cardinal Biffi's memoris)
and got it quite fast, with very reasonable postage charges.

It's a slim volume of less than a hundred pages, written by an Italian journalist.

It has no photos and it is not a biography. It is rather a poetic and nostalgic meditation on a childhood that seemed to be truly predestined (I know, I am going to be accused of tending to hagiography, but I have thought so since April 19, 20-05, and written about it...*), that is, elected for an extraordinary destiny.

A passage describes with great sensitivity the father's role in the spiritual formation of the little boy, and the profound attachment between the two (Joseph Ratzinger refers to it briefly in his autobiography).

It is what the author means when she evokes a childhood which "in a certain way, explodes the classic structure of the family." Instead of the remote or even absent father, one finds in this family the irreplaceable figure of the father as guide and master who is also beloved.

The blurb on the dust jacket is a good summary:

"Il sorriso Benedetto" [Beatrice notes: I will not translate the title because it could also be a word play on the Italian adjective 'benedetto' which means blessed] is an evocation that is at once surprising and deeply moving of the Pope's childhood and adolescence.

It is a past that brings us back to an age of insouciance, with a playful dimension rich with small remembrances which amount to a sketch of the man who will be.

The remembrance of things past becomes a 'lullaby' that prefigures the main traits of the future, like an intimate 'overture'.

The pilgrimage to the land of Benedict's childhood takes us to his beloved Bavaria: a land and people that are important because 'humus' - the soil which produced Benedict - has the same root as 'humanitas'.

The childhood of little Joseph Ratzinger was, in some ways, outside the canon of his time, and exploded the classic structure of the family. While his father, a policeman who soon retired, attended to his education, his mother, a big-hearted woman, worked as a cook. It was a simple life, marked by poverty, but filled with faith.

The Ratzingers embodied the simple vitality of the Bavarian people, who are "spiritual and religious, simple and modest, just and honest, believers because faith is engraved in their character."

The book takes us by the hand, and leads us to a world of grace and purity, of closeness to nature, of interior strength, of wonder, of 'ingenuitas', a condition which free men cannot renounce.

The sentimental 'research' makes us discover, while observing a life that is just starting, the gentle melancholy of the child Joseph, who enters the seminary as a teenager, then becomes a priest, a theology professor, archbishop of Munich, cardinal, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and finally Pope, keeping intact an extraordinary spirit that continues to emanate serenity.

Benedict XVI, like the child Joseph, still smiles with the same candor that goes so well with the holiness of his priestly habit.


(*) What Beatrice had written earlier:

... How can one not believe in pre-destination ?
... How can one not believe that God was following a plan when he caused to be born in this simple but exceptional family (as one reads in his memoirs), in this rural Bavaria marked by its Catholicism (even now!), and in giving him all his truly extraordinary gifts, completely employed in the quest and accomplishment of Good...

00Tuesday, December 18, 2007 1:34 AM
Vatican Nativity scene
does away with the manger

By Malcolm Moore in Rome
Daily Telegraph (UK)
Dec. 17, 2007

For 25 years, the Christmas Nativity scene in front of St Peter's Basilica has shown the infant Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem.

This year, however, the Vatican has decided to radically change the scene, shifting it to Nazareth, and placing Jesus in his father's carpentry shop.

The Pope at the Vatican creche last year .

When Pope Benedict XVI inaugurates the life-size Nativity scene on Christmas eve, the sheep and hay will be gone.

In their place will be a model of three rooms.

Jesus will lie in Joseph's shop, complete with "the typical work tools of a carpenter".

On one side, the shop will be flanked with a "covered patio", while on the other there will be the "inside of a pub, with its hearth".

The news came in an official statement from the State Department of the Vatican, which organises and builds the giant presepe, or Nativity scene. [The proper translation really is 'creche'.]

The new setting was inspired by two verses in St Matthew's gospel, Chapter 1:24 and 1:25, the Vatican said, which state: "When Joseph woke up, he did as the Angel of God ordered and took Mary into his house. Without them knowing each other, a child was born and he called his name Jesus".

The gospel goes on to mention Jesus' birthplace as Bethlehem, but a spokesman for the Vatican said a decision had been made to place the scene in Nazareth regardless.

"It was time for a change," said the spokesman "and a return to St Matthew's gospel".

The traditional depiction of Jesus in a manger comes from St Luke's gospel, which said there was "no room at the inn".

But it is Matthew's gospel which forms the basis for the Angelus prayer, and the view of Jesus in a carpenter's workshop matches the Franciscan tradition.

None of the three Vatican departments which organises the Nativity scene could comment on who had taken the decision to shift the location, or for what reason.

However, sources close to the Vatican said there was a desire to crack down on the various "fanciful Nativity scenes" that have sprung up in recent years.

In Naples, a number of Nativity scenes include notorious figures from today, such as Elvis Presley or Silvio Berlusconi, standing amongst the crowd adoring the infant Jesus.

The Nativity scene at St Peter's was started by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

In addition, a giant, fully-adorned Christmas tree has been erected in St Peter's Square.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has said that it was its "right and duty" to spread the word of Christ to non-believers.

A new document from the Vatican's doctrinal department rejected accusations that the Church aggressively converts its members.

The Russian Orthodox Church has accused Rome of trying to poach souls in the former Soviet Union. However, the Vatican said evangelisation was its "inalienable right and duty".

"The incorporation of new members into the Church is not the expansion of a power group, but rather entrance into the network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth, different continents and age.

"It is entrance into the gift of communion with Christ," the document said.


I am not so sure the Nativity scene in Nazareth will not have the manger! At least, that's not what i said in the Italian news item I read and translated the other day, which said specifically: "...la mangiatoia di Gesu' Bambino e' stata collocata addirittura nella casa di Giuseppe, ispirandosi al racconto del Vangelo di Matteo che descrive il "sogno" di Giuseppe e la sua decisione di accettare quel Figlio." Translation: "The manger of the Baby Jesus is being placed inside the home of Joseph, inspired by the accunt in Matthew's Gospel that describes the 'dream of Joseph and his decision to accept [Mary's] Son."

In fact, Moore's translation gets a lot of things wrong. The Nativity does not take place inside the carpenter's shop, which is supposed to be in a side panel, as the inn scene is on the other panel.

Here is the story I posted on December 13 in a Vatican news round-up under NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT:


Translated/adapted from PETRUS today:

VATICAN CITY - The Nativity scene set up on St. Peter's Square every year by the Governatorate of the Vatican City will have a daring innovation this year - it will be set in Nazareth and not in Bethlehem.

The scene of Jesus's birth - the manger of the Baby Jesus - will be found in the Nazareth home of Joseph the carpenter. The choice of setting was inspired by Matthew's account that the announcement of Jesus's birth came to Joseph in a dream during which an angel asked him to accept Mary as his wife and Mother of the Son of God.

The dream is interpreted in four distinct 'frames' for this year's Nativity scene at St. Peter's:

In the center is the Nativity scene itself which is set in a covered patio. In a gallery within the house are the angels who were present at the Nativity - intended to evoke the annunciation and Joseph's dream, as well as the angelic proclamation on the night of Christ's birth, and the symbolic function of angels to protect the Baby Jesus, the Church and human life.

To the right of the Nativity scene is Joseph's carpentry shop, and on the left is an inn scene, with an outbound road, to signify community life, the contrast between material and spiritual life, and prefiguring the flight to Egypt.

A fountain represents the water of life, and water as symbol of purity; a fireplace in the inn stands for the triumph of light over dark.

The entire scene is intended to evoke the atmosphere and architecture of Palestine in those days.

The Nativity statues of 1842 from the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle and those from the Autonomous Region of Trent will be placed appropriately in odder to provide the correct visual perspective.

The Vatican creche is traditionally set up at the foot of the obelisk in St. Peter's Square next to the Christmas tree, which this year, came from Val Badia, in Bolzano province.

The tree will be lit tomorrow, but the Creche will not be unveiled till Christmas Eve.


How would all those traditional creche figures from Sant'Andrea del Valle and Trent be used if the Nativity-scene proper, i.e., the central panel, were not a re-evocation of the Betlehem scene? After all, it's supposed to be a 'dteam'! I must confess I am very curious to see how it will all play out.

00Tuesday, December 18, 2007 12:13 PM
How about.......
setting the Piazza san Pietro webcam [from the new Vatican City State site] as your home page on the internet! I've just done that and it's so exciting to see how things are looking each time you log on. It's especially so at this time of year, with the Nativity scene and the Christmas tree!!!!!!

Wouldn't it be lovely to be there for Midnight Mass!!!! Next year - perhaps!
00Tuesday, December 18, 2007 1:21 PM
Pope’s microphone up for sale
on Austrian eBay

VIENNA, Dec. 17 (AFP) - A microphone used by Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to Vienna in September is being sold for charity on auction website eBay.

Put up for sale last week for a starting price of one euro, the microphone was already going for 645 euros (927 dollars) on eBay’s Austrian website on Monday afternoon. The auction runs until Thursday.

The white-and-gold microphone, which comes in a special white case with red velvet interior, was used only once — during a mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna on September 9 - and is still in perfect working condition, according to the Austrian electronics shop that donated the microphone.

The money will go to ‘Licht ins Dunkel’ (Light in the Dark), an initiative by Austrian broadcaster ORF to raise funds for handicapped children and their families.

00Friday, December 21, 2007 9:46 PM
Beatrice found this portrait, one of those recently presented to the Pope after the General Audience.
Too bad we don't know who the artist is. The portrait catches the patent kindness and lively interest
in the Pope's expression when he looks at people. [Beatrice added the frame.]

00Saturday, December 22, 2007 2:26 PM

Vatican passes on makeover offer
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
Dec. 18, 2007

This was posted in the CNS Hub, a ervived feature of the services in which the correspondents 'blog' about the news they cover - items which are not carried as regular news items - so I missed it when it came out promptly, in relation to the story that prompted it, on Dec. 18.

The Vatican has no intention of hiring famed Italian movie and opera director Franco Zeffirelli to be the pope’s image-maker or to be an Inquisitor for religious films.

The Italian maestro told the Italian daily La Stampa over the weekend that he was putting himself at the Vatican’s disposal to revamp Pope Benedict’s “cold” delivery and “opulent,” “flashy” vestments.

Zeffirelli, whose 1977 miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth” is regarded as one of the most faithful adaptations of the Christ story, said he would also protect how religious figures and the church were portrayed on the screen. He said he was “at the proposal stage” with officials in plans to create a review board at the Vatican “for defending the faith in cinema, (and) sacred imagery.”

“I must have full authority — which the Holy Father would not deny me — to strike down the continual blasphemies committed with the intention of making the Christian message popular,” he told the paper.

Even though the 84-year-old director will be busy putting on “Tosca” at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera in January, he said he would work “full time” being the Vatican’s media watchdog.

The Vatican is not engaged in talks with the director nor will it be taking up his generous offers. The story and the director’s proposals were summarily dismissed either with hearty laughter or “Oh please, you can’t be serious!” from key people I spoke with.

Folks at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications hadn’t heard about the director’s proposals, one official said.

As for remaking Pope Benedict’s image, he already has a new master of cermeonies, Guido Marini, and, besides, there are many who like the pope just the way he is.

Some media quickly interpreted Zeffirelli’s dreams as reality, while others were more skeptical. For example, the Italian bishops didn’t even list the Dec. 15 La Stampa story as part of their daily news roundup that day. After all, just three weeks ago Zeffirelli told the Italian paper Corriere della Sera he is related to Leonardo da Vinci.

“My great-great-grandfather impregnated the peasant girl who gave birth to Leonardo,” the paper quoted him as saying. Leonardo was born over 500 years ago.

00Sunday, December 23, 2007 3:30 PM
Audience with Holy Father:
Pope blesses Woodlands mom, daughter

By Kassia Micek
The Courier (Houston)

After attending a general audience with Pope Benedict XVI alongside 17,000 other pilgrims, Kenna Seiler and her daughter Rachael suddenly found themselves face to face with the Holy Father.

"It is a bit of a blur," Seiler said. "The pope got out of his chair and blessed Rachael. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The Seilers' Italian vacation turned into much more than The Woodlands family, including dad Michael and 7-year-old son Ethan, ever expected.

They received tickets to a general audience at the Vatican in early December where scripture was read in several languages and the pope addressed the crowd gathered before him. Certain groups were introduced, including the nearly 25 pilgrims from Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe the Seilers were with.

Rachael, 3, has Rett Syndrome and was seated in the area for the sick in the front row along with three other children, Seiler said.

Rett Syndrome is a unique neurodevelopmental disorder that begins to show its effects in infancy or early childhood, according to rettsyndrome.org. RS is a genetic disorder of developmental arrest or failure of brain maturation and mainly affects girls.

"Girls with RS, when they're born, appear to be normal," Seiler said. "We had no idea anything was wrong with her when she was born."

The mother first noticed Rachael was not developing normally around 3-4 months old. After several doctor visits and numerous tests, Rachael was diagnosed with RS March 6, 2006, at 22 months old.

She undergoes almost daily therapy, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, eye gaze therapy, equestrian therapy and sometimes swimming therapy.

She also takes medication for complications associated with RS in addition to attending the Galatas Elementary Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities and participating in faith formation classes at St. Anthony of Padua in The Woodlands, Seiler said.

"I think Rachael is blessed," she said. "I have no doubt Rachael is going to heaven. The rest of us have to work a little bit harder at it.

"She just has a very special blessing."

00Sunday, December 23, 2007 10:43 PM
By Paolo Mosca

Here's another vignette, translated from Il Messaggero today, on the Borgo Pio residents who for years had their neighbor Cardinal Ratzinger as a customer. Mosca wrote earlier about the Pope's electrician and optician.

"Until he became Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger used to take his meals here during the Christmas holidays. This will be the third year without his kind presence among us," says Roberto Fulvinari, a 74-year-old native of the Abruzzi, with a nostalgic voice.

These days, his restaurant, Al Pasetto del Borgo, in Borgo Pio, is very much the toast of Italian and foreign customers.

His restaurant has been decribed in some foreign newspaper articles as Ratzinger's restaurant. "It's the truth and I am proud to say so."

"I'm rather stubborn, like my father Antonio," he says, "and a dreamer, like my mother Elvira. They were farm folk in Capitignano, in Aquileia province. But before they visited the cows in the morning, first they went to Mass. They used to tell my sister Marghertia and myself that without the help of God, there was no joy in the heart."

"As for me, for 25 years, that help from God gave me Ratzinger, whom I first met as Archbishop, then as Cardinal. He became a regular customer from that time on. I bought this place in 1962 after an apprenticeship that included working at a rotisserie during the Olympics of 1960.

"My wife Augusta and I knew each other from childhood in Capitignano, where we were married. WE defied every challenge to be able to open this restaurant here, a few steps from the Vatican. We had told ourselves, one day we will cook for cardinals and bishops - and it happened."

So how did Cardinal Ratzinger first 'happen' to come here?
"By chance, like Cardinal Martins yesterday, or the bishop from Boston who came in a wheelchair. Initially, he came with his older sister Maria, and almost always with them was Bishop Mayer and his sister. They would eat and stay on, chatting in German."

What was the cardinal's favorite menu?
"Spaghetti alla carbonara, two slices of veal, artichokes alla romana, and a bit of marmalade tart baked by my wife."

Did he ever take a picture of the cardinal?
"I have two children - Antonello, who is taking on the reins of the business, and Julia who has a perfumery. Antonello has been firm about one thing: We should not use photographs of our customers for publicity. And he is right."

But he goes on to say that Ratzinger was very kind to his family, even to Billy.
"Billy was a mongrel, with a black coat and a brown and white muzzle. He lived with us for 18 years. But out of respect to our customers, we kept him out of the dining room. However, Rat5zinger would go seek him out and pet him. Three days before the Conclave, he came by, and said 'And how's our doggie Billy?' I informed him the dog had died, and you could see he felt very bad about the news."

Are there customers who want to know your recipes?
"The Germans especially! Who want to order the 'papal menu' and sit at the table he favored."

Has he seen Ratzinger since he became Pope?
"Myself, no. But I did write him a note to say, 'Congratulstions, Holiness. If you would want to have one of your favorite dishes, just let me know.' But he did receive my wife in a private audience. She suffers from a disc problem in her spinal column. It's strange, but after their meeting, her condition got better."

How will it be this Christmas?
"Oh, we will all be talking about him, of the good and gentle Pope. But his table will be occupied by myself, my wife and out three grandchildren."

Il Messaggero, 23 dicembre 2007

00Wednesday, December 26, 2007 5:37 PM

This one is self-explanatory.

Joseph Ratzinger:
Life in the Church and Living Theology
Fundamentals of Ecclesiology

Author: Maximilian Heinrich Heim
Length: 500 pages
Edition: Hardcover

This is a major work on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, by a highly regarded German theologian, priest and writer.

Since his election to the Papacy, Ratzinger's theology, and in particular his ecclesiology (theology of the Church), has been in the limelight of theological and ecumenical discussions.

This important work studies in detail Ratzinger's ecclesiology in the light of Vatican II, against the ongoing debate about what Vatican II really meant to say about the life of the Church, its liturgy, its worship, its doctrine, its pastoral mission, and more.

Has his theology of the Church changed since Vatican II, or has it continued to develop consistently? Is the Catholic Church one church among many churches? Is she the object of hope or a historical reality?

Ratzinger the theologian figures centrally in this investigation, not as the former Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but as a thinker and as a writer.

00Wednesday, December 26, 2007 10:34 PM

Avvenire has been running a full-page ad this season which says
with four of the Vatican publishing house's most recent publications from Benedict XVI -
as you can see, 1 volume of 'Marian thoughts', 2 volumes of 'Spiritual thoughts' and Spe salvi.

The holiday offer is all four volumes for 20 euro.
You may order by e-mail from commerciale@lev.va
Or fax 06-698-84716.

Sorry for the oversize images, but since Avvenire switched over to a new PDF-only viewing
platform, I can no longer get images of the single pages in convenient size because
it means reducing the PDF image of a full newspaper page (measuring some 36 inches wide
by 50 inches high) to 1/10th - and the pictures don't reproduce well if the reduction is
greater than 75%. So I've had to cut up the full-page ad to show the book covers and the
advertising line - what you see are 75% reductions of what's on the full page ad. I omitted
the lower part that gives prices, etc.

00Thursday, December 27, 2007 2:21 PM

Avvenire and Paolo Rodari prepared us for it beforehand, and so we looked out for the little innovations introduced by Marini-II for the Christmas liturgies at the Midnight Mass and the Urbi et Orbi blessing. Father John Zuhlsdorf riffs on it in his blog:


Precious miter of John Paul I, cope of John XXIII, throne of Leo XIII. ‘Nuf said.

And there is the not so little matter of the famous Seventh Candle.

"But Father! But Father!", some of you are no doubt saying, "What’s with that seventh candle thing anyway? Big deal!"

Yes, it is a big deal. It is a signal to a watching world. Indeed the whole world was watching, too: this was the televised Midnight Mass.

The seventh candle could be used for Pontifical High Mass when celebrated by an Ordinary in his diocese (or by the Pope anywhere, of course). The seventh candle, placed in the middle and in line with the other six, but it should be a little higher. This pushes the crucifix a little out of line… which also emphasizes it, in my opinion. Pope Benedict is acutely sensitive to the position of the Cross during Holy Mass.

I wonder when the last time it was used?

The Holy Father, with his choice of vestments and the accouterments for the altar for Mass and for Vespers during Advent, not to mention the change of Master of Ceremony, is giving us a new orientation for divine worship.

Old cabinets are being opened, wardrobes explored, curtains drawn back in rooms that have been locked, boxes brought into the light once again.

Time to buy stock in silver and gold polish companies as well as the makers of dusters and citrus oils.


And for further resonance, Caterina's 'news-worthy' Christmas Day montage:

The miter worn by the Pope at the Urbi et Orbi did indeed 'belong' to John Paul I, and was, in fact, as Caterina promptly noted, the same miter JP-I wore at his investiture as Pope, when Cardinal Ratzinger was photographed paying his homage to the new Pope. It now turns out that this miter goes back even further to Benedict XV - and I believe JP=-I 'updated' it simply by placing his coat of arms on the 'tails' [God! I don't know the term for it] of the miter. The JP-I coat of arms was quite visible in some of the pictures [as is, I believe, the coat of arms of John XXIII on the cope].

00Thursday, December 27, 2007 2:21 PM

Avvenire and Paolo Rodari prepared us for it beforehand, and so we looked out for the little innovations introduced by Marini-II for the Christmas liturgies at the Midnight Mass and the Urbi et Orbi blessing. Father John Zuhlsdorf riffs on it in his blog:


Precious miter of John Paul I, cope of John XXIII, throne of Leo XIII. ‘Nuf said.

And there is the not so little matter of the famous Seventh Candle.

"But Father! But Father!", some of you are no doubt saying, "What’s with that seventh candle thing anyway? Big deal!"

Yes, it is a big deal. It is a signal to a watching world. Indeed the whole world was watching, too: this was the televised Midnight Mass.

The seventh candle could be used for Pontifical High Mass when celebrated by an Ordinary in his diocese (or by the Pope anywhere, of course). The seventh candle, placed in the middle and in line with the other six, but it should be a little higher. This pushes the crucifix a little out of line… which also emphasizes it, in my opinion. Pope Benedict is acutely sensitive to the position of the Cross during Holy Mass.

I wonder when the last time it was used?

The Holy Father, with his choice of vestments and the accouterments for the altar for Mass and for Vespers during Advent, not to mention the change of Master of Ceremony, is giving us a new orientation for divine worship.

Old cabinets are being opened, wardrobes explored, curtains drawn back in rooms that have been locked, boxes brought into the light once again.

Time to buy stock in silver and gold polish companies as well as the makers of dusters and citrus oils.


And on his blog, SHOUTS IN THE OPIAZZA, Fr. Guy Sylvester identifies the chair Mons. Marini-II chose to have the Pope use at Midnight Mass.

They finally abandoned the white upholstered armchair that would look great in a library but looked foolish in St. Peter's Basilica in favor of a red cushioned gilded papal throne. It's kind of new to be using this chair as a "presider's chair" (N.B.: St. Peter's is not the Pope's cathedral, so his cathedra is not located there) but it is actually a very old chair. The coats of arms on the back depict the coat of arms of Pope St. Pius X. (see the images of Pius XII provided)...

Then, he notes the 'new-old' things at the Urbi et Orbi:

He appeared on the central loggia of St. Peter's for his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) blessing wearing an old cope that hasn't seen the light of day since the days of Pope Blessed John XXIII and a sumptuous mitre that dates from the time of Pope Benedict XV and was last used by Pope John Paul I at his installation on the chair of Peter (below). Once again the gilded throne of Leo XIII was used as well. It made for a beautiful sight and provided an image of the papacy that many thought was gone forever.

So someone else besides our Caterina did remember the miter and associate it properly, as Caterina's 'news-worthy' Christmas Day montage shows::

The miter worn by the Pope at the Urbi et Orbi did indeed 'belong' to John Paul I, and was, in fact, as Caterina promptly noted, the same miter JP-I wore at his investiture as Pope, when Cardinal Ratzinger was photographed paying his homage to the new Pope.

It now turns out that this miter goes back even further to Benedict XV - and I believe JP-I 'updated' it simply by placing his coat of arms on the 'tails' [God! I don't know the term for it] of the miter. The JP-I coat of arms was quite visible in some of the pictures [as is, I believe, the coat of arms of John XXIII on the cope].

00Friday, December 28, 2007 6:12 PM
URGENT - where is the new portrait?
Please help me!!!!!! Our forum is so full and varied [for which I am deeply thankful!] that I can't find a picture of the new portrait by Natalia Tsarkova. Has anyone posted it? If so, on which thread?

It was featured on Rome Reports on EWTN and I rather like it. I'd like to save it and print it out on good photo paper.

Thank you, breathlessly, Mary !!!!! xxxxxx


Regarding "Spe Salvi", the publication date for the book version is given as February 2008. I already have it! It's available from the London Catholic Truth Society. The cover is different from the version shown above.

Above is the cover of the version I have. You can buy online from the CTS or by phone.
00Friday, December 28, 2007 8:36 PM
Re: URGENT - where is the new portrait?
maryjos, 12/28/2007 6:12 PM:

Please help me!!!!!! Our forum is so full and varied [for which I am deeply thankful!] that I can't find a picture of the new portrait by Natalia Tsarkova. Has anyone posted it? If so, on which thread?

It was featured on Rome Reports on EWTN and I rather like it. I'd like to save it and print it out on good photo paper.

Thank you, breathlessly, Mary !!!!! xxxxxx

The report on Natalia Tsarkova - with the appropriate photos, even if watermarked - is on this very thread. It's the last post on the page before last.


P.S. I started the SECTION UPDATE section in part to facilitate looking for items one might like to check back on, since it is obviously easier to go through the daily updates than to go to each thread and look for something - and started adding a photo pick (or picks) for the day to make checking back a pleasant task!

I think the daily update is also a good way to look at the activities of the Pope and the Church, and of our concerns as the faithful, in the context of what's happening in the world.

00Friday, December 28, 2007 8:49 PM
Thank you, Teresa!!!!!
Thank you, Teresa! We have so much on our forum, but, as I wrote earlier, I am glad of it!
Luff- Mary xxxxxxx
00Thursday, January 3, 2008 9:08 PM
Benedict XVI and his great love for cats
[SM=x40803] The article is translated from Bild.de. I found it on The Cafeteria is Closed.


The Pope wanted to write books about those with velvet paws.

In the New Year, Pope Benedict XVI has to cope with a number of appointments, traveling also is ahead of him and he has to write a book and two Encyclicals.

He only has little time for himself. Recently he told his "roommates" in the Papal apartment what he does when he has time to daydream - thinking about writing a book on cats.

After the funeral of his friend Pope John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger thought he'd be able to return home to Germany after 24 years in Rome. He had a plan - writing stories, stories about cats.

Joseph Ratzinger had cats around himself for decades, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The CDF is on the Via Aurelia, one of the most traffic-heavy streets in Rome. Daily, cats are killed or injured. Quite a few drag themselves into the garden of the CDF, where Ratzinger resided and movingly cared for them, feeding them, bandaging their wounds, watching them lie in the sun and slowly get better. And he gave names to all of them.

He wanted to write about these cats, but the election to the Papacy foiled these plans, now he has to take care of the global Church instead of the little cats at the Via Aureli.


His friendship with cats has changed the Vatican a little bit. I park my Vespa on my way to work at the Vatican border, the hall of Paul VI., where Swiss guardsmen keep watch. When stray animals tried to enter the Vatican gardens in the past, they shood them away. But now, when the guards see a cat, they simply let it pass, into the Pope's beautiful garden, because they know that Benedict XVI, when he prays at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the afternoon is happy to see a cat, and he thinks again of his old dream: writing books about cats.

Source: From the Cafeteria is Closed: closedcafeteria.blogspot.com/2008/01/cat-lover.html

Original article from Bild: www.bild.t-online.de/BILD/news/kolumnen/2008/vatikan-englisch/01/02-/der-papst-und-die-katzen,geo=3390...


Thanks for the item, Lori! Very diverting....

But unless Mr. English has other sources, I believe the statement was made by the Pope, not to his 'roommates' but to Jeanne Perego, author of JOSEPH & CHICO, after a GA last autumn, and he was quoted as telling her: "To think it was I who had always wanted to write a story about cats!" A single statement out of which to spin a whole story, amusing as it is! But Englisch he does add the tidbit about the Swiss Guards now being more 'respectful' of stray cats around the Vatican.

Do you ever wonder if Papino has read T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) - on the psychology and sociology of felines - which, of course, inspired the musical CATS? Apart from cat's names like Old Deuteronomy and Mr. Misstoffelees with their Scriptural allusions, what about the final verse of the first poem in the collection called 'The Naming of Cats? Was Eliot making a theological statement in the guise of a whimsy about cats?

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.


@Andrea M.@
00Thursday, January 3, 2008 10:43 PM
In the doldrums ...

Well, there seems to be little news to report these days around the Vatican for Andreas Englisch that he is reporting on something that the Italian media have picked up the day it became public.

Mr. Englisch is recounting the events at the end of the General Audience of 11/14/2007 when Benedict XVI told the author he himself had wanted to write a book about cats.

All Mr. Englisch did is "season" the story with some background information on cats in Rome and wrote his column for the online edition of Germany's leading tabloid "Bild".

00Friday, January 4, 2008 2:46 AM
By Luigi Accattoli

It certainly is the season of recycling, because this article in Corriere della Sera on a typical 'day in the life' of Pope Benedict simply recycles what was shown on the RAI birthday documentary and what 'Giorgio' and 'Mietek' have written about elsewhere, but Luigi Accattoli should at least have given credit where credit is due.

Is it only because it is a slow news day right after New Year's Day that Corsera has decided to come out with these articles about the Pope today? We should not complain, obviously. I just wish the writers had tried to come up with something new we did not already know. But the happy way to look at it is that much of these may really be 'news' to the newspaper's readers, so thank you to Corsera.

Full of engagements but also rich with pauses for reflection. Lots of visitors, yes, but concentrated in the 'public' moments of his schedule, so as not to break into the time he reserves for working at his desk.

That's the typical weekday for Benedict XVI, the theologian Pope who, compared to his predecessor, has reduced his public activities and increased his personal time for study and writing.

Waking up
We don't know the exact time he gets up but we might say it is around 5 a.m. or a little later. Even as a cardinal, Ratzinger was always an early riser and methodical, determined to use the first hours after waking, as best he can, for meditation and prayer.

He concelebrates this with his two secretaries Don Georg and Don Mietek [Mr. Accattoli, it's don Alfred Xuereb now!] between 7 and 8 a.m. in the private chapel of the papal apartment - which was Paul VI's and John Paul II's as well. Attending the Mass are the four 'Memores Domini' (consecrated sisters of Comunione e Liberazione) who keep house for the Pope, and the Pope's valet, Paolo Gabriele.

It is rare that somebody else is present, whether invited guests or any random visiting friend. The Mass is said in Italian, and the Memores alternate in doing the readings and leading the responsorial psalm. There is no homily, but there are long pauses, especially after each reading and after Communion.

His desk
On the desk in the Pope's private study - full of books [No mention that he transferred the 20,000 volumes of his private library from the Piazza di Citta Leonina flat to here?] there are two telephones, but the Pope also has a cellular phone which he answers himself and whose numbers are known to a very few.

His first work period at his desk is from 8:30-11:30. One of the secretaries brings him an abundant selection of clippings from the dailies and periodicals put together by an office in the Secretariat of State and bound in a green binder marked 'Rassegna stampa' (Press round-up). It shows him at a glance what is happening in the world and what is being written about him around the world.

Then the secretaries give him his mail for the day - pre-screened, selected and sorted - and his agenda for the day, with backgrounders and dossiers as needed on the people he will be meeting and the topics likely to be discussed.

The audiences
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Pope goes down by private elevator from the third-floor Papal apartment to the second floor rooms for private audiences, which are directed by the Prefect of the Pontifical Household.

The Pope receives the principal guest for a private audience in the private library, particularly heads of state or government or important religious leaders. For larger groups, any of the various meeting halls of the Apostolic Palace are used.

Wednesdays of course, are for the general audiences in St. Peter's Square, or when it is too cold or too hot, in Aula Paolo VI.

The Pope goes back up to the papal apartment around 1:30, where he takes lunch with his two secretaries, with Paolo Gabriele waiting on them. It is very rare that there are any invited guests.

Whether it is for the morning Mass, for lunch or for dinner, invitations to the papal apartments are quite rare compared to the Wojtyla years. In this respect, the German Pope has 'gone back' to the 'reserve' of the Italian Popes - not Pius XII's rigid reserve but Paul VI's flexibility.

Papa Ratzinger is moderate in food and drink. Meals are generally Italian. He mostly drinks orange juice, but does take some wine when he has guests.

His daily walk and siesta
After lunch, the Pope and his two secretaries take a ten-minute walk around the roof garden constructed in the time of Paul VI and which features mostly mandarin orange and lemon trees grown in vast plant tubs. The roof garden has panoramic views of Rome and looks down on St. Peter's Square and the queues of tourists lined up to enter the Basilica.

The Pope then takes a siesta of one hour to 90 minutes.

Back to work
Around 3:30, the Pope is back at his desk for more work. This is when he prepares his homilies and other texts. At 5 p.m., the secretaries bring him the important mail that has arrived since the morning and documents to sign (which had previously been discussed and decided on)
put together in a folder "For the Holy Father's signature".

Regular meetings
Between 6 and 6:45, the Pope has his pre-scheduled regular meetings, rigidly pre-determined on a weekly and monthly basis. Alternating in these meetings held in the Pope's private study are the Secretary of State, his deputy secretary for internal affairs, the deputy secretary for external relations, and some Curial officials. [The Pope also has regular daytime meetings with the Prefects of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Fridays) and the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (Saturdays)].

Walking in the Vatican Gardens
In warm weather, between 6:45 and 7:30, or in the autumn and fall days between 4 p.m. and 4:45, the Pope and his secretaries take a daily weekday walk in the Vatican gardens, during which they pray the rosary together. They use garden paths and stairways that are closed to everybody else at this time.

Dinner and the TV news
Dinner is like lunchtime except that it is served at 7:30. And then at 8 p.m., in a TV room with green leather furniture, the Pope and his secretaries watch TG-1 (RAI-1's primetime newscast).

Then the Pope spends some more time in the study, and before going to bed, he recites Complines (the last of the liturgical hours) in the private chapel.

Generally, the lights go out in the last three windows to the right on the third floor of the Apostolic palace by 11 p.m.

Corriere della sera, 3 gennaio 2008

00Friday, January 4, 2008 7:28 PM

From Lella's blog:

00Sunday, January 6, 2008 6:57 PM
Translated from Luigi Accattoli's blog today:

I have written 5 posts in the past two weeks and none of them referred to the Pope, and yet, every day, Benedict XVI is the subject of discussion by our readers.

It's natural for me to write about the Pope since I am a Vatican reporter, but it seems strange that visitors who post comments on this blog appear to be more interested in the Pope than I am! I could write about Christmas wishes, reflect on the Pakistani situation or prostitution in Milan, on the 'love graffiti' that I see on the streets, or the trend for the coming year, in short, whatever subject I write on, the discussion still revolves about something else - the Pope.

When we have Gospel readings at home every 15 days with our children and their friends (we call it "Pizza and Gospel" because first we eat, and then we read Luke, etc), I make a tremendous effort to avoid the conversation from sliding towards the subject of the Pope.

During my travels around Italy on speaking engagements on various subjects - from the media to relationships with one's children, to family prayers, to the life of married couples, to the figure of Jesus - the question "But what do you think of the Pope?" is always asked.

As someone who has written six books on the Pope (John Paul II) and the Vatican, I dare say that this predominance of the Pope over any other topic of discussion is a sign of uneasiness, and it is worth considering the possible reasons.

After 32 years in this profession, through different Popes and their various 'seasons', I have always noted this 'thronging' around the door of Peter's Successor. I find it a good sign that Popes attract this attention and that they are being discussed, because it is a healthy sign for the Catholic Church.

Still, I am surprised that so many people seem to live by the Pope!


There must be many more Benaddicts than we think!!!!

00Wednesday, January 9, 2008 1:08 AM

Translated/adapted from an Apcom report:

VATICAN CITY - For the second year in a row, Pope Benedict XVI and his brother, Mons Georg Ratzinger, heard a special concert at the Sistine Chapel to mark the New Year, this time held Friday afternoon, Jan. 4, as a special gift from the Pope to his brother who directed the world-famous Regensburg boys choir, the Domspatzen, for thirty years.

According to a report in a Genoa newspaper, Secolo XIX, the boys choir of the Sistine Chapel sang Christmas songs for their extraordinary audience, under the direction of Maestro Giuseppe Liberto.

After the concert, Liberto, who was Choirmaster at the Cathedral of Monreale in Palermo when named director of the Sistine Chapel Choir by John Paul II in 1997, presented Pope Benedict XVI with the seventh volume of a series, Liturgica Polifonia, composed for the Sistine chapel Choir to honor the post-Vatican II liturgy.

In the book Der Bruder des Papstes, published last November by Herder in Germany, a biography of Mons. Ratzinger written by Anton Zuber, Pope Benedict is quoted as saying to the Domspatzen when they sang form him in December 2005 : "My brother made me touch directly, so to speak, the beauty of a choir of white voices, and I know that such beauty requires much commitment and even more sacrifices on your part."

After the final song, "Astro dal Ciel' (Star of heaven), specially harmonized by Liberto, the Pope and his brother applauded warmly, and following tradition, the Pope on Friday gave each of the choirboys an assortment of sweets.

00Wednesday, January 9, 2008 3:33 AM

Caterina notes that the stole Pope Benedict wore at his meeting with
the diplomatic corps yesterday was one that belonged to Benedict XV.

Amd, of course, for the Mass of the Epiphany, the Pope wore the chasuble
he wore for his Inaugural Mass, which belonged to John Paul II.

@Andrea M.@
00Wednesday, January 9, 2008 9:11 AM
I am posting this snippet here:



Translated from "Chi" (Italian magazine)

VATICAN CEREMONIES - In the Vatican, for the end-of-year festivities, the new master of Papal Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini from Genoa made his debut*. This had to be the occasion to re-launch tradition. From the museum of the Vatican sacristy old chasubles and vintage furnishings were dusted down but the judgement of this noble plan by the Apostolic Palace was clear: it is not enough to go to the dawdler to be considered a traditionalist.


Note: * He made his debut way before that, I think it was in October 2007

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