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11/01/2011 19.28
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Utente Master



See preceding page for earlier posts today, 1/11/11.




It didn't take long - but it's Egypt that has reacted - or over-reacted - first, rather than Pakistan. First, let us quote what exactly the Pope said yesterday about the situation in Egypt, deliberately creating a crisis situation with the Vatican for no reason:

In Egypt too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities.

What could be a worse expression of bad faith on the part of the Egyptian government than its decision today to 'recall its ambassador to the Vatican' on the basis of the statements above. As if they were just waiting for a pretext to do so, once past the near-miraculous show of Muslim solidarity with the Copts on Orthodox Christmas Day. Was that all propaganda? (Even if I do not doubt that many Muslims who went out of their way to atending midnight Mass with the Copts must have meant it.)

Egypt recalls Vatican envoy
over the Pope's remarks
by Mona Salem

CAIRO, January 11 (AFP) – Egypt is recalling its Vatican envoy for consultations over remarks by Pope Benedict XVI on Coptic Christians seen as an "interference" in its affairs, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The action follows "new statements from the Vatican concerning Egypt which are considered by Egypt as unacceptable interference in its internal affairs," the ministry spokesman said in an apparent reference to remarks concerning Copts.

The Pontiff has expressed repeatedly his solidarity with the Copts and called on world leaders to protect them in the aftermath of a New Year's Day church bombing that killed 21 people as worshippers emerged from midnight mass in Alexandria.

A day after the attack on the Al-Qiddissin (The Saints) church, the pope appealed for the "concrete and constant engagement of leaders of nations," in what he termed a "difficult mission."

At his New Year's Day Mass, Benedict underscored that "humanity cannot display resignation in the face of negative forces of selfishness and violence, it cannot get accustomed to conflicts which claim victims and endanger the future of people."

On Sunday Benedict again voiced solidarity with Egypt's Copts -- two days after they marked their Christmas, celebrated on January 7.

"I salute the Coptic faithful present here to whom I renew my expression of closeness," the Pope told thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Benedict has already come under harsh criticism for speaking out for the Copts.

Egypt's top Muslim cleric, Ahmed al-Tayeb, criticised the Pope's call on world leaders to defend the Copts as interference in his country's affairs. [This was on January 2, at which time the Imam seemed like a lone dissident voice in the flood of propaganda in the Egyptian press about Muslim solidarity with the Copts. And on the day of the Orthodox Christmas, the Egyptian rpess even published a statement by the Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt calmly restating everything the Pope had said so far about the Copts' tragedy. And now, all of a sudden, the government itself is claiming 'interference' for the two sentences he said about the Coptic bombing yesterday???]

"I disagree with the Pope's view, and I ask why did the Pope not call for the protection of Muslims when they were subjected to killings in Iraq?" the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the oldest Islamic seat of learning and Sunni Muslim authority, told a news conference on January 2. [And when did the Grand Imam, or any other Muslim leaders, for that matter, last say anything at all about the continuing massacre of Iraqis, mostly Muslims, but also some christians recently, by Islamist terrorists????]

The Vatican immediately rejected the accusation, saying the head of the Roman Catholic Church had shown solidarity with the Coptic community as well as concern for the consequences of the violence for the Christian and Muslim population.

"Therefore we cannot see how the Pope's approach to bring everybody to accept non-violence can be considered meddling," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said at the time.

"I think there are misunderstandings in communication but I don't think we should play up the imam's statement."

Lombardi said the Vatican referred to "an attack against a Christian church and therefore we are concerned about Christian minorities but that does not mean that we will justify or minimise violence against the faithful of other religions.".

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the Alexandria church attack, which came after threats to Egypt's Copts from the Al-Qaeda-linked group in Iraq that claimed an October 31 attack on a Baghdad cathedral.

Copts account for 10 percent of Egypt's mostly Muslim population of 80,000 million, and are the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

[IMG][/IMG] online also reports the following:

Less than two weeks since the car-bombing at a Coptic Church in Alexandria that hwas been the worst religious violence in Egypt in recent years, a new day of bloodshed and religious polemics in Egypt.

Sources from Egyptian health and security services confirmed that a Christian was killed by gunshot on a train rid in southern Egypt, with three others wounded in the shooting.

But the news was still unclear, and it was not known if this was yet another attack against the Copts, or due to other reasons.

Actually, five Christians with gunshot wounds were admitted to a hospital in southern Egypt, according to a lady physician, Dr, Mariam Salah, and a security source said a sixth Christian was killed.

P.S. Here's the New York Times account of the train shooting involving Egyptian Christians:

Christian is killed, 5 others wounded
in shooting on train in Egypt


CAIRO, Jan. 11 -- A gunman jumped aboard a train heading toward the Egyptian capital on Tuesday and opened fire on passengers, killing one Christian man and injuring five other Christians, the Interior Ministry said.

It remained unclear whether the man, who used a handgun, had singled out Christians. But word of the shooting quickly reignited the raw emotions of Egypt's Coptic Christian population, still smoldering after the bombing of a Coptic Christian church less than two weeks ago that left 21 people dead and led to widespread rioting.

More than 200 angry protesters converged outside a hospital where the wounded from the train were taken, and the police dispersed them with tear gas.

An Interior Ministry statement said the authorities had arrested the gunman, a Muslim, and were actively seeking a motive for the shooting.

The suspect was identified as Amer Ashour Abdelzaher, an off-duty policeman. The Interior Ministry statement identified the victim as Fathy Said Ebeid, 71, and said the wounded included Mr. Ebeid's wife, another man and three other women.

Mr. Abdelzaher boarded the train in Minya Province, an area south of Cairo along the Nile that has a sizable Christian population.

The shooting came a day after Pope Benedict XVI called on Egypt and other predominantly Muslim nations to do more to protect their Christian populations after a spate of recent violent episodes.

The Pope's comments, delivered in the course of an annual address to Vatican diplomats, rankled the Egyptian government, which recalled its ambassador from the Vatican on Tuesday in response.

"We will not allow any non-Egyptian party to intervene in our internal affairs under any pretext," the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Jan. 1 bombing, which occurred after New Year's Mass, was the worst attack against Christians in Egypt in recent memory and set off days of protests by Christians calling for better protection and equal treatment from the government. Coptic Christians in Egypt celebrated their Christmas last week under heavy security.

The bombing appeared to awaken the country to the threat posed by a sharp rise in fundamentalist religious identification, a state of affairs that until recently the government strongly denied. Unrest in Egypt has increased the chance that its ailing 82-year-old president, Hosni Mubarak, will seek a sixth six-year term this year, to preserve the status quo.

Additional info from

...On the railway line linking Cairo to Assiut, apolice officer, Amer Abdel Zaher Ashur, took the train to Salamut, about 200 km south of Cairo, and opened fire with his police weapon.

He killed a 71-year- old Coptic Christian, Fathi Said Ebeid, and wounded his wife of 61 and four others. Medical sources say that all the wounded, two of them in serious condition, are Christians.

A police officer who was not in uniform. Ashur tried to flee but was arrested in the station. He was questioned about the motives for his attack, but the investigators are maintaining secrecy on the outcome of the interview.

Ayman Mohyeldin, Cairo correspondent for Al Jazeera, said that the authorities do not seem eager to disclose the reasons for the attack. "The bombing of Alexandria is on everyone’s mind. There will be many questions whether the Salamut attack has religious motives".

Bishop Morcos, bishop of the Coptic Church in Salamut, claims to have spoken to some witnesses of the attack. "This madman went back and forth on the train looking for Christians. Seeing a group of women and girls who were not wearing a veil, he thought they were Christian and fired, shouting 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great)".

Following a few hundred Copts gathered in front of the Good Shepherd Hospital in Salamut, where the injured are hospitalized, and clashed with police, who responded with tear gas.

Egyptian envoy meets with
Vatican 'foreign minister'

Translated from
January 11, 2011


This evening, Madame Lamia Aly Hamada Mekhemar, ambassador of Egypt to the Holy See, was received in audience at the Vatican by Mons. Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

During their meeting, the ambassador, who is leaving for Cairo for consultations with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, expressed the concerns of her government during the difficult situation in her country today, and was given information and other elements necessary regarding statements made by the Holy Father recently on the subject of religious freedom and on protection of Christians in the Middle East.

Underscoring that the Vatican shares the sentiments of the Egyptian people who were affected by the killing of many Coptic Christians by a car bomb in Alexandria, Mons. Mamberti assured the ambassador that the Holy See fully shares the concern of the Egyptian government "to avoid the escalation of encounters and tensions motivated by religion", and that it appreciates the efforts made by the Egyptian government for that purpose.

And this news from an English language Pakistani newspaper:

Islamic association protest
the Pope in Pakistan


LAHORE, January 11 - A large number of protestors joined the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI, Islamic Party) to protest against Pope Benedict’s demand for repealing the blasphemy law, in Lahore on Tuesday.
[JI is the oldest religious and political party in Pakistan and advocates a pure Islamic state under sharia law; it also opposes Westernization, capitalism, socialism and secularism.]

JI Secretary General, Liaquat Baloch, who led the rally, termed the Pontiff’s demand “insane and a plot to threaten Pakistan’s Christian minority’s security”.

Liaquat Baloch said that the Pope, demanding the release of Aasia Bibi, had been ignorant of the treatment being meted out to Dr Aafia Siddiqui. [Siddiqui is an American-educated Pakistani neuroscientist who was given an 86-year sentence last September after a jury trial in a U.S. federal court convicted her of assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan. Obviously, to equate her case with Aasia Bibi's is patently absurd!]

He also advised Christian leaders and Bishops in Pakistan to disown the Pope’s stance.

Speaking on the rally held in Karachi on Sunday, Baloch said that the party would hold another rally in Lahore on January 30, stating that the protests would continue till the parliamentary committee on the issue was scrapped and the amendment to the bill, tabled by Pakistan People's Party (PPP) member Sherry Rehman, was dropped.

He also said that Salmaan Taseer’s killer, Mumtaz Qadri, enjoyed the backing of “the entire nation” and the “proud and honourable” lawyers would secure his release. [Taseer is the Punjab governor who was killed by his bodyguard because. though Muslim, he opposed the blasphemy law under with Bibi was sentenced to death.

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11/01/2011 19.53
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Those are hopeful times in one sense: the world is paying attention and now seems to be forced to look at persecution, terror and psycho-terror against Christians. And at the childish, Rumpelstiltskin way Egypt has now reacted to a reasonable statement.

It may finally pull some people out of their islamromantic slumber.

Benedict The Lion!!

We should really call him that more often!!



I like it! I even found a white lion image....


[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 11/01/2011 21.02]
11/01/2011 20.16
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Utente Master

Unfortunately, the vice of extrapolating from the Pope's words - no matter how general and how brief - to peddle false ideas about what he said is habitual with MSM. As they have done with this annoying 'news' that is making the list of headlines online about the Papacy, typified by the headline in the story below from the UK Telegraph.

Unless the Pope improvised and said something not transcribed in the Vatican's online versions of the Angelus text (in the bulletin and in OR), what the Pope said, in his Angelus mini-homily on Sunday was this:

"He is truly the Messiah, the Son of the Most High, who, emerging from the waters of the Jordan, establishes regeneration in the Spirit and opens, to those who wish it, the possobility of becoming children of God, in which one acquires the character of a child of God, starting with the Christian name, a sign that the Holy Spirit makes him 'born again' in the womb of the Church".

It wasn't even a full sentence devoted to what the Christian name means!

Pope rails against
rise of un-Christian names

By Nick Squires
January 11, 2011

The Pope has warned parents against giving children celebrity-inspired names and urged them to turn to the Bible for inspiration instead.

While names such as Sienna and Scarlett have become fashionable in recent years, Pope Benedict XVI called for a return to tradition.
[Where did he say all that????]

During Mass at the Sistine Chapel [It wasn't at the Mass, but at the Angelus!], he said: "Every baptised child acquires the character of the son of God, beginning with their Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be born anew in the womb of the Church." He added that a name was an "indelible seal" that set children off on a lifelong "journey of religious faith". [So how does all that translate into the headline and first two sentences of this news report????]

According to the Office for National Statistics, celebrity names such as Ashton – after the actor Ashton Kutcher – and Lily – after the singer Lily Allen – are among the most popular in England and Wales. The names celebrities give their own children can be even more exotic.

Sir Bob Geldof has daughters named Pixie and Peaches, while Victoria and David Beckham called their first son Brooklyn, after the district of New York. Katie Price, the glamour model, named her daughter Princess Tiaamii.

In Italy, the name of a child has particular significance. Children are often named after saints, who are considered a guiding force in their life.

The tradition, however, is increasingly under threat. Francesco Totti, the footballer, recently decided to call his daughter Chanel, while Flavio Briatore, the Formula One boss, named his newborn son Falso Nathan.

Cristina Odone, a former editor of The Catholic Herald who grew up in Italy, said: "There are so many of the church's traditions which we have come to ignore and which are actually meaningful and have a big spiritual significance. To deprive our children of that sense of having a protecting saint is to rob them of something very significant. Many of today's names are not just un-Christian but they are also crass and consumerist."

According to official statistics, the most popular name for newborns in Britain is Mohammed, after the Islamic prophet. A total of 7,549 newborns were given variations of the name last year. It overtook Jack, which topped the list for 14 years.

Monsignor Andrew Faley, the assistant general secretary to the Catholic Bishops' Conference, said: "The name is not just a label but it moves us into a deeper significance of what it means to be human as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

"Naming children after perfumes, bicycles and countries is putting a limit on their potential. They are not merchandise or commodities.

"When I was a parish priest, if I didn't agree with the name I'd suggest they should give the second name of a saint." [That was always the practice in my country, the Philippines. If parents wished to give the child a non-Christian name, the priest would insist that there must be a second Christian baptismal name.]

In 2008, Italy's highest court banned a couple from naming their son Venerdi – Friday – saying it was "ridiculous" and would expose him to mockery from his classmates.

Judges from the Cassation Court in Rome ordered that the boy instead be christened Gregorio, after the saint's day on which he was born. The parents, from Genoa, had drawn inspiration from Robinson Crusoe's manservant.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 12/01/2011 07.09]
11/01/2011 22.07
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speaking of lions... here's a pic of our new kitten:


I like the white lion image.
Our Holy Father has the personality of a lion: fearless, strong, loyal, intelligent, but he is also very cuddly (if one may say so). [SM=g7969]
And he has the mane to go with it.


Yes, indeed, and what a mane!... Your kitty has one of the most beautiful cat faces I have seen, and very warm marmalade color! Was this the stray that you found on Christmas Eve? He/she makes for a very nice cat frieze!

We found him on New Years Eve - visiting friends. Once I saw him begging for food at the terrace doors - in -9°C snowy weather, it was OVER! I fell in love with him on the spot!
He has two siblings whom we took to the animal shelter, since we already have a cat. Those poor little guys were looking for food in the garbage and were really never in touch with humans before.
Our little guy 'Nick' - belated Christmas present for Liam - smelled like motor oil for the first three days we had him. Poor guy.
I sort of had to talk Tom into taking him home, but Liam helped me, so Daddy had no chance. [SM=g6794]
He purrs all the time... we love him to death!
[Modificato da cowgirl2 11/01/2011 23.21]
11/01/2011 23.13
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Utente Master

Those who follow the video news service ROME REPORTS will note that today, it has a report on book sales for Light of the World in most of its major language editions. While I appreciate this agency for its usual prompt video postings of papal news, I must point out that the figures in its report today are from a mid-December story I belatedly saw in RELIGION EN LIBERTAD from Dec. 16, which I translated and posted on page 172 of this thread. It's been almost a month since then, and surely the figures must be better! Here's the first part of the story...

LOTW sold about 500,000
in its first three weeks

Translated from
December 16, 2010

Benedict XVI's interview-book with Peter Seewald, Light of the World, sold 75,000 copies in Spain in less than three weeks since it went on sale on November 24.

Herder, its original German publisher, said that it was about to launch the seventh printing in Spanish and the third in Catalan. The book has now been translated into 16 languages, and other translations are on deck.

In Germany, it sold 200,000 in 3 weeks, 150,000 in Italian; and 75,000 in English and French.

"For many religious bookstores, it is the book of the season, and will most likely be the book of the year in the category of religion," a Herder statement said....

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 11/01/2011 23.26]
12/01/2011 08.12
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Utente Master

Thanks to Lella and her blog
for this article written by AGI's Salvatore Izzo, for what is said to be a bimonthly magazine of the Vatican publishing house LEV, but I don't see it online so far. (I'm also confused by LEV which now has two sites: - other than its web pages in the main Vatican site, it also has an independent website that is still under construction, in which, so far, the new titles are presented without an illustration of the book covers, as they used to do... But while they were setting up the new site, they almost abandoned the old site which has just added on the July to December 2010 list of new books, and does not yet contain the January list)... Anyway, Mr. Izzo has written a remarkable early Valentine for the Pope that is most unusual from a veteran Vaticanista.

Pope Benedict is the 'Good Teacher' -
as Jesus was in the Bible

by Salvatore Izzo
Translated from

Last March 25, in a meeting with the young people of the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter's Square, a girl asked the Pope the question that the rich young man in the Bible had asked Jesus: "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

As a reporter, I was there to listen, and that night, I reported Benedict XVI's beautiful and engaging answer for AGI. He began by citing the next verse of the Gospel, 'Follow the commandments", which Jesus said, could be summed up in one alone: "Love God with all your heart, with all your reason, with all your existence, and love your neighbor as you love yourself".

See the translation of the entire Q&A on Page 82 of this thread:
One must remember that March 25 was just a few days after the MSM launched their 'expose' of Cardinal Ratzinger's supposed misbehavior in dealing with the Hullermann case in Munich, and the Pope was under siege, as it were. Some 70,000 young people of Rome and Lazio converged in St. Peter's Square for a pre-diocesan WYD meeting that had been scheduled long before, and their enthusiasm must have been a welcome infusion for the Pope.]


To love God, the Pope explained, one must get to know him. "This is the first step we must make: to seek to know God. Thus we will learn that our life is not by chance, it is not random. My life was wanted by God in eternity. I am loved, I am needed. God has a plan for me. So my life is important and even necessary."

There have been hundreds by now of the German Pope's discourses that I have had to summarize and report for AGI but this dialog with the youth remains within me. And I thought of that Q&A when this article was requested of me.

Having covered Benedict XVI in all his public events, I am convinced that he himself can be called 'Good Teacher'. This is an expression on which exegetes have devoted a lot of discussion because the synoptic Gospels are not in full agreement - Matthew, for instance, transfers the adjective from the appellative to the question itself, "Teacher, what good can I do to have eternal life?" so that there would be no juxtaposition between the person of Jesus and God. And I, too, always thought, as Mark's Gospel has Jesus say it, 'Only God is good".

But having reported on Joseph Ratzinger for some time before he became Pope, we Vatican reporters have always observed and experienced his goodness as a man, his goodness as a priest, his exquisite tact, his spiritual mastery in dealing with others, his wise counsel, his prudence in making decisions, and his immense generosity in giving himself for his apostolate.

And I am sure I do not commit a wrong against God to say that he, too, Joseph Ratzinger, is good - that he is the good teacher like Jesus because he takes part intimately in the goodness of God who has given him his wisdom and has chosen to illuminate him with his supernatural light.

Like Jesus, he is humble - this great Pope who is also the greatest living theologian today, and, as they said of him when he was elected, author of more books than most cardinals of the Holy Roman Church have read.

He called himself 'a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord' when he first presented himself to the world as Pope (with the sleeves of his black professor's sweater visible under his new white papal garments, confirming that, although most of us had come to believe he was the favorite, he himself had not expected to be elected).

Until then, his work had been mainly intellectual. And he has not given that up as Bishop of Rome, endowing his leadership of the Church, which he has carried out gently but firmly, with the added value of his cultural superiority.

If his predecessor, the equally great John Paul II, marked his Pontificate with gestures made during his travels - pilots and airline crews became his most useful 'collaborators' - we might say that Benedict XVI's principal 'aides' have been editors and typesetters, starting with the personnel of the Vatican publishing house.

Not abandoning his work as theologian has been key to his great openness. In the Preface to the first volume of his book JESUS OF NAZARETH, he wrote another sentence that struck me most: "This book is In no way an exercise of the magisterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search 'for the face of the Lord'. Everyone is free, then, to contradict me. I would only ask my readers for that initial goodwill without which there can be no understanding".

Perhaps no other Pope has ever spoken in such terms. The book Light of the World, the interview-book with Peter Seewald, subtitled, 'The Pope, the Church, and signs of the times', confirms this attitude of Papa Ratzinger, as Seewald himself said at the Frankfurt Book Fair, "I continue to be overwhelmed by the goodness and accessibility of the Pope".

"Only a Pontiff who is good and accessible," commented Paolo Rodari in Il Foglio, "could agree to speak so freely of issues which, for the Catholic Church, are among the most difficult and heated. But they are subjects which he has faced, not without controversy and often with severe criticism, in the past five and a half years".

That March night in St. Peter's Square, I was also quite struck by Benedict XVI's answers, not just for their evangelical content, but the essentiality and clarity with which he pointed out to the girl who asked the question and the tens of thousands of young people present that night, a way of living that all of us can and should follow.

As a theologian, then as cardinal, and now as Pope, Joseph Ratzinger has always used "a modern language, very clear, which goes straight to the heart of things".

It is a language, says Lucetta Scaraffia, professor of contemporary history at La Sapienza and editorialist for L'Osservatore Romano, "that is never difficult but seeks to communicate in the easiest way possible what he wants to say".

"A language that is never self-referential, that never indulges in that jargon that is unfortunately so widespread in contemporary Catholic culture, separating it completely from secular culture, and above all, does not inspire reflection, much less true personal involvement".

Along with Cardinal Bertone and Undersecretary Gianni Letta of Prime Minister Berlusconi's cabinet, Scaraffia contributed an essay to the book that introduces the first volume in Italian of Joseph Ratzinger's Collected Works. She says further:

"The words of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, have never failed in this respect: there are no commonplaces, no banal concepts, nor anything that has been said so often and in the very same way that it has become devalued. Language is fundamental for being able to touch the heart of the believer, but especially, in order for the rest of the world to pay attention - a perennial problem that the Church today can resolve by simply following the example of the Pope".

The Pope himself tackled this subject on November 13 speaking on the potential of the new media to the Pontifical Council for Culture, when he called on the Church to "listen to the men and women of our time, in order to promote new occasions to announce the Gospel" in an atmosphere of 'profound cultural transformation' characterized by 'new languages and new forms of communication'.

He stressed how "in this context, pastors and faithful will note with concern some difficulties in communicating the evangelical message and in transmitting the faith within the ecclesial community itself" - problems that "seem to increase when the Church must address men and women who are distant or indifferent to the experience of faith, and whom the evangelical message hardly reaches or at least not in an engaging way".

"In a world that makes communications the winning strategy, " the Pope said, "the Church must not remain indifferent". Rather it should seek "to avail of communications with renewed creativity and commitment... and with a critical sense and attentive discernment" of the new communications modalities.

"The inability of language to communicate the profound meaning and beauty of the experience of faith can contribute to the indifference of so many today, especially of young people. It can become a reason for their detachment, as the dogmatic constitution Gaudium et spes expressed, adding that an inadequate presentation of the Christian message obscures instead of manifesting the true face of God and of religion".

For his part, Benedict XVI does this work of 'translating' the truth of the faith everyday, following the example of one of his teachers, Romano Guardini, the great Italian-German philosopher-theologian under whom he studied at the University of Munich.

For Guardini, as the Pope recalled later this year, "what mattered was not what someone had said about Christian truth, but what was true itself".

"It was this aspect of his teaching," he told the members of the Berlin-based Guardini Foundation whom he addressed at the Vatican, "that struck us students, because we did not want to learn about any 'spectacular pyrotechnics' of existing opinions within and outside Christianity. We wanted to know what is. And here was someone who, without fear, but with all the seriousness of critical thought, placed the question before us and helped us to think things through together".

And Guardini's ex-student who had become Pope added: "This was a novelty compared to the rhetoric of old - he did not seek any rhetoric at all, instead just spoke simply to us, spoke the truth and led us to dialog with the truth. So we had a broad spectrum of dialogs with authors like Socrates, St. Augustine, Pascal, Dante, Holderlin, Morike, Rilke and Dostoevsky. He saw them as living mediators, who revealed the present in some statement from the past, allowing us to see and experience it as something hew. And this gave us a power that led us back into ourselves".

This is precisely what Papa Ratzinger achieves, for instance, every Wednesday in his catecheses at the General Audience, which LEV has been presenting in a series of volumes on each catechetical cycle.

12/01/2011 11.35
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Utente Master

A companion piece to Luigi Accattoli's appreciation of the Pope's address to the ambassadors to the Vatican last post in the preceding page) is this one by Andrea Tornielli:

To the governments of the world:
The Pope's appeal for religious freedom

by Andrea Tornielli
Translated from
January 11, 2011

"One can certainly not reproach the Pope for not speaking clearly. Everyone can understand what he said without any difficulty", Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said of the Holy Father's address to the diplomatic corps Monday.

It was a strong address that marked a significant change from those of previous years. In fact, usually, the Pope's traditional message to the ambassadors to the Vatican at their annual exchange of New Year's greetings has been dedicated to an overview of 'the state of the world': humanitarian emergencies, open wars, crisis points, the arms race, poverty.

But this time the Pope offered the 178 ambassadors to the Vatican a view of the world through the lens of religious freedom, a reading of the international scene through how the governments of the world have respected, or failed to respect, the freedom that has been called the first of all human rights, an 'undeniable and incoercible' dimension of human life.

Man is 'a religious being' and if this aspect of his person is ignored or denied, the Pontiff said, 'disequilibrium and conflicts are created".

The Pope's address was both courageous and secular. Courageous because Benedict XVI, while recognizing some progress made and some increased sensitivity to 'the grave injury' represented by violations off religious freedom, called on political and religious leaders alike to guarantee the security of minorities who are discriminated against, persecuted and/or are victims of terrorism as they are today, particularly the Christian minorities.

Secular, because once more, Papa Ratzinger eschews the idea of a 'clash of civilizations' that is seen by some as inevitable, but calls on all concerned to learn 'the great lesson of history' in which "the contributions of the great religions of the world to civilization cannot be denied".

Benedict XVI's decision to hold a meeting of the world's religious leaders in Assisi next October - on the 25th anniversary of the first World Day of Prayer for Peace convoked in that city by John Paul II - must be seen in this light.

But the Pope's address was also secular because he laid responsibility on governments and institutions to guarantee that tranqulllitas ordinis for their peoples which civilian authorities must establish and protect.

The Second Vatican Council in its document on religious freedom, Dignitatis humanae, named the right to religious freedom as one of those that should be promtected and promoted by 'every civilian power'.

The Pope also called on civilian authorities not to create various degrees of gravity for intolerance, depending on the religion driscriminated against, because this has ended up in the fact that most governmetns appear to consider offenses against Chrtistians 'less serious' than Islamophobia or anti-Semitism.

Finally, the Pope's message represented another clarion call to the West: the West which speaks of tolerance and pluralism while it marginalizes religion, relegates it to the private sphere and denies it participation in public life. The West which requires its citizens to set aside their religious and moral convictions to conform to a secular society, and where, in the name of respect for other faiths, bans reiligious feasts and symbols from the public space.

The Pope, addressing this self-weakened West, especially those nations where secularity has become secularism, reminds them yet again that they cannot construct the future by cutting off their own cultural and religious roots.

For convenience, I am re-posting the Accattoli piece here - what I called an unorthodox view of the Pope's address yesterday, as it provides the 'solidity of specification' to the overwhelming impression I had that this was Benedict XVI's most hard-hitting address yet in advocating the primacy of religious freedom as a fundamental human right.

Papa Ratzinger shows his 'rage':
Metamorphosis of a Pope

by Luigi Accattoli
Translated from
July 11, 2011

He said everything that had to be said, he kept silent about nothing, and he did not seek any accommodation. It was a truly global Pope in high relief whom we heard yesterday speak about religious freedom.

He named the nations that violate it, starting with the scenes of recent Christian massacres - Iraq on All Saints' Day and Egypt on New Year's Day.

He called on the world to act now in defense of persecuted Christians.

He was concrete - one might even say, cutting - in his references. He urged Pakistan to repeal its law against blasphemy and recalled 'the tragic assassination of the governor of Punjab' - a Muslim who advocated such a repeal - which shows 'the urgent need to make progress in this direction'.

To the states of the Arabian Peninsula, he asked for room to allow the 'pastoral' activity of the Church. Not only was he unaccommodating about the demands he presented but he even raised the bar, introducing relatively new and strongly conflictual problems.

I will cite two, in reference to Western countries: His denunciation of the tendency to "consider discriminatory actions against Christians as less grave and less worthy of attention", which seems to introduce "a sort of scale of degrees of religious intolerance".

And citing - among the threats' to religious freedom ' in some European countries' - of obligatory 'courses' in 'sexual and civic education' imposed from a perspective that is 'opposed to faith'.

The introduction of such conflictual issues is the most vivid - and revealing - element of this papal address, which constitutes a papal manifesto in defense of the Christians of the world.

Note that the Pope speaks in defense of all Christians, not just Catholics - another proof of the theologian Pope's 'non-diplomatic' and uncompromising attitude that is not new to those who know him.

There were at least three passages in which Benedict XVI appealed directly yesterday to the international community - particularly the Western countries, and especially the European - to defend Christians and be more attentive to their interests.

It would have been convenient for him to just use this card - difficult enough to play - without bringing up questions that have placed the Church in conflict with most European governments for some time. But he eschewed this convenient way, just as he made all his other statements devoid of prior calculation.

The first instance was to thank some European nations - thereby soliciting others to follow suit - for their "concern for the rights of the most vulnerable and the political farsightedness which they have demonstrated in recent days by their call for a concerted response on the part of the European Union for the defence of Christians in the Middle East".

The reference is to France, Italy, Poland and Hungary which, on January 7, at the initiative of Italy, signed a memorandum sent to the 'foreign minister' of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, asking for 'concrete measures' by the EU in defense of Christians and to place the question on the agenda for the meeting of EU foreign ministers on January 31.

The second instance concerned the banning 'from public life' of 'religious feasts and symbols', particularly Christian. Even in this case, he formulated the request as an expression of gratitude to some in order to 'enlist' everyone else:

"Last year, a number of European countries supported the appeal lodged by the Italian government in the well-known case involving the display of the crucifix in public places. I am grateful to the authorities of those nations..." These are Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Moldavia, Monaco, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, and the Ukraine [Note that other than Catholic Malta, Monaco and San Marino - the smallest European states after the Vatican - all the others are nations with an Orthodox majority.]

The third was his appeal, mentioned earlier, for the Western nations to consider Christianophobia just as seriously as they do Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

It would seem obvious - by the criterion of diplomacy, since the Pope was addressing the diplomatic corps - that in order to obtain, shall we say, the support of France or Spain for the idea that "everything possible must be done' for the protection of Christians in the Middle East, the Pope ought not to have raised questions that are 'sensitive' for them, such as religious symbols in public life (France) or compulsory sexual and civic education with radically secular content (Spain).

But the Pope ignored such calculations. And in proposing the demands of religious freedom in the most organic and broad manner, Benedict XVI made clear that the Church of Rome does not belong to any continental or ideological bloc, and that her decision to assert and claim that freedom is not for her exclusive benefit, but in the name of every other faith.

To round off, a word from the editor of OR:

The policy of the Church
by Giovanni Maria Vian
Translated from the 1/10-1/11/11 issue of

To the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See - a corps which is among the most representative in the world - the Pope Monday explained the role of the Church in the international context.

She is an active presence that respects the competency of civilian authorities and is animated by the conviction that only God responds to the human heart and that the religious dimension is therefore 'undeniable and incoercible'.

This is the profound root of what could be defined simplistically as Vatican policy, which does not seek privileges but only freedom to do the mission of the Church, which is the original and constitutive characteristic of the Christian community.

Thus, its concern for religious freedom, which, for Benedict XVI, is indispensable for building the peace. Yet it is a fundamental right which is often violated or downright denied.

Today, there is growing awareness of the gravity of these violations that offend God and man and which make coexistence of religious and cultural communities impossible.

There are very positive signs, such as voices raised in some Muslim nations and in Europe in the face of a growth in Christianophobia and violent kilings that have been carried out even in places of Christian worship.

The Pope's analysis examined the roots of the pretexts employed in campaigns sowing hatred for Christians, particularly in the vast region of the Middle East.

Recalling the words of the recent bishops' synodal assembly for the Middle East, the Pope said the Christians of the region are among its 'original and authentic citizens', as in Iraq and Egupt, where the Christian tradition is ancient and vital.

Thus, Middle East Christians are not strangers but citizens desirous of contributing to the common good, faithful to God and loyal to their country of birth. As Christians are everywhere, in the Middle East, in Egypt, in China, wherever.

That is why Benedict XVI asked the civilian authorities of the world for concrete gestures in support of genuine religious freedom, such as repealing the anti-blasphemy law in Pakistan.

There have also been positive signs, too, in the secularized and once- Christian lands of Europe. If, in fact, persistent attempts to marginalize religion continue to multiply, as in denying the right to conscientious objection to healthcare and judicial workers, suppressing religious symbols, imposing new scholastic requirements, inventing 'new rights' in order to legalize 'selfish desires', the Council of Eruope recently adopted a resolution that protects freedom of conscience for doctors; and a number of countries have expressed support for the continued use of the Crucifix in public places, such as the Italian government supported by several other European nations and the Patriarchate of Moscow.

Thus, the picture is not entirely dark in which Benedict XVI sees tragedies and difficulties but also positive signs. Emblematic is the observance of the birth centenary of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who embodies the policy of the Church.

The Church does not ask for favors, but only the freedom to announce God's love for every human being, and to work to show that love.

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Wednesday, January 12
ST. MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS (b France 1620, d Canada 1700)
Missionary and Foundress, Congregation of Notre Dame sisters
Canada's first woman saint migrated in 1653 from France, where she had been turned down by
two nuns' congregations, to start a school in the then new colony of Ville Marie (present
Montreal). She would go back three times to France to recruit more missionary helpers
dedicated to the needs of children and women, French as well as Indian. She established
the order in 1676 but its Rules were not approved till 1698. At 69, she walked from Montreal
to Quebec when the bishop asked her to establish a school there. By the time she died, she
was known as 'mother of the colony'. She was canonized in 1982.
Readings for today's Mass:

No papal photos or stories in today's OR.


General Audience today - The Pope's catechesis was devoted to St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510), wife, mystic and Franciscan tertiary.

The Vatican said that yesterday, the Holy Father met with Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne.
(Probably the cardinal living outside Rome whom Benedict XVI has met with most often at the Vatican, and evidently one of his closest friends)


- Andrea Tornielli has confirmed in Il Giornale that the cardinals and bishops who constitute the Congregation for the Causes of Saints unanimously approved this week the cause for the beatification of John Paul II and will now pass it on to Benedict XVI
for his formal approval.

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Watch as they build up anti-Pope rage in Pakistan, although so far, unlike Egypt, no government representative has yet spoken out on the Pope's appeal for repeal of the blasphemy law... First sources in English so far from the Indian media:

Pakistani Islamists criticise
Pope's anti-blasphemy law comments


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 12 - An alliance of Pakistani Islamist organisations said they would hold rallies to protest Pope Benedict XVI's remarks that called on the country to scrap an anti-blasphemy law which allows for the death penalty for insulting Islam.

"The Pope's statement is part of a conspiracy to pit the world's religions against each other," said Sahibzada Fazal Karim, a member of Pakistan's parliament and the leader of Sunni Ittehad, an alliance of eight Sunni Muslim groups, according to Dawn newspaper.

Speaking on Monday during an address to diplomats accredited to the Holy See, Benedict called on governments to do more to protect Christians who have recently been the victims of violence in Egypt, Nigeria and Iraq.

He also called for the abolition of the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was assassinated last week, supported a Christian woman awaiting execution under the blasphemy law.

"I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law, all the more so because it is clear that it serves as a pretext for acts of injustice and violence against religious minorities," Benedict said.

Karim called the Pope's comments a "violation of the UN's charter of peace," saying they meddled in a sovereign country's internal affairs.

Pakistani hardliners call for
'protest day' against Pope's statement


ISLAMABAD, Jan. 12 - Religious hardliners in Pakistan, who praised the extremist bodyguard of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer for having killed him for opposing the blasphemy law, have now trained their guns on Pope Benedict XVI, who has sought the repeal of the controversial statute.

The Tehrik Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat, an alliance of religious and extremist groups, has called for a countrywide "protest day" on January 14 to condemn the Pope's statement calling for the repeal of the law.

The grouping, during a meeting held yesterday, also called on former premier Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to join hands with it to observe the protest day to show their "love for the Prophet Mohammed."

The Tehrik also reviewed preparations for a rally to be held in Lahore on January 30 and warned both ruling and opposition parties to shun an apologetic attitude on the blasphemy law "before their western masters" and take a clear position on "whether they stand with the people or against them" on this issue.

The alliance, which includes groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawah, Jamaat-e-Islami, Sunni Tehrik, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, launched a campaign to oppose any move to repeal or amend the blasphemy law after slain Governor Taseer spoke in defence of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death last year for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

Taseer was gunned down in Islamabad on January 4 by his police guard, who said he was angered by the Governor's criticism of the blasphemy law. Liberals and rights groups have called for changes in the law, which they said is often misused to persecute minorities and settle personal and political scores.

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President of Pope's charity office
brings help and prayers to Haiti


12 JAN 2011 (RV) - A year after the earthquake which devastated Haiti on 12 January 2010 leaving 250,000 people dead and more than a million homeless, Benedict XVI has sent Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", who brings a Message from the Pope and economic aid to the people so gravely afflicted twelve months ago, according to a communique released by "Cor Unum".

The cardinal arrived in Haiti earlier this week. He visited a number of religious communities in Leogane: the Sisters of Christ the King whose hospital was destroyed, the "Petites Soeurs de Sainte-Therese de l'Enfant Jesus" who run a clinic for people suffering from AIDS and tuberculosis, and the "Compagnes de Jesus" who had an old people's home and a school destroyed by the quake.

Cardinal Sarah laid the cornerstone of the "Ecole Notre Dame des Anges". In the Holy Father's name, he also brought concrete support in the form of donations received following the earthquake: 800,000 U.S. dollars for the rebuilding of schools and 400,000 U.S. dollars for the reconstruction of churches.

The president of "Cor Unum", accompanied by Msgr. Segundo Tejado, undersecretary of the dicastery, was also due to meet Rene Preval, president of the Republic of Haiti. The cardinal also visited the Parc Acra, the camp for displaced persons camp where he was to celebrate Mass.

On Wednesday 12 January, Cardinal Sarah is expected to read out the Pope's Message for Haiti during a Mass to commemorate the first anniversary of the earthquake. He will then meet with bishops and seminarians as well as with directors of Caritas and of international and volunteer organisations.

His final engagement in Haiti will take place on 13 January when he will celebrate Mass in the convent of the "Paridean" Daughters of Mary who lost fifteen religious in the disaster. Twelve other sisters were seriously injured.

The visit also has the aim of thanking everyone who collaborated in the huge efforts of the emergency period, and of renewing the Church's commitment in the reconstruction, encouraging a new phase of charitable commitment.

Pope names new bishop for Port-au-Prince:
Previous bishop was killed in the earthquake


VATICAN CITY, Jan. 12 (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has named a new archbishop for the Catholic church in Haiti on the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed the bishop's predecessor along with dozens of other priests, seminarians and nuns.

Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot was killed in the quake, which destroyed the national cathedral and seminary and damaged or destroyed 38 churches.

The Pope also named an auxiliary bishop for Port-au-Prince, Monsignor Glandas Marie Erick Toussaint.

The Vatican's No. 2 official, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, will lead a special memorial Mass Wednesday afternoon in St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome.


Translated from
January 12, 2011

The following message was read by the Holy Father's special envoy to Haiti, Cardinal RoberT Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, at the Holy Mass celebrated in the ruins of the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince on the first anniversary of the 2010 earthquake today. (The message was written and read in French.)


On the first anniversary of the terrible earthquake which afflicted your nation, I am with you, dear Haitians, to assure you of my prayers, particularly for those who died.

I wish likewise to give you a word of hope in the present particularly difficult circumstances. Indeed, it is time now to rebuild not just the material structures but, most especially, civil, social and religious coexistence.

I hope that the people of Haiti will be the first protagonists in their present history and in their future, while counting on international assistance, which has already given signs of great generosity through economic aid and volunteers who have come from all nations.

I am with you through His Eminence Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. He brings to you, through his presence and his voice, my encouragement and my affection.

I entrust you to the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, patroness of Haiti, who, from heaven, I am sure, is not indifferent to your prayers.

May God bless all Haitians!

From the Vatican
January 5, 2011


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St. Catherine of Genoa


Pope urges prayer
for the salvation of souls


12 JAN 2011 (RV) - The purifying power of God’s love and the importance of prayer for salvation of souls were at the heart of Pope Benedict’s catechesis this Wednesday.

In the second general audience of the new year, the Holy Father returned to his series of lessons on the great female figures in the life of the Church, focusing this week on Saint Catherine of Genoa.

A fifteenth-century saint, St Catherine was best known for her vision of purgatory. “Married at an early age, some ten years later Catherine had a powerful experience of conversion; Jesus, carrying his cross, appeared to her, revealing both her own sinfulness and God’s immense love”.

The Pope described her as a “woman of great humility”, who combined “constant prayer and mystical union with a life of charitable service to those in need, above all in her work as the director of the largest hospital in Genoa”.

He continued: “Catherine’s writings on purgatory contain no specific revelations, but convey her understanding of purgatory as an interior fire purifying the soul in preparation for full communion with God. Conscious of God’s infinite love and justice, the soul is pained by its inadequate response, even as the divine love purifies it from the remnants of sin. To describe this purifying power of God’s love, Catherine uses the image of a golden chain which draws the soul to abandon itself to the divine will”.

By her life and teaching, he concluded “Saint Catherine of Genoa reminds us of the importance of prayer for the faithful departed, and invites us to devote ourselves more fully to prayer and to works of practical charity”.



Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I wish to speak to you of another saint named Caterina - after Caterina of Siena and Caterina of Bologna. I speak of Caterina of Genoa, who is best known for her vision of purgatory.

The text which describes her life and thought was published in her native city in Liguria in 1551. It is divided into three parts: the Life, itself, properly speaking; the demonstration and declarations on Purgatory - better known as the Treatise on Purgatory; and the Dialog between the soul and the body
(cfr. Libro de la Vita mirabile et dottrina santa, de la beata Caterinetta da Genoa. Nel quale si contiene una utile et catholica dimostratione et dechiaratione del purgatorio, Genova 1551) [Book on the admirable life and sacred doctrine of the blessed Catarinetta of Genoa. Which contains a useful and catholic demonstration and declaration on purgatory]. The final editor was Caterina's confessor, the priest Cattaneo Marabotto.

Caterina was born in Genoa in 1447. The youngest of five children, she was orphaned of her father, Giacomo Fieschi, when she was a girl. Her mother, Francesca di Negro, gave her children a valid Christian education, so that the older of her two daughters became a nun. At 16, Caterina was given in marriage to Giuliano Adorno, a man who, after various commercial and military experiences in the Middle East, came back to Genoa to get married.

Married life was not easy, if only because of her husband's character, since he was addicted to games of chance. Caterina herself was initially induced to live a worldly life, in which, however, she failed to find peace. After 10 years, she had a profound sense of emptiness and bitterness.

Her conversion began on March 20, 1473, thanks to a singular experience. Having gone to the church of St. Benedict and to the convent of Our Lady of Graces, to make a confession, and kneeling in front of the priest, "I received," she wrote later, "a wound in the heart, God's immense love", with a very clear vision of her failings and her defects, and at the same time, of the goodness of God, that she almost passed out.

She was touched in the heart by this self-knowledge, by the empty life that she led, and by God's goodness. This experience led to the decision that oriented the rest of her life, expressed in the words: "No more of the world, no more sin"
(cfr. Vita mirabile, 3rv).

Caterina fled, not finishing her confession. Back home, she entered the room that was most hidden and cried at length. At that moment, she was instructed interiorly about prayer and she became conscious of the immense of love of God towards her, a sinner - a spiritual experience which she would not be able to express in words (cfr. Vita mirabile, 4r).

It was on this occasion that the suffering Jesus appeared to her, carrying his Cross, a vision that is often represented in the saint's iconography. A few days later, she went back to the priest to complete a good confession. This began her 'life of purification' which, for a long time, brought her constant pain for the sins she had committed and impelled her to impose penances and sacrifices on herself to prove her love to God.

Along this path, Caterina came closer to the Lord until she entered what has been called the 'unitive life', which is a relationship of profound union with God.

In the Life, it is written that her soul was led and instructed interiorly only by God's tender love which gave her all that she needed.

Caterina abandoned herself so totally into the hands of the Lord that she lived, for almost 25 years, as she writes, "not through any creature, but only instructed and governed by God"
(Vita, 117r-118r), nourished above all by constant prayer and by Holy Communion received daily, which was not common in her time. It was only several years later that the Lord gave her a priest who would be her spiritual guide.

Caterina was always unwilling to confide and manifest her experience of mystical union with God, especially because of the profound humility that she felt in the face of the Lord's grace. Only the prospect of giving glory to him and to be able to play a part in the spiritual journey of others impelled her to narrate what had happened to her, from the moment of her conversion, which was her original and fundamental spiritual experience.

The place where she reached mystical peaks was the hospital of Pammatone, the largest Genoese hospital complex, of which she was the director and organizer. So, Caterina lived a totally active existence, notwithstanding the profundity of her interior life.

In Pammatone, a group of followers, disciples and collaborators, fascinated by her life of faith and her charity, started to form around her. Her own husband, Giuliano Adorno, was conquered to the point that he abandoned his life of dissipation to become a Franciscan tertiary and worked in the hospital to help his wife.

Caterina carried on her commitment to care for the sick to the end of her earthly life, which came on September 15, 1510.

From her conversion to her death, there were no extraordinary events, but two elements characterized her whole life: on the one hand, the mystical experience, that is, her profound union with God, which she experienced as a spousal; and on the other, her care of the sick, managing the hospital, service to her neighbor, especially the neediest and the abandoned.

These two poles - God and her neighbor - totally filled her life, which she lived almost entirely within the walls of the hospital.

Dear friends, we should never forget that the more we love God and are constant in prayer, the more we will love him who is within us and whoever is around us, because we will be capable of seeing in every person the face of the Lord, who loves without limit and without distinction.

The mystic does not create a distance from others, she does not create an abstract life, but rather comes closer to others as she begins to see and act with the eyes and with the heart of God.

Caterina's thoughts on Purgatory, for which she is particularly known, is condensed in the last two parts of the book cited earlier: the Treatise on Purgatory and the Dialog between the body and the soul.

It is important to note that Caterina, in recounting her mystical experience, never makes any specific revelations on purgatory and the souls who are undergoing purification. Nonetheless, in the inspired writings of our saint, it is a central element and the way it is described has original characteristics with respect to the image of it in her time.

The first original characteristic is the 'place' where souls are purified. In her time, this was mainly depicted using an image of a space where purgatory was located. But in Caterina, purgatory is not presented as an element of the landscape in the earth's bowels - it is an interior fire, not external.

This is purgatory, an interior fire, and the saint speaks of the soul's journey of purification towards full communion with God, starting from its own experience of profound pain for sins committed, compared to God's infinite love
(cfr. Vita mirabile, 171v).

We learned of the moment of her conversion, when Caterina suddenly experienced the goodness of God: the infinite distance of her own life from that goodness was a burning fire within her. This is the fire that purifies - the interior fire of purgatory.

Even here, there is an original feature compared to the thinking in her time. In fact, in her vision, one does not begin to experience the torments of purgatory in the afterlife - as was usual in her time and perhaps even today - and from there to begin the way of purification or conversion. Our saint begins with her own internal experience in her journey towards eternity.

The soul, Caterina says, presents itself to God still bound to desires and to the sorrow that comes from sin, and this makes it impossible for it to enjoy the beatific vision of God. She says that God is so pure and holy that the soul that is still stained with sin cannot be in the presence of his divine majesty
(cfr. Vita mirabile, 177r).

Even we feel how distant we are from God, how laden we are with so many things that we cannot see God. The soul is aware of the immense love and perfect justice of God, and consequently, suffers from not having responded correctly and perfectly to such love, and the very love for God becomes a flame that purifies the soul from the slag of sin.

We can detect in Caterina the presence of theological and mystical sources from which it was usual to draw in her time. In particular, an image typical of Dionysus the Areopagite, namely, that of the golden thread that links the human heart to God himself.

When God has purified man, he binds him with a most subtle thread of gold, which is his love, and draws man to himself with an affection so strong that man is "overcome and conquered and totally out of himself". And thus, man's heart is invaded by God's love which becomes the only guide, the only motor of his existence
(cfr. Vita mirabile, 246rv).

This condition of elevation towards God and of abandonment to his will, expressed in the image of the golden thread, is used by Caterina to express the action of divine light on the souls in purgatory, a light that purifies them and lifts them towards the radiant light of God (cfr. Vita mirabile, 179r).

Dear friends, the saints, in their experience of union with God, reach a 'knowledge' of the divine mysteries that is so profound, in which love and knowledge compenetrate. They are of help to theologians in their own studies of intelligentia fidei (knowledge of the faith), intelligentia about the mysteries of the faith, of real knowledge in depth of the mysteries - for instance, what purgatory is.

With her life, St. Caterina teaches us that the more we love God and enter into intimacy with him in prayer, the more he makes us know him and inflames our heart with his love. Writing about purgatory, the saint reminds us of a fundamental truth of the faith which becomes for us an invitation to pray for the deceased so that they may achieve the beatific vision of God in the communion of saints
(cfr. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1032).

Moreover, the humble, faithful and generous service that the saint devoted all her life at the hospital in Pammatone is a luminous example of charity for everyone and an encouragement, specially for women. who make a fundamental contribution to society and to the Church with their valuable work, enriched by their sensitivity and attention towards those who are poorest and neediest. Thank you.

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A Statement from the General Secretary
of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales


On or before 15 January 2011, it is expected that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will publish a Decree which will formally establish a ‘Personal Ordinariate’ in England and Wales (from here on referred to as ‘the Ordinariate’) for groups of Anglican faithful and their clergy who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The establishment of this Ordinariate will be the first fruit of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, issued by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 November 2009.

The Constitution and the Complementary Norms published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provide the essential norms which will enable members of the Ordinariate to preserve within the Catholic Church those elements of Anglican ecclesial prayer, liturgy and pastoral practice (patrimony) that are concordant with Catholic teaching and which have nurtured and nourished their Christian faith and life.

In time, it is expected that further Ordinariates will be established in other parts of the world to meet the desire of those Anglican communities who in a similar way seek to be united in communion with the Successor of St Peter.

As a new structure within the Catholic Church, there will be many ‘frequently asked questions’ about the Ordinariate. Some of these are:

Why did Pope Benedict XVI publish Anglicanorum coetibus?
As the Holy Father stated when he published Anglicanorum coetibus, he was responding to petitions received “repeatedly and insistently” by him from groups of Anglicans wishing “to be received into full communion individually as well as corporately” with the Catholic Church.

During his address to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales at Oscott last September, Pope Benedict was therefore keen to stress that the Apostolic Constitution “should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all.”

In this way, the establishment of the Ordinariate is clearly intended to serve the wider and unchanging aim of the full visible unity between the Catholic Church and the members of the Anglican Communion.

Will members of the Ordinariate still be Anglicans?
No. Members of the Ordinariate will be Catholics. Their decision is to leave the Anglican Communion and come into the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope.

The central purpose of Anglicanorum coetibus is “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared”. Members of the Ordinariate will bring with them, into full communion with the Catholic Church in all its diversity and richness of liturgical rites and traditions, some aspects their own Anglican patrimony and culture.

It is recognised that the term Anglican patrimony is difficult to define but it would include many of the spiritual writings, prayers, hymnody, and pastoral practices distinctive to the Anglican tradition which have sustained the faith and longing of many Anglican faithful for that very unity for which Christ prayed.

The Ordinariate will then bring a mutual enrichment and exchange of gifts, in an authentic and visible form of full communion, between those baptised and nurtured in Anglicanism and the Catholic Church.

Do all Anglicans who wish to become Catholics now have to be members of the Ordinariate?
No. Any individual former Anglican who wishes to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church, may do so without becoming a registered member of the Ordinariate.

As stated above, the Ordinariate is being established essentially for groups of former Anglican faithful and their clergy who wish to maintain as members of the Catholic Church, within the canonically approved and structured ecclesial life of the Ordinariate, those aspects of their Anglican spiritual, liturgical and pastoral tradition which are recognised as authentic by the Catholic Church.

What is the ‘Ordinariate’ then?
The Ordinariate will be a specific ecclesiastical jurisdiction which is similar to a diocese and will be led by its own ‘Ordinary’ (see below) who will be a bishop or priest. However, unlike a diocese its membership will be on a ‘personal’ rather than a ‘territorial’ basis; that is, no matter where a member of the Ordinariate lives within England and Wales they will, in the first instance, be under the ordinary ecclesial jurisdiction of the Ordinariate and not the diocese where they are resident.

The Ordinariate will be made up of laity, clergy and religious who were formerly members of the Anglican Communion. Following reception into full communion with the Catholic Church, the laity and religious will become members of the Ordinariate by enrolment in a register; with ordination as priests and deacons, the clergy will be directly incardinated into (placed under the jurisdiction of) the Ordinariate.

Will the Ordinary of the Ordinariate be like a diocesan bishop?
Each diocesan bishop is the Ordinary for his diocese (this does not mean ‘ordinary’ in the sense of common or normal but is an ecclesiastical term which means someone who exercises power and has jurisdiction by virtue of the office they hold).

The power which the diocesan bishop exercises is ordinary (related to his office as a diocesan bishop), proper (exercised in his own name, not vicariously) and immediate (directed toward all in the territory of his diocese).

The power exercised by the Ordinary of the Ordinariate will be ordinary (related to the specific office entrusted to him), vicarious (exercised in the name of the Roman Pontiff) and personal authority (directed to all who belong to the Ordinariate).

As the Ordinary of the Ordinariate (from here on referred to simply as ‘the Ordinary’) has similar authority and responsibilities in Canon Law to a diocesan bishop he will therefore be an ex officio member of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

As a member of the Conference, the Ordinary will, like a diocesan bishop, take a full part in its discussions and decisions. The Ordinary will exercise collegiate responsibility for implementing the resolutions taken by the Conference within the life of the Ordinariate in the same way that a diocesan bishop does so within his diocese.

Like diocesan bishops, the Ordinary will be also be required to make a visit to Rome every five years (traditionally called the ad limina Apostolorum – to the threshold of the Apostles) and present a report on the status of the Ordinariate to the Pope through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in consultation with the Congregation for Bishops.

Who will be the Ordinary of the Ordinariate?
The Ordinary of the Ordinariate must be a bishop or a priest and he will be appointed directly by Pope Benedict XVI. All subsequent Ordinaries will be appointed by the Roman Pontiff from a terna (list of three names) presented by the Governing Council of the Ordinariate (See below).

A married former Anglican bishop or priest who has been subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest cannot however be ordained as a Catholic bishop whilst their spouse is still living.

How will the Ordinariate be governed?
The Ordinariate will have a Governing Council of at least six priests, presided over by the Ordinary. Half of the membership is elected by the priests of the Ordinariate. The Ordinariate must also have a Pastoral Council for consultation with the laity and a Finance Council.

The Governing Council will have the same rights and responsibilities in Canon Law that the College of Consultors and the Council of Priests have in the governance of a Diocese. Unlike a diocesan bishop though, and out of respect for the synodal tradition of Anglicanism, the Ordinary will need the consent of the Ordinariate’s Governing Council to: admit a candidate to Holy Orders; erect or suppress a personal parish; erect or suppress a house of formation; approve a program of formation.

The Ordinary must also consult the Governing Council concerning the pastoral activities of the Ordinariate and the principles governing the formation of clergy.

The Governing Council will also have a deliberative vote when: choosing a terna of names to submit to the Holy See for the appointment of the Ordinary; proposing changes to the Complementary Norms of the Ordinariate to present to the Holy See; when formulating the Statutes of the Governing Council, the Statutes of the Pastoral Council, and the Rule for houses of formation.

Will the Ordinariate have parishes and deaneries?
The Ordinariate will have parishes within the dioceses where it has groups of members but they will be ‘personal’ parishes and not ‘territorial’ like a diocesan parish. Membership of a diocesan parish comes from living within the defined territorial boundaries of that parish; to be a member of a ‘personal’ parish in the Ordinariate a person must be a member of the group for which that parish was established, i.e., a former Anglican who is a member of, or has joined, a specific group within the Ordinariate.

After consulting with the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and obtaining the consent of the Governing Council, the Ordinary may erect territorial deaneries for a number of personal parishes which will be supervised by a delegate of the Ordinary.

Who will look after the Ordinariate parishes?
The Ordinariate parishes will be served by priests of the Ordinariate, appointed by the Ordinary. They may be assisted by a parochial vicar (assistant priest) and/or a deacon. Pastoral and finance councils will also be established in the parishes.

Diocesan clergy and religious, with the consent of their diocesan bishop or religious superior, may also assist in the pastoral care of the Ordinariate under the supervision of the Ordinary when and where it is deemed suitable. Similarly, clergy incardinated into the Ordinariate should also be available to assist in the pastoral care of the faithful in the local diocese.

What liturgy will the members of the Ordinariate celebrate?
The Ordinariate will not be a Ritual Church; that is, the Ordinariate will not be principally defined by the liturgical rites it uses. In addition to the Roman Rite, some of the liturgical rites of the Anglican tradition which have been adapted and approved by the Holy See may be used by the members of the Ordinariate.

It is expected that in due course, suitable rituals (Sacramentary, Divine Office, etc.) will be promulgated for Ordinariates across the world. However, as it will be fully a part of the Latin Catholic Church (as distinct from the Byzantine, Maronite, Chaldean Catholic Church, etc.) the Ordinariate will always be able to use the Roman Rite.

What churches will the Ordinariate use?
Because the previous places of worship used by the clergy and groups who will form the Ordinariate were in the ownership of the Church of England, it is unlikely that it will be possible for them to continue to be used by the Ordinariate members. In most cases therefore, Ordinariate congregations will probably use their local diocesan Catholic church for the celebration of Mass and other liturgies.

In some places there may be a diocesan church which is no longer needed to serve the needs of the local parish community; these could prove suitable for use by the Ordinariate. Essentially, the needs of each Ordinariate group will be carefully assessed by the Ordinary and the most suitable pastoral arrangements will be made by him in collaboration with the local diocesan bishop.

Will any Catholic be able to attend a Mass celebrated within an Ordinariate parish or by an Ordinariate priest?
Yes. Any Catholic, whether a member of the Ordinariate or a member of a diocese, will be able to attend Mass, receive Holy Communion and participate in the liturgies of an Ordinariate parish or celebrated by an Ordinariate priest. However, they would not be registered members of the Ordinariate and would remain under the ordinary jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop where they are resident.

Similarly, registered members of the Ordinariate are free to attend Mass, receive Holy Communion and participate in the liturgies of any diocesan parish but they would remain under the ordinary jurisdiction of the Ordinariate.

How will the Ordinariate be funded?
The Ordinariate, like every diocese, is expected to support financially its own clergy both when they are in ministry and when they have stepped down from public ministry. It will, like a diocese, need to make plans to ensure that it is financially secure and that its pastoral needs can be met.

Just as every diocese in England and Wales depends upon the contributions that each parish receives from Sunday collections to finance not only the running and maintenance of the parishes but also its central services, so too the Ordinariate will need similar support.

Just as some diocese have good financial reserves, investments and endowments, so too a fund has already been established to enable the Ordinariate to begin its work from the day it is erected. The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have already contributed a quarter of a million pounds to the fund and other charities are being asked to assist.

In those areas where groups are likely to be established, local Catholic dioceses are helping to find housing for the clergy who will serve in the Ordinariate and are providing whatever other practical support they can, e.g. provision or use of churches, use of diocesan curial services, assisting with the identification of salaried chaplaincy roles, etc.

When will all this take place?
The formal erection of the Ordinariate will take place with the publication of a Decree by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and the announcement of the name of the first Ordinary appointed by the Holy Father.

Already, three former Anglican Bishops have been received, together with some members of their families and three former Anglican women religious, into full communion with the Catholic Church on 1 January 2011. With the permission of the Holy See, they will also be ordained as Catholic Priests on 15 January 2011. A further two retired former Anglican Bishops will be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and proceed to Ordination as Catholic Priests in due course.

At the beginning of this Lent (Ash Wednesday falls on 9 March in 2011), a number of groups of former Anglican faithful together with their clergy will be enrolled as candidates for the Ordinariate.

Then, at a date to be agreed between the Ordinary and the local diocesan Bishop, they will be received into the Catholic Church and confirmed. This will probably take place either during Holy Week, at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday or during the Easter Vigil. The period of formation for the faithful and their pastors will continue to Pentecost.

Around Pentecost, those former Anglican clergy whose petitions for ordination have been accepted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome will be ordained to the Catholic Priesthood. Ordination to the Diaconate will precede this at some point during Eastertide. The formation of these clergy in Catholic theology and pastoral practice will continue for an appropriate amount of time after their ordination.

Why are priests for the Ordinariate being ordained so quickly and without the normal length of preparation being observed?
A key aspect of the establishment of the Ordinariate by Pope Benedict is that it enables groups of former Anglicans and their clergy to stay together. This is quite new as previously former Anglican clergy seeking ordination in the Catholic Church were separated from their communities, even if some members of those communities also became Catholics. A different timetable is required if this new aspect is to be achieved.

For this reason, the ordinations of the first priests for the Ordinariate will take place while their formation is still in process so as to enable them to minister to their communities within the full communion of the Catholic Church. The ordinations of the former Anglican bishops are taking place at this time with the express permission of the Holy Father so that they can play a role in the very first stages of the development of the Ordinariate.

The decisions taken by those Anglican clergy and faithful to leave the Church of England and seek full communion with the Catholic Church have been the fruit of much prayer and a long reflection on their personal and communal spiritual pilgrimage.

Pain will be felt by those leaving the Anglican Communion and by those with whom they have shared an ecclesial life. Our resolve to continue to work and pray for the unity of Christians therefore must not diminish.

The establishment of the Ordinariate is something new, not just in the life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales but in the universal Church as well. As such there will doubtless be more questions that will arise and challenges to be met as Ordinariates are established and grow. It is important therefore, particularly for those who will form the first groups within the Ordinariate in England and Wales, that our welcome is warm and our support is strong.[/SIM]

Please pray for all those who are trying to discern what path the Lord is calling them to follow, for those who are preparing to be received in to the Catholic Church and for those who are preparing to begin their ministry of service to the Lord as Catholic priests, deacons and religious.



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Yesterday, Il Foglio published a lengthy open letter from a few Catholic writers including bylines familiar to those who follow this Forum like Roberto Di Mattei and Francesco Agnoli, who expressed their apprehensions over 'Assisi-III', the inter-religious meeting that Benedict XVI plans to hold in October to mark the 25th anniversary of Assisi-I, the first World Day of Prayer for Peace organized by John Paul II in 1986.

My initial reaction was indignation because, like some other usually staunch Benedict XVI followers at the time the Pope first announced Assisi-3, they seem to think that 1) Benedict XVI is stepping back from his objections as Cardinal Ratzinger to Assisi-I, and 2) that what he plans in October 2011 will contain some of the equivocal elements or fall into the same theological pitfalls that characterized Assisi-I. Did they really think Benedict XVI needs to be reminded of all this???? ...Well, the dependable Andrea Tornielli has an article in Il Giornale today where he reproves them for the same reason and argues his case citing chapter and verse...

About those professors who seek
to explain theology to the Pope

by Andrea Tornielli
Translated from
January 12, 2011

It takes a certain chutzpah to write an appeal to Benedict XVI - theologian Pope who was the Church's chief doctrinal officer for almost a quarter century - to explain to him the doctrinal reasons why he should cancel an initiative that he himself has already announced: his convocation of the world's religious leaders to meet in Assisi next October in order to raise a concerted call for peace.

But that is what nine historians and journalists did in an open letter published yesterday in Il Foglio, who after calling themselves "Catholics most grateful for the work you are doing", then proceed to tell the Pope why he should have nothing to do with a meeting he has already called!

And they wished to explain the reasons to him, not merely by citing a series of citations from the Magisterium - which we must presume would not be unknown to someone like Joseph Ratzinger - but also reminding the Pope of the risks from 'this kind of meeting' to which he himself had called attention in the past.

The signatories harshly criticize the first Assisi inter-religious meeting hosted by John Paul II in October 1986. They claim that the event introduced indifferentism and religious relativism into the Catholic Church.

They recall the well-known 'liturgical abuses' that took place then (which were due to the initiative of the Franciscan friars who organized the event for the Pope, and not because he ordered them). Therefore, they call on Benedict XVI to step back from Assisi-III because, they claim, whatever he says there would not be understood, and the meeting would simply result in making it seem to the faithful that all religions are equal and interchangeable. [Imagine saying this to the author of DOMINUS IESUS! Not to mention that he is Pope and therefore the primary advocate and defender of the 'unam sanctam cattolicam et apostolicam ecclesiam'!]

What is striking about the 'appeal' is its total silence on the second inter-religious meeting in Assisi in January 2002, called by John Paul II shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

In fact, Assisi-II had none of the excesses and abuses of Assisi-I. And riding beside Papa Wojtyla on the train for Assisi-II was Cardinal Ratzinger himself, who upon returning from the event, wrote a beautiful meditation on it for the magazine 30 GIORNI.

"It was not," he wrote, "a self-presentation by each religion as if they were interchangeable. It was not an affirmation of equality among all religions, which does not exist. Rather, it was the expression of a path, a search, a pilgrimage for peace, which is peace only if it comes with justice".

"With their witness for peace, their commitment to peace with justice," he continued, "the representatives of various religions undertook, to the limits of their capabilities, to proceed together on a journey which should be for everyone a journey for purification as well".

In the book Truth and Tolerance, he would explain that despite 'undeniable dangers' of misunderstanding, "it would nonetheless be equally wrong to have a blanket and unconditional rejection of multi-religious prayer", which must take place under certain conditions and must be "a sign of extraordinary circumstances in which, so to speak, a common cry of anguish is raised to shake the hearts of men as well as the heart of God".

And just two days ago, in his New Year address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, Benedict XVI reminded the world that "the contribution of the great religions of the world to the development of civilization" cannot be overlooked.

Papa Ratzinger, in repeating Papa Wojtyla's Assisi gesture - the first one, under the threat of nuclear conflict, the second after Al Qaeda's murderous attack - intends this exceptional event, Assisi-III, to take away any justification from those who would exploit the name of God to carry out violence and terrorism. And to belie the idea that religions are necessarily cause for conflict and for a clash of civilizations.

Not surprisingly, Jose Luis Restan wrote a column almost identical in its line of argument as Tornielli's...

Assisi-III is well
worth the effort

Translated from
January 12, 2011

Benedict XVI's invitation to the religions of the world to share a day of prayer for peace in Assisi next October is already grist for debate.

Much was said at the time about the reservations that Cardinal RAtzinger had expressed about what happened at the first Assisi inter-religious meeting convoked by John Paul II 25 years ago. Now, a group of Catholic intellectuals has published in the newspaper Il Foglio an appeal to the Pope to cancel the event he announced on January 1.

It is curious how some of those who have always cited the doctrinal solidity of Joseph Ratzinger now advise him to be prudent and are warning him in severe tones of the possible consequences to an initiative that he, as the Successor to Peter, has taken in full awareness and freedom!

The signatories of the appeal believe that the event in Assisi - which they now recall to have done much harm (i.e., that it promoted religious syncretism and the perverse idea that all religions are equivalent and interchangeable) - was something that had corroded the fiber of Catholicism and blocked its missionary passion. And they warn Benedict XVI that it will have the same consequences today.

Let us review history. In his book Truth and Tolerance, dedicated in large part to the dialog between the Christian faith and other world religions, the theologian Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith acknowledged that a gesture like inter-religious prayer carries undeniable perils, but says in the next line that it would be a mistake to reject it totally and unconditionally.

With his habitual precision, Cardinal Ratzinger explained that inter-religious prayer must be "a sign of extraordinary circumstances in which, so to speak, a common cry of anguish is raised to shake the hearts of men as well as the heart of God".

So, let us ask ourselves: In view of the brutal threats from fundamentalism and the growing hostility from secularism, are we not in such circumstances now? Benedict XVI obviously thinks so.

On the other hand, one must narrate history completely. In 2002, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, John Paul II repeated his historic call to Assisi - and this time he was accompanied quite visibly by Cardinal Ratzinger.

I have a photo showing them smiling and content, hands clasped as they sat together in the train that took them to Assisi. After that occasion, Ratzinger wrote a beautiful meditation in which he said that "Assisi was the expression of a path, a search, a pilgrimage for peace, which is peace only if it comes with justice".

The Pope who has raised his voice - with tones that are perhaps unique in history - to defend his most vulnerable children believes that an act of common prayer for peace, which respects the demands of truth and justice, can be an important signal in this historical moment, in order to delegitimize the abominable justification of violence by fundamentalists and to show the secularized West the capacity of the major religions to generate coexistence.

Against the protesting intellectuals, I will stay with the wisdom of Peter.

Another reliable Italian Catholic commentator has his say on this issue, rather eloquently, published on the ideological website of Silvio Berlusconi's political coalition...

That 'Catholic right' that is
more Popish than the Pope

by Gianteo Bordero
Translated from
January 12, 2010

What a disappointment, to say the least, is the 'appeal' to Benedict XVI against the 'spirit of Assisi' published by some Catholic intellectuals and journalists in Tuesday's Il Foglio!

They want to teach Papa Ratzinger how to be Pope and how to respect Tradition without falling into syncretism and relativism! They want to teach the man who, more than anyone else in recent years, has denounced with absolute rigor 'the dictatorship of relativism' - which rules with absolute rigor - as the dark evil of our time and as a subtle but terrible threat to 'the faith of simple folk'.

They would be more Ratzingerian than Ratzinger himself, warning the former prefect for the doctrine of the faith against the progressive drift inherent in every inter-religious meeting!

They want him, to use a euphemism, not to follow the road of his predecessor John Paul II, but they do not have the courage to name the future Blessed as having tolerated some instances of the worst religious syncretism (ie, the pagan rituals introduced on occasion by his liturgical MC, Mons. Piero Marini, into papal liturgies in the name of 'inculturation').

Something must be understood - but not justified - in this tendency by some on the Catholic right to judge everything from the heights of their pre-conciliar snobbery, of their ideological traditionalism which treats Christianity - and the fact of being Christian itself - as if it was just a list of abstract doctrinal enunciations, something outside history, disembodied, and totally extrinsic to human existence with all its tragedies and its drama of the here and now.

They had thought, these signatories and their kind, that Benedict XVI would be the Pope who would step back in time, who would restore a 'golden past' and deligitimize the nouvelle theologie, consigning such as Von Balthasar, De Lubac and Guardini to a new Index of prohibited reading, when they were the theologian Ratzinger's own models during his formation.

They misread the Ratzinger who is proudly conciliar. The Ratzinger who chose the medieval wisdom of St. Bonaventure against the neo-Thomism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Ratzinger who has rescued traditional liturgy not by way of the schismatic Mons. Lefebvre but through the German new liturgical movement.

The same Ratzinger who wrote for John Paul II one of the documents that has been most rigorous against the myth of the veritable equivalence of all religions - the declaration Dominus Iesus which, in the Grand Jubilee Year of 2000, provoked such an outcry from the politically and ecclesiastically correct progressivists in the Church.

The same Ratzinger who, as Pope, would liberalize the pre-Conciliar Latin rite and revoke the excommunication of the bishops consecrated illegally by Lefebvre.

Finally, the same Ratzinger who criticized the 1986 Assisi meeting not per se, but for the equivocations that it generated in public opinion and within the so-called 'Catholic world' itself.

But to the zealous self-proclaimed 'custodians of genuine Tradition' all that is not good enough: dialog with representatives of other faiths should simply be shelved, despised, annulled. Because in their view, the Christian - as the repository of a syllogistic, deductive and, we must repeat, seemingly extrinsic 'truth' such as that professed by the maitres-a-penser of the Catholic right - does not need anyone or anything.

It doesn't seem to cross their minds that perhaps it is the world itself, and the other religions, who need Christians, who need their embodied hope, their love for neighbor, their self giving in imitation of Christ, in order to build a society that is more human, more respectful of human dignity and human rights, and therefore more free, as Benedict XVI himself pointed out Monday in his remarkable address to the Vatican diplomatic corps.

The world needs Christians today more than ever, at a time when fundamentalism (particularly Muslim and Hindu) seeks to perpetrate the idea - as we have seen lately in Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and other nations - that there is a legitimate anti-human violence that can be carried out in the name of God and that the 'infidel' can be deprived of his dignity and freedom under the direct orders of the Most High!

And this is what Ratzinger the Catholic has fought against all these years. This remains the great misunderstood and/or ignored lesson in the Regensburg lecture which was not an Occidentalist manifesto but a serious proposal to re-establish religious dialog on the basis of a logos that is common to all men.

And this is what is not seen by the signatories of the letter which is not an 'appeal' at all but a true and proper 'preemptive' critique of Benedict XVI. The Pope who in their narrow-minded view should have been the anti-Assisi, the anti-John Paul II, the anti-Vatican II, but who is, instead, simply a faithful disciple of Jesus, who gives his life in service to the Church in order to make Christ known and to respond to his call and his love.

He responds to Christ, not to the labels or categories which from time to time have been stuck on him by this or that theological or intellectual current.

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In his new column, Vittorio Messori offers a specific reflection on the Papacy that we do not usually think about...

The task of the Popes:
To confirm us in the faith

Translated from
Jan. 12, 2001

In the little town on Lake Garda where I live, a young priest from Verona, don Andres Brugnoli, is trying out new forms of apostolate. One of those which has been successful and which he is exporting to other parts of Italy, is the 'theological coffee klatsch". Evening gatherings when attendees listen to good speakers while sipping coffee and nibbling pastries.

At yesterday's theological klatsch, the guest was Gianpaolo Barra, editor of Il Timone [parent publication of La Bussola]. I went to hear him, and there were a lot of people. Barra had a very lucid - and very apologetistic - presentation on what is the true Church of Christ.

He recalled, for instance, the statement Jesus made to Peter: "You are Peter, and on this rock I shall build my Church". This has been the stumbling block for all those who reject the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and the cream of Protestant theologians, taken seriously by their academic colleagues, have said: "Actually, Jesus points to Simon when he says 'You are Peter', then points to himself when he says 'On this rock I will build my Church'". A wisecrack that indicates how weighty the statement is.

I would like to add another argument which did not come up last night for lack of time. It is what Jesus said to Simon as reported in the Gospel of Luke: "Simon, Simon, I have prayed for you, that your own faith may never fail... and that you will confirm your brothers in the faith".

Here, Peter is given a very important task, which is a useful answer to give to whoever criticizes the papacy by saying: "But look what immoral and dishonorable persons have sat on Peter's Chair in the course of history!" Think of, say Alexander VI, Papa Borgia, almost the icon of papal dissolution.

But we must recognize that Jesus did not give us Peter and his successors as examples of living but as custodians and teachers of the faith. In the history of the Popes, there is everything, including the opposite of everything: Popes who were saints and Popes who were villains. Sorry about that! We would have wanted all of them to be consistent with the Gospel message.

But what counts is their teaching, since the task of the Pontiff is to be the Rock that supports the faith. Blessed John Henry Newman acknowledged that, in the list of Popes, even those who had the most scandalous lives have always confirmed, from the doctrinal point of view, the Christian faith consistent with preceding tradition.

It would be most gratifying if all Popes were also consistent in their lifestyle, and yet we must acknowledge that, thank God, at least since the fall of Napoleon onwards, we have since always had Popes who were equally admirable for their moral life.

But we must not forget that their mission is to confirm us in the faith, even when they themselves may not live in accordance with moral demands. It's a painful inconsistency, but Jesus himself seems to have anticipated this when, speaking of the priests in his time, he gave prevalence to 'do as they say', without being very much scandalized when what they did was not in accordance with what they taught.

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Make what you will of this... It's always hard to see through Muslim doublespeak...

Imam of Al-Azhar only wants
'clarification', his spokesman says

Translated from the Italian service of
Imam Al-Tayyeb, and the Mosque and University of Al-Azhar.

CAIRO, Jan. 12 (AKI) - "There is no hostility nor rivalry with the Vatican. All we want is some clarification in order to re-establish the truth", Muhammad Rifai al-Tahtawi, spokesman of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed Al Tayyeb, told AKI today. [What is there to clarify???? The Pope has every right to speak in behalf of persecuted Christians, and for as long as he does not make any wild or unfounded accusations - which he has not and never would - how can anyone reproach or worse, condemn him, for speaking up as he does?]

"We esteem Pope Benedict XVI, and we have no hostility towards him," he continued. "We consider it positive that he has asked the Arab nations to protect the Christians in the Middle East, without asking for the intervention of foreign forces". [Now they consider it 'positive'! And yet, although Benedict XVI never once specifically asked for this in all his references to the Alexandria bombing, Al Tayyeb for two days in a row criticized the call for protection of Christians as 'interference' in Egyptian affairs! An accusation suddenly echoed on Tuesday by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, in what seemed like looking for a pretext to to diss the Pope, who knows for whatever internal political reason the Mubarak government needed to deflect pressure away... As for 'the intervention of foreign forces', an Italian commentator said what the spokesman meant was that the Pope had not invoked UN help!]

But the spokesman would not comment on the decision of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to recall the Egyptian ambassador to the Vatican for consultations in Cairo, after the Pope's appeal in behalf of Christians in the Middle East.

He limited himself to saying, "It's a political question that does not concern us directly".

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Thursday, January 13
ST. HILAIRE (HILARY) OF POITIERS (France, 315-368), Bishop, Writer, Doctor of the Church
Benedict XVI, in October 2007, synthesized the saint's life this way: Born around the year 310, baptized when he was about thirty-five,
he became Bishop of Poitiers some eight years later. In opposition to the Arians, who believed Jesus was a created being, Hilary dedicated
his life to defending our faith in the divinity of Christ. While exiled to Frigia, because of the stance he took against the Arians at the Synod
of Béziers, he began his most important work, De Trinitate. In this text he demonstrates how both the old and new testaments clearly attest
the divinity of the Son and his equality with the Father with whom he shares one nature. In his De Synodis Hilary maintained a conciliatory
spirit with those who used deficient theological formulations, while leading them to accept fully the Nicean creed. In 360 he returned home,
took up his pastoral duties, and continued to write. The influence of his teaching spread and many were strengthened in their resistance to
Arian thought, realising that Christ is our Saviour precisely because he is true God and true man. Fundamental to Hilary’s insight was the
importance of our Trinitarian baptismal faith. Let us join him in praying to the Lord that we remain faithful to this confession, and always
bear joyful witness to our baptismal call!" St. Hilary has been called 'Hammer of the Arians' and 'Athanasius of the West'.

Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.
Illustration: St. Caterina of Genoa, polychrome statue, 17th-century, Church of Santa Caterina in Genoa.
At the General Audience, the Holy Father introduces St. Catherine of Genoa, who wrote about
'The golden thread that draws man to God'
Other Page 1 stories: The never-ending emergency for the tens of thousands of children left homeless by the Haiti earthquake one year ago; Japan comes to the aid of the euro-zone by buying bonds from distressed countries; Tunisian police called out to quell street uprisings by youth demanding food and work that has been going on in Tunisia and neighboring Algiers since last week; and a major exhibit on Italy's great 20th century master Amedeo Modigliani. In the inside pages, the Italian lower House overwhelmingly approves a resolution directing the government to exert pressure where necessary to counteract anti-Christian persecution abroad; and a story on the pastoral plan, presented to the Holy Father last week by Cardinal Vingt-Trois, that was drawn up by the bishops of France seeking to make up for the country's decline in priestly vocations.


The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (Seminaries and Study Institutes)

- Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City state and of the Vatican Governatorate

- Mons. Joseph Werth, S.J., Bishop of the Church of the Transfiguration in Novosibirsk (Russia),
Ordinary for Byzantine-rite faithful in Russia

- H.E. Martin Bolldorf, Ambassador of Austria, on farewell visit


The Holy Father has named Mons. Leopoldo Girelli, till now Apostolic Nuncio in Indonesia, to be the Nuncio to
the New Apostolic Nunciature in Singapore. Simultaneously, he will be the Apostolic Delegate to Malaysia and Brunei
and the non-resident Pontifical Representative to Vietnam.


- The Anglophone news agencies have now picked up Andrea Tornielli's pre-announcements of the developments in John Paul II's
cause for beatification.

- Meanwhile, much ado in the blogosphere about what the Pope never said about baptismal names as if he had actually said
what the media have cavalierly and falsely attributed to him.

- And from Kathnet, this absurd and therefore even more outrageous report: The European Union has apologized to the Conference of Catholic Episcopal Conferences of Europe, which protested the fact that the school calendars printed by the EU for 2010-2011 contains all the major religious holidays of Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs, but not a single Christian holiday, not even Christmas and Easter. Sorry, but an apology won't do! It was obviously a deliberate decision - you don't just overlook including any Christian holiday in a calendar for a continent that is still 90% nominally Christian! Exhibit #957 if anyone wants to prosecute for the hardline Christianophobia that infests the EU bureaucrats who run the continent from Brussels!

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Moderate Pakistani Muslims support
the Pope in defense of religious freedom
and repeal of blasphemy law

by Jibran Khan

LAHORE, Pakistan, Jan. 13 (AsiaNews) - Respect for the words of Benedict XVI, appreciation for his call to repeal the blasphemy law - which they claim is used to "settle personal disputes" - and defence for the Christian minority as a victim of violence and abuse.

Some religious leaders and Islamic scholars in Pakistan - along with human rights activists and members of civil society - have distanced themselves from fundamentalist threats against the Pope, and expressed their appreciation of his campaign for "full religious freedom."

The central question, they explain to AsiaNews, revolves around the secular state and the functioning of the judicial system, which must enforce the law and stop the extremists.

Along with human rights activists and members of civil society, Mullah Mehfuz Ahmed, head of the Islamic Council in Islamabad, has also welcomed the words of Benedict XVI.

"It is time to take on firm positions and promote religious freedom," he said. "I support the Pope's words for the repeal of the blasphemy law, because it is only used to settle personal disputes”.

Mullah Mushararf Husain, an expert on Islamic law and the imam of the Jamia mosque in Rawalpindi, expressed "respect for the words of Benedict XVI" and appreciates "his efforts over the blasphemy law."

He also recalls that the assasinated governor of Punjab prvince, Salman Taseer, loved Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, but "His only sin” was to help a Christian woman, convicted of blasphemy."

The imam adds that "it is time for the major parties to join efforts to eradicate fundamentalist mentality," a necessary step to "save the country" from the brink.

Muhammad Asad Shafique, head of the department of Islamic studies at Quaid-e-Azam University, told AsiaNews that "the Pope's statement comes at a crucial moment" because the government "has prostrated itself to pressure from Islamic groups."

The scholar points out that the trial of Taseer's murderer is "a test case for the justice system" because first of all judges must determine "whether Salman Taseer has committed the crime of blasphemy." In his view, the decision on the case will affect "the interpretation of the law."

The Muslim scholar Ali Waqas Wasti recalls the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and comments: "If he were alive today, he would not survive very long," because he would be killed "by extremists on false charges of blasphemy."

He explains that fundamentalists consider the Pope’s words "offensive", but he would point out to them that "there are courts that must decide who to punish or release" and critics of the law "are not blasphemers".

Below: Demonstration held in Lahore today by the fundamentalist Jamaal-i-Islami party. The rally appears very well-organized,
with placards and banners in English, but with POPE mis-spelled as 'POP'!


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Mr. Oddie wrote this as a reaction to some criticism from the FSSPX of Assisi-3. Obviouly he was not aware when he wrote it that some voices from heh so-called Catholic right in Italy had set forth a far more extended objection than did the FSSPX, whose kneejerk reaction was to be expected since, after all, they find the Vatican II idea of religious freedom questionable, and this is one of the discussion points in their doctrinal discussions with the CDF. It goes without saying that Oddie's arguments apply just as well to the more-Popish-than-the-Pope Italian Catholics. As Mr. Oddie presents it, the extremists on the right, including the Lefebvrians, are just as guilty of cafeteria Catholicism as those on the liberal left....

You think you’re more Catholic than the Pope?
Then you’re on your way to the funny farm:
The interfaith pilgrimage to Assisi
doesn’t compromise a single Catholic belief

By William Oddie
13 January 2011

John Paul II prays at Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi with representatives of 12 world religions (AP Photo)

As my readers will have gathered by now, I worry about Catholics who think that the Magisterium of the Church is just one opinion among many, and that it is up to them to decide what a Catholic may or may not believe. But at least their view is comprehensible, if defective. To put it crudely, they may be Catholic; they’re just not Catholic enough.

I am much more puzzled by those who think that the Pope himself is open to criticism on the ground that he isn’t Catholic enough, and certainly much less Catholic than they are.

Predictably, perhaps, the present Pope’s decision to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s meeting with leaders of other world religions to pray for peace has drawn fire from the SSPX, who have recalled Archbishop Lefebvre’s attack on that event: the Church, he pronounced, had never before been “humiliated to such an extent in the course of her history” and that “the scandal given to Catholic souls cannot be measured”.

“The Church,” said the archbishop, “is shaken to its very foundations”. [Not so shaken, obviously, as to keep Mons. Lefebvre two years later from coming as far as to sign an agreement for reconciling wiht Rome with no less than Cardinal Ratzinger, only to renege on it a few days later!]

Well, it was rubbish then and it‘s rubbish now. The Church wasn’t shaken to its foundations. On the contrary, John Paul II was the {ope who, more than any other in this century [the 20th, you mean! Benedict XVI is a 21st century Pope], strengthened those foundations. I have to admit that I’m not particularly keen on what I have heard called “interfaith interface”. I think other religions are just wrong.

But if those who adhere to them are sincerely praying for peace within their own religious traditions, however they may understand what the word “God” may mean, who am I to say that He, the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, won’t listen to their prayers? I don’t know what good the Assisi meeting did, who can? But it can surely hardly be argued that it did any harm.

The fact is that Pope John Paul did more to defend Catholic orthodoxy than Lefebvre could have in a thousand years: for, the fact is that Lefebvre, in separating himself from the Successor of Peter in the name of orthodox Catholic belief and practice, did nothing but encourage the notion that orthodoxy, far from being the same thing as ultimate sanity, is on the contrary, the mark of the extremist and the nutter.

What is the Pope risking by praying with those whose beliefs he does not share? This isn’t an interfaith doctrinal negotiation: he won’t compromise a single Catholic teaching.

This isn’t like inviting a Muslim to contribute a prayer in the context of the Mass (as has been done in Westminster Cathedral) on the ground that “we all worship the same God”, when clearly we don’t.

This is the way Pope Benedict understands this event: “I will make a pilgrimage to the town of St Francis, inviting my Christian brethren of different confessions, leaders of the world’s religious traditions and, in their hearts, all men and women of good will, to join me on this journey in order to commemorate that important historical gesture of my predecessor, and solemnly to renew the commitment of believers of all religions to live their religious faith as a service to the cause of peace.” [As I noted at the time he made the announcement, he very carefully avoided making any reference to 'prayer', much less to inter-religious prayer. Very simply, I am very much in suspense about how he plans to execute Assisi-III, but however he does it, I trust his exquisite judgment and do not rule out the possibility of another real surprise! Sort of a teaching moment: "If you are going to do this at all, here is the way it should be done!"]

Well? And how is that a betrayal of the Catholic faith? You may think I’m taking the SSPX too seriously. But there are plenty of people in communion with the Holy See who think they’re more Catholic than the Pope on this and other issues; if you doubt that, just look at some of the half-crazed comments to be found under the Herald’s online story headlined “SSPX leader criticises Pope’s plan to hold inter-religious meeting”.

Being a Catholic means believing many things, some of them more important than others. But one core principle is surely indispensable: Quite simply, you trust the pope. For, once you start thinking you are a better and more faithful Catholic than he is, you are well on your way to the funny farm.

This principle is connected to Messori's column a few posts above in which Jesus defined the task of Peter - and of his successors, the Popes: As the rock on which Jesus has built his Church, he has to confirm his brothers in the faith.

And Blessed Newman's observation is surely pertinent: that even among the worst of Popes - ie., the morally repugnant among them - not one failed to pass on the teaching of the Church as it had been handed down to them. Continuity, continuity, continuity... There is a fundamental reason for the Apostolic Succession and why it is such an important principle in the Catholic Church.

Also, it goes with what Benedict XVI said in LOTW (Page 8):

Where Peter is, there is the Church. It goes without saying that the Pope can have private opinions that are wrong. But when he speaks, as we already said, as the supreme pastor of the Church, fully aware of his responsibility, then he no longer says something that is personally his, whatever happens to occur to him. Then, conscious of this great responsibility and at the same time of the Lord’s protection, he knows that he is not misleading the Church in such a decision but, rather, is guaranteeing her unity with the past, the present, and the future and above all with the Lord.

It turns out the Catholic Herald ran a piece on the FSSPX yesterday which Oddie refers to, and here it is. However, since I had read, translated and posted the Summorum Pontificum Observatus blog from France much earlier (in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread, page 24) on remarks Fellay made after the homily referred to below, and knowing the FSSPX hard line on religious freedom, I was not surprised nor as indignant as I was about the Italian open letter to the Pope. At least the FSSPX was not lecturing the Pope but simply re-stating what it has been saying since 1986... It was bunkum then, it is bunkum now.

SSPX leader criticises Pope’s plan
to hold inter-religious meeting

By Anna Arco
12 January 2011

The leader of the Society of St Pius X has expressed anger at Pope Benedict’s decision to hold another inter-religious meeting at Assisi.

Weeks after Bishop Bernard Fellay said he was feeling optimistic about union with Rome this year, the superior general of the SSPX  said he was deeply indignant about the Pope’s invitation to religious leaders around the world to join him in Assisi.

Preaching on the Epiphany, Bishop Fellay said: “Yes, we are deeply indignant, we vehemently protest against this repetition of the days at Assisi. Everything that we have said, everything that Archbishop Lefebvre had said at the time of the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986, we repeat in our own name. It is evident, my dear brothers, that such a thing demands reparation. What a mystery!”

[Answering questions from the public - obviously a traditionalist audience - in Paris at a colloquium later that day,
Fellay is reported to have been conciliatory overall in his tone, and though he criticized Assisi-I, he apparently acknowledged that Assisi-II had been 'not as bad', but he did not refer to Assisi-2 in his sermon, and that's an error of omission... You should wait, Mons. Fellay, until we know what the Pope has in mind for Assisi-3.. You know Joseph Ratzinger better than to think he is creating unnecessary trouble for the Church by convoking Assisi-III!]

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX, complained about the first World Day of Prayer for Peace. He said the Church had never before been “humiliated to such an extent in the course of her history”. He told John Paul II that “the scandal given to Catholic souls cannot be measured. The Church is shaken to its very foundations”.

Pope Benedict told pilgrims at the first Angelus of the year that he would travel to Assisi in October to mark the 25th anniversary of the day.

He said: “I will make a pilgrimage to the town of St Francis, inviting my Christian brethren of different confessions, leaders of the world’s religious traditions and, in their hearts, all men and women of good will, to join me on this journey in order to commemorate that important historical gesture of my predecessor, and solemnly to renew the commitment of believers of all religions to live their religious faith as a service to the cause of peace.”

It always surprises me - and it shouldn't - when persons whose views I generally share suddenly take a stand quite differetnt from my own. And so, today I was shocked to find that Giuliano Ferrara, editor of Il Foglio, had written an editorial expressing his disapproval that some Catholics have reacted against the open letter by Di Mattei et al that he published yesterday. And to the fact that well-known Italian progressivist Catholic Alberto Melloni objected to the open letter for his own reasons in Corriere della Sera indulging in some name-calling against the writers of the open letter. But Melloni habitually does that against Catholic writers who have orthodox views!

What surprised me is that Ferrara was arguing as if the objection were to the fact that the open letter was published at all, or that the signatories had expressed their opinion! Of course, no one would dream of curtailing freedom of expression! In fact, the burden of the argument by the orthodox writers exemplified by Tornielli and Bordeo was to dispute the Di Mattei group's working hypothesis - but more importantly, to point out that Benedict XVI is the last person in the world anyone should lecture about the dangers of religious relativism and syncretism.

Ferrara, who is a self-proclaimed atheist, says in effect that every Catholic should be free to question the Church's orthodox teaching. Not really - because how is that different from the cafeteria Catholicism of the liberal left? On the matter of Assisi-3, the central question the objectors raised was whether the Pope - whose primary task is to uphold Christianity and its teachings - is acting in the interests of the faith at all! Each Catholic owes unconditional loyalty to the Successor of Peter, a loyalty in which one trusts implicitly that his teaching will never betray the Church of Christ.

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JP-II beatification
may be announced tomorrow


VATICAN CITY, Jan. 13 (Reuters) - Former Pope John Paul II will move a step closer to sainthood this week when his successor Pope Benedict approves the case for his beatification, Vatican sources said on Wednesday.

In "a few days", the Vatican's Prefect for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, is expected to present Benedict with the evidence that John Paul performed a miracle and should be beatified, one source said.

[One report says Cardinal Amato's audience with the Pope will take place tomorrow.]

At that point Benedict is expected to approve the recommendation and set a date for the ceremony. It is less than six years since the death of the Polish pontiff.

One miracle is needed for beatification, while two are required for sainthood.

On Tuesday a Vatican commission of cardinals and bishops, members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, approved medical and theological evidence that John Paul had miraculously cured a nun with Parkinson's disease, paving the way for the beatification request to be presented.

The initial phases of a canonisation cause can usually take decades or, in some cases, hundreds of years. However in May 2005, a month after his death, Benedict put John Paul on the fast track by dispensing with Church rules that normally impose a five-year waiting period after a candidate's death before the procedure begins.

Crowds at John Paul's funeral on April 8, 2005 chanted "santo subito" ("make him a saint now").

His 27-year papacy, which began in 1978, was one of the most historic and tumultuous of modern times.

During his pontificate communism collapsed across eastern Europe, including in his native Poland. John Paul, the first non-Italian pope in 450 years, was seriously wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt.

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a 47-year-old French nun diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, from which Pope John Paul himself suffered, said it inexplicably disappeared two months after his death after she and her fellow nuns prayed to him.

Meanwhile, CNS and Rome Reports have the following addendum:

January 13, 2011 = According to the French news agency I Media, work is underway to prepare a chapel on the ground floor of St. Peter's Basilica to house the remains of John Paul II after he is beatified. At present, he is buried in a crypt of the Vatican Grottoes.

Left, Benedict XVI praying at his predcessor's tomb on Nov. 2, 2010; right, the St. Sebastian chapel today.

The site is reportedly the Chapel of St. Sebatian, to the left of the Pieta chapel near the entrance to the Basilica.

With great care and absolute discretion, Vatican workers are gradually removing the tiles and decorations of this chapel, in order to prepare a new area that will house the tomb of the future blessed John Paul II. The transfer of the body is expected before late October, after the possible beatification. a picture taken today showed the chapel closed off by a heavy drape.

The chapel takes its name from the giant mosaic of St. Sebastian that constitutes its altarpiece, executed in 1736 after a 1631 painting of the saint by Domechino. The problem is what will they do with Blessed Innocent XI (1676-1689), who has been the saint venerated below the altar all this time?

It's strange, but even John Paul II's beatification is meeting with resistance from some orthodox Catholics who think the church is rushing to judgment. The objection is not just from those who think that the late Pope's friendship with the disgraced Legionaries founder Fr. Marcial Maciel may result in an embarassing backlash for the Church down the line, but also from those who think that a Pope should not be beatified or canonized by his immediate successor. Why not, though, if the candidate Pope passes all the tests set by the Church? Besides, the reigning Pope has no input at all into the entire testing and verification process, wisely perhaps, in order not to introduce his own personal biases into it.

Benedict XVI waived the five-year waiting period after the candidate's death to begin the beatification process for his successor, who had set the precedent himself by waiving it for Mother Teresa of Calcutta. But after that waiver, B16 has since allowed the process to run its course normally - without undue haste, as far as anyone can tell. Even a doubt about the beatification miracle expressed by one of the medical experts consulted by the Vatican was given due course, and other experts were called in to test his challenge.

Benedict XVI was never known to be an impatient man, much less an imprudent one. He would be the very first to sense and know if anything he did in connection with the beatification and eventual canonization of John Paul II was questionable or vulnerable to future challenges. He has been similarly prudent - but not indecisive - about the cause for the beatification of Pius XII. In this, as in Assisi-3, Benedict XVI deserves our trust, at the very least.

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Speaking about loyalty and obedience to the Pope, here is a beautiful forthright essay written by the editor of Il Timone whom Vittorio Messori cited in his essay about 'the task of the Popes' - appropriately inspired by a coffee-klatsch talk that Barra gave - and to which this is a serendipitous companion piece... Thanks, as usual, to Lella and her blog for the link to this piece.

The good soldier
and the Pope

by Gianpaolo BARRA
Translated from the Jan. 2011 issue of

The thick book of historian Roberto Di Mattei, Il Concilio Vaticano II: Una storia mai scritta(The Second Vatican Council: A history never written)(Lindau, 2010) has aroused a lively and interesting dispute among those whom, for convenience, I shall call 'Catholics faithful to the Pope' (by which I mean, in general, those who love him and do not question his instructions and teachings). The discussions have remained so far civil and peaceful.

The bone of contention, of course, is Vatican-II, or better yet, some passages in the contents of the 16 documents approved by that supreme assembly which some 'faithful to the Pope' consider 'problematic' because they seem to contradict the Church's perennial teaching. [In this sense, they are no different from the Lefebvrians, who prefer not to recognize any Magisterium that comes after 1962; the passages both groups consider problematic are probably almost or completely identical).

The 'questioning faithful' would like the Pope to lay down a definitive word that would get rid of any doubts and put an end to all the equivocations that arose after Vatican II.

As far as I know, the Pope has given - repeatedly - precise instructions in this respect, denouncing the existence of two opposing modes of interpreting the conciliar texts, saying that only one way is correct: to understand these texts, appreciate them and follow them, as being 'reform in continuity' with the tradition of the Church. Thus, and only thus, the Pope underscores, can any equivocation or ambiguity disappear.

[That would seem simple enough. Unless one is the willing captive of the 'spirit of VAtican II' ideology. The original problem about the 'interpretation' of Vatican II is hat it was co-opted early on when the media bought the narrative of the Council progressivists (Kueng, Rahner et al among the theologians, and the European progressive bishops they advised) that Vatican II was a break with the past and the birth of a 'new Church' - and this is the myth that has persisted, especially as it had a striking 'objective correlative' in the Protestantized New Mass. The progressivists easily won the day - and the media - against the more 'conservative' theologians like Von Balthasar, De Lubac and Ratzinger, who were considered retrograde, and therefore, not worthy of attention, by the dominant progressive wave that expressed itself in the secular world as the 1960s counterculture. As Benedict XVI says in LOTW, in one of the passages that has not been quoted enough:

Above all, the Council took up and carried out its great mission of defining in a new way the Church’s purpose as well as her relation to the modern era, and also the relation of faith to this time with its values.

But to put into practice what was said, while remaining within the intrinsic continuity of the faith, is a much more difficult process than the Council itself. Especially since the Council came into the world in the interpretation devised by the media more than with its own documents, which are hardly ever read by anyone.

I have no desire - and frankly, I am not capable - of getting into the merits of the confrontation that goes on even among valued collaborators of Il Timone.

But I believe I can say one thing, not about the 'merits' in dispute, but about the 'method' that must be adopted and applied inflexibly by anyone who considers himself 'faithful to the Pope' - especially as an apologist (ie., someone engaged in apologetics), and therefore ready to fight like a good soldier to defend the Church.

Above all, when, with the Pope, the good soldier must face the problems raised by the interpretation of some Vatican II texts. It is a method that will avoid wrong judgments. And which, in my opinion, consists of three 'moves'.

The first: Acknowledge, dutifully, that Vatican II was an act of the highest Church Magisterium, because the decisions were made by all the bishops of the world who had assembled under the leadership of the Successor of Peter. Therefore, it must be respected as all the other Church Councils that preceded it.

The second: Acknowledge that the Holy Father, as a good and paternal 'general', being the universal pastor of the Church, has laid down the guidelines on how to interpret Vatican II so that its teachings are not distorted and can bear fruit for the mission of the Church in the world.

The third: A true soldier - namely, every good Catholic - should not dispute the Pope's instructions, must not quibble about these guidelines, or split hairs, but use every 'weapon' at his disposal (the talents God has given him) to support, examine in depth, explain, clarify and defend not just the Pope's guidelines but the teachings in question.

If Benedict XVI has said that Vatican II - all of it - must be read in the light of Tradition, and if he has reitrated time and again that this is the only way not to falsify its teachings, and the only way to harmonize it with the Church's perennial teaching, then the Catholic soldier must fight so that the Pope's guidelines, his directives and his strategies with respect to Vatican II are understood, accepted, followed and promoted.

I don't think that is too much to ask. And if anyone accuses such a loyal soldier of being servile, passive, humiliated, blindly obedient, then tell them with compassionate benevolence to get lost. The Catholic soldier answers only to God for how he has acquitted himself in battle, and should not care what others may think.

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