Benedetto XVI Forum


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7/3/2009 2:14 AM
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Please see preceding page for earlier 7/2/09 entries.

Peter's necessary work
Translated from

VATICAN CITY, July 2, 2009 (Fides News Agency) - Pope Clement the Roman, recounting the deaths of the apostles Peter and Paul, observed that the envy of some in the Christian community itself had facilitated it.

After two thousand years, the same sin lives on in men.

There are those who are happy these days about the Pontifical Magisterium, if only because it has put a brake on the 'discontinuity' interpretation of Vatican-II, saying that widespread conflicts in the fields of doctrine, Catholic education adn liturgy are the result of misunderstanding [deliberate, I believe] because the Council was clear about what it intended.

The Pope is 'Peter', head of the apostles.

His brother bishops legitimately pasture the flock of Christ only in effective and affective union [or 'communion', the term Benedict XVI prefers] with Peter.

Otherwise, the Church will revert to its experience in the 4th century when almost all teh bishops of the world yielded to the will of an Arian (heretical) emperor.

At the time, only the Pope and a handful of bishops faithful to him kept the Catholic faith intact.

The Pope is where he is,among other things, as a reminder that the Church is not a human structure. And this too is not a small part of why so many diverse cultures and peoples find their identity in Church.

As the servant of God John Paul II often said, we are in the midst of a 'silent apostasy', which is becoming ever less silent and ever more obvious.

In the history of the Church, there has never been such a widespread lack of faith. The adversary is subtle and plants its barbs so deep in the hearts of suggestible Catholics that they are almost invisible.

Remember the prophet Daniel who warned that the 'enemy' would gain power over all nations in a peaceful manner and by flattery. ("He shall come in peace, and obtain the kingdom by flattery".)

Cardinal John Henry Newman suggested that apostasy by the people of God always precedes the advent of 'anti-Christs' - tyrants like Antiochus and Nero, Julian the Apostate, the atheist leaders of the French Revolution - each of them a 'type' or 'presage' of the anti-Christ, who was to have come at the end of history, when the mystery of iniquity would have manifested its final and most terrible insensibility.

The inability of believers to live their own faith, Newman warned, as in preceding epochs, would lead to "the kingdom of the man of sin, who negates the divinity of Christ and elevated himself in his place"
(M.D.O’Brien, The Enemy, Cinisello Balsamo 2006).

There has been the attempt to reduce the Church to a global humanitarian agency with the utopian delusion that unity among nations can be realized through international organisms and not through Christ.

But the Lord, even if he sleeps in the boat during a storm, will wake up when he must and tame the waves. Then he will turn to us and ask why we have so little faith.

In the meantime, we must bear the Cross. We observe betrayal. And we suffer.

Newman writes on: "The goal of teh devil, when he sows revolution in the Church, is to throw it into confusion so that its attention is distracted and its energies dispersed. In this way, we will be weakened at the very time in history when we need to be even stronger."

And more from Newman:

"'But why does the Holy Father not act?', people ask. 'Why can he not impose obedience on dissident bishops and priests?' Well, he has done so repeatedly and in the most Christian way. But he does not have a police force nor an army. Lately, he has been more firm with the dissidents... But the solution is not authoritarianism, because that would simply pour gas on the flames of rebellion.

"The Holy Father will work for as long as there is light. He reminds us all of He who carried the Cross and died on it. In his own hands, that is all he carries: a Cross, and he always talks about the triumph of the Cross. Those who do not wish to listen must answer to God" (Ivi,p 402-403).

When one reads the nonsense spewed forth these days by 'Catholic' media like America magazine and the National Catholic Reporter, then the barbs of the enemy are far from hidden. I would like to see this affliction of logorrhea - foul and fouler in more ways than one - as some sort of a last-ditch resistance by an enemy consigned to the trenches.

But alas, being in the trenches can also mean 'entrenched' as I fear dissident Catholics are throughout the world, where they are enabled if not actually urged on by their dissident bishops and clergy who have absolutely lost all their scruples and couldn't care less that they had vowed poverty, obedience and chastity.

They claim they are following Vatican II but it is clear most of them have not read the Vatican II documents in a long time - if they ever have at all (probably simply swallowing the snake-oil peddled to them by the 'discontinuity' advocates).

These false prophets have managed to convince the predisposed that Vatican-II has sanctioned every Catholic to do as he pleases - the so-called 'primacy of individual conscience' - never mind what the Church teaches; pride-full power-obsessed bishops that Vatican II has made each of them the absolute authority over their own diocese, no matter what the Pope says [whom they can openly defy and even berate]; and all-too-willing priests that obedience is outmoded, and chastity is to be denounced as unnecessary for priests.

And that all such lack of scruples can be cancelled out if the priest or bishop or layman showed enough social activism to work among the poor and disadvantaged to try and change society.

Instead of living up to the Apostles of whom they re successors, they have chosen to be virtual apostates, as Cardinal Newman has called them.

Our tireless Benedict is continually trying to catechize them otherwise - but will they listen? It seems quite a number of European bishops never bothered to read his letter to them last March, and one suspects the same bishops and all like-minded priests will not even bother to read the Pope's letter to all priests for the Year for Priests.

One has to wonder, when was the last time such dissidents really prayed? And being who they are, how can they offer daily Mass with a clear conscience?

Surely it couldn't have been as bad in Cardinal Newman's time - if only because across a distance of almost 200 years, the numbers involved today are decidedly much greater, and there was not the instant information connectedness that there is now...

So I resolve to observe the Year for Priests by redoubling my prayers for all priests and bishops to be authentic men of God and friends of Christ as the Holy Father keeps exhorting them to be!....

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2009 10:18 PM]
7/3/2009 11:47 AM
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Benedict XVI's pontificate
'decisive' for ecumenical dialog,
Cardinal Kasper says

Translated from

July 3, 2009

"The pontificate of Benedict XVI, which has been welcomed with enthusiasm by the Orthodox Churches since he is a connoisseur of the theology of the Fathers of the Church, has been decisive for the recent positive turn in the ecumenical dialog", according to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Kasper was in Vienna for a meeting with the Pro Oriente Foundation arranged by the Archdiocese of Vienna.

The German cardinal spoke about the present status of the dialog between the Eastern and Western Churches and the efforts that had been necessary to reach the present state of rapprochement, particularly what he called the turning-point reached in the past few years.

The next meeting of the mixed international commission for theological dialog between the Catholic and Orthodox churches will take place in Cyprus this October (last year's meeting was in Ravenna).

"No one reasonably expects that all problems will be resolved in Cyprus," he noted. "The distinctive developments [in the Catholic Church] during the second millennium [after the Great Schism of 1054) up to the Second Vatican Council loom as a huge obstacle still to be dealt with," he noted.

Thus, the mixed commission is now working on reaching some preliminary agreement based on the experience of the pre-Schism Church in the first millennium.

John Paul II in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint ('That they may be one', 1996) had suggested "a form of exercise of the primacy of Peter that is acceptable to both sides, starting from the substance of dogma" as practised in the Church of the first millennium.

Benedict XVI re-proposed this during his visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul in November 2006.

[Last year, the mixed commission in Ravenna agreed to examine the role of the Pope in the first millennium in order to define it in a reunified Church. That is the specific task of the Cyprus meeting in October.

However, the Russian Orthodox Church did not sign on to that agreement because its delegation walked out before the meeting began, to protest what they called 'interference' by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the Estonian Orthodox Church, over which the Patriarchate of Moscow claims jurisdiction

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/3/2009 11:50 AM]
7/3/2009 1:31 PM
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July 3

St. Thomas the Apostle
Illustration: 'Doubting Thomas', Caravaggio.

OR today.

No papal news in this issue. Page 1 stories: Iran opposition candidate Mousavi
denounces the illegitimacy of Ahmadinejad's election; more violence in Mogadishu,
as Somali government troops repel a new attack by Muslim insurgents; looking to
US-USSR disarmament talks in Moscow between Presidents Obama and Medvedev;
North Korean tests three more missiles, as food supplies reportedly drying up; and
a feature on Protestant reformer John Calvin on the 500th anniversary of his birth.


The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., Archbishop of Québec (Canada);

- Mons. Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood

- Bishops of Vietnam (Group 4?) on ad limina visit

The Holy Father has accepted the retirement of Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, 83, as Arch-Priest of the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls.

He has named Mons. Francesco Monterisi, who has been Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops till now, to succeed Cardinal Lanza di Montezemolo At St. Paul's.

To replace Mons. Monterisi as #2 man at the Congregation for Bishops, the Pope named Mons. Manuel Monteiro de Castro, who has been the Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra.

The Pope also accepted the retirement of Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, 80, as the President of the Permanent Commission for the Protection of the Historic and Artistic Monuments of the Holy See as well as President of the Labor Office of the Holy see (UISL).

To replace him at the UISL, the Pope has named Mons. Giorgio Corbellini, who has been Vice Secretary-General of the Vatican Governatorate.

No replacement has so far been made for the first position.

The Vatican today released the official program for the Holy Father's visit to the Czech Republic in September (see next post).

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/3/2009 2:01 PM]
7/3/2009 1:59 PM
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September 26-28, 2009


Saturday, September 26


09.20 Departure for Prague from Ciampino airport.


11.30 WELCOME CEREMONY at International Airport of Stará Ruzyně
- Address by the Holy Father.

Church of St. Mary, Prague
- Greeting by the Holy Father

Presidential Palace.

Presidential Palace.
- Address of the Holy Father.

Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert.
- Address by the Holy Father.

Sunday, September 27


08.45 Departure from the International Airport of Prague for Brno.


09.20 Arrival at Turany Airport in Brno.

10.00 HOLY MASS at Turany Airport.
- Homily by the Holy Father.

- Words by the Holy Father.

12.45 Departure from Brno airport for Prague.


13.20 Arrival at the international airport.

Throne Room, Archbishop's Palace
- Address by the Holy Father

Vladislaw Hall, Prague Castle
- Address by the Holy Father

Monday, September 28


08.50 Visit to the Church of St. Wenceslas

for the Feast of St. Wenceslas, Patron of the Czech Republic
Melnik Esplanade
- Homily by the Holy Father
Melnik Esplanade
- Address by the Holy Father


13.15 Lunch with the bishops of the Czech Republic and the papal entourage
Archbishop's Palace, Prague.

16.45 Farewell, Apostolic Nunciature of Prague

Stará Ruzyně International Airport
- Address by the Holy Father

17.45 Departure for Rome


19.50 Arrival at Ciampino airport.

NB: Italy and the Czech Republic are in the same time zone.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2009 10:51 PM]
7/3/2009 2:29 PM
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Benedict XVI to pay tribute
to St. Anselm of Canterbury,
native of Aosta,
on his 9th death centenary

AOSTA, July 3 (Translated from ANSA) - Pope Benedict XVI prepares to take his third summer vacation in Val D'Aosta, northwest Italy, on July 13-27.

For the third time, he will spend it in Les Combes, a village of Introd near Mont Blanc.

He ill be arriving during the Anno Anselmiano, a jubilee year commemorating the death of St. Anselm of Canterbury observed in Aosta, where he was born, starting April 2009.

The Pope is expected to pay tribute to Anselm - outstanding theologian and Doctor of the Church, whose motto was Fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding) - at his Angelus message on July 26, which he will deliver at Les Combes.

In a letter earlier to mark the jubilee observance, the Pope said it was "an opportunity not to be missed to renew the memory of one of the most luminous figures in the tradition of the Church and in the very history of European thought".

"The exemplary monastic experience of Anselm," he wrote, "his original method of rethinking the Christian mysteries, his subtle theological and philosophical doctrine, his teaching on the inviolable value of conscience and on freedom as responsible adherence to the true and the good, his passionate work as pastor of souls, dedicated totally to the promotion of the freedom of the Church - all this has never stopped to inspire great interest, which the commemoration of his death is happily rekindling and favoring in many ways and in many places."

The Pontiff said "Anselm continues to be of great relevance and strong fascination, and it is always profitable to revisit and republish his writings as well as to meditate on his life".

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/3/2009 2:30 PM]
7/3/2009 7:53 PM
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When the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints was listed among the papal audiences today, it was easy to speculate that some papal decrees about possible future saints would be forthcoming, and they were. Most prominent among those set for beatification on the basis of confirmation of at least one miracle attributed to post-mortem intercession was Cardinal Newman.

Cardinal Newman now set
for beatification

VATICAN CITY, July 3 (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI has placed Cardinal John Henry Newman on the path to possible sainthood by approving a miracle attributed to the 19th century Anglican convert's intercession.

Newman was one of the founders of the so-called Oxford Movement of the 1830s, which sought to revive certain Roman Catholic doctrines in the Church of England. He eventually converted to Catholicism in 1845 and was ordained a year later.

The miracle approved Friday by the Pope concerns the medically inexplicable cure of Boston-area resident John Sullivan, who suffered from debilitating back pain for years but was cured after praying to Newman.

Newman can now be beatified. If ultimately canonized, he would be the first English-born saint since the Reformation.

Pope moves Cardinal Newman
closer to sainthood

By Jeffrey Donovan

ROME, July 3 (Bloomberg) -- Cardinal John Henry Newman, one of Britain’s most famous converts to Catholicism, was moved a step closer to sainthood by Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican said.

The Pope authorized a decree attributing a miracle to Newman, opening the way for the Englishman who died in 1890 to be “beatified” or blessed, an intermediate step toward sainthood, the Vatican said in a statement today.

The beatification ceremony for Newman, a prolific author and theologian who left the Church of England in 1845, probably will take place at the Vatican or in London some time this year, the Italian news agency Ansa said, without saying where it got the information.

The late Pope John Paul II put Newman on the road to sainthood in 1991 by declaring him “venerable.” The process will be completed when the London-born cardinal is canonized, or formally included among the Roman Catholic Church’s officially recognized saints. It is unclear when that might be. [After a second miracle attributed to him has been verified and approved!]

The miracle attributed to Newman involved the healing of an American deacon who, after praying to the deceased cardinal, was cured of severe spinal problems, Father Paul Chavasse, who heads the drive to make Newman a saint, told a news conference in Rome in October 2005.

A beatification or canonization ceremony in Britain for Newman, Britain’s most famous Anglican convert before former Prime Minister Tony Blair embraced Catholicism in 2007, could be an occasion for the Pope to visit the U.K., Ansa said.

John Paul, Benedict’s predecessor, was the first Pope to visit Britain since 1534. The Vatican said it was considering whether to accept an invitation from U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


VATICAN CITY, 3 JUL 2009 (VIS) - During a private audience with Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Benedict XVI today authorised the congregation to promulgate the following decrees:


- Blessed Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (nee Juana Josefa), Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus (1845-1912).

- Servant of God John Henry Newman, English cardinal and founder of the Oratories of St. Philip Neri in England (1801-1890).

- Servant of God Angelo Paoli (ne Francesco), Italian professed priest of the Order of Carmelites of the Strict Observance (1642-1720).

- Servant of God Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas (nee Soultaneh Maria), co- foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem (1843-1927).


- Servant of God Jose Samso i Elias, Spanish diocesan priest, pastor and archpriest of Santa Maria de Mataro, killed in hatred of the faith during religious persecution in Spain (1887-1936).

- Servant of God Teofilo Fernandez de Legaria Goni (ne Beniamino) and four companions, professed priests of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (PICPUS), killed in hatred of the faith during religious persecution in Spain in 1936.

- Servant of God Georg Hafner, German diocesan priest, killed in hatred of the faith in the concentration camp of Dachau, Germany (1900-1942).

- Servant of God Zoltan Ludovico Meszlenyi, Hungarian titular bishop of Sinope and auxiliary of Esztergom, killed in hatred of the faith at Kistarcsa, Hungary (1892-1951).


- Servant of God Engelmar Unzeitig (ne Uberto), German professed priest of the Congregation of Missionaries of Mariannhill (1911-1945).

- Servant of God Anna Maria Janer Anglarill, Spanish foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Holy Family of Urgell (1800-1885).

- Servant of God Maria Serafina (Micheli) del Sacro Cuore di Gesu (ne Clotilde), Italian foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Angels (1849- 1911).

- Servant of God Teresa Manganiello, Italian laywoman of the Third Order of St. Francis (1849-1876).

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/3/2009 8:04 PM]
7/3/2009 9:08 PM
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Oh, how welcome to have an English-speaking bishop express himself in such strong terms over disobedient, defiantly dissident bishops, one of the issues that has been upsetting me profoundly - which I last commented on a couple of posts above, with the Bux-Vitiello column.

UK bishop says disobedience
is harming the Church

By Anna Arco

3 July 2009

Bishop O'Donoghue (also inset) and Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton join priests on a recent pilgrimage to the tomb
of St John Vianney in Ars, France (Photo: Northampton diocese)

Bishops who have deep theological differences with the Pope are undermining the unity of the Catholic Church, a prominent English bishop has claimed.

Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue said that such differences has prompted parish priests to ignore the authority of their bishops.

He said: "The idea that there could be theological differences between a bishop and the Pope is just an incredible thing to admit but it is the truth. I suppose if priests see bishops showing disloyalty to the Pope, it is hardly surprising that they in turn should show disloyalty to their bishop. We all know what Jesus said about a divided house."

He added: "It is not uncommon for cliques to grow up among priests against the current bishop that ignore with disdain directives and advice from their bishop. Sometimes it seems that the parish priest and parish declare UDI [Unilateral Declaration of Independence] from the bishop and the diocese. There is also a danger of this developing in a group of bishops' attitude to the reigning Pope."

The bishop said this disunity created a "conspiracy of silence" in the Church.

He said: "This cocktail of dissent, disobedience and disloyalty has resulted in what I call 'a conspiracy of silence' amongst groups in the Church. There is no real dialogue or willingness to talk openly and honestly about our differences.

"For example, I don't know why my Fit for Mission? documents hit a wall of silence among the bishops in this country. All I did was reiterate the teaching of the Church, but this has been treated as unacceptable and unspeakable. Why?"

Bishop O'Donoghue offered his analysis at a retreat for priests of the Diocese of Northampton in Ars, the parish of St John Vianney in France in May.

He called attention to the fact that "countless individual priests, and laity, even bishops, believe they are free to decide what it means to be Catholic for themselves".

He suggested that accepting the Church's teaching on sexual morality was a "litmus test" for Catholics.

"For example, we have witnessed a wholesale rejection of the Church's perennial teaching against contraception. This is the litmus test of the acceptance of the obedience in the Church. How many priests support Gaudium et Spes's crystal-clear rejection of contraception, upheld by successive popes - Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI? If we reject their teaching on this matter we are saying as priests that we know better than the successor of Peter! Is this tenable in a priest?"

Bishop O'Donoghue not only criticised liberal dissent but also had sharp words for traditionalists who he said were in danger of falling into "liturgism".

He said: "By this I mean the tendency among clergy and some laity to solely focus on the liturgy and sacramental life, ignoring our mission to go out of the church building into the world where suffering humanity lives. For a century the Church has been saying that social justice should be a concern of Catholics equal to attending Mass on Sunday. How many believe this? How many priests encourage this?"

Bishop O'Donoghue also discussed the life of St John Vianney, whose 150th anniversary is being celebrated this year and who is the patron of the Year for Priests, drawing parallels between the challenges faced by the saintly parish priest and the priests today.

He argued that St John Vianney had a "keen sense of the need for salvation" which he expressed in his "whole being as a priest".

Bishop O'Donoghue urged the priests who were taking part to reflect on a number of questions about their roles and identity as priests in the modern world. This included questions about attitudes to consumerism, alcohol, confronting evil and true repentance.

He also asked them: "Is it possible to talk to young people about salvation today? And is it necessary to go to confession regularly? What do you think the Curé d'Ars would say?"

Fr Paul Hardy, a priest who took part in the retreat, said: "He was very good. He talked about the challenges facing us - do we duck them or do we face up to them."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2009 10:10 PM]
7/4/2009 12:32 PM
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St Paul's tomb:
Between history and faith -
And why Benedict XVI kept
the research under wraps

by Mario Ponzi
Translated from
the 7/3/09 issue of

"I repeat and I confirm: St. Paul's tomb has never been opened".

Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo said this on the eve of his last news conference today as Arch-Priest of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls.

The news conference, he said, will have little to add to what Pope Benedict XVI announced at the Basilica on Saturday evening.

"Except for technical details about which I am not competent," he pointed out. "For this we will have the expert who executed the work materially, who can give all the details of what he did."

The cardinal expressed the hope that the news briefing would help satisfy the curiosity raised by Benedict's announcement about Carbon-14 dating of human remains found inside a tomb that has been closed for 20 centuries.

[NB: It must be noted that the cardinal, born to a noble family in Turin, was an architect by training and profession before he decided to become a priest. He has also kept up a related interest in archaeology.]

The cardinal also explains why there had been silence about the investigation before this.

"First of all, this was an announcement that had to come from the Pope himself. We also did not want to repeat what happened when the tomb of St. Peter was discovered with his bones (in 1950, under Pius XII). People got to learn about studies being made and that immediately started a controversy among archeologists".

The cardinal was referring to the diatribe particularly between Jesuit Antonio Ferrua, who doubted the identification, and the epigraphist Margherita Garducci who was positive about it. At the time, it took almost 20 years until Paul VI could declare on June 26, 1968 that "Even the relics of St. Peter have been identified in a way that we can consider convincing, and we must give thanks to those who have devoted the most careful study in this long and arduous effort".

In teh earky 1950s, it had not been possible to use a dating technique that has now become very refined: using a carbon isotope, C-14, for radiometric dating of organic material [anything containing the element carbon in any chemical combination, such as human remains].

In any case, the cardinal also points out that 20 years ago, the premature reports in the media about Carbon-14 studies of the Shroud of Turin were in large part responsible for the continuing controversy about its dating.

He says: "When some two years ago, I proposed to the Pope the celebration of a year dedicated to St. Paul for the bimillenary of his death - which I must say the Pope immediately accepted and with great joy - I also proposed the idea of a scientific 'recognition' of the sarcophagus.

"It had been lying down there for two centuries and obviously had never been opened. Though there has been unopposed concordance through the centuries that this tomb is that of St. Paul, this had never been actually proven.

"So the Pope also agreed to an investigation, but decided that nothing should be done about it until after the end of the Pauline Year, so that pilgrims could pray at a shrine, and not at a 'work site'. Because to open the tomb itself would require not simply to temporarily move out the main altar at St. Paul but even Arnolfo da Cambio's baldachin over it."

The tomb is directly under the altar, and is enclosed in a wall of stone and brick that is almost a meter thick on all four sides.

"This was necessary protection, says the cardinal, "because in the past, whenever the Tiber flooded, the waters reached to this place and threatened the integrity of the sarcophagus - and that was why at some remote time, it was enclosed in this sort of solid fortress."
The flood threat from the Tiber has since been controlled

The cardinal explains: "In full agreement with the abbot - one must remember the papal basilica includes a Benedictine abbey - we opened a small gap in this solid wall and uncovered one of the sides of the sarcophagus itself. It is of raw Carrara marble - unworked and unpolished. We have taken it to mean that the sarcophagus had bot been decorated - it would have been chiselled and sculpted with appropriate designs. Most likely, the work was never carried out, and after being sealed in by the protective wall, it was no longer possible to do so. But there was above it a heavy stone slab on which is written 'Paulo apostolo mart'.

"In order to allow pilgrims to see the part of the tomb that has been uncovered, we had to move a small altar dedicated to St. Timothy of Antioch from the fourth century.

"It has been quite a novelty for pilgrims. Very few used to come down to the hypogeum (underground space below the main floor). But since the time we arranged for part of the tomb to be seen by the public, many pilgrims to the basilica have gone down to pray at the tomb or simply look at the exposed part."

However, exposing part of the sarcophagus itself does not answer any questions about what it contains.

"After having consulted with experts at the Vatican Museums, I prepared a proposal to the Pope: We could drill a small hole through the slab that covers the tomb, through which a probe could be introduced.

"I don't remember the exact date but in the winter between the end of 2007 and the start of 2008, Ulrico Santamaria - a chemist who teaches science and technology of materials at the University of Tuscia, as well as director of the diagnostics laboratory for conservation and restoration at the Vatican Museums - came to drill that hole. After being sworn solemnly to secrecy.

"He used a microdrill that could be used on stone - similar to what a dentist uses - to bore a hole through the slab, through which a tiny scope equipped with light could be passed and which could 'look around' and retrieve samples. [This would be similar to camera-equipped scopes used by surgeons to investigate inside the body with minimally invasive technique - some slender enough to be introduced into blood vessels, for instance. Some scopes have a second channel through which a controllable instrument can be inserted in order to snip, pinch or pick up material for analysis, or biopsy, when it is a surgical scope.]

"With micropincers, similar to those used in arthroscopy and microsurgery, he retrieved some samples. We had these analyzed, observing great secrecy for the reasons I stated, at a laboratory that specializes in such investigations, without revealing where the samples came from nor who the client was - so as not to influence the study in any way, and that it would be as objective and scientifically sure as it could be".

All this was done in strictest secrecy, known only to a few.

"They must have done the probe at night or when the basilica was completely deserted," said an employee whose job requires him to be aware of what is taking place below the altar. "None of us had any clue all this was taking place until the Pope revealed the findings last Sunday".

Cardinal Lanza di Montezemolo reiterated that in all this, "I always acted with the full agreement of the Pope, even when I refused to give any information to some who may have started to suspect something was going on."

"The Pope's announcement relieved me of an enormous 'weight' that I have carried for more that a year," he said. "But the few of us who knew what was happening all agreed that any announcement must come from the Pope himself."

Now, the expectations are about further studies - already done - that could lead to opening the sarcophagus itself.

"I don't foresee it happening soon," the cardinal says, "because the work it requires is enormous, and the precarious nature of the site requires extreme prudence."

The cardinal also spoke of the Porta Paolina, or Pauline Door, the third front door to the Basilica which the Pope opened at the inauguration of the Pauline Year last year.

"I had proposed to open the Holy Door for the Pauline Year, but the Pope said categorically, 'No, the Holy Door should only be opened during a Holy Year, and the Pauline Year is a thematic year, not a Holy Year'. [Since 1900, the Church has observed an 'ordinary' Holy Year every 25 years, a year of universal pardon and reconciliation under certain conditions. 'Extraordinary' Holy Years are decreed to mark a special event - as when in 1933 and in 1953, Popes Pius XI and John Paul II, respectively, decreed a Holy Year to mark the 1900th and 1950th anniversaries of the death of Christ. The Great Jubilee Year of 2000, marking the bimillenary of the birth of Christ, was also a Holy Year, which fell at the turn of the millennium.]

"So I said we could open the third of the five front doors and call it the Pauline Door. And because of its importance, we asked sculptor Guido Veroi to decorate it appropriately with bronze reliefs. [Veroi is a Roman artist who directed the casting of a bronze copy of the famous equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in the Campidoglio which was mounted there when the original marble statue had to be restored.]

The sculptor executed four pictorial panels in relief, each weighing 50 kilograms, and six scrolls - three in Latin on the left panel, and three in Greek on the right "to underscore the ecumenical significance of this basilica, and as an expression of the wish for a reunification of the Churches of the East and West".

The reliefs show from the top, left to right: The martyrdom of St. Stephen, with the young Saul of Tarsus at left, holding the martyr's
clothes; the conversion on the road to Damascus; the meeting with Peter at the Council of Jerusalem; and Paul's beheading

Veroi's work took a year. First, it had to be verified that the door could bear the weight to be added, "but fortunately, the door is quite robust with powerful hinges - and it could well support the added weight".

The door opened by the Pope on June 28, 2008, only carried facsimiles of the reliefs, but last Sunday, "he was able to admire the completed work".

The cardinal officially closed the Pauline Door symbolically the day after the closing Vespers presided by the Pope, thus officially closing the Pauline Year".

"Closed but not concluded," tho cardinal says. "And actually, the Pauline Door will continue to be opened every day as a fitting 'welcome' from teh Apostle to his 'peoples' [In Italian, the word for Gentiles, 'genti', also means 'peoples'.]

A report on the news briefing that was held yesterday (7/3/09):

Officials discuss the studies
done so far on Paul's tomb:
Findings concur with tradition

ROME, JULY 3, 2009 ( Investigation into the tomb held to be St. Paul's does not confirm that it is in fact the Apostle who is buried there, but it also does not contradict that tradition, Vatican officials noted.

Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, and Ulderico Santamaria, director of the diagnostic laboratory for the conservation and restoration of the Vatican Museums, discussed the investigations during a press conference today.

Benedict XVI had asked that the results of the research would not be announced until the close of the Pauline Jubilee Year, which ended last Monday. The Holy Father himself was the first to divulge the findings, during his homily at the Vespers service that brought the jubilee to an end.

The Pope explained: "A tiny hole was drilled in the sarcophagus, which in so many centuries had never been opened, in order to insert a special probe which revealed traces of a precious purple-colored linen fabric, with a design in gold leaf, and a blue fabric with linen threads. Grains of red incense, as well as protein and calcium substances were also found. In addition, minute fragments of bone were sent for carbon-14 testing by experts unaware of their provenance. The fragments proved to belong to someone who had lived between the first and second centuries. This would seem to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition which claims that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul."

Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo classifed the results as "not only interesting but also [results] that mesh with" what is believed about the location of Paul's remains.

The cardinal, whose retirement as archpriest of the basilica for reasons of age was also announced today (he turns 84 in August, but was kept on in his position by Benedict XVI because of the Pauline Year), indicated that further investigations could be a possibility in the future.

He noted that to actually open the sarcophagus will be difficult, because it will require dismantling the papal altar on top.

For his part, Santamaria explained how the technique of drilling into the sarcophagus "reduced to a minimum [...] the risks of deteriorating the interior by preventing any oxygen from getting into the tomb."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2009 9:44 PM]
7/4/2009 3:37 PM
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July 4

St. Elizabeth of Portugal
(also known as Isabel of Aragon)
(b. Zaragoza 1271- d. Coimbra 1325)
Queen of Portugal (1289-1325)
Widow and Franciscan Tertiary

OR today.

The only papal story in this issue is the announcement of the official program
for the Pope's trip to the Czech Republic. Page 1 stories: UN secretary-general
asks Burmese junta to release political detainees; Syrian president invites Obama
to Damascus; Washington issues a new warningto North Korea which continues
to test missiles regardless; and a commentary predicting that the BRIC nations
(Brazil, Russia India and China) will push for a 'diversification' of the world
financial system, currently pegged to the dollar, at the G8 summit in L'Aquila
next week.


The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (weekly meeting)
- Cardinal Franc Rodé, C.M., Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life
and Societies of Apostolic Life
- H.E. Monique Patricia Antoinette Frank, ambassador from the Netherlands, on a farewell visit
- H.E. Lawrence Edward Chewning Fábrega, ambassador from Panama, also on a farewell visit
- Participants in the European Conference on pastoral ministry for vocations. Address in Italian.

At 4 p.m., the Holy Father presides at the celebration of First Vespers to inaugurate the newly-restored
Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace.

The Vatican released the text of a letter from the Holy Father to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi,
offering some thoughts about the G8 summit which Italy is hosting next week. (Translated in a later post below).

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/4/2009 11:09 PM]
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Pope shares reflections
on economic crisis in letter
to Prime Minister Berlusconi
on the eve of the G8 summit

Translated from

July 4, 2009

This is the text of the letter sent by the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Hon. Silvio Berlusconi, President of Italy's Council of Ministers (Prime Minister), on the occasion of the meeting of heads of government of the G* nations in L'Aquila from July 8-10. Italy holds the G8 presidency this semester.

Honorable Mr. President,

In view of the coming meeting of the heads of state and government of the most industrialized nations (G8), which will take place in L'Aquila on July 8-10, under the presidency of Italy, it is my pleasure to send my heartfelt greeting to you and all the participants.

I gladly take this opportunity to contribute some reflections on the agenda of the meeting, as I have done in the past.

I have been informed by my co-workers about the commitment with which you, and the government you have the honor to lead, are preparing for this important meeting, and I know how much attention has been devoted to reflecting on the summit agenda by the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Italy,and the Catholic world in general, not to mention the representatives of other religions.

The participation of the leaders not only of the G8 but of many other nations will help insure that the decisions to be adopted - in finding solutions that can be shared to the principal problems which affect the economy, peace, and international security, may more faithfully reflect the views and expectations of the peoples in all the continents.

This broadened participation in the discussions of this summit are more than ever timely, considering the multiple problems of today's highly interconnected and interdependent world.

I refer, in particular, to the challenges of the current economic and financial crisis, as well as the concerning data about climate change - all of which can only urge wise discernment and new projections "to 'convert' the model of global development" (cfr Angelus, Nov 12, 2006), in order to make it capable of effectively promoting integral human development, inspired by the values of human solidarity and love in truth.

Some of these themes will be confronted in my third encyclical, Caritas in veritate, which will be presented to the public in the next few days.

In preparation for the Great Jubilee of 2000, at the urging of John Paul II, the Holy See had occasion to pay great attention to the work of the G8. My venerated predecessor was indeed convinced that the liberation of the poorest nations from the burden of foreign debt, and more generally, the eradication of the causes of extreme poverty in the world, depend on a full assumption of fraternal responsibility towards all mankind by the governments and States that are more economically advanced. This responsibility has not diminished, and in fact, has become even more pressing today.

In the recent past, thanks in part to the great impetus that the Great Jubilee of 2000 gave to the search for solutions to the debt problems and economic vulnerability of Africa and other poor nations, and in part to noteworthy changes in the world's economic adn political scenario, a majority of the less developed countries enjoyed a period of extraordinary growth which allowed most of them to expect compliance with the objective set by the international community at the threshold of the third millennium, namely, to defeat extreme poverty by 2015.

Unfortunately, the financial and economic crisis which has invested the entire planet since 2008 has changed the panorama, so that there is real risk not only of extinguishing all hope of emerging from extreme poverty, but that even those populations who have enjoyed a minimum of material wellbeing up till now will also fall into poverty.

Moreover, the present world economic crisis threatens cancellation or drastic reduction of plans for international aid, especially that intended for Africa and the other nations that are economically less developed.

Therefore, with the same force that John Paul II asked for condoning of the foreign debt for the poorest countries, I, too, wish to appeal to the member nations of the G8, to the other states who will be represented, and to the governments of the entire world, to maintain and potentiate development aid, especially the component aimed at 'giving value' to 'human resources', not only despite the crisis, but indeed because this is one of the principal ways of solving the crisis.

It is not, in fact, by investing in man - in all the men and women on earth - that we can succeed in effectively keeping away the worrisome prospect of a world recession?

Is this not, in fact, the road towards obtaining, as much as it is possible, a functioning of the world economy to the benefit of all the inhabitants of every nation, rich and poor, great and small?

The subject of access to education is intimately linked to the effectiveness of international cooperation. If it is true that we must 'invest' in man, the goal of basic education for everyone, without exclusions, by 2015, should not only be maintained but generously reinforced.

Education is the indispensable condition for democracy to function, for the fight against corruption, for the exercise of political, economic and social rights, and for the effective recovery by all states, rich and poor.

Applying correctly the principle of subsidiarity, support for development cannot ignore the network of educational activities that the Catholic Church and other religious confessions carry out in the poorest and most abandoned parts of the globe.

UI also urge the distinguished participants of the G8 summit to remember that the measure of technical efficiency for any provisions they may adopt to emerge from the present crisis will coincide with their measure of ethical values.

One must therefore consider concrete human and familial exigencies. I refer, for example, to the effective creation of jobs for everyone that will allow workers to provide appropriately for the needs of their family and to carry out their primary responsibility to educate their children and be protagonists in the community that they belong.

"A society in which this right is systematically denied," John Paul II wrote, "in which political and economic measures do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, can obtain neither ethical legitimacy nor social peace" (Centesimus annus, 43; cfr. Id., Laborem excercens, 18).

To that end, indeed, there is urgency for an equitable system of international commerce in fulfillment of - and if possible, even going beyond - the decisions on development made in Doha in 2001.

I hope that every creative energy may be employed to absolve the commitments made at the UN Millennium summit on the elimination of extreme poverty by 2015

There is an obligation to reform the international financial architecture to assure the effective coordination of national policies, avoiding credit speculation and guaranteeing wide international availability of public and private credit in the service of production and labor, especially in the most disadvantaged nations and regions.

The ethical legitimization of the G8's political commitments will require naturally that they confront the thinking and the needs of the entire international community.

To this end, it seems important to reinforce multilateralism, not only for economic questions, but for the entire spectrum of issues concerning peace, world security, disarmament, health, and safeguarding the environment and natural resources for present and future generations.

The extension of the G8 to other regions does constitute significant progress. However, during the negotiations and in the concrete operational decisions, all circumstances must be considered, not just those of the most important nations or who have the most obvious economic success. Only this way can such decisions be truly applicable and sustainable over time.

Therefore, may they listen to the voice of Africa and less economically developed nations! May they look for efficient ways to link decisions taken by various groups of nations, including the G8, to the Assembly of the United Nations, where every nation, whatever its political and economic weight, can legitimately express itself in a situation of equality with all the rest.

I wish to add, finally, how significant it is that the Italian government has chosen to host this meeting in the city of L'Aquila, a choice approved and shared by the other member states as well as those invited.

We have all been witness to the generous solidarity of the Italian people and other nations, of national and international organizations, towards the people of the Abruzzo who were struck by the earthquake.

This fraternal mobilization could constitute an invitation to the members of the G8 and for the governments and peoples of the world to be united in facing the current challenges which call on mankind to make decisive choices that can no longer be put off about the fate of mankind itself, intimately linked to the fate of creation.

Honorable Mr. President, as I invoke the assistance of God on all those who will be present at the meeting in L'Aquila and on multilateral initiatives aimed at resolving the economic and financial crisis and to guarantee a future of peace and prosperity for all men and women without exception, I take this occasion to renew my expressions of esteem, and assuring you of my prayers, I extend to you a deferential and heartfelt greeting.

From the Vatican
July 1, 2009

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2009 9:45 PM]
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At 12:15 today, the Holy Father held an audience at the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace for participants in the European conference on pastoral ministry for vocations, being held in Rome July 2-5.

Taking part are the officials in charge of vocations in each of the 34 Catholic bishops' conference in Europe.

Here is a translation of the Pope's address to them:

Dear brothers and sisters:

It is with genuine pleasure that I meet with you, aware of the precious pastoral service that you carry out in the promotion, animation and discernment of vocations.

You came to Rome to take part in a convention of reflections, confrontation and sharing among the Churches of Europe on the theme "Sowers of the Gospel of Vocation: A Word that calls and sends forth", aimed at giving new impetus to your efforts in favor of vocations.

Care of vocations constitutes for every diocese one of the pastoral priorities, which takes on greater value this year in the context of the Year for Priests that has just begun.

I cordially greet the Bishop Delegates for the pastoral ministry of vocations in the various bishops' conferences, as well as the directors of the national vocational centers, their co-workers, and all who are present.

In the center of your labors is the evangelical parable of the sower. With abundance and free giving, the Lord casts the seeds of the Word of God, knowing that these could well find unsuitable ground which will not allow a seed to mature because of dryness, or which could extinguish its vital force by suffocating it in thorny undergrowth.

Nonetheless, the sower is not discouraged, because he knows that part of the seed is destined to find 'good earth', that is, hearts that are ardent and able to welcome the Word with willingness, to make it mature in perseverance and then to generously give back its fruits for the benefit of many.

The image of the earth may evoke the reality - more or less good - of the family; the oftentimes arid and hard environment for work; the days of suffering and tears.

The earth represents, above all, the heart of every man, particularly the young, whom you must address in your work of listening and companionship - a heart that is often confused and disoriented, and yet able to contain unthinkable energies of giving, ready to open up to a life spent for love of Jesus, able to follow him with totality and the certainty of having found the greatest treasure of existence.

It is always and only the Lord who can sow in the heart of man. Only after the abundant and generous sowing of the Word of God are we able to go farther along the paths of companionship and education, of formation adn discernment.

All this has to do with that tiny seed - a mysterious gift of divine Providence - which emits its own extraordinary power. It is in fact the Word of God which by itself effectively works out what it says and desires.

There is another saying of Jesus which uses the image of the seed, and which we can put alongside the parable of the sower: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit" (Jn 12,24).

Here the Lord insists on the correlation between the death of the seed and the 'many fruits' that it will bear. The grain of wheat is he, Jesus. The fruit is 'life in abundance'(Jn 10,10) which he acquired for us through the Cross.

This is also the logic and the true fecundity of every pastoral ministry for vocations in the Church. Like Christ, the priest and the vocational animator should be 'a grain of wheat' who renounces himself to do the will of the Father; who lives hidden from sensation and noise; who renounces the search for that visibility and great image that today often becomes the criterion and even the goal of life in many parts of our culture, and which fascinates many young people.

Dear friends, be sowers of trust and hope. The sense of being lost that young people often feel today is indeed profound. Often human words are devoid of future and prospects, devoid even of sense and wisdom. What is being spread is a sense of frantic impatience and an inability to live through a time of waiting.

And yet, this could be God's hour: his call, mediated through the power and the efficacy of the Word, generates a path of hope towards the fullness of life.

The Word of God can truly become light and power, a spring of hope; it can blaze a path that goes through Jesus, the 'way' and the 'gate' - through his Cross, which is the fullness of love.

This is the message that comes to us from the Pauline Year which has just ended. St. Paul, conquered by Christ, was an inspirer and a sharper of vocations, as one can well see in the greetings of his letters, in which dozens of proper names appear - namely, the men and women who collaborated with him in the service of the Gospel.

This is also the message of the Year for Priests that has just begun: the Holy Curate of Ars, Jean Marie Vianney - who is the beacon for this new spiritual itinerary - was a priest who dedicated his life to the spiritual guidance of persons, with humility and simplicity, "tasting and seeing" the goodness of God in ordinary situations. He thus showed himself to be a true master of the ministry of comfort and vocational companionship.

Therefore, the Year for Priests offers a beautiful opportunity to recover the profound sense of the pastoral ministry for vocations, as well as the fundamental choices of method: witness that is simple and credible; communion, with itineraries agreed upon and shared within the local Church; the day-to-day routine that educates in following the Lord in everyday life; listening, guided by the Holy Spirit, to orient young people in their search for God and true happiness; and finally, truth, which alone can generate interior freedom.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Word of God become in each of you a spring of benediction, comfort and renewed trust, so that you will be equal to the task of helping many to 'see' and 'touch' the Jesus whom they have accepted as their Teacher.

May the Word of the Lord always dwell in you, renew in your hearts the light, love and peace that only God can give, and make you capable of bearing witness to and announcing the Gospel, the spring of communion and love.

With this hope that I entrust to the intercession of the Most Blessed Mary, I impart the Apostolic Blessing on all of you.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/5/2009 3:23 AM]
7/4/2009 11:59 PM
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Pope Benedict blesses
restored Pauline Chapel

VATICAN CITY, July 4 (Translated from Apcom) - The Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace has returned to its full splendor, and it was blessed today by Pope Benedict XVI.

After 7 years of restoration, the chapel - considered to be a personal chapel for the Pope and the Pontifical Household - formally reopened with afternoon Vespers led by Benedict XVI.

He said in his homily that "the paintings and decorations which adorn the chapel help in meditation ans prayer, especially the two great frescoes by Michelangelo Buonarroti, the last works of his long life".

The two murals represent the conversion of St. Paul and the crucifixion of St. Peter.

The Pope reflected on Michelangelo's depiction of the two saints.

Referring to the St. Paul mural, he said, "Why is he represented so old? It is the face of an old man, and we know - which Michelangelo also did - that Christ's call to Saul on the road to Damascus took place when Saul was about 30."

"The artist's choice take us away from pure realism - it takes us away from pure narration of an event to introduce us to a more profound level. The face of Paul - which is that of the artist himself grown old, disquieted, and in search of the light of truth - represents the human being in need of a superior light".

[In a story yesterday, Vatican art historians identified a blue-turbaned man in the Peter mural as a self-portrait of Michelangelo. See story in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread.]

As for the mural on Peter, the Pope said, "This face, too, surprises us. Particularly in the eyes and in the forehead, the face seems to express the state of mind of man in the face of death and evil: there is a lost look, a sharp outwardly projected look, almost like looking for something or someone at the final moment".

Thus, for the Pope, "the two icons become the two acts of a single drama: the drama of the Paschal mystery, the Cross and Resurrection, death and life, sin and grace".

"For whoever comes to pray here, for the Pope first of all," he concluded, "Peter and Paul become teachers of the faith".

The restoration project began in 2002 under the direction of art historian Arnold Nesselrath. One can say that the Pauline Chapel represents Michelangelo's last artistic effort.

"It is a sort of spiritual testament from the artist", according to Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums.

Restoration of the murals brought to light certain details not previously defined like the nails on the cross, and Michelangelo's last brush strokes in the mural on the crucifixion of Peter.

The other major novelty in the restored chapel is that the altar has been reset more or less in its historic location, where it was before Paul VI had it adapted for the Novus Ordo in the late 1960s.

The resetting of the altar was done according to the instructions of Benedict XVI when he visited the worksite last February. However, instead of being brought back up against the wall, enough space was left between it and the wall to allow a priest to celebrate the Mass as in the Novus Ordo, though the precious marble altar is configured once again for the traditional ad-Orientem Mass.

Because it is the Pope's personal chapel, the Pauline Chapel is not part of the itinerary on the Vatican Museums tour. It would be used for morning Mass offered by the Pope when he has guests. Otherwise, he will continue to say morning Mass with his two secretaries and household staff in his private chapel in the papal apartment.

The Pauline chapel was commissioned by Paul III, a Farnese Pope, from Antonio da Sangallo (1537-42). Michelangelo was later asked to execute the two murals on Paul and Peter, which he worked on from 1542-1550.

Thanks to Gregor Kollmorgen at

for the following videocaps which complete the photo sampling of the event:

Note the TV monitors built into the front of the chapel and a confessional at the rear:

Vespers ended with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction:

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily:


Eminent Cardinals,
Venerated brothers int he episcopate and priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters:

Today, a few days after the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul and the closing of the Pauline Year, my desire to be able to reopen the Pauline Chapel to worship is realized.

We observced the solemn celebrations in honor of the two Apostles in the papal Basilicas of St. Paul and St. Peter. This evening, almost as though in completion, we are gathered in the heart of the Apostolic Palace, in the Chapel thought of by Paul III and executed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as a place of prayer for the Pope and for the Pontifical Family.

An aid to even more effective meditation and prayer are the paintings and decorations which adorn it, particularly the two large frescoes by Michelangelo Buonarroti, which are the last works in his long existence. They represent the conversion of St. Paul and the crucifixion of St. Peter.

The eye is attracted first of all to the faces of the two Apostles. It is evident, from their position, that these two faces play a central role in the iconographic message of the Chapel.

Beyond their placement [within the painting], they immediately bring us 'beyond' the image: they interpellate us and lead us to reflect.

First of all, let us dwell of St. Paul. Why is he represented with an aged face? This is the face of an old man, whereas we know - and Michelangelo knew it, as well - that the call to Saul on the road to Damascus occurred when he was about 30 years old.

The choice of the artist already takes us outside pure realism - it makes us go beyond the simple narration of an event to introduce us to a more profound level.

The face of Saul-Paul - which is that of the artist himself who has become old, restless, seeking the light of truth - represents the human being who is in need of a superior light.

It is the light of divine grace, indispensable for acquiring a new vision with which to perceive reality, oriented towards 'the hope reserved for us in heaven' - as the Apostle writes in the initial greeting of his Letter to the Colossians which we just heard (1,5).

The face of Saul fallen to the ground is illuminated from on high, by the light of the Resurrected Lord, and despite its high drama, the depiction inspires peace and instills certainty.

It expresses the maturity of a man interiorly illuminated by Christ the Lord, while surrounded by an agitation in which all the other figures seem to be in a vortex.

The grace and peace of God have wrapped around Saul - he has been conquered and interiorly transformed. That same 'grace' and that same 'peace' are what he would announce to all the communities during his apostolic voyages, with a maturity of age - not literally, but spiritually - given to him by the Lord himself.

Therefore, in the face of Paul, we can already perceive the heart of this Chapel's spiritual message: the wonder of Christ's grace which transforms and renews man through the light of his truth and his love. This is what constitutes the novelty of conversion, of the call to faith, which finds its fulfillment in the mystery of the Cross.

And so, from the face of Paul, we turn to that of Peter, depicted at the moment when his inverted cross is being raised, and he turns to look at whoever is observing him. Even this face is surprising to us.

The age shown here is the right one, but it is the expression which makes us wonder and which interpellates us. Why this expression? It is not a face of pain, and Peter's figure conveys surprising physical vigor.

The face, especially the eyes and the forehead, seems to express the state of mind of a man confronting death and evil. There is a lost look, a sharp outwardly projected look, almost like searching for something or someone at the final moment.

Even in the faces of the persons around him, the eyes stand out. They seem to wander about in agitation, and some look outright frightened or lost. What does all this mean?

It is what Jesus had said earlier to his disciples: "When you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted" and the Lord added, "Follow me" (Jn 21,18-19). And here, the culmination of following Christ is taking place: when the disciple is no longer at the side of the Master, he experiences all the bitterness of the Cross, of the consequences of sin which separates man from God, all the absurdity of violence and falsehood.

If one comes to this chapel to meditate, one cannot escape from the radicalness of the question posed by the cross: the cross of Christ, head of the Church, and the cross of Peter, his Vicar on earth.

The two faces, on which our eyes have dwelt, face each other. One might even think that Peter's face is turned towards that of Paul, whom, in his turn, does not see [he was blinded by the light of Christ] but now carries in him the light of the Risen Christ.

It is as though Peter, at the supreme moment of trial, were looking for the light that gave true faith to Paul. And this is how in a sense, the two icons can be considered the two acts of a single play: the drama of the Paschal mystery: Cross and Resurrection, death and life, sin and grace.

The chronological order of the events represented may be reversed but the plan of salvation emerges, the plan that Christ himself realizes in himself by bringing it to fulfillment, as we sang just now in the hymn from Paul's Letter to the Philippians.

For whoever comes to pray in this Chapel, but above all for the Pope, Peter and Paul become teachers of faith. With their witness, they invite us to go deeper, to silently meditate the mystery of the Cross, which accompanies the Church to the end of times; and to accept the light of faith, thanks to which the apostolic community could extend to the very ends of the earth the missionary and evangelizing activity which the Risen Lord had entrusted to them.

Here, no solemn celebrations with the people take place. Here, the Successor of Peter and his co-workers can meditate in silence and adore the living Christ, especially present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is the sacrament in which all the work of Redemption is concentrated. In Jesus as Eucharist, we contemplate the transformation of death to life, of violence to love. Hidden under the veils of bread and wine, we recognize with the eyes of faith the same glory that was manifested to the Apostles after the Resurrection, and which Peter, James and John contemplated in foretaste on Mt. Thabor, when Jesus was transfigured before their eyes: a msyerious event, the Transfiguration, which the great canvas of Simone Cantarini [the portrait above the altar] also reproposes to us in this Chapel with singular power.

Indeed, the whole Chapel - the frescoes by Lorenzo Sabatini and Federico Zuccari, the decorations by many other artists subsequently called here by Pope Greogry XIII - all of this, we can say, flow together here into a single hymn to the triumph of life and grace over death and sin, in a highly evocative symphony of praise and love for Christ the Redeemer.

Dear friends, at the end of this brief meditation, I wish to thank all those who cooperated so that we can once again enjoy this sacred place that has been completely restored: Prof. Antonio Paolucci and his pr4edecessor, Dott. Francesco Buranelli, who, as directors of the Vatican Museums, always felt deeply about this most important restoration; the many specialist workers who, under the artistic direction of Prof. Arnold Nesselrath, worked on the frescoes and the other decorations of the Chapel; and in particular, Master Inspector Maurizio De Luca and his assistant Maria Pustka, who directed the restoration of the murals of Michelangelo, availing of advice from an international commission of famous scholaars.

My gratitude also goes t4o Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo and his co-workers at the Governatorate [of Vatican City State], who devoted special attention to the restoration work.

And of course, my warm and dutiful thanks to the worthy Catholic patrons, Americans and otherwise - the Patrons of the Arts - who have been generously involved in the protection and appreciation of the cultural patrimony in the Vatican, and who made possible the results we are now admiring.

To each and everyone, my most heartfelt appreciation.

Shortly, we will be singing the Magnificat. May the Most Blessed Mary, teacher of prayer and adoration, together with Saints Peter and Paul, obtain abundant graces for all those who are gathered in faith in this Chapel.

Tonight, grateful to God for his wonders, and especially for the death and resurrection of his Son, let us raise our praises to him even for the work whose fulfillment we see today.

"Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen!" (Eph 3,20-21).

Finally, definitive photographs of the restored Michelangelo murals -
how clean and fresh they look!

The Conversion of St. Paul

The Crucifixion of St. Peter

One must remark on Benedict XVI's truly catholic (in the sense of universal and comprehensive) culture (in the sense of personal knowledge and upbringing) - the very figure of a Renaissance man, who has also all the makings of a saint, as well as Doctor and Father of the Church (as Sandro Magister recently observed)!

Probably no other leader in the world today can, like him, comment as knowledgeably on diverse matters outside his specific 'competence' (as head of the Catholic Church and as sovereign of Vatican state) as he can on science and technology, art and culture, from his own personal sensibility, i.e., not crafted by speechwriters.

[Sure, he had to consult experts on finance and economy for Caritas in veritate but it was more likely out of prudence rather than real necessity - to make sure he had theory and praxis pinned down precisely, on a subject which seems more arcane than the most complex theology or philosophy, for a document as weighty as an encyclical, committing not just himself personally but the entire Church to a set of teachings.]

Certainly, no other Pope in living memory, has managed to come up with musical and artistic reviews of the kind he has been able to make when the occasion requires. When he was a cardinal, for instance, he even reviewed John Paul II's poetry (a reflection on his predecessor's 'Vatican Triptych').


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2009 9:48 PM]
7/5/2009 3:01 PM
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July 5

St. Antonio Maria Zaccaria (Italy, 1502-1539)
Founder of 3 Barnabite orders (priests, nuns, laymen)
dedicated to St. Paul

OR today.

The Pope calls on participants in the coming G8 summit
to honor commitments to eliminate extreme poverty by 2015:
'Listen more to Africa and the less developed nations'
The main story is the Holy Father's letter to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [translation posted on this page yesterday],
host of the G8 summit next week; and speaking to bishops responsible for ministering to vocations in Europe's bishops' conferences
(right photo), he asks them to be 'sowers of trust and hope'. Other Page 1 stories: New prospects for US-Russia progress in
disarmament talks; a Hamas plot to assassinate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen); and North Korea continues
to defy UN resolutions.

Angelus today - The Holy Father offered a reflection on the Most Precious Blood of Christ
as the ultimate sacrifice and decried the continuing bloodshed caused by hatred in the world. In his
messages after the prayers, he offered his prayers for the victims of the train accident in Viareggio,
Italy, last week, as well as a terror bombing during Mass today in a cathedral in southern Philippines.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/5/2009 3:03 PM]
7/5/2009 3:40 PM
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Here is a translation of the Pope's mini-homily before the Angelus prayer, and his messages after the prayer:

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the past, the first Sunday of July was characterized by devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Christ. Some of my venerated predecessors in the past century confirmed the observance, and Blessed John XXIII, with the Apostolic Letter Inde a primis (June 30, 1960), explained its significance and approved the Litany of the Most Precious Blood.

The theme of blood, linked to that of the Paschal Lamb, is of primary importance in Sacred Scripture. Sprinkling the blood of sacrificed animals represented and established, in the Old Testament, the alliance between God and his people, as we read in the book of Exodus: "Then he [Moses] took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his'" (Ex 24,8).

Jesus referred explicitly to this formulation at the Last Supper when, offering the chalice to his disciples, he said: "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26,28).

In effect, starting from the flagellation [scourging at the pillar] to the piercing of his side after his death on the Cross, Christ shed all his blood as the true Lamb immolated for universal redemption.

The salvific value of his blood is expressly stated in many passages of the New Testament. We can simply cite, on this year for Priests, the beautiful statement in the Letter to the Hebrews: "Christ... entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God!" (9,11-14).

Dear friends, it is written in Genesis that the blood of Abel, killed by his brother Cain, cries to God from the earth (cfr 4,10). Unfortunately, today as yesterday, this cry does not cease, as human blood continues to be shed because of violence, injustice and hatred.

When will men learn that life is sacred and belongs to God alone? When will they understand that we are all brothers? To the cry over spilt blood which rises from so many parts of the earth, God responds with the blood of his Son, who gave his life for us.

Christ did not answer evil with evil, but with goodness, with his infinite love. The blood of Christ is the earnest of God's faithful love for mankind.

Looking at the wounds of the Crucified Lord, every man, even in conditions of extreme moral poverty, can say: God has not abandoned me, he loves me, he gave his life for me. And thus, he will find hope again.

May the Virgin Mary, who, at the foot of the Cross, along with the apostle John, received Jesus's testament of blood, help us to rediscover the inestimable richness of this grace and to feel intimate and perennial gratitude for it.

After the Angelus prayer, he said:

These days, we have been affected by the tragedy of Viareggio [where a freight train carrying liquefied petroleum gas derailed last week near the central train station of that central Italian seaside city, and caused at least 15 deaths and dozens of injured in the neighborhood].

I join the sorrow of those who lost dear ones, who have been injured, or who have suffered serious material losses in the accident.

As I raise my prayers to God for all the persons involved in this tragedy, I hope that similar incidents may never be repeated, and that everyone may be guaranteed safety in carrying out their work and their day-to-day activities.

May God welcome all the deceased to his peace, grant quick recovery to the injured, and bring interior comfort to those who have been hurt in their deepest affections.

I also express my profound deploration for the killings this morning in Cotabato City*, southern Philippines. where a bomb explosion in front of the Cathedral during Sunday Mass, caused deaths and many wounded, among them, women and children.

As I pray to God for the victims of this ignoble action, I raise my voice once more to condemn the recourse to violence, which never constitutes a way towards solving existing problems.

[*NB: Cotabato is in the Philippines' second largest island. which has had regional autonomy under Muslim leadership for the past three decades, although Muslims are only less than 10 percent of the population. Despite this political concession, the Muslim secessionist guerrilla movement in the region has simply escalated over the years, with open tie-ups now to Al Qaeda and its affiliates.]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/5/2009 4:30 PM]
7/5/2009 9:05 PM
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Giuliano Ferrara's Il Foglio has satisfied my curiosity as to the language that Benedict XVI would employ for an encyclical that deals with economics, among other things. In its issue yesterday, the newspaper gave full play on Page 1 to the Italian text of two paragraphs from the encyclical, which it published without commentary, and is translated here.

A small preview of
'Caritas in veritate'

Translated from

July 4, 2009


34. Love in truth confronts man with the stupendous experience of giving.

Gratuitousness is present in life in many forms, often not recognized because of a vision of existence that is merely production-oriented or utilitarian.

The human being is made for giving, which expresses and realizes his dimension of transcendence.

Sometimes, modern man is erroneously convinced of being the only author of himself, of his life and of society. This is a presumption that results from the selfish closing-up in oneself, which derives - to use an expression of faith - from original sin.

The wisdom of the Church has always proposed keeping sight of original sin even in the interpretation of social facts and in the building of society: "To ignore that man has a wounded nature, inclined to evil, is a cause of serious errors in the fields of education, politics, social action and customs". (85)

Added for some time now to the list of the fields in which the pernicious effects of sin are manifested is that of the economy. We have evident proof of this even in these times.

The conviction of being self-sufficient and to have succeeded in eliminating the evil that is present in history just by his own actions has led man to identify happiness and salvation with immanent forms of material wellbeing and social action.

Likewise, the conviction of the need for autonomy in the economy, which should not accept 'influences' of a moral character, has pushed man to abuse the economic instrument in a way that has been ultimately destructive.

In the long run, these convictions have led to economic, social and political systems which have suppressed the freedom of the individual and of social bodies, and precisely because of this, are not capable of assuring the justice that they promise.

As I stated in the encyclical Spe salvi, this is how Christian hope is taken out of history (86), whereas it is a powerful social resource in the service of integral human development that is sought in freedom and justice.

Hope encourages reason and gives it the power to orient the will. (87)
It is already present in faith, or rather, it is aroused in faith.

Love in truth feeds on hope, and at the same time, manifests it. As an absolutely gratuitous gift from God, it comes into our life as something that is not owed to us - it transcends every law of justice.

A gift by its nature surpasses merit - its rule is excess. It precedes us in our very spirit as a sign of the presence of God in us and of his expectations from us.

Truth, which like love is a gift, is greater than us, as St. Augustine teaches.(84)

Even the truth about ourselves, of our personal consciousness, if first of all something 'given'.

In every cognitive process, indeed, truth is not produced by us but is is always found, or better yet, received.

Like love, it "is not born from thinking and wishing, but in some way, it is imposed on the human being". (88)

Because it is a gift received by all, love in truth is a force that constitutes the community, and unifies men according to modalities in which there are neither barriers nor limits.

The community of men can be constituted by us ourselves, but it can never be, with only our own powers, a community that is fully fraternal nor one that goes beyond every limit, namely, to become a truly universal community: the unity of the human species, a fraternal communion beyond every division, is born from the con-vocation of the word God-Love.

In facing this decisive question, we must specify, on the one hand, that the logic of giving does not exclude justice and is not juxtaposed to it afterwards and from the outside; and on the other hand, that economic, social and political development requires, if it is to be authentically human, that we make room for the principle of gratuitousness as an expression of fraternity.

35. The market, if there is reciprocal and generalized trust, is the economic institution that allows an encounter among persons as economic operators who use contract as a rule for their relationships and who exchange fungible [freely interchangeable] goods and services among them to satisfy their needs and desires.

The market is subject to the principles of so-called commutative justice which regulates precisely the relationship of giving and receiving among equal subjects.

But the social doctrine of the Church has never stopped calling attention to distributive justice and social justice in this very market economy, not only because it is part of a vaster social and political network but also because of the fabric of relationships within which it is realized.

Indeed, the market, if left only to the principle of equivalency of values exchanged, does not produce that social cohesion which it needs in order to function well.

Without internal forms of solidarity and reciprocal trust, the market cannot fully carry out its own economic function. Today, it is this trust which is lacking, and the loss of trust is a serious loss.

Opportunely, Paul VI in Populorum progressio underscored the fact that the economic system itself would take advantage of generalized practices of justice since the first to benefit from the development of poor nations would be the rich ones. (90)

It is not just a question of correcting dysfunctions through aid. The poor are not to be considered as a 'burden'(91), but rather as a resource, even from a point of view that is strictly economic.

Nonetheless, the viewpoint of those who think that the market economy structurally needs a quota of poverty and underdevelopment in order to function best must be considered erroneous.

It is in the interest of the market to promote emancipation, but to truly do this, it cannot count on itself alone, because it is not capable of producing by itself something that goes beyond its own possibilities.

It should draw from the moral energies of other subjects who are capable of generating such energies.



85 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 407; cfr JOHN PAUL II, GIOVANNI PAOLO II, Lett. enc. Centesimus annus, 25: Lc., 822-824.

86 Cfr n. 17: AAS 99 (2007), 1000.

87 Cfr Ibid., 23: L c.,1004-1005.

88 St. Augustine explains in detailed manner this teaching in the dialog on free will (De libero arbitrio II 3,8,27 sgg.). He indicates the existence within the human soul of an 'internal sense'. This sense consists of an act which takes place outside of the normal functioning of reason, an act that is not reflected upon and is almost instinctive, for which reason, considering its transient and fallible nature, admits the existence of something above it that is eternal, absolutely true and certain. The name that St. Augustine gives to this truth is sometimes God (Confessions 10,24,35; 12,25,35; De libero arbitrio li 3,8,27), and more often Christ (De magistra 11,38; Confessions 7,18,24; 11,2,4).

89 BENEDICT XVI, Lett. enc. Deus caritas est, 3: l.c., 219.

90 Cfr n. 49: Le., 281.

91 JOHN PAUL II, Lett. enc. Centesimus annus, 28: Le., 827-828.

Naturally, the Holy Father does not disappoint! His language is as clear and forthright as ever - and the presentation in these two paragraphs is familiar to anyone who follows his writings - a linear, easy-to-follow, philosophical and pedagogical exposition of his thoughts. I cannot wait for Tuesday.....

Initial print order
for 'Caritas in veritate':
150,000 in Italian

VATICAN CITY, (translated from Apcom) - There will be 150,000 copies of the first edition of Benedict XVI's Caritas in veritate which will officially be released on Tuesday, July 7.

Papa Ratzinger's third encyclical will be 141 pages long, divided into 6 chapters.

It will be distributed initially in eight languages: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Latin.

What will be the Vatican's
official English translation
of 'Caritas in veritate'?

The Pope's American publisher isn't sure, so it says it is prepared for both possibilities:
'Love in Truth' or 'Charity in Truth':

Ignatius Press plans to publish the Holy Father's new encyclical in three formats: print, e-book, and audio. Above is one of the banners we are using to promote these formats; it links to a simple web page from which you can pre-order the print book now. The e-book and audio book formats will be available shortly after the encyclical's release.

You can follow the link of this banner to find out more and to sign up to be notified about the availability of the encyclical and other Ignatius e-books and audio books available for download.

(You'll notice that the English title of the encyclical given in the banner is "Love in Truth". When you follow the link, the title on the descriptive page is "Charity in Truth". No, that's no mistake. We've created two different covers. There is still some discussion about which way the title will be translated in the official version of the document. We'll find out soon. Meanwhile, we're prepared for either scenario!)

I read somewhere recently that there had been a debate over whether the encyclical should be called Veritas in caritate or Caritas in veritate as it was always reported. It seems some theologians prefer the former formulation but Benedict XVI held out for his original choice....

And as for what the official English translation will be, I would hope it is 'Love in truth'. 'Love' is a more embracing (comprehensive) term, and it does not have the 'social work' connotation that the word 'charity' has in English.

Also, contrary to the wishful thinking of some Catholic 'leftists', the Pope does not seem to be advocate getting rid of the market economy or capitalism! This, even as their hero Obama is not-so-stealthily expanding government control of enterprise in the United States.

It's surprising that Obama's rah-rah boys at L'Osservatore Romano do not see what he is doing for what it is - perilously like Mussolini's fascist one-party take-over of Italian society! They, of all people, should recognize the signs.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2009 10:54 PM]
7/6/2009 3:24 AM
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Thanks to Lella

for this cartoon from Corriere della Sera on 7/5/09 - an illustration for the Pope's letter to Prime Minister Berlusconi in which he speaks for Africa and the other poor nations of the world.

Father to the world's
poor and disadvantaged

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2009 10:17 PM]
7/6/2009 2:24 PM
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July 6

St. Maria Teresa Goretti (Italy, 1890-1902)
Virgin and Martyr

No OR today.


The Holy Father met today with

- H.E. Carl-Henry Guiteau, Ambassador from Haiti, who presented his credentials. Address in French.

- Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline
of Sacraments.

- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Archbishop of Naples

- H.E. Luis Miguel Leitão Ritto, Chief of Delegation of the European Commission at the Holy See, on farewell visit

- H.E. Acisclo Valladares Molina, Ambassador Guatemala, on farewell visit

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/6/2009 2:25 PM]
7/6/2009 4:33 PM
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This is not the place for this, strictly, but I have no other thread to put it in:

If you are interested, you may go to
in which Sandro Magister sums up the build-up by interested parties to put the best shine possible on the Holy Father's coming encounter with Barack Obama.

It includes a report on a very 'enthusiastic' review of Obama's speeches at Notre Dame and in Cairo by Georges Cottier, 83, who was John Paul II's theologian of the Pontifical Household; along with equally enthusiastic reports by Catholic media reporters (mostly liberal, but also including the Washington correspondent for Avvenire) invited to the White House last week for a pre-Vatican visit scene-setting by Obama.

What I don't understand is how even a veteran Vaticanista like Magister falls prey to a common error by the secular media (which Fr. Lombardi had occasion to lament in two incidents just last week) such as considering the article by Cottier - a retired Curia official from the previous era - as equivalent to "the Vatican preparing a fanfare for Obama"! (The article was published in the Italian magazine '30 GIORNI', whose editor and publisher, former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, continues to pursue his own political agenda.)

As I personally find all the episodes reported substantially irrelevant to Obama's real and actual intentions behind all his fancy word-spinning, I have no intention of posting anything on this subject until the actual meeting.

However, anyone who may want to read a more 'realistic' attitude toward's Obama's actions so far - on the economy, in foreign policy, and towards the Catholic Church - may also want to go to the FIRST THINGS site
where the bloggers have been quite articulate lately!

And while we're at it, Carl Olson in today's Ignatius Insight
has an excellent piece that analyzes and cites examples of Obama's characteristic double-speak that is all sound-and-oratory signifying nothing, except that he sticks by his questionable moral choices, whether it's about abortion, gay rights or a bankruptcy of creative approaches to Middle East politics.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/6/2009 10:55 PM]
7/6/2009 7:14 PM
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Benedict XVI; Not a G8 leader
but looms large at L'Aquila summit:
Says poor nations must not be forgotten
and economies must go by ethical norms

ROME, July 6 (Translated from Apcom) - He is not one of the leaders of the world's eight richest nations who are meeting in L'Aquila July 8-10, nor does he have any economic, military or political power.

Nonetheless, Pope Benedict XVI will be one of the protagonists of the G8 summit this week - as half of the G8 leaders, including President Obama, are scheduled to have an audience with him, and with the publication tomorrow of his encyclical on the economy and labor in the era of globalization and an unprecedented global financial crisis.

He will first meet with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso - the first Catholic ever to lead the Japanese government, tomorrow morning.

On Thursday, July 9, it will be Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who was his host at the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney.

The audience for Obama takes place Friday afternoon, July 10, when the summit will have ended and before Obama flies to Ghana for his first visit to Africa as US President.

The last scheduled audience is for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday, July 11.

Russian President Yevgeny Medvedev did not ask for an audience, but he said in a TV interview for the Italian media yesterday that he hopes to raise the diplomatic status of the Russian representation at the Holy See to a full embassy soon.

The other G8 leaders who are not meeting the Pope this time are Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom. Sarkozy visited the Pope in December 2008 and then met him in Paris last September, while Brown was at the Vatican last spring.

The Pope is expected to present each of the G8 leaders with a copy of his encyclical.

Some of the First Ladies travelling with their husbands will be meeting the Pope after the General Audience on Wednesday in one of the reception rooms of the Aula Paolo VI.

It was also learned that Michele Obama will arrive at the Vatican one hour earlier than her husband on Friday in order to visit the Sistine Chapel. It is not known whether the two Obama daughters, Sasha and Malia, who are travelling with their parents, will be at the papal audience.

[The article then refers to the differing perceptions of Obama in the Catholic world, including the Vatican newspaper's cheerleading in his behalf as well as the Notre Dame episode; and presents a summary of the Pope's recent letter to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, host and president of this G8 summit..]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/15/2009 9:51 PM]
7/6/2009 10:27 PM
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Vatican printing 530,000
for the first edition in Italian
of 'Caritas in veritate' -
not counting free supplements
in the Catholic media

VATICAN CITY, July 6 (Translated from ZENIT) - Benedict XVI's third encylical, to be released tomorrow, is copyrighted by the Vatican publishing house LEV, which owns the rights to all of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's written and spoken words.

LEV has initially printed 500,000 copies of the encyclical in a softcover Italian translation (unit price 2 euros) and another 30,000

It has an initial printing in other languages - Latin, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Polish - of 50,000 to be made available at the 3 LEV bookstores in Rome.

The encyclical will be published in other countries by the national bishops' conferences under arrrangement with local publishers.

LEV has also authorized the magazines Famiglia Cristiana [belonging to the publishing house Edizioni San Paolo] and Tracce [organ of Communione e Liberazione] to publish their own editions.

Another Italian publishing house, Cantagalli, will market an edition with a commentary by Mons. Giampaolo Crepaldi, outgoing secretary of the Pontifical Councilf or Justice and Peace, recently named Archbishop of Trieste.

Likewise, LEV will team up with yet another local publisher AVE to publish an edition annotated by various economic and financial experts.

Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference, as well as diocesan weekly magazines throughout Italy, will also publish the full text of the encyclical.

Finally, L'Osservatore Romano announced that its Wednesday (July 9) issue will come with a booklet containing the text of the encyclical.

And from ZENIT's English service, a related story:

The Pope talks, people listen
by Edward Pentin

ROME, July 3 ( - Benedict XVI's views on the current financial crisis, included in his first social encyclical -- which will be released July 7 -- could possibly become a bestseller in the United States if a recent survey carried out by the Knights of Columbus holds true.

The Knights' poll of a broad sample of Americans in March this year showed that 57% of U.S. citizens were eagerly wanting to hear Benedict XVI discuss "the short ightedness of personal greed and selfishness" that is thought to be the main cause of the current crisis.

A further 55% wanted to hear him explain how a society can be built "where spiritual values play an important role."

Also interesting is that an earlier survey carried out by the Knights in February showed widespread public discontent with business ethics: 76% of Americans polled believed that corporate America's moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction, and 90% of respondents, and 90% of executives, see career advancement and personal gain as primary factors that corporate executives take into account when making business decisions.

Moreover, nearly two-thirds believed that religious beliefs should significantly influence executive's business decisions, and over two-thirds of executives agree.

The encyclical, which Benedict XVI signed Monday, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, comes just days after the financier Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in jail for defrauding thousands of investors of billions of dollars. It will also appear on the eve of the Group of Eight summit of world leaders in Italy, July 8-10.

"What our poll shows is that the American public sees something very seriously wrong and sees ethics as part of the solution," says Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus. "Since the country is overwhelmingly Christian in the sense that most Americans are baptized Christians, and one out of four are Catholic, the view of the Pope on these matters is going to be very important in the United States."

Anderson, who was visiting Rome this week, believes that the Pope is one of the few world figures who can speak out on these ethical questions with authenticity, and do so without favoring either the political left or right.

"We have to give Benedict XVI his own space and not try to claim it from one side," says Anderson, who is urging the public to read the encyclical with an open mind. "I think a Christian ought to approach an encyclical from a standpoint of how am I going to be changed, not whether or not it affirms a position on something."

And although he predicts the Holy Father will underline the necessity of an ethical foundation to sustaining the free market system, he does not expect the Pope to enter into technical aspects or specific policy.

"What he's going to say is that a Christian, if he understands his two commandments of love of God and love of neighbor, can no longer ask Cain's question: Am I my brother's keeper? He understands he has a responsibility to his brother and understands who his brother is. Benedict has said time and again: We're part of a human family, therefore we need to have a certain solidarity. [...] If you have that general ethical disposition, you're going to make decisions in a context that are going to be far better than if you don't."

The supreme knight, who was once a special assistant to Ronald Reagan, is surprised that despite more than 90% of Americans believing there is a kind of unethical foundation to the current crisis, "nobody wants to talk about it," thereby leaving a vacuum which the government is presently filling. It's therefore time, he says, for corporate leaders to "fess up to some ethical responsibility."

Not only would that "resonate very well" with the American public, he believes, but it would also help preserve the sustainability of the free market which is currently in "real jeopardy."

The Pope has already given clues about the content of the encyclical, saying the current global economic crisis proves that the rules and values that have dominated the economy in past years need to be replaced by a concept that is "respectful of the needs and rights of the weakest."

He also took the opportunity at his weekly general audience July 1st to "stress the importance of ethical and moral values in politics."

But this theme of establishing an ethical foundation is an idea the Holy Father has had for some time. In a prescient speech he gave in Rome in 1985, he said it is "becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the common good depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be born and sustained only by strong religious convictions."

Conversely, he warned, "it has also become obvious that the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse."

"An economic policy that is ordered not only to the good of the group -- indeed, not only to the common good of a determinate state -- but to the common good of the family of man demands a maximum of ethical discipline and thus a maximum of religious strength," he said then.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/6/2009 10:39 PM]
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