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6/3/2009 8:56 PM
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Earlier posts for today, June 3, on preceding page.


Vatican City, June 3 (AsiaNews) – At work, “with its pressing rhythm” and on vacation, we must “reserve” a moment for God, opening up to Him “with a thought, a meditation, a small prayer, and “not forget the Lord’s Day”, which is “the day of liturgy, of sacred music, so we can perceive the beauty of the Church of God and allow it enter our beings: only in this way can our life become true and great life”.

That was Benedict XVI’s call to 25 thousand people present at his general audience, during which he traced the life and legacy of an “extraordinary figure” from the High Middle Ages, Saint Rabanus Maurus, one of the protagonists of Carolingian culture.

Here is how the Pope synthesized the catechesis in English:

Our catechesis today deals with another great monastic figure of the High Middle Ages, Rabanus Maurus.

Rabanus entered monastic life at a young age as an oblate, was trained in the liberal arts and received a broad formation in the Christian tradition.

As the Abbot of Fulda and then as Archbishop of Mainz, he contributed through his vast learning and pastoral zeal to the unity of the Empire and the transmission of a Christian culture deeply nourished by the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church.

From his youth he wrote poetry, and he is probably the author of the famous hymn Veni Creator Spiritus. Indeed, his first theological work was a poem on the Holy Cross, in which the poetry was accompanied by an illuminated representation of the Crucified Christ.

This medieval method of joining poetry to pictorial art sought to lift the whole person – mind, heart and senses – to the contemplation of the truth contained in God’s word.

In the same spirit Rabanus sought to transmit the richness of the Christian cultural tradition through his prolific commentaries on the Scriptures, his explanations of the liturgy and his pastoral writings.

This great man of the Church continues to inspire us by his example of an active ministry nourished by study, profound contemplation and constant prayer.

Here is a translation of the Pope's full catechesis:


Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I wish to speak of a truly extraordinary personage from the Latin West - the monk Rabanus Maurus. Together with men like Isidore of Seville, Bede the Venerable, Ambrose Autpert, whom I have talked about in preceding catecheses, he kept in contact, in that historical period called the High Middle Ages, with the great culture of the ancient wise men and Christian fathers. Often referred to as 'praeceptor Germaniae' (Teacher of Germany), Rabanus was extraordinarily prolific.

Left, Rabanus presenting his work to Olgar of Mainz; right, Rabanus portrays himself as a humble monk in one of his cryptic pictorial poems.

With his absolutely exceptional capacity for work, he contributed perhaps more than anythings else to keep alive that theological, exegetic and spiritual culture from which the succeeding centuries had drawn.

Great monastic figures like Pier Damiani, Peter the Venerable and Bernard of Clairvauz looked back to him, as did ever more solid numbers of the secular clergy who in the 12th and 13th centuries gave life to one of the most beautiful and fecund flowerings of human thought.

Born in Mainz around 780, Rabanus entered the monastery at a very young age; he acquired the other name Maurus after the young Maurus in Book II of St. Gregory the Great's Dialogues, who had been entrusted as a boy by his own parents, who were Roman nobles, to the abbot Benedict of Norcia.

Rabanus availed of his precocious introduction as a 'puer celatus'(literally, hidden boy), in the Benedictine monastic world, and the fruits that he received from this, for his human, cultural and spiritual growth, and would in itself open a most interesting glimpse not only into the life of monks and that of the Church, but also on the entire society of his time, usually referred to as the 'Carolingian' [named for Charlemagne] age.

Of the times, or perhaps of himself, Rabanus Maurus wrote: "There are those who had the good fortune to be introduced to knowledge of the Scriptures from their infancy ('a cunabulis suis', from their cradle] and have been so well nourished with the food offered them by the Holy Church, enough to be promoted, with the appropriate education, to the highest sacred orders" (PL 107, col 419BC).

The extraordinary culture which distinguished Rabanus Maurus brought him early to the attention of the great figures of his time. He became the adviser of princes. He worked to guarantee the unity of the [Holy Roman] Empire, and at the broadest cultural level, he never drew back from offering whoever asked him a well-considered response, preferably drawn from the Bible and Patristic texts.

First elected Abbot of the famous Monastery at Fulda, and then Archbishop of his native city Mainz, he did not cease from pursuing his studies, demonstrating with the example of his life, that one can be simultaneously at the disposition of others without depriving oneself of congruent time for reflection, study and meditation.

And so, Rabanus Maurus was an exegete, philosopher, poet, pastor and man of God. The dioceses of Fulda, Mainz, Limburg and Wroclaw venerate him as a saint or a blessed one. His works make up six volumes of Migne's Latin patrology.

Most likely, we owe him one of the most beautiful and well-known hymns of the Latin Church, the Veni Creator Spiritus, extraordinary synthesis of Christian pneumatology [study of the Holy Spirit].

Rabanus's theological effort was primarily expressed, in effect, in the form of poetry, and its object was the mystery of the Holy Cross in a work entitled De laudibus Sanctae Crucis [In praise of teh Holy Cross], conceived in such a way as to propose not just conceptual contents but exquisitely artistic devices, using both the poetic form as well as pictorial form in the same 'coded' manuscript.

Iconographically proposing among the lines of his poems the image of the crucified Christ, he writes for instance:

"Here is the image of the Savior who, through the positioning of his limbs, makes sacred for us that most celebrated, sweetest and most beloved form of the Cross, so that, believing in his name and obeying his commandments, we may enter eternal life, thanks to his Passion.

"Thus every time we raise our eyes to the Cross, let us remember him who suffered for us in order to wrench us from the power of the shadows, who accepted death to make us heirs to eternal life" (Lib. 1, Fig. 1, PL 107 col 151 C).

This method of combining all the arts, the intellect, the heart and the senses, which came from the East, would receive enormous development in the West, reaching unequalled peaks in the miniaturized coded Bibles and other works of faith and art which flowered in Europe until the invention of the printing press and beyond that.

In any case, that method in Rabanus Maurus demonstrated an extraordinary awareness of the need to involve in the experience of faith not only the mind and the heart, but also the senses through the other aspects of aesthetic taste and human sensitivity that bring man to benefit from the truth with all of himself - 'spirit, soul and body'.

This is important: faith is not only thought, but it touches all of our being. Since God became man of flesh adn blood, he entered the world of the senses, then we must seek to encounter God in all the dimensions of our being.

Thus the reality of God, through faith, penetrates our being and transforms it. That is why Rabanus Maurus concentrated his attention above all on liturgy as the syntehsis of all the dimensions of our perception of reality. This intuition makes him extraordinarily relevant.

Another thing he left us are the famous 'Carmina' [medieval songs in Latin and some German, using rhynmed lyrics as the Carmina Burana, or carmina from the Benedictine abbey of Beuern] offered to be used above all in liturgical celebrations. In fact, since Rabanus was above all a monk, his interest in liturgical celebration was only to be expected.

He did not devote himself to poetry as an end in itself, but he used art and every other form of knowledge to deepen knowledge of the Word of God. Thus he sought, with extreme commitment and rigor, to introduce his contemporries - especially bishops, priests and deacons - to an understanding of the profoundly theological and spiritual significance of all elements in liturgical celebration.

Thus, he tried to understand and propose to others the hidden theological significances of rites, drawing from the Bible and the tradition of the Fathers. He did not hesitate to declare - our of honesty as well as to give greater weight to his explanations, the patristic sources to which he owed his own knowledge.

And he continued to avail of those sources freely but with careful discernment in order to continue the development of Patristic thought.

At the end of the 'First Epistle' addressed to a 'corepiscopo' ['the heart of a bishop'] in the diocese of Mainz, for instance, after responding to requests for clarification on the rules to follow in the exercise of pastoral responsibility, he writes: ""We have written you all these as we have deduced from Sacred Scriptures and the canons of the Fathers. But you, most holy man, must make your decisions as you think best for you, case by case, seeking to temper your own valuation in a way that will guarantee direction in everything, because that is the mother of all virtues" (Epistulae, I, PL 112, col 1510 C).

Thus, one sees the continuity of Christian faith, which has its beginnings in the Word of God: but this Word is always a living Word - it develops and is exopressed in new ways, but always consistent with all the structure, with the entire edifice, of the faith.

Since the Word of God is an integral part of the liturgical celebration, Rabanus Marcos dedicated to it his greatest efforts during his entire existence.

He provided appropriate exegetical explanations of almost all the books in both the Old and New Testaments with a clearly pastoral intention, which he justified in words like these: "I wrote these things... synthesizing explanations and proposals from many others to offer a service to the poor reader who does not have many books at his disposition, and also to make it easy for those who are unable to enter into a deeper understanding of the significant discoveries of the Fathers of antiquity" (Commentariorum in Matthaeum praefatio, PL 107, col. 727D).

In fact, in commenting on Biblical texts, he drew fully from the Fathers, particularly Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory the Great.

His marked pastoral sensitivity brought him to take on one of the problems most ddeply felt among the faithful and the sacred ministers in his time: that of Penitence. He compiled 'Penitentiaries" - as he called them - in which, according to the sensibility of the time, he listed sins and their corresponding penances, using as much as possible reasons taken from the Bible, the decisions of Church Councils, and papal decrees. Indeed, the Carolingians used these texts in their attempts to reform the Church and society.

For his pastoral intentions, he wrote works like De disciplina ecclesiastica and De institutione clericorum, in which, drawing from Augustine above all, Rabanus explained to the simple folk and to the priests of his diocese the fundamental elements of the Christian faith - they were sort of small catechisms.

I wish to conclude the presentation of this great 'man of the Church' by citing some of his words which reflect well his basic conviction: "Whoever is negligent in contemplation ["qui vacare Deo negligit") deprives himself of a vision of God's light. And whoever then allows himself to be taken over indiscreetly by other concerns and allows his toughts to be distracted by the tumult of worldly events, condemns himself to the absolute impossiblity of penetrating the secrets of the invisible God" (Lib. I, PL 112, col. 1263A).

I think Rabanus Maurus addresses these words even to us today: During times of work, with its frenetic rhythms, and during vacations, we should reserve moments for God. We must open our life to him by turning to him with a thought, a reflection, a brief prayer, and above all, let us not forget Sunday as the Lord's day, the day of liturgy, in order to perceive in the beauty of our churches, of sacred music and the Word of God, the beauty of God himself, allowing him to enter our being. Only then can our life become great. It becomes true life.

The illustrations are from Rabanus's De laudibus Sanctae Crucis described as 'a collection of twenty-eight encrypted religious poems, rendered before 814 AD (using) a ciphering system of 36 lines containing 36 letters evenly spaced on a grid. In this grid, Maurus included figurative images, putting the poems in visual terms. The poem filling the cypher grid was enriched by these smaller images, as most of the letters contained within them created tiny individual poems.'

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/4/2009 4:09 AM]
6/3/2009 9:29 PM
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Sandro Magister takes due note of the Pope's Saturday encounter with children.

Professor Ratzinger talks to children

Question-and-answer session between Benedict XVI and an audience of tiny listeners.
It was the second time in four years, and it worked again - as a window to the Pope's personality
and communicative ablities.

ROME, June 3, 2009 – He does it every year with the priests of the diocese of Rome, at the beginning of Lent. He does it in the summer with the priests wherever he is on vacation. He does it with groups of young people. He does it with the journalists at his departure on each journey.

The direct question-and-answer, without reading prepared texts, is a method that Papa Ratzinger loves. He used it when he was a professor. He still braves it, although he knows the risks. The latest example of such a risk caused a 'scandal' of sourts, when he said that condoms are ineffective in fighting AIDS. [That's a slight but nonetheless significant misrepresentation of what he said and meant - which was that condoms are not the best nor only way to fight AIDS and may even worsen the problem.]

But until a few days ago, Benedict XVI had tried this method with children only once. The question-and-answer session took place in Saint Peter's Square in October of 2005, the first year of his pontificate. The square was full of children from Rome and Lazio who had made their first communion that year. They were between the ages of 8 and 10.

There were seven questions, and Papa Ratzinger passed the test with flying colors. He grabbed the children's attention, made himself understood, and gave simple but profound answers.

Inexplicably, however, he did not have any such encounters in the following years. Until just a few days ago, when for the second time he met with children and answered their questions.

The encounter took place on the afternoon of Saturday, May 30, the vigil of Pentecost, in the audience hall at the Vatican. The seven thousand children belonged to the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood.

This time there were three questions. They were gathered ahead of time together with others, exactly as is done for with the journalists on the papal journeys. The Pope's staff make the initial selection. But it is Benedict XVI himself who makes the final pick, choosing the questions he wants to answer.

The complete transcript of the question-and-answer reveals the typical traits of the current Pope's personality. Effectiveness in capturing attention. Simplicity of language. Clarity. Deep optimism. Sincerity.

The listener intuits that Benedict XVI doesn't have any hidden meanings. Nor does he insinuate or indulge in doubts. He instills certainties – not his own, but those he himself has received from on high.

Defying the current clichés, Papa Ratzinger is a great communicator. And he is at his best when he talks with children.

[He provides an English translation of the Q&A.

See Saturday post, 5/30/09, in preceding page for my translation

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/4/2009 1:10 AM]
6/4/2009 1:24 AM
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Pope grants Congregation for Clergy
power to laicize some priests more easily

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, June 23(CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has granted the Congregation for Clergy new powers to dismiss from the priesthood and release from the obligation of celibacy priests who are living with women, who have abandoned their ministry for more than five years or who have engaged in seriously scandalous behavior.

The new powers do not apply to cases involving the sexual abuse of minors by a priest; those cases continue to be subject to special rules and procedures overseen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The new faculties were announced by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the clergy congregation, in an April 18 letter to the world's bishops. Catholic News Service obtained a copy of the letter in early June.

The full English text of the letter is posted in ABOUT THE CHURCH AND THE VATICAN:

Cardinal Hummes told CNS June 3 that the new, quicker administrative procedure for dismissing priests was prompted by "many situations where canon law did not seem adequate for meeting new problems."

As an example, the cardinal said the 1983 Code of Canon Law made no provision for a bishop to initiate a process to laicize a priest who had abandoned his ministry.

Usually when a priest leaves the ministry of his own accord, he informs his bishop and sooner or later will request a formal dispensation from the obligation of celibacy, the cardinal said.

But others "leave, they marry (in a civil ceremony), they have children. In these cases, the bishops did not have a way to proceed because it was up to the person who left," he said.

"But if the one who left is not interested (in regularizing his situation), the good of the church and the good of the priest who left is that he be dispensed so that he would be in a correct situation, especially if he has children," the cardinal said.

Cardinal Hummes said a priest's "children have the right to have a father who is in a correct situation in the eyes of God and with his own conscience. So helping these people is one of the reasons there are new procedures. In these cases, the initiative begins with the bishop."

The cardinal said he did not have statistics on how many priests have abandoned their ministry without seeking laicization, but it was a problem bishops have raised with the congregation.

Cardinal Hummes'S letter to the world's bishops said that while the church teaches that properly performed sacraments are valid whether or not the priest officiating is living in a situation of holiness, the discipline of the Latin-rite Catholic Church is to insist that priests strive for moral perfection and to imitate Christ, who was chaste.

"The church, being the spouse of Jesus Christ, wishes to be loved in the total and exclusive manner with which Jesus Christ loved her as her head and spouse. Priestly celibacy is, therefore, the gift of oneself in and with Christ to his church, and expresses the service of the priest to the church in and with the Lord," the cardinal wrote.

"The vast majority of priests live out their priestly identity daily with serenity and exercise faithfully their proper ministry," he wrote, but when situations of scandal arise a bishop must be able to act quickly and firmly.

The cardinal's letter dealt separately with the situation of priests who simply abandoned their ministry for "a period of more than five consecutive years." It also addressed the more serious cases of those priests who have attempted or contracted a civil marriage, are having a consensual sexual relationship with a woman or have violated another church or moral law in a way that caused serious scandal.

"Situations of grave lack of discipline on the part of some clergy have occurred in which the attempts to resolve the problems by the pastoral and canonical means foreseen in the Code of Canon Law are shown to be insufficient or unsuitable to repair scandal, to restore justice or to reform the offender," the letter said.

In every case, however, Cardinal Hummes' letter insisted that the local bishop carry out a careful investigation of the facts and, when the evidence confirms wrongdoing, "he should proceed formally to correct or admonish the accused."

"Yet when this does not suffice to repair the scandal, restore justice and bring about the rehabilitation of the person, the bishop should proceed with the imposition of penalties," the letter said, outlining the obligatory steps to be taken.

At every stage of the process, the cardinal told CNS: "The right of a priest to defend himself is sacred, including in these cases. The right to defend oneself is internationally recognized and always preserved."

Prior to Pope Benedict's approval of the new norms Jan. 30, bishops seeking to dismiss a priest for abandoning the ministry or attempting marriage had to initiate a formal juridical trial against the person.

In the interview, Cardinal Hummes said that although the procedures have been streamlined, "each case will be reviewed individually, including with the aim of ensuring that the rights of the person interested were protected."

6/4/2009 2:04 AM
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I light a candle ideally whenver I come across a rare bishop who not only stands up for the Pope and orthodox Catholicism in the ongoing 'contra Papam, contra Ecclesiam' cultural wars but does so in a very intelligent manner, and what's more, does not hesitate to name the principal culprits.

Cardinal Gil of Burgos joins Argentine bishop Hector Aguer who back in January spoke out against Cardinal Martini's seeming 'carte blanche' to say anything he wants disputing the Magisterium.

Church and Benedict XVI are confronting
the heart of secular world, says Spanish bishop

Madrid, Spain, Jun 1, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Francisco Gil Hellin of Burgos, Spain said last week that it has become increasingly evident that both the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI are confronting the “center of the secular world, made up of significant elements of the European Union, the United Nations, and more recently, the United States.”

“This center has shown itself incapable of accepting anything that is not part of its own values. And thus, despite scientific proof, the Pope has been irrationally criticized in the name of reason, and the faith and morals of the Catholic Church have been treated irrationally,” the archbishop said in his weekly reflection.

Archbishop Gil Hellin warned his audience that, “The world runs the risk of embracing a new dictatorship: the dictatorship of relativism.”

He went on to analyze the recent attacks against the Pope for his statements about condom use. “If the Pope’s comments were off the mark, there would be some justification. But what the Pope said is shared by the international scientific community, Catholic or not. What we are facing is a secularism that is increasingly more radical, which gives no value to Christian ethics or is willing to include Christianity when it comes to finding solutions to the very serious problems that are affecting our society.”

Archbishop Gil Hellin alerted people to the way that “radical secularism has been incubating in Europe during the last few decades. But it has become especially acute since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

“The United States had maintained itself more or less outside this reality. This is explains why the Pope saw in it a more hopeful and less hostile secularism.

“In fact, although not quite as strongly as in Europe, secular forces have become more emboldened in the United States, seeking to marginalize the church and label her teachings on marriage and life as outdated, if not fanatical,” the archbishop said.

He also argued that “hostility towards the Church has also grown in the media.”

As an example, the archbishop stated that “key U.N. officials from some European nations and the international media with connections in the United States and Great Britain rapidly assumed that Benedict XVI was wrong about condoms.”

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/4/2009 3:16 AM]
6/4/2009 1:25 PM
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June 4

St. Charles Lwanga (Uganda, 1860?-1886) and companions
Catechists and Martyrs

OR today.

Illustration: 'Crucified Christ' from Rabanus Maurus's De laudibus sanctae crucis,
12th-century edition, Vatican Library

At the General Audience, the Pope speaks of Rabanus Maurus:
'Faith is not just thought:
it touches the heart and the senses'

Other Page 1 stories: In Afghanistan, dozens killed in suicide attacks as violence hinders
Afghanistan's path to stability; and Obama seeks a new dialog with the Islamic world.
An inside-page item reports that Patriarch Kirill has openly deplored a crisis of religious
practice in Russia where too many Orthodox are only Christians by tradition.


The Holy Father met today with
- The officials of the Latin American and Caribbean Conference of Bishops (CELAM) headed by the president,
Mons. Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Archbishop of Aparecida (Brazil.
- Mons. Philip Edward Wilson, Archbishop of Adelaide (Australia), President of the Australian Bishops Conference
- Bishops of Venezuela on ad-limina visit (Group 1)


Thursday, June 11
Holy Mass and Eucharistic Procession
on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

The Holy Father will celebrate 7 p.m. Mass in front of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
and lead the traditional procession towards Santa Maria Maggiore.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/4/2009 1:57 PM]
6/4/2009 4:35 PM
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Thanks to Beatrice and her site

for this excellent rebuttal of the objections voiced immediately after the Holy Father's address at Yad Vashem last May 11, by Rabbi Meir Lau, a leading Jewish rabbi.

It is dated May 14 and was picked up from an Italian Catholic site's press round-up on May 22. I have not had the time to check out whether there has been any response from Rabbi Lau or his side, but I will do that.

In any case, Introvigne also presents a powerful argument that the Pope's Jewish detractors are putting themselves in league with anti-Pope Catholic progressivists who are often among those most militant in advocating the cause of Palestinians and Hamas against Israel's legitimate concerns for its security and sovereignty.

This is a translation from the original Italian.

Open letter to a rabbi
'disappointed' with
the Pope's words at Yad Vashem

by Massimo Introvigne
Director of CESNUR
(Center for Studies on New Religions, Turin)

Dear Rabbi Lau:

My name probably means nothing to you, but a simple search through the Internet will convince you that the undersigned is not a foe of Israel. On the contrary, I am a scholar of religious pluralism who has never hesitated to condemn ultra-fundamentalist Islamist terrorism, particular that of Hamas, to support the right of your nation to security (which evidently does not mean sharing each and every choice made by changing governments in Israel) and to denounce every form of

In your capacity as the former Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi of Israel, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, and president of the Administrative Council of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, your words on the visit of the Pope on May 11 to that memorial have a particular significance as your conutry's media have underscored.

To the Pope's address, which the great majority of Catholics - though not Catholics only - found not just rigorous but moving, you posed three substantial objections.

The Pope does not need to be defended. The purpose of this letter is only to point out to you that each of those objections is not only unfounded, but also ultimately harmful to the causes that you purport to defend.

First of all, you stated that Benedict XVI's address at Yad Vashem 'lacked something' because the German Pope "never once mentioned the Germans or Nazis responsible for that bloodbath, nor did he express regret in their behalf".

You, Rabbi Lau, are not Catholic, but certainly you know that the man who visited Yad Vashem did so not as a German but as the Pope of the universal Church, and it is this fact that makes his visit and his tribute so significant.

Dozens of German political and cultural representatives have visited Yad Vashem over the years and have been profuse in their 'expressions of regret' but, rightly, none of their visits has had the worldwide resonance of Benedict XVI's visit: not because the Pope is a German intellectual who is more authoritative than the other Germans that preceded him, but because the Pope is the Pope.

On the other hand, your criticism is in direct contrast with the historiographic line of Yad Vashem itself, which insists that the responsibility for the Holocaust cannot be attributed only to the Germans or the Nazis, because in fact, it is the poisoned fruit and finale of the entire history of anti-Semitism.

It is possible that you and I will not agree on some details of this history but, setting aside this possible divergence: If Benedict XVI had pointed the finger only at German national Socialism, would he have not then be accused of laying the blame on just one country and on just one phase of the sad history of anti-Semitism while ignoring other phases which were by no means just limited to Germany?

Does not the Pope's position condemning anti-Semitism as a sin which comes from the heart of man - of all men, not just the Germans -
correspond to the most profound raison d'etre of Yad Vashem?

In the second place, you said you expected and would have been happy if the Pope had offered 'apologies' for the silence of Pius XII during world War II. We will not be able to resolve here and now this historiographic controversy which has dragged on for decades.

Nonetheless, the Pope has responded to this - in his address to the participants of a congress on "The legacy of Pius XII's Magisterium and the Second Vatican Council" on November 8, 2008. [Actually, the occasion was earlier - Benedict XVI's homily on Oct. 9, 2008 at the Mass to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pius XII's death.]

On that occasion, Benedict XVI recalled that Pius XII deployed during World War II an 'intense work of charity in defense of persecuted persons, without any distinction of religion, race, nationality or political affiliation".

He continued:

And how can we forget his Christmas Radio Message in December 1942? His voice broken by emotion, he deplored the situation of "hundreds of thousands of men and women who, without any fault of their own, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline" (AAS, xxxv, 1943, p. 23), with a clear reference to the deportation and extermination of the Jews.

He often acted secretly and silently because, in the light of the practical situations of that complex period of history, he foresaw that only in this way could he avoid the worst and save the greatest possible number of Jews.

Numerous and unanimous attestations of gratitude for his interventions were addressed to him at the end of the war, as well as at the time of his death, from the highest authorities of the Jewish world such as, for example, Israel's Minister for Foreign Affairs Golda Meir, who wrote: "When fearful martyrdom came to our people, the voice of the Pope was raised for its victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out about great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict" and concluded with emotion: "We mourn a great Servant of peace".
- Homily at the Mass to commemorate the 50th anniversary
of the death of Pius XII, St. Peter's Basilica, Oct. 9, 2008

The quotation from Golda Meir, as you well know, is significant for an aspect that I wish to highlight.

Up to the Second Vatican Council, no important representative of the Jewish world would ever have thought of criticizing Pius XII. On the contrary, the most eminent figures of the Israeli and international Jewish community praised and thanked the Pontiff.

What changed around the time of Vatican II? We know.

In Germany, in 1962, a great propagandistic media campaign accompanied the world premiere of Rolf Hochhuth's play The Deputy which accused Pius XII of complicity with Hitler.

Documents that subsequently emerged from Soviet archives and the testimony of General Ion Mihai Pacepa - who was an official in the secret service of Communist Romania and was personally involved in the anti-Pius XII operation - allow us today to conclude without any doubts that Hochhuth's play was commissioned by the KGB, specifically by General Ivan Ivanovich Agayants (1911-1968), of Department D (Disinformation) of Soviet counter-intelligence.

Agayants personally collaborated in the editing of the text signed by Hochhuth who was - and is - so unfriendly to your people that he was exposed in 2005 to be a supporter and public defender of the negationist theses of the British author David Irving [the same author who inspired Bishop Williamson's negationism].

The goal of the KGB was to discredit Pius XII's anti-Communist Magisterium which was considered the epitome of anti-Soviet, pro-American positions during the Cold War.

Launched by the KGB, the anti-Pius XII movement was then picked up by Catholics or ex-Catholics (ex-seminarians like John Cornwell and Garry Wills, or ex-priests like James Carroll), who sought to attack Pius XII and embarrass the Church - not on the question of Communism -but on issues that had to do with artificial contraception, abortion and homosexuals, continuing issues today that had been anticipated by Pius XII's Magisterium.

All this is documented by a good number of historians, but I think that you may be particularly familiar with the writings of one of your colleagues, the rabbi and historian David Dalin.

Following Dalin's footsteps, I wish to invite you to reflect on a paradox: the Israeli men of culture and politics who now intervene quite militantly against Pius XII are more or less willing victims of maneuvers which ably drew them first, to the trap set by the KGB and then, into an intra-Catholic controversy in which progressivists have attacked the Popes for reasons that have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

On the contrary, the Soviet Communists were and Catholic progressivists have often been in the front lines when it comes to attacking Israel while waving the flag for the Palestinians or Hamas.

Is it really worth your while to march with, or rather, follow the footsteps of such company?

The third criticism highlighted by the Israeli press: that the Pope, even if he did not wish to apologize for Pius XII, should have apologized for what they call 'the most terrible error of his Pontificate', namely, revoking the excommunication to four bishops of the FSSPX founded by Mons. Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991), one of whom - Mons. Richard Williamson - has expressed sympathy for negationist theses about the Holocaust.

After the Williamson case, the condemnation of negationism - of whose origins you, Rabbi Lau, are fully aware, and which are certainly not from the Catholic world - by both the Pope and the Holy See has been loud and clear, restated, in fact, at Yad Vashem by the Pope himself.

I would invite you to reflect further on the fact that, as it was for Pius XII, even this time, prominent figures of the Jewish and Israeli world risk being embroiled, even if unaware perhaps, in intra-Catholic wars completely extraneous to questions about the Holocaust.

Most informed Catholics understand well that the progressivists who turned against the Pope for revoking the FSSPX excommunications could not care less about negationism.

None of these progressivists knew - before the media bomb lit by two militantly anti-Catholic French activists [on the eve of Swedish TV's delayed telecast of a November 2008 interview with Mons. Williamson] - that Mons. Williamson had ever expressed negationist ideas.

And, note once more, that the progressivist elements who vented themselves against the Pope were often the very same ones who are on the anti-Israel side of the conflict with the Palestinians.

And what is it exactly that these elements want? They do not wish their interpretation of the Second Vatican Council on the bases of progressivist theology and mentality questioned in any way.

Together with other acts [in Benedict XVI's Pontificate], the start of a dialog with the FSSPX - which will not be easy - through the revocation of the bishops' excommunication was a sign that a dismantling of that interpretation of Vatican-II is well underway.

Such dismantiling will render the intra-Catholic dissent more difficult with respect to the Pope's Magisterium on issues like euthanasia or gay marriage.

Thus, the stakes in play are, even here, anything but opinions on the Holocaust, but rather issues - prescisely like euthanasia and gay marriage - in which your own positions are much closer to that of the Pope than to that of his detractors.

My question, therefore is - even with respect to the revoked excommunications - why you would wish to enroll yourself in a war against the Pope promoted in the name of objectives that you personally do not share with persons who, in large part, have no particular sympathy for your cause nor for your nation.

The occasion of the Pope's visit to Israel, in general, and to Yad Vashem, in particular, in order to overcome ancient misunderstandings, was historic. I ask you to contribute to not detracting from the importance of the occasion.

Please seek to discern equitably as a scholar, the voice of reason. and as a rabbi, the voice of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who still speaks to believers who are willing to listen.

The Pope said in Jerusalem:

Each one of us here also knows, however, that God’s voice is heard less clearly today, and reason itself has in so many instances become deaf to the divine.

Yet that “void” is not one of silence. Indeed, it is the din of egotistical demands, empty promises and false hopes that so often invades the very space in which God seeks us.

Can we then make spaces – oases of peace and profound reflection – where God’s voice can be heard anew, where his truth can be discovered within the universality of reason, where every individual, regardless of dwelling, or ethnic group, or political hue, or religious belief, can be respected as a person, as a fellow human being?
- Address at Inter-Religious meeting, Notre Dame Center
Jerusalem,, May 11, 2009

Help us to hope that the answer to this can be Yes.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/4/2009 11:43 PM]
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Two days ago, I belatedly mentioned the unexpected death in his sleep of Gianni Baget Bozzo in his home in Genoa on May 9. He was 84. I have come across what may have been the last article he wrote - and fittingly, it is about Benedict XVI - written in that concise style he perfected of capturing the essence of his subject in a few brief paragraphs.

Benedict XVI in Israel
by Gianni Baget Bozzo
Translated from

May 5, 2009

It is a delight, for anyone who likes Christianity, to hear or read Benedict XVI, because every time, he finds new points that lead to the heart of the faith: it is divine life communicated to believers.

A particular joy comes from his Wednesday catecheses which have been tracing the course of the Church through the thinking of those who have built it with their words.

Every author is chosen by the Holy Father with particular care, and the doctrinal nucleus of each one's thinking is then exposed in its profundity.

John Paul II commented on the Scriptures [in his Wednesday catecheses]; Benedict XVI contemplates the development of the Church as the Body of Christ in the mind of its sages and saints.

Naturally, this way of guiding Catholics appears to offend the sentiments of Church adversaries, but also that of many Catholics who have lost any taste for looking into their faith at all.

It is that 'offense' taken that has given rise to the myth of a theologian Pope who is supposedly out of tune with the reality of the times and of history, unlike his predecessor - or so they say.

It is also thought that the Church 'management', entrusted to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has not been able to show governance that is proportionate to the impetus that Benedict XVI is giving to the Church itself.

But the principle of government that Benedict XVI appears to follow for the Roman Curia and the world's bishops appears to lean on that age-old saying, "Make haste slowly."

It took years of governing by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before coming out in 1998 with Fides et Ratio, with Ad Tuendam Fidem ['To defend the faith', John Paul II's Motu Proprio spelling out Professions of Faith required in the Catholic faith], with the document regarding bishops' conferences, and in 2000, with Dominus Iesus - all of which are fundamental documents of John Paul II's Pontificate, and those that anchored his providential capacity for communication.

Pope Benedict gives a doctrinal character - therefore, a profoundly Catholic one - to every problem that he addresses. We could say that he 'catholicizes' the language with which he addresses every reality.

It will be a fundamental trait of the work he undertakers during his visit to the Holy Land, where he will 'resume' his approach to JESUS OF NAZARETH as he begun it in his book with this title.

Indeed, in the Holy Land, Benedict XVI will also be confronting contextually the relationship of the Catholic Church to Judaism and Islam, and that of the Holy See with the State of Israel and with the Palestinian people.

It is a huge theological and political mix with great relevance, in which the doctrinal aspect and that of governance overlap. As they do in reality.

But we can be sure that this trip will confirm the greatness of this Pope, who governs the Church through its doctrine, transforming into Christian language all the doctrinal, theological and theological problems that he comes across.

New nominations to the Curia will follow, and the 'management' will continue its pragmatic line of governance. And that is as it should be in the Catholic Church, when the Pope governs under the sign of the identity of the faith and the unity of its doctrinal thought.

Say a prayer for Father Gianni. I will miss his theologically
and politically well-informed insights:

Another item picked up from TEMPI - and I have no idea what, in particular, occasioned it, but it's equally laudatory.

The Pope may be hammered by the media
but he is a worldwide best-seller

by Bruno Mastroianni
Translated from

June 2, 2009

Why does Benedict XVI's mediatic image continue to be so bad?

There are so many explanations we can give. Above all, his insistence on truth which is unpleasant to the cushioned ears of the press, his unpardonable lack of political correctness.

But there's something else. One of the characteristics of this Pope is that to follow him, one has to lend him an ear and pay attention. In perfect tune with his kindly character, typical of a man of culture who is also a thelogian and better yet, a man of God, Benedict XVi expresses his teachings with all the calm of someone who completely trusts the value of what he says.

Without need of tricks or frills to call attention. His discourses are hymns to the human rational capacity - which they interpellate, respect, stimulate. The listener can choose to listen or not.

Because Benedict XVI's voice, amid so many sensation-making noises which shatter against each other in a frantic contest to gain an audience, is like a light whisper, too easily muffled.

This Pope never talks to produce an effect. He simply faces the essential issues that matter: man's destiny, who is God, what existence means. These are themes which require a listener ready to listen.

Meanwhile, with more than 130 books in circulation, and millions of copies sold around the world (in the past two years, JESUS OF NAZARETH and the two encyclicals sold millions by themselves), Papa Ratzinger is now the most widely read spiritual writer in the world. And in this, his popularity obviously follows criteria othere than what the media use!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/5/2009 5:41 AM]
6/5/2009 2:48 PM
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June 5

St. Boniface (b. England 672, d. Fulda 756)
Missionary and Martyr
Apostle of the Germans
Patron Saint of Germany

OR today.

No papal news in this issue. Page 1 news:
In Cairo speech to the 'Muslim world, Obama
says Islam is part of America; Iran votes
for a new president June 12 and prepares
to resume 'dialog' on its nuclear program;
US Federal Reserve's Berenanke calls on
Congress and President to reduce worsening
US deficit


Audiences today:

- Hon. Peter Harry Carstensen, Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein state (Germany) and delegation

- Bishops of Venezuela (Group 2) on ad limina visit

- Mons. Joseph Spiteri, Apostolic Nuncio in Sri Lanka, with his family.

- Cardinal Seán Baptist Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and
Cardinal Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Ireland

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/6/2009 12:26 AM]
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Pope meets Irish cardinals
on abuse report

VATICAN CITY, June 5 (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has met with Ireland's top churchmen following the publication of a damning report detailing decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at church-run reform schools in Ireland.

The Vatican says they briefed the pope on the report.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi says Benedict expressed his solidarity with the victims in the meeting Friday with Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh and Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

The Irish government-funded independent report last month detailed "endemic" molestation and rape at church-run boys facilities and ritualized beatings at girls' schools from the 1930s to the 1990s.

Irish bishops brief Pope
on child abuse report

DUBLIN, June 5 (Reuters) - The leaders of the Catholic church in Ireland were to meet Pope Benedict in Rome on Friday to update him about the fallout from revelations priests and nuns beat and raped children in their care.

A harrowing report into the systemic abuse in Ireland's now defunct system of industrial and reform schools has shocked the once devout Catholic country and has put pressure on religious orders who ran the institutions to pay more compensation.

The Pontiff, who apologized for sexual abuse by clergy during a visit to Australia last year and has not commented publicly on the Irish revelations, will meet Cardinal Sean Brady, leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland and Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin to discuss the report's impact.

The 18 orders named in the report, including the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy, said on Thursday they would provide more financial compensation to thousands of victims.

A 2002 deal capped the orders' contribution to a redress fund at 127 million euros ($180 million), compared with a total bill that is expected to top 1 billion euros.

A junior minister has suggested the orders should share half of the cost, while Prime Minister Brian Cowen told them on Thursday to make a further "substantial" contribution without specifying the amount.

In the United States, the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims in the largest compensation of its kind.

The Irish report, chaired by a High Court justice, detailed floggings, slave labor and rape by priests throughout the 20th century, describing over thousands of pages how children were also preyed upon by foster parents and volunteer workers.

The report did not name any abusers following a successful legal challenge by the Christian Brothers but the Irish government has asked the police to examine whether criminal charges can be brought.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/6/2009 12:12 AM]
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Pontifical household officially
releases Pope's summer vacation schedule

Translation of communique from

The Holy Father will spend a rest holiday at the residence of Les Combes in Introd, Val D'Aosta, from Monday, July 13 to Wednesday, July 29, this year.

At noon on Sunday, July 19, the Holy Father will lead the Angelus in Piazza Ruggia, in front of the parish church of Saints Peter and Salutor in the town of Romano Canavese, diocese of Ivrea.

On Sunday, July 26, he will lead the Angelus from the meadow adjoining the residence in Les Combes.

Thus, there will be no Wednesday audiences on July 15, 22 and 29. The Wednesday audiences will resume on August 5.

Coming back from Val 'Aosta, the Holy Father will spend the rest of the summer in the Pontifical Palace at Castel Gandolfo.

On Sundays and religious holidays during this time, the Pope will lead the Angelus from the inner courtyard of the Palace.

The Holy Father will celebrate the Mass of the Assumption at the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova on August 15.

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Eve of an encyclical:
A German Catholic jurist advocates
repudiating catpitalism
and getting back to Marx!
What will Benedict XVI say?

ROME, June 5, 2009 – The socio-seconomic encyclical that has been in development for some time is known to begin with the Latin words 'Caritas in veritate' (Love in truth).

It is expected to be signed by the Pope on June 29, and released at the beginning of summer. It underwent various revisions, all of which left Benedict XVI dissatisfied until recently.

Unlike the encyclical on hope, written by the Pope himself from the first line to the last, and unlike the encyclical on charity, the first half of which was also written entirely by the Pope, many minds and many hands have worked on Caritas in Veritate.

In any case, Benedict XVI will leave his mark on it, already visible in the words of the title, which indissolubly link charity and truth.

There is a great deal of curiosity about what kind of mark this will be. Because little is known about Joseph Ratzinger's thought in matters of economics. Out of his vast body of writings, there is only one dedicated expressly to this topic - a lecture given in English in 1985, entitled "Market economy and ethics."

In that lecture, Ratzinger maintained that an economy without any ethical or religious foundation is destined for collapse. Now that there actually has been a collapse, more detailed analyses and proposals are expected from Benedict XVI.

A few months ago, responding to a question from a priest of Rome, the Pope said:

It is the Church's duty to denounce the fundamental errors that have now been revealed in the collapse of the major American banks. Human greed is a form of idolatry that is against the true God, and is a falsification of the image of God with another god, Mammon.

We must denounce this courageously, but also concretely, because grand moralizations are not helpful if they are not supported by a familiarity with reality, which helps us to understand what can be done concretely.

The Church has never simply denounced evils, it also shows the paths that lead to justice, to charity, to the conversion of hearts. In the economy as well, justice is established only if there are just persons. And these persons are assembled through the conversion of hearts.

It was February 26, 2009, and the encyclical [the post-crisis revision of it] was being re-drafted. The Pope's words only serve to heighten the curiosity.

It has become even more pressing since the publication in May
of a bombshell article by a German scholar whom Ratzinger has always read with interest and esteem.

The scholar is Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, of the same generation as the pope, a Catholic philosopher and a preeminent political scientist.

In a pivotal 1967 essay, he presented what was later called the "Böckenförde paradox": the thesis according to which "the secularized liberal state lives by presuppositions that it cannot guarantee."

On January 19, 2004, then-cardinal Raztinger and philosopher Jürgen Habermas used this thesis as the starting point for a debate in Munich on the theme "Ethics, religion, and the liberal state."

So, in an article for Süddeutsche Zeitung, also published in Italy in May by the journal of the Sacred Heart fathers in Bologna, Il Regno – and presented in its entirety here -
Böckenförde applied his "paradox" to capitalism as well, but in much more devastating terms.

In his judgment, the principles on which the capitalist economic system is founded can no longer stand. Its current collapse is definitive, and has revealed the inhuman foundations of this system. The economy must therefore be rebuilt from the ground up, not on principles of egoism, but of solidarity.

It is up to the states, and European countries in the first place, to take control of the economy. And it is up to the Church, with its social doctrine, to accept the testimony of Marx, who saw correctly.

Böckenförde's anti-capitalist "manifesto" brought reaction, in Italy, from the Catholic economists most trusted by the Church, when interviewed by Il Foglio: Luigi Campiglio, vice president of the Catholic University of Milan; Dario Antiseri, a philosopher and follower of the liberal economic school of Vienna; Flavio Felice, a professor at the Pontifical Lateran University and president of the Tocqueville-Acton study center; Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, a banker and economic commentator for L'Osservatore Romano.

In particular, Antiseri objects that "restoring Marx today is like continuing to be Ptolemaic after Copernicus and Newton"; that "individualism is the opposite of collectivism, not of solidarism, and this is possible only if there is the creation of wealth to be shared, as takes place in capitalist societies"; and finally that Benedict XVI cannot be expected to distance himself from Centesimus Annus by John Paul II and from Rerum Novarum by Leo XII, with its "lucid and impassioned defense of private property."

Flavio Felice contests Böckenförde's unrealistic vision of an "angelic economy" as an alternative to a capitalism that is identified with pure lust for gain. And regarding the salvific control of the state over the economy, he points out that the encyclical Centesimus Annus by John Paul II, in paragraph 25, warns against precisely this danger:

When people think they possess the secret of a perfect social organization which makes evil impossible, they also think that they can use any means, including violence and deceit, in order to bring that organization into being. Politics then becomes a 'secular religion' which operates under the illusion of creating paradise in this world.

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi observes that Böckenförde lashes out against a capitalism of Protestant origin, dominated by man's egoism and inability to do good. But he does not realize that there is a capitalism in keeping with Catholic doctrine, which the popes from Leo XIII to John Paul II have denounced for its errors while appreciating its basic validity, linked to private property and freedom of investment and commerce.

In an article in Il Sole 24 Ore – Europe's most widely circulated financial newspaper – Gotti Tedeschi maintained that the current global turbulence does not arise from excessive greed or the lack of rules.

These have aggravated the crisis, but did not cause it. The real cause was the reduction of the birth rate, and therefore of the human capital that alone was capable of ensuring the necessary growth in production.

The frontal attack that Böckenförde brings against capitalism must in any case come to terms with the answer that Centesimus Annus, in paragraph 42, gives to the question of whether capitalism is a system that corresponds to "true economic and civil progress."

The answer of the encyclical is the following:

If by 'capitalism' is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a business economy, market economy or simply free economy.

In his article, the German scholar asks the social doctrine of the Church to awaken from its "Sleeping Beauty slumber" and apply itself to a "radical refutation" of capitalism, made obligatory by its current "evident collapse."

After the publication of Caritas in Veritate, it will therefore be interesting how Böckenförde comments on it.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/6/2009 12:12 AM]
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Benedict XVI's China dilemma:
His own 'Pius XII' moments

On his blog today, Sandro Magister notes how L'Osservatore Romano, which would otherwise be routinely attentive to such matters, contained not a single word about the 20th anniversary of the Tienanmen 'massacre' carried out by Chinese authorities against protesters in 1989 - when the rest of Western media (including Avvenire in Italy) devoted pages of reportage, commentary and editorials to marking the event.

I've not been a fan of OR's spotty and rather tendentious journalism but in this case, one can only conclude the silence was deliberate, and the silence would have to do with the Vatican's concern that the Chinese should not find any pretext to crack down on China's underground Catholics, particularly the bishops, any more than they now are.

I call it Benedict XVI's 'Pius XII moments' - when the concern for the good of Catholics living under a totalitarian regime far outweighs the 'grandstand' value one might gain from articulating noble thoughts (which, after all, are inherent in Catholic doctrine, to begin with).

This prudence is particularly more valid, in a sense, for Benedict XVI and China, than it was for Pius XII and Germany. Because today, the entire free world is together and very vocally so in denouncing China for Tienanmen, whereas in World War II not one state spoke out against the Nazi genocide because few were really aware of the extent of it, and defeating Hitler was the overriding priority.

The Vatican - and Benedict XVI personally - is on record, after all, for promptly denouncing persecutions where they happen, including that of the Tibetans last year.

So to beat the drums about Tienanmen along with the rest of the free world was not essential, if it would give Beijing the pretext to arrest another bishop or some such persecution.

Here's Magister's take:

Tienanmen, Chinese orchestras
and the silences of the Vatican

Translated from

Corriere della Sera's across-the page banner headline on June 4 was: "China imposes silence on Tienanmen".

That imposition was followed even in the Vatican. Not a single line in L'Osservatore Romano about the square that has become a symbol for the Chinese people's thirst for freedom.

And yet, the newspaper of the Holy See is generally very attentive to international affairs, ever prompt with news reports and commentary.

On the same day, other Catholic news outlets - from Avvenire to AsiaNews - dedicated great play to the 20th anniversary of that massacre.

It's easy to guess that the silence of L'Osservatore Romano is a price to pay for Realpolitik. Vatican diplomats do not wish the irritate Chinese authorities in any way, in the hope of getting kinder treatment of Catholics in that country.

But just look at the detailed news reports dedicated to Tienanmen and to the situation in China by AsiaNews - the online news agency headed by Fr. BArnardo Cervellera of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions - to see that no such kinder treatment is happening. Indeed, there appears to be a new outbreak of repression.

China sends its orchestra to play in the Vatican. But it has not allowed any of its bishops to take part in the Synod assemblies! [This is a great and bitter paradox!]

It is a reprise of the dilemmas that tormented Vatican Ostpolitik [carried on by Pius XIII, John XXIII, Paul VI, and to some degree, even by John Paul II, to help protect Catholics in the postwar Communist countries of Eastern Europe) during the Cold War.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun has been the most authoritative and outspoken critic of the Communist Chinese regime as well as Vatican diplomacy.

In his judgment, Vatican diplomacy is paying too high a price for what it is actually getting back, if any. He believes that the silences have simply encouraged the Chinese to tighten the reins even more.

[While I respect Cardinal Zen's anguish and the fact that he presumably has more facts on the China situation at his fingertips than anyone else in the Church hierarchy, does not the Pope risk making matters worse by giving unnecessary public provocation?

Perhaps the role of the Chinese bishops who are not under arrest [How many are captive at the moment? Less than 10 out of w00, or there abouts?] is to do what they can in place, but quietly and without publicity.

And it is for Cardinal Zen to make the big noisy protests that get media coverage - he has done so for decades, and for some reason, Beijing has allowed him to. Though we may never know if each such protest is then followed by a reprisal on the mainland.

Meanwhile, I am all for Pope Benedict keeping his prudence as Pius XII did. I do believe discretion is the better part of valor. Though we would all feel so much better if we knew that the Vatican has some secret channel or channels capable of being heard in the highest councils of the Chinese government,]

In a related story:

Hongkong bishop welcomes compendium
of Pope's 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics

HONG KONG, JUNE 5, 2009 ( The Vatican's compendium of Benedict XVI's 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics will help the faithful of that Asian nation to find unity, according to the bishop of Hong Kong.

Bishop John Tong Hon affirmed this in a report he sent to Aid to the Church in Need last week, in which he said the Chinese faithful are "impressed by the Holy See’s concern and close attention."

The compendium, in question-and-answer format, was released May 24. The Communist authorities in China made it hard for the faithful to read the original letter, blocking it from the Internet.

Bishop Tong also said there were deliberate attempts to misrepresent the Holy Father's words.

"Almost anywhere else in the world, Catholics can openly organize a meeting to study a papal document but in China this is still hard to do," he noted.

Nevertheless, the prelate affirmed that since 2007, there have been strides toward the reconciliation of the "official" and the "underground" Church.

The government permits religious practice only with recognized personnel and in places registered with the Religious Affairs Office and under the control of the Patriotic Association.

This explains the difference affirmed between the "national" or "official" Church, and the faithful who oppose such control and who wish to obey the Pope directly. The latter constitute the non-official, or underground, Church.

The 69-year-old bishop acknowledged that in the compendium, the Pontiff compares reconciliation to a journey that cannot be accomplished over night.

But, he said, unity is urgent and there is a need for an "exchange of experiences, sharing of pastoral projects, common initiatives, etc."

"There have been cases where the underground Church emerged into the open too suddenly," the bishop suggested. "After the underground leaders received government recognition, this premature structural unity between 'open' and 'underground' Catholics led to more divisions."

Still, this cannot be an excuse to stop efforts for unity, Bishop Tong declared: "Chinese Catholics need to take steps gradually, to contact each other, pray together, dialogue and cooperate step by step, as the Holy Father expects."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/6/2009 1:15 PM]
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Andrea Tornielli has new 'informed speculation' to add to his reporting of the 'musical chairs' at the Curia these days.

Mons. Ranjith really headed back to Colombo;
a familiar face from CDF will replace him as #2
at the Congregation for Divine worship

Translated from

June 5, 2009

Mons. Ranjith is truly going back to Colombo, and Mons. Di Noia is coming from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to take his place at the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Thus, one of the most controversial and much-postponed changes in the Roman Curia appears to have been decided.

Mons. Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don - who was once secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, then made Apostolic Nuncio in Indonesia, and then recalled to the Curia by Benedict XVI to be #2 at the Congregation for Divine Worship - will now be the new Archbishop of Colombo in his native country of Sri Lanka, despite some attempts by some Curia cardinals to keep him in Rome.

To take his place at the CDW is the American Dominican theologian Fr. Augustine Di Noia, who has been undersecretary at the CDF since 2002, and therefore worked for more than two years with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He will now be #2 to another ex-CDF alumnus, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera who replaced Cardinal Francis Arinze at CDW after the latter's retirement last year.

P.S. Tornielli reports the above as a formal news item in today's issue of Il Giornale.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/6/2009 1:11 PM]
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June 6

St. Norbert (Germany, 1086-1134)
Bishop and Confessor

OR today.

The only papal story in this issue is a brief inside-page
item on the Holy Father's summer vacation [posted yesterday
as a communqiue from the Pontifical Household]. Two news
analyses lead off Page 1 - on Obama's Cairo speech and on
the economic crisis. Other Page 1 stories: North Korea
proposes to talk to the Seoul government; 100,000 civilians
flee the fighting in Somalia's capital Mogadishu; and a new
terrorist attack, thought to be Taliban, kills 32 in
a Pakistani mosque.


The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (weekly meeting)

- Bishops of Venezuela (Group 3) on ad limina visit.

- Community of the French Seminary in Rome. Address in French.

The Holy Father has named Mons. Paolo Sardi from the Secretariat of state as the Pro-Patron
of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
(Another Curial change pre-announced by journalist Andrea Tornielli. Sardi was in charge of the department
responsible for translating and releasing papal documents.)

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/6/2009 1:16 PM]
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On the 60th anniversary of D-Day in 2004, Pope John Paul II sent Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as his personal representative to the commemoration ceremonies.

The Pope could have sent any of the leading French cardinals then like Cardinal Etchegaray, who served as his personal envoy on several sensitive diplomatic missions, including the one to Saddam Hussein before the 2003 invasion of Iraq or even Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, whose Jewish parents were killed in a German concentration camp.

It is a tribute to the late Pope's openmindedness that he chose a German cardinal, who also happened to be his right-hand man, to represent him on that occasion. Expatriate Polish troops landed with the Allied troops in Normandy to fight the German forces that ahd overrun Europe.

Perhaps not by coincidence, 1960 was the first time that a German leader was invited to the D-Day commemoration. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder represented his nation then.

Although Cardinal Ratzinger came to Normandy as a representative of the Vatican, he did not fail to do what any Christian German would and should do when visiting Normandy.

Besides visiting the cemeteries dedicated to the Allied war dead - he concelebrated Mass with US Cardinal George at the American cemetery on Colleville-sur-Mer - he also visited the German cemetery at La Cambe near Bayeux.

At least one prominent Jewish writer brought up Joseph Ratzinger's visit to La Cambe in 2004 as an accusation against Pope Benedict during his recent trip to the Holy Land - interpreting the act as a homage to the SS buried there.

The Germans buried at La Cambe also died while fighting for their country, as did the Allied war dead we remember today. It does not necessarily mean that all of them supported Hitler and his evil designs.

When he visited the war dead in La Cambe, Cardinal Ratzinger must have thought of himself and all his contemporaries and friends who were conscripted in their teens, against their will and their convictions, into German military service.

They, as much as the German dead who truly believed in Hitler and Nazism, deserved - and deserve - a prayer from the living that before their last breath, they managed to call on God and ask his forgiveness.

Cardinal Ratzinger in Caen, June 4, 2004. Inset photos show the Abbaye-aux-Hommes/St. Etienne Cathedral in Caen and the German cemetery at La Cambe.

Here is the main text delivered by Cardinal Ratzinger (hee also delivered a homily at the Cathedral of Bayeux the day before) on that occasion five years ago at the Abbaye-aux-Hommes in Caen, the historic monastery founded by William the Conqueror in 1066 (the year of the Normal Conquest of England) who is also buried there. He begins it, remarkably, by speaking as a German.

Rereading it now, it is an uncanny preview of the Regensburg lecture.

In search of freedom:
Against reason fallen ill
and religion abused

by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Personal Representative of John Paul II
60th Anniversary Commemoration of the Normandy Landings
June 6, 2004

initially published in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and was translated from the German by Jeffrey Craig Miller. It was originally delivered in French.

On the 6th of June, 1944, when the landing of the allied troops in German-occupied France commenced, a signal of hope was given to people throughout the world, and also to many in Germany itself, of imminent peace and freedom in Europe.

What had happened? A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the German state. In consequence of such party rule, law and injustice became intertwined, and often indistinguishable.

The legal system itself, which continued, in some respects, still to function in an everyday context, had, at the same time, become a force destructive of law and right. This rule of lies served a system of fear, in which no one could trust another, since each person had somehow to shield himself behind a mask of lies, which, on the one hand, functioned as self defense, while, in equal measure, it served to consolidate the power of evil.

And so it was that the whole world had to intervene to force open this ring of crime, so that freedom, law and justice might be restored.

We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks.

We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us. If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.

To Europe was given, after 1945, a period of peace of such duration as our continent had never seen in its entire history.

To no small degree, this was the accomplishment of the first generation of post-war politicians -- Churchill, Adenauer, Schuman, De Gasperi - whom we have to thank at this hour: We are to give thanks that it was not punishment that was fixed upon, nor again revenge and the humiliation of the defeated, but rather that all should be accorded their rights.

Let us say it openly: These politicians took their moral ideas of state and right, peace and responsibility, from their Christian faith, a faith that had undergone the tests of the Enlightenment, and in opposing the perversion of justice and morality of the party-states, had emerged re-purified.

They did not want to found a state upon religious faith, but rather a state informed by moral reason, yet it was their faith that helped them to raise up again a reason once distorted by, and held in thrall to ideological tyranny.

Across Europe ran a frontier, and not just across our continent, but dividing the entire world. A great part of Central Europe and Eastern Europe came under the domination of an ideology that subjected state to party, in the end, effacing the difference.

Here, again, the result was the rule of lies. Visible after the collapse of these dictatorships, was the enormous destruction - economic, ideological, and psychological - which followed from this rule. In the Balkans, there were the entanglements of belligerency, bringing, along with the admittedly ancient burdens of history, new explosions of violence.

If Europe, since 1945, was permitted to experience a period of peace (the complications in the Balkans aside), the state of the world taken as a whole was surely far from peaceful.

From Korea, through Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Algeria, the Congo, Biafra-Nigeria, to the conflicts in Sudan, in Rwanda-Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, Angola, Liberia, and on to Afghanistan and Chechnya, stretches a bloody arc of armed conflict, to which may be added the struggles in and concerning the Holy Land, and in Iraq. This is not the place to undertake a typology of theses wars. But two, in some ways new phenomena, I would like to examine more closely.

In the first, the cohesiveness of the law, and the capacity of diverse communities to live together, seem suddenly to break apart. Somalia, it seems to me, presents a typical example of the breakdown of the sustaining power of law, and with it, the collapse into chaos and anarchy.

The reasons for this dissolution of law and the capacity for reconciliation are many fold. We can list a few.

In all these realms, the cynicism of ideology has benighted conscience. Side by side with the cynicism of ideology, and often closely bound together with it, is the cynicism of the interests and of big business, the ruthless exploitation of the earth’s reserves. Here also is the good shoved aside by the expedient, and might setup in the place of right.

The other new phenomenon is terror. The threat that terror’s network, (and/or that of garden-variety organized crime) growing ever stronger and widespread, might gain access to atomic weapons and to biological weapons, constitutes an increasingly frightening danger.

For as long as these destructive capabilities remained exclusively in the hands of the great powers, one could always hope that reason, and knowledge of the danger that their use would pose to their own people and state, would preclude their employment of these weapons systems.

Terror cannot be overcome by force alone. Granted that the defense of right and law against a violence that would destroy them, may and must, for its own part, according to circumstances, have recourse to carefully calibrated force, for the protection of law and right.

But in order that force in the defense of law and right shall not be itself do wrong, it must subject itself to stringent measures. It must pay heed to the causes of terror, which so often has its source in standing injustice, not addressed by effective measures. It must thus, by every means, address the elimination of that antecedent injustice.

Above all is it important to vouchsafe forgiveness in advance, in order that the circle of violence may be broken. Where a merciless eye-for-an-eye obtains, there is no way to break free of violence.

Acts of humanity, which have the power to break the circle of violence, which seek the human in the other and call out to his humanity, are essential, though they seem, at first glance, a waste of effort.

In all these cases it is important that no one particular power act as the champion of justice. All too easily can interest interfere with action, and contaminate one’s view of what is just. Most urgent is a genuine jus genitum, free from hegemonic predominance and action which follows from it: only thus can it remain clear that what is at stake is the defense of collective law and right, and those also of them who stand, so to speak, on the other side.

But in the contemporary clash between the great democracies and an Islamic-motivated terror, deeper questions come into play. Two great cultural systems with very different forms of power and moral orientation appear to be in conflict - the “West” and Islam.

But what is it, the West? And what is Islam? Both are multi-layered worlds with great internal differences - worlds that, in many ways, also intersect. In this respect, the crude antithesis West-Islam, does not apply.

Some incline toward a greater deepening of opposition: Enlightened reason is set up against a fundamentalist-fanatical form of religion.

Truly, the relationship between reason and religion is of the first importance in this situation, and the struggle for the right relationship belongs at the heart of our concern for the cause of peace.

There are pathologies of religion - we see this; and there are pathologies of reason - we see this, too, and both pathologies are life threatening for peace - indeed, in an age of global power structures, for humanity as a whole.

God or the divine can make for the absolutizing of one’s own power, one’s own interests. But there are pathologies of reason totally disconnected from God. One would probably denominate Hitler as irrational.

But the great explicators and executors of Marxism understood themselves very much as construction engineers, redesigning the world in accordance with reason. Perhaps the most dramatic expression of this pathology of reason is Pol Pot, where the barbarity of such a reconstruction of the world makes its most direct appearance.

But the evolution of intellect in the West, also, inclines ever more toward the destructive pathologies of reason. Was not the atom bomb already an overstepping of the frontier, where reason instead of being a constructive power, sought its potency in its capacity to destroy?

When reason, now with the investigation into the genetic code, snatches at the roots of life, ever more does it tend to see human being, not any longer as the gift of God (or of Nature), but as a product to be made.

Man is “made,” and what man can make, he can also destroy. In all this is the concept of reason made ever flatter. Only what is verifiable, or to be more exact, falsifiable, counts as rational; reason reduces itself to what can be confirmed by an experiment.

The entire domain of the moral and the religious, belongs then to the realm of the “subjective” - it falls outside of common reason altogether.

One no longer sees that as tragic for religion - each one finds his own - which means that religion is seen as a kind of subjective ornament, providing a possibly useful kind of motivation. But in the domain of the moral, one seeks to be better.

Reason fallen ill and religion abused, meet in the same result.

To a reason fallen ill, all recognition of definitively valid values, all that stands on the truth capacity of reason, appears finally as fundamentalism. All that remains is reason’s dissolution, its deconstruction, as, for example, Jacques Derrida has set it out for us.

He has “deconstructed” hospitality, democracy, the state and finally, the concept of terrorism, only to stand in horror in the face of the events of September 11th.

A form of reason that can acknowledge only itself and the empirical conscience paralyzes and dismembers itself.

A form of reason that wholly detaches itself from God, and wants simply to resettle Him in the zone of subjectivity, has lost its compass, and has opened the door to the powers of destruction.

It is the duty, in these times, of us Christians to direct our concept of God to the struggle for humanity. God himself is Logos, the rational first cause of all reality, the creative reason out of which the world came to be, and which is reflected in the world.

God is Logos - Meaning, Reason, Word, and so it is through the way of reason that man encounters God, through the espousal of a reason that is not blind to the moral dimension of Being.

There is a second point. It belongs, as well, to a Christian belief in God, that God - eternal reason - is Love. It follows, too, that He does not represent a relationless, self-orbiting Being. Precisely because He is sovereign, because he is the Creator, because He embraces everything, He is Relation and He is Love.

Belief in the God who became human in Jesus Christ, and in his suffering and death for humanity, is the highest expression of this conviction: that the heart and hinge of all morality, the heart and hinge of Being itself, and its inmost source is Love.

This declaration represents the strongest repudiation of any ideology of violence whatsoever; it is the true apologia of humankind and of God. But let us not forget that the God of Reason and Love, is also the Judge of the world - the guarantor of justice - before whom all men must make account. There is a justice love will not annul.

There is yet a third element of Christian tradition that I wish to mention, that, in the afflictions of our time, is of fundamental importance.

Christian belief - following in the way of Jesus - has negated the idea of political theocracy. It has - to express it in modern terms - produced the worldliness of states, wherein Christians along with the adherents of other convictions live together in peace.

Thus is distinguished the Christian belief that the Kingdom of God does not exist as a political reality, and cannot so exist, but rather, through faith, hope and love is it attained, and the world transformed from within.

But under the conditions of temporality, the Kingdom of God is no worldly empire, but rather, a call for the freedom of humanity and a support for reason that it may fulfill its own mission.

The temptations of Jesus were ultimately about this distinction, about the rejection of political theocracy, about the relativity of states and reason’s own law, as well as about the freedom to choose, which is meant for every person.

In this sense, the secular state follows from of a fundamental Christian decision, even if it required a long struggle to understand this in all its consequences. This worldly, “secular” state incorporates, in its essence, the balance between reason and religion, which I have tried here to present.

However, it stands against secularism as an ideology, which would, as it were, construct the state from pure reason, released from all historical roots, and which can thus recognize no moral foundations that are not discernable to reason.

All that is left it, in the end, is the positivism of the greatest number, and with it the abasement of right; ultimately, it is to be governed by a statistic.

If the countries of the West were to commit wholly to this path, they could not indefinitely withstand the press of the ideologues and political theocrats.

Even a secular state may - indeed, must - find its support in the formative roots from which it grew, it may and must acknowledge the foundational values without which, it would not have come to be, and without which, it cannot survive. Upon an abstract, an a-historical reason, a state cannot endure.

With great thanks to Flo in the PRF, who shares with us this memento of Cardinal Ratzinger at La Cambe in 2004.
Besides its historic and symbolic value, it's also a great photograph!

There was a New Yorker article in 2006 referring to the 2004 visit to La Cambe (and other commentary on Joseph Ratzinger's public comments about Nazi Germany), that is available online only in abstract form, as follows. Notwithstanding its title 'Forgiveness', teh abstract makes it clear the article was yet another attempt to establish a 'culpable' association of Joseph Ratzinger to the Nazi regime:

Timothy W. Ryback, Annals of Religion, “Forgiveness,” The New Yorker, February 6, 2006, p. 66-73

Writer tells about Ratzinger's visit, as the personal representative of Pope John Paul II, to France for the sixtieth anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy.

After a ceremony at Omaha Beach, Ratzinger went to the La Cambe cemetery where 21,000 German war dead, including members of the S.S., are buried. It was noted in Germany that Gerhard Schroeder, the German Chancellor, excluded La Cambe from his itinerary because of a controversial 1985 visit by Helmut Kohl and Ronald Reagan to the Bitburg cemetery, where S.S. officers are also buried.

At La Cambe, Ratzinger spoke about the German soldiers' Pflicht-blind [obedience to duty] - which had been exploited for evil purposes. He insisted that this did not dishonor the service and sacrifice to the fatherland.

He blamed the Allies for driving Germany towards Nazism through the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles. [As I have not found any version of the cardinal's remarks in La Cambe, i would like to know how he phrased this exactly. But it is historical fact that the exacting terms of the post-Word War I Treaty of Versailles imposed by the victorious alleis on Germany led to the German economic collapse that allowed Hitler and National Socialism to win the elections of 1933.]

When Ratzinger became Pope, the media made much of the fact that he had been a member of the Hitler Youth and served in the German Wehrmacht. Not nearly so much attention was paid to his public life after the war, particularly his apparent reluctance to engage in the public soul-searching the world has come to expect of Germans. He is more circumspect when it comes to collective German responsibility for the Holocaust…

Tells about the oath of loyalty to the state that German Catholic bishops have been required to take since 1933… Discusses Ratzinger's tenure as archbishop of Munich and Freising, where the memorial site to the Dachau concentration camp is located.

Tells the history of Dachau, which held as many as 2,500 Catholic priests and seminarians, half of whom died there. In 1943, Ratzinger's military unit was housed in a subsidiary camp of Dachau where slave laborers were kept…

Writer notes that there is no record of Ratzinger having made a statement about Dachau during his tenure as archbishop. People who know him point out that Ratzinger did visit Auschwitz and that he helped pioneer reconciliation between Catholics and Jews…

Writer discusses other occasions when Ratzinger has been notably silent about German culpability. Writer also discusses the ethics of Ratzinger's position within Catholic theology with, among others, Peter Seewald, a journalist who interviewed Ratzinger, Martin Marty, a Lutheran pastor, Cardinal Avery Dulles, a professor of religion, John Palikowski, a professor of social ethics, and Siegfried Wiedenhofer, a former student of Ratzinger's. Wiedenhofer agreed that something was missing in Ratzinger's remarks at La Cambe.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/8/2009 11:40 PM]
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The formation of priests
is a demanding mission,
Pope tells professors and students
of French Seminary in Rome

Translated from
the 6/7/09 issue of

Whoever trains priests "should remember that the hope he has for others is first of all, a duty to himself", Pope Benedict XVI said yesterday to professors and students of the French seminary in Rome whom he received in audience at the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace.

Here is a translation of the address he gave in French:


Your Eminences,
Mr. Rector,
Dear priests and seminarians:

It is with joy that I welcome you on the occasion of your celebration these days of an important moment in the history of the Pontifical French Seminary of Rome.

The Congregation of the Holy Spirit, which has been in charge, since its foundation, now turns it over, after a century and a half of service, to the Conference of French Bishops.

We should thank the Lord for the work accomplished in this institution where, since its opening, 5000 seminarians or young priests have been trained for their vocation.

In acknowledging the work of the members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, Fathers and Brothers, I wish to entrust to the Lord the apostolates which this congregation, founded by the venerable Fr. Liberman, maintains and develops around the world, particularly in Africa, with a charism that has lost none of its strength and its rightness. May the Lord continue to bless the Congregation and its missions!

The task of forming priests is a delicate mission. The training undergone in a seminary is demanding, because it is a part of the People of God that will be entrusted to the pastoral care of these future priests, the people whom Christ has saved and for whom he gave his life.

It is good that seminarians remember that if the Church is demanding with them, it is because they must take care of those whom Christ has so dearly acquired.

The aptitudes required of future priests are numerous: human maturity, spiritual qualities, apostolic zeal, intellectual rigor... In order to achieve these virtues, candidates for the priesthood must not only show them to their educators, but more importantly, they must be the first beneficiaries of these qualities as they are lived and dispensed by those who have the responsibility for making them grow.

It's a law of our humanity and our faith that we are often not capable of giving more than that which we have received from God through the ecclesial and human mediations that he instituted.

Whoever receives the responsibility for discernment and formation [of future priests] should recall that the hope he has for others must first of all be a duty for himself.

This passing-on of witness coincides with the start of the Year of the Priest. It is a grace for the new team of priest-educators that the French bishops' conference has assembled.

Now that it has received its mission, it has the possiblity, as does the entire Church, to scrutinize more profoundly the identity of priest, as a mystery of grace and mercy.

I am happy to cite the the eminent personage, Cardinal Suhard, who said about the ministers of Christ: "The eternal paradox of the priest. He carries in him the opposites. He conciliates, at the cost of his life, fidelity to God and to man. He looks poor and powerless... He has neither political means nor financial resources, nor the force of arms, which others have to conquer the earth. His strength is in being unarmed and to be 'capable of everything in him who gives him strength'"(Ecclesia n. 141, p. 21, December 1960).

May these words which evoke so well the figure of the sainted Cure d'Ars resound as a call to vocation for many young men in France who wish for a useful and fecund life to serve their love of God.

The particular advantage of the French Seminary is that it is located in the city of Peter. To reiterate the wish expressed by Paul VI
(cf. Address to the elders of the French Seminary, Sept. 11, 1968), I hope that during their stay in Rome, the seminarians may avail of the privilege to familiarize themselves with the history of the Church, discover the breadth of Catholicism and its living unity around the Successor of Peter, so that love for the Church may always be rooted in their heart as pastors.

While invoking on you all the abundant graces of the Lord through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Clare and the Blessed Pius IX, I bestow the Apostolic Blessing on you and your families, on the elders who could not come here today, and to the lay personnel of the Seminary.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/7/2009 1:34 AM]
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June 7
Blessed Jose Perez (Mexico, 1890-1928)
Franciscan and Martyr

OR today.

The Holy Father does not rate a front-page picture today, although there is a Page 1 story on his audience with the faculty and students of the French seminary in Rome yesterday (translation of the address in the post above this). Still, Obama's visit to Buchenwald and a couple other international news take precedence over it.

Other Page 1 stories are on the coming elections in Lebanon (will Hezbollah emerge dominant?]; Israel and the US don't see eye to eye about settlements on the West Bank; and dozens of dead and wounded in northern Peru as indigenous tribes clash with government forces. The natives are protesting gas and oil exploration in their Amazon province and have threatened to sabotage pipelines which serve Peru's national electric grid.

There is an inside page story about a roundtable discussion on how Israel seeks to reconcile the Torah with a democratic government. The event was principally sponsored by the organization Cattolici Amici d'Israele to follow up on the Pope's recent visit to Israel. Those who spoke included the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See and two Jewish university professors.

There is an announcement of the presentation this week of a new book assembled by OR editor Giovanni Maria Vian entitled In difesa di Pio XII: Le ragioni della storia ['In defense of Pius XII: The reasons of history', which gathers together recent articles and essays about the late Pope's wartime activities.

Also coming out next week is the indefatigable Andrea Tornielli's 478-page biography Paolo VI: L'audacia di un Papa, which follows his monumental 664-page book Pio XII: Un'uomo sul trono di Pietro last year.

An advance review says Tornielli pays special attention to Paul VI's post-Vatican II dilemma when many priests left the Church to marry, dissent to Church teachings became widespread, and abuses became evident in the new liturgy - a situation the late Pope famously characterized as the fumes of Satan entering the Church.


The Angelus is back with the end of Eastertide - The Holy Father spoke today of the triple feasts
following Pentecost: today's Feast of the Holy Trinity, the Solemnity of Corpus Domini next Thursday,
and the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/8/2009 3:08 PM]
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In his mini-homily at the Angelus today, the Holy Father gifted us with yet another little gem of reflection on the Trinity: Here is a translation:

Dear brothers and sisters!

After Eastertide which culminated in the feast of Pentecost, the liturgy provides for three solemnities of the Lord: the Most Holy Trinity, today; Corpus Domini on Thursday, which in many countries, including Italy, will be celebrated next Sunday; and finally, on Friday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Each of these liturgical observances highlights a perspective which embraces the entire mystery of the Christian faith - thus, respectively, the reality of the One and Triune God, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the human-divine center of the person of Christ.

In fact, they are aspects of the one mystery of salvation, which in a certain sense, summarize the entire itinerary of the revelation of Jesus, from the incarnation to his death and resurrection and finally to the ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Today, let us contemplate the Most Holy Trinity as Jesus has made us know it. He revealed to us that God is love "not in the unity of one single person, but in the Trinity of one single substance" (Preface): He is Creator and merciful Father; he is the Only Begotten Son, eternal Wisdom incarnate, who died and resurrected for us; and finally, the Holy Spirit who moves everything, the cosmos and history, towards the full final recapitulation.

Three Persons who are one God because the Father is love, the Son is love, the Spirit is love. God is all love and only love, the purest love, which is infinite an eternal. He does not live in splendid solitude, but is rather an inexhaustible source of life which he gives and communicates to us incessantly.

We can sense thisspmehow by observing around us - whether it is the macro-universe - our earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies; or the micro-universe - cells, atoms, elementary particles.

In everything that exists, the 'name' of the Most Holy Trinity is somehow 'imprinted, because all being, until the last particle, is being in a relationship - the God-relationship, ultimately appearing as creative love.

Everything comes from love, reaches out to love, and moves at the impulse of love, though, of course, with degrees of consciousness and freedom.

"O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!" (Ps 8,2), the psalmist exclaims. When it speaks of the 'name', the Bible means God himself, his truest identity: one that shines over all creation, where every being, by the very fact of being and by the very 'fabric' of which he is made, refers back to a transcendent Principle, to eternal and infinite Life which can be said in one word: Love.

"In him", said St. Paul at the Areopagus of Athens, "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17,28), The strongest proof that we are made in the image of the Trinity is this: that only love makes us happy, because we live in relationship - we live to love and to be loved.

Using an analogy suggested by biology, we can say that the human being carries in his own genome the profound imprint of the Trinity, of God-Love.

The Virgin Mary, in her obedient humility, made herself a handmaid of Divine Love: she accepted the will of the Father and conceived the Son by the action of the Holy Spirit. In her, the Almighty constructed a temple worthy of him, and made her the model and image of the Church, mystery and home of communion for all men.

May Mary, mirror of the Most Holy Trinity, help us to grow in our faith in the Trinitarian mystery.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/8/2009 7:35 PM]
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June 8

St. William of York (d. 1154)

No OR today.

The Holy Father met today with the officials of the Venezuelan bishops' conference, led by their president,
Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas. Afterwards, he met with all the Venezuelan
bishops who hare on their ad-limina visit to Rome, and whom he met in small groups earlier. Address in Spanish.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/8/2009 3:22 PM]
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Pope 'visibly upset'
over Irish child abuse

by PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

June 8, 2009

Pope Benedict was "visibly upset" when he heard details contained in the Ryan report on abuse in State institutions run by religious orders, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said today.

Cardinals Martin (left) and Brady at the news conference.

Archbishop Martin and Catholic Primate Seán Brady were speaking after meeting bishops in Maynooth today in the wake of a meeting with the Pope on Friday where they discussed the Ryan report with the Pontiff.

The two met Pope Benedict on Friday in the Vatican. Earlier last week, they met six members of the Curia, including Secretary of State Cardinal Bertoni.

In a statement to journalists after today's meeting, Cardinal Brady said the Pope had "listened very carefully, very attentively, very sympatheticly to what we had to say and he said in reply that this was a time for deep examination of life here in Ireland in the Church.

He said the Pope urged them to establish the truth of what has happened, ensure that justice is done for all, put in place the measures that will prevent these abuses happening again, with a view to healing for survivors.

Archbishop Martin said: "The Pope wrote his first encyclical about the love of God. He was very visibly upset, I would say, to hear of some of the things that are told in the Ryan report, how the children had suffered from the very opposite of an expression of the love of God."

He said Cardinal Brady had met with the Conference of the Religious of Ireland (Cori) last night to give them the first briefing on the Vatican meeting. “We want to avoid any idea that we are in conflict with Cori and the many congregations that belong to it, or indeed with many religious who have done exemplary service in the country.

“The message again that we bring back with us is that we have to listen to the victims, we have to listen to the survivors, they’re the ones who have gone through this.

"Let’s listen and learn from what’s in the report and do a little bit of soul searching about what way the Church in Ireland will look in years to come." Archbishop Martin added that the dialogue with the Vatican would continue and “something will come from that.”

Asked on the way into the meeting this morning about a letter sent by the Christian Brothers, five days before publication of the Ryan report, refuting there had been any abuse in their institutions Archbishop Martin said: “There has been huge denial about abuse”.

The Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (Soca) group yesterday welcomed the meeting between the two Irish church leaders and the Pope, and expressed its willingness to help the Vatican in any inquiry carried out into the misconduct of religious orders in Ireland or elsewhere.

The Dáil was due to begin a debate on the report tomorrow, expected to last two days. However, following Fine Gael’s post-election decision to call for a motion of no confidence in the Government, the abuse debate is likely to be delayed until Thursday.

Meanwhile, Catholic theologian Fr Vincent Twomey [who studied under Prof. Joseph Ratzinger and has written a book about the Pope's theology] has described as “monsters” and the “dregs of society” the religious who abused children in church-run institutions.

Speaking yesterday on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme, Fr Twomey praised many other members of religious orders for caring for a country that had been abandoned by government for over 200 years.

The former professor of moral theology at the National University of Ireland described his reaction to the Ryan report as one of horror, and said it left him unable to sleep for some nights.

Asking how it was possible that religious supposedly devoted to Christ and the care of children turned out to be such “monsters”, he suggested part of the problem came from the church’s failure to develop a self-critical, thinking Christianity.

Irish Catholicism was conformist, parochial and narrow-minded, he said, and it wasn’t open to the big questions. The religious were very devotional and emotional, but not generally intellectual. He said “a conformist, externally orientated, ritualistic practice grew up, which didn’t touch the heart”.

A new umbrella group, Survivors of Institutional Abuse Ireland, is to march from Parnell Square to the Dáil at noon on Wednesday. Described as an act of solidarity with former residents of the institutions, the march will see participants carrying just one banner with the words: “Cherishing the children of the nation equally”.

The march will proceed in silence. Each person taking part has been requested to wear a while ribbon and bring along a child’s shoe. The shoes will be placed at Leinster House, and the white ribbons will be tied to the railings.

Four wreaths, two white and two black, will be laid at Leinster House by leaders of groups of former residents, in memory of all who were resident in the institutions, living and dead. A copy of a petition will be handed at Leinster House to Cori secretary general, Sister Marianne O’Connor, and representatives of each of the 18 religious congregations which were party to the 2002 redress agreement with the State.

Unions and employers are being asked to allow workers in Dublin an early lunch on Wednesday so they can take part in the march.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/9/2009 4:30 PM]
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