'BENADDICTIONS': The lighter side...and sheer indulging!

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8/18/2009 12:16 AM
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Earlier today, in the preceding page, I posted a beautiful reflection about Benedict XVI by First Things blogger Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress).

I must admit I was not really paying attention - beyond ntoing the authors unusual first name and German family name - when John Allen referred to this book in a recent article because I thought it was a general book on environmentalism.

It turns out it was inspired by Benedict XVI and is all about his messages on 'safeguarding Creation'
, and is therefore a precedent-setting book. This is a write-up from the author's local newspaper.

Author sheds light
on Pope’s greenness

To the surprise of many, the Pontiff
is a strong environmentalist

By Emily Smith

Monday, Aug 17, 2009

EUGENE, OREGON - Even some of the most devout Catholics are astonished to learn that Pope Benedict XVI powers his home in Germany by solar panels.

Although snippets of environmentalism have snuck into many of the pontiff’s speeches and writings, Catholic author Woodeene Koenig-Bricker, 57, of Eugene, was as surprised as anyone to learn of the Pope’s fierce environmental advocacy, which she sheds light on in her new book, Ten Commandments for the Environment.

The notion of a green papacy is unfamiliar to most, she said.

“People expect the Pope to talk about God, sex and marriage,” she said. “So the environment comes as a surprise to people.”

The Pope’s latest encyclical, a letter to bishops, touches on his own 10 commandments for the environment, but is hardly succinct, the author said. So, her book serves to enlighten on the Pope’s message and his own history with environmentally sound practices.

For instance, the Vatican set out to become the first carbon-neutral nation-state in the world just more than two years ago. In taking strides toward that goal, it has been outfitted with solar panels and has begun a reforestation project in Hungary.

And, of course, there’s Pope Benedict’s own home in Germany, which, like the Vatican, is heated by solar panels.

For a world leader — and a religious figurehead at that — to lead by example, not just pontificating, sets a new precedent for leadership, she said.

“Yes, he’s a theologian, but he’s also practical,” she said.

The environment was not a burning passion of Koenig-Bricker’s when she and her editor first discussed the Pope’s work as a book idea. But, she said, researching and writing about the green papacy led her to take the Pope’s message to heart.

“It forced me to change my life,” she said.

The Pope’s activism departs from the realm of politics and religion, Koenig-Bricker said, and enters that of morality.

“Care for the environment is truly a moral issue,” she said. “It’s not a religious issue, it’s not a dogmatic issue, but it is a moral issue.”

Although the Pope has given numerous talks on the environment, there has been little publicity of it. As she delved into the Pope’s writings, she was struck by his insistence that nations rich and poor alike have a responsibility to preserve the planet, each other, and all living species.

“I was taken aback a little by the intensity of his message and the extent of it,” she said.

Since humans alone are capable of destroying the environment, she said, the Pope urges that people take on the mission of saving it.

“The Pope makes a point of saying we have a responsibility to all the species on the planet,” she said. “We don’t have the right to force other species into extinction just because we can.”

Koenig-Bricker found the Pope’s message on potable clean water especially moving.

In a place with abundant clean water, she said, it’s easy to forget that people worldwide fight to survive without access to the same.

“Clean drinking water isn’t a privilege, it’s a right,” she said.

Since her research for the book, the writer has become vigilant about her own water waste.

From shutting off the water while she brushes her teeth to installing a sprinkler system to help eliminate excess water runoff in her yard, Koenig-Bricker said conservation has become a priority.

An exhaustive exercise in research, she said writing the 152-page paperback, with its 11 pages of footnotes, felt like preparing a dissertation. But it had its rewards.

“On a real personal level, it was an exciting intellectual stretch,” she said.

Koenig-Birkcer Has written several books and many articles on a variety of subjects. She edited Catholic Parent magazine for 15 years and now edits books. She was born to an Irish Catholic mother, raised Catholic and has written extensively on spirituality.

NB: I wish Koenig-Bricker had consulted a Benaddict on the cover picture she used for her book. There are variants of that picture that don't show Papino's 'pancino' so obviously!

In case you have not seen it before, check out this videoclip - it has some brief 'sequences' not usually seen:

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/18/2009 12:32 AM]
8/18/2009 3:53 AM
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My day for coming across previously unseen oldies but goodies. This is a Catholic Herald interview with Alessandra Borghese in June 2008 at the time her book, IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF JOSEPH RATZINGER, came out in English. I have excerpted only the one where she talks about Cardinal Ratzinger. The rest of the itnerview is about her 'rebirth' as a Catholic.



Donna Alessandra's journey to faith made her another friend, one whom she admires and respects very much: Joseph Ratzinger. Such is her admiration for the Holy Father that a Roman wit remarked at the Pope's election: "Now Alessandra Borghese will probably become a cardinal."

She rates him as one of the greatest thinkers of our time, but describes him as a gentle and humble man who has taken a great burden on his shoulders.

"He has changed a lot since he became Pope. I mean, he is still himself - gentle, humble and amiable to everybody, always saying thank you - but he has had to adapt and become the Pope of everybody. As Cardinal Ratzinger he was a lot more free to say what he thought, but now, while he still says what he has to in a straightforward way, he has to temper it.

"The reaction to his speech at Regensburg caused him great suffering, I think. He went there as a professor, to address his colleagues and it spiralled out of control. Since then something has changed. Maybe he has understood that being Pope is a tough job. He has carried the cross many times, but he's a free man.

"He would have been very well in the house at Pentling, relaxing with his friends and writing. Becoming Pope is not winning the lottery, it requires a big sacrifice and is a great weight that you have to put on your shoulders."

She speaks a great deal of the personal encounter with Christ, with the person and not an abstract idea which is at the heart of faith.

"It is a very personal, very real and loving relationship we Catholics have with Christ," she says. "Pope Benedict writes about it beautifully in Deus Caritas Est. It is an encounter and through his love, he is real."

In a way, it is the same personal encounter with Christ, the sense of his humanity, which prompted her to write In the Footsteps of Joseph Ratzinger. She wanted people to see Pope as a child, see the places Benedict visited and the places where he prayed and see him, perhaps not as the follower of Peter, a distant figure, but as someone who is human and approachable.

And this April 2005 report shows the impact Cardinal Ratzinger made among the bishops of Hongkong and Macau when he visited those dioceses in 1993.

Most striking is Cardinal Zen's description of Benedict XVI as 'a person who defends truth in love'.

Bishops of Hongkong
and Macau on Benedict XVI

HONG KONG, April 27, 2005 (UCAN) - Catholic leaders in Hong Kong and Macau have welcomed Pope Benedict XVI 's election and say they hope he will soon revisit them.

The new Pope visited both territories in March 1993 when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At that time, Hong Kong and Macau were respectively British and Portuguese colonies but they have since become part of China.

When the 78-year-old cardinal was elected on April 19 to succeed the late Pope John Paul II, he took the name Benedict XVI.

Hong Kong diocese celebrated a Mass on April 25 to mark the Pontiff's inauguration at the Vatican the day before. In a homily during that Mass, Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong described the new pope as one who does not escape from labor and as a person who defends the truth in love.

Bishop Zen insisted the new pope "is not a 'Rottweiler,' as dubbed by the media, nor a judge with a heart of stone."

Rather, "he welcomes dialogue and with his professional expertise, patiently expounds the doctrine of faith handed down to us by the apostles." Some media dubbed Cardinal Ratzinger "God's Rottweiler" for enforcing Church doctrine in his previous position.

About 1,400 people, including consulate representatives and leaders of various religions and Christian denominations, attended the Hong Kong Mass.

The 80 or so concelebrants included retired Archbishop Joseph Ti-Kang of Taipei, who was in Hong Kong on his way back to Taipei. He later told UCA News he met Cardinal Ratzinger several times when the German prelate headed Munich archdiocese in Germany. Archbishop Ti also recalled that the cardinal showed great interest in Chinese culture and history.

In nearby Macau, Bishop Jose Lai Hung-seng of Macau presided at a Mass on April 24 afternoon, just as the Pope's inaugural Mass was underway at the Vatican. About 1,000 people, including government officials, attended.

Macau's churches and chapels chimed bells three times that day to welcome the new pontiff and to give thanks to God. Macau diocese also declared a holiday on April 25 for all Catholic organizations and schools.

Bishop Lai told UCA News on April 21 Pope Benedict "was close to Pope John Paul II because they worked together for 26 years." Thus, the bishop said, he expects him to continue his predecessor's "unfinished mission, such as ecumenism, interreligious dialogue and concern for Catholics in China."

Father Pedro Chung Chi-kin, vicar general of Macau diocese, told UCA News on April 26 the new Pope, "with his wisdom," will cooperate with bishops "to lead the Church's evangelization ministry in the new generation."

Both Macau Church leaders said they hope he will step on Chinese soil. Hong Kong and Macau reverted to Chinese rule respectively in 1997 and 1999.

In the 1993 visit to Macau, Father Chung recalled that Cardinal Ratzinger met the then diocesan ordinary, Bishop Domingos Lam Ka-tseung, and also visited famous places, including the Ruins of Saint Paul Church, a local landmark.

In Hong Kong, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke at a meeting that the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences held March 2-6.

He told the Asian bishops that the Church's mission is more a matter of "inter-culturality" than "inculturation." He coined the new term and urged its use, he explained, to express more precisely "the meeting of cultures" that should take place when the culture of Christian faith encounters other cultures.

Father Edward Hsueh Kwan-ho, who also met Cardinal Ratzinger during that 1993 event, told UCA News on April 25 he found him to be "a kind and humble theologian." The priest, a member of the Focolare Movement, said he chatted with Cardinal Ratzinger for a few minutes about inter-religious dialogue.

Auxiliary Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong told UCA News that, also in 1993, he drove Cardinal Ratzinger to meet Governor Christopher Patten, a Catholic, at the Governor's House. He also recalled that Cardinal Ratzinger met as well with the late Cardinal John Baptist Wu Cheng-chung of Hong Kong and visited Hong Kong's Holy Spirit Seminary and Holy Spirit Study Centre.

Father Dominic Chan Chi-ming, vicar general of Hong Kong, told UCA News he hopes the new Pope will visit Hong Kong again. However, Father Louis Ha Ke-loon, director of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocesan Archives, says such a visit would be hard to arrange before the Holy See establishes diplomatic ties with China. Even so, Father Ha told UCA News, a visit to Hong Kong or mainland China would be "not impossible for Pope Benedict XVI."

Until now, the only Pope to visit Hong Kong was Pope Paul VI. He presided before a crowd of about 15,000 at an open-air Mass in Hong Kong Stadium on Dec. 4, 1970.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/26/2009 4:17 AM]
8/20/2009 4:22 PM
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Sri Lankan amputee meets Pope
with new prosthetic limbs

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 19, 2009 ( An 18-year-old Sri Lankan youth who lost his arms and legs had a wish come true today as he met and spoke personally with Benedict XVI.

Rajiv Janine, whose limbs were amputated after a rail accident, was able to meet with the Pope after the general audience at the Pontiff's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

Janine told the Holy Father his story, and asked for a blessing on himself and his brother, who will soon be ordained a priest, and his sister, who is a religious in the Philippines. Another sister was with him to assist him on the trip to Italy.

The youth stood with prosthetic limbs, bought with money raised by a solidarity campaign in Italy, L'Osservatore Romano reported.

The Vatican newspaper reported that this campaign was initiated by an Italian priest, Father Giuseppe Iasso, pastor in Mercogliano, in the Avellino province of Southern Italy.

For 25 years he has been promoting initiatives like this to help the needy in Sri Lanka.

Father Iasso told the newspaper that over the years they have been working in two villages to advance interreligious dialogue among the Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims.

He noted that they have been collaborating closely with the civil and religious authorities in supporting schools and hospitals in the area.

The priest affirmed that these projects have been made possible thanks to many Italians whose generosity "reached exceptional levels" after the tsunami that struck Sri Lanka in 2004.

He stated that the money for Janine had been collected by sending letters and knocking on the doors of parishes and families.

In the end, Father Iasso reported, an amount of 40,000 euro [$57,000] was gathered, from many benefactors, including children who emptied their banks and one elderly woman in a wheelchair who gave up her life savings.

After this successful campaign, the priest wrote to the Pontiff in order to tell him about Janine.

"I opened my priestly heart to the Pope," Father Iasso said, and Benedict XVI expressed the desire to receive this youth personally "in order to encourage him."

The priest concluded, "The testimony of Rajiv, with his serenity in spite of the pain and disability, is an invitation for all who suffer to not be discouraged and to never lose hope."

9/1/2009 3:29 AM
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From the Angelus yesterday - so adorably boyish!

But he still has a swollen right arm and hand, and a new 'scar' - I must look up the technical term for that dent left by whatver intervention tehy did to get the wires in and leave the ends sticking out so they could be removed after the fracture healed.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/19/2009 3:29 PM]
9/19/2009 2:58 PM
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Little Emma meets her Pope
Posted by Tim Drake

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Last Wednesday, 7-year-old Emma Watson of Craigmont, Idaho, finally got her wish to meet Pope Benedict XVI. Register readers will remember first meeting Emma through this story.

Nearly aborted, Emma was born with mosaic Turner syndrome and hypoplastic left heart syndrome and has undergone five open-heart surgeries for palliation of her congenital heart condition. She has wanted to meet the Pope since age 3.

Originally scheduled to meet the Pope in February, that trip had to be canceled because Emma had to be hospitalized for intestinal bleeding. The trip was made possible through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which granted 13,425 wishes to children last year.

This time around, she almost missed seeing the Pope for two different reasons. First, only three weeks before the trip, she was hospitalized with pancreatitis. Then, on the morning of the general audience, the Watson family couldn’t find the Make-A-Wish volunteers in the plaza.

Eventually, they found one another, and the Watsons were rushed in and seated for the general audience just minutes before it began. Emma and her mother, Patti, were given front-row seats.

“Mom was looking the other way when the Pope came out,” said Emma. “I was in awe, and I started crying.”

“She kept saying, ‘It’s the Pope. That’s the Pope,’” said Emma’s mother, Patti.

After the audience, Emma and her mother were brought to greet the Pope.

The Holy Father blessed Emma “in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” and then put his hands on Emma’s shoulders.

“He asked us where we were from,” said Patti. “I said the U.S., and then we were ushered aside.”

Normally quite talkative, Patti said that Emma was “speechless for the first time in her life.”

Emma said that when she looked into the Pope’s eyes she saw “happiness”. [Out of the mouth of babes. Time to teach Emma the word 'joy' which goes beyond happiness!]

How I wish I could find more items for this thread - one a day would be nice!

9/25/2009 12:56 AM
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[SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503] [SM=g9503]

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Not having enough new anecdotal and otherwise 'lighter' material on our beloved Papino, I have decided to make up for the slack by posting a STUNC photo (not necessarily new, but thank God Il Bellissimo has dozens of STUNC pictures worth 'recycling' again and again) at least once a day - as I did for some time when I had a separate 'almanac' thread in the PRF.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/25/2009 12:58 AM]
10/1/2009 4:07 PM
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Frankly, the album cover design is decidedly disappointing, almost thoughtless!
For a Christmas-release album, why did they choose to be so gloomily autumnal?

Music From The Vatican:
'Alma Mater' to be released
Nov. 24 in the USA

Decca Label Group

NEW YORK, Oct. 1 -- Stemming from an unprecedented worldwide record deal with Universal Music Group International, Decca (a division of Universal Music Group in America) is set to release the new CD, Music From The Vatican - Alma Mater, featuring the voice of Pope Benedict XVI. The disc will be released in the U.S. on November 24th.

Alma Mater is a stirring and highly emotional collection of eight original pieces of modern classical music. The release is a true event, marking the very first time that the Voice of Pope Benedict XVI has been captured on disc, speaking and singing in Latin, Italian, Portuguese, French and German, thanks to the audio recordings of Vatican Radio.

Proceeds from the album sales will be used to provide music education for underprivileged children around the world.

The album will feature His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, reciting and singing passages and prayers, accompanied by The Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome, conducted by Monsignor Pablo Colino, Maestro Emeritus of St. Peter's Basilica and recorded in St Peter's Basilica.

The world famous Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays on all of the specially commissioned contemporary tracks, and was recorded at the iconic Abbey Road studios in London.

Simon Boswell, Stefano Mainetti and Nour Eddine are the three contemporary composers who have contributed the eight specially commissioned pieces of music for Alma Mater.

Vincent Messina, producer of Alma Mater, commented, "These three composers are world class and my first choices for the album. A happy co-incidence is that Stefano is Catholic, Simon is 'undeclared' and Nour Eddine is Muslim, thus perfectly representing our aim to produce an album that has universal appeal to all of those who love beautiful music." Collectively, the trio of writers boasts an impressive resume of film scores, TV series and stage productions from around the world.

Plans for a series of international concerts to launch the album will be announced soon

Update on the papal CD
'Alma Mater'

ROME. Oct. 2 (Reuters) – A Muslim, a Catholic and an agnostic composer have contributed music to an album featuring Pope Benedict singing and reciting prayers, which is due for release in November.

Producer Vincent Messina said his choice of Nour Eddine, Stefano Mainetti and Simon Boswell -- who describes himself as "undeclared" -- reflected "our aim to produce an album that has universal appeal to all those who love beautiful music."

"I certainly didn't intend to select or hire composers on the basis of their faith," Messina told Reuters.

"These three composers, I have known them for many, many years and they are all some great film composers ... In particular with regard to the Muslim composer from Morocco, Nour Eddine, the idea came because the roots of Gregorian music somehow we share with the Arabian melodic tradition."

The "Alma Mater" album features recordings from Vatican radio of Pope Benedict singing Marian litanies and reciting passages and prayers in St Peter's Basilica or during trips abroad.

"We will be able to listen to one track in particular where he is singing the Regina Coeli along with a choir from the beginning to the end," Messina said.

"Alma Mater" also includes the backing vocals of The Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome blended with modern classical recordings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

It will be released by Geffen Records, the label that signed up Snoop Dog and Ashlee Simpson, on November 23 in Europe and the United States, and on November 29 in Britain.

Messina said he had yet to hear the Vatican's official reaction to the album.

"The Vatican is always very careful about communication and so you can imagine using the voice of the Holy Father and use it in a musical album," he said.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/1/2009 7:56 PM]
10/2/2009 1:24 PM
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Here's a small item from recent days which led me to 'new' discoveries online, mostly stuff from the sites of Traunstein and Sankt Oswald parish, which will require another post.

Fire hits Pope Benedict's
old boarding school

Traunstein, Germany, Sept. 30 (dpa) - A boy playing with fire nearly burned down Pope Benedict's old boarding school in Germany, police said Wednesday. Fire crews rushed to St Michael's College after an electronic fire alarm detected smoke in the building late Tuesday.

A pupil, 18, who had burned part of a papier-mache egg carton for fun had then thrown it on a stack of paper with an edge still glowing. The rest of the paper began to smoulder.

Fire brigades quickly put out the fire, police in nearby Rosenheim said, and the damage was slight, but 30 boarders needed treatment after inhaling smoke.

Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, boarded at the Catholic school from 1937 until it was closed down by Nazi authorities during the Second World War. At the time it was known as the Archdiocesan College of Traunstein.

St Michael's currently has 70 boarding pupils.

The following article was written for Catholic Digest on the occasion of the Pope's visit to the United States in April 2008 and previously posted in the PRF. It's a beautiful read!

Can a Pope's childhood roots
shape a Church?


BAVARIA, GERMANY - Unsullied by time, the picture-postcard landscape unfolds in visual cliché: Immense round hay bales balance in bucolic fields. Red geraniums pour from flower boxes hanging from windows of whitewashed chalets. Brown cows graze calmly on grass so green it glints yellow in sunlight. Trees brood blackly in the shade. A craggy horizon of pale purple Alpine peaks reaches as far as the eye can see.

Panoramas of Traunstein, dominated by the steeple of St. Oswald parish church, where Joseph Ratzinger offered his first Mass.

It’s almost as if change knocked at Bavaria’s door and, unlike the rest of the West, Bavaria said no thanks. Though the region is known for its folksy hospitality, friendly Bavarians won’t say “hello”; or “guten Tag,” they’ll say “Grüß Gott” (“Greetings, in God’s name”). Enter a shop to buy an Alpine hat in Oberammergau, and before asking if you need help, the shopkeeper will smile, “Grüß Gott.”

Faith is the sustenance to which Bavaria cleaves: More than half its citizens identify as Catholic, and by some measures the figure could be as high as 70 percent. In Regensburg, where Professor Josef Ratzinger taught university theology from 1969 until he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977, 83 percent of residents are Catholic.

There’s no separating Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, from his native land. His philosophical roots remain planted in fertile, faithful, hardworking Bavaria — Germany’s most economically productive region. “My heart beats Bavarian,” he once told a flock of reporters in Rome.

Father Markus Moderegger grins indulgently, head tilted toward the ceiling. The thin, bespectacled rector of the Student Seminary of St. Michael in Traunstein, where Josef Ratzinger lived his high school years, acknowledges the thundering soles of boys running overhead. The young priest shrugs. "Tomorrow is the first day of school…”

Cardinal Ratzinger's last visit to Traunstein and St. Michael's, with his brother Georg, in 2002.

St. Michael Seminary is a dormitory built to encourage vocations. Saving souls and forming souls, along with a healthy indulgence in sport, were its mainstays even when young Josef Ratzinger lived here in the 1940s. Gold- and silver-plated soccer trophies fill a case in the hall.

Opposite the sports board hang photocopies of German press clippings. There’s no whitewashing here. The articles chronicle controversies surrounding the newly elected Roman Catholic pope. Hints of a Nazi past. Explanations of how the teenage Josef Ratzinger ended up briefly joining the Hitler youth. It’s a candid collection, aimed at encouraging discussion.

But St. Michael’s most famous graduate wouldn’t likely have come boisterously down the stairs. Still smiling, Moderegger explains that Ratzinger didn’t like sports and didn’t even like life in Traunstein, population 18,000, when he first arrived.

“He grew up in a humble farmhouse, very close to his family. This was so different from his life in the country.” Ratzinger hails from a typical Bavarian family, with ties that bind.

Yet the food for thought posted on the bulletin board hints at the deeper story. It was here that Josef Ratzinger first encountered the art of theological polemics and academic disputation. And, he liked it.

Up at 5 a.m., Mass at 5:30, next a Bible study and a quick bite to eat before heading off to school — such a life might not suit every young man, but it suited the future pope once he began meeting like-minded friends at St. Michael.

From the beginning, by all accounts, the introverted Pope liked a good debate that required him to use his wits. What he lacked competitively on the soccer field he made up for in the classroom. Josef Ratzinger grew to love St. Michael, returning annually for extended stays and vacations right until the day he became pope.

Widmar Tanner was a vice president of the University of Regensburg and a full biology professor when Professor Josef Ratzinger served as co-vice president with him from 1975 to 1976. Tanner represented the college of sciences; Ratzinger, who’d been ordained in 1951 and earned his doctorate in theology from the University of Munich in 1953, headed up the college of humanities.

“We were told when he was presented that he was one of the great theologians of Germany.” Tanner’s personal encounters with the newly appointed vice-president reinforced the rumors.

Though Ratzinger proved formidable with an argument, Tanner fondly remembers his colleague. “He was very friendly. He was an exceptional speaker, but he was very modest. He stayed in the background. But when he made his argument, he made it brilliantly. We had great respect for him as a leader in his field.”

Tanner chuckles. “When we had arguments against each other, he usually won!”

The halls at Regensburg buzzed when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19, 2005. Tanner says those who knew Benedict XVI held a different opinion than those who did not.

“On the day he was elected, people were critical. For many years he had been prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Since then, you hear people talk about him changing or softening, but I don’t think he’s changed.”

While others talked that spring of having an inquisitor for a pope, Tanner remained silent. Knowing him, I didn’t speak of him in this way. When people take on more responsibility, they often change. They have to change. But I would say that, rather, in my short time of knowing him, he did lead me to think that he is capable of listening and conciliation.”

Father Rupert Berger, retired professor of liturgy science at the University of Freising, sits in his study in a small parish house in Traunstein. A newspaper lies open on his dining-room table, and a homey jumble of books and papers cluttering the room pegs him for an academic. A pair of glasses resting on the outspread newspaper suggests he has been following Pope Benedict’s travels here in Bavaria. For Berger, the news stories evoke mixed emotions.

Although they were ordained together on June 29, 1951, the three friends held their first Mass on different days. Fr. Berger came first, on July 1, with Joseph and Georg serving him as subdeacons. The two brothers celebrated their Primiz one week later.

St. Oswald parish rightfully prides itself as Benedict XVI's 'Primizkirche'.

The three friends concelebrate Mass at St. Oswald's in 1976 to mark the silver jubilee of their ordination. From left, Prof. Michael Muellner from the seminary, Joseph Ratzinger, Georg Ratzinger, Rupert Berger, and the then parish priest Georg Els.

Josef Ratzinger, Rupert Berger, and Ratzinger’s older brother Georg attended seminary and were ordained together in 1951. The Pope is one of Berger’s closest friends. Often, they concelebrated Mass at St. Oswald, the village church here, and then went afterward to the pub next door.

Berger would have a glass of wine, but Josef Ratzinger usually drank water. “He doesn’t like it,” shrugs Berger when asked why the future pope rarely indulged in something stronger.

In those postwar days, there were no typical teenage high jinks.The seminary in Munich had been bombed to ruins. Seminary candidates were charged with clearing the site for rebuilding. Rupert, Josef, and Georg staggered under the weight of wheelbarrows laden with chunks of concrete and shards of steel. In payment, they received rations from the Marshall Plan: rice, cornbread, grains, and cereals. It was strange fare to youth accustomed to bratwurst and potatoes.

But they were grateful to have food at all. “We didn’t get into trouble not because we were good boys,” said Berger, “but because we were so relieved to have survived the war and to have found ourselves back in school.”

Josef was even slighter than his friend and his brother, but he hoisted and pushed load after load of rubble without complaint. All the while, the boys attended lectures in anticipation of taking high school graduation exams. They were all good students. “But he was always the best.”

Regulations also required the boys to submit to “re-education” during the Allied occupation of post-World War II Germany. Berger says they didn’t mind the repatriation.

“The lectures were really interesting. We had lived through these things (the atrocities the Allied indoctrination underscored). We had seen it all for ourselves!”

Was Josef Ratzinger ever a sympathetic member of the Hitler youth, as some reports imply?

Berger sits forward in his chair and waves his arms. “Nein, nein, nein — no, no, no.”

“We were not Nazis! Quite the opposite!” Berger’s father, also named Rupert, had been a leader in the Nazi resistance from the early days of Hitler’s regime and spent six months in Dachau for his work in the Bavarian People’s Party. Afterward, the family was banished from Traunstein.

Even as a young seminarian, Josef Ratzinger made an impression. “We all admired [Josef] because he worked so hard,” continues Berger. “We would go for walks, but he never joined us forentertainments. He sat at his desk and read all the time.”

In a region noted for its industry, Ratzinger proved even more industrious than your average Bavarian. Berger would have to drag his friend from the books to gain a social companion for an afternoon. A lot of the seminarians liked ballet, but Ratzinger didn’t care for it and neither did Berger. Once or twice a month, though, Ratzinger could be persuaded to visit the theater for a play or an opera.

Ratzinger’s bookishness goes hand in hand with his introversion. Berger says Ratzinger always was friendly but left others to make the introductions. “His privacy is extremely important to him.”

Yet the Pope is hardly humorless. Berger, with great amusement, points out that we have a joyful pope, not a comedian. “He loves to laugh, but he is not the one who tells the jokes!”

The two pals have not met since Cardinal Josef Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to Benedict’s papacy, they annually spent time together during Ratzinger’s extended vacations in Traunstein.

On his visits, Ratzinger bunked at St. Michael, where his love for books and his passion for priesthood first converged. His brother Georg always joined him.

In the evening, Josef would read the paper to Georg, whose eyesight is reportedly delicate. Then Georg, an accomplished pianist, would begin working the piano while Josef turned on the lamp in the room across the hall and got down to business.

Father Markus Moderegger stretches one palm above the other, about 15 inches apart. “He always brought work with him, a big stack of papers.”

The Sisters who handle St. Michael’s housekeeping miss the beneficent Ratzingers. Both brothers regularly hiked into Traunstein. “You would see their two white heads going off down the road. When they returned, they carried sacks of presents. They’d gone shopping. For the Sisters!”

In a simpler world, these intimate vacations would continue. But modern security concerns and an international press corps make such dreams impossible.

Could Rupert Berger pick up the phone just now and call his friend, the pope? Berger’s smile is slow and warm and fond and sure.

“Yes, I think so. I am very careful with the word friend. There are really only very few people you can call your friends in life. The pope is one of mine.”

The world doesn’t yet understand Benedict XVI. Is he the shy academic who brushes away his security detail to hold a young altar server’s face in his hands while she throws out her arms for a bear hug? Or is he the hardworking Vatican watchdog whose Traunstein housekeepers cry because he no longer can visit?

With Benedict, you get equal helpings of Bavarian geniality and Bavarian self-discipline. You get singular intelligence and deep affection in the same man.

“What people who know him admire is that he is so bright and so pious. This combination you just don’t find very often,” Berger says. “And I admire his sermons because they come from the heart inspite of his living so much in the head.”

Hand-cut stacks of wood nestle tidily beside each doorstep of every home in the rolling Bavarian hills, a testament to hearth, family, and a diligence and conformity that mirror the inner world of the current pope.

Bavarians embrace the rigors of life and its comforts too. Warm pretzels and warm beer equal warm hospitality. Hard work and hard winters are God’s reminder that life requires serious toil amid the play. Some things don’t change because they aren’t meant to change. “Grüß Gott.”

Father Berger and Professor Tanner assess the new pope similarly. Berger sees both orthodoxy and flexibility going hand-in-hand. “Whatever job he is given, he adapts to the task. As a cardinal, he adapted. As a pope, he is a completely different man than the Defender of his Faith. He is always open. He is always learning and adapting.

“To touch the children, to wave — he learned this from his predecessor.” But Berger jumps a little in his chair when asked if this change will be reflected theologically.

When the pope’s friend speaks of change, he is talking not about the essence of theology but about the essence of human behavior. Such precision with phraseology is a rhetorician’s domain, and it is here where Benedict and his friend Berger feel most at home.

The pope has been known to speak with a lover’s yearning about missing his academic debates, mourning his loss of time for theological endeavor.

In the speech in Regensburg, where the Pope compared Christian relativism to Muslim fundamentalism, using a stark (and to orthodox Muslims, offensive) illustration, he perhaps intended to spark a dialogue between the two faiths.

Clearly, he was warning both Christians and Muslims to guard against deferring to the self ’s rationalizations in living their faiths: It’s not what makes sense to us but what makes sense to God that matters. For Benedict, being a little bit Catholic is like being a little bit Bavarian: There’s no such thing.

A sidebar to the article:

Does the pope like beer?

Not really. Press reports that Pope Benedict XVI likes his beer are inaccurate, says the Pope’s longtime friend Father Rupert Berger.

“He doesn’t like the taste of alcohol,” Berger says with a shrug. “He just never did.” At home, the Pope drinks orange juice.

But never let it be said that Benedict XVI is a party pooper. “On special occasions, when everybody else is having a drink, he will join in so he doesn’t spoil the fun.”

Then, the pope will sip a radler, or what Germans call a bicycler. The drink, a combination of beer and lemonade, derives its name from the source of its invention: In the 1920s, Alpine bicyclists wanting to avoid wobbling along the twists and turns of a long ride diluted their beer at lunchtime to avoid riding under the influence.

Radler recipe

•½ glass of lemonade
•½ glass of German beer
Mix gently and serve.
(serve at room temperature — as is the German custom.)

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/2/2009 2:01 PM]
10/8/2009 2:32 PM
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I expect there will be more stories like these from the hundreds of Hawaiians who are in Rome or coming to Rome for Father Damien's canonization on Sunday. We can't have enough of these stories - and I am really surprised there aren't more online, considering the tens of thousands who get to see the Pope every week. This is particularly 'cute'...

Oct. 7, 2009

Just an hour ago, we had an audience with the Pope. The Scouts were very close….as a matter of fact, we were in the main section…. on the same level as the Pope….Awesome exerience.

Various Bishops from all over welcome pilgrims in their own language from all over… then the Pope blesses everyone and all objects they bring for blessings… and yes, for those who bought the Scout fundraising items and asked for them to be blessed, they all were!

We gave our gift to a Swiss Guard, who in turn gave it to the Pontiff…The Pope will surly understand Aloha!

10/10/2009 1:53 AM
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Nothing new here....Just one of those items I did not notice at the time. Another pre-visit article in Catholic Digest before the Pope's tript to the USA in 2008, with recycled information and pictures, but nicely laid out. It reads very much like an article published in Paris-Match in 2006 or 2007, but updated to 2008.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/17/2009 8:40 PM]
11/17/2009 8:35 PM
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'Pride and Prejudice in the Vatican'
Book review by
Translated from

Nov. 17, 2009

It is difficult to say who might be the anonymous cardinal who, with an all-knowing (and sometimes competent) tone, has come out with this so-called Confession d'un Cardinal, written 'anonymously' with the help of French writer Oliver Le Gendre [itself a pseudonym, according to our Beatrice], published in France in 2007 and now in Italy as Orgoglio e Pregudizio in Vaticano (Pride and Prejudice in the Vatican).

But basically, it does not matter. [He could well be a fictional construct himself - since his self-description in the book would narrow down the possibilities to a handful of cardinals, none of whom fits the bill of particulars exactly. Unlike the cardinal who first 'broke' the secrecy of the Conclave with his 'revelations' in October 2005, about whose identity a consensus was easily formed; he has since died.]

What matters is the book's premise, which is to demonstrate subtly -
sometimes openly, sometimes not, sometimes revealing it, sometimes masking it - that the Church today needs a new wind of change.

And therefore, it needs a Pope who does not fear science, democracy and modernity, one who is not entrenched in archaic positions. As though the present Pope were all that. and that, in fact, he is the anti-modern Pope!

So the premise of the book is that the Church needs a Pope who is open to modernity. But to proffer such a premise, it posits the certainty that Joseph Ratzinger is anti-modern, something that needs to be demonstrated, which in any case, this book does not!

Leaving aside the book's thesis, and quite apart from the progressivist fervor of this so-called cardinal who claims he could not participate in the 2005 Conclave because he was by then seven months past his 80th birthday [so we must assume he turned 80 in September 2004], that he had been the head of a Curial congregation and that he knows the world of Vatican diplomacy as few others do - in short, detaching oneself from the idea developed in the book that a great deal, if not everything, in the Vatican is 'pride and prejudice', we may derive something interesting, at least about the 2005 Conclave.

Of which much was already 'known', in the sense that much has been written about what went on in the Sistine Chapel then [despite the secrecy oath taken by each participant on pain of excommunication].

According to the most common version, Joseph Ratzinger got 45-47 votes in the first ballot, followed by Carlo Maria Martini and Jorge Bergoglio who had about 10 votes each. These results remained substantially the same in the second ballot of the first day.

On the third ballot taken the following morning, the future Pope had 75 votes, two short of the necessary two-thirds majority, and Martini was no longer in the running, whereas Bergoglio got 35 votes. This might have produced a stalemate that could have led to a compromise candidate, as in the Siri-Benelli competition that led to Karol Wojtyla's election in 1978.

Instead, and surprisingly [????], many of those who had voted for Bergoglio shifted to Ratzinger who became, after the fourth ballot, Benedict XVI.

What is less known is whether Ratzinger himself had anticipated his own election. The anonymous 'cardinal' says he did not, that he thought of himself more as a 'kingmaker'. [Sounds unlikely, the kingmaker thing, given Joseph Ratzinger's personality, and the fact that, as Dean of the College of Cardinals, he could not very well propose, not even covertly, any specific candidate for Pope. Of course, one still wonders who he voted for, in all four ballots.]

And that this explains some events preceding the Conclave. In particular, the Via Crucis meditations prepared by Cardinal Ratzinger for Good Friday 2005, when the condition of John Paul II was visibly worsening and everyone had the succession in mind.

The Cardinal jolted everyone by stating that the boat of the Church seemed to be sinking and that the soiled garments of the Church were a cause for dismay.

Why then did he say these things? 'Anonymous' says it was because Ratzinger did not consider himself at all to be a candidate to the papacy, but wanted to be a witness, with his words, and as a hinge element of a precise orientation in the College of Cardinals, "to organize a coherent force for the benefit of someone else".

But for whom? Who was he thinking of? 'Anonymous' does not give an answer, but says that "In his [Ratzinger's] actions, I saw the confirmation of a scenario that not only I but many others had foreseen would happen, namely, a repetition of 1978".

[Well, they were wrong. Besides, in addition to what Benedict XVI has said since then, there have been enough statements made by friends of his attesting that he pleaded with them not to consider him for Pope.]

Rodari's review is necessarily sketchy. I now wish I could get a copy of the book, out of curiosity. Early last year, I remember Beatrice did a six- or seven-part 'deconstruction' of the book on her site,

and also pointed to a series of commentaries in Eucharistie misericorde by the knowledgeable Abbe Barthe who has a reputation for being well 'wired into the Vatican'.

In any case, the conclusion seems to be that the book - written in the 'interview' style used by Vittorio Messori and Peter Seewald with Cardinal Ratzinger - is a detailed 'manifesto' for a progressivist group called Sarepta [a Biblical town mentioned in the Gospel]
whose website is called 'Salt of the Earth', and in which one reads the following:

Who are we?

An international network of Christians.
We have learnt to know each other.

In common we share several convictions:

• the “crisis” of the Church is not due to recent causes, objects of futile feuds among the progressives and the traditionalists,
• the Christian message will again be audible if people of faith want to incarnate, wherever they live and for the service of the world, the tenderness of God,
• a myriad of individual or collective initiatives are executed in this spirit,
• these initiatives are carried out in discretion, experienced in prayer, opening up to the very poor, for the purpose of giving the Christian faith an expression as close as possible to the Gospel.

Sarepta allows such faithful people to get to know each other, to share their projects and expectations, to confirm themselves on the road they have chosen to follow.

Sounds completely commendable, but the site contains nothing else apart from instructions on how to become a member and how to communicate through webaster.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/18/2009 9:59 PM]
11/25/2009 8:50 PM
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On Beatrice's site,
her Spanish friend Gloria has had the unique and wonderful initiative of creating montages featuring all the state visitors who have called on Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2009 so far.

I think that the Pope's official visitors - in terms of heads of state and/or government - easily outnumber those of the President of the United States.

And, as Beatrice notes, how could any critic possibly claim the Holy Father is isolated in his ivory tower? Not to mention all his meetings with visiting bishops, Curial officials and groups, and so many associations!

The message on each of the 'postcards' is:


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/27/2009 7:01 PM]
11/27/2009 7:31 PM
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I can't figure out why Ignatius Insight decided to re-post this today, but in any case, it is always welcome reading for experiences with and insights on Benedict XVI of which only someone like Peter Seewald, who has written two interview books on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is capable.

The Preface to Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait

Nov. 27, 2009

What is it like to sit opposite a man like Joseph Ratzinger for many hours, alone in a monastery, and discuss things with him, asking a thousand questions?

We were high up in our monastery, often in reality above the clouds, and there was always something that gave you the feeling there was a good spirit there.

At any rate, I came to know Joseph Ratzinger as a great man for patience, as a spiritual master who can give answers. Here was someone who simply understood people, who had retained the liveliness of youth. Someone who did not burn out quickly but in some way remained whole - and most impressive in his attitude of humility, with which he makes small things seem great.

Joseph Ratzinger is a born teacher, but he did not want to become ope. Even after the conclave, on the loggia of Saint Peter's, his face showed the traces of an inner struggle.

Photograph from April 19, 2005, that Reuters chose as one of its '100 Photos of gthe Decade (2000-2009)'

And he probably felt like crying, so disturbingly moved was he by the condescension of the great God who entrusted him, at the end of his path, with the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

The man from Bavaria - contrary to all the projections dumped onto his shoulders - is a revolutionary of the Christian type. Seeking out what was lost and saving it is the constant element in his life. An inconvenient man who can seize on the spirit of the times, who warns people against the aberrations of modern life.

Anyone who really wants change, he cries out, needs a change in his consciousness and his personal behavior - anything else is insufficient.

Now, as Benedict XVI, the most powerful German at the beginning of the new millennium may offer a new opportunity for Europe and, especially, for his homeland.

And Peter's successor has given his own people an exciting motto for this: "We are not working to defend a position of power", he says. "In truth we are working so that the streets of the world may be open for Christ."

That would mean, then, something like a "Benedictinizing" of the Catholic Church, a healthy revitalization of mercy, of the origin of the mystery.

This is an approach based, not on activism or considerations of feasibility, but on faith.

And the Pontifex in Rome could find himself helped not only by a reawakened longing for meaning and a new consciousness that truth is indispensable, but also by a new generation of young Christians, whose desire is to live out their faith in all its vitality and fullness once more, piously and without inhibitions.

"The Church is certainly not old and immobile", declared the new Pope enthusiastically; "No - she is young."

And it was also untrue, he said, that youth is merely "materialistic and egotistic: young people want an end to be put to injustice. They want inequality to be overcome and for everyone to be given his share of the good things of the world. They want the oppressed to be given their freedom. They want greatness. They desire goodness. And that is why the young ... are once again wide open for Christ."

And then he added, just like a rebel of earlier times. "Anyone who has come to Christ seeking what is comfortable has indeed come to the wrong address." And, quite certainly, anyone who seeks that with Pope Benedict, too.

Abbey of Benedictbeuern
September 2005
Peter Seewald

12/7/2009 8:10 PM
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Don't you wish there were more stories like this that get told and shared with the public?

Boy's wish comes true:
He meets the Pope


Dec. 4, 2009

ST. JOHN, Indiana -- Andrew Birlson celebrates Mass often, donning his priestly vestments, carrying his Bible, and singing songs, occasionally swinging an incense burner to offer a blessing.

The nine-year-old boy recently traveled to the Vatican through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and received a blessing from Pope Benedict.

His vestments were handmade by his grandma and his mom, Theresa, and his incense burner is a tealight holder on a chain.

He knows all the colors of a priest's vestments and when during the Catholic religious calendar they are worn.

"I have them all, white, purple, red, green, pink," he says, his bright eyes wide with enthusiasm.

[I hope he had a chance to tell the Pope about his 'playing priest' - Pepperl Ratzinger would have thought about how he and brother Georg used to do that as boys.]

Andrew lives in the same house his family has owned for 150 years, and is a member of the same church his family has attended just as long, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, just down the highway.

His faith, his mom says, is passionate, which is why Andrew, unlike thousands of other gravely ill children, told the Make-A-Wish Foundation that he wanted to go to Rome to visit the Pope.

The third-grader at St. John Evangelist School has a rare genetic disorder called citrullinemia. His body does not produce the enzyme necessary to digest protein, so his mother has to monitor everything he eats. He has had 200 blood draws and six hospitalizations this year.

If he ingests too much protein, the ammonia levels in Andrew's body rise to dangerous levels. He begins vomiting and could go into a coma.

That's what happened when he was 3 days old, when he suffered brain damage and almost died. At Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Theresa and Bob Birlson pinned a cross to their infant son's bed and told him Baby Jesus and Mary would be with him.

Andrew also became sick on Nov. 18 when he, his parents and three of his four sisters (18-month-old Elizabeth stayed home with grandma), had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

"We were waiting in the security room and Andrew got sick," Theresa Birlson said.

"I threw up two times," Andrew piped in.

Already in the VIP section behind the cardinals and bishops, Andrew was moved to the front of the line where the spiritual leader to 1.1 billion Roman Catholics placed his hands on Andrew and blessed him.

"I said, 'I love you' to the Pope," Andrew said, looking at a photo of the Pope kissing him on the forehead.

After the papal audience an ambulance whisked Andrew away to Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesu‎ hospital where he spent the next four days.

Make-A-Wish handled all the details of the family's unexpectedly extended stay, and Andrew was able to enjoy his last day in Rome.

"He wanted to go back to St. Peter's," his mom said. Big sister Olivia, 15, videotaped him running through St. Peter's Square that day, chasing the pigeons.

Andrew's answer as to why he wanted to visit the Pontiff is simple.

"Because I love the Pope," he says, breaking into yet another song from Sunday Mass.

It was Andrew's only wish. He wouldn't even offer a back-up when asked by Make-A-Wish volunteers. In fact, Sophia Morton, who has been with the Greater Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky chapter of Make-A-Wish for 10 years, said she remembers only one other child out of 6,000, an Ohio boy, who asked to see the pope.

It was Andrew's faith that helped him get to Rome, a feat much more complicated to carry out than a trip to Disney World, where the vast majority of Make-A-Wish kids want to go.

To be considered, Andrew had to write a letter to Make-A-Wish telling why he wanted to visit the Pope.

His sisters, however, told their mom that a letter wouldn't do justice to their little brother's religious zeal.

"Words can't describe Andrew as far as his faith goes," Theresa Birlson said.

Instead, the girls videotaped Andrew celebrating a "Mass," singing his songs and showing his passion for life.

The DVD included photographs of Andrew with various priests he knows.

Andrew rattles off their names, Father Maletta, Father Larry, Bishop Melczek and on and on.

When he was smaller, Andrew would hug the statue of the Blessed Mother holding Baby Jesus when they passed it in church.

"Or he would point and say, 'That's not Baby Jesus, that's me,' Theresa Birlson said. "Things like that led us to believe Blessed Mother was taking care of him."

Her son sometimes tells her, "Jesus snuggles with me at night when I'm trying to go to sleep."

"He's just so on fire with love for Jesus," Theresa Birlson said. "It's all so unprovoked, my husband and I said it's got to be a connection with heaven."

In Rome the family did make time to see ruins and artifacts, including a piece of the crib from the manger in which Baby Jesus lay.

They walked to the top of St. Peter's on a stairway hundreds of years old and so small a rope was hung to hold onto because there was no room for a handrail.

"When we got to the top we could see all of Rome," Theresa Birlson said. "The trip was once in a lifetime, maybe even more.

"It was so cool," she said. "Who gets to shake the Pope's hand and get a physical blessing from his consecrated hands?" she said. "For those hands to be placed on our son's head was so overwhelming. It was an honor and a blessing."

Pope Benedict also blessed all assembled and any religious articles they had brought. The Birlsons were prepared, with an entire carry-on bag full of medals, rosaries and prayer books for friends and family, which Andrew insisted on carrying himself.

"We saw this as a pilgrimage not only for our son but our whole family," Theresa Birlson said.

She said Make-A-Wish was "outstanding" in handling Andrew's illness.

She says that while her son's illness has been a drain on the family, "Spiritually he's brought our faith to a whole new level.

"We would go to Mass in the past, but the way he changed us is so far beyond what we could have imagined. He's truly a blessing to us."

12/9/2009 7:45 PM
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At the General Audience today....

4/8/2010 11:15 PM
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...with the greatest of thanks to BENEVOLENS

Benevolens's note on the pictures:

The pics are from a new book about Papa's childhood and youth called "Ich werde mal Kardinal" ("I will be a cardinal when I grow up") by Johann Nussbaum.

About the pic of young Joseph in what appear to be Bavarian style leather pants: The author showed it to Msgr Georg Ratzinger who confirmed it depicted indeed Joseph, but that the pants were not leather because that would have been too expensive.

The other photo is an enlargement of Joseph in a seminary group photo of 1947.

NB: I enlarged the photos, so the enlargements are grainy!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/8/2010 11:16 PM]
4/9/2010 8:46 AM
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Thanks Teresa, the pics look even better now! Also for your kind comments in the PRF. [SM=g9554]
I was a bit sceptical at first whether the youth in the pants was really Joseph, but since brother Georg confirmed it, there can be no doubt, Georg must know!

Dear Eva,

I think the elfin ears are also a clue!

Many thanks again -- and keep the treasures coming in with your incredibly productive Ratzinger/Benaddict photo search engine!



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/9/2010 4:01 PM]
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Just for my record, how old would you think he is on the first picture ?

I've been thinking about it - and it looks like some of the pictures taken of him as a young priest, so early 20s? Almost certainly, later than the 1947 seminary pic, when he would have been 20!...Maybe the book has a clue...

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/9/2010 7:21 PM]
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This nun has been praying for
Joseph Ratzinger since 1959


April 17, 2010

Sr. Emmanuel with Cardinal Ratzinger in 1998.

Sister Emmanuel Hofbauer has taken to heart St. Teresa of Avila’s instruction to pray for priests. At the age of 11, she was shown an ordination photo of Father Joseph Ratzinger and his brother Georg. She said this experience mysteriously confirmed her desire to become a nun and to pray in a special way for priests.

Now, one of them is about to celebrate his fifth anniversary as Pope.

Then-Father Georg Ratzinger served in her parish in a small Bavarian village at the foot of the Alps, near the town of Oberammergau, famous for its Passion plays. Father Joseph Ratzinger would eventually become archbishop of Munich, the archdiocese in which she lived.

After moving to the United States in 1955 and attending Seattle’s Holy Names Academy, she entered the Carmelite monastery in Seattle in 1959 at the age of 19. The following year, she formally received her new name and distinctive Carmelite habit. Sister Emmanuel remained in Seattle until 2009, when she moved to the Carmel of the Mother of God in San Rafael, Calif.

Her correspondence with Cardinal Ratzinger began in 1986, on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of her first profession in 1961. Sister Emmanuel received a letter from Cardinal Ratzinger, thanking her for all her years of dedicated service to the Lord and his Church. Thereafter, they corresponded a few times every year.

While in Rome for the canonization of Carmelite nun Edith Stein in October of 1998, Sister Emmanuel met with Cardinal Ratzinger.

Sister Emmanuel recently spoke with Register correspondent Trent Beattie.

What are some of your memories of the Ratzinger brothers from your childhood?
When the Ratzinger brothers were ordained in 1951, I was only 11 years old. One of my teachers showed me a newspaper clipping of the ordination. This photo of the Ratzinger brothers deeply impressed me.

I already hoped to become a sister like the Sisters of St. Elizabeth who lived near our house. One of the sisters told me of how she wanted to enter the Carmel in Cologne but was not allowed because of her asthma. She told me that the apostolate of Carmel is mainly to pray for the Church and for priests. I decided then and there that that is what I am called to do. I wanted to pray for holy priests such as the Ratzinger brothers.

Msgr. Georg Ratzinger became my pastor’s assistant in 1951-1952. Joseph Ratzinger was never my pastor, but became archbishop of Munich in May 1977. In June of 1977 he became cardinal, and in November of 1981 he became the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

When did you start corresponding with Cardinal Ratzinger?
Through my family, teachers and friends I received news, especially about then-Archbishop Ratzinger. Anything about him and Msgr. Georg interested me. For some mysterious reason, God bonded us. I found my vocation through them, and I was to pray and sacrifice my life for them and for all priests.

My direct correspondence with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger began around 1986. It was the year of my Silver Jubilee, and he wrote to me a beautiful letter which I will cherish as long as I live.

I read some of his books and booklets, and I often prayed: “Lord, this man should be heard and seen more.” When I met him face to face in 1998 in Rome, I knew that he would be the next Pope. His election was a joyful, emotional moment.

What was your immediate response to Cardinal Ratzinger being elected Pope?
I was so happy that the celebration of his festive inauguration fell on April 24, which is also my birthday. It was the best birthday present I could have received.

Do you think Cardinal Ratzinger in choosing the name Benedict (after Pope Benedict XV, but also after St. Benedict, the “Father of Western Monasticism”) thereby showed great respect for the religious life?
I do not know why he chose the name Benedict. I think he chose it more to follow Pope Benedict XV, who is known as the “Peace Pope” — he became Pope just a few months after World War I broke out. He worked untiringly for peace and wrote the encyclical Pacem Dei Munus. I am sure he loved St. Benedict, the father of monasticism, and has great love and respect for the religious life.

What do you think of the latest media attacks on Msgr. Ratzinger and Pope Benedict?
The media attack on our Holy Father and on Msgr. Ratzinger is so unjust, so unfair. I have met through the years many Regensburger Domspatzen (members of the famous singing group once led by Msgr. Ratzinger), and they have the highest regard for Msgr. Ratzinger.

In instances of sexual abuse committed by some of the clergy, the devil uses priests in order to cast blame upon the entire Church, because he hates the Church and wants to destroy the Church. But we know Christ’s words: “The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

Some people have accused our Holy Father of not following the Gospel, while in fact he is a living Gospel. He lives faith, hope, love, reconciliation, peace and justice — truly Christ-like.

What do you think of the criticisms of the Pope from people who have never met him or even read any of his writings?
People who criticize our Holy Father did not know much about him or his writings. They knew him only as a disciplinarian when he was the prefect. They do not know that in fact he is a deeply prayerful, spiritual, humble, gentle man. The same is true of his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

Do you still get to correspond with Pope Benedict, or is that not possible?
Yes, I still correspond with His Holiness through his private secretary, who allows my letters to reach His Holiness, and I receive a few lines and holy cards through his secretary. I tell him of the highlights of our life here at the monastery and assure him of my prayers.

Could you tell us about meeting Pope Benedict in person?
In 2006, our Holy Father visited Germany. One of his visits was in Pentling, near Regensburg. My cousins [Rupert and Therese Hofbauer] take care of his house in Pentling. It is the house where he and his brother were going to retire, but God had another plan. My cousins invited me to visit them during that time and help prepare for the coming of our Holy Father to his house forperhaps the last time.

It was an unforgettable experience, like a family reunion. The police and his guards allowed us to come close to him. I remember him taking my hands and asking me to please not forget him in my prayers. Since I am celebrating my Golden Jubilee on May 22 of this year (dated from the Clothing Day, or Name Day, that took place in 1960), I hope to see our Holy Father once more within the next couple of years, God willing!

In this Year for Priests, what thoughts do you have about praying for priests?
St. Thérèse of Lisieux, as all Carmelite sisters, had a great love for priests and for the priesthood, but her love was not naive. She knew that priests were frail human beings like all of us. She wanted to support them in every way she could.

Do we love and support our priests as we should, and as they need us to? It can be easy to become annoyed and see the faults of our priests; sometimes we see only their weaknesses. However, Jesus has given us a priceless treasure in the priesthood. Through his priests we receive all the bounty of his graces through the sacraments — and his very self in the Eucharist.

Surely, we owe our priests immeasurable gratitude for their self-gift to God on our behalf. In this Year for Priests, let us renew our commitment to pray for our priests, to affirm our priests, to love and support our priests. They need us more than ever as they try to show forth God’s presence in a world that increasingly denies him and ignores his ways.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/1/2010 6:18 PM]
4/21/2010 2:58 PM
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WOW!!! The cousin of the Pentling 'house keeper' has been praying for the Ratzinger brothers since 1959?!

Amazing! There goes another confirmation of: there is no such things as coincidences!!

What a wonderful story!!! Thanks a lot! And what a sweet picture!


I thought so too! And about the picture, I particularly liked that she has her arm linked around his! ... I wish we could come across more stories like this....


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/21/2010 7:35 PM]
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