Benedetto XVI Forum


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10/12/2010 3:07 PM
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See preceding page for earlier posts today, 10/12/10.

Pope takes biggest initiative
to revive Christianity
in secularized nations


VATICAN CITY, Oct. 12 (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday outlined his most tangible initiative yet to try to revive Christianity, creating a Vatican office for re-evangelizing Europe and other traditionally Christian regions where the faith is falling by the wayside.

In an official decree, Benedict said the new office would work with bishops to promote Church doctrine, use modern communication methods to get the Church's message out and mobilize missionary-type activities using members of religious orders and new religious movements.

But even on its first day of existence, the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization ran into an all-too-typical Vatican snag: The four-page decree instituting the office was issued only in Latin and Italian, even though the Pope announced the office's creation four months ago. [This was really DUMB! Not to be able to provide translations for such an important decree that is only four pages long is INEXCUSABLE for any press office of consequence!]

Asked how the Pope expected to bring the Church's message to the world in such relatively unknown languages, the head of the new office, Monsignor Rino Fisichella said he hadn't been in charge until Tuesday and wasn't responsible for how the decree was issued.

[He should have been on top of it, nevertheless. The briefing today has been pre-announced regularly in the Press Office bulletins for about a month now. Fisichella is a brilliant intellectual - yet he can take it for granted that the motu proprio would be duly translated on the day it is first issued? Has he not learned from the horrible experience with Summorum Pontificum - which, to this day, has no official English translation, to my knowledge! And is he not aware of the infamously erratic - to be charitable - record of this Press Office on many signal occasions????]]

He stressed that he planned to have language sections in his department to deal with the faithful in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, German and Slavic languages. And the Vatican spokesman said the decree would eventually be published in other languages. [Eventually! He should have promised it by the end of today, at least!]

Fisichella denied the creation of the office was a mere bureaucratic attempt to fix a complex cultural phenomenon, saying Benedict had made an astute, pastoral decision to focus attention on a growing problem that had preoccupied Popes for decades.

Benedict has made reviving Europe's Christian roots a priority of his papacy and has concentrated his foreign travels on the continent. While the decree listed no specific geographical areas where it will concentrate, the evangelization office is also expected to pay attention to Latin America, where evangelical movements are making inroads in traditionally Catholic countries such as Brazil.

In the decree, Benedict lamented that with tremendous scientific, social and cultural progress over the past century, parts of the world that once had strong Christian roots had grown to believe that they can exist without God.

"While some greeted this as a freedom, they soon realized the interior desert that is born when man — thinking himself the architect of his own nature and destiny — finds himself lacking that which is fundamental to everything," Benedict wrote.

Four of the story's nine paragraphs are about the failure of the Vatican Press Office to provide an English translation! Of course, many of the Anglophone correspondents covering the Vatican can (and did) translate it themselves unofficially but accurately, but who can blame Winfield for hammering home yet another blatant example of a real lack of communications sense in the Vatican, not just in the Press Office but even by someone like Fisichella who has been otherwise one of the most media-savvy prelates in the Vatican, one who was very sophisticated in communicating his own messages when he was at the Lateran University!

Yet, he is quoted by dpa from today's briefing as saying this:

The new Vatican office will employ “all the progress of the science of communications” in a bid to restore religion to the secular world. “My first concern is to get a computer on my desk so that I can have Internet access,” Monsignor Rino Fisichella, the head of the new office, said at a Vatican briefing today. [DUH!!!]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/12/2010 10:09 PM]
10/12/2010 5:39 PM
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Here's the second and concluding part of Father Samir's presentation on the current synodal assembly on the Middle East, in which he comments on the situation of the Eastern churches startinf with points raised by Benedict XVI in his homiyl Sunday at the opening Mass for the Synodal assembly.

The Middle East
in the eyes of Benedict XVI
- Part 2

by Samir Khalil Samir, SJ
Oct. 11, 2010

Eastern-rite Catholic immigrants in the West

At one point in his speech, the Pope speaks of the faithful of the diaspora, and this raises a problem within the Catholic Church, because bishops in Europe often want to have jurisdiction over the Eastern faithful immigrants.

For example, there is a rule that prohibits the existence of married Eastern priests in the West. They can have them in the East but not when they are in the West. This decision was taken - it was said – so as not to scandalize the faithful. But all this must change. [This is obviously Fr. Samir's opinion, and not to be inferred in any way from the Pope's homily!]

Originally, the patriarchates were geographical, but now the fact of migration is raising several issues. Yesterday, the Pope spoke of "all the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care (ie of the Patriarchs) in their own countries and also in the diaspora."

It is a small point but an important one. This is also a problem for the Orthodox and the Church of Moscow. Who do the Orthodox of the diaspora depend on? Once it was the Ecumenical Patriarch who had responsibility beyond territorial boundaries [Does it not still? That is why it is called the Ecumenical Patriarchate!] , now the other Orthodox churches want to restrict its responsibility to Turkey alone, where it is located.

[It does make sense, in general, for the Eastern-rite faithful in diaspora to continue being under the jurisdiction of the mother Church, which can always ask to have an on-site eparchy for closer exercise of that jurisdiction if the immigrant community is large enough, as many of the Eastern-rite churches (Mideast as well as Eastern European) now do. It does not make any sense for an Eastern-rite priest to work under a Latin-rite bishop, nor for the Western bishop to seek to homogenize any Eastern-rite faithful in his diocese.]

Salvation is universal, but it passes
through a determined historical mediation

At one point, Benedict XVI commented on the readings of the Mass and spoke of the two lepers, both non-Jews [Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5.14-17) and the Samaritan (Luke 17.11-19)], who are cured because they believe the word of God’s messenger and this heals them. He commented: "They heal in body, but are open to faith, and this heals their soul, that is, it saves them."

The Pope raised the issue of conversion. Going further, he said: "salvation is universal," all are called to be saved by God's love. For us Christians, this is of vital theological importance with regards to Muslims. It is not a specific race or people who are saved -od wants universal salvation.

But he said that this salvation comes through Judaism, and then through Christianity. "Salvation is universal, but it passes through a determined historical mediation” And he emphasized this by using the word "door": "the door of life is open to all." In short, Benedict XVI reaffirms that salvation is in Christ (2 Timothy 2:10), and this is an obligatory passage.

In contemporary theology, there is often opposition to this. Some say: salvation is universal, so there is no need of Christ, others say there is no salvation outside the Church.

With a simple vision, starting from the biblical texts, Ratzinger resolves this objection: Salvation is Christ, announced and prepared by the historic Israel, and prolonged by the spiritual Israel which is the Church. The role of the Church is therefore essential, although not absolute.

We need mission to rediscover
the meaning of our faith

All this is important for us in the Middle East. From the sociological point of view we feel unable to engage in mission to Muslims, who are the majority of our people, inviting them to discover the Gospel and the salvation that comes from the absolute Gospel, because the laws forbid it.

Yesterday, I saw the Bishop of Algiers, who told me that he spent two hours speaking with the Minister for Religious Affairs on this issue [anti-proselytizing laws that hamper the freedom to proclaim].

To the point that some bishops and many missionaries refuse to baptize Muslims who have been asking to be baptised for years, because they are afraid that by doing so they will lose elements of their culture! [Obviously, this is a very real problem, but the reason given for their refusal to baptize Muslims who wish to convert makes no sense at all. Of course, they are giving up Islam which is the all-powerful, all-around element in the lives of Muslims, along with the practices associated with Islam. But they can still keep those practices and traditions which are not in conflict with Christianity, and they will still have their language.]

From the theological point of view the Pope's discourse corrects those theologies (some in India and many "theologies of religions" popular in the West) that preach that it is not necessary to switch to Christ. A missionary once said to me, the Second Vatican Council established that everyone can be saved in their own religion, so why baptize them?[/COLORE} [One of the most common misinterpretations of Nostra aetate that Vatican-II 'spiritists' have propagated so dangerously!]

Our Churches in the East have lost their sense of mission because they are focused on their survival. But the body will not survive by concentrating on the physical problem alone: it can become a form of asphyxia. And this is what is happening to our Churches: we are so interested in saving our culture, our particularity, our survival, that in the end we focus on the little things, instead of seeing our world mission.

We are even dying in Europe because the missionary age - when. from countries like Italy and France, Cctholic missionaries went forth everywhere - is no more. Today we are so concerned about ourselves and our daily problems that we have lost the sense of mission. We must recapture that sense. At the same time, the contemporary tendency to reduce mission to charity, in the sense of commitment to development, is not satisfactory.
[The Pope always says - The mission of the Church and of priests is to save souls through Christ, and priests must look after their souls first before they can expect to help others, not just looking after their souls, but whenever it is possible, th help out also in material ways.]

The land

Continuing, Benedict XVI spoke of a salvation tied to the land: "God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 3:6), who wants to lead his people to 'land' of freedom and of peace ". But - he added - "this 'land' is not of this world."

These statements are very important for the Middle East where a theology and a politics based on "land" is rampant: the question of Jerusalem, the Israel of today (or that of the Zionists, to the Nile and the Euphrates), Palestine ... The whole issue of land is crucial. And each side claims it for themselves.

The Jews claim the Holy Land in the name of the divine promise of the "land", the Muslims claim it as part of the "Dar al-Islam," the House of Islam. But the Pope says; there is a land not of this world.

Yet Jerusalem for Christians - more than for anyone else - is the land where Jesus lived, preached and died. But the Catholic Church has never laid claim, at least in modern times, to Jerusalem as a Christian land. It has only ever claimed freedom of access, even at the time of the Crusades.
[Which is the only reasonable and Christian thing to do. If Christians have free access to the Holy Places, why does the Church need to have any temporal claim to the territories concerned? The Church has said it favors an international status for Jerusalem - it is a possibility bur for now far from probable.]

The Jews in their majority, they say: No, we will never leave this land (and there are settlers who are militarily fighting to occupy it!). In truth it must be said that there are also Jews who spiritualize their relationship with the earth. The Muslims themselves say that what was once a Muslim, can never be abandoned.

The Eastern Christians will always have to emphasize that this "land" is not of this world. This is our contribution to peace and justice.
{The Christian view however has no practical value in the actual territorial questions between Israel and Palestine. That is something they must work out, and in which both sides have to make objectively reasonable compromises if they are to agree on anything at all.]

The Middle East, "land" of all

Even Benedict XVI’s vision of the Middle East is special: "It is the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the land of the exodus and the return from exile, the land of the temple and the prophets, the land where the only begotten Son was born of Mary, where he lived, died and rose again, the cradle of the Church, formed to bring the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the world".
[I thought this part of the homily most eloquently and concisely phrased!]

This enumeration in five elements is wonderful! The Pope links this vision (from “on high”, from God’s perspective):
- To the faith of Abraham (in which we can also see the integration of Muslims, for whom Abraham is the father in faith; and even more widely to all those who seek God in their hearts!)
- To the historic Israel: "the land of the exodus and the return from exile, the land of the temple and the prophets," but perhaps even to those who "return from exile", who today are innumerable;
- To historic Christianity, "the land where the only-begotten Son was born of Mary, where he lived, died and rose again" (note that the passion is still connected to the resurrection, without which it makes no sense);
- Finally to emphasize that it is "the cradle of the Church, formed to bring the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the world."

In short, to evangelize. Once again, the mission of the Church is emphasized.

We cannot exclude any dimension in a consideration of the Catholic Churches of the Middle East, but neither can we forget that everything they do must be oriented toward mission: "I cannot keep this wonder of the revelation of God in Christ to myself - even Muslims are entitled to know Jesus Christ".

Conclusion: The design of
God's universal love

Finally, one last point: looking at the Middle East from God’s perspective.

To look at that part of the world from the perspective of God means seeing in her the 'cradle' of his universal design for salvation in love, a mystery of communion which becomes real in freedom, and therefore demands a response from men.

Abraham, the prophets, the Virgin Mary are the protagonists of this response, which nonetheless is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, son of that land, but one descended from heaven.

From him, from his heart and his Spirit, the Church was born, a pilgrim on this earth to which she belongs. The Church was constituted in order to be, among men, the sign and instrument of the one universal salvific project of God.

She carries out this mission by being herself, namely 'communion and witness', as the theme for this Synodal assembly says, which refers to the famous definition by Luke of the first Christian community: "The community of believers was of one heart and mind" (Acts 4,32).

Without communion, there can be no witness: the best testimony is precisely a life of communion. Jesus says so, clearly: "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13,35).

The message of salvation is the proclamation that God is love. Man, created in God's image, has the task of recognizing the true nature of God, and to save himself by living and spreading this love. The Church is sign and instrument only if she is a communion of love.

"The Catholic Church in the Middle East: communion and witness," is the motto of this Synod, exactly as developed by Benedict XVI yesterday in his homily.

Sorry for the inadvertent color mess earlier. I did not realize it and went on to translate the Motu proprio, so it took me some time to correct the mess on this post.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/12/2010 8:01 PM]
10/12/2010 7:49 PM
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Here is my translation of the new Motu Proprio...

Apostolic Letter motu proprio of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI

by which is instituted

the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization

The Church has the duty to announce always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He, the first and supreme evangelizer, ordered his disciples on the day of his Ascension to the Father: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt 28,19-20).

Faithful to this command, the Church - a people God acquired in order to proclaim his wondrous works (cfr 1Pt 2,9) - from the day of Pentecost when it received the gift of the Holy Spirit (cfr Acts 2,1-4), has never tired in letting the whole world know the beauty of the Gospel, announcing Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who remains the same 'yesterday, today and always' (Heb 13,8), who with his death and resurrection, brought salvation, fulfilling the ancient promise.

That is why, the evangelizing mission - a continuation of the work of the Lord Jesus - is necessary and irreplaceable for the Church: the expression of her very nature.

Throughout history, its mission has taken on forms and modalities that are always new, depending on place, situation and historical circumstances.

In our time, one of its singular characteristics has been to measure up against the phenomenon of detachment from faith, which has been progressively manifested in societies and cultures which, for centuries, had appeared to be impregnated with the Gospel.

The social transformations which we have witnessed in the last decades have complex causes which have their roots deep in time, and have profoundly modified how we perceive our world.

One thinks of the gigantic progress in science and technology, in extending the possibilities of life and of the spaces for individual freedom, of profound changes in the economic field, in the intermingling of races and cultures resulting from massive migration phenomena and the growing interdependence among peoples.

All this has not been without consequences for the religious dimension of human life. If, on the one hand, mankind has known undeniable benefits from such transformations, and the Church has received new stimuli to give reason for the hope that she bears (cfr 1Pt 3,15), on the other hand, there has been a worrisome loss of the sense of the sacred, to the point of disputing some foundations which appeared to be indisputable, such as faith in one God who is the creator and provider; the revelation of Jesus Christ as the only savior; a common understanding of the fundamental human experiences such as birth, death, living in a family; and the recourse to natural moral law.

If all this has been greeted by some as a liberation, we quickly became aware of the interior desert that results when man, wishing to be the only builder of his own nature and his own destiny, finds himself devoid of that which constitutes the foundation of all things.

In fact, the Second Vatican Council tackled the central themes of the relationship between the Church and the contemporary world. In the wake of the Conciliar teachings, my predecessors reflected further on the need to find adequate means that would allow our contemporaries to hear once again the living and eternal Word of the Lord.

With farsightedness, the Servant of God Paul VI observed that the task of evangelization "is shown to be equally ever more necessary, because of the situations of de-Christianization frequent in our day for multitudes of persons who have received Baptism but who live completely outside Christian life; for simple folk who have a certain faith but do not know much of its fundamentals; for intellectuals who feel the need to know Jesus Christ in a light different from the teaching they received in their childhood; and for many others" (Apost Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, n. 52).

And for those who are distant from the faith, he added that the evangelizing activity of the Church "should constantly find the means and the language that are adequate to propose and re-propose to them the revelation of God and faith in Jesus Christ" (Ibid., n. 56).

The Venerable Servant of God John Paul II made this demanding task one of the cardinal points of his Magisterium, synthesizing in the concept of 'new evangelization', which he treated systematically in numerous interventions, the mission that awaits the Church today, particularly in the regions that were Christianized since ancient times.

A task which, in regard to her way of relating to the outside world, presumes first of all, a constant internal renewal, a continuous passage, so to speak, from being evangelized to being the evangelizer.

Let us remember what the Post-synodal Exhortation Christifides laici says:

Whole countries and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and capable of fostering a viable and working community of faith, are now put to a hard test, and in some cases, are even undergoing a radical transformation, as a result of a constant spreading of an indifference to religion, of secularism and atheism.

This particularly concerns countries and nations of the so-called First World, in which economic well-being and consumerism, even if coexistent with a tragic situation of poverty and misery, inspires and sustains a life lived "as if God did not exist".

This indifference to religion and the practice of religion devoid of true meaning in the face of life's very serious problems, are not less worrying and upsetting when compared with declared atheism.

Sometimes the Christian faith as well, while maintaining some of the externals of its tradition and rituals, tends to be separated from those moments of human existence which have the most significance, such as, birth, suffering and death.

In such cases, the questions and formidable enigmas posed by these situations, if remaining without responses, expose contemporary people to an inconsolable delusion or to the temptation of eliminating the truly humanizing dimension of life implicit in these problems.

...In other regions or nations many vital traditions of piety and popular forms of Christian religion are still conserved; but today this moral and spiritual patrimony runs the risk of being dispersed under the impact of a multiplicity of processes, including secularization and the spread of sects.

Only a re-evangelization can assure the growth of a clear and deep faith, and serve to make these traditions a force for authentic freedom.

Without doubt a mending of the Christian fabric of society is urgently needed in all parts of the world. But for this to come about what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself present in these countries and nations. (No. 34)

Thus, as I take on the concerns of my venerated predecessors, I find it opportune to offer adequate responses in order that the entire Church, allowing herself to be regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, may present herself to the contemporary world with a missionary impulse that is capable of promoting a new evangelization.

It would address, above all, the Churches with ancient foundations, who live in well-differentiated realities which correspond to different needs, and would therefore require different evangelizing approaches.

Indeed, in some territories, where the phenomenon of secularization is progressing, Christian practice still manifests vitality and profound rootedness in the spirit of entire populations.

In other regions, however, there is an even clearer distancing of society in general from faith, with an ecclesial fabric that has grown weaker, even if not entirely devoid of elements of liveliness, which the Holy Spirit cannot fail to inspire.

And unfortunately, we know of areas which appear to be almost completely de-Christianized, where the light of faith is limited to the witness of small communities: These lands that require a renewed announcement of the Gospel appear to be particularly refractory to many aspects of the Christian message.

The diversity of situations requires careful discernment. To speak of 'new evangelization' does not mean having to elaborate one formula that will apply to all circumstances. Nonetheless, it is not difficult to see how all the churches found in traditionally Christian territories need a renewed missionary impulse, as an expression of a new and generous openness to the gift of grace.

Indeed, we cannot forget that the first task will always be to make ourselves obedient to the gratuitous work of the Spirit of the Risen Lord which accompanies all those who are bearers of the Gospel, and which opens the hearts of those who listen. To proclaim the Word of the Gospel in a fruitful way, it is required above all to have a profound experience of God.

As I have had occasion to state in my first encyclical Deus caritas est: "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choise or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (1).

Similarly, at the root of every evangelization is not a human project of expansion, but the desire to share the inestimable gift that God has given us to participate in his own life.

Therefore, in the light of these reflections, after having carefully examined every aspect and having sought the opinion of experts, I establish and decree the following:


§ 1. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization is hereby instituted, as a dicastery of the Roman Curia, following the sense of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus.

§ 2. The Council will pursue its purposes by stimulating reflections on themes regarding new evangelization and by identifying and promoting the forms and instruments appropriate for realizing it.

Art. 2.

The activities of the Council, which shall be carried out in collaboration with other Dicasteries and Organisms of the Roman Curia, according to their respective competencies, will be at the service of local Churches, especially in territories of Christian tradition where the phenomenon of secularization is most evident.

Art. 3.

Among the specific tasks of the Council are:

1°. To examine deeply the theological and pastoral significance of new evangelization;

2°. To promote and favor, in close collaboration with the concerned Episcopal Conferences, who can have an ad hoc organism for this purpose, the study, dissemination and execution of the pontifical magisterium on the themes related to new evangelization;

3°. To make known and to sustain initiatives linked to new evangelization that are already under way in the different local Churches, and to promote the realization of new initiatives, actively involving the resources present in Institutes for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as well as in associations of lay faithful and in new communities;

4°. To study and favor the use of modern forms of communication a instruments for the new evangelization;

5°. To promote the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the essential and compete formulation of the content of the faith for men of our time.

Art. 4

§ 1. The Council will be headed by an Archbishop President, aided by a Secretary, an Under-Secretary, and the necessary number of officials, according to the norms established by the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus and the General Rules of the Roman Curia.

§ 2. The Council will have its own Members and can avail of its own consultors.

I order that everything that has been deliberated with this Motu proprio, has full and stable validity, despite anything to the contrary, even worthy of particular mention, and I establish that it shall be promulgated through its publication in the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano and that it comes into effect on the day of promulgation.

Done in Castel Gandolfo, on September 21, 2010
Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
in the sixth year of my Pontificate

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/15/2010 8:23 PM]
10/13/2010 12:47 AM
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Fretting about that
'new' coat of arms

A columnist in National Catholic Reporter blogs about the new papal coat of arms and enumerates quite a number of 'modifications' carried out on the design made by Cardinal Andrea Lanza di Montezomolo in 2005.
I'm still unhappy about the sudden change, if it is indeed a change, sprung on the public unannounced - surely the papal seal is no trivial matter and deserves a proper announcement and explanation from the Vatican, not a self-promoting press release by the person(s) apparently responsible for the redesign.... At least, so far, whenever Mons. Guido Marini is about to introduce some liturgical change, or new liturgical vestments, he announces it with explanations, which is the right way to do these things.

In one commentary today, I read that according to Fr. Guy Sylvester, a New Jersey priest-blogger who is also a heraldry expert, the two seals can be used interchangeably depending on the occasion - i.e., when the miter might be appropriate, and when the tiara might be. But that's too confusing, and reflects an unbecoming ambivalence that, from what we know and what we read, has never afflicted Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.

I did find the following article - doubtless familiar to many - that was available on the USCCB website during the US visit, based on a 2005 OR article in which Cardinal Montezemolo explains his design, and I believe it is worth re-posting now. What he says about the miter replacing the three-tier tiara is particularly relevant.... P.S. The original longer aticle can be seen on the vatican site:

Pope Benedict XVI's
Coat of Arms

Pope Benedict revealed who he is in designing his papal coat of arms. He dispensed with the image of the three-tiered tiara that traditionally appeared at the top of each pope's coat of arms and replaced it with the pointed miter.

He also added the pallium, the woolen stole symbolizing a bishop's authority, to the elements surrounding the shield.

“Benedict XVI has chosen a coat of arms that is rich in symbolism and meaning, so as to put his personality and his papacy in the hands of history," said Italian Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, an expert on heraldry and creator of Benedict XVI's new insignia.

"For at least the past eight centuries, popes have had their own personal coats of arms in addition to the symbols of the Apostolic See," the archbishop said in the Vatican newspaper.

While each papal shield is unique, the elements surrounding it had more or less remained the same for centuries -- until now. Gone is the beehive-shaped crown whose actual use in important ceremonies was abandoned during the papacy of Paul VI.

For Pope Benedict's ensign, the more modest and recognizable miter has taken its place. But the silver miter has three gold stripes to mirror the symbolism of the papal tiara's three tiers: "order, jurisdiction and magisterium," said Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo.

A vertical gold band connects the three stripes in the middle "to indicate their unity in the same person," he said.

The white pallium with black crosses draped below the shield “indicates the (bishop's) role of being pastor of the flock entrusted to him by Christ," wrote Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo.
[That was te only change indicated in the 'old' seal, actually - since the Pope decided to abandon the archaic long pallium (resurrected by Mons. Piero Marini for Benedict XVI's inaugural Mass) in favor of the modern-style pallium similar to what bishops wear. Except, of course, that the crosses on the papal pallium are red, not black. The shape of the pallium on the 'old' seal is the correct one, so only the color of the crosses ought to have been corrected.]

What has not changed and has been part of papal emblems for centuries is the Holy See's insignia of two crossed keys, which symbolize the powers Christ gave to the apostle Peter and his successors. The gold key on the right represents the power in heaven and the silver key on the left indicates the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth. The cord that unites the two keys alludes to the bond between the two powers.

Nestled on top of the keys lies the unique shield of Pope Benedict, which is based on his coat of arms as archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, and is particularly rich in personal and spiritual symbolism, wrote Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo.

The shield is divided into three sections -- each of which has its own symbol. The central element on a red background is a large gold shell that has theological and spiritual significance for the Pope, the archbishop said.

The shell recalls a legend in which St. Augustine came across a boy on the seashore who was scooping water from the sea and pouring it into a small hole he had dug in the sand. When the saint pondered this seemingly futile activity, it struck him as analogous to limited human minds trying to understand the infinite mystery of the divine.

"The shell reminds me of my great master Augustine, of my theological work and of the vastness of the mystery which surpasses all our learning," wrote then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his 1997 memoir Milestones.

Archbishop Cordero di Montezemolo wrote that the shell has long symbolized the pilgrim, "a symbolism Benedict XVI wants to keep alive" after Pope John Paul II, "the great pilgrim."

The shell is also present in the coat of arms of the Schotten monastery in Regensburg, Germany, to which the Pope "feels very spiritually close," the archbishop said.

{And, relevant to the Pope's coming pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, it was the medieval pilgrimages to Compostela that turned the shell into the pilgrim's symbol.]

The upper left-hand section of the shield depicts a brown-faced Moor with red lips, crown and collar; it is a symbol of the former Diocese of Freising dating back to the eighth century. Though it is not known why the Moor came to represent Freising, in Milestones, the Pope said for him "it is an expression of the universality of the Church which knows no distinctions of race or class since all are one in Christ."

Finally, a brown bear loaded with a pack on his back lumbers up the upper right-hand section of the shield. The bear is tied to an old Bavarian legend about the first bishop and patron saint of the Diocese of Freising, St. Corbinian. According to the legend, when the saint was on his way to Rome, a bear attacked and killed his horse.

St. Corbinian punished the bear by making him carry the saint's belongings the rest of the way to Rome. Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo said the bear symbolizes the beast "tamed by the grace of God," and the pack he is carrying symbolizes "the weight of the episcopate."

The Pope said ended his 1997 memoir with the words: “I have carried my pack to Rome and wander for some time now through the streets of the Eternal City. When release will come I cannot know. What I do know is that I am God's pack animal, and, as such, close to him."

- Excerpted from the book “From Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI.” Copyright © 2005 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

I realize this may all be futile argumentation on my part against what may be a fait accompli, but my greatest objection to the new design is the restitution of the tiara. I had never thought about this subject before, but now I am revved up.

Pietro Siffi has argued that the tiara has 'always' been a 'traditional component' of any papal seal. Surely, that 'always' goes back at best to the medieval era and not to St. Peter's time. [See all the Popes' personal emblems since Innocent III in 1198 on] NB: The 'new' design for B16 looks particularly flamboyant compared to all the rest!

There is nothing at all in Jesus's messages to Peter about his role in the Church that implied kingship in any way! Peter was to be a fisher of men and shepherd of his flock, not king or ruler of anything! In fact, Benedict XVI said it best on April 19, 2005 - he is 'a humble and simple worker in the vineyard of the Lord'. How does one go from that to kingship?

It might be argued that the crown stands for the kingship of Christ, but that is also a worldly spin. The best symbol for Christ is the Cross, and indeed, a small cross on a globe surmounts the papal tiara, and generally the cross makes up one of the decorative motifs for the individual crowns. But the cross is easily subsumed in the prominence of that triple beehive crown.

Apparently the first papal crown was a simple circlet similar to a prince's crown to signify temporal power. Then one Pope added a second layer to show spiritual dominion. Yet another Pope added the third crown to signify that papal authority was superior to civilian authority. Hardly edifying spiritual gestures!

Of coure, having three layers facilitated any number of other interpretations based on famous 'triple elements' associated with the Church and its role in the world, and even with Christ's threefold role as Priest, Prophet and King.

But this is all arbitrary - wheraas the obvious symbolism of a tiara as showy as a triple crown is necessarily temporal power. When Italy took over the Papal States in 1860, that effectively ended the temporal power of the Popes. The tiara should have been dropped from the papal seal after that! Or simplified, as Cardinal Montezemolo did creatively.

I also see that the formula pronounced when a Pope was crowned translates to: "Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of princes and kings, Ruler of the world, Vicar of our Saviour Jesus Christ." 'Ruler of the world'???? And no Pope had any trouble with that formula????

I can understand that the tiara has stayed on the seal of the Holy See and the related seal of Vatican City. Rightly so, because the temporal power of the Popes was a considerable part of the history of the papacy and of the Holy See.

But it is surprising no one ever thought to incorporate Christ's Crown of Thorns into the papal tiara design - then it might be more meaningful. Being Pope is so much more a sorrowful responsibility than it is glorious! (The glory, after all, is God's not the Pope's.)

P.S. Should we read anything into the fact that in tomorrow's OR (10/13), the heading for the new Motu Proprio still uses the 'old' stemma papale? [All my fingers and toes are crossed!]

Or maybe it's just the Vatican being behind as usual on certain things.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/14/2010 9:12 PM]
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New evangelization:
Not an abstract formula
but a strong idea

by Salvatore Fisichella
Titular Archbishop of Voghenza
President of the Pontifical Council
for the Promotion of New Evangelization

Translated from the 10/13/10 issue of

Mons. Fisichella, with Fr. Federico Lomardi, Vatican press director, at the news conference on Tuesday to present the Pope's motu proprio creating the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.

One of the specific characteristics of Christianity is its concept of being profoundly 'set' within history. The words of Jesus to his disciples when he reminds them that they are in the world but that they are not of the world (cfr Jn 15,19); 17,13-14) have been interpreted as a fundamental commitment to share im the events of history, knowing that the ultimate objective that will give a full meaning to events goes beyond history itself.

Precisely in this regard, it is possible to highlight one of the best-known teachings from the Second Vatican Counci, which had forcefully underscored the concept of the history of salvation.

This premise allows us to reflect on the Apostolic Letter Ubicumque et semper, with which Pope Benedict XVI has instituted the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization.

First of all, we are grateful to Benedict XVI for this profoundly prophetic intuition, which has been able to look realistically at the present situation of the Chrch in order to plan for it a journey that will demand much of her in the near future.

We live in a time of great challenges which will considerably affect the behavior of entre generations, because an era has ended and we hav entered a new phase in the story of mankind.

To the many positive elements which allow us to see a more consistent commmitment to a life of faith - also due to a more profound knowledge of its content - there often correspond forms of 'deatchment from faith' as the consequence of widespread religious indifference, prelude to de facto atheism.

Often, lack of knowledge of the basic content of the faith brings the Catholic inevitably to assume behaviors and forms of moral judgment that are often contrary to the essense of the faith itself as it has always been announced and lived in the course of its history of 20 centuries.

Relativism, whose limitationss and contradictions Pope Benedict has always denounced, precisely in the light of correct anthropology [knowledge of man], has emerged as the characteristic feature of these decades that have been increasingly marked by the consequences of a a secularism bent on distancing contemporary man from his fundamental relationship with God.

In this sense, it is above all the Churches with ancient traditions who are faced with this condition, even if in the process of globalization that has engulfed us all, no one seems able to escape this tragic situation, which, to use words from the Apostolic Letter, creates an 'interior desert', alienating man from himself.

To the secularist principle of living in the world etsi Deus non daretur - as if God does not exist - then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger opposed the principle of living in the world veluti si Deus daretur - as if God exists.

This is one of the reasons that led Benedict XVI to create a dicastery with the task of promoting a new evangelization.

As the title of the letter indicates, it is the mission that the Church, always and everywhere, has felt to be its fundamental task, in order to fully comply with the Lord's command to go forth into the world and make all the peoples of the earth into his disciples.

The idea of new evangelization has been the object of attentive reflection by the Magisterium of the Church in recent decades. It is obligatory to recall Paul VI's Evangelii nuntiandi, after the Synod on evangelization in 1974, the repeated and insistent interventions of John Paul II who introduced the expression 'new evangelization', and lastly, Benedict XVI, who has followed them by taking a concrete step with the institution of this new Pontifical Council.

Right away we can see that the objective is a great challenge to the whole Church to reflect upon and find adequate forms for renewing her own announcement of Christ to so many baptized persons who no longer have the sense of belonging to the Christian community and are victims of the subjectivism of our time, closed up in an individualism that is devoid of public and social responsibility.

The motu proprio, more directly, identifies the Churches with an ancient tradition which, although they have well-differentiated traditions and cultures, require a renewed missionary spirit that can make the necessary leap corresponding to the new exigencies of the contemporary historical situation.

In this sense, the task which awaits us is no different from what has always been the Church's task: to make known the true face of Christ, the one savior, who revealed the merciful love of the Father towards all without excluding anyone.

In the mystery of his Incarnation, he fulfilled the ancient promise of God, and in his death and resurrection, he sowed in the world the seed of the hope that does not disappoint because it responds to the most intimate questions of every man who seeks a meaning to life, a response that is not based on fleeting hypotheses of the moment, but on the certainty that comes from faith.

Thus, the Church is called on to reinvigorate herself in what is her most essential task - missionary announcement. It can do this effectively to the degree that she is able to transmit the Word of God in a vibrant way from generation to generation, allowing everyone to have the true experience of ecclesial life, the foundation for a genuine response of faith.

As Ubicunque et semper says, the new evangelization is not a uniform formula for all circumstances. First of all, there is no magic formula. It requires so much more: a commitment, in fact, to develop strong ideas that can sustain corresponding pastoral activity.

Moreover, it must be able to carefully check out the different objectives and traditions that these ancient churches have by virtue of so many centuries of history. It is a plurality of forms that does not undermine unity but makes it more articulated and provides us with efficient means to approach our contemporaries.

A word about the competencies of the new dicastery may help to better understand its objectives and the work which it will be called on to do.

We must avoid, above all, that the term 'new evangelization' sound like an abstract formula. We must fill it with theological and pastoral content and reinforce it with the Magisterium of the past few decades.

A first systematization of this teaching will show our continuing attention to the problem, and the wealth of approaches that are possible.

Alongside this, we must consider the many initiatives which, in the past several years, individual bishops and their respective local churches, bishops' conferences, and associations of lay faithful have taken themselves, out of their consciousness of the need for new evangelization. Knowledge of these precious initiatives and coordinating them could be a a very useful first step for the dicastery.

2012 will be the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Among the competencies that have been entrusted to the new dicastery, 'promoting' the use of the Catechism will be decisive.

In fact, the Catechism is one of the most mature fruits of Vatican-II - it gathers together organically the entire patrimony of Catholic doctrine as it developed, and represents the most complete instrument for transmitting the faith, as it is conftonted with the constant changes and questions that the world poses to believers.

Finally, to find all the forms that progress in the science of communications has achieved to use as positive instruments in the service of the new evangelization is a task that will necessarily engage the dicastery - given the decisive role that communications media have as vehicles for the present culture and mentality.

We live in history, and dates have a meaning. The new dicastery has carefully considered some dates which directly concern it for the symbolic value they possess.

The Pope announced his intention to institute this Pontifical Council during the Solemn Vespers before the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the pillars of the Church, who, through their announcement and martyrdom, became effective witnesses for Christ.

This Apostolic Letter which institutes the Council was signed on the feast of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist.

These occasions lead us to reaffirm our loyalty to the Successor of Peter and the commitment that we must make to making the Gospel a means of salvation for contemporary men.

The Gospel is not a myth, but the living testimonial of a historical event that changed the face of history. The new evangelization should make known, first of all, the historical figure of Jesus and his teaching just as it has been faithfully transmitted from the original communities, and which finds normative codification in the Gospels and other writings of the New Testament.

Finally, today the Vatican observes the liturgical feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. It is not without some trepidation that we entrust to her, the star of evangelization, the great mission that the Pope has entrusted to us, so that we can sustain the work of the Church in her constant announcement of the Gospel to every person we meet along the way.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/13/2010 1:48 PM]
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Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010, 28th Week in Ordinary Time

SAINT MARGUERITE-MARIE ALACOQUE (France, 1647-1690), Virgin, Visitation nun, Mystic, Apostle of the Sacred Heart
Growing up a sickly child, she was always very devout and practised mortifications. she was healed from a crippling disorder by a vision the Virgin Mary. She also had visions of Jesus, including seeing him fresh from the scourging. This led her to join the Visitation nuns in Paray-le-Monial when she was 24. Visitation nuns were taught to be 'extraordinary by being ordinary' which suited Marguerite's temperament. In 1974, she received the first of several visions of Jesus during which he told her he wanted his love for mankind to be made evident through devotion to his heart, symbol of his love. He recommended frequent Holy Communion especially on the first Friday of each month, an hour's prayer vigil on Thursdays in memory of his agony in Gethsemane, and a feast of the Sacred Heart. Marguerite met hostility from her fellow sisters, theologians and the community who thought she was delusional. Then a Jesuit confessor, Claude de la Colombiere, recognized her genuineness and supported her. She went on to serve as novice mistress and assistant superior but she died at an early age. After her death, the Jesuits promoted devotion to teh Sacred Heart, which continued to be controversial, but 75 years after her death, the devotion was officially recognized. She was beatified in 1864, at which time her body was found to be incorrupt. Buried at what is now the Sanctuaries at Paray-le-Monial, many miracles have since been attributed to her. She was canonized in 1920, and in a 1928 encyclical, Pius XI officially reaffirmed Church approval of the Sacred Heart devotions.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today.

Illustration: Moscow-1, Vassily Kandinsky, 1916.
Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio creating the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization:
'The Gospel always and everywhere'
No other papal stories in this issue. Page 1 news: FAO conference considers world food
security in terms of widespread hunger in many countries and speculation on agricultural
prices; Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu asks Palestinian leaders to recognize Israel as
a Jewish state.


General Audience - The Holy Father's catechesis was on Blessed Angela da Foligno,
a 13th century medieval mystic. He also reminded the faithful that today is the
anniversary of the last apparition of the Virgin in Fatima.

I'll be away the rest of the day.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/13/2010 11:05 PM]
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Catechesis on Blessed Angela of Foligno

The Holy Father's catechesis today was on Blessed Angela da Foligno,
a 13th century medieval mystic. He also reminded the faithful that today is the anniversary of the last apparition of the Virgin in Fatima.

The Pope referred to two current events: On the 33 Chilean copper miners whose rescue began last night after 69 days trapped more than half a mile below the ground, he said he commended them to the divine goodness of Christ after the ordeal they had undergone. And he assured victims of the toxic waste deluge in Hungary of his prayers.

Here is how he synthesized the catechesis in English:

Our catechesis today recalls the medieval mystic Blessed Angela of Foligno, born in 1248. A carefree wife and mother, Angela at one time looked down on the mendicants and observers of strict poverty in religious life.

However, tragic events and suffering in her personal life gave her cause to become aware of her own sins, leading her to a decisive moment of conversion in the year 1285.

Invoking the aid of Saint Francis, who appeared to her in a vision, she made her confession at San Feliciano. Upon the death of her mother, husband and children, she sold all she had and joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. She died in 1309.

The Book of Blessed Angela of Foligno recounts her conversion, and indicates for us the necessary means of our own turning to the Lord: penance, humility and tribulations.

This same book describes the numerous mystical experiences of Blessed Angela, ecstasies which she had great difficulty putting into words because of the intensity of her spiritual union with God.

Her fear of sin and punishment was overcome by her growth in love for God, drawing her along the "way of the Cross" to "the way of love".

My dear brothers and sisters, may we share her prayer to the Father: "My God, make me worthy to know the most high Mystery, which is your strong and ineffable love… the greatest love possible!".

Here is a full translation of the catechesis today:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, I wish to speak to you of Blessed Angela of Foligno, a great medieval mystic who lived in the 13th century.

Usually, one is fascinated by the peak experiences of union with God that she had reached, but probably not enough consideration is given to her first steps - her conversion - and the long journey that led her to the point of departure, 'the great fear of Hell', towards her goal - total union with the Trinity.

The first part of Angela's life was certainly not that of a fervent disciple of the Lord. Born around 1248 to a well-to-do family, she was orphaned of her father and was educated rather superficially by her mother. She was introduced quite early to worldly circles in the city of Foligno, where she met a man she married at age 20, and with whom she had children.

Her life was so carefree that she only had disdain for the so-called 'penitents' - who were widespread in those days - those who, in order to follow Christ, sold all their goods and lived in prayer, fasting, service to the Church and charity.

Some events, like the violent earthquake of 1272, a hurricane, the years-long war against Perugia and its difficult consequences, had an impact on Angela's life, who was progressively becoming aware of her sins until she came to a decisive step: She invoked St. Francis, who appeared to her in a vision, to ask his counsel before she would make a general confession.

It was 1285. Angela confessed to a friar in San Feliciano. Three years later, her road to conversion took another turn: the dissolution of her emotional links, with the death of her mother, followed by the death of her husband and all her children.

She then sold all her possessions, and in 1291, she joined the Third Order of St. Francis. She died in Foligno on January 4, 1309.

The Book of Blessed Angela of Foligno, which puts together all the documentation on our Blessed, narrates her conversion. It indicates the necessary measures - penitence, humility and tribulations. And it narrates the steps - the succession of Angela's mystical experiences which began in 1285.

Recalling them after having lived them, she sought to tell them through her friar confessor, who transcribed them systematically, which he later tried to organize into stages that he called "steps or changes", but without succeeding to organize them fully (cfr. Il Libro della beata Angela da Foligno, Cinisello Balsamo 1990, p. 51).

This is because the experience of union for Blessed Angela was a total involvement of the spiritual and corporal senses, and whatever she 'understood' during her ecstasies only remained, so to speak, a 'shadow' in her mind.

"I truly heard these words", she confessed after a mystic rapture, "but what I saw and understood, and what He (God) showed me, I cannot know or say in any way. I would gladly reveal what I understood of the words I heard (but) it was an absolutely ineffable abyss".

Angela of Foligno presents the mystical experiences she lived, without elaborating on it with the mind, because they are divine illuminations communicated to her soul in unforeseen and unexpected ways.

Her friar confessor finds it difficult to report such events "if only because of her great and admirable reserve with respect to these divine gifts" (Ibid., p. 194).

In addition to Angela's difficulty in expressing her mystic experience, there was also her listeners' difficulty in understanding it. A situation that indicates with clarity how the one true Teacher, Jesus, lives in the heart of every believer and desires to take total possession of it.

So it was with Angela, who wrote to one of her spiritual sons: "My son, if you could see my heart, you would be absolutely constrained to do all the things that God wants, because my heart is that of God, and God's heart is mine". This echoes the words of St. Paul: "It is not I who lives, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2,20).

Let us consider just some 'steps' in the rich spiritual journey of our Blessed subject. The first, actually, is a premise: "It was the knowledge of sin," she specified, "after which my soul had a great fear of damaging itself. At this stage, I cried bitterly" (Il Libro della beata Angela da Foligno, p. 39).

This 'fear of Hell' corresponded to the type of faith that Angela had at the time of her 'conversion' - faith that was still wanting in charity, that is to say, in God's love.

Repentance, fear of Hell, and penitence opened to Angela the perspective of the sorrowful 'way of the Cross' which, from the eighth to the fifteenth 'step', would take her to the 'way of love'.

Her friar confessor says: "The faithful woman then told me. 'I had this divine revelation'... After the things you have written, write that whoever wants to keep grace must not take off the eyes of the soul from the Cross, whether it is in joy or in sorrow as he concedes or allows'" (Ibid., p. 143).

But in this phase, Angela still 'does not feel love'. She says: "The soul experiences shame and bitterness and still does not experience love but pain" (Ibid., p. 39), and she was unsatisfied.

Angela felt she had to give something to God in reparation for her sins, but slowly she understood that she had nothing to give him - indeed, of 'being nothing' before him. She understood that it would not be her will that would give her God's love. because she could only give him her 'nothingness', her 'non-love'.

As she would say: "only true and pure love, which comes from God, in the soul, makes it recognize its own defects and his divine goodness... Such love brings the soul to Christ, and it understands with a certainty that cannot be verified, but neither is there any deception. Together with this love, you cannot mix in anything of worldly love" (Ibid., p. 124-125).

Thus, to open oneself up only and totally to God's love, which has its maximum expression in Christ: "O my God", she prayed, "make me worthy to know the highest mystery that your most ardent and ineffable love made possible, along with love of the Trinity, the highest mystery of your most blessed incarnation for us... Oh incomprehensible love! Above and beyond this love, which has caused my God to become man so I can become God, there is no greater love" (Ibid., p. 295).

Still, Angela's heart always carried the wounds of sin: even after a well-made confession, she found herself forgiven but still stricken by sin, free but conditioned by the past, absolved but still needing penitence.

Even the thought of hell accompanied her, because the more the soul progresses on the way of Christian perfection, the more it is convinced not only of being 'unworthy' (of God) but to be deserving of Hell,

And so, during her mystical journey, Angela understood profoundly the central reality: what will save her from 'unworthiness' and from 'deserving Hell' will not be her 'union with God' and her possessing the 'truth', but Jesus crucified, "his crucifixion for me", his love.

In the eighth step, she says: "But I still did not understand which was the greater good - my liberation from sin and from hell, through conversion and penitence, or his crucifixion for me" (Ibid., p. 41).

It is the unstable equilibrium between love and pain that she felt throughout her difficult journey to perfection. Because of this, she preferred to contemplate the crucified Christ, because she saw in him the realization of tehe perfect equilibrium: On the cross is God-man, in a supreme act of suffering that is a supreme act of love.

In the third Instruction, Blessed Angela insists on this contemplation and affirms: "The more perfectly and purely we see him, the more perfectly and purely we love... Therefore, the more we see Jesus Christ, God and man, the more we are transformed in him through love... What I have said about love, ... I say also about pain" (Ibid., p. 190-191).

To empathize with Christ, to transform herself in the love and sufferings of the crucified Christ, and to identify herself with Christ: Angela's conversion, beginning from that confession in 1285, would reach maturation only when the forgiveness of God would appear to her soul as the free gift of love from the Father, fountain of love:

"No one can have any excuse", she said, "because anyone can love God, and he does not ask anything of the soul, but only wishes it well because he loves it, it is his love" (Ibid., p. 76).

In Angela's spiritual itinerary, the passage from conversion to the mystical experience, from what can be expressed to the inexpressible, comes through the Crucified Lord. It is the 'passionate man-God' who becomes her 'teacher of perfection'. All her mystical experience was, therefore, a straining towards a perfect 'similitude' with him, through ever more profound and radical purifications and transformations.

In this stupendous undertaking, Angela placed all of herself, body and soul, without sparing herself in penitences and tribulations from beginning to end, desiring to die with all the pains suffered by the crucified God-man, in order to be totally transformed in him:

"O Son of God," she implored, "who totally transformed yourself into the passionate God-man, who loved you so much to die for you the most ignominious death and in an ineffably painful and most difficult way - and all this for love of you, o man!" (Ibid., p. 247).

This identification with Jesus also means to experience what Jesus lived through: poverty, contempt, pain - because, as she affirms, "through temporal poverty, the soul finds eternal riches; through the contempt of others and shame, it will obtain honor and the greatest glory; through penitence, carried out with pain and sorrow, it will possess, with infinite tenderness and comfort, the Supreme Good, Eternal God" (Ibid., p. 293).

From conversion to mystical union with the crucified Christ, to the inexpressible. A very elevated journey, whose secret is constant prayer: "The more you pray, the better you shall be illuminated. The more you are illuminated, the more profoundly and intensely will you see the Supreme Goodness, the Being who is supremely good. The more profoundly and intensely you see him, the more you will love him. The more you love him, the more he will favor you. And the more he favors you, the more you will understand him and become capable of understanding him. Successively, you will arrive at the fullness of light because you will understand that you cannot understand" (Ibid., p. 184).

Dear brothers and sisters, the life of Blessed Angela started with a worldly existence, quite far from God. But then the encounter with the figure of St. Francis, and finally, the encounter with the crucified Christ, awakened her soul to the presence of God, because only with God does life become true life, because life becomes, after the pain of sin, love and joy.

Thus Blessed Angela speaks to us. Today we are all in danger of living as if God did not exist - he seems so distant from life today. But God has a thousand ways, one for each of us, to make himself present in the soul, to show that he exists, and that he knows me and loves me.

The Blessed Angela wants us to be attentive to the signs with which the Lord touches our soul, to be watchful of the presence of God, in order to learn the way with God and towards God, in communion with the crucified Christ.

Let us pray to the Lord that he may make us attentive to the signs of his presence, and that he may teach us to really live. Thank you.

Above, a performer from an international circus demonstrates a bicycle trick for the Pope.

The Australian presence was prominent in St. Peter's Square today, with delegations in Rome to attend the canonization of Blessed Mary McKillop on Sunday, Oct. 17, as Australia's first saint. Five others will be canonized with her.

Pope gets book of drawings and messages
from Australian and New Zealand kids
to mark Mary MacKillop's canonization

by the Australian Associated Press

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 13 - Pope Benedict XVI has been presented with a book of drawings, stories and messages from the children of Australia and New Zealand ahead of the canonisation of Australia's first saint Mary MacKillop.

Sister Anne Derwin and Sister Eileen Lenihan from the Sisters of St Joseph met with the Pope in St Peter's Square on Wednesday.

They gave the Pontiff a book, Beneath a Cross of Stars, featuring the children's stories, drawings and handwritten personal messages.

A medallion featuring Mary MacKillop's portrait was also given to the Pope on behalf of the Josephites.

Sr Anne said it was wonderful to speak with the Pope as Mary had done when she was in Rome almost 100 years ago.

"To be in Rome and to meet with the Holy Father only days away from Mary's canonisation was a real honour," she said.

"The Holy Father was particularly pleased to receive the special messages by the children of Australia and New Zealand and was excited for Australia as they prepared to celebrate their first saint."

The canonisation ceremony take place in St Peter's Square in Rome on Sunday, October 17, at 10am Aistralian Eastern Daylight Time.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/14/2010 1:00 PM]
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I have not been able to properly follow up on the UK visit... Here are two recent items from the official site, which is still online:

Pope Benedict thanks bishops
for ‘fruitful’ UK visit


The Holy Father says farewell to Archbishop Nichols at Birmingham airport, 9/19/10.

Pope Benedict XVI has sent a personal letter of thanks to Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference England and Wales, in which he describes his visit to the United Kingdom last month as "fruitful" and "such a success" saying that the visit afforded "unprecedented opportunities…to build new relationships and to strengthen existing ones, including with representatives of other religions."

Here is the full text of the letter:

To the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols
President of the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of England and Wales

I am writing to thank you most sincerely for all that you and your brother bishops in England and Wales did to make my first official visit in the United Kingdom such a success.

Please extend my thanks to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities who worked so diligently to render my Visit to England so fruitful. I would ask in particular that you convey my affectionate greeting to the people of London who welcomed me so warmly.

I am very conscious of the significance of the events of those days and the unprecedented opportunities afforded me, both by Her Majesty’s Government and by the Church of England, to build new relationships and to strengthen existing ones, including with representatives of other religions.

It was particularly moving for me personally to preside at the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

Finally, I am grateful for Your Grace’s hospitality at Westminster and for the welcome afforded me by the faithful of London, especially the young people and the elderly.

Invoking the intercession of Saint George and Saint David, patrons of England and Wales, I willingly impart to you and to the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful in England and Wales my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace.

From the Vatican
1 October 2010

Official papal visit book
is now available


The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster formally launched the Official Record of the State Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK at a special Mass in Westminster Cathedral on the Feast Day of Blessed John Henry Newman, 9 October.

Before he gave the final blessing at the Mass of Thanksgiving for the Visit, Archbishop Nichols held up a copy of the book: Benedict XVI and Blessed John Henry Newman, The State Visit - The Official Record.

The Archbishop, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, expressed his delight and gratitude. He said: "It is my great pleasure to present to you this Official Record of the Papal Visit. It is a very beautiful production.

"I am grateful to The Catholic Truth Society and to its author Mr Peter Jennings for the work that they have done at great speed but with great care, to produce a really outstanding Official Record of the visit of Pope Benedict."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols added: "I thank those who have produced the book and I commend it to you all as a worthy record of a most memorable Papal Visit."

Following Mass in the Cathedral, packed to capacity for the Saturday morning occasion, Archbishop Nichols visited the CTS Bookshop in the Piazza where he signed more than 200 copies of the book for customers in less than a hour. More than 5,000 copies of the first impression of the book have already been pre-ordered.

Earlier Archbishop Nichols had been presented with the first copy of the book by its editor Peter Jennings, at Archbishop’s House.

In Birmingham the following day, Sunday 10 October, Peter Jennings presented a copy of the book to the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham.

Archbishop Longley said: "This beautifully and skilfully produced Official Record of the Papal Visit will bring to mind the most vivid memories of a remarkable four days for the Catholic Church in Scotland, England and Wales.

"The series of thoughtful and insightful reflections will help us deepen our understanding of the lasting importance of Pope Benedict's Visit and Cardinal Newman's Beatification."

"I add my thanks and congratulations to everyone involved in preparing and publishing the Official Record so soon after the Holy Father's visit to us."

LinkCopies of the book may be ordered online. See the CTS website:
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Rabbi notes progress
in Jewish-Catholic relations

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2010 ( When Catholics and Jews get to know each other, they tend to see each other as genuine friends who have many of the same values and interests in common, affirms Rabbi David Rosen.

The Rabbi said this today at the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops where he was invited as a special guest. The two-week assembly seeks to address several challenges faced by the Churches in the region.

Rosen had a private audience with Benedict XVI after the General Audience yesterday,

In addition to Rosen, who is the advisor to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and director of the Department for Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, the synod also invited two representatives of Islam: Mohammed Al-Sammak, political adviser to the mufti of Lebanon, and Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Ahmadabadi, professor at the Faculty of Law at the Shahid Beheshti University of Tehran and Member of the Iranian Academy of Sciences.

"The relationship today between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people is a blessed transformation in our times -- arguably without historic parallel," said Rosen.

He added that "this striking transformation" is not complete, as more time is needed to overcome the "contempt" toward Jews that had been spread for centuries.

However, improvement in relations has taken root, and Rosen was quick to note that there are some countries where Catholic-Jewish relations have progressed more than in others.

In the United States, he explained, "Jews and Christians live in an open society side by side as vibrant self-confident and civically engaged minorities. As a result the relationship has advanced there to a unique degree involving cooperation and exchanges between the communities and their educational institutions; and today the US boasts literally dozens of academic institutions for Catholic-Jewish studies and relations, while there are perhaps three in the rest of the world.

"Indeed, there is a widespread perception among the Jewish communities in the United States of the Catholic Church as a genuine friend with profound values and interests in common."

The rabbi lamented, however, that in other countries, and especially those that are mostly Catholic, there is not only a lack of interest in Judaism, but there is ignorance -- by even priests and other clergy -- of Nostra Aetate, which is the fundamental document of the Second Vatican Council on relations with other religions, and other current Church documents on the topic.

Rosen also acknowledged that in Israel, "the only polity in the world where Jews are a majority," Israelis have been "quite unaware of the profound changes in Catholic-Jewish relations." But things are changing, he stated, and gave two reasons.

The first impetus for change, according to the rabbi, "is the impact of the visit of the late Pope John Paul II in the year 2000."

Rosen noted that Israel and the Holy See had established full bilateral relations six years earlier, which had positively influenced perceptions of the Church among Israelis, "it was the power of the visual images, the significance of which Pope John Paul II understood so well, that revealed clearly to the majority of Israeli society the transformation that had taken place in Christian attitudes and teaching toward the Jewish people with whom the Pope himself had maintained and further sought mutual friendship and respect."

"For Israelis," he continued, "to see the Pope at the Western Wall, the remnant of the Second Temple, standing there in respect for Jewish tradition and placing there the text that he had composed for a liturgy of forgiveness that had taken place two weeks earlier here at St. Peter's, asking Divine forgiveness for sins committed against the Jews down the ages, was stunning and overwhelming in its effect."

Rosen credited John Paul II's visit not only for changing attitudes, but also for opening up "the remarkable new avenue for dialogue, understanding and collaboration in the form of the bilateral commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with Jewry, established at John Paul II's initiative and praised extensively by Pope Benedict XVI during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year and also in his words at the great synagogue here in Rome earlier this year."

Rosen said a second factor leading to a change of attitude of Israelis toward Christians "is the influx of other Christians who have doubled the demographic make-up of Christianity in Israel."

The rabbi reported that some 50,000 Christians immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union over the past 20 years, and who are full Israeli citizens, but that there is also a large population of migrant workers who are mainly Christian.

He said these migrant workers, of which half either entered illegally or overstayed their visas, are from the Philippines, Eastern Europe, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/14/2010 5:51 PM]
10/14/2010 6:19 PM
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Thursday, Oct. 14, 28th Week in Ordinary Time

ST. POPE CALLIXTUS I (Italy 155-222), Pope and Martyr
(Will add biographical sketch later)

OR today.

At the General Audience, the Pope speaks of Blessed Angela of Foligno
'A great mystic of the Middle Ages'
Other Page 1 news: Synodal Assembly on the Middle East starts discussions in working groups; a wrap-up on the successful rescue of the 33 copper miners trapped in Chile for 69 days; and Iraq's former Prime Minister Al-Maliki travels to Damascus to seek better Iraq-Syria relations.

No events have been announced for the Pope today but a Vatican bulletin confirms that
yesterday after the General Audience, he met privately with

- Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, and

- Rabbi David Rosen, director of inter-religious affairs of the American Jewish committee and an advisor
to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

The Holy Father has named Mexican-born Mons. Gustavo Garcia-Siller as Bishop of San Antonio, Texas.
The new metropolitan was until now an auxiliary bishop in Chicago.

Until I can translate the articles, two news items from the Italian newspapers:

- Andrea Tornielli writes that Benedict XVI will anounce at the next Wednesday General Audience or
the Sunday Angelus after that, a consistory to create new cardinals on Nov. 20-21, as earlier speculated.

- In Avvenire, Gianni Cardinale says he has been told by authoritative Vatican sources that the Pope's
coat of arms has not been changed, and that the use of the window hanging with a 'new' seal last Sunday
was a 'one-time event'. He also cites the continuing use of the familIar seal with the Holy Father's
official messages published in the OR since Sunday.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/20/2010 2:23 AM]
10/14/2010 7:14 PM
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The next consistory:
Many new cardinals will be Italian
because of the offices they hold

by Andrea Tornielli
Translated from

Oct. 14, 2010

The announcement will probably be made at the end of the General Audience next Wednesday, although it may also be at the Angelus message this Sunday.

Benedict XVI will name new cardinals who will receive the red hat at a consistory on the November 20-21 weekend at the Feast of Christ the King. They will join the 'most exclusive club in the world' - those who will elect the next Pope if they have not reached 80 by the time of the next Conclave.

The cardinal symbol of red symbolizes the commitment to serve the Church and the Pope «usque ad sanguinis effusionem» - up to the point of shedding their own blood.

The list is reportedly still being fine-tuned, but it appears that the next consistory will also be a 'tricolor' consistory, because it is thought that at least half of the new cardinals will be Italian - mostly by virtue of Curial or metropolitan positions they now occupy that are traditionally led by a cardinal.

Among the Italians from the Curia: Angelo Amato and Mauro Piacenza, prefects, respectively of teh Congregations for the Causes of Sainthood and of the Clergy; Fortunato Baldelli, Major Penitentiary; Velasio De Paolis, President of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs (and recently named apostolic administrator of the Legionaries of Christ during the latter's reorganization and clean-up); and Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for culture.

Two other Curial probables : Francesco Monterisi, Arch-Priest of the Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls; and Paolo Sardi, pro-Patron of the Sovereign order of Malta.

In the Italian dioceses, the probable new cardinals are Mons. Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence; and Paolo Romeo, Archbishop of Palermo.

Unlikely to be named cardinal is the newly-appointed successor to Cardinal Severino Poletto as Archbishop of Turin, because generally, a second cardinal is not named for a diocese if it already has a cardinal who has not yet reached 80. (Poletto is only 77.)

But if that rule is followed, that would exclude the current archbishops of New York, Brussels, Prague, Rio de Janeiro and Bogota.

Among the non-Italians, the two Curial prelates considered to be definite candidates are: US Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Segnatura; and Mons. Kurt Koch, the new president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Among the non-Italian metropolitans: Reinhard Marx of Munich; Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw; Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa (Congo); and Malcom Ranjith Patabendige of Colombo (Sri Lanka).

The Holy Father is also expected to name some prelates who are already 80 years old or older: Maestro Domenico Bartolucci, who was a longtime director of the Sistine Chapel Choir; the Bavarian Mons , Walter Brandmueller who was president of the Pontifical Academy for Historical Sciences; and the moral theologian, Mons. Elio Sgreccia, former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Sorry for all the defective text enhancements that I have to keep going in to correct. For some reason, the Forum system is currently operating on a 'minimal' level - where text enhancements, smileys, and other features, are not available, so I have to type in the commands for the text enhancements, and as with anything that requires typing, I make frequent mistakes... The system is also annoyingly slow today.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/14/2010 7:35 PM]
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Pope Benedict to canonize
six Blesseds next Sunday

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - This coming Sunday Pope Benedict XVI will raise six Catholics, all consecrated religious, to the ranks of sainthood.

The canonizations will take place in a ceremony presided over by the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square. In keeping with tradition, the facade of St. Peter's Basilica will be draped with gigantic banners featuring depictions of the new saints.

The six come from five nations. Polish Fr. Stanislaw Soltys of the Order of Canons Regular of the Lateran, Canadian Br. Andre Bessette of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and Italian Poor Clare Sr. Camilla Battista Varano are among them.

These three will be joined by three foundresses of religious orders: Spanish Sr. Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus; Australian Sr. Mary of the Cross MacKillop of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart; and Italian Sr. Giulia Salzano of the Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart, will also be canonized.

On Oct. 17, after prayers, hymns and the reading of short texts written by the six, the Holy Father will preside over their Rite of Canonization.

The rite includes the reading of the official biographies of each, the recitation of prayers, the litany of the saints, and finally, the Pope pronouncing the formula of canonization, thereby declaring them saints.

Mass will follow the rite, with hundreds of cardinals, bishops and priests, representatives of the causes for canonization of each, and thousands of faithful in attendance.

A number of Australian flags were already present in St. Peter's Square during Wednesday's general audience, showing a formidable presence even from the distant island continent, which will receive its first saint.

Celebrations will be held on Sunday in Melbourne, the city of her birth, and also in Sydney. An outdoor Mass will be celebrated in the town of Penola, where she worked to educate poor young people and founded the religious congregation.

There is also great excitement for the canonization of Canada's Blessed Andre Bessette, a humble and compassionate brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal. He was known for his strong devotion to St. Joseph, which he shared with many poor and sick people.

Medical experts have reportedly
confirmed JPII's 'beatification miracle'

Translated from the Spanish service of

October 14,2010 - John Paul II's beatification process is back on the fast track. Two external medical experts consulted by the Vatican have reportedly confirmed that there is no scientific explanation for the healing of French nun Marie Simon-Pierre of Parkinson's disease, after she prayed for the late Pope's intercession.

The nun, 44, had been afflicted with the disease since 2001. On June 2, 2005, she was suddenly cured of all its signs and symptoms.

John Paul II's cause for beatification now enters its final phase. The medical commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood will meet before December to officially declare Sister Marie's cure a medical miracle.

Then the cardinal and bishop members of the Congregation will verify that the certification took place properly. If it was, then they will ask Benedict XVI to officially declare a miracle.

[The above omits a very important step before this. The miracle now has to be certified by the Congregation's theological commission.]

It is now thought possible that Benedict XVI's proclamation of a miracle will take place by spring of 2011, so that the beatification itself may take place in October 2011, on the 33rd anniversary of Karol Wojtyla's election as Pope.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/20/2010 2:27 AM]
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BIG SIGH OF RELIEF! Finally, an official word about that 'new' coat of arms! Why it took any Vaticanista five days to seek an explanation - or more basically, why the Vatican itself did not provide a simple explanation before all the brouhaha! - is beyond me! Here's more definitive word than Gianni Cardinale's item in Avvenire earlier - he was right about the 'one-time' use:

Fr. Lombardi:
Pope's coat of arms
has not changed

by Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 14 — A gift can be appreciated and used even when it’s not perfect. That seems to be what happened last Sunday when a different papal coat of arms appeared on a tapestry hung from the window of Pope Benedict XVI’s apartment.

The Catholic blogosphere has been abuzz since Sunday with images, questions and opinions about the tapestry because it featured a crown or tiara topping the crest, rather than the miter Pope Benedict chose — apparently very intentionally — when he was elected in 2005.

“The Pope’s coat of arms has not changed. It is what was explained at the beginning of his pontificate,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service this morning.

The 2005 explanation of the elements of the Pope’s crest — including the decision to replace the traditional tiara with a bishop’s miter — is available on the Vatican website.

“The Holy Father Benedict XVI decided not to include the tiara in his official personal coat of arms. He replaced it with a simple miter, which is not, therefore, surmounted by a small globe and cross as was the tiara. The papal miter shown in his arms, to recall the symbolism of the tiara, is silver and bears three bands of gold (the three powers: Orders, Jurisdiction and Magisterium), joined at the centre to show their unity in the same person.”

Father Lombardi said Sunday’s tapestry — the one with the tiara — was a gift, hung “without any intention of changing the crest.”

He also said, “If it is used again, it will be modified” to match the Pope’s official coat of arms, featuring the miter. [It should not be used again, period! It's not done to just go about arbitrarily making changes on a papal coat of arms, no matter your credentials as a liturgist, as 'redesign' mastermind Pietro Siffi is reputed to be.}

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/15/2010 4:37 AM]
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Benedict XVI to annual 'Social Week'
of the Church in Italy:
'The common good as basic criterion
in social and political life'

Translated from

Oct. 14, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI, who is also Primate of Italy, sent a message to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops' conference, on the occasion of the 46th Settimana Sociale (Week for Social issues) for Italian Catholics meeting this year in Reggio Calabria, southern Italy.

Cardinal Bagnasco opens the Settimana Sociale meeting in Reggio Calabria's opera house.

Here is a translation of the Pope's message:

To my Venerated Brother
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco
President, Italian Bishops' Conference

My first thought, in addressing you and the conference participants gathered in Reggio Calabria for the 46th Settimana Sociale dei Cattolici Italiani, is profound gratitude for the contribution in reflections and confrontations which, in the name of the Church in Italy, you would be offering to the nation.

Such a contribution is made even more valuable by the ample preparation that has involved dioceses, ecclesial organizations and academic centers in the past two years: The initiatives proposed to this convention are evidence of widespread readiness within the Christian community to acknowledge themselves as 'Italian Catholics of today', cultivating 'an agenda of hope for the future of the nation', which is the theme of the present Settimana Sociale.

All this highlights the significance of the socio-economic conjuncture that we are experiencing. On the national level, the most evident consequence of the recent global financial crisis has been to propagate unemployment and precarious employment, which often prevents young people - specially in southern Italy - from rooting themselves in their hometowns as protagonists in development.

For everyone, these difficulties constitute an obstacle in the journey towards realizing their life ideals, favoring instead a folding inward and disorientation. Thus, lack of confidence becomes transformed into resignation, mistrust, disaffection and lack of commitment, instead of encouraging legitimate investment for the future.

The problem is not just economic but above all, cultural, corresponding specifically to the demographic crisis, the failure to fully appreciate the role of women, the difficulty of so many adults to think of themselves as educators of their own children.

For more reason, one must acknowledge and support, forcefully and concretely, the irreplaceable social function of the family, heart of emotional and relational life, as well as the place which, more than any other, assures the individual of help, care, solidarity, and the capacity to transmit a patrimony of values to the new generations.

It is thus necessary that all institutional and social subjects commit themselves to assuring the family effective measures of support, endowing it with adequate resources and allowing a correct conciliation of family time with work hours.

Catholics should, of course, be aware that these expectations must be within the framework of the complex and delicate transformations that affect all of mankind. As I underscored in the encyclical [Caritas in veritate: "The risk of our time is that the actual interdependence among men does not correspond to the interaction between conscience and intelligence" (No. 9). This requires "a clear vision of all the economic, social, cultural and spiritual aspects"
(ibidem, n. 31) of development.

To face present problems, while safeguarding human life from conception to its natural end, defending the dignity of the person, protecting the environment and promoting peace, is not an easy task, but not impossible if confidence in man's capacity remains firm, if the concept of reason and its uses are broadened, and if everyone assumes his own responsibility.

It would, in fact, be illusory to delegate the search for solutions only to public authorities: political subjects, the world of business enterprise, labor unions, social workers and all the citizens, as individuals and in association, are called on to mature a strong capacity for analysis, farsightedness and participation.

To act from a perspective of responsibility implies a readiness to give up the exclusive search for one's self-interest, so that all may work together for the good of the nation and the entire human family.

The Church, when it refers to the common good - which is the objective of her social doctrine - means 'the good of all of us', which is "sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it" (ibidem, n. 7).

In other words, the common good is that which constructs and defines the city of men, the fundamental criterion for social and political life, the goal of all human action and progress. It is 'a requirement of justice and charity' (ibidem), prompting respect for the rights of individuals and peoples, along with relationships characterized by the logic of giving.

It finds in Christian values "the element which is not just useful but indispensable for the construction of a good society and of truly integral human development (ibidem No. 4).

For this reason, I renew an appeal for a new generation of Catholics to emerge, persons who have been internally renewed and will be engaged in political activity without any inferiority complex. This presence, certainly, cannot be improvised. Rather, it remains the objective towards which intellectual and moral formation must be directed, and starting from the great truths about God, man and the world, offers criteria for judgment and ethical principles to determine what is good for all and for everyone.

For the Church in Italy, which has opportunely taken on the educational challenge as its pastoral priority for the decade, it means doing all it can to form mature Christian consciences,
free from selfishness, greed for material goods, and career ambitions - but rather, consistent with the faith we profess, connoisseurs of the cultural and social dynamics of our time, and able to take on public responsibilities with professional competence and in the spirit of service.

Such socio-political commitment, along with the spiritual resources and the attitude it requires, is an elevated calling, to which the Church invites Catholics to respond with humility and devotion.

The Settimana Sociale that you are observing is meant to propose "an agenda of hope for the future of the nation". Undoubtedly, this means innovating a work method, whose starting point will be actual experiences that will enable identification and evaluation of the cultural, political and moral potential inherent in these very complex times.

One of the areas you will be examining in depth is the phenomenon of migration, specifically the search for strategies and rules that can favor the social inclusion of new presences.

It is significant that exactly 50 years ago, and in the same city, a Settimana Sociale was devoted entirely to the topic of immigration, specially what was happening then all over Italy.

In our day, the phenomenon has grown to impressive proportions. We have gone beyond the first phase of emergency, when the Church gave of herself generously to insure a welcome for new immigrants.

Now we must pass to a second phase in which the terms of integration shall be defined, with full respect for what is legal.

The believer, as all men of good will, must do everything possible to eliminate situations of injustice, poverty and conflict which constrain so many persons to undertake the way of exodus, while promoting in our own country, conditions that will allow the insertion into our society of those who intend - with their work and with the patrimony of their own traditions - to contribute to the construction of a society better than that which they fled.

In acknowledging the positive role that immigrants can play, we are also called on to present the Gospel to them, as the announcement of salvation and a full life for every man and woman.

Moreover, the hope with which you intend to construct the future of this nation is not simply the legitimate aspiration for a better future. It comes from the conviction that history is guided by Divine Providence and is headed for a dawn that transcends the horizons of human working.

This 'reliable hope' has the face of Christ: in the Word of God made man, each of us finds the courage of witness and the abnegation of service.

Of course, there is that wondrous swath of light that distinguishes the life of faith of the Italian people - the glorious tracks of so many saints and blssseds (priests, consecrated persons and laymen) - who were consumed for the sake of their brothers and undertook social works to promote more just and equitable conditions for all, especially for the poor.

In this perspective, even as I wish you fruitful days of work and encounter, I encourage you to feel equal to the challenge that you have posed to yourselves. The Catholic Church has a heritage of values that are not things of the past, but constitute a reality that is very much alive and actual, which is capable of offering a creative orientation for the future of this nation.

On the eve of the 150th anniversary of national unity [[cCItalian reunification and the creation of the modern state of Italy, there can emerge from Reggio Calabria a common sentiment resulting from a believer's interpretation of the situation in Italy - a proactive wisdom resulting from cultural and ethical discernment, as the constitutive conditions for making political and economic choices.

On this depends the possibility of a new impetus for civic dynamism, for a future for everyone, in the name of the common good.

To the participants of the 46th SettimanA Sociale of Italian Catholics, I assure you of remembrance in my prayers, which I accompany with a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican
October 12, 2010

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/20/2010 2:28 AM]
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Benedict's best pupils in liturgy
are in Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan

Bishops Ranjith and Schneider follow the Pope's liturgical example.
Which can't be said of most of their colleagues in Italy and Europe.

Upper panel: Left, The Apostolic Nuncio to Colombo, Cardinal Canizares and Abp. Ranjith at Eucharistic Adoration. Bottom panel: Cardinal Canizares grants the Eucharistic Benediction.

ROME, October 14, 2010 – In Sri Lanka, the bishops and priests, all in white [ which is the standard color for the clergy in tropical countries] of the diocese of Colombo, the capital, are shown listening to their archbishop, Malcolm Ranjith, who is likely to be made a cardinal at the next concistory.

In his diocese, Archbishop Ranjith has proclaimed a special year of the Eucharist. And to prepare for it, he gathered all of his priests for three days of intensive study last September on the liturgy in Colombo, where he brought in two outstanding speakers from Rome: Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, a member of the same congregation and an adviser for the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations.

Lower panel, from left: Abp. Ranjith, Cardinal Canizares, Fr. Lang and Martin Mosebach.

Lang, German by birth and an Oratorian, was raised in Great Britain in the school of the great Henry Newman, who was beatified by Benedict XVI last September 19 in Birmingham. He is the author of one of the books that have provoked the most discussion in recent years, in the liturgical field: Rivolti al Signore (Turning towards the Lord), in which he maintains that the correct orientation in liturgical prayer is toward Christ, for both the priests and the faithful. The book opens with a preface by Joseph Ratzinger, written shortly before his election as Pope.

Archbishop Ranjith, who before returning to Sri Lanka was secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, was and is an enthusiastic admirer and promoter of the thesis of Lang's book, as well as having the trust of Benedict XVI.

Just like Spanish Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, called not without reason "the little Ratzinger' in Spain, was called to Rome by the Pope to guide the Church in liturgical matters, a central concern of this pontificate.

Archbishop Ranjith also brought in from Germany a Catholic writer of the first rank, Martin Mosebach, author of a book that has also raised a great deal of discussion: Eresia dell'informe. La liturgia romana e il suo nemico (Heresy of formlessness: Roman liturgy and its enemies). He asked him to speak precisely on the Church's disarray in the liturgical field.

All of this for what ultimate aim? Ranjith explained this in a pastoral letter to the diocese: to rekindle faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and to teach how to express this faith in appropriate liturgical signs.

For example, by celebrating the Mass "facing the Lord," by receiving communion on the tongue instead of in the hand, and by kneeling to receive it. In short, with those actions that are distinctive features of the Masses celebrated by Papa Ratzinger.

The striking thing about this and other similar news is that Benedict XVI's work to restore vitality and dignity to the Catholic liturgy seems better understood and applied on the "outskirts" of the Church than in its European center of gravity.

It is no secret, for example, that Gregorian chant is today more vibrant and widespread in some countries of Africa and Asia than it is in Europe.

Among the guidelines given by Archbishop Ranjith for the Eucharistic year in the diocese of Colombo is, in fact, that of teaching the faithful to chant the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei in Latin at Mass.

In the same way, Benedict XVI's decision to liberalize the use of the ancient missal alongside the modern one – for a mutual enrichment of the two forms of celebration – seems to be understood and applied in Africa and Asia better than in some regions of Europe.

One proof of this concerns the way in which communion is given to the faithful: in the hand or on the tongue, standing or kneeling.

The example given by Benedict XVI – on the tongue, and kneeling – finds very few imitators above all in Europe, in Italy, and even in Rome, where almost everywhere communion is still given in the hand to anyone who approaches to receive it, in spite of the fact that the liturgical norms permit this only in exceptional cases. [I could never understand why an indult granted as an exception became 'universal' practice almost immediately as soon as the Novus Ordo was implemented.]

In Palermo, when the Pope was there last October 3, some of the local priests refused to get in line to receive communion from him, simply to avoid taking part in an action with which they do not agree. [If we carry their absurd reasoning to the ultimate, would they refuse the Viaticum if they were unable to take the host into their hands and put it into their mouth? Why, in any case, would anyone prefer to get the Host into one's hands, pick it up with your fingers and pop it into your mouth? I suspect the real objection is to kneeling - which is one of the simplest and most beautiful acts of reverence one can perform before the Lord. But the mentality of many Vaticna-II 'spiritist's is that kneeling is an abjection that somehow 'offends' human dignity - as if anything one does to show reverence for the Lord could possibly be offensive. Oen does not kneel before the Pope or the priest giving communion - one kneels before the Eucharist!]

The canard is that people kneel for communion at Masses celebrated by Benedict XVI because they are before him, and not to adore Jesus in the most holy Sacrament {There you go!] - even though other priests and bishops have been following the Pope's example for some time. [Another absurd argument! What about all the saints in history who until 1970 knelt before ordinary priests to receive communion? No one ever thought before that kneeling to receive communion was kneeling for the priest and not for the Eucharist!]

Not suprisingly, the article that www.chiesa dedicated in mid-September to the meaning of kneeling in adoration before God and the Eucharist raised protests from various readers, including some priests.

The main argument brought out against kneeling for communion is that the model and origin of the Mass is the Last Supper, where the apostles were seated and ate and drank with their hands. [Because it was a regular Paschal meal, to begin with. The Last Supper became what it is for Christians now because the Lord instituted the Eucharist during that event. A symbolic recreation of it - which the Mass is - does not mean that all the gestures at the Last Supper should be recapitulated literally. Otherwise, the early Christians would have done that sitting around a table, and reclining as they ate, which was the custom in Jesus's time!]

It is the same argument adopted by the Neocatechumenals to justify their "convivial" way of celebrating the Mass and taking communion, to which they continue to adhere, although the Pope himself odereds them to stop that practice. 9And they have supporters in the Curia, like the deputy Secretary of State, Mons. Fernando Filoni). [If the Neo-Catechumenals continue defying the Pope, someone should write an expose of it! Why should they be allowed to do as they please and not follow liturgical norms? And why isn't ayone writing about it?]

It is easier to go looking on the "outskirts" of the Church - as in Sri Lanka and remote Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic in central Asia, than in Europe for parishes and priests who act and teach the liturgy in full harmony with Benedict XVI.

In the Kazakhstan diocese of Karaganda, the faithful receive communion on the tongue and kneeling. And the auxiliary bishop of Karaganda, Athanasius Schneider, has written a little gem of a book on the subject, entitled: Dominus est – It Is the Lord! Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion.

The book is in two parts. The first recounts the heroic life of those Catholic women who during the years of Communist rule brought communion to the faithful in secret, defying the prohibitions. And the second explains the faith that was at the origin of that heroism: a faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that was so strong that they were willing to die for it.

And it is against this background that Bishop Schneider revisits the Fathers of the Church and the history of the liturgy in the West and in the East, shedding light on the origin and reinforcement of this adoring manner of receiving communion kneeling and on the tongue.

When Papa Ratzinger read Bishop Schneider's manuscript in 2008, he immediately ordered the Libreria Editrice Vaticana to publish it. And it did, in Italian and Spanish.

Fittingly, the preface to the English edition was written by the archbishop of Colombo, Ranjith.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/15/2010 3:39 PM]
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Friday, October 15, 28th Week in Ordinary Time

From left: Two generic icons; painting by Francois Gerard, 1827; founder statue in St. Peter's Basilica; St. Teresa in Ecstasy[Teresa's heart pierced by an angel), by Bernini, 1652; portrait by monk Juan de la Miseria, painted when the saint was 61; portrait by Rubens, 1615.
ST. TERESA DE JESUS (Teresa of Avila) (Spain, 1515-1582)
Nun, Mystic, Founder of the Discalced Carmelites, Doctor of the Church
Born just a few years before the Protestant Reformation, she would die 20 years after the Council of Trent, the Church's great Counter-Reformation initiative. Born to Spanish nobility, with a grandfather who had been a Jew forced to become Christian, she was raised very piously by her mother. She was cured of a severe childhood illness after prayer to St. Joseph. She entered a Carmelite convent at age 17, and then became gravely ill again soon after taking her vows, remaining in poor health for the rest of her life. She began experiencing visions, for which she was thoroughly investigated by the Church, but her confessor, the future St. Francisco Borja, assured her that her experiences were divine not diabolical. In 1559, she had a series of visions lasting over two years, in one of which an angel appeared and pierced her heart with a lance. [After her death, her heart was found to be pierced, a phenomenon called transverberation. It is one of the many relics surviving her.] Unhappy at the laxity of rules in her convent, she set about to reform the Carmelites, inspired by another confessor, the future St. Pedro de Alcantara, to translate her internal experiences to practical action. With the help of her great contemporary, the future St. John of he Cross (Juan de la Cruz), she founded the Order of Discalced Carmelites in 1562, receiving papal approval for her rule the following year. She spent the first five years in seclusion, writing, at the order of her confessor, two of her major works, the Autobiography and The Way of Perfection, both published in 1567. That year, she got permission to establish more houses for the new order and travelled throughout Spain to set them up. In 1576, she and her reformed order became the object of persecution by the older Carmelite establishment - she was forbidden to found new houses and condemned to retirementin Toledo, while her friends and associates were subjected to greater trials. During this time, she wrote her masterpiece, El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle), which is considered one of the greatest works of mystical literature. After several letters to King Phillip II of Spain in behalf of her order, Teresa obtained relief: charges against her and her associates before the Inquisition were dropped, and she resumed her work. She founded three more new houses before she took ill for the last time at Alba de Tormes near Salamanca, where she died. Teresa was supremely outstanding, especially for her time - her gender never got in the way; she was both a contemplative and mystic, as well as an active reformer and administrator; and her writing quickly established her as the only woman in the front rank of Spanish prose writers during the Golden Age of Spanish literature. Soon after her death, the University of Salamanca gave her the posthumous degree of Doctor Ecclesiae (Doctor of the Church), a title she would formally get from the Church 400 years later when Paul VI proclaimed her and Catherine of Siena as the first women Doctors of the Church. She was canonized in 1622, along with Ignacio de Loyola, Francisco Javier (Francis Xavier), Filippo Neri, and Isidro of Madrid. Her major shrine is in Alba de Tormes.
Readings for today's Mass:

OR today:

Center photo: Benedict XVI greets Rabbi David Rosen after his address to the Synodal Assembly yesterday.Jewish rabbi speaks to Synodal assembly on the need for maintaining Jewish-Catholic dialog:
'We should get to know each other'
The issue features the Holy Father's message to the 46th Social Issues Week for Italian Catholics which opened yesterday in Reggio di Calabria, and the opening address to the convention by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops' conference. Other Page 1 items: Iranian President Ahmadinejad's triumphal visit to Lebanon, a stronghold of the Iran-supported terrorist movement Hezbollah; a dire report from the World Wildlife Fund claiming that by 2030, the planet will require twice the earth's available resources to sustain its population; and the participants of the Synodal Assembly for the Middle East are received by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. In the inside pages, the Vatican Museums host special exhibits and performances highlighting Australian culture in connection with Mary MacKillop's canonization; the Cathedral Museum of Florence doubles its exhibition space but still far less than it needs to show off all its treasures; and a symposium on ethics and finance held in Rome today sponsored by Siena's Monte dei Paschi bank and the OR.

According to the morning bulletin of the Bishops' Synod today, the Holy Father attended the morning session
during which the main speaker was the Archbishop of Baghdad, Cardinal Emmanuel II Delly.

The Vatican announced that yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father met with
- Muhammad al-Sammak, political counselor to the Grand Mufti of Lebanon; and
- Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Ahmadabadi, Ph.D., Professor of Law at the Shahid Beheshti University
of Tehran, and Member of the Iranian Academy of Sciences.
Both men addressed the Synodal assembly in behalf of Sunni and Shia Islam, respectively.

Today, the Holy Father sent a message to Jacques Diouf, president of the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization
based in Rome, on the occasion of World Food Day today.

For the past two days, MSM has been peddling a story they have typically headlined "Pope says Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is not welcome
at the Vatican", as in the UK Daily Telegraph - a headline that deliberately implies the Pope is an insensitive boor. The actual story says
that wben President Sarkozy requested to have his recent audience with the Pope, he was reportedly advised by the Vatican Secretariat
of State not to bring along his Italian-born wife, to avoid giving the media another occasion to feature salacious pictures of her when
she was a supermodel-jetsetter, alongside pictures of Sarkozy with the Pope. This would have detracted and distracted from the objective
of Sarkozy's trip which was to repair his image with Catholics after his government's controversial measures to deport illegally staying
gypsies from France. The advice was certainly in Sarkozy's interest. Also, Bruni was not with him either, when he first visited the Pope
in 2007 (But I think it's because they weren't married yet.)

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/16/2010 3:18 PM]
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In November 2009, Benedict XVI was the keynote speaker of the World Summit on Food Security held at FAO headquarters in Rome.

To Mr Jacques Diouf
Director General
Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations (FAO)

1. The annual celebration of World Food Day is an occasion to draw up a balance-sheet of all that has been achieved through the commitment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to guarantee daily food for millions of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. It also provides a suitable occasion to note the difficulties that are encountered when the necessary attitudes of solidarity are lacking.

Too often, attention is diverted from the needs of populations, insufficient emphasis is placed on work in the fields, and the goods of the earth are not given adequate protection. As a result, economic imbalance is produced, and the inalienable rights and dignity of every human person are ignored.

The theme of this year’s World Food Day, United against Hunger, is a timely reminder that everyone needs to make a commitment to give the agricultural sector its proper importance.

Everyone – from individuals to the organizations of civil society, States and international institutions – needs to give priority to one of the most urgent goals for the human family: freedom from hunger. In order to achieve freedom from hunger it is necessary to ensure not only that enough food is available, but also that everyone has daily access to it: this means promoting whatever resources and infrastructures are necessary in order to sustain production and distribution on a scale sufficient to guarantee fully the right to food.

The efforts to achieve this goal will surely help to build up the unity of the human family throughout the world. Concrete initiatives are needed, informed by charity, and inspired by truth – initiatives that are capable of overcoming natural obstacles linked to the cycles of the seasons or to environmental conditions, as well as man-made obstacles.

Charity, practised in the light of truth, can bring an end to divisions and conflicts so as to allow the goods of the earth to pass between peoples in a lively and continuous exchange.

An important step forward was the international community’s recent decision to protect the right to water which, as FAO has always maintained, is essential to human nutrition, to rural activities and to the conservation of nature.

Indeed, as my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II observed in his Message for the 2002 World Food Day, many different religions and cultures recognize a symbolic value in water, from which there "springs an invitation to be fully aware of the importance of this precious commodity, and consequently to revise present patterns of behaviour in order to guarantee, today and in the future, that all people shall have access to the water indispensable for their needs, and that productive activities, and agriculture in particular, shall enjoy adequate levels of this priceless resource" (Message for the 2002 World Food Day, 13 October 2002).

2. If the international community is to be truly "united" against hunger, then poverty must be overcome through authentic human development, based on the idea of the person as a unity of body, soul and spirit.

Today, though, there is a tendency to limit the vision of development to one that satisfies the material needs of the person, especially through access to technology; yet authentic development is not simply a function of what a person "has", it must also embrace higher values of fraternity, solidarity and the common good.

Amid the pressures of globalization, under the influence of interests that often remain fragmented, it is wise to propose a model of development built on fraternity: if it is inspired by solidarity and directed towards the common good, it will be able to provide correctives to the current global crisis.

In order to sustain levels of food security in the short term, adequate funding must be provided so as to make it possible for agriculture to reactivate production cycles, despite the deterioration of climatic and environmental conditions.

These conditions, it must be said, have a markedly negative impact on rural populations, crop systems and working patterns, especially in countries that are already afflicted with food shortages.

Developed countries have to be aware that the world’s growing needs require consistent levels of aid from them. They cannot simply remain closed towards others: such an attitude would not help to resolve the crisis.

In this context, FAO has the essential task of examining the issue of world hunger at the institutional level and proposing particular initiatives that involve its member States in responding to the growing demand for food.

Indeed, the nations of the world are called to give and to receive in proportion to their effective needs, by reason of that "pressing moral need for renewed solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and those that are highly industrialized" (Caritas in Veritate, 49).

3. The recent worthy campaign "1 Billion Hungry", by which FAO seeks to raise awareness of the urgency of the fight against hunger, has highlighted the need for an adequate response both from individual countries and from the international community, even when the response is limited to assistance or emergency aid.

This is why a reform of international institutions according to the principle of subsidiarity is essential, since "institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone" (ibid., 11).

In order to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, obstacles of self-interest must be overcome so as to make room for a fruitful gratuitousness, manifested in international cooperation as an expression of genuine fraternity.

This does not obviate the need for justice, though, and it is important that existing rules be respected and implemented, in addition to whatever plans for intervention and programmes of action may prove necessary.

Individuals, peoples and countries must be allowed to shape their own development, taking advantage of external assistance in accordance with priorities and concepts rooted in their traditional techniques, in their culture, in their religious patrimony and in the wisdom passed on from generation to generation within the family.

Invoking the blessing of the Almighty upon the activities of FAO, I wish to assure you, Mr Director General, that the Church is always ready to work for the defeat of hunger.

Indeed, she is constantly at work, through her own structures, to alleviate the poverty and deprivation afflicting large parts of the world’s population, and she is fully conscious that her own engagement in this field forms part of a common international effort to promote unity and peace among the community of peoples.

From the Vatican
15 October 2010

10/15/2010 7:11 PM
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Better than Teflon, Someone up there watches over B16 and the Church!

The Teflon Pope:
He has consistently turned
troubles into triumphs

by Alessandra Nucci

14 October 2010

Ever since he was elected in April 2005, the media have been expecting Pope Benedict XVI to be tripped up and rejected by the masses that flocked to John Paul II, his outgoing, charismatic predecessor. But it hasn't happened.

Indeed, possibly as a legacy of John Paul's outreach to the entire world, in the first few years of his papacy Benedict drew even larger crowds than Karol Woytjla did. The crowds have subsided a bit, but again and again, Pope Benedict has advanced, gliding unharmed through hoops of fire, around traps and past ambushes.

From the Convention of the Church in Italy, held at Verona in 2005, which the media had ominously suggested might burst the bubble of existing divisions within the Church, to the controversy over the speech at Regensburg, which ended up in meetings and inter-religious dialogue of the highest level, Joseph Ratzinger has consistently turned troubles into triumphs.

His trips to North America, Australia, France and most recently the United Kingdom, were all preceded by months of serious challenges and even provocation. Atheist campaigners even called for his arrest upon his arrival in Britain. But every dispute, every trip, has ended with the acclaim of the people, of the authorities and - most miraculously - of the media.

Even the priestly sex scandal turned into a boomerang, when it was revealed that it had been none other than Cardinal Ratzinger who had insisted on rigorously cleaning house once the abuses had come to light, under his watch at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Ironically, the fact that it had been he who had prevailed over more lenient policies, might never have come to light had not part of the press insisted on pinning the blame on him.

One entertaining example of the uncanny reversals of booby traps was seen in March 2009 on Channel Three of RAI, the Italian state-run television. In her regular Sunday afternoon show "In Half An Hour" (a bit like BBC World's Hardtalk), anchorwoman Lucia Annunziata, formerly President of RAI itself, interviewed US Jesuit Fr Thomas J. Reese. She introduced him as a priest who had resigned as Editor-in-chief of America magazine when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope.

Annunziata, who had recently interviewed rebel theologian Hans Kung, introduced her guest as "hugely important”, “high calibre” and “immensely prestigious". She clearly expected Fr Reese to tip the bucket on the Pope.

But her plan backfired. Not only did Fr Reese not attack the Pope, but he matter-of-factly validated every one of his doctrinal positions. His criticisms were limited to reflecting that the Holy Father should surround himself with people who are more expert with the media.

Flustered, Annunziata broached one issue after another in an increasingly pleading tone: "Surely on this matter you must differ with the Pope?” and “You must be willing to at least admit that not everyone approves of the Pope these days?" Reese smilingly parried every lunge.

Finally she played her trump card: "What about the little girl in Brazil who was raped by her stepfather? Do you support even the decision to excommunicate the family who took her to an abortion clinic?"

But Reese laughed pleasantly and pointed out: "I'm not an enemy of the Pope. I think he's right on all of the issues you mentioned." And then the mortal blow: "I like the Pope!"

Thus a potentially disastrous interview turned into unexpected publicity for the Pope, thanks to the ability of an honest priest, when the time came, to set aside past differences and stand shoulder to shoulder with him -- on prime time TV.

[Well, blow me down! Thank you, Fr. Reese. I only hope this better side might prevail more often, over the more familiar knee-jerk reflex of the liberal Catholic dissident which is Fr. Reese's stock in trade with the Anglophone MSM!]

The attacks won't stop, of course. But in the five and a half years of Benedict's Papacy, they have all led to an increase in the prestige of the Catholic Church.

In a final irony, the man derided as "God's rottweiler", a stern and distant intellectual, connects with the people, drawing crowds from every age, background, and walk of life.

Take the traditional summer appearances in Castel Gandolfo. Quite often Pope Benedict returns to Rome for the Wednesday audiences, because the square could not hold all of the people who sought to be there.

Far from marking its demise, under Joseph Ratzinger’s watch the Catholic Church has been recovering its reputation and, along with it, the ability to spread its message.

Whoever would have thought that this quintessential intellectual, 83 going on 84, would rewrite the public relations textbooks?

Alessandra Nucci is an Italian writer and freelance journalist. In 2007 she won the Golden Florin in the essay sector of the Premio Firenze [Florence Award] for her book on gender feminism as an instrument of class warfare, La donna a una dimensione [One-Dimensional Woman], published by Marietti 1820.

The following story is written by someone who was obviously exposed to the Benedict phenomenon for the first time. Was she not in Sydney in 2008? Of ir she lives in Rome (here name sounds Italian), has she never watched any of the papal events on TV? Anyway, thanks to her for giving an account of the GA that is what, as an editor and reporter, I would expect to have about the event. Even if it takes place almost every Wedneday of the year, it is still unlike any similar event in the world.

Papal for the people:
Benedict receives the faithful

by Paola Totaro in Rome

October 15, 2010

The star arrived dressed in white, driven in a white, open-top convertible to a white marquee furnished with an elegant white armchair. Assisted meticulously by a handsome private secretary who adjusted a sleeve here and an-out-of-place pleat there, he waved and smiled to thunderous cheers as screens broadcast images and music to the 8,000 strong throng waiting below.

Young children with whistles, older fans armed with flags and multi-coloured scarves, brass bands, a group in Lederhosen and Alpine hats and even a circus boy doing gravity-defying tricks on a BMX bike: Welcome to the Vatican, still one of the greatest shows on Earth.

For decades, Popes have received the faithful in St Peter's Square, offering a weekly general audience to bless pilgrims, foreign clergy and nuns, visiting tourists and flocks of fresh faced newlyweds who, rain, hail or shine don their wedding finery for a second round appearance in the hope of a papal blessing. Entry is free but these days, says the website, "booking is essential".

It is a tradition that Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps the least extrovert of the modern pontiffs, has retained and nurtured. organizing his addresses around themes and most recently, focusing on the lives and spiritual journeys of female saints of medieval times to deliver a message.

This week, it was a solemn missive delivered through the life and story of Blessed Angela of Foligno who was born into a wealthy Italian family in 1248 and lived a normal, if "superficial" life as both privileged wife and mother. A series of mystical visions later in life led her to become a Third Order Franciscan and a journey into poverty and penitence.

The Pontiff's message may have been a serious one but the mood of the crowds could not have been less somber. Just as ‘Mary mania' has swept Australia, Rome too has been inundated by canonization fever as the city prepares five other new saints – two Italians, a Pole, a Canadian and a Spaniard - to join the constellation of Catholic greats on Sunday.

In the Piazza San Pietro, coloured scarves and hats of the countries of soon-to-be saints have been worn with the pride and fervour of a final football match.

National flags have been planted in strategic spots and streamers and balloons attached to safety fencing and chairs. The Spanish contingent probably won the cheering competition in volume but the dominating presence in Rome this week, marked by three colours - the green and gold of visiting Aussie pilgrims and the bright teal scarves worn by Mary MacKillop's proud Josephites - was Australia.

(The Canadians and the Aussies – Anglo Saxon colonies both – have forged a special bond too as the maple flag's new saint-to-be, Andre Bessette, was a Quebecois brother who also happened to found a Josephite Order in Montreal. [No, not a Josephite order, but the world's most important and largest shrine to St. Joseph.]

But unlike Sister Mary MacKillop, who has now been credited with two miraculous cures, Brother Andre' was said to have ministered to many who claimed to have been cured by him – though he insisted he had no special powers.)

Cardinal Pell, holding court in the piazza yesterday, said he had heard that the Pontiff's press secretary, the Jesuit Padre Federico Lombardi, had described Mary Mackillop as "the star of the proceedings": "I hope that that is the case" he smiled.

The Pope's address during the weekly audience is of course delivered in several languages – the most detailed in Italian – although the most animated emerged in his native German.

But it was afterwards, as the names of visiting parishes and dioceses were called out one-by-one by priests assisting the Pontiff that a competition broke out to see who could unleash the loudest song, cheer or response.

In the roll call were a group of Catholic pilots, visiting Franciscan nuns, scores of Irish pilgrims, parishioners from Dunblane, a primary school in Dublin, the Parramatta Diocese, a Philippine aid group, myriad Spaniard parishes, a huge contingent from Cologne, Polish pilgrims and even a well known circus family from Latina in Southern Italy. The whooping was deafening, the outbreak of song uninhibited and triumphant, the atmosphere feverish with excitement born of regional or national pride.

Pope Benedict, normally serious and quiet, watched and smiled as his Private Secretary, George Gaenswein, replaced his notes and translations, adjusted microphones and robes in the wind.

At the end, when the young man from the circus took to his bike and pedaled precariously up the stairs to the marquee – then bounced back downwards on one wheel on the ancient stone bolsters of St Peters' – there was no mistaking that the Pope held his breath like the rest of his flock – and grinned and waved with relief when the show ended safely.

Catholicism, at times it seems, can be fun too.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/15/2010 7:24 PM]
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Carla Bruni Banned From Vatican? Not Really
by Greg Burke: Fox News - October 15, 2010

It’s terrible to see the facts get in the way of a good story – especially when the story keeps getting repeated – but that’s the case here.

A satirical newspaper, Le Canard Enchaine’, reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was told by the Vatican to leave his wife, former model Carla Bruni, at home when he traveled recently to Rome.

A number of newspapers and websites picked up the story, some skeptically, some less so. The best short headline I saw was, “Bare Bruni Barred.”

The reason Carla had to miss the fun? Supposedly the Vatican (or even Benedict himself, which makes the story even better) was worried that Carla’s presence would give Italian papers an excuse to publish photos of young Carla from her racier modeling days. Oh yeah, those photos. Not the kind of stuff you’re likely to see in the Vatican newspaper.

(Incidentally, it’s not like Italian newspapers or magazines ever really need a good excuse to publish sexy photos; they just do it.)

Unfortunately, at least for Le Canard Enchaine’, the story of Carla being blocked from greeting Benedict just isn’t true. A Vatican official told Fox News that they simply “don’t get involved in that kind of thing.”

What is true is that the Vatican does employ fashion police, who keep a close eye on scantily-clad visitors. So Carla, next time you’re headed to St. Peter’s, shoulders covered, please.
10/15/2010 8:27 PM
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Some Eastern Patriarchs want more powers -
and to automatically take part in a papal conclave

by Paolo Rodari
Translated from

October 15, 2010

They feel that they are the suburbs of Catholicism and they would like greater consideration, especially from Rome, from the Vatican adn from the Pope.

They are the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, which are in full communion with Rome even if they have their own rites, and whose representatives are taking part in the current special assembly for the Middle East of the Bishops' Synod.

In the past few sessions, some of them have presented specific requests to the Pope during their interventions at the Assembly. The strongest words so far have come from Vartan Waldir Boghossian, leadaer of Armenian Catholics in latin America, who said:

"The Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic churches, by their identity as fathers and heads of sui iuris Churches which contribute to the catholicity of the universal Church, should be members, ipso facto, of the college that elects the Supreme Pontiff, without the need to have the Latin title of cardinal. For the same reason, they should even have precedence over the cardinals of the Latin rite".

It is a direct request to be part, by right, of the Catholic world's most exclusive college. If Benedict XVI acts on the request, it would revolutionize the papal election process.

In the early centuries, the Bishop of Rome was elected by the entire community [How exactly was that done when the communities were dispersed and farflung?], until in 336, Pope Marcus decided that only priests of Rome could aspire to the title.

Cardinals acquired the right to elect a Pope in the 11th century. In 1059, a few years after the Great Schism, Nicolas II entrusted the election only to cardinal bishops, and in 1179, Alexander III extended the right to all cardinals.

Boghossian did not stop at that first request. He also asked Rome not to limit the activities of the Eastern-rite Patriarchs to a circumscribed territory, which apparently does not apply to the Latin-rite Patriarchs.

Boghossian claims it is unjust, "because even from the ecumenical viewpoint, full jurisdiction over our own faithful in all the continents would be for our separated brothers a concrete anticipation of the situation after full communion with Rome".

It seems that the problem of the Petrine primacy is of some concern among the Eastern Catholic churches. [Why now? Outside of the seven apostolic churches in the Middle East, the other Eastern-rite churches that chose full communion with Rome did so knowing that it meant, in practice, recognizing the Petrine primacy! Whey suddenly call that into question now?

Also, there's a contradiction here between claiming the right to automatically take part in electing a Pope even if they are not cardinals, and then refusing to be bound by the Petrine primacy! The Church has enough problems with the Orthodox to have to face this too among its Eastern-rite members. It would be like having the tail wagging the dog.]

Bishop Guy-Paul Noujaim of Lebanon recalled that John Paul II had expressed the wish for "a new form of exercising the Petrine primacy that will not damage the Church mission and would be inspired by ecclesial forms of the first millennium, which although diverse, did not make Christians ill at ease either in terms of spirituality, moral life or structure".

[But aren't the Eastern Churches all more or less autonomous already - and have been all along? The only common thing they have is allegiance to Rome - and that means the Pope - and therefore following a common Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches, and being coordinated by the Congregation for Oriental Churches.]

In essence, Noujaim wants a return to a state when the Oriental Patriarchs had more powers and privileges. Here is what he proposes: "That His Holiness assign a commission composed of expert theologians, historians and pastors, to propose concrete solutions to these difficulties, and that the Church commit herself to applying these without delay". [But the Eastern Patriarchs already have full powers and privileges over their own faithful. How can they possibly extend them more? Certainly not to the affairs of Latin-rite churches!]

Following Noujiam, even Robert Stern, secretary-general of teh Catholic Near-East Welfare Association, noted that even if "the mystery of teh Church can be described using 'models', nonme of these models are adequate to describe it. Of course, there is a model that the Eastern churches look at preferentially - that which was in effect during the first millennium. 'The early Church saw unity in terms of peace and communion'" That 'peace and communion', he implies, which is perhaps not at all visible these days.

I find this development troubling - not because the Synodal fathers are speaking out on what obviously concerns them most, but because by doing so, they are losing sight of the primary purpose of this assembly - which is how to stem the outflow of native-born Middle Eastern Christians from the region. Obviously, it is a task that no individual sui iuris Church can do, or we would not be having this assembly at all! The idea is to develop a common strategy that does not just involve the local churches but the universal Church. Is this the time to ask for 'greater powers' for each Church? Such powers are obviously not for the particular Church per se, but for its Patriarch.

Unfortunately, for various reasons, I have not had the time to read the session reports on the Assembly so far, but I will find time to see if this is a trend or the trend... And I hope somebody else writes about it if it is as significant as Rodari makes it out to be.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/15/2010 8:28 PM]
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