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BENEDICT XVI: NEWS, PAPAL TEXTS, PHOTOS AND COMMENTARY

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See preceding page for earlier posts today, 11/21/10, including much original material from LOTW...particularly the excerpts chosen by Corriere della Sera...Not to mention the Holy Father's powerful homily about the ministry of the Pope and the cardinals, at the Mass this morning, and Fr. Lombardi's note to say that the Pope's now widely-commented remarks in LOTW did not represent any change in Church teaching about condom use.




John Allen has the first 'instant' book review in the Anglophone media that I've seen online...
But check out Isabelle le Gaulmyn's honest-to-goodness review for La Croix posted in the preceding page...


Pope talks condoms, sex abuse,
resignation ... and movie nights

by John L Allen Jr

Nov. 21, 2010


Pope Benedict XVI is famously his own best spin doctor. [I certainly did not think I would be objecting right off the starting gate! To describe what Benedict XVI says as 'spin' in any way is yet another instance of how thoughtlessly Allen slings around his 'hip colloquialisms' at the expense of truth and the meticulous attention that a journalist must give to every word he uses!]

In the old days, the Vatican would dispatch senior officials to try to calm the waters after the Pope said or did something controversial; more recently it’s worked the other way, with Benedict himself getting the Vatican back “on message” after one of his aides, or somebody else in officialdom, has put his foot in his mouth.

Benedict’s chops [i.e., credentials, qualities, assets! Why chops???] as a teacher and communicator are once again in evidence this week, with release of the new book Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times, an interview with German journalist Peter Seewald (published in English by Ignatius Press). Excerpts from the book were published yesterday in L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper.

Prior to his election to the papacy, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sat down for two such extended interviews with Seewald. This summer, he gave Seewald an hour a day over the course of a week, and the results of those sessions run to some 180 pages covering virtually every major episode and controversy from the first five years of Benedict’s papacy.

So far, it’s the Pope’s surprisingly nuanced comments on condoms which have excited international interest.

In chapter eleven of the book, Benedict tells Seewald that the anti-birth control teaching of Pope Paul VI in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae remains an important witness against the “banalization of sexuality.”

Nonetheless, Benedict says that in carefully circumscribed cases – where the intent is to prevent the transmission of disease, not to prevent pregnancy – the use of a condom “can be a first step in the direction of moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.”

The Pontiff offers the example of a male prostitute, though the same line of reasoning could arguably be applied in cases of heterosexual couples where one partner is HIV-positive and the other isn’t.

That question has long been a subject of Catholic debate, even among cardinals. In 2006, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Health Care Pastoral examined the question of condoms for married couples where one is HIV-positive and tentatively drew a positive conclusion, but no formal statement was issued – in part because of PR concern in the Vatican that such a limited concession would be heard by the world as blanket approval of condoms.

In a Nov. 21 statement, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, said that the Pope’s comments did not come out of the blue.

“Numerous moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical personalities have sustained, and still sustain, similar positions,” Lombardi said. “Nevertheless, it’s true that they have not been heard until now with such clarity from the mouth of the Pope, even if it’s in a colloquial rather than magisterial form.”

Condoms, however, are not the only news flash in the book.

Benedict speaks at length about the sex abuse crisis, saying that the efforts of the Church today are focused on three fronts: compassion and outreach for victims; prevention of future abuse, including more careful screening of future priests; and punishing perpetrators when abuse does happen.

Benedict concedes that Rome may have mishandled the crisis in some ways. He concedes, for example, that perhaps he should have spoken more often and more forefully, even if he insists that “the essentials” have all been said.

He also concedes that after the American crisis in 2002, perhaps the Vatican should have directed local bishops in other countries to examine their own records to see if similar problems existed there, rather than waiting for a crisis to explode in the media and the courts.

Benedict also discusses the case of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the late founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Maciel was a longtime Vatican favorite because of his doctrinal conservatism and penchant for generating vocations, but who has how become a symbol of the crisis as the Legionaries have acknowledged he was guilty of various forms of sexual misconduct.

Benedict refers to Maciel a “mysterious figure,” saying that he led an “adventurous, wasted, twisted life.” At another point, the Pope refers to Maciel as a “false prophet.”

At the same time, Benedict says that the order Maciel founded is “by and large, sound.”

Despite expressing deep shock at the “wretchedness” and “sinfulness” of the Church revealed by the crisis, Benedict says he’s never thought about resigning because of it.

“When the danger is great, one must not run away,” Benedict says. “For that reason, now is certainly not the time to resign … One must not run away and say that someone else should do it.”

Benedict did clearly leave open the door, however, to a resignation for other reasons – especially declining health.

“If a Pope realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically or spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office,” Benedict says, “then he has a right, and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.”

Canon 332 of the church’s Code of Canon Law allows for a papal resignation, stating that it must be a free choice and does not have to be accepted by anyone. Nonetheless, only a handful of Popes have ever resigned, with the last case coming in the 15th century.

In chapter ten, Benedict strongly defends his controversial predecessor Pope Pius XII, the wartime Pontiff whose record on the Holocaust has long been a flash point in Catholic/Jewish relations. Benedict insists that Pius XII did not speak out more directly against the Nazis “because he knew what consequences would follow from an open protest.”

Behind the scenes, Benedict argues, Pius XII “was one of the great righteous men … and saved more Jews than anyone else.”

All that may suggest that Benedict XVI plans to move ahead with the beatification and canonization of Pius XII, despite protests in some Jewish and Catholic circles. [Did Allen ever have any doubt about this???? How can self-serving protests count against overwhelming objective evidence to the contrary. Especially if the candidate's claim to holiness lies in so many other fields?]

Asked about the possibility of a new ecumenical council, a “Vatican III” after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Benedict XVI says that while there will undoubtedly be another council some time in the
future, “at the moment I do not see the prerequisites for it.”

Instead, he says, the synods of bishops are the right instrument at the moment through which bishops can participate in governing the universal Church.

Two other themes running through the book are of interest in terms of revealing the Pope’s attitudes.

One is clear frustration with some Catholic theologians, whom Benedict sees as pre-determined to read whatever he says or does in a negative light. In the context of the 2009 controversy over lifting the excommunication a Holocaust-denying bishop, for example, Benedict says that “an incredible amount of nonsense was circulated, even by trained theologians.”

With regard to complaints about his 2007 decision to authorize wider celebration of the old Latin Mass, the Pope says that “the polemical arguments with which a whole series of theologians assailed me are ill-considered.”

Benedict insists that the decision to lift the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops was entirely based on canonical logic, comparable to the reintegration of Catholic bishops in China ordained without the consent of the Pope.

Once such a bishop formally recognizes papal authority, Benedict says, the lifting of excommunication is basically automatic. In the case of the traditionalists, therefore, Benedict insists it had nothing to do with “rolling back the clock” on Catholic/Jewish relations or the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

That said, Benedict also concedes that “our public relations work was a failure,” in that the logic for the decision was not adequately explained.

A second theme running through the book is a sort of exasperation from the Pope about how his words or gestures are often over-interpreted, with their significance stretched well beyond his actual intent.

For example, in December 2005 Benedict XVI once sported the camauro, a thick woolen cap last worn by Pope John XXIII. Several commentators touted it as an example of Benedict’s traditionalism, but in the Seewald interview the Pope says the reality was far more prosaic: It was a cold day, Benedict has a sensitive head, the camauro was lying around, and he simply put it on.

Benedict says he’s never done so since, “in order to forestall over-interpretation.”

Benedict XVI is 83 years old, and although there’s certainly no indication of an imminent health crisis, he nevertheless uses some language that might stoke a bit of pre-conclave speculation.

The Pope tells Seewald, “I notice that my forces are diminishing.”
[Ugh! Can't stand that awkward translation. Can you imagine anyone saying that? I wonder how it was said in German. I translated it from the Italian as 'I find my strength waning'.]

It should be said, however, that the line comes amid discussion of Benedict’s basic good health and prodigious work ethic. (The Pontiff suggests that his durability is more a result of inbred constitution than deliberate effort; he admits he never uses the exercise bike that a papal physician set up for him, saying, “I don’t need it at the moment.”)

Looking back to his election to the papacy five years ago, Benedict repeats a point he made at the time: he never wanted the job. He was “so sure,” he says, “that this office was not my calling.”

He once again compares being elected Pope to capital punishment, saying that during the conclave he sensed the “guillotine” falling upon him.

Benedict said it is the “great responsibility” of a Pope to ensure that the faith remains “inviolate,” and that he must be willing to brook pushback from the “powerful constellations” of the world” in doing so.

At the same time, he stresses that a Pope should seek “consensus and understanding,” insisting that “Christianity gives joy and breadth”, and that “someone who is always only in opposition could probably not endure life at all.”

Finally, Benedict offers some glimpses into his private life. For example, the Pope says that during the evenings he sometimes relaxes with his “papal family,” meaning his two personal secretaries (German Monsignor Georg Gänswein and Maltese Monsignor Alfred Xuereb) and the four consecrated women from the Memores Domini community, linked to the Communion and Liberation movement, who make up his private household.

As part of that picture, the legendarily bookish pontiff reveals that when the “family” gets together, they sometimes like to pop in a DVD. A particular favorite, he says, are the “Don Camillo” movies from the 1950s and 60s, based on a line of comics created by Italian writer Giovanni Guareschi.

The central characters are a parish priest in post-War Italy, Don Camillo, and the Communist mayor of his town, Giuseppe Bottazzi, better known as “Peppone.” Camillo and Peppone argue intensely and they joust for influence over the people, but underneath it all they share a genuine affection for each other.

For those who prefer to celebrate Benedict’s cerebral nature, however, have no fear: The Pope says that when he moved into the papal apartment he recreated his old office, including all his books, which he calls “my advisors.”

Later, in talking about his prayer life, he says he often invokes the saints, and adds: “I am friends with Augustine, with Bonaventure, with Thomas Aquinas.” It’s the scholar-saints, in other words, with whom he obviously feels the closest bond.


No presidential memoir or other 'celebrity' book has ever been so covered worldwide than LOTW. God is certainly making things happen for his Vicar on earth, as one would hardly have thought an 83-year-old Pope could set precedents or make history, as Benedict XVI has been doing 'effortlessly', Deo volente, since he became Pope!




Starting tomorrow, I expect we will be flooded with reviews and commentary on LOTW in the Anglophone media, so before that happens, let me just re-post the blurbs that will be on the Ignatius edition. We previously saw Archbishop Chaput's piece. It is now joined by an excerpt from George Weigel's foreword to the English edition:

The extraordinary personal and professional chemistry of Peter Seewald and Joseph Ratzinger has proven itself over the years in previous book-length interviews.

Light of the World is Seewald's latest conversation with the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI -- and arguably the most compelling. The Benedict XVI who emerges from these pages is a man of profound faith and intellect, combined with disarming simplicity, and willing to engage any issue frankly and without rancor.
For anyone interested in the future of the Church, this book is ‘must' reading."
- +Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver



What the Pope sees, and what he discusses with frankness, clarity, and compassion in this stimulating conversation with Peter Seewald, is a world that has lost its story: a world in which the progress promised by the humanisms of the past three centuries is now gravely threatened by understandings of the human person that reduce our humanity to a congeries of cosmic chemical accidents: a humanity with no intentional origin, no noble destiny, and thus no path to take through history.

Benedict XVI brought to the papacy more than a half-century of reflection on the truths of biblical faith, and a master teacher's capacity to explicate those truths and bring them to bear on contemporary situations in a luminously clear way.

I have had the privilege of knowing many men and women of high intelligence, even genius, in my lifetime; I have never known anyone like Benedict XVI who, when one asks him a question, pauses, thinks carefully, and then answers in complete paragraphs - often in his third, fourth or fifth language.

Peter Seewald's well-crafted questions give Benedict XVI good material with which to work. But it is the remarkably lucid and precise mind of Joseph Ratzinger that makes the papal answers here sing.
- George Weigel
From the Foreword




[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 6:18 AM]
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11/21/2010 9:07 PM
 
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This does not have anything to do with Benedict XVI directly, but it's a major development in a case that even friendly voices have criticized as a PR fiasco for the Pope....


FSSPX threatens to expel Williamson
unless he fires his neo-Nazi lawyer




VATICAN CITY, Nov. 21 (Adnkronos/Ign) - The Superior General of the FSSPX, Mons. Bernard Fellay, has taken a hard line with Holocaust negationist Mons. Richard Williamson.

Fellay has warned the British-born Williamson that he must fire the neo-Nazi German lawyer he has just hired to defend him in Germany on charges of Holocaust negationism which is a crime in that country.

The FSSPX released a communique which reads:

The Superior General, Mons. Bernard Fellay, has learned from the newspapers about the decision of Mons. Richard Williamson ten days before a scheduled court trial to fire his lawyer in favor of another lawyer who is openly linked to the neo-Nazi movement and other similar groups in Germany.

Mons. Fellay has sent Mons. Williamson a formal order to revoke his decision and not to allow himself to be instrumentalized by political beliefs that are totally extraneous to his mission as a Catholic bishop in the service of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X.

Disobedience to this order will result in the expulsion of Mons. Williamson from the Fraternity.

Williamson's new lawyer, Wolfram Nahrath, founding member of the extreme right National Democratic Party of Germany, was the leader of the Viking Youth, a neo-Nazi organization modelled after the Hitler Youth, which was banned in Germany in 1993. Nahrath has defended Nazi groups accused of serious racial crimes.


Richard Williamson is like Richard Dawkins - they are brilliant men whose intellectual arrogance, generally manifested as a monomania, has blinded them and made them lose all common sense. Williamson can't leave the FSSPX soon enough! They should all learn lessons in humility from Benedict XVI.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/22/2010 2:27 AM]
11/22/2010 11:24 AM
 
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Seewald on Benedict XVI:
'He has seen the Light of the world
and he reflects this Light'

An interview by Paul Badde
Translated from
.
Nov. 21, 2010

He is the man with whom Pope Benedict XVI spoke about condoms - a scoop by journalist Peter Seewald after six hours of conversation with the Pope, in which no topic was taboo.


Seewald tells another interviewer that he brought four tape recorders with him (including two old-fashioned ones) to record his conversations with the Pope - and that in one session, one of them clicked shut so he lost part of what the Pope was saying...

You spent six hours in conversation with Pope Benedict XVI. it would have been impossible even for the President of the United States to get that time, with the Pope. What do you have that Barack Obama does not? [Not that Obama would be interested! You think???]
I don't know! Fate? Foresight? Perhaps it's our common Bavarian heritage. We speak the same language. It makes it possible to ask about things without being shy, and to have a good discussion on every subject without cynicism.

Of course, it was helpful that when he was Cardinal we had already done two of these interview books, which were not without effect! He is a team player, and we have been a winning team before.

What was it that clinched the deal, that enabled you to get this PR scoop?
I had made various approaches. The occasion for the project was the five-year jubilee of his Pontificate and the forthcoming publication of his second book on Jesus. In the end, the crisis atmosphere that developed after the revelation of more sexual abuses by priests in Europe clinched it. And so, he has expressed himself to me as no Pope has ever done before. It is a novelty in the history of the papacy...

During which he has even said that in exceptional cases, the use of condoms may be acceptable. Did you confine yourself to asking him only about the hot issues? And is there one question that came to you later that you would now like most to have him answer?
I did not leave out any questions that I really considered urgent. But because of the limited time, there were a number of subjects that I could not bring up as I would have wanted to. For instance, the scandal of increasing Christian persecutions worldwide. Or the phenomenon that a secular near-Godless society which has long considered the religion question 'settled', must suddenly confront the question of faith all over because of the spread of Islamic culture in their very midst. It would seem that an exhausted Christianity is no longer capable of dealing with these fundamental questions of existence in a public debate.

How many other questions remain to be asked?
About a thousand!

Were there questions that he did not want to answer?
None. I had presented a concept, but I did not specify the questions, nor did he then reject any of the questions I asked. For him, there are no taboo subjects. He left the spoken words remain as is, and when he reviewed the text for final authorization, he only made a few minor corrections here and there to make his meaning clear.

Which answer most surprised you?
There were many. From the earlier interviews, I already knew he is very precise, and also that he is a very original observer, very well-informed and quite abreast of the times. Add to that his unique formation and the skill to formulate complicated things in simple and easy to grasp terms. I knew to expect from his answers a multiplicity of nuances that one cannot immediately grasp. As in his reflections on the papacy, of ecumenism, questions of sexual morality, or in the area of AIDS prevention. And I was surprised by his answers to questions about the dialog with Islam.

In what way?
He integrates - one learns from him not to be too narrow nor too anxious in thinking about these things. He looks at things almost from God's perspective, in that he knows God is love, and excludes no one.

And I was rather unsettled to hear how seriously be is concerned about the condition of mankind in our day - in the ecological, social, economic and especially spiritual aspects

He asks along with all of us: What have we made of our dream for the planet? And of ourselves? His message is an appeal to the Church and the world, to every individual: It is time for change. Time for a conversion!

"There are so many problems that must be solved, but they will not be resolved if God is not placed back in the center and made visible in this world", he says.

Lately, he has often seemed embattled. [Has he??? I don't recall ever seeing him look embattled'] Did he seem so to you?
To lead a Church with 1.2 million members when you are 83 is no small job. It is hard to grasp how he can deal with his work load. In this sense, it is only natural if he looks tired and fragile. His concern over the Church, the often quite deficient support that he gets from his Church, and the slowness of the bureaucracy can obviously sometimes become a weight on his shoulders.

But he is also able to regenerate himself fast. Like overnight. I do not know any other man who is as efficient, who is so fit and alert, and also so young and modern, as this old man on Peter's Chair.

Were there times during your conversations when he laughed?
Of course. He has a very subtle understated humor, but one can laugh with him. The public idea of him is that he is a fossilized type, some kind of bitter wood, a document eater, or some such. None of that is true. He is the very soul of a Mensch. I have been with him in a car and heard him sing along with the radio. We have always spoken about personal things. Because of course, people want to know what a Pope feels, what he does in his free time, and the like...

How would you describe the difference between Joseph Ratzinger and Benedict XVI, quite apart from the fact that they wear different hats ...
As I said before, first he is older. But when you sit across from him, then you feel right away that in his being, in his style, in his amiability, nothing has changed. Overall, I think, being Pope has brought forth his good qualities better than before, and that as Universal Pastor, he has become even more sensitive, more generous and wiser.

How do you explain that?
Probably because he is closer to God. He has seen the Light of the world and he reflects this light. For all his intellectual stature, he has remained a simple pious man.

Did he ask you any questions?
No, but then I did not give him time to do that. I had to use every second.

Have you eaten together?
Unfortunately, no. But that does not bother me. I was always glad after a session to be able to go somewhere quiet where I could smoke a cigarette and drink a beer.

Is there a question that you wonder why no one has asked you about the Pope?
I wonder above all that the same questions are always asked! Journalists today behave as though they can do any interview about the Catholic Church without any preparation as long as they stick to three topics: priestly celibacy, women priests, and Roman centralism - and when they can sell their rubbish about these topics from the 'reform' agenda, it makes them feel they have done something.

Next year, the Pope will be visiting Germany again. Did you discuss the fact that many Germans feel rather harsh about 'their' Pope?
That wasn't quite the discussion. But this problem is quite close to the Pope's heart. It's obvious to him that Germany is in many ways a fractured nation, afflicted with the proverbial German Angst and despondency. High Church functionaries are in lockstep with the anti-Roman drumbeat even if they ought to know better, and even if they have the clear mandate from the Gospel to go against the current.

But that can also change. For instance we no longer have the dumbest ones, who lay so much on their unspeakable liturgies and also on their contribution to the deformations of the time.

Does the Pope share this hope?
He is not the pastor of a local German church. Globally he does not see the Catholic Church in decline. On the contrary, she has never been as big and as widespread as she is today.

Why do you think he provokes so many Germans, and even many Catholics in general?
Because the Church itself provokes. His positions, those of the Church, are not compatible with a leisure society. And yes, the Gospel itself is not compatible with such a society, and that is why many have forgotten what Catholicism really means. Many think that they can themselves 'build' their own Church, which really means that are becoming more like Protestants. What a joke! The Evangelical churches in Germany have been constantly losing, since 1950, more members than the Catholic Church has.

Do you see that yourself, or does the Pope say so?
Anyone who wants to look can see it. Meanwhile, everyday we must experience anew how the image of this Pope is projected in the media. It has to do with a tendency that one recognizes from previous experience: The Pope is the class enemy who must be fought with whatever means possible. This is the 'new Germany' he will be visiting. That makes one wonder what he would answer to a whole series of other questions.




On her blog, Angela Ambrogetti makes a most pertinent commentary...

Those passages
taken out of context...

Translated from

Nov. 21, 2010

To 'anticipate' or 'preview' a book is not always to inform. It may seem banal, but in the panorama of contemporary journalism, perhaps it is better to think more carefully first [before publishing these 'anticipations'].

The most recent example is Peter Seewald's interview book with Pope Benedict XVI. A book that is not a magisterial text, but which highlights the Pope's theological, human, public and private personality. The Pope speaks, but he does so in his personal capacity. It is an occasion to better understand Joseph Ratzinger.

In short, it is a text to be read at leisure, calmly, to savor and to fit into the long personal story of Pope Benedict. Instead, we now have a jumble of previews that present 'excerpts' or statements that are for the most part presented out of context, though they also demonstrate the obvious.

However, they also tend to make it appear as though the Pope and Peter Seewald had spoken about nothing but condoms and the Pope's resignation! Who has, so far, for instance, cited something the Pope has said about, say, ecumenism?

So now, we have some UN official - who has not read the book at all - applauding a hypothesis that many have wrongly called "a novelty in the Church". But the Church is not what others imagine who know nothing about it.

The Church, as Benedict XVI pointed out in Spain recently, is God's embrace:

"We are, in a way, embraced by God, transformed by his love. The Church is the embrace of God within which men learn to embrace their own brothers, discovering in them the image and likeness of God, which constitutes the most profound truth of man's existence, and which is the origin of true freedom".

Benedict XVI has chosen the most modern and genuine way to communicate: a dialog with a sincere journalist, open, direct, without second thoughts. Can professional communicators do the same?

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/30/2010 6:35 AM]
11/22/2010 12:48 PM
 
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Belated post... I overlooked posting on yesterday's Angelus because there were no photos.


ANGELUS ON THE FEAST
OF CHRIST THE KING

Nov. 21, 2010

Another beautiful Mass and great homily from the Holy Father on this feast day, but so far I have found no photos of the Angelus, not even from Vatican Radio...




Dear brothers and sisters:

We just finished in St. Peter's Basilica the liturgy of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, concelebrated with the 24 new cardinals created in yesterday's consistory.



The Solemnity of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, and subsequently, the Second Vatican Council established its celebration at the end of the liturgical year.

The Gospel of St. Luke presents, as in a grand portrait, the Kingship of Jesus at the Crucifixion. The local chiefs and soldiers derided "the firstborn of all creation
(Col 1,15) and put him to the test to see if he could save himself from
death
(cfr Lk 23,35-37).

And yet, it was precisely "on the Cross where Jesus is at the 'height' of God who is Love. It is on the Cross that we can know him... Jesus gives us life because he gives us God. He can give us God because he himself is one with God" (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, 2007).

In fact, while the Lord was crucified between two criminals, one of them, aware of his own sins, is opened to the truth, acquires faith and prays to 'the King of the Jews': "Remember me when you enter into your kingdom" (Lk 23,42).

From him who is "before all things, and in whom all things hold together" (Col 1,17),, the so-called good thief immediately receives forgiveness and the joy of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. "Truly I say to you: this day you shall be with me in Paradise" (Lk 23,41).

With these words, Jesus from the throne of the Cross welcomes every man with infinite mercy. St. Ambrose comments that this is "a beautiful example of conversion to which one must aspire: quickly the good thief is granted forgiveness, and the grace is more abundant than the request. The Lord, in fact, always grants more than one asks for.. Life is to be with Christ, because where Christ is, there is the Kingdom" (Expositio Ev. sec. Lucam X, 121: CCL 14, 379).

Dear friends, the way of love, that the Lord reveals to us and which he invites us to take, we can also contemplate in Christian art. In fact, in the old days, "in the arrangement of Christian sacred buildings... it became customary to depict the Lord returning as a king - the symbol of hope - at the east end, while the west wall normally portrayed the Last Judgment as a symbol of responsibility for our lives" (Spe salvi, 41) - hope in the infinite love of God and the commitment to order our life according to God's love.

When we contemplate the portrayals of Jesus inspired by the New Testament - as one of the older Councils recommended - we are led "to understand... the sublimeness of the humiliation of the Word of God and.. to remember his life in the flesh, his salvific passion and death, and the redemption that he brought to the world"
[Council of Trullo, 691 or 692, Can. 82).

"Yes, we need to do this, precisely... in order to recognize the mystery of God in the heart pierced on the Crucifix" (J. Ratzinger, Theology of Liturgy: The sacramental foundation of Christian life, LEV 2010, 69).

To the Virgin Mary, whom we also remember today on the Feast of her Presentation in the Temple, let us entrust the new cardinals and our earthly pilgrimage towards eternity.

After the prayers, he said this:

Today, in Italy, on the invitation of her bishops, the Catholic community pray for the Christians who suffer persecution and discrimination, especially in Iraq.

I join them in this collective invocation to the God of life and peace, so that religious freedom may be assured in every part of the world. I am with these persecuted brothers and sisters for the elevated testimony of faith that they render to God.



In remembering today the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Temple, the Church is particularly close to cloistered monks and nuns - it is 'Pro Orantibus Day', a day for those whose mission is to pray, which is also an occasion to renew an appeal for concrete assistance to these communities. To them I impart my heartfelt blessing.

It is also the day to remember victims of road accidents in Italy. As I assure their families that I remember them in prayer, I encourage everyone to continue the efforts for prevention which have had good results, always remembering that prudence and respect for the rules are the first forms of protection for oneself and others.


[His English message was limited to greeting specific English-speaking groups present among the pilgrims.]


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/22/2010 6:26 PM]
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Monday, Nov. 22

Left illustration shows Cecilia with Valerian and Tyburius;
center is Guido Reni's portrait of the saint
.

ST. CECILIA (Rome, 3rd century)
Virgin and Martyr, Patron of Music
For a saint who is so universally popular, little is known about this young Roman noblewoman.
The Golden Legend about her says she was married young to Valerian, whom she convinced
on their wedding night not only that they should be chaste but also to convert to Christianity.
He and his brother Tyburius converted, devoting themselves to burying Christian martyrs
and giving their goods to needy Christians. Eventually they were beheaded for refusing to
denounce the faith but not before converting Maximus, the guard assigned to them. The Roman
provost had him beheaded for this, and then sent for Cecilia, who refused to worship Jupiter
as ordered. He ordered her steamed to death in her bathroom, but when she was unharmed,
he had her beheaded. She survived the mandatory three sword strikes but lived three more
days, during which she gave away all she had, and converted more people to Christ.
Her musical fame rests on a passing notice in her legend that she praised God, singing
to him, as she lay dying. Her incorrupt body was found long after her death. Devotion to her
started in the 6th century.
Readings for today's Mass:
www.usccb.org/nab/readings/112210.shtml



No OR today.


THE POPE'S DAY

The Holy Father met today with

- The new cardinals, their families and other pilgrims who came to Rome for the consistory. Plurilingual address.

- Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of San Cristobal de La Habana (Cuba)

- Cardinal José T. Sánchez, Emeritus Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

- Cardinal Ricardo J. Vidal, Emeritus Archbishop of Cebu (Philippines)


SAY A PRAYER FOR
CARDINAL NAVARRETE, S.J. (1920-2010)


The Holy Father sent a telegram of condolence today to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus on the death of Cardinal Urbano Navarrete, S.J., emeritus Rector of Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, at the age of 90. He was made a cardinal by Benedict XVI in Oct. 2007.


Cardinal Navarrete in Rome in Nov. 2007 for the Consistory.

On Wednesday, Nov. 24, Cardinal Angelo Sodano and members of the College of Cardinals will concelebrate a Memorial Mass for Cardinal Navarrete in St. Peter's Basilica. The Holy Father will deliver the eulogy and preside at the rites of Ultima Commendatio and Valedictio.

***

The Vatican also released today the text of the Holy Father's message to participants in the recent symposium
in Rome sponsored by the International Center of Friends of Cardinal Newman on the topic, "The primacy of God
in the life and writings of Blessed John Henry Newman".

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/22/2010 3:49 PM]
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The following reaction was predictable - some people, like Pavlov's dog, always have their tongues hanging out waiting to bark and snarl when the right button is pushed. I'm only surprised the outrcy has been limited so far...

Pope's praise of Pius XII
dismays Holocaust survivors

By FRANCES D'EMILIO


ROME, Nov. 22 (AP) - A Holocaust survivors group has voiced dismay over Pope Benedict XVI's assertion in a new book that wartime Pontiff Pius XII was a "great righteous" man who saved more Jews than anyone else.

Benedict's "comments fill us with pain and sadness and cast a menacing shadow on Vatican-Jewish relations," said Elan Steinberg, vice president of American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, in an emailed statement late Saturday.

Some contend Pius didn't speak out enough against mass deportation and killing of 6 million Jews by Germany's Nazi regime and its collaborators.

In "Light of the World," to be published on Tuesday, Benedict lavishes praise on Pius, who progressed down the Vatican's road to possible sainthood when the Pope last year formally hailed his predecessor's "heroic virtues."

He notes pleas from Jewish groups and historians that sainthood efforts be put on hold until the Vatican opens up its archives on the 1939-1958 papacy. The Vatican says the documents, which Benedict says number in the "hundreds of thousands," will be opened up to scholars when archival work is ready, likely in a few years.

Benedict reveals in the book that he "ordered an inspection of the unpublished archival records, because I wanted to be absolutely sure." The "records confirm the positive things we know, but not the negative things that are alleged."

"The decisive thing is what he did and what he tried to do, and on that score, we really must acknowledge, I believe, that he was one of the great righteous men and that he saved more Jews than anyone else," Benedict said, offering perhaps his most sweeping praise of Pius' papacy to date.

But Steinberg contended that that assertion "is categorically contradicted by the known historical record." [No, Mr. Steinberg. It is 'contradicted' only by the utter refusal of Pius XII's critics and obstinate persons like you to look at the actual record, because if you did, then you would see that if anyone deserves to be recognized by the Jews as 'a just man' by their definition of it, no one is better deserving than Pius XII. You must start looking at what he did, not at what he failed to say! After all, no one has ever said 'Words speak louder than actions!" - especially not words unsaid!]

Neither Benedict nor Steinberg cited numbers.

An Israeli diplomat, Pinchas Lapide, wrote in 1967 that Pius and the Catholic church should be credited with saving between 700,000 and 860,000 Jews from certain death. Holocaust scholars dismiss the figure as guesswork.

[Reporter D'Emilio is being utterly disingenuous, if not deliberately dhishonest. In the flood of articles that have been written about Pius XII's wartime work in the past three years alone, many have referred to the number of Jews saved by Pius XII as 'at least 8,000' in Rome alone, and as many as 12,000 in all of Italy. As a journalist, she surely saw these activities, and it was her duty to provide these figures, citing the sources appropriately, since they are even more available than the Pinchas Lapide figures. And those figures, even if you take the lower estimates, are certainly much more than other rightly celebrated anti-Nazi heroes like Oskar Schindler saved. And yet, in Jewish lore, all it takes is to save one life... Pius XII did enough for at least 8,000 lifetimes.]

If Pius becomes a saint, that would create an "unfathomable breach" in Catholic-Jewish relations, Steinberg said. "Pius' silence during the Holocaust was a profound moral failure," he said.

Benedict reiterated the Vatican position that protesting publicly against the Germany occupiers of Rome would have endangered the lives of Jews who were sheltered in convents and monasteries.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/22/2010 3:50 PM]
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I am aware I seem to 'have it in' for some recidivist 'offenders' such as John Allen and Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of the OR. Obviously, it's not against them as persons, but against their repeated journalistic and editorial transgressions or bad judgment - some of which may be minor (such as Allen's careless use of language) but which do have unintended consequences if not being outright counter-productive for the Pope and the Church.

The OR did it again Saturday when it not only broke an embargo that had been observed till then by the news media on printing excerpts from the new interview book with the Pope, but it included an 'excerpt of an excerpt' that served to misrepresent what the Pope really said about condoms. It's as if Africa-March 2009 had never happened... [To make it worse, the OR translation used the Italian feminine form 'prostituta' insteada of the hypothetical male prostitute actually cited by the Pope!]

And now, Fr. Lombardi's clarification - even if it came 24 hours after the OR posted its 'advance' story online - is undergoing the fate of most clarifications and denials: Hardly anyone pays attention to it.

In the online catalogs of headlines today about the Pope, all the reactions welcoming the false 'news' - hailed as 'historic' in an AP wrap-up - outnumber the reports on Fr. Lombardi's statement by more than 2 to 1.

What is with Mr. Giovanni Maria Vian? He's intelligent and a recognized scholar in his own field, but as an editor, he is, to say the least, clueless. And as long as he continues with his appalling misjudgments, he is not serving the Pope as I am sure he believes he is doing.

Since realistically, it is unlikely the Pope will fire him, he should start wising up. Does he not read what other qualified Catholic commentators have been writing about his lapses in editorial judgment? Yet, being obsessed about the Beatles and the Simpsons when there are so many more topics worthy of taking up space in the scant eight pages of the Pope's newspaper, is trivial in every sense, compared to the equivalent of shooting into your own basket - 'auto=gol', the Italians call it - that Saturday's gross faux pas was! In fact, it was more like lethal friendly fire.


In any case, I like this reaction to the whole condom issue by a Catholic blogger with a Jewish name... And her 'Sha-zam!' photo, too!


Il Blabbatore Romano
by Simcha Fisher

November 21, 2010

I’m not a moral theologian, and every time I try and play one on the internet, I regret it. On the other hand, it would be kind of weird not to acknowledge the brouhaha about the Pope’s comments that L’Osservatore Romano leaked, apparently following its mission to act as the poorly-informed, half-senile uncle who blurts out crazy stuff and makes things so awkward around the holidays. Sorry about Uncle Romano — he . . . he doesn’t really represent our family. Just give him some more pie, and maybe he’ll be quiet.

Nothing that the Pope said changes anything in Catholic teaching — both because (a) his remarks aren’t Catholic teaching; and (b) anyway, he didn’t say anything contrary to Church teaching.

Basically what he said was that the use of condoms might signal that people are starting to move toward a more humane view of their sexual partners, because at least they are thinking about not spreading disease. The Church is in favor of people beginning to move toward more moral behavior. This is not news.

For a lucid explanation about what the Pope really said, please read Jimmy Akin’s short piece in the Register. Akin also has a link to the full text of the Pope’s remarks and to Janet Smith’s guide to the uproar so far. [All of which I previously posted on this thread - see preceding page.]

Hey, remember when that 'feeble old man' was elected Pope, and the press figured he was just a seat-warmer until the College of Cardinals could find someone more suitable?


KA-BLAMMO!

Even if you don’t like the guy, I don’t see how you can’t admire him. He was ready to retire, and instead he got a life sentence to a job that any sane person would dread. So he dove in head first and got to work, and hasn’t come up for air since.

May God bless and keep and strengthen him. This is what true courage and fortitude looks like.

Final question: what the heck is wrong with L’Osservatore Romano? Were they were looking to boost circulation, or what? My husband works for a newspaper, so I asked him what they do when their numbers are down. He said, “Fire reporters.” Not a bad idea.


For the record, here's Amy Welborn's wry and very apposite commentary on 'what hath OR wrought'! emember, she was one of the selected few who got an advance copy of the book to be able to publish a review at the proper time. She and everybody else in the English world honored the embargo, but not the OR, as we now know...

Well, that went well
by Amy Welborn

November 20, 2010


So much for a gradual rollout.

What’s most unbelievable about today is who broke the embargo – L’Osservatore Romano, that’s who. With a mistranslated section that’s what.

(I think – I’m assuming. The Italian translation had a feminine article with prostitute and the English version that I read and that has been published at the link below is specific about male prostitute.)

Jimmy Akin had a good summary.

The point? No, the Pope did not have a “condom conversion” as Ruth Gledhill so idiotically put it on Twitter. What he said – whether he should have said it or not is another issue – but whatever the case it really is nothing new and has nothing to do with the Church’s teaching on contraception either.

It’s an articulation of his concern for and interest an individual’s moral progress – ironically enough.

Here’s what I’m going to say – this whole conversation is going to be flipped on its head when the rest of the interview comes out, and the people who are either crowing about or mourning the Pope changing the Church’s teaching on contraception or sexuality or something are really not going to know what to say next.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/22/2010 8:18 PM]
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I don't think it is possible for any Benaddict to read this and not weep - as George Weigel masterfully describes the man and Pope who emerges from the book. Thank you, Mr. Weigel, and thank you, Ignatius Press, for asking Mr. Weigel to write the Foreword, and God bless...


Foreword to
'Light of the World'

by George Weigel
Courtesy of

Nov. 22, 2010

The Chair of Peter affords its occupant a unique view of the human condition, unlike that offered to any other global figure from any other vantage point.

World political leaders see the flow of history in terms of interests, alliances, and power. Intellectuals of international repute perceive humanity in terms of their philosophical, historical, or scientific theories. Leaders of great commercial enterprises analyze the world in terms of markets to be penetrated. World-renowned entertainers imagine their audiences in terms of the emotions they seek to evoke.

Popes, if they have the wit and the stomach for it, see the whole picture — the entirety of the human drama, in both its nobility and its wickedness. And they see it through the prism of humanity’s origins and humanity’s ultimate destiny.

It can be a dizzying, even disorienting, view. Over almost two millennia of papal history, some Popes have indeed bent history to their wills — or, perhaps more accurately, to the power of their faith; one thinks immediately of John Paul II’s pivotal role in the collapse of European Communism.

Other Popes have seemed overwhelmed by the tides of history, their papacies swamped by riptides they were unable to channel or resist. Novelist Morris West once wrote that the Chair of Peter “. . . was a high leap, halfway out of the world and into a vestibule of divinity. The man who wore the Fisherman’s ring and the triple tiara carried also the sins of the world like a leaden cope on his shoulders. He stood on a lonely pinnacle, alone, with the spread carpet of the nations before him, and above, the naked face of the Almighty. Only a fool would envy him the power and the glory and the terror of such a principality.”

West exaggerated, as novelists tend to do, but he caught something of the unique perspective on humanity and its pilgrimage through history that the papacy thrusts before a man.

Having worked closely with John Paul II for almost a quarter-century, and having written incisively about the Office of Peter for decades before that, Joseph Ratzinger knew all this when the question was put to him on April 19, 2005, two days after his seventy-eighth birthday: “Acceptasne electionem de te canonice factam in Summum Pontificem?” [Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?]

The world and the Church can be grateful that, once again, Ratzinger put his own plans on hold — this time, permanently — by saying Yes to that awesome query. For Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, brings both a clear-eyed view and the courage of convictions born in faith and honed by reason to the papacy’s unique vantage point on the human race in the first decades of the twenty-first century.

What the Pope sees, and what he discusses with frankness, clarity, and compassion in this stimulating conversation with Peter Seewald, is a world that (to borrow from Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson) has lost its story: a world in which the progress promised by the humanisms of the past three centuries is now gravely threatened by understandings of the human person that reduce our humanity to a congeries of cosmic chemical accidents: a humanity with no intentional origin, no noble destiny, and thus no path to take through history.

This is not, it must be emphasized, the cranky view of a man ill at ease in the postmodern world. Rather, as Benedict XVI takes pains to underscore in this conversation, his challenge to postmodernity is one intended to preserve and extend the achievements of modernity, not least in the sphere of political freedom — and to do so by encouraging postmodernity to rediscover some ancient truths about itself.

Those truths include the necessary dialogue between faith and reason. Faith devoid of reason risks becoming superstition and blind prejudice. Reason inattentive to faith risks solipsism, self-absorption, detachment from reality.

The effects of faith detached from reason are all around us: thus Benedict’s urgent challenge to Islam. So are the effects of reason inattentive to faith: thus Benedict’s challenge, to a West in cultural disarray, to rediscover the biblical roots of the Western civilizational project.

Like John Paul II, Benedict XVI sees both facets of this dual crisis of world civilization clearly; and, again like the predecessor to whom he pays touching tribute in this book, he has put these issues on the table of the world’s conversation as no one else has or can.

Benedict XVI brought to the papacy more than a half-century of reflection on the truths of biblical faith and a master teacher’s capacity to explicate those truths and bring them to bear on contemporary situations in a luminously clear way.

I have had the privilege of knowing many men and women of high intelligence, even genius, in my lifetime; I have never known anyone like Benedict XVI, who, when one asks him a question, pauses, thinks carefully, and then answers in complete paragraphs — often in his third, fourth, or fifth language.

Peter Seewald’s well-crafted questions give Benedict XVI good material with which to work. But it is the remarkably lucid and precise mind of Joseph Ratzinger that makes the papal answers here sing.

Those who had known Joseph Ratzinger in his pre-papal days knew this about him, as they had known him for a man of exquisite manners and a pastor’s kind heart. Which is to say, those who knew the man knew that the caricature of him in the world press — a caricature created by his ecclesiastical enemies in a particularly nasty exercise of odium theologicum — was just that: a caricature, a cartoon, with no tether to the real man. Happily, the world has been able to discover this since April 19, 2005.

Those with eyes to see and ears to hear have discovered a pastor who meets, prays, and weeps with those suffering the after0effects of being abused by men they thought were their shepherds; and by the victims’ own testimony, the tears were real, as was the Pope’s horror and anguish at what his brothers in the priesthood had done and what his brothers in the episcopate had failed to address.

Those willing to hear and see have met a world-class intellectual who, in addressing British Catholic schoolchildren, distills sixty years of higher learning into a winsome and compelling catechetical message on how important it is to become a twenty-first-century saint.

Those who come to Rome to attend one of Benedict XVI’s general audiences have encountered a master catechist, whose command of the Bible, the Fathers, and the theological traditions of Christian West and Christian East is simply unparalleled — as is his capacity to explicate what he has learned in ways that virtually everyone can understand and engage.

That is the Benedict XVI whom the reader will meet in Light of the World: a teacher to whom any sensible person would want to give a fair hearing.

That this teacher is also a pastor, and a thoroughgoing Christian disciple who believes that friendship with Jesus is the key to human happiness, suggests that, like his predecessor, Benedict XVI is reforming the papacy by returning it to its evangelical roots as an office of witness to the truth of God in Christ.

Benedict XVI lived through the trauma of the mid-twentieth century, in which false conceptions of the human person and human destiny almost destroyed civilization, as he lived through the drama of the late twentieth century, which saw the end of Communism and a brief moment of optimism about the human future.

He sees a world that, contrary to that optimism, has tended to shutter its windows and lock its doors against the light: the light of truth, the light of Christ, the light of God in whom there is no darkness.

To vary the imagery, Benedict, from the unique vantage point of the papacy, sees a world yearning for love but attaching itself to false loves. To this, he counterposes that with which Dante closed the greatest poem ever written: “l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle” [the Love that moves the sun and the other stars].

Benedict XVI has met this Love, embraced it, and given his life to sharing it. It is loving this Love that has made Joseph Ratzinger — again, contrary to the cartoon — a joyful man, who wants others to share in the joy of the Lord.


He knows full well, as he puts it to Peter Seewald, that we all live “the Christian situation, this battle between two kinds of love.”

At the moment, it seems to him that, in many parts of the world he surveys, the false loves have gained the upper hand. But he also knows that “love is the key to Christianity” and that true loves, and Love itself, will win the final triumph, which has already been revealed in the Resurrection.

Our task, he reminds us, is not to demand immediate victories, but to bear witness to the truth, the love, and the joy that comes from conversion to Christ.

For such a reminder, and for such a witness, Christians, and indeed all men and women of good will, can only be grateful.

GEORGE WEIGEL

Distinguished Senior Fellow
William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies
Ethics and Public Policy Center
Washington, D.C.




And from Ignatius Press's other 'blurb-writer' for LOTW, his usual wise and interesting insights....


Benedict XVI: Open, disarming,
and inevitably misunderstood

Nov 21, 2010
Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

Nov. 21, 2010


In his foreword to this remarkable book — structured as a conversation between Benedict XVI and journalist Peter Seewald — George Weigel praises the German Pope for his “frankness, clarity and compassion.” This is very true. It's also an understatement.

No serving bishop of Rome has ever spoken so openly and disarmingly as Benedict XVI does in Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.

Benedict (as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) and Seewald have worked together in the past. While Seewald asks blunt questions, the Pope's trust in him is clearly high. The resulting exchange between the two men is bracing and memorable, an absolutely mandatory read for anyone who wants a sense of the Petrine ministry and its burdens from the inside.

And yet, one comes away from this text with a mix of exhilaration and sympathy. The exhilaration springs from meeting in Benedict an extraordinary Christian intellect, articulate and unfiltered; a man prudent, generous, and penetrating in his judgment, candid in his self-criticism, brilliant but accessible in his thinking, and unshakeable in his faith.

The sympathy flows from knowing that, in the current media climate, almost anything Benedict says may be hijacked to serve other agendas. And exactly this happened even before the book's formal release — but more on that in a moment.

Seewald covers a lot of terrain with his questions, from China to liturgy to Fatima to the theology of the End Times. Each reader will gravitate to the themes that most interest him or her. But a few are worth special attention.

First, Seewald deals early and extensively with the Church's sexual abuse scandal. Benedict's answers are patient, tranquil, humble, and honest.

This Pope is not a leader who downplays the damage done to innocent children and families, or evades responsibility, or makes excuses for evil actions. He is well aware of the scope of sexual abuse in other religious communities and public institutions, but he does not use that as an alibi for the sins of Catholic clergy. Nor does he ever stray from the priority of healing for victims.

Second, for a man once thuggishly caricatured as Rome's doctrine police, Benedict speaks with convincing sensitivity about the sanctity of human freedom and conscience, and the dignity of other religious believers.

Like his predecessor, John Paul II, Benedict has a profound respect for Judaism as the root of Christianity and the Jewish people as our “fathers in faith.” His discussion of the challenges inherent in dialogue with modern Protestantism, which takes so many different forms, is masterly for its fraternal charity and candor.

And while some readers may find his assessment of Islam too optimistic and irenic — time will tell whether secularism or Islam poses the greater challenge to today's Christian believers — Benedict wisely notes that

Islam is lived in very different ways, depending on its various historical traditions. . . . The important thing [is] to remain in close contact with all the currents within Islam that are open to, and capable of, dialogue so as to give a change of mentality a chance to happen even where Islamism still couples a claim to truth with violence.

Finally, and maybe most powerfully, Benedict offers a withering critique of modern notions of “progress” and the practical atheism that infects nearly every developed society, beginning with Europe.

For the Pope, the real battle lines in the modern world do not divide Christianity from other religious traditions.

Rather, “In [today's] world, radical secularism stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other.”

When secular society seeks to reduce progress to material development, to exile God from public life and to ignore humanity's profoundly religious needs, then it starves the human spirit and attacks real human progress, which always has a moral dimension.

Ironically, the message of this good and brilliant Pope has been hobbled nearly as much by the baffling failures of some of his own aides as by unfriendly coverage from the world's media.

One of the sensitive issues that Benedict treats in this book is the question of AIDS in Africa and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of infection. No institution in Africa has done more to combat AIDS and support its victims than the Catholic Church.

But intense controversy — at least in Europe and the United States —has always surrounded the Catholic rejection of condom use in AIDS prevention.

The Church holds that condom use is morally flawed by its nature, and that, equally important, condom use does not prevent AIDS and can actually enable its spread by creating a false sense of security.

In the context of the book's later discussion of contraception and Catholic teaching on sexuality, the Pope's comments are morally insightful. But taken out of context, they can easily be inferred as approving condoms under certain circumstances.

One might reasonably expect the Holy Father's assistants to have an advance communications plan in place, and to involve bishops and Catholic media in a timely way to explain and defend the Holy Father's remarks.

Instead, the Vatican's own semi-official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, violated the book's publication embargo and released excerpts of the content early.

Not surprisingly, news media instantly zeroed in on the issue of condoms, and the rest of this marvelous book already seems like an afterthought.

Don't let that happen. Don't let confusion in the secular press deter you from buying, reading for yourself, and then sharing this extraordinary text. It's an astonishing portrait of an astonishing man.


[A double 'Thank you, Abp. Chaput'. In addition to the wonderful review, for stating an appropriate criticism of the OR and these last comments.]




Let me park this here for the time being. Deacon Greg Kandra on his blog laconically cited this paragraph from Humanae Vitae:

“The Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from–provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever.”


I think his point is that Paul VI anticipated the condom-against-infection possibility with this paragraph. Apparently, the Vatican did not think so, otherwise the Pontifical Council for pastoral Ministry to Healthcare Workers would not have undertaken its 2006 study. Maybe they are taking a too-literal reading of the words 'therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily disease' because the condom is by no means a therapeutic means - it does not cure anything, it can only help prevent.... Nonetheless, I personally believe the more compelling argument against condoms as the automatic preventive measure for couples when one of them is HIV-infected is that abstinence is the first alternative for Catholics, and one that is dogmatically impregnable (pun not intended).
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 2:20 AM]
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Vatican to issue specific implementing rules
for Summorum Pontificum by Christmas?

Adapted and translated from


VATICAN CITY, Nov. 22 (KATHNEWS Exclusive)- Immediately after the publication of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in July 2007. it was announced that specific rules would be issued to bring more clarity to its implementation.

The imminent Publication of such rules has been 'announced' several times in the Catholic media and discussed in numerous Internet forums and blogs. Sometimes it was claimed that the Holy Father already had them on his desk and was ready to sign the document. None of these assumptions have turned out right so far.

Kathnews now has exclusive information that the publication of the Regulations for the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum is really imminent.

Senior Vatican sources claim the delay has been due to necessary corrections. and that the document could be signed by the Pope before Christmas this year.

[It seems more likely that the 'delay' was because the Vatican wanted to incorporate responses to the reports that bishops around the world were supposed to have submitted in September 2010, three years after SP came into force, on how SP has been implemented in their respective dicoeses and the problems they may have encountered.... At the very least, one hopes the new rules will spell out measures to deal once and for all with the deliberate obstructionism by some bishops and parish priests who oppose the 're-legitimization' of the traditional Mass by Benedict XVI. It is an ideological opposition and an obstructionism that is completely unjustifiable: It's no skin off anyone's nose if there are parishes and priests able and willing to celebrate the traditional Mass, and yet, these ideologues behave as if the traditional Mass were a personal affront to them, and even worse, as if it were an unthinkable crime that must not be tolerated!]


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 5:35 AM]
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On the Pope,
condoms and imbeciles

by Massimo Introvigne
Translated from

Nov. 22, 2010

One must speak about the Pope's interview-book - but at the right time, as it deserves. But today, we must speak about imbeciles.

From gay associations to some self-styled traditionalists, all are saying that the Pope has changed traditional Catholic teaching about artificial means of birth control.

Hence, eight-column banner headlines in the Sunday papers. Exultation at the UN. Commentators explaining how the Pope has admitted that prostitutes should protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies by requiring their customers to use the condom - but then, they add, if prostitutes can be allowed to do this, why not extend it to poor women who are in no position to raise kids... and so on, until it would be allowed for everyone!

Too bad that the commentators - it happens all the time - went at it full throttle simply on the basis of a preview excerpt from the book which did not include the Pope's full answers to the two questions that had to do with condoms and AIDS! [What makes it worse, the partial excerpt came from L'Osservatore Romano and Vatican Radio!]

The Pope, answering a question on the fight against AIDS, says that "the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality", and that "the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being".

In the succeeding paragraph - correctly translating from the original German - Benedict continues:

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as when a male prostitute uses a condom [wenn etwa ein Protituierter ein Kondom verwendet], where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

I do not know if the Italian edition that will come out tomorrow correctly translates 'ein Prostituierter' - which is clearly masculine, or will carry the error of L'Osservatore Romano which translated it as 'prostituta', female, which renders the Pope's statement senseless.

Female prostitutes obviously do not 'use' condoms themselves, but their customers could. The Pope obviously was referring to male prostitution in which, as scientific studies tell us, customers usually insist that the prostitute should not use a condom, although many such male prostitutes are HIV-positive - pre-earthquake Haiti was notorious for a long time as a paradise for 'homosexual tourism' - and infect their customers by the hundreds.

Some may say that 'male prostitutes' can also mean heterosexual gigolos who service multiple women for pay, but the argument is captious because the AIDS epidemic is notoriously prevalent in the male homosexual community [whose clients could then go on to infect women partners], and that the German language uses the term 'gigolo' for gigolos!

Thus, once it is clear that pregnancy is not a consideration in the Pope's example, then the Pope is not saying anything 'revolutionary'. To begin with, in the Catholic view, prostitution itself is a sin, and the homosexual act is a sin.

But if a male prostitute, knowing he has AIDS, infects his customer(s), knowing that he would be infecting him(them), then he would be committing two mortal sins - against the sixth commandment, and against the fifth, because it would be akin to attempted homicide.
Sexual immorality is a grave sin but it becomes even worse when it is coupled to the possibility of 'killing' others.

And an HIV-positive male prostitute who 'systematically' infects his clients through unprotected sex is both immoral and 'homicidal'. However, if he develops scruples and decides to use a condom to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus (the efficacy of condoms as protection is , of course, not foolproof, but that is a technical and scientific question, rather than moral) - he does not automatically become a good man, but he has taken 'a first step', the Pope points out, towards 'moralization' - 'an assumption of responsibility'. A first step because a potential killer decides to stop being one - but he is still a prostitute.

The Pope quickly adds: "But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality." In the case of prostitutes, male or female, clearly, they should stop being prostitutes. [But this is an altogether other argument. Even the obvious threat of AIDS has not curbed prostitution appreciably except in some of the most afflicted African nations.}

A confessor's sensitivity to help "find a way that is humanly possible to deal with the most sensitive practices of applying Catholic doctrine" - which has not changed - in the case of contraception, is raised by the Pope in another part of the interview, but it is not related to the excerpt that has raised so much interest this weekend for the wrong reasons.

The statement using the example of an HIV-infected male prostitute is the cause of all the frantic and hasty commentary published before the opinion-makers had even seen the entire transcript of what the Pope actually said on the subject.

The AP wins the prize for the most absurd headline (which it later corrected) "The Pope says male prostitution is allowable as long as condoms are used".

Only imbeciles could confuse the Pope with Marazzo even if both live in Rome. [The reference is to Piero Marazzo, who was the president of Lazio region from 2006-2009. He resigned after four Italian policemen tried to blackmail him with a video purportedly showing him with a transsexual 'friend'. He said the video was 'fake' but he wanted to protect his wife and three daughters from further exposure to scandal.]





Vatican publishing house already
into a second printing of
'Luce del Mondo'

by PAOLO RODARI
Translated from

Nov. 22, 2010

Many American commentators have been unhappy with L'Osservatore Romano's preview Saturday of several passages from the Pope's interview-book with Peter Seewald and the subsequent frenzy of comments appearing in the Sunday papers. Check out these links {to Abp. Chaput's article in First Things; to Jimmy Akin; to Thomas Peters in American Papist; to Amy Welborn's blog; and to Lisa Graas's bloghttp://lisagraas.com/2010/11/20/some-big-change-from-the-pope-on-condom-use/
where she brings up Introvigne's arguments, and expands the discussion on Catholic teaching about sexual morality).


But there has been one unexpected result. The Vatican publishing house, in the immediate aftermath found its first printing of 50,000 copies instantly gobbled up by the bookstores.

LEV is now into a second printing with, sources say, 'some corrections in the text'. Probably they will correct the reference to a 'prostituta' and make it 'prostituto' as the Pope clearly said in the German original. Then it will all make sense, as Massimo Introvigne points out!




Speaking of AP absurdities, they had a short report this morning that was absurd - Victor Simpson claiming that 'Vatican sources' told him the Pope deliberately made a provocative statement 'to start a debate about condoms and AIDS', to which no one in his right mind, least of all anyone who knows anything about the Pope, could possibly give any credence.

Well, it appears Simpson has fleshed out his story, and let me post both stories here for the record. Much of it is in purple. Although Simpson makes it specifically clear that the Pope's statements do not apply to the Church teaching against artificial birth control, he is still pushing the idea that the Pope is 'signalling' a change in Catholic doctrine about the use of condoms!



Pope seeks to start debate
on condoms and AIDS

by VICTOR SIMPSON


This was the first brief story:

ROME, Nov. 22 (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI sought to "kick-start a debate" when he said some condom use may be justified, Vatican insiders say, raising hopes the Church may be starting to back away from a complete ban and allow condoms to play a role in the battle against AIDS.

With his striking comment on condoms and AIDS, Pope Benedict XVI has started a new chapter in the complex Church debate about morality and preventing the spread of HIV.


The Roman Catholic prohibition against artificial contraception is not in question, but Benedict could be carving out a very rare exception for the use of condoms.

Benedict said that condoms are not a moral solution to stopping AIDS. But he said in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, their use could represent a first step in assuming moral responsibility "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."

And this is Simpson's expanded story:

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 22 (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI sought to "kick-start a debate" when he said some condom use may be justified, Vatican insiders say, raising hopes the Church may be starting to back away from a complete ban and allow condoms to play a role in the battle against AIDS.
Just a year after he said condoms could be making the AIDS crisis worse, Benedict said that for some people, such as male prostitutes, using them could be a step in assuming moral responsibility because the intent is to "reduce the risk of infection."

The Pope did not suggest using condoms as birth control, which is banned by the Church, or mention the use of condoms by married couples where one partner is infected.

Still, some saw the Pope's comments as an attempt to move the Church forward on the issue of condoms and health risks.

For years, divisions in the Vatican have held up any effort to reconcile the Church's ban on contraception with the need to help halt the spread of AIDS. Theologians have studied the possibility of condoning limited condom use as a lesser evil, and reports years ago said the Vatican was considering a document on the issue, though opposition apparently blocked publication.

One senior Vatican official said Monday he believed the Pope just "wanted to kick-start the debate." He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. [CRAP!]

For the deeply conservative Benedict, it seemed like a bold leap into modernity - and a nightmare for many at the Vatican. The pope's comments sparked a fierce debate among Catholics, politicians and health workers that is certain to reverberate for a long time despite frantic damage control at the Vatican.

In a sign of the tensions, the Holy See's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, rushed out a statement to counter any impression the church might lift its ban on artificial birth control. Lombardi stressed the Pope's comment neither "reforms nor changes" church teaching.

While much of the world hailed Benedict's statement as a major shift toward lifting the Church ban, conservatives insisted the Pontiff was not "justifying" condom use from a theological point of view.

Many Vatican observers were struck by the example the Pope used - that of a male prostitute - though the comments clearly were not meant to condone prostitution or homosexual conduct, which the Church condemns as "intrinsically disordered."

And while Benedict made only a tiny opening, he stepped where no pope has gone since Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which was supposed to have closed debate on Church policy barring Catholics from using condoms and other artificial contraception.

Notably, the Pope chose to make his statement in an interview with a German journalist, Peter Seewald, and not in an official document. [DUH!!!!]

Excerpts of Seewald's book, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times," first appeared Saturday in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

Luigi Accattoli, a veteran Vatican journalist who will be on a Vatican panel launching the book Tuesday, said Benedict had taken a "long-awaited" step that only the highest authority of the church could do." [When I read this in an Italian newspaper, I found Accattoli's reaction strange for someone who is usually level-headed, and I cannot understand him jumping the gun in this way!]

Also on the panel is an influential prelate who showed his independence last year when he argued that Brazilian doctors should not be excommunicated for aborting the twin fetuses of a 9-year-old child who was allegedly raped by her stepfather. [Simpson conveniently omits the fact that the CDF 'walked back' Fisichella's statement later in a lengthy clarificatory note!]

Monsignor Rino Fisichella argued the doctors were saving the girl's life and should be shown mercy; he was forced out as head of the Vatican's bioethics advisory committee for his stance. [FACTS PLEASE! It was the Pontifical Academy for Life, not just some advisory committee. And he was not forced out, though some prominent members asked him to resign. He managed to make a graceful exit because he was named to head the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.]

Benedict previously had shown little sign of budging on the issue of condoms. Last year while en route to Africa, the continent hardest hit by HIV, he drew criticism from many health workers by saying condoms not only did not help stop the spread of AIDS but exacerbated the problem.

With Benedict prone to gaffes and crises - such as his remarks likening Islam to violence that caused a fury in the Muslin world and his lifting of the excommunication of a Holocaust-denier - some wondered whether it was again a communication problem.


However, Seewald wrote in the preface that Benedict had reviewed the text and made only small corrections. Seewald, who wrote two other books of interviews with Benedict while he was a cardinal, spent six hours over six days with Benedict at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo in July.

The German-born Pope appears comfortable talking with his fellow countrymen. [DUH AGAIN!] The only other interview the Pope has given was to German television in 2006.

Beyond the debate within the Roman Catholic Church on its condoms policy, it is unclear how much effect the shift could have on health policy in Africa. [TRIPLE DUH!!! When everyone ganged up on the Pope last year because of his statement on condoms and AIDS, my first reaction was stunned outrage at the sheer hypocrisy of the universal outcry: 1) Weren't the very people who were crying to high heavens the very same ones who constantly ridicule the Church saying no one follows its old-fashioned teachings anyway? 2) Now, suddenly, they were claiming that what the Pope said about condoms was going to cause the death of millions? How? Most of the AIDS victims in Africa are not Catholic. If the critics say even Catholics do not follow the Pope anyway, why would they now suddenly make it appear as though all those AIDS patients, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, would now listen to the Pope and stop using condoms??? ... These are the sort of common-sense considerations that got lost in the false debate over whether the Pope was right or wrong - if they believe what they always say to put him down, that no one listens to him or the Church at all, what does it matter? But it really was no debate at all because his opponents merely said 'HE'S WRONG!" while refusing to even look at the many epidemiological studies that prove him right!]

Kevin O'Reilly, a World Health Organization AIDS expert in Geneva, said the Pope's comments "will remove some barriers in Africa."

"The fact that the Vatican is demonstrating any flexibility at all, and is considering the real-world use of condoms, is encouraging," O'Reilly said.

"Some of the churches there have been actively campaigning against condom use," he added. "But I don't think there are a lot of people making decisions about condom use while worrying about what the Vatican is up to."


[Look at those statements by O'Reilly! A perfect illustration of the liberal condom-brandishing forces' contradictory rhetoric. His last statement nullifies whatever he was claiming in the first two!... And yet, Simpson reports all this without even noting the contradiction. Do reporters like him think that all newspaper readers are zombies who will just swallow anything reporetrs write hook, line and sinker, and have no vestige at all of critical faculties?]

Still, Sister Christine Schenk, executive director of FutureChurch, a liberal church reform group in the United States, said the Pope expressed a principle about the benefits of using condoms to prevent disease that could apply to women too.

"You can probably take from that example and extend that to other examples," Schenk said. "Clearly, there will be many women who will also be prevented from getting HIV if you look at the principle of what he said."


[That's exactly the kind of false and foolish syllogism that Massimo Introvigne warned about!]

Another news agency variation on a theme:

Pope eases condom stance

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 22 – Pope Benedict XVI has opened the door on the previously taboo subject of condoms as a way to fight HIV, saying male prostitutes who use condoms may be beginning to act responsibly. It’s a stunning comment for a Pontiff who has blamed condoms for making the AIDS crisis worse.

The Pope made the comments in an interview with a German journalist published as a book entitled “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times,” which is being released Tuesday. The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano ran excerpts Saturday.

Church teaching has long opposed condoms because they are a form of artificial contraception, although the Vatican has never released an explicit policy on condoms and HIV. The Vatican has been harshly criticized for its position.

Vatican officials insist it's nothing "revolutionary," but to many other people Pope Benedict XVI's recent comments regarding condom use mark an important moment in the battle against AIDS and an effort by the pontiff to burnish his image and legacy. [EXCUSE ME????? How does that burnish his image in any way - and with whom? The liberals? Why? Image-building has never been, is not, and never will be any consideration at all for Benedict XVI!]

Just a year after he said condoms could be making the AIDS crisis worse, Benedict said that for some people, such as male prostitutes, using them could represent a first step in assuming moral responsibility "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."

The Vatican's ban on contraception remains, but Alberto Melloni, an Italian Church historian, said Benedict "opened without a doubt a crack that cannot help but have consequences."

[The liberals, of course, insist on interpreting the Pope's words as though he has finally seen their point "Stubborn codger finally gets it through his noggin!" Just as - and I avoided commenting on it before because I felt the reaction was predictable and picayune, silly and shallow - they interpreted his recent remarks about the 'inalienable right to health care' as being an endorsement of Obamacare - which forces individual citizens to buy health insurance they do not necessarily want, or be fined for not doing so! It's not as if Obamacare was providing healthcare to everyone for free, nor that it automatically gives everyone health insurance. Except for children who can now be covered under their parents' insurance until they turn 26, those who could not afford to buy health insurance before still would not be able to afford it, including many who have children below 26! It's amazing that this basic fact has been overlooked in the brouhaha over the many other problems with Obamacare. But then again, this is exactly what happened over the Pope's remarks last year on condoms: the Media get to set the terms of the 'debate', to cover up or distract from the glaring contradictions of the positions they defend.]

Some Catholic believers in the Americas greeted Pope Benedict XVI's comments on condoms as a sign that the Church was stepping into the modern debate in the fight against AIDS, though the Church was adamant Sunday that nothing has changed in its views banning contraception.

Churchgoers had praise and wariness for the Pope's comments that condoms could be morally justified in some limited situations, such as for male prostitutes wanting to prevent the spread of HIV. Others cautioned it could open a doctrinal Pandora's box. And the exact meaning of what the Pope said was still up for interpretation.




In the Wall Street Journal, William McGurn makes sense as he usually does... and skewers the simplistic secular orthodoxy of this bedrock faith in a piece of rubber - which liberals worship as the answer to everything. And in their case, everything means the ability to indulge in sex any which way anyone wishes, without any responsibility other than warding off, God forbid!, a possible pregnancy - and since the advent of AIDS, a presumed protection from infection...


The Pope and the condom :
His challenge to secular orthodoxy

By WILLIAM MCGURN

Nov. 22, 2010

In heaven, we are told, there is more rejoicing over a man who sees the error of his ways than over 99 who are blameless. Maybe not only in heaven. In the days since Pope Benedict XVI indicated there might be a place for the condom, the good news has been reported, tweeted and hosanna'd to every corner of the earth.

The Associated Press says many believe that these "recent remarks regarding condom use mark an important moment." The New York Times heralds them as a "milestone." A BBC presenter praises the Pope for having come over to a "moral position that many Catholic theologians have been recommending for quite some time."

Welcome to the Gospel
according to St. Condom


They say ours is an age of skepticism. Yet it is hard to reconcile skepticism with the faith we see in the powers of this miracle sheath.

Whatever the issue — sexually active teens, overpopulation in Asia, the AIDS tragedy in Africa, not to mention keeping sand out of Marine rifles in Iraq — the solution seems to start with latex.

Now the faithful feel they may have an unexpected convert. On Saturday, L'Osservatore Romano published an excerpt from a soon-to-be published book of interviews with the Pope. In it, he said this:

"There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be the first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants."

The Pope's statement, of course, is rooted in the larger Christian understanding of human sexuality. He made this clear in other parts of his answer, as when, for example, he complained about the "sheer fixation on the condom." His full remarks bear out his orthodoxy.

The media excitement over the Pope's one sentence favorable to condoms points to another orthodoxy, however. This orthodoxy is not much given to self-examination or tolerance of dissenters.

We saw it at work the last time Pope Benedict mentioned the condom, during last year's pastoral visit to Africa, when he said that condoms were no solution for the AIDS crisis — and might even make things worse.

"Irresponsible," sniffed the New York Times. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a cartoon of the Pope telling dying Africans in an AIDS ward: "Blessed are the sick, for they have not used condoms." The gist of the charge was this: Catholic teaching is spreading AIDS in Africa.

It's an interesting proposition. Surely we might start from the most obvious fact: The sexual activity where a condom might be most useful is often that which the Church regards as a grievous sin. Do men and women who have no problem rejecting papal teaching on sex really go on to tell their partners before so indulging, "Hang on there. I'm afraid a condom is out. The Pope says so." [My point, exactly, in my comments to the AP piece.!]

More awkward still, a senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, Edward C. Green, came forward with an inconvenient truth. "Current empirical evidence," he wrote, supports the Pope.

Mr. Green went on to make clear he is "not anti-condom." Condoms, he pointed out, have worked in places like Thailand, where the transmission of AIDS is largely through the sex industry.

In Africa, by contrast, the main reason for the spread of AIDS is that people have too many partners, and are in too many sexual relationships at the same time.

Even more interesting, in a 2005 article for the Weekly Standard, Mr. Green alluded to a larger issue for liberals like himself. It has to do with an attitude.

"Condoms," he wrote, "have been regarded as the first line of defense for everyone, everywhere, and anyone who disagrees with this orthodoxy has been dismissed as a religious fanatic with 'an agenda.'"

And so everywhere we hear only the glories of rubber. A South African film makes the health section of our "paper of record" (the NYT) because it is that nation's "first all-black pornographic movie" — and its male actors all use condoms.

Snooki of "Jersey Shore" fame turns down liquor sponsors for her 23rd birthday party — that would send the wrong message — and LifeStyles condoms steps in, because the New Jersey reality star is (what else?) "an advocate for safe sex." And so on.

Against what he calls the "banalization of sexuality," Pope Benedict offers a message: There is a better way.

It is not a popular way, it is easy to mock, and in some circumstances it demands a self-restraint that we inheritors of the sexual revolution regard as inhuman. Still, the Pope is willing to debate his message, seriously, honestly, openly.

Would that the champions of the opposing orthodoxy were willing to do the same.
{Another point I brought out - there can be no debate for as long as they refuse to look at facts that contradict their smug orthodoxy!]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 12:14 PM]
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The Pope greets new Cardinals,
their families and wellwishers






22 NOV 2010 - This morning, at the Aula Paolo VI, the Holy Father received the twenty-four new cardinals created in the consistory of Saturday 20 November.

With the prelates were members of their families and other faithful who accompanied them to Rome.

The Pope greeted the cardinals in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish, and expressed the hope that their followers may "support you with their prayers, that you many continue to persevere faithfully in your various tasks, for the good of the Gospel and of all Christian people".

"Your ministry", he told the cardinals, "is now enriched by the further duty of supporting Peter's Successor in his universal service to the Church."

"I place a lot of trust in you, in your prayer and in your vital assistance. With fraternal esteem I encourage you to continue your spiritual and apostolic mission which has just gone through a very important stage.

"Maintain your gaze fixed on Christ, drawing all grace and spiritual comfort from Him and following the shining example of cardinal saints, intrepid servants of the Church who, over the course of the centuries, have rendered glory to God with their heroic exercise of the virtues and their tenacious faithfulness to the Gospel".

Invoking on the cardinals "the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary Mother of the Church, and of the martyr St. Cecilia whose liturgical memory falls today", the Pope said "may she, the patroness of music and 'bel canto', accompany and support your efforts to listen attentively to various voices within the Church, in order to make the unity of hearts more profound".

The photo coverage of the event by the news agencies is very frustrating because there is no siongle photo available of the entire assembly, and only a couple of photos showing the new cardinals individually being greeted by the Pope. There's not even apne full shot of all 24 cardinals sitting together!... Below, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich gets the photo treatment that all the other 23 cardinals deserve but did not get...


Above, Marx presents the Pope with a wooden statue the saint is not identified - could it be St. Corbinian?), and below, he joins the Bavarian delegations that came to Rome for his red-hat event.


Equally as frustrating - and unpardonable almost - as the spotty photo coverage is the failure of VIS to update its news to Nov. 22nd - even now when it is already past noon on Nov.23: Its so-called 'Last 5 News' all consist of reporting from Saturday and Sunday (when VIS, of course, was taking the weekend off)!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 12:38 PM]
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Tuesday, Nov. 23, 34th Week in Ordinary Time

BLESSED MIGUEL AGUSTIN PRO (Mexico, 1891-1927)
Jesuit and Martyr
This priest was executed by firing squad on a charge that he plotted with his brothers
to assassinate the President of Mexico. His last request was to be allowed to kneel
in prayer before he was shot (see pictures). Growing to adulthood at the height of anti-
Catholic persecution in Mexico (the 1917 Constitution outlawed the Church and imposed
severe penalties against practising the religion), Father Pro spent many years in Belgium
where he worked with coal miners before returning to Mexico in 1926, actively working in
the underground Church. Before he was shot, he cried out 'Viva Cristo Rey!' (Long live
Christ the King!). He was beatified by John Paul II in 1988.
Readings for today's Mass:
www.usccb.org/nab/112310.shtml



OR for 11/22-11/23/10:

Benedict XVI celebrates Mass with the 24 new cardinals:
'The primacy of Peter in the service of the primacy of Christ'

Page 1 also has an editorial on the meaning of the cardinal's ring and the Pope's condolence at the death of Jesuit Cardinal Urbano Navarrete yesterday. The issue contains the full texts of the Pope's homily at the Mass of Christ the King on Sunday and his words at the Angelus; his letter to participants of an international symposium in Rome on the thought of Blessed John Henry Newman; portions of a 1995 essay he wrote about Paul VI as an advocate of human dignity, which is part of a new book with the documents of the 2008 symposium marking the 40th anniversary of Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae; and Fr. Lombardi's note on Sunday clarifying media misrepresentation of what the Pope says in Light of the World about condoms and AIDS. Page 1 international news: Ireland accepts European Union bailout of its enormous national debt; US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev have unscheduled meeting in Lisbon after the NATO summit.


THE POPE'S DAY
Normally, the Holy Father has no events scheduled on Tuesdays, but shortly after noon today, he was presented with copies of the book LIGHT OF THE WORLD by the publishers of the 10 language editions which were simultaneously released today. Also present was his interviewer Peter Seewald.

The book was formally presented earlier at the Vatican Press Office by Mons. Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, and by Luigi Accattoli, retired senior Vatican correspondent of Corriere della Sera. [The full texts of their presentations are exceptional but they must be translated.]



The Holy Father has named Mons. Felix Gmur to succeed Cardinal Kurt Koch, now president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as Bishop of Basel (Switzerland). Gmur has been secretary-general of the Swiss bishops conference.




It looks like good news for Asia Bibi, Deo gratias...

Pakistan minister says his probe shows
Bibi did not commit blasphemy



Lahore, Nov 23 (ANI)- Pakistan's Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, has said that Aasia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy, is innocent.

"According to my own investigation, it was a personal dispute and she did not commit blasphemy," the Daily Times quoted Bhatti, as saying.


Bhatti, who said that President Asif Ali Zardari had asked him to investigate the case, expressed his confidence that Zardari would pardon Aasia because she had been falsely accused.

"I will hopefully submit my report to the president on Wednesday and recommend to him to grant pardon to Aasia," he said. "She is innocent and the case against her is baseless."

The mother of five has already spent a year and a half in prison.

On November 8, Aasia was sentenced to death by an additional sessions judge in Nankana Sahib district on charges of committing blasphemy under the Pakistan Penal Code. The judge also imposed a fine of 300,000 rupees on her.

The case has drawn huge attention in the media, and there is deep sympathy for Aasia Bibi. Several NGOs have called for repealing the blasphemy law because it was "being used by illiterate masses in rural areas to hoodwink the minorities".

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI had also called for her release, and said that Christians in Pakistan were "often victims of violence and discrimination."

Only around three per cent of Pakistan's population of 167 million is estimated to be non-Muslim.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 3:32 PM]
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Well, well, well... A new statement from the Pope on condom use was the obvious headline grabber fron today's formal presentation of THE BOOK at the Vatican Press Office....


Pope's condom comments
apply to women too

By NICOLE WINFIELD




VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI's comments about condom use being a lesser evil than transmitting HIV also apply to women, the Vatican said Tuesday, a significant shift for a Pope who just last year said condoms only worsen the AIDS problem. [But the two statements are not mutuakky exclusive!]

Benedict said in a book released Tuesday that condom use by people such as male prostitutes was a lesser evil since it indicated they were taking a step toward a more moral and responsible sexuality by aiming to protect their partner from a deadly infection.

His comments implied that he was referring primarily to homosexual sex, when condoms aren't being used as a form of contraception, which the Vatican opposes.

Questions arose immediately, however, about the Pope's intent because the Italian translation of the book used the feminine for prostitute, whereas the original German used the masculine.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told reporters Tuesday that he asked the Pope whether he intended his comments to only apply to male prostitutes.

Benedict replied that it really didn't matter, that the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other, Lombardi said.

"I personally asked the Pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine," Lombardi said. "He told me no. The problem is this ... It's the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship."

"This is if you're a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We're at the same point," Lombardi said.

The Pope is not justifying or condoning gay sex, or heterosexual sex outside of a marriage. Elsewhere in the book he reaffirms the Vatican opposition to homosexual acts and artificial contraception and reaffirms the inviolability of marriage between man and woman.

But by broadening the condom comments to also apply to women, the Pope is saying that condom use in heterosexual relations is the lesser evil than passing HIV onto a partner.

While that concept has long been a tenet of moral theology [????? It has been advanced by some moral theologians, but it has not been enunciated as a doctrine of the Church!], the Pope's book "Light of the World" — a series of interviews with a German journalist — was the first time a Pope had ever publicly applied the theory to the scenario of condom use as a way to fight HIV transmission.

The Pope's comments have generated heated debate, mostly positive in places like Africa which has been devastated by AIDS, and where the Church has been criticized for its opposition to condom use.




As usual, the reporters are drawing broad conclusions from Lombardi's account of what the Pope said. Why didn't anyone at the newscon ask Lombardi directly, "Can we take it to mean that since condom use to prevent transmission of HIV by prostitutes is acceptable, that it is equally acceptable for Catholic couples when one of them is HIV-infected? Or does this apply only to prostitutes?" Because Lombardi should have asked this from the Pope himself - he had the opportunity, and in fact, one must commend him for taking the initiative he did (something he ought to do more often!).

But now, it seems to me the confusion is even greater, because liberal commentators will interpret the Pope's latest statement to say, "Yes, he now advocates the 'lesser evil' concept".

I do not believe in the hypothesis that the Pope is trying to provoke a debate on the issue, since he does not need public debate, much less consensus, to come to his own conclusion about what is right.

But I am perplexed about the present muddle. He has always been clear and unequivocal about teaching points. Why this seemingly incomplete statement now, if, in fact, his answer to Lomabrdi was limited to what Lombardi reported? The confusion is not helpful at all. Rather ironic considering the book's title.

I sincerely pray that he will say something directly about this issue at the General Audience tomorrow.






Vatican broadens cases
for condoms to fight AIDS

By Philip Pullella


VATICAN CITY, Nov. 22 (Reuters) – Pope Benedict's landmark acknowledgement that the use of condoms is sometimes morally justifiable to stop AIDS is valid not only for gay male prostitutes but for heterosexuals and transsexuals too, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

The clarification, the latest step in what is already seen as a significant shift in the Catholic Church policy, came at a news conference presenting the Pope's new book: "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Sign of the Times."

In the book, a long interview with German Catholic journalist Peter Seewald, the Pope used the example that a male prostitute would be justified using a condom to avoid transmitting the killer disease.

The clarification was necessary because the German, English and French versions of the book used the male article when referring to a prostitute but the Italian version used the female article.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said he asked the Pope directly about it to clarify his thinking.

"I asked the pope personally if there was a serious distinction in the choice of male instead of female and he said 'no'," Lombardi said.

"That is, the point is it (the use of a condom) should be a first step toward responsibility in being aware of the risk of the life of the other person one has relations with," Lombardi said.

"If it is a man, a woman or a transsexual who does it, we are always at the same point, which is the first step in responsibly avoiding passing on a grave risk to the other.

The Church had been saying for decades that condoms were not even part of the solution to fighting AIDS, even though no formal policy on this existed in a Vatican document.

The late cardinal John O'Connor of New York famously branded the use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS as "The Big Lie."

In the book, the Pope says the use of condoms [by a prostitute] could be seen as "a first step toward moralization," even though condoms are "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection."

After the Pope first mentions that the use of condoms could be justified in certain limited cases, the author, Seewald asks: "Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?"

The Pope answers: "It of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality."

The Pope's words and Lombardi's explanation -- while not changing the Catholic ban on contraception -- were nonetheless greeted as a breakthrough by liberal Catholics, AIDS activists and health officials.

"For the first time the use of condoms in special circumstances was endorsed by the Vatican and this is good news and good beginning for us," said Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization.

While some Roman Catholic leaders and theologians have spoken about the limited use of condoms to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS as the lesser of two evils, this is the first time the Pope has mentioned the possibility.

"It is a marvelous victory for common sense and reason, a major step forward toward recognizing that condom use can play a vital role in reducing the future impact of the HIV pandemic," said Jon O'Brien, head of the U.S. group Catholics for Choice.

"This is a significant and positive step forward taken by the Vatican," said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe. "This move recognizes that responsible sexual behavior and the use of condoms have important roles in HIV prevention." [Of course, the problem with condom advocacy in egeral is that condoms have been promoted primarily to enable complete sexual freedom without any responsibility other than to seek to prevent pregnancies. Since AIDS became a fullblown threat, the condom advocates have been promoting condoms as the one and only means to prevent the spread of the disease.]



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 4:10 PM]
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Thank God! Phil Lawler, one of the most experienced Catholic journalists in the USA,
www.catholicculture.org/about/leadership/bio_phil_lawler.cfm
has written up cogently and at length all the misgivings - almost an animus, in fact - that I have been expressing since Saturday about this most recent and potentially most serious failure of editorial judgment by the editor of L'Osservatore Romano, who has gone from one appalling lapse to another in the past three years of his tewardship at OR,.



The Vatican newspaper has betrayed the Pope:
Its editor must resign

by Phil Lawler

November 22, 2010


Pope Benedict has not changed the Church’s teachings, or even intimated that they might be subject to change. The Holy Father has not called for a new debate on the morality of contraception. He has not suggested that condom use might sometimes be morally justifiable.

Yet today millions of people around the world believe that the Pontiff has changed Church teaching, has opened the question of contraception for debate, and has justified condom use in some circumstances. How did that happen?

Yet again, Pope Benedict has been badly served by his public-relations staff. In this case, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano bears most of the blame for a truly disastrous gaffe.

An exciting book project subverted

The stories that are dominating media coverage of the Vatican this week can be traced to an interview in which Pope Benedict XVI responded to questions from the German journalist Peter Seewald. That interview was the basis for an exciting new book, Light of the World, which is due for publication this week.

The book is the 3rd such collaborative effort between the Pope and Seewald. But it is the first since Benedict XVI assumed the Chair of Peter, and the notion that a reigning Pontiff would submit to a book-length interview is a sensation in itself. Readers who expect something very special from such a book will not be disappointed. Light of the World is indeed sensational.

As an interviewer Seewald does his job well. He respectfully but persistently pressed the Pope to explain his thinking on a host of issues, many of them controversial. Pope Benedict, for his part, is candid and lucid, presenting his thoughts with that simple clarity that makes him such a great natural teacher. In Light of the World the reader will find the Pontiff’s honest thoughts on topics such as:

•the nature of papal infallibility and Petrine authority;
•the real reason for lifting excommunications on the traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius X;
•the limits of dialogue with Islam;
•the possibility of a papal resignation;
•the message of Fatima;
•the day-to-day life of the apostolic palace;
•the true causes of the sex-abuse scandal and the prospects for reform.

On every one of these topics, this reader found the Pope’s remarks refreshingly honest and thought-provoking. The Holy Father offers a number of fascinating revelations, along with an enormous amount of profound theological reflection. The book is, again, sensational.

Those of us who received advance copies of Light of the World were told that the text was under a very strict embargo. We were forbidden to quote from it, cite it, or even make any specific revelations about its content until the formal launch of the book this week. Such embargos are not unusual in the world of publishing (although the publishers were unusually stern about it in this case), and professional journalists routinely honor them.

Then, incredibly, the Vatican’s own newspaper violated the embargo. Betraying the publishers and breaking trust with all the other journalists who were fulfilling their promises, L’Osservatore Romano reproduced a passage from the Pope’s interview.

And not just any passage. The Vatican newspaper reproduced — without explanation or comment — a passage in which Pope Benedict reflected on the possibility that in some extreme cases, the impulse to use a condom might show a flickering of unselfishness in a seriously corrupted conscience.

Moreover, L’Osservatore broke the embargo, and published the excerpt, during a weekend when the Vatican was happily distracted by a consistory. At a time when Church leaders should have been celebrating a joyous occasion — the elevation of 24 members to the College of Cardinals — top Vatican officials were scrambling to explain the Pope’s words, which had been published prematurely and outside of their proper context.

The launch of Light of the World should have been another joyful occasion. With appropriate planning, the publisher was poised to introduce the Pope’s book with a major publicity campaign.

Now that publicity — which might have offered an accurate and favorable portrayal of the Pope’s book — will be nearly lost in the deluge of misinformation currently sweeping across the world.

What the Pope said — and did not say

Of all the passages that might have been culled out of the book, L’Osservatore Romano chose some speculative remarks by the Pontiff on the subject of condom use. Any capable journalist should have realized in advance that these remarks would be misinterpreted —especially when they were presented out of context.

In the passage that L’Osservatore published, Pope Benedict was not backing away from earlier statements, in which he had said that the distribution of condoms is not the proper way to fight the spread of AIDS. On the contrary, the Pope was defending that stand! Far from retracting his previous words, the Holy Father was explaining and elaborating on them.

In that context, when Seewald pressed him on the question of whether condom use might ever be advisable, the Pope replied:

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

When Seewald asked for a clarification, the Pope quickly added that the Church can never regard condom use as “a real or moral solution.”

Notice that in his hypothetical example, the Pope spoke of a “male prostitute,” presumably involved in homosexual acts. So the question of contraception — the main reason for the Church’s opposition to condoms — was removed from the equation. This prostitute is engaged in profoundly immoral acts.

The Pope does not suggest that the use of a condom would make his prostitution less immoral; he says only that by recognizing the imperative to protect his sexual partner, the theoretical prostitute is making a small step toward proper moral reasoning.

Here the Pope was making a theoretical point, not a practical one. He was not teaching, but explaining a point. He was not speaking with authority — in fact, earlier in the book he had explained why nothing the Pope says in an interview should be regarded as authoritative —but speculating. Nothing in what the Pope said, or the way he said it, reflects any change in the Church’s teaching.

In her helpful explanation of the Pope’s words, Janet Smith observed that “the Holy Father is not making a point about whether the use of a condom is contraceptive or even whether it reduces the evil of a homosexual sexual act; again, he is speaking about the psychological state of some who might use condoms.”

To place the Pope’s speculative remarks about the male prostitute in the proper context, Smith offered an analogy of her own:

If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets.


Journalistic incompetence

If it is “not the task of the Church” to give safety tips to bank robbers and homosexual prostitutes, why did the Pope offer that example?

In the context of a lengthy conversation, with a sympathetic interviewer, it is easy to see how the Pope might have been tempted toward speculative remarks.

But in the weeks between the time of the interview and the date of publication, did no one at the Vatican recognize the likelihood that the Pope’s words would be yanked out of context? Did any authoritative Vatican official vet the text of the interview, to ensure that the Pope’s answers to Seewald were not subject to confusion and/or misinterpretation?

If not, then this pontificate is now suffering from another self-inflicted wound. Surely any capable journalist would have recognized the potential for trouble, immediately upon reading the Pope’s words.

Anyone alert to the rhythms of everyday public debate would have been able to warn the Pontiff that his subtle distinctions about the morality of condom use would be lost upon the secular media.

Jeff Miller makes a witty reference to the “Ginger factor”: the tendency of journalists, when they encounter a mention of “condoms,” to block out all other words.

Secular journalists, reading the Pope’s words in the fateful paragraph above, would ask themselves only whether the Pontiff was allowing for the possibility of condom use, and conclude that he was. So inevitably the Pope’s statement would be seen as opening a loophole in Church teaching.

Yet it was the Vatican’s own journalists, at L’Osservatore Romano, who put the Pope’s words in print without any proper introduction, any effort to put the Pontiff’s thoughts in context. The Pope’s statement was bound to stir up trouble; its premature publication in the Vatican newspaper exacerbated the problem.

In past months L’Osservatore Romano has often embarrassed the Vatican, with puerile articles gushing about the merits of Michael Jackson, the Beatles, and The Simpsons.

But this editorial blunder is far more serious. With its gross mishandling of this very serious issue, the Vatican newspaper has given rise to a worldwide confusion on a very important moral issue —damage that it may take years of painstaking work to undo.

“Ironically, the message of this good and brilliant Pope has been hobbled nearly as much by the baffling failures of some of his own aides as by unfriendly coverage from the world's media,” writes Archbishop Charles Chaput for First Things. For the welfare of the Church, these public-relations debacles must end.

Why did L’Osservatore Romano violate journalistic norms, ignore obvious dangers, and print a potentially explosive statement out of its proper context?

Was the editor hoping to stir up a ruckus, and push sales of Light of the World regardless of the pastoral cost?

Was he hoping to stir up a new debate on condom use—something the Pope was quite obviously not seeking?

Or was the editor blind to the dangers of publishing this excerpt?

Whatever the answer might be, he has demonstrated that his editorial judgment cannot be trusted. As a necessary first step to address the continuous public-relations bungling at the Vatican, Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of L’Osservatore Romano should be asked to resign.


Chances are the Pope, being the kind man that he is, won't accept a resignation but Vian should at least take the honorable step, offer to resign, and give the Pope the chance to act on it.


It turns out Ed Peters, another militant critic of Vian's misjudgments at OR, had promptly written this appropriately scathing commentary... As Amy Welborn had hinted earlier, Peters spells out how, in one fell swoop, OR not only created a gigantic and totally unnecessary PR fiasco for the Pope's message - it also laid waste to all the careful best-laid plans for an appropriate rollout for the book....


The continuing mess at L’Osservatore Romano

Nov. 22, 2010

While many able others are scrambling to respond to the eruption over the Pope’s remarks on condom use by male prostitutes, I want to ask a few questions about the occasion of this public relations fiasco, namely, the decision by L’Osservatore Romano to publish prematurely, out of context, and without commentary, the single most controversial paragraph of the pope’s book, Light of the World, in, if nothing else, apparent violation of the agreement in place between its various publishers concerning a coordinated release of the work.

I frankly wonder whether, even now, L’Osservatore Romano yet realizes what a serious disservice it has committed by arrogating to itself the role of introducing the Pope’s book, Light of the World, and by its making that introduction in such a palpably incompetent manner?

Light of the World is a remarkable book, being first, the fruit of a welcome papal willingness to share frank insights and opinions on the Christian message today, and being second, the product of much work by many people in several nations, all oriented to presenting the book in its best light.

These latter groups had planned for months to introduce Light of the World as the holistic, positive, and integrated work that the Pope intended it to be. A mid-week launch (and, in the vital US market, one day before an extended holiday that is typically slow in news) was carefully planned with writers, speakers, and resource persons briefed ahead of time, all ready to comment on the book and to respond to questions.

It was a huge amount of work but, being undertaken by professionals who knew what they were doing, it promised to be effective.

Now, all of that planning has been shredded by the L’OR decision to launch Light of the World on its own.

Worse, L’OR chose to highlight what is probably the single most speculative and controversial papal paragraph in over 200 pages of print, and to offer that snippet out of context and without explanation. Unbelievable.

Instantly, of course, the world formed exactly the wrong understanding of that paragraph that anyone could have predicted.

Now, instead of being able to present the Pope’s interview as a positive and even vigorous affirmation of unified truth, Catholic theologians and spokesmen must respond defensively against secular attacks and distortions, resorting (for the most part) to a level of sophistication that befits a graduate seminar in moral theology, not a reader-friendly presentation of ideas.

I mean, great scot, the book is not even published yet, and already the Vatican Press is Office is having to issue hasty corrections and unconvincing clarifications!

And it’s all because of L’OR.

Again.

Yes, again. L’OR’s panting after pop relevance (with pieces on, e.g., The Beatles and The Simpsons) is embarrassing enough. I've learned to ignore that. Its mistreatment of Brazilian Abp. Cardoso Sobrihno should have been seen as the warning sign that it was. I said so at the time.

But, if this media fiasco is not enough to bring sweeping changes to L’OR, then, I don’t know what ever will.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 8:50 PM]
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THE POPE RECEIVES THE BOOK





Only the first photos so far... And below, the first of the book reviews I have come across from those released today in the Anglophone press, in addition to many 'excerpt' selections....

And here is the brief note in tomorrow's issue of OR about the event...


Audience with Peter Seewald and
the publishers of the book:
'I hope the book will be useful
for the faith of many'

Translated from the 11/24 issue of


"I hope this book may be useful for the faith of many", Pope Benedict XVI said at the end of an audience with author Peter Seewald and the publishers of the various language editions of their interview book released simultaneously Tuesday around the world.

The meeting took place Tuesday morning in the private library of the Apostolic Palace.

Besides Mons. Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, and journalist Luigi Accattoli, who had presented the book at a news conference earlier.

Also present at the audience were Seewald and his wife, the book publishers, and the officers of the Vatican publishing house: Mons. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, don Giuseppe Costa, and Carmelite Fr. Edmondo Caruana, along with Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican press director;

The issue contains the full texts of the presentations made by Mons. Fisichella and Accattoli. Unfortunately, the only photo posted by the OR is the first one above....

And, BTW, in this first issue since the accurswed Sunday issue with the disastrous 'exercpt of an excerpt', OR has no report or acknowledgment at all of the confused furor that dominated worldwide media because of its mindless and compleely couner-productive 'jumping the gun'...






Beyond the controversy,
a revealing glimpse into
the mind of the Pope

By David Scott, Editor-in-Chief


Rome, Italy, Nov 22, 2010 - Perhaps it is the legacy of his early years as a professor, but Pope Benedict XVI seems to relish the chance to speak spontaneously and to take questions from a crowd.

In the five short years of his pontificate, he has engaged in an unusual number of public question and answer sessions — with bishops, priests, seminarians, even young children; and, of course, journalists.

His comfort with the “Q & A” format predates his pontificate. As head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he took part in several book-length interviews — beginning with his now famous conversation with Italian journalist, Vittorio Messori, published in 1985 as The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church.

His new interview book, Light of the World, is his third with the German journalist Peter Seewald.

Although not officially released until Nov. 23, the book is already the talk of the world. That follows the odd decision by the Vatican newspaper to violate the embargo on the book’s release and publish fragments of the Pope’s remarks on the controversial subject of condoms and the worldwide fight against AIDS.

But there is far more to this 219-page book than grist for scandal-mongers and controversialists.

It is true that the Pope is forthright and frank in responding to questions ranging from ecumenism to global warming. And he does not duck tough questions on his handling of controversies and scandals that have arisen in the Church under his watch.

He also speaks candidly and offers an unprecedented personal glimpse into his papacy.

At 83, the job can make him weary, he admits, and he makes a special effort to organize his time well and to make sure that he gets enough rest and time for prayer.

And he thanks God that he is in excellent health — because this Pope does not like to exercise. [Well, not exactly. He gets his two walks a day regularly, it appears, and that is more than most people at his age get to do.]

Asked whether he ever uses the exercise bicycle given to him by his former physician, Pope Benedict responds enthusiastically: “No. I don’t get to it at all — and don’t need it at the moment, thank God.”

Light of the World presents the Pope as one of the world’s foremost public intellectuals, a man who has thought deeply about the modern world, with all its problems and its promises.

At the root of the problems in the world today is what he calls “the question about God.”

“For many people today, practical atheism is the normal rule of life,” Pope Benedict says. “Maybe there is something or someone, they think, who once set the world in motion eons ago, but he does not matter to us at all. If this attitude becomes a general existential position, then freedom no longer has any standards, then everything is possible and permissible.”

As he sees it, God has been displaced in a society that now puts all its confidence in the capacities of human reason and science and technology. “Today man thinks that he himself can do everything that he once awaited from God alone,” he states.

The Pope calls for a “major examination of conscience” of modern assumptions about the uses of knowledge, power, and freedom, and about the meaning of progress.

“This is the question: What is good? Where should knowledge lead power? …” he asks. “Is it progress if I can destroy? Is it progress if I myself can make, select, and dispose of human beings?”

He rejects what he calls a “fundamental concept of the modern era: freedom, which is understood as the freedom to do anything.” This understanding of freedom leads to the dangerous belief that “whatever one can do, one must also be allowed to do,” he says.

He also warns of the rise of a “new intolerance” in secular society that rejects traditional religious symbols and teachings as incompatible with modern freedoms. He notes that Christians and Church institutions are increasingly being pushed to the margins of society.

“When, for example, in the name of non-discrimination, people try to force the Catholic Church to change her position on homosexuality or the ordination of women, then that means that she is no longer allowed to live out her own identity … In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished; this is the real threat we face.”

In the face of growing secularization, Pope Benedict poses hard questions for Catholics.

“To what extent do people belong to the Church in the first place?” he asks. “On the one hand, they want to belong to her and do not want to lose this foundation. On the other hand, they are of course also shaped and formed interiorly by the modern way of thinking.”

The Pope sees believers today as afflicted by “a sort of schizophrenia, a divided existence.” Faith in God is reduced to “a sort of archaic stratum” that has less and less meaning in a society where people are encouraged to live as if God is not relevant.

Benedict XVI also questions the indifference of many Christians to the social and political implications of their faith.

“Really,” he says, “one often wonders how it happens that Christians who personally are believers do not have the strength to put their faith into action in a way that is politically effective.”

Pope Benedict reserves his most withering criticisms for some aspects of the institutional Church.

“The bureaucracy is spent and tired,” he says of some Church institutions in Europe and the West.

Of some Catholics who work for the Church, he adds: “It is sad that there are what you might call professional Catholics who make a living on their Catholicism, but in whom the spring of faith flows only faintly, in a few scattered drops.”

Yet the Pope remains bullish on the Church. He stresses the growth in the number of priests and seminarians worldwide. And he sees new vitality in the various movements in the Church, especially among the young, and especially outside of Europe.

“Christianity is perhaps acquiring another face and, also, another cultural form,” he says. “It does not hold the command post in world opinion; others rule there. But it is a vital force without which even the other things would not continue. … Thanks to what I myself am able to see and experience, I am quite optimistic that Christianity is on the verge of a new dynamic.”

He calls for a “new evangelization” and urges the Church to once more propose the truth about Jesus Christ to the world.

“Above all else we must try to make sure that people do not lose sight of God,” he says.

It is not enough for people to believe in God. They must be introduced to the God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ, a personal God — “a God who knows us, speaks to us, and approaches us — and who is then our judge also,” Pope Benedict says.

The Church’s preaching remains too “one-sided … largely directed to the creation of a better world,” according to the Pope. “Hardly anyone talks any more about the other, truly better world. … Our task is to open up this horizon, to broaden it, and to turn our gaze toward the ultimate.”

The Pope answers many complex questions in Light of the World. But perhaps his most moving answer comes in response to the simplest of the questions put to him: “What does Jesus want from us?”

Pope Benedict responds: “He wants us to believe him. To let ourselves be led by him. To live with him. And so to become more and more like him and, thus, to live rightly.”

The Pope Benedict XVI who reveals himself in the pages of this book is a man of prayer and humility.

He confesses that in his personal prayer he invokes the saints often: “I am friends with Augustine, with Bonaventure, with Thomas Aquinas.”

And this book again reveals how much his vision of the world has been shaped by St. Augustine’s meditations on original sin in his masterwork, The City of God.

He says: “St. Augustine said: World history is a battle between two forms of love. Love of self — to the point of destroying the world. And love of others — to the point of renouncing oneself. This battle, which could always be seen, is in progress now, too.”

Of his own place in this epic battle between the “two loves,” Pope Benedict describes his pontificate as the humble continuation of his predecessor’s.

“I really am a debtor,” he concludes, “a modest figure who is trying to continue what John Paul II accomplished as a giant.”

[Dear dear Papino! Bless you, who are already BENEDICTUS QUI VENIT IN NOMINE DOMINI! You are a giant to us, dolce Cristo in terra.]


I am pleasantly surprised by this excellent concise review of the book by an Italian news agency writer, who does not allow himself to be overwhelmed by detail and keeps his eye on the central theme of this Pope and his Pontificate. I wish he had signed his/here name to it....


The Pope spans
current events and eternity
without a safety net

Translated from

Nov. 23, 2010

A Pope who responds, with simplicity and frankness, to questions covering 360 degrees of amplitude from a newsman friend, ranging from the 'fundamentals' of the faith to the hottest issues of the day.

This is what emerges in Luce del Mondo: Il Papa, la Chiesa, i segni dei tempi. Una conversazione di Benedetto XVI con Peter Seewald, which was presented today at the Vatican - the outcome of a week of conversations between Benedict XVI and the German author Peter Seewald in Castel Gandolfo last July.

Papa Ratzinger never answers in an ex cathedra manner, but modestly, often screening himself from the admiration evident in some passages of his enthusiastic itnerviewer.

He speaks about the 'normality' of his daily routine, which includes failure to use a stationary bicycle gathering dust -'thank God, for now, I do not need it" - and evenings watching the news on TV with his two secretaries, or DVDs like the Don Camillo films with his four Memores Domini housekeepers.

He does not draw back from questions that have to do with Catholic doctrine, indicating some non-revolutionary but nonetheless surprising openings - such as what he said about condoms that has dominated the worldwide media since the Osservatore Romano published an incomplete and uncommented excerpt of it last Saturday.

But the true heart of the message that the Pope conveys through the unprecedented form of this interview book - which does not allow him a 'safety net' - is this: To reannounce with 'new words' that God is love to a mankind that no longer understand the Christian truth - "the Blood of Christ was shed on the Cross in expiation of our sins" for the salvation of all men.

"These are great and true formulations," he says, though increasingly remote from contemporary reasoning which is incresingly entangled in 'practical atheism'."

But the Church exists to announce these truths, despite the scandals which have wounded her, but which nonetheless point to the fact that it was Jesus who founded the Church. "If she was dependent wholly on men, then she would have sunk a long time ago.".

Despite everything, the Pontiff is optimistic in the face of the modern world and the place that the Church can have in it. He says "There is a flowering of new initiatives' that do not arise from structures or bureaucracies. "Burraucracy," he says forcefully, "is worn out and tirsd..."

He believes Christianity will perhaps take on a new face, even a different cultural aspect, because it faces a 'new dynamic' and has a 'vital force' that can change the world.

Nor does Papa Ratzinger deny the 'silent schism' between the nominal members of the Church by virtue of Baptism, and the real life of the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world.

"Many who seem to be in the Church are really out of it", he notes, "in some kind of schizophrenia" between wanting to belong to the ecclesial community and being permeated by the secular mentality.

But the converse is also true: "Many who seem to be ouside it are really in it".

In the face of all the criticisms and attacks against him and the Church, Benedict XVI says: "If I had been getting nothing but consensus, I would have had to ask myself if I was truly announcing the Gospel!"

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 9:06 PM]
11/23/2010 4:34 PM
 
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Jonah Goldberg is one of a handful of socio-political commentators whose writings I follow daily (he blogs and writes regularly for National Review) because I share about 90 percent of his views and he writes very well. He is an unabashed social, poltiical and fiscal conservative. But even I am surprised by his utterly fair - and in many ways, beautiful - presentation of the Church and her views which i have not read from him before. If only more secular writers showed the same fairness and common sense....

This Pope plays it right
by Jonah Goldberg
Op-Ed Article

November 23, 2010


In the spring of 2005, Pope John Paul II died. My father, who passed away that summer, watched the funeral and the coronation of the current pope, Benedict XVI, from his hospital bed. My dad, a Jew, loved the spectacle of it all (the Vatican, he said, was the last institution that "really knows how to dress").

From what he could tell, he liked this new Pope too. "We need more rocks in the river," my dad explained. He was saying that change comes so fast, in such a relentless torrent, that we need people and things that stand up to it and offer respite from the current.

I loved the literary quality of the expression "more rocks in the river," even though the imagery doesn't quite convey what my dad really believed. Dad was a conservative, properly understood. By that I mean he didn't think conservatism was merely an act of passive and futile defiance of what Shakespeare called "devouring time." Unlike human institutions, the rocks do not fight the devouring river of time.

My dad believed that conservatism was an affirmative act, a choice of prudence and will. In the cacophonous din of perpetual change, the conservative selects the notes worth savoring and repeats them for others to hear and, hopefully, appreciate.

Over the weekend, the media (mis)reported that Benedict had renounced the Roman Catholic Church's longstanding "policy" against condom use. I put "policy" in quotes because the media have a tendency to portray all Church positions as if they were like rules for trash pickup - easily changed or abandoned upon papal or bureaucratic whim. That's not how it works.

What Benedict said in a book-length interview is that in certain circumstances, using a condom would be less bad than not using one. To use Benedict's example, a male prostitute with HIV would be acting more responsibly, more morally, if he wore a condom while plying his trade than if he didn't.

The Pontiff understands that not all harms are equal. Assault is wrong, for instance, but assault with a deadly weapon is more wrong than assault with a non-deadly one.

Recognizing and limiting the harm you do, he points out, can be the "first step in the direction of a moralization, a first act of responsibility in developing anew an awareness of the fact that not everything is permissible."

Now, I'm not on the same page as the Vatican on all matters of sexuality, never mind theology. But I respect it. And, given the core assumptions of Catholic moral thought, I think Benedict's reasoning is perfectly sound.

But, more relevant, I appreciate the role the Church plays in savoring the right notes.

It's a common trope among Church critics to glibly suggest that the Vatican has the blood of millions on its hands because it doesn't back condom distribution, particularly in Africa. That is as absurd as it is unprovable.

The Church's opposition to corruption, ethnic violence and murder are just as pronounced and resolute, and yet such maladies persist in Africa as well.

Are we to believe that African male prostitutes — no doubt devout Catholics all — were simply following Church doctrine when they declined to use condoms?

Meanwhile, the Church does perhaps more than any other institution to aid the sick and feed the hungry in Africa, something you certainly can't say about many of the critics in the Fourth Estate peanut gallery.

As for the Church's preferred approach — abstinence until marriage — it may be impractical in most parts of the world, as the critics claim. But it would undeniably save more lives than condom use if put into practice. What seems to offend many isn't the efficacy of the solution but the suggestion that such values have any place in the modern world.

The Church's position is that the truest notes are those that not only celebrate life and love but cut through the whitewater racket of devouring time. As those notes become harder to hear, the answer isn't to stop playing them but to turn up the volume.


Perhaps it's the approach of yet another dad-less Thanksgiving — a holiday during which we give thanks for whatever parts of our lives that are set to the music of those true notes — that has set my mind in this direction. But that shouldn't surprise, for he was always the rock in my river.


And Benedict XVI, Successor of Peter, is more than just the rock in our river - he is The Rock on which the Church must stand at this start of the third millennnium!


Through NRO, Weigel brings arguments made in the Catholic blogosphere wuthin the reach of secular raders, in this excellent summation of MSM condomania and, even if he does not mention the OR, the consequences of that newspaper's disastrous self-indulgence over the weekend....

Deflating the NYT condom scoop:
No, the Pope did not change
Catholic teaching on condoms

by George Weigel
Nov. 22, 2010

Here is what the New York Times reported to its readers on November 21: “Pope Benedict XVI has said that condom use can be justified in some cases to help stop the spread of AIDS . . . .”

No, the Pope did not say that in his new book, Light of the World, to which I had the honor of contributing a foreword. Here is what the pope actually wrote, answering two questions from German journalist Peter Seewald:

Seewald: On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican’s policy on AIDS once again became the target of media criticism. Twenty-five percent of all Aids victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40 percent. In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

Benedict XVI: The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me why the Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on Aids. At that point, I really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does more than anyone else. And I stand by that claim.

Because she is the only institution that assists people up close and concretely, with prevention, education, help, counsel, and accompaniment. And because she is second to none in treating so many Aids victims, especially children with Aids.

I had the chance to visit one of these wards and to speak with the patients. That was the real answer: The Church does more than anyone else, because she does not speak from the tribunal of the newspapers, but helps her brothers and sisters where they are actually suffering.

In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.

As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen.

Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence–Be Faithful–Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work.

This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves.

This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.

But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

Seewald: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

Benedict XVI: She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.


And here is Sacred Heart Major Seminary professor Janet Smith’s illustration of the technical point the Pope was actually making, which touches on the question of what philosophers and theologians call subjective intention:

If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would be better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it [for that] would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries.

But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets.

Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.

As misleading as the Times story was, it was hardly the worst of the maelstrom of media misrepresentation, which was initiated by the once-authoritative Associated Press.

This latest example of pack journalism was a disservice in itself; it also highlighted several false assumptions that continually bedevil coverage of the Catholic Church and the Vatican and one specific media obsession that is, to be brutally frank, lethal in its consequences.

The first false assumption beneath the latest round of media condomania is that the Church’s settled teaching on sexual morality is a policy or a position that can change, as tax rates can be changed or one’s position on whether India should be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council can change.

To be sure, the theological articulation of the Catholic ethic of sexual love has been refined over centuries; it has come to an interesting point of explication in recent years in John Paul II’s “theology of the body.”

But it has not changed and it will not change because it cannot be changed. And it cannot change or be changed because the Catholic ethic of sexual love is an expression of fundamental moral truths that can be known by reason and are illuminated by revelation.

The second false assumption beneath the condom story is that all papal statements of whatever sort are equal, such that an interview is an exercise of the papal teaching magisterium.

That wasn’t true of John Paul II’s international bestseller, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, in which the late pope replied to questions posed by Italian journalist Vittorio Messori.

It wasn’t true of the first volume of Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth, in which the Pope made clear at the outset that he was speaking personally as a theologian and biblical scholar, not as the authoritative teacher of the Church.

And it isn’t true of Light of the World.

Reporters who insist on parsing every papal utterance as if each were equally authoritative — and who often do so in pursuit of a gotcha moment — do no good service to their readers.

The third false assumption was that a “historic change” in Catholic teaching of the sort that was misreported to have taken place would be announced through the medium of an interview.

It will perhaps come as a blow to the self-esteem of the fourth estate to recognize an elementary fact of Catholic life, but the truth of the matter is that no Pope with his wits about him would use the vehicle of an interview with a journalist to discuss a new initiative, lay out a pastoral program, or explicate a development of doctrine.

Light of the World is chock-full of interesting material, explaining this or that facet of Catholic faith, reflecting on the successes, challenges, and communications errors of the pontificate to date, even pondering personal questions such as the possibility of a papal retirement. But such interviews never are going to be used for the most serious exercises of papal authority.

As for the media obsession, it is, of course, with the notion of Salvation by Latex.

Shortly after the Pope’s visit to Africa, where he was hammered by the press for alleged insensitivity to AIDS victims because of his reiteration of the Catholic sexual ethic, a distinguished student of these matters, Dr. Edward Green, published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post with the striking title, “The Pope May Be Right.”

Green, who is not a Catholic, made a powerful case that abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage are, empirically, the genuine AIDS-preventers.

He was right, according to every thorough study of this terrible plague. But you would never know that by the coverage of Catholics and condoms — just as you would likely never learn that, as a global institution, the Catholic Church serves more AIDS sufferers than any other similarly situated community.


What humane purpose is served by this media obsession with condoms? What happens to the press’s vaunted willingness to challenge conventional wisdom when the issue at hand is anything touching on sexual license? It seems to disappear.

And one fears that a lot of people are seriously hurt — and die — as at least an indirect result. Consciences indeed need to be examined in the matter of condoms, Catholics, and AIDS. But the consciences in question are those of the press.



The Holy Father with Seewald and Mons. Fisichella when the Pope was presented with copies of the book today.

Seewald:
'Ridiculous and embarassing'
that the attention has been
focused on condoms




VATICAN CITY, Nov. 23 (Translated from APCOM) - It is ;ridiculous and embarassing' that the discussion about the interview book with the Pope, Light of the World, has focused on the issue of condoms, journalist Peter Seewald said today.

"It shows the crisis in which journalism finds itself today," he said, responding to questions at the news confernce today at which the book was formally presented at the Vatican.

"The book confronts an enormous panorama", he pointed out. "It deals with the crisis in the Church and in the world, the very lifespan of a society. The Pope is making an appeal to mankind. He explains how the planet itself cannot afford that man should continue to live as we have done so till now. That we can and must change for the sake of the future of life itself and of civilized society on the planet.

"It's a broad look at history, but instead, the world is arguing about condoms. It is ridiculous and embarassing. I know that it is an important question and that is why I asked it, and the Pope answered it precisely and concretely.

"But he also underscored that a statement on condoms had overshadowed his trip to Africa, with the result that the media showed no interest at all in the other African problems that the Pope considers urgent.

"There's a similar situation today. The dispute is whether the Pope favors the use of condoms or not. Yet we all know that it is not for him to 'allow' its use or not, but rather to indicate and affirm moral principles. To consider how this society treats sexuality like a drug. To ask whether sexuality has anything to do with love.

"In this sense, it's not important if he spoke about a male prostitute or a female prostitute. It is an occasion to speak about sexuality." [And its positive value, as the Pope underscores in the inerview]. ]

To questions about the 'authenticity' of the Pope's words in the book, Seewald said that there was no 'censorship' whatsoever, adn that the recorded interviews were transcribed faithfully in the published text. [Why anyone should even ask that is just perverse!]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 6:09 PM]
11/23/2010 6:32 PM
 
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There are obviously excerpts all over the Web now from THE BOOK, so I will post them as I see them... And please bear with me. As soon as THE BOOK and reactions to it cease to the 'news of the day', I will build a thread dedicated to the book alone, in which I will include all previous posts about it, so we can have a convenient single stop for this special resource that, obviously, will be a gift that keeps on giving... This is the selection at FIRST THINGS


Excerpts From 'Light of the World'

Nov 23, 2010


The following excerpts are from Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times, Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with Pope Benedict XVI:

On the Abuse Scandal
Yes, it is a great crisis, we have to say that. It was upsetting for all of us. Suddenly so much filth. It was really almost like the crater of a volcano, out of which suddenly a tremendous cloud of filth came, darkening and soiling everything, so that above all the priesthood suddenly seemed to be a place of shame and every priest was under the suspicion of being one like that too. Many priests declared that they no longer dared to extend a hand to a child, much less go to a summer camp with children. . . .

He [the Archbishop of Dublin] said that ecclesiastical penal law functioned until the late 1950s; admittedly it was not perfect—there is much to criticize about it—but nevertheless it was applied. After the mid-sixties, however, it was simply not applied any more.

The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love; she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people.

Today we have to learn all over again that love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner in the form that is possible and appropriate.

In this respect there was in the past a change of mentality, in which the law and the need for punishment were obscured. Ultimately this also narrowed the concept of love, which in fact is not just being nice or courteous, but is found in the truth. And another component of truth is that I must punish the one who has sinned against real love.


On the Possibility of Papal Resignation
If a Pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.


On Papal Pronouns
I use both the “I” and the “we”. For on many, many matters I am not simply expressing ideas that have happened to occur to Joseph Ratzinger, but I am speaking out of the common life of the Church’s communion.

In these cases, I am speaking, as it were, in intrinsic fellowship with my fellow believers — and I am expressing what we are in common and what we can believe in common.

In this sense, the “we” has its legitimate role, not as a plural of majesty, but as a real expression of the fact of coming from others, of speaking through and with others.

But where one says something personal in the role of “I”, then the first person singular has its role to play as well. So both are used: the “I” and the “we”.


On the Tridentine Mass
Liturgy, in truth, is an event by means of which we let ourselves be introduced into the expansive faith and prayer of the Church.

This is the reason why the early Christians prayed facing east, in the direction of the rising sun, the symbol of the returning Christ. In so doing, they wanted to show that the whole world is on its way toward Christ and that he encompasses the whole world.

This connection between heaven and earth is very important. It was no accident that ancient churches were built so that the sun would cast its light into the house of God at a very precise moment. . . .

...someone didn't just one day invent the liturgy, but it has been growing organically since the time of Abraham. These kinds of elements from the earliest times are still present in the liturgy.

Concretely, the renewed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council is the valid form in which the Church celebrates liturgy today. My main reason for making the previous form more available was to preserve the internal continuity of Church history.

We cannot say: Before, everything was wrong, but now everything is right; for in a community in which prayer and the Eucharist are the most important things, what was earlier supremely sacred cannot be entirely wrong. The issue was internal reconciliation with our own past, the intrinsic continuity of faith and prayer in the Church.



On the Tridentine petition
for the conversion of the Jews

[T]his petition does not affect the liturgy in general, but only the small circle of people who use the old missal. So there was no question of any change in the main liturgy.

But in the old liturgy this point seemed to me to require a modification. The old formulation really was offensive to Jews and failed to express positively the overall intrinsic unity between the Old and New Testament. For this reason, I believed that a modification of this passage in the old liturgy was necessary, especially, as I have already said, out of consideration for our relation with our Jewish friends.

I altered the text in such a way as to express our faith that Christ is the Savior for all, that there are not two channels of salvation, so that Christ is also the redeemer of the Jews, and not just of the Gentiles.

But the new formulation also shifts the focus from a direct petition for the conversion of the Jews in a missionary sense, to a plea that the Lord might bring about the hour of history when we may all be united. So the polemical arguments with which a whole series of theologians assailed me are ill-considered; they do not accurately reflect the reality of the situation.


On AIDS and Condoms
...The sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves.

This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.

But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.


On the Eucharistic Drama
I wanted it to be clear: Something quite special is going on here! He is here, the One before whom we fall on our knees! Pay attention! This is not just some social ritual in which we can take part if we want to. [One of the obvious dangers of 'excerpting' is the lack of context. In this case, as we have read in other excerpts, the Pope was commenting specifically on why he encourages communion in the old style, on the mouth and kneeling.]


On the Future of Christianity
,..The Christian origins are still part of the broad cultural climate of many Western countries. But we are heading increasingly toward a form of Christianity based on personal decision. And it will decide in turn the extent to which the general Christian character remains at work.

I would say that the task today is on the one hand, to consolidate, enliven, and enlarge this Christianity of personal decision, so that more people can consciously live and profess their faith again. On the other hand, we have to acknowledge that we are not simply identical with the nation as such — and yet that we have the energy to impress upon it, and present to it, values that it can accept, even when the majority are not believing Christians.




Too add to my earlier comment about proper excerpting, a great loss in the case of this as well as the OR selection adn the Reuters selction is that they omit the questions. As we saw in Seewald's full question on the condom, the interviewer carefully contextualizes his questions, and therefore, even simply reducing his question to the substantive part of it without presenting his context, can make a great difference as to how one understands the Pope's answer.

BTW, I'm finding it increasingly hard to forgive OR for its gigantic, near-catastrophic weekend lapse of judgment: Not only did it rob the Consistory of the attention it (and the new cardinals) deserve. It also inevitably made the book launching today rather anti-climactic, and sucks the oxygen out of the room for any of the plurality of topics in the book to get any attention for now.



Here's another worthwhile commentary from FIRST THINGS:

The would-be Church
by Kevin Staley-Joyce

November 22, 2010


Pope Benedict’s clarification of the moral theology relating to condom use has produced one of those moments in media life when journalists ceremoniously remove their thinking caps and implement a hopelessly formulaic analysis of the Church’s inner politics and theological dialogue.

CNN and others have so far breathlessly noted Pope Benedict’s nuanced statement, but only with about as much subtlety as inept opinion writers reported on his equally nuanced quotation during the “Regensburg Moment.”

Others, like the Telegraph, have been positively devious, proclaiming that the Church no longer opposes contraceptive acts. And, tiresome to say, each of these articles wearily attempts to relate the condom comment to past sex abuse by priests.

The expected lines of “argument” have been drawn up: The antiquarian, stuck-in-the-mud Church is finally catching up with modern ethics, with the spirit of the age, and with progress. After all, we are at a point in human history where the vast majority of things formerly prohibited are now considered good.

There are those who see the Church primarily as a political body, which, owing only to its self-interest, tends not to change its “policies” on issues very often.

Other commentators have a somewhat more accurate understanding of the Church as a messenger with an unchanging message, but still are at pains to understand moral absolutes.

Then there are those who understand that the Church proclaims certain moral absolutes, and must therefore be consistent.

Said one of these, “If the Pope can change his stance on condoms, why can’t he also modify the Vatican’s harsh intolerant opposition to women’s rights, gay equality, fertility treatment and embryonic stem cell research?” [And this is really the underlying rationale/strategy for the alacrity and insistence with which MSM commentators have sought to depict the Pope's statements as 'a historic shift' or even a 'revolution' in 'Church thinking and practice': to advance the claim that the Pope has, as it were, 'seen the light' of secular reason, and that if he can 'change his mind' about condom use, then he can and should change his mind - and Church teaching - about everything else. George Weigel, in his NRO article, pointed out the false assumptions that underlie this prevalent MSM fallacy! Think of the chain reaction of consequences that their fallacy could lead to... as Mr Staley-Joyce carries it to its ultimate reduction ad absurdum in the next paragraph:]

If we tweak this to refer to “intrinsically contraceptive acts” as opposed to condoms in particular, this fellow would have a point. If the Church could change its position on, say, the intrinsic dignity of human life in abortion, why not change its beliefs about the divinity of Christ or life after death?

He would have a point, that is, if the Pope had indeed changed his stance – except that he hasn’t, incrementally or otherwise. But at least he’s right to point out that the Church has to be internally consistent or cease to call itself the Church.

There are others, though, who are almost risibly indifferent to such consistency. My tragic favorite is this example:

Sex worker Constance Makoni, from the town of Mbare in Zimbabwe, said she was pleased to hear the Pope’s message. She said she uses condoms to protect herself against HIV, even though it is against her beliefs.

Makoni, the story goes, is a typical victim of the Church’s scandalously consistent wisdom on contraception, who would somehow countenance ethical scruples regarding contraceptive use, while missing the point of how prostitution might brush up against the Church’s teachings as well. This odd paradox has been addressed before, as here in an analysis by First Things’ friend Michael Liccione:

I’m actually less sickened by the hue and cry over the Pope’s remarks about the perennial AIDS-condom issue. Every few years or so, the media broadcast the charge that the Vatican is guilty of mass murder for opposing the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV infection in Africa.

Now even if condom use were generally effective for that purpose, it takes only a moment’s reflection to expose the recurring charge as ludicrous. Surely anybody can figure out that the number of AIDS-infected people who take Catholic teaching seriously enough to avoid using condoms, but not seriously enough to avoid sex with uninfected partners, has got to be pretty close to nil.

In any case, all the Pope said was that passing out condoms en masse is more likely to be part of the problem than of the solution. Even the research from Harvard agrees — much to its author’s chagrin, I’m told - what is the freakin’ problem here?

It’s not that hard to understand. People who believe in what was called, during the 60s and 70s, “the sexual revolution”, can’t imagine that abstinence is a more humane and effective prophylactic than latex. That’s because they can’t imagine truly voluntary abstinence at all.

Thus, if somebody capable of sexual activity and attractive enough to have a partner is abstinent, that must be because some malign force —such as mental illness, a controlling paterfamilias, or a religious hierarchy — is coercing them to avoid sex. That view is a prejudice which explains a lot of other attitudes as well.

The latest hue and cry about the Pope, and the outrage against the Harvard report, only confirms the liveliness of the prejudice. But I’m more amused than sickened.



Well, thanks again! Someone has now brought up the other point I have been making that abstinence, not condoms, is the first alternative for Catholic coupls dealing with one of them being HIV-infected!

The problem is that the "sex-liberated' secular generations have become incapable of even thinking that abstinence is at all possible, ignoring the example of centuries of Catholic priests and nuns and consecrated persons. But then, of course, the inability to conceive of abstinence at all is also what fuels all the furor over priestly celibacy...


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 7:03 PM]
11/23/2010 9:29 PM
 
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Fr. Lombardi on the OR fiasco:
'We weren't at our best last Saturday!'

by ANDREA TORNIELLI
Translated from

Nov. 23, 2010


With the irony and finess that characterizes him, Fr. Federico Lombardi, VaitcAN press director - often called on to repair errors, miscalculations and assorted SLIPS made by others in thr Vatican - admitted at the beginning as well as at the end of the news conference this morning to present Light of the World, that the Vatican newspaper's misguided 'preview' of the book on Saturday (the very day of the Consistory which ended up being totally overshadowed in the news) - "wasn't managed well at all". ]We can all appreciate irony at the right occasion, but not for this blunderbuss of a blunder, which dserved at least something on the order of "We sure made a helluva mistake! - and we apologize to everyone, especially to the Pope."]

Besides obscuring the Consistory and the new cardinals, and rendering all pre-publication preparations in vain (the Vatican publishing house was the object of unprecedentprotests from all the newspaper editors and even distinguished ecclesiastics), the decision to reproduce only part of the Pope's answers about condoms - without the question and the first part of his answer - resulted in the media around the world reporting that the words represented a change in Catholic moral doctrine.

Lombardi said that the note he released on Sunday in an effort to repair the damage was seen and approved by the Pope.

For his part, during his presentation of the book, Mons. Rino Fisichella said, "To reduce the entire book to an isolated statement extrapolated from the thought of Benedict XVI is an offense to the intelligence of the Pope and a gratuitous expolitation of his words".

Dear bishop, tell that to Mr.Vian. I wish you had said (or would sasy) that to the face of the OR editor who is the primary culprit of this entire misadventure!


Sandro Magister's reaction to the OR's 'lese-Papaute' is rather sputtering... I hope he tackles the greater 'OR problem' in another article soon...


The Pope on the Pope:
The OR spoils the build-up
to the book release




ROME, November 22, 2010 – The anticipated book-length interview of Benedict XVI, Light of the World, will be in bookstores on the five continents, in various languages, beginning on Tuesday, November 23.

On Sunday the 21st, various newspapers previewed some passages from it, provided for them by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, owner of the publishing rights.

But already on the afternoon of Saturday the 20th, a different preview of the book – with much more provocative passages – had been published by L'Osservatore Romano. Which created an instant splash in the global media.

Saturday and Sunday were the days of the consistory, with the creation of 24 new cardinals and with the Pope's homiliesdedicated to explaining that authority in the Church is modeled on the kingdom of Christ: a kingdom of which an ancient liturgical hymn chants with the words: "Regnavit a ligno Deus," a kingdom exercised by the crucified God who says to the good thief: "Today you will be with me in paradise." [I share the enthusiasm for the Pope's homilies on those days, especially the one on Sunday! - which I considered a very appropriate companion piece to Light of the World since he spells out the theological and pastoral functions of the Successor of Peter and his collaborator cardinals.]

But the consistory was swept aside from the news reports - invaded and vanquished by the passages of the book previewed by L'Osservatore Romano. [One passage, in particular, that I have benn referring to as the 'excerpt of an excerpt'.]

One of them above all: the one in which Benedict XVI justifies the use of a condom by a prostitute (in the masculine form in the original German of the book: "ein Prostituierter").

A use that Catholic moral doctrine already acknowledges – on a par with recourse to condoms by spouses when one of them is infected with HIV [Isn't this supposed to be unsettled, and that is why the Pontifical Council that has to do with health care undertook a study in 2006, which has remained unacted upon!] – but is publicly approved by a Pope for the first time here.

The OR's excerpts also included passages on sexual abuse by the clergy, on the encyclical Humanae Vitae, on Pius XII and the Jews, on women priests, on the burqa {none of which were controversial].

[Magister then reproduces the OR sampler.]


It makes me angrier that denouncing the OR - which one must do while the iron is hot - is also taking up some of the room that should all have been for the book alone, in its entirety, not for condoms, and certainly not to waste on a totally needless but costly exercise in idiocy by the editor of OR. One might almost say Mr. Vian has been deliberately courting all such attention on the wrongheaded theory that any publicity is good publicity!

P.S. I won't be able to translate the Fisichella and Accattoli presentations till later today - they're both excellent!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/23/2010 11:52 PM]
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The Pope's interview book:
A breath of clean fresh air

Translated from

23/11/2010


Yes, let us talk of condoms, but not just that, nor even mainly that. Because Benedict XVI has given us so much more than that necessary clarification.

He has demonstrated to us the faith that broadens reason, and reason that looks into the depth of mystery. And he has done so in a heart-to-heart conversation with the German journalist Peter Seewald in a book that cannot have a more appropriate title. Light of the world.

There have been similar interviews in the past with recent Popes. The French intellectual Andre Frossard offered us conversations with Paul VI and John Paul II. But they were much more rigid, pre-planned, nothing like this breath of fresh air, this open window we are shown in the Seewald-Ratzinger conversations.

There is nothing prefabricated nor taken for granted here, to the certain despair of many an ecclesiastic. Here we have questions posed by a convert who came out of the European radical left, and the responses of a Christian, a worker in the Lord's vineyard called to strap on the sandals of the fisherman from Galilee.

In every line, one feels the man Joseph Ratzinger vibrate, even as he reveals, inseparably, the heart and mind of Pope Benedict XVI. Total surprise and growing wonder at the man and the Pope, one and the same. Because there seems to be no fissure at all between the humble man who needs God's mercy like all of us and the Universal Pastor who must guide the Church in her hour of torment.

His own questions, his weaknesses, his human unease, come through so clearly that they evoke tenderness. His acute analysis, his theologian's precision, his intelligence that seems as vast as the sea, leave us amazed.

Pope Benedict does not avoid any of the questions that come at him from across the table like a drill hammer: women in the Church, the global economic crisis, the venomous serpent of drugs, the difficult relations with the Hews, the silences of Pius XII, the bestial pain caused by priestly sex offenses, the sensation of defeat among many in the Church, the construction of mosques in Europe, what he thinks about resignation... Who could have given more?

Of course, he ran a risk. But did not the Apostle Paul when he tackled the Athenians in the Areopagus?

I have now read commentaries of all kinds: by those who are fascinated but perplexed, those who acknowldge the modernity of this Pope, others who tremble within, some who smile cynically and say 'It's too late!"

I am reminded of the Lord's question: "Who do people say that I am?" In this case, what do people think the Church is? - this boat which to many seems all rusted but nonetheless continues to ride the waves.

Then a sudden storm because the head of the Christian army that has been fighting daily against AIDS in the very trenches of that pandemic said there may be cases where the use of a condom [out of concern not to infect another individual] could be the first step towards moralization, towards an awareness that not everything may be done just because it can be done, and using a hypothetical male prostitute as context.

He didn't indicate any major or minor change in Catholic doctrine, but a very timely transparency pointing to a practice that the Church has tacitly recognized but has not articulated as perhaps it ought to be.

But when anyone deliberately separates himself from the human significance of sexuality - outside, that is, of its natural context of love, giving and fidelity - and one could place the life of others at risk, then using a condom would be responsible and appropriate.

Nonetheless, to focus the question of AIDS prevention on the distribution of condoms (even by airdrop, as some of our leaders advocate), is suicidal because it simply encourages the banalization of sexuality and would eventually result in the most resounding failure in the battle against the pandemic.

Once again, the Pope says that 'to humanize sexuality' is the only integral human response, not just to combat AIDS, but to liberate so many men and women from enslavement to a sexuality that has simply become an addictive drug that leads to solitude and violence.

His answer to the question on the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae [which prohibits Catholics from using artifical means of birth control] is fascinating:

"The perspectives of Humanae vitae remain valid, but it is something else to find ways that are humanly practicable. I think there will always be minorities intimately convinced of the rightness of those perspectives, and who, in living them, remain fully content, so that they become fascinating models for others to follow. We are sinners. But we should not use this fact to act against truth, as when people do not live up to its high morality. We must try to do all we can to support and sustain ourselves reciprocally."

I wish to end this emotional and grateful glimpse into the book with the Pope's hope for the future of the Church. In spite of all appearances, he sees that "at present, a new creativity has been developing". He acknowledges that the Church "bureaucracy is worn out and exhausted", but that 'initiatives born from within, from the joy of young people" are germinating.

In the future, "Christianity will perhaps have a new face, a different cultural aspect... Clearly, it will not determine global public opinion" but it will continue to be "the vital force without which other things will be unable to continue existing".

And that therefore, "in the light of what I see and what i am able to do from personal experience, I am very optimistic that Christianity is facing a new dynamic".



Here's a review of the book by the Bishop of Kansas City, who wrote this for his diocesan newspaper before leaving to go to Rome to attend last weekend's consistory:


A US bishop writes his diocese
to tell them about the book


Nov. 22, 2010

Dear friends,

I recently had the opportunity to read an advance copy of a new book by Pope Benedict XVI. Entitled, “Light of the World: The Pope, The Church, and the Signs of the Times,” published by Ignatius Press. It is a book-length conversation between the Holy Father and the German journalist, Peter Seewald, and it reaches the market this week. I don’t want you to think that I get any fee for saying so, but this text is another great gift from “Papa Ratzinger” to the Church.

In this first ever such interview of a sitting Pope, the Holy Father takes on the most direct, challenging and heart wrenching issues and questions of the day, including the response of the Church to the scandal of priest sexual abuse, the tension and promise of dialogue with other Christian and non-Christian denominations; as well as the somewhat neuralgic propositions urging the abandonment of priestly celibacy and the promotion of women’s ordination. Pope Benedict receives these and many other questions with warmth, and addresses them with reasonableness and candor.

This is the third published interview between the two men, Peter Seewald and now-Pope Joseph Ratzinger. The previous books, “Salt of the Earth,” and “God and the World,” came out during the latter’s tenure as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This time we hear the successor of St. Peter – and it is a quick and enlightening read.

When I picked up the earlier works some years ago, I was amazed at the ability of Cardinal Ratzinger to synthesize and explain – without notes and previous knowledge of the questions – complex and nuanced topics with apparent calm and kindness. He wants people to understand the Church he loves, and he has extraordinary talents as a teacher.

As George Weigel says in the Foreword to the new book, the Pope speaks in “full paragraphs.” Again, the interview was conducted for several hours sitting face to face without notes. His answers are well-organized and focused. His responses are concise but substantive. This is not “sound bite” theology, and I hope people won’t just pick through it – but read it in its entirety for the full picture.

The Pope speaks about his election as Pontiff, his emotions, and ultimate trust in God. He talks about what he does in an evening where he has relaxing time. He tells of how he found himself weeping as victims recounted their narratives of abuse. The Pope chides the interviewer for recounting all the things he has had to say “no” to over the years, and asks us to recall some more positive initiatives.

In the most trying situations he has faced, in the perilous circumstances of planet earth, in the face of serious challenges of peace and unity, the Holy Father offers again and again his conviction of authentic Christian hope. It is very uplifting. We see that God has placed at our head a holy father, a wise and good shepherd.

As this goes to press I am happy to be able to make a rather brief trip to Rome to witness the Consistory and creation of new cardinals on the Sunday of Christ the King.

There, in particular, I plan to congratulate Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis and now Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, “chief justice of the Church’s Supreme Court,” and a good friend. He was the principal consecrator at my episcopal ordination here in May, 2004.

Though I do not anticipate having the opportunity to greet Pope Benedict on this visit, I know I carry with me your affection for him, and our prayerful gratitude for our Holy Father. May our Blessed Mother protect him and keep him close to her Son.

Most Rev. Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City – St. Joseph



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/24/2010 1:30 PM]
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Luigi Accattoli, retired senior Vatican correspondent of Corriere della Sera, was the lay presentor of the Pope's new book a tht eVatican news conference this morning.

A guided tour of
Benedict XVI's papal laboratory

by Luigi Accattoli
Translated from

Nov. 23, 2010

I would suggest to my journalist colleagues to read this book as a guided tour to the papal laboratory of Benedict XVI and the vital world of Joseph Ratzinger.

Decisive in this sense was the sudden call to Peter's Chair that caught him by surprise that afternoon in April 2005, wearing a black sweater which he wore under his white papal robes to appear to the world from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica.

This guided tour tells us something about the man in the black sweater, the Pope in the white robes, and the relationship between the two. My presentation will focus on this human side of how he performs as Pope.

We see Joseph-Benedict who, depending on the topic, doubts and questions himself, or is absolutely is sure of himself and his words, who informs us of how he comes to a decision. who admits to errors and second thoughts, or allows us a glimpse of some future orientation.

We can best grasp this man who was called to be Pope in the attitude he takes about the publication of his two books on Jesus of Nazareth, that he offers not as documents of his Magisterium but as a statement about his own personal search for the Face of the Lord.

And in these six hours of friendly conversation with Peter Seewald, he shows his own willingness to do everything he can to win over someone somehow.

He tells us from the beginning that "the Pope can have personal opinions that are wrong" and though he certainly has 'the faculty of making the final decision' in matters of faith, "this doesn't mean that he can continue to produce infallibilities" (pp, 23ff).

It is perhaps in this statement that we must seek the first root of this interview-book in which the Pope faces even thorny subjects with an attitude of freedom and daring - daring in how he bears witness to the faith, that is.

In many instances (pp. 28, 135ff, 161ff, 166, 168) he ponders his 83 years and how many more the Lord will give him, and in our presence, so to speak, he reasons out the appropriateness of resignation when and if he ever finds it impossible to carry out his task.

But on the same page, he denies ever having considered resigning because of the uproar over pedophile priests: "You cannot escape at the moment of danger".

We know that all contemporary Popes - from Pius XII onwards - had faced up to this problem of a papal resignation, but no one had ever done so in public before this.

With similar directness, he asks himself - almost asking us, too - "if it is right at all to be offering oneself to the crowd and be acclaimed as though one were a star", knowing full well that "people have a great desire to see the Pope" (p 110).

He explains the reasons for using the pronouns 'we' or 'I' (p 124) and admits that he is 'timorous' about making personnel decisions (p 125).

He speaks amply on the conflict between the Christian faith and our time, but in at least two places, he acknowledges with convincing words "the morality of modernity' and the existence of 'a good and just modernity' (p 40 and 87).

To these positive statements, one must also add the passages in which he acknowledges the religious lies of the past: of the 'atrocities' committed in the name of truth (p 79) to the 'wars of religion' (p 84) and to the 'rigorisms' with respect to corporality which resulted in 'making man fearful' of their bodies (p 15).

In Christianity's confrontation with modernity, he says it is necessary at every step to ask oneself both "in what way secularism may be right" as well as when it must be resisted (p 88).

Occasionally, he uses fighting words. "So many stupidities have been disseminated, even by supposedly well-informed theologians", he says, commenting on the reaction after he lifted the excommunication of the Lefebvrian bishops (p 42).

He describes the life of Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, as having been 'adventurous, wasteful, and strange' (p 65).

When the interviewer refers to the argument that "2000 years ago, it would have been unthinkable" for Jesus "to call women to priesthood", the Pope exclaims: "That's just stupid, because at the time, the world was full of priestesses" (p 209). [All the pagan cults had priestesses, but not the Jews.]

In one of the most felicitous pages, he used a creative expression to help understand the mystery of the Resurrection: "In the resurrection, God was able to create a new form of existence - beyond the biosphere and the noosphere, he brought into being a new sphere, in which man and the world reach unity with God". [I agree! When I first came across that passage in one of the samplers, I felt shivers down my spine. It is perhaps better than his metaphor of nuclear fission in Cologne 2005. Joseph Ratzinger meets Teilhard de Chardin. What a great metaphysical theologian he would be if he were so minded!]

In the past, he had described love as the 'trace' of the Trinity inscribed in the human genome (June 7, 2009), or found inventive similarities between the Eucharistic mystery and nuclear fission (Aug. 21, 2005. [There you are!]

He is not afraid to use expressions like 'the sinfulness of the Church" or "how poor and miserable the Church is" ( p 241). The word 'filth' to describe the sin that is within the Church - which was already typical of Ratzinger as theologian and cardinal, from his Introduction to Christianity (1968) to the Via Crucis of 2005 - recurs at least three times in this book in connection with clerical pedophilia and the 'enormous shock' that it was to him (pp 44ff and 59).

On the subject of this filth, he repeatedly acknowledges the positive role of the media, which he has done on other occasions but never so explicitly: "If only for the fact that they brought the truth to light, we must be grateful" (pp 49 and 61). But he also adds one of the most striking aphorisms in the book: "Because the evil came from within the Church, others could turn it against her" (p. 49).

When the occasion arises, he answers with a dry Yes or No, and answers those questions that we journalists love to ask when we have the chance: He says he understands those who "leave the Church in protest" because of the scandals (p 55). He says he would not have lifted Mons. Williamson's excommunication without further investigation had he known about his Holocaust negationism (p 174). And of Williamson himself, he notes that "He was never a Catholic in the proper sense of the term - he was Anglican, and from there, he went directly to Lefebvre" (p 175).

He explains the course that led him to lifting the Lefebvrians' excommunication, pointing out that he followed the same criteria used for the Chinese bishops who had been ordained without papal mandate, and that this solution for the Lefebvrians had been decided before his Pontificate: "Already under John Paul II, during a meeting of all the dicastery heads, it was decided to revoke their excommunication if they ever requested it in writing", because it would be tantamount to their 'acknowledgment' of the Pope (p 42 and 174).

He explains with precision the reasoning for the changes he made to the Good Friday prayer for the Jews (p 155). He defends Pius XII and calls him one of the great ones among the 'righteous', and explains how he ordered a review of all the archival material pertaining to Pius XII's wartime activities before approving the decree proclaiming his 'heroic virtues' (p 157ff). He also describes what led him to advocate by example that the faithful receive Communion kneeling, and on the tongue (p 219).

With caution and courage, he describes how he is seeking a pragmatic way through which missionaries and other Church workers can help defeat the AIDS pandemic without approving - but also without excluding, in special cases - the use of condoms (pp 160ff).

He reaffirms the 'prophetic' character of Paul VI's encyclical Humanae vitae but he does not hide there is true difficulty in 'finding humanly practicable ways' to carry out that prophecy, and acknowledges that "in this field (artificial contraception), many things have to be rethought and expressed in new ways" (pp 203-207).

He is confident about possible developments in the 'coming home' of Anglican groups to the Catholic Church, and is almost curious to find out "up to what point they will be able to safeguard their own tradition and way of life" (p 142), which includes married priests.

The Pope does not speak of it, but in other pages, on the subject of celibacy, he says that he 'can understand' how some bishops may 'reflect' about the possibility of ordaining even married men, but adds: "The difficulty comes when one must determine how such a coexistence should be configured" (p 208). [Sorry, that's not very clear but it's the best I can do. I'd like to know what it was in the original German, or how it was translated in the English edition.]

He says he is "very optimistic because Christianity is facing a new dynamic" which will perhaps lead it to take on "a different cultural aspect" (p 90ff); but also 'disappointed' because "the general tendency in our time is to be hostile to the Church" (183).

Perhaps the most bitter statement in the book is the hostility he feels in his own country: "Among German Catholics, there is a considerable number of persons who, one might say, are only waiting for a chance to strike at the Pope" (p 179).

He dreams that the faithful might recover the 'simplicity' and 'radicality' of the Gospel and of Christianity - these terms recur at least six times and demonstrate what he says is the greatest gift that he can ask of the Lord: "We must go forward with what was begun [by John Paul II - "we are weaving the same piece of cloth"] and to understand the tragedy of our time, remain firm in the Word of God as the decisive word, and at the same time, give Christianity that simplicity and depth without which we cannot function" (p 101; also 114ff, 231ff, 242).

This guided tour to the papal laboratory touches other rooms, but what we have traversed suffices to give an image of a Pontificate that is rich with invocations to God and questions for men.

Reading the interview will help to understand - and if possible, to love - the world of Joseph Ratzinger, his singular destiny as a person, and his service to the Church.


11/24/10
P.S. In his blog today, Accattoli calls attention to his presentation text which is on the Vatican website, and adds a personal sidelight:


Meeting the Pope
after the presentation

Translated from

Nov. 24, 2010

At the presentation, seated in the front row was don Georg, the Pope's private secretary. At 12 noon, he took us all to the private library of the Pope in the Apostolic Palace - the five of us who made the presentation (Peter Seewald, Mons. Fisichella, Fr. Lombardi, Fr. Costa of LEV, and myself), and the publishers of the 17 other language editions. [So, more editions are in the works other than the 12 originally annouced.]

When it was my turn to shake hands with the Pope, we had this brief exchange:
B16: Buon giorno, Signore Accattoli. I thank you for your effort to read the book.
LA: And I thank you for the opportunity I was given to read it in advance...
B16: Now you are retired...
LA: Yes, so I was able to read it at leisure...
B16 That was what I dreamed of, too. To go into retirement and be able to read at leisure, but that has not been possible.

Following me in line was don Giuseppe Costa, the Salesian director of the Vatican publishing house:
GC: Holiness, this is the Italian language edition, and I beg your pardon for the errors in translation...
B16: Thank you for all the work you did. Thank you..
GC: Holiness, I apologize for the errors which we are correcting in the first reprint...
B16: I thank you for your work...

I took from this that the Pope was not worked up about the errors. Which moreover, do not really keep from understanding what he meant. Only the case of the 'prostituta' instead of 'prostituto' could have been problematic, but Fr. Lombardi cleared that up authoritatively at the news conference, when he said he spoke to the Holy Father on Monday about this, who authorized him to say that his reasoning in the specific passage applied to both sexes.

******

PPS As I have not yet had time to get organized for my first entry today, let me just post here first this sad news...

Death in the papal household:
Say a prayer for Emmanuela...

Translated and adapted from

Nov. 24, 2010

One of the Pope's four housekeepers, Emmanuela Camagni, a lay sister of Communione e Liberazione, has died. She was hit by a car last night on via Nomentana in Rome, and suffered severe cranial injury. Attempts to save her by surgery proved futile. She died in the early hours today. She was a native of Cesena on the central eastern coast of Italy.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/24/2010 3:43 PM]
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