Benedetto XVI Forum


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8/18/2012 3:27 PM
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Now that I have translated the two documents relating to Paolo Gabriele's crime of aggravated theft - for now ,the only immediately prosecutable action among a complex set of elements that make up his unconscionable betrayal of the Pope and of the Pope's trust in him - one may better evaluate this commentary by Lucetta Scaraffia, one of the few who came out right away to comment on the documents and what they show. I think maybe she should not have written in the heat of the moment, because she comes up with some deductions and conclusions that I find rather questionable, to say the least, after having read and translated the reports myself. It frightens me that a highly intelligent and knowledgeable commentator like Scaraffia, whose devotion, moreover, to the Church and to the Pope is unquestioned, could think along some of the lines that she does.

I disagree most strongly with two of her conclusions. The first, that the Gabriele story is stranger that fiction - because it is not. It is, in fact, so banal that it qualifies under Hannah Arendt's famous description of Adolph Eichmann's conscientiously meticulous execution of his part as a cog in the Nazis' so-called Final Solution for the Jews as 'the banality of evil'. The world is teeming with self-deluded people - just stand on a subway platform or take a train in New York or any major metropolis, and you will be subjected to the full auditory force of such delusions!

And the second is this myth about the 'solitude' of Benedict XVI. To insist on this, as Marco Politi and other infamous anti-Ratzinger commentators do, and as Scaraffia appears to buy into, is not just false and unfounded, but crassly insulting to Benedict XVI. As if his sovereign position and his immense moral and intellectual superiority have somehow made him incapable of relating on a human level to the members of his 'Pontifical Family', the term (quotation marks included) that the Vatican reports on Gabriele consistently use to refer to that privileged circle, which is all the more privileged because the number is so restricted compared to John Paul II's sprawling Polish commune in the papal apartments.

One cannot possibly live his days 24/7 with three secretaries (including Birgit Wansing), four housekeepers and one valet - saying Mass for them every day, eating all meals with them, and having them at his beck and call - and not be 'integrated'. It says volumes of B16 that he does this. In fact, I don't even know if it has been SOP at all for a Pope to sit down to all his meals with his staff and household help! I am sure no other head of state in the world does that. So enough already of Benedict XVI's 'solitude'. He may not use e-mail, but one gathers he uses the telephone frequently to talk not just to his brother but to other people he feels like talking to, and continues to write old-fashioned letters at a time when that form of correspondence is about to be completely obsolete...

Vatileaks, with the facts known
so far, surpasses fiction

by Lucetta Scaraffia
Translated from

August 14, 2012

"Seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the Church, I was motivated in more resent times of degeneration, to a point of no return, losing more of my inhibitory brakes. I was sure that a shock, even one in the media, could be salutary to put back the Church on the right track. Moreover, my personal interests have always included 'intelligence gathering - and in some way I thought that in the Church, this role was properly that of the Holy Spirit, of whom I felt infiltrated".

The words of Paolo Gabriele [Scaraffia has joined together statements that were cited separately in the reports] from the transcripts of his interrogation cited in the documents supporting his indictment, cannot but be read incredulously.

Only the novelist Dan Brown could possibly imagine that the Pope's valet could feel himself 'infiltrated' by the Holy Spirit, and a fairly informed reader would think that, in reality, such a 'topsy-turvy' situation would never be possible because the the choice of a person who would have to be so physically near the Holy Father would never have fallen on someone as unstable and verging on fanaticism as Gabriele is. But no, reality outdoes Dan Brown. [In this case, it does not. Gabriele is so much more pedestrian than the stock characters of pulp fiction - much too 'blah' to be a stock villain, and certainly, not the stuff of swashbuckling 'vincit omnia' protagonists! Boringly banal personalities never figure in potboilers. Even the interesting psychological profile elicited by the psychiatrists does not make him any less banal. In fact, it brings him to the level of those glib and annoying 'subway preachers' (loons!) who denounce everything and everyone as evil.]

And the psychiatric evaluation that finds him inadequate to carry out his task seems to be belied by the testimony of some of his co-workers in the papal apartment who describe him above all as a good family man if rather slow to understand and to execute assignments. [Actually, only two of the Memores were quoted as having unconditionally good words for him. A third one was rather astute to catch a trait the psychiatrists identified in him - the hypercritical attitude towards even routine matters. {If he could express himself so frequently against his children's school and their teachers as this Memor seems to say, one can imagine he was using the school and its teachers as a surrogate or analog for what he found wrong in the Vatican and its ruling class! How could he be so self-blinded by his deluded indignation as to ignore the reality of Benedict XVI and his work and person! That, Paoletto, is the ultimate measure of your 'cluelessness' and the root of your treason!]

From the descriptions that emerge from the interrogations, as cited in the documents, the 'Pontifical Family' comes through like a real family, in which the persons who are in it accept it each other with charity, forgiving each other's weaknesses and inabilities,and not as a place where efficiency and service well done ought to prevail above all. [???? That looks like deducing too much from the statements that have been disclosed. Moreover, a caring, mutually tolerant family atmosphere does not exclude aiming for efficient service at all! The inexpressible uniqueness itself of the privilege of working so intimately with the Holy Father would and should inspire each member of the 'Pontifical Family' to do his/her best, in spite of any personal limitations.]

A place, therefore, precisely as in a family, where each one would be ashamed to suspect the other, to seek to justify them, knowing their human limitations well. [That might be true of all the others in that family, but not of Gabriele, who set himself to be judge, jury and executioner of 'the Church' herself ("Seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the Church..."), condemning the Church - and by implication, everyone in it, especially at the Vatican, including Georg Gaenswein who committed the 'caring and tolerant' error of giving the valet simple tasks in the papal study beyond being merely a 'gofer' during the times in his working day when he was not directly needed by the Pope. And of course, by being so sanctimoniously sweeping about this 'evil and corruption' he professes to see, Gabriele is ultimately judging and condemning Benedict XVI himself for not seeing what he, a simple valet 'infiltrated by the Holy Spirit', could so clearly see! But he is too simple-minded and/or delusional to even perceive this manifest logical contradiction!]

If it was not that way, a valet like Gabriele would never have been kept in that position for long: In addition to his slowness in carrying out his tasks, it emerges from the reports that he had a habit for exaggerated talk and the need to catch the attention of others outside the 'family', especially VIPs by gossiping about the private life of the Pope. [Did I miss this part in the reports? I must go back and check the originals!]

The interrogations of Gabriele [as reported] depict an inept valet, whom anyone else would have quickly replaced, but was here 'supported' because of his declared devotion and his role as a family man. In addition to the affection that had been generated for him during years of working together.

Of course, the papal apartment is quite different from the corridors of earthly power where iron controls and absolute efficiency are the rule rather than an understanding of human weaknesses and an indulgence towards inadequacies.

Even if it is most unpleasant [what an understatement!] that the Pope's valet came to commit such terrible thefts, and even if one might think that someone in the 'Pontifical Family' ought to have kept an eye on him and become aware of his betrayal earlier, it is certainly not an unpleasant surprise to find out that around the Pope, relationships have formed and consolidated based on criteria different from that in the immediate entourage of secular leaders. And to learn that the Pope charitably tolerates the defects of others. [And did we need the reports to tell us that????]

Stealing confidential documents was truly quite extreme: The gossipy incompetent valet had become a thief able to harm the Church! In this regard, Benedict XVI chose to pursue justice and truth: to thoroughly investigate what happened and make the facts known, instead of sweeping unpleasant facts under the rug in order to keep a less negative image of the Vatican.

The Pope knows very well that a healthy image of the Holy See can be projected only by the truth, even if for now, the truth seems only to obfuscate this image. [Not the objective truth in this case! And it is a mistake to even say that "for now, the truth seems only to obfuscate this image". The facts known so far reveal a simple-minded delusional man unleashing what is truly a tempest in a teapot, but which the MSM - especially La Repubblica and Il Fatto Quotidiano in Italy - choose to inflate by every means they can into a 'major scandal in the Church' latching on. starting last January, to unsubstantiated allegations in Mons. Vigano's unfortunate and self-serving letters, and now on this simple-minded valet's words 'seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the Church' - when the documents themselves that he managed to purloin show nothing more than the usual bureaucratic power games and petty rivalries that happen in any large institution! This is outrageous manipulation of public opinion by elements who have been fiercely engaged a long time and openly committed - in ways as fanatic as Gabriele's self-deluding and grandiose idea that "I did it to save the Church' - to undermining the Church and its institutions with a view to robbing the Church of her influence and reputation in these secular times.]

A reading of the documents brings out - in a clear and dramatic way - the solitude of the Pontiff which everyone can imagine, but which stands out quite clearly through this photograph of his daily life seen from the eyes of the 'serving class', as in a Vatican version of 'Downtown Abbey'. [Excuse me, Ms. Scaraffia, but what is it exactly in the testimonies cited in the reports, that paints this picture of solitude? To draw that conclusion is to buy into Gabriele's delusional notion that 'the Pope is not always informed or incorrectly informed", and therefore, to inexplicably under-estimate Benedict XVI's own intelligence and his personal awareness of how things work in the Roman Curia and the Secretariat of State from a quarter century of direct experience.

Indirectly, buying into Gabriele's idee fixe also implies that Georg Gaenswein has deliberately been holding back from the Pope any significant documents he thinks the Pope should not see. But again, the objective fact seems to be that, at least, insofar as what has been published so far of purloined documents, there is nothing there of major importance that the Pope was not already aware of (even in the unlikely event that he had not read letters directly addressed to him) since they had been the subject of earlier extensive news reports, i.e., Cardinal Bertone's various schemes that the Pope himself eventually turned down, and reports about IOR. Gaenswein is not stupid - he knows the Pope reads the newspapers and watches the TV evening news. If the Pope saw anything significant reported, about which he had no prior knowledge, he would ask not just Gaenswein himself but the people directly involved!]

It shows a Pope made defenseless by his own human pietas and his respect for others, whoever they may be. [Anyone is defenseless against betrayal. The devil works in such devious ways. Jesus, the perfect man, was betrayed by Judas. The evil others do against you is not generated in any way by being good! Rather, good attracts evil.]

But would we prefer a Benedict XVI who keeps strict watch over where a gold nugget sent as a gift ends up and would therefore fire a distracted and simple-minded valet? [Stealing the nugget was no act of distraction or simple-mindedness! It was, to use Gabriele's own words, 'a degeneration of his disorder', i.e. 'If I take this before Mons. GG even knows that they arrived, no one will ever know!' He was no longer stealing something because of seemingly high-minded motivations, but simply because he could, not necessarily for the objective value of the stolen objects, but for the sheer self-satisfaction of possessing something intended for the Pope.]

Of course, we would prefer a Pope who stays above the fray, and who accepts his solitude courageously, acting only when the truth becomes a fundamental condition for the purification of the Church. [This description is just as artificial as the first alternative Scaraffia presents. 'Solitude' is not an absolute all-encompassing term with a single sense. The 'solitude' of the Vicar of Christ is absolute, by definition. There is only ever one living Vicar of Christ. But 'solitude' in terms of human contact and relationship is something else.

As one has argued against Politi et al who peddle this stupid notion of Joseph Ratzinger choosing to isolate himself in his ivory tower, nothing in his personal biography shows this at all. His very upbringing as part of a tight-knit loving family militates against that. His close relationship with his sister (until she died) and brother shows the abiding value he places on familial personal relationships. The familial relationship he has developed with trusted aides like Mons, Clemens, Ingrid Stampa, Birgit Wansing and Georg Gaenswein (and the other members of the 'Pontifical Family') shows he needs and is able to form relationships arising initially from practical necessity but which ripens over the years. If we did not already know it from the apparent joy he derives from the human contacts, no matter how fleeting, made possible at public events, the very fact that he takes his meals with the entire 'pontifical family' and chooses to take his daily walks - which become occasions for prayer - with at least one of his private secretaries, symbolizes his acknowledgment of the value of human companionship, at the very least. He is obviously not the almost-compulsively gregarious person that the public John Paul II was (during the times he was not in mystic communion with the Lord) but he definitely is not a self-isolated person.]

Perhaps, the continuing investigations will yield new unpleasant surprises - one would think so from the involvement of some persons only indicated by initials in the reports so far - bu what counts, for Catholics, is not corruption in the Vatican, but the way out that Benedict XVI has chosen.

[I will consider the use of the word 'corruption' in the above sentence as being in its general sense - of an erosion or undermining or infectation in the Church, because what human institution is exempt from that? - rather than in the specific sense that Mons. Vigano and the MSM mean, of actual deals that are morally and ethically wrong, or even the virtual buy-and-sell inherent in power games.

It must also be pointed out that Benedict XVI - with everything he has done to stifle pedophilia and cover-ups by men of the Church once and for all, his repeated warnings that the worst persecution of the Church comes from within and his consequent calls for purification - obviously did not need Paolo Gabriele's 'help' to realize this at all.

Everything he said publicly since he became CDF Prefect, especially in the interview books, has shown extreme awareness of the 'filth' within the Church, which he dared to publicly renounce in the Good Friday meditations of 2005.
(To my mind, it was perhaps the most effective 'messaging' achievement executed in the Church by a single individual, precisely because the occasion for it was so unexpected. It was to be equalled just a few weeks later by the 'dictatorship of relativism' homily before the Conclave.]

So, no one in the Church, or outside it - not one - can fault him for 'not being informed' - least of all a valet, of whom we can charitably say, "Father forgive him for he knows not what he is doing", because even if he was aware he was doing wrong, as he admitted, his mental state deluded him into thinking that his end justified his stupid and totally unnecessary means.]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/18/2012 4:47 PM]
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8/18/2012 4:04 PM
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OK, I forgot, in my comments above, one other fundamental element of Joseph Ratzinger's immersion in human relationships - as opposed to being self-isolated in an ivory tower: he is Bavarian. As Fr. Schall felicitously underscores here.

Pope Benedict XVI,
the 'mediocre' marksman

By James V. Schall, S.J.

August 17, 2012

“Of course, the Gebirgsschüzen (Territorial Marksmen), whom I was only able to hear in the distance, deserve special thanks, because I am an honorary ‘Schütze’ (marksman) even though I was once a mediocre Schütze."
— Pope Benedict XVI, Bavarian Evening, Castel Gandolfo, August 3, 2012.

“Now, as we ‘thank you,’ I can only impart my blessing to you, but let us first sing the Angelus together, and if we can the ‘Andachtsjodler’ (a hymn in the form of a yodel).”
— Pope Benedict XVI, Last Words in German at the Bavarian Evening

The present pope, we know, is a man of many talents. We usually think of these talents as primarily intellectual, even his taste in music is classical. No one ever told us that he was a marksman, albeit mediocre [this probably comes from the time he was conscripted to serve in the Germany armed forces] or that he could yodel.

The idea of yodeling a hymn would go over big on country and western stations of the old school, no doubt. Google has many sung versions of this quite beautiful hymn that anyone can listen to. After listening to it, I can see why the Pope added “if we can” as the music is quite lovely.

On August 3, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich arranged at the Pope’s Villa at Castel Gandolfo for an evening of music and friendliness in the Holy Father’s honor. In his remarks, the Pope said that he was truly dahoam, which means in German [Bavarian dialect] to be “at home.” He kidded Cardinal Marx a bit over the word: “I must compliment Cardinal Marx because he always pronounces the word (dahoam) so well.”

The Holy Father took the occasion to recall his homeland. Bavarian culture is “a joyful culture.” It is not “rowdy” but it is “full of fun.” Anyone who has been to an Oktoberfest in Munich will have a suspicion of what this means. Of the Bavarians, Benedict says, “we are not a boorish people.” He does not mean “amusement,” that they merely amuse themselves. The people are “joyful.”

Benedict then reflects on why this joyful characteristic might be present in Bavaria. “The joyfulness of the Bavarian culture is based on the fact that we are in tune with Creation.” That is an expression mindful of the English title of one of Josef Pieper’s books: A Theory of Festivity: In Tune with the World. The good is ultimately “a person.” This is where true joy can only be located.

For the Bavarians, Benedict adds, there is joy that God gave them a very beautiful land. In such a place, it is easier to recognize the grandeur and goodness of God. But God did not just give the Bavarians a naturally beautiful land. Following the admonition of Genesis, He expected them to make it more beautiful.

Benedict puts it this way: “Through the culture of the people, through their faith, their joy, their songs, their music and art it has become beautiful because the Creator did not want to make it beautiful by himself, but also with the help of men and women.”

This remark embodies a fundamental approach of Catholicism. The world is great and lovely in itself, but it is not “complete” by itself. What was good was open to becoming better, more beautiful, if men would engage themselves in its possibilities to carry out God’s purpose in creating them within this cosmos, this world, and all its parts.

The Pope then wonders whether it is all right to be happy and joyful when there is so much misery and evil in the world. His answer is: “Yes.” Why? “Because in saying ‘no’ to joy we render no service to anyone, we would only make the world darker.” If we have to wait till everyone is happy, till all the sins are forgiven and all the ills cured, we will never understand what the world is about now.

Benedict adds: “Anyone who does not love himself is unable to give anything to his neighbor, he cannot help him, he cannot be a messenger of peace. We know this from faith and we see it every day: the world is beautiful and God is good.”

The commandment tells us that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, as if we are ourselves gifts of God who do not create but only received the goodness we are initially given. This understanding is why there is something terrible about that kind of self-love that finds in itself only itself and not signs of a reality that is more than oneself. No one can really think that he is the cause of his own being, of what is.

In addition, we have the Incarnation. God has dwelt amongst us. Christ “suffered and lived within us, we know once and for all and every day: yes, God is good and it is good to be a person. We live from this joy and starting from this joy we also try to bring joy to others, to repel evil and to be servants of peace and reconciliation.”

Thus, the evil and suffering that we know is itself taken up by and in the Godhead through Christ’s passion. The end of this passion is the joy of resurrection. This is a profound way of telling us that it is all right to be joyful even amidst the suffering and sorrow. We are to say of what is lovely that it is “lovely,” even when we know disorders in the world and in our souls. The latter, the disorders, are ultimately ordered to the former, to joy.

So the Pope recalls his homeland for an evening in the Italian hills. He mentions each of the areas of Bavaria familiar to him: “Lower Bavaria as far as the Oberlarnd, from the Rupertigau Region to the Werdenfelser Land.”

He thanked the lady announcer for speaking Bavarian so well. “I do not think that I could speak Bavarian and at the same time so ‘uplifting.’”

He thanks those who played the “wind instruments” before recalling the distant shots of the marksmen. Actually, Google also provides examples of these marksmen shots that the Pope heard in the distance.

Finally, to an Italian cardinal present for the evening, Cardinal Bertello. Benedict says: “I hope you also felt that Bavaria is beautiful and that the Bavarian culture is beautiful.”

Such is the price a Pope like John Paul II and Benedict pays. The memories of their homeland are not lost on them; yet they are there in the hills of Rome where the Lord wants them to be. They are dahoam (at home) in both places when they hear songs of their land. Yet no one is in a lasting city; however beautiful God and men have made Bavaria to be. Benedict knows this truth also.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/18/2012 4:04 PM]
8/18/2012 10:47 PM
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Saturday, August 18, 19th Week in Ordinary Time

St. Helena's statue in St. Peter's Basilica has become very familiar because it is often the 'background' for most photos of the Pope saying Mass at the main altar.
ST. HELENA (b ca 248 Asia Minor, d 330 Rome)
Mother of Constantine the Great (the first Christian emperor of Rome), named Empress by Constantine, Finder of the 'True Cross'
Helena was born of humble origin - St. Ambrose said she had been a 'stable maid' - in Bithynia, Asia Minor (now Turkey), where she met the Roman general Constantius about 270. Constantine was born soon after in Nis (in present-day Serbia), where his father was named co-Emperor of the Roman Empire. He divorced Helena to marry his co-emperor Maxentius's stepdaughter, and sent off Helena and the boy to the court of Diocletian, where Constantine grew up as a member of the inner court. Helena embraced Christianity late in life; but her incomparable faith and piety greatly influenced her son Constantine, the first Christian emperor, and served to kindle a holy zeal in the hearts of the Roman people. Forgetful of her high dignity, she delighted to assist at the Divine Office amid the poor; and by her alms-deeds showed herself a mother to the indigent and distressed. In her eightieth year, she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with the ardent desire of discovering the cross on which our blessed Redeemer suffered. After many labors, three crosses were found on Mount Calvary, together with the nails and the inscription recorded by the Evangelists. It still remained to identify the true cross of Our Lord. By the advice of the bishop, Macarius, the three were applied successively to a woman afflicted with an incurable disease, and no sooner had the third touched her than she arose, perfectly healed. The pious empress, transported with joy, built a 'most glorious church on Mount Calvary to receive the precious relic, sending portions of it to Rome and Constantinople, where they were solemnly exposed to the adoration of the faithful. In 312, Constantine found himself attacked by Maxentius with vastly superior forces, and the very existence of his empire threatened. In this crisis he bethought him of the crucified Christian God Whom his mother Helena worshiped, and kneeling down, prayed God to reveal Himself and give him the victory. Suddenly, at noonday, a cross of fire was seen by his army in the calm and cloudless sky, and beneath it the words, In hoc signo vinces—"Through this sign thou shalt conquer." By divine command, Constantine made a standard like the cross he had seen, which was borne at the head of his troops; and under this Christian ensign they marched against the enemy, and obtained a complete victory. Shortly after, Helena herself returned to Rome, where she expired in 330.
Readings for today's Mass:

*It's too bad that traditional iconography portrays Helena aa a young woman, when she set forth to find the Cross as a woman in her 80s. Even for today, that would be extraordinary.

No events announced for the Holy Father today.

The Holy Fatheer has named Mons. Giuseppe Lazzarotto, until now Apostolic Nuncio to Australia
as the new Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

Benedict XVI arrived in Madrid for an extraordinary feast of faith with more than a million young people
from around the world on the XXVI international celebration of World Youth Day.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/18/2012 10:51 PM]
8/19/2012 3:55 AM
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Benedict XVI to the 33rd Rimini Meeting:
'Man must purify himself of false infinities'

The annual weeklong Meeting for Friendship among Peoples organized yearly by the movement Communione e Liberazione in the northeast Italian resort town of Rimini begins tomorrow, and the organizers have posted the message sent by Benedict XVI to this year's meeting. The reflection reads like a beautiful homily, very appropriate for the Meeting's opening Mass tomorrow, Sunday, when it will be read.. Here is a translation:

To my Venerated Brother
Bishop of Rimini

I wish to extend my heartfelt greeting to you, to the organizers and all the participants of the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples which has reached its 33rd year.

The theme chosen for this year - "The nature of man is a relationship with the infinite" - is particularly significant in view of the imminent start of the Year of Faith which I decreed to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

To speak of man and his yearning for the infinite means first of all to acknowledge his constitutive relationship with the Creator. Man is a creature of God. Today, this word "creature' seems almost out of fashion: The preference is to think about man as a self-fulfilling being and absolute master of his own destiny.
To think of man as a creature seems 'inconvenient' because it implies an essential reference to something else, or better, to someone else - not under man's control - who defines his identity in an essential way. It is a relational identity, whose first given is man's original and ontological dependence from He who wanted us and created us.

And yet this dependence, which modern contemporary man has been trying to free himself, does not just hide or diminish but reveals in a luminous way the grandeur and supreme dignity of man, who is called to life in order to enter into a relationship with life itself, with God.

To say that "the nature of man is his relationship with the infinite" means that every person was created so that he can enter into a dialog with God, with the Infinite.

At the start of the history of the world, Adam and Eve were the fruit of an act of love by God, made in his image and likeness - their life and their relationship with the Creator coincided: "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen 1,27).

And original sin had its ultimate root precisely in our original progenitors withdrawing themselves from this constitutive relationship, wishing to take the place of God, believing they could do without him.

But even after sin, there remains in man an aching desire for this dialog, almost as if it was a sign branded on his soul and his flesh by the Creator himself. Psalm 63(62) helps us to enter into the heart of the matter: "O God, you are my God - it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, In a land parched, lifeless, and without water" (v 2).

Not just my soul, but every fiber of my flesh is made to find peace and realization in God. This tension is incancellable in the heart of man. Even when he rejects or denies God, the thirst for the infinite that inhabits man does not vanish.

Instead, there begins s labored and sterile search, of 'false infinities' that could satisfy at least for a moment. The thirst of the soul and the yearning of the body that the Psalmist speaks of cannot be eliminated. And thus man, without knowing it, is reaching out for the infinite, but in the wrong directions - in drugs, in disordered sexuality, in totalizing technology, in success at any cost, and even in deceptive forms of religiosity.

Even the good things that God has created as ways that lead to him often run the risk of being absolutized and thus become idols that replace the Creator.

To acknowledge that one is made for the infinite means following a path of purification from what I have called 'false infinities', a path of conversion of the heart and the mind. It is necessary to eradicate all the false promises of infinity that seduce man and thus enslave him.

In order to truly find himself and his true identity, to live up to the level of his being, man must return to acknowledging that he is a creature, dependent on God. Acknowledgment of this dependency - which is basically the joyous discovery of being children of God - brings the possibility of a life that is truly free and full.

It is interesting to note how St. Paul, in the Letter to the Romans, sees the opposite of slavery not so much in freedom but in our sonhood, in having received the Holy Spirit that makes us adopted children of God and allows us to cry out to him, "Abba! Father!" (cfr 8,15).

The Apostle of the Gentiles speaks of a 'bad' slavery - to sin, to the law, to the passions of the flesh. But to these, he does not oppose autonomy but rather 'the slavery of Christ" (cfr 6,16-22). , describing himself as "Paul, servant of Jesus" (1,1) .

The fundamental point, therefore, is not to eliminate the dependency, which is constitutive of man, but to direct it to Him who alone can make us truly free.

At this point, a question arises. Is it not perhaps structurally impossible for man to live up to the level of own nature? And is his yearning towards the infinite not a condemnation that he senses but can never totally satisfy?

This question brings us directly to the heart of Christianity. In fact, the infinite itself, to give an answer that man can experience, took on a finite form. The Incarnation, the moment when the Word became flesh, nullified the unbreachable distance between the finite and the infinite: the eternal infinite God had left his heaven and entered time and immersed himself in human finiteness. After which nothing is banal or insignificant in the journey of life and the world.

Man is made for an infinite God who became man, who took on our humanity to draw it towards the grandeur of his divine being. Thus we discover the truest dimension of human existence, that to which the Servant of God Luigi Giussani [founder of C&L] continually called attention: life as vocation.

Everything, every relationship, every joy, as well as every difficulty, finds its ultimate reason in being an occasion of relationship with the Infinite - the voice of God which continually calls is and invites us to lift our gaze, to discover in adherence to him the full realization of our humanity.

"You made us for yourself," Augustine wrote, "and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you" (Confessions I(, 1,1). We should not fear what God asks of us through the circumstances of life, even if it is the dedication of all oneself in a particular form of following and imitating Christ in the priesthood or religious life.

The Lord, calling each of us to live totally in him, demands that we acknowledge the essence of our proper nature as human beings: that we were made for the Infinite. God has at heart our happiness, our full human realization.

Let us therefore ask to enter and remain with this outlook of faith that has characterized the saints, in order to discover the seeds of good that the Lord sows along the journey of our life and adhere with joy to our vocation.

While I hope that these brief thoughts may be of help to those who are taking part in the meeting, I assure everyone of my nearness in prayer, and I hope that the reflections from these days may introduce everyone to the certainty and joy of the faith.

To you, Venerated Brother, to the officials and to the organizers of the meeting, as well as to all present, IO gladly impart a special Apostolic Blessing.

From Castel Gandolfo
August 10, 2012


Back in 2009, I posted my translation of the text delivered by then Cardinal Ratzinger to the 1990 Rimini meeting.
You may find it on this page of the Forum:
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/19/2012 2:40 PM]
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August 19, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Third from left, the saint's founder statue in st. Peter's Basilica; and next to it, a painting of the saint consecrating his communities to the Lord.
ST. JEAN (JOHN) EUDES (France, 1601-1680)
Priest, Apostle of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Founder of the Eudist congregations for men and women and a lay order for women
A farmer's son, he was educated by the Jesuits, but joined the Oratorians of St. Philip Neri and was ordained at 24. He cared for plague victims of his diocese in 1627 and 1631. Then he became a parish missionary whose gifts for preaching and confession made him very popular. He preached over 100 parish missions lasting weeks to months in different parts of France. Parish experience made him aware of the plight of prostitutes, which led him to found the Sisters of Charity of the Refuge in 1641. Realizing that the Church needed more spiritual priests and the right seminaries to train them, he got the approval of Cardinal Richelieu to found the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (now known as the Eudists) devoted to the formation of the clergy in diocesan seminaries. He also established the Society of the Heart of the Mother Most Admirable - similar to the Franciscan and Dominican lay orders. Meanwhile, he wrote a number of books noteworthy for their doctrinal elevation and simple style, among them the first book ever written on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He dedicated his seminaries to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, established confraternities to spread the devotion, and wrote the Propers for Mass and Divine Office for their celebratory liturgies. The Marian feast was first celebrated in 1648, and that for Jesus in 1672. In Paray-le-Monial, Sr. Marguerite Marie Alacoque would have her first vision of Jesus and his Sacred heart in 1973. Jean Eudes was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1925, at which time Pius XI called him the father of the liturgical devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Readings from today's Mass:

Sunday Angelus - The Pope reflected on the final passages from Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John in which
Jesus,after the miracle of loaves and fishes, speaks of himself as the Bread of Life descended from heaven
and makes clear that he has come not to aspire to an earthly throne as the crowds acclaiming him wished, but
to lead them to the heavenly Jerusalem.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/19/2012 2:41 PM]
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As Benedict XVI prepares to visit Lebanon, here is a useful introduction to 'Eastern' Christianity and their distinct non-Latin liturgies, about which most Catholics have very little awareness. The writer is a graduate student in Orthodox theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

The 'Eastern' Christians
and their distinctive liturgy

by Christopher B. Warner

August 17, 2012

In an overwhelmingly Muslim Middle East, it is surprising to note that one-tenth of all Syrians are Christian, and even more shocking to discover that almost half of the population of Lebanon is also Christian. It is a wonder there are any Christians left in that part of the world at all.

But then, these are no ordinary Christians. Most Christians in the Middle East are not Roman Catholic or Protestant—they are Eastern Christians with a unique heritage distinct from Western forms of worship and practice. Perhaps their millennium-old customs make them robust enough to stay in countries where they are surrounded by hostile neighbors.

“It is their faith,” says George Baho, a native of Damascus, Syria. George told Catholic World Report, “Without a strong faith, Christians in Syria could not persevere under a Muslim majority.”

His parents moved to Damascus from a small village in northern Syria called Mardeen. Mardeen is one of many small, isolated, Christian villages in the Middle East that heroically cling to their Christian culture and identity. The Baho family is Syriac Catholic—one of many Eastern Christian communities in the Middle East. Syriac Catholics have their own distinct monasteries, churches, liturgy, and hierarchy within the Catholic Church.

Lebanon is actually governed by the Christian majority of that state, the Maronite Catholics. But Syria and Lebanon are home to half a dozen other Eastern Christian communities as well, including Greek, Armenian, Syriac, Assyrian/Chaldean, and Coptic Christians. These communities celebrate liturgies that developed independently of one another more than a thousand years ago. They have preserved a cultural treasury of liturgical beauty and depth that is waiting to be explored by Western Catholics.

Blessed John Paul II called for the Church to breathe with “both lungs,” incorporating the rich traditions of both the East and West. In 2011, Pope Benedict’s general intention for the month of November was “that the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.” Most Roman Catholics, however, have yet to discover how this can be practically achieved.

The most obvious difference between East and West is the liturgy. The prayers and actions of the Mass are not the same in the Christian East. The Catholic East practices five distinct rites, or liturgical traditions, that mirror the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches (which are not in union with Rome). To understand the difference in liturgy, it is necessary to look back to the regrettable schisms in the Church.

During the fifth and sixth centuries, the Alexandrian and East Syrian bishops broke away from the Greek and Latin Church, marking the first schism in the Christian Church. These Churches are called the “Oriental Orthodox” (Iraqi Assyrians, Egyptian Copts, etc.)

The early part of the second millennium witnessed another significant rupture between the Latin Church of the West and the Greek Church of the East — the gradual, tragic result of linguistic, liturgical, disciplinary, theological, and cultural differences. The Eastern Church took the title “Orthodox,” and the West, “Catholic.”

Over time, many Eastern Orthodox Christians resumed communion with the bishop of Rome, and are called Eastern Catholics. These Churches are known as the Alexandrian (Egypt), the East Syriac (Iraq/Iran/India), the West Syriac (Syria/Lebanon/India), the Armenian (Armenia), and—the largest—the Byzantine (Greece, Russia, and the Slavs) Churches.

Most Roman Catholics who are familiar with the East have knowledge of the Byzantine tradition. The Byzantine Catholic Church is made up of 13 “autonomous ritual Churches,” such as the Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Melkite, and Romanian Catholic churches. These Churches have parishes worldwide and are governed by their own hierarchy of bishops who are in full communion with the Pope.

When asked, “Why are you Byzantine Catholic?” Shelepets Baumann, a parishioner of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church in Fort Pierce, Florida, replied: "I was born into the Byzantine faith and practiced it all of my life. Like most things [I began] to take it for granted. However, I never realized until my adult years how precious the Byzantine Catholic faith is and how beautiful the Divine Liturgy is. As an ex-flight attendant and presently a traveling nurse, my jobs have taken me to many parts of the states and I have not always had the opportunity to go to a Byzantine Catholic church, so I [often attend] the Roman Catholic church…[but] when I go to my Byzantine Catholic church, I am home."

Blessed John Paul II, in his effort to bring together the East and West, issued two distinct challenges. Because Eastern Catholics are a minority, they must faithfully preserve their tradition and not be tempted to “Latinize” their practices. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, should seek out some amount of liturgical and intellectual exposure to the Christian East for spiritual and cultural enrichment.

As John Paul the Great knew, in the current war against secularism, both lungs are necessary in order to provide enough “oxygen” for the spiritual battle raging in today’s world. The Eastern perspective expands the arsenal of the Western Church’s theology and prayer life. So, on the one hand, breathing with both lungs reinforces the Church Militant, but it is also an invitation to broaden one’s horizon through a beautiful encounter with Christ, who is new every morning.

The Eastern lung could analogously be called the feminine branch of the Catholic Church. This does not mean saccharine, feel-good Christianity, but rather that the East is notably mystical and contemplative. The Eastern Church provides a nurturing, liturgical environment for its members to encounter the Most Holy Trinity.

The East complements the Western need to act upon the world with missionary zeal by being more singularly focused on the liturgical and interior spiritual life of Christianity than its Roman counterpart.

Christians, East and the West, are all called to holiness and believe the same truths, but the Eastern “feminine” view is different than the analogous masculine perspective. The Eastern Church offers a different vocabulary, a unique lens on the Catholic faith through a liturgical encounter with God.

“There’s not just one way to be Catholic,” says Father Thomas Loya, radio host of “Light of the East” and pastor of Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer Glenn, Illinois. The different cultural and liturgical practice of Catholics around the world “is what makes the Church truly Catholic.”

Father Loya emphasizes the complementarity of the traditions: “You can take the same faith and express it in a variety of ways. This creates unity in diversity.”

The Divine Liturgy (Mass) is the heart of Eastern Christian theology, mysticism, and culture. The old axiom is, “If you want to know what the Eastern Christians believe, attend the liturgy.”

One of the first things Roman Catholics will notice about the liturgy is that there is no quiet meditation. There are no pauses — the chanting never ceases. Yet, the Byzantine liturgy is an active meditation with a very rich vocabulary of prayer. Eastern Christian theology is at the service of prayer, because the entire aim of that theology is to find words fitting for prayer.

Eastern liturgy exhibits an enticing beauty and grace: the smell of incense, the unbroken chant, the striking icons. The senses are transfixed throughout the liturgy, which gives the feeling of timelessness and ascension into glory.

Baumann of Fort Pierce, Florida further notes: "Our Divine Liturgy is so beautiful that certain parts of it always bring tears to my eyes because of its beauty. There is reverence in our church for God. People respond with enthusiasm and one can feel that you are in a holy place, in the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…. Our other worship services are filled with words of such beauty that are offered to God…not to mention our beautiful music…"

This modern-day Byzantine Catholic parishioner is not the first to be awed by the beauty of the Eastern services. A famous 10th-century Russian, after experiencing the Greek Divine Liturgy for the first time, exclaimed, “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth…such beauty, and we know not how to tell of it!” According to legend, the relation of this experience sparked the conversion to Christianity of the entire Russian people.

Roman Catholics often feel like hobbits among Tolkien’s high elves or travelers in an exotic country upon their first encounter with this liturgy. The East speaks a different language. And, as John Paul II fittingly stated in his letter Orientale Lumen: “The words of the West need the words of the East, so that God's word may ever more clearly reveal its unfathomable riches.”

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/19/2012 8:16 PM]
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August 19, 2012

'Jesus did not aspire
to an earthly throne'

Adapted from

Castel Gandolfo, August 19 (AsiaNews) - "Jesus was not a Messiah who aspired to an earthly throne. He did not seek popularity to conquer Jerusalem. In fact, he wanted to go to the Holy City to share the fate of the prophets, and give his life for the people of God," Benedict XVI said in his reflections today before a crowd of pilgrims that had gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace for the Sunday noontime Angelus.

The Pontiff commented on the conclusion of the account in the Gospel of St. John of Jesus's discourse at the synagogue in Capharnaum after the multiplication of loaves and fishes, which has been the topic of the Gospel passages for the past few Sundays.

"The loaves, broken for thousands of people, were not meant to cause a triumphal march," said the Pope. "They foreshadowed the sacrifice on the Cross when Jesus became bread broken for the multitudes, body and blood offered in atonement for the life of the world. Jesus addressed the crowds to break their illusions and, especially, force his disciples to decide. In fact, many of them no longer followed him."...

My addendum:

In his greeting to Polish-speaking pilgrims, the Pope said:

I cordially greet His Holiness and all the Orthodox faithful.
These days, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill II, has been a guest of the Orthodox Church in Poland.

The program for his visit also included meetings with Catholic bishops and a common declaration of the desire to improve fraternal union [between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches] and to work together in spreading the evangelical virtues in the contemporary world, in the spirit of our common faith in Jesus Christ.

This is an important event that inspires hope for the future. I entrust its outcome to the benevolence of Mary, imploring God's blessing. Praised be Jesus Christ!

Here is a full translation of the Pope's words today:

Dear brothers and sisters:

The Gospel this Sunday (cfr Jn 6,51-58) is the final climactic part of the discourse by Jesus at the synagogue in Capharnaum, the day after he fed thousands of persons with only five loaves and two fishes.

Jesus reveals the meaning of that miracle, which is that the time had come for God's promises to be fulfilled: God the Father, who had fed the Israelites in the desert with manna, had now sent him, the Son, as the true Bread of life, and this bread was his flesh, his life, offered in sacrifice for us.

Therefore, his sacrifice has to be welcomed with faith, and not be scandalized by the fact that he is human; that it means eating his flesh and drinking his blood
(cfr Jn 6,54), in order to have the fullness of life.

It is obvious that this discourse was not meant to attract consensus. Jesus knew it, and he says it intentionally anyway. In fact, it was a critical moment, a turning-point in his public mission.

The people and even his own disciples were enthusiastic about him when he performed miraculous acts. And the multiplication of the loaves and fish was a clear revelation that he was the Messiah, and immediately afterwards, the people wished to carry him aloft in triumph and proclaim him King of Israel.

But this was not what Jesus wanted, and with that long discourse in Capharnaum, he blunted enthusiasm and provoked much dissent. In fact, by dwelling on the image of bread, stated that he had been sent to offer his own life, and that whoever wished to follow him, ought to join him in a personal and profound way, by taking part in his sacrifice of love.

It is for this that at the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, so that his disciples could have his own charity in themselves - this is decisive - and as one body united with him, to prolong his mystery of salvation in the world.

Listening to his discourse, the people understood that Jesus was not the Messiah as they wanted, who aspired to an earthly throne. He was not seeking their consensus to conquer Jerusalem. Instead, he wished to go to the holy city to share the fate of the prophets: to give his life for God and the people.

The loaves, that he had broken for thousands of persons, were not meant to incite a triumphal march but to pre-announce the sacrifice on the Cross, in which Jesus would become Bread - flesh and blood offered in expiation.

Thus Jesus gave that discourse to relieve the crowds of their illusion, and above all, to provoke a decision among his disciples, many of whom, in fact, from that time onwards, ceased to follow him.

Dear friends, let us allow ourselves to be amazed anew by the words of Christ. He, the mustard seed cast into the furrows of history, is the first fruit of the new humanity, freed from the corruption of sin and death.

And let us rediscover the beauty of the sacrament of the Eucharist, which expresses all the humility and sanctity of God: that he made himself small - God made himself small - a fragment of the universe in order to reconcile everyone in his love.

May the Virgin Mary, who gave the world the Bread of life, teach us to always live in profound union with him.

After the prayers, he said this in English:
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. In the Gospel of today’s liturgy, Jesus presents himself as the living bread come down from heaven. May we always hunger for the gift of his presence in the Eucharistic sacrifice, wherein Jesus gives us his very self as food and drink to sustain us on our pilgrim journey to the Father. God bless all of you!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/22/2012 11:32 PM]
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I apologize for having missed out on the historic joint declaration made two days ago in Warsaw by the Patriarch of Moscow and the chairman of the Polish bishops' conference calling on their peoples to end their centuries-long mutual hostility. Pope Benedict, of course, referred to it in today's Angelus messzages (see above).

Russian Orthodox and Polish Catholic
churches appeal for mutual forgiveness


WARSAW, Poland, August 17 (AP) — The leaders of Russia's Orthodox church and Poland's Catholic church signed a document Friday that urges their nations to forgive each other for past wrongs.

The signing in Warsaw during the first visit to Poland by a Russian Patriarch has been described by the churches as a historic act of reconciliation and the establishment of a bridge between the denominations. The two nations have feuded for centuries and their ties are still marked by distrust.

"We appeal to our believers to ask for the forgiveness of wrongs, injustice and every evil committed against each other," the document said. "We are certain that this is the first and the most important step toward rebuilding mutual trust, which is a necessary element of a lasting community and full reconciliation between people."

The document was signed during a ceremony at Warsaw's Royal Castle by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Jozef Michalik, the Polish church's highest-ranking leader.

Shortly after the ceremony, a Russian judge convicted three members of the punk band Pussy Riot of hooliganism driven by religious hatred and sentenced them to two-year prison terms for a performance in Moscow's main cathedral that called for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin.

During the trial, the band members apologized to all Orthodox believers, saying that they did not mean to offend anyone and that their performance was aimed against Putin and Kirill, who had urged Russians to vote for Putin.

But Kirill, who took Putin's side in the case, has not commented on the Russian court case or the verdict since arriving in Warsaw on Thursday.

The document that Michalik and Kirill signed mentions the "open enmity, even fighting between our nations" in the past and calls for a "brotherly dialogue" in all walks of life. Church leaders said it is not another political declaration, but a religion-motivated call to the hearts and minds of ordinary people in both nations.

Kirill stressed that serving Christian religion obliged church leaders to promote the reconciliation.

Some have compared the document to a historic 1965 letter by Poland's bishops to the Catholic church leaders in Germany, offering and asking forgiveness for past wrongs between Poles and Germans, the most painful committed during World War II.

Today, Poland and Germany are enjoying friendly relations and are cooperating within the European Union.

The many sources of bitterness between Poles and Russians include Polish resentment over Moscow's control of Poland during the communist era and Russia's reaction to seeing Poland reject its influence and join Western institutions like NATO.

Elderly Poles still talk bitterly about Moscow's "stab in the back" — the attack from the East by the Soviet Red Army on Sept. 17, 1939, which came less than three weeks after German troops invaded Poland from the West, starting World War II. They point to the murders of more than 20,000 of their officers by Soviet secret police in 1940 in the Katyn forest and other sites.

More recently, conspiracy theories have smoldered since Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other people were killed in a 2010 plane crash in Russia. Some Poles have accused Russians of not fully cooperating in investigating the crash.

Relations between the Orthodox church and the Catholic church also have been tense.

The Orthodox Church prevented Polish-born Pope John Paul II from making a trip to Russia. The Orthodox also have accused the Vatican of seeking Catholic converts in traditionally Orthodox areas — a charge Rome denies.

Poland's official in charge of discussing the sticking points with Russia, Adam Daniel Rotfeld, said the document signed Friday also laid foundations for an improvement in relations between the two churches in general.

Following is the Engish translation of the joint declaration:

of the Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of Poland
Archbishop Józef Michalik, Metropolitan of Przemyśl,
Kyrill, the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church,
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not holding anyone’s faults against them, but entrusting to us the message of reconciliation (2 Cor 5: 19)

In the spirit of responsibility for the present and the future of our Churches and peoples, urged by pastoral concern, on behalf of the Catholic Church in Poland and of the Russian Orthodox Church we address this message of reconciliation to the faithful of our Churches, to our nations and all people of good will.

Proclaiming the truth that Jesus Christ is our peace and reconciliation (cf. Eph 2: 14; Rom 5:11), aware of the call entrusted to us in the spirit of Christ’s Gospel, we wish to make our contribution to the work of rapprochement between our Churches and reconciliation between our nations.

1. Dialogue and reconciliation

Our brotherly nations have been tied not only by long centuries of neighbourhood, but also by the extensive Christian legacy of East and West. Aware of this long and shared history and the tradition, which takes its roots in the Gospel of Christ and has exerted a decisive impact on the identity, spirituality and culture of our peoples and of the entire Europe, we enter a path of honest dialogue in the hope that it will heal the wounds of the past, facilitate our overcoming mutual prejudice and misunderstanding and strengthen us in our pursuit of reconciliation.

Sin, which is the principal source of all divisions, human frailty, individual and collective egoism as well as political pressure led to mutual alienation, overt hostility and even struggle between our nations. Similar circumstances had earlier led to the dissolution of the original Christian unity.

Division and schism, alien to Christ’s will, were a major scandal; therefore we redouble efforts to bring our Churches and nations closer to each other and to become more credible witnesses to the Gospel in the contemporary world.

After the Second World War and the painful experience of atheism, which was imposed on our nations, today we enter a path of spiritual and material renewal. If this renewal is to be longstanding, a renewal of the human being must take place first, and through the human being the renewal of the relations between our Churches and nations.

Fraternal dialogue is the way towards such renewal. It is to facilitate a better understanding of each other and a reconstruction of mutual trust, and thus lead to reconciliation. Reconciliation, in turn, presupposes a readiness to forgive the wrongs and injustices of the past. We are obliged to do this by the prayer: Our Father (...) forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those, who trespass against us.

We call on our faithful to ask for the forgiveness of the wrongs, injustice and all evil we have inflicted on each other. We are confident that this is the first and foremost step to rebuild mutual trust, a precondition for a sustainable human community and complete reconciliation.

Naturally, to forgive does not mean to forget; memory is a significant part of our identity. We owe this memory also to the victims of the past, those tortured to death who laid down their lives for the faith to God and their homeland on this earth.

To forgive, however, means to forgo revenge and hatred and to participate in the construction of concord and brotherhood between people, our nations and countries, which is the foundation of a peaceful future.

2. The past in the perspective of the future

The tragic events of the 20th century were experienced to a greater or lesser degree by all the countries and nations of Europe. Our countries, nations and Churches were painfully afflicted.

The Polish and Russian people share the experience of the Second World War and the period of repressions imposed by the totalitarian regimes. These regimes, with their atheist ideology, fought against all forms of religious life and waged an especially atrocious war on Christianity and our Churches. Millions of innocent people fell victim to this war, of which we are reminded by numerous places of murder and graves on Polish and Russian soil.

Sometimes the events of our often difficult and tragic shared past give rise to mutual resentments and accusations, which prevent the healing of old wounds.

An objective recognition of facts and an account of the magnitude of the tragedies and dramas of the past is an urgent task for historians and specialists. We appreciate the action taken by competent commissions and teams of experts in our respective countries.

We express a conviction that their efforts will allow us to learn unadulterated historical truth, help account for doubts and effectively overcome negative stereotypes.

We express a conviction that sustainable reconciliation as the foundation of a peaceful future may take place exclusively on the basis of a complete truth about our shared past.

We call upon all those who pursue good, sustainable peace and happy future: politicians, social activists, people of science, culture and the arts, those who believe in God and those who do not, representatives of the Churches: do not falter in your efforts to foster dialogue, support all that facilitates the reconstruction of mutual trust and brings people closer to one another and all that allows us to build a peaceful future of our countries and nations, a future free from violence and wars.

3. Together in the face of new challenges

As a result of political and social transformations, at the close of the 20th century our Churches were finally able to fulfil their mission of evangelisation, and therefore to help our societies develop on the basis of traditional Christian values. Throughout history, Christianity contributed immensely to the formation of the spirituality and culture of our nations.

Today, in an era of religious indifference and widespread secularisation, we take every effort so that the social life and culture of our nations should not be stripped of principal moral values, the cornerstone of a viable peaceful future.

The essential task of the Church until the end of time is the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. All Christians, not only the clergy, but also the lay faithful are called to preach the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and to proclaim the Good News with their words and through the witness of their lives, in an individual, familial and social context.

We recognise the autonomy of secular and ecclesiastical authority, but at the same time call for cooperation with respect to care for the family, education, social order and other questions which are vital for the good of the general public.

We want to uphold tolerance and first and foremost defend fundamental freedoms, primarily religious freedom, as well as to guard the right of the presence of religion in public life.

Today our nations are faced with yet new challenges. Fundamental moral principles based on the Ten Commandments are questioned under the pretence of retaining the principle of secularism or the protection of freedom.

We are faced with the promotion of abortion, euthanasia and same-sex relations, persistently shown as a form of marriage; a consumerist lifestyle is endorsed, traditional values rejected, while religious symbols are removed from public space.

Quite often we encounter sings of hostility towards Christ, His Gospel and Cross; attempts are made to exclude the Church from public life. A misinterpreted secularism assumes a form of fundamentalism and in reality is a form of atheism.

We call on everyone to respect the inalienable dignity of each human being, created in God’s image and likeness (Gn 1: 27). In the name of the future of our nations we call for the respect and protection of the life each and every human being from the moment of conception until natural death. We believe not only terrorism and armed conflict, but also abortion and euthanasia to be grave sins against life and a disgrace to contemporary civilisation.

The family, a permanent relation between man and woman, is a sound foundation of all societies. As an institution founded by God (cf. Gn 1: 28; 2:23-24), the family warrants respect and protection as it is the cradle of life, a wholesome place of development, a guarantee of social stability, and a sign of hope for society.

The family is a place conducive for the development of the human being who is responsible for himself, other people and the society he is part of.

We look with sincere concern, hope and love to young people, whom we wish to protect from demoralisation and to educate in the spirit of the Gospel. We want to teach young people how to love God, their fellow human beings and the earthly homeland as well as to foster in them a spirit of Christian culture, which will bear fruit with respect, tolerance and justice.

We are certain that the Risen Christ offers hope not only for our Churches and nations, but also for Europe and the entire world. May He grant His grace so that each Pole can see each Russian and each Russian can see each Pole as their friend and brother.

Both Poles and Russians have profound respect for the Holy Virgin Mary. Having trust in the intercession of the Mother of God, we entrust to Her care the great work of the reconciliation and rapprochement between our Churches and nations.

Recalling the words of Paul the Apostle: Christ’s peace must reign in your hearts (Col 3:15), we confer on all our blessing, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

+ Józef Michalik, Archbishop
Metropolitan of Przemyśl

+ Kyrill
Patriarch of Moscow
and All Russia

Warsaw, 17.08.2012

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/19/2012 9:39 PM]
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Mitchell heir leaves estate
to Archdiocese of Atlanta

Who even knew the author of 'Gone with the Wind' was Catholic?


ATLANTA, August 16 — The Archdiocese of Atlanta has received a substantial gift from the estate of Margaret Mitchell’s nephew, Joseph, including a 50 percent share of the trademark and literary rights to “Gone With the Wind.”

The estate of Joseph Mitchell included a multi-million dollar bequest to the archdiocese and the donation of his home on Habersham Road in Atlanta.

One of two sons of Margaret Mitchell’s brother, Stephens, Joseph Mitchell died in October 2011. He was a member of the Cathedral of Christ the King and asked that, if possible, his donation assist the Cathedral in a particular way.

“It is a magnificent gift,” said Deacon Steve Swope, who has been shepherding the transition of the bequest on behalf of Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory.

Standing with the Mitchell archives, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory holds

A first edition copy of “Gone With the Wind,” signed by author Margaret Mitchell and presented to her father, Eugene Muse Mitchell., is one item in a large collection of articles left to the archdiocese in her nephew's bequest to the Diocese of Atlanta.

The remarkable inheritance passed on to the archdiocese includes a collection of signed “Gone With the Wind” first editions published in various languages in countries around the world and an unpublished history of the Mitchell family, handwritten by Margaret’s father, Eugene Muse Mitchell.

Some of Margaret Mitchell’s personal effects, including her wallet with her press card and library card, and furniture from her apartment have been given to the archdiocese.

A library of books includes histories and signed first editions of the late Georgia Catholic author Flannery O’Connor’s novels and short stories.

Eugene Muse Mitchell, the father of Margaret Mitchell, kept an extensive, handwritten journal of the family history. On page 185 he begins a section about his daughter, Margaret. (Photo by Michael Alexander)

Joseph Mitchell, 76, was the last direct descendant of the Mitchell family. His brother, Eugene, a generous benefactor of Morehouse College and School of Medicine, as was Margaret Mitchell, died in 2007. Eugene’s widow, Virginia, is still living. The two brothers had each inherited a trust with a half share of the literary and trademark rights to the celebrated novel written by their late aunt.

The movie rights were sold immediately after “Gone With the Wind” was published in 1936 to instantaneous success. Two million copies of the novel had been sold by 1939. The work was quickly translated into Arabic, Asian and eastern and western European languages. Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 for her work, and, according to Publishers Weekly, the novel continues to sell in the United States at a rate of about 75,000 copies a year.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta has created a corporation with the Eugene Mitchell trust in order to manage the literary inheritance. The archdiocese will also continue to use the group of attorneys, colleagues of Stephens Mitchell, who have been safeguarding the literary work and its appropriate use on behalf of the Mitchell family for decades.

The driver’s license of Margaret Mitchell indicates an expiration date of June 30, 1952, but she would die nearly three years earlier in 1949 after being struck by a car. (Photo by Michael Alexander)

“We want to continue to make ‘Gone With the Wind’ available to the widest possible audience and to do it in a way that is respectful and dignified and in line with the wishes of the late Stephens Mitchell,” Deacon Swope said.

The “artifacts that were part of the provenance of Margaret Mitchell” are being preserved by the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Swope said. It is hoped that in the future, the private, non-circulating collection can be loaned to a major institution for public display, he said.

From the Joseph Mitchell estate, Archbishop Gregory has designated that $7.5 million be given to the Cathedral of Christ the King for its building fund.

He has also assigned $1.5 million to Catholic Charities Atlanta for its immediate use and an additional $2 million to create an endowment fund for the social services agency to address its long-term need for sustaining income.

The archbishop has also asked the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia to create an endowment fund for each parish, mission and Catholic school of the archdiocese with a $10,000 gift apiece from the Joseph Mitchell estate, totaling over
$1 million.

Among the items obtained in the bequest of Joseph Mitchell were furniture and a silver tea service that once belonged to Margaret Mitchell. (Photo by Michael Alexander)

He has also assigned $150,000 to the Deacons’ Assistance Fund, $100,000 of which will be a challenge grant that is in place until May 31, 2013, to match any charitable contributions made to the fund during that time.

The remainder of the Mitchell bequest will be held in reserve and used by the archdiocese for general religious purposes as requested in Joseph Mitchell’s will, Deacon Swope said.

Plans call for the Cathedral parish, which has limited space on its Peachtree Road site, to use part of the bequest to purchase the nearby archbishop’s residence on West Wesley and renovate it as a rectory for Cathedral priests. A new residence is planned for Archbishop Gregory and future archbishops of Atlanta on the Habersham Road property given by Joseph Mitchell.

“The Archdiocese of Atlanta has been blessed with a generous gift through the kindness of Joe Mitchell,” Archbishop Gregory said. “This gift is a reservoir of the funds earned through the genius of Margaret Mitchell and her depiction of the harsh struggles of Southern life during and after the Civil War. The Mitchell family has a proud Catholic legacy, and this gift will allow that legacy and that pride to be shared with many others in the archdiocese.”

“Christ the King parish, Joe’s church home, the works of Catholic Charities, a passionate concern for Joe, and each parish community and our schools within the archdiocese will share in the gift of his kindness,” the archbishop said. “Thus the Mitchell legacy will help the Catholic community and those that are served by the Catholic Church to have a brighter future. We should all give thanks for Joe’s kindness and remember all of the Mitchell family in our prayers.”

Father Frank McNamee, Cathedral rector, said the bequest came at a time when the parish was at a critical point with a need to expand some of its facilities.

“The Mitchell legacy will be so much a part of our new expansion,” he said.

“Firstly, I was shocked and then I was very thankful,” he said, “because we were at a crossroads with all that was happening at the Cathedral.”

“I also thank the archbishop because it is very generous what he is doing. That is a sizable amount. I thank him on behalf of the Cathedral parishioners for this great gift and his support of the Cathedral for this project,” Father McNamee said.

The Catholic roots of the Mitchell family come through Margaret and Stephens’ mother, Maybelle Stephens Mitchell, whose father, John Stephens, was born in Ireland and whose mother, Annie Fitzgerald Stephens, descends from one of the earliest Catholic families in Georgia.

In Finis Farr’s biography of Margaret Mitchell, Stephens Mitchell said his mother was educated in a convent school in Quebec, Canada, and was so concerned with teaching and defending the Catholic faith she helped found the Catholic Laymen’s Association of Georgia, made up of prominent lay Catholics who wrote and spoke to explain Catholic beliefs and defend the Church against anti-Catholicism.

Stephens Mitchell also contributed articles about Catholic involvement in Georgia history to The Bulletin of the Catholic Laymen’s Association of Georgia, the predecessor of The Georgia Bulletin, according to Rita DeLorme, a Savannah diocesan volunteer archivist. He was active at Sacred Heart Church’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.

The Fitzgeralds are in the sacramental records of Purification Church in Sharon, the oldest Catholic church in Georgia, said Carolyn Denton, Atlanta archdiocesan archivist.
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John Allen's column this weekend had two sub-topics that are quite informative, and the first one analyzing the finances of the Churfch in the United States demonstrates his commendable enterprise.

The Church as a whole
does not have 'deep pockets:

Parishes and dioceses are largely autonomous in what they earn and spend,
and the dioceses take no part of any revenues by fee-earning schools and hospitals

August 16, 2017

Most people believe the real power in Catholicism resides with the hierarchy, and in terms of both theology and Church law, that's basically right. For instance, canon law says the Pope wields "supreme, full, immediate and universal" authority, and it's tough to get more sweeping than that.

One wonders, however, if an accountant would reach the same conclusion.

When it comes to the financial dimension of Catholic life, there are certainly some deep pockets out there. Just to offer a few examples:

o The University of Notre Dame, America's flagship Catholic university, has an annual budget of $1.2 billion and an endowment estimated at $7.5 billion.
o The Archdiocese of Chicago last year reported cash, investments and buildings valued at $2.472 billion.
o The Knights of Columbus has more than $85 billion of life insurance in force, with $8 billion in annual sales. [Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight and Ettore Gotti Tedeshi's nemesis, must find IOR a petty enterprise in comparison!]
o In Rome, the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), known popularly (if, some say, inaccurately) as the "Vatican Bank," administers assets in excess of $6 billion.
o American Catholics drop more than $8 billion every year into the Sunday collection plate, which works out to more than $150 million a week.
o In Germany, the Catholic church netted $8.8 billion in 2010 from the national "church tax," allowing it to remain the country's largest private employer after Volkswagen.

My addendum: Just for perspective, consider this accounting of revenues to the Vatican in 2011, from the financial statements released last month:

The Vatican Museums produced a revenue that passed from EUR 82,400,000 in 2010 to EUR 91,300,000, for a total of more than five million visitors.

Peter's Pence - i.e., donations made by the faithful to support the Holy Father's charity - rose from USD 67,704,416.41 in 2010 to USD 69,711,722.76.

Contributions made pursuant to canon 1271 of the Code of Canon Law - i.e., the economic support offered by ecclesiastical circumscriptions throughout the world to maintain the service the Roman Curia offers the universal Church - rose from USD 27,362,258.40 in 2010 to USD 32,128,675.91.

Further contributions to the Holy See made by institutes of consecrated life, societies of apostolic life and foundations rose from USD 747,596.09 in 2010 to USD 1,194,217.78. Thus the overall increase with respect to 2010 was of 7.54 per cent.

As it does every year, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) offered the Holy Father a significant sum to support his apostolic and charitable ministry. The amount involved for the financial year 2011 was EUR 49,000,000.

That's a total of EUR 243,332,614 - really small potatoes compared to the figures cited in Allen's sampling. Like one-sixth of Notre Dame's annual budget, for instance. Or that Sunday massgoers in the US contribute an annual $8 billion to their local churches, which is $2 billion more than the total assets controlled by the IOR! So, Jeffrey Anderson and all you dreaming of the pot of Vatican gold at the end of the pedophile rainbow, better think twice!

Simply ticking off those dollar amounts, however, two points are easy to miss.

First, the vast majority of money washing through the Church remains on the local level, especially the parish. In the United States, more than 90 percent of revenues collected by parishes remains there. Those funds are not centrally collected, and they're not really even centrally tracked, either by the bishops' conference or by Rome. Nobody in the Vatican could tell you how much a parish in Dubuque, Iowa, spent this month on coffee and donuts after Mass.

Second, much of the real money bypasses the hierarchy. To take the most obvious example, Catholic hospitals generate billions in revenue, well above what parishes will ever see from their collection plates. Hospitals may be sponsored by a religious order or other canonical entity, but they're usually governed by a lay board of directors and incorporated under civil, not ecclesiastical, law. The same point holds for most Catholic colleges and universities.

If you're looking for the real moguls and tycoons in the Church, in other words, they're not to be found among the bishops.

Let's crunch some numbers to flesh out these observations.

Based on data from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, average annual parish revenue in the United States is $695,291. Joseph Harris, one of the premier financial analysts in American Catholicism, has done the math.

Multiplying that estimate by the 17,139 parishes in the country yields total parish income of $11.9 billion, with two-thirds ($8.2 billion) coming from the collection plate. The rest comes from capital campaigns, one-time gifts, inheritances and other relatively minor sources.

Since average parish expenses are $626,000, most places are basically breaking even. (The national total for parish expenses works out to $10.7 billion.) Salaries are typically the largest line item, representing more than 40 percent of parish budgets. Other major outlays include the physical plant,; parish operations, such as a soup kitchen or catechism program; and in some cases, subsidies to a Catholic grade school. Parishes are also expected to provide money to the diocese, a contribution known as the cathedraticum.

At the diocesan level, 15 percent of America's 196 dioceses have budgets of more than $20 million, while 15 percent have budgets between $10 million and $20 million, 35 percent are under $5 million, and 40 percent fall between $5 million and $10 million.

In 2010, the Archdiocese of Chicago had a budget of $120 million; the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska, the smallest in terms of population, had a budget of $1.5 million. All told, a rough estimate for combined diocesan expenditures in America every year would be $2 billion.

Of course, bishops don't directly control parish assets. Taken together, however, the amounts for parishes and dioceses provide a sense of officialdom's financial footprint.

Now, some terms of comparison.

The 10 largest Catholic universities in the United States, as measured by enrollment, are DePaul, St. John's, Loyola, Saint Louis, Georgetown, Boston College, Fordham, Villanova, Notre Dame and Marquette. In 2011, their annual operating budgets, taken together, totaled $6.27 billion. All by themselves, these 10 schools spent roughly the same amount as more than 17,000 parishes, and three times as much as all the country's dioceses.

According to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, there are 251 degree-granting Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States. Most are fairly small financial potatoes, but their total assets still easily dwarf the official institutional structures.

Turning to hospitals, just one Catholic system -- Ascension Health, the country's largest, with 1,400 locations in 21 states and the District of Columbia -- had revenues of $15 billion in 2011, exceeding the combined haul for all parishes.

There are 56 Catholic health care systems in America, and in 2010, the Catholic Health Association reported they had total expenses of $98.6 billion. That's almost 10 times the amount spent by parishes, and a fraction under 50 times the amount spent by dioceses.

Catholic Charities USA, one of the largest private charitable networks in the United States, had revenues in 2010 of $4.67 billion, of which $2.9 billion came from the government and most of the rest from private donations. This one charity, in other words, collected more in public funds alone than all the country's dioceses spent.

What insights flow from these numbers? At least four come to mind.

First, they provide a glimpse of how the world looks through the eyes of a bishop. When tensions flare with a university or hospital, there's often a tendency to frame things as "powerful bishop versus defenseless institution." The way the typical bishop might experience it, however, is more like "cash-poor bishop versus deep-pockets institution."

Second, running these numbers corrects an overly "purple" ecclesiology, in which "the c[Church" is defined almost exclusively in terms of the hierarchy. At least as far as dollars and cents are concerned, that's obviously off the mark.

Third, the numbers suggest a possible financial dimension to some of today's debates over Catholic identity. Understandably, some bishops may fret that if schools, hospitals, charities or religious orders drift out of the official orbit, it's not just the Church's missionary capacity that's at stake, but an enormous chunk of its financial footprint too. [Does this 'foot print' really matter, since none of the money goes to the bishops or the dioceses anyway? The only thing that ought to matter to the bishops is whether these institutions are providing services and instruction according to the teachings of the Church - and if they don't, that they stop identifying themselves as Catholic!]

A fourth reflection comes from Harris.

"Money is a mystery in the Church," he told me. "We don't know what we have or what we spend it on, so we lurch from crisis to crisis." [Not such a mystery that Harris couldn't hazard an educated estimate, as he did above! In terms of the Church itself, its parish-diocese organization dictates that 'what we have' and 'what we spend' are determined by what the individual parish and diocese receive and spend, independent of any revenue-generating Catholic institutions - i.e., fee-charging hospitals and higher institutions of learning - found in the parish and diocese. So it seems clear that the parochial and diocesan finances have nothing to do at all with the finances of the Vatican, for example, other than any annual portion they may pass on to the Vatican as Peter's Pence.]

Based on the kinds of numbers provided in this column, Harris estimates that total annual revenue for the Catholic church in America works out to around $153 billion, but he's the first to admit that's really just a guess.

Harris believes the resources exist to pull together accurate financial data if the Church gets its act together: "This is not an impoverished organization," he says. [Again, how can Harris speak of the entire Church - if that is what he means by 'organization' - in terms of estimating overall income and expenses, when he has just made clear that local ecclesial jurisdictions have autonomous finances? Besides, while most of the dioceses and parishes in the West may not be impoverished - some US dioceses had enough in properties and other assets to settle multimillion judgments against priest offenders - one cannot say that for the dioceses and parishes of the Third World, who often have to be assisted by affluent dioceses in the Western world and other Catholic organizations to meet their expenses.

A new poll shows figures on
atheism and religion today

August 16, 2017

The international polling outfit WIN-Gallup International has released a new global survey that shows atheism is on the rise, but 59 percent of the world's population still describes itself as "religious."

Taken together, the results seem to debunk two persistent myths about global religion:

Atheism is mostly a Western phenomenon. Instead, Asia is by far the world's most atheistic continent, with China alone home to two-thirds of the roughly 900 million atheists on the planet.
Christianity is in decline relative to other world religions, especially Islam. Instead, nine of the world's 10 most religious nations are majority Christian, and people who self-identify as Christian are more likely to describe themselves as "religious" than Muslims (81 percent to 74 percent).

Pollsters asked the same question of people in 57 nations: "Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say that you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?"

According to the survey, the following are the world's top atheist nations as measured by percentage of population:
China: 47 percent
Japan: 31 percent
South Korea: 31 percent
Czech Republic: 30 percent
France: 29 percent
Germany: 15 percent
Netherlands: 14 percent
Austria: 10 percent
Iceland: 10 percent
Australia: 10 percent
Ireland: 10 percent

Overall, the WIN-Gallup International poll concludes that 13 percent of the global population is atheist, up by 3 percent from 2005. The 2012 estimate translates into 900 million atheists worldwide. If 47 percent of China's 1.3 billion people think of themselves that way, that's 611 million atheists in China alone, two-thirds of the total.

The WIN-Gallup International poll found that these are the most religious nations, again as measured by percentage of population:
Ghana: 96 percent
Nigeria: 93 percent
Armenia: 92 percent
Fiji: 92 percent
Macedonia: 90 percent
Romania: 89 percent
Iraq: 88 percent
Kenya: 88 percent
Peru: 86 percent
Brazil: 85 percent

All but Iraq are societies in which Christianity is the dominant religious tradition. Two are traditionally Catholic nations (Peru and Brazil), three are traditionally Orthodox (Armenia, Macedonia and Romania), and the rest are mixed among a variety of Christian confessions, though Catholicism is a significant presence, as in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

As a footnote, eight of the 10 nations with the highest percentages of atheists are also traditionally Christian, but only two are historically Catholic (France and Ireland) and none are Orthodox. In tandem with other findings, the results could suggest that Catholicism and Orthodoxy have weathered the storms of modernity slightly more successfully than traditional versions of Protestantism.

The survey also asked people if they identify with a religious tradition, regardless of whether they're personally "religious." The percentages in major traditions who said they're also "religious" are as follows:
Hindus: 82 percent
Christians: 81 percent
Muslims: 74 percent
Jews: 38 percent
[That 62 percent of Jews do not consider themselves 'reiigious' is a surprise. That means at least 6 out of 10 Jews. They may not be atheists but that's an alarming rate of secularism for Judaism!]

With regard to the United States, the WIN-Gallup International poll showed a significant decline in religiosity since 2005. The percentage of Americans describing themselves as "religious," according to the poll, dropped from 73 percent to 60 percent, while the share identifying as atheist rose from 1 to 5 percent.

Of course, timing and how questions are phrased can skew poll results, especially in a cross-cultural survey. People can also interpret the findings in various ways. Some experts in the United States, for instance, argue that what the poll captures isn't a real shift in religiosity, but rather the declining social stigma attached to calling oneself an atheist, or admitting out loud that you're not religious.

Yet at the big-picture level, these results can help reframe perceptions of the global situation -- especially with regard to where the atheists are, and how Christianity is doing.

One would like to hazard an educated guess at why the atheist figures are the way they are. One would think that China's leading the atheist pack could be attributed to 50 years of state atheism and official anti-religious hostility. But neither Russia nor any of the former Soviet republics - where Communism took over 30 years earlier than China - even figure in the top 10 at all! (I haven't the time to check now, but I would like to see the figures pre-Communism. Perhaps even then, China was already largely irreligious, whereas Russia at least and its neigboring Soviet republics in eastern Europe have always been very Orthodox, and Communism only seems to have blanketed over that inherent religiosity without stifling it - if even the likes of Putin and Medvedev can surface immediately post-USSR as devout Christians!)

I must say I did not realize the strides that secularism - and with it, atheism - has made in Japan and South Korea. The atheist quotient in the Czech Republic and France is not surprising, but it is, that France has almost twice as many atheists as Germany.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/22/2012 11:30 PM]
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Monday, August 20, 20th Week in Ordinary Time

Center illustrations show one of the numerous paintings inspired by Bernard's visions of Mary; and an icon of St. Benedict and St. Bernard.
ST. BERNARD DE CLAIRVAUX (France, 1091-1153), Cistercian Monk, Abbot and Reformer, Theologian, Doctor of the Church
Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis on Oct. 21, 2009, to St. Bernard
Of the many writings of this Doctor Mellifluus of the Church, Benedict XVI cited in particular a Book Bernard wrote when one of his pupils, Bernardo Pignatelli, became Pope Eugene III in 1945.

On this occasion, Bernard as his spiritual father, dedicated to his spiritual son the text De Consideratione [Five Books on Consideration] which contains teachings on how to be a good Pope. In this book, which is still appropriate reading for the Popes of all times, Bernard did not only suggest how to be a good Pope, but also expressed a profound vision of the Mystery of the Church and of the Mystery of Christ which is ultimately resolved in contemplation of the mystery of the Triune God. "The search for this God who is not yet sufficiently sought must be continued", the holy Abbot wrote, "yet it may be easier to search for him and find him in prayer rather than in discussion. So let us end the book here, but not the search" (XIV, 32: PL 182, 808) and in journeying on towards God.

Readings for today's Mass:

No bulletins from the Vatican so far.


The unforgettable prayer vigil led by Benedict XVI for some one and a half million youth of WYD 2011 at the Cuatro Vientos airfield outside Madrid - when the then 84-year-old Pope exhibited grace and humor - not to mention holding up physically - under torrential pressure, a freak storm that drenched everyone present, along with most of the hosts stored in some tents for the closing Mass the next day. When the storm subsided, and after changing into dry clothes and donning liturgical vestments, the Pope proceeded to lead the crowd in Adoration of the Eucharist, and the Benediction afterwards. Before leaving them that night, he said to them:

Dear young people we have lived an adventure together; firm in our faith in Christ we have resisted the rain! Before I go I would like to wish you all a good night. Thank you for your joy and your resistance! Thank you for the incredible example you have given. Like this night with Christ. you can always overcome life’s trials, never forget this!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/21/2013 4:47 AM]
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Three cheers and blessings for this judge!

US judge says the Vatican is not
the 'employer' of local priests


PORTLAND, Oregon, August 20 (AP) — The Vatican has won a major victory in an Oregon federal courtroom, where a judge ruled the Holy See is not the employer of molester priests.

The ruling Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman ends a six-year question in the decade-old case and could shield the Vatican from possible monetary damages.

The original lawsuit was filed in 2002 by a Seattle-area man who claimed the Rev. Andrew Ronan repeatedly molested him in the late 1960s.

Mosman made a previous decision strictly on legal theory and determined that if all the facts in the case were true, the Vatican would indeed be Ronan's employer.

But on Monday, Mosman said he looked at the facts in the case and made his decision.

Plaintiff's attorney Jeff Anderson says he will appeal the decision.

The AP subsequently filed a longer story with the following added:

Vatican attorney Jeff Lena said the case should put to rest the notion that the Holy See is liable for the actions of priests.

"This is a case in which, for the first time, a court in the U.S. has taken a careful, factual look at whether or not a priest in the U.S. can be viewed as an employee of the Holy See and the answer, unequivocally, was no," Lena said.

The case is the last major U.S. sex abuse lawsuit against the Holy See. Cases in Kentucky and Wisconsin have been dropped in recent years.

The plaintiffs argued that what they contend was Ronan's fealty to the Pope, the Vatican's ability to promote priests, the Vatican's laicization — or removal — process, and the ability to change priests' training all pointed to the Vatican employing priests.

"We believe that under further scrutiny," Anderson said in a news release, "the courts will find that Vatican protocols and practice make it clear that obedience to Rome required the secrecy and concealment practiced by priests and bishops as the clergy abuse crisis unfolded in the United States."

Lena said the Vatican had little to do with the laicization process unless a priest appealed, and points out that the appellate court will not further scrutinize the facts, but rather the application of the law in the case.

The impact of Mosman's ruling on other priest sex-abuse cases is not yet clear. The case has gone further than any other in attempting to get at the relationship between priests in the U.S. and the Vatican.

Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia School of Law professor, said lawsuits against the Pope are usually dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds, with a U.S. court ruling that the Vatican can't be sued because there is no jurisdiction in the U.S. to do so.

"This was likely filed more to make a political statement
," Laycock said.

Mosman took up several hypothetical analogies while questioning attorneys for both sides. He said that, for instance, the Oregon legal bar has many of the same powers over lawyers as the Vatican has over priests: It can disbar someone and issue sanctions, just as the Vatican can laicize priests, but doing so doesn't constitute a firing.

The plaintiffs were trying to show that, by exerting control, the Vatican was the priests' employer.

Mosman said that if he accepted the plaintiff's argument that the Vatican maintains absolute control over all priests, and is therefore their employer, then all Catholics everywhere could similarly be considered employees of the Holy See.

After the ruling, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, director David Clohessy said in a statement that the Vatican wants "to have their cake and eat it too" by varying their definition of the Church, sometimes calling it a top-down hierarchical institution and other times asserting that only locals have control over their employee — an assertion Lena said flies in the face of an appellate court ruling in 2009 and Monday's decision by Mosman.

"It's a shame that, once again, top Catholic officials successfully exploit legal technicalities to keep clergy sex crimes and cover ups covered up," Clohessy said. "The truth is that the Vatican oversees the church worldwide, insisting on secrecy in child sex cases and stopping or delaying the defrocking of pedophile priests."
[Yada, yada, yada - and in the supposed interest of fairness, SNAP is given 14 lines in the AP report compared to 4 lines for the Vatican lawyer Jeffrey Lena!]

I was going to append the following remarks to my commentary on the statements made by financial analyst cited by John Allen in the article posted earlier on this page, because nothing makes the unique organizational structure of the Church clearer than the administrative and fiscal autonomy of the Church's various ecclesial jurisdictions.

I thought Harris's analysis-disabusal of the notion of 'the Church's supposedly deep pockets' would have been a good occasion to link the administrative and fiscal autonomy of the Church's various ecclesial jurisdictions to the concept of subsidiarity in the Church's social doctrine, which holds that local problems must be solved at the lowest level possible before being subjected to higher arbitration, an organizing principle that "matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority".

If Jeffrey Anderson and his fellow Vatican-baiting lawyers had bothered to take a little crash course on the organization of the Church - how it has always been organized since the first Christian communities - they would have realized that parishes and dioceses are administratively autonomous of the Vatican, and it is this autonomy of the local churches that gave rise to the idea of subsidiarity. "Do what you can at your level first, before resorting to higher authority".

With practical consequences that militate against the shysters' delusions of milking the Vatican dry for what it could pay them in damages if only they could show that 1) parish and diocesan priests are employees of the Vatican and that therefore, 2) the Pope is directly responsible for their misconduct and crimes, and the Vatican ought to pay all damages to the victims.

In the Church, local autonomy is the absolute rule for all practical day-to-day administrative, financial and pastoral responsibilities, but obviously does not extend to doctrine. The doctrine of the Church remains uniform and inalterable as it is expressed principally in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. No individual, not even a bishop, and no association - as for instance, the LCRW - has any business or right to tinker with that doctrine, and preach or teach their own thinking as though they were a parallel Magisterium. The Church cannot have a plural Magisterium, any more than a faithful Catholic can choose and pick which beliefs and practices he wants to follow.

I hope there is a more extended version of the Portland case than the AP's bare-bones account, because one would like to see which 'facts' presented by Anderson the judge examined and promptly threw out in making his ruling.

The continuing but time-delayed reaction in the worldwide Church to the problem of pedophile priests means that from time to time, and for quite some time to come, we will continue to get reports like the ff:

An Australian diocese may have to pay
13.5M euros to sex-abuse victims

The crimes, between 1960 and 1990, involved
10 priests and more than 100 victims

August 17, 2012

A Catholic diocese in Australia is negotiating compensations that add up to 13.5 million euros and are to be paid out to more than 100 victims of acts of paedophilia that took place between 1960 and 1990. [The very thought of ten priests preying on innocents in their care for a period of three decades is horrifying! The horror and the tragedy are never any less, no matter how often one hears and reads about these crimes.]

The August 17 issue of The Australian reports that the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, north of Sydney, negotiated out-of-court settlements with at least 78 of the alleged victims. Another 25 cases have been nearly settled. However it seems that the total number of victims might be even higher.

The compensations are linked to acts of sexual abuse at the hands of at least 10 priests and teachers employed by the Church and include the highest compensation ever negotiated in Australia, up to approximately 1.7 million euros to an individual victim.

Under the terms of the settlement negotiated through a law firm, the Church does not admit responsibility for the acts of abuse, even though many of the victims see the compensation as a form of recognition for what they suffered.

“The Church usually requests a waiver form that prevents the victim from making further claims for the same acts of abuse and a clause that forbids arguing over the terms of the agreement”, said one of the negotiating lawyers.

This practice by the Australian Catholic Church, named ‘Towards Healing’, began in 1996 to respond to abuse claims and it has been criticized by the victims’ representatives for the lack of independent evaluation of the claims.

I have tried unsuccessfully to track down the original report in The Australian, but my search is turning up all sorts of odd unrelated stuff from years back.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/22/2012 11:40 PM]
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It's still 'all systems go'
for the Pope's trip to Lebanon,
says Father Lombardi

VATICAN CITY, Aufust 20 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict's trip to Lebanon next month will go forward as planned, the Vatican said on Monday, even as fighting rages in neighbouring Syria.

Benedict's visit to Lebanon is scheduled for September 14-16. But escalating violence in Syria and sectarian tensions in Lebanon prompted speculation last week that the Pontiff might be forced to postpone the trip.

"The preparations for the visit are going ahead without any uncertainty on the part of the Vatican," Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Holy See, told reporters.

Lombardi said one of the Pope's specially designed cars - the Popemobile equipped with bullet-proof glass - was already on its way to Beirut.

Lebanon will be the 85-year-old Pope's second foreign visit this year after a trip to Mexico and Cuba in March.

Pope Benedict is scheduled to meet President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati on September 15, and hold an open-air mass at the Beirut City Centre Waterfront on the following day.

The conflict in Syria has raised fears that violence might spill across the region. Gulf Arab states told their citizens last week to leave Lebanon, where Shi'ite gunmen kidnapped more than 20 people in retaliation for the capture of one of their kinsmen in Syria.

During his Easter service four months ago, Pope Benedict backed a Syrian peace plan that has since failed. United Nations military observers on Monday left Damascus as fighting continued between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels.

Battling a 17-month-old uprising against his rule, Assad has used fighter jets and helicopter gunships to pound rebel strongholds. Insurgents have stepped up their attacks, hitting tanks, military convoys and security buildings.

8/21/2012 1:33 PM
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Still making up for my relative inactivity, not by choice, in the past few days, so here's a take on the recent developments on Vatileaks by a book author and prolific commentator, who is also a sociologist of religion and founder of CESNUR, the Turin-based center for the study of new religions.

He makes some interesting points but I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Vatileaks, as 'minor' and 'virtually over', even if it turns out that it really was just an impromptu operation. One fueled by a fanatical but simple-minded fly - a fly he is, for all his megalomania - who willingly walked into the parlor of a fattened tarantula, a person who had fairly recently made his name and hefty royalties by writing about the unsavory secrets of IOR in the decades that included the Banco Ambrosiano scandal through to the end of the Sodano stranglehold on IOR that took even Benedict XVI a few years to pry loose. Oh yes, Paoletto was succulent and easy prey indeed for the smug, opportunistic Gianluigi Nuzzi who did not even have to seek him out! And there will be those peripheral characters orbiting the Apostolic Palace (which also houses the Secretariat of State) who might have gladly joined the game, if only to vent their hostility, perhaps, against Cardinal Bertone, or even the Pope himself.

Introvigne's first point bears repeating over and over, nonetheless: Exactly what did the Gabriele-Nuzzi operation reveal that was not already known, and more importantly, what was there in it that constituted serious scandal?

Vatileaks: 'What secrets were revealed anyway?
This was nothing but a commercial operation'

Interview with Massimo Introvigne
by Carlo Melato
Translated from

August 14, 2012

A check for 100,000 euros made out to the Holy Father, a nugget of gold and a 16th century copy of the Aeneid - valuable objects found in the apartment of ex-papal valet Paolo Gabriele, among copies of all the documents he helped himself to in the Pope's study.

He has now been indicted for aggravated theft and will face trial in a Vatican court this autumn, along with an accomplice who aided and abetted him to carry on with his betrayal of the Pope.

And so the Vatileaks scandal continues, even if some pieces of the puzzle appear to have fallen into place. It was Gabriele alone who provided Gianluigi Nuzzi with all the documents he published in the book Sua Santita, just as he was the hooded man who showed up on TV about two weeks before his arrest, admitting to be the 'mole' who dug up the dirt for Nuzzi, although he claimed at the time that he was just one of about 20 who were all committed to stealing and divulging confidential documents 'for the good of the Church'.

Interviewed for this online journal, Massimo Introvigne, sociologist of religion and devout Catholic, said: "In my opinion, one can have two separate reflections about this episode. On the one hand, the event in itself, which is definitely serious - that the Pope was surrounded by people who rummaged around in his files and provided confidential documents to newsmen. [And that's an unacceptable hyperbole that's also untrue, and slanders the other members of the Pontifical Family! Just one of them was treasonous, and he passed on the fruits of his loot to one journalist.] On the other hand, consider the content of those documents! Reading Nuzzi's book, all I could say was, 'And is this all?'"

Are you saying that the best-seller has disappointed expectations?
Look, whatever was published brought up little that was not already known to and reported by the Vatican press corps. Yet the publicity barrage had led the public to believe that we would find malversations on an international scale and sinful behavior by some of the most prominent bishops and cardinals.

And what did we get?
Instead we discover obvious things, such as that the church movements do give their opinions, when asked, about candidates for episcopal nomination. That Ettore Gotti Tedeschi openly spoke about the reorganization of IOR as he had been doing in numerous interviews. We read with some boredom that whenever a bishop's seat becomes vacant. not a few monsignors think of themselves as the ideal candidate.

Perhaps the most interesting was the correspondence between the Vatican and the Church in China, both the clandestine as well as the official. Except that some of those involved in the letters may end up in a Chinese gulag.

In short, heaven grant that the desks of the world's most powerful leaders could hold so little that is compromising! [Let me be uncharitable and wager that Nuzzi was probably dismayed to tears to find out there was nothing in the purloined papers that could be used in any way against Benedict XVI, so he wisely adverts the reader early in his introduction not to expect any such material!]

What do you think of the Vatican reaction to the leaks?
The fact is serious and it has been rightly considered seriously by the Church. The machinery of Vatican justice is in motion, and that happens rarely!

What do you think motivated those who were responsible for all this?
Despite everything that has been written, I refuse to believe that the people responsible for this were motivated by doing good for the Church. [Gabriele claims that, and he is, of course delusional; but Nuzzi really does not. He couldn't care less about the Church. His head is in the clouds with the headlines, his moment in the spotlight, and by yet another best-seller, there being enough suckers who have bought his book for its curiosity value.]

To begin with, no cleansing has been done ['Cleansing' in what sense? Firing people under pressure? The purification continually invoked by the Pope is internal and individual!] and they have not dug out any dark sepulchres.

I am instead convinced that the operation was commercial. Someone took money to steal the documents, the book became a best-seller, and it's all about the money. No one cares about the many crimes that have been committed in these, not the Vatican courts, and not the Italian which will not intervene for political reasons. [That's a strangely cynical attitude to take, considering that the Vatican magistrate has said the more serious crimes - and others who may be involved besides the Gabriele and Nuzzi - will continue to be investigated, even if it will be a 'difficult and laborious' task to do so. It also ignores the Pope's own interest that the full truth come out about this episode.]

Nonetheless, one is struck by the success of a propaganda operation aimed at the uninformed and based on documents that are for the most part verging on irrelevance.

Do you think that this episode is drawing to a conclusion?
I would say so, because I look at this story as something of a micro-plot that has allowed some media to scream out that in the bosom of the Church there are unspeakable secrets that some fearless journalist has dared to expose. [No plot, micro or otherwise, was needed for the MSM to do that - it was already their modus operandi in reporting about the Church. Peddling the age-old myth that the men of the Church themselves - without exception, as it were - are the most egregious and grievous offenders of all the Gospel values that they preach.]

And is the hunt for traitors within the Vatican also over and done with?
The traitor was the butler. I wouldn't go hunting for one among the cardinals. Perhaps he was aided by this computer specialist or some other secretaries or clerks. Whoever goes from the Secretariat of State to the pontifical household is well aware how many people shuttle between those corridors.

What measures should the Holy See take in the future?
Just a better job of choosing personnel, because it is inevitable that persons doing their respective tasks will have access to the papal apartment. [More concretely and practically, 24-hour camera surveillance of the Pope's study, and a daily conscientious review of the tapes thereof! One must assume the Vatican Gendarmerie took steps to do that right away after arresting Gabriele. And Mons. Gaenswein, let the valet be the valet and/or go-fer, not a clerk to do minor tasks for you!]
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/21/2012 1:34 PM]
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Tuesday, August 21, 20th Week Ordinary Time

Fifth photo from left, top panel: In 1907, Pius X consecrates as bishop the man who would succeed him 7 years later as Benedict XV; and extreme right, Pius X on his deathbed.
ST. PIUS X (Italy, 1835-1914), 257th Pope (1903-1914)
Last year, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis on the Wednesday preceding the feast day to his predecessor
Giuseppe Melchior Sarto was the first Pope to be canonized since Pius V (1566-1672). Born to a peasant family in northern Italy, he had extensive pastoral experience as a parish priest, then Bishop of Mantua and Patriarch of Venice. His election as Pope despite the opposition of the Austrian emperor marked the last time that a Catholic monarch ever had any influence on a papal conclave. As Pope, he rejected modernist tendencies in the Church and promoted orthodox theology and traditional Catholic practices, especially daily Mass and Communion, Marian devotion and Gregorian chant. He encouraged personal piety and a lifestyle reflecting Christian values. Two lasting legacies of his Papacy were lowering the age of First Communion to 7, codifying canon law for the first time, and the Catechism of Pius X. He was a smoker and eventually suffered poor health because of it, though he died of a heart attack. Although he was Pope for only 11 years, his personal holiness was such that post-mortem veneration of him was unprecedented in modern history to that time. Two miracles, instead of the usual one each, were certified for both his beatification in 1944 and his canonization in 1954. He is, of course, the 'hero' of the FSSPX, which is named after him.
Readings for today's Mass:

No bulletins from the Vatican so far.
8/21/2012 6:38 PM
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On this day when we celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, under whose patronage France has been placed, let us present to God, through the intercession of Our Lady, our trustful prayers for our nation:

1. In these times of economic crises, many of our fellow citizens are victims of various constraints and see the future with unease. Let us pray for those who have the power to decide in this field, and let us pray to God that he may make us even more generous in solidarity with those like us.

2. For those who were recently elected to legislate and govern: That their sense of the common good for society may prevail over special requests and that they may have the strength to follow what their conscience says.

3. For families: That their legitimate expectation of support from society may not be in vain; that their members support each other with faithfulness and tenderness throughout life, especially in sorrowful moments. Let the commitment of spouses towards each other and towards their children be a sign of the faithfulness of love.

4. For children and young people: That we can all help them to find their own way to progress to happiness; that they may cease to be the object pf adult desires and conflicts so that they may fully benefit from the love of a mother and a father.

Lord our God, we entrust the future of our nation to you. Through the intercession of Our Lady, let us have the courage to make the necessary choices for a better quality of life for everyone, and for the blossoming of our young people thanks to strong and faithful families. Through Jesus Christ, our lord.

L'Osservatore Romano today, which reports the Holy Father's Angelus remarks last Sunday and his message to the C&L-sponsored 33rd Meeting for Friendship among Peoples in Rimini, features a front-page commentary by a French author on the big controversy in France - calling it 'an inexistent scandal' - over a national Prayer on the Feast of the Assumption composed by Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris and president of the French bishops' conference. The prayer was read from most French Catholic pulpits on Assumption Day... As this was one of the topics I failed to post about in the past few days, here first is a general but hardly non-partisan background from the French news agency AFP.

Catholic prayer implicitly opposing
gay marriage angers secular France


Cardinal Vingt-Trois and his call to prayer.

PARIS, August 16 (AFP) - A centuries-old tradition was revived on August 15th when a “Prayer for France” was read out at Catholic churches across the country. The text, which attacks government plans to legalise same-sex marriage, has angered French gay rights groups.

Gay rights groups in France have reacted angrily to the Catholic Church after it issued a call to prayer to protect the sacrament of marriage from same-sex couples.

The controversial “Prayer for France” was sent out to churches across the country to be read out on August 15 to mark the feast of the Assumption.

The prayer’s subject matter is designed to mobilise Catholics against François Hollande’s Socialist Party government, which recently affirmed plans to open up marriage and adoption to gay couples.

In a thinly veiled reference to the proposed gay marriage bill, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois asked churchgoers to pray for “newly elected officials” to put their “sense of common good over the pressure to meet special demands”.

[I really don't see the reason for leftists to be so militant about overturning all of human history to grant special rights to any group of people whose propensities are not shared by most human beings, even by those who understand that deviation from normality is possible. And the norm in the Church is that God created man and woman and urged them to go forth and multiply.]

These words have angered gay rights groups across France, who have slammed the church for "homophobia" and for interfering in politics.

“François Hollande is committed to these reforms and they have been reaffirmed by his government,” Nicolas Gougain of the Inter LGBT activist group told FRANCE 24.

“We can count on getting a majority in Parliament and no prayer will be able to block this necessary legislation. Religion has no place in politics,”
he added.

The annual “Prayer for France” was a centuries-old custom that died out after World War II. It was first uttered in the seventeenth century after King Louis XIII decreed all churches would pray on August 15 for the good of the country.

Church spokesman Monsignor Bernard Podvin said its revival was timed to “raise the consciousness of public opinion about grave social choices”.

Minister for Families Dominique Bertinotti told French media this week that a bill legalising gay marriage will be voted on in parliament in early 2013.

As well as opposing gay marriage, the prayer also makes clear the Catholic Church’s resistance to gay adoption.

The cardinal invites congregations to pray that “children cease to be objects of the desires and conflicts of adults and fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother”.

These words provoked the wrath of Inter LGBT.

“He is implying that it is dangerous for a child to be brought up by same-sex parents," Gougain said. "The text of the prayer is homophobic. The church’s definition of family is far from the reality of the diverse families we see today – same-sex, mixed or single parents."

“We are asking that all different types of families are recognised, in the interests of both child and parent.”

The Prayer for France follows the hardline stance taken by the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, who in January said gay marriage threatened “the future of humanity itself”. [Because the Western world is already experiencing serious negative birth rate, and only heterosexual couples can beget children!]
Gay Christian groups have also reacted angrily to the Cardinal’s prayer.

“Most of our members are really upset by this terrible prayer, which reinforces the fears certain Catholics have towards homosexuals,” Elisabeth Saint-Guily of gay Christian group David and Jonathan told Europe1 radio.

“France’s bishops, and above them the Vatican, are using homophobic language. The Bible says, 'Love thy neighbour as yourself'. We would like the bishops to apply this maxim. They should love all their neighbours, including homosexuals,” she said.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon defended the church’s position, saying marriage, defined at the start of the Bible, was created by God to join man and woman.

“Nobody should be surprised if we Catholics think that the first page of the Bible is right, even more so than a parliament,” he told Europe1.

And here's the OR commentary:

An inexistent scandal -
Rather, the need to explain the truth

by Patrick Kechichian
Translated from the 8/20-8/21 issue of

Editor's Note: On the controversy stirred up in France about the Catholic Prayer for Assumption Day, we republish here an article that appeared in Le Monde on August 19. The author is the literary critic of that Parisian daily, and also writes for La Croix and La Revue des Deus Mondes. In 2009, he wrote a book called Petit eloge du catholicisme (A small eulogy for Catholicism).

"The Church is used to being the doormat on which everyone else tries to clean their feet". Cardinal Barbarin has said. Indeed, any occasion is a good one to do that [for the enemies of the Church].

At issue is a prayer composed by Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris and president of the French bishops' conference, for the Feast of the Assumption. One can immediately note the flagrant disproportion between the delicacy of the text and the violent accusations it has provoked.

This prayer does not attack nor take anyone to task, and certainly not homosexuals. Let us look at its fourth 'petition' which has given rise to all the hostility, but also remember that it comes after three earlier petitions, one of which was for "those who were recently elected to legislate and govern".

Here is the 'scandalous' sentence that has caused trembling and fear among virtuous souls certain of their absolute rights: "For children and young people, that all of us may help each one to discover his own way towards happiness; that they may cease to be objects of adult desires and conflicts and fully enjoy the love of a father and a mother".

I do not wish to analyze the text, but is it not obvious that what the prayer implicitly defends is not accompanied by a condemnation of any persons or groups who do not share the same view of humanity and its laws?

And if these groups and persons are free to express themselves, who should not the Church express its thinking on an issue which is a priority among her concerns? No offense meant to those who confuse secularism and anti-clericalism.

On the one hand, we have an opinion, very much current but dated, whose eventual relevance will be measured by opinion polls, which are in themselves a summation of convergent opinions.

On the other hand, we have a consistent thought, faithful to twenty centuries of religious anthropology (far longer, if we go back to Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament).

It is here that the misrepresentation, with a good dose of dishonesty, become quite patent. Of course, it is possible to elevate an evolution of 'customs' to the level of 'inviolable law', by claiming this to be 'progress', which Charles Peguy has defined as a 'theory of deception and disillusionment'.

But it cannot be ignored that the Church is merely stating, with gentleness and humility, and with holy obstination, the permanence of a an anthropological world view in which the inviolable rights of every man and every woman are rooted.

This is a world view that did not originate from a whim, a fancy or a 'special interest'. It was born with the divine Revelation handed down to us by Sacred Scriptures and all of human tradition.

And is the Church acting out of bounds when it recalls this part of the truth of which she is the depository? If the French government and Parliament give their opinion on matrimony and decide to change its nature, is it not legitimate for the Church - which learned from Christ the dignity of marriage and the link it creates between man and woman, a dignity elevated to the status of a sacrament - to also make her voice heard?

It is a voice that does not seek to drown out other voices, but the Church cannot accept that she becomes inaudible and unheard because of sarcasms or unfounded accusations.

And of what do they accuse Cardinal Vingt-Trois? That he said words he had the task and the duty to say, not just pent up within sacristy walls, but to make them heard in the open?

He did not invent those words, which are not that of a party or an opinion group nor about circumstantial interests. All he did was to find the words, the most appropriate words that would not be hurting. And it is what he did, I repeat, with great delicacy.

But what the words contain, the position of the Church, cannot change. Her strength as well as her weakness is in this intangible immutability. Then each one is free to decide according to his conscience. [But for Catholics, such conscience must be formed by what the Church teaches, not "My conscience, right or wrong, and it is always right".]

Because whatever else others might say, the role of the Church is not to evolve with time. If it had done so in the past centuries, it would have ceased to be heard at all.

Nor is her role to cover her eyes and just be horrified by the evolution of customs and practices, but to maintain her vigilance, her constant attentiveness, by virtue of the truth she has received.

In order to be able to defend and explain this truth, always and everywhere, in good times or bad, and even under insults.

Then where is the scandal? And where are the prejudices? Certainly not where the clamor of ill will insists they must be found.

Frankly, one may find the language of Cardinal Vingt-Trois's prayer too careful in trying not to offend those concerned, robbing it in that way of some forcefulness. One might argue that those concerned took great umbrage anyway - were always going to and always will - so why bother to soft-pedal the message? But perhaps, in these times, it is good the cardinal set an example of thoughtful consideration for the other side, even if they are incapable of appreciating the spirit of Christian charity in which it it is given.

In yet another Western country that's all set to legalize 'gay marriage', this development about another mebattled bishop who has made the Catholic position clear:

Edinburgh cardinal suspends
dialog with the Scottish government
which is determined to pass
same-sex marriage law in any case

Translated from the 8/22/12 issue of

EDINBURGH, August 21 - It is a symbolic but eloquent gesture. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of Edinburgh and president of the Scottish bishops' conference, has suspended direct communications with the Scottish government to protest the support of the latter for legislation wich will legalize same-sex marriage.

The cardinal has refused an invitation for further discussions, letting his functionaries attend instead.

The Socttish government has decided to enact the new law even if public opinion appears to deem it unnecessary. But the government has made it known that it is committed to carry the project forward, and expects the first such marriages to be legally contracted by the start of 2015.

Cardinal O'Brien has also opposed a similar enterprise underway in England and Wales, saying his was not simply a Catholic position but one of reason and good sense.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/22/2012 4:27 PM]
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Apart from the letter sent by the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog to the Muslims of the world last August 3 to mark the end of Ramadan this year (the actual feast was on August 16), nothing much has been reported on furthering the Christian-Muslim dialog, after the initial impetus of the Common Word response to the challenge laid down by Benedict XVI in Regensburg. The worldwide climate has no doubt been affected by the fact that the prematurely and optimistically named 'Arab spring' has turned into a grim winter for Western observers of Islamic affairs and, especially, for the Christians living in the countries that have had a resurgence of fundamentalist Islamic nationalism. The Muslims of Milan - a feisty community that once saw fit to perform their Friday prayers in Milan's Cathedral Square - seem to demonstrate the Muslim 'otherness'...

Islam and its fear of dialog:
Why Muslims find it hard
to relate to non-Muslims

Translated from

August 21, 2012

But how can this be? They invited the mayor of Milan to come, and they griped because due to a prior commitment, he sent an associate to represent him.

Then when the latter handed them a letter from the Archbishop of the diocese - Cardinal Angelo Scola, whose letter was considerately written in Arabic - the person who organized the meeting simply put it into his pocket, said a few perfunctory word of thanks, but did not bother to open the letter, nor even to mention Cardinal Scola in his opening remarks.

[Cardinal Scola, of course, since he was patriarch of Venice, has headed the movement Oasis - with its own Arabic monthly magazine - which is very active in promoting dialog with Muslims in the Middle East. I must check out if there is an overview report of what Oasis has managed to do so far.]

What was the 'logic' in the above which happened at the Arena di Milano among 10,000 Muslims who gathered for the end of Ramadan last Sunday?

Well, at least, in the Muslim perspective, the logic was explained by the Grand Imam who led the meeting: "We intended to greet only the civilian public institutions representing the city, and that includes we who live and work here. This is a Muslim religious occasion and we obviously did not plan for representatives of other religions to speak... It would be like us wanting to greet the Catholics in the Cathedral of Milan as they prepare to celebrate Christmas Mass".

Those who do not know enough about Islam are often scandalized by not taking into account that [even if they do not have one common worldwide leader, as Catholics do], Islam is a 'bloc' - an impenetrable unity that distinguishes, without the possibility of relationship, between their 'us' and the rest of the world that is not 'us'.[The worldwide community of Islam calls itself the ummah.]

Of course, there is a distinction between the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are Sunni and the Shiite minority (about 10-15% worldwide), but this does not exclude their substantial unity of belief.

Beyond that, Islam just does not have anything like the plurality of Christianity today, with its many confessions, within which there are also diverse charisms and diverse tasks: from the fervent Christian to the occasional practitioner, from the strict traditionalist to the 'adult' secular Catholic.

In Islam, you either believe what everyone else does - and believe it without hesitation, being ready for martyrdom if you should dare renounce or question any of i - or be expelled from the community which does not accept any deviation from doctrine nor any lukewarmness in religious practice. [And leftist Catholics say the Church is despotic! If it were, they, the dissenters, would not be around at all.]

The 'bloc' is so compact that it has come to impose on Muslims the religious duty to exclude, by violence if need be, anyone who does not do his part as required, or seeks to 'sneak' into the ummah. For instance, a non-Muslim who seeks to join the pilgrims to Mecca and is found out can expect no mercy.

Even a non-Muslim intruder into a mosque during the Friday prayers would be dealt with harshly. The entire world is divided into the 'land of believers' and the 'land of unbelievers', and it is the duty of every believer to reduce the latter territory.

For over a thousand years, social compactness and firmness on basic doctrine (reduced to five juridical precepts, the so-called 'pillars of the faith' that one must follow - the Muslim creed, daily prayer, almsgiving, fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca) have been the strength of this religion, but they now threaten to be its weakness.

In the late 19th century, the French author of 'A Life of Jesus', Ernst Renan, who spoke Arabic, who had lived in the Middle East, who had read and studied every Muslim text, had no doubt: "Islam can only exist as a 'the only religion' - not as a religion of state, but as the State itself. When the West manages to force it to change into a free, individual, and spiritual religion that is lived family by family and not in great clans or in the assembly of the mosque, Islam will perish". [I personally retain from having read Renan in my teens a statement he made that I have never forgotten, "Somehow Islam soils everything it touches". It may be seen as extreme cynicism, but in the context of history and our own contemporary experience, it seems to be generally true, and God bless those who have been exceptions to the rule!, such as the thinkers of the Islamic Golden Age that flourished in Moorish Spain and not in the Middle East.]

Obviously, we cannot ignore the predictions of the 'experts' but we can never forget, either, that history is unpredictable par excellence. But there is no doubt that Islam is called on today to meet the challenge made by Renan more than a century ago.

The current massive Muslim migration to Western countries is risky for Islam, above all, and nothing is more fallacious than to mistake a certain Muslim aggressiveness as a proof of Islam's strength and masculine vigor!

Indeed, it is fear above all, perhaps, that explains why the people forged in the Koran tend to resort to fundamentalism, to intransigence, and in some cases, to terrorism.

It is uneasiness that explains why charges of 'modernism' or 'Westernization' have forced entire political castes into exile from the Middle East and Arab North Africa after hard-and-fast Muslims come to power.

So, even the discourtesy (or more kindly, the mistake or gaffe) committed at the Arena di Milano last Sunday, must be framed within this concern to preserve the compactness of the 'bloc' at all costs, which must live in a society that is its exact opposite and which even defines itself as 'liquid'.

As if to tell others: "Here we are as 'us' - we don't want to hear other voices. All we want is for the politicians to confirm that we can stay in this city and calmly strengthen the unity of our faith and customs. As for dialog, what need do we have for it, since we have the ultimate revelation, the conclusive one, for which Moses and Jesus were merely precursors and announcers of Mohammed, the last unsurpassable prophet?"
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/21/2012 10:42 PM]
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Wednesday, August 22, 20th Week in Ordinary Time

Pius XII established this feast in 1954 as a logical follow-up to the Assumption - thus it is celebrated in the octave of the Assumption. Mary's queenship has roots in Scripture where the Archangel Gabriel announces that her Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. Her queenship is a share in Jesus's kingship. The Fathers of the Church, starting with St. Ephrem in the 4th century, called Mary 'Lady' and Queen'. In the Middle Ages, hymns and devotional prayers (particularly by the Dominicans and Franciscans) addressed her invariably as Queen.
Readings for today's Mass:

General Audience - The Holy Father dedicated the catechesis today to a reflection on the Queenship of Mary
which the Church commemorates today.

Pope's condolences on the death
of Ethiopian Prime Minister

The Vatican released the text of a telegram of condolence sent in the name of Benedict XVI by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone to President Girma Wolde Giorgis of Ethiopia for the unexpected death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi:





Popemobile arrives in Beirut
Lebanon Daily Star
August 22, 2012

BEIRUT - Pope Benedict XVI’s “popemobile” arrived Tuesday in Beirut’s port in preparation for his visit next month.

According to (Lebanon's) National News Agency, the Pope’s car was transported to the Presidential Palace in the presence of papal ambassador Gabriel Caccia (Apostolic Nuncio).

Meanwhile, the head of the committee preparing for the Pope’s visit, Bishop Camille Zeidan, will hold a news conference today at the Lebanese Missionaries Association’s headquarters in Jounieh to announce the latest preparations for the visit.

Vatican media asleep on the job:
But will they ever learn - and can they????

I could understand it when the August 20-21 issue of OR came out that it did not carry a single line on the landmark ruling by an Oregon federal judge that the Vatican cannot be considered the 'employer' of local priests, because the news came out - at least the AP item did - around 4 pm New York time on August 20, sevenhours after the 3 pm Rome time daily press run of OR. But there was not a line about it either in the August 22 issue nor in the issue coming out tomorrow August 23, that came online much earlier than usual.

And yet, it was a major legal victory against the anti-Church elements in the USA and their shyster attorneys who have been salivating long and hard at the thought of getting their pincer claws onto the 'fabled wealth of the Vatican' in the name of victims abused by sex-offender priests.

- Vatican Radio's English service, which I had expected to run the report ASAP, has not had a single line about it at all. Nor has the Italian service.
- To repeat, neither the OR issue of August 22, which went to press at least 48 hours since the Oregon ruling was first reported, carry a single line about it at all. Nor does the August 23 issue.
- which is supposed to be the one-stop address for all things Vatican does not carry a single line about it.

I can even understand that the Vatican Press Office itself has not come out with a news bulletin about it. because they only issue bulletins about news originating from the Vatican or being simultaneously announced with a local Church.

But could they have not made an exception in this case because of the inherent and major significance of the ruling simply to call attention to it? Or better yet, issue a statement by Jeffrey Lena, as Vatican Radio did last February when another US federal court made another major ruling in favor of the Vatican, but one of far less public interest because it had to do with insurance fraud?

(The court ruled that the Vatican or the IOR could not be sued by the insurance commissioners of five states because of crimes committed by a crooked local businessman who alleged a non-existent connection with the Vatican, which the states accused of being part of the man's fraud conspiracy. That ruling was given immediate and ample publicity at the time by Vatican Radio (see Feb. 2. 2012 post on this thread)
with a statement from Vatican lawyer Jeffrey Lena explaining the background of the entire case and ending with these words:

That inflammatory allegations against the Holy See and the IOR are easily disseminated and make good fodder for conspiracy theorists cannot be doubted. But it would inure to the public’s benefit if those same journalists who enthusiastically disseminated such allegations when the cases were filed would pick up their pens to write with equal vigor upon the cases’ demise. To do so would responsibly reflect the public record that each of the cases died the undignified death it deserved.

The words apply with even greater power to the new ruling, especially since it concerns a sex-abuse case which is of far greater interest (more 'titillating', to be more precise) to the general public than an insurance fraud case few people were even aware of.

The Press Office could have taken a great precedent-setting initiative for a change, especially since, as expected, MSM - even in Italy where most newspapers reported on it only the following day, August 21 - deliberately underplayed the news (AP's account that I posted earlier on this page was only 7 paragraphs long in its first version) for the simple reason that the Vatican won. On the other hand, imagine the worldwide headlines if the Oregon court had ruled - against all tradition, fact and commonsense - that the Vatican is the 'employer' of every local priest!

And where is Greg Burke when he ought to do something urgently needed? He is supposed to advise the Secretariat of State directly about communications strategy and measures, since that Secretariat has direct control and supervision over the organs of Vatican communication. His role should also include shaking up bureaucratic inertia and taking the lead on something as important as this.There has to be a first time for the Vatican Press Office to 'trumpet' a legitimate victory that takes place on an external playing field in a way that calls attention to the victory without being triumphalistic about it.

A statement from Lena would have met all the requirements for a Vatican press bulletin about the issue, since it would have stated the facts and provided the appropriate context, while originating from the Vatican itself.

It is not possible that Father Lombardi, being head of Vatican Radio as well, nor any of his lieutenants there or at the Press Office, nor the editor of OR or any of his subordinates, nor the person running or any of his associates, were all completely unaware of the ruling and its significance, to the point of not reporting on it at all. And yet, that is the situation we have. HELLO, IS ANYBODY HOME????
You cannot use Ferragosto [the annual August vacation that brings all of Italy to functional hibernation fora whole month] as an excuse!

I was going to say that perhaps Lena himself was on his annual summer vacation and couldn't ne reached, but no, he spoke to CNA about the case, and the agency reported on it 24 hours after the ruling, even if its headline failed to acknowledge the real issue that was decided. [That's still much better than CNS, the news agency of the US bishops' conference, based in Washington, which has not reported the story at all. Nor has ZENIT. And definitely not the National Catholic Fishwrap. Nor, wonder of wonders, the American media guru of all things Catholic, John Allen! But we can't very well remonstrate with all these laggards, can we, when the Vatican media themselves have committed the most gargantuan and appalling lapses?]

Federal judge dismisses
abuse lawsuit against Vatican

By Kevin J. Jones

Portland, Ore., Aug 21, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A federal judge dismissed a sex abuse lawsuit against the Holy See on grounds that the Vatican was not an employer of the accused ex-priest and cannot be held financially liable for the abuse.

Jeffrey Lena, counsel for the Holy See, told CNA on Aug. 21 that the ruling is “particularly important.”

It follows a years-long legal examination of whether the Vatican has sovereign immunity protecting it from such lawsuits.

On Monday U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman in Portland, Ore. ruled that the laicized Servite priest Andrew Ronan, who allegedly molested the plaintiff as a teenager in 1965 and 1966, did not have an employee-employer relationship with the Vatican.

Such a relationship was the only remaining legal justification for the lawsuit against the Vatican, Lena said.

He added that the federal court examined documents related to the case and found “no evidence that the Holy See was the employer of Ronan, or that it transferred Ronan, or that it knew of the abuse in question until after the abuse had taken place in 1965.”

He said that only the Servite order knew of the abuse until it petitioned for the laicization of Fr. Ronan in 1966.

When the Holy See learned of the abuse, Lena said, “it dismissed Ronan from the clerical state very quickly, in just five weeks.”

Judge Mosman compared the Vatican’s control over a priest to the Oregon legal bar’s control of lawyers through sanctions and disbarment but not through direct firing. He said the plaintiff’s argument that the Vatican has absolute control over all priests could mean that all Catholics could be considered Vatican employees, the Associated Press reports.

The plaintiff, named in the suit as John V. Doe, filed his case in 2002. He is represented by Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson.

Anderson said that Ronan, who died in 1992, sexually abused children in Ireland and Chicago before being transferred to Portland, Ore. He said the abuse was kept secret from parishioners and authorities to avoid scandal.

“We believe all of the responsibility lies with the Vatican,” he said. He plans to appeal the decision.

Doe’s lawsuit against the Friar Servants of Mary is still active. His suits against the Diocese of Portland and the Archdiocese of Chicago were dismissed several years ago.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/22/2012 11:43 PM]
8/22/2012 8:07 PM
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Thanks first of all to Lella and her blog

for leading me to this account, which illustrates how the media - including the best Vaticanistas and the usually attentive John Allen - failed, or did not think it important, to look at the totality of the private documents from the Pope's desk that were published by Gianluigi Nuzzi in his book Sua Santita : Le carte segrete di Benedtto XVI ['Your Holiness':The private papers of Benedict XVI]. (Nuzzi has said that 'Sua Santita' in his title comes from the usual heading for letters or notes addressed to the Pope, therefore I translate it as 'Your Holiness', in which Italian uses the third-person singular to address a distinguished or older person. English news reports have translated it literally as 'His Holiness', which does not make sense as a form of direct address)...

Anyway, translation quibbles aside, the more I think of it, the more I think that the book could have been entitled simply 'SUA SANTITA' in the general sense, meaning 'HIS HOLINESS' - precisely because it contains nothing that impugns Benedict XVI's personal holiness in any way, as the author himself says so in his introductory chapter to the book.

What is obviously the apparent failure by most reporters in their reporting of Nuzzi's book was that they were all so focused on finding the negative aspects they could write about - nothing about the Pope, but yes, about other people who wrote the Pope or who had committed themselves in writing to comment about important Vatican and Church affairs - that not one thought to write about the positive information contained in the book about the Pope himself.

Yet Andres Beltramo Alvarez, whose reporting I sometimes have problems with, does so in this article, citing a memorandum by Benedict XVI to the then Prefect for Bishops, Cardinal Re, about a problem bishop in Australia. When was the last time we were made privy to an internal memorandum by a Pope, least of all one of this kind that shows us at first hand the attention and detail devoted by Benedict XVI to matters that need his intervention?

And yet, not one reporter before Beltramo Alvarez, at least among the manifold articles I have read about Nuzzi's book, even thought that this memorandum was in itself rare of its kind and therefore newsworthy for that alone. [A weak analogy would be if a similar memorandum had been made public, from the President of the United States to his Secretary of Defense, telling him why he has no choice but to fire a dissident general from his position.] If they had appreciated the rarity of such a papal memorandum, they would have written about it, as they ought to have! My only question is why Beltramo who writes for VATICAN INSIDER did not write this up for the Insider, and only used it on his blog.

How does Benedict XVI govern?
Translated from the blog

August 21, 2012

Benedict XVI is a Pope who governs, as we have repeated on this space on numerous occasions, because that is what the facts show.

But again and again, from the time he assumed his Petrine ministry, there has been an effort to 'extend' by some artifice or other the idea that Joseph Ratzinger is a Pope who is isolated, ailing or incapable of holding the reins of the Catholic Church. [In fact, Marco Politi and the rest of the cabal that persists in defaming Benedict XVI this way have never provided any 'proof' that he is any of those things - they simply state it ex cathedra!]

Now, let us look at a document that demonstrates the very opposite.

The book by Gianluigi Nuzzi, 'Sua Santidad', is not only the concrete symbol of the scandal known as Vatileaks, because it contains a great number of private documents that were never meant to leave the confidential files of the Holy See. [Let it not be forgotten, BTW, that the documents published appasrently all dated to the period from late 2009 to early 2012 - which indicates that the thief Paolo Gabriele began his treasonous work only two years ago, more or less, a fact not explained or even cited in the documents that the Vatican has released so far about his case.]

But it is also a valuable source of information. Not all the documents contained in the book are embarrassing. In fact, some texts show hitherto-unknown positive facts about the work of the Bishop of Rome.

More importantly, going through its 326 pages, one will not find any huge international conspiracies, shameful laundering of money or links with the Mafia and other criminal elements, as one may have been led to believe. [Nor, it must be said, evidence of the 'corruption' that almost every MSM news report attributes to the Vatican based solely on Mons. Vigano's broad but unsubstantiated accusation!]

The book reflects matters regarding ordinary pontifical administration - some serious, and some not. Most of the documents are letters or messages sent by persons in different parts of the world to the leader of the Church, to seek his intervention in concrete situations.

But it also has some interesting reports, under-estimated by Nuzzi, perhaps because of his relative unfamiliarity with the ecclesiastical world (he has never been a Vatican reporter; he was and continues to be a reporter on judicial matters). And because these reports are presented towards the end of the book, little attention has been paid to them by reporters.

In fact, these are notes by Benedict XVI himself about key issues, in which one can appreciate how the Pope governs, and when looked at all together, provide the profile of a zealous pastor who is concerned, patient, informed and by no means fragile. despite all the real pressures he is subjected to.

Let me just cite the case of William M. Morris, who was the Bishop of the Australian diocese of Toowoomba. On May 2, 2011, the Vatican Press Office made the announcement that the bishop had been dismissed by the Pope from his diocesan responsibility. In keeping with its usual practice, the Holy See [other than citing the applicable canon law provision] does not explain the circumstances of the dismissal, the reason for which was uncommon and represented a serious problem.

However, the case was well known. Morris was someone who was never silent about his progressivist thinking. In 2006, he sent a pastoral letter defending the ordination of women as priests, and allowing Anglican priests to administer Catholic sacraments. He also proceeded to impart collective absolution on the faithful, bypassing the need for individual confession. He justified all of this by the lack of priests in his diocese which covers a territory of 487,000 sq km.

In 2007, the Holy See sent US Archbishop Charles Chaput (then Archbishop of Denver) to make an apostolic visitation to Toowoomba. [Alvarez fails to mention that before the visitation, the Holy See warned Morris several times against his heterodox teaching and practices, to no avail.]

After receiving Mons. Chaput's report, and with all available facts in hand, Benedict XVI summoned Morris to the Vatican and had a private audience with him. Morris assured him that he would present his resignation, but he never did, and openly proclaimed his 'rebellion', defending his dissent to the press and raising a great stir.

Benedict XVI followed his case meticulously, as shown by the memorandum reproduced below integrally, which shows a well-informed Pontiff who knows the case and is unequivocally clear about the doctrinal responsibility demanded of any bishop.

A Pope who carries out his work with diplomacy and respect. He never questions the intentions of the bishop even in his open disobedience, and even suggests that he himself, the Pope, may have misunderstood Morris because he does not know English enough, although obviously, he acquits himself quite well in that language.

His memorandum is addressed to the then Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, and is dated from December 2009. Morris was not dismissed until 17 months later, when even the patience of the Pope reached a limit.

Vatican City
December 11, 2009
Memorandum for His Eminence
Re: Morris

Thank you for the draft of a letter to H.E. Mons. Morris. I would add the following elements:

- The prelate always speaks of 'process' and 'defects in the process' (Page 1 of Morris letter, Par. 5), and goes on to say “I have been denied natural justice and due process” (Page 2, Par 6); and “there has not been a canonical process” (ibid), etc.)

One should say that in fact, there was no process at all, but a fraternal dialog and a call on his conscience to freely renounce his responsibility as a diocesan bishop. We are convinced that his doctrinal formation is not adequate for this position, and it was our intention to explain to him the reasons for our belief.

- The prelate speaks of “a lack of care for the truth” on our part (Page 1, Par. 4). This statement is unacceptable. But obviously, there was a misunderstanding, created, it seems to me, by my insufficient knowledge of the English language.

In our meeting, I intended to convince him that his resignation was desirable, and I understood him to have expressed his readiness to resign his position as Bishop of Toowoomba. I see from his letter that this was a misunderstanding, of which I take note, but I am obliged to say firmly that this was not 'a lack of care for the truth'.

- The prelate states that it is all a question of cultural differences, which do not have bearing on communion. In fact, his pastoral letter - which also contained highly questionable pastoral choices - contains at least two proposals that are incompatible with the Catholic faith.

- The letter says that the Church could proceed with ordaining women in order to make up for the shortage of priests. But the Holy Father John Paul II decided in an infallible and irrevocable way that the Church does not have the right to ordain women in the priesthood.

- Morris also says that the ministers of other Christian communities (e.g., Anglicans) could help in the Catholic Church. But the doctrine of the Catholic faith holds that their ministries are not valid in the Church because (their ordination was) not sacramental, and therefore, they cannot perform acts in the Catholic Church that are linked to the sacraments. [That is why the Anglican bishops and priests who rejoin the Church under Anglicanorum coetibus first have to be re-ordained by the Church.]

There are no doubts that he has good pastoral intentions, but it also appears clear that his doctrinal formation is inadequate. And yet, the diocesan bishop must be, above all, a teacher of the faith, since faith is the foundation of pastoral work. That is why I asked him to examine his conscience before God about freely giving up his present ministry in favor of a ministry that is more compatible with his gifts.

Please assure him of my prayers.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/22/2012 8:50 PM]
8/23/2012 1:22 AM
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On the Queenship of Mary
Adapted from

August 22, 2012

At his weekly General Audience today, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the Queenship of Mary, the feast that the Church observes on the Octave of the Assumption.

“Devotion to Our Lady is an important part of spiritual life,” the Pope told the faithful who gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Residence in Castel Gandolfo, as he asked them to always turn confidently to Mary in prayer, because "she will not fail to intercede for us with her Son.”

He said that Mary, as the Queen of Heaven, is "close to God – and also close to each of us, a mother who loves us and listens to our voice.”

In English, he said:

Today the Church celebrates the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May the prayers of Our Lady guide us along our pilgrimage of faith, that we may share in her Son’s victory and reign with him in his eternal Kingdom. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!

The Holy Father also had especial greetings for the visiting Chaldean Sisters of Mary Immaculate, praising them for their work on behalf of people in their native Iraq.

The Pope is in Castel Gandolfo for the Summer months, with a reduced schedule of appointments, but he will be travelling to :Lebanon for an apostolic visit on September 14-16.

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

Dear brotehrs and sisters,

Today is the liturgical commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary invoked with the title of Queen. It is a feast that was recently instituted, even if its origin and the devotion itself are ancient.

The feast was established, in fact, by the Venerable Pius XII at the end of the Marian Year 1954, setting the date of its observance as May 31
(cfr Enc. Ad caeli Reginam, 11 Oct 1954; AAS 46 [1954], 625-640).

On that occasion, Pius XII said that Mary is Queen more than any other creature because of the elevation of her soul and the excellence of the gifts she had received. She does not cease to spread the treasures of her love and her concern for all mankind (cfr Address in honor of Mary the Queen, Nov. 1, 1954).

After the post-Conciliar reform of the liturgical calendar, the feast of the Queenship of Mary was transferred to the Octave of the Assumption, to underscore the close link between the queenship of Mary and her glorification in body and soul next to her Son.

In the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church, we read: "Mary was assumed to celestial glory and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the Universe so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son"
(Lumen gentium, 59).

This is the root of today's feast: Mary is Queen because she is associated in a unique way to her Son, both in her earthly journey as well as in the glory of Heaven. The great Syrian Saint, Ephrem the Syrian, said that Mary's queenship derives from her motherhood: She is the Mother of the Lord, of the King of Kings(cfr Is 9,1-6) and she points us to Jesus as our life, salvation and hope.

The Servant of God Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus recalled that "In the Virgin Mary, everything is relative to Christ and everything depends on him: Because of him, God the Father, from all eternity, chose her as the all-holy Mother and adorned her with the gifts of the Holy Spirit that have not been granted to anyone else"
(No. 25).

But we may well ask: What does it mean that Mary is Queen? Is it just another title added to the others, a crown, an ornament along with her other titles? What does it mean? What does this queenship mean?

As indicated earlier, it is a consequence of her being united to the Son, of her being in heaven, namely, in communion with God. She participates in God's responsibility for the world and in God's love for the world.

There is a vulgar, or common, idea about a king or a queen: that he or she would be a person of power and wealth. But this is not the regality of Jesus and Mary.

Let us think of the Lord: the regality and the being of Christ consist of humility, service love - it is, above all, to serve, to help, to love.

Let us recall that Jesus was proclaimed king on the cross with an inscription from Pilate: "King of the Jews"
(cfr Mk 15,26). And during his time on the Cross, he showed that he is King. How? By suffering with us, for us, loving to the very end, and thus he governs and creates truth, love and justice.

Or let us think of another moment: Before the Last Supper, he bent down to wash the feet of his disciples. So, the regality of Jesus has nothing to do with that of the powerful of the earth. He serves his sevrants - that is what he showed during all his life.

The same goes for Mary: she is queen in her service to God and to mankind. She is the queen of love who lives the gift of herself to God in order to enter into his plan of salvation for mankind. To the angel, she answered: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord"
(cfr Lk 1,36). In the Magnificat, she sings: "He has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness" (cfr Lk 1,49).. She helps us. She is a queen, precisely by loving us, helpign us in our every need. She is our sister, a humble servant.

Now we come to the point. How does Mary exercise her queenship of service and love? By watching over us, her children: children who turn to her in prayer, to thank her or to ask for her maternal protection and her heavenly help, perhaps after losing our way, or are oppressed by sorrow or anguish for the sad and troubled vicissitudes of life.

In serenity or in the darkness of life, we turn to Mary, entrusting ourselves to her continual intercession so that she may obtain from her Son every grace and mercy that we need on our pilgrimage in the world.

Through the Virgin Mary, we trustingly turn to him who rules the world and has the destinies of the universe in his hands. For centuries, she has been invoked as the Queen of Heaven. Eight times, after praying the Holy Rosary, she is implored in the Loretan litanies as Queen of the Angels, of the Patriarchs, of the Prophets, of the Apostles, of the Confessors, of Martyrs, of Virgins, of all the Saints, and of Families.

The rhythm of these ancient invocations, and daily prayers like the Salve Regina [Hail, Holy Queen...] help us understand that the Blessed Virgin, as our Mother who is seated by her Son Jesus in the glory of heaven, is always with us, in the daily unfolding of our daily life.

The title of queen is therefore one of trust, of joy, of love. We know that she who holds in part the fate of the world is good - she loves us and helps us in our difficulties.

Dear friends, devotion to Our Lady is an important element of pour spiritual life. In our prayers, let us not fail to turn trustfully to her. Mary will never fail to injtercede for us to her Son.

Looking to her, let us imitate her faith, her full readiness for God's plan of love, her generous acceptance of Jesus. Let us learn to live from Mary. She is the Queen of Heaven who is close to God, but is also a mother close to each of us, who loves us and listens to us.

Thank you for your attention.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/23/2012 4:39 AM]
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