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BENEDICT XVI: NEWS, PAPAL TEXTS, PHOTOS AND COMMENTARY

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    00 5/26/2009 4:07 PM







    See preceding page for stories posted earlier today.





    'Opportunistic attacks cannot begin
    to scratch at the image
    of this prophetic Pope',
    says Cardinal Bagnasco

    by Salvatore Izzo



    VATICAN CITY, May 25 (Translated from AGI) - The entire Church of Italy has lived through "months of intense participation in the tribulations which the Pope has unexpectedly had to confront due to a series of unfortunate and predictable interpretations given to some of his statements".



    This was affirmed by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops' conference (CEI), in his opening address to the CEI general assembly meeting May 26-29 at the Synod Hall in the Vatican's Aula Paolo VI.

    Bagnasco has previously condemned the political and media attacks against Benedict XVI, which followed incomplete and biased presentations of the Pope's positions on certain issues, particularly condoms and AIDS, and criticisms based on a non-objective reconstruction of facts (in the case of his revoking the excommunication of four Lefebvrian bishops).

    Those distortions, Bagnasco pointed out, were used as a pretext by some European parliamentary members to make institutional attacks against the Pope [an anti-Pope resolution in the Belgian Parliament, and a defeated attempt at something similar in the European Parliament].

    But, Bagnasco went on, "The 'hostility' with which the Pope has been targeted has made him grow even more - if it is possible - in the esteem and love of the faithful and their pastor".

    "It remains incomprehensible to us," he continued, "how the humility and goodness of heart, the refinement and the interior tranquillity, that characterize Benedict XVI cannot be recognized as such."

    In fact, Cardinal Bagnasco said, "That is the secret of the Pope's popularity among the people. It seems we must point out that the more penetrating his words are, the more he exposes himself to rigid, if not downright hostile, reactions from certain circles."

    The important thing, said the CEI president, is the Pope's efforts to see to it that "Christianity does not fade into irrelevance or come under subjection by the power-wielders of the present", explicitly proclaiming that "Christianity is not moralism but faith".

    "If a prophet is he who, in the alternating and complex events of history, points to God and the light of his kingdom so that humanity does not lose itself," he concluded, "we do not hesitate to call this Pope prophetic - in his magisterium, his patient and tenacious will to weave a salvific dialog with the world today."


    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/26/2009 6:37 PM]
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    00 5/26/2009 7:45 PM




    When the Pope speaks
    on economic policy...

    by Luigi Accattoli
    Translated from

    26 May 2009


    Dear editor, the other day the Pope, and yesterday, Cardinal Bagnasco, spoke out anew on the jobs crisis in Italy, about which last week Cardinals Poletto, Tettamanzi and Sepe spoke, in Turin, Milan and Naples, respectively.

    And we can bet that in the following days we will hear more voices, this being the week preceding the nationwide Church collection to be carried out in all the Churches of Italy to help Italian victims of the economic crisis.

    What is striking about the calls by the Pope and Cardinal Bagnasco is the specificity of their appeals.

    Benedict XVI spoke of 'job precariousness', of those who are now availing of unemployment insurance [cassa-lavorazione], those who have been dismissed from their jobs outright, and young people "who find it difficult to find any worthy work activity'.

    Cardinal Bagnasco went into greater detail, referring to 'flexible work positions', make-do measures that are 'too modest' for those who are now out of work or who are at immediate risk of losing their jobs, the 'established jobs' which mass dismissals have started to affect.

    How do men of the Church now venture into the specifics of the unemployment crisis instead of limiting themselves to general terms? To explain this, we must look at what they are learning from the assistential initiatives that they have carried out so far.

    For the Pope, what underlies the concreteness of his interventions is the work that he has been doing towards the publication of a social encyclical.

    Cardinal Sepe recently established in Naples a 'bank for the poor', donating his annual salary and his personal savings to start off a venture that can give 'micro-credits' to the needy. [Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladesh professor, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for the 'micro-credit' concept he started in 1976 - with a modest $27 of his own money - of village banks that give small loans requiring no collateral to people in need - an idea that spread across the Third World to now serve some 130 million people who have registered an amazing global repayment rate of 97%.]

    Cardinal Tettamanzi likewise gave a personal contribution to a Family-Work Fund in Milan that has collected at least 4.3 million euros in four months.

    Similar initiatives have been taken by bishops to a smaller degree elsewhere in Italy, but they are all together in the Church's nationwide plan to dedicate the collections at Mass on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, to setting up a 'guarantee fund for families in difficulty' to be called 'Prestito della Speranza' (credit of hope).

    Primary beneficiaries of the fund would be families with at least three children, whose breadwinners have lost their job. It is the biggest social initiative ever undertaken by the CEI.

    It is a daring move: it is estimated that to effectively meet its objectives, the fund should have an initial investment of 30 million euros. The challenge will test the CEI's organizational capacity and its economic common sense.

    And then, there is the inquiry that was conducted by the Pope to prepare his social encyclical in order to account for the current global crisis, leading to the delay in its publication.

    From what is known, the Pope will call on the political and economic leadership of the international community to move in two parallel directions to help the poorest populations in the world who live in hunger, and which threaten to grow by hundreds of millions as the current crisis continues.

    The first direction is towards global mechanisms for economic regulation, in which decisions are based not only on the interests of the developed countries but on how to guarantee economic opportunity for all peoples.

    The second direction is 'to make the poor a priority' - as the Pope said in his message last January 1 - in an act of global solidarity which would favor investments in economic undertakings primarily addressed towards helping the neediest, a goal to which Benedict XVI would invite all concerned to work for.






    Accattoli has also written an extensive account and analysis of the Pope's Holy Land pilgrimage - which will take me some time to translate - for the monthly journal of the Italian clergy, RIVISTA DEL CLERO ITALIANO, from the Catholic University of Milan's publications department.



    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/26/2009 7:46 PM]
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    00 5/26/2009 11:51 PM




    Pope stresses laymen's role in parishes,
    and reiterates that Vatican-II was
    renewal and growth for the Church,
    not the birth of a new Church








    ROME, May 26 (Translated from Apcom) - "The future of Christianity and the Church of Rome depends on the commitment and testimony of each of us," Pope Benedict XVI said tonight, opening the Diocesan Conference of Rome at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

    The Pope reiterated the importance of the role of laymen in the work of the parishes, as well as that of the ecclesial movements and new communities that sprung up following the Second Vatican Council, which, he said, "has borne good fruits" .

    At the same time, he deplored "the current interpretation that cites a so-called spirit of the Council to establish a discontinuity with the Tradition of the Church".

    The Council, he said, "was not a rupture that gave life to a new Church, but a true and profound renewal and growth of the single subject in development."

    "There should be a renewed consciousness of our being a Church and our pastoral responsibility to which we are all called," he continued, and dwelt on the relationship "between the Church as a communion of persons who form the People of God, and at the same time, the Body of Christ."

    The Holy Father invoked the 'universality' of the Church - its capacity to 'reach everyone" in order that "all should be one, without any distinction - because Christ in is all of us".

    "Where are we in our diocese," he asked. "To what degree do we acknowledge and promote the co-responsibility of everyone, including laymen?"

    His answer: "The mandate to evangelize is addressed to everyone, even if we have a long way to go, because too many baptized persons do not feel part of the ecclesial community and live on its margins. There are still too few committed laymen in proportion to the number of residents in each parish."

    That is why, he said, "the efforts for a more careful and specific formation of lay faithful should be renewed.... (and) it falls on you, the parish priests, to promote the spiritual growth of those who are already active in parish work."

    And his final exhortation: "Be good Samaritans, ready to heal the wounds of your brothers."



    LAYMEN IN THE CHURCH:
    FROM COLLABORATION TO CO-RESPONSIBILITY






    After the Second Vatican Council, the Church cannot limit itself to simple collaboration by the laity but should promote their effective co-responsibility in parish and diocesan affairs. Benedict XVI issued the wake-up call Tuesday evening when he opened the opening of the annual diocesan convention of Rome at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

    Here is a translation of his address:


    POPE'S ADDRESS TO THE DIOCESAN
    PASTORAL CONVENTION OF ROME



    Cardinal Valli,
    Venerated brothers in the Episcopate and in the priesthood,
    dear religious men and women,
    Dear brothers and sisters:

    In keeping with a happy custom, I am pleased to open this year's diocesan pastoral convention. To each of you, who represent the entire diocesan community, I affectionately address my greeting and a heartfelt gratitude for the pastoral work that you are carrying out.

    Through you, I extend to all the parishes my cordial greeting, with the words of the Apostle Paul: "To all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Rm 1,7).

    I thank the Cardinal Vicar for the encouraging words which he addressed to me, speaking in your behalf, and for the help which, along with the auxiliary bishops, he gives me in the daily apostolic service to which the Lord has called me as Bishop of Rome.

    We have just been reminded that in the course of the past decade, the attention of the Diocese was focused in the first three years on the family; then for the next three years, on educating the new generations in the faith, seeking to respond to that 'educative emergency' which is, for everyone, not an easy challenge; and lastly, also with regard to education, and spurred by the encyclical Spe salvi, you chose the issue of education in hope.

    Even as, with you, I thank the Lord for so much good that he has allowed us to do so far - I think particularly of the parish priests and other protests who do not spare themselves in leading the communities entrusted to them - I wish to express my appreciation for the pastoral choice to dedicate time to verifying what has been done, with the purpose of putting them to the proof, in the light of soemefundamental aspects of regular pastoral work, in order to better identify them and share them better.

    At the basis of this commitment, which has already engaged you in all the parishes and other diocesan organisms for some months, there should be a renewed awareness of our being a Church and of the pastoral co-responsibility which, in the name of Christ, we are all called on to exercise. It is precisely this aspect that I wish to dwell on.

    The Second Vatican Council, wishing to transmit purely and integrally the doctrine on the Church that had matured in the course of two thousand years, gave a "more thought out definition" of the Church, illustrating above all its mysteric nature, namely as "a reality impregnated with the divine presence, therefore, always capable of new and more profound explorations" (Paul VI, Address at the opening of the second session, September 29, 1963).

    Thus, the Church, which originates in the trinitarian God, is a mystery of communion. As such, it is not simply a spiritual reality, but it lives in history, in flesh and blood, so to speak.

    The Second Vatican Council describes it as "like a sacrament, or sign and instrument of intimate union with God and the unity of the entire human species" (Lumen gentium, 1).

    And the essence of sacrament is precisely that it can be felt both in the visible as well as the invisible, and that which is visible and tangible opens the door to God himself.

    The Church, as we have said, is a communion of persons who, by the action of the Holy Spirit, make up the People of God, which is at the same time. the Body of Christ. Let us reflect a bit on these two key expressions.

    The concept 'People of God' was born and developed in the Old Testament: To enter into the reality of human history, God chose a specific people, the people of Israel, to be his people. The intention of this particular choice was to arrive, through a few, to the many, and from the many, to all.

    Through the agency of this people, God truly entered history in a concrete way. The opening to universality was realized on the Cross and in the resurrection of Christ.

    On the Cross, St. Paul says, Christ brought down the wall of separation. Giving us his body, he reunites us in this Body to make us into one. In the communion of the 'Body of Christ', we all become one people, the People of God, where - to cite St. Paul again - everyone is just one, and there is no longer any distinction, or difference "between Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, slave, Jew, But Christ is everything in everyone". He brought down the wall of distinction among peoples, races and cultures: we are all united in Christ.

    So we see that the two concepts - 'People of God' and 'Body of Christ' - complete each other and together form the New Testament concept of the Church.

    While 'People of God' expresses the continuity of the Church's history, 'Body of Christ' expresses the universality that was inaugurated on the Cross and in the resurrection of our Lord.

    For us, Christians, then, 'Body of Christ' is not just an image, but a true concept, because Christ makes us a gift of his real Body, not only of an image. Resurrected, Christ unites us all in the Sacrament to make us one body only.

    Therefore, the concept 'People of God" and 'Body of Christ' complete each other: In Christ, we become truly the People of God. So 'People of God' means everyone, from the Pope to the last baptized baby.

    The first Eucharistic prayer, the so-called Roman Canon written in teh fourth century, distinguishes between servi - 'we who are your servants' - and plebs tua sancta (your sacred people). Therefore, if one must distinguish, there are servants who are holy people, whereas the term 'People of God' expresses the idea of everyone together in their common being, the Church.

    Immediately following Vatican-II, this ecclesiological doctrine found a vast acceptance, and thank God, so much good fruit has matured in the Christian community.

    But we must also remember that the reception of this doctrine in practice and its consequent assimilation into the fabric of the ecclesial conscience, has not happened always and everywhere without difficulty and according to a correct interpretation.

    As I had the occasion to clarify in an address to the Roman Curia on December 222, 2005, a current interpretation, citing a presumed 'spirit of the Council', has intended to establish a discontinuity and even outright contraposition between the Church before the Council and the Church after the Council, sometimes going beyond the limits that objectively exist between the hierarchical ministry and the responsibility of laymen in the Church.

    The notion of the 'People of God', in particular, has some interpretations that come from a purely sociological viewpoint, with an almost exclusively horizontal direction, excluding any vertical reference to God.

    These are positions in open contradiction to the word and spirit of the Council, which did not intend a rupture, another Church, but a true and profound renewal in the continuity of the one subject Church which grows in time and develops, but remains always the identical single subject of the People of God in pilgrimage.

    In the second place, it must be acknowledged that the reawakening of spiritual and pastoral energies in these past years has not always produced the desired increment and development. In fact, it must be observed that in some ecclesial communities a period of fervor and initiative was followed by one of weakened commitment, a situation of tiredness, almost a stalemate, and even resistance and contradiction between the conciliar doctrine and various concepts formulated in the name of the Council, but in reality, opposed to its spirit and its letter.

    If only for this reason, the ordinary Assembly of the Bishops' Synod in 1987 was dedicated to the question of vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and the world. This tells us that the luminous pages dedicated by the Council to the laity had not yet been adequately translated and realized in the consciousness of Catholics and in pastoral practice.

    On the one hand, there still exists the tendency to identify the Church unilaterally with the hierarchy, forgetting the common responsibility, the common mission, of the people of God that all of us are in Christ.

    On the other hand, the tendency also persists to think of the People of God, as I mentioned, according to a purely sociological or political angle, forgetting the novelty and specificity of that people which become a people only in communion with Christ.

    Dear brothers and sisters; it is now time to ask: At what point is our Diocese in? To what degree is the pastoral co-responsibility of everyone, particularly of laymen, recognized and promoted?

    In past centuries, thanks to the generous testimony of so many baptized ones who spent their lives to educate new generations in the faith, to heal the sick and help the poor, the Christian community announced the Gospel to the residents of Rome.

    This same mission is entrusted to us today, in different situations, in a city where not a few baptized Christians have lost the way to the Church while non-Christians do not know the beauty of our faith.

    The Diocesan Synod which was called by my beloved predecessor John Paul II was an effective reception of the Conciliar doctrine, and the Book of the Synod committed the Diocese to become ever more a Church that is alive and functioning in the heart of the city, through the coordinated responsible action of all its components.

    The mission of the city, which followed the Synod in preparation for the Grand Jubilee of 2000, allowed our ecclesial community to take note of the fact that the mandate of evangelization does not only concern some but all baptized Christians.

    It was a salutary experience which contributed to mature in the parishes, religious communities, associations and movements the consciousness of belonging to the one People of God, who - according to the words of the Apostle Peter - are "a chosen race... a people of his own, so that you may announce his praises" (1 Pt 2,9). And we wish to give thanks for that tonight.

    There is still a long way to go. Too many baptized Christians do not feel part of the ecclesial community and live at its margins, turning to the parishes only in some circumstances to receive religious services.

    In proportion to the number of residents in each parish, there are still too few laymen who, professing to be Catholic, are ready to make themselves available to work in various fields of apostolate.

    Certainly, there is no lack of cultural and social difficulties, but to be faithful to the mandate of the Lord, we cannot resign ourselves to conserving the status quo. Confident in the grace of the Spirit, that the resurrected Christ assured us of, we must resume the way with renewed vigor.

    What path can we take? First of all, we must renew efforts for a more attentive and specific formation according to the view of the Church that I have just described, on the part of the priests as of the religious and laymen. To understand even better what this Church is, this People of God in the Body of Christ.

    It is necessary at the same time to improve the pastoral setting with respect to vocations and to the roles of those in consecrated life and laymen, promoting gradually the co-responsibility all together of all the members of the People of God.

    This requires a change in mentality particularly among laymen, who must pass from considering themselves 'collaborators' of the clergy to recognize that they are really 'co-responsible' for what the Church is and how it acts, thus promoting the consolidation of a mature and committed laity.

    This common consciousness among all baptized persons of being a Church does not diminish the responsibility of parish priests. It falls on you, particularly, dear parish priests, to promote the spiritual and apostolic growth of those who are already assiduously committed in the parishes: they are the nucleus of the community who will be the ferment for others.

    In order that such communities, even if sometimes numerically small, do not lose their identity and vigor, it is necessary that they be educated in prayerful listening to the Word of God through the lectio divina, which was ardently recommended by the recent Bishops' Synod assembly. Let us nourish ourselves by this listening and meditation on the Word of God.

    These communities should not be any less conscious that they are 'Church' because Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, calls them together and makes them his people. Faith, in fact, is one part of a profoundly personal relationship with God, but it possesses an essential communitarian component, and the two dimensions are inseparable.

    Thus, the faitful can experience the beauty and the joy of being and feeling themselves Church - even the young people, who are most exposed to the growing individualism of contemporary culture, which brings the inevitable consequence of weakening inter-personal ties and the sense of belonging.

    In our faith in God, we are united in the Body of Christ, and we all become one in the same Body, and thus, believing profoundly, we can experience communion among ourselves and overcome the solitude of individualism.

    If it is the Word that calls the community together, it is the Eucharist that makes them one Body: "Because the loaf of bread is one," St. Paul writes, "we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf" (1 Cor 10.17).

    The Church therefore is not the result of a sum of individuals, but a unity among those who are united by the one Word of God and of the only Bread of Life.

    The communion and unity of the Church, which are born from the Eucharist, are a reality of which we must have an ever greater awareness, even when we receive Holy Communion, to be ever more aware that we are entering into union with Christ, in order to become, among ourselves, one thing only.

    We should always learn anew how to guard and defend this unity from rivalry, contestations and jealousies which can arise within and among ecclesial communities.

    In particular, I wish to ask the movements and the communities that emerged after Vatican-II, who are a precious gift within our Diocese for which we must thank the Lord, to be always careful that their formative itineraries lead their members to mature a true sense of belonging to the parish community.

    The center of parish life, as I mentioned, is the Eucharist, particularly the Sunday Mass. If the unity of the Church arises from the encounter with the Lord, it not then secondary that the adoration and celebration of the Eucharist be very attentively done, allowing those who participate to experience the beauty of Christ's mystery.

    Since the beauty of the liturgy "is not mere aethetism, but a way through which the truth of the love of God in Christ reaches, fascinates and enraptures us" (Sacramentum caritatis n. 35), it is important that the Eucharistic celebration manifests and communicates divine life, through sacramental signs, and reveals the true face of the Church to the men and women of the city.

    The spiritual and apostolic growth of the community leads to widening it through convincing missionary activity. Do your best then to bring back to life in your parishes, as during the period of the city mission, those small groups or centers of listening for the faithful to listen to the announcement of Christ and his Word, places where it is possible to experience the faith, exercise charity, organize hope.

    This articulation of the large urban prishes through the multiplication of small communhities allows a wider missionary breadth which takes into account the density of the population, and its social and cultural physiognomy, often remarkably diversified.

    It would be important that this pastoral method finds efficent application even in workplaces, which must be evangelized today with a well-conceived environmental pastoral, since, with increased social mobility, the population spends a large part of tis time at work.

    Finally, not to be forgotten is the testimony of charity which unites hearts and opens them up to ecclesial belonging. To the question of how to explain the success of Christianity in its early centuries - the elevation of a presumed Jewish sect to become the religion of the Empire - historians asnwer that it was particualrly the experience of charity by Christians that most convinced the world.

    To live charity is the primary form of missionary work. The Word that is both announced and lived becomes credible if it is embodied in behavior showing solidarity and sharing, and in gestures which show the face of Christ as a true Friend to man.

    The silent daily testimony of charity, promoted by the parish thanks to the efforts of so many faikthful laymen, must continue to extend itself ever more, so that whoever lvies in suffering may feel the Church near him and thus experience the love of the Father, rich with mercy.

    Therefore, be 'good Samaritans' ready to heal the material and spiritual wounds of your brothers. Deacons, conforming to their ordination as servants of Christ. can carry out a useful service in promoting a renewwed attention towards the old and new forms of poverty.

    I also think of the young people: dearest ones, I invite you to place your enthusiasm and your creativity in the service of Christ, making yourselves apostles among your contemporaries, and ready to respond generously to the Lord if He calls you to come closer to him in the priesthood or in the consecrated life.

    Dear brothers and sisters, the future of Christianity and the Chirch of Rome depends on the commitment and testimony of each of you. For this I invoke the manteral intercession of the Virgin Mary, venerated for centuries at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore as the Salus populus romani'. As she did with the Apostles at the Cenacile while awaiting Pentecost, may she accompany and encourage us to look with confidence to tomorrow.

    With these sentiments, as I thank you for your lasting work, I impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.






    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/28/2009 4:01 PM]
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    00 5/27/2009 1:10 AM



    Benedict XVI at Yad Vashem:
    Cardinal Kasper says the Pope was not there
    as a German, but as head of the Catholic Church







    ROME, May 26 (Translated from Apcom) - "It's not this Pope's style to worry about words that might appear provocative and politically incorrect," says Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity as well as president of the Vatican commission for religious relations with Judaism.

    Moreover, the Cardinal says, the Pope's critics in Israel were wrong in calling the Pope's statements at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem deficient, for not citing Nazism and the historic 'guilt' of the German nation for the Holocaust.

    "Benedict XVI did not come to Yad Vashem", said Kasper, who is German himself, "as many have erroneously claimed, as a German with the well-known historical accusations weighing down on the Germans."

    "What he had to say as a German, he said in Cologne and Auschwitz. He came to Israel - and this is very important even just from the political point of view - as the head of the universal Church to express once more to the Jewish people his personal affection for them, as well as that of the Church."

    Kasper made these statements in an article coming out in the 5/27/09 issue of L'Osservatore Romano. [To be translated in full]


    'There is no alternative to dialog
    among Christians and Jews'

    by Cardinal Walter Kasper
    President of the Pontifical Council
    for the Promotion of Christian Unity
    and of the Vatican Commission for
    Religious Relations with Judaism

    Translated from
    the 5/27/09 issue of




    The pilgrimage of Benedict XVI to the sites of the origin of Christianity had various aspects. This made it very difficult, but also very emotional and important.

    Naturally, it was meant above all for the flock of Catholics, tiny but nonetheless multiform in its rites: above all the Catholics of the Melkite, Maronite and Latin rites.

    Christian Catholics have lived there for centuries, but like all Christians, they must daily face numerous difficulties: that is why, unfortunately, many Christians, particularly the younger ones, are emigrating.

    That is why the community needed the encouragement of the Successor of Peter, who had received from the Lord the mandate to confirm his brothers in the faith.

    The Paschal message of hope and peace, which was the thread running through all the homilies and discourses of the Pope, was welcomed with gratitude in all the stages of the pilgrimage: in Amman, in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem and in Nazareth.

    These encounters were among the most beautiful moments of the trip. By themselves alone, they made the whole trip worthwhile.

    But in the Holy Land - which, besides Israel, also includes Jordan and the Palestinian Territories - one's attention turns to the numerous Churches and Christian communities.

    In no other place is the fragmentation of Christianity so visible and so sadly evident as it is in Jerusalem, where the first Christians had 'only one heart and one spirit'. And in no other place do Christians depend so much on each other as here.

    It was therefore a pleasure to note that ecumenical efforts have borne good fruits even in Jerusalem. Without past efforts, which were far from simple precisely there, the cordial meetings of Benedict XVI at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate with the representatives of all Christian Churches with seats in Jerusalem - especially those with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch - would have been difficult to arrange.

    These meetings showed that in the last decades, we have not been limited to publishing ecumenical documents on paper, but that through dialog, we have experienced in life and in the heart a growth of reciprocal respect and esteem, of collaboration and brotherhood.

    Of course, a lot still remains to be done and to study more deeply. But their meeting with the Pope and his words of understanding emanated encouragement for the future course of ecumenism, and not only in Jerusalem.

    This is the Holy City for Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Pope's meetings with the Jews - our older brothers in the faith of Abraham - was for many reasons the center of public interest.

    Nonetheless, Benedict XVI did not come - as many erroneously maintained - as a German Pope with the well known weight that attaches to the German people in connection with the Holocaust.

    That which he had to say in that respect, he already said in Cologne and Auschwitz.

    He came - something which is much more important even from the merely political point of view - as the head of the universal Church, in order to express anew to the Jewish people his own personal affection as much as that of the Catholic Church.

    The rejection of any form of anti-Semitism, of negationism, or even simply any diminishment of the Shoah, was expressed by him very clearly almost as soon as he touched Israeli soil at the airport in Tel Aviv.

    And before leaving Israel, he reaffirmed this again to everyone with great clarity. He called 'irrevocable' the conciliar declaration Nostra aetate on relationships with other religions irrevocable.

    And so, almost everything that according to many Jewish representatives and the Israeli mass media was lacking in his speech at Yad Vashem, had been said. As if the simple repetition of the same statements do not trivialize them, rather than reinforcing!

    And rightly, it is not in this Pope's style to be concerned about words which can seem provocative or what is politically correct. He had to convey a much more important message that no other representative with such eminence had been able to articulate before.

    The Pope took his cue from the name of the memorial, Yad Vashem, which means 'a memorial, a name'. Following the sense and the cultural traces of Biblical and Jewish memory, he explained that man's dignity deserved to have a name and that this name is written indelibly by the hand of God.

    Therefore, even if the Nazi executioners had robbed their victims of their names and reduced them to mere numbers - thinking thereby to eradicate their memory forever - in both the Jewish and Christian faiths, their memory is kept in eternity, and even we should profit from their memory.

    What can be more profound to say about the indestructible dignity of the victims and about the abysmal crimes of the Shoah?

    Thus, Benedict XVI's address at the Yad Vashem memorial was a great address. It was great because once more, the Pope did not have to use slogans or provocative words expected of him on matters he has already spoken about and often.

    And it was great, above all, because he had something new to say, something fundamental and profound. The Pontiff gave a new starting point, a new dimension to reflection on the Shoah.

    I know the contents of many of his other discourses. And the criticisms that I had read about the Pope's words also came to my mind right after the speech. They come in large part from the very same persons who had also once criticized John Paul II.

    But whoever takes the effort to examine the writings of Benedict XVI, knows that long before he was elected to Peter's Chair, he had shown himself to be a friend of the Jewish people, that he was ever aware of their perennial honor as the people of the covenant chosen by God.

    However, one should not give too much importance to such criticisms. The Israeli President, Shimon Peres, and various Jewish friends have publicly defended the Pope against unjust and even absurd criticisms.

    In the Grand Rabbinate of Jerusalem, he was thanked expressly for having resolved clearly the misunderstandings that resulted from the unhappy question regarding the negationist Lefebvrian bishop.

    The benevolence that the Pope met among many Jews was very evident when during the inter-religious encounter in Nazareth, a rabbi spontaneously began a song with the words, 'Shalom, Salaam, Peace', which everyone joined in.

    Even in this, it was clearly apparent that the numerous dialogs on the local level among Jews and Christians have had positive effects. They have been confirmed and encouraged with the Pope's visit, and of course, they will be pursued.

    But now we must also talk about how to make these results better known to the public, particularly the spirit with which the dialog has moved forward.

    During his visit, the Pope also met with Muslims. And this, too, included some beautiful and encouraging meetings, especially in Jordan, where the King delivered a very important welcome address; and in Nazareth where tensions between the Christian and Muslim communities from years ago, have been resolved, thank God.

    And since there are areas of irreconciliability, dialog - and more importantly, a trilateral dialog among Jews, Muslims and Christians - is difficult. But there is no alternative.

    The Pope, as he underscored several times, was not bringing a political message but a spiritual one. He appealed to the heart, but also to the reason, of those who listened to him.

    Whoever does not have a sense of the spiritual dimension and who does not open his heart would have considered his message of peace insignificant.

    Yet, not only the believer, but even simple common sense, says that peace can be reached through political negotiations only if first, there is a will to peace and reconciliation. Likewise, the moral spiral of violence and counter-violence can only be broken spiritually.

    Unfortunately, today, many no longer know that prayer is the most potent force that can transform the world. Above all in a situation as sad and, at the moment, apparently hopeless, as one feels when crossing the wall from Jerusalem into Bethlehem, prayer can give the certainty that walls are never eternal nor can they be. Hope is stronger.

    This is the hope which Benedict XVI wished to and was able to reawaken and strengthen among Christians, among Jews, among Muslims. And for this, his was an important and highly significant trip.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/27/2009 8:00 AM]
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    Here's a belated translation of a beautiful OR article on 5/24/09:


    In the patron Saint of Europe,
    the roots of Benedict XVI's Pontificate:
    The inseparable link
    between obedience and freedom

    by Mariano Dell'Omo, OSB
    Vice-Archivist of the Abbey of Montecassino
    Translated from the
    5/24/09 issue of




    To whoever did not know the long spiritual and human itinerary of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the choice of the name Benedict when he was elected Pope that Roman afternoon of April 19, 2005 - before he later explained its genesis with his usual clarity - would have seemed singular if not extraordinary.

    One simply has to look through the volume of his memoir La mia vita: Ricordi 1927-1977 [My Life: Memoirs 1927-1077, published in English as Milestones], to see early on, even in the boy Joseph, that interior landscape which would lead him much later, once elected Pope, to choose the name of Benedict, the sainted founder of Montecassino and father of Western monasticism.

    The space of liturgy indeed fascinated the boy Ratzinger: "This mysterious fabric of texts and actions had grown from the faith of the Church over centuries. It bore the whole weight of history within itself, and yet, at the same time, it was much more than the product of human history", he writes in that memoir.

    This world became familiar to him, thanks to the mediation of a Benedictine monk, Anselm Schott, of Beuron Abbey, who had published a missal in German with commentary intended to make the Mass understandable to an audience as simple and intuitive as children.

    The cardinal recalled how he had received as a gift "a Schott for children in which the liturgy's basic texts were printed. Then I got a Schott for Sundays, which contained the complete liturgy for Sundays and feast days. Finally, I received the complete missal for every day of the year. Every new step into the liturgy was a great event for me. Each new book I was given was something precious to me, and I could not dream of anything more beautiful".

    This is the Opus Dei, the work of God, in praise of him, which plays a privileged and primary role in the life of a Benedictine monk, always mindful of that which St. Benedict states in his Rule (43,3):
    Nihil Operi Dei praeponatur [Place nothing ahead of the Work of God - a restatement of the more famous, Place nothing ahead of Christ's love].

    Highly significant is the fact that Benedict adapts the same syntagma 'nihil praeponere' only in one other context, when he states apodictically the primacy of Christ in the life of the monk (4.21).

    Liturgical prayer as Opus Dei, Work of God, is the space in which Christ is present in a triple way, according to the well-known thought of St. Augustine which so pervades that of St. Benedict: "The only savior of the mystical body, our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of god, is he who prays for us, who prays in us, and whom we pray to. He prays for us as our priest; he prays in us as our head; and we pray to him as our God"(Expositio in psalmos, 85, 1).

    One then understands why Cardinal Ratzinger wrote what he did, on the crest of his childhood memories, about that Benedictine echo with which he would more and more harmonize his experience as a priest, as a bishop, and finally as Pope: "The inexhaustible reality of the Catholic liturgy has accompanied me through all phases of life, and so I shall have to speak of it time and again".

    Moreover, the infancy and adolescence of the future Pontiff took place in an environment particularly characterized by a Benedictine imprint - and therefore, by its liturgical culture - as he recalls Traunstein, the little town where he lived at the Austrian border, just 30 kilometers from Salzburg, the Mozartean city par excellence, which was so influenced by the historic Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter founded in the seventh century by St. Rupert, Apostle to the Bavarians.

    Austria and Bavaria are profoundly marked by the presence of so many Benedictine monasteries, that even today, the Austrian and Bavarian monastic congregations in the Confederation of the Order of St. Benedict, comprise respectively 12 and 11 monasteries, some of which - like Weltenburg in the diocese of Regensburg, and Scheyern in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising - became very well known to the priest and theology professor, later Cardinal, Ratzinger.

    But the context in which the Cardinal, by then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for many years, more widely laid out as in a vast fresco all his ideas about the Benedictine world, of its contribution to the human and spiritual civilization of Europe in particular, was certainly the interview-book that resulted from a sojourn in Montecassino itself on February 7-11, 2000, which came out the following year with an almost programmatic title, God and the world: Being Christian in the new millennium.

    That time, as brief as it was intense, as Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in his Preface to the book, was spent in an atmosphere of utter peace: "The quiet of the monastery, the warmth shown by the monks and the abbot, the atmosphere so favorable to prayer, and the reverent solemnity of liturgy was of great help to us".

    On that occasion, he freely answered questions from the journalist and author Peter Seewald, allowing his monastic vision to flower in those pages, the hopes which he harbored on the relevance today of
    St. Benedict's ideal.

    What struck the future Pope in the first place was the casual temporal coincidence in the year 529 - for him, "extremely significant' - "between the closing of the Academy in Athens, symbol of education in classical antiquity, and the inauguration of the monastery at Montecassino, which was, so to speak, the academy of Christianity.

    The closing of the Platonic academy was the symbol of the decline of a world. The Roman Empire was in decomposition, it was already dismembered in the West, where it no longer existed as such. With it, an entire culture risked being drowned in oblivion. But Benedict guarded it zealously and at the same time caused it be reborn, thus fulfilling a mission that fully satisfied the Benedictine motto,
    Succisa virescit - What is cut back grows anew. A new beginning corresponded in degree to the decomposition.

    When Cardinal Ratzinger a few years later took on, as the successor to John Paul II, the name of Benedict, we can imagine that he too must have thought of 'a new beginning'.

    Like St. Benedict, he himself must have intuited the possibility that Providence offered him to give his Pontificate a prophetic beginning that boded well, from which - as it is now happening - could emerge a new culture and a new work of Christian regeneration for the entire world.

    It wasn't accidental that he had been long aware in his life of the relevance of St. Benedict's Rule as an existential viaticum offered not only to monks but to all men willing to accept it, to 'live beside oneself', to be quiet, to listen, and thus to find peace.

    In those days of serene contemplation and profitable work at Montecassino, constructing that interview book, he acknowledged that "the Benedictine Rule is the blinding example of the fact that whatever truly reflects nature never ages", and like a true teacher, Cardinal Ratzinger proved to be a most refined exegete of a text, the Rule of Benedict, that has had so many illustrious and sainted commentators.

    He joined their ranks, illuminating the first words of the prologue to the Rule: Obsculta, o fili, praecepta magistri (Listen, children, to the teachings of the master), exhorting with magisterial accents and paternal tone "to recover the idea that listening is part of life - since divine service is in great measure allowing God to enter our life asnd listen to him. Like discipline, measure and order, so also obedience and freedom are inseparable, and even the capacity for reci;rocal tolerance in the name of faith is not only the fundamental Rule of a monastic community but, together with all the other elements we havee mentioned, is also an essential ingredient of any form of human coexistence. it is a rule rooted in human nature and capable of synthesizing the human essense because it has looked and listened beyond the human and perceived the divine. Man is humanized precisely where he is touched by God".

    How much more clear it all is today, how natural, consistent and expressive of his long-lasting faithfulness to the Benedictine charism, was his choice of the name Benedict!

    On that evening of April four years ago, we were happily surprised by his choice, a name that later has become more and more - and will be more and more - the emblem of a Pope who loves to contemplate the beauty of God, who wants to have us all perceive it, and who sees in in the persuasive, firm and at the same time gentle message of the patriarch Benedict, a means to reorient humanity on the path of listening with the heart so that "you, man of this splendid and tornemted time", he seems to tell us paternally, "ad eum per oboedientiae laborem redeas, a quo per inoboedientiae desidiam recesseras - by the effort of obedience may return to Him from whom you have becoem distant by the inertia of disobedience" (Rule, Prolog, 2).

    It is emblematic that among the last official words of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals - even as the phyeical condition of John Paul II was worsening by the hour - were dedicated to Benedict of Norcia, delivered on April 1, 2005, in Subiaco where he was given the "Ben4dict Prize' by the Fondazione 'Vita e Famiglia'.

    He addressed 'Europe in the crisis of cultures', that continent to which the apostle of Gemany, the Benedictine monk St. Boniface, had contributed to constructing in a Christian way in the remote 8th century.

    Rereading that text, we cannot fail to see in it the announcement of a turning point, a presage of that threshold which the Lord of history was mysteriously opening in mankinhd's horizon: "We need men like Benedict of Norcia who, at a time of dissipation and decadence, immersed himself in the most extreme solitude, succeeding after all the prufifications he underwent, to re-emerge in the light, to come out and found Montecassino, the city on the hill which, with so much in ruin, he put together the forces out of of which he formed a new world. And thus Benedict, like Abraham, became the father of many peoples".

    In the imminence of his coming to Cassino and Montecassino, these words of hope blaze vivdly from the future Pope, the first to be elected in the third millennium, in the dawn of a new world, of that renewed civilization that he hopes will finally be the civilization of love.


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    00 5/27/2009 4:22 PM



    May 27

    St. Augustine of Canterbury (d. 605)
    Roman missionary to England
    First Archbishop of Canterbury




    OR today.


    No Papal stories on Page 1, but there is an inside-page
    article by Cardinal Kasper assessing the Pope's pilgrimage
    to the Holy Land (translated 2 posts above). Page 1
    international news: Unanimous UN condemnation of Monday's
    nuclear bomb test does not stop North Korea from new
    missile tests; Ahmadinejad says Iran will henceforth talk
    'nuclear' only with the International Atomic Energy Agency;
    Taliban continue to threaten Swat valley in Pakistan; new
    fighting between Sudan troops and rebels in Western Darfur
    where some 350,000 civilians have fled the battle zone; and
    an editorial commentary on North Korea's choice to continue
    its international isolation.




    THE POPE'S DAY

    General Audience today - The Holy Father resumed his catecheses on great Christian writers
    of the early Middle Ages, with St. Theodore the Studite, a 9th-century Byzantine monk who led
    the revival of Byzantine monasticism and classical Byzantine literary genres.



    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/27/2009 4:28 PM]
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    GENERAL AUDIENCE TODAY



    Here is how the Holy Father synthesized his catechesis today:


    Today’s catechesis on the life and teaching of Saint Theodore the Studite places us at the heart of the medieval Byzantine period.

    Born in 759 to a noble and pious family, Theodore entered the monastery at the age of twenty-two. He vigorously opposed the iconoclastic movement since, he argued, abolishing images of Christ entails a rejection of his work of redemption.

    Theodore also initiated a thorough reform of the disciplinary, administrative and spiritual aspects of monastic life.

    A particularly important virtue according to Theodore is philergia – the love of work – since diligence in material tasks indicates fervour in one’s spiritual duties. He even described work as a type of "liturgy", asserting that the riches mined from it must be used to help the poor.

    The Studite’s Rule holds particular relevance for us today because it highlights the unity of faith and the need to resist the danger of spiritual individualism.

    May we heed Theodore’s summons to nurture the unity of the Body of Christ through well-ordered lives and by cultivating harmonious relationships with one another in the Holy Spirit.





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


    CATECHESIS ON
    ST THEODORE THE STUDITE



    Right photo, the monastery of Studios depicted in an 11th century manuscript.





    Dear brothers and sisters!

    The saint we will meet today, St. Theodore the Studite, takes us to the heart of medieval Byzantium. at a time which was turbulent from the religious and political point of view.

    St. Theodore was born in 759 to a noble and pious family: his mother, Theotista, and an uncle, Plato, abbot of the Monastery of Sakkudion in Bithynia, are venerated as saints.

    It was indeed his uncle who oriented him to the monastic life, which he embraced at the age of 22. He was ordained a priest by the Patriarch Tarsius, but he broke off his communion with him because of the weakness he showed in the adulterous matrimony of Emperor Constantine VI.

    The consequence was Theodore's exile in 796 to Thessalonica. Reconciliation with imperial authority took place the following year under the Empress Irene, whose benevolence led Theodore and Plato to transfer to the urban monastery of Studios, together with a great part of the monks from Sakkudion, in order to escape Saracen incursions. That is how the important 'Studite reform' had its beginning.

    Nonetheless, the personal affairs of Theodore continued to be agitated. With his usual energy, he became the head of the resistance against the iconoclasm of Leo V the Armenian, who opposed anew the existence of images and icons in churches.

    A procession of icons organized by the monks of Studios set off a police reaction. Between 816 and 821, Theodore was flagellated, jailed and exiled to different places of Asia Minor.

    In the end he was able to return to Constantinople but not to his own monastery. He therefore settled with his monks on the other side of teh Bosphorus. He died, it seems, in Prinkipo, on November 11, 826, the day on which the Byzantine liturgical calendar remembers him.

    Theodore distinguished himself in the history of the Church as one of the great reformers of monastic life and even as a defender of sacred images during the second phase of Iconoclasm, working alongside the Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Nicephorus.

    Theodore had understood that questioning the veneration of images called into question the truth of the Incarnation itself. In his three books Antirretikoi (Confutations), Theodore drew a comparison between, on the one hand, the eternal intra-Trinitarian relationships, where the existence of each divine Person does not destroy their unity; and on the other, the relationship between the two natures of Christ, which, in him, do not compromise the one Person that he is as the Logos.

    He argues: To abolish the veneration of the icon of Christ would mean cancelling out his own redemptive work, since from the time he took on human nature, the invisible eternal Word appeared in visible human flesh, and in this way, sanctified all the visible cosmos.

    The icon, sanctified by liturgical benediction and the prayers of the faithful, unites us with the Person of Christ, with his saints, and through them, with the heavenly Father, thus entering into the divine reality in our visible and material cosmos.

    Theodore and his monks, witnesses of courage during the time of the iconoclastic persecutions, are inseparably linked to the reform of the monastic life in the Byzantine world. Their importance stodr from an external circumstance: their number.

    Where the monasteries of the time never had more than 30-40 monks, we know from the Life of Theodore that there were, all told, more than one thousand Studite monks. Theodore himself tells us that in his monastery, he had almost 300 monks.

    And so we see the enthusiasm of faith that was born in the context of this man who was truly informed - and formed - in the faith. Still, more than their numbers, the new spirit imprinted by the founder on monastic life proved to be quite influential.

    In his writings, he insists on the urgency of a conscious return to the teaching of the Fathers, especially to St. Basil, who was the first legislator of monastic life, and to St. Dorotheus of Gaza, a famous spiritual father from the Palestinian desert.

    Theodore's characteristic contribution was insisting on the necessity for order and submission on the part of the monks. During the persecutions, they were dispersed, each one getting used to live according to his own judgment.

    Now that it was possible to reconstruct a communal life, they needed to commit themselves to the utmost in order to make the monastery a true organic community, a true family, or, as Theodore would say, a true 'Body of Christ'. In such a community, the reality of the Church in its entirety is concretely shown.

    Another basic conviction of Theodore was this: monks, compared to secular clergy, take on the commitment to observe Christian duties with greater rigor and intensity. That is why they make a special profession reserved for hagiasmata (consecrations), which is almost a 'new baptism', of which their garments are a symbol.

    Monks, compared to seculars, are characterized by their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Addressing his monks, Theodore spoke about poverty in a concrete way, sometimes almost picturesque, as following Christ, and therefore from the beginning, an essential element of monasticism, which also indicates a path for everyone.

    Renouncing private property, freedom from material things, along with simplicity and moderation, are requisite in radical ways only for monks, but the spirit of such renunciation is the same for everyone.

    In fact, we should not depend on material property - we must instead learn renunciation, simplicity, austerity and moderation. Only then can a fraternal society grow, only then can the urgent problem of poverty in this world be overcome. Therefore, in this sense, the radical practice of monastic poverty substantially indicates a road that we can all take.

    When Theodore explains the temptations against chastity, Theodore does not hide his own personal experiences and shows the path of internal struggle to arrive at self-control, dominion over oneself, and in this way, respect for one's own body and the bodies of other persons as temples of God.

    But the principal renunciations were for him the demands of obedience, because each monk had his own way of living, and being inserted into a great community of 300 monks truly meant a new form of life, which Theodore called 'the martyrdom of submission".

    In this, too, the monks give an example of how much it is necessary even for ourselves, because after original sin - man's tendency to do his own will - the primary principle is the life of the world, then all the rest must be subjected to one's own will.

    But if everyone follows only himself, the social fabric cannot function. Only by learning to insert oneself within a common freedom, to share it and be subject to it, to learn legality, namely, subjection and obedience to the rules of the common good and communal life, can society, as well as the ego itself, be cleansed of the arrogance that one is the center of the world.

    Thus, Theodore with his monks helps us to understand ,with his fine introspection, what true living is, how to resist the very temptation of making one's will the supreme rule of life, and to keep one's true personal identity - which is always an identity together with others - and peace of heart.

    For Theodore the Studite, important virtues on a par with obedience are humility and 'philergia', love of work, in which he sees a criterion for testing the quality of personal devotion: he who is fervent in his material commitments, who works with assiduity, he argues, will also be the same in his spiritual commitments.

    That is why he would not allow that under the pretext of prayer and contemplation, any monk could be exempted from work, even manual labor, which is really, according to him and to the monastic tradition, a means to find God.

    Theodore was not afraid to speak of work as 'the monk's sacrifice', his 'liturgy', considering it nothing less than a sort of Mass through which monastic life becomes angelic life.

    And that way, the world of work is humanized; man through work becomes much more himself, as well as closer to God. A consequence of this singular vision deserves to be recalled: precisely because it is the fruit of a form of 'liturgy', the riches deriving from common labor were not to serve the comfort of the monks, but must be destined to help the poor. Here we can all grasp the necessity that the fruits of labor should be of benefit to all.

    Obviously, the work of the Studites was not simply manual: they had a great importance in the religious-cultural development of Byzantine civilization, as calligraphers, painters, poets, educators of the youth, schoolteachers, librarians.

    Even while carrying out vast external activities, Theodore did not allow himself to be distracted from what he considered to be closely corollary to his function as superior: to be the spiritual father of his monks.

    He knew what a decisive influence in his life were his good mother and his sainted uncle Plato, who he describes with the significant title of 'father'. And that is why he exercised spiritual direction over his monks. Everyday, his biographer tells us, after evening prayers, he sat before the iconostasis to hear confidences from everyone. He also gave spiritual counsel to many persons outside the monastery.

    His spiritual testament and letters highlight his open and affectionate character, and show how his paternal manner led to true spiritual friendships in the monastic field as well as outside it.

    Theodore's Rule, known by the name Hypotyposis, codified shortly after his death, was adopted, with some modifications, on Mt. Athos when, in 692, St. Athanasius Athonite founded the Great Lavra (Monastery), and in Kievan Rus, when at the start of the second millennium, St. Theodosius introduced it in the Lavra of the Grottoes.

    Understood in its genuine significance, the Rule proves to be singularly actual today. There are many currents today that undermine the unity of common faith and impel towards a kind of dangerous spiritual individualism and spiritual arrogance.

    It is necessary to defend the perfect unity of the Body of Christ (the Church) and to make it grow, in order to harmoniously achieve the peace of order and sincere personal relations in the Spirit.

    It is perhaps useful to summarize in conclusion the principal elements of Theodore's spiritual doctrine. Love for the incarnated Lord and for his visibility in liturgy and in icons. Faithfulness to baptismal vows and a commitment to live in communion within the Body of Christ, which is also understood in the sense of communion among Christians. A spirit of poverty, moderation, renunciation, chastity, self-mastery, humility and obedience - opposed to the primacy of one's own will, which destroys the social fabric and the peace of the spirit. Love for material and spiritual work. Spitritual friendship born out of purifying one's conscience, one's spirit, one's life.

    Let us seek to follow these teachings which show us the way of true living.









    One of the persons who spent a few minutes talking to the Pope after the GA today was Margaret Thatcher, now 83.
    who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979-1990, and along with US President Reagan and John Paul II,
    is credited with the effecting the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.



    Apparently, a VIP group at today's audience was Swiss referee Massimo Busacca and his assistanr referees who were to officiate at the UEFA (European football federation) championship match between Barcelona and Manchester United Wednesday night in Rome.




    And finally, a couple of Papa-and-the-babies shots as the Pope left St. Peter's Square...




    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/28/2009 4:10 PM]
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    00 5/28/2009 3:05 PM



    Here's a story to go with the photo taken after the GA yesterday in the above post and the one below:



    THE POPE AND LADY THATCHER
    by Nick Pisa

    May 28, 2009




    In her heyday she would probably have given him some stern advice on how to run the Vatican. But yesterday Baroness Thatcher was happy to exchange pleasantries with Pope Benedict XVI.

    The 83-year-old former Prime Minister, who met both Benedict's predecessors, visited St Peter's Basilica as the highlight of a week-long holiday at the Roman villa of Lady Carla Powell, whose husband Charles used to advise her on foreign policy.


    Lady Thatcher, 83, braved the heat of strong sunshine to await the Pope's arrival, standing in the front row of the crowds outside St Peter's Basilica.

    She was accompanied by friend and historian Paul Johnson, known for his conservative Catholic views, and Catholic convert Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, who is writing a biography on Baroness Thatcher.

    Moore has described an earlier meeting when the Pope was plain Cardinal Ratzinger. He wrote about how he was struck by 'his embarrassing courtesy. I handed him an article I had written about becoming a Catholic, assuming he would put it "on file". Instead he read the whole thing right through as I sat before him.'

    Paul Johnson is a British Roman Catholic journalist, historian, speechwriter and author. Johnson first came to prominence in the 1950s as a journalist writing for, and later editing, the New Statesman magazine.

    He announced in the New Statesman earlier this month that he was escorting Baroness Thatcher to the Vatican.

    He said: 'Of all the Popes I’ve known since Pius XII (who died in 1958), Benedict XVI is the most difficult to see. He is a hands-on boss, running an enormous machine, and only sees visitors when there is real business to be done.'

    Lady Thatcher listened intently as Pope Benedict gave a sermon on St Theodore the Studite, a medieval monk known for his the love of hard work - a virtue also attributed to the former premier who was renowned for the long hours she put in during 11 years in office.

    Afterwards the Pontiff was introduced to Baroness Thatcher who, as protocol dictates, was dressed in black with a matching mantilla, and the two shook hands warmly.

    They spoke for several minutes. Mr Moore held an umbrella over her to shade her from the sun as she spoke to the Pope.

    Lady Powell said: ‘She was delighted to meet the Pope and the two had a private conversation.

    ‘She is 83 years old, but is a real icon. I organised her holiday here and the visit to the Vatican and she has had a wonderful time.’

    Lady Thatcher's health has deteriorated since she suffered a series of minor strokes in 2002, but she remains active.

    Before meeting the Pope, Lady Thatcher, the daughter of a Methodist minister, laid a wreath of white roses on the tomb of Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in the crypt below St Peter's - a man she admired greatly, particular for his stance against Communism, and whom she had met twice.

    She had also met Pope Paul VI when she was leader of the Opposition in 1977.

    5/29/09

    P.S. An item in the UK Daily Telegraph on the meeting says this in its second paragraph:

    They talked for several minutes and Lady Thatcher encouraged the Pope to accept the invitation from Gordon Brown to visit Britain. The first Pope to visit Britain was John Paul II who came in 1982 at the time of the Falklands War.





    A few days earlier, as noted in this thread's daily 'almanac' entry for May 25, the Holy Father met at the Vatican with another eminent lady, the oldest living Nobel Prize winner. As she is an Italian Jew, the news item comes from a Jewish news agency:


    OPOPE AND THE NOBEL PRIZE LAUREATE



    ROME, May 27 (JTA) -- Pope Benedict XVI held a private audience at the Vatican with a Jewish Nobel Prize-winning scientist who last month turned 100 years old.

    The Vatican press office said the Pontiff's meeting with Rita Levi Montalcini took place Monday but did not provide further details.


    Levi Montalcini at her 100th birthday party last month.

    Levi Montalcini, a neurobiologist, is the oldest living Nobel Prize winner. She and colleague Stanley Cohen received the prize in medicine in 1986 for their discovery of nerve growth factor.

    Born in Turin, Levi Montalcini suffered persecution under fascist Italy's anti-Semitic laws. She lived in the United States for decades after World War II before returning to Italy. In 2001, she was named an Italian Senator for Life, one of Italy's highest civilian awards. She is also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and directs a foundation that helps African women.

    [I really tried to find a picture of the meeting with the Pope from the Vatican's photo catalog and after scrolling through 260-plus pages of thumbnails and finally getting to May 25 [there is no provision on that site to sarch by date - and the Montecassino pictures aloen covered the first 260 pages or so], I still could not find one. Frankly, I did not have the time - nor the patience - to go on looking.]


    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2009 10:47 AM]
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    May 28

    St. Mariana de Paredes (Ecuador, 1614-1645)
    Virgin (Apostolate was caring for the sick)




    OR today.

    Speaking about St. Theodore Studite at the General Audience,
    the Pope indicates a way for resolving the problem of poverty:
    'Simplicity and moderation to build a fraternal society'

    The other papal story on Page 1 is his address to the diocesan pastoral convention of Rome on Tuesday evening (photos above). [Full text of his address has been translated and posted in the original post on this news on this thread]. The only other Page 1 story is North Korea's revocation of the 1953 armistice with South Korea, threatening an armed attack if the South cooperates with the United States in actions following the Communist regime's major resumption of nuclear bomb adn missile tests this week.



    THE POPE'S DAY

    At noon today, the Holy Father addressed the annual General Assembly of the Italian bishops conference (CEI)
    meeting at the Synod Hall of Aula Paolo VI. Address in Italian.



    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/29/2009 2:10 AM]
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    Pope addresses annual assembly
    of Italian bishops and discusses
    pastoral approach to current crises










    VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At midday today in the Vatican, the Holy Father met participants in the general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), which is meeting from 25 to 29 May to examine the theme: "The educational question: the urgent task of education".

    The Pope noted how over these days the bishops are reflecting and discussing how to establish "an educational project that stems from a coherent and complete vision of man, which can arise only from the perfect image and realisation of him we have in Jesus Christ".

    "At a time in which relativistic and nihilistic concepts of life exercise a powerful enticement, a time in which the very legitimacy of education is placed in doubt, the principal contribution we can make is that of bearing witness to our trust in life and in man, in his reason and in his capacity to love", said the Holy Father.

    "The difficulty in forming authentic Christians interweaves and melds with the difficulty of creating responsible and mature men and women", the Pope explained.

    He also emphasised the importance that "an awareness of truth and goodness, and free adherence to these values, should be at the core of the educational project, so as to give form to a process of overall development".

    " For this reason", he went on, "alongside an appropriate curriculum that identifies the aim of education in the light of the model to be followed, there is a need for authoritative educators to whom new generations can look with trust".

    "A true educator places himself in the front line and knows how to unite authority and exemplarity in the task of educating those entrusted to his care. We ourselves are aware of this, having been given the role of guides among the People of God, guides whom the Apostle Peter invites to tend God's sheep and to 'be examples to the flock'".

    The Pope then referred to the forthcoming Year for Priests, recalling how priestly ministry "is a service to the Church and to Christian people, requiring a profound spirituality ... nourished by prayer and by intense personal union with the Lord, in order to be able to serve our brothers and sisters through preaching, the Sacraments, orderly community life and help for the poor. All priestly ministry reveals ... the importance of commitment to education, so that people may grow freely and responsibly as mature and conscientious Christians.

    "There can be no doubt that the Christian spirit gives renewed vitality to that sense of solidarity so profoundly rooted in the hearts of the Italian people", Benedict XVI added, going on to mention the recent earthquake in the Abruzzo region of Italy and his own visit to the areas affected.

    There, he said, "I personally witnessed the mourning, the pain and the disasters produced by that terrible event, but also the strength of spirit of those people and the movement of solidarity that immediately arose throughout Italy". In this context, the Pope also praised the initiatives promoted by the CEI through Caritas.

    He then turned to consider the economic crisis which "has hit the global community so hard. ... Despite the measures taken at various levels, the social effects of the crisis are still being felt, and seriously felt, especially by the weakest strata of society and by families".

    Benedict XVI also mentioned the fact that the collections raised at Mass next Sunday will be used for the "Loan of Hope" initiative, a CEI aid programme for families affected by the crisis which he described as "an eloquent testimony of the mutual sharing of burdens, .... a moving announcement of the interior conversion generated by the Gospel and a touching expression of ecclesial communion".

    Finally, the Holy Father considered a particular form of ecclesiastical charity in Italy, "intellectual" charity, of which "one significant example is the commitment to promote a widespread mentality in support of life in its every aspect and moment, with particular concern for lives marked by conditions of fragility and precariousness".

    Such commitment, he said is well expressed in the manifesto 'Free to live, loving life unto the end', which sees the "Italian Catholic lay people working together to ensure the country does not lack an awareness of the complete truth about man and promotion of the authentic good of people and society".

    "Thus", the Pope concluded, "our minds return to the central theme of your assembly - the urgent task of education - which must be rooted in the Word of God and requires spiritual discernment, cultural and social programmes, and gratuitous and united witness".





    Here is a translation of the Holy Father's full address:




    ADDRESS TO THE ANNUAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY
    OF THE ITALIAN BISHOPS CONFERENCE
    May 28, 2009



    Dear Italian brother bishops:

    I am happy to meet you once again all together, on the occasion of this significant annual appointment which sees you reunited in assembly to share the concerns and the joys of your ministry in the dioceses of this beloved Italian nation.

    Your assembly, indeed, visibly expresses and promotes that communion from which the Church lives, and which is realized in your agreement over pastoral initiatives and activities.

    With my presence, I come to confirm that ecclesial communion which I have constantly seen growing and becoming more firm. In particular, I thank the Cardinal President who, in the name of everyone, confirmed your fraternal adherence and cordial communion with the magisterium adn pastoral service of the Successor of Peter, thus reaffirming the singular union which links the Church in Italy to the Apostolic See.

    I have received these past months so many moving testimonials of this adherence. I can only say with all my heart: Thank you!.

    In this atmosphere of communion, the Christian people who feel profoundly attached to this land can profitably nourish themselves from the Word of God and from the grace of the sacraments, in order to experience a living sense of the faith and sincere belonging to the ecclesial community: all this, thanks to your pastoral leadership, to the generous service of so many priests and deacons, of religious men and women, and the lay faithful who, with assiduous dedication, sustain the ecclesial fabric and the daily life of the numerous parishes spread out to every corner of the land.

    We do not hide the difficulties that they encounter in leading their members to full adherence to the Christian faith in our time. Not by chance, in many places, they have asked for a renewal of faith under the emblem of growing collaboration with the laity and their missionary co-responsibility.

    For these reasons, you have wanted to deepen in your pastoral activities the missionary commitment which has characterized the course of the Church in Italy after Vatican-II, and have chosen as the focus of your reflection in this assembly the fundamental task of education.

    As I have had occasion to reaffirm several times, it is a permanent and constitutive demand in the life of the Church which today tends to assume the character of urgency and even of emergency.

    You have had a chance these days to listen, reflect and discuss over the need to take the reins of some sort of educative program born from a consistent and complete vision of man such as can only come from the perfect image and realization that we have in Jesus Christ.

    He is the master at whose school we must rediscover the educative task as a very high vocation to which every believer, in different ways, is called.

    At a time when the fascination of relativistic and nihilistic concepts of life is quite strong, and the legitimacy of education itself is called into question, the first contribution we can offer is to bear witness to our confidence in life and in man, in his reason and his capacity to love.

    This is not the outcome of ingenuous optimism, but it comes to us from that 'reliable hope' (Spe salvi, 1) given to us through our faith in the redemption effected by Jesus Christ. From this established act of love for man can emerge an educative alliance among all who have responsibility in this delicate field of social and ecclesial life.

    The conclusion on Sunday of the three-year Agora of Italian youth, which saw your Conference engaged in well-articulated activities to animate the pastoral ministry for young people, represents an invitation to verify the educative path in progress, and to undertake new projects for a set of beneficiaries - the new generations - extremely ample and significant projects on the educative responsibility of our ecclesial communities and all of society.

    The work of formation, finally, should broaden into adulthood, which is not exempt from a true and proper responsibility for continuing education. No one is exempted from the task of taking care of one's own growth and that of others, towards the 'measure of fullness in Christ' (Eph 4,13).

    The difficulty of forming authentic Christians is so woven in as to fuse with the difficulty of raising responsible and mature men and women, in whom awareness of truth and goodness, and free adherence to these concepts, are at the center of the educative project, which would be capable of giving form to a path of global growth that is apporpriately predisposed and followed through.

    Therefore, along with an adequate plan that sets the goal of education according to a desired model, there is a need for authoritative educators to whom the new generations can look to with confidence.

    In this Pauline Year - which we have lived in a deeper study of the words and example of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, and which you have celebrated in various ways in your dioceses, and yesterday, all together at the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls - his invitation resounds with singular effect: "Be imitators of me as I am of Christ!" (1 Cor 11,1). Courageous words.

    But a true educator puts himself into play first of all, and knows how to unite authority with exemplariness in the task of educating those who are entrusted to him. We are aware of that ourselves, placed as we are as guides among the people of God, we to whom the Apostle Peter addressed, in his turn, the invitation to pasture the flock of God, making ourselves 'examples to the flock' (1 Pt 5,3). Even this is a statement to meditate upon.

    That is why the circumstance is singularly happy that we are about to celebrate, after the year dedicated to the Apostle of the Gentiles, a Year of the Priest. We are called, along with our priests, to rediscover the grace and the mission of the priestly ministry.

    This ministry is a service to the Church and to the Christian people, and requires profound spirituality. In response to the divine calling, this spirituality must nourish itself on prayer and an intense personal union with the Lord in order to be able to serve our brothers through preaching, the sacraments, an orderly community life and help to the poor.

    Thus the entire priestly ministry itself highlights the importance of the educative commitment, so that persons in our care may grow to be free, truly free, and therefore, responsible Christians who are mature and aware.

    There is no doubt that the sense of solidarity that is profoundly rooted in the hearts of Italians draws ever renewed vitality from the Christian spirit, a solidarity that expresses itself with particular intensity during dramatic circumstances in the life of the nation, the last of which was the devastating earthquake which struck some areas of the Abruzzo region.

    As your president has said, I had the opportunity, in my visit to that tragically wounded land, to note firsthand the mourning, the sorrow and the disasters produced by the terrible earthquake, but also - and this, to me, was truly most impressive - the strength of spirit among that population, along with the movement of solidarity which promptly got underway in all parts of Italy.

    Our communities responded with great generosity to the requests for assistance which came from the region, sustaining the initiatives promoted by the Italian bishops conference through Caritas. I wish to renew to the bishops of Abruzzo, and through them, to the local communities, the assurance of my constant prayers and my enduring and affectionate closeness.

    For months we have been noting the effects of a financial and economic crisis which has severely registered on the global scenario and has reached all countries in varying degrees. Despite the measures that have been taken at various levels, the social effects of the crisis have not failed to make themselves felt, even very harshly, and particularly on the weakest sectors of society and on families.

    Thus I wish to express my appreciation and encouragement for the initiative of a solidarity fund called 'Loan of Hope' which will have nationwide participation in the collections next Sunday to start off the fund.

    This renewed call on the people's generosity, added to the other initiatives previously taken by various dioceses - evoking the collection promoted by the Apostle Paul for the Church in Jerusalem -is eloquent testimony of sharing the weight endured by others.

    In a time of difficulty, which today particularly hits those who have lost their jobs, this becomes a true act of worship which is born from the charity inspired by the Spirit of the Risen Lord in the heart of believers. It is an eloquent proclamation of the interior conversion generated by the Gospel and a touching manifestation of ecclesial communion.

    An essential form of charity in which the Churches of Italy are actively engaged is intellectual charity. A significant example is the commitment to promote a widespread mentality in favor of life in its every aspect and at every moment, with particular attention to those aspects marked by conditions of great fragility and precariousness.

    This commitment is evidenced by the manifesto "Free to live: Love life to the very end", which sees the Italian Catholic laity united in working so that consciousness of the full truth about man and the promotion of the authentic good of persons and society may never lack in this country.

    The Yeses and heh Nos expressed therein sketch the outlines of true educative activity and express true and concrete love for every human being. Thus the mind turns to the central theme of your assembly - the urgent task of education - which demands rootedness in the Word of God, along with spiritual discernment, cultural and social projection, and bearing witness to unity and gratuity.

    Dearest brothers, a few days separate us from Pentecost, on which we celebrate the gift of the Spirit who takes down frontiers and opens us to understanding truth in its entirety.

    Let us invoke the Comforter who does not abandon those who turn to him, entrusting to him the path of the Church in Italy and every person who lives in this beloved country. May the Spirit of life come down on all of us and light our hearts with the fire of his infinite love.

    From the heart, I bless you and your communities.







    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/29/2009 2:09 AM]
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    VERY CLEVER COMIC RELIEF!




    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/28/2009 10:16 PM]
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    00 5/29/2009 1:55 PM



    May 29

    St. Madeleine Sophie Barat (France, 1779-1865)
    Founder, Society of the Sacred Heart




    OR today.

    The Pope to the General Assembly of the Italian bishops' conference:
    'A true educator unites authority and exemplariness'
    (Translation of the full papal text posted in yesterday's item above on this event)
    Other Page 1 stories: Seoul and Washington raise military alert level after North Korea's latest bluster;
    a UN report that current economic crisis will result in 50 million losing jobs around the world. And in
    the inside pages: the Vatican issues a new edition reproducing all the documents on the trial of Galileo
    by the Roman Inquisition.




    THE POPE'S DAY

    The Holy Father today received the credentials of new ambassadors from Mongolia, India, Benin, New Zealand,
    South Africa, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Norway. All the addresses were in English except for those to
    the envoys from Benin and Burkina Faso, delivered in French. Afterwards,the Pope addressed all the new
    envoys together in French.

    He also met with
    - Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
    - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Copuncil for Inter-Religious Dialog
    And in the afternoon with
    - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (weekly meeting)


    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/29/2009 11:11 PM]
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    The resurgence of prayer in a world
    that wants to exclude it


    From Monte Cassino, the Pope revives the motto of Saint Benedict: "Ora et labora."
    And Cardinal Ruini explains how prayer is the best response to the modern crises of faith.
    It has also been discussed at a Festival of theology.





    ROME, May 29, 2009 – On the visit he made to the abbey of Monte Cassino on Ascension Sunday, Benedict XVI revived the famous motto of the saint whose name he took: "Ora et labora et lege." Pray, work and study".

    And he linked this motto with the other one that the Pope has repeatedly cited as the origin of all Western civilization: "quaerere Deum," to seek God.

    In the vision of Benedict XVI, praying to God is not a part, but rather the whole, of man's vocation. The idea may appear daring in an age in which prayer is often trivialized, contested, put off limits. But it finds support in signs of renewed attention to this supreme act of Christian life.

    For example, at the same time as the Pope's visit to Monte Cassino, further to the north, in Bologna, one of the most secularized cities in Italy, the feast of the Madonna di San Luca saw a much larger crowd than in the past gather to pray.

    Just as a few weeks earlier, in the same city, the immense basilica of Saint Petronius was not large enough to hold the great mass of young people at a prayer vigil, who also filled the square in front of the church.

    Even further to the north, also a few days ago, in Piacenza on the banks of the Po, churchmen, theologians, philosophers and artists, believers and nonbelievers decided to discuss precisely this theme: "Prayer and experiences of God."

    The meeting, organized as a "Festival of theology," was begun on May 22 and concluded on May 24 with two "master lectures": the first by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, and the second by the most famous of the German Evangelical theologians, Jürgen Moltmann.

    The speakers included Philippe Némo and Mario Botta, PierAngelo Sequeri and Elmar Salmann, Massimo Cacciari and Guido Ceronetti.

    Of particular interest in Cardinal Ruini's lecture are the passages in which he analyzes the objections that today's culture raises against prayer, and, conversely, the profound meaning of prayer as a "serious matter" on which the Christian faith stands or falls.

    [Magister reproduces the translation of Cardinal Ruini's full text.]





    Magister rightly takes note of events last week at which the practice of prayer is urged, but it is odd that he mentions the Pope's Monte Cassino addresses in isolation, as it were, from his other exhortations to prayer, which are a constant element in Benedict's religious texts as well as in his addresses to priests and bishops.

    This week alone, after Sunday in Montecassino, he spoke about prayer in all three of his public discourses (not counting his 'secular' addresses as head of state to the new ambassasdors today).

    To the Italian bishops yestrday:
    "This ministry is a service to the Church and to the Christian people, and requires profound spirituality. In response to the divine calling, this spirituality must nourish itself on prayer and an intense personal union with the Lord in order to be able to serve our brothers through preaching, the sacraments, an orderly community life and help to the poor."

    In the catechesis on St Theodore the Studite on Wednesday:
    Apart from describing how Theodore defended the veneration of icons as a communication with God through Jesus and the saints, the Holy Father also pointed out Theodore's belief that "he who is fervent in his material commitments, who works with assiduity... will also be the same in his spiritual commitment" and how the saint considered his spiritual directorship of his monks as his priority duty.

    And in his Tuesday address to the annual pastoral convention of the Diocese of Rome:
    He exhorted the lay faithful to "prayerful listening to the Word of God", assiduous participation in the Eucharist (the ultimate prayer), and considering liturgy - communal prayer - as "a way through which the truth of the love of God in Christ reaches, fascinates and enraptures us".

    Finally, besides the present example of the Holy Father, one cannot forget how much John Paul II's prayer life was such a major feature of his Christian testimony - as it must be to any Pope, as priest and as universal Pastor.


    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/29/2009 9:59 PM]
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    A timely analysis and reminder - necessary to both Catholics and secular critics of the Pope - of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's unwavering and consistent Christian correctness, the only correctness that matters.


    We are lucky this Pope
    is 'ecclesiastically incorrect'

    by Alcuin Reid

    22 May 2009


    On April 18, 2005, a 78-year-old cardinal, at the end of his working life, preached the sermon for the cardinal-electors before they entered the conclave to elect a new Pope.

    Joseph Ratzinger spoke that evening of the Church "moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires", and reminded the cardinals that the Church's true role is "to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth".

    His remarks were direct and incisive. They were the words of a man utterly without ambition who was ready to retire under the new Pope. So "ecclesiastically incorrect" were they that one cardinal-elector, a strong supporter of his candidacy, later remarked that he wondered whether, by speaking thus, Ratzinger was deliberately trying not to be elected Pope.

    But the following day he was elected. Journalists, most famously Margaret Hebblethwaite on BBC television, bewailed that "Rottweiler Ratzinger" now held the Keys of St Peter.

    Even those of us who had read him for decades and who had known him as cardinal in brief but profoundly convincing encounters could barely believe that the cardinal who had so resolutely held and reaffirmed the Church's teaching on faith and morals - with the clear support of Pope John Paul II - and who had pioneered critical debate about the state of the Church following the Second Vatican Council, in fact emerged on the balcony of St Peter's as the Successor of St Peter.

    But the cardinals knew Ratzinger personally, better than anyone, which is why, under the influence of God the Holy Spirit, they elected him. The media and most Catholics only knew his public reputation, which is why we had such hysteria.

    The Tablet took a more nuanced tack. Whilst reporting the "shock and dismay" of many at Ratzinger's election, it expressed the hope that the "gamekeeper" would become more of a "pastor". And for a while his critics fell silent as they came to know the professor, the priest and the new Pope, almost for the first time.

    Some asserted that one could no longer attribute to him the stances of the former cardinal - as if his new office had put him above such "intemperate" behaviour.

    But events this year have shown that this honeymoon, within and without the Church, is well and truly over. We now have world figures such as Alain Juppé presuming to assert that "this Pope is becoming a real problem', and Catholic journals publishing articles lamenting that Benedict XVI stands "like a solitary monarch in a curia that has lost its bearings".

    Why? Yes, one can point to some real mismanagement of papal initiatives in the Vatican which do require urgent remedy. The handling of the Regensburg address and of the recent lifting of the excommunication from the SSPX bishops was unsatisfactory. The appointment of Fr Wagner as an auxiliary bishop in Austria may not have been wise (less unwise, though, than Pope John Paul II's 1986 appointment of Hans Hermann Groër to Vienna). And perhaps the Pope should have addressed the "condom question" in an extended discourse rather than in a brief reply on an aeroplane.

    But these matters of management are not the root cause of the discontent. When Pope Benedict freed the older liturgical rites from legal restrictions in July 2007, one Catholic commentator stated that "this is the strongest indication so far that the theological conservatism of Cardinal Ratzinger... is still in place in the papacy of Benedict XVI". Until then it was hoped that it was not. "A secret liberal at heart he is not," they lamented.

    Indeed. That much ought to have been clear from his seminal and apparently programmatic address of December 2005 in which he distinguished an acceptable "hermeneutic of reform in continuity" from the unacceptable "hermeneutic of rupture" espoused By many following the Second Vatican Council. What Cardinal Ratzinger had been arguing for years was proposed by the Pope.

    If we understand this - that the Pope is concerned that all aspects of the Church's life are in (or, where necessary, are restored to) clear continuity with her Tradition, without excluding legitimate development that does not break from her past - we can see why he acted so decisively on the older liturgy, why he does not fear to re-assert the Church's unpopular but life-giving teaching on human sexuality, why he did not hesitate to show real paternal mercy to the SSPX bishops in the hope of reconciliation, and why he does not shrink from substantial dialogue with other faiths, even when he may be misunderstood.

    We also need to understand that the Pope has a pretty clear understanding of his role. As Cardinal Ratzinger he observed that "the Successor of Peter is the rock which guarantees a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God against arbitrariness and conformism: hence the martyrological nature of his primacy".

    Pope Benedict is prepared to suffer the price of misinterpretation and even ridicule in his battle against relativism. That's his job.

    It is interesting that his assertion in Africa "that without Christ life lacks something" and his insistence on the traditional Catholic missionary stance that "we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life," as well as that "it is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life," has not provoked much reaction.

    Perhaps the outcry over his refusal to worship the condom-god has deafened people to this clear restatement of the Church's belief in the definitive revelation of God in Christ.

    "What he will say next?" Christopher Howse asked recently in the Daily Telegraph.

    Whatever words Pope Benedict chooses to utter, it will be out of the prophetic fear of Almighty God, to whom he must give an account of his stewardship, and not out of timidity for the opinions of men or the media. Those who seek to understand Pope Benedict XVI would do well to grasp this.



    Dr Alcuin Reid's principal work The Organic Development of the Liturgy (Ignatius 2005) carries a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/29/2009 4:53 PM]
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    I apologize for this very belated post, which i didn't come across till today! In any case, except for the reference to the Pope's visit to the Holy Sepulchre, what it has to say is not dated at all.


    Pope's Holy Land pilgrimage:
    A reason to give thanks

    by Father Raymond J. de Souza, SJ

    May 16, 2009



    Benedict XVI at the sources of the faith:
    The Grotto of the Nativity (left) and at the empty tomb in Jerusalem
    .




    They sang a Te Deum -- the great Christian hymn of thanksgiving -- in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre yesterday to mark the conclusion of Pope Benedict XVI's visit.

    Visibly tired after eight days of intense activity in a sometimes hostile environment, the Pope fell to his knees for prolonged periods of silent prayer at the site of Jesus's crucifixion and in the empty tomb of the resurrection. They were tranquil moments at the end of a difficult visit.

    Pope Benedict returned to Rome likely content with the workmanlike success of his trip. A spectacular triumph it wasn't. Yet the principal task was accomplished just by coming, lest it be said that the German Pope declined to visit Israel.

    To get here was a struggle, with the Vatican having to overrule local Catholics who were lukewarm to the visit, and the more determined opposition of other Christian leaders. The Christian Arabs here thought the visit would be an undeserved propaganda triumph for an Israeli government they deeply mistrust. They asked the Pope not to come. He came anyway.

    So the cool, even hostile, reception in many quarters of Jewish public opinion here was likely not entirely unwelcome by the region's Arab Christians. In a region where the enemy of my enemy is my friend, serious Jewish criticism would have been welcome proof that the Pope was not entirely on the Israeli side.

    Much was made in the Israeli press about Pope Benedict's address at Yad Vashem, in which he declined to speak on behalf of the German people, and offered no apology for putative Catholic responsibility for the Holocaust.

    Indeed, Pope Benedict did not address those questions at Yad Vashem precisely because his settled view, which he did articulate at Auschwitz three years ago, is that Nazism was a specifically anti-religious phenomenon.

    That would have been considered inflammatory at Yad Vashem, but the Pope did not leave Israel without saying it. At the airport departure ceremony yesterday he spoke of "Jews [brutally] exterminated under a godless regime."

    Even had Pope Benedict thrown himself on the ground in shame, it would not have been enough for those who found his very presence offensive.[Such, alas, is the virulence of bigotry which, by its very definition, is wilfully irrational and blind to any view that is different]

    Israeli government ministers from the religious Shas party quietly decided to absent themselves from reception ceremonies even before the Pope arrived out of "respect for Holocaust survivors."

    Yet bad manners on the part of some will not seriously damage Catholic-Jewish relations, which already enjoy a firm foundation. It has been more than 40 years since Vatican II's teaching that anti-Semitism is a sin against God; it has been more than 15 years since full diplomatic relations were established between Israel and the Holy See; it has been more than 10 years since the papal document on the Shoah, We Remember.

    What some Jews want Pope Benedict to do, namely to declare the Catholic Church co-responsible for the Holocaust and Pope Pius XII indifferent to Jewish suffering, he simply will not do. He won't do it because he thinks it is not true. [And by any objective measure, IT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE!]

    Jews looking toward the future rather than the past were concerned, too, about the clear signs that the Pope and the Catholic Church are shifting their attention toward the Islamic world. Is the friend of my enemy my enemy, too?

    This visit was crafted with a dominant Muslim agenda. Pope Benedict spent three days in Jordan, visited Amman's principal mosque and gave the major address of his visit there. [Definitely, in the philosophical-intellectual sense! So it still escapes me why none of the Vaticanistas appear to have thought so - when it was clearly Regensburg-Part 2! But then, none of them really appreciated Regensburg-1 for the epochal discourse that it is. I have been awaiting Fr. Schall's commentary on the Amman address.]

    In Jerusalem he entered the Dome of the Rock and gave another substantive address in the Al-Haram Al-Sharif. His addresses advanced his themes of religious liberty, co-operation and the essential role of reason for believers to avoid extremism and violence.

    Such arguments from a Christian pastor have never been so precisely articulated before an attentive Muslim audience in such important Muslim sites.

    Part of the lukewarm reaction of Israelis to the Pope's visit was in response to the changing times. Where for a half-century Jews were the Catholic Church's primary inter-religious interlocutors, the future belongs to Islam.

    Changing times also explained why this visit was so difficult, especially in comparison to Pope John Paul's visit nine years ago. When John Paul was elected in 1978, he wanted to come to Bethlehem and Jerusalem for his first Christmas. Vatican diplomats were horrified at the potential minefield the Pope would enter and gave him repeated reasons why a visit would not be possible.

    After two decades of delays, John Paul put his foot down and announced he would come for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. When he arrived, he was already a meta-historical figure, an old man defying growing infirmity to visit the Holy City. It was more than dramatic.

    What was not known then was that in March, 2000, the Holy Land was enjoying its last months of optimism and tranquillity. John Paul came just in time.

    Circumstances have changed in nine years. A heavy spirit has settled over the Holy Land, with peace a distant prospect. This was not the year of the Lord's favour.

    Since John Paul's visit in 2000 history has been moving at an accelerated pace, with major events falling one upon the other: the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon; the failure of the Camp David negotiations between Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat; Arafat's subsequent launching of the suicide bombing intifada; the building of the security wall to stop the terrorists; a massive, ongoing security presence by the Israeli armed forces in the West Bank; the creation of a new Israeli political party, Kadima; the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005; the election victory of Hamas in 2006; the second Lebanon war later that year, considered a failure in Israel; the Palestinian civil war that delivered Gaza to Hamas control in 2007; the daily rocket fire from Gaza into Israel; the economic embargo of Gaza by Israel; and finally, the Gaza war earlier this year. Israelis and Palestinians have experienced nearly a decade of constant violence and turmoil.

    [Thank you, Fr. De Souza, for taking the time to encapsulate those developments, something few other commentators on the Pope's visit have done, but something necessary to place the entire geopolitical picture in the right focus.]

    Pope Benedict arrived at time when reserves of goodwill were depleted. In such an environment, a modest success is cause for a Te Deum.







    This one is a new report that refers back to the Pope's Holy Land trip, and it comes from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism:


    Pontiff builds bridges of peace
    among religious faiths

    by Gail Barzilay
    Israel Ministry of Tourism



    NEW YORK, May 29 (Thru Christian Newswire) -- On May 15, Pope Benedict XVI completed his first papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land, visiting and praying at holy sites and making a concerted effort to build bridges of peace between Judaism and Christianity.

    "I come, like so many others before me, to pray at the holy places, to pray especially for peace -- peace here in the Holy Land, and peace throughout the world," Pope Benedict said upon arriving on May 11 for his five-day pilgrimage.

    During a year that is set to break past records for Christian pilgrims visiting Israel, Pope Benedict's journey marked the first papal visit to the Holy Land since Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage in 2000.

    "The people of Israel count it a great honor and privilege to have welcomed Pope Benedict as our esteemed guest," said Arie Sommer, Israel's Tourism Commissioner for North and South America. "We appreciate the solidarity demonstrated by His Holiness as he visited the land and people of Israel, and encouraged other Christians around the world to do the same."

    The papal visit began at Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv, where Pope Benedict was met by Israeli President Shimon Peres, and participated in a welcome ceremony.

    Peres said at the event, "I see your visit here, to the Holy Land, as an important spiritual mission of the highest order; a mission of peace."

    Pope Benedict echoed this sentiment: "I am certain that this will be a continuation of the dialogue between Judaism and Christianity in the spirit of the Prophets."

    The Pope took further steps to building bridges of peace through his personal meeting with Peres and a subsequent meeting in Nazareth with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Later on the day of his arrival, His Holiness was deeply moved during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, which he called "one of the most solemn moments of my stay in Israel."

    Additionally, the papal visit included the celebration of Mass in the Kidron Valley (Jerusalem), Bethlehem, and Nazareth, as well as times of reflection and prayer at holy sites, including the Western Wall, Mount Zion, Gethsemane, and the Old City of Jerusalem.

    While in Jerusalem, Pope Benedict also took time to personally meet with Muhammad Ahmad Husayn, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, at the Temple Mount, in addition to Israel's chief rabbis.

    Concluding his pilgrimage, the Pontiff again reiterated the need to continually work toward peace among religious faiths: "We are nourished from the same spiritual roots. We meet as brothers, brothers who at times in our history have had a tense relationship, but now are firmly committed to building bridges of lasting friendship."






    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2009 2:22 AM]
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    Cardinal Bagnasco says
    there's a global 'lobby' against
    the Pope and the Church

    by Vincenzo Faccioli Pintozzi
    Translated from

    May 29, 2009



    Cardinal Bagnasco greets the Pope who addressed teh CEI General Assembly Thursday afternoon.


    On a global level, "Many analysts and experts share the idea that there are strong pressures and economic-financial lobbies on the social doctrine of the Church and its Magisterium, and even against the Pope, according to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian bishps' conference (CEI) at a news conference after the end of the CEI's 59th general assembly.

    Bagnasco spoke further about what he said in his opening speech on Monday that "the church is under attack, but that this should not distract the Pastors of the Church from taking care of their respective flocks.

    "Every time the Church proposes its Magisterium on the human being, which are against the ideas held by specific individuals and interest groups, it does not expect to find universal agreement," he said.

    This holds true whether the Church is talking about the value of the human being (and human life) or her model of society which, "precisely because of these values, must remain open".

    "But it is not possible to even think about giving in," Bagnasco added. "These are two aspects that are inseparable from the service of the Church. To neglect either of them would mean betraying the Lord as well as the people entrusted to us."

    The issue is not new: conspiracies, true or imagined, carried out by and against the Church, fill history books and works of fiction, though it is far less so in actual fact, in Italian as well as in itnernational history.

    But it is true that statements by the Catholic hierarchy on social issues are almost always received in secular circles [and by dissenting Catholics] in an atmosphere of intolerance that often smacks of censorship.

    Cardinal Bagnasco then turned to an issue that concerns everyone today: the economic crisis on a global scale.

    "Economy and finance should place the dignity of the person in the center," he said, "otherwise everything becomes exploitative."

    Asked about the controversy raised by some of his remarks last Monday - particularly that about "workers dismissed by industries as if they are useless ballast" - he clarified that "The fundamental sense of the Church's social teaching is the extraordinary value of the individual person, his absolute value as the heart and measure of any relatinoship or social arrangement".

    He said he was aware of provisions being made at various levels to alleviate preesent difficulties and expressed the wish that 'they will prove adequate to carry the working class through the present crisis".

    Ultimately, he said, "it must be hoped that things do not go back to what they were before" but that "all thoser in positions of responsibility may be wiser and will have learned lessons from the errors for whose consequences the whole world now suffers".

    "The world," he said, 'should resume development with a lifestyle that is more moderate and more fraternal".

    The cardinal also tackled the so-called 'educative emergency' in Italy.

    "After the legislative acknowledgment of parity between public schools and private schools - which represented a great conceptual step forward - this acknowledgment must now be realized on the practical level," he said.

    To begin with, he pointed out, "There must be recognition of the specific right of parents - who are the irreplaceable 'masters' of their young children - to choose freely what schools they want to send them to. In fact, we should talk about free schools, in the sense that they are not state-run schools but are nevertheless public schools because they are open to anyone" [such as Catholic schools are].

    About the coming European parliamentary elections (on June 7), the CEI president said, "The bishops call on all citizens to participate. It is their unanimous thinking that the European Parliament should be more 'European' in the sense that John Paul II used the term, namely, 'a Europe that is home for many peoples'."

    The reference most likely referred to continuing questions about free circulation of European citizens within Europe and how individual countries treat immigrants from outside Europe. In Italy, the Church has asked the government to have more open measures towards legal immigrants.


    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2009 6:32 PM]
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    Note the obvious and highly objectionable - if not downright despicable bias - in both wire-service stories below. While they mention the objections made to the Pope's March 17 statement on condoms and AIDS, neither one bothered to mention that experts on AIDS in Africa, including the director of Haravard's AIDS prevention program, generally supported the Pope's position, citing statistics from more than a decade to prove it.


    Pope to African envoys:
    Abstinence, marital fidelity
    still work best to fight AIDS






    Vatican City, May 29 (dpa) - Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday reiterated Catholic church teachings to several new African envoys to the Vatican, maintaining that AIDS must be fought through marital fidelity and sexual abstinence.

    Benedict's remarks came just over two months after a furore arose over comments he made on the disease during his first visit to Africa.

    On the papal plane taking him to Cameroon, Benedict on March 17 appeared to suggest that the use of condoms, which the Catholic Church considers sinful, may actually contribute to the spread of AIDS.

    France's Foreign Ministry responded at the time by saying that the comments by the spiritual leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics threatened public health policies.

    On Friday, the Pontiff told South Africa's new ambassador to the Holy See, George Johannes, that the Church "takes seriously her part in the campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS by emphasizing fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside of it."

    Similarly, Benedict told Namibia's new Vatican ambassador, Neville Melvin Gertze, that he was aware that one of the priorities of the southern African nation's government is put more of a focus on the health of the population, especially people afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

    "In this area, the Church will continue to offer its assistance willingly. She is convinced that only a strategy based on education to individual responsibility in the framework of a moral view of human sexuality, especially through conjugal fidelity, can have a real impact on the prevention of this disease," Benedict said.

    Some 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV, according to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

    In 2007 three-quarters of the world's AIDS deaths were in sub- Saharan Africa, as were two-thirds of all people living with HIV.



    Pope: Morality, fidelity can stop AIDS



    Vatican City. May 29 (AP) - Marital fidelity and a “moral view” of sexuality are the best strategies to stop the spread of AIDS, Pope Benedict said Friday, addressing the issue for the first time since his comments on condoms during a trip to Africa caused a stir.

    Benedict did not mention condoms in speeches welcoming Namibia’s and South Africa’s new ambassadors to the Vatican, but reiterated the Catholic Church’s position on the disease, which is pandemic in Africa.

    “Only a strategy based on education to individual responsibility in the framework of a moral view of human sexuality, especially through conjugal fidelity, can have a real impact on the prevention of this disease,” the Pope said.

    Addressing the South African ambassador, Benedict said the Church would continue to campaign against the spread of AIDS “by emphasizing fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside of it.”

    Benedict drew unprecedented criticism from European governments, international organizations and scientists in March when he said that distributing condoms was not the answer to Africa’s AIDS problem and could make it worse. He said a moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease.

    Though the position was not new, the questioning of the usefulness of condoms and the fact that the Pope made the comments on the plane carrying him to AIDS-plagued Africa sparked a storm of criticism.

    France, Germany, the United Nations’ AIDS-fighting agency and the British medical journal The Lancet called the remarks irresponsible and dangerous. [With Lancet shamelessly contradicting what it puclished in a report the year before!]

    The Vatican countered that critics were trying to intimidate Benedict and dissuade him from expressing himself on moral issues.


    But saving the best for last....


    The new envoy from Burkina Faso
    thanks the Pope for
    his courageous words on condoms

    Translated from

    May 29, 2009


    Burkina Faso is the former French colony once known as Upper Volta (current population 14 million) in west central Africa, which is surrounded by six countries (Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast).


    The African state of Burkina Faso stands by the Pope for his statements about fighting AIDS last March which drew severe ccriticisms from some European politicians and Parliaments.

    "Some have criticzed the positions of the Church on fighting AIDS, pretending to defend the Africans", said its new ambassador to the Vatican today, addressing Pope Benedict XVI after presenting his credentials, "but Burkino Faso pays homage to the Pope for his teaching on how to fight the AIDS pandemic".

    "In our country," said Ambassador Beyon Luc Adolphe Tiao, "the imam, the priest and the tribal chief work together with the common objective of fighting the same evil - and they know that to focus only on the use of condums does not indicate a serious attention to the problem."

    Tiao said he had experienced in person, during the Pope's visit to Africa, "how religious intolerance can have devastating effects".

    "The international scene has been dominated for some time," he told the Pope, "by interpretations which we may call 'improper', against some of your decisions and statements. The polarization and undue attention on condom use have obscured the essence of your thinking on that terrible pandemic that is AIDS".

    "I am happy to assure you," the ambassador told the Pope, "that in Africa, where this affliction has struck the worst, the essence of your thinking is well understood by millions of faithful and even by political authorities."

    "Beyond any controversies," he said, "we render homage to the courage with which you address each man and woman intimately about an evil whose eradication calls first of all for a responsible and moral concept of sexuality."

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2009 8:37 AM]
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    THE HOLY FATHER'S OMNIBUS ADDRESS
    TO EIGHT NEW AMBASSADORS




    Here is a translation of the speech addressed by the Holy Father to eight new ambassadors who presented their credentials earlier today, Friday (5/29/09). It was delivered in French. In addition, the Holy Father had individual statements for each of the new envoys.


    Excellencies:

    This morning, I welcome you with joy at the presentation of the letters accrediting you as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary of your countries to the Holy See: Mongolia, India, the Republic of Benin, New Zealand, the South African Republic, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Norway.

    I thank you for conveying to me the kind words of your respective heads of state. Please extend to them in return my cordial greeting and my deferential wishes for their them and their elevated mission in the service of their respective countries and peoples.

    Allow me to greet through you all the civilian and religious authorities in your countries, and all your compatriots. My prayers and thoughts go out particularly to the Catholic communities in your countries. Please be assured that they wish to collaborate fraternally in nation building, contributing as best as they can according to the Gospel.

    Madame and Messieurs Ambassadors, a commitment in the service of peace and making more firm the fraternal relationship among nations are at the heart of your mission as diplomats.

    Today, in the social and economic crisis the world is experiencing, it is urgent to have renewed awareness that a battle must be fought, effectively, to establish authentic peace in order to build a world that is more just and more prosperous for everyone.

    Indeed, the often strident injustices among nations or in their very midst, as well as all the processes that contribute to incite divisions among peoples or to marginalize them, are dangerous threats to peace and create serious risks for conflict.

    We are all called on to bring our own contribution to the common good and to peace, each according to his own responsibilities.

    As I wrote in the Message for the World Day of Peace last January 1, "One of the most important ways of building peace is through a form of globalization directed towards the interests of the whole human family. In order to govern globalization, however, there needs to be a strong sense of global solidarity between rich and poor countries, as well as within individual countries, including affluent ones" (No. 8).

    Peace cannot be built unless one seeks courageously to eliminate the disparities engendered by unjust systems in order to assure everyone a level of living that allows a worthy and prosperous existence.

    These disparities have become even more marked because of the present financial and economic crisis which is spreading through different channels in the low-income countries.

    I will limit myself to mentioning a few: the refluz of foreign investments, the collapse in the demand for raw materials, and the tendency towards a reduction in international aid.

    To these, one must add the slowdown and decrease in the funds sent home by immigrants to the families they left behind,as they become victims themselves of the recession in the countries which have welcomed them.

    This crisis can become a human catastrophe for the residents of many weak and poor nations. Those who already live in extreme poverty are the first to be affected since they are the most vulnerable. But the crisis can also tip into poverty those who have so far had a decent if not comfortable life. So poverty grows, with serious and sometimes irreversible consequences.

    Thus, the recession engendered by the economic crisis can threaten the very existence of numberless individuals. The children are the first victims, innocent ones, who must be protected as a priority.

    The economic crisis also has another effect: The despair which it provokes leads some persons to an anguished search for a solution that will allow them their day-to-day survival. And this search is sometimes accompanied, alas, by individual or collective acts of violence which can lead to internal conflicts that risk further destabilizing weakened societies.

    In order to meet the current situation of crisis and find a solution, some nations have decided not to decrease their aid to the most threatened countries, proposing instead to increase this aid. Their example must be followed by other developed nations in order to allow the needy nations to support their economie and to consolidate social measures that can protect their neediest populations.

    I appeal for more fraternity and solidarity and for a global generosity that is truly made concrete. Such sharing calls on the developed nations to recover a sense of proportion and moderation in their economy and lifestyle.

    Madame and Messieurs Ambassadors, you are aware that new forms of violence have been manifested these last several years and that, unfortunately they call on the name of God to justify their dangerous practices. Knowing man's weakness, did not God say on Sinai: "You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain" (Ex 20,7)?

    Such disorders have led some to consider religions a threat to societies. Therefore, they are attacked and discredited, on the grounds that they are not conducive to peace.

    Religious authorities have the duty to guide believers and enlighten them so that they may progress in holiness and interpret divine words truthfully. Therefore, we must facilitate the emergence of a world where religions and societies can open up to each other, thanks to the openness which they practice within their own religion and with each other.

    That would mean giving an authentic testimony of living. That would mean creating a space that renders dialog positive and necessary.

    In bringing its contribution to such a world, the Catholic Church wishes to bear witness to a positive vision of mankind's future. I am convinced of "the irreplaceable function of religion in the formation of consciences and of the contribution that it can bring, in other circumstances, to the creation of a fundamental ethical consensus in society" (Address at the Elysee Palace, Paris, September 12, 2008).

    Your mission to the Holy See, Madame and Messieurs Ambassadors, has just begun. You will find among my co-workers the necessary support for you to accomplish it well. I reiterate my most heartfelt wishes for the success of your delicate task.

    May the Almighty support and accompany you - yourselves, those near and dear to you, your co-workers and all your compatriots! May God fill you with the abundance of his blessings!



    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2009 1:48 AM]
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    A standard mention earlier this week in the Vatican's daily RINUNCE E NOMINE (Resignations and Nominations) within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church attracted little attention, except among those who knew what was behind the Holy Father's acceptance of one African bishop's resignation. The story behind it is actually indicative of a not insignificant cultural problem for the Church in Africa.


    Papa Ratzinger's iron fist
    on the double life
    of some African bishops

    by Andrea Bevilacqua
    Translated from

    May 28, 2009


    It's an atavistic problem among some Catholic bishops (not many but nonetheless there) in various parts of the world who have mistresses
    and/or 'secret' families.

    It is a problem that Benedict XVI has decided to resolve with firmness, asking for the resignation of those who find themselves in such an illicit situation, while at the same time taking steps to make the guilty ones 'hibernate'.

    The last news in this regard comes from Africa. The Pope has, in fact, accepted the resignation of Archbishop Paulin Pomodino of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Pomodino, 54, who enjoyed the support of the local clergy, was named a bishop in 2004 by John Paul II.

    This followed an investigation which concluded that the archbishop "had adopted a moral attitude that was not always in conformity with his commitment to follow Christ in poverty, chastity and obedience".

    The inquiry, conducted by Archbishop Robert Sarah of Guinea, and secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, concluded not only the bishop but also many local priests in the CAR had wives and children.

    In a letter to the clergy of the CAR, Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation, said "Many bad things have been done against the Body of Christ because of scandalous and decadent behavior".

    He continues: "it makes no sense to deny what everyone knows. And there is no need to judge the motives and circumstances for the wrongs that been committed. Members of teh national clergy, secular and religious, you have been in one way or another complicit in the current situation, and each of you must assume the fault in proportion to your personal responsibility."

    According to sources from the Holy See, the problem of priests violating their vow of celibacy is most common in Africa, where many priests take on 'wives' and have children. The worst fact is that such priests are in fact convinced that this is not 'such a grave offense'.

    The Church in Africa is in need of more stringent formation in the seminaries where, it appears, the significance of celibacy in priesthood is little or badly explained. [I am surprised the writer does not mention the fact that the problem also has to do with indigenous African culture, in which men are expected to have children, and in which, obviously, the Catholic idea of priestly celibacy is not understood.]

    Before Pomodino, the most famous case of 'inappropriate behavior' by a Catholic bishop was that of President Fernando Lugo, whose resignation as bishop was accepted by special dispensation of Benedict XVI last year after Lugo won the presidential elections in Paraguay. He had asked to resign before campaigning for President because of the Catholic prohibition of bishops and priests from engaging in civilian politics.

    However, last April, his 'double life' came to light, when he accepted paternity of a two-year-old son. Subsequently, two other women have come out claiming to also have had a child with him.


    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2009 10:18 AM]
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    May 30

    St. Gregory VII (1029-1085)
    Reforming Pope




    OR today.

    Benedict XVI's appeal to eight new ambassadors to the Holy See:
    'Global solidarity to avoid a crisis from becoming a catastrophe'
    The only other Page 1 news: After a meeting with Palestinian President, Obama calls on Israel
    to stop new settlements on the West Bank.




    THE POPE'S DAY

    The Holy Father met today with
    - H.e. Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, his wife and delegation
    - Children of the Opera per L'Infanza Missionaria (Children's Missionary Work). Brief Q&A in Italian.
    - Cardinal giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (weekly meeting).

    At 9 p.m., the Holy Father will join the concluding prayers for the Marian month fo May
    at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens.


    REMINDER



    May 31, Pentecost Sunday
    HOLY MASS
    Presided by the Holy Father
    9:30, St. Peter's Basiliza






    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2009 6:15 PM]