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    00 5/30/2009 3:57 PM

    May 30

    St. Gregory VII (1029-1085), Reforming Pope
    St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), Martyr

    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 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.


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

    Joseph Haydn's Missa Solemnis ('Harmoniemesse') will be performed by
    the Cologne Chamber Orchestra and Choir to mark the comoposer's
    200th death anniversary.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2009 9:14 PM]
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    00 5/30/2009 6:03 PM

    ON SEPT. 26-28

    The Vatican Press announced today that the Holy Father will be visiting the Czech Republic (Prague, Brno and Stara Bleslav) on Sept. 26-28, pre-announced earlier this month by the Czech bishops conference (CBK).

    The Pope formally accepted the invitation of the Czech President and the CBK during an audience at the Vatican today with President Vaclav Klaus, his wife and delegation.

    Initial postings on the Czech visit were done on Page 1 of this thread last May 1.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/31/2009 2:49 AM]
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    00 5/30/2009 6:20 PM


    Translated from

    May 30, 2009

    At noon today, the Holy Father held a special audience for 7,000 children belonging to the Pontificia Opera per L'Infanzia Missionaria (POIM, Pontifical Work for Childhood Mission) at the Aula Paolo VI.

    After a greeting from Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Holy Father responded to three questions from the children.

    Here is a translation of the Q&A:

    My name is Anna Filippone, I am 12 and a ministrant from Calabria, diocese of Oppido Mamertina-Palmi. Papa Benedetto, my friend Giovanni has an Italian grandfather and an Ecuadorian grandmother and is very happy. Do you think that the different cultures can live together one day without fighting in the name of Jesus?

    I think you want to know what we ourselves, as children, did in order to live together, to help each other. I must say that I lived the years of my elementary schooling in a small town of 400 residents, quite far from the great centers.

    Therefore we were a bit naive. And in this town, there were, on the one hand, very rich farmers and some who were not as rich but well-off, and on the other hand, poor employees and artisans.

    Our family arrived here from another town, so we were somewhat strangers to them, and even their dialect was different. In our school, then, many different social aspects were reflected.

    A class picture with the 10-yer-old Joseph Ratzinger.

    Nonetheless, there was a beautiful communion among us. The other children taught me their dialect which I did not know then. We worked together well, and I must say, of course, sometimes, we quarrelled, but afterwards, we made up and forgot what had happened.

    I think this is important. Sometimes in human life, it seems inevitable to quarrel, But what remains important is to know how to reconcile with each other, to forgive, to start over and not to leave any bitterness in one's heart.

    I recall thankfully how we all worked together - we helped each other and stayed together along the way. We were all Catholics, and this, naturally, was a great help. So we learned together from the Bible, starting with the creation up to the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and the beginnings of the Church.

    We learned catechism together, we learned to pray together, we prepared together for our first confession and our first Communion - that was a splendid day! We understood that Jesus himself comes to us, that he is not a distant God: he enters my own life, into my own soul.

    And if the same Jesus comes into each of us, we are brothers, sisters, friends - and we should therefore behave as such.

    The future Pope at his First Communion.
    [My, what elfin ears! This is the first time I've tried to crop and enlarge this image!]

    For us that preparation - for the first confession as a purification of our conscience, of our life, and then for first Communion as a concrete encounter with Jesus who comes to me, who comes to us all - was a factor that contributed to form our community.

    It helped us to walk together, to learn together and to reconcile with each other when necessary. And we worked together, for instance, to put on small presentations: it is important to be able to work together and look after each other.

    In those days, there were no altar girls yet, even if the girls read better than we did. So they read the lectures in the liturgy while we became altar boys.

    In those days, there was quite a lot of Latin texts to learn, so each of us had quite a bit to do. But as I said, we were not saints - we had our share of quarreling - but nonetheless, it was a beautiful communion with each other, in which the differences between rich and poor, intelligent and less intelligent, counted for nothing.

    It was a communion with Jesus along the path of a common faith and common responsibility, whether at play or doing our common work in school.

    We found the capacity to live together and be friends, and although by 1937, more than 70 years ago, I no longer lived there, we have remained friends.

    What we learned was to accept each other, bear each other's burdens. I think this is important: despite our weaknesses, to accept each other, and with Jesus Christ, in the Church, we can find together the path of peace and we learn to live as good persons.

    My name is Letizia and I wanted to ask you: Dear Pope Benedict XVI, what did the saying, "Children help each other' mean for you as a child? And did you ever think of becoming Pope?

    To tell you the truth, I would never have thought of 0becoming Pope because, as I said earlier, I was a rather naive boy in a small town, in a forgotten province. We were happy to be there and we did not think of other things.

    Of course, we knew, venerated and loved the Pope - it was Pius XI then - but for us, he was at an unreachable height, almost in another world - a father to us, but nonetheless, someone much more superior to us.

    And I must say that even today, I find it difficult to understand how the Lord could have thought of me and destine me for this ministry. But I accept it from his hands, even if it is a surprising thing that seems very much beyond my powers. But the Lord helps me.

    Dear Papa Benedetto, I am Alessandro. I wanted to ask you - you are the first missionary. How can we children help you to announce the Gospel?

    I would say this: in the first place, to be part of the Pontifical Children's Missionary Work. Thus you are part of a great family which is promoting the Gospel around the world. Thus you belong to a large network, in which we can see how different peoples are reflected in this great family.

    You are in this great family - where everyone does his own part, and together, you are missionaries, you are bearers of the Church's missionary work.

    And you have a beautiful program as your spokesman described it: to listen, to pray, to know, to share, and to bond together. These are the essential elements for being a missionary, to promote the growth of the Church and the presence of the Gospel in the world.

    I would like to emphasize some of these points: First of all, prayer.

    Prayer is a reality: God listens to us, and when we pray, God enters our life, he becomes present among us, present and 'at work'.

    Praying is something very important that can change the world because it makes the power of God present. And it is important that we help each other when praying: we pray together in the liturgy, we pray together in the family.

    And I would say it is important to start the day with a little prayer and finish the day with another little prayer - and remember your parents in prayer.

    Pray before lunch, pray before supper, and in the communal celebration of Sunday Mass. A Sunday without goint o Mass - the great communal prayer of the Church - is not a true Sunday: it lacks the very heart of Sunday and thus, the light for the whole week.

    And you can help others - particularly those who perhaps do not pray at home, or do not know how to pray - teach others to pray: Pray with them and thus, introduce others to communion with God.

    Then, listen. And that means to truly learn what Jesus is telling us. And to get to know Sacred Scripture, the Bible. In the story of Jesus, as the cardinal said, we get to know the face of God, we learn how God is. It is important to know Jesus deeply, personally, so that he enters into our life, he enters the world.

    Also, sharing. Not to want things for oneself alone but for everyone. Share with others. If we see someone who perhaps is in need, less blessed with gifts, we should help and thus make God's love present, even without words, in our own small world which is part of the great world.

    So we become a family together, where we respect each other, support others in their otherness, accept even those whom we dislike, not allow anyone to be left aside but help them to become part of the community.

    All this simply means to live in the great family of the Church, this great missionary family. To live together the essential points - like sharing, knowing Jesus, prayer, listening to each other, and brotherliness - is missionary work because it helps to make the Gospel become real in our world.

    Too bad the Vatican press bulletin does not explain what POIM is all about. The audience with the Pope today was the centerpiece of a full day's program billed as 'CHILDREN MISSIONARIES LIKE PAUL' for 7000 childen enrolled in POIM from all over Italy and Europe, which culminates in an afternoon pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls, with Mass to be celebrated by Cardinal Dias.

    POIM, set up independently in June 1843 to promote missionary consciousness among children, is under the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and is now found in 150 countries around the world. In Italy, it is found in every diocese, and counts today with some 6,000 members nationwide among children aged 8 to 14.

    The Italian POIM has a very active site
    and carries links to major POIM sites around the world on

    It currently has about 20 million children participating or benefiting from its worldwide activities of Christian formation.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/31/2009 5:54 AM]
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    00 5/30/2009 11:41 PM

    Program for Pope's June 21 trip
    to Padre Pio's tomb

    Translated from
    the official Padre Pio portal

    The program for Pope Benedict XVI's pastoral visit to San Giovanni Rotondo on June 21 has been finalized after a site visit on May 23 by a delegation from teh Prefecture of the Pontifical Household headed by Archbishop James Harvey, prefect, and by a Vatican security team headed by Inspector-General Domenico Viani.

    The organizing committee for the visit was formally named, headed by Mons. Domenico Umberto D’Ambrosio, Archbishop-nominee for Lecce and current apostolic administrator of the diocese of Manfredonia–Vieste- San Giovanni Rotondo.

    The Holy Father will leave the Vatican by helicopter at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 21, and arrive at the Antonio Massa sport field at 9:15. He will be welcomed by Archbishop D'Ambrosio, a representative of the Italian government; Antonio Zanardo Landi, Italian Ambassador to teh Holy See; Mons Giuseppe Bertello, Apostolic Nuncio in Italy; Nichi Vendola, president of teh Puglia region; Antonio Nunziante, prefect of Foggia province; Antonio Pepe, President of the province; and Mayor Giuliani of San Giovanni Rotondo.

    The Pope will travel by Popemobile to the Shrine of Padre Pio, passing through the main streets of the city. He will be formally welcomed in front of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (where Padre Pio was buried and has been on public exposition since April last year), by Mayor Giuliani, and then inside, by Fr. Mauro Jöhri, minister-general of the Capuchins who are in charge of the shrine, and other Capuchin monks.

    After a brief adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, he will visit Cell No. 1 of the adjoining convent, the room where Padre Pio died in 1948, and will then descend to the crypt to pray before the remains of the saint. he will light two lamps at the foot of the saint's urn, to symbolize the apostolic visits made by John Paul II and by himself.

    The Pope will then proceed to the sacristy to vest for Holy Mass, and will take the Popemobile to proceed to the plaza in front of the San Pio de Pietrelcina Church. Mass will begin at 10:15 and will be followed by the recitation of the Angelus.

    In the afternoon, at 2:45, the Holy Father will visit the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House of Relief from Suffering), the ultra-modern hospital that Padre Pio built up from humble beginnings. Here, he will meet the officials, personnel and ambulant patients of the hospital, whom he will address.

    At 17:30, he will take the Popemobile back to the Church of St. Pio to meet with the priests, religious and youth of the diocese for the last event of the day.

    Taking the same route through the city, he will return by Popemobile to the Antonio Massa sport field to take the helicopter back to Rome. Take-off is expected at 18:15, arriving at the Vatican by 17:30.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/31/2009 7:11 AM]
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    00 5/31/2009 2:07 AM

    Speculation on coming
    curial nominations:
    African bishop to head
    'Justice and Peace' council

    by Andrea Tornielli
    Translated from

    May 30, 2009

    [5/31/09 NB: I posted this article yesterday translated from an item released by the Italian ADNkronos as its own news item, without any attribution to Tornielli - but without a byline either - although it turns out ADNkronos lifted Tornielli's entire article word for word, without even bothering to rewrite it in any way! I came to learn of this unforgivable journalistic dishonesty through Lella's blog today, and I apologize for having been party to it unknowingly, even if only overnight.

    I should have trusted my instinct - I had wanted to comment that it was strange the article was not bylined, although it read like the sort of article that only Andrea Tornielli and Paolo Rodari have been able to write based on solid advance information that the two of them somehow manage to get.

    An African will replace Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

    Barring any last-minute surprise, which is unlikely, Pope Benedict XVI will name Mons. Robert Sarah, emeritus Archbishop of Conakry (Guinea) to head the dicastery. Sarah, soon to turn 64, is currently the Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and came to the Roman Curia in 2001.

    Mons. Sarah (circled) onstage at the Pope's special audience for missionary children this morning; right, greeting the Pope.

    The announcement is expected shortly after the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, with the expected publication of the Pope's third encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in truth). Sources say the encyclical will bear the date June 29 and will be presented by Cardinal Martino, since the subject matter concerns hid dicastery principally.

    Martino presented his resignation last January upon reaching canonical retirement age of 75, but his actual departure was put off in view of the delay in the publication of the encyclical.

    With Mons. Sarah heading Justice and Peace, Pope Benedict will once again have an African Curial head, after the retirement last year of Cardinal Francis Arinze as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

    The second expected nomination is of Archbishop Francisco Monterisi, who turned 75 this week, currently secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, to be named the new Arch-Priest of the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls, at the conclusion of the Pauline Year on June 29. He would succeed Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, who has turned 80.

    Expected to replace Monterisi as number-2 man at the Congregation for Bishops (headed by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re), is the current Apostolic Nuncio in Madrid, Portuguese Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, 71, although apparently, no final decision has yet been made on this.

    Cardinal RE himself is due for replacement, having reached the canonical retirement age last January. Because the new number-2 man at the Congregation for Bishops would be non-Italian, it is speculated that Re's replacement will also be Italian.

    Also due for replacement is US Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary. It is said the post has been offered to the current Apostolic Nuncio in Paris, Fortunato Baldelli, 73.

    Second-tier changes at the Secretariat of State are also imminent.

    Archbishop Paolo Sardi, who has been the longtime coordinator of speechwriters and translators of papal texts, will turn 75 in September and will reportedly be named to the new cardinal patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

    Mons. Pietro Parolin, undersecretary for foreign relations (#2 man to Archbishop Dominique Mamberti) and Mons. Gabriele Caccia, counsellor responsible among other things for acknowledging letters, messages and gifts sent to the Pope, have been rumored for months to get foreign assignments as Apostolic Nuncio.

    But their departure has reportedly been hindered so far by the Deputy Secretary of State, Mons. Fernando Filoni, whose influence over the entire Roman Curia is reportedly growing and consolidating.

    It appears that four months since the Williamson case, there continue to be serious administrative problems in the Roman Curia.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/1/2009 12:00 AM]
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    00 5/31/2009 3:45 AM


    A candlelight procession through the Vatican Gardens to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes marked the formal end of the month of Mary tonight, May 30. Pope Benedict XVI joined the gathering afterwards and delivered brief remarks.

    The celebration took place today because this year, the Feast of the Visitation on May 31, which traditionally ends the Marian month, coincides with Pentecost Sunday, which takes liturgical precedence.

    Fireworks brightened the night sky over St. Peter's to mark the celebration.


    Venerated Brothers,
    Dear brothers and sisters:

    I greet you all with affection at the end of the traditional Marian vigil which concludes the month of May at the Vatican.

    This year it has a very special value because it falls on the vigil of Pentecost. Gathering together spiritually around the Virgin Mary and contemplating the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, you have relived the experience of the first disciples reunited at the Cenacle with 'the mother of Jesus' - "devoted with one accord to prayer" to await the arrival of the Holy Spirit (cfr Acts 1,14).

    We too, on this next-to-last day of May, from this Vatican hill, we invoke an effusion of the Spirit Paraclete on ourselves, on the Church which is in Rome, and on the entire Christian people.

    The great feast of Pentecost invites us to meditate on the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Mary, a very close, privileged and indissoluble relationship.

    The Virgin of Nazareth was pre-chosen to become the Mother of the Redeemer by the action of the Holy Spirit: in her humility, she had found favor even in the eyes of the Lord (cfr Lk 1,30).

    Indeed, in the New Testament, we see that Mary's faith 'attracts', so to speak, the gift of the Holy Spirit. First of all, in the conception of the Son of God, a mystery which the Archangel Gabriel explained this way: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Lk 1,35).

    Shortly thereafter, Mary went to help Elizabeth, and as she reached her and greeted her, the Holy Spirit made the baby leap for joy in the womb of her aged relative (cfr Lk 1,44).

    The entire dialog between the two women is inspired by the Spirit of God, above all the canticle of praise with which Mary expresses her deepest sentiments, the Magnificat.

    The entire story of the birth of Jesus and his early childhood is guided in almost palpable manner by the Holy Spirit, even if he is not always named. The heart of Mary, in perfect consonance with her divine Son, is the temple of the Spirit of truth, where every word and every event was kept in faith, in hope and in charity (cfr Lk 2,19.51).

    We can thus be certain that the most sacred heart of Jesus, during his entire 'hidden' life in Nazareth always found in the immaculate heart of his Mother a 'hearth' that was always lit in prayer and in constant attentiveness to the voice of the Spirit.

    Testimony to this singular syntony between Mother and Son in seeking the will of God was what happened at the wedding in Cana. In a situation laden with symbols of alliance, as the nuptial banquet is, the Virgin Mary intercedes and provokes, so to speak, a sign of over-abundant grace: the 'good wine' which refers forward to the mystery of the Blood of Christ.

    This leads us directly to Calvary where Mary stands at the foot of the Cross with other women and the apostle John. The Mother and the disciple spiritually receive the testament of Jesus: his last words and his last breath, when he started to 'hand over the spirit'.

    And they also received the silent cry of his Blood, completely shed for us (cfr Jn 19,25-34). Mary knew where that blood came from: it was generated in her by the action of the Holy Spirit, and she knew that the same creative 'power' would resurrect Jesus, as he had promised.

    Thus, the faith of Mary sustained that of the disciples until their meeting with the risen Lord, and continued to accompany them even after his Ascension to heaven, as they awaited their 'baptism in the Holy Spirit'.

    At Pentecost, the Virgin Mary appears once again as the Spouse of the Spirit, through her universal motherhood of all those who are generated by God through faith in Christ.

    That is why Mary is for all generations the image and model of the Church, which together with the Spirit, walks through time, invoking the glorious return of Christ: "Come, Lord Jesus" (cfr Ap 22,17.20).

    Dear friends, in the school of Mary, let us learn ourselves to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life, to listen to his breath and to follow him obediently. He can make us grow in the fullness of Christ, with those good fruits that the Apostle Paul lists in his letter to the Galatians: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5,22).

    I wish you to be filled with these gifts and to always walk with Mary according to the Spirit, and as I express my appreciation to you for participating in this evening celebration, I impart, with all my heart, on you and all those dear to you the Apostolic Blessing.

    What a beautiful reflection! More than any spiritual writer I have read (not that I have read very many), Benedict XVI makes the Holy Spirit almost palpably concrete as the Third Person of the Trinity - a 'whole person' not just a 'spirit' (and certainly not a bird). As a lifelong and fully instinctive devotee of the Holy Spirit, I am most thankful.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/31/2009 11:06 PM]
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    00 5/31/2009 2:41 PM

    May 31

    Pentecost Sunday; and
    Feast of Mary's Visitation to Elizabeth

    OR today.

    In an encounter with children of the Pontifical Work for Missionary Children,
    Benedict XVI recounts his childhood:
    'A naive boy who never thought to become Pope'

    Other Page 1 stories: The Pope's meeting with the President of the Czech Republic; an essay on Pentecost in the Byzantine tradition ('the Spirit that made theologians out of fishermen'); and the US warns North Korea about its persistence in nuclear arms testing, as China asks Pyongyang to start denuclearization!

    Pentecost Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, followed by the Regina caeli.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/31/2009 8:59 PM]
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    00 5/31/2009 3:32 PM


    'The Spirit is fire of love'

    Vatican City, May 31 (AsiaNews) – In a St Peter’s Basilica draped in red – flowers, vestments, altar – Benedict XVI celebrated Mass for the feast of Pentecost, which commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the apostles and Mary gathered in the Upper Room.

    Lending greater solemnity to proceedings was the presence of the choir from Cologne Cathedral and the city’s Kammerorchester, whose 200 members, together with the Sistine Chapel choir, performed the 'Harmoniemesse', one of Joseph Haydn’s last masses, marking two hundred years since the composer’s death.*

    In thanking them, the Pope described the work as “a sublime symphony of God’s glory”.

    Of all liturgical feasts, said the Pope, Pentecost “distinguishes itself for its importance, because it represents the realisation of what Christ had announced as the aim of his earthly mission: 'I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Lk 12,49).

    “The true fire – the Holy Spirit-," he said, "was brought to earth by Christ. He did not steal it from the gods, as Prometheus did in the Greek myth, but he made himself the mediator of God’s gift by carrying out the greatest act of love in history: his death on the cross”.

    The Pope stressed that today “the normal path” to take in order to encounter the Holy Spirit and receive this “fire” is the Church. In order to receive it, so that the Church is “an extension of Christ’s renewing work”, Christians, like the disciples, must be “perseverant and in agreement in prayer”.

    The Church, he said, “needs to be less ‘anxious’ for action and more dedicated to prayer”.

    [The rest of the account quotes freely from the Holy Father's homily, which is translated in full below.]

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


    Dear brothers and sisters!

    Everytime we celebrate the Eucharist, we live in faith the mystery which is fulfilled on the altar - we participate therefore in the supreme act of love which Christ realized with his death and resurrection.

    The one and the same center of liturgy and Christian life - the Paschal mystery - assumes, in various solemnities and feasts, specific 'forms' with additional significance and with specific gifts of grace.

    Among all the solemnities, Pentecost is distinctive in importance, because it it is realized what Jesus himself had announced as the purpose of his entire mission on earth.

    Indeed, as he went up to Jerusalem, he told his disciples: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" (Lk 12, 49)

    These words find their most evident realization 50 days after the Resurrection, in Pentecost, an ancient Jewish feast which in the Church has become the feast par excellence of the Holy Spirit: "Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire... And they were all filled with the holy Spirit" (Acts 2,3-4).

    The true fire, the Holy Spirit, was brought to earth by Christ. He did not steal this from the gods, as Prometheus did in the Greek myth, but made himself the mediator of the 'gift of God', obtaining it for us with the greatest act of love in history: his death on the Cross.

    May God continue to give this 'fire' to every human generation, which is, of course, free to do with it how and as it pleases. He is spirit, and the spirit 'blows where it wills' (cfr Jn 3,8).

    There is however a 'normal way' that God himself chose to 'cast fire down on earth'. This way is Jesus, his only-begotten Son who was incarnated, died and resurrected.

    In turn, Jesus Christ constituted the Church as his mystical Body to prolong his mission in history. "Receive the Holy Spirit", the Lord said to the Apostles on the evening of the Resurrection, accompanying these words with an expressive gesture: he 'breathed' on them (cfr Jn 20,22). He thus manifested that he was transmitting to them his Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

    Now, brothers and sisters, in today's solemnity, Scripture tells us once more how the community should be, how we must be in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the account which describes the events of Pentecost, the sacred author recalls that the disciples "found themselves all together in the same place'.

    Thus place is the Cenacle, the 'Upper Room' where Jesus had the Last Supper with his Apostles, where he appeared to them resurrected - that room which became, so to speak, the seat of the nascent Church (cfr Acts 1,13).

    The Acts of the Apostles nonetheless, more than insisting on the physical setting, means to point out the interior attitude of the disciples: "All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer" (Acts 1,14).

    Therefore, concord among the apostles was the condition so that the Holy Spirit could come - and the prerequisite to concord is prayer.

    This, brothers and sisters, is valid even for the Church today, it applies to us who are gathered here. If we want Pentecost not to be reduced to a simple rite or even to an evocative commemoration, but to be an actual event of salvation, we must predispose ourselves in religious expectation of the gift of God, through humble and silent listening to his Word.

    In order that Pentecost may be renewed in our time, it is perhaps necessary - without taking away anything from the freedom of God - that the Church be less 'concerned' with activity and more dedicated to prayer. We are taught this by the Mother of the Church, the Most Blessed Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

    This year, Pentecost takes place on the last day of May, when we usually celebrate the feast of the Visitation. Even that event was a kind of little 'Pentecost' which caused joy and praise to gush forth from the hearts of Elizabeth and Mary - one barren, the other virgin - both having become mothers through extraordinary divine intervention.(cfr Lk 1,41-45).

    The music and singing which accompany our liturgy today also help us towards that concord in prayer, and for this, I express my sincere gratitude to the Cathedral Choir and the Chamber Orchestra of Cologne.

    For this liturgy, on the bicentennial of the death of Joseph Haydn, his 'Harmoniemesse' was indeed well chosen - the last of the Masses composed by that great musician, a sublime symphony to the glory of God. To all of you who came for this event, I extend my most sincere greeting.

    To refer to the Holy Spirit, in the account of Pentecost, the Acts of the Apostles uses two great images: the image of tempest and that of fire.

    Clearly, St. Luke has in mind the theophany of Sinai, recounted in the Books of Exodus (13,16-19) and Deuteronomy (4,10-12.36). In the ancient world, the tempest was seen as a sign of divine power, before which man felt himself subjugated and terrified.

    But I wish to underscore another aspect: the tempest is described [in the Acts] as an 'impetuous wind', which makes us think of the air, which distinguishes our planet from other stars and allows us to live on it.

    That which the air is for biological life, the Holy Spirit is for spiritual life. And just as there is atmospheric pollution which poisons the environment and living beings, so also, there exists a pollution of the heart and the spirit, which mortifies and poisons spiritual existence.

    In the same way that we should not resign ourselves to the poisons in the air - which is why ecological commitment represents a priority today - we should deal likewise with anything which corrupts the spirit.

    It seems, however, that to so many products circulating in our society that pollute the heart and mind - for instance, images that make a great spectacle of pleasure, violence or contempt for man and woman - it seems rather that we are getting accustomed to them without difficulty.

    This, too, is freedom, it is said - without recognizing that all this pollutes and poisons the spirit, especially of the new generations, and ends up setting conditions on freedom itself.

    The metaphor of the impetuous wind of Pentecost makes us think instead of how precious it is to breath clean air - physical air with the lungs, and spiritual air with the heart, the salutary air of the spirit which is love.

    The other image of the Holy Spirit that we find in the Acts of the Apostles is fire. I referred initially to the comparison between Jesus and the mythological figure of Prometheus which recalls a characteristic aspect of modern man.

    Having come into possession of the energies of the cosmos - 'fire' - the human being seems to assert himself today as God, wanting to transform the world, while excluding, setting aside, or outright rejecting the Creator of the universe.

    Man no longer wants to be the image of God, but of his own self - he declares himself to be autonomous, free, adult. Obviously, such an attitude reveals a relationship with God that is not authentic, a consequence of the false image that has been constructed of God, in the manner of the prodigal son in the Gospel parable, who thought he would realize himself by distancing himself from his father's house.

    In the hands of such a man, 'fire' and its enormous potential become dangerous - they can turn against life and humanity itself, as history has shown us, unfortunately. The tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain a perennial warning, in which atomic energy, used for bellicose purposes, ended up sowing death in unprecedented proportions.

    In fact, many examples can be found, less grave but equally symptomatic, in our everyday reality. Sacred Scripture tells us that the energy capable of moving the world is not an anonymous and blind force, but the action of the spirit of God, "(a mighty wind) which swept over the waters" (Gn 1,2) at the beginning of Creation.

    Jesus Christ brought to earth not that vital force, which already dwelt therein, but the Holy Spirit, that is, the love of God which 'renews the face of the earth', purifying it of evil and freeing it from the dominion of death (cfr Ps 103/104-29-30).

    This very 'fire', essential and personal, the fire of love, descended on the Apostles, gathered in prayer with Mary in the Cenacle, to make the Church the prolongation of Christ's renovative work.

    Finally, a last thought can be drawn from the account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles: the Holy Spirit conquers fear. We know how the apostles sought refuge in the Cenacle after the arrest of their Master and how they remained segregated for fear of inviting the same fate.

    After the resurrection of Jesus, this fear did not suddenly disappear. But lo!, at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit settled on them, those men went forth without fear and started to announce to all the good news of the crucified and resurrected Christ.

    They had no fear because they felt themselves in more powerful hands. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, the Spirit of God, wherever it enters, chases away fear. It makes us know and feel that we are in the hands of an Omnipotence of love: whatever happens, his infinite love will not abandon us.

    It is demonstrated by the witness of the martyrs, the courage of the confessors of the faith, the intrepid initiative of missionaries, the frankness of preachers, the example of all the saints, among whom are adolescents and children.

    It is demonstrated by the existence of the Church herself, which, despite the limitations and sins of her people, continues to traverse the ocean of history, sustained by the breath of God and animated by his purifying fire.

    With this faith and this joyous hope, let us repeat today, through the intercession of Mary: "Send forth they spirit, Lord, to renew the earth"!

    NB: Illustrations are taken from the Mass libretto. The images in the top panel introduce the Mass Opening and the Liturgy of the Word, respectively; those in this bottom panel introduce the Eucharistic Lutrgy and Communion, respectively. They are all drawn from a 9th century 'Bible of St. Paul' belonging to the Benedictine Abbey at St. Paul outside the Walls.

    Wow! Another magnificent homily after that succession of beautiful discourses in Montecassino last Sunday. The subsequent Regina caeli mini-homily today was a most fitting companion piece. Not to mention the gem of a 'prequel' yesterday at the Marian vigil!

    And for the fifth time in as many occasions, after Montecassino (where 'Ora et labora' is , after all, integral to monastic life), an insistent emphasis on the primacy of prayer, which he stressed even in one of his answers to the children yesterday, both personal prayer and communal prayer in the liturgy.

    He has this marvelous way of referring to contemporary events and trends in concise and precise terms, without having to descend to specifics - as, for instance, a preacher like Fr. Cantalamessa often does - and yet conveying umnmistakably exactly what he is referring to.

    Listening to him, as I finally was able to watch the Mass on the EWTN noon replay, I found myself wondering idly what kind of homilies people like Hans Kueng and other liberals give, and I shudder at the sheer thought of the rationalizations and accommodations they must have to make to account for their departures from orthodox Christian teaching!

    *As mentioned in the AsiaNews story, the musical setting for today's Mass was Josef Haydn's 'Harmoniemesse'
    performed by the Cologne Chamber Orchestra and Choir to mark the 200th anniversary of the composer's death

    P.S. The Vatican Radio commentator identified the Cathedra used by the Pope today as Pius IX"s. I believe the chasuble is new (I'm not so keen about all the gold thread in it, but red and gold - Chinese prosperity colors - work well for the Holy Spirit (in the context of spiritual prosperity as an abundance of His gifts), whom I usually associate with white, of course, or green], and the miter was well-proportioned. Our Papino looked and sounded in great form. And I am always very relieved when he does not cough at all.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/3/2009 6:34 AM]
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    President Obama finally named an ambassador to the Vatican, whose Senate approval is a shoo-in, so the stage is set...

    Reports say Pope Benedict
    will receive Obama in July

    Rome, May 31 (dpa) - Pope Benedict XVI will receive US President Barack Obama in early July, around the time of the upcoming Group of Eight (G8) summit in Italy, diplomatic sources said.

    Italian media reports cited both Vatican and US sources as confirming that preparations for the first-ever meeting between Benedict and Obama were underway.

    The exact date is not yet certain, with Italian media saying a possible point for an audience would be July 10, after the three-day G8 summit set for July 8 to 10 in La Maddalena [a resort town in northern Sardinia] .

    [The Pope will be leaving for his annual summer vacation on July 13, going back to Les Combes in Val D'Aosta, northwest Italy, where he spent his first two summer vacations as Pope.]

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/31/2009 4:10 PM]
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    After the Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, the Holy Father led the customary Sunday noon Marian prayer from his study window overlooking St. Peter's Square.

    Here is a translation of the words he spoke before and after the Regina caeli:

    Dear brothers and sisters!

    The Church spread throughout the whole world relives today, on the Solemnity of Pentecost, the mystery of its own birth, its own 'baptism' in the Holy Spirit (cfr Acts 1,5), which took place in Jerusalem 50 days after Easter, on the Jewish feast of Pentecost itself.

    The resurrected Jesus had told his disciples: "Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high" (Lk 24,49). This took place in sensible form in the Cenacle, while everyone was gathered in prayer with Mary, the Virgin Mother.

    As we read in the Acts of the Apostles, suddenly the place was filled with an impetuous wind, and tongue-like flames settled on each one present.

    The Apostles went forth thereafter and started to proclaim in various languages that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God, who died and was resurrected (cfr Acts 2,1-4).

    The Holy Spirit, who with the Father and the Son, created the universe, who guided the history of the people of Israel and who spoke through the prophets, who in the fullness of time cooperated in our redemption, descended on Pentecost on the nascent Church and made her missionary, sending her forth to announce to all peoples the victory of divine love over sin and death.

    The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. Without him, what would she be reduced to? It would certainly be a great historical movement, a complex and solid social institution, perhaps a kind of humanitarian agency.

    In fact, that is how it is thought of by those who consider her without the eyes of faith. However, in reality, in her true nature and even in her most authentic historical presence, the Church is ceaselessly formed and led by the Spirit of its Lord. She is a living body, whose vitality is precisely the fruit of the invisible divine Spirit.

    Dear friends, this year, the Solemnity of Pentecost falls on the last day of the month of May, on which we normally celebrate the beautiful Marian Feast of the Visitation.

    This fact invites us to allow ourselves to be inspired and instructed by the Virgin Mary, who was a protagonist in both events. At Nazareth, she received the annunciation of her singular motherhood, and, shortly after, conceived Jesus by the action of the Holy Spirit. by the same Spirit of love that urged her to go assist her aged relative Elizabeth, who was in the sixth month of a pregnancy that was itself miraculous.

    The young Mary, who carried Jesus in her womb, oblivious of herself, ran in aid to her neighbor, is the stupendous icon of the Church in the perennial youthfulness of the Spirit, of the missionary Church of the incarnate Word, called to bring it to the world and to bear witness to it, especially in the service of charity.

    Let us invoke therefore the intercession of the Most Blessed Mary, so that she may obtain for the Church of our time that it may be powerfully reinforced by the Holy Spirit.

    In a particular way, may the ecclesial communities who suffer persecution in the name of Christ feel the comforting presence of the Paraclete participating in their sufferings, so that they may receive the Spirit of glory in abundance (cfr 1 Pt4,13-14).

    After the prayers, he said the following:

    These days, the young people of Abruzzo are gathering in great numbers around the Cross of World Youth Day, brought in pilgrimage to their region by a group of volunteers sent from the International Youth Center of San Lorenzo here in Rome.

    In communion with the youth of that land so severely struck by earthquake, let us ask Christ who died and was resurrected to pour on them his Spirit of comfort and hope.

    I extend my greeting to all Italian youth who today, in their respective dioceses, are gathering to conclude with their bishop the triennium of the Agora.

    I remember with joy the unforgettable events which marked this triennium: the meeting in Loreto in September 2007 and World Youth Day in Sydney last July. Dear young people of Italy, with the power of the Holy Spirit, be witnesses of the risen Lord!

    In English, he said:

    I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims to today’s Regina Caeli.

    On this Pentecost Sunday, we rejoice in the Lord’s gift of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul reminds us that if we live in the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit by putting aside all conceit, anger, envy and everything that divides us (cfr Gal 5,26).

    My dear friends, having received God’s precious gift, may you abound in his fruits of love, peace, patience, kindness and all that bears witness to the Kingdom of God in our midst! Praised be Jesus Christ!

    He had special words for the Polish pilgrims:

    I cordially greet all the compatriots of the Servant of God John Paul II. Thirty years ago, he invoked in Warsaw: "Let your Spirit descend on us and renew the face of the earth. This earth!"

    We are witnesses to the changes that have taken place in the world. But renewing the face of the earth is not possible without a renewal of men's hearts. For this, we ask: "Let your Spirit come down and renew our hearts in Christ." I wish this renewal for all of you.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/31/2009 6:57 PM]
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    00 6/1/2009 2:53 PM

    From AOL's (of the Time-CNN family) fairly new and predictably liberal online journal called Politics Daily, here's an item I just came across which was written during the Pope's visit in the Holy Land by Elizabeth Lev who is perhaps one of the few 'conservative' voices on the journal's editorial roster.

    Benedict: Where did our love go?
    by Elizabeth Lev

    Only a year ago, after Pope Benedict XVI's first visit as Pope to American soil, what had originally looked like a bad blind date had blossomed into love at first sight.

    In New York and D.C., where one regularly sees dignitaries at Starbucks and on street corners, crowds took the day off and cheered themselves hoarse for the little German guy in the long white gown. Rating 80 percent approval among Catholics, and 70 percent among others, it looked like a love match.

    In the intervening year, however, Benedict has gone from dashing suitor to inept husband, at least if the media are to be believed. The honeymoon over, he can now do no right and gets attention only when he commits some gaffe.

    The last couple months have seen two noteworthy examples of this: The Williamson case -- where he lifted a sentence of excommunication on four bishops, one of whom questioned the Holocaust -- and his comment, en route to Africa, that condoms will not solve the continent's AIDS problem.

    As the Pope continues his eight-day trip to the Holy Land, one can almost hear the media knives being sharpened, with journalists anxiously waiting for the next misstep. (In a recent AP piece, for instance, Steven Gutkin trots out the usual shibboleths, such as B16's erstwhile membership in Hitler Youth and retrograde attachment to the Latin Mass.)

    So, where did the love go? Did Benedict betray us? Or have we perhaps become fickle lovers? Could we at least try a little marriage counseling?

    By his own admission, Benedict isn't very media-savvy. As a theologian and academic, his thoughts aren't easily reduced to sound bites. When he speaks, it isn't to fill a few minutes of airtime and then be forgotten; his words become part of a 2,000-year body of teaching. He's less worried about being misquoted on the evening news than he is about misrepresenting the doctrine of the Church.

    It's a bit like finding out your husband has lousy taste in clothes, but diligently saves for the future. Benedict thinks in terms of the long haul, so sometimes he may seem out of fashion.

    So Benedict thinks that condoms don't solve the AIDS problem in Africa, and this is news? John Paul II said the same thing over and over during his pontificate and was never vilified the way Benedict was last month.

    And Benedict lost more than face on this one: Handing the media the condom bone to gnaw on at the beginning of his trip obscured the whole motivation of his visit to Africa: a heartfelt commitment to the dignity of the suffering continent.

    By focusing on the more titillating AIDS, sex and condom question, the media neatly sidestepped Benedict's challenges both to Africa's leadership and to the wealthy West.

    Similarly, Benedict's attempt to heal a Church schism turned into a fiasco because of Bishop Williamson's ridiculous historical revisionism.

    Benedict's response was a graceful and sincere apology, along with measures to make certain this hurtful event would never be repeated. How many have longed in vain for such sensitivity from their spouses?

    It seems that the media still pines for a former love -- John Paul II -- and are unwilling to fully accept these second nuptials. This is understandable, but unfortunate.

    All media outlets knew John Paul II was news. For 10 years, they rented every rooftop near the Vatican, waiting to cash in on his death. When a Turkish assassin shot John Paul at the beginning of the pontificate, his dramatic rush to the hospital, the mysterious connections of his aggressor, and his miraculous recovery provided news fodder for months.

    But more than that, John Paul II was a man of images and gestures, a showman. Everyone has a favorite photo of JPII, swinging a cane Charlie Chaplin style or my personal favorite, clasping his balsa wood cross as he watches the last Good Friday procession of his life. He was trained as an actor, and in a world where actors are the new divinities, he was able to command his audience.

    Pope Benedict, who from the outset had been dubbed by the media a "transitional Pope," remains strong, healthy and coherent, so there's not much news there.

    And after spending millions awaiting the death of JPII, the media are not so inclined to throw the same kind of money into waiting for Pope Benedict's funeral.

    It has been said that people came to see John Paul, whereas they come to listen to Benedict, and there is some truth to that. Those who take the time to absorb his message will come to realize that Benedict is also a magnificent communicator, but in words, not pictures.

    [Oh yes, in pictures, too! Ask any Benaddict!]

    While Ms. Lev does make many excellent points, I do not quite agree with the metaphor of Benedict as the second spouse, as it were, after John Paul II, with reference in particular to the 'affection' of Americans.

    First of all, the observations apply more to American media rather than the American public. Recent US polls show the Pope with as much as 80% favorable rating with them - despite the fact that the media have returned to being decidedly disapproving and derisive since the US visit.

    Then, it's not that the media has turned fickle on Benedict. They never professed any love for him, to begin with, and in fact have always been downright hostile, even down and dirty.

    There was a respite during his visit to the United States only because the person he truly is - as well as the reaction of the people present at his events - was so obvious from the virtually 24/7 TV coverage of his visit that the MSM had no choice but to report things as they were. There was no way they could carry on with their usual distortions and misrepresentations during that time!

    Then the US trip was followed by a similar triumph in Sydney, and then in France, where no one expected it. That only made his detractors in MSM even more anxious to spring on him at the first opportunity with all the pent-up hostility of months - and all their poisoned knifeblades and fangs unsheathed. They had been salivating too long for another Regensburg.

    The first chance they got was a remark he made in his Christmas message to the Roman Curia, which they widely misrepresented in this way: "Benedict said on Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction." (The lead from Reuters).

    That canard didn't have enough legs, but almost exactly a month later came the Willlamson case. It was the perfect pretext for a firestorm against Benedict - motivated by a bigotry that was as virulent as the very anti-Semitism the critics purported to condemn in Williamson, and, by barely disguised and completely unfounded innuendo, in a Pope who happens to be German.

    That pretext was seized, not just by the media, but worst of all, by dissenting liberals within the Church itself, including ranking prelates, who saw it as a failsafe club with which to beat the Pope over the head and somehow assert their self-proclaimed 'superiority' to him - in a pastoral sense, PR-wise, and even, God forbid!, morally. After all, what could be more politically correct, i.e., holier-than-thou hypocritical, than to render sanctimonious even if sincere obeisance to something as sacrosanct as the Holocaust?

    Now, that story had outsize seven-league boots, because aggrieved Jews kept it going and still do. For all the diplomatic words that many of them have said since then, establishment Jews have decided that they can target two birds with one stone by pounding on this issue - one, continually cast public doubt on Benedict's goodwill towards Jews (even the Rabbi Laus and David Rosens who could not have been more glowing in their praise of Joseph Ratzinger's excellent positions on Judaism at the time he was elected Pope), and 2) bounce this off to somehow strengthen their case against Pius XII.

    And then, much to the sadistic gloating of Benedict's detractors, along came the statement about condoms and AIDS barely two months later. In the near-unanimous media scenario that followed, the most intellectual and intelligent leader alive today was derided and denounced right and left as though he were some ignorant, unread and uninformed clod who habitually bumbles and stumbles about worse than Inspector Clouseau.

    It doesn't get more outrageous than when someone in the Catholic media like John Allen joins in the general fun at Benedict's expense by labelling him 'Benedict the bungler' even if he does so with a CYA question mark!

    And so, the trip to the Holy Land was open season on Benedict. In which once again, the general MSM attitude was typified by smart-alecky John Allen's patronizing words, 'This trip will be considered successful if he can just manage not to start a war." You would think the Holy Father goes around just spoiling for a fight and looking to start one.

    Much to their chagrin, however, there was nothing they could hold against him during that trip. [Except for a feeble attempt to make an issue of the shoes not taken off inside the mosque in Jordan - once again, our friend Allen among those taking the lead on a matter the Jordanians themselves had taken thoughtful precautions not to make an issue!]

    Still, the Western media gladly served as the echochamber for the carping by Israeli and rightwing Jewish circles - for whom, in any case, nothing Benedict says and does will ever be good enough. (Their animus is twofold - because Benedict is German, and because they have an inbred anti-Catholicism just as bad as the anti-Jewish tradition among European Catholics in past centuries.)

    In a lifetime through six Popes so far, I don't recall ever having read ad hominem attacks on a Pope before, as the ones now routinely and reflexively launched by the media at Benedict XVI at any pretext. St. Sebastian could not have received more slings and arrows than Benedict draws daily from his detractors. Lucky for us he is in God's hands.


    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/1/2009 5:39 PM]
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    00 6/1/2009 3:31 PM

    June 1

    St. Justin of Caesarea (b. Samaria 100, d. Rome 165)
    Apologetist and Martyr

    No OR today.


    The Holy Father met today with
    - President Viktor Yushchenko of the Ukraine, with his wife and delegation.

    The Vatican also released the calendar of the Holy Father's liturgical celebrations from June to September.


    General intention:
    That international efforts to help poorer nations bring prompt, concrete results to relieve the crushing burden of foreign debt.

    Mission intention:
    That local Church communities serving areas torn by violence may be supported through the love and help offered by Catholics around the world.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/1/2009 5:29 PM]
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    00 6/1/2009 4:00 PM



    June-September 2009

    JUNE 2009

    Thursday, June 11
    Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
    Basilica of St John Lateran, at 19.00
    Holy Mass, Procession to Santa Maria Maggiore
    and Eucharistic Blessing

    Friday, June 19
    Solemnity of the Most Holy Heart of Jesus
    Vatican Basilica, at 18.00
    Second Vespers
    Beginning of the Year of the Priest

    June 21 - 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time
    Pastoral Visit to San Giovanni Rotondo

    Sunday, June 28
    Vigil of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul
    Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, at 18.00
    First Vespers
    Closing of the Pauline Year

    Monday, June 29
    Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul
    Vatican Basilica, at 9.30
    Holy Mass and imposition of the Pallium
    on Metropolitan Archbishops

    In July, the Holy Father will be on his annual summer vacation
    July 13-27 in Les Combes, Val D'Aosta.

    AUGUST 2009

    Saturday, Aug. 15
    Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    Castel Gandolfo
    Parish Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova, at 8.00
    Holy Mass

    SEPTEMBER 2009

    Sept 6, 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
    Pastoral Visit to Viterbo-Bagnoregio

    And of course:
    Sept. 26-28
    Apostolic Visit to the Czech Republic

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/2/2009 12:48 AM]
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    The Holy Father met today with Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko, whose visit to the Vatican was originally scheduled last year but put off at least twice due to domestic problems in the Ukraine.

    The Vatican Press Office released the following statement:

    "This morning, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Viktor Yushchenko, president of Ukraine. Subsequently the President, accompanied by Volodymyr Khandogiy, his ad interim foreign minister, went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

    "During the cordial discussions attention focused on the international situation. At the bilateral level, the good relations between Ukraine and the Holy See were noted with pleasure, as were the prospects for increased collaboration in the cultural and social fields. While expressing the desire to find equitable solutions to outstanding questions between State and Church, mention was also made of the Catholic Church's contribution to Ukrainian society for education in Christian values and their diffusion."

    The Holy Father receives one of the most unusual gifts yet presented to him:

    Eastertide is over, and the red summer mozzetta is back!

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/1/2009 5:35 PM]
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    There is absolutely nothing 'new' that I can find online today about the Holy Father, even in the Italian media, other than reports on his Pentecost homily (mostly partial) - with hardly anyone referring to his Regina caeli mini-homily, much less to his Marian dicourse on Pentecost eve at the Vatican Gardens. [L'Osservatore Romano si carrying all three texts, of course, in its double issue tomorrow since it does not come out on Mondays. So they have nothing 'new' either.]

    To those who have not yet read those texts, please take the time to do so - along with the texts from Montecassino.

    Obviously, no newspaper or wire service accounts can take the place of the actual texts, and that is why I only post those reports pending translation of the full text. Because Benedict 'news' is primarily what he says and how he says it. The newsphotos often tell us more about what he does than standard papal reporting, which seems to eschew reporting details and sidelights that provide 'color' to any event.

    And, of course, informed commentary on the Pope's teaching is always a welcome bonus but they are few and far between.

    One of my favorite commentators on the Pope, as he was a theologian himself as well as a sometime politician, the redoubtable Gianni Baget Bozzo (he was a lawyer before he decided to become a priest, and in his 60s, ran and won a seat in the European Parliament), died in his sleep at his home in Genoa on May 9 (the second day of the Pope's pilgrimage, so I did not get around to acknowledging it properly). He was 84, but his mind and judgment remained acute to the very end. Cardinal Bagnasco celebrated his funeral Mass on Monday, May 11. Please say a prayer for him.

    The most interesting papal news today is about John Paul II, and his 55-year-long regular correspondence with child psychiatrist Wanda Poltawska, now 87, whom he first met in 1950 after she survived a Nazi concentration camp. And how the Vatican wants the doctor to provide all the letters - a'suitcase full of them', she says - instead of just those she chose to release earlier to the late Pope's postulator.

    The Vaticanistas' angle is that this will further delay the beatification procedure. Well, not necessarily. The tribunal investigating John Paul's cause for sainthood is dutybound to look at every existing document written by him. It will review the letters as it does the mountain of documents it already has reviewed and will review.

    Cindy Wooden of CNS has a brief story picking up from the Italian press but leaves out the two most interesting things I picked up from the stories: 1) That the newly-elected John Paul II found the time to write Wanda a four-page letter soon after he was elected; and 2) that she was one of the cancer patients who was healed after then-Bishiop Wojtyla wrote Padre Pio in 1962 to seek his intercession.

    Dr. Poltawska earlier this year published a book in Poland about her unusual friendship with the man about whom she says, "From the first time I met him, I knew he would become a saint....his holiness was evident".

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/3/2009 6:41 AM]
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    June 2

    Saints Marcellinus (Priest)
    and Peter (Exorcist) (d. Rome 305)

    OR for 6/1/-6/2:

    At Pentecost, the Pope denounces the moral pollution that is poisoning the world:
    'The Spirit of God urges the Church beyond men's sins'

    This issue carries the Pope's texts from the weekend- the homily at Pentecost Mass and the subsequent Reina caeli, as well
    as his remarks to conclude the Marian month at the Vatican; and a story on his meeting with the President of Ukraine.
    Page 1 international news: North Korea set to test an ICBM that can reach Alaska; and Hamas-Al Fatah rivalry explodes
    anew on the West Bank.

    No events scheduled for the Holy Father today (Tuesday).


    The Vatican announced the Holy Father has accepted the resignation of US Cardinal James Francis Stafford
    as Major Penitentiary, having reached canonical retirement age. He will be succeeded by Archbishop
    Fortunato Baldelli, who was Apostolic Nuncio in France. [One of the nominations pre-announced by Andrea Tornielli
    two days ago

    Father Z has this concise but very informative description of the Apostolic Penitentiary:

    The Apostolic Penitentiary is one of the the Roman Church’s three great tribunals, and it has the highest dignity. It deals with matters of conscience, internal forum or confession issues, some particular censures and the concession of indulgences.

    It is so important that even with the death of a Pope, the Major Penitentiary of the Church, usually a Cardinal, does not lose his office as do most of the members of the Curia.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/2/2009 11:55 PM]
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    00 6/2/2009 3:13 PM

    The Pope's remarks to children last Saturday that he never imagined he would be Pope have, of course, been reported in countless ways around the world in the past few days, though I limited myself on this thread to simply posting a full translation of his words, as nothing says it better. However, Luigi Accattoli has a beautiful little commentary on the Pope's remarks.

    Papa Ratzinger tells children:
    'I never imagined to be Pope'

    by Luigi Accattoli
    Translated from

    June 2, 2009

    Dear editor, I would ask your readers to memorize a line said by Benedict XVI on Saturday, addressing a crowd of children: "I never imagined to be Pope".

    Because those words help to capture the lack of self-interest and the spiritual freedom with which he is carrying out his mission - someone who is answering a call that still surprises him.

    There are a few facts preceding his election as Pope which substantiate the Pope's remarks last Saturday and attest that he indeed never thought of becoming Pope, not only as a child but even up to his election.

    Let me set them out in order.

    On Saturday, in an unscripted chat with 7,000 children belonging to the Italian and various European branches of the pontifical agency that promotes missionary work by children, a little girl asked him, "Did you ever think you wanted to be Pope when you were a boy?"

    His answer:

    To tell you the truth, I would never have thought of becoming Pope because, as I said earlier, I was a rather naive boy in a small town, in a forgotten province. We were happy to be there and we did not think of other things.

    Of course, we knew, venerated and loved the Pope - it was Pius XI then - but for us, he was at an unreachable height, almost in another world - a father to us, but nonetheless, someone much more superior to us.

    And I must say that even today, I find it difficult to understand how the Lord could have thought of me and destine me for this ministry. But I accept it from his hands, even if it is a surprising thing that seems very much beyond my powers. But the Lord helps me.

    Was the dean of cardinals - who by April 2005, most of the media had included among the 'papabili' [earlier, he was routinely counted out by them for a variety of reasons, principally his age and that he was too polarizing] - really caught by surprise by his election, which was concluded on the fourth balloting 24 hours since the Conclave began?

    I am convinced of it, and I would start from the black sweater that he wore under the white papal robes when he first appeared as Pope one hour after his election.

    The emotion on his face and the black sweater sleeves were the first 'messages' to the world when he emerged on the Loggia of Benedictions that evening.

    The sweater showed he came to the Conclave without even bringing a dress shirt, not thinking he would be chosen [or, at least, that he came to the Conclave that afternoon wearing a sweater instead of a shirt, indicating the same certainty.]

    One of the assistants who helped him change into papal robes after the election said to him, "Holiness, I can give you my shirt." And he answered, "No. I will go this way." [According to another account, he added, "I feel cold."]

    'This way' was As 'a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord', as he would present himself.

    It was well known that he could not wait to return to Bavaria to enjoy the last season of his life in peace with his brother Georg in that semi-rural house that they had acquired outside Regensburg.

    He expressed that desire on dozens of occasions in public - first when he was ending his third five-year term in the Roman Curia, then as the fourth term ended, then on his 70th birthday, then again on his 75th birthday.

    But Papa Wojtyla would not let him go, and he obeyed.

    Less known is that in a little book called Images of Hope published in Germany in 1997 when he turned 70 (translated in Italian in 1999), he wrote, as if his return to Bavaria was imminent, these words, "During the years I spent in Rome...."

    Also from 1997 is his autobiographical memoir La Mia Vita [Milestones in English], which closes with a retelling of the legend of St. Corbinian's bear, which was on his coat of arms as cardinal, and subsequently, on his papal coat of arms.

    The Bavarian monk Corbinian was on his way to Rome when he came across a bear which killed his mount, most likely a mule, and the saint ordered the bear to take the place of the mule.

    Cardinal Ratzinger ended his book by observing:

    It is said of Corbinian that once in Rome, he again released the bear to its freedom. The legend is not concerned about whether it went up into the Abruzzi or returned to the Alps.

    In the meantime I have carried my load to Rome and have now been wandering the streets of the Eternal City for a long time. I do not know when I will be released, but one thing I know: that St. Augustine's exclamation applies to me, too: "I have become your donkey [God's], and in just this way am I with you".

    The theologian Pope returned to the legend of Corbinian's bear on Sept, 9, 2006, addressing the crowd in Munich: "St. Corbinian's bear was set free in Rome. But in my case the Master has decided otherwise."

    I find something Biblical - the Lord takes one where one does not necessarily wish to be - in the 'call' to the Pontificate which caught Joseph Ratzinger by surprise at the age of 78.

    In his undertaking of a position he did not seek, I see the most fascinating aspect of Pope Benedict's mission: the sign of a complete readiness which means a complete openness - beyond expectations, beyond settled views.

    Avvenire, of course, gave due play to the Pope's chat with the children in its Sunday issue, which also came with this sditorial.

    A little'scandalous' dialog
    between a child and the Pope

    Translated from

    May 31, 2009

    Dialog between a child and Benedict XVI: "Did you ever think you wanted to be Pope?"

    And he: "I would never have thought of it... But I accepted it from God's hands, even if it is a surprising thing that seems very much beyond my powers. But the Lord helps me."

    As anyone who has children knows, children often ask the most genuine questions: those that strip us bare and force us to look within ourselves.

    So, did you ever think you wanted to be Pope? No, Benedict XVI replied with a smile, going back to his boyhood in pre-war Germany: "No... I was a rather naive boy in a small town...."

    But the Pope goes beyond this statement to say, "I still find it difficult to understand why the Lord chose me" - which reveals a recurrent interior questioning, from the time he was elected as the Successor of Peter, perhaps from those few hours when it became clear that the votes were converging in his favor.

    "Why me? This is a task that is beyond my powers" - the secret travail of a Pope's conscience, disclosed by a child's question.

    And perhaps there are those who would be surprised and a bit puzzled: The Pope saying his job is far beyond his own abilities? Who asks himself 'why me?'? One cannot imagine heads of state and presidents of multinationals asking themselves such questions.

    Men in power usually do not have such questions about themselves. And if someone asked them and they had to answer honestly, they would say, "I am where I am because I am the best, the most intelligent, the most able, the most astute. I am where I am because of my extraordinary merit and becasue of the way I constructed my personal life".

    [Oh, I heard exactly that, just yesterday!, from someone who also said that in his first four months as President, he had done more than anyone ever had! Of course, he also said spoke that way about himself every day during the two years he spent campaigning for the position.]

    Instead, the man on Peter's chair thinks differently. He thinks as one who was chosen mysteriously for his task, something he never imagined for himself, and which seems to him far beyond his abilities.
    But one, nonetheless, who follows a plan above his own, certain that God helps him. The outlook expressed in the Pope's words is radical.

    It spells the difference betweem a life led as a self-centered project and one as a compliance with God's plan to which one freely adheres.

    'In the world', the first perspective is widespread, even obligatory - that drive to follow one's will, one's desire to have all 'the power and the glory'. In such a view, the Pope's answers may indeed seem incomprehensible.

    This Pope did not 'carry himself' to where he is, nor did he work to get there. He was called and put in place according to a mysterious plan, which he has accepted in order to serve the Church.

    Christians know there is a plan for each of us - whether humble, seemingly common, or extaordinary, it is never irrerlevant. Man's response to such a plan is called vocation, a calling: each of us has his own, we are each called to a specific mission within which to realize our life. Not only for one's self, but for others. Every life is a service to others.

    This idea of human destiny may seem scandalous to many in a time where freedom only means the worship and satisfaction of one's own inclinations, tastes and preferences.

    But for the Christian, destiny lies in saying Yes, in obedience to the divine will.

    Now, obedience is a word that for years has been out of favor: "The very idea is passe, it is unspeakabale, it should be banned. What an absurdity! I alone am the master of my own destiny. And God - if there is one at all - has nothing to do with my life!" So goes the secular creed.

    And yet... "I still find it difficult to understand how the Lord could have thought of me..." This little dialog between a child and a Christian says it all.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/2/2009 4:45 PM]
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    00 6/3/2009 3:21 AM

    Pope condoles with families
    of Air France crash victims

    Translated from
    the French service of

    Pope Benedict XVI has expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones in the Air France disaster over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil Monday morning.

    Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone conveyed this in a telegram to the Apostolic Nuncio in Paris, Mons. Fortunato Baldelli, who earlier today was named by the Pope to be the new Major Penitentiary, succeeding US Cardinal James Stafford who has reached canonical retirement age.

    Here is a translation from the French:

    Informed about the catastrophe that befell a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, the Holy Father expresses his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and assures his profound sympathy and spiritual closeness to all who have been affected by this tragedy.

    He entrusts the departed to divine mercy, asking the Almighty to welcome them to his peace and light. While asking God to grant support and comfort to all those who are severely tried by this event, and with the wish that they may find the assistance they need in this sorrowful time from those around them, the Pope grants his
    Apostolic Blessing to all the persons affected by this tragedy.

    Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
    Secretary of State to His Holiness

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/3/2009 3:22 AM]
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    00 6/3/2009 7:17 PM

    June 3

    Blessed John XXIII (1881-1963)

    OR today.

    No papal news in this issue other than indirectly - the Pope attends Georg Gaenswein's
    silver jubilee as priest [Story translated and posted in PEOPLE AROUND THE POPE).
    A couple of inside-page stories are dedicated to the upcomign Year of the Priest, including
    an interview with Cardinal Claudio Hummes. Page 1 international news: Seoul reinforces
    its military defenses in the Yellow Sea; European Union unemployed reaches 10 million;
    the Israeli foreign minister goes to Moscow in search of a startegic alliance against Iran.


    General Audience today - The holy Father's catechesis is devoted to the 8th century German monk Rabannus Maurus
    who became Archbishop of Mainz and wrote extensively on the Scriptures and liturgy.

    Sorry for the very late start today.

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    00 6/3/2009 8:16 PM

    Not news, really, since the previous report on the social encyclical - in Andrea Tornielli's piece about coming Curial changes two days ago - said it would be dated June 29, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and will probably be released on that day or shortly thereafter.

    Pope’s encyclical ‘almost ready’

    Issue of 28 May 2009

    Pope Benedict XVI has completed his long-awaited encyclical on social issues and the text is now being translated into several languages, according to a Vatican official.

    The new document – Caritas in Veritate (“Love in truth”) – is about 100 pages long, the official said.

    Originally planned for 2007 to mark the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s landmark social encyclical Populorum Progressio, the new papal document suffered a succession of delays as the current global economic crisis unfolded.

    “The new social encyclical … can be an instrument to help politics recover its function: that of designing the architectural structures of our social life in the way of justice, freedom, truth and solidarity,” Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Justice and Peace council, told Vatican Radio earlier.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/3/2009 9:33 PM]