Saturday, April 30, 2005

Pope seeks unity between believers and to mend theological divisions

Date: 2005-04-30

Benedict XVI's Quest for Unity

New Pope Reaches Out to Other Churches and Religions

ROME, APRIL 30, 2005 ( A key theme in the first public pronouncements of the new Pope is the need for greater unity between believers. Benedict XVI's determination to improve ecumenical and interreligious relations was evident in his message to the cardinals at a Mass the day after his election.

"Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend to that full unity that Christ so ardently desired in the Cenacle," the Holy Father stated. He declared his intention, "as a primary commitment, to work without sparing energies for the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all the followers of Christ."

Part of this involves theological dialogue, he explained. There also needs to be a careful study of the historical background that led to past divisions. But, he continued, "what is urgent in the main is that 'purification of the memory,' so many times recalled by John Paul II, which alone can dispose spirits to receive the full truth of Christ."

Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, also declared his willingness to enter into dialogue with followers of other religions, or those "who simply seek an answer to the fundamental questions of life and have not yet found it."

The homily during the inaugural Mass last Sunday invoked two biblical images of unity: that of the shepherd and the fisherman's net, which, in spite of containing many fish, remained intact. Unfortunately, the net has now been torn, the Pope said. Yet, "we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity you have promised."

For more go to article "Benedict XVI's Quest for Unity" in the "Weekly News Analysis April 30, 2005"...

Friday, April 29, 2005

Pope emphasizes that the eucharist is the source of Church’s mission of evangelization

The “Reform of the Reform” Has Already Begun

His first act was the inauguration mass of his pontificate. Benedict XVI is a pope of the great tradition of the liturgy, with the eucharist at the center. It is a tradition of liturgical texts, rituals, and music – and symbolic places

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, April 28, 2005 – On Sunday, April 24, Benedict XVI inaugurated his “Petrine ministry as bishop of Rome” in the sunlight of a Saint Peter’s Square overflowing with crowds.

But his first intention was different. He had wanted to celebrate his first solemn mass as pope, not in the square, but inside the basilica of Saint Peter. “Because there the architecture better directs the attention toward Christ, instead of the pope,” he told the masters of ceremonies on Wednesday, April 20, his first full day as the elected pope. Only the immense number of faithful who were coming induced him to change his mind and celebrate the mass outdoors.

That same day, speaking to the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, he immediately made it clear that in the first place of his agenda for the papacy, above anything else, would be the eucharist. He defined this as “the permanent center and source of the Petrine ministry that has been entrusted to me.”

For him, the form and the substance of liturgical celebrations are intimately connected. And their disarray is expressed in a passage of the startling meditations that he wrote, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, for the Stations of the Cross last Good Friday: “How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that He is there!” Here “He” refers to Jesus Christ crucified and risen, the great missing person of so many new liturgies, which have become “meaningless dances around the golden calf that is ourselves.”

For Benedict XVI, in the great sweep of Christian history the mass, or eucharist, is the sacrament that creates the Church. It is the model for the Church, and at the same time it presents the image of the Church to the world. He repeated this to the cardinals in the first speech outlining his agenda: the eucharist is “the heart of Christian life, and the source of the Church’s mission of evangelization.”


Promotion of eucharist and collegiality also high priorities for Pope

Father Fessio says Pope Benedict XVI will preserve integrity of faith

By Agostino Bono
Catholic News Service
April 28, 2005

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will disappoint only those Catholics who want changes that disrupt the integrity of the Catholic faith, said a U.S. priest who has spent decades making available in English the writings of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before the 78-year-old German was elected to the papacy April 19.

Calling the new pope a theological hard-liner is "absolutely false," said Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, founder and editor in chief of Ignatius Press, which has published 25 books in English by Cardinal Ratzinger.

"He has a tremendous breadth of vision that is recognized by his critics," said Father Fessio, provost of Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., and a former student of the new pope.

"But he's a Catholic. He believes in Catholic truth. He wants to preserve the integrity of the deposit of faith," he added.

"Will he allow women priests? No, because he can't," Father Fessio said.

He met the future pope in the early 1970s when then-Father Ratzinger was Father Fessio's adviser for his doctoral thesis in theology at the University of Regensburg, Germany.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Church is missionary by nature and her primary task is evangelization, says Pope

Pope Benedict foresees missionary expansion

Vatican, Apr. 26 ( - On a Monday-night visit to the Roman basilica of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls, Pope Benedict XVI pronounced that "Christ's missionary mandate is more imperative than ever" for the Church in the early 21st century.

Citing the words of Pope John Paul II (bio - news), who referred to the 20th century as "a time of martyrdom" for the Church, the Pope reasoned: "If, then, the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians, at the beginning of the 3rd millennium we may expect a new flowering of the Church, especially where she suffered most for the faith and the witness of the Gospel."

The Holy Father said that his trip to the basilica was a "long-awaited pilgrimage," which he made not only for himself but for the universal Church, to honor the Apostle to the Gentiles. This was, he explained, a pilgrimage intended "revitalize in faith" the missionary witness of the Church.

"The Church is missionary by nature, her primary task is evangelization," Pope Benedict said. Now, in preparation for his own task of leading the missionary effort, he came to the tomb of St. Paul, who preached the Gospel to the gentiles and bore witness to Christ to the point of martyrdom. After praying at the tomb, Pope Benedict read (in Latin) passages from the Letter to the Romans, commenting that it was the most important of St. Paul's epistles, from the doctrinal perspective.


Pope credits name to Benedict XV and St. Benedict

At first public audience, Pope Benedict explains name

Vatican, Apr. 27 ( - At his first general public audience, on Wednesday, April 27, the Pope explained why he had chosen the name "Benedict."

Pope Benedict XVI also announced that he would continue the pattern set by Pope John Paul II (bio - news), delivering a brief catechetical address at each weekly public audience. In fact, he said, he plans to resume the series begun by his predecessor, who was offering meditations on the psalms and canticles of the Bible. At his next Wednesday audience, Benedict said, he will "begin precisely from where his [John Paul's] catechesis was interrupted" by his final illness.

The Pope appeared for about 90 minutes before a crowd of about 15,000 people who had gathered in a sunny St. Peter's Square. He began by making a slow tour through the square in his white Jeep, greeting and blessing the faithful, before taking his place in front of the Vatican basilica to make his prepared remarks-- which were repeatedly interrupted by applause. After delivering his address in Italian, he read summaries of the message in English, French, Spanish, and German. He also saluted different groups in the audience individually in their own languages, including Croatian, Slovenian, and Polish.

Pope Benedict told the audience that as he began his papal ministry, his sentiments were dominated by "awe and gratitude to God-- who surprised me more than anyone else by calling me to success Peter the apostle." He added that the "inner trepidation" he felt, because of the enormous responsibility of the papacy, was eased by the "serenity and joy from the certainty of God's help, that of his most holy Mother the Virgin Mary, and the patron saints." He repeated his request to the faithful for their prayerful support.

Explaining his choice of the name "Benedict," the Pontiff referred to his predecessor Pope Benedict XV, "a true and courageous prophet of peace," who sought first to avert World War I and later to limit the slaughter. "In his footsteps I place my ministry, in the service of reconciliation and harmony," the Pope said.

Next the Holy Father spoke the St. Benedict, the co-patron of Europe, and the founder of the religious order that "exercised an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the European continent." He stressed the importance of Europe's Christian patrimony, "which cannot be renounced," and asked for the intercession of St. Benedict to protect the Church and further her mission of evangelization.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Benedictines Feel Ratzinger's Critique of Relativism Answered by his Papal Election

Institute on Religious Life

IRL News Briefs

April 27, 2005--Vol. 4, No. 7

Installation of New Pope Has Special Significance for Benedictines

The installation of Pope Benedict XVI held special significance for a group of black-robed monks in the throng celebrating the event in St. Peter's Square. Abbot Notker Wolf, abbot primate of the Order of St. Benedict, said that when he heard that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had chosen the name Benedict, “I was very happy.” He added, “I felt recognized.” In further recognition, U.S. Benedictine Brother Gregory Gresko of Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey in Richmond, Va., sang the Gospel in Latin during the Mass. The 34-year-old monk, a songwriter who sings in a Christian rock band called Mary's Men in Black, is studying at St. Anselm University in Rome. The new pope's name evokes both the legacy of the early 20th-century Pope Benedict XV and a spiritual tradition dating back to the sixth-century saint credited with spreading Christianity throughout Europe as the Roman Empire collapsed. “Before the conclave, Cardinal Ratzinger made a critique” of modern society, urging the cardinal-electors to take a stand against relativism, Abbot Wolf said. Upon hearing the new pope's name, “I said this is the answer to his critique,” the abbot said.

Will Benedict XVI Defend Faith in Europe as did St. Benedict?

Culture & Cosmos: Volume 2, Number 37
April 19, 2005

New Pope's Name May Be Sign of Focus on Evangelizing Europe

The German cardinal with the charge of defending Church orthodoxy for the last 23 years was elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church today by the College of Cardinal. The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, know for his faithful adherence to Church teaching as well as his influential role at the Second Vatican Council, emerged as the new Pope on the famous Vatican balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after it was announced he would take the name of Benedict XVI. Culture of Life Foundation board member Father Joseph Fessio told CNN that the key to the name was not his predecessor, Pope Benedict XIV, but St. Benedict, the co-patron of Europe and the founder of western monasticism.

Interpreting the name as a nod to St. Benedict would indicate that the new pope would make defending the embattled faith in Europe central to his mission just as St. Benedict and the monastic movement he led was essential to the spread of Christianity on the Continent in the sixth century. Some time around 500 AD, St. Benedict left his studies in Rome because of the widespread corruption there and eventually formed a monastic community at Subiaco, 40 miles from the city. Benedictine monastic communities became centers of intense scholarship in Europe and are responsible for preserving and developing much of the Western tradition on the Continent, a point the Pope will likely want to emphasize to the new European Community which refuses to acknowledge Europe's Christian roots.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pope Says Church Committed to Ecumenism

Date: 2005-04-25

Church Committed to Ecumenism, Says Pope

And Calls for Growth in Dialogue With Muslims

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2005 ( Benedict XVI confirmed the Catholic Church's "irreversible" commitment to ecumenism and appealed to believers of all religions to become promoters of peace.

The new Pope's words resonated today in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, where he received the representatives of Christian confessions and other religions, who attended the Mass on Sunday for the solemn inauguration of his pontificate.

The Holy Father divided his address into two parts. The first was directed to the delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the ecclesial communities of the West; the second to the representatives of other religions.

"Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, in particular Paul VI and John Paul II, I feel intensely the need to affirm again the irreversible commitment assumed by Vatican Council II" to journey on the "path toward the full communion desired by Jesus for his disciples," said the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

This objective, the Pope acknowledged, "implies a concrete docility to what the Spirit says to the churches, courage; gentleness; firmness; and hope, to reach the end. It implies, above all, insistent prayer and, with only one heart, to obtain from the Good Shepherd the gift of unity for his flock."

"On this very particular occasion, which brings us together precisely at the beginning of my ecclesial service, accepted with fear and confident obedience to the Lord, I ask all of you that you give example with me of that spiritual ecumenism, which in prayer realizes our communion without obstacles," the Holy Father told his guests.

For more go to article "Church Committed to Ecumenism, says Pope" in "Vatican Dossier" in "Daily Dispatch April 25, 2005"...

A New Benedict to Help Re-Christianize the West?

by George Weigel
Other Articles by George Weigel
Contact this Author

Benedict XVI: The Name Is the Program

St. Benedict was born in 480, in a small Umbrian village. In 529, as a monastic town was being built for Benedict and his monks on the brow of Monte Cassino, Plato's Academy closed in Athens.

The timing nicely illustrated a conviction of the late John Paul II: "In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences." As a great embodiment of classical culture shut its doors, the "academy of Christianity," as the new pope once called it, was being established.

And a good thing, too. The Roman empire was in rapid decline, beset by wars, economic dislocation, and social disorder. The civilizational achievement represented by Plato's Academy could have been lost; classical culture might have gone the way of the Mayans. That it didn't had a lot to do with Benedict. His monks not only preserved crucial elements of the civilization of Athens and Rome during the Dark Ages; they transformed that civilization by infusing a biblical understanding of the human — person, community, origins and destiny — into the classical culture they preserved for future generations in their scriptoria and libraries.

The result of that fusion of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome was what we know as "Europe," or, more broadly, "the West." It was a colossal, indeed world-historical achievement. And the achievement was entirely consistent with what Pope Benedict XVI remembered in a recent interview as "a Benedictine motto: Succisa virescit — pruned, it grows again." Thanks to St. Benedict and Western monasticism, the demise of classical civilization was the occasion for a new beginning — and, eventually, a nobler civilizational accomplishment.

Benedict XVI once described that accomplishment through another Benedictine motto: Ora et labora, pray and work. "Turning the earth into a garden," he told the German journalist Peter Seewald in 2000, "and the service of God [were] fused together and became a whole.... Worshiping God always takes priority.... But at the same time, it's a matter of cultivating and renewing the earth in an ethos of worship. This also involves overcoming the ancient prejudice against manual labor.... Manual labor now becomes something imitation of the Creator's work. [And] along with the new attitude toward work comes a change in our ideas about the dignity of man." Thus the culture of the classical world was not only preserved; it was transformed into a culture of freedom.

Benedict XVI has long been concerned that the West risks the possibility of a new Dark Age. What he described in a sermon on the day before his election as a new "dictatorship of relativism" is one dimension of the problem. If there is only "your truth" and "my truth" and nothing that we understand as "the truth," then on what principled basis is the West to defend its greatest accomplishments: equality before the law, tolerance and civility, religious freedom and the rights of conscience, democratic self-governance?


Archbishop hopes to build bridges with Catholicism

Williams looks to build bridges with Catholicism

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
(Filed: 25/04/2005)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will meet the new Pope today amid renewed hopes for the future of relations between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

Dr Williams became the first serving archbishop to attend a papal funeral this month and he was among the scores of religious leaders at Pope Benedict XVI's inauguration yesterday.

His ecumenical enthusiasm has dismayed conservative Protestants and he will anger them further when he leads an Anglican delegation in an audience with Benedict XVI in the Vatican.

But the archbishop has made no secret of his desire for greater unity with the Catholic Church, from which the Church of England separated during the reign of Henry VIII.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Inaugural Mass emphasizes Pope as Successor of Peter

Date: 2005-04-24

Inaugural Mass Full of New Symbolic Gestures

Emphasize Pope as Successor of Peter

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 24, 2005 ( Benedict XVI's inaugural Mass was the first one to incorporate new symbolic gestures that finalize the process of updating the installation rites of a new Pope.

The solemn Mass for the beginning of the pontificate replaced the coronation ceremony, which had been abolished by Paul VI in which a new pope received a tiara.

The process of updating the rite began during the Second Vatican Council, but hadn't been finalized when John Paul I was elected in 1978, or when John Paul II became Pope about a month later.

Substitute measures were used in these ceremonies, Monsignor Crispino Valenziano, of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, told reporters Saturday.

The new Pope approved the rites a few hours after his election, and the Vatican reported that Benedict XVI wished to give the ceremony an intense symbolic value to highlight the Petrine (of Peter) dimension of his ministry.

For more go to article "Inaugural Mass Full of New Symbolic Gestures" in "Vatican Dossier" in "Daily Dispatch April 24, 2005"...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Imposition of Pallium and Conferral of Ring

Pope reaches out to ‘believers and nonbelievers’
Hundreds of thousands gather for Benedict XVI’s inaugural Mass

The Associated Press
Updated: 1:11 p.m. ET April 24, 2005

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI formally began his stewardship of the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday, reaching out to Jews, other Christians and “nonbelievers alike,” and asking for prayers from the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and dignitaries gathered in St. Peter’s Square as he assumed “this enormous task.”


Conclave supermajority for Pope bodes well for Church


Sun Apr 24 2005 09:24:57 ET

New York -- In the days before the conclave, almost every Cardinal who deigned to speak to the press declared that he was praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance in choosing the successor to John Paul II. The Holy Spirit’s efforts in this particular case began 18 months ago, with a stealth campaign that in the end transfigured an unpalatable candidate into the inevitable Pontiff, turning Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany into Pope Benedict XVI, TIME Rome Bureau Chief Jeff Israely reports in this week’s cover package on Pope Benedict XVI. The momentum, orchestrated by key Curia Cardinals, was such that a last-ditch attempt by liberals to derail it petered out after the first round of voting. “They didn’t realize how strong Ratzinger was,” says an aide to a Cardinal who almost certainly did not vote for the German. “The reformers have been out of touch with this growing tide around Ratzinger,” TIME reports.


Saturday, April 23, 2005

INTERVIEW: George Weigel Says "Christophobia" Afflicts Europe

"European high culture is, largely, Christophobic, and Europeans themselves describe their cultures and societies as 'post-Christian'"

By George Weigel
Posted: Monday, December 13, 2004

Publication Date: December 13, 2004

ROME, DEC. 12, 2004 ( Papal biographer George Weigel says that Europe is suffering from "Christophobia," and he believes that the continent's low birthrate is due, in part, to the widespread unbelief in God.

"It would be too simple to say that the reason Americans and Europeans see the world so differently is that the former go to church on Sundays and the latter don't," Weigel said when delivering a lecture Friday at the Gregorian University.

"But it would be a grave mistake to think that the dramatic differences in religious belief and practice in the United States and Europe don't have something important to do with those different perceptions of the world," he added.

Weigel said that Europe's problems are also found and have repercussions in the United States, though not all of them.

"European high culture is, largely, Christophobic, and Europeans themselves describe their cultures and societies as 'post-Christian,'" said Weigel, a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in Washington, D.C.


Friday, April 22, 2005

Ratzinger's Mustard Seed

"Christianity might diminish into a barely discernable presence," because modern Europeans "do not want to bear the yoke of Christ".

From the Asia Times:
Ratzinger's Mustard Seed
By Spengler

That an earthly agency might hold the key to the kingdom of heaven is a fond hope of mankind, such that the passing of the Vicar of Christ touches even those who long since rejected that hope. Into whose hand will the key pass? News reports suggest that the succession may fall to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the Vatican's chief theologian. With no way to game the odds that this might happen, I think it worth noting that Ratzinger is one of the few men alive capable of surprising the world. Ten years ago, he shocked the Catholic world with this warning:

We might have to part with the notion of a popular Church. It is possible that we are on the verge of a new era in the history of the Church, under circumstances very different from those we have faced in the past, when Christianity will resemble the mustard seed [Matthew 13:31-32], that is, will continue only in the form of small and seemingly insignificant groups, which yet will oppose evil with all their strength and bring Good into this world. [1]

He added, "Christianity might diminish into a barely discernable presence," because modern Europeans "do not want to bear the yoke of Christ". The Catholic Church, he added, might survive only in cysts resembling the kibbutzim of Israel. He compared these cysts to Jesus' mustard seed, faith of whose dimensions could move mountains. Ratzinger's grim forecast provoked a minor scandal, complete with coverage in Der Spiegel, Germany's leading newsmagazine. The offending sentences did not appear in the English translation, "Salt of the Earth", and were not discussed further in polite Catholic company.


Hopefully, Our Uber Papa will Re-evangelize Europe

God bless him... To be a man who can provoke the fear and loathing of liberals of various and sundry stripes in the Church. He sure wins my vote.

Hopefully our new Uber Papa, who obviously has a real backbone, will be able to re-evangelize a postmodernist Europe without provoking a schism within the Church. I'm sure that is one of his "primero uno" tasks.

All I can say is, "Ain't it GREAT!"