Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pope telegraphs Hurricane Katrina victims; invokes blessing and lifts them in prayer

Pope issues telegram to victims of Hurricane Katrina

Vatican City, Aug. 31, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI said he was “deeply saddened by the tragic consequences” of Hurricane Katrina, which pummeled the state of Louisiana this week, leaving mass destruction and a yet unknown number of dead.

Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano issued the telegram on the Pope’s behalf.

He said the Pope assured all those affected “of his closeness and prayer” and “commends the deceased to the loving mercy of Almighty God.” He also invokes a blessing on all those who grieve the loss of their loved ones.

The Pope said he is praying for rescue workers and all those who are providing assistance and is encouraging them in their efforts to bring relief and support.

Pope met Oriana Fallaci privately on Aug. 27 at Castel Gandolfo


(AGI) - Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 30 - There has been a private meeting at Castel Gandolfo between Pope Benedict XVI and Oriana Fallaci. The secret meeting took place last Saturday, where the writer, who has been ill for some time and has for some time made it known to some priest friends, from the USA where she lives for most of the year, the wish to meet the Pope. There is utmost secrecy over the length and content of the meeting. Even though, according to Corriere della Sera's web site - the central point was the position of the West in relation to Islam, or the possible dialogue between the Christian world and the Muslim one in the light of widespread acts of fundamentalism on the part of the latter. For some time, as is known, Fallaci has conducted a sort of "crusade" in defence of the West and its civilisation, threatened in her words by Islamic fundamentalism. - 301647 AGO 05
COPYRIGHTS 2002-2005 AGI S.p.A.

As noted above and in the article from Corriere della Sera below, Fallaci met with the Pope in a private audience and reportedly talked of the relationship of Islam to the West. God bless her for her courageous and dedicated defense of Christian civilization:

L'incontro avvenuto sabato. Nulla è filtrato del colloquio

La Fallaci ricevuta da Benedetto XVI

Udienza privata a Castel Gandolfo, residenza estiva del Pontefice. Che la scrittrice aveva detto di «ammirare molto»

La scrittrice Oriana Fallaci (Ap)ROMA -Oriana Fallaci è stata ricevuta in udienza privata da Benedetto XVI nel Palazzo Apostolico di Castel Gandolfo.L'«atea-devota» che da tempo pone alla Chiesa lo scomodo interrogativo se sia possibile o meno per il cristianesimo dialogare con l'Islam, è stata accolta, sabato scorso, nella residenza estiva del pontefice, sui colli albani. Ratzinger ha dato il benvenuto alla scrittrice nella riservatezza più totale, lontano dalle telecamere e dai clamori della stampa. In una recente intervista la Fallaci aveva affermato di «ammirare molto» questo Pontefice, per il modo in cui difende le basi della cultura europea e le radici cristiane del continente.

Caute indiscrezioni sull'incontro sono circolate in ambienti riservati, a Roma e negli Usa. Ma, al di là di questo, null'altro è filtrato anche se non è difficile ipotizzare che il Papa e la Fallaci abbiano affrontato - malgrado le diverse sfumature - un tema caro ad entrambi: la difesa dell'Occidente.

31 agosto 2005

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Multiculturalism overstated: Newsweek and poll shows U.S. 85% Christian

Dr. William Donohue, President of the Catholic League, corrects the widely disseminated assertion that America is mostly a multicultural nation. According to this poll, he states, in their traditions and religious expression most Americans are Christian.

The Catholic League
News Release

August 22, 2005


The cover story of Newsweek magazine, “Spirituality in America,” contains fascinating information that was gleaned from a survey of Americans conducted by Newsweek and Catholic League president William Donohue commented on the poll results today:

“The poll shows that 85 percent of Americans are Christian (63 percent Protestant and 22 percent Catholic); Jews and Muslims each make up 1 percent; 4 percent did not designate their religion; and 6 percent profess to believe in nothing. To understand the social significance of this profile, consider what the U.S. looked like a half-century ago.

“Will Herberg’s book, Protestant, Catholic, Jew was published in 1955. At that time, 91 percent of Americans were Christian (68 percent Protestant and 23 percent Catholic); Jews were 4 percent; and 5 percent expressed no religious preference. So in the 50 years since Herberg’s classic appeared, the percent of the nation that is Protestant declined slightly; Catholics constitute about the same proportion; and the number of self-identified Jews has declined. Yes, we now have more Muslims and adherents of other religions than ever before, but the real news is how little our nation has changed.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Book on EWTN's founder, Mother Angelica, to be released soon


A booksigning with the author will occur at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama on September 6 at 2:00 pm.

And, as described by the author, autographed copies of the book can be won at the "World Over Live Book Contest," by answering the following essay question:

All you have to do is, in 700 words or less, explain how Mother Angelica has touched or changed your life. All essays will be judged by myself and the news staff. We will pick the 100 most moving and powerful essays, the authors of those letters will receive a free signed copy of my new biography: "Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of A Nun, Her Nerve, And a Network of Miracles." You can e-mail your essays which must include your mailing address and day-time phone to:

This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it or snail mail it to:
EWTNews: Mother Angelica Contest
5817 Old Leeds Rd.
Irondale, AL 35210
Further press and details about the book can be found on the author's website:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Incidents of terrorism increase scapegoating of all religion by secularists

Date: 2005-08-27

Religion as a Scapegoat
Secularism Shows a Growing Hostility

LONDON, AUG. 27, 2005 ( The July terror bombings in England opened up a debate over the place of Islam in the country. It also triggered heated words over the role of religion in general. Not a few commentaries attacked religion in general as being dangerous in today's secular culture.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper on July 22, commentator Polly Toynbee called for a defense of "Enlightenment values" against the threat of violence inspired by religious extremism. "If religions teach that life after death is better," she warned, "then it is hardly surprising that some crazed followers will actually believe it."

"It is time now to get serious about religion -- all religion -- and draw a firm line between the real world and the world of dreams," declared Toynbee.

Matthew Parris, writing in the July 23 issue of the Spectator magazine, declared: "What unites an 'extremist' mullah with a Catholic priest or evangelical Protestant minister is actually much more significant and interesting than what divides him from them."

Parris says that the crucial difference between those who are secular and those who are religious is that the latter teach about a new life after death and try to help people have faith. The divisions between religions, such as whether or not they instruct followers to kill innocent people, is of little importance, he argued.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Israel and Vatican mend diplomatic fences

AFP via Yahoo! News

Sharon letter to pope ends Vatican-Israel rift

Fri Aug 26, 7:42 AM ET

VATICAN CITY (AFP) -Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has sent a letter to
Pope Benedict XVI seeking to end a diplomatic rift with the Vatican over the pope's omission of Israel from a recent condemnation of terrorism, Israel's embassy to the Holy See confirmed.

"A letter from Ariel Sharon to the pope was handed on Tuesday to the Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano by the ambassador to the Holy See, Oded Ben Hur," an embassy spokeswoman said Friday.

"This letter allows us to put an end to the story, making the necessary clarifications. This disagreement is now behind us," she said, without giving details of the contents.

A papal audience at the Vatican with Israel's two chief rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger, scheduled for September 15, is set to seal the thaw, Italian media reports said.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Prayers are needed as persecution of Christians in China increases

It appears that prayers are greatly needed for our brothers and sisters in Christ within the suffering church in China. However, we know that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church and no plan of the enemy can prevail long. So, let us call on Jesus, our great high priest and ask for His miraculous intervention on their behalf as Hebrews 4:14-16 exhorts us:

14 Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our wickedness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


By Elizabeth Kendal
World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC)

Special to ASSIST News Service AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- Two recent news releases from China Aid Association (CAA document a shocking escalation of persecution in China. There seems (to RLP) to be a direct correlation between increasing Russian-Chinese-Central Asian solidarity and growing persecution of unsanctioned Protestant Christians in those states. The dictators are uniting to protect their totalitarian regimes through alliances that reduce the influence and leverage of Western human rights and religious liberty advocates. Furthermore, China is systematically strengthening its assault on 'cults' (which includes house churches) through ideological training of cadres. These are very concerning developments. But God is in control of his-story for his glory! So we will confidently and dependently approach his 'throne of grace' (Hebrews 4:14-16).

CAA reports that in Henan Province on 1 July, 70 Christians in a house church fellowship were holding a baptismal service for 60 new believers when they were raided by police. Pastor Wang Baode and nine others were sentenced to 15 days' administrative detention, whilst all others present were fined, probably unofficially as no receipts were issued. On 7 July Pastor Cai Zhuohua faced court in Beijing charged with 'illegal business operations' for printing more than 200,000 Bibles and other Christian books. (As they were given away and not sold, there was no 'business'.) He is in prison awaiting sentence. On 22 July, 100 High School students were arrested at a Vocational Bible School in Hebei Province. The Public Security Bureau (PSB) interrogated them for hours before releasing them with the order not to gather again. On 26 July, a 400-member house church fellowship in Shanghai was ordered to close.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Catechesis of Pope reflects on WYD; calls youth to deep interior conversion

Catholic Online News
International News Story

Pope looks back on his world youth day (wyd) experience


In today’s catechesis the Pope reflected on his recent pilgrimage to Cologne for the World Youth Day. He noted the youth’s call "Come let us worship him" as young people from all cultures of the world gathered as pilgrims in search of Jesus Christ "whom we adore in the Eucharist," he noted. The Pope commented on the experience saying "Together, they made a journey of interior conversion, coming to embrace and know our Lord more intimately, in order to bear witness to his light and joy."

Benedict XVI was especially struck by his meeting with seminarians, "called to a radical following of Jesus the Shepherd and Teacher. World Youth Days have given rise to many vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life. Let us pray that many more young adults will heed Christ’s call!" The Pope also met representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities "with the hope that our continuing ecumenical dialogue will contribute to the goal of Christian unity."

Benedict XVI also remarked on one of the highlights of WYD XX, his visit to the Synagogue of Cologne. "With great emotion I visited the Synagogue of Cologne where I recalled the Shoà and the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps". On the same day of that visit, the Pope also met representatives of Muslim communities remarking that he "underlined our need to work together to eliminate fanaticism and violence and to defend the dignity all people while promoting fundamental human rights."

Before, closing the session with a salute to all the pilgrims in attendance from various countries, the Pope asked "Dear Friends, let us together pray for our young people! Bearing the light of Christ’s truth and love, may they witness to a springtime of hope in Germany, Europe and the whole world!".


Pope reflects on WYD in Wednesday General Audience

Date: 2005-08-24

Benedict XVI Reflects on His Trip to Germany
"Young People Relaunched … the Message of Hope"

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 24, 2005 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at today's general audience, held in Paul VI Hall. The Pope reflected on his first foreign apostolic trip to Germany, for World Youth Day.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters! As our beloved John Paul II used to do after every apostolic pilgrimage, today I would also like to review with you the days spent in Cologne on the occasion of World Youth Day. Divine Providence willed that my first pastoral trip outside of Italy should have, precisely as its object, my country of origin and that it should be on the occasion of the great meeting of young people of the world, 20 years after the institution of World Youth Day, established with prophetic intuition by my unforgettable Predecessor.

After my return, I thank God from the depth of my heart for the gift of this pilgrimage, of which I have fond memories. We all felt it was a gift from God. Of course, many collaborated, but in the end the grace of this meeting was a gift from on High, from the Lord. At the same time I am grateful to all those who, with commitment and love, prepared and organized this meeting in all its phases: in the first place, the archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner; Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the episcopal conference, and the bishops of Germany, with whom I met, in fact, at the end of my visit.


Crucifixion parade proposed by Mel Gibson for 2008 World Youth Day gets stiff opposition

As opposition to "The Passion of the Christ" raised awareness and in the end helped to promote the film, hopefully, the same exaggerated critical bombast generated by the usual suspects will result in more attendance at World Youth Day 2008.

But, of course, anything could happen and it's far too early to project or judge an outcome so far in the future.


Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2005 7:45 a.m. EDT

Groups Outraged by Mel Gibson's Crucifixion Parade

Some of the most vehement critics of Mel Gibson's blockbuster film "The Passion of the Christ" are trying to rain on Mel Gibson's parade.

As reported August 6, Mel Gibson has been asked by Australia's Archbishop George Pell to recreate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the streets of Sydney during Pope Benedict XVI's visit there in 2008 - should that city be selected to host World Youth Day.

According to reports the crucifixion re-enactment - similar to scenes from Gibson's hugely successful film "The Passion of the Christ" - would begin with the Last Supper staged at Sydney's landmark Opera House at sunset, and would end with the crucifixion of Christ at St. Mary's Cathedral.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ecumenicism of Taize community founder Brother Roger Schutz borne out at funeral

Thankfully, the life of the Taize Community will continue to bear witness to Brother Roger's "ecumenism of holiness." In his death as in his life, as people from many Christians denominations attended his funeral yesterday, the ecumenical outreach of his ministry continues to bear fruit.

BBC News UK Edition
Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 August 2005, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK

Faithful flock to Taize funeral

About 10,000 people have attended the funeral of Brother Roger, the founder of the religious community of Taize in eastern France.

German President Horst Koehler, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and clergy from around the world attended.

The 90-year-old Swiss-born theologian was stabbed to death by a Romanian woman while celebrating mass last week.

He founded the community during World War II as a refuge to people of all Christian denominations.

Taize, in the Burgundy region of France, later became an international pilgrimage site for young people who go there to pray and meditate.


Catholic Online News
International News Story

Brother Roger's Funeral Highlights 'Ecumenism of Holiness'


TAIZÉ, France, AUG. 24, 2005 (Zenit) - The funeral rites of Brother Roger Schutz, founder of Taizé Community, drew thousands of people from a range of Churches and Christian communities.

Some 12,000 people from all over the world arrived in the small town in the Burgundy region to pray for the 90-year-old religious who was stabbed to death Aug. 16 by an apparently unstable 36-year-old Romanian woman.

The funeral rites in the Church of Reconciliation were presided over today by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He concelebrated Mass with four priests of this ecumenical community, and read a message from Benedict XVI.

In the text, sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Holy Father said that in Taizé "numerous generations of Christians, respecting their own confessions," have undergone "an authentic experience of faith, in the encounter with Christ, thanks to prayer and brotherly love, responding in this way to his invitation to live unity by the bond of peace."


Catholic Online News
International News Story

Frere Roger: hundreds pay homage before funeral


Thousands of people are converging on Taizé, in southern Bourgogne, where the funeral of Frère Roger Schutz, founder of the community, will be held later today. He was murdered last August 16 by a mentally disturbed woman during vespers.

Hundreds have already paid homage to the departed before the official ceremonies officiated by cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Unity Among Christians. The presence of the Apostolic Nuntio in France is also expected, archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, and the archbishop of Algiers, Henri Tessier, as well as representatives from various religious creeds.

News of the murder of Frére Roger reached brother Alois, who years ago was designated to succeed him, while he was in Cologne for the World Youth Day celebrations. He will now continue the conciliatory efforts started by the great soul of Taizé as Benedict XVI also hoped in a telegram sent as soon as he found out about the murder. He described Frère Roger as “an indefatigable witness of the faith” and a man that “passionately loved the Church”.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pope to youth: only ways to transform the world is to live the faith and imitate the saints

Catholic Online News
International News Story

Pope, in spotlight, outlines priorities, style of emerging papacy

By John Thavis

COLOGNE, Germany (CNS) -- On a trip he inherited from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI stepped into the world spotlight and outlined the priorities and the style of his emerging papacy.

To young people gathered for World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, the pope brought an intensely spiritual message during his Aug. 18-21 visit, telling them that living their faith and imitating the saints were the only ways to transform the world.

That seemed to make a connection with many young people in Cologne. In the words of one young U.S. pilgrim, youths came for religious inspiration, and they got it.

To bishops in his native country, where secularism has put down deep roots, he called for new efforts to stem the decline in church influence, but said it must be done without "watering down" the Gospel. That was a point he echoed in remarks to civil authorities, reminding them that Germany, in the heart of Europe, remained "indelibly" marked by Christian traditions that are still valid today. The pope's comments underscored what is shaping up as a primary goal of his papacy, re-evangelizing Europe.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Pope appeals to Muslim leaders in Germany to commit to fighting terrorism

Catholic Online News
International News Story

Terrorism Hinders Peace, Says Benedict XVI


COLOGNE, Germany, AUG. 22, 2005 (Zenit) - Meets Muslim Leaders in Germany, Benedict XVI appealed to representatives of Islamic communities in Germany for a common commitment to prevent terrorism from poisoning relations between Muslims and Christians.

The Pope received the Muslim leaders on Saturday in the archbishop's palace in Cologne.

Terrorists, the Holy Father said in his address, "wish to poison our relations, making use of all means, including religion, to oppose every attempt to build a peaceful, fair and serene life together."

According to the Bishop of Rome, "terrorism of any kind is a perverse and cruel decision which shows contempt for the sacred right to life and undermines the very foundations of all civil society."


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pope urges Muslims to fight fanaticism; says poisons ties between Christians and Muslims

Catholic Online News
International News Story

Pope calls on Muslims to fight 'cruel fanaticism' of terror


COLOGNE, Germany (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI used the first foreign trip of his pontificate to urge Muslim leaders to do more to combat the "cruel fanaticism" of terrorism that aimed to poison ties between Christians and Muslims.

The pope was later greeted by at least 700,000 young Catholics at a giant open-air prayer vigil as the penultimate day of his four-day visit swung from the political to the spiritual.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Back from unexpected hospitalization; hope to resume writing of daily posts

Thankfully, I'm back to writing daily posts to my labor of love, the Pope Benedict XVI Blog, and frequent posts to my Christian media and screenwriting blog, "An Anglo-Irish Convert in 'the City'."

Unexpectedly, on July 27, I went to see my doctor and was incapacitated in her office. She called in an EMT and I was brought by ambulance to the ER. I was just released from the hospital. Hopefully, no other such episodes will occur again.

There's nothing like a health crisis to make one appreciate the simple blessings of life.

God bless everyone!