Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Pope looks back on 2005; gives thanks for a year "rich with events"

Pope looks back to John Paul in service

The Age
January 1, 2006 - 7:39AM

Benedict gave 2005 a bitter-sweet farewell on Saturday as he looked back at the year that saw him elected to lead the Catholic Church after the death in April of John Paul II.

At his first "Te Deum" service of year-end thanksgiving, Benedict praised deepening dialogue with those of other faiths but he restated his concern that the traditional Christian family was in crisis.

The 78-year-old German-born Pope recalled a June 6 speech in which he condemned same-sex unions as fake and expressions of "anarchic freedom" that threatened the future of the family.

He had also condemned divorce, artificial birth control and trial marriages.

"The family has always been at the centre of attention of my revered predecessors, in particular John Paul II," Benedict said during the vespers, or evening service, at St Peter's Basilica.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Pope: society must sustain the family in a cultural, political, and legislative way

Family needs society's support, Pope says

Vatican, Dec. 30 ( - The family needs support from society, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) said during a December 30 visit to a Vatican pediatric clinic.

On an afternoon visit to the St. Martha Dispensary, located on the grounds of the Vatican, the Holy Father said that "it is very necessary to sustain the family from a cultural, as well as political and legislative, point of view."

By offering medical care for impoverished children, the Pope said, the St. Martha clinic provides a vital service to families of many different backgrounds. Noting that he was visiting the facility on the feast of the Holy Family, he spoke about "the fundamental vocation of the family in being the first and fundamental place for welcoming life." In fulfilling that vocation, he continued, parents and children need the help of the surrounding community.

Pope Benedict's wearing of the red cap or "camauro" evokes the splendor of papal history

Papal fashions through the centuries displayed in portrait exhibition

Washington, Dec. 30 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) may have caught the eye of the papal fashion literati, but visitors to the Pope John Paul II (bio - news) Cultural Center can marvel at more than 30 popes who model the white fur-trimmed red velvet cap that Pope Benedict seemingly has brought back into vogue this winter in Rome.

The red cap, or camauro, and the more elegant ermine-trimmed velvet cape, called a mozzetta, are on display in the Cultural Center's many papal portraits dating from the 16th century portrait of Julius II, to paintings of Clement XIV in the 18th century and John XXIII of half a century ago.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pope Benedict's pontificate---an audio overview

Even with its liberal perspective, this audio clip from National Public Radio provides an informative overview of the last 8 months of the Pope's reign:

Pope Benedict Bears Softer Demeanor Than Expected

by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Morning Edition, December 29, 2005 · Many Roman Catholics in the United States expected Pope Benedict XVI would immediately begin to enforce a rigid orthodoxy after ascending to the papacy in June. But observers see a difference between the actions of former Cardinal Josef Ratzinger and his new role as pope.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pope in Wednesday General Audience: embryos are "full and complete" humans

Pope: God sees embryos as ‘complete’ humans
Roman Catholic Church stance against abortion, embryo research stressed


Updated: 8:47 a.m. ET Dec. 28, 2005

VATICAN CITY - God sees embryos as “full and complete” humans, Pope Benedict said on Wednesday in an address that firmly underlined the Roman Catholic Church’s stance against abortion and scientific research on embryos.

“The loving eyes of God look on the human being, considered full and complete at its beginning,” Benedict said in his weekly address to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Quoting Psalm 139, Benedict said the Bible teaches that God already recognizes the embryo as a complete human. That view is the basis for the Church teaching that aborting or manipulating these embryos amounts to murder.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

8 months into pontificate, BBC News gives Pope Benedict a performance review

Low-key start for new Pope

By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

Eight months into his pontificate, the new leader of the 1.1 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church, Benedict XVI, is still living in the shadow of his predecessor John Paul II.

The Pope is seen as a traditionalist loyal to John Paul's views

The new Pope - Joseph Ratzinger - has so far given us few clues as to how he intends to tackle the daunting problems that his worldwide church faces.

These challenges include: the de-Christianisation of Europe, the poaching of believers in Latin America by evangelical sects, the sex scandals involving Catholic priests in the US and other countries, the deafness of countries like China and Saudi Arabia to calls from Rome for greater religious freedom for Catholic minorities.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Pope marks feast of first martyr, St. Stephen; notes continuing Christian persecution

Sorry about the interruption in posting. I've had and am still experiencing major computer glitches and meltdown. Today I'm able to post but my computer is still very unstable so I'll post again daily as soon as I'm able.

In the meantime the Pope and the Vatican remain our focus

Pope Marks Feast of 1st Christian MartyrPope Benedict XVI Marks Feast of First Christian Martyr, Notes Faithful Still Face Persecution

The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY Dec 26, 2005 — Pope Benedict XVI Monday marked the feast of Christianity's first martyr, noting that Christians still are persecuted for their faith in some parts of the world.

Benedict addressed crowds in St. Peter's Square in his traditional blessing the day after Christmas, which is the feast of St. Stephen, a disciple who was stoned to death for saying he had seen Christ standing at the right hand of God.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Pope: The holy example of consecrated people is needed by the Church and the world

Church, world needs chaste, sober, obedient example of consecrated people, says Pope

Vatican City, Dec. 12, 2005 (CNA) - During a meeting Saturday, with members of consecrated religious communities and institutions around Rome, Pope Benedict said that; absorbed by things of this world, modern man needs their holy example more than ever.

The meeting took place in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, in the presence of some 8,000 consecrated people from the Diocese of Rome.

The Pope began by extending his “special thoughts…to those living in monasteries of contemplative life, who are spiritually united with us" and "consecrated people from Africa, Latin America and Asia currently studying in Rome."

"As always," he said, "consecrated people constitute a valuable presence in the life of the Church of Rome, because they offer a unique witness to the unity and universality of the People of God.”

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Pope: commercial 'pollution' can alter true spirit of Christmas; Nativity scenes teach faith

Pope: Christmas Polluted by Consumerism

Sunday, December 11, 2005

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that Christmas festivities have been polluted by consumerism and suggested that assembling the Nativity scene in the home is an effective way of teaching the faith to children.

Nativity scenes are a common sight in Italian homes around Christmas time, and in an annual tradition children came to St. Peter's Square bearing Nativity figures of baby Jesus for the pontiff to bless.

"In today's consumer society, this time [of the year] is unfortunately subjected to a sort of commercial 'pollution' that is in danger of altering its true spirit, which is characterized by meditation, sobriety and by a joy that is not exterior but intimate," the pope said in his traditional Sunday blessing.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Discreet bidding war driving up price of family home of JPII in Poland

Jews and Catholics bid for pope's family home

Ian Traynor, central Europe correspondent

Saturday December 10, 2005

The Guardian

The two rooms and a kitchen in southern Poland where Karol Wojtyla was born in 1920 is now a shrine to the memory of the late Pope John Paul II, visited by up to 5,000 pilgrims every day.

The property, owned by the heirs of a local Jewish family living in the US, is also now the target of a discreet bidding war pitting the Archbishop of Krakow, the pontiff's former confidante, against Polish and American Jewish organisations.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Olympic flame blessed by Pope; starts torch relay on its way to Turin Winter Games

Pope Benedict XVI Blesses Olympic Flame

Pope Benedict XVI Blesses Olympic Flame, Helps Start Torch Relay for Turin Winter Games

Associated Press Writer

The Associated Press

ROME Dec 9, 2005 — With a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI, the Olympic flame began its journey across Italy to the Turin Winter Games.

"May this flame remind everybody of the values of peace and brotherhood that are at the basis of the Olympics," Benedict told a crowd in St. Peter's Square on Thursday.

A Swiss Guard abandoned his colorful uniform and antiquated weaponry to don a tracksuit and hold aloft the sleek torch designed to look like the curved top of a ski for the pope's blessing.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

On 40th anniversary of Vatican II, Pope warns that not following God can lead to destruction

Living against God will lead to world's end: pope

Thu Dec 8,11:07 AM ET

VATICAN CITY (AFP)- Pope Benedict XVI warned that man's refusal to submit to the will of God would lead to the destruction of the world, as he celebrated a mass to mark the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.

A man who abandons himself to God "does not lose his freedom", Benedict XVI said Thursday.

But "if we live against love and against truth -- against God -- then we are destroying ourselves and we are destroying the world", he warned.

Human history was like "the battle between man and the serpent, the battle between man and the forces of evil and death", he said.

"Man does not have confidence in God," Benedict XVI said. "He nurtures the doubt that God ultimately takes something from his life, that God is a competitor who limits our freedom and that we cannot be human beings without casting him aside."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dr. R. Fitzgibbons, discusses nuances and help for same-sex attraction

The Psychology Behind Homosexual Tendencies (Part 1)

Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons Makes Distinctions of Same-Sex Attractions

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pennsylvania, DEC. 5, 2005 ( The new Vatican document on the priesthood and homosexual tendencies mentions a range of conditions, from deep-seated homosexual tendencies to transitory same-sex attractions.

To learn more about the nuances of the range of homosexual tendencies and their treatment, ZENIT turned to Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist, author and contributor to the Catholic Medical Association's document "Homosexuality and Hope."

Part 2 of this interview will appear Tuesday.

The Psychology Behind Homosexual Tendencies (Part 2)

Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons on Help for Those With Same-Sex Attractions

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pennsylvania, DEC. 6, 2005 ( Many priests grow in holiness and happiness in their ministry as a result of the healing of their childhood and adolescent male insecurity, loneliness and anger and, subsequently, their same-sex attractions.

So says Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist, author and contributor to the Catholic Medical Association's document "Homosexuality and Hope."

Fitzgibbons shared with ZENIT how some seminarians, candidates for the seminary, and priests can make strides in resolving their homosexual tendencies, and what bishops and religious superiors can do to help them.

Part 1 of this interview appeared Monday.

Q: How can spiritual directors help seminarians or priests who have same-sex attractions?

Fitzgibbons: Spiritual directors can help seminarians and priests by understanding that same-sex attractions are treatable and are not genetically determined. They can encourage seminarians and priests to face their emotional pain with the Lord's help, particularly their loneliness.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pope: secret of "new evangelization" lies in bishops, priests, religious & laity collaborating

Benedict XVI Tells "Secret" of New Evangelization

Collaboration Among Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2005 ( Benedict XVI believes that the secret of the "new evangelization" lies in collaboration among bishops, priests, religious and laity.

The Holy Father expressed this view Saturday when receiving the second group of Polish bishops on their five-yearly visit, who were introduced by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, the longtime secretary of Pope John Paul II.

Benedict XVI dedicated his lengthy address to describe how the new evangelization should take place, which was the most ambitious objective of John Paul II's pontificate.

To illustrate his proposals, Benedict XVI based himself on one of his predecessor's most personal writings, his book "Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way," in which the Polish Pontiff recounted his experience as bishop of Krakow.

Reflecting on the protagonists of this new evangelization, Benedict XVI began by addressing the mission of bishops.

"By his way of living the bishop shows that 'the model of Christ' is not surpassed; also in the present conditions it continues to be very timely," said the Pope. "It can be said that a diocese reflects its bishop's way of being.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Help disarm the ACLU with Christ's love; send "Merry Christmas" cards to its national office

The ACLU is acting like the Grinch who stole Christmas.

But we can help reverse this "War on Christmas" by being part of WMCA radio host Kevin McCullough's Christmas card campaign by burying the ACLU in an avalanche of Christmas cards that express our joy at Jesus' birth.

Let's disarm the ACLU by overwhelming them with the love of Christ.

To see further details see the press release below:

Musclehead Coalition to Flood ACLU With Merry Christmas

To: National Desk

Contact: Kevin McCullough, MuscleHead Revolution, 201-298-2020,; Dave Armstrong, 201-298-2016, WMCA 570/970 - Salem New York

NEW YORK, Dec. 2 /Christian Wire Service/ -- In light of the growing "War on Christmas" that the ACLU is continuing to wage against Americans and with no adequate response yet formed to combat the effort, the MuscleHead Revolution is announcing its call for 100,000 people to send "Merry Christmas" cards to the national offices of the ACLU before Christmas 2005.

Kevin McCullough is organizing just such a Christmas card campaign.

"From now until December 25th a coalition made up of leading media/talk-radio personalities, bloggers, and journalists are calling on the ninety-six percent of Americans who celebrate Christmas in some fashion to speak up, with a grin on their face, and wish the American Civil Liberties Union a 'Merry Christmas' it won't soon forget," said Kevin McCullough, the organizer of the Merry Christmas ACLU Network. "We want the cards to be in good taste, MuscleHead guidelines apply. They can be witty, and sharp. They must at the very least say 'Merry Christmas', and faith based people are fully encouraged to go for cards that say 'Joy To The World' etc."

Leading Bloggers such as Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, Captain's Quarters and others have also led the way with extensive promotion throughout the blogosphere.

The MuscleHead Revolution broadcast will be spending time encouraging its listeners - and can be heard online here (1-4pm EST)

McCullough's MuscleHead Revolution blog page is tracking the events of the growing coalition.

McCullough's WorldNetDaily syndicated column details the effort as well.

See also my other posts:

"Swamp the ACLU, the Grinch who stole Christmas, with 'Merry Christmas' cards," in "An Anglo-Irish Convert in 'the City'," my Christian screenwriting and media blog.

"Merry Christmas, ACLU"; join WMCA radio host Kevin McCullough's Christmas campaign, in "Come with me to Golgotha...," my blog on prayer and the inner life.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

It's not a generic "holiday," it's Christmas!

Even though this editorial from the New York Times is rather disingenuous, it conveniently makes reference to several organizations taking up the battle cry to remind commercial enterprises that December 25 (and the 4-week Advent season leading up to it) is not a generic holiday, but Christmas---the Christ Mass that celebrates the nativity of our Lord, Jesus:

Editorial Observer
This Season's War Cry: Commercialize Christmas, or Else

Published: December 4, 2005

Religious conservatives have a cause this holiday season: the commercialization of Christmas.

They're for it.

The American Family Association is leading a boycott of Target for not using the words "Merry Christmas" in its advertising. (Target denies it has an anti-Merry-Christmas policy.) The Catholic League boycotted Wal-Mart in part over the way its Web site treated searches for "Christmas." Bill O'Reilly, the Fox anchor who last year started a "Christmas Under Siege" campaign, has a chart on his Web site of stores that use the phrase "Happy Holidays," along with a poll that asks, "Will you shop at stores that do not say 'Merry Christmas'?"

This campaign - which is being hyped on Fox and conservative talk radio - is an odd one. Christmas remains ubiquitous, and with its celebrators in control of the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and every state supreme court and legislature, it hardly lacks for powerful supporters. There is also something perverse, when Christians are being jailed for discussing the Bible in Saudi Arabia and slaughtered in Sudan, about spending so much energy on stores that sell "holiday trees."

And, by the way, for all those who want to take action, here is contact information for those organizations listed above:

American Family Association and their list of retailers that have "banned 'Christmas' from their retail ads and in-store promotions banning Christmas."

Bill O'Reilly and his "View our list of Christmas department store information" link.

Catholic League and their press release "Land's End Neuters Christmas."

On first Sunday in Advent, Nov. 27, Pope ushers in Christmas, calling it a time of joy

CBS News
Dec. 4, 2005 2:01pm

Pope Benedict Ushers in Christmas Season

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 27, 2005

(AP) Pope Benedict XVI ushered in the Christmas season Sunday, calling it a time for joy when Christians should find it within themselves to hope that they can change the world.

The pontiff addressed the crowds in St. Peter's Square during his traditional Sunday blessing that also marked the beginning of Advent, which starts four Sundays before Christmas and is the beginning of the ecclesiastical year.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

What's the status of Christmas in a pluralistic society?: Archbishop of Canterbury weighs in

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks up on Christmas row -03/12/05

In the face of continuing public arguments about the status of Christmas in a plural society, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has described the festival as a celebration of human hope based on God's identification with humanity in Jesus.

Turning on the Christmas lights in one of London’s more deprived and populous boroughs, Dr Williams said: “You’ve probably noticed that there has been quite a lot of fuss in the papers about Lambeth and Christmas – if you haven’t, I don’t know which papers you’ve been reading!”

“Christmas is the Christian’s Christmas present to everybody else,” the Archbishop claimed. “Christmas, for a Christian tells us why people matter. They matter because God took us seriously, seriously enough to get involved with our lives to suffer with us and change things. That’s what I believe, that’s what Christians believe and Christmas exists because of that belief.”

Friday, December 02, 2005

Witness for Christ crucial; more mixed Muslim-Christian marriages jeopardize faith in Europe

Muslim-Christian Marriages Stir Concern in Italy
Cardinal Ruini Appeals for "Prudence and Firmness"

ROME, DEC. 1, 2005 ( The president of the Italian bishops' conference has called for prudence given the increase of mixed Muslim-Christian marriages in the country.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini said that "the existential and ecclesial implications" of such unions "suggest prudence and firmness and call for a reaffirmed awareness of the Christian identity and Catholic view on marriage and the family, in virtue also of the consequences that derive at the religious and social level and interreligious dialogue."

The Pope's vicar for Rome addressed the issue in the introduction to a note on "Marriages between Catholics and Muslims." The note was presented Tuesday as "Guidelines of the Presidency of the Italian Episcopal Conference."

Italian bishops discourage mixed marriages
Rome, Dec. 02, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Italy has issued a statement discouraging mixed marriages, especially between Catholics and Muslims, citing the numerous problems such unions pose for couples.

“Because of the experience of recent years, we would advise against, or least discourage, mixed marriages,” the bishops stated, saying that such unions are “inherently fragile,” that mixed couples tend to disagree about “the religious education of their children” and that couples often have opposing views regarding “the role of women” and the very meaning of marriage.

Italian bishops get signal on Muslims

By Brian Wingfield
The New York Times

ROME Bishops in Italy should discourage interfaith marriages between Roman Catholics and Muslims, according to one of the church's most prominent cardinals.

"The experience of recent years shows as a general rule to advise against or, however, to not encourage these marriages," Cardinal Camillo Ruini, head of the Italian bishops conference, said in a document published Tuesday for the conference.

The document discussed the difficulties of interfaith marriages in Italy, a country which is, at least nominally, about 90 percent Roman Catholic. It noted, among other things, the "intrinsic fragility of such unions," "the diverse conceptions of the institute of marriage," and "the different visions of the role of women," according to La Repubblica, a Rome daily.

The issue of interfaith marriages has been the subject of discussion by the bishops conference here for several months. The church has grappled with relations between Islam and Christianity for several years, both worldwide and in Italy, where the number of Muslims has increased markedly in recent years due to immigration. In 2000, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, who then was the archbishop of Bologna and who is now retired, called on Italy to favor Christian immigrants over those from Muslim countries in order to preserve the country's identity.

Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger suggested that Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim country, was not part of Europe, and he encouraged Europeans to rediscover their Christian roots.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pope refers to St. Augustine's Commentary on Psalm 136 (137); says nonbelievers can be saved

Nonbelievers Too Can Be Saved, Says Pope

Refers to St. Augustine's Commentary on Psalm 136(137)

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005 ( Whoever seeks peace and the good of the community with a pure conscience, and keeps alive the desire for the transcendent, will be saved even if he lacks biblical faith, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made this affirmation today at the general audience, commenting on a meditation written by St. Augustine (354-430).

On a rainy morning in Rome, the Holy Father's meditation, addressed to more than 23,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square, concentrated on the suffering of the Jewish people in the Babylonian exile, expressed dramatically in Psalm 136(137).