Saturday, September 30, 2006

In Video, Qaeda Deputy Condemns Bush and Pope

New York Times

Published: September 30, 2006

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 29 — Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s deputy leader, branded President Bush a “lying failure” and Pope Benedict XVI a “charlatan” in a video released Friday.

The 18-minute video, Mr. Zawahri’s second in a month, also responded to recent reports that senior members of Al Qaeda had been transferred to the United States detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; to the planned deployment of peacekeeping troops in Darfur; and to Pope Benedict’s controversial comments in a lecture this month in which he cited a 14th-century description of aspects of Islam as “evil and inhuman.”

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Vatican: Extremists undermining religion
Posted 9/28/2006 6:01 AM ET

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Vatican's foreign minister said Wednesday that misunderstanding between cultures is breeding a "new barbarism" and expressed hope that reason and dialogue would stop those who use their faith as a pretext for attacks.

In a speech on the closing day of the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial meeting, Giovanni Lajolo said extremists are far from devout and undermine the very religion they claim to defend.

"Violent reactions are always a falsification of true religion," Lajolo said in a passage devoted to the pope's Sept. 12 speech at Regensburg University in Germany.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pope says tourism can promote dialogue between cultures

Updated 9/27/2006 9:36 AM ET

By Plinio Lepri, AP
Pope Benedict XVI tells tourists in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday that tourism should help different cultures bridge gaps and promote dialogue between the world's different people.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that tourism should help different cultures bridge gaps and promote dialogue between people.

Wednesday was World Tourism Day, and the pontiff made the remarks before about 30,000 pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter's Square to attend his weekly general audience.

"I hope that tourism will increasingly promote dialogue and respect between cultures, thereby becoming an open door to peace and harmonious cohabitation," Benedict said.

His words came two days after he met with Muslim envoys at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo in an attempt to end anger in the Islamic world caused by his recent remarks on holy war.

Benedict told the Muslim ambassadors that the two faiths must overcome any historic enmities and together reject violence, since the future of humanity is at stake.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Papal Address to Muslim Leaders and Diplomats

"Lessons of the Past Must Help Us to Seek Paths of Reconciliation"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 25, 2006 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, to leaders of Muslim communities in Italy and ambassadors of Muslim countries accredited to the Holy See.

* * *

Dear Cardinal Poupard,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Muslim Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to this gathering that I wanted to arrange in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world. I thank Cardinal Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, for the words that he has just addressed to me, and I thank all of you for responding to my invitation.

The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known. I have already had occasion to dwell upon them in the course of the past week. In this particular context, I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers, calling to mind the words of the Second Vatican Council which for the Catholic Church are the Magna Carta of Muslim-Christian dialogue: "The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves wholeheartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God" (declaration "Nostra Aetate," No. 3).

Placing myself firmly within this perspective, I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians (cf. Address to the Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, April 25, 2005).

As I underlined at Cologne last year, "Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends" (Meeting with Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Cologne, Aug. 20, 2005). In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful cooperation, to overcome all the tensions together.

"Priests for Life" will deliver your personal message of support to Holy Father's office

Send a Greeting of Support to Pope Benedict XVI

As you know, the Holy Father has been subject to much criticism in these days, and much of it proves the very point that he is making, namely, that religion must never be used as a cloak for violence.

Send your own personal message of prayer and support to the Pope at Our staff in Rome will deliver these messages to the Holy Father’s office.

As we continue to fight abortion, we fight a form of violence which some use religious language to justify. Groups like “Catholics for a Free Choice” and the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice” say that aborting a baby is consistent with Biblical faith. They make the same mistake as Islamic jihadists. They use the name of God in vain to justify bloodshed.

Yet God is a God of life, not death. He is a God who is looking for those who worship him in spirit and in truth, and who, as they call to him for mercy, show that same mercy to their fellow human beings.

Pope to Muslim leaders: dialogue not optional extra but vital necessity

Benedict tells Muslim leaders, dialogue is not an option

Castelgandolfo, Sep. 25, 2006 (CNA) - Meeting with a group of Muslim clerics as well as several ambassadors from mostly Islamic countries today, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated his desire to continue down the road of sincere dialogue in order to foster peace in the world.

The Pontiff, who invited the Muslim representatives to his residence at Castelgandolfo to reaffirm his respect and esteem for their religion and people, told the leaders that the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, “cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends.

”Benedict clearly indicated his desire to forge ahead with interfaith talks, barely mentioning the comments which have caused an uproar in the Muslim world. “The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known,” Benedict commented, reminding them that he has already offered his regrets that offence had been taken and his assurances that the views of emperor Manuel II in no way reflect his own.

He then went on to quote the Second Vatican Council document “Nostra Aetate,” which he called the “Magna Carta” for the Church’s position on Muslim-Christian dialogue, saying “The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves whole-heartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God (NA, 3).”

Thoughts on Islam, by John Paul II, from his book "Crossing the Threshold of Hope"

Hat tip to Spirit Daily.


By John Paul II
[From: Crossing the Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II]


A very different discussion, obviously, is the one that leads us to the synagogues and mosques, where those who worship the One God assemble.

Yes, certainly it is a different case when we come to these great monotheistic religions, beginning with Islam. In the Declaration Nostra Aetate we read: "The Church also has a high regard for the Muslims, who worship one God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent, the Creator of heaven and earth" (Nostra Aetate 3). As a result of their monotheism, believers in Allah are particularly close to us.

I remember an event from my youth. In the convent of the Church of Saint Mark in Florence, we were looking at the frescoes by Fra Angelico. At a certain point a man joined us who, after sharing his admiration for the work of this great religious artist, immediately added: "But nothing can compare to our magnificent Muslim monotheism." His statement did not prevent us from continuing the visit and the conversation in a friendly tone. It was on that occasion that I got a kind of first taste of the dialogue between Christianity and Islam, which we have tried to develop systematically in the post-conciliar period.

Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam all the richness of God's self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside.

Some of the of most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God Who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us. Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad. There is also mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of redemption is completely absent. For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity.

Nevertheless, the religiosity of Muslims deserves respect. It is impossible not to admire, for example, their fidelity to prayer. The image of believers in Allah who, without caring about time or place, fall to their knees and immerse themselves in prayer remains a model for all those who invoke the true God, in particular for those Christians who, having deserted their magnificent cathedrals, pray only a little or not at all.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pope hopes death of Rosa Sgorbati, a missionary nun in Somalia who forgave her killers, will be "a seed of hope"

Pope praises slain Italian nun
POSTED: 11:22 a.m. EDT, September 24, 2006

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday praised an Italian nun for pardoning her killers as she lay dying from an attack in Somalia that may have been linked to worldwide Muslim anger over his recent remarks about Islam and violence.

Benedict spoke to pilgrims at his Castel Gandolfo summer palace where, on Monday, he will meet with ambassadors from predominantly Muslim countries in an effort to defuse tensions arising from a speech he gave Sept. 12 while on a pilgrimage in Germany.

Rosa Sgorbati, an Italian missionary who worked in a pediatrics hospital in Somalia under her religious name Sister Leonella, was slain in Mogadishu Sept. 17, the day that Benedict said he was deeply sorry his remarks had offended Muslims.

The pontiff has also stressed that the words he spoke, a citation from a Byzantine emperor in medieval times, did not reflect his own opinion.

Speaking Sunday about the need to overcome selfishness, Benedict cited the slaying of the nun in Somalia, where she had worked as a nurse.

"Some are asked to give the supreme testimony of blood, as it happened a few days ago to the Italian nun, Sister Leonella Sgorbati, who fell victim to violence," the pontiff said.

"This nun, who for many years served the poor and the children in Somalia, died pronouncing the word 'pardon,"' the pope told pilgrims during his traditional Sunday noon appearance. "This is the most authentic Christian testimony, a peaceful sign of contradiction which shows the victory of love over hate and evil."

See also, "Benedict XVI Mourns Nun Slain in Somalia":

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 19, 2006 ( Benedict XVI hopes that the death of Consolata Missionary Sister Leonella Sgobarti in Somalia will be "a seed of hope" for a better future.

The Pope said this in a telegram of condolence sent today to Mother Gabriella Bono, superior general of the Consolata Missionaries.

Sister Sgorbati, 65, was shot Sunday by two gunmen while crossing the road between SOS Hospital where she worked and the SOS Village where she and four other women religious lived.

She was rushed to the SOS Hospital and died shortly after, saying that she forgave her attackers.

And also, "Papal Telegram on Death of Nun in Somalia".

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Did liberal media stage-manage build up of Muslim anti-Pope hatred?

Hat tip to "Thoughts of a Conservative Chrisitan".

If these liberal media outlets are at fault, as this article indicates, they have blood on their hands.

The furor is beginning to die down, but all the controversy has focused a greater attention on what Pope Benedict actually said at Regensburg: that all should be able to pursue interfaith dialogue without the threat of religiously based violence.

In the end, thankfully, we know that what the enemy meant for evil the Lord can use for good (Genesis 50:20).

BBC, NY Times and Guardian Appear to Have Stage-Managed Muslim Anti-Pope Hatred
Ratzinger, now Benedict, has been favorite Catholic target of liberal media for years

by Hilary White

LONDON, September 18, 2006 ( – The international furor over the Pope’s comments at Regensburg last week appears to have begun through a series of carefully stage-managed media reports.

Tracing the media coverage from the day of the Pope’s speech in Regensburg, Germany, a distinct shift in approach, what media analysts call a “meme,” of “Islamic outrage”, is clearly traceable starting with the BBC’s coverage three days later.

The day after the speech, Wednesday the 13th, the Pope’s lecture elicited little response from apparently bored secular journalists who had little interest in what was considered his “obscure” and “academic” points on the relationship between religious belief and the secular world.

Catholic news sources who reported the day after the lecture were also quiet. “Pope spends quiet afternoon at home with brother,” was the leading headline at Catholic World Report.

On Thursday the 14th, however, under the headline “Pope's speech stirs Muslim anger,” the BBC began with a report that police in Kashmir had seized newspapers carrying coverage of the pope’s speech in order “to prevent tension.” The BBC’s coverage did not include any quote from the Indian-administered Kashmiri police force.

The BBC’s September 14th report was transmitted around the world in Arabic, Turkish, Farsi (the language of Iran), Urdu, the official language of Pakistan; and Malay. The next day, the anticipated furor had became a reality.

Immediately after the appearance of the first BBC coverage, the Pakistani parliament issued a declaration condemning Benedict’s speech and demanding an apology.

Later the same day, the BBC published, under the headline, “Muslim anger grows at Pope speech” a report on the Pakistan government’s reaction. It quoted the head of the Islamic extremist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, saying “the Pope's remarks ‘aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world’.

The same day, the Guardian, following the BBC’s lead, ran the headline, “Muslim anger builds over Pope's speech.” From that moment, the internet was flooded with reportage from around the world on the Pope’s alleged “attack” on Islam and the predicted response from Islamic groups began.

On the 13th, the New York Times, focusing on the Pope’s critique of Western secularism ran the headline, “The Pope Assails Secularism, with a Note on Jihad.” The report contained no hint of their later demands for papal apologies.

Ian Fisher wrote, “Several experts on the Catholic Church and Islam agreed that the speech — in which Benedict made clear he was quoting other sources on Islam — did not appear to be a major statement on, or condemnation of, Islam.”

By the weekend, however, the New York Times had dropped its examination of the content and intention of the pope’s lecture, and joined the chorus of demands for apologies in its editorial.

The BBC continued stirring the pot on the 15th, with commentary from their religious affairs correspondent, Rahul Tandon, who wrote darkly that the former Cardinal Ratzinger had “appeared to be uncomfortable with Pope John Paul II's attempts to improve dialogue with the Islamic world.”

Benedict’s unpopularity with the secularist mainstream media is legendary. Since before his election as Pope, Joseph Ratzinger had been for years the secularist and leftist media’s favorite Catholic target. Led by the BBC, the Guardian and the New York Times, media editorials had long since dubbed him “The Rottweiler” and the “Panzer Cardinal,” for his defences of Catholic doctrine, particularly on abortion and contraception.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The 9/11 of Pope Benedict XVI

In his latest column dated September 19, in "The Window" published by the "Morley Institute for Church & Culture," Deal W. Hudson takes aim at the left in the Church who are bent on undermining Pope Benedict's papacy.

Just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks dramatically altered the future of the Bush presidency, the 9/12 speech of Benedict XVI will shape the future of his papacy.

Ever since he emerged smiling through the doors of St. Peter’s, as the Cardinals’ choice to lead the Church, Benedict XVI has successfully avoided reinforcing the stereotype of a tradition-bound conservative academic. He was not unaware, however, that the Catholic Left was ready to pounce on any miscue and hold it up to the world as proof of the disaster they predicted his papacy to be.

The Left didn’t wait long. No less a critic than John Cornwell, famous for his depiction of Pius XII as anti-Semitic, announced that the pope’s speech at the University of Regensburg has “set back relations with Islam several eras” (The Australian, September 18, 2006).

Cornwell fails to mention how the 9/11 attacks with reports of terrorist pilots plowing into American targets while praying to Allah put a stain on Islam that will take “several eras” to remove.

Cornwell, not surprisingly, connects the pope’s criticism of Islam with the U.S. President and the Prime Minister of Great Britain. He quotes from the spokesman of an extremist Muslim group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, that the pope’s comments “follow consistently negative, violent, and extreme descriptions of Islam: the use of the term Islamo-fascist by George W. Bush and evil ideology by Tony Blair….”

Pope to Meet With Representatives From Muslim Nations Monday
Friday, September 22, 2006
Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has invited representatives of Muslim countries to meet next week at his summer residence, the Vatican said Friday.

Benedict will meet Monday with ambassadors from predominantly Muslim countries. A Muslim council that advised the Italian government on integration issues also was expected to participate, the ANSA news agency said.

CountryWatch:Holy See

The Vatican has been seeking to defuse anger across the Muslim world that followed the pope's remarks about Islam last week in Germany.

Benedict cited the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."

The pope said Sunday that he was "deeply sorry" about the reactions to his remarks and that they did not reflect his own opinions. Earlier this week, he said his comments were open to misinterpretation and that he had "deep respect" for Islam.

Reaction of Islamists to Pope's words: no sense of humor or irony

Today's column from Charles Krauthammer, posted on is, as most of his columns are, richly nuanced and well thought out.

Sadly, no truer words were ever written

The irony of the offense

WASHINGTON -- Religious fanatics, regardless of what name they give their jealous god, invariably have one thing in common: no sense of humor. Particularly about themselves. It's hard to imagine Torquemada taking a joke well.

Today's Islamists seem to have not even a sense of irony. They fail to see the richness of the following sequence. The pope makes a reference to a 14th-century Byzantine emperor's remark about Islam imposing itself by the sword, and to protest this linking of Islam and violence:

Pakistani protesters hold a rally to condemn Pope Benedict XVI for his remarks about Islam which hurt the sentiments of Muslims, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006 in Multan, Pakistan. Protesters continued to demand that Pope apologize fully for his remarks on Islam and violence. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer) -- In the West Bank and Gaza, Muslims attack seven churches.

-- In London, the ever-dependable radical Anjem Choudary tells a demonstration at Westminster Cathedral that the pope is now condemned to death.

-- In Mogadishu, Somali religious leader Abubukar Hassan Malin calls on Muslims to ``hunt down'' the pope. The pope not being quite at hand, they do the next best thing: shoot dead, execution-style, an Italian nun working in a children's hospital.

``How dare you say Islam is a violent religion? I'll kill you for it'' is not exactly the best way to go about refuting the charge. But of course, refuting is not the point here. The point is intimidation.

First, Salman Rushdie. Then the false Newsweek report about Koran-flushing at Guantanamo. Then the Danish cartoons. And now, a line from a scholarly disquisition on rationalism and faith given in German at a German university by the pope.

More apologies? Enough Already!

International Herald Tribune

Some say apologies by pope are too much

By Ian Fisher
The New York Times

Published: September 20, 2006

VATICAN CITY Muslims angry about Pope Benedict XVI's remarks on Islam are not the only ones talking about an apology.

"What should he apologize for?" asked Daniele Corbetta, 43, a psychologist in Rome. "There is freedom of speech, and what he said is objectively true."

There was, without doubt, a low-grade seething where Corbetta stood, amid thousands of pilgrims and tourists, in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday as the pope again addressed his quoting a medieval emperor who called Islam "evil and inhuman."

Three days after saying he was "very sorry" about the reaction to his remarks, delivered last week in Germany, Benedict sought to clarify again.

"This quotation, unfortunately, was misunderstood," the pope said, alluding to days of protests and attacks on churches by offended Muslims. "In no way did I wish to make my own the words of the medieval emperor.

"I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together," he said. He added that he hoped he had made "clear" his "profound respect for world religions and for Muslims."

But in the crowd here, and around other parts of the world that are not Muslim, there were many voices like Corbetta's, saying that the pope does not need to keep clarifying himself. Perhaps, many say, he should have been more diplomatic in his choice of quotes in his speech.

But, in a strong counterreaction to the strong Muslim reaction, many Catholics and other non-Muslims say Benedict stood out from other world leaders, in these tense times, by speaking about violence and Islam - and that the violent reaction to the remarks simply proved his point. In fact, some say the issue may define his papacy.

"It's about time that somebody from the western, Judeo-Christian religions finally came out stating that some of the teachings of Muhammad are used violently," Steven Gottesfeld, 40, an American Jew who attended the pope's weekly audience with his Catholic wife, Patricia.

For many Catholics, Benedict's speech - for all its complexity and all that remains unclear about what he meant to say - marked a turning point in this papacy and, perhaps, a historic moment of clarity: that just as his predecessor, John Paul II, played a key role in ending communism, supporters say that Benedict's role may be to speak out against radical Islam.

As such, many supporters of the pope say that he should not issue the further apology that many Muslims are demanding. For many far afield from the Vatican, using the words "very sorry" on Sunday already gave the impression of retreat.

"It just seemed to me that by apologizing and backing away a little, he was encouraging more of the violence and anger on the streets," said Edward Morrissey, 43, who this week posted an anguished "open letter" to Benedict on his popular blog, Captain's Quarters, which often addresses Catholic issues urging him not to apologize more.

"It's the nature of radicalism that if you give an inch, they will take a mile," he said in a telephone interview from Minnesota, where he blogs and works as a call center manager. "That's why I wanted to say: Don't go any further."

See also yesterday's post from Edward Morrissey, "The Futility Of 'Clarifications'" on his blog, "Captain's Quarters".

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pope's Wednesday General Audience emphasizes highlights of pastoral visit to Bavaria

Pope Benedict reiterated that his words at the University of Regensburg were meant to emphasize that "not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together."

Agenzia Fides

At his Wednesday General Audience Pope Benedict XVI retraces the steps of his pastoral visit to Bavaria: a returning to the past and a providential opportunity to look with hope to the future

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Addressing about 40,000 visitors gathered in St Peter’s Square this morning for the weekly Wednesday audience Pope Benedict XVI told them about his recent visit to his German homeland Bavaria. He explained the reason for his visit, to remember all those who helped form his personality, “and to reaffirm and confirm, as Successor of Peter, the close bonds between the See of Rome and the Church in Germany. More than a journey to my roots, it was an opportunity to look forward with hope. Under the motto “those who believe are never alone” I invited all to reflect on the baptised person’s membership in the Church where, never alone, one is in constant communion with God and others..”

First of all the Holy Father went to the city of Munich, to Marienplatz, where there is a column the Mariensäule bearing a famous centuries old statue of the Virgin and Child: “in that square, at the foot of that same image of Mary about thirty years ago, I was welcomed as Archbishop of Munich and began my ministry as such with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary - the Pope said -; at the end of my mandate before leaving for Rome I had returned to that place. This time I went to pray at the foot of the Mariensäule to implore the intercession and blessing of the Mother of God not only for the city of Munich and for Bavaria but for the whole Church and the whole world”. The next day in his homily during open air Mass at Munich’s new exhibition centre Neue Messe the Pope said people today were ‘hard of hearing’ with regard to God. “It is our duty as Christians in a secularised world to proclaim and bear witness to the message of hope offered by the faith” the Pope said. In the evening at Vespers with children who made their First Holy Communion recently and their families, catechists and other pastoral workers, Pope Benedict XVI said: “God is not in some distant unreachable place in the universe; on the contrary, in Jesus He has come close to us to establish with each human person a relationship of friendship”.

Most of Monday 11 September the Pope spent in Altötting, a greatly loved Marian Shrine where there is the famous Black Madonna: “With a thousands of faithful present for Mass celebrated in the square in front of the Church we reflected on the role of Mary in the work of salvation and to learn from her how to be helpful kindness, humility and generous acceptance of God’s will” the Pope said. The next day Tuesday 12 September, in Regensburg, the Pope celebrated another open air Mass, this time at Islinger Feld, “during which, returning to the theme of the pastoral visit "Those who believe are never alone” we reflected on the contents of the Creed”; in the late afternoon in Regensburg, the Pope presided an ecumenical celebration of Vespers: “a providential opportunity to pray together to hasten the coming of full unity among the disciples of Christ and to reaffirm our duty to proclaim integrally and clearly our faith in Jesus Christ above all through our behaviour of sincere love.”

“A particularly moving experience that day was the opportunity to give a lecture to a large auditorium of professors and students at University of Regensburg, where I was a professor for many years - the Pope continued - … The subject I had chosen was the question of the relationship between faith and reason. To introduce the auditorium to the dramatic relevance of the topic I quoted a few words, part of a Christian/Muslim dialogue in the 14th century, with which the Christian interlocutor - Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologo - in a manner for us today incomprehensibly brusque - presented to the Muslim interlocutor the problem of the relationship between religion and violence. That quotation, unfortunately, lent itself to possible misunderstanding. In no way did I wish to make my own the words of the medieval emperor. I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together. The theme of my lecture - responding to the University’s mission - was therefore the relationship between faith and religion: I intended to invite the Christian faith to dialogue with the modern world and all the different cultures and religions. I hope that on various occasions during my visit - for example in Munich when I underlined the importance of respecting that which for others is sacred - I made clear my deep respect for the great religions and in particular for Muslims who "adore One God" and with whom we are committed to "to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom. " (Nostra Aetate, 3). I trust therefore that after certain initial reactions, my words at Regensburg University will give new impulse and encouragement for positive dialogue, and self-criticism, among religions and among modern reason and the faith of Christians.”

The Pope’s last engagement was on Thursday 14 September a meeting with clergy and permanent deacons in the Cathedral of Freising. “Reliving the emotion of my ordination to the priesthood- the Pope said XVI - , I reminded those present of the duty to collaborate with the Lord to encourage new vocations at the service of the "harvest" which also today is "plentiful", and I encouraged them to cultivate the interior life as a pastoral priority, so as not to lose contact with Christ, source of joy in the daily fatigue of the ministry”.

At the farewell ceremony “once again thanking all who worked hard for the visit, I reaffirmed its main purpose: to re-propose to my countrymen and women the eternal truths of the Gospel and confirm believers in their fidelity to Christ, the Son of God, who became man, died and rose again for us ”. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 20/9/2006, righe 71, parole 1040)

See the Pope's address

Vatican Radio's Thursday "On Demand" Broadcast of the news

Note especially, in the first part of this broadcast, the Pope's recollections on his pastoral visit to Bavaria and in particular clarifications he makes concerning his thoughts about the relationship between faith and reason made during his lecture at the University of Regensburg.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pope's message at Regensburg: all must reject religious motivations for violence

This September 18 column, "Did the Pope Apologize," from Father Jonathan Morris is excellent.

Contrary to many media reports, Pope Benedict XVI did not apologize on Sunday for his September 12 discourse at the University of Regensburg. He did not retract his words, and did not say he regretted his speech. Unless, of course, you consider an apology his expression of remorse that some misunderstood him, took offense, and reacted violently and irrationally, thus proving, ironically, the accuracy of his original thesis; that cultural dialogue is a pipedream unless all sides reject religiously-motivated violence.

I can understand the journalistic misread. Many surely think that Benedict, as a German intellectual, must be as hard to understand as Heidegger, Hegel, or Kant. Maybe they skipped the reading and took the easy road of juicy sound bites. But Benedict is no typical German intellectual. He's so smart, and his thought is so refined, that he can be simple, profound, and precise at the same time. What he says, in its full context, is what he means, and much to the consternation of those who would like to offer their altogether unique interpretation, there is no need for fancy hermeneutics.

After a year and a half of a low-key pontificate, Pope Benedict finds himself on center stage. He didn't mean to make a debut. That's not the way he is. Shy by nature and strong by faith, his meek demeanor reflects the kind of rare, humble soul that is most comfortable in absolute obscurity — but stands up nicely and fearlessly in the spotlight when the mission so demands.

Those who begged for a retraction from the pontiff for his supposed explosive words, including Muslim fundamentalists and the New York Times, don't know Pope Benedict. Perhaps they thought his academic discourse on the relationship between faith and reason, in which the example of Islamic fundamentalism was a small part, had been pieced together by an out-of-touch Vatican bureaucracy. Or more likely, perhaps they never read it.

Equally outlandish were the pundits who said Pope Benedict's "gaffe" should be overlooked as a well-intentioned public relations blunder committed by a pope still wet behind the ears. To my amazement, once-harsh critics of John Paul II now gushed with praise over the late pope's "spotless record of inter-religious dialogue" as they invited "Pope Ratzinger" (arguably John Paul II's closest friend and theological bosom buddy) to try to call up distant memories of his predecessor and learn from him a thing or two.

With so many examples of media hubris, some may have missed the irony of this weekend's violent protests. In the name of Islam, angry Muslims in the Middle East torched papal effigies and Christian churches. These were violent protests against anyone who would dare call them or their religion violent. The senselessness reached new heights when gunmen killed a Catholic nun with four bullets in the back of the head. It was a fitting "thank you" to a woman who was dedicating her life to the sick and dying in a hospital in Somalia. Her patients, of course, were mostly Muslim.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

HLI: We Love and Support Our Pope

"This week the Catholic Church has been on the receiving end of evil and inhumane threats and acts of violence. We must meet these challenges with prayer and strength in solidarity with our pope," states prominent Roman Catholic Priest.

FRONT ROYAL, Va., Sept. 19 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, issued the following response to the recent torrent of hostility directed at Pope Benedict XVI by Muslim jihadists.

Human Life International has launched a new website to bring all Christians together in prayer for our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in our moment of trial:

The great debate between Christianity and Islam is reaching a crisis point. This week the Catholic Church has been on the receiving end of evil and inhumane threats and acts of violence. We must meet these challenges with prayer and strength in solidarity with our pope.

For his strength and well being in this critical hour we ask all Christians to offer prayers and supplication (1 Tim 2:1-4) on behalf of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI that he may continue to shepherd Christ's flock out of a culture of death and into the Culture of Life.

Founded in 1981, Human Life International is the world's largest pro-life, pro-family organization that is dedicated to defending life, faith and the family, with branches and affiliates around the world.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Vatican opens pre-WWII archives

BBC News
By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

The Vatican has opened to scholars and historians part of its vast collection of archives.

The section being opened covers the rise of Mussolini and Hitler and the run-up to the World War II.

It dates from the reign of Pope Pius XI, who was pope from 1922 until just before the outbreak of war in 1939.

Details of the Vatican's relations with Germany's Adolf Hitler and Italy's Benito Mussolini are expected to be of great interest to scholars.

The Vatican houses one of the world's most important historical archives, the so-called "secret archive" which contains some 2m documents dating back up to 1,000 years.

The Pope and Islam controversy

CNN's Delia Gallagher looks at the controversy sparked by the Pope's words. (September 16)

Violence in opposition to criticism of faith is unreasonable

Pope Benedict is trying to engage Muslims in a dialogue about the unreasonableness of spreading their faith through violence. As he stated in his address and along with the Byzantine emperor he quotes, he believes that,
The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God," he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats."
I, along with the Pope, believe that Muslims who express opposition to any criticism of their faith or practice of their faith through violence and threats are being unreasonable.

Greg Strange in this Opinion piece from September 16 at, echoes my sentiments

Muslims Worldwide Outraged by Pope Benedict's Comments; Here We Go Again

Here we go again with another outburst from the Religion of Perpetual Outrage. Muslims worldwide are angry again, this time at (Can you guess who? Drum roll, please. . .) the Pope!

Muslims are angry over some remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI during a lecture at a German university. The Vatican later said that the Pope did not intend the remarks to be offensive, but you know how that goes. Anyway, here are some excerpts from the speech. As a sort of amusing exercise, see if you can pick out the parts that, once again, have Muslims worldwide having conniption fits.

See also today's post, "Jihad: internal striving for righteousness or external violence against 'infidels'?" on my blog, "Crusaders for Truth".

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pope “sincerely regrets” that his words have offended; text of official apology

Vatican City, Sep. 16, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI regrets that his recent comments have been misinterpreted in an offensive way, thus spurring outrage among many Muslims, according to the Vatican’s Secretary of State. On the second day of his new job, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone released a statement clarifying that the Pontiff regards Muslims with “respect and esteem,” and calling people to give his remarks a “complete and attentive” reading.

Bertone said that it was necessary to release a statement in addition to the one released by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, due to the reaction by many Muslims to a short passage in the Pope’s recent address at the University of Regensburg. The reaction of the Muslim world has moved from the expression of displeasure by Muslim clerics to the burning of effigies of the Pope and attacks on Christian churches in the Middle East.

The cardinal emphasized that Benedict holds the same position on Islam as the Church expressed in paragraph 3 of the Vatican II document “Nostra Aetate.”

The document states that that the Church regards Muslims, “with esteem,” noting their adoration of “the one God” their honor for Jesus (who Muslims consider a prophet) and Mary, their valuing of the moral life, and attentiveness to prayer, almsgiving, and fasting.

Today, in "The Jerusalem Post" the full text of that apology is revealed in this article.

Text of Pope's official apology statement
Associated Press
Sep. 17, 2006 14:19

The following is the text of the official Vatican translation of Pope Benedict XVI's remarks, delivered in Italian on Sunday about his Sept. 12 speech that sparked anger among Muslims:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The pastoral visit which I recently made to Bavaria was a deep spiritual experience, bringing together personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives towards an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today.

I thank God for the interior joy which he made possible, and I am also grateful to all those who worked hard for the success of this Pastoral Visit. As is the custom, I will speak more of this during next Wednesdays general audience.

At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.

These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.

Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.

See also the "Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate)".

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Worldwide press expresses outrage at Pope Benedict's address at Regensburg

The digital drumbeat of outrage continues...

The following are just a few of the many articles worldwide that have expressed an unjustified outrage at what is perceived to be the anti-Islam tone of the Pope's remarks.

Morocco recalls ambassador to Vatican
Sify News - 13 minutes ago

Greater Kashmir - 51 minutes ago

Muslim Leaders Demand Apology For Papal Comments, But Vatican Stops Short
WAVE 3 Louisville - 56 minutes ago

Zaman Online - 1 hour, 15 minutes ago

Guardian Council condemns Pope's anti-Islam statement
Islamic Republic News Agency - 1 hour, 16 minutes ago

Bardakoglu Reacts Against Statements of Pope Benedict XVI Fri, 15 Sep 2006 11:20 AM PDT

Pressure builds on Pope Benedict
Orange County Register Sat, 16 Sep 2006 3:22 AM PDT

Muslims Ask Pope Benedict to Apologize
Arab News Fri, 15 Sep 2006 4:11 PM PDT

Muslim leaders demand apology from pope
AP via Yahoo! News Sat, 16 Sep 2006 7:38 AM PDT

Vatican: Pope has a "radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence"

Holy See Press Office Director issues declaration concerning the interpretation of certain passages of the address delivered by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration to journalists concerning the interpretation of certain passages of the address delivered by the Holy Father at the University of Regensburg on September 12.

"Concerning the reaction of Muslim leaders to certain passages of the Holy Father's address at the University of Regensburg, it should be noted that what the Holy Father has to heart - and which emerges from an attentive reading of the text - is a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence.

It was certainly not the intention of the Holy Father to undertake a comprehensive study of the jihad and of Muslim ideas on the subject, still less to offend the sensibilities of Muslim faithful.

Quite the contrary, what emerges clearly from the Holy Father's discourses is a warning, addressed to Western culture, to avoid 'the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom.'

A just consideration of the religious dimension is, in fact, an essential premise for fruitful dialogue with the great cultures and religions of the world. And indeed, in concluding his address in Regensburg, Benedict XVI affirmed how 'the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.'

What is clear then, is the Holy Father's desire to cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue towards other religions and cultures, including, of course, Islam.”

(S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 15/9/2006, righe 20, parole 269)

Muslims burn Pope Benedict in effigy over excerpts from University of Regensburg speech

The following is a news excerpt from the September 15, 2006 edition of the Fox News Channel and is the post entitled "Muslims Burn Effigy of Pope Benedict XVI, Compare The Pontiff to Hitler & Mussolini" from the website, the "Terror-Free Oil Initiative".

Radical Muslims have still not joined the civilized world. Even when it comes to criticisms about their violence when Islam is criticized in any way, they try to shut down those critical voices through violent intimidation. Even criticism about their violence leads to more violence.

Pope Benedict has been trying to engage Muslims in an honest dialogue concerning that violence. He has tried to call them to an inner reflection.

Please see my post, "Transcript of Pope's Address at University of Regensburg: conversion by violent jihad is unreasonable" for a full transcipt of his speech.

Thanks, Terror-Free Oil Initiative, for making this news excerpt available.

Interested in a concerned Christian's response to the issues of Islam and terrorism? Please also see my blog, "Crusaders for Truth"

Friday, September 15, 2006

Vatican defends pope's speech as criticism builds

USA Today On Deadline
Sept. 15, 2006

The Vatican is defending remarks from Pope Benedict XVI after Islamic clerics and scholars said the pontiff's remarks on holy war were offensive to Muslims. The Associated Press has a summary of the controversial passage:

"The pope made his remarks on Islam in a speech Tuesday at the University of Regensburg. He quoted from a book in which 14th-century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel II Paleologos and a Persian have a conversation about truths of Christianity and Islam.

"'The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war,' Benedict said. 'He said, I quote, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."' Indicating the delicate nature of the topic, Benedict said 'I quote' twice before reading passages about Islam, and he described them as 'brusque.' However, he neither explicitly agreed with nor repudiated the passages."

Immediately following the speech, experts told The New York Times the entirety of the text was tougher on Western society than on Islamic soceity but also that the remarks "ran the risk of offense." A story today in the Times says some of the toughest responses are coming from Turkey, which the pope is scheduled to visit in November; and Pakistan's parliament today has condemned the pope and asked for an apology.

You can read the prepared text of the pope's speech on the Vatican website.

Posted by Patrick Cooper at 07:53 AM/ET, September 15, 2006 in World

Pakistan's parliament condemns Pope

AP via Yahoo! News
1 hour, 53 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's parliament on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Pope Benedict XVI for making what it called "derogatory" comments about Islam, and seeking an apology from him for hurting the sentiments of Muslims.

The resolution, moved by hardline lawmaker Fazal Karim, was supported by both government and opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament.

Chaudhry Ameer Hussain, speaker of the National Assembly, allowed Karim to move the resolution after Karim said the pope had insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and hurt the sentiments of the entire Muslim world by making "derogatory remarks."

The measure was adopted a day after the Vatican sought to defuse criticism of the pontiff's remarks, when he quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian on the truths of Christianity and Islam.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pope ends nostalgic visit to native Bavaria

by Guy Jackson Thu Sep 14, 8:47 AM ET

MUNICH, Germany (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI bade a fond farewell to his native Bavaria after a sentimental six-day visit to the prosperous southern German region in which he re-traced his early life.

The visit was strongly nostalgic, taking in his birthplace, the grave of his parents and sister and the cathedral where he was ordained, but he courted controversy by criticising the Islamic concept of "Jihad" or holy war.

The 79-year-old pontiff said Thursday in an address at Munich airport before flying to Rome that he had been moved by the warm welcome of his compatriots during his fourth foreign visit since becoming pope in April 2005.

"These have been busy days, when I re-lived many past events which have left a mark on my life. Everywhere I was received with an attention and care which touched me deeply," the pope said.

Pope's comments on jihad at University of Regensburg provoke a storm of controversy

For some of those articles see:

Pope asked to apologise for comments on Islam
IBN live - 33 minutes ago

Pope comments Islam preaches violence
Turks.US - 44 minutes ago

Muslims demand Pope apologise for linking Islam with violence
AFP via Yahoo! News - 1 hour, 17 minutes ago

Turkish cleric attacks pope's remarks about Islam
International Herald Tribune - 1 hour, 39 minutes ago

India seizes papers with pope's Islam criticism
AFP via Yahoo! News - Sep 14 2:27 AM

Pope criticised over Islam remarks
Aljazeera - 2 hours, 25 minutes ago

Pope's attack on Islam sparks anger, tarnishes homecoming - 2 hours, 35 minutes ago

Turkey's top Muslim leader slams Pope over Islam criticism - 2 hours, 50 minutes ago

Pope's remarks on Islam pointlessly upset a billion Muslims: paper - 2 hours, 34 minutes ago

Transcript of Pope's Address at University of Regensburg: conversion by violent jihad is unreasonable

In the context of a dialogue "by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both," Pope Benedict probes into the historical development of jihad (holy war).

According to the Pope, when the emperor touches on the theme of jihad in the seventh conversation, he must have known sura 2:256 of the Qu'ran which reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." The Pope explains that this "is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]." But, further on in his dialogue with the educated Persian the emperor also makes clear that Mohammed contradicted himself at a later date when he advocated violent jihad. According to the Pope, the emperor poses "the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general," when he asks, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

In agreement with Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, Pope Benedict states that "[t]he emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable." He then quotes the emperor in greater detail,

"God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."

Bravo, Pope Benedict for this clear and concise partial exegesis of the development of jihad.

Conversion to any faith through violence or coersion is always unreasonable and never legitimate.

Papal Address at University of Regensburg

"Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization"

REGENSBURG, Germany, SEPT. 12, 2006 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered to scientists at the University of Regensburg, where he was a professor and vice rector from 1969 to 1971.

This is the version the Pope read, adding some allusions of the moment, which he hopes to publish in the future, complete with footnotes. Hence, the present text must be considered provisional.

* * *

Faith, Reason and the University
Memories and Reflections

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a moving experience for me to stand and give a lecture at this university podium once again. I think back to those years when, after a pleasant period at the Freisinger Hochschule, I began teaching at the University of Bonn. This was in 1959, in the days of the old university made up of ordinary professors. The various chairs had neither assistants nor secretaries, but in recompense there was much direct contact with students and in particular among the professors themselves. We would meet before and after lessons in the rooms of the teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between the two theological faculties.

Once a semester there was a "dies academicus," when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of "universitas": The reality that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason -- this reality became a lived experience.

The university was also very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the "whole" of the "universitas scientiarum," even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: It had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical skepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: This, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by professor Theodore Khoury (Muenster) of part of the dialogue carried on -- perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara -- by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.

It was probably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than the responses of the learned Persian. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Koran, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship of the "three Laws": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran.

In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself -- which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason," I found interesting and which can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pope: violent conversion to Islam contrary to reason and "contrary to God's nature"

New York Times

Pope Assails Secularism, Adding Note on Jihad

Alexander Heimann/Getty Images
Pope Benedict distributing communion Tuesday to some of the 250,000 people who attended the Mass he celebrated in Regensburg, Germany.

Published: September 13, 2006

REGENSBURG, Germany, Sept. 12 — Pope Benedict XVI weighed in Tuesday on the delicate issue of rapport between Islam and the West: He said that violence, embodied in the Muslim idea of jihad, or holy war, is contrary to reason and God’s plan, while the West was so beholden to reason that Islam could not understand it.

Nonetheless, in a complex treatise delivered at the university here where he once taught, he suggested reason as a common ground for a “genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today.”

In all, the speech seemed to reflect the Vatican’s struggle over how to confront Islam and terrorism, as the 79-year-old pope pursues what is often considered a more provocative, hard-nosed and skeptical approach to Islam than his predecessor, John Paul II.

As such, it distilled many of Benedict’s longstanding concerns, about the crisis of faith among Christians and about Islam and its relationship to violence.

And he used language open to interpretations that could inflame Muslims, at a time of high tension among religions and three months before he makes a trip to Turkey.

He began his speech, which ran over half an hour, by quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, in a conversation with a “learned Persian” on Christianity and Islam — “and the truth of both.”

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread the sword by the faith he preached,” the pope quoted the emperor, in a speech to 1,500 students and faculty.

He went on to say that violent conversion to Islam was contrary to reason and thus “contrary to God’s nature.”

See also today's post "Pope: Fundamentalist Islam Contradicts Muhammad" in my blog, "Crusaders for Truth".

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pope celebrates Mass for 230,000 in Regensburg

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the pilgrims at the end of a papal Mass at the Islinger field in Regensburg, southern Germany, some 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) northeast of Munich, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006. German-born Pope Benedict XVI pays a six-day visit to his native homeland Bavaria from Sept. 9 to Sept. 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

ABC News International

230,000 Attend Pope's Mass in Germany
230,000 People Attend Mass Conducted by Pope in German University Town Where He Once Taught

REGENSBURG, Germany Sep 12, 2006 (AP)— Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass for 230,000 people Tuesday in a sunny field outside Regensburg, taking his homecoming tour of his native Bavaria to the university town where he once taught theology.

Pilgrims carrying flags and folding chairs streamed into the field to cheer as Benedict rode slowly through the crowd, waving on his way to the canopied altar platform.

Pope Benedict Visits His Hometown, Charming Its Residents

Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

Benedict XVI shook hands Monday with townspeople in his birthplace, Marktl am Inn, Bavaria. He passed through flag-waving crowds for a brief glance at the white-and-yellow house where he was born Joseph Alois Ratzinger, the son of a police officer, in 1927. He spent time in the church where he was baptized, praying with his brother, George, who is also a priest.

New York Times

Published: September 12, 2006

MARKTL AM INN, Germany, Sept. 11 — There were carved wooden busts of the man born here, bishop’s mitre cookies and a Vatican bratwurst suitable for washing down at the Benedict beerhouse. Monday was a day to make the most of, since it is almost certain this town will never produce another pope. It may, in fact, be their pope’s last visit.

“We are very proud of this son of our village,” said Josef Maier, 50, an electrician.

Benedict XVI paid a quick trip here on Monday, passing through flag-waving crowds for a brief glance up at the white-and-yellow house where he was born Joseph Alois Ratzinger, the son of a police officer, on April 21, 1927. He spent time in the nearby church where he was baptized the day he was born, praying with his older brother, George, 82, who is also a priest.

Pope: Praying with profound faith is key to increasing vocations

Pope Tells of Key to Awaken Vocations
Meeting at Shrine Turns Toward Prayer

ALTOETTING, Germany, SEPT. 11, 2006 ( Benedict XVI stressed that if Catholics pray with profound faith the Church will receive the vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life that it needs.

The Pope expressed this conviction when celebrating Vespers this evening with religious and seminarians of Bavaria and members of the Society for Spiritual Vocations in the Basilica of St. Anne in the Marian shrine of Altoetting.

"God's harvest is indeed great, and it needs laborers," said the Holy Father. "In the so-called Third World -- in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia -- people are waiting for heralds to bring them the Gospel of peace, the good news of God who became man.

"But also in the so-called West, here among us in Germany, and in the vast lands of Russia it is true that a great harvest could be reaped. But there is a lack of people willing to become laborers for God's harvest."

Benedict XVI noted: "The Lord seeks laborers for his harvest. He himself said as much: 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.' That is why we are gathered here: to make this urgent request to the Lord of the harvest."

And, from Spirit Daily comes this interesting commentary on the Pope's observations concerning the key to increasing vocations:


It was there in a statement made by the Pope. Speaking during his visit to Germany, Benedict XVI lamented how, if an African bishop goes to Germany, presenting a plea for a social program, he receives enormous help. Every door opens.

But, said the Pope, when an African bishop goes to that same country (or, one might add, any Western nation) with a plan for evangelization, he meets with "reservations."

"Clearly some people have the idea that social projects should be urgently undertaken, while anything dealing with God or even the Catholic faith is of limited and lesser importance," said the Holy Father -- so tellingly, in this land of the Reformation, and speaking about the Church!

In a nutshell there was the root of a current crisis in the priesthood:

Many of our clerics are more social workers, or sociologists, than they are evangelists, more comfortable in the board room of a social agency than in a church where there is the laying on of hands. They prefer the academic, sociological approach to one that is spiritual.

Pope visits birthplace in Marktl am Inn; he considers it a "place of warmth and family"

Pope visits place of birth in Marktl am Inn

Marktl am Inn, Sep. 11, 2006 (CNA) - During the third day of his trip to Germany, Pope Benedict XVI visited hometown of Marktl am Inn, which he has always considered a “place of warmth and family.” The Pontiff shook hands with residents and prayed at the church in which he was baptized.

Benedict XVI remembers little about this town, as he only spent the first two years of his life there. A few hours after being born, on April 16, 1927, he was baptized by Father Josef Stangl at the Church of St. Oswald, with the name “Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger” in the baptismal waters of the Easter Vigil.

The Holy Father once wrote, “To be the first to be baptized with the Easter water was taken as a sign of a special calling.” That the beginning of his life was marked by the mystery of Easter has always been a source of joy and gratitude to God for him.Marktl am Inn has always maintained close ties to the Holy Father. In 1997, residents conferred upon him the title of “Illustrious Citizen,” on the occasion of his 70th birthday. After a Mass in the parish where he was baptized, then Cardinal Ratzinger was surprised to discover a commemorative plaque that had been on the side of the home where he was born.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pope prays at Marian shrine of Altötting for victims of September 11

11-September-2006 -- Catholic World News Brief


Sep. 11 ( - Pope Benedict XVI and the faithful of Bavaria joined in prayer for the victims of terrorism on September 11, recalling particularly the attack on New York five years earlier.

As the Pope celebrated Mass at the Marian shrine in Altötting, one of the prayers of intercession referred directly to the somber anniversary: "Five years after the attacks on New York, we pray for the victims, and for peace in the entire world."

The previous day, when the Pope celebrated Mass in a fairground in Munich, one of the prayers of the faithful had sounded a similar theme, with a petition for the victims of warfare, terror, and violence, and for the political leaders seeking to provide security and justice for their peoples.

A memorial prayer on 9/11: "May Jesus' loving face supplant the face of evil"

On this day of remembrance, I lift up this prayer to the Lord for those who were martyred by evil on 9/11:
Your suffering was not in vain. Jesus' love and mercy and the cross of Christ will triumph over the evil of Islamo-fascism. We have a sweet and blessed assurance: the merciful and loving face of Christ will always triumph over the face of evil.
Please note the following from

Many Mysterious Images and Objects are Seen in the WTC Smoke.
Crosses are Seen Standing in the Ruins after the WTC Towers Collapse.

Images and Crosses
Editor's Comments

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was working at my home office. After being informed of the first terrorist attack on the Trade Center towers I turned on the television and watched the horror unfold. I was shocked at the unimaginable destruction, and overwhelming loss of life. It was a tragedy beyond belief.

As I watched that morning, I noticed a series of eerie faces in the billowing smoke. These images appeared to morph in the seemingly never-ending pillars of ugly black smoke. I made a mental note of these surreal apparitions, and I mentioned it to my wife. I did not discuss these sightings again. After all, I tend to see images in clouds. However the images I see in clouds are always pleasant images, usually animals.

In assembling the archives for this site, I viewed thousands of images and newspaper covers. Again, I noticed the eerie faces in the still images of the smoke of the burning towers. They seemed to be present in not just one, but several of the burning tower images. Further research provided additional information and seemed to confirm what I was seeing.

I was not alone in noticing these awful faces.

Mark D. Phillips, a professional AP photographer in New York, captured an incredibly real image of an evil, devil-like face that is distinguishable on the side of the tower's exterior structure. The authenticity of this image has caused a bit of a stir. Our research has concluded that his image is original and not doctored.

The Associated Press and Mark Phillips have unequivocally denied any tampering or enhancement of the image. In fact, neither AP or Phillips were aware of what the photograph appeared to reveal until the image was noticed by readers of US newspapers. When the photo appeared on an early Wednesday (Sept. 12) edition of the Saginaw (Michigan) Press, the phone calls began. (See images below.)

Further reports indicate that both CNN and ABC have also captured additional devilish images on their television videotape coverage. (See images below.)

Additional faces and images have also been identified by several others. (See images below.)

The images on this page are not intended to frighten. They are what they are: mostly evil images from an evil act. I, like most people in the world, are convinced that goodness will prevail over evil, and we pray that the likes of these images will never be seen again.

In a speech to the USA on September 11th, President Bush said, "Today, our nation saw evil." He may have been literally correct. Later in that same speech he also said, "Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me."

Please note such images of "eerie faces" in the smoke, especially from 55 to 59 seconds, in the video "September 11" in today's post, "Our best tribute to those who died on 9/11: Defeat the ideology of Islamo-fascism" on my blog, "Crusaders for Truth."

Papal Homily at Munich 's Fairgrounds:"Heal Our Hardness of Hearing for God's Presence"

MUNICH, Germany, SEPT. 10, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered in German today during the Mass celebrated at Munich's fairgrounds Neue-Messe.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,First, I would like to offer all of you an affectionate greeting. I am happy to be among you once again and to celebrate Holy Mass with you. I am also happy to revisit familiar places which had a decisive influence on my life, shaping my thoughts and feelings: places where I learned how to believe and how to live. This is a time to say thanks to all those -- living and deceased -- who guided and accompanied me along the way. I thank God for this beautiful country and for all the persons who have made it truly my homeland.

We have just listened to the three biblical readings which the Church's liturgy has chosen for this Sunday. All three develop a double theme which is ultimately one, bringing out -- as circumstances dictate -- one or another of its aspects. All three readings speak of God as the center of all reality and the center of our personal life.

"Here is your God!" exclaims the prophet Isaiah (35:4). In their own way, the Letter of James and the Gospel passage say the very same thing. They want to lead us to God, to set us on the right path. But to speak of "God" is also to speak of society: of our shared responsibility for the triumph of justice and love in the world. This is powerfully expressed in the second reading, in which James, a close relative of Jesus, speaks to us.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pope’s evening message: In Jesus, God offers shelter in our midst

Munich, Sep. 10, 2006 (CNA) - Completing his first full day in Munich, Pope Benedict XVI prayed Vespers, or evening prayer, at the Cathedral of Munich. Among the participants were several children who are preparing for their First Communion, their families, and catechists of the archdiocese.

Prior to entering the Frauenkirche (~the Church of the Lady) the Pope spent time speaking with the crowd gathered outside and shaking their hands. The faithful were overjoyed – smiling and offering prayers and encouragement to the Pope as he passed. An older Bavarian woman, at one point, grabbed the Pope’s arm and pulled him close for a hug.

The Pontiff entered the gothic cathedral which, with the exception of its two onion-domed spires, was entirely rebuilt after being destroyed during World War II.

Pope Benedict Urges Return to Faith in Germany


by Sylvia Poggioli

Weekend Edition Sunday, September 10, 2006 · Pope Benedict 16th is in Germany on his second trip to the country and his first to his home state of Bavaria since he became pope. In a sermon at an open-air Mass in Munich, Benedict says that modern people have a "hardness of hearing" when it comes to God.

Pope: “It’s beautiful to be able to see my old homeland again”

Franco Orgilia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Munich Saturday for the start of a six-day visit to his Bavarian homeland. It was Benedict’s fourth trip outside Italy since he was elected pope in April 2005.

New York Times

Benedict Begins Pilgrimage to His Homeland
Published: September 10, 2006

MUNICH, Sept. 9 — Pope Benedict XVI, a reserved man who rarely speaks about himself publicly, arrived Saturday in his home country on a personal pilgrimage to the places that shaped him as a child, a priest and finally a cardinal here in Germany’s Catholic heartland.

“Beautiful,” he told reporters on the plane here from Rome. “It’s beautiful to be able to see my old homeland again.”

And Germans here in Bavaria, more Catholic and more religious than much of this largely secular nation, gave him a rousing welcome. They crowded overpasses along the route from the airport, waved yellow-and-white Vatican flags and packed into Marienplatz, the medieval square in Munich’s heart, to see the first German pope since the 16th century.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Germany gets ready to toast its favorite son

Ralph Orlowski / Getty Images file
Beer bottles with a picture of Pope Benedict XVI on sale in Marktl, Germany, the birthplace of the pope. Benedict will return home during a six-day visit to Germany begining on Saturday.
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From 'Benedict Beer' to pastries, rolling out the red carpet for pope visit

Andy Eckardt
NBC News
Updated: 6:30 p.m. ET Sept 8, 2006

MAINZ, Germany — "Pope Benedict pastries" — sweet cakes with a cross in the middle — fill bakery windows in the small town of Marktl, the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI, in anticipation of his arrival in the Catholic-dominated Bavarian heartland on Saturday.

Across town, crates of "Benedict Beer" are being brought in for the expected influx of tourists. And souvenir stores have been stocking up on pope memorabilia.

It seems as if the Vatican is following a cue from the World Cup's marketing campaign: colorful pope hats, pope T-shirts, dish-washer friendly pope mugs, pope umbrellas, pope baseball caps and even pope cigarette lighters have been flooding shops.