Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Pope moved by visit to Poland

Vatican City, May. 31, 2006 (CNA) - Benedict XVI dedicated this morning's general audience to a special catechesis on his recently-concluded journey to Poland, "revisiting," together with the 35,000 faithful in St. Peter's Square, the various stages of his apostolic trip.

Recalling first his meeting with the clergy in Warsaw, he said, "My pilgrimage began under the sign of the priesthood. It continued with an expression of ecumenical solicitude in the Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity. On that occasion I reiterated my firm intention to consider the restoration of full visible unity among Christian as a priority of my ministry."

Pope condemns racism and anti-Semitism

05/31/2006 14:49

Pope Benedict XVI followed up his visit to Auschwitz with a call Wednesday for the world to resist the "temptation of racial hatred," saying it was at the root of anti-Semitism. "May contemporary mankind not forget Auschwitz and other similar factories of death in which the Nazi regime attempted to eliminate God in order to take his place," the German-born pope told his weekly general audience.

Benedict stopped Sunday at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps in the final event of a four-day trip to Poland. As many as 1.5 million people, most of them Jews, died at the camps during World War II. "I wanted to stop at this place, sadly famous in the whole world, before returning to Rome," Benedict said in describing his pilgrimage. He said that there and in other camps "Hitler ordered the extermination of 6 million Jews."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Eternal flame honoring John Paul II to be lit at Vatican grottos

Vatican City, May. 30, 2006 (CNA) - This Friday an eternal flame in honor of Pope John Paul II will be lit at the Vatican grottos, in a ceremony to be led by the Vicar General of Vatican City, Archbishop Angelo Comastri.

House where Pope JPII born to be made memorial of Jewish-Catholic friendship

The Washington Times-UPI

Jews, Catholics plan friendship memorial

May. 30, 2006 at 10:14AM

Poland's Catholic church has agreed to turn the house where the late Pope John Paul II was born into a memorial of the Jewish-Catholic friendship.

During his four-day stay in Poland, the German-born Pope Benedict XVI Saturday paid a brief stop in Wadowice, the birthplace of his predecessor and mentor John Paul II, to enter and bless the house, the Washington Post reported.

Some 20 years ago the house was turned into a museum. About 200,000 pilgrims from Poland and around the world annually visit the site, containing memorabilia of the late pope, whom his countrymen praise as "our greatest Pole."

Local authorities and Polish Catholic church dignitaries have agreed to add an exhibit in memory of the Jews who lost lives in the Holocaust during Nazi German occupation in World War II.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2006

President Bush in his Memorial Day 2006 Proclamation asks that all Americans unite in prayer today at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in honor of those who gave up their lives to bring us peace. I lift up my heart in prayer and also pray that all Americans be drawn to be recollected in prayer, as he requested---for permanent peace throughout the world:

Memorial Day 2006

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

Throughout our history, the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States have placed the security of our Nation before their own safety. America will be forever grateful for their service and sacrifice. On Memorial Day, we honor those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Defending the ideals of our Nation has required the service and sacrifice of those from every generation. From Valley Forge, across Europe and Asia, and in Afghanistan and Iraq, courageous Americans have given their lives so that others could live in freedom. These Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen took an oath to defend America, and they upheld that oath with bravery and decency. They have liberated the oppressed, spread freedom and peace, and set a standard of courage and compassion for our Nation. All who enjoy the blessings of liberty live in their debt.

This debt of gratitude extends also to the families who stood by our servicemen and women in times of war and times of peace. Each of the fallen has left behind loved ones who carry a burden of grief, and all Americans are inspired by the strength of these families.

At this important time in the history of freedom, a new generation of Americans is defending our flag and our liberty. These men and women carry on the legacy of our Nation's fallen heroes and demonstrate that the United States Armed Forces remain the greatest force for freedom in human history.

Those who lost their lives in the defense of freedom helped protect our citizens and lay the foundation of peace for people everywhere. On Memorial Day, a grateful Nation pays tribute to their personal courage, love of country, and dedication to duty.

In respect for their devotion to America, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved on May 11, 1950, as amended (64 Stat. 158), has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated the minute beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 29, 2006, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day. I encourage the media to participate in these observances. I also request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States, and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

Slideshow of pictures from Auschwitz

"Auschwitz," a photoset created by Michosław.

As Michoslaw describes, he created this photoset "in memoriam":

Pictures from Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-II Birkenau. In memory of my great-great grand-mother, Wanda Łoskoczyńska, killed 13.12.1944 having been brought here 12-13.08.1944 from Pruszków near Warsaw.R.I.P.

Pope's Message at Auschwitz

As the Pope commemorated those who lost their lives to the Nazi Holocaust at Auschwitz-Birkinau on Sunday, May 28, may we pray that all those who died rest in peace.

"As a Son of the German People, I Could Not Fail to Come Here"

KRAKOW, Poland, MAY 28, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today when visiting the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the last stage of his apostolic trip to Poland.

* * *

To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible -- and it is particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a Pope from Germany. In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can only be a dread silence -- a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?

In silence, then, we bow our heads before the endless line of those who suffered and were put to death here; yet our silence becomes in turn a plea for forgiveness and reconciliation, a plea to the living God never to let this happen again.

Twenty-seven years ago, on June 7, 1979, Pope John Paul II stood in this place. He said: "I come here today as a pilgrim. As you know, I have been here many times. So many times! And many times I have gone down to Maximilian Kolbe's death cell, paused before the execution wall, and walked amid the ruins of the Birkenau ovens. It was impossible for me not to come here as Pope."

A German Pope Confronts the Nazi Past at Auschwitz

New York Times

Published: May 29, 2006

AUSCHWITZ, Poland, May 28 — Pope Benedict XVI prayed on Sunday at the cells and crematories of the concentration camp complex here, on a visit he called "particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a pope from Germany."

"Words fail," said Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria in 1927. The son of a policeman, he was inducted unwillingly into the Hitler Youth and the German Army. "In the end, there can only be a dread silence, a silence that itself is a heartfelt cry to God.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Slideshow of Pope's Pilgrimage to Kraków

All these and other photos created by Michosław.

900,000 attend as Pope celebrates Mass In Krakow

AP via Yahoo! News - 1 hour, 2 minutes ago

Thousands gather in Krakow to see Pope
By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA, Associated Press Writer 57 minutes ago

KRAKOW, Poland - Pope Benedict XVI urged some 900,000 Poles gathered in a rain-soaked field Sunday to share their faith with other countries in mostly secular Europe, saying it was the best way to honor their beloved John Paul II.

The huge crowd sang, clapped and waved yellow and white Vatican flags during the Mass in Blonia meadow, the same spot where John Paul drew large crowds on his trips to Krakow, where he served as archbishop before becoming pope.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

NPR audio clip: Pope Benedict in Krakow


Pope Benedict in Krakow, Home of John Paul II
by Sylvia Poggioli

Listen to this story...

All Things Considered, May 26, 2006 · Pope Benedict XVI continues his visit to Poland in Krakow, where his friend and predecessor John Paul II spent much of his life as priest, bishop and cardinal. Benedict will stop at Auschwitz this weekend, stressing his commitment to improved relations with Jews and fighting anti-Semitism.

Deal Hudson: "What Makes 'The Da Vinci Code' Anti-Catholic"

In the May 26 issue of "The Window: A Catholic Look at Society, Culture and Politics," published by the Morley Institute for Church & Culture, Deal Hudson discusses, "What Makes The Da Vinci Code Anti-Catholic":

A reader of the Window wrote asking me to explain why I found The Da Vinci Code anti-Catholic. That's a fair question, since as she pointed out, I didn't supply any examples.

Anyone doubting my word can consult the film's co-producer, John Calley. He told The New York Times (9/7/2005) that the movie was "conservatively anti-Catholic" but not "destructively so."

I wonder if Mr. Calley sought any expert opinions on what would be destructive to the Church, or if he considered himself qualified to make that call. Why did he reject the request for a disclaimer at the beginning of the film, if he was concerned about its possibly being destructive? It's widely known that many of Dan Brown's readers believe his claim that the book is based upon "historical evidence."

Since Calley is a former chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, it's safe to assume that other Sony executives are fully aware of the film's assault on the reputation of the Catholic Church. Peter Boyer has written a fascinating account in The New Yorker (5/22/06) of how Sony's marketing department tried to head off conservative Christian criticism of the film. "(Hollywood Heresy: Marketing 'The Da Vinci Code' to Christians").

Boyer chronicles Sony's attempt to inoculate itself against a Christian backlash by creating a web site for Christians to debate whether Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene; whether they begat children; and whether the Church has hidden this secret ever since.

It's a sad day when Christian scholars get sucked into a scam like this just to be associated with Hollywood.

Sony has not been deterred by the worldwide protest against the film. Why should it? Since The Da Vinci Code is already a financial, though not critical success, Sony has announced its intention of filming more of Dan Brown's novels. Angels and Demons, his 2000 anti-Catholic rant on the subject of science, is already under development.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Human Rights, told me, "What would have happened if Calley had said his movie was 'conservatively' anti-Semitic or African-American? Do you think the film would have ever seen the light of day?"

Donohue has been the most visible Catholic leader making the case against The Da Vinci Code. I asked him to describe the difference between a film that is critical of the Church and one that is anti-Catholic.

"Disagreement with the Church is fine, but when it becomes disdain or disparagement, you have crossed the line."

Donohue used the example of the 1994 movie Priest. "In that film all five priests are dysfunctional, and their dysfunction is directly connected to their ministry, meaning the Church has created their dysfunction. You never meet a normal priest!"

He also said, "There is nothing anti-Catholic about good humor that is not designed to insult but to make people laugh. Mel Brooks, for example, puts forth good old American humor, no one is singled out, and there is no meanness. We all need to laugh at ourselves."

The key to recognizing how anti-Catholicism works in this country is seeing the "sweeping generalizations that would never be used with any other group."

The Da Vinci Code fulfills all of Donohue's main criteria: It represents the institution of the Church as corrupt from the top down. From Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) to the self-flagellating Opus Dei "monk" Silas (Paul Bettany), there are no admirable representatives of the Church. (There are no "monks" in Opus Dei as Peter Boyer points out.)

The effort to bring the film industry to some recognition of anti-Catholicism is not about censorship, but awareness. Many of those producers and artists making films are either blind to the bias that pervades their community or don't feel obliged to constrain themselves.

As Terry Teachout, drama critic of The Wall Street Journal, informed me, "It's been my experience that any mention of Catholicism in a contemporary work of art, given the current climate of elite opinion, is more than likely to be anti-Catholic."

There was a time when the Church condemned films and tried to keep them from public viewing. The Catholic Legion of Decency, established by the U.S. bishops in 1933, was established for "the purification of the cinema." Its list of condemned films includes one of the most powerful evocations of the Christian faith made in Hollywood, Strange Cargo (1940) starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford and directed by Frank Borzage, a Catholic. (For a list see the Wikipedia entry).

The pendulum has swung the other way with a vengeance. The film community effectively seeks to censor the Church with a steady barrage of distortion and falsity. Perhaps they will learn that their caricatures of the Church, such as Priest and The Da Vinci Code, simply create bad art, and that will give them pause.

Pope Hopes John Paul Will Be Made a Saint

New York Times

Published: May 27, 2006
Filed at 7:11 a.m. ET

KRAKOW, Poland (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI, visiting John Paul II's native region in homage to his predecessor, said Saturday he hopes the late pope will be declared a saint ''in the near future.''

Benedict's encouraging remark got a roar of applause from the 15,000 people gathered at a shrine outside Krakow during his visit to the city where John Paul served as archbishop before becoming pope.

Pope visits John Paul II's hometown


Associated Press
Updated: 4:03 a.m. ET May 27, 2006

WADOWICE, Poland - Thousands filled the streets of Wadowice on Saturday to welcome Pope Benedict XVI to the hometown of his beloved predecessor, John Paul II.

A crowd gathered under a light drizzle in front of the basilica where John Paul was baptized, awaiting the arrival of Benedict, who will pray in the church and visit John Paul’s childhood home.

Pope to Poles in Warsaw's Victory Square: do not yield to relativism or subjectivism

We must not yield to the temptation of relativism or of a subjectivist, says Pope during Mass celebrated in Warsaw

Warsaw, May. 26, 2006 (CNA) - This morning, the Pope continued his visit in Poland by presiding over the Eucharistic celebration in Warsaw's Pilsudski Square, also known as Victory Square, he reaffirmed his strong criticism against the dictatorship of relativism.

It was in Pilsudski Square, on June 2 1979, that John Paul II began his first pastoral visit to his homeland. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were Polish cardinals and bishops, as well as bishops from other countries and a large number of priests. The service was attended by 270,000 people, including Lech Kaczynski, president of Poland, and other civil authorities.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Help us Holy Spirit to come closer to God

The Novena to the Holy Spirit starts today; thanks, St. Peter's Helpers, for reminding us in today's post: "Holy Spirit Novena: First Day" and to EWTN for providing the complete Novena.

Thank you, Spirit Daily for reminding us that God works through the Holy Spirit and "No Matter What is Happening in your Life, God is Close and Awaits your 'Tuning In".

And, as the Novena implores, please, "send forth from heaven upon us your sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear."

Pope celebrates first outdoor mass in Poland

Associated Press
Updated: 1 hour, 17 minutes ago

WARSAW, Poland - Heavy rain poured down on Warsaw on Friday as Pope Benedict celebrated his first outdoor mass before hundreds of thousands of Poles who turned out for his pilgrimage in the steps of his Polish predecessor John Paul.

Although organizers had expected a million faithful to gather on the same square where John Paul held his first papal mass here in 1979, initial police estimates spoke of almost 300,000 coming to pray with the German-born Pope.

Pope: "Our journey together will be inspired by the motto: Stand firm in your faith"

New York Times

In Poland, Pope Seeks to Strengthen Bond With Faithful and Honor His Predecessor

Published: May 26, 2006

WARSAW, May 25 — Pope Benedict XVI arrived here on Thursday for a visit intended to maintain the strong ties with one of the few European countries where Roman Catholicism remains vibrant and to pay homage to his popular Polish predecessor, John Paul II.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Audio and Video of Pope's visit to Poland

Pope Benedict Visits Poland
Associated Press - May 25 3:44 AM

Pope Pays Tribute to Predecessor with Poland Trip
NPR - May 25 6:33 AM

Slideshow of Pope's visit to Poland

Yahoo! News
Papacy and the Vatican

AP - Thu May 25, 10:50 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the crowd gathered to welcome him at the airport outside Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, May 25, 2006. The Pontiff starts a four day visit to Poland.
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Pope Benedict XVI visits Poland


Pope visits Poland, homeland of John Paul II
Benedict hopes to improve Polish-German and Christian-Jewish relations

Associated Press
Updated: 7:01 a.m. ET May 25, 2006

ROME - Poles gave German-born Pope Benedict XVI an enthusiastic welcome Thursday as he arrived for a four-day visit intended to honor predecessor John Paul II and further German-Polish reconciliation from the wounds of World War II.

President Lech Kaczynski, a military honor guard and a crowd of about 1,000 people greeted Benedict’s plane at Warsaw’s international airport, while more people holding white and yellow Vatican flags waited on the street to watch him pass by on his way into the city.

A choir sang “The Barge,” John Paul’s favorite song — just one sign of how the late pope remains a presence in Poland more than a year after his death.

Reuters via Yahoo! News

Visit by a German pope raises questions for Poles
By Tom Heneghan
1 hour, 24 minutes ago

OSWIECIM, Poland (Reuters) - For Poles, John Paul was "the Polish pope" or simply "our pope." They don't seem to have decided yet whether his successor Benedict is "the German pope," a pope who happens to be German or just "the pope."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The school of faith is not a triumphal march says Pope Benedict in today’s audience

Vatican City, May. 24, 2006 (CNA) - The school of faith is not a triumphal march Pope Benedict declared today in his general audience today, as he continued his catechesis dedicated to the personality of the Apostles, focusing again on the figure of Peter.

The General Audience was held on Saint Peters square with more than 35,000 people gathered to listen to the pope’s catechesis.

The Pope began by recalling the miracles of the loaves and the fishes. In this episode, “Jesus announced the cross, and with the cross the Eucharistic bread: His absolutely new way of being king."

As these episodes unfolded, “Peter's faith, was still a nascent faith, a developing faith. It would acquire true fullness only through his experience of the events of Easter. Nonetheless, Peter's impetuous generosity did not safeguard him from the risks of human weakness," the Pontiff continued.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Church can give soul to Europe" says cardinal

Rome, May. 23, 2006 (CNA) - Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano said he believes the Church can give a soul to Europe.

"The Church, without interfering in politics, can give a soul to this Europe. A Europe without a soul cannot exist, because it would not exist if there was not the Christianity," he reportedly told the Religious Information Service.

The cardinal spoke with the news service while in Sofia for the consecration of the new cathedral new Cathedral of St. Joseph. It was built on the same site as the old cathedral, which was destroyed during World War II. During the Communist era, authorities never permitted its reconstruction, so the faithful celebrated mass in a theatre for over 60 years.

Construction of the new cathedral began July 2, 2002. It can accommodate up to 350 people.

Monday, May 22, 2006

On visit to Poland, Pope Benedict to visit Auschwitz


German-born Benedict XVI to walk through Auschwitz gate to honor victims

WARSAW, Poland Pope Benedict will visit the Auschwitz death camp during an upcoming visit to Poland. And when he does, a church official says the pope will walk into the camp, instead of entering by car.

The German-born Benedict plans to pray at former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland on Sunday. It's a visit heavy with symbolism on the last day of a four-day trip to the homeland of his predecessor, Pope John Paul.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

As movie, "The Da Vinci Code," is a critical bomb; motivations of author, Dan Brown

New York Times

It's Not Just a Movie, It's a Revelation (About the Audience)
Published: May 21, 2006

IT is only a movie, and now that the reviews are in, one that is very unlikely to get a Best Picture nomination.


My Lunch with an Old Friend of Dan Brown Proves Revealing About The DaVinci Code

Is Dan Brown a convinced heretic hell-bent on bringing down Christianity, or a hack writer who stumbled on a crackpot conspiracy theory on par with alien abductions, Holocaust denial, and lizard men?

By John Zmirak

I was sitting at lunch in New York City’s Olde Towne bar with a writing friend—someone who’s advising me on one of the future titles in my Bad Catholic’s series for Crossroad Publishing. We chewed clam strips and drank pints of Blue Point, leisurely batting back and forth ideas for yet more titles. At one point, I muttered something about Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code as a piece of hate literature, on par with those anti-Semitic conspiracy books sold by Black Muslims on Times Square. I little suspected that my lunch partner knew Dan Brown.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Church attacked for defending truth; Vatican Radio comments on "The Da Vinci Code"

As Ron Howard's movie "The Da Vinci Code" opens today, the Church comments on it and other attacks on the gospel:

Vatican Offers Explanation for All the Attacks

Archbishop Amato Comments on "Da Vinci Code" and "Gospel of Judas"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2006 ( A Vatican official says that attempts are made to slander and discredit the Church because it is the only institution that explicitly defends questions that are fundamental to man.

Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reflected Wednesday on Vatican Radio on publications such as "The Da Vinci Code" and the "Gospel of Judas."

"It is a fact that today one can speak badly of the Pope without impunity, as is being done in Germany with some cartoons," the prelate said. "One can also falsify at will the history of Christianity without the least respect -- I won't say, for religious -- but for elementary historical ethics."

And, for some further commentary on "The Da Vinci Code," please note the following escerpts from Vatican Radio's Tuesday, May 16th program:

The whole programme (30 minutes)...>LISTEN

Code Barred?
“The Da Vinci Code,” the film based on Dan Brown’s best selling novel premiers in movie theaters across the world this week. In a new documentary released Tuesday in Rome, Church leaders take issue with the Christian myths behind the book. “The Da Vinci Code: A Masterful Deception” includes Jewish and Muslim perspectives and rebuttals from leading Catholic journalists and historians...>LISTEN

Myths About Mary
“The Da Vinci Code,” the film based on Dan Brown’s best selling novel premiers in movie theaters across the world this week. In a new documentary released Tuesday in Rome, Church leaders take issue with the Christian myths behind the book. “The Da Vinci Code: A Masterpiece in Deception” includes Jewish and Muslim perspectives and rebuttals from leading Catholic journalists and historians...>LISTEN

God’s Work
An odd coincidence perhaps, but the world premier of The Da Vinci Code at the Cannes Film Festival falls on the same day that Pope John Paul beatified the founder of the Opus Dei community. Far from being the bad guys in Dan Brown’s book, Opus Dei members strive to bring Christ into every aspect of life...>LISTEN

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pope to Bulgarian ambassador: More than being an EU market, Europe needs a "soul"

Pope Hopes Bulgaria Can Aid Europe Spiritually

Receives New Ambassador From Sofia

VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2006 ( Benedict XVI says that Europe needs a "soul" in order to be more than just a "great market" under its plan for integration.

The Pope expressed this conviction in his address last Saturday to Bulgaria's new ambassador to the Holy See, Valentin Vassilev Bozhilov.

On Tuesday the European Commission indicated next Jan. 1 as the date for Bulgaria and Romania to join the European Union, though it made the decision depend on the fulfillment of a series of conditions that will be reassessed in October.

Bulgaria, a predominantly Orthodox country, has had the support of the Holy See in its bid to join the European Union.

Addressing Sofia's representative in French, Benedict XVI expressed the hope that, once in the European Union, Bulgaria would "play an important role, contributing to give back to our continent the spiritual push it so often needs."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pope asks for "true dialogue between nations and between religious leaders"

On Amy Wellborn's blog "Open Book" she emphasizes the Pope's evocation of Cyril and Methodius today. As the Pope asks for a ecumenical dialogue between cultures and religions in Europe, we pray also that Europe will no longer suffer from the destructiveness of moral relativism but that God will revitalize and re-Christianize it and bring it back, once again, to its moral foundations:

Open Book
May 15, 2006

Today in Rome...

The Pope evokes Cyril and Methodius, and says:

In an uncertain and turbulent world such as our own, Europe can become a witness and messenger of the vital dialogue between cultures and religions. The history of the old continent, deeply marked by divisions and fratricidal wars but also by efforts to overcome them, invites Europe to undertake this mission in order to respond to the hopes of so many men and women who still aspire, in many countries of the world, to development, democracy and religious freedom."

"The Holy See ... does not cease to act in order to promote ... true dialogue between nations and between religious leaders. In the first place, this must involve a diminution of violence which in our times is spreading dangerously, and the demolition of the walls of ignorance and mistrust which can engender violence."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Fireworks for Fatima Feast on May 13, as seen over the Vatican

Yesterday at the Vatican the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima was celebrated with a procession and evening fireworks. Fr. Zuhlsdorf displays some of his lovely photographs of fireworks as seen over the Vatican on his website, "What Does the Prayer Really Say?".

13 May:Fireworks for Fatima Feast

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 12:21 am

On 13 May there was a procession from the Castel Sant’Angelo to the Basilica of St. Peter with the statue of Our Lady brought from Fatima. It was the 25th anniversary of her intercession in saving the life of Pope John Paul II on the day he was shot in the square.

Assassination attempt on JPII marked by new memorial

New memorial marks site of papal-assassination attempt

May. 12 ( - The Vatican has placed a memorial marker in St. Peter's Square on the spot where Pope John Paul II (bio - news) was shot 25 years ago.

A rectangular white marble, bearing the late Pope's coat of arms and the date of the assassination attempt, has been placed in St. Peter's Square at the site of the attack. A matching marker has been placed at the entrance to the Vatican clinic where John Paul II was briefly treated before being transferred to the Gemelli Hospital. The memorials were placed by the government of Vatican City.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Today, May 13, is the memorial of "Our Lady of Fatima"

A Catholic Life

Saturday, May 13, 2006
Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima

Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima. In honor of this memorial, I created the above image. I ask you to do only one thing - answer Mary's call to pray the Rosary. She asked us to pray it each day. Even if you don't like the Rosary, please make time to say it once today.

And from "Spirit Daily," is the following link to 2 Hearts Network with prayers to "Our Lady of Fatima".

Today marks anniversaries of first Fatima appearance and JPII assassination attempt

Vatican prepares for anniversaries of first Fatima appearance, JPII assassination attempt on Saturday

Vatican City, May. 12, 2006 (CNA) - Officials at the Vatican are preparing to recognize two major anniversaries tomorrow. May 13th marks both the 89th anniversary of the first appearance of the Virgin Mary to 3 children in Fatima, Portugal and the 25th anniversary of the failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in St. Peter‘s Square.

For the occasion, a reproduction of the statue which resides at the shrine of Fatima will travel by helicopter to the Vatican before being part of a procession--led by Cardinal Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, India--along the Via della Conciliazione and into St. Peter’s Basilica.

Sofia News Agency

Vatican Marks 25 Years since Papal Shooting

Politics: 13 May 2006, Saturday.

The statue of Fatima, whose protection is believed to have saved the life of Pope John Paul II after the assassination attempt, will return to the Vatican March 13, 25 years after the fateful attack.

Pope John Paul nurtured a deep devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, frequently saying that it was her protection that saved his life when he was shot by a would-be assassin on May 13, in 1981. In a gesture of gratitude the pope gave one of the bullets that wounded him seriously to the Virgin of Fatima, which is now enshrined in her crown. Experts say it is extraordinary that that bullet perfectly set in the Virgin's crown, as if it had been designed for it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

God is calling: "Have you got what it takes?"

Thank you Angry Twins for broadcasting this video on vocation created by the Seminary of Christ the King in British Columbia, Canada. What a beautiful witness for Christ.

Another bishop to be installed in China without Vatican approval

The persecuted Church in China continues to need our fervent prayers:

China's Catholics divided by new bishop appointment
Fri May 12, 2006 3:48am ET

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING (Reuters) - Sparring between Beijing and the Vatican is set to intensify on Sunday as China installs another bishop apparently without the blessing of the Pope, extending a row over who rules China's divided Catholic Church.

Zhan Silu, also called Vincent Zhan, will become bishop of Mindong Diocese in eastern Fujian province, and he -- like two other bishops appointed in China in past weeks -- apparently lacks the Holy See's approval, which bishops even in China's state-controlled church have regularly sought in recent years.

"I did write to the Vatican to ask for recognition, but I've never heard anything back," Zhan said on Friday. "For me, Vatican approval is important, but I also have to consider local needs."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Vatican joins World Council of Churches to create "code of conduct" on Christian conversions

AP via Yahoo! News

Vatican, Churches Work on Conversion Plan

By BRIAN MURPHY, AP Religion Writer Wed May 10, 2:09 PM ET

ATHENS, Greece - The Vatican and the world's largest alliance of Christian churches plan to seek a common code for religious conversions, a leader of the effort said Wednesday. The groups also will open contacts with Islam and other faiths to study ways to avoid conflicts.

Religious freedom and missionary outreach by Christian groups have become increasingly sensitive topics as many Muslims perceive their faith as under threat by the West and nations such as China struggle to maintain state controls on churches.

"How can we — anxious to maintain, develop and nurture good relations with people of other faiths — deal with this highly complex issue that sometimes threatens the fiber of living together?" said the Rev. Hans Ucko, head of the interreligious relations office for the World Council of Churches.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Church in China asks for prayers that "true loyalty to the pope is reinforced in priests"

Yahoo! Asia News
Wednesday May 10, 6:57 PM

Commissioner reiterates China's stance on Sino-Vatican ties

(Kyodo) _ China's foreign affairs envoy in Hong Kong reiterated Wednesday China's stance on restoring diplomatic ties with the Vatican while urging the city's Roman Catholic church leader to help convey the message to Pope Benedict XVI.

Lu Xinhua, who assumed the post at Hong Kong's Foreign Affairs Commission two months ago, met with the press in his first media reception. He said he has yet to meet with Cardinal Joseph Zen, but he has some messages for Zen to convey to the Vatican.

Thank you, "Angry Twins," for relaying this request for prayers from the persecuted Church in China:

Underground Bishops in China ask for prayers

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: editor
Date: May 9, 2006 8:33 AM
Subject: Please support this effort
To: Laogai Research Foundation

8 May, 2006

Undergound bishops in China ask for prayers for official priests facing pressure and threats

Following illicit ordinations – achieved through violence and deceit – the Patriotic Association subjects priests to political sessions and brainwashing to destroy their faithfulness to the pope. AsiaNews supports the bishops' appeal.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Bishops of the underground Church are appealing to the faithful throughout China to pray for priests of the official Church, that they may be strengthened in their faithfulness to the pope. Such prayers are meant to contrast the work of the Patriotic Association (P.A.) which, following various illicit ordinations over past days, is subjecting priests to political and brainwashing sessions in order to break their ties with Rome.

"In this moment it is necessary to pray for all priests of the official Church," an underground bishop from northern China told AsiaNews. "It is our duty. For this reason, I ask all Chinese Catholics, official and underground, to pray for this intention: that true loyalty to the pope is reinforced in priests."

On April 30 and May 3, the P.A. forced candidates and bishops to carry out episcopal ordinations without the Vatican's approval. The P.A. is the organization tied to the Communist Party, which controls the official Church. Among the objectives contained in its statutes is the creation a national Church separate from the pope. According to a Vatican statement on May 4, the two ordinations in Kunming and Wuhu were carried out "under strong pressure and threats." A bishop of the official Church in central China confirmed to AsiaNews that the two ordination candidates were under pressure and that various ordaining bishops were deceived, having been told that approval had been obtained from the Holy See. Furthermore, at least one of the two candidates has been imposed by the P.A. on the entire diocese.

The vice-president of the P.A., layman Anthony Liu Bainian, has assured that, over forthcoming months, he will see to at least another 20 illicit ordinations, pushing the Chinese Church toward a schism. In preparation for such ordinations, the P.A. is organizing "retreats" in all official dioceses that all priests are obliged to attend. These "retreats" – the official bishop states – are actually political conferences in which Liu Bainian and his secretaries give instruction on the importance of a Church "autonomous" in doctrine, jurisdiction and administration. "Our priest," he adds, "are subjected to enormous pressure that they cannot escape."

Underground bishops underline that "the official Church is faced with a very difficult challenge. The difficulties that they are up against constitute full-blown persecution, made up of sufferance and pressure inflicted by the P.A. and the government." Given this critical moment, underground bishops ask that "all Catholics, united with the Pope, pray for the priests of the
official Church, that they be given the strength and courage to guard their faith."

Another underground bishop of the north remarked: "I have never stopped praying for the official Church and for priests, that they be faithful to the pope. In unity and prayer, we can overcome this challenge.

AsiaNews gives its support to the bishops' appeal for prayer in favour of religious freedom in China. The proposal is that, each day, until Pentecost, in Churches around the world, Catholics pray to the Holy Spirit and Our Lady with the following intention: that bishops and priests be given strength and courage in the face of persecution, pressure and threats that seek to destroy
the unity of Chinese Catholics with the Pope.

We ask all our readers and the faithful – especially contemplatives – to join and promote this effort.

Support can be registered at:

Fax: 39-06-5815-7756

Tel: 39-06-5832-0223

posted by Arthur @ 1:51 PM

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pope Benedict to cut down on private audiences for political leaders
Monday, May 8, 2006

Pope puts limits on audiences for political leaders

Pope Benedict continues to show that his will be a different kind of pontificate. The latest example comes in the news that he is sharply limiting the number of visits with political leaders.

Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has announced that he plans to cut down sharply on the number of private audiences he holds with political leaders, meeting only with heads of state and heads of government.

The Italian news agency ANSA has reported that a mailing to apostolic nuncios, sent out late in April, set out new procedures to be followed by politicians seeking to meet with the Pope.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Pope presides over special Mass marking 500th anniversary of Swiss Guards

VATICAN - Pope Benedict XVI presides special Mass for the 5th Centenary of the Foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard: “To be a Swiss Guard means to be loyal without reserve to Christ and the Church and ready to give one’s life for this”

Vatican City (Fides Service) - This morning, May 6th 2006, in St Peter’s Basilica Pope Benedict XVI presided a special concelebration of Mass to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. In his homily the Pope said “on 22 January 500 years ago the first 150 Guards arrived in Rome called by Pope Julius II to enter his service in the Apostolic Service. That selected corps was soon called to prove its loyalty to the Pontiff: in 1527 Rome was attacked and looted and on 6 May, 147 Swiss Guards fell while defending Pope Clement VII, and the remaining 42 escorted him to safety in Castel Sant’Angelo”. To recall these events so distant in time, the Holy Father said, means first of all to “render honour the Corps of the Swiss Guard, reconfirmed in its mission again and again”, but it means above all to learn from these events in the light of the Word of God.

Pope Thanks Swiss Guards for Service
Special Mass Marks 500th Anniversary of Corps

VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2006 ( Benedict XVI thanked the Swiss Guards for 500 years of service and invited them to continue their mission with "courage and fidelity."

The Pope said this Saturday during a Mass commemorating the arrival in Rome 500 years ago of the first 150 Swiss Guards, requested by Pope Julius II.

Also remembered were the 147 guards killed while defending Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome, May 6, 1527.

Friday, May 05, 2006

According to his secretary, Pope John Paul I predicted his death and successor

Pope John Paul I predicted his death and his successor, secretary says

May. 04 ( - Pope John Pau I, who died barely a month after his election in 1978, predicted his own death, according to his former secretary.

Bishop John Magee, the Irish prelate who served as personal secretary to Pope John Paul I and later to Pope John Paul II (bio - news), told the Italian weekly Gente that the newly elected Pontiff considered himself too fragile to last in office. He was to die in bed, apparently of a heart attack, in less than 5 weeks.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fr. Samir, S.J.: Pope Benedict has realistic view of Islam's challenge to West

Dhimmi Watch

May 04, 2006

How the Pope sees Islam

From the looks of this article by Father Samir Khalil Samir, S.J., Pope Benedict XVI has a realistic understanding of Islam and the challenge it poses to the West today.

"When Civilizations Meet: How Joseph Ratzinger Sees Islam," from Chiesa, with thanks to Tom Syseskey:

Benedict XVI is probably one of the few figures to have profoundly understood the ambiguity in which contemporary Islam is being debated and its struggle to find a place in modern society. At the same time, he is proposing a way for Islam to work toward coexistence globally and with religions, based not on religious dialogue, but on dialogue between cultures and civilizations based on rationality and on a vision of man and human nature which comes before any ideology or religion. This choice to wager on cultural dialogue explains his decision to absorb the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue into the larger Pontifical Council for Culture.

Vatican to China: to appoint bishops without approval is "grave violation"

BBC News

Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK

Vatican anger over China bishops

The Vatican has expressed "deep displeasure" over China's appointment of two Roman Catholic bishops.

The appointment of the bishops without the Vatican's approval represented a "grave violation of religious freedom", a statement said.

China's Catholic Church announced on Wednesday it had installed another bishop - the second in three days.

The Chinese Church does not recognise the Vatican's power to appoint bishops, causing tensions between the two sides.

There are an estimated 10 million Catholics in China, divided between the officially tolerated Patriotic Church, and an underground church loyal to Rome.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

MTV's "Popetown" and Brown's "Da Vinci Code" defame Catholics

Some of the latest highly trumpeted media offerings appear to be just good ol'-fashioned insult and misinformation about Catholics proffered under the guise of entertainment:

German Catholics seek to bar 'Popetown'

BERLIN, May 3 (UPI) -- Catholic leaders in Bavaria have gone to court to try and block MTV Germany from airing "Popetown," a show depicting the pope on a pogo stick.

Bishops from Pope Benedict XVI's home state filed papers seeking a legal injunction against the music channel's cartoon on the grounds it is insulting to Catholics, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Catholic League
May 2, 2006


Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented today on the secretive nature of “The Da Vinci Code”:

“The Associated Press recently observed that Dan Brown ‘has given few interviews,’ something the New York Daily News explains by calling him a ‘reclusive author.’ But if Brown is naturally reticent, the same is not true of those working on the film version of Brown’s book: their silence is a calculated and well-coordinated decision.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pope: the way to eliminate terrorism is God's love

Pope calls for "God's love" to combat terrorism
Mon May 1, 3:43 PM ET

ROME (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI said the world must turn to "God's love" if it is to be "freed from war and terrorism", as he remembered the Italian soldiers killed Thursday in an attack in Iraq.

"Today, there is a need to convert to God's love, to the God of love, so that the world might be freed from war and terrorism," the pope said during a visit to the shrine of Divine Love, on the outskirts of Rome.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Pope Benedict stresses caution in deciding who should be made a saint

The Hindu
Monday, May 01, 2006

Pope tightens rules for beatification
John Hooper

Rome: Under the late John Paul II, the Vatican "ministry" that approves candidates for canonisation was made to work so hard that one of his own Cardinals dubbed it the "saint factory".

In characteristically robust fashion, the Polish pontiff took hold of a seemingly anachronistic procedure and used it in a thoroughly modern way, as a means of communication. His canonisations were "role models" for Roman Catholics around the world and signalled to the faithful the sort of people of whom the Pope approved. Virtually no nation or community was forgotten as he proclaimed almost 500 saints - more than in the previous five centuries.