Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pope works to reunify Catholic Church with Orthodox; signs common declaration

Pope Benedict recommits Church to working towards reunification with Orthodox

Istanbul, Nov. 30, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI successfully completed his top objective today in Istanbul, joining Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in celebrating one of the most solemn feasts of the Orthodox calendar, the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. Both the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Father offered words during the Byzantine liturgy celebrating the Patron of the Church of Constantinople and brother of St. Peter. The Holy Father recommitted himself, during his homily, to seeking the reunification of the two Churches.

The Holy Father was invited to join the Patriarch for this important feast shortly after his election as Pope and the celebration was the primary reason for his trip to Turkey.

The Pontiff arrived at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George to the ringing of numerous bells, which in the Orthodox tradition signals the call to prayer and honors important visitors. According to a press release from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “The ringing of the church bells at the Ecumenical Patriarchate joyfully celebrated Pope Benedict’s arrival and the of visit Orthodox-Catholic relations.”

Pope and Patriarch sign common declaration on Orthodox-Catholic relations

Istanbul, Nov. 30, 2006 (CNA) - Following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle and Patron of the Church of Constantinople, Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I signed a common declaration on the relationship between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The two gave thanks to God, who by His work has given them the gift of this “fraternal encounter.”

“We give thanks to the Author of all that is good, who allows us once again, in prayer and in dialogue, to express the joy we feel as brothers and to renew our commitment to move towards full communion,” the two prelates said. “This commitment comes from the Lord’s will and from our responsibility as Pastors in the Church of Christ. May our meeting be a sign and an encouragement to us to share the same sentiments and the same attitudes of fraternity, cooperation and communion in charity and truth.”

Pope visits Blue Mosque in Istanbul via Yahoo! News
42 minutes ago

Pope Takes Part in Services with Orthodox Patriarch


by Ivan Watson and John Ydstie

Morning Edition, November 30, 2006 · Pope Benedict XVI turns his attention to healing relations between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church, said to be one of the main goals of his visit to Turkey.

The pope performed a divine liturgy at the Church of St. George in Istanbul with his Orthodox counterpart, the ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew, who is the spiritual head of the world's Orthodox Christians.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Muslim Relationship with the Vatican Evolving

Ayoub is annoyingly smug, but his responses help to clarify the position of some American Islamic academics in regards to the Catholic Church in general and Pope Benedict in particular.

NPR Interviews

Morning Edition, November 29, 2006 · One Islamic scholar says that Islamic-Christian relations are good, at least on a local level in the United States. And at the Vatican there are some "moderate, good voices," according to Mahmoud Ayoub, of Temple University in Philadelphia. Ayoub tells John Ydstie that the Vatican is making efforts to reach out to Muslims.

Pope holds Mass at ancient holy site in Turkey

Positive response to visit after Benedict voices support for EU membership

Str / Reuters

Turkish officials, left, escort Pope Benedict XVI, in white, upon his arrival at Adnan Menderes Airport in Izmir on Wednesday.
View related photos

Updated: 8 minutes ago

SELCUK, Turkey - Turks praised Pope Benedict on Wednesday for moves to bridge the divide between Christians and Muslims as he began the part of his Turkey trip that is devoted to Christian issues.

Benedict, on a four-day visit to mend fences with Islam and Turkey, journeyed to a shrine in Efes near the southwest coast. He conducted an open-air Mass next to a house where the Virgin Mary is thought to have spent her last years.

Security forces sealed off the area and only 250 people attended the event, making it one of the smallest crowds to attend a papal Mass.

Attention in mainly Muslim Turkey, though, was focused on surprise moves by Benedict on arrival on Tuesday: his support for Ankara’s bid to join the European Union and praise for the faith Muslims feel he had insulted in the past.

“This trip is important for Turkey’s EU membership. This is a big warning for conservative politicians who think the EU is a Christian club,” wrote daily Milliyet columnist Guneri Civaoglu.

“It started beautifully: the Pope told the world from Ankara that Islam was a religion of peace,” said mainstream Hurriyet newspaper.

Benedict’s trip was originally meant just as a visit to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul to try to bring the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches closer. There are some 100,000 Christians in Turkey.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jihadists Attack Vatican Web Site

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006 12:24 a.m. EST

Andrea Kirk Assaf reports this story exclusively for

As thousands of Turks took to the streets to protest the ongoing visit of Pope Benedict XVI to their country, the Church was already dealing with another threat from angry Muslims – a cyberattack on the Vatican Web site.

An appeal to Jihadist hackers was sent out through Web forums linked to al-Qaida and was posted on two of the Web sites that publish messages from the terrorist organization.

"The leadership of the electronic Jihad has decided to undertake a grand attack against the official Vatican site following the insults by the Pope against our Prophet," the statement read in Arabic, referring to remarks the Pope made in a September 12 speech.

"With Allah's blessing, the attack will succeed thanks to the help of our brothers if we all attack simultaneously. We ask all our brothers to be present at the hour of the attack for a joint action, because they (Catholics) have struck our religion. They must be fought and deserve to be attacked and not only on their Internet site.”

Threats against the Vatican Web site and the Catholic Church in general began shortly after the Pope’s speech, in which he quoted a 14th century emperor’s description of Islam as a religion spread by the sword.

And Then There Were Three: The Light of Orthodoxy Flickers in Turkey

Inside the Vatican
- by Dr. Robert Moynihan: Istanbul, Turkey - Day 2

November 27, 2006

You were the invisible ladder between heaven and earth.
You set our souls on a voyage
to seek the pure and the grand.
Hiding our dreams in your warm embrace,
you gave us wings to travel all over the world...
Oh! How your pleasant figure withered so suddenly.
How the waves drowned your thunderous voice.
And now you stand dead alive, our ill-fortuned mother,
Expecting a bell to signal your resurrection.

-- Anonymous poem by Orthodox theologians, "To Our Mother, the Theological School of Halki"

I was late.

The ferry for the island was leaving at 9AM, and it was already 8:15 when the phone rang in the hotel room. "Are you coming, or not?" Joshua Trevino asked. "The ferry leaves in 45 minutes..."

"Be down in seven minutes," I said.

And so I was.

Joshua's father, the Reverend Eben Trevino of the Russo-Carpathian Orthodox Church, and his mother, Diane, along with Jerry Tatum, also a Russo-Carpathian Orthodox, had already gone down to the harbor when Daniel Schmidt from the Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I joined Joshua in the hotel lobby.

Pope Rage in Istanbul

By Robert Spencer | November 28, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI is set to arrive in Turkey on Tuesday, and tensions are running high. Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, wrote to Benedict: “Your life is in danger. You absolutely must not come to Turkey.” And several weeks ago, a Turk named Ibrahim Ak stood outside Italy’s consulate in Istanbul and fired a gun while proclaiming his desire to strangle the pope. As he was arrested, Ak shouted: “I am happy to be a Muslim!” He said that he hoped the Pope would decide not to come to Turkey, and that his actions would inspire other Turks to violence: “God willing, this will be a spark, a starter for Muslims ... God willing, he will not come. If he comes, he will see what will happen to him.”

Turkish officials are trying to make sure nothing does. According to the Associated Press, they have “mobilized an army of snipers, bomb disposal experts and riot police, as well as navy commandos to patrol the Bosporus Straits flowing through Istanbul.” However, Meliha Benli Altunisik, a professor at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, questioned whether such precautions were necessary at all: “Will there be protests? Yes, of course. But I cannot take seriously the notion that he is in physical danger. He will rather be ignored.”

Certainly Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan originally planned to ignore him. Erdogan will be attending a NATO summit in Latvia on the first two days of the Pope’s visit and at first announced that he would not meet with him during the last two days, either. “You can't expect me to arrange my timetable according to the pope,” Erdogan huffed, and of course he’s right: how could anyone expect him to rearrange his busy schedule to meet with someone so unimportant as the Pope? (However, on Monday he did finally change his plans and agreed to meet with Benedict.)

Pope says Turkey is a 'bridge' between religions

Security tight for 4-day visit as pontiff tries to heal rift caused by comments

Dylan Martinez / Reuters

Pope Benedict XVI at the Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey where he will spend four days visiting Catholic sites and meeting with leaders.

Updated: 15 minutes ago

ANKARA, Turkey - Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday that Turkey is a "bridge" between religions and he appealed for solidarity between cultures in his first remarks after arriving for a delicate four-day trip to the predominantly Muslim nation.

"I really wanted to come to Turkey because Turkey has become a bridge ... between the religions," Benedict told Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who greeted him at the airport.

The pope spoke in Italian and an interpreter translated his comments into Turkish.

"It is a democratic, Islamic country and a bridge," the pope said. "I wanted to come to Turkey since becoming pope because I love this culture."

"I want to reiterate the solidarity between the cultures," Benedict said. "This is our duty."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Benedict at the “Hinge of the World”: The Pontiff Heads for Istanbul

Inside the Vatican
by Dr. Robert Moynihan

November 26, 2006

At first there was just a carpet of cloud, and in the distance, a blue expanse beyond the clouds, which I took to be the Aegean. Then the plane descended through the clouds and the curving runways of the Istanbul Airport appeared. The plane touched down as lightly as a comforter is spread on a bed and came to a stop.

My first impressions were of the letters, many K's and Y's and H's, or so it seemed to me. And the round heads of the Turks, strong round skulls and short-cropped hair.

I walked through the airport, which was like all modern airports. There was a window to get a visa - three months for Americans at $20, or 15 euros. I showed my passport, the attendant pulled out a sticker and pasted it into the passport, and I handed him a $20 bill. It took all of seven seconds.

Turkey: Pope's Visit A Milestone For Christians And Muslims

Monday, November 27, 2006
By Jeffrey Donovan

ISTANBUL, November 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- He’s yet to arrive, but Turks are already protesting. Pope Benedict XVI on November 28 kicks off a controversial, four-day visit to Turkey, his first trip to a mostly Muslim country.

On November 26, tens of thousands of Turks rallied in Istanbul against the visit, which comes less than two months after Benedict sparked a firestorm of anger across the Muslim world for remarks seen as critical of Islam.

Muslim anger, Christian divisions -- Pope Benedict faces major challenges in Turkey and the first challenge may well be his own security.

'You Won't Be Safe Here'

In September, after making his controversial remarks on Islam, the Bavarian-born pope received a grim warning. Ali Agca, the Turk who shot, but failed to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, urged Benedict not to proceed with his trip to Turkey.

"You won’t be safe here," Agca told Turkish media.

While it appears unlikely Agca had any specific knowledge of a plot, security officials will be taking no chances during the pope's four-day trip, says Turkish political analyst Zeyno Baran.

“There are going to be provocations and there are some people who would like to attack and do whatever," Baran says. "But the question is, will they succeed? I mean, since we had Agca try and not succeed before. It’s a source of concern; the government is doing everything it can to make sure there won’t be any major incident. But there’s always a risk.”

Tens of thousands of protesters have already rallied in Istanbul against him and are set to continuing to protests during the 80-year-old Benedict's stay.

Pope: Pray for me during Turkey trip

"Dear Lord, may the Holy Father's pilgrimage to Turkey bear much fruit and may You keep him safe."

26 November, 2006

On the Solemnity of Christ the King, Benedict XVI expressed “respect and friendship” for the “dear Turkish people”, following in the footsteps of John Paul II, Paul VI and John XXIII. He also made an appeal for World AIDS Day.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Just two days before his trip to Turkey, Benedict XVI today asked an enormous crowd of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus to accompany him “in prayer, so that this pilgrimage may bear all the fruits that God desires”. The voyage of the pope to Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul is presenting problems, given the opposition voiced by a section of Turkish opinion linked to Islamist and nationalist ideology, and certain hesitation on the part of the Ankara government. The pope has bypassed these tensions: “From now, I want to send cordial greetings to the dear Turkish people, rich in history and culture; to these people and its representatives, I express sentiments of respect and sincere friendship.” As a mark of this respect, the organizers of the papal trip are trying to fit a visit to Istanbul’s Blue Mosque into the pontiff’s already packed schedule. Anyhow, the aim of the trip is to participate in celebrations for the feast of St Andrew on 30 November together with the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. The pope continued: “With great emotion, I look forward to meeting the small Catholic community, which is always in my heart, and to uniting fraternally with the Orthodox Church on the occasion of the feast of the apostle St Andrew. With confidence, I follow in the footsteps of my venerated predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II and I invoke the heavenly protection of the Blessed John XXIII who for 10 years was Apostolic Delegate in Turkey and who fostered affection and respect for that nation.”

Before, Benedict XVI dwelt upon the meaning of today’s feast: Christ, King of the universe.

The pope said: “He did not come to dominate peoples and lands, but to free men from the slavery of sin and to reconcile them with God.” The pontiff turned to the gospel of today’s Mass, which presents the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate, during which the scourged Jesus claims for himself the title of king and witness of truth. “But what is the ‘truth’ that Christ came to testify to in the world?” asked the pope. “His entire existence reveals that God is love: this then is the truth to which He bore full witness with the sacrifice of his very life on Calvary. The Cross is the ‘throne’ from which he revealed the sublime royalty of God Love: offering himself in expiation for the sins of the world, He defeated the dominion of ‘the prince of this world’ (Jn 12:31) and he installed the Kingdom of God definitively. A Kingdom that would manifest itself fully at the end of time, after all its enemies, finishing with death, would have been destroyed (cfr 1 Cor 15:25, 26).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Christ, King of the Universe: "He Defeated the Power of the 'Prince of This World'"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year we celebrate the solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe. Today's Gospel presents a passage of the dramatic interrogation to which Pontius Pilate subjected Jesus, when he was handed over to him with the accusation of having usurped the title "king of the Jews."

Jesus responded to the questions of the Roman governor affirming that he was King, but not of this world (cf. John 18:36). He did not come to dominate peoples and territories, but to free men from the slavery of sin and be reconciled with God. And he added: "For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice" (John 18:37).

But, what is the "truth" which Christ came into the world to witness? His whole existence reveals that God is love. This is, therefore, the truth of which he gave full testimony with the sacrifice of his own life on Calvary. The cross is the "throne" from which he manifested the sublime royalty of God-Love. By giving himself in expiation of the sin of the world, he defeated the power of the "prince of this world" (John 18:31) and established definitively the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom that is manifested in fullness at the end of time, after all his enemies and finally death, are subjected to him (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:25-26).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

AP - Thu Nov 23, 10:41 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI is presented with a gift by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams after signing a joint statement during their meeting at the Vatican Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006. They acknowledged there were 'serious obstacles' on the path to closer ties between Catholics and Anglicans, reflecting tensions over Anglicans' blessings of same-sex unions and the ordination of women and decided to commit themselves to continuing dialogue. (AP Photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Pool)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pope condemns assassination of leading Catholic politician

Vatican City, Nov. 22, 2006 (CNA) - Speaking at the conclusion of his weekly General Audience this morning, Pope Benedict XVI strongly criticized the recent assassination of Lebanese Catholic politician Pierre Gemayel, and offered spiritual support for Gemayel’s family and the Lebanese people.

"I firmly condemn this brutal attack," the Pontiff said, "and give assurances of my prayers and my spiritual closeness to the family in mourning, and to the beloved Lebanese people.”

“In the face of the dark forces that seek to destroy the country,” the Pope continued, “I invite all Lebanese not to allow themselves to be overcome by hatred, but to reinforce national unity, justice and reconciliation, and to work together to build a future of peace. Finally, I invite leaders of the nations that have the fate of this region at heart to contribute to finding a global negotiated solution to the various situations of injustice that have existed for too many years."

Gemayel, who was serving as the Lebanese Industry Minister, was shot dead on Tuesday near Beirut. The Industry Minister was part of a prominent Maronite Catholic political family. Both his father, Amin Gemayel, and uncle, Bachir Gemayel, were elected to the Lebanese Presidency, though his uncle was assassinated prior to taking office in 1982.

Gemayel, 34, was known as an outspoken critic of growing Syrian influences on his country. The assassination has rallied the country’s anti-Syrian coalition to demonstrate against the pro-Damascus opposition, led by Hezbollah. Thousands are expected at his funeral tomorrow, which will be held at St. George Cathedral in the Lebanese capital. The funeral Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pope Benedict's new book entitled "Jesus of Nazareth" to be published in spring

First volume of book by pope on Jesus to be published in spring
AFP via Yahoo! News Tue, 21 Nov 2006 6:50 AM PST

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI has put the finishing touches on the first volume of a work titled "Jesus of Nazareth" that will hit the bookstores in the spring, the Vatican has said.

The pope "has finished editing the first part of the book, entitled 'Jesus of Nazareth', and returned it a few days ago to the Vatican publishing service," the Vatican said in a statement.

It added that the Italian publishing house Rizzoli was engaged to edit and print the work, to be published in spring 2007, for the Vatican.

The first of two volumes covers the period between Jesus's baptism in the River Jordan to the Transfiguration in 10 chapters.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Passion of the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI talks with members of a Muslim delegation from the U.S. at the end of his weekly Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 1, 2006.
From the Magazine Cover

With his blunt talk on Islam, Benedict XVI is altering the debate between the Muslim world and the West. On the eve of his visit to Turkey, TIME looks at the roots of the Pope's views--and how they may define his place in history


Posted Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006

For the traveling Pontiff, it was not a laid-back Turkish holiday. The citizens of the proud, predominantly Muslim nation had no love of Popes. To the East, the Iranian government was galvanizing anti-Western feeling. The news reported that an escaped killer was on the loose, threatening to assassinate the Pontiff when he arrived. Yet the Holy Father was undaunted. "Love is stronger than danger," he said. "I am in the hands of God." He fared forward--to Ankara, to Istanbul--and preached the commonality of the world's great faiths. He enjoined both Christians and Muslims to "seek ties of friendship with other believers who invoke the name of a single God." He did not leave covered with garlands, but he set a groundwork for what would be years of rapprochement between the Holy See and Islam. He was a uniter, not a divider.

That was 1979 and Pope John Paul II. But when Benedict XVI travels to Turkey next week on his first visit to a Muslim country since becoming Pope last year, he is unlikely to cloak himself in a downy banner of brotherhood, the way his predecessor did 27 years ago. Instead, Benedict, 79, will arrive carrying a different reputation: that of a hard-knuckle intellect with a taste for blunt talk and interreligious confrontation. Just 19 months into his tenure, the Pope has become as much a moral lightning rod as a theologian; suddenly, when he speaks, the whole world listens. And so what takes place over four days in three Turkish cities has the potential to define his papacy--and a good deal more.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Satirical Humor Aimed at the Vatican Strikes a Nerve

Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Msgr. Georg Gänswein, right, Pope Benedict XVI’s secretary, and the pope have become the butt of jokes in the news media. Some Italians are offended, but newspapers defended the right to make jokes about religion.

New York Times

Published: November 18, 2006

ROME, Nov. 17 — Perhaps it is his good looks, or his work in the ever-so-serious Vatican, but for whatever reason, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict XVI’s secretary, has suddenly found himself the butt of jokes in the Italian news media.

In one radio skit, Rosario Fiorello, a comedian, portrayed Monsignor Gänswein dining at a brand-new restaurant called “the Last Supper,” where “one portion of fish was shared by 20.” He used a cellphone with Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus as its ring tone.

The pope himself is also subject to ribbing. On Tuesday night, in a television skit, the comedian Maurizio Crozza impersonated Pope Benedict being a mite touchy about comparisons to his media-darling predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who was frail for years before his death. “Could Pope Wojtyla do this?” he barked to two attendants, bursting into song and tap dancing. “Or this?” he added, juggling three oranges.

The popularity of the satire appears to have unnerved Monsignor Gänswein, who reportedly told the Italian news agency Adnkronos that he hoped the impersonations “would stop soon.” He did not object to satire, he said, but the spoofs “offended men of the church.”

They also struck a nerve with L’Avvenire, a newspaper owned by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, which accused the comedians of “satirical fundamentalism.”

In a front-page editorial on Friday, the paper complained that the jokes had been unwarranted. “Perhaps there is the secret intention to see if the church will respond like some Muslims responded to the satirical cartoons or to articles that criticize Islam, to then scream scandal,” wrote Carlo Cardia, an author who writes about the Catholic Church and a professor of ecclesiastical law at the University of Rome. The Catholic newspaper has said that it does not want to engage in polemics about whether it is acceptable to poke fun at the pope.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Vatican Reaffirms Celibacy for Priests

ABC News

Vatican Reaffirms Value of Celibacy for Priests After a Summit Led by Pope Benedict XVI


VATICAN CITY Nov 16, 2006 (AP)— The Vatican on Thursday reaffirmed the value of celibacy for priests after a summit led by Pope Benedict XVI that was spurred by a married African archbishop who has been excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.

"The value of the choice of priestly celibacy, according to Catholic tradition, has been reaffirmed," the Vatican said in a brief statement summing up the three-day hour meeting of top Vatican prelates.

U.S. Bishops renew efforts in pastoral care for homosexuals

Baltimore, Nov. 15, 2006 (CNA) - By a large majority, the Catholic Bishops of the United States voted Tuesday to approve a new document which would guide their care for homosexual men and women. The document, entitled “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care,” aims at placing an emphasis on welcoming and offering support for men and women who, due to homosexual inclinations, “feel themselves to be unwelcome and rejected,” by the Church.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli, who headed the committed which drafted the document said, that the bishops hoped the new guidelines would, “help us as bishops to promote sound, effective ministry to persons with a homosexual inclination,” noting that, “In her message the Church offers a positive message in Her teaching. The Church offers hope.”

“The tone of the document,” Bishop Serratelli said, “is positive, pastoral, and welcoming… Its starting point is the intrinsic human dignity of every person and God’s love for every person. Every person who ministers in the name of the Church must respect this human dignity.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Miracles linked to late Pope found more extensive than thought, occurred while alive, including gift of prophecy

Thanks, Spirit Daily, for the following article:

A new book has presented evidence of what appear to have been dramatic and in some cases stunning healings linked to the late John Paul II -- miracles far more extensive than previously reported and in many instances occurring while the pontiff was still alive.

The book, Miracles of John Paul II, by Pawel Zuchniewicz, a religious bestseller in Poland, now available in the U.S., clearly demonstrates that the Pope was more actively involved in mysticism than commonly portrayed and builds an all but ironclad case for his sainthood.

As Zuchniewicz, a Pole, quotes a fellow Vatican journalist, Michael Valpy, as saying, "There is much more to the story of John Paul II than what was publicized in the media during his pontificate. He's not a politician -- he's a mystic. It's his mysticism, his following John of the Cross, his mystical relationship with St. Stanislaus and his spiritual and national ties to Poland. I couldn't understand his constant prayer, those audiences with God. When I read more about his life, I began to understand more about his person, his inner being."

That inner being turned out to have been more focused on the supernatural than on his physical surroundings.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pope Benedict stars in calendar, "Together: one year with the Pope"

The page for June:

Reuters - Tue Nov 14, 8:32 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI poses for the June page of his calendar called 'Together, one year with the Pope' in this photo released November 8, 2006. (Giancarlo Giuliani/Famiglia Cristiana/Handout/Reuters)

The cover page:

Reuters - Wed Nov 8, 1:52 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI poses for the cover of his calendar called 'Together, one year with the Pope' in this photo released November 8, 2006. The Pope posed for this benefit calendar in the past summer during his retreat at Castelgandolfo, north of Rome. The calendar is made of 14 pictures, taken from the Famiglia Cristiana's photographer Giancarlo Giuliani, and will be sold from November 23. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/Giancarlo Giuliani/Famiglia Cristiana/Handout (ITALY)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Holy See publishes official schedule of Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey

Vatican City, Nov. 13, 2006 (CNA) - The Holy See has published the official schedule for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey, which will take place November 28 to December 1 and will include meetings with various political leaders and representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches as well as with leaders of Islam and Judaism.

On Tuesday, November 28, the Pope will arrive in Ankara at 1pm. The day’s activities will include a visit to Atatürk Mausoleum, the welcome ceremony, a visit to the President of Turkey followed by meetings with the deputy prime minister, the president for religious affairs, Ali Bardakoglu, and the Diplomatic Corps. Bardakoglu, who was one of the harshest critics of the Pope’s lecture in Ratisbona last September, has since said that the visit would be “a positive step toward developing dialogue between Islam and Christianity.”

On Wednesday, November 29, the Pope will celebrate Mass at Ephesus, where tradition says the Virgin Mary resided. Later, in Istanbul, he will go to pray at the patriarchal Church of St. Gorge followed by a private meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I.

On Thursday November 30, the Feast of St. Andrew, the Pope will participate in a “Divine Liturgy” with Bartholomew I at the patriarchal Church of St. George, after which they will sign a joint declaration. Later he will make a visit to the once great Cathedral of Hagia Sophia (which is now a museum) and to the Apostolic Armenian Cathedral, where he will meet with Patriarch Mesrob II. Afterwards he will meet with the Grand Rabbi of Turkey and then have dinner with the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Turkey.

On Friday, December 1, the Pope will celebrate Mass in Holy Spirit Cathedral, and then, after a farewell ceremony, he will depart for Rome.

This will be third visit to Turkey by a Pope. Pope Paul VI visited in 1967 and Pope John Paul II in 1979.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Terrorism: Islamic cyber rogues threaten Vatican site

Dubai, 8 Nov. (AKI) - Muslim hackers allegedly supporting al-Qaeda have announced - for the second time in a month - a planned attack on the Vatican's official website. The assault has been planned by Islamist cyber-rogues for Thursday 9 November at 12 am Mecca time (10 am in Italy). The announcement was made on Wednesday through the creation of an ad hoc site where hackers can download programmes to start the internet attack. "The leadership of the electronic Jihad has decided to undertake a grand attack against the official Vatican site following the insults by the Pope against our Prophet," read a statement.

"With Allah's blessing, the attack will succeed thanks to the help of our brothers if we all attack simultaneously. We ask all our brothers to be present at the hour of the attack for a joint action, because they (Catholics) have struck our religion. They must be fought and deserve to be attacked and not only on their internet site," the statement continued.

The programme foresees a series of incursions to be launched not only on Thursday 9 November but also on the 11th and 15th of the month. Even though an internet site has been created specifically to help hackers breach the Vatican's cyber defences, the appeal appears to have garnered little support in the forums that publish the statements of the al-Qaeda terror network, and only two of these sites have themselves posted the appeal.

On 11 October several internet sites which act as the mouthpieces of Islamic terrorism launched an appeal for hackers to attack the Holy See's site. The appeal allegedly attracted dozens of hackers.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI to star in calendar

Rome, Nov 10: Pope Benedict XVI has become the latest celebrity to fall prey to Italy's yearly calendar fad.

Famiglia Cristiana, a Catholic weekly aimed at families, will enclose the calendar featuring exclusive photographs of the 79-year-old pontiff in its Nov 23 edition.

"This has nothing to do with other calendars; we have our own style and a distinct target. Our readers wouldn't have appreciated a calendar featuring television starlets or nude models," the magazine's Patrizia Brero told DPA.

Called "A year with the Pope" and priced at five euros ($6.40), the calendar features photographs of the pontiff taken during his summer stay in Castel Gandolfo, a papal residence south of Rome.

For every copy sold, one euro will be donated to a Catholic charity in Rwanda.

According to the Ansa news agency, the Pope selected the charity. "A new pope every day" is the advertising slogan chosen by Famiglia Cristiana to sell the calendar.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election results show U.S. needs a re-consecration to Our Lady and a Christian revival

We are in desperate need of a Christian revival. Hopefully, the re-consecration of America to Our Lady on November 11 will spur a spiritual awakening. Please see this excellent article from Spirit Daily:


This weekend, November 11, at noon EST, the papal nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pietro Sambi, will be officiating a Mass for the renewal of the country’s consecration to Our Lady as the Immaculate Conception (at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington). We strongly applaud that at the same time as reminding bishops of a request, from an apparition that had the partial approval of a local archbishop, to place a statue dedicated to Our Lady of America in the same basilica -- which has grottos devoted to a number of foreign Madonnas (representing apparition sites in France, the Philippines, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, and most recently, Our Lady of LaVang, in Vietnam) -- but not a single representation of Mary as attached to the U.S.

It is time to consider that surprising fact, whichever way they want to represent her: there are a number of alleged apparitions since Indian times. But first on that matter of re-consecration:

As we previously reported, bishops across the U.S. have been invited to join in the Saturday event, and we hope they all do. It is more important, for sure, than the annual bishops' conference and comes as one of our last best hopes. The country is in desperate need of spiritual renewal -- slammed as it is on all fronts by everything from abortion, materialism, premarital sex, embryonic stem cells, pornography, and homosexual marriage to crime, sexual abuse, violence, and war.

High noon indeed: From politics to the Church, from the culture to practices of business, the nation is in need of a gigantic spiritual overhaul -- or perhaps one should say a spiritual rescue mission -- and one help is a consecration.

We should say "re-consecration," since this great nation has been consecrated since its very start.

Although few know it, Columbus and his crew sang the Salve Regina on the way over from Europe and there was a Mass here -- in fact, a thanksgiving Mass -- long before Plymouth Rock (in St. Augustine).

It is time for us to realize this and at this late hour extend it urgently.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pope concerned over de-Christianization of West

Reuters - Tue Nov 7, 12:23 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI looks on as Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom (L) leaves after a private audience at the Vatican November 6, 2006. The Pope said on Tuesday that Europe risked 'de-Christianisation' from the spread of divorce, abortion and same-sex marriages, and urged bishops to defend traditional Catholic practices. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

See also this article in USA Today:

Vatican decries waning influence of Christian values in Western society
Posted 11/7/2006 1:07 PM ET

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says divorce, abortion and gay marriage are signs of the weakening influence of Christian values in Western societies, according to a draft of a speech directed at Swiss bishops released by the Vatican on Tuesday.

"Many of our contemporaries live as if God doesn't exist," said the draft, touching one of the most frequent themes of Pope Benedict XVI.

And this one from Catholic News Agency:

Benedict confronts Swiss bishops on secularization, liturgy, and lay involvement

Vatican City, Nov. 07, 2006 (CNA) - Meeting with members of the Conference of Swiss Bishops today, Pope Benedict XVI urged a continued battle against the advance of secularization and relativism in the Church and noted a few key areas of concern for the Catholic Church in Switzerland.

"The advance of secularization and of relativism means not only that the Sacraments, especially participation in Sunday Mass, are reduced in frequency, but also that the moral values proposed by the Church are put in doubt," said the Pope.

The Pope, who said the meeting was, in some way, "the conclusion of their 'ad limina' visit of February 2005," which was cut short due to the failing health of Pope John Paul II, also wanted to take time for, "considering certain aspects of the current situation of the Church in Switzerland, identifying those elements worthy of being intensified and promoted, and those in need of correction and purification."

After highlighting the fact that many people live "as if God does not exist," the Pope called upon the prelates "to ensure that the Word of God and the Christian message are understood," and insisted they should adopt unanimous positions on theological and moral questions.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A helpful election message from Fr. Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life

Dear Friends,

I have communicated with you and many others regarding tomorrow's elections. You may also be among those who have been working hard to mobilize voters. Now, the moment has come for the voters to do their job.

If your state has early voting, and allows you to vote today, please do so. For information, please visit Take advantage of the opportunity to cast your vote today rather than tomorrow, so that unforeseen obstacles don't prevent you.

The big question, of course, is "How do I find information about the candidates?" We have set up a web page, to assist you.

You can find candidate information in several places, such as newspapers, television news, voter guides, and on the internet. You may also run into people on the street handing out candidate literature. Don't refuse them, but take and read what is being offered to you.

If these sources fail, you can always contact the candidate's campaign to make an inquiry about his or her position.

Frequently politicians make statements like, "I have always been personally pro-life," or, "I would never encourage a woman to have an abortion." Rather than offering comfort to pro-life voters, statements like these should raise red flags, as they are typically followed by, "but I would never impose my personal beliefs on anybody else," or some similar statement. Even in cases in which these words do not follow, they are often implied. In such cases, be sure to look for a clearer statement of the candidate's position, again, in writing if possible. Moreover, don't only ask what the candidate believes. Ask what he or she intends to do to protect the unborn.

You should also look at a candidate's voting record. This is extremely easy with members of Congress as you can simply contact any one of a number of national organizations, like National Right to Life, that track votes as part of their regular activity. They will be able to inform you how your Congressman and Senator voted on the bills that have come before them. You can often obtain similar information about state candidates from pro-life organizations within your state.

Finally, remember that elections not only put candidates into power, but they put parties into power, too. In voting for a candidate, you should know the positions of the candidate and also the positions of the party to which he/she belongs.

Some organizations have provided specific voter guides, and we have placed links to many of those at

If you have further questions about how you should evaluate candidates, please contact our office at (888)735-3448.

Along with candidates, there are also important measures on the ballots in various states. Detailed information is at Even if you don't live in these states, you can influence the vote by urging people you know in that state to vote the right way.

California - Proposition 85 - Parents' Right to Know and Child Protection Initiative - Vote YES. See for more information.

Oregon - Measure 43 - Parental Involvement and Support Act - Vote YES. See for more information.

South Dakota - Referred Law 6 - Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act - Vote YES. See for more information.

Missouri - Amendment 2 - Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative - Vote NO. See for more information.

Additional reminders: Join today and tomorrow in the final days of the Election Novena; prayers are found at, and my booklet "Voting with a Clear Conscience" is found at

OK - that's all I have to say. Let's go make November 7 a day of progress for the pro-life cause!

God bless you!

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

Contact Priests for Life at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314. Phone: 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980-6515; E-mail:; web:

Pontiff Calls for Halt to Violence in Holy Land

Troubled by Situation in Gaza Strip

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2006 ( Benedict XVI appealed to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and to the international community as a whole, to put an end to the bloodshed in the Holy Land.

After praying the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered today in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said that he follows "with profound concern the news on the serious deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip.

"He also expressed his "closeness to the civilian populations suffering the consequences of the violence."

The three Palestinian militias that are holding Israeli soldier Guilad Shalit threatened to kill him if Israel does not halt immediately its military offensive in the northern Gaza Strip.

News agencies report that at least 48 Palestinians have died since Nov. 1, in this new Israeli military operation in Gaza. The operation seeks to reduce the offensive capacity of the militias that fire rockets into Israeli territory.

Benedict XVI invited believers worldwide to join him in prayer "so that Almighty and Merciful God will illuminate the Israeli and Palestinian authorities."

The Pope's prayer for divine illumination is also for "those nations that have a particular responsibility in the region, so that they will commit themselves to halt the bloodshed, to multiply initiatives of humanitarian help, and favor the immediate resumption of a direct, serious and concrete negotiation."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Archbishop of Canterbury to meet pope November 23

[03 Nov 2006]
VATICAN CITY, Nov 3, 2006 (AFP)

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the head of the Church of England, will meet Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on November 23, Vatican sources have told AFP.

The visit will mark the 40th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the then head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Michael Ramsay, which led to dialogue between the two churches, the Italian news agency ANSA noted.

Despite Benedict's stated desire to boost ecumenism, relations between the two churches have been strained since 1994 when the Church of England began ordaining women priests; it is now considering ordaining women bishops.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

John Paul 'miracle' claimed

Italian man's cancer recovery could help make pope a saint

(ANSA) - Naples, November 2 - A young Italian man cured of lung cancer has attributed his recovery to the miraculous intervention of John Paul II in a case which could speed the late pope along the road to sainthood.

According to Neapolitan daily Il Mattino on Thursday, the man from Salerno south of Naples was taken into hospital last year where he was diagnosed with lung cancer. After his wife prayed to John Paul II, the dead pope reportedly appeared in a dream to her and reassured her that her husband would be alright.

A few days after the dream, doctors noticed a marked improvement in the man's condition. Within weeks, his cancer completely disappeared, doctors say.

Salerno Archbishop Gerardo Pierro told Il Mattino he was confident that a miracle had taken place.

"There is medical proof otherwise I wouldn't have dared bring up the case. The recovery has lasted - a year and a half later, the inexplicable remains confirmed," he said.

"This could mean that John Paul II will soon be beatified," the archbishop added.

The diocese of Salerno is now looking into the case.

Shots fired in Turkey pope protest

POSTED: 11:34 a.m. EST, November 2, 2006

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Police say they have arrested a man who allegedly fired a pistol into the air outside the Italian consulate in Istanbul, then shouted slogans in protest of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit.

The man, who was identified by police sources as Ibrahim Ak, according to CNN Turk, threw the gun on the grounds of the consulate shortly before his arrest on Thursday.

"I don't want him here, if he was here now I would strangle him with my bare hands," the suspect, who identified himself as Ibrahim Ak, 26, told a Dogan news agency television camera as he was detained by police, according to The Associated Press.

"I fired the shots for God," Ak said as he sat handcuffed inside a police van outside the consulate. "Inshallah (God willing), this will be a spark, a starter for Muslims."

"God willing, he will not come, if he comes, he will see what will happen to him Inshallah," Ak said.

Turkey denies “snubbing” Pope after announcing prime minister will not meet Benedict

Rome, Nov. 02, 2006 (CNA) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will no longer be available to meet with Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff visits the Muslim country later this month. But, Turkish officials are denying that the cancelled meeting was not a intentional slight.

The Turkish Embassy to the Holy See announced yesterday that Erdogan would be attending a NATO summit in Estonia during that time.

Erdogan had been tentatively scheduled to meet with the Pope on Nov. 28, the first day of the Pontiff’s trip. He would have been the first Turkish prime minister to receive Pope Benedict XVI.

Ahmet Arslan, speaker for Prime Minster Ergodan, told ANSA today that the Turkish premier will be in Riga, Latvia, for a NATO summit until the night of November 29 and the next day he must chair a meeting in Ankara of the Supreme Defence Council, which had been scheduled since the start of the year and would last all day, he added. "Any intention of a diplomatic snub of the pope for his statements on Islam is totally out of the question," Arslan said.

Theologian Analyzes Regensburg Reaction

Fueled by Previous East-West Tensions

SALAMANCA, Spain, NOV. 1, 2006 ( The violent reactions following Benedict XVI's Regensburg address were fueled by an atmosphere of tension that already existed, says a professor at the Pontifical University of Salamanca.

Theologian Olegario González de Cardedal attributes the Muslim response to the Sept. 12 address to tensions "between an East, which feels exploited, and a West, which feels challenged by Islam."

González, at his university Monday, said that some underlying problems leading to tension include the low birthrate in Europe, "which makes it dependent on immigration" from Muslim countries.

Another contributing factor is "Europe's loss of confidence in the religious and moral values that have sustained it, basing itself now only on a formal democracy." He also cited "the silence of culture and society in the face of these situations, the fear of speaking out."

González gave as an example that Europe "cried out for freedom of expression in the case of the cartoons" that mocked Mohammed and Islam in general, yet "virtually no one came out in the Pope's defense at first."

The theologian said that Westerners expect several things from Muslims, including that they grow "in the historicity of the truth and the faith."

He added that the West would also like to see Islam "recognize the rights, liberties and dignity of the person, overcome violence and terrorism, and communicate the faith in freedom, without the need of dictatorships."

Additionally, González said that the Muslim world challenges the West in many areas, such as "the return to the religious dimension of human existence and the public presence of God."

Other challenges, he said, include "coherence of the whole of existence in the face of the fragmentation we experience in our society; the importance of prayer in daily life; the reaffirmation of fasting in our society of plenty; contribution to others through alms; and a return to the origin, to the foundational dimension, which is what the pilgrimage to Mecca means."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Benedict XVI's Homily for All Saints' Day; "Holiness Demands a Constant Effort"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 1, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave during the Mass he presided over in St. Peter's Basilica today, the solemnity of All Saints.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our Eucharistic celebration opened today with the exhortation "Let us rejoice in the Lord." The liturgy invites us to share the heavenly jubilation of the saints, to taste the joy. The saints are not a restricted caste of elect but a crowd without number toward which, today, the liturgy exhorts us to lift our eyes.

Among this multitude are not only the officially recognized saints but the baptized of every age and nation who have sought to accomplish the divine will with love and fidelity. Many there are whose faces and names we do not know but with the eyes of faith we see them shine like stars full of glory in the divine firmament.

Today the Church celebrates her dignity as "mother of the saints, image of the eternal city" (Alessandro Manzoni), and manifests her beauty as immaculate bride of Christ, the source and exemplar of all holiness. She does not lack for riotous and indeed rebellious children, but it is in the saints that she recognizes her characteristic traits and precisely in them she savors her deepest joy.

In the first reading the author of the Apocalypse describes "a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue" (Revelation 7:9). This people comprises the saints of the Old Testament, beginning with Abel the just and the patriarch Abraham, and then those of the New Testament, the many martyrs at the beginning of Christianity, the blessed and the saints of the ages that followed, and finally the witnesses of Christ in our own time. What was common to them was the will to incarnate the Gospel in their existence through the impulse of the Holy Spirit, who is the eternal giver of life of the people of God.

Pray for dead during Octave of All Saint's Day and gain plenary indulgence for souls in purgatory

As stated below in Catholic Culture,

"Visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead during the Octave of All Saints' Day (November 1 through November 8) will gain a plenary indulgence that can be applied only to the souls in purgatory. On other days, this work only gains a partial indulgence."

Solemnity of All Saints
Old Calendar: Feast of All Saints

Today the Church celebrates all the saints: canonized or beatified, and the multitude of those who are in heaven enjoying the beatific vision that are only known to God. During the early centuries the Saints venerated by the Church were all martyrs. Later on the Popes set November 1 as the day for commemorating all the Saints. We all have this "universal call to holiness." What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We "must follow in His footsteps and conform [ours]elves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. [We] must devote [our]selves with all [our] being to the glory of God and the service of [our] neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history" (Lumen Gentium, 40).

See also this article from Spirit Daily.

By Susan Tassone

The answer is YES! We are given the grace to avoid purgatory. We must strive to attain Heaven because God desires it.

To avoid purgatory is to honor and magnify the redemption of Christ. Where sin abounds, grace super-abounds. Let us show God our gratitude. We have great opportunities for paying our debt.

The month of November is upon us. We are entering the marvelous season devoted to the dead. The Feast of All Souls is celebrated on November 2. There is not one saint who has more than one given Feast Day. However, the whole month of November is given over to the remembrance of the deceased. Make this November the best one in your life!