Saturday, June 30, 2007

AFP - Sat Jun 30, 4:10 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the Paul VI hall to lead the audience for the new Metropolitan Archbishops at the Vatican. The Pope pressed China on Saturday to respect religious freedom and the Vatican's right to appoint its own bishops, dismissing Beijing's nominees as "illegitimate."(AFP/Alberto Pizzoli)
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Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics

"Willingness to Engage in Respectful and Constructive Dialogue"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2007 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the letter Benedict XVI wrote to the Catholics in China, signed by the Pope on May 27, the solemnity of Pentecost. The Vatican press office released the letter today.

* * *



1. Dear Brother Bishops, dear priests, consecrated persons and all the faithful of the Catholic Church in China: ''We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love which you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven ... We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy'' (Col 1:3-5, 9-11).

These words of the Apostle Paul are highly appropriate for expressing the sentiments that I, as the Successor of Peter and universal Pastor of the Church, feel towards you. You know well how much you are present in my heart and in my daily prayer and how deep is the relationship of communion that unites us spiritually.

Purpose of the Letter

2. I wish, therefore, to convey to all of you the expression of my fraternal closeness. With intense joy I acknowledge your faithfulness to Christ the Lord and to the Church, a faithfulness that you have manifested ''sometimes at the price of grave sufferings'',[1] since ''it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake'' (Phil 1:29). Nevertheless, some important aspects of the ecclesial life of your country give cause for concern.

Without claiming to deal with every detail of the complex matters well known to you, I wish through this letter to offer some guidelines concerning the life of the Church and the task of evangelization in China, in order to help you discover what the Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, ''the key, the centre and the purpose of the whole of human history''[2] wants from you.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pope Benedict said to plan examination of St. Paul's Tomb

29. Juni 2007, 08:42 and Die Welt's Paul Badde report

Vatican (
According to reliable sources, Pope Benedict XVI. has given green light for an examination of the interior of St. Paul's tomb in the Basilica San Paolo fuori le Mura. The position of the stone coffin has not been altered since the year 390. Soon, it is said, archeologists will remove a plug with which the coffin had been sealed in Antiquity. An endoscopic probe is supposed to transmit images of the content. What they will show nobody knows. This alleged decision of the Pope has to be seen in the context of the Year of St. Paul which was announced yesterday for 2008, at the vigil of the Feast of Peter and Paul.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Father Cantalamessa on Pope's Book

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, JUNE 28, 2007 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

"Let the Dead Bury the Dead"
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 19:16b,19-21; Galatians 4:31-5:13-18; Luke 9:51-62

Benedict XVI's book "Jesus of Nazareth" appeared in April. I thought that I would take account of the Pope's reflections in my commentary on some of the next Sunday Gospels.

First of all, I'd like to remark on the content and purpose of the book. It treats of Jesus in the period from his baptism in the Jordan to the moment of his transfiguration, that is, from the beginning of his public ministry almost to its epilogue.

The Pope says that if God gives him sufficient strength and time to write it, a second volume will deal with the accounts of Jesus' death and resurrection along with the infancy narratives. These were not treated in the first volume.

The book presupposes historical-critical exegesis and uses its findings, but desires to go beyond this method, aiming at a properly theological interpretation, that is, one that is global, not narrow, and that takes seriously the witness of the Gospels and Scriptures as books inspired by God.

The purpose of the book is to show that the figure of Jesus that is arrived at in this way is "much more logical and, from the historical point of view, also more understandable than the reconstructions that we have seen in the last decades. I hold," the Pope adds, "that precisely this Jesus -- that of the Gospels -- is a historically sensible and convincing figure."

AP - Thu Jun 28, 2:40 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI looks on during a ceremony in St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica in Rome, Thursday June 28, 2007. The pontiff led a Vespers ceremony on the eve of the feast day of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, two of Church figures who played key roles in assuring that Christianity put down firm roots. Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday said he will dedicate a year to honor St. Paul and to more progress in efforts aimed at unity among Christians. The Catholic Church will dedicate the period from June 28, 2008 to June 29 2009 to Paul in honor of 2,000 years since his birth, Benedict told the faithful. (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)
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Vatican announces Tridentine Mass Motu Proprio to come “within a few days”

Motu Proprio

Pope Benedict meets with group to discuss Missal’s release

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2007 / 08:19 am (CNA).- Made public from the Holy See Press Office this morning was a special communiqué regarding Benedict XVI’s forthcoming “Motu Proprio” on the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

The press release states that, "Yesterday afternoon in the Vatican, a meeting was held under the presidency of the Cardinal Secretary of State in which the content and spirit of the Holy Father's forthcoming 'Motu Proprio' on the use of the Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962 was explained to representatives from various episcopal conferences.”

According to the communiqué, “the Holy Father also arrived to greet those present, spending nearly an hour in deep conversation with them.”

"The publication of the document - which will be accompanied by an extensive personal letter from the Holy Father to individual bishops,” the Vatican release continued, “is expected within a few days, once the document itself has been sent to all the bishops with an indication of when it will come into effect.”

Following the modern revision of the Roman Missal in 1970, the Mass as standardized by Pius V in 1570 and continued by John XVIII in its 1962 form, has been allowed only with the permission or “indult” of the local bishop. The upcoming Motu Proprio is expected to allow any priest to celebrate the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal – though the Novus Ordo Mass (normally celebrated in the local vernacular) of 1970 is expected to remain the norm.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI focuses on St. Cyril: a master of Catechesis

Cyril of Jerusalem

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2007 / 11:09 am (CNA).- The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, greeted the thousands of pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI auditorium this morning, continuing his cycle of catechesis on the Church Fathers by commenting on a master of catechisis himself - St. Cyril of Jerusalem.

Cyril, the Pope explained, was consecrated a bishop in 348 by Acacius, metropolitan of Caesarea in Palestine and a supporter of Arianism. However, soon afterwards the two men came into contrast, "not only in the doctrinal field, but also in the area of jurisprudence, because Cyril claimed the autonomy of his see from the metropolitan see of Caesarea." He was exiled thee times and only in 378, following the death of the emperor Valens, could Cyril return to his see, "restoring unity and peace among the faithful." Of this saint we have his "Catecheses," 24 catechetical lectures introduced by a prologue.

Cyril was known for his Catechesis, which, the Holy Father said, “prepared the catechumens of the Church of Jerusalem first to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation, and then, after their Baptism, to understand more deeply the Church’s faith as expressed in the sacred mysteries.”

Cyril's Catechesis treated the topics of the sacraments, especially Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. In parallel manner, Cyril developed alongside these catecheses another on the Our Father, “creating a way of initiation into prayer.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Benedict and the Mass

Inside the Vatican
The text below is the editorial of the forthcoming June-July issue of Inside the Vatican magazine.

(Newsflash June 26/07)
- by Dr. Robert Moynihan

A reflection on the meaning of the Mass, and a comment on the debate over the restoration of the old liturgy

"Throw melted wax into melted wax, and the one interpenetrates the other perfectly. In the same way, when the Body and Blood of Christ are received, the union is such that Christ is in the recipient and he in Christ." -St. Cyril of Jerusalem

"When Mass was over I remained with Jesus in thanksgiving. Oh how sweet was the colloquy with paradise that morning! It was such that, although I want to tell you all about it, I cannot... The heart of Jesus and my own -- allow me to use the expression -- were fused. No longer were two hearts beating, but only one... My joy was so intense and deep that I could bear it no more and tears of happiness poured down my cheeks." - St. Padre Pio (canonized June 16, 2002)

In Rome in mid-June, the release of Pope Benedict’s motu proprio allowing wider celebration of the "old Mass" was reportedly "imminent," expected in any case "during the first days of July, before the Pope goes on his summer vacation," Vatican officials close to the Pope said. (And yet, the document has been delayed before.)

So what do we know already about this matter? Several things: 1) that the Pope has wished to publish the motu proprio for about a year; 2) that he has been advised by many bishops, who evidently fear it will cause divisions in the Church, not to publish it; 3) that he has therefore taken his time, consulting many advisors, and has written a prefatory letter to explain what the motu proprio means.

Holy Father changes rules for electing new pope

Holy Father restores old rules with a Motu Proprio

Vatican City, Jun 26, 2007 / 09:02 am (CNA).- It was announced today that the Holy Father, Benedict XVI has brought back the traditional method for electing a new Pope. Under Pope John Paul II, the procedure was changed to a series of ballots punctuated with time for reflection and prayer if a pontiff was not chosen within the first three days.

The change back to the traditional rules was made public today in a "Motu Proprio," written in Latin. In the letter, Benedict XVI restores the traditional norm concerning the majority required for the valid election of the Supreme Pontiff to two thirds of the cardinals present.

In 1996, John Paul II changed the standard in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici gregis. Under John Paul II’s rules, a new Pope was validly elected by two thirds during the first three days of voting.

However, after three days of voting without an election, there would be a day dedicated to reflection and prayer, without voting. Thereafter, voting would resume for seven additional ballots, another pause for reflection, another seven ballots, another pause and yet another seven ballots. After which an absolute majority was to decide how to proceed, either for a vote by absolute majority or with balloting between two candidates. This was to happen only in the event that the cardinals arrived at the 33rd or 34th ballot without a positive result.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Reuters - Mon Jun 25, 3:31 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI visits the Vatican archives at the Vatican June 25, 2007. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)
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Pope: Library Safeguards Faith-Culture Link

Benedict XVI Visits Vatican Secret Archives

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2007 ( In a visit to the Vatican Library and Secret Archives, Benedict XVI told employees that their task is to safeguard the link between faith and culture.

The Pope visited the library today, a few weeks before it is scheduled to be closed to the public for a three-year restoration project.

The Pontiff told those gathered for the visit that their task "is to safeguard the link between faith and culture that emanates from the documents and treasures you hold."

Benedict XVI praised the library as "a welcoming home of learning, culture and humanity which opens its doors to scholars from all over the world without distinction of origin, race or culture."

The Pope told the staff that the library makes it "possible to undertake not only scholarly research, of itself most laudable and praiseworthy, concerning periods distant from us in time, but also to pursue interests concerning epochs and times close to us, even very close."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

John the Baptist’s birth invites us to true conversion

Sunday Angelus

Benedict XVI gives his angelus address

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2007 / 09:57 am (CNA).- Today on the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims gathered under the hot June sun in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday recitation of the Angelus. To a packed crowd, the vicar of Christ recalled the example of John the Baptist. His message to those gathered was to engage in true conversion and an ardent witness of the Lord.

The Holy Father noted that all the Gospels begin their narration of Jesus’ public life with his baptism by John in the Jordan. Benedict also commented on his new book: “My book Jesus of Nazareth also begins with the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, an event which resounded widely in those times.”

Benedict noted that John’s life “was wholly oriented towards Christ”. Therefore, “to commemorate his birth means in reality to celebrate Christ.”

Explaining the mission of the saint, the Holy Father said, “He remains as the first “witness” to Jesus, having received an indication from Heaven.”

John knew how to give a courageous witness: “As an authentic prophet, John gave witness to the truth without compromise. He denounced the transgressions of God’s commandments, even when those who did so were powerful. In this way, when he accused Herod and Herodias, he paid with his life, sealing with martyrdom his service to Christ.”

Saturday, June 23, 2007

AP - Sat Jun 23, 9:36 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI, left, meets with outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair during a private audience at the Vatican Saturday June 23, 2007. The Vatican on Saturday bid farewell to Tony Blair as British prime minister, wishing him well on what it said were his plans to work for Middle East peace and interreligious dialogue. Blair held long talks with Pope Benedict XVI, with the Vatican stop on his farewell tour fueling rumors that he plans to become a Roman Catholic. The two men met privately for 25 minutes and then were joined for further talks by English Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, HO)

Blair talks with Pope in Vatican

Times Online
June 23, 2007
8:57 AM


Tony Blair met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican this morning for the last time in his capacity as prime minister.

After the Pope welcomed Mr Blair into his private study, the prime minister told him he had just flown in from the European Union summit in Brussels where European leaders reached agreement on a deal last night.

"I heard it was very successful," the Pope told Mr Blair.

"Yes, but it was a very long night. We finished up at 5.30 in the morning," the prime minister said.

The two men met privately for 25 minutes and then were joined for further talks by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

A Vatican source later told The Sunday Times that he could not recall a similar occasion in living memory when a cardinal had joined a prime minister or head of state during his private audience with the pope.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Blair 'will meet the Pope, then become Catholic'

Daily Mail
Last updated at 14:37pm on 22nd June 2007

Tony Blair will tomorrow meet with Pope Benedict XVI before he announces his conversion to Roman Catholicism, according to friends of the Prime Minister.

They say Mr Blair will formalise the switch to his wife's faith shortly after he surrenders office next week.

Officially, Mr Blair and Pope Benedict will discuss the situation in the Middle East and the possibility of a papal visit to the UK.

But yesterday it emerged that the Prime Minister is also using the trip to cement his plans to become a Catholic as soon as he hands power to Gordon Brown on Wednesday.

When in Rome? Prime Minister Tony Blair, who may be about to convert to Catholicism, with Pope Benedict XVI

"It is clear to many people that this is now going to happen," a source said. Mr Blair's attendances at Catholic services have caused controversy in the past.

All four of his children were baptised as Catholics, and Mr Blair used to attend Mass at St Joan of Arc Church in Islington while opposition leader in the mid-1990s.

But after becoming Prime Minister in 1997, he was told to stop taking communion in public by the late Cardinal Hume, then leader of Catholics in England and Wales.

Since then, he has celebrated private Masses with Father Michael Seed - regarded as unofficial chaplain to Westminster - in Downing Street. To convert, Mr Blair must undergo a formal course of instruction from a Catholic priest - including a rite of initiation into the faith, which usually takes place at Easter.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pope: martyrdom of Christians in the Middle East, where peace is offended

06/21/2007 14:32

Benedict XVI renews his condolences for the murder in Iraq of Father Ragheed Ganni and his three sub deacons and remembers those families forced to flee under threats of death and violence. An appeal to political leaders to free peace from discrimination, be it religious, cultural historic or geographical.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The “weakness of peace”, longed for in the Middle East, is being further eroded by new and old injustices and by the “deadly disease” of discrimination, which gives way to violence, a violence that is targeting the regions Christians particularly those in Iraq. Remembering Fr. Ragheed Ganni and his three sub deacons murdered June 3 last in Mosul, Benedict XVI today spoke of the “authentic martyrdom in the name of Jesus Christ” of Iraq’s Christians and assured the prayers and action of the Holy See and of all of the Church for the Holy Land, Iraq and Lebanon.

The Pope returned today to express his “sorrow and concern for the delicate situation of vast areas of the Middle East” receiving members of the Reunion for the Aid to Oriental Churches (Roaco). The Pope also spoke of the tragic reality of Iraq with the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East Mar Dinkha IV who he also received today. Peace, so longed for - he said – is unfortunately still being offended. It is offended in the hearts of the individual, which compromises interpersonal and inter community relations. The weakness of peace is being further undermined by old and new injustices. Thus it is quashed, leaving space to violence, which often degenerates into war more or less openly declared, which constitutes, as we see in these days, a grave international problem”. For peace the Pope invited Christians and the faithful of other religions to “knock on the door to God’s heart”. “I am knocking – he continued – on the door to the hearts of all of those who have specific responsibility so that they adhere to the very serious duty of guaranteeing peace for all, without distinction, freeing them from the deadly disease of discrimination, be it religious, cultural, historic or geographic”.

Assuring the spiritual closeness of Catholics to their suffering brothers, Benedict XVI turned to the Chaldean Catholic Emanuel Delly to renew “the Pope’s condolences for the barbarous murder of an innocent priest and his three sub deacons which took place at the end of Sunday mass on June 3 last in Iraq. The entire Church accompanies all of its sons and daughters with affection and admiration and it supports them in this the hour of an authentic martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ”. Earlier he had told Patriarch Mar Dinkha “Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment. Many of them see no other possibility than to leave the country and to seek a new future abroad. These difficulties are a source of great concern to me, and I wish to express my solidarity with the pastors and the faithful of the Christian communities who remain there, often at the price of heroic sacrifices”.

Pope expresses fears for Iraqi Christians

Vatican, Jun. 21, 2007 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) lamented the suffering of Christians in Iraq, and their steady exodus from that country, during a June 21 conversation with an Iraqi Orthodox leader.

The Pope remarked that Christians are "suffering both materially and spiritually" in the Middle East, the birthplace of the faith. "Particularly in Iraq," he said, "Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment. Many of them see no other possibility than to leave the country and to seek a new future abroad."

The Holy Father expressed his concerns in a meeting with Mar Dinkha IV, the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. The Assyrian Church of the East has close historical ties with the Chaldean Catholic Church, the during his meeting with the Patriarch the Pope dwelt at length upon the quest for restored unity among the Christian faithful.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Benedict--St. Athanasius teaches us that those who draw near to God are able to truly draw near to mankind

Wednesday Audience

Benedict XVI speaking at the General Audience in Paul VI hall

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2007 / 08:57 am (CNA).- Benedict XVI’s general audience today was held inside of Paul VI hall. The theme of the Pope’s teaching was the figure of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (circa 300-373), whom he called a "column of the Church," and a "model of orthodoxy in both East and West."

After noting how St. Athanasius' statue was placed by Bernini, alongside statues of other doctors of the Church (St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine), in the apse of the Vatican Basilica, the Pope described the Alexandrian saint as a "passionate theologian of the incarnation of the 'Logos,' the Word of God," and "the most important and tenacious adversary of the Arian heresy which then threatened faith in Christ by minimizing His divinity, in keeping with a recurring historical tendency which is also evident in various ways today."

Athanasius participated in the Council of Nicaea, when bishops established "the symbol of faith ... commonly known as the Nicaean Creed. The Creed affirms that "the Son is 'of one substance' with the Father, precisely in order to highlight His full divinity which was denied by the Arians. ... The fundamental idea behind St. Athanasius’ theological labors was precisely that God is accessible ... and that though our communion with Christ we can truly unite ourselves to God."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Church gives guidelines for bringing faith to the streets

The Gospel must reach all areas

Vatican City, Jun 19, 2007 / 10:30 am (CNA).- A rather interesting document was issued today on the pastoral care of the road. The guidelines were created for the purpose of bringing care for the human person even to the roadways, since the Gospel should be preached everywhere.

The instructions were issued by a department of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People under the leadership of Cardinal Renato Martino.

The document - published in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian - is divided into four sections: The pastoral care of road users, pastoral ministry for the liberation of street women, the pastoral care of street children, and the pastoral care of the homeless.

Cardinal Martino indicated that the idea of preparing this document arose during the First European Meeting of National Directors of the Pastoral Care of the Road, held in 2003. "Its aim," he said, "is to guide and coordinate all the ecclesial bodies in the world of the pastoral care of the road, and to encourage and stimulate episcopal conferences of countries in which this form of pastoral care does not exist, to organize it."

Commenting on the first part of the document, Cardinal Martino expressed the view that "Church and State, each in its own field, must work to create a generalized public awareness on the question of road safety and promote, using all possible means, ... an adequate education among drivers, travelers and pedestrians."

Referring to the evangelization of the road, the president of the pontifical council recalled that the Church also aims at "the religious formation of car drivers, professional transporters, passengers, and all those people who, in one way or another, are associated with roads and railways." In this context, he recalled the fact that in many countries there are "fixed or mobile highway chapels, and pastoral workers who visit motorway service areas and periodically celebrate liturgies there."

One item of particular interest is the list of 10 Commandments for drivers which could be of use for those prone to “road rage”. The commandments are:

I. You shall not kill.
II. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
III. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
IV. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
V. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
VI. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
VII. Support the families of accident victims.
VIII. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
IX. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
X. Feel responsible towards others.

The full text of the document can be found at:

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pope puts his weight behind the revival of Mass in Latin

June 18, 2007

Paul Bompard in Rome

The Pope has signed a document that re-opens the way to the optional use of the old Latin Mass, replaced by liturgy in the local language in the late 1960s, it was reported yesterday.

The document is expected to be published within the next few weeks. Known as a motu proprio, signifying that it is the Pope’s personal initiative, it reflects Benedict XVI’s thinking on the subject since long before he was elected pontiff.

While, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he repeatedly expressed sympathy for those Catholics who felt nostalgia for the traditional Latin rite which dated back to the Middle Ages, although when it came to discipline he took stern action against the ultra-conservative Catholic splinter group led by the French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who rejected the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and for whom the use of the Latin Mass was a banner.

The question of whether to use a vernacular or Latin Mass has political implications for Catholics everywhere, and the text of the motu proprio has been the subject of intense discussions among Vatican officials for many months.

A Return to the Latin Mass

Clashes with congregants may erupt as a growing number of young priests push for a revival of pre-Vatican II customs

U.S. News & World Report
By Eric Ferkenhoff
Posted 6/17/07

Nearly two generations of Catholics now have grown up in a post-Vatican II world, worshipping in a church that celebrates mass in their local languages and, at least to some extent, embraces modern customs as much as it once rejected them.

So it seemed anathema when the Vatican confirmed recently that Pope Benedict XVI would relax restrictions on celebrating the 16th-century Tridentine Mass, citing "a new and renewed" interest in the ancient Latin liturgy, especially among younger Catholics.

Given the fierce fight that preceded Vatican II—the liturgical and doctrinal reforms of the mid-1960s that sought to make the church more accessible—a similar war would seem needed to overturn them. But a movement is building at seminaries nationwide to do just that: In addition to restoring the Latin mass, young priests are calling for greater devotion to the Virgin Mary, more frequent praying of the rosary, and priests turning away from the congregation as they once did. Perhaps most controversially, they also advocate a dimished role for women, who since Vatican II have been allowed to participate in the mass as lay altar servers and readers.

Such changes would seem to aggravate the church's growing attendance problems (in 2003, 40 percent of Roman Catholics said they had attended church in the past week, down from 74 percent in 1958) as well as enhance its air of exclusivity—the notion of Catholicism as the only true faith. Yet proponents of the movement argue that just the opposite holds: More people will attend mass if the traditions are richer and the doctrine stricter. The Latin mass, they say, would restore a sense of community they believe was diluted when the church allowed local culture to override tradition. In Chicago alone, mass is now said in some 50 languages.

"The traditional Latin mass simply excels at conveying the majesty and mystery of God," says Michael Dunnigan, a canon lawyer and chairman of the pro-Latin mass group, Una Voce America. Rejecting comparisons to fundamentalism, he denies that proponents are simply seeking more structure and discipline. "At the heart of the movement is a longing for beauty and an attitude of profound reverence," he says. Andrew Vogel, a seminarian from Rochester, Minn., notes that before Vatican II, mass attendance was at its highest and seminaries were full. "People just think we must have been doing something right," he says.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pope Benedict makes pilgrimage to Assisi

Pope Benedict XVI's blesses the faithfulls as he arrives in Assisi, 17 June 2007, for a visit to mark the 800th anniversary of the conversion of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226).
Photograph by : ALESSIA GIULIANI/Getty Images
Associated Press
Published: Sunday, June 17, 2007

ASSISI, Italy - Pope Benedict XVI began a pilgrimage to this hill town Sunday to mark the 800th anniversary of the conversion of St. Francis from the life of a medieval playboy into a man who stripped away his worldly wealth to serve God.

The pontiff was paying tribute to a man who would become one of the Church's most beloved figures amid a Vatican campaign to encourage rank-and-file faithful to decisively take up God's call in their everyday lives.

Benedict flew by helicopter to the outskirts of Assisi where he was greeted by Italian Premier Romano Prodi.

Benedict, 80, had a heavy schedule for his 11-hour visit in the muggy air of the Umbrian town, with its steep, stony streets, including several speeches, moments of private prayer before St. Francis' tomb in the Basilica of St. Francis and an early evening encounter with young people.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Reuters - Sat Jun 16, 12:50 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI and the Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II (L), exchange gifts during their meeting at the Vatican June 16, 2007. The Pope and Archbishop Chrysostomos II on Saturday to work for peace in the Middle East, saying they feared a widening crisis with "disastrous consequences". REUTERS/Chris Helgren

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Pope to Visit Assisi Sunday

To Follow Footsteps of St. Francis

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 15, 2007 ( Benedict XVI's visit to the tomb of St. Francis will be a pilgrimage that follows in the footsteps of the "little poor man of Assisi," says the local bishop.

The Pope will arrive in the Umbrian city by helicopter Sunday at 8:50 a.m. His trip will mark the 800th anniversary of the conversion St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226).

Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino told L'Osservatore Romano that the Holy Father "will recall what Francis tells us about the beginning of his conversion, spent serving lepers."

At 9:30 a.m., the Holy Father will go by car to the Church of San Damiano and then to the Basilica of St. Clare at 9:50 a.m. for a brief visit and private prayer.

At that moment, said Archbishop Sorrentino, "we will relive the dialogue with the crucifix that changed St. Francis' life."

At 11 a.m., the prelate continued, in the piazza located in front of the lower Basilica of St. Francis, there will be a Mass that will underline "the particularly Eucharistic dimension of St. Francis' spirituality."

After the Mass, Benedict XVI will visit the tomb of St. Francis privately.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Report: Pope-patriarch meeting possible
Posted on Thu, Jun. 14, 2007
The Associated Press

ROME --A groundbreaking meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the Russian Orthodox patriarch could take place within a year, a senior Vatican cardinal said Thursday, according to the news agency of the Italian bishops conference.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Vatican office for relations with other Christian confessions, said both the pope and Patriarch Alexy II were open to the meeting, and that much depended on the "internal situation" of the Russian church.

"No one is against the meeting, even among the Orthodox," the SIR agency quoted Kasper as saying. "There is the hope that Benedict XVI and Alexy II can meet within a year."

The German prelate spoke on the sidelines of a ceremony awarding an honorary degree to Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II, who will be received Saturday by Benedict and has offered himself as a mediator to help arrange the meeting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

True Christians see the Church through eyes of love

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2007 / 08:22 am (CNA).- More than 30,000 pilgrims enjoyed the sunny weather today as they gathered for Pope Benedict’s Wednesday audience. He centered his teaching on the example of Eusebius, the bishop of Palestine in the third century. The Pope shared Eusebius’ most powerful lesson for Christians—to see history as the revelation of God’s love for mankind.

Especially in today’s world of analysis and instant transmission of information, it can be easy to focus on what is new, what is sensational. However, Benedict XVI questioned this attitude saying, "Is it, the approach of one interested out of simple curiosity, perhaps seeking the scandalous and sensational at any cost?”

Instead, the Holy Father proposed that we should view the Church and its history the way Eusebius did. He saw the whole Church with an, “approach full of love and open to mystery of people….”

When the faithful approach the Church with love and faith then they can see, “in the history of the Church…the signs of God's love and of the great works of salvation He has achieved[.] If this is our approach, we cannot but be stimulated to a more coherent and generous response, to a more Christian witness of life."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bishop of Baghdad reproaches West for “silence” in response to violence against Christians in Iraq

Iraqi Christian Persecution

Baghdad, Jun 12, 2007 / 10:46 am (CNA).- The Religious Information Service of the Church in Italy reported this week that Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Warduni scolded the United States and Europe for their “silence” in the face of the escalating violence against the Christian minority in Iraq.

Bishop Warduni pointed to the recent assassination of a Catholic priest, Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, and three deacons in northern Iraq, carried out a week ago as they were coming out of a church, and to the kidnapping of Father Hani Abdel Ahad, 33, who has not been heard from since the day of his abduction last Wednesday as instances of this silence.

The bishop said that after the killing of Father Ganni, “nobody showed us any solidarity.” “Only the Pope sent a telegram of condolences and raised his voice to make know the tragedy of the Iraqi Christians.”

According to the bishop, “If this had happened in any Islamic population, the Muslim masses would have taken to the streets to protest and demand respect, just as what happened with the satirical comics some time ago.”

“Christians, on the other hand, are doing nothing while here they are being killed, kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam, to pay protection money, hand over their own daughters in order to avoid reprisals, or to flee, abandoning their whole life’s work,” Bishop Wardumi said.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bush presents Pope with walking stick carved with Ten Commandments

Catholic News Service PHOTO


U.S. President George W. Bush presents Pope Benedict XVI with a walking stick carved by a former homeless man from Texas. The president made a visit to the Vatican June 9. (CNS/Reuters)
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Release kidnapped, pope tells the ‘authors of evil detestable deeds’ on day priest abducted


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – Pope Benedict XVI pleaded for the release of those kidnapped throughout the world on a day when a missionary priest in the Philippines was abducted.

In remarks delivered to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square June 10 after the praying of the midday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI referred to kidnappings as “detestable deeds,” and called upon the “authors” of such evil to return those imprisoned to their families.

“I receive frequent requests for intervention on behalf of persons – some of whom are even priests – who have been seized for different reasons and in different parts of the world,” the pope said. “I carry all in my heart and they are present in my prayer.”

Father Giancarlo Bossi, a 57-year-old Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) priest, was taken at gunpoint June 10 in the southern Philippine Zamboanga Sibugay Province's Payao coastal town where he was to celebrate Sunday morning Mass.

Bush and Benedict: First Meeting

The Pope's chief concern? The survival of the Christian communities of the Middle East

Inside the Vatican
June 10, 2007
By Andrea Kirk Assaf

George W. Bush is used to taking center stage, regularly passing from meeting to meeting at a hectic pace to carry out an ambitious agenda.

But after a flurry of intense meetings last week with the leaders of the world's most powerful nations at the G8 meeting in Germany, which Bush hailed as a success, he found himself slowed to a snail's pace yesterday morning, Saturday, June 9, during a solemn procession to meet the greatest spiritual leader on earth.

Led by two rows of finely-dressed noblemen who assist at papal events, Bush followed in the footsteps of countless other political leaders who, over nearly two millennia, have experienced the gravitas and grandeur of the Holy See on the approach through the Vatican to meet the successor of St. Peter.

In centuries past, monarchs would ride up to the papal palace in their carriages between Bernini's immense colonnades, feeling the muscular squeeze of the Pope's temporal and spiritual authority upon them.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pope encourages youth in their discovery of Eucharistic Adoration

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2007 / 02:28 pm (CNA).- Beneath a nearly cloudless blue Roman sky, the Holy Father made his Sunday address to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly recitation of the Angelus. The event was made more colourful by the presence of the Rome and Viterbo chapters of the Harley Davidson Owners Group (H.O.G.) gathered for the Papal blessing. Their polished custom cycles filled half of Pio XII, directly in front of St. Peter’s Square.

His Holiness Benedict XVI, throughout the address, maintained the theme of the Body and Blood of Christ, which, he noted, had been celebrated this past Thursday.

The feast of Corpus Domini, that is, of the Body and Blood of the Lord, “invites us to contemplate the greatest mystery of our faith.”

The Pope noted with joy that there has been in increase in Eucharistic adoration among the youth: “I am happy to confirm that many young people are discovering the beauty of eucharistic adoration,” he said.

“Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, outside the Mass, prolongs and intensifies one’s participation in the Eucharist,” the Pope affirmed.

This adoration, and the peace it creates within us, is sorely needed in today’s world: “In today’s often noisy life, it is important to recuperate the capacity of interior silence and recollection,” Benedict XVI stated.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Historic meeting between President Bush and Pope Benedict covers wide range

President Bush, Pope Benedict XVI, First Lady Laura Bush

Middle East, Africa, Putin

Vatican City, Jun 9, 2007 / 12:32 pm (CNA).- This morning President George W. Bush was received in an audience by Pope Benedict XVI for the first time. The discussions between the two world leaders revolved around the situation in the Middle East, Africa (especially Darfur), and a host of societal issues of concern to Christians.

When the topic of the situation in the Middle East was raised, particular attention was given by the Holy See to the Israeli-Palestinian question, to Lebanon, to the worrying situation in Iraq, and to the critical conditions being experienced by the Christian communities in those places.

The Vatican expressed hope that a "regional" and "negotiated" solution to the conflicts and crises afflicting the region could be found.

At a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi during the president's swing through Europe, Bush said that, "He [Benedict] was concerned that the society that was evolving would not tolerate the Christian religion” and that "the Christians inside Iraq [are] being mistreated by the Muslim majority."

Bush said he assured the pope — whom he described as "very smart, loving man" — that the United States was working hard to ensure that the Iraqi people live up to their constitution in treating Christians fairly.

Bush Meets Pope Benedict for the First Time

L'Osservatore Romano via Associated Press
President Bush met Pope Benedict XVI today at the Vatican for the first time.

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New York Times
Published: June 10, 2007

ROME, June 9 — President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI, both religious conservatives, met for the first time on Saturday in the papal palace at the Vatican, where the pontiff privately expressed his concerns to the president about “the worrying situation in Iraq,” especially the treatment of minority Christians there.

Mr. Bush, speaking to reporters after having lunch with Prime Minister Romano Prodi, conceded that the pope had raised those concerns. He pronounced himself “in awe” of Benedict and said he felt he had been “talking to a very smart, loving man.”

The president said he reminded the pope of America’s commitment to spend more on AIDS in Africa and American attempts to “feed the hungry.” And the two talked about immigration; the pontiff is apparently watching the immigration legislation debate in the United States with great interest. But Iraq loomed large over their hourlong session in the grand and elegant private papal library, with its plush regal chairs, ceiling frescoes and a crucifix by Giotto.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Bush and Pope Prepare to Meet

Pope Benedict XVI and US President George W. Bush
Franco Origlia / Getty; Carol T. Powers / Getty

Thursday, Jun. 07, 2007

At first glance, President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI offer a portrait in contrast: the swagger of a trust-my-gut Texan and the shyness of a cerebral theologian. But behind the photo-op set for Saturday's first-ever Bush-Benedict meeting are two men with some key traits in common. Both, of course, wield their words and policy with planetary reach thanks to the unique offices they hold. But there are also some notable parallels in the way they have come to exercise their respective global roles. More than six years into Bush's presidency and two years into Benedict's papacy, it is clear that neither is cut from the traditional cloth of international diplomacy. Beyond what are indeed very different styles and backgrounds and job descriptions are leaders who pride themselves as straight talkers who act according to what they see as simple truths. Indeed, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the born-again Protestant President acknowledges that their public deeds — and diplomacy, itself — are driven by a very palpable and personal religious faith.

Though the agenda leading up to their Vatican meeting — from Iraq to debt relief to abortion — features points that both converge and diverge, the 30-plus minutes behind closed doors will above all be a meeting of two men of Christian devotion, says a Catholic Church insider. "The Pope knows he has a real believer in front of him," says the insider. "Bush's faith is seen here as something definitely authentic, even in its errors."

Pope Benedict--Jesus' Incarnation and Presence in the Eucharist confounds the wisdom of men

Feast of Corpus Christi

Rome, Jun 8, 2007 / 09:03 am (CNA).- Christ’s incarnation and presence in the Eucharist “puts into crisis the wisdom of men”. So the Pope spoke this past Thursday, at 7 p.m., on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

To mark the feast, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and afterwards presided over a Eucharistic Procession from St. John’s Basilica until the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. The Pope greeted the Romans gathered there, together with the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Mons. Camillo Ruini, and other cardinals and bishops present at the celebration.

During the homily, the Pope said: “a moment ago, we have sung in the Sequence: It is certain for us Christians, / that the bread becomes flesh, / the wine becomes blood’. Today we affirm with enthusiasm our faith in the Eucharist, the Mystery which constitutes the heart of the Church.” It is also, “the gift which Jesus Christ makes of himself, revealing to us the infinite love of God for every man.”

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Benedict XVI's Appeal to G-8 Leaders

"Let Us Hope That Serious Efforts Be Made"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 6, 2007 ( Here is the appeal Benedict XVI voiced today after the general audience to the heads of state meeting at the Group of Eight summit.

* * *

Today in Heiligendamm, Germany, under the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Annual Summit of Heads of State and Heads of Government of the G8 -- that is, the seven most industrialized countries of the world plus the Russian Federation -- has begun. On 16 December last I had occasion to write to Chancellor Angela Merkel, thanking her, in the name of the Catholic Church, for the decision to keep the theme of world poverty on the agenda of the G8, with specific reference to Africa. Doctor Merkel kindly replied to me on 2 February last, assuring me of the G8's commitment to attaining the Millennium Development Goals. Now, I should like to make a further appeal to the leaders meeting at Heiligendamm, not to retreat from their promises to make a substantial increase in development aid in favour of the most needy populations, especially those of the African Continent.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

'Deranged' man tries to grab hold of Pope Benedict's vehicle

A TV grab shows guards pining a man down behind the Pope's vehicle during Benedict's weekly audience in Vatican City on Wednesday. (Vatican TV via Reuters TV )

International Herald Tribune
By Ian Fisher
Published: June 6, 2007

ROME: A man the Vatican described as "clearly deranged" sprung over a barricade on Wednesday and landed just behind Pope Benedict XVI as he was driven in an uncovered popemobile waving at crowds at St. Peter's Square.

Benedict, 80, did not seem to notice as his security guards quickly subdued the man, described as a 27-year-old German.

The man appeared to briefly hold on to the rear of the white popemobile.

The Reverend Federico Lombardi, the pope's spokesman, said the man, who was wearing shorts, sunglasses and a baseball cap, was not armed and did not appear threatening.

"He was clearly deranged but did not want to kill or harm the pope," Lombardi told reporters. "He only wanted to draw attention to himself."

Caught on video: Man tries jumping onto Popemobile


Benedict XVI--Christians are always and everywhere members of one Body

Wednesday Audience

Vatican City, Jun 6, 2007 / 09:19 am (CNA).- Continuing his catechesis on the connection between Jesus and the Church, the Holy Father spoke today on St. Cyprian, "the first African bishop to achieve the crown of martyrdom." The Pope exhorted the 40,000 gathered and all the faithful to unity using the works of St. Cyprian.

Cyprian, said the Pope, "was born in Carthage to a rich pagan family" and "converted to Christianity at the age of 35. ... He became a priest and later a bishop. During his brief time as a bishop, he had to face the first two persecutions authorized by imperial edict, that of Decius (250) and that of Valerian (257-258)," following which many faithful "renounced their faith, or at least failed to comport themselves correctly when under trial. These were the so-called 'lapsi,' that is, the 'lapsed'."

Cyprian was "severe but not inflexible towards the 'lapsi,' giving them the chance of forgiveness after an exemplary penance." The saint also "showed great humanity and was pervaded by the most authentic evangelical spirit in exhorting Christians to offer fraternal help to pagans during the plague." But he was "irremovable in combating the corruption and sins that devastated the moral life, especially that of avarice."

St. Cyprian was concerned more with pastoral issues than with profound theological insights. “He wrote above all for the edification of the community and to encourage the faithful to good behavior.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Vatican Defends World War II Pope
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 5, 2007; 2:20 PM

ROME -- The Vatican stepped up its defense Tuesday of Pope Pius XII, with its No. 2 official decrying that the World War II pontiff was the victim of a "black legend" claiming he remained largely silent in the face of the Holocaust.

Less than a month after the Vatican took a new step to put Pius on the road to sainthood, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said that historical research and thousands of personal stories prove the pontiff acted behind the scenes to save the lives of Jews and other victims.

Pius "is the victim of a 'black legend,' which has spread to a point that it is difficult to change it, even though documents and witnesses have widely proven its complete inconsistency," the Vatican secretary of state said at a presentation of a book about the wartime pope.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pope to discuss Iraq with Bush

AP via Yahoo! News
By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jun 3, 10:27 PM ET

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI plans to discuss Iraq and the plight of Christians in that war-torn country when he meets for the first time with President Bush this week, the Vatican No. 2 said in an interview published Sunday.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said Benedict also plans to raise "the big ethical and social questions" of the day when he meets with Bush on Saturday at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

"The United States is a great country and the current president is particularly distinguished for several positive initiatives in favor of the defense of life from conception," Bertone told Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference.

"Some problems remain, however," he said, citing the Iraq war, which the Vatican under the late Pope John Paul II vigorously opposed, as well as the worsening situation of Iraq's Christian minority.

Benedict has spoken out occasionally about the war in Iraq, most recently in his Easter message in which he decried that "nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees."

On other issues, however, the Vatican and Bush are on similar ground, such as in their opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

Last week, the U.S. national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said Bush planned to discuss Benedict's "strong stand against terrorism and religious extremism," among other issues, during the meeting.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pope: Let us admire the glory of the Holy Trinity, which is reflected in the lives of the Saints

06/03/2007 14:06

Under relentless rain, Benedict XVI canonized 4 new saints : George Preca; Simon of Lipnica; Karel van Sint Andries Houben; Marie-Eugénie Milleret. All of them were “witnesses of the Gospel” and symbols of the “variety and beauty” of God’s Wisdom.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The rain was the most obvious protagonist of this morning’s canonization of 4 new saints, as it poured down relentlessly on the ocean of coloured umbrellas, on the sick, on the ministrants and bishops gathered in St Peter’s square. Every step of the ceremony, the readings, processions – with the exception of the rites performed around the papal altar – were hindered by the opening and closing of the multi coloured umbrellas as they were passed from hand to hand, covering heads but drenching the shoulders and robes of the cardinals and 40 thousand faithful.

But the principal protagonist –said the pope – was “the Glory of God reflected in the lives of the saints”. Benedict XVI, thus united the solemn feast of the Holy Trinity – in which we “lift our gaze to the “open skies“ …to the profound depths of God’s mystery, who is one being in three persons – to the ceremony of the canonization of 4 blessed from Malta, Polond, Holland, France. They are George Preca (1880-1962), priest and founder of Societas Doctrinæ Christianæ Malta’s first saint, Szymon z Lipnicy (1435 ca.-1482), priest of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, and great preacher who died after caring for the sick during the plague in Poland; Karel van Sint Andries Houben (1821-1893), passionist priest, born in Holland but missionary in Ireland, the so called “healer” of Dublin; Marie-Eugénie de Jésus Milleret (1817-1898), founder of the Institute of the Sisters of the Assumption. All of these lived through times of great social tumult and de-Christianisation; all of these worked as missionaries, so much so that their work spread not only throughout their individual nations, but also abroad. The Pope defined them as “exemplary witnesses of the Gospel”.

Cardinals from across the world participated in the ceremony as well as the Presidents of Ireland, Malta, Poland and the Philippines : where the miracle which guaranteed sainthood for Sr. Marie Eugenie took place.

In his homily Benedict XVI, underlined that “God’s wisdom manifests itself in the cosmos, in its variety and the beauty of its elements, but his greatest masterpiece are the saints”. More precisely – explained the pontiff, inspired by the mass readings - “Every single saint participates in the richness of Christ, given to him from the father, through the Holy Spirit. It is always the Holiness of Christ that the Spirit plasmates in “saintly souls”, creating in them friends of Christ and witnesses of his Holiness”.

Pope Benedict names four new saints

AP - Sun Jun 3, 10:23 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI, left, holds and blesses the host during a mass attended by several heads of state and thousands of umbrella-toting faithful, and in which he named four new saints from France, Malta, the Netherlands and Poland, in St. Peter's square at the Vatican Sunday, June 3, 2007, (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
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Saturday, June 02, 2007

New book details Hitler plot to kidnap pope, foiled by Nazi general

NEWS BRIEFS Jun-1-2007

By Catholic News Service


WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An SS general close to Adolf Hitler foiled a plot to kidnap Pope Pius XII during World War II and to put the Vatican and its treasures under Nazi control, according to a new book. The book, "A Special Mission" by Dan Kurzman, refutes arguments that Pope Pius XII maintained a public silence about Nazi actions during World War II because he was anti-Semitic or because he was sympathetic toward Hitler. "They were bitter, bitter enemies. They despised each other," said Kurzman of the pontiff and the fuhrer in a May 31 telephone interview with Catholic News Service. The pope hated Hitler "not only for his inhumanity but because he threatened the whole church structure." Hitler, for his part, "saw the pope as his greatest enemy" and as someone with whom he was "competing for the minds and souls that he wanted to control," the author added. Kurzman also said he found no evidence that Pope Pius was anti-Semitic, noting that one of his closest childhood friends was a Jewish boy with whom he remained in contact throughout his life. The book, published June 1 by Da Capo Press in Cambridge, Mass., is subtitled "Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII." It details the actions of SS Gen. Karl Wolff, chief of staff to SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, in the months after the overthrow of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in July 1943.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bush and Benedict

Inside the Vatican
An exclusive interview with the US Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Rooney

By Serena Sartini

On June 9, President George Bush of the USA will visit Rome and meet Pope Benedict XVI. The US ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Rooney, agreed to sit down with Inside the Vatican correspondent Serena Sartini to discuss his expectations for the upcoming meeting. The interview touches on a possible visit by Benedict to the United States, the UN, and Ground Zero, and the general status of the relationship between the United States and the Holy See. The interview also touches on the war in Iraq and conflict in Lebanon.

INSIDE THE VATICAN: What is the current status of relations between the Holy See and the United States?

FRANCIS ROONEY: I think the whole world wanted to see what kind of papacy Pope Benedict would lead, and how it might depart from that of Pope John Paul II. And for us here, we have a vital interest in his priorities, in the changes that he has made. We meet with the Secretariat of State officials quite often, with Archbishop Mamberti and others, and we have become acquainted with them. And we certainly have great interest in the Holy Father's views, and expressions of concern, about Islamic fundamentalism, and the remarks he has made about the role of reason in religion, and the possible ramifications of nuances of those expressions for the world, and in terms of how to seek moderation and tolerance - for all religions - so that we can get along a little better. That seems to me to be one of the major points of priority for the Holy Father. He has spoken quite a lot about terrorism, on religion and reason, and about how all that has implications for Europe. Our country is interested in what the Holy Father has to say in these things, especially the ones that affect freedom; and the interpretation of religious fundamentalism certainly affects freedoms. As we are seeing in various parts of the world, freedoms are compromised by extremists, and that's not good. And the Holy Father, as one of the leading moral authorities in the world, has shown that he has a great role to play and a great impact on how the world views these issues. So we're fortunate to be here, to learn and to interact with the Holy See as they exercise moral authority in the world.

Pope's prayer intentions for June

Vatican, Jun. 1, 2007 ( - The Vatican has announced the prayer intentions of Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) for the month of June 2007.

The Pope's general intention is: "That the Lord may protect sailors and all those involved in maritime activities."

The Pope's missionary intention is: "That the Church in North Africa may bear witness, with its presence and its action, to God's love for every individual and all peoples."

Pope appeals for end to 'murderous conflict' in Darfur

Updated 42m ago

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI met with Sudan's new ambassador to the Vatican on Friday and appealed for stepped-up efforts to end the "murderous conflict" in that country's western Darfur region.

Recalling his Easter Sunday appeal, Benedict said his concerns "concur with the concern of the leaders in your country and the international community regarding the dramatic situation which has been going on since 2003 in the Darfur region."