Sunday, September 30, 2007

Holy Father’s Angelus on the proper use of riches

Sunday Angelus

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2007 / 09:06 am (CNA).- The Holy Father gave his angelus address today on the theme of today’s Gospel: “The rich man symbolizes the iniquitous use of riches to obtain a reckless and selfish luxury, thinking only to satisfy himself, without caring about the poor man at his gate.”

Benedict noted that the wealthy man was well considered by society and had made a name for himself, while the poor man was cared for by nobody, yet in God’s eyes: “the poor man, in contrast with the rich man, has a name, Lazarus, the abbreviation of Eleazar, which means ‘God helps him’.

“He who is forgotten by all, God does not forget; he who is of no value in the eyes of men, is precious in the Lord’s eyes”, the Holy Father stated.

The parable shows a final justice over all earthly injustices: “It shows how God makes justice for all earthly injustices: after death, Lazarus is gathered into “the bosom of Abraham”, that is, into eternal beatitude, while the rich man ends up “in hell among torments”.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Vatican to Muslims: Work with Christians for peace

New York Daily News
Saturday, September 29th 2007, 4:00 AM

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican urged Muslims yesterday to reject violence, work with Christians for peace and to teach their children to love and respect all people.

The Vatican's top official in charge of relations with Muslims, Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, issued the message to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

He urged Muslims to enter into a dialogue with Christians to "help us to escape from the endless spiral of conflict and multiple tensions which mark our societies."

It was the most pointed appeal to Muslims from Tauran, who was named in June to head the newly reopened Vatican office that specializes in relations with Muslims.

Church relations with Muslims were badly strained last year after a speech by Pope Benedict that linked Islam to violence. Benedict later said he regretted that Muslims were offended by his remarks.

The Associated Press

Friday, September 28, 2007

Benedict XVI Calls Paul VI Prophetic

Says He Showed How Progress Needs Ethics

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 27, 2007 ( Benedict XVI says his predecessor Pope Paul VI was prophetic because he showed the inherent contradiction in "progress" that lacks ethical and spiritual foundations.

The German Pope said this at a concert held Wednesday in honor of Paul VI on the 110th anniversary of his birth, Sept. 26, 1897.

At the end of the performance, Benedict XVI greeted those in attendance and then spoke of the "spirit of evangelical wisdom" with which Paul VI guided the Church during and after the Second Vatican Council.

The German Pontiff continued: "With prophetic intuition, he understood the hopes and fears of the men and women of that time, seeking to highlight the positive aspects and illuminate them with the light of truth and of the love of Christ.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Gospel must reach all of society not just the poor, says Pope Benedict

Wednesday General Audience

Rome, Sep 26, 2007 / 09:53 am (CNA).- The Holy Father traveled to the Vatican from his summer house in Castelgandolfo this morning for his weekly General Audience, which he delivered to the 20,000 pilgrims gathered to listen.

Pope Benedict focused on how St. John Chrysostom set about to reform the Church immediately after being made the bishop of Constantinople in 397 and on how his reform encompassed all of society.

The saint did not exempt himself from this reform either. "The austerity of the episcopal palace had to be an example to everyone." In fact, thanks to his "concern for the poor," the saint "was also known as the 'Alms-giver' ... and he created a number of highly-regarded charitable institutions."

St. Chrysostom worked to bring life to families too. "As a true pastor, he treated everyone cordially. ... In particular, he always showed tender concern for women and particular interest in marriage and the family. He invited the faithful to participate in liturgical life, which his creative genius would make particularly splendid and attractive."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

John Paul II Relics: Not for Sale

Interview With Postulator of Cause

ROME, SEPT. 25, 2007 ( News that relics of Pope John Paul II are for sale through the Internet is entirely false, says Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the postulator of the Pontiff's cause of beatification.

The relics have been made available to the public for free, but the selling of religious objects is a sacrilegious act, the priest told ZENIT in this interview.

Monsignor Oder began by saying: I would like to clarify that the distribution of objects or elements from objects belonging to candidates of the altar, to saints or blessed, is an ancient practice in the Church, and is something that accompanies every process of beatification together with the spreading of the knowledge of the spirituality and the life of the candidate to the altar.

Holy cards are distributed, explaining how to pray for an intention and to ask for their intercession. And the same holds true for the process of the Servant of God John Paul II. These holy cards contain prayers. And pieces of his clerical clothing are distributed by the office of postulation; but we are speaking of an entirely free distribution.

Q: Why is the sale of relics considered sacrilegious?

Monsignor Oder: It is absolutely a sacrilege; it is something which goes against the tradition of the Church, and against logic, recalling what Jesus said: “What you have freely received, you must also freely give." The sale of relics therefore would be offensive to God, to the saint or blessed, to the candidate to the altar.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Homeless get to walk in the pope's shoes

The Boston Globe
September 24, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS --Some homeless Minneapolis residents are walking in the pope's shoes. That's after two big boxes from Rome arrived at Sharing and Caring Hands, a homeless mission in downtown Minneapolis. Recently, the Rev. Joseph Johnson, the rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul gave some friends from the Vatican a tour of the facility while they were visiting the Twin Cities.

Sharing and Caring Hands has an on-site shoe room, but director Mary Jo Copeland didn't know what was in the big boxes when they arrived.

"Father (Johnson) says, 'That's from the Pope.' I said, `What do you mean? The Pope,'" said Copeland.

She opened them to find several dozen pairs of handmade Italian shoes to give to the poor.

"These are just grand! This is just the best gift. That Pope Benedict, wherever you are, God bless you!" said Copeland.

Pope's saintly status edges nearer

The Independent
By Peter Popham in Rome
Published: 25 September 2007

As the beatification of Pope John Paul II grows closer, fragments of the white cassocks he wore when alive are being offered as relics over the internet.

On the Diocese of Rome website dedicated to the campaign to canonise the late pope, the diocese offers santini, a prayer card with a photograph of John Paul and a window containing a tiny fragment of his clothing. On the back is a prayer "imploring grace by the intercession of God's servant John Paul II." The prayer is available in many different languages. Stefano Chiodo, who runs the site, said "thousands and thousands" of the relics have already been dispatched.

The site stresses that the cards are completely free – though a contribution is solicited (the amount is not specified) from "whoever can afford it" to cover the cost of postage and packing. In the past, the sale of relics was a common and efficient way for popes to raise funds, but today it is frowned on.

"Relics (of any sort) may absolutely be neither sold nor purchased," declares Monsignor Marco Frisinia, in charge of the Liturginal Office of the Vicariate of Rome, "because, being a sacred object, it is beyond price. The problem of the sale of relics over the internet is very common, and allow me to say that it is a sacrilege."

The website also says the relic can only be used "in a private manner, in the silence of our hearts, until the day the Church declares him a saint".

"People like to have relics and they like to use them," commented Gerard O'Connell, a Vatican expert. "Some people use them in the hope of a miracle – if they have a sick child, for example, in the hope of obtaining recovery." He cited the example of a glove belonging to the Maltese priest George Preca (died 1962) who was canonised in May by Pope Benedict. The glove was laid on a newborn baby suffering from severe liver problems, and, four days later, the baby began to recover. The parents attributed the miraculous recovery to the glove.

The funeral of John Paul II in 2005 was punctuated by demands from the crowd that he be declared santo subito, "a saint right away". That hasn't happened but the Polish pope is on the fastest of fast tracks and may well gain the status within two years.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Holy Father urges conversion in our use of material goods

Vatican City, Sep 23, 2007 / 01:29 pm (CNA).- From Castelgandolfo today, the Holy Father encouraged Christians to look out for the needy and homeless, to use worldly goods wisely, and to guard against an improper use of money that leads to a “blind selfishness”.

“Dear brothers and sisters!” the Holy Father began, “this morning I visited the diocese of Velletri…during the Eucharistic Celebration I had the chance to reflect on the correct use of worldly goods, which Luke the Evanglist has proposed for us.”

“It is Christ who teaches us the right use of money and worldly riches”, the Pope affirmed, “and that is to share them with the poor, thus obtaining their friendship, in sight of the Kingdom of heaven.” Benedict was careful to point out that money is not dishonest in itself, “but more than anything else it is capable of closing man in a blind selfishness.”

Thus, the Holy Father noted that we need a kind of conversion with respect to money: “We must effect a type of ‘conversion’ of economic goods: instead of using them solely for our own interest, we must think also of the needs of the poor, imitating Christ himself.”

Christ’s gift of himself to man is a paradox: “as St. Paul writes—‘rich though he was, he became poor to enrich us with his poverty’(2 Cor 8:9). It seems a paradox: Christ has not enriched us with his richness, but with his poverty, that is with his love that has impelled him to give himself completely to us.”

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Pope defends values and ideals of Christian tradition in Europe

Vatican Radio

Text of Pope Benedict XVI's Speech to Centrist Democratic International

(21 Sept. 2007 -RV) Below is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI's remarks to the Executive Committee of Centrist Democratic International.

Mister President,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you during the conference of the Executive Committee of Centrist Democratic International, and I extend cordial greetings to the Delegates present from many nations throughout the world. I thank your President, the Honourable Pier Ferdinando Casini, for the kind words of greeting he has offered to me on your behalf. Your visit gives me an opportunity to bring to your attention some of the values and ideals that have been moulded and deepened in a decisive way by the Christian tradition in Europe and throughout the world.

Notwithstanding your different backgrounds, I know that you share several basic principles of this tradition, such as the centrality of the human person, a respect for human rights, a commitment to peace and the promotion of justice for all. You appeal to fundamental principles, which, as history has shown, are closely interconnected. In effect, when human rights are violated, the dignity of the human person suffers; when justice is compromised, peace itself is jeopardized. On the other hand, justice is truly human only when the ethical and moral vision grounding it is centred on the human person and his inalienable dignity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your activity, inspired by these principles, is subject to increasing challenges today due to the profound changes taking place in your respective communities. For this reason, I wish to encourage you to persevere in your efforts to serve the common good, taking it upon yourselves to prevent the dissemination and entrenchment of ideologies which obscure and confuse consciences by promoting an illusory vision of truth and goodness. In the economic sphere, for example, there is a tendency to view financial gain as the only good, thus eroding the internal ethos of commerce to the point that even profit margins suffer. There are those who maintain that human reason is incapable of grasping the truth, and therefore of pursuing the good that corresponds to personal dignity. There are some who believe that it is legitimate to destroy human life in its earliest or final stages. Equally troubling is the growing crisis of the family, which is the fundamental nucleus of society based on the indissoluble bond of marriage between a man and a woman. Experience has shown that when the truth about man is subverted or the foundation of the family undermined, peace itself is threatened and the rule of law is compromised, leading inevitably to forms of injustice and violence.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Vatican Signals Approval of New Beijing Bishop

New York Times
Published: September 21, 2007

ROME, Sept. 21 — The Vatican sent an indirect but unmistakable signal that it approved the choice of the new bishop of Beijing, publishing in its official newspaper an article on the ordination today of the new bishop, the Rev. Joseph Li Shan.

The Vatican and the Chinese government, which controls the Catholic church there, have long struggled over the authority to appoint bishops — and the new choice for Beijing, the nation’s capital, was considered both important and delicate.

But in the days leading up to Father Li’s appointment, it seemed increasingly apparent that the Vatican and China, in this case at least, had quietly agreed on Father Li, 42, who was installed today in Beijing at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Any doubt vanished with the appearance of the article in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, often used to communicate more subtly positions that the Vatican prefers not to make directly. This one was relatively short, buried on the second page with other world news.

Though the article did not say directly whether Pope Benedict XVI agreed with the choice, it said that local Catholics had told the Vatican that Father Li and another bishop named in Guiyang last month were “worthy and qualified.”

Pope in 'freedom' blast at Islam

Defending religious liberty: Pope Benedict XVI

Daily Mail
By SIMON CALDWELL - More by this author »
Last updated at 22:46pm on 21st September 2007

The Pope has again risked provoking the wrath of the Islamic world, by criticising its treatment of Christians.

Benedict XVI attacked Muslim nations where Christians are either persecuted or given the status of second-class citizens under the Shariah Islamic law.

He also defended the rights of Muslims to convert to Christianity, an act which warrants the death penalty in many Islamic countries.

His comments came almost exactly a year after he provoked a wave of anger among Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam to violence.

Yesterday, near Rome, the 80-year-old pontiff made a speech in "defence of religious liberty", which, he said "is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right".

In a clear reference to Islam, he said: "The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice."

Addressing the problem of Islamic extremism, he added: "Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God's name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

John Paul II "Profoundly Loved" His Life

Final Prayer Was Lesson for Attending Physician

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 20, 2007 ( The final voiced prayer of Pope John Paul II was an act of profound asceticism, said his personal physician.

Dr. Renato Buzzonetti said the Pope's last words were "the prayer of a saint that loved life until the good Lord called him to himself," reported an article Sunday in Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.

The doctor continued: "Pope John Paul II was cared for until the last moment of his life, when at 9:37 p.m. on April 2, 2005, he breathed his last.

"It is true that he had previously told his doctors, 'Let me go to the Lord.' But that was an ascetic phrase, an elevated form of a final prayer of a man who was suffering a great deal and felt the strong desire to draw close to the Heavenly Father.

"It was certainly not a renunciation or a form of anticipated surrender of life. Nor was it an invitation to physicians caring for him to pull the plug or to discontinue care, a sort of indirect choice for euthanasia, as some are insinuating. Whoever believes this, is wrong."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Pope gives St. John Chrysostom's key to preventing divorce

Wednesday General Audience

Pope Benedict during today's audience at St. Peter's Square

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2007 / 09:35 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI continued in his series of catecheses on the subject of the Fathers of the Church today in his General Audience. The church father that the pontiff drew upon is the saint known as the “Golden Mouth”, or perhaps more commonly as St. John Chrysostom.

The Holy Father stressed how St. Chrysostom teaches that if young couples want to avoid divorce, then they should be formed in their faith before marriage and once married, they should form their children from a young age.

St. John Chrysostom’s life

The Pope began by recalling the fact that this year marks the 16th centenary of the death of St. John Chrysostom, who was born in Antioch, in modern-day Turkey, in the year 349. "Called Chrysostom, meaning 'golden-mouthed,' for his eloquence, it could be said that he is still alive today through his works," the Holy Father observed.

"Ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386, he became a famous preacher in the churches of his city; ... 387 was John's 'heroic year'," said Benedict XVI, the year of "the so-called 'revolt of the statues' when people destroyed the imperial statues as a sign of protest against the rise in taxes."

The Holy Father then went on to observe how this saint "was one of the most prolific of the Fathers, of him we have 17 treatises, more than 700 authentic homilies, his commentaries on Matthew and Paul, and 241 letters. He was not a speculative theologian. He transmitted the traditional and certain doctrine of the Church at a time of theological controversies, caused above all by Arianism,” a heresy which asserted that Jesus was only human.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Summorum Pontificum" Seen as Unifying

Italian Bishops Back Letter on Latin Mass

ROME, SEPT. 18, 2007 ( The president of the Italian bishops' conference called Benedict XVI's recent letter on the expanded use of the Latin Mass an invitation to unity.

Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco said this Monday when he opened the conference's Permanent Council meeting.

The papal document "Summorum Pontificum," issued "motu proprio" (on his own initiative), which eased restrictions on the use of the 1962 Roman Missal, is a "unitive measure that will serve to invigorate the Christian community," the archbishop said.

The prelate reiterated an "ever willing and unconditional collaboration" with Benedict XVI, "especially when critical voices and voices of discord emerge in public opinion."

Archbishop Bagnasco added that the objective of the document is "clearly entirely spiritual and pastoral."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pope Benedict's 2008 US visit may include Boston, DC and New York

Washington DC, Sep 17, 2007 / 10:15 am (CNA).- Details about Pope Benedict XVI’s much-anticipated apostolic journey to the United States next year have begun to emerge. Anticipated stops for the Pope’s first-ever US visit include, New York, Washington, Boston and possibly Baltimore.

The tentatively scheduled April 15 to 20 trip is centered around a papal speech before the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon personally invited the pontiff to address the UN.

However, plans for the voyage remain unconfirmed. George Weigel, in comments to CNA, said that "[i]f the Pope comes to the UN next spring, he'll obviously do one or two other American cities.” “Nevertheless, there is no decision I'm aware of on which it would be.”

Sources familiar with the plans for the papal visit say that the pontiff will visit New York, where he will celebrate Mass at Central Park, give an address in St. Patrick's Cathedral, and pause for a moment of reflection at Ground Zero.

The trip, however, will reportedly begin in Washington, where the Pope is expected to meet with the president, visit Catholic University of America and say Mass on the National Mall.

The last stop is Boston, where he is expected to address the sexual abuse scandal. His visit there would end with a Mass on Boston Common.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI--Conversion is to enter into harmony with God’s heart, “full of mercy”

Sunday Angelus

Pope Benedict XVI speaking at Castelgandolfo

Castelgandolfo, Sep 16, 2007 / 10:29 am (CNA).- At noon today, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims gathered in the inner courtyard of his summer residence at Castelgandolfo, to pray the Angelus and receive a word of encouragement.

The Holy Father commented on today’s gospel about the prodigal son saying that it is “one of the loftiest and most moving passages in all of Sacred Scripture”.

“It is beautiful to think that throughout the whole world, wherever the Christian community gathers to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, the Good News of truth and salvation resounds”, Benedict said.

His Holiness commented that “in this page of the Gospel, we can almost hear the voice of Jesus, who reveals to us his Father’s and our Father’s face.”

Explaining Jesus’ reason for coming into the world, the Holy Father stated: “Deep down, this is why he came into the world: to speak to us of the Father; to make him known to us lost children, and to resurrect in our hearts the joy of belonging to him, the hope of being forgiven and restored to our full dignity, the desire of always dwelling in his house, which is also our house.”

Pope: God’s mercy stronger than the darkness of September 11th

09/16/2007 14:40

Benedict XVI challenges opinion on the “clash of civilisations” reaffirming that “true religion” is love for all, friends and enemies. An appeal for a more effective protection of creation in the aftermath of the Montreal Protocol. The beatification of 3 new blessed in France and Poland recalled. A special greeting to the members of Aid to the Church in need.

Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) – “Humanity is in need of a vigorous witness and proclamation of God’s mercy” even “in the wake of the tragic events of September 11th 2001, which overshadowed the dawning of the third millennium”: was the affirmation of Benedict XVI today before the recitation of the Angelus prayer in the presence of thousands of pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo. Just a few days on from the 6th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York, which ushered many to speak of a “clash of civilisations”, the pontiff affirms that “true religion consists …. Of entering into harmony with this great Heart, ‘ rich in mercy’ which asks us to love everyone, even those who are our enemies, imitating the heavenly Father who respects individual freedom and draws all onto him by the strength of his faith”.

The pope’s reflections were drawn from the Sunday liturgy, particularly Luke’s Gospel, chapter 15 with the three parables of the lost sheep, the drama of the lost one and the two sons: “in this page of the Gospel, we almost perceive Christ’s voice revealing God’s face to us, His and our Father. After all, this is why he came to earth: to speak to us of the Father and make him known to us to reawaken in the hearts of the lost souls the joy of belonging to God; to restore hope in God’s forgiveness and our human dignity, and the desire to belong to God’s house which is also our own house”.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Anglicans and Catholics Reaffirm Commitment to Unity

Anglicans and Roman Catholics have outlined the next step on the road to unity in a 44-page report entitled “Growing Together in Unity and Mission”.

Christian Today
by Maria Mackay
Posted: Saturday, September 15, 2007, 12:29 (BST)

Anglicans and Roman Catholics have outlined the next step on the road to unity in a 44-page report entitled “Growing Together in Unity and Mission”.

The statement was agreed by the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) and released on Friday by the Anglican Communion Office and the Information Service of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

In a preface written in 2006 by John Bathersby, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, and David Beetge, Anglican Bishop of Highveld, the document was described as a “call for action, based upon an honest appraisal of what has been achieved in our dialogue”.

They added, “Despite our present ‘imperfect communion’, there is, we feel, enough common ground to take seriously how we work together.”

The “Growing Together in Unity and Mission” report is an attempt from the two Churches to summarise the last 40 years of Anglican-Roman Catholic theological dialogue on areas of agreement and convergence.

Sudanese president discusses Darfur with pope, Prodi

Taipei Times
Sunday, Sep 16, 2007, Page 1

In a rare, high-profile visit to the West, the Sudanese president on Friday met the pope and the Italian prime minister, and offered to declare a ceasefire with Darfur rebels to coincide with the start of UN-backed peace talks next month.

After a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and President Omar al-Bashir, the Vatican expressed hope that the talks in Libya would succeed and put an end to the suffering in Darfur.

Al-Bashir told reporters after his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi that he was offering a ceasefire linked to the start of talks on Oct. 27 in Libya to "create a positive climate."

"We hope that the negotiations in Tripoli will be the last ones and that they will bring definitive peace," al-Bashir said.

Friday, September 14, 2007

John Paul II Relics Available

Vicariate of Rome Accepting Requests

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 13, 2007 ( People who want to receive a relic "ex indumentis" -- from the clothing -- or a holy card of Pope John Paul II, may do so by writing to the Vicariate of Rome.

The Vicariate of Rome is accepting requests via mail, fax or e-mail for the religious items. The petition should be sent to "Holy Cards and Relics Service," and should indicate a shipping address.

The holy cards contain the prayer to obtain graces through the intercession of the Servant of God John Paul II and can be requested in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Polish and Portuguese.

Though the vicariate is not charging for the holy card, donations are accepted to cover the printing and mailing expenses.

For more information, visit the official multilingual Web site of the postulation of the cause of beatification and canonization.

Send requests to:
Vicariate of Rome -- 3rd Floor
"Totus Tuus"
Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, 6/A
Rome, Italy 00184

Tel: +39 06 69893723
Fax: +39 06 69886240

To contact the Vicariate's Web site:

* * *


O Blessed Trinity
We thank You for having graced the Church
with Pope John Paul II
and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care,
the glory of the cross of Christ,
and the splendor of the Holy Spirit,
to shine through him.
Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary,
he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd,
and has shown us that holiness
is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life
and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.
Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will,
the graces we implore,
hoping that he will soon be numbered
among your saints.

With ecclesiastical approval

The Holy Father's Vicar General
For the Diocese of Rome

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI Says Abortion Could Threaten Future Of Europe, New York Times Reports

Medical News Today
Main Category: Abortion News
Article Date: 13 Sep 2007 - 6:00 PDT

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday during a visit to Vienna, Austria, said abortion could threaten the future of Europe, the New York Times reports. The pope urged European governments "not to allow children to be considered as a form of illness" and to provide incentives to couples who have children in an effort to reverse the continent's declining fertility rate (Fisher, New York Times, 9/8). According to Reuters, the average total fertility rate in European Union countries is about 1.5 children per woman (Pullella, Reuters, 9/7).

Benedict said that the "fundamental human right ... is the right to life itself," adding, "This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right -- it is the very opposite." The pope proposed that rather than legalize abortion, governments create a "climate of joy and confidence in life ... in which children are not seen as a burden, but rather as a gift for all" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 9/7).

According to Reuters, Benedict's speech could have implications in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, in which abortion is expected to become a major campaign issue. In addition, the speech put the pope on a "collision course" with Amnesty International, which recently affirmed a new policy on abortion that supports a woman's right to the procedure under certain circumstances, Reuters reports (Reuters, 9/7).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

“Look to Christ” by "going towards Mary who shows us Jesus" says Benedict recalling Austria

Pope Benedict XVI greeting the faithful during the general audience

Wednesday General Audience

Vatican City, Sep 12, 2007 / 09:00 am (CNA).- More than 12,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s square to hear Pope Benedict XVI deliver the Wednesday audience. The Holy Father recalled his recent pastoral visit to Austria to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the shrine of Mariazell, a visit, he said, "that was above all a pilgrimage on the theme of 'looking to Christ,' that is, of going towards Mary who shows us Jesus."

The Pontiff said that he wanted “to pause and reflect on my pastoral visit, which I have had the joy of completing in these past days in Austria.” The Holy Father noted his closeness with the country both because it borders his native Germany, and because of many points of contact he has had with it.

The main purpose of the visit was a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Mariazell, on its 850th anniversary. The venerable statue of Our Lady pointing to her infant Son inspired the theme of the visit (to look to Christ).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Europe Urged to Recognise Christian Heritage

As Europe continues its drift towards secularism with a strong multicultural emphasis, believers were reminded in the past week that the continent has Christian roots.

Christian Today
by Ethan Cole, Christian Today Correspondent
Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2007, 9:30 (BST)

As Europe continues its drift towards secularism with a strong multicultural emphasis, believers were reminded in the past week that the continent has Christian roots.

Two high-profile Christian events last week recalled the impact of Christianity on Europe and the need for its citizens to acknowledge the importance of the faith.

“Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” declared Pope Benedict XVI on Friday, stating that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent,” according to The Associated Press.

Pope Benedict spoke in Vienna, Austria, as part of his three-day pilgrimage to the country which was once the centre of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire but is now a small nation with significant opposition to the church, as is the case with most of Europe.

In the UK, around 33 per cent believe religion is “very important” in their lives, compared to 27 per cent in Italy, 21 per cent in Germany, 11 per cent in France, and 11 per cent in Czech Republic.

A synopsis of Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Journey to Austria from Sept. 7-9, 2007

Apostolic Journey to Austria on the occasion of the 850th anniversary of the foundation of the Shrine of Mariazell (September 7-9, 2007). 7th Apostolic Journey outside Italy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Pope Benedict Stays Lofty in Austria

Pope Benedict XVI arrives for an afternoon mass at the pilgrimage church Mariazell during the second day of his visit to Austria
Johannes Simon / Getty

Monday, Sep. 10, 2007

It was a pilgrimage, Pope Benedict XVI insisted, not a political outing. The pontiff's just-completed stay in Austria was built around a visit to Mariazell, an 850-year-old shrine to Mary in the foothills of the Alps, just over two hours south of Vienna. And though Benedict used his three-day trip to touch on some familiar hot-button issues both inside and outside his Church — abortion, euthanasia, the so-called "de-Christianization" of Europe — he did so in a context and spirit that matched the humble "just-a-pilgrimage" billing he announced just before takeoff from Rome on Friday.

But of course the 80-year-old pontiff is no ordinary pilgrim. Not only is he the absolute leader of the billion-strong Catholic Church, he's also one of contemporary society's leading intellectuals — an unquestionably big thinker with the world's biggest platform for espousing his ideas. Speaking in his native German, and amongst believers much like those from the neighboring region of Bavaria where he was born, the Pope seemed especially comfortable on this latest trip. In a steady rain, Benedict pulled out the latest nuggets from his seemingly inexhaustible mine of deep thoughts on a now familiar theme: why his black-and-white brand of faith is the right response in a contemporary world given to compromises and what he disparagingly and repeatedly calls relativism. "Our faith is decisively opposed to the attitude of resignation that considers man incapable of truth as if this were more than he could cope with," the Pope said to some 40,000 fellow pilgrims at Mariazell. "This attitude of resignation with regard to truth lies at the heart of the crisis of the West. If truth does not exist for man, then neither can he ultimately distinguish between good and evil." He acknowledged legitimate fears that "faith in the truth might entail intolerance," but insisted that the Catholic Church espouses not a threatening truth, but one that he says "proves itself in love. It is never our property, never our product, just as love can never be produced, but only received and handed on as a gift."

Benedict has made his mark as a Pope by exploring timeless philosophical questions with a keen sense of the contemporary context, and by making complex Christian theology digestible for the masses. Progressive Catholics may not like his proselytizing for the traditions of the faith, but no one can deny the clarity with which he lays out his vision.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Father Cantalamessa on Following Christ

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Today's Readings

ROME, SEPT. 9, 2007 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from today's liturgy.

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If anyone follows me ...
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 9:13-18b; Philemon 9b-10, 12-17; Luke 14:25-33

The Gospel reading for today is one of those that we would be tempted to smooth out and sweeten because it seems too hard for men of today: "If anyone follows me without hating his father, his mother."

Let us immediately make one thing clear: It is true that the Gospel is sometimes provocative, but it is never contradictory. A little further on in the same Gospel of Luke Jesus firmly re-emphasizes the duty of honoring father and mother (Luke 18:20), and in regard to husband and wife he says that they must be one flesh and that man does not have a right to separate that which God has joined together. How, then, can he tell us to hate father and mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters?

We need to keep in mind a certain fact. The Hebrew language does not have comparatives -- it is not possible in Hebrew, for example, to speak of loving something "more" or "less" than another thing. It is only possible to speak of loving or hating. The phrase, "If anyone follows me and does not hate father and mother" should be understood in this way: "If anyone follows me, without preferring me to father and mother." To see that this is so we only need to look at the same matter in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus says: "Whoever loved father and mother more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37).

Pope implores Catholics to cling to their faith

International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Published: September 9, 2007

VIENNA: Pope Benedict XVI, reaching out to disillusioned Roman Catholics across Europe, ended a three-day pilgrimage to Austria on Sunday with a Mass in Vienna and a stop at a medieval abbey that drew tens of thousands of cheering faithful.

Driving rain that had drenched pilgrims and Benedict's entourage since his arrival on Friday fell intermittently, forcing about 20,000 believers in throwaway plastic raincoats to huddle beneath umbrellas as they packed the square outside central Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral.

Benedict pressed believers to cling to their faith.

"We need a relationship that sustains us, that gives direction and content to our lives," he said.

In his homily, the pope also urged the faithful to set aside Sundays to devote themselves to Christ's teachings and "create oases of selfless love in a world where so often only power and wealth seem to count for anything."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Europe, Do not deny your Christian roots…”Where God is there is the future.”

The Holy Father at the Hofburg Palace

The Pope in Austria

The Holy Father at the Hofburg PalaceVienna, Sep 8, 2007 / 03:27 pm (CNA).- After making his first pilgrimage to Mariazell and celebrating the Virgin Mary’s birth with Mass, Pope Benedict XVI traveled to the Hofburg Palace, where he met with the President of Austria, Heinz Fischer. The Pope told the diplomats assembled that, "Europe will grow more sure of itself if it accepts a responsibility in the world corresponding to its singular intellectual tradition, its extraordinary resources and its great economic power.”

The pontiff’s address was given to the rectors of Austria’s universities, the diplomatic corps and other important figures in the world of culture who were gathered in the palace.

"In recent years and decades," the Pope said, "Austria has registered advances which were inconceivable even two generations ago. Your country has not only experienced significant economic progress, but has also developed a model of social coexistence synonymous with the term 'social solidarity.' Austrians have every reason to be grateful for this, and they have demonstrated it not only by opening their hearts to the poor and the needy in their native land, but also by demonstrating generous solidarity in the event of catastrophes and disasters worldwide."

Friday, September 07, 2007

Benedict Honors Jewish Holocaust Victims

Pope Benedict XVI Honors Jewish Holocaust Victims on First Day of Austria Trip

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the pilgrims during a liturgical opening ceremony at the 'Am Hof' square in downtown Vienna, Austria, on Friday Sept. 7, 2007. The pontiff spends a three-day-visit to Austria. Person at left is not identified. (AP Photo/Robert Jaeger, Pool)

ABC News - 2 hours, 17 minutes ago
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON Associated Press Writer
VIENNA, Austria Sep 7, 2007 (AP)

Share Pope Benedict XVI paid solemn tribute to Holocaust victims Friday, extending his "sadness, repentance and friendship" to the Jewish people as he began a three-day pilgrimage to Austria.

Under pelting rain, the German-born pontiff joined Vienna's chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in quiet prayer before an austere stone memorial honoring the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps and others burned at the stake in the 1400s after refusing to convert.

Earlier Friday, Benedict told reporters on his flight to Austria that the poignant and highly symbolic stop at Vienna's Judenplatz, or Jewish Square, was intended to show "our sadness, our repentance and our friendship to the Jewish people."

In 1938, the city's Jewish community was one of the world's largest and most vibrant with 185,000 members. Today, there are fewer than 7,000.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pope calls for resolution of ‘60 years of destruction and mourning in the Holy Land.’

Pope Benedict during his meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres

Pope Benedict meets with Shimon Peres, calls for end to ‘60 years of destruction and mourning in the Holy Land.’

Vatican City, Sep 6, 2007 / 09:55 am (CNA).- This morning, in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received the president of Israel, Shimon Peres in an audience. The Pope encouraged the president to take advantage of the present favorable conditions to resolve the conflict which has lasted for 60 years.

Pope Benedict expressed hope that given the recent renewal of contact between Israel and Palestine and the international conference scheduled for next November that the long-lasting crisis can be resolved.

He called on the Israelis and Palestinians to “make every effort to respond to the expectations of their peoples, sorely tried by a crisis that has lasted for 60 years and that continues to inflict mourning and destruction.”

On Wednesday, Peres told the AP that recent meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the flurry of diplomatic activity in the Middle East could be the most promising developments yet in efforts to bring peace to the region.

During the his visit to the Vatican, President Peres also renewed an invitation for the Holy Father to visit the Holy Land, but the Vatican said that while Pope Benedict wants to visit, “this will only be possible when there is lasting peace or at least a solid truce between Israelis and Palestinians.”

A meeting was also held between the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Israeli president. Their conversation centered around the continuing relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See, particularly in regard to property taxes that the Israeli government levies on the Church, which is one of the major land owners in the region.

Vatican: Pope meets Israeli president

Castel Gandolfo, 6 Sept. (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday received Israeli president and Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres at his summer residence outside Rome. Peres also met the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, Oded Ben-Hur.

During "very cordial meetings," Peres exchanged information with the Vatican on the recent resumption of contact between Israelis and Palestinians inmoves to re-start the stalled Middle East peace process.

Washington is sponsoring an international peace conference on the Middle East scheduled for November and in Thursday's talks it was agreed that both sides at the conference should do their "utmost to satisfy the aspirations of their peoples", the Vatican said in a statement.

Relations between the Vatican and Israel were also examined during the meetings, "in the hope of a rapid conclusion to important negotiations that are still continuing and of constant dialogue between the Israeli authorities and local Christian communities," the Vatican said.

Peres - who is on his first trip abroad since becoming Israel's head of state in June. - re-extended an invitation to the pope to visit the Holy Land.

Also on Thursday, Peres met Italy's foreign minister Massimo D'Alema in Rome. The two men discussed the prosptect for Arab-Israeli peace, as well as bilateral relations, regional issues. D'Alema was this week West Bank, Egypt and Israel.

Benedict VXI on Wednesday received Syria's vice-president Faruq al-Sharaa at the end of the pontiff's weekly general audience, the Vatican said.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The goal of man is to become like God, but this is a life-long journey—Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Sep 5, 2007 / 09:21 am (CNA).- This morning, the Pope traveled by helicopter from his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo to the Vatican, where he landed shortly before 10 am. He then made his way to St. Peter's Square where he presided at his weekly general audience, attended by 16,000 people.

In keeping with his plan to extol the holiness of the Early Church Fathers, the Pope returned to consider the figure of St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-395) - who was also the subject of last week's catechesis –noting how the bishop saint always "showed a highly elevated sense of man's dignity."

For St. Gregory, "man's aim is to make himself like God ... through love, knowledge and the practice of virtues, ... in a perpetual and dynamic adherence to good, like a runner stretching forwards."

The Holy Father warned that our ability to take part in the sanctity of God is not a one-time gift, but rather, it is "a permanent journey, a constant commitment to progress ... because complete likeness to God can never be achieved. The history of each soul is that of a love ... open to new horizons, because God continually expands the possibilities of the soul, so as to make it capable of ever greater good."

"In this journey of spiritual ascent, Christ is the Model and the Master Who shows us the beautiful image of God. Looking at Him, each of us discovers ourselves to be 'the painter of our own life' in which our will undertakes the work and our virtues are the colors at our disposal."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Reuters - Tue Sep 4, 8:43 AM ET

Postcards with the picture of Pope Benedict XVI are displayed at a souvenir stand in the Styrian town of Mariazell September 4, 2007. Mariazell will be one of the places the Pope will see on his visit to Austria in September 7 to 9. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer (AUSTRIA)
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EWTN To Air Traditional Latin Mass

4-September-2007 -- EWTNews Feature

Irondale, AL (EWTN) - EWTN Global Catholic Network will broadcast a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, live from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, on Friday, September 14th, at 8 AM.

The Mass will be celebrated by clergy of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in commemoration of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Chant for the Mass will be offered by the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.

This special two-hour broadcast of the “Traditional Latin Mass,” will take place on the effective date for the norms permitting the celebration of Mass according to the Missal of 1962, recently promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum.

As preparation for this broadcast, on Wednesday, September 12th at 10 PM, EWTN will present a one-hour roundtable: “The Motu Proprio on the Traditional Latin Mass,” hosted by the Network’s Vice President for Theology, Colin Donovan and featuring a panel of experts.

On Friday, September 14th, at 8:00 PM, The World Over Live program will have host Raymond Arroyo talking with the Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis, Missouri about the Motu Proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI. Archbishop Burke was one of two American Bishops personally invited to Rome by Pope Benedict XVI for a briefing on the Motu Proprio before its release. He will share his thoughts on that meeting and take questions from EWTN viewers.

EWTN, in its 27th year, is available in more than 140 million television households in 144 countries and territories. And with its worldwide short-wave radio station, its direct broadcast satellite service, its AM & FM radio network, its Internet website ( and its publishing arm, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for September

Vatican City, Sep 3, 2007 / 10:21 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for September is: "That the ecumenical assembly of Sibiu in Romania may contribute to the growth of unity among all Christians, for whom the Lord prayed at the Last Supper."

His mission intention is: "That, following Christ joyfully, all missionaries may know how to overcome the difficulties they meet in everyday life."

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pope Benedict to the youth: Do not follow the path of pride, rather, follow the path of humility

Benedict XVI– Loreto homily and Angelus

Rome, Sep 2, 2007 / 11:17 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI has appealed to young people not to follow the ways of the world but rather follow the path of true love and humility.

Speaking to a vast crowd of young people gathered near the Marian shrine in Loreto, Italy, close to the Adriatic Sea coast, he called on youth to live a lifestyle that “goes against the trend” and to emulate the example of Mary by transforming society through humility.

“Do not follow the path of pride, rather, follow the path of humility,” the Pope told an estimated 500,000 youth in his homily that concluded the ‘Youth Agorà’. “Go against the current trend: do not listen to the persuasive and biased chorus of voices that today form much of the propaganda of life, drenched in arrogance and violence, in dominance and success at all costs, where appearance and possession to the detriment of others is openly promoted.”

The Pope warned that all these messages carried in the mass media are aimed at them. “Be vigilant!”, he pleaded. “Be critical! Do not follow the trend produced by this powerfully persuasive media. Do not be afraid, my dear friends, to prefer the ‘alternative’ route indicated by true love: a sober style of life, a life of solidarity; an honest commitment to your studies and work; a cultivated interest in the common good. Do not be afraid to appear different, or the criticism that you are out of fashion or a loser. People your age, even adults, all of those who seem far from the mentality of the Gospel values, have a deep seated need to see someone who dares to live according to the fullness of humanity manifested by Jesus Christ”.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Reuters - Sat Sep 1, 2:31 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful as he arrives to leads a meeting with youths in Loreto, central Italy, September 1, 2007. Pope Benedict said on Saturday that even the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta "suffered from the silence of God" despite her immense charity and faith. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
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