Wednesday, January 31, 2007

General Audience: Sanctity does not mean never having sinned, Pope Benedict reminds

Saints are people like us, but who always sought forgiveness and reconciliation, Holy Father says

Vatican City, Jan 31, 2007 / 10:09 am (CNA).- In today's general audience Benedict XVI resumed his catechesis on outstanding figures of the early Church, concentrating on the three principal collaborators of St. Paul: Barnabas, Silas and Apollos. The Holy Father pointed out for the six thousand people gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, the example St. Paul provides for Christian collaboration in the field of ministry as well as for the necessity of continuous conversion, since “Sanctity grows in the capacity for conversion and penance.”

"We must recognize," the Pope began, "that the Apostle was an eloquent example of a man open to collaboration: in the Church he did not want to do everything by himself, but made use of many different colleagues."

Barnabas "was one of the first to embrace Christianity," the Pope explained, "and it was he who guaranteed the sincerity of Paul's conversion before the Christian community of Jerusalem, which still distrusted its one-time persecutor."

The Holy Father also recalled how Barnabas had participated in the Council of Jerusalem, at which it was decided "to distinguish the practice of circumcision from Christian identity."

However, he noted, Paul and Barnabas "fell into disagreement at the beginning of the second missionary journey because Barnabas wanted to bring along the young John Mark, and Paul did not."

"Even among saints differences, discord and controversies arise," commented the Holy Father. "And I find this a consolation because we see that saints have not 'come down from heaven.' They are people like us, with problems, even complicated problems. Sanctity does not consist in never having made mistakes or sinned. Sanctity grows in the capacity for conversion and penance, of willingness to start again and, above all, in the capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

At the Death of John Paul II--Excerpt From Book "A Life With Karol"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2007 ( Here is a translation of an excerpt from the book that recounts Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz's memories of his longtime collaboration with Pope John Paul II.

"A Life With Karol" is the title of the volume, written by journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, former deputy director of L'Osservatore Romano.

The volume was recently released in Italy and will be published by Doubleday for the English-speaking world. This excerpt is taken from Chapter 35.

* * *

It was 9:37 p.m. We realized that the Holy Father had stopped breathing; however, just in that moment we saw in the monitor that his great heart, after having beaten for some instants, had stopped. Dr. Buzzonetti bent over him and, raising his gaze slightly, mused: "He has passed to the House of the Lord." Someone stopped the hands of the clock at that hour.

We, as if deciding all together, began to sing the Te Deum, not the Requiem, because it wasn't mourning, but the Te Deum, in thanksgiving to the Lord for the gift he had given us, the gift of the person of the Holy Father, of Karol Wojtyla.

We wept. How could one not weep! They were, at once, tears of sorrow and joy. Then all the lights of the house were turned on. Darkness came over me, within me. I knew that it had happened, but it was as if, afterwards, I refused to accept it, or I refused to understand it. I placed myself in the Lord's hands, but as soon as I thought by heart was at peace, the darkness returned.

Until the moment of farewell arrived.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Secularists of Islamic Societies Gather for Unprecedented Summit- Monday, March 5, 2007

News from Bangladesh
Monday January 29 2007 16:42:14 PM BDT

Contact: Austin Dacey
Phone: (212) 265-2877, ext. 11; (917) 664-3855


Secularists of Islamic Societies Gather for Unprecedented Summit
Leading Dissidents to Launch Movement for Reason, Pluralism, and Freedom of Conscience

New York, N.Y.(January 26, 2007)— From Pope Benedict XVI to the Harvard historian Bernard Lewis, people are asking, What went wrong? How did Middle Eastern cultures transform from the openness and intellectual ferment of the medieval period to the closed theocrat societies of today? Where are the secular voices of the Muslim world? Until now, they have been largely stifled and silenced. Now, bold critics of orthodoxy are calling for sweeping reforms from inside Muslim societies. With the intent of catalyzing a global movement for reason, humanist values, and freedom of conscience, delegates from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Bangladesh will assemble March 4-5 in St. Petersburg, Florida for an unprecedented Secular Islam Summit.

According the chair of the meeting, the rationalist critic of Islam and acclaimed author Ibn Warraq, “What we need now is an Age of Enlightenment in the Islamic world, of the Islamic mind-set or worldview. Without critical examination of Islam, it will remain unassailed in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress; ossified, totalitarian and intolerant. It will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality; originality and truth.”

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pope reemphasizes relationship between faith and reason, cites example of St. Thomas Aquinas

Sunday Angelus

Vatican City, Jan 28, 2007 / 12:44 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI used this week's Angelus to return to one of his favorite topics: the relation of Faith and Reason. Citing the example of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast day was Sunday, Benedict urged the faithful to remember that faith and reason are not exclusionary principles.

"When man limits his thoughts to only material objects . . . he closes himself to the great questions about life, himself and God," the Holy Father said. While modern science has granted mankind numerous benefits, he explained, it has also led many to believe that the only real things are those which can be experimented with.”

According to Benedict, man must "rediscover human rationality in a new way, open to the light of the divine Logos and His perfect revelation that is Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man."

Authentic Christian faith does not limit human liberty and reason, he said. Instead, "faith supports reason and perfection; and reason, illuminated by faith, finds strength to raise itself to the knowledge of God."

Calling to mind the Saint of the day the Holy Father remarked at St. Thomas Aquinas’s success in offering a valid model of the harmony between faith and reason, “dimensions of the human spirit, which can be fully realized in the encounter and dialogue between them.”

St. Thomas Aquinas was able to bring Arab and Jewish thought together in a very fruitful way, the Pope continued, and he presents us with a synthesis of faith and reason that serves as a model of inter-cultural dialogue between the East and the West.

The Pope concluded the Angelus with a prayer for all Christians, especially those "working in academic and cultural spheres," so that they may express the reasonableness of their faith and give witness to it in dialogue inspired by love.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pope gives £2,000 to Cambridge chaplaincy

Hopefully, the Pope's personal donation will spur more donations to Fisher House so the Catholic presence in Cambridge won't be lost. Donations can be made online at the Fisher House Appeal.

The Times
January 27, 2007

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The Pope has made an unprecedented personal donation of £2,000 to the Roman Catholic chaplaincy at the University of Cambridge to help it and the faith survive at one of Britain’s main centres of academic excellence.

Pope Benedict XVI, who was a university teacher for many years, intended the donation to signal his “encouragement and support”.

The two priests and the Dominican nun who work at the chaplaincy were stunned by the donation, which they believe is the first of its kind to come direct from the Pope. The Fisher House chaplaincy is appealing for £2 million to set up a foundation to ensure its survival. The Catholic academic community in Cambridge is dependent on the chaplaincy for its community life, and about 450 people attend Mass on Sundays.

The chaplaincy, in the centre of Cambridge in a former public house, has two choirs who sing in English and Latin and averages eight conversions a year. There have been ten vocations to the priesthood coming out of Fisher House.

The chaplaincy receives no funds from the university and hardly any from the Church.

KGB intent on linking Pius XII with Nazis, says former spy

The original article from Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, published by National Review Online, can be read in yesterday's post.

Pius XII and WWII

Washington DC, Jan 26, 2007 / 04:18 pm (CNA)- A former high-ranking officer with the KGB claims that the Kremlin and the Russian intelligence agency in the 1960s were set on executing a smear campaign against the Catholic Church, and the main target was Pope Pius XII.

In a recent issue of the National Review Online, Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, who eventually defected from the former Soviet bloc, recounts how the KGB and the Kremlin designed the deliberate campaign to portray the Pius XII “as a coldhearted Nazi sympathizer.”

“In February 1960, Nikita Khrushchev approved a super-secret plan for destroying the Vatican’s moral authority in Western Europe,” writes Pacepa. “Eugenio Pacelli, by then Pope Pius XII, was selected as the KGB’s main target, its incarnation of evil, because he had departed this world in 1958. ‘Dead men cannot defend themselves’ was the KGB’s latest slogan.”

The code name for this operation against Pope Pius XII was “Seat-12.”

The KGB used the fact that Archbishop Pacelli had served as the papal nuncio in Munich and Berlin when the Nazis were beginning their bid for power against him. “The KGB wanted to depict him as an anti-Semite who had encouraged Hitler’s Holocaust,” says Pacepa.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Moscow’s Assault on the Vatican

This is a fascinating article about the KGB's effective disinformation campaign against Pope Pius XII and the Vatican.

January 25, 2007 7:40 AM

The KGB made corrupting the Church a priority

By Ion Mihai Pacepa

The Soviet Union was never comfortable living in the same world with the Vatican. The most recent disclosures document that the Kremlin was prepared to go to any lengths to counter the Catholic Church’s strong anti-Communism.

In March 2006 an Italian parliamentary commission concluded “beyond any reasonable doubt that the leaders of the Soviet Union took the initiative to eliminate the pope Karol Wojtyla,” in retaliation for his support to the dissident Solidarity movement in Poland. In January 2007, when documents disclosed that the newly appointed archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, had collaborated with Poland’s Communist-era political police, he admitted the accusation and resigned. The following day the rector of Krakow’s Wawel Cathedral, the burial site of Polish kings and queens, resigned for the same reason. Then it was learned that Michal Jagosz, a member of the Vatican’s tribunal considering sainthood for the late Pope John Paul II, has been accused of being a former Communist secret police agent; according to the Polish media, he had been recruited in 1984 before leaving Poland for an assignment to the Vatican. Currently, a book is about to be published that will identify 39 other priests whose names have been found in Krakow secret police files, some of whom are now bishops. Moreover, this seems to be just scratching the surface. A special commission will soon start investigating the past of all religious servants during the Communist era, as thousands more Catholic priests throughout that country are believed to have collaborated with the secret police. And this is just Poland — the archives of the KGB and those of the political police in the rest of the former Soviet bloc have yet to be opened on the subject of operations against the Vatican.

In my other life, when I was at the center of Moscow’s foreign-intelligence wars, I myself was caught up in a deliberate Kremlin effort to smear the Vatican, by portraying Pope Pius XII as a coldhearted Nazi sympathizer. Ultimately, the operation did not cause any lasting damage, but it left a residual bad taste that is hard to rinse away. The story has never before been told.


In February 1960, Nikita Khrushchev approved a super-secret plan for destroying the Vatican’s moral authority in Western Europe. The idea was the brainchild of KGB chairman Aleksandr Shelepin and Aleksey Kirichenko, the Soviet Politburo member responsible for international policies. Up until that time, the KGB had fought its “mortal enemy” in Eastern Europe, where the Holy See had been crudely attacked as a cesspool of espionage in the pay of American imperialism, and its representatives had been summarily jailed as spies. Now Moscow wanted the Vatican discredited by its own priests, on its home territory, as a bastion of Nazism.

Eugenio Pacelli, by then Pope Pius XII, was selected as the KGB’s main target, its incarnation of evil, because he had departed this world in 1958. “Dead men cannot defend themselves” was the KGB’s latest slogan. Moscow had just gotten a black eye for framing and imprisoning a living Vatican prelate, József Cardinal Mindszenty, the primate of Hungary, in 1948. During the 1956 Hungarian Revolution he had escaped from jail and found asylum in the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, where he began writing his memoirs. As the details of how he had been framed became known to Western journalists, he was widely seen as a saintly hero and martyr.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

New Book Reveals JPII was Smuggled out of Vatican for Secret Ski-Trips
Posted on January 25, 2007

A NEW book written by Pope John Paul II’s former secretary has claimed that the Pope consulted with top aides in 2000 to discuss the possibility of resigning and formulate a “specific procedure” for papal resignations.

The book, A Life with Karol, by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, offers an inside glimpse at key moments of Pope John Paul's life in Poland and his 26-year pontificate.

It also indicates that in his last will and testament, Pope John Paul strongly hinted that he had considered resignation as he prepared to turn 80 in the year 2000. Cardinal Dziwisz said the pope decided at the time to consult on the question with his closest aides, including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The pope concluded that he would remain in office, saying that God had called him to the papacy and that "God will call me back, in the form that he wishes."

It also reveals that Pope John Paul II made more than 100 clandestine trips to ski or hike in the Italian mountains and was rarely recognised by others on the slopes.

An excerpt printed yesterday in the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero said that in the winter of 1981, the pope, his secretary and two of his Polish aides decided to make a "getaway" to the mountains from the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo. They packed into a car owned by one of the priests, and when they passed the Swiss Guard post one prelate opened wide a newspaper to hide the pontiff in the back seat.

The book is due to be published in Polish and Italian at the end of the month.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Media must contribute to the formation of children, not the corruption, Pope Benedict affirms

World Day for Social Communications

Vatican City, Jan 24, 2007 / 12:21 pm (CNA).- Today, on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, Patron of Journalists, the Vatican made public Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day for Social Communications. In his message the Holy Father energetically urges the media to aim at contributing to the formation rather than the corruption of children.

The theme of this year’s Day of Communications, which will be celebrated on May 20th, is “Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education.” This theme, the Holy Father says in his message, “invites us to reflect on two related topics of immense importance. The formation of children is one. The other, perhaps less obvious but no less important, is the formation of the media.”

“The complex challenges facing education today are often linked to the pervasive influence of the media in our world,” the Holy Father writes.

“Indeed,” the Pontiff continues, “some claim that the formative influence of the media rivals that of the school, the Church, and maybe even the home.”

Monday, January 22, 2007

John Paul miracles hasten sainthood

The Sunday Times
January 21, 2007

Christopher Morgan

THE VATICAN is close to making the late pope John Paul II a saint after investigating three "miracles" attributed to him.

John Paul had already been credited with curing a nun of Parkinson's disease and now it has emerged he has been credited with two other cures, proof of which will confer on him beatification and then canonisation.

This weekend the cardinal in charge of the process said he expected the checks performed by the local dioceses on all three miracles to be complete by April. A formal announcement is expected on April 2, the second anniversary of John Paul's death, and senior Vatican sources expect him to be declared a saint within 18 months.

Pope Benedict XVI has put his predecessor on a fast-track to canonisation, waiving a rule under which the Vatican normally waits five years after the candidate's death before launching the process. A similar waiver led to the rapid elevation of Mother Teresa in 2003.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Curia resists papal policies, Italian magazine says

Thank you, Spirit Daily, for posting this article from

Rome, Jan. 19, 2007 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has faced steady opposition within the Vatican as he seeks to implement new policies, according to an article in Italy’s Panorama magazine. The article concludes that the Holy Father is now assembling his own management team to implement his policies.

“Benedict XVI does not have a decisive temperament,” writes Ignazio Ingrao in his analysis for Panorama The Italian journalist reports that the Pontiff has faced stiff resistance in his effort to reform the Roman Curia and to broaden access to the traditional liturgy.

Dwelling at length on the controversy surrounding the ill-fated appointment of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus in Warsaw, the Panorama analysis sees tensions between the Polish clerics who surrounded Pope John Paul II (bio - news) and the allies of the current Pontiff. The author also sees continued fallout from the Wielgus debacle, with other leading Polish prelates likely to face charges that they collaborated with the Communist secret police.

Originally, the Panorama story says, Pope Benedict passed over 6 different candidates put forward by the Polish hierarchy to choose Archbishop Wielgus; the Pope withdrew his support only when he became convinced that the incoming Archbishop of Warsaw had provided misleading information about his background.

The Wielgus controversy drew attention to some of the tensions between Polish Church leaders and the Pope, Ingrao writes. He points out that Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, the longtime secretary to John Paul II, remained quiet about the appointment, although he reportedly did not approve of the Pope’s choice. The Italian journalist also notes that the Pope said that Cardinal Jozef Glemp could retain his title as Primate of Poland for 3 more years, after John Paul II had conferred that title upon Cardinal Glemp for life.

The Wielgus controversy has accelerated shifts in the balance of power within the Roman Curia, Panorama reports, because the incident underlined the need for the Pope to form his own effective leadership team. The Italian magazine reports that it was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (bio - news), the Secretary of State, who conveyed the request for Archbishop Wielgus to submit resignation.

Cardinal Bertone, who took office last September, has provided Pope Benedict with a loyal and energetic right-hand man, the Panorama story says, concluding that the coming year should see more decisive movement to implement the Pope’s agenda.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Vatican display exhibits eucharistic miracles

Catholic Explorer

Interested individuals pour over the miracles associated with the Eucharist Jan. 13 at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naperville.


NAPERVILLE—The Great Hall of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naperville was filled Jan. 13 with posters propped up on easels likening an art exhibit. The silence, which typically permeates an art museum, filled the air in the room with approximately 5,600 square feet.

Interested onlookers read about the 120 eucharistic miracles described on 160 panels of the Vatican International Exhibition of the Eucharistic Miracles of the World. The accounts ranged from well-known visions such as Our Lady of Guadalupe to lesser-known ones such as the eucharistic miracle that occurred in 1412 in Herentals, Belgium. A variety of miracles, including healings and visions, have been attributed to eucharistic adoration.

“It’s one of those things where all this information … seeing all these miracles presented to me right here … it really hit me as I walked into the room. I had heard of a couple, I just didn’t realize there were all these,” commented Alex Gervacio, a parishioner of St. Mary Parish in West Chicago.

Sue Gorski, a parishioner of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Naperville, acknowledged that she has been fascinated with eucharistic miracles for years, yet this display enlightened her on some that she had never known about. She added, “This is overwhelming evidence of eucharistic miracles … how anybody can not believe in it, I don’t know.”

More than 1,000 people visited the exhibit while it was on display Jan. 13-14, according to Margaret Gilmore. The member of St. Elizabeth Seton’s eucharistic adoration chapel core team of coordinators explained that they requested the exhibit to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the parish’s eucharistic adoration chapel. Through e-mail correspondence after the event, she commented, “Each and every (guest) came away with a new appreciation for the gift of the real presence of the Eucharist.”

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jerusalem Christian leaders offer to mediate for Palestinians


Warning that warring Palestinian factions could trigger a civil war, Christian church leaders in Jerusalem are urging an end to the violence and offering to play a mediating role between Hamas and Fatah.

The pledge was made in a statement by 13 church leaders including the most senior Catholic Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, according to an Ecumenical News International report.

"As leaders of the Christian churches in Jerusalem concerned at the present situation in the Palestinian Territories we feel we must voice our anxiety for all our people - Christian and Muslim alike - at the deteriorating relations between Fatah and Hamas leaders and the armed forces," the Church leaders said.

The church leaders noted that "all kinds of mediation and attempts at reconciliation have so far failed, resulting in a deadlock in the situation".

See original source article below:

Jerusalem church leaders offer to mediate in Fatah, Hamas conflict (Ecumenical News International, 17/1/07)

And, the full statement of church leaders as follows:

"Patriarches and Heads of Local Christian Churches in Jerusalem--A message of concern to all the Palestinian people"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pope Calls on Christians, Jews for Peace
January 17. 2007 10:56AM

The Associated Press

Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday called on Christians and Jews to work together for world peace as Israel's chief rabbi, addressing a conference on Christian-Jewish relations, urged the international community to "do everything" to defend the Jewish state.

The pope has been reaching out to Jews, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, the late John Paul II. Benedict visited a synagogue in Cologne, Germany, during his first trip abroad as pontiff in 2005.

"I invite all to ... invoke the Lord so that Christians and Jews respect each other, appreciate each other and cooperate for justice and peace in the world," Benedict told thousands of faithful during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New parliament chair drops call for God in EU constitution

16.01.2007 - 17:38 CET | By Lucia Kubosova

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The new president of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Poettering has promised to act as a "fair and objective" president of the whole assembly, indicating that despite his personal convictions, he would no longer press for a reference to God in any revised EU constitution.

Mr Poettering was elected to chair the bloc's legislature by a majority of 450 votes out of 715 MEPs voting in the first round of Tuesday's (16 January) election.

Despite three other candidates running for the presidency - with Greens co-chairman Monica Frassoni receiving 145 votes, leftist GUE/NGL president Francis Wurtz 48 votes and Danish eurosceptic Jens-Peter Bonde 46 votes - most group leaders said they believe Mr Poettering will manage to act as a neutral president of all members.

Following the vote, the German deputy said one of his key priorities would be to boost a "dialogue between cultures", particularly between Christian and Muslim religions.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Next Battle For and Against Jesus Will Be Fought by the Book


And the new book announced and released by Joseph Ratzinger will be the best-seller of the year. Here is the complete preface, in five languages.

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, January 15, 2007 – His book about Jesus was announced at the end of November, and will be on sale next spring. But a week does not go by without Benedict XVI preaching about the book’s protagonist: Jesus “true God and true man.”

It is as if Pope Joseph Ratzinger himself were already focusing on the book’s publicity campaign. A year ago, he did the same thing with the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”: before its publication, he repeatedly spoke out to illustrate its essential contents, increasing the anticipation each time.

The last time Benedict XVI referred to his upcoming book about Jesus was the general audience on Wednesday, January 3.

Cardinal Pell weighs in on capital punishment

Weep for victims, not the dictator, Cardinal Pell says of Hussein

Sydney, Jan 15, 2007 / 01:49 pm (CNA).- Cardinal George Pell addressed, this Sunday, the international debate that emerged after Saddam Hussein’s hanging regarding whether the former dictator should have been executed or sentenced to life in prison.

The cardinal-archbishop of Sydney said that while Hussein’s execution “was not entirely right and proper,” he said, “our sympathy should be directed first to his many victims. Unlike most of them, he has a marked grave in his home city, even if his coffin arrived on the back of a utility.”

He acknowledged that slightly more Australians (47 per cent) supported life imprisonment for Hussein rather than execution. He also noted the Church’s teaching, which has developed into an explicit opposition to all capital punishment. But he concluded that he could not weep for the death of Hussein; rather, he weeps for the dictator’s victims.

“I do not believe he was the worst tyrant of the second half of the 20th century, with competitors like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, but he is in the front rank of evildoers,” he said in his regular column in the Sunday Telegraph.

Still, he noted, “One million people died in his war with Iran; he invaded Kuwait; systematically oppressed and killed the Kurds; murdered many of his own Iraqis and even enticed his sons-in-law home with false promises and had them executed within three days.”

The cardinal also argued for the validity and legality of Hussein’s trial.

The Purpose of Punishment

Turning to the penal system in general, the Cardinal noted that, “The punishment of criminals is a vexed issue, and we should strive to avoid two extremes.”

“Generally, public opinion is strong for justice, although some want only vengeance – ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’” Pell noted. “The other extreme rejects this and sees imprisonment primarily as an attempt to rehabilitate the criminal.”

“The traditional Christian teaching is a bit more complicated. Those who believe in God the Creator accept that serious evil disturbs and distorts nature's proper order. Punishment is designed to redress this disorder and when the offender voluntarily accepts his punishment this enhances the return to equilibrium. Punishment should be medicinal, contributing to the personal reform of the offender,” the Cardinal concluded.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Immigrants are a resource, not a problem - Pope

Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful during the Angelus prayer from his private apartment at the Vatican January 14, 2007. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
See enlarged photo...

Sun Jan 14, 2007 1:22 PM GMT

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict urged the world on Sunday to see more than 200 million immigrants as a resource rather than a problem, whose integration can be accelerated by mutual respect.

"Dear friends, the reality of migration should never only be seen as a problem, but also, above all, as a great resource to help humanity along its path," the pontiff said, noting that Sunday was the annual World Day for Migrants and Refugees.

Speaking to pilgrims at the Vatican in his regular Sunday address, the Pope cited U.N. data saying there are 200 million economic migrants in the world as well as nine million refugees, two million international students and many more displaced in their own countries or immigrants without legal status.

He said immigrant families -- especially women and children -- should receive legislative, legal and practical assistance to legalise their status, as well as social and pastoral care.

"Only respect for the human dignity of all migrants, on the one hand, and recognition by migrants themselves of their host society's values, on the other hand, can make it possible to integrate these families properly ... ," the Pope said.

Friday, January 12, 2007

God will call us to account for the good and bad we have done our brothers and sisters, Pope warns

Vatican City, Jan. 12, 2007 (CNA) - In keeping with an annual tradition, Benedict XVI today received members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican, to whom he expressed his "appreciation and recognition" for their service. While speaking to those entrusted with securing the Vatican for visitors, the Pope recalled that all men and women are “called to be the guardians of our fellows.”

"I well know, also from personal experience, how important for pilgrims and tourists is your discreet presence in the places that constitute the heart of Christian Rome," said the Pope. Many of the people "who visit St. Peter's Basilica or pause under Bernini's imposing colonnade see your faces and not infrequently avail themselves of your help."

Poll: France no longer Catholic

Paris, Jan. 12, 2007 (CNA) - A leading French religious magazine declared on Tuesday that France is “no longer a Catholic country” after a poll indicated that the number of French Catholics dropped by 30 percent in the past decade.

"In its institutions, but also in its mentalities, France is no longer a Catholic country," wrote Frederic Lenoir, editor-in-chief of Le Monde des Religions.

In the early 1990s, French Catholics made up over 80 percent of the population. According to the poll, they currently make up 51 percent, and only half of these said they believe in God. The latter said they retained a Catholic identity because it was family tradition.

Meanwhile, the number of atheists rose from 23 percent in 1994 to 31 percent.

Only 10 percent of the French population attends church regularly.

Still, Catholicism remains by far the dominant religion in France. The poll shows that Muslims make up four percent of the population, Protestants, three percent, and Jews, one percent.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pope Benedict asks government officials to pass legislation “of the family and for the family”

Vatican City, Jan. 11, 2007 (CNA) - This morning Pope Benedict XVI received civic leaders of the areas surrounding the Vatican City State for their traditional exchange of New Year greetings. The Holy Father told Piero Marrazzo, president of the Region of Lazio, Italy; Walter Veltroni, mayor of the City of Rome; and Enrico Gasbarra, president of the Province of Rome, along with their assistants, that there is an urgent need for national and regional government officials to enact policies to protect and serve the family.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

At general audience, Pope receives soccer jersey; evokes first martyr, St. Stephen

AP - Wed Jan 10, 9:50 AM ET

In this photo released by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI receives a soccer jersey with his name on it from unidentified priests and soccer enthusiasts, during the weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano)
enlarge photo...

Pope: persecution always gives impetus to faith

At the general audience, Benedict XVI evoked the first martyr Stephen whose story teaches that charity is inseparable from proclamation of the Gospel. The memory of the institution of the diaconate is linked to him too.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Charity and “courageous proclamation” always go hand and hand and faith is spread by persecution. These lessons emerge from the story of the first Christian martyr Stephen who was portrayed today by Benedict XVI when he addressed around 8,000 people present in the Paul VI Hall for the general audience. A festive Christmas spirit could still be felt among those present. Before the audience started, Benedict XVI visited an exhibition of cribs displayed in the atrium of the Hall.

The figure of Stephen, in the words of the Pope, highlights the “irreplaceable nature of testimony” and “love for the Cross” belonging to the Church but also to the life of each of us.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Political realism of Benedict XVI on Israel-Palestine problem

by Arieh Cohen

Yesterday, addressing the diplomatic corps, the pope talked about a “global approach”, pressing for an international peace conference that would include Syria too. The Vatican is acting as a catalyst and even Olmert may be interested. An analysis by our correspondent.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) – “Armed solutions achieve nothing,” Benedict XVI repeated yesterday to an assembly of diplomats accredited to the Holy See, referring directly to tensions between Israel and Lebanon and also – as was evident from the context – to those between Israelis and Palestinians. He also reiterated that Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy, peacefully, equal dignity and rights, and that “the Israelis have a right to live in peace in their state” just as “the Palestinians have a right to a free and sovereign homeland.” These statements that today are widely – practically universally – proclaimed by the international community have been consistently maintained by the Holy See since well before they become commonplace. If this has come about, history cannot ignore this contribution.

As for the concrete situation, it appears that we are still far from this happy state of affairs. But with the intent of encouraging all those involved to follow the road that leads to peace, the pontiff felt it was apt to notice the “positive signs” that he “noted in recent weeks” in relations “between Israelis and Palestinians”.

And so that the hope that they “may consolidate” will not turn into simple illusion, Benedict XVI warned that “it is no longer possible to be satisfied with partial or unilateral solutions” and instead he called for a “global approach, which excludes no one from the search for a negotiated settlement, taking into account the legitimate interests and aspirations of the different peoples involved.”

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pope Says Iran Should be Cooperative

The Christian Post

By Frances D'Emilio
Associated Press Writer
Mon, Jan. 08 2007 05:19 PM ET

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(Photo: AP / Maurizio Brambatti, pool)

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his speech during an audience with diplomats in the Regia hall at the Vatican, Monday, Jan 8, 2007. Benedict XVI called for negotiations to end fighting in Somalia, warned that democracies must not be transformed into dictatorships in Latin America and urged Iran to cooperate with the international community over concerns about its nuclear program.

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that Iran should cooperate with the international community to ease concerns over its nuclear ambitions, and North Korea should avoid any action that could hurt talks to resolve its atomic crisis.

In the Vatican's traditional New Year review of the world's hot spots, Benedict expressed hope that leaders would take advantage of progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations to forge a negotiated peace.

Benedict also used the annual speech to diplomats accredited to the Holy See to draw attention to Latin America, which he will visit next spring when he makes a pilgrimage to Brazil. He urged nations to open up to Cuba and restore security in Colombia, including an end to frequent kidnappings there.

While lamenting grim situations in much of the world, the pontiff said there were signs of hope from the Middle East.

"I renew my urgent appeal to all parties involved in the complex political chessboard of the region, hoping for a consolidation of the positive signs noted in recent weeks between Israelis and Palestinians," the pontiff said.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Benedict XVI's Evaluation of 2006

Address to the Roman Curia

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2007 ( Here is the Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address, delivered Dec. 22, to cardinals, archbishops, bishops and superior prelates, in which he evaluated the year 2006.

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Clementine Hall

Friday, 22 December 2006

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate, Dear Brethren,

I meet you today with great joy and address my cordial greeting to each one of you. I thank you for being present at this traditional appointment held close to holy Christmas. I especially thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano for the words with which he has expressed the sentiments of everyone here, inspired by the central theme of the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est. On this important occasion I would like to express my gratitude to him once more for the service to the Pope and to the Holy See that he has carried out for so many years as Secretary of State, and I ask the Lord to reward him for the good that he has done with his wisdom and his zeal for the Church's mission.

At the same time, I desire to offer a special greeting to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone for the new task that I have entrusted to him. I gladly extend these sentiments to all those who have entered the service of the Roman Curia or of the Governorate this year, while we remember with affection and gratitude those whom the Lord has called from this life to himself.

The year that is coming to an end, as you have said, Your Eminence, lives on in our memory; deeply impressed upon it are the horrors of the war near the Holy Land as well as the general danger of a clash between cultures and religions - a danger that hangs threateningly over our time in history.

The problem of ways towards peace has thus become a challenge of primary importance for all who are concerned about humankind. This is true in particular for the Church, for which the promise that accompanied her at the outset also means a responsibility and a task: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased" (Lk 2: 14).

The Angel's greeting to the shepherds on the night of Christ's birth in Bethlehem reveals an unbreakable link between the relationship of men and women with God and their own mutual relationships.

Peace on earth cannot be found without reconciliation with God, without harmony between Heaven and earth.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pope calls on religious leaders to stress spiritual part of globalization

Updated 1/6/2007 12:17 PM ET

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Religious leaders of all faiths must play a role in ensuring that the spiritual and cultural aspects of life are not forgotten as mankind tackles the challenges of globalization, Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday.

In his homily during Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope said recent decades have seen a "challenge to global civilization, where the center can no longer be Europe and not even that which we call the West or the North of the world."

"The need emerged to elaborate a new world political and economic order, but at the same time and above all, a spiritual and cultural one — that is, renewed humanism," he said.

"At the start of the Third Millennium we find ourselves smack in the middle of this phase of human history, that has been for some time dubbed 'globalization."'

The pope said that while politicians, scientists and researchers play important roles in the modern world, "today, more than ever, it is necessary to place at their side the leaders of the great non-Christian religious traditions" as well as Christian leaders.

Benedict appeared to be building on a theme often stressed by his predecessor, John Paul II, who worried that modernization was coming at the cost of spirituality.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

World Congress of Families Praises Pope's Comments on Population Decline

Contact: Larry Jacobs, World Congress of Families, 513-515-3685 cell, 815-964-5819,

MEDIA ADVISORY, Jan. 4 /Christian Newswire/ -- World Congress of Families President Allan Carlson praised the pope's comments on European population decline as "far-sighted and courageous."

Speaking to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI said low birthrates in Europe reflected the fact that many couples no longer seem to want children – a tragedy which, the pope said, has "penetrated my soul."

"Men and women today are unsure about the future," Benedict observed. "If we do not relearn the basic foundation of faith – if we do not recover the certainty of faith – it will be ever more difficult for us to give others the gift of life and the challenges of an unknown future."

"Secularism is a societal death-wish," Carlson observed. "Those who believe that life has no higher purpose than self-gratification won't make the sacrifices necessary to raise a family. Empty churches lead to empty nurseries."

European countries, which have the lowest rates of religious observance in the world, also have the lowest birthrates. Of the ten lowest birthrates, 9 are in Europe – the tenth is in Japan, where a similar process is underway.

Pope Benedict XVI blesses Caritas soup kitchen and names it after John Paul II

AP via Yahoo! News - 2 hours, 7 minutes ago

AP - Thu Jan 4, 10:50 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the Caritas soup kitchen in Rome, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2007. The pontiff addressed a few hundred people gathered in a nearby courtyard on a chilly day, saying love and charity bring great joy. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, Pool)
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News 8

Pope Names Soup Kitchen for John Paul II
Last Updated:01-04-07 at 9:38AM

ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI visited a soup kitchen Thursday to bless it and dedicate it to his predecessor, 14 years after Pope John Paul II went there to meet with the poor.

Benedict then addressed a few hundred people gathered in a nearby courtyard on a chilly day, saying love and charity bring great joy.

The pontiff also blessed a plaque dedicating the soup kitchen near the Colosseum to John Paul, who visited in 1992 and shared tea with several people, including a Somali man who had been attacked and set ablaze by skinhead youths. The plaque carried a quote from the speech John Paul gave during his visit: "The suffering man belongs to us all."

Monday, January 01, 2007

Pope Urges Worldwide Peace in New Year

ABC News

Pope Benedict XVI Calls on the World's Nations to Champion Peace and Human Rights in 2007

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful at the end of the New Year's Day Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican Monday, Jan. 1, 2007. The Pontiff called in New Year's appeals Monday for nations to champion world peace, and urged people to repudiate war and violence. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)


VATICAN CITY Jan 1, 2007 (AP)— Pope Benedict XVI called on the world's nations to champion peace and human rights and urged people to repudiate war and violence in his New Year's address Monday.

The pontiff, who wished tens of thousands of pilgrims crowded into St. Peter's Square "peace and well being" in 2007, prayed that people would develop a "sacred respect for every person and the firm repudiation of war and violence."

"Today, there is a lot of talk about human rights but often it is forgotten that these need a stable foundation, not a relative one, not one subject to opinion," the pope said during his blessing to the faithful. "And this cannot be anything but the dignity of the person. Respect for this dignity starts with the recognition and the protection of the right to live and to freely profess one's own religion."

In his homily during the earlier New Year's Day Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope urged peace in the Holy Land.