Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Catholic League, "Jesus' Tomb discovery is titanic fraud”

New York, Feb 27, 2007 / 01:11 pm (CNA).- The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has released a statement denouncing a new television program which purports to show the “tomb of Jesus.” Catholic League President, Bill Donohue, writes that James Cameron, who also directed the movie “Titanic,” has produced a “titanic fraud.”

Donohue says that the Discovery Channel show is just another in a laughable string of Hollywood productions aimed at discrediting the basic tenets of Christianity. “Not a Lenten season goes by without some author or TV program seeking to cast doubt on the divinity of Jesus and/or the Resurrection,” Donohue writes.

“Last April,” the Catholic League President continues, “NBC’s ‘Dateline’ featured the wholly discredited and downright laughable claims of Michael Baigent, and two years ago ABC treated us to a special that questioned every aspect of the Resurrection. Now we have the Cameron-Jacobovici thesis.”

Donohue points out that the supposed evidence Cameron and his Director, Simcha Jacobovici, use was disproved 27 years ago. “Israeli archeologist Amos Kloner was in charge of the 1980 investigation of the tomb that Cameron-Jacobovici have seized on 27 years later to make their allegations.”

Monday, February 26, 2007

Benedict XVI to Spend Week on Retreat

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 25, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI asked for the spiritual support of the faithful as he began a weeklong Lenten retreat.

The Holy Father and his aides in the Roman Curia began spiritual exercises this afternoon.

The Holy See announced that the Pope will hold no audiences or attend any public engagements until the retreat concludes Saturday morning.

Before praying the Angelus today with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father asked the faithful to "please support me with your prayer, and I will be happy to do the same in the recollection of the retreat, invoking divine power on each one of you, on your families and your communities."

Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, retired archbishop of Bologna, Italy, will preach the retreat on the theme "Look for the things on high, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God: Think of the things on high, not of those on earth."

The exercises began in the Mater Redemptoris Chapel with the exposition of the Eucharist, vespers, an introductory meditation, adoration and Benediction.

Cardinal Biffi will preach three meditations each day. There will also be daily recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, adoration and benediction.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Vatican's Soccer Tourney Kicks Off

The Christian Post

Supporters attend the inaugural 2007 Clericus Cup soccer competition for priests and seminarians, at the Rome's 'St. Peter's Sporting Center', Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007. The competition was launched by an Italian Christian sporting organisation in a bid to promote a sporting culture in the Church. The teams are likely to be made up of trainee priests, who are studying at the various pontifical universities in Rome. Games are limited to one hour - rather than the normal 90 minutes - which may tempt some of the older generation to play. 16 teams, fielding 311 athletes from countries including the United States, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Rwanda, will take part in the tournament and the final will take place in Rome in June. In background is the Dome of Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica.

(Photo: AP / Alessandra Tarantino)
Enlarge this Image...

By Ariel David
Associated Press Writer
Sun, Feb. 25 2007 10:31 AM ET

ROME (AP) - The fans were pious. The players bound for glory. And the victory? A miracle. Priests and seminarians from several soccer-loving countries took to a field near the looming dome of St. Peter's Basilica Saturday for the first match of the Clericus Cup, a tournament fielding 16 teams from Catholic institutes in Rome.

In Italy soccer is a hallowed game, taken almost as seriously as Catholicism, and the players were all business once the whistle was blown.

Amid screams from the coaches, pious slogans from the small crowd and T-shirts invoking the protection of the Virgin Mary, a motley crew of Latin Americans, Africans and Asians from the Collegio Mater Ecclesiae (Mother of the Church College) took on an all-Brazilian team fielded by the Gregorian University.

In a miraculous upset, the young Mater Ecclesiae players trounced the more experienced but portly Brazilians 6-0 as their fans chanted: "The Mother of the Church wants a goal!"

Pope: looking at Christ pierced by our sins as Christ looks at us

AP - Sun Feb 25, 7:51 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his speech to pilgrims and faithful prior to the Angelus prayer, from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007. (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)
Enlarge Photo...


Before the start of Lenten exercises, Benedict XVI once again urges the faithful to take part in a Lent of contemplation. By looking straight at Christ’s ribs, we can discover that God is love and understand sin and the “boundless stream” of mercy. The Crucifix is the source from which we can draw the indispensable spiritual energy to build peace and happiness.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – A few hours before the start of spiritual exercises in the Vatican, the Pope urged pilgrims in St Peter’s Square to enter “the time of Lent by looking straight at the ribs of Jesus.” In doing so he restated the theme he mentioned in his Lent message titled They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.

In mentioning his encyclical Deus caritas est the Pope stressed the importance of “looking”. He said that it is only by looking at Jesus who died on the Cross that can one know that “God is love”. “In this contemplation,” the Pontiff said, “the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move (Deus caritas est, 12). Contemplating the Crucifix with the eyes of faith, we can deeply understand what sin is, how tragic its gravity is and at the same time how incommensurable is the power of the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy.”

The lance that pierced Christ’s ribs is witnessed in the Gospel of John. “That act carried out by an unknown Roman soldier,” Benedict XVI explained, “bound to be forgotten, was engraved in the eyes and heart of the Apostle who mentioned it in the Gospel. How many conversions have taken place over the centuries because of this eloquent message of love that those who look on the Crucified Jesus receive.”

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pope to meet Putin in March: report

AFP via Yahoo! News Thu, 22 Feb 2007 11:14 AM PST

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on March 13, the Catholic news agency Asianews reported Thursday, quoting "unofficial Orthodox sources."

A Vatican spokesman confirmed that the visit was on the pope's calendar, while noting that it would be contingent on Putin's coming to Italy for a summit with embattled Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

The prime minister tendered his resignation Wednesday after suffering a foreign policy defeat in the Senate, but President Giorgio Napolitano is unlikely to accept it.

A Russian diplomat said in Moscow that Putin would meet the pope if he comes to Italy to meet with Prodi at a summit currently scheduled for March 14 in the southern city of Bari.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI encourages priests to offer new opportunites for Italian youth to discover God

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leads a meeting with parish priests in the apostolic palace at the Vatican February 22, 2007. REUTERS/Pool/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)
Reuters via Yahoo! News - Feb 22 8:48 AM

Papal Meetings

Vatican City, Feb 22, 2007 / 12:31 pm (CNA).- This morning Pope Benedict XVI held his traditional meeting with the parish priests of Rome to celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Peter. The Holy Father spoke briefly with his priests and also fielded their questions.

In what was described as a climate of happiness and fraternity, the Roman parish priests spoke with the Pontiff specifically about the proclamation of the Gospel in an increasingly secularized world and on the challenges surrounding the transmittal of the faith to younger generations.

Nine Roman priests presented questions to the Holy Father regarding topics such as youth ministry, the importance of Sanctuaries, using sacred art as instruments of evangelization, and the role of ecclesiastical movements.

The Holy Father emphasized that the fundamental mission of Rome´s clergy is to "bring the new generations closer to the Gospel."

"Many youth live in a world far from God," the Pope stated in commenting on the growing chasm between adolescents and the Church, "a consequence of a cultural context in which such an encounter is made difficult."

As a result of this, “the highest priority” of the Roman parish priest is to provide opportunities for today’s youth to discover God, he said.

"In Italy I see how the faith is still deeply rooted in the heart of Italian society, but it is also threatened," stated the Pope.

The Holy See, by way of Vatican Radio and the Vatican Press Office, plans to make public entire text of the Holy Father’s conversation with his priests in the next few days.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday Offerings

General Audience

Lent a time of conversion, not ‘self-realization,’ Pope says
'We have a higher destiny,' Benedict tells mankind

Vatican City, Feb 21, 2007 / 10:17 am (CNA).- Over 10,000 people crowded the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall today to meet with Pope Benedict XVI for his weekly general audience. On this, the day when Catholics around the world celebrate Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to the subject of Lent.

"Today, Ash Wednesday," said the Pope, "we begin the Lenten journey, characterized by listening to the Word of God, by prayer and penance. Forty days during which the liturgy will help us to relive the principal moments of the Mystery of salvation."

For the baptized, Lent is a "new 'catechumenate' in which we return to our Baptism in order to rediscover it and experience it more profoundly. It is an occasion to go back to being Christian via a constant process of interior transformation, and of progress in the knowledge and love of Christ."

"Conversion," the Holy Father explained, is not something that happens once and for all, it is a process, a journey, that cannot be limited to a specific period but must embrace all existence."

"In this light," he went on, "Lent is an appropriate spiritual moment to train ourselves more earnestly to seek God, opening our hearts to Christ. Conversion means seeking God. It is not an effort of self-realization. Self-realization is a contradiction, and it is too little for us. We have a higher destiny. Conversion consists precisely in not thinking that one is the 'creator' of oneself, and thus discovering the truth."

From EWTN comes a guide and calendar of reflections for "The Holy Season of Lent" and the Pope's message for Lent 2007, "They shall look on Him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37)".

As we begin Lent today with the imposition of ashes as a sign of our penance, we pray that these days of Lenten observance renew us in our faith and bring us into a deeper conversion as the following article from Catholic Culture also exhorts us:

The time has now come in the Church year for the solemn observance of the great central act of history, the redemption of the human race by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the Roman Rite, the beginning of the forty days of penance is marked with the austere symbol of ashes which are used in today's liturgy. The use of ashes is a survival from an ancient rite according to which converted sinners submitted themselves to canonical penance. The Alleluia and the Gloria are suppressed until Easter.

Abstinence from eating meat is to be observed on all Fridays during Lent. This applies to all persons 14 and older. The law of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday applies to all persons 18 or older and younger than 59.

God bless you all!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Catholic and Anglican officials say re-unification rumors “much exaggerated”

Catholic-Anglican Dialogue

'Times' story took IARCCUM document out of perspective

Vatican City, Feb 20, 2007 / 09:39 am (CNA).- Reports about plans of imminent reunification of the Anglican and Catholic Churches under the Pope are largely exaggerated, said the two chairmen of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).

Archbishop John Bathersby, Catholic co-chair of IARCCUM, and Bishop David Beetge, Anglican co-chair, released a statement yesterday in response to an article in The London Times, which reported that the two communions would likely reunite very soon. The Times report was based on a leaked IARCCUM document.

“While it is encouraging that a document of this kind can be produced and that practical day-to-day cooperation between Catholics and Anglicans can be strengthened, talk of plans to reunite the two communions is, sadly, much exaggerated,” the two bishops said in their statement.

The leaked document in question, titled "Growing Together in Unity and Mission," is being published as an agreed statement of IARCCUM. It is not as an official statement of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the bishops clarified.

“It is being put forward to foster discussion and reflection, as the statement clearly states,” they said.

The 42-page statement was recently completed by IARCCUM, and is scheduled to be published by the commission as soon as a Catholic commentary to accompany the document has been completed; an Anglican commentary has already been prepared for publication.

The bishops expressed their regret that the document’s contents were prematurely reported “in a way which misrepresents its intentions and sensationalizes its conclusions.”

For the story in "The London Times" see my post from February 19th.

Anglicans Rebuke U.S. Branch on Same-Sex Unions

Emmanauel Kwiitema/Reuters
The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, right, with Archbishop Donald Mtetemela of Tanzania.

New York Times

Published: February 20, 2007

Facing a possible churchwide schism, the Anglican Communion yesterday gave its Episcopal branch in the United States less than eight months to ban blessings of same-sex unions or risk a reduced role in the world’s third-largest Christian denomination.

Anglican leaders also established a separate council and a vicar to help address the concerns of conservative American dioceses that have been alienated by the Episcopal Church’s support of gay clergy and blessings of same-sex unions. Although the presiding American bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, agreed to the arrangement, some conservatives described it as an extraordinary check on her authority.

The directive, issued after a five-day meeting of three dozen top leaders of the Anglican church gathering in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, constituted a severe rebuke of the small but affluent American branch. Conservative Anglicans described the communiqué as a landmark document that affirms the primacy of Scripture and church doctrine for the world’s 77 million Anglicans, only 2.3 million of whom are Episcopalians.

“This is very, very, very significant,” said Bill Atwood, who serves as a strategist for a group of the conservative bishops. “It was either call the Episcopal Church back or lose the Anglican Communion, and the group agreed it was better to call the Episcopal Church back.”

Monday, February 19, 2007

Churches back plan to unite under Pope

February 19, 2007

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.

The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches.

In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.

The statement, leaked to The Times, is being considered by the Vatican, where Catholic bishops are preparing a formal response.

It comes as the archbishops who lead the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion meet in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in an attempt to avoid schism over gay ordination and other liberal doctrines that have taken hold in parts of the Western Church.

The 36 primates at the gathering will be aware that the Pope, while still a cardinal, sent a message of support to the orthodox wing of the Episcopal Church of the US as it struggled to cope with the fallout after the ordination of the gay bishop Gene Robinson.

Were this week’s discussions to lead to a split between liberals and conservatives, many of the former objections in Rome to a reunion with Anglican conservatives would disappear. Many of those Anglicans who object most strongly to gay ordination also oppose the ordination of women priests.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pope explains Christian nonviolence and sends New Year greetings to Chinese


“Loving one’s enemies” is not unrealistic, it means resisting evil with good’ it is the “more” of love and goodness that are needed in the face of too much violence and too much injustice in the world.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “Turning the other cheek” does not mean giving in to evil but reacting to evil with good, just as “loving one’s enemies” means putting “more” love in a world marked by too much violence and too much injustice. The foundation of Christian nonviolence, which is not a strategy but a personal way of being, was the theme tackled by Benedict XVI today to 50,000 people in St Peter’s Square for the recital of the Angelus despite the morning cold and occasional outbursts of rain.

In his greeting to the faithful, the pope also had something to say about China, confirming the country to be one of the matters occupying his mind. After reciting the Marian prayer, as he recalled that “in various countries of the East the Lunar New Year is being celebrated with joy and in the intimacy of the family”, Benedict XVI sent “to all those great peoples” best wishes of “serenity and prosperity”.

China and its neighbouring countries celebrating the New Year – the biggest feast of the whole year – were not the only places far from Rome that the Pope referred to. Benedict XVI said he was close to the hardships facing the people of Guinea and also mentioned the Polish clergy. Talking about Guinea, he said: “The bishops of that nation expressed to me their apprehension about the situation of social paralysis with general strikes and violent reactions, which has claimed many victims. In calling for respect for human and civil rights, I assure of my prayers so that the common good and recourse to the way of dialogue may lead to overcoming of the crisis.” As for Poland, the pope greeted believers from that country and implicitly referred to difficulties facing some members of the clergy due to accusations of collaboration with the Communist regime. The pope said that “as per an initiative of the bishops, this coming Ash Wednesday in Poland will be a day of ‘prayer and penitence for all the Polish clergy’. May the prayer for the holiness of priests fill all the faithful with a spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual trust.”

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Michelangelo Had Private Room at Vatican

ABC News

Receipt Shows Michelangelo Had Private Room at Vatican While Working As Pope's Architect

An aerial view of St .Peter's Basilica in this Aug. 14, 2004 photo. A 450-year-old receipt has provided proof that Michelangelo kept a private room in St. Peter's Basilica while working as the pope's chief architect, Vatican experts said. Going through their archives for an exhibit on the 500th anniversary of the basilica, researchers from the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office where all documents concerning the running of the basilica are kept, came across an entry for a key to a chest "in the room in St. Peter's where Master Michelangelo retires.'' (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)


VATICAN CITY Feb 17, 2007 (AP)— A 450-year-old receipt has provided proof that Michelangelo kept a private room in St. Peter's Basilica while working as the pope's chief architect, Vatican experts said.

While going through the basilica archives for an exhibit on the 500th anniversary of the church last year, researchers came across an entry for a key to a chest "in the room in St. Peter's where Master Michelangelo retires."

The Renaissance painter and sculptor whose frescoes adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican was put in charge of the restoration of St. Peter's Basilica by Pope Paul III at age 71 in 1546, a job he held until his death in 1564.

Michelangelo's greatest contribution to the basilica was his design for the central dome or cupola, a universally acknowledged architectural triumph.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pope: the love that accepted the Cross asks to be “welcomed” and “spread” by man


In his message for Lent 2007, Benedict XVI invited all to give the love of Christ to others by struggling against any form of contempt for life and exploitation of others and by easing the tragedy of solitude and neglect suffered by so many people.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – God’s love for mankind, the greatest manifestation of which is found in the Cross, asks that people “welcome” and “spread” it, identifying offences to human dignity and fighting all forms of contempt for life and exploitation of others. The message of Benedict XVI for Lent, published today, follows in the path of the encyclical Deus Caritas Est to reflect about the how and why of God’s love for man and about the response of the creature to the Creator.

Focused on the theme “They will look on the one whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37), the document highlights how God’s love is both “agape” – “the oblative love of he who seeks exclusively the good of the other” – and “eros” – “the love of he who desires to possess what he lacks, which yearns for union with the loved one”. The theologian pope explained that the love of God is certainly agape: “Everything that the human creature is and has is divine gift”. But it is also eros: “The Creator of the universe shows for the people he has chosen a predilection that transcends all human motivation.” And “the Omnipotent awaits the ‘yes’ of his creatures like a young bridegroom await that of his bride.” But “unfortunately, humanity, from its origins, seduced by the lies of Evil, closed itself off from the love of God in the illusion of impossible self-sufficiency.”

“However, God did not admit defeat. Rather, the ‘no’ of man was like a decisive push that induced him to manifest his love in all its redemptive strength.” And it is the Cross in which the “fullness of God’s love” is revealed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Benedict in Lebanon peace plea

Posted on February 16, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI has implored the Lebanese people to reject violence after Tuesday’s bloody attack against two buses in the Christian town of Ein Alaq.

In a telegram sent in the Pope’s name by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, the Pope expressed “his spiritual closeness and prayer for the wounded and the victims’ families.”

The Pontiff entrusted “to divine mercy those who died tragically” and invoked “the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary for the whole Lebanese nation.”

He urged the Lebanese people and their leaders “to unanimously reject violence” and rediscover “the reasons for a drive in favour of unity and the common good.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

General Audience: Pope Benedict acclaims role of women in Church history

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2007 / 11:13 am (CNA).- The role of women in the history of the Church was the theme chosen by Benedict XVI for his catechesis at today's general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 20,000 people. The Holy Father reflected on the thankfulness the Church should have for the countless “manifestations of the feminine ‘genius.’”

"Jesus chose 12 men as fathers of the new Israel, 'to be with Him and to be sent out to proclaim the message,'" said the Holy Father, "but ... among the disciples many women were also chosen. They played an active role within the context of Jesus mission.”

In the first place, the Pope began, “the Virgin Mary, who with her faith and her maternal care worked in a unique way for our redemption. Having become a disciple of her Son, ... she followed Him even to the foot of the cross where she received a maternal mission for all his disciples in all times."

After mentioning other women who appear in various parts of the Gospel - such as Susanna, and Lazarus' sisters Martha and Mary - the Pope pointed out that "the women, unlike the Twelve, did not abandon Jesus at the hour of His Passion. Outstanding among them was Mary Magdalene ... who was the first witness of the Resurrection and announced it to the others." Pope Benedict also recalled how St. Thomas Aquinas referred to Mary Magdalene as "the apostle of the apostles."

In the first Christian communities, Benedict XVI went on, "the female presence was anything but secondary." St. Paul "starts from the fundamental principle according to which among the baptized 'there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female.'" Furthermore, "the Apostle admits that in the Christian community it is quite normal that there should be women who prophesy, in other words who pronounce openly under the influence of Holy Spirit for the edification of the community."

Therefore St. Paul's subsequent assertion that "women should be silent in the churches" must "be relativized," said the Pope, and he explained that "the problem ... of the relationship between these two apparently contradictory indications should be left to the exegetes."

"The history of Christianity would have developed quite differently without the generous contribution of many women," said the Pope and he recalled how John Paul II had written: "The Church gives thanks for each and every woman ... for all the manifestations of the feminine 'genius.'"

"We share this appreciation, giving thanks to the Lord because He leads His Church, generation after generation, indiscriminately using men and women who know how to bring their faith to fruition ... for the good of the entire body of the Church.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pope’s Lenten message: From the side of Christ flows an example of self-giving

Papal message

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2007 / 11:22 am (CNA).- In his message to the world’s faithful for Lent of 2007, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that God’s act of suffering and death on the Cross was not only and act of love directed at mankind, but an invitation for men and women to emulate His love towards one another.

The text, dated on November 21st, 2006, and titled, “They shall look on Him whom they have pierced,” was released by the Holy See today.

In the brief text, the Pontiff recalled that Lent is a perfect time to, “learn to stay with Mary and John, the beloved disciple, close to Him Who on the Cross, consummated for all mankind the sacrifice of His life.”

“With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore, in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ crucified Who, dying on Calvary, revealed fully for us the love of God.”

Calling to mind his first encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” the Holy Father spoke of the fact that God’s love for mankind is both “agape” and “eros.”

"Dear brothers and sisters,” the Pope said, “let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God's love, a love in which 'eros' and 'agape,' far from being opposed, enlighten each other.”

“On the Cross, it is God Himself Who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us.”

“In all truth,” Benedict continued, “only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the greatest of sacrifices…The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and dedicate ourselves to communicating it to others.”

Monday, February 12, 2007

No human law can 'overturn that of Creator': pope

AFP via Yahoo! UK & Ireland News - 2 hours, 57 minutes ago
Monday February 12, 05:40 PM

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI reportedly lashed out against laws that he said threaten the family and social order, saying none "can overturn that of the Creator."

"No law made by man can overturn that of the Creator without dramatically affecting society in its very foundation," said the pope, according to the I-Media news agency, which reports on Vatican affairs in French.

The pope's remarks to a delegation attending a conference on "natural law" at the Pontifical Lateran University came as Portugal moves to liberalise abortion and Italy plans to grant legal status to unwed couples.

"Weakening the family is punishing society," he told the delegation. Natural law "has rules that supersede all human laws (and) does not allow for derogations by anyone."

Natural law has "concrete applications" such as protecting human life from conception to its natural end, and the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, Benedict said.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Holy Father reminds the world’s sick to unite their sufferings to the crucified Christ

World Day of the Sick

Pope recalls that this day to remember the sick falls on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Vatican City, Feb 11, 2007 / 01:08 pm (CNA).- Greeting the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on this, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Pope Benedict XVI used his Angelus to speak about the connection between the apparitions at Lourdes, human suffering, and the suffering of the crucified Christ.

The Holy Father recalled Pope John Paul II's desire that the World Day of the Sick be celebrated on February 11th, “the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette…in the grotto of Massabielle, at Lourdes.”

Pope Benedict emphasized how at Lourdes, Mary called all Christians to prayer and Penance, “echoing the words with which Jesus began his preaching in Galilee, ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mk 1:15).’”

The Sanctuary of Lourdes, the Pope recalled, has become a destination for so many infirm pilgrims, “who in hearing the Most Holy Mary, are encouraged to accept their sufferings and offer them for the salvation of the world, uniting them to those of the crucified Christ.”

Pope: From Lourdes to Seoul, I entrust the world’s sick and suffering to Mary


Recalling the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick, which this year is being celebrated in Seoul, Benedict XVI exhorted health workers and relatives of sick people to offer “human support” and “spiritual accompaniment”, especially those who are terminally ill.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – On the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, now also the World Day of the Sick, the pope did not stop at talking about miracles and healing. Thanking health workers and relatives of sick people, he called for the “development of palliative care that offers holistic support”, giving “terminally ill people the human support and spiritual accompaniment that they badly need.”

Benedict XVI recalled the “prodigious event” of “the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to St Bernadette, which took place on 11 February 1858 in the grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes”. This event, continued the pope, made “the location, situated in the French slopes of the Pyrenees, a global center for pilgrimages and intense Marian spirituality. In this place, for nearly 150 years now, the call of Our Lady to prayer and repentance still reverberates powerfully, a quasi permanent echo of the invitation with which Jesus inaugurated his preaching in Galilee: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ (Mk 1:15).”

Although miracles and healings confirmed by a team of doctors often take place at Lourdes, the pope saw fit to draw attention to a more profound miracle: “Moreover, the shrine has become a destination of many sick pilgrims who, putting themselves in a position to listen to the Most Holy Mary, are encouraged to accept their sufferings and to offer them for the salvation of the world, uniting them with those of the crucified Christ.”

Pope Benedict stipulated the granting of a plenary indulgence on this day in the document "Decree on Indulgences for World Day of the Sick in Favor of the Sick, Especially the Mentally Ill".

One can gain the indulgence in the following manner and visit the official site of the Lourdes Sanctuary online.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pope Urges 'Courage to Tell the Truth'

The Tocqueville Connection
Received Saturday, 10 February 2007 13:25:00 GMT

VATICAN CITY, Feb 10, 2007 (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, citing the late Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov, urged the "courage to tell the truth" in both private and public life.

"True freedom consists of walking in the path of the truth, following one's own calling," he told a delegation from the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in Paris.

The pope urged "the courage to tell the truth and follow it, in personal as well as public life, to be free with respect to the world which often has the tendency to impose ways of seeing things and behavior to follow."

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1992, Benedict was awarded the chair left vacant at the academy when Sakharov died in 1989.

The 1975 Nobel Peace Prize laureate had "internal freedom" even when he was not free externally, Benedict said Saturday.

"No one can live only with exteriority and appearances, but develop interior life, unite being with acting," he added.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Italian journalist calls for creation of Catholic Anti-Defamation League to combat ‘ideological manipulation’ of history

Madrid, Feb 9, 2007 / 02:52 pm (CNA).- Catholic journalist Vittorio Messori has called for the creation of a Catholic “Anti-Defamation League” in order to combat what he calls the “ideological manipulation” of history by those who are against the Church.

“Catholics,” he said, “now reduced to a minority (at least at the cultural level), should follow the example of another minority, the Jews, and create their own ‘Anti-Defamatation League,’ without seeking any kind of censorship or privilege, but rather only the possibility of rectifications based on specific facts and authentic documents.” Messori words came in his latest column published by the Spanish daily “La Razon.”

Messori points as an example to the case of the Catharists (a heretical group also known as the Albigensians), who take a lead role in The Da Vinci Code book and movie, along with other works, forgetting that their members “were followers of a dark, ferocious and bloody sect of Asian origin.”

In his column, the Italian journalist commented that for some, the most famous incident associated with this group is the “siege and taking of Beziers in July of 1209,” where supposedly some 40,000 people were massacred. The problem, he said, is the incident never actually took place.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Brown joins the Pope to launch vaccination scheme

The Independent

By Andrew Grice, Political Editor
Published: 09 February 2007

Gordon Brown will meet the Pope today as the two men launch a global scheme to vaccinate some of the world's poorest children.

Mr Brown, whose late father was a Church of Scotland minister, will enhance his credentials as Britain's prime minister-in-waiting on the world stage by meeting Pope Benedict XVI in Rome and holding talks with Romano Prodi, the Italian Prime Minister.

The Chancellor has been one of the driving forces behind a plan to sell bonds to ensure an extra 500 million children are immunised against preventable diseases such as polio, diphtheria, hepatitis and measles. About 2.5 million children die from such illnesses each year - one every 12 seconds.

The governments of Britain, Italy, Canada and Norway will announce their financial contributions to the scheme in Rome today. Backing will also come from Bill Gates. When Mr Brown launched the British bonds in London last November, the Pope was among the first to buy one.

Mr Brown regards the Advanced Market Commitments for Vaccines project as an example of how the world's faiths can achieve real progress by working together. He hopes the plan will eradicate polio in the way that a World Health Organisation vaccination campaign between 1965 and 1980 eliminated smallpox.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

General Audience: Church grew in the homes of the faithful, Pope Benedict says

Commitment of families provided 'humus' for the growth of Christianity

Vatican City, Feb 7, 2007 / 11:05 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI's catechesis during this morning's General Audience was dedicated to the Roman couple Priscilla and Aquila, who collaborated with St. Paul in Corinth. The Holy Father emphasized how the early Church was born and grew in the homes of the faithful.

The Pope recalled that Priscilla and Aquila were expelled from Rome by the Emperor Claudius following disturbances in which some followers of Christ were implicated, they arrived in Corinth about the year 50 and there met Paul who, like them, was a tentmaker.

Due to her active role in the Christian community in Rome, the Pope noted, Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila played a vital role in the early Church, "welcoming into their house the groups of local Christians when they came together to hear the Word of God and celebrate the Eucharist.”

“This kind of meeting,” the Pontiff noted, “is called in Greek 'ecclesia.' ... Thus it was the Church that gathered in Priscilla and Aquila's house to celebrate Christ in the holy mysteries. So we see that the Church came into being in the houses of the believers.”

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Holy See offers special indulgence for World Day of the Sick

World Day of the Sick

Vatican decree emphasizes need to reflect on ultimate realities of life, death, and suffering

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2007 / 10:07 am (CNA).- Late yesterday afternoon, the Apostolic Penitentiary published a decree announcing the concession of indulgences to the faithful for the World Day of the Sick, which is celebrated every year on February 11, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This year, the Day will be celebrated in Seoul, Korea. The decree from the Vatican includes provisions for the elderly and sick who are unable to celebrate the Day of the Sick and encourages all the faithful to offer special prayers for the sick.

"We must," the text of the decree reads, "reflect deeply upon the fact that human remedies have a limit and that, therefore, there will inevitably come a time when man reaches the end of his journey on this earth. To the sick who are in that condition we must offer the most attentive care and the greatest charity, so that their transit from this world to the Father is comforted by divine consolation and so that, as the Church's prayer for the dying implores, they may see the gentle face of Jesus Christ and clearly hear the voice calling them to eternal glory and joy."

"With this awareness, the Holy Mother Church hopes that the annual celebration of the World Day of the Sick may become an effective catechesis of the teaching ... of the treasure of Revelation, concerning the value and function of suffering."

For this reason, Plenary Indulgence will be granted "to the faithful who, under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father), and with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin, participate on February 11 in the city of Seoul, or at any other place decided by the ecclesiastical authorities, in a sacred ceremony held to beseech God to grant the goals of the World Day of the Sick."

The decree continues: "The faithful who, in public hospitals or in private houses, like 'Good Samaritans' charitably assist the sick - especially those suffering incurable and terminal diseases - and who, because of the service they provide, cannot participate in the aforementioned ceremony, will obtain the same gift of Plenary Indulgence if on that day they generously provide, at least for a few hours, their charitable assistance to the sick as if they were tending to Christ the Lord Himself, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin, and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the conditions required for obtaining the Plenary Indulgence.”

"The faithful who, through sickness, old age or similar reason, are prevented from participating in the aforementioned ceremony, may obtain the Plenary Indulgence if, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the conditions required, they spiritually participate together with the Holy Father in the aforesaid ceremony, pray devotedly for the sick, and offer - through the Virgin Mary 'Health of the Sick' - their physical and spiritual sufferings to God."

Partial Indulgence, the text of the decree concludes, will be conceded to "all the faithful whenever, between February 9 and 11, with a contrite heart they raise devout prayers to the merciful Lord calling for these aspirations to be met in order to help the sick, especially those suffering incurable and terminal disease."

The following is the Holy Father's message: "Message of his Holiness Benedict XVI for the Fifteenth World Day of the Sick".

Monday, February 05, 2007

Polish Communist Military Intelligence: New evidence about the plot to kill John Paul II in 1981

Canada Free Press

By David Dastych

Monday, February 5, 2007

Polish Communist Military Intelligence (WSW) knew about a plot to assasinate John Paul II, several weeks prior to the attempt on St. Peter's Square, on May 13, 1981. And the Polish secret service did nothing to prevent the plot.

The generally well-informed Polish weekly Wprost (read: vprost) found a witness, whose testimony deposited in the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) could make a break-through in the present investigation about the attempt on the late pope. He is a former Colonel of the Military Intelligence (WSW). The witness told Wprost that this information came to his hands from a Polish intelligence officer, operating in one of the Arab countries in early Spring of 1981. A short report from that officer informed that a [Turkish nationalist organization] The Grey Wolves was planning to assassinate the pope. The colonel brought this information to a senior officer of the Second Directorate of the Polish General Staff, Colonel Karol Szelag. The following events showed that the head office of the then Polish Military Intelligence did nothing to warn the Polish Church or the Vatican about a planned action and it saw to it that the warning from an Arab country never came out. Officers, who knew about this information were transferred to other departments or were sent abroad. The Polish Military Intelligence did nothing about that sensitive information.

An Italian KGB "mole"

Several years after the attempt on May 13, 1981, in November of 1985, the intelligence officer, who informed Wprost weekly, was serving as a military attache in the Polish Embassy in Cairo. There, he took a chance to inform representatives of the NATO countries about the note the Polish Military Intelligence received in 1981, several weeks prior to the attempt on the pope's life. He chose an Italian military attache, Colonel Giuseppe Cucchi. But, at that time, he was not aware that the information about his conversation with Col. Cucchi would be passed on to the secret services of the communist countries. About two months after his visit to the Italian Embassy in Cairo, in Summer of 1986, he was urgently ordered to return to Poland, without a definite reason. In Warsaw, the Polish Colonel was informed about an internal secret investigation conducted against him. He was dismissed from the Second Directorate of the General Staff and he was transfered to the Inspectorate of Civil Defense. Later on, after the regime change in Poland, for a brief period, the Colonel returned to the Ministry of Defense , headed then by an opposition member, Dr. Janusz Onyszkiewicz. Now he is pensioned.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Families themselves must work to protect life and the family, Pope reminds

Sunday Angelus

Vatican City, Feb 4, 2007 / 11:17 am (CNA).- In his Angelus address today, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the thousands of faithful gathered beneath his window in St. Peter’s Square of the tremendous need to respect and defend life, and emphasized the important roll of the Christian family role in today's society.

The Pope once again called on "all men and women of good will" to be open to the "great and mysterious gift of life." He underlined the fact that life must not be denied to anybody, "even the smallest and most defenseless unborn child, even more so when the child has serious disabilities.

"His Holiness reminded those present that this week is the Diocese of Rome's "Life and Family Week," and asked that all pray and reflect on the family, "the cradle of life and of every vocation."

The Pontiff drew attention to the "profound crises and multiplying challenges that affront [the family] today," and called the faithful to "defend, help, protect and value it." The major part of this duty, he added, falls not upon the clergy, but upon married people and families themselves.

The Pope concluded his address by praying that the entire Christian community "be a place of hope where, despite many difficulties, the great 'yes' to authentic love may be renewed."

Christian Coaches Face Off for Super Bowl XLI

Christianity Today

The God of Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith isn't just for Sunday.

Jason Bailey
posted 2/02/2007 09:44AM

For many people, football is religion. Superstar players are deified, weekly games are strictly observed, and everyone—devoted fan or not—watches the Super Bowl.

But for Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, football has not taken God's place.

The head coaches of the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts and the NFC champion Chicago Bears, who will lead their teams in Super Bowl XLI on Sunday, have a lot in common. As has been well documented, they share the distinction of being the first black head coaches in the Super Bowl. They are close friends, having coached together with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for five years. They are also Christians.

"God is the center of my life," Smith told the media during a Super Bowl press conference earlier this week. "It controls all that I do. I hope I don't have to spend my time telling my players I'm a Christian. I hope they see it in my life every day."

Smith and Dungy are not just Christians when the spotlight shines on them. Their day-to-day coaching styles and set of priorities stand out among a league of coaches obsessed with winning at all costs.

The coaches in the headlines this regular season have been highlighted because of their animosity (Bill Belichick), duplicity (Nick Saban), and postgame electricity (Dennis Green). With only two coaches left to write about, the tenor of the articles has clearly changed.

"He does things the right way," Dungy said of Smith after the Colts and Bears each won their conference championship games. "No profanity, no intimidation, just helping his guys the best he can—and that's the way I try to do it. I think it's great that we're able to show the world not only that African-American coaches can do it, but Christian coaches can do it in a way that we can still win."

The trait that makes Dungy and Smith excellent coaches is their ability to put things in perspective. During even the most stressful situations, neither wavers from his steady approach to the ups and downs that are inherent in a volatile game. Although their mild-mannered styles do not make great headlines, they have proved endearing to players who look to Dungy and Smith for leadership.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Gospel Papyrus Donated to Vatican

"It Has Not Yet Revealed All Its Secrets"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of an article published last week in the semi-official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, entitled "18 Centuries of History: The Bodmer Papyrus 14-15 (P75) Arrives in the Vatican Apostolic Library."

* * *

April 30, 1451: With a papal brief Pope Nicholas V establishes a library "pro communi doctorum virorum commodo" (to facilitate the research of scholars). Thus was born the present Vatican Apostolic Library.

November 22, 2006: the Bodmer Papyrus 14-15, donated to His Holiness Benedict XVI by the generosity of the Sally and Frank Hanna Family Foundation and the Solidarity Association (U.S.A.), as well as the Mater Verbi/Hanna Papyrus Trust, was given to the Vatican Apostolic Library.

During the five and a half centuries that separate these two dates, albeit through different vicissitudes, such as the losses caused by the lansquenets on the occasion of the sack of Rome (1527) or the transfer of the manuscripts to Paris in the Napoleonic age, the Vatican Apostolic Library remained faithful to the mandate it received to enrich, guard and preserve with all care the cultural treasures entrusted to it and to put them at the disposition of qualified scholars.

In the meantime, the initial thousand manuscripts by this time numbered 150,000; beside these were placed 300,000 coins and medals, as well as 100,000 stamps and an important collection of antique prints.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pope Calls for Interfaith Dialogue

20:30 Feb 01, '07 / 13 Shevat 5767

(IsraelNN.com) Pope Benedict XVI, speaking Thursday to fellow board members of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue, called on Jews, Muslims, and fellow Christians to “recognize and develop the bonds that unite us”. The Pontiff was active in the foundation as Cardinal Ratzinger, before becoming pope. He suggested studying the sacred texts of other religions to try to understand them.

In a show of concern for a rising tide of emigration, the pope also offered words of encouragement to the various Christian groups living in the Middle East. He expressed his hope to visit the “Holy Land” soon; Israel has extended an open invitation.