Friday, March 30, 2007

Nun cured of Parkinson's speaks to press

AP - Fri Mar 30, 8:12 AM ET

French nun Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre poses in the gardens of the Aix-en-Provence's Archdiocese, north of Marseille, southern France, after talking during a press conference, Friday, March 30, 2007. Smiling broadly, the nun said Friday that she was inexplicably and suddenly 'cured' of Parkinson's disease in 2005, a case that could prompt the Roman Catholic Church to beatify Pope John Paul II. Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre stopped short of declaring her recovery a miracle, saying that was for the church to decide. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Enlarge photo...

From CNN comes this video of today's press conference.

And, from Catholic News Agency comes this article:

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre speaks of miraculous cure at press conference

Nun claims Pope John Paul II may have brought about a miraculous cure for her Parkinson's

Paris, Mar 30, 2007 / 12:13 pm (CNA).- “All I can tell you is that I was sick and now I am cured. It is for the church to say and to recognize whether it is a miracle,” so said the 46 year-old Religious Sister who many think may have been miraculously cured through the intercession of the late Pope John Paul II. The French nun, the identity of whom was unknown to the world until this week, spoke to the press in today.

According to the Associated Press, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre stopped short of declaring her recovery a miracle, saying that was for the church to decide. But she said her life "totally changed" after her symptoms vanished in one night of prayer and mystery in 2005.

Smiling broadly, the French nun, whose claims could be accepted as the miracle that the Vatican needs to Beatify Pope John Paul II, said Friday that she was inexplicably and suddenly "cured" of Parkinson's disease - thanks to him.

"I am cured. It is the work of God, through the intercession of Pope John Paul II," told Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, smiling broadly before a barrage of television cameras.

"It's something very strong, very difficult to put into words," she told reporters in the southern French city of Aix en Provence.

Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre had been suffering from Parkinson's, a degenerative disease of the nervous system, since 2001, but has testified that she was cured in the night of June 2, 2005 after praying to John Paul II, whose final years were also marked by the disease.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Nun claiming healing of Parkinson's through JPII's intercession identified

Pope John Paul II
French nun in John Paul’s beatification process identified

Paris, Mar 29, 2007 / 11:28 am (CNA).- The previously anonymous French nun, who may have received a miraculous cure from God by the prayers of Pope John Paul II, has been identified. Wednesday an official at the Paris maternity hospital of Sainte-Felicite said - on condition of anonymity - that Sr. Marie-Simon-Pierre is the French nun who was allegedly cured from Parkinson’s disease after she and her community of sisters prayed for the intercession of the late Pope John Paul II.

According to a report from The Associated Press, the nun is a member of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood, based in Aix-en-Provence in southeast France.

The official announcement of the alleged miracle, which has yet to be investigated by the Vatican’s Congregation of the Saints, is expected to be made during a Palm Sunday Mass this week by the nun’s bishop.

French newspaper Le Figaro was first to report the nun’s name, adding that she was 45 years old.

The nun is reportedly traveling to Rome for ceremonies Monday marking the second anniversary of the Pontiff's death and the closure of a church investigation into his life and virtues.

John Paul II's 'Miracle Nun' to Step into the Limelight

The Tocqueville Connection
Received Thursday, 29 March 2007 14:39:00 GMT

PARIS, March 29, 2007 (AFP) - A French nun at the centre of the Vatican case for beatifying pope John Paul II prepared on Thursday to step into the limelight after nearly two years of secrecy.

Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, 45, who works as a nurse in a Paris maternity clinic, has testified to the Vatican that she was miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease after praying to the late pope.

Her identity had been kept secret "due to the seriousness of the investigation that was conducted with great serenity and out of respect for the private life of the nun," said Archbishop Claude Feidt of Aix-en-Provence in a statement.

Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre is due to hold a news conference in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence on Friday before traveling to Rome.

There, she is to take part in the process that will culminate with the beatification of the late pontiff, which would put him on the first step to sainthood.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Authentic teaching of Christ is imparted by way of the bishops, Holy Father reminds

General Audience

Pope addresses errors of Gnosticism, wisdom of St. Irenaeus

VATICAN CITY, Mar 28, 2007 / 10:58 am (CNA) .- Addressing the more than 20,000 people crowded into St. Peter’s Square for today’s General Audience, Pope Benedict continued his catechesis on Saints of the early Church, turning today to St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons and "the first great theologian of the Church." The Holy Father recalled that this great fighter of heresy, who was born in Smyrna in the second century, is a reminder that the true teaching of Christ continues to be imparted by the bishops, who themselves received it from the Apostles, and is readily available to all the faithful.

Irenaeus was a disciple of Bishop Polycarp, who had known St. John the Evangelist. Moving to Gaul, he became one of the priests of the young Christian community of Lyons and, having been sent on a mission to Rome, managed to escape the persecution of Marcus Aurelius in which his predecessor, Bishop Pothinus, was martyred.

Irenaeus, said the Pope, was above all a pastor "who defended true doctrine," in particular against the gnostic heresy "which considered the faith taught by the Church as a form of symbolism for simple people ... while [Gnostic] initiates and intellectuals, understanding what lay behind the symbols, would be able to create an elitist and intellectualist form of Christianity."

Another feature of gnosticism was its dualism, the Holy Father noted. "In order to explain the existence of evil in the world they held that alongside the good God was a negative force which produced material things."

However Irenaeus, "solidly rooted in the biblical doctrine of creation ... defended the divine origin of matter, of the body ... no less than that of the Spirit." And "the heart of his doctrine is the 'rule of faith' and its transmission, which coincides with the Apostles' Creed."

"Thus, authentic teaching is not that invented by intellectuals over and above the simple faith of the Church. The true Gospel is the one imparted by the bishops who received it from the Apostles in an uninterrupted chain. They taught no more than this simple faith, which is also the real profundity of God's revelation.”

“There is no secret doctrine behind the shared creed of the Church, there is no superior form of Christianity for intellectuals," the Pope emphasized.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Holy See issues Pope Benedict’s liturgical schedule for Holy Week

Holy Week

Vatican City, Mar 27, 2007 / 11:58 am (CNA).- The Press Office of the Holy See made public today the schedule for all the liturgical events of Holy Week to be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, from Palm Sunday through the Easter Triduum.

According to the press release, on Sunday April 1st the Holy Father will celebrate Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, which recalls both the triumphant reign of Jesus and the announcement of his passion and death.

At 9:30 a.m. (local time) Pope Benedict will offering the traditional blessing of palms and olive branches in St. Peter’s Square. Following a procession, he will celebrate Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Vatican communiqué notes that on the same day the Church also celebrates the 22nd World Day for the Youth, on the theme, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another (Jn 13:34).”

On the 5th of April, Holy Thursday, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s, the Holy Father will preside over the celebration of the Chrism Mass, with the Cardinals, bishops, and priests present in Rome, “as a sign of the intimate communion between the Pastors of the Universal Chruch and between their brothers in the ministerial priesthood.”

Pope John Paul II moves closer to sainthood

AFP/File - Tue Mar 27, 11:23 AM ET

The late pope John Paul II, seen here in 2005, has moved a step closer to sainthood with the completion of the first stage towards his beatification.(AFP/File/Patrick Hertzog)

'Miracle' to put pope John Paul II on road to sainthood

by Gina Doggett
2 hours, 13 minutes ago

ROME (AFP) - The late pope John Paul II has moved a step closer to sainthood with the completion of the first stage towards his beatification, Rome diocesan officials said Tuesday.

A dossier containing proof of his miraculous intercession to cure a French nun of Parkinson's disease will be submitted to the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of the Saints next Monday, the second anniversary of the death of the charismatic Polish pope.

New landmark in John Paul II's path to sainthood

by Gina Doggett
Tue Mar 27, 7:07 AM ET

ROME (AFP) - The Rome diocese is set to announce Tuesday the completion of the first stage of a fast-track process to beatify pope John Paul II, placing the late pontiff further along the road to sainthood.

The end of the review of John Paul II's "life, virtues, writings and reputation for holiness" will be marked with a ceremony on April 2, the second anniversary of the death of the charismatic Polish pope.

CW Arkansas
51 minutes ago

Mysterious Nun at Heart of John Paul Sainthood Bid
Last Update: Mar 27, 2007 10:29 AM

ROME (Reuters) - A mysterious French nun who was cured of Parkinson's disease after praying to the late Pope John Paul will be the main guest next week at ceremonies marking the end of the first phase of the process to make him a saint.

But her identity may never be known unless she decides to reveal it.

Next Monday, the second anniversary of his death, the Rome diocese will officially give the Vatican tens of thousands of pages of documentation and transcripts which propose that John Paul should be beatified, the last step before sainthood.

Monday, March 26, 2007

EU weakens own identity by ignoring Christianity, warns Pope

26.03.2007 - 09:29 CET | By Lucia Kubosova

EUOBSERVER / ROME - Pope Benedict XVI has criticised EU leaders for ignoring Christianity in their reflections over the union's 50th birthday and warned about demographic trends that put Europe's future at risk.

Speaking to European bishops gathered in Rome and Vatican over the weekend (22-24 March) to mark the 50th anniversary of the signature of the EU's founding treaties, the head of the Catholic Church suggested Europe was doubting its identity by committing a "form of apostasy of itself".

"If on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome the governments of the Union want to get closer to their citizens, how can they exclude an element as essential to the identity of Europe as Christianity, in which the vast majority of its people continue to identify?" he asked.

"It is no surprise that today's Europe, while it purports to be a community of values, seems to increasingly contest the existence of absolute and universal values," he said, adding that a union that fails to respect "the true dignity of the human being, forgetting that each person is created in the image of God, ends up doing good for no one."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hidden event of the Annunciation marks most profound change for humanity, Pope says

Sunday Angelus

Vatican City, Mar 25, 2007 / 10:29 am (CNA).- Greeting thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square on this, the last Sunday of March, Pope Benedict XVI used the occasion to remind those present that Sunday marks both the Feast of the Annunciation and the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

Focusing his comments on the Annunciation, the Pope began by telling those present that "The Annunciation, found in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, was a humble, hidden event. Nobody saw it and nobody knew about it except Mary."

Nevertheless, he emphasized, the Annunciation "is at the same time a decisive event in human history."

With this event, the Word of God became incarnate and a "new era of history began." The Holy Father drew a parallel between Mary's "Yes" to the Angel and Jesus' "Yes" to His Father's Will, saying, "The 'Yes' of Mary is a perfect reflection of the Christ's 'Yes' when He enters the world."

This "Yes" can be found in the Letter to the Hebrew's interpretation of Psalm 39, he continued, where it is written that, "I come, O God, to do Thy Will." Because of this, "The Annunciation is also a Christological Feast Day, because it celebrates a central mystery of Christ: His Incarnation."

According to the Pope, "Mary's response to the Angel is undertaken by the Church, which is called to make Christ present throughout history." Additionally, the "Yes" of the Saints, "especially the martyrs," renews the "Yes" of Jesus and Mary. This is why the Church chooses March 24th to "celebrate the Day of Prayer and Penance for Martyr Missionaries."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pope: Europe appears in danger of losing faith

Benedict XVI charges ‘apostasy of itself’ for omission on EU’s anniversary

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 10:00 a.m. ET March 24, 2007

VATICAN CITY - Europe seems to be losing faith in its future, Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday, citing the continent’s population trends, which include generally low birth rates.

“One must unfortunately note that Europe seems to be going down a road which could lead it to take its leave from history,” the pontiff told a gathering of the continent’s bishops.

The bishops were in Rome for ceremonies to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which marked the start of the Common Market, forerunner of today’s European Union.

Pope Invited to Address Europarliament

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2007 ( Benedict XVI has been invited to speak to a plenary session of the European Parliament by its president, Hans-Gert Pöttering.

Pöttering made the invitation today when he was received by the Pope in a private audience.

According to the president's press office, Pöttering "took advantage of this occasion to invite the Pope to speak during a plenary session of the European Parliament."

During his visit to Italy's capital, the German-born president participated in a congress organized by European bishops on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

Pöttering had been one of the advocates of recognizing the Christian roots of Europe in its constitution.

Pope John Paul II spoke before the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 1988.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pope speaks of NI peace hopes

FRIDAY 23/03/2007 14:33:32

The world needs the Northern Ireland peace process to work to show that Christians can co-exist together, Pope Benedict has said.

The Pontiff made his comments during a 35-minute meeting with Irish President Mary McAleese in the Vatican.

As Monday`s deadline for power-sharing looms, the British and Irish Governments hope the Rev Ian Paisley will lead his Democrat Unionist Party into Belfast`s Stormont Assembly with Sinn Fein.

Mrs McAleese`s spokesman said after this morning`s Vatican talks: "The peace process in Northern Ireland was discussed and the Pope said that the world needed this process to work and emphasised the importance of Christians working together, demonstrating that reconciliation can work."

According to the Irish head of state, the Pope also indicated that the Irish bishops had invited him to visit Ireland and he added: "We must see what is possible."

The President told him: "I, the Irish people and the Government would welcome this visit and support it in every way possible."

Pope Benedict also made reference to the structured, inter-church dialogue that the Irish churches have initiated and said he hoped it would become a model for other countries.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Multiple miracles ascribed to Pope John Paul II's intercession; JPII, "pray for us"

Reports of miracles attributed to John Paul just keep coming, official says

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2007 / 10:06 am (CNA).- The investigation into three possible miracles attributed to Pope John Paul II are currently underway and dozens of reports of miracles continue to arrive every week from all over the world, said Msgr. Slawomir Oder, the Vatican official in charge of the beatification process for the late Pontiff.

Msgr. Oder said Tuesday that accounts of miracles have been sent via Internet, in the mail, or even left in envelopes on John Paul's tomb in the Vatican.

The Polish pope will move a step closer to sainthood on April 2, exactly two years after his death, with the end of the main fact-gathering part of the canonization procedures, reported ANSA.

A special ceremony is to be held in a Roman basilica, marking the end of the diocesan phase and the transfer of the file to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints for study.

The dossier, containing the testimony of people who knew Karol Wojtyla before and after he became Pope, will be examined by historians, theologians, and Cardinals.

If each of the three panels gives a green light, he will be beatified, though it is not clear how long the process could still take.

Multiple novenas have been published asking for Pope John Paul II's intercession. Below is the"Approved Prayer for the intercession of Pope John Paul II" originally printed in L'Osservatore Romano and republished in the document library of EWTN:

O Holy Trinity,
we thank you for having given to the Church
Pope John Paul II,
and for having made him shine with your fatherly tenderness,
the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendour of the Spirit of love

He, trusting completely in your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary, has shown himself
in the likeness of Jesus the Good Shepherd
and has pointed out to us holiness
as the path to reach eternal communion with You.

Grant us, through his intercession,
according to your will, the grace that we implore,
in the hope that he will soon be numbered among your saints.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

St. Justin was a witness to the eternal truth which is Christ, Pope says at Audience

General Audience

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2007 / 10:21 am (CNA).- Continuing his catechesis on the important Saints of the early Church this Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to some 25,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square on St. Justin, philosopher and martyr. The Holy Father called St. Justin the most important of the Apologist Fathers of the second century.

St. Justin, said the Pope, was born in Samaria around the year 100. He “long sought after the truth” by studying Greek philosophy before converting to Christianity after meeting a mysterious old man who spoke to him “of mankind's incapacity to satisfy his aspiration to the divine through his own efforts,” then indicated “in the ancient prophets ... the path to God and ‘true philosophy,’” exhorting Justin to pray in order to open the “doors of light.”

After his conversion, Justin founded a school in Rome where he taught the new religion to his pupils free of charge. He was denounced for his activities and decapitated during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

In his works “Justin seeks to explain, above all, the divine project of salvation that comes about in Jesus Christ, the Word of God,” said the Holy Father. “All men and women, as rational beings, share in the Logos, they carry in themselves a ‘seed’ and can catch some glimmers of the truth.

“Thus,” he added, “the same Logos that was revealed in prophetic figures to the Jews in the ancient Law, was also partially manifested as ‘seeds of truth’ to the Greeks. ... And because Christianity is the historical and personal manifestation of the Logos in its entirety, it follows that ‘everything of beauty that has ever been expressed by anyone belongs to us Christians.’”

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Sacramentum Caritatis" and Liturgical Beauty

Interview With Father Edward McNamara

ROME, MARCH 19, 2007 ( The true beauty of the liturgy comes about when the priest and the congregation participate in it actively and piously, says Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara.

Father McNamara, a professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university in Rome, writes the weekly liturgy column for ZENIT.

ZENIT interviewed him about Benedict XVI's postsynodal apostolic exhortation, which gathers the conclusions of the October 2005 Synod of Bishops. Father McNamara served as a "peritus," or expert, in that synod.

Here, he expounds on some of the specific observations and invitations that the Pope made in "Sacramentum Caritatis."

Q: In No. 35 the Pope writes: "Like the rest of Christian Revelation, the liturgy is inherently linked to beauty: it is 'veritatis splendor.'" Is it too much to say that beautiful liturgy is a sine qua non of a vibrant Catholic community?

Father McNamara: As the Holy Father says, beauty is inherent to liturgy, it is intimately bound up with authentic liturgy.

Beauty however does not only mean splendid sacred buildings and sublime music. The primary beauty in liturgy is that of a community united heart and soul in prayerful celebration of Christ's sacrifice. It is the beauty of priest and people engaged in full, active and pious participation in the mystery.

This beauty is achieved, in spite of a possible lack of external splendor, whenever the sacred ministers and each member of the faithful strive to live the liturgy to the full.

Other forms of beauty: music, art, poetry, and a sober solemnity in the ritual derive naturally from this inner beauty because the deeper a community lives and comprehends the beauty of the liturgical mystery the more it strives to express it in wonderful outer forms. It is the natural understanding that only the very best we can offer is truly worthy of the Lord.

Thus there is strong historical evidence that even before the end of the era of persecutions; Christians sought to celebrate the Eucharist with the finest materials available. This explains why the construction boom in imposing basilicas, as soon as the persecutions were over, along with the more solemn ritual forms required by these new buildings, was perceived as a natural development and not a rupture with earlier practice.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pope: the true sense of life is being part of God’s love

03/18/2007 13:34

During the Angelus the Pope speaks of Sacramentum Caritatis underlining the relationship between the Eucharist and god. Earlier this morning Benedict XVI visited the roman minors prison Casal del Marmo where he told the young boys that true joy and a sense of life can be found by “putting God in first place”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI was met this Sunday with greetings for his Saints say which falls tomorrow, both from the thousands of faithful who filled St Peter’s square for the Angelus prayer and from the young teenage boys of the Casal del Marmo minors prison, where the Pope paid a visit early this morning, on both occasion speaking of the sense of the relationship between man and God. At the Angelus he underlines how in the Eucharist Jesus love for the disciples “is passed on to us all” becoming the foundation of Christian joy, in the minors prison he instead highlighted how by choosing to follow God one finds the true sense of life and thus happiness.

“The Eucharist – he told the crowds of over 30 thousand pilgrims and visitors present in St Peters – feeds the profound joy of every generation of believer, which unites love and peace and finds its origins in God’s communion with his brothers”.

The Pope also spoke of the publication of his first post synodal exhortataion “Sacramentum caritatis”. “It was elaborated – he explained - by gathering the fruits of the XI General Assembly of Bishops, held here at the Vatican in October 2005. I am sure – h e added - that I will return to that important text, but from the very outset I wish to state that it is an expression of the Universal Church’s faith in the Mystery of the Eucharist, and is posed in continuity of the second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of my venerated predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ex-Pope aide wants John Paul made a saint directly

Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:02 AM IST

WARSAW (Reuters) - The former top aide to the late Pope John Paul has renewed his call for prompt sainthood for the Polish-born pontiff, saying that the usual procedure was too narrow an honour for a man whose good deeds spanned the globe.

Pope Benedict has already put John Paul on the fast track to sainthood by opening an inquiry into beatifying him -- a step just short of the top honour -- soon after his death in April 2005 rather than waiting five years as Church law prescribes.

But Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul's personal secretary during his 1978-2005 papacy, told the Warsaw daily Dziennik the Church should jump from that unfinished intermediate step and make him a saint straight away.

Beatification makes the person a subject of veneration in single locations while sainthood applies to the whole world. In Pope John Paul's case, those locations would be Rome and Krakow in southern Poland, where he served before his election in 1978.

Dziwisz, the current archbishop of Krakow, said: "John Paul is owned by the whole world."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Include God, Judeo-Christian tradition in European constitution: German bishops

Berlin, Mar 16, 2007 / 10:45 am (CNA).- A European Constitution must include a reference to God, “to the Judaic-Christian tradition of Europe and to its long-lasting effectiveness,” said the German bishops in a declaration published this week. The declaration marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome.

The statement from the German bishops invites all people “to recall the origins of this European integration process, to adopt the fundamental provisions and to recognize the tasks of Europe.”

“The peacemaking and pacifying force was the original spur for the European unification process” and still is “its most important legitimization,” they wrote. “Europe is no longer synonymous with historical rivalries and war, but with the settlement of conflicts and the prevention of conflicts, without resorting to weapons.”

The bishops stressed that “the unconditional primacy of the human being” and the great regard for human rights were fundamental to the creation of the EU and that these also reflect “the Christian view of the human being”.

Russian Catholics hope Putin's meeting with Pope advances dialogue

12:02 GMT, Mar 16, 2007

MOSCOW. March 16 (Interfax) - The head of the Roman Catholic
diocese of the Mother of God in Moscow Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz
called the results of Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent visit to
Pope Benedict XVI very important and inspiring.

"They said they were confident that solving the problems of the
modern world faced depended on interconfessional dialogue, and therefore
we may hope for closer cooperation between Russian Christians and
secular authorities in order to strengthen our society's moral
standards," Kondrusiewicz told Interfax on Friday.

"The very fact that the two influential leaders met demonstrates
the positive dynamic in relations between Russian and the Vatican. Both
countries have common views on many internationals issues and that gives
more room for further cooperation," he added.

The archbishop expressed the opinion that the Bari city
government's decision to return the St. Nicholas church to the Russian
Orthodox Church was "an act of historical justice" and that it would
help more Russians make the pilgrimage to the relics of the great
Christian saint.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

St. Ignatius of Antioch teaches us to long for union with Christ, Pope says

General Audience

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2007 / 10:19 am (CNA).- Continuing his cycle of catecheses on the Apostolic Fathers, Benedict XVI dedicated the general audience today to the figure of St. Ignatius of Antioch. The audience, held in St. Peter's Square, was attended by around 25,000 people.

From the year 70 to 107 St. Ignatius was bishop of Antioch, "the city in which the disciples first received the name of Christians," said the Pope. Condemned to be thrown to wild beasts, he was taken to Rome for the sentence to be carried out and took advantage of his journey through the various cities of the empire to confirm the Christians living there in their faith.

"No Father of the Church expressed with the same intensity as Ignatius the longing for union with Christ and for life in Him," said the Pope, explaining that "two spiritual currents come together in St. Ignatius: that of Paul, which tends towards union with Christ, and that of John, which focuses on life in Him. In their turn, these two currents lead to the imitation of Christ."

"Ignatius' irresistible attraction towards union with Christ is the foundation for a true mysticism of unity," Benedict XVI went on. And he recalled how in the seven letters the bishop of Antioch wrote during his journey to Rome "he frequently repeats that God, existing in three persons, is One in absolute unity, ... and that the unity Christians must create in this world is no more than an imitation, as near as possible to the divine archetype."

Putin Visits Pope Benedict At Vatican

CBS News
Highest Level Kremlin-Vatican Talks In Over Three Years

VATICAN CITY, March 14, 2007

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, March 13, 2007. (AP)

(AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Benedict XVI met Tuesday for the highest level Kremlin-Vatican talks in more than three years, focusing on easing tension between Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians and finding common ground in denouncing intolerance and extremism.

A Vatican statement issued after the meeting - which included 25 minutes of private talks - made no mention of an invitation by Putin for the pope to visit Russia. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said a visit had not come up.

Still, the talks appeared to have met Vatican expectations, with the statement saying they were held in a "very positive climate."

Benedict wished Putin "a warm welcome to the Vatican" in the pope's native German, the language of their talks.

The meeting - the first between Benedict and Putin - is part of a visit that takes the Russian leader to Italy and Greece this week.

Tension with the Russian Orthodox Church has stood in the way of a papal visit to Russia. The Russian church accuses Roman Catholics of improperly seeking converts in areas that traditionally would be Russian Orthodox. The Vatican has rejected the accusations, saying it is only ministering to Russia's tiny Catholic community of about 600,000 people in a country of 144 million.

Europe must be re-evangelized and rediscover its roots, professor says

Faith in Europe

Rome, Mar 14, 2007 / 08:21 am (CNA).- Europe must rediscover its Christian identity and defend against legislation and policies that threaten the family, said a main organizer of the recent European Conference on the Family.

The conference, (as previously reported here) focused on the theme "The Family: the Future of Europe". It was organized by the Institute for Higher Studies on Women of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome.

In an interview with Fides, Patricia Martínez Peroni said conference participants agreed that Europe has chosen to ignore its Christian roots and is, as a result, losing its identity.

They also concurred that the continent’s current policies, which only for material wellbeing and are having “a worrying effect on various aspects of the human reality, including the family.”

“These policies cut the human person in two, restricting the transcendent dimension to the sphere of private life and expecting people to live in social groups where citizens have rights but no rights are recognized for God who is the author of Europe and all humanity,” said Martínez, who teaches anthropology and psychology at San Pablo University in Madrid, Spain.

“Europe’s identity is Christian and it must be rediscovered and valued,” she stated. Martínez noted that Christian identity is budding again in certain European countries.

“In a situation of de-Christianization, Europe is again a field for evangelization. Like the prodigal son, the continent would seem to have squandered its heritage and must now be re-evangelized so it may rediscover its roots,” she said.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Text of Pope's apostolic exhortation, "Sacramentum Caritatis" posted online

Sacramentum Caritatis

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 13, 2007 ( Benedict XVI's apostolic exhortation, "Sacramentum Caritatis" (Sacrament of Charity), can be found in the documents section at ZENIT's Web page.

The text of "Sacramentum Caritatis" has also been posted by Catholic Culture and the Vatican.

Vatican releases “Sacramentum Caritatis” with press conference

Sacramentum Caritatis

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2007 / 08:56 am (CNA).- In the Holy See Press Office at 11.30 a.m. today, the presentation took place of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," on the Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church. Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy and relater general of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, as well as Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

The exhortation, which is dated February 22, Feast of the of the Chair of St. Peter, is the final document of the synodal assembly held in Rome from October 2nd to 23rd, 2005. It has been published in Latin, Italian, English, French, Spanish German, Portuguese and Polish.

Archbishop Eterovic explained how the Apostolic Exhortation forms part of the "series of great documents on the sublime Sacrament of the Eucharist such as, for example, those of Servant of God John Paul II 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia' and 'Mane nobiscum Domine.' 'Sacramentum Caritatis' is part of this continuity and, at the same time, re-proposes in an updated form certain essential truths of Eucharistic doctrine, calling for the dignified celebration of the sacred rite and recalling the urgent need to include Eucharistic life as part of everyday life."

The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops pointed out that the document, "in presenting the great truths of Eucharistic faith in a way accessible to modern man, considers various current aspects of [Eucharistic] celebration and calls for a renewed commitment to building a more just and peaceful world, in which the Bread broken for everyone's life becomes ... the exemplary cause in the fight against hunger and against all forms of poverty."

Pope, Putin set for Vatican talks
POSTED: 10:30 a.m. EDT, March 13, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI hosts Putin on Tuesday.

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Benedict XVI are set to meet Tuesday in the highest-level Kremlin-Vatican talks in more than three years, a meeting expected to focus on ways of easing tensions between Catholics and Orthodox Christians and finding common ground on moral issues.

The meeting -- the first between Benedict and Putin -- is part of a visit that takes the Russian leader to Italy and Greece this week.

Tensions with the Russian Orthodox Church have stood in the way of a papal visit to Russia.

The Russian church accuses Roman Catholics of improperly seeking converts in areas that traditionally would be Russian Orthodox. The Vatican has rejected the proselytizing accusations, saying it is only ministering to Russia's tiny Catholic community of about 600,000 people in a country of 144 million.

Long-running property disputes between the churches have also put both sides at odds.

The late John Paul II's dream of going to Moscow was thwarted by lack of agreement with the Orthodox Church leadership.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pope ignores protests to restore Latin mass

The Australian
March 12, 2007

POPE Benedict XVI plans to bring back the celebration of mass in Latin, overriding a rare show of protest from senior cardinals.

With a papal decree said to be imminent, Catholic publishers in Rome are preparing new editions of the Latin missal. They have sent proofs to Vatican authorities for approval, the Rome newspaper La Repubblica has reported.

Vatican sources said Benedict, who is fluent in Latin, is considering the publication of a papal motu proprio (literally, on his own initiative), which does not require the approval of church bodies.

This would enable Benedict to ignore opposition from several cardinals.

The decree would declare the Latin, or Tridentine, mass an "extraordinary universal rite", and the vernacular mass, with which most Catholics are familiar, an "ordinary universal rite".

Sunday, March 11, 2007

All mankind must choose between continued conversion or death, Pope says

Sunday Angelus

Vatican City, Mar 11, 2007 / 10:19 am (CNA).- Thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square on a sunny Spring-like day to hear the words of Pope Benedict XVI at his weekly Angelus address. The Holy Father examined the mortality of all men and reminded those present that true conversion is the only path to conquering evil and death.

The Holy Father focused on Jesus' comments about two current events of his time, one involving the unjust death of a few Galileans at the hands of Pontius Pilate, the other a disaster in which several people in Siloam were crushed under a falling building.

Jesus asked those around him, "Do you think those Galileans were the worst sinners in all of Galilee…or that those 18 people were the most blameworthy of all the inhabitants of Jerusalem? (Lk 13:2,4)" Jesus’ answer to both questions, the Pope pointed out, is the same: "No, I say to you, if you do not convert you will perish in the same way. (Lk 13: 3,5)"

"This, then, is the point that Jesus wants to make to his listeners: the necessity of conversion,” the Pope said.

"True wisdom is understanding the precariousness of life and assuming an attitude of responsibility." That is, he clarified, "doing penance and improving our lives."

Cautioning all those listening to his words, the Pope added that all must undertake such penance and conversion, "otherwise, we will perish, we will all perish in the same way."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sainthood exam for John Paul II ends

Houston Chronicle
March 10, 2007, 6:11AM

© 2007 The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — The Rome diocese has wrapped up its examination of Pope John Paul II's virtues and life, an important step in the Catholic Church's process that could lead to sainthood for the late pontiff.

Rome Cardinal Camillo Ruini said Saturday he had been informed that completion of work by the diocese on the cause for beatification and sainthood will be marked with a ceremony in St. John's Lateran Basilica on April 2 in the capital. The date is the second anniversary of John Paul's death.

All pontiffs serve as bishop of Rome, and so the diocese examined "the life, virtues and reputation for holiness" of the late pope.

Now the Vatican must take up its own examination of the same characteristics, a process which can take years.

Shortly after John Paul's death, with faithful clamoring for quick canonization, Pope Benedict XVI, the pontiff's successor, waived the customary five-year waiting period to open the case for possible sainthood.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pope warns against 'destructive' media content, calls for respect of human dignity

The Star Online

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI said Friday that some content circulating on the Internet and in other media can be "destructive'' and called on the media industry to promote human dignity.

It was the second time in recent weeks that Benedict reflected publicly on the role of the media in the globalized world. He praised the Internet and other electronic media for providing access to information that was previously difficult to acquire.

But, he said during an audience with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, "much of what is transmitted in various forms to the homes of millions of families around the world is destructive.'' He did not elaborate.

"I appeal again to the leaders of the media industry to advise producers to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family,'' Benedict said. - AP

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cardinal Dziwisz Says Mass at John Paul II's Tomb

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 8, 2007 ( ).- Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, celebrated a solemn Mass at the tomb of Pope John Paul II as a sign of reconciliation for the Church and the Polish nation.

Vatican Radio said that 50 priests took part in this morning's celebration with the cardinal, who was the Polish Pontiff's personal secretary.

For those who endured wrongs during communism, Cardinal Dziwisz prayed "that they not be led by emotions but look to Christ, who forgave from the cross."

During the Mass, prayers were said for the beatification of John Paul II. Prayers were also offered for the Polish people to experience heartfelt forgiveness and reconciliation.

Asking for the intercession of John Paul II, Cardinal Dziwisz prayed that every Pole may receive a "spirit of clarity for these difficult things," and asked that no one "be unjustly accused of treason toward Christ and the Church."

Recalling John Paul II's 1981 visit to forgive his would-be assasin, Cardinal Dziwisz explained that the Pope forgave "even if the forgiveness was not requested."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

St. Clement had clear idea of Church’s structure, Pope Benedict says

General Audience

Vatican City, Mar 7, 2007 / 10:59 am (CNA).- During today's general audience Benedict XVI continued with his series of catecheses on the origins of the Church, focusing on the Apostolic Fathers. The audience was held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 16,000 people.

The Pope turned his attention to the figure of St. Clement, the third successor of St. Peter after Sts. Linus and Anacletus, who reigned in the late first century. Clement, as Bishop St. Irenaeus of Lyon writes, had known the Apostles personally and "still had their preaching in his ears and their tradition before his eyes."

The author of an important Letter to the Corinthians, which represents "the first exercise of the primacy of Rome after the death of Peter," Clement returns to "the perennially important theological dialectic between the indicative of salvation and the imperative of moral commitment." And he invites people to respond to "the announcement of salvation with a generous and courageous journey of conversion."

The Letter gives Clement the possibility to describe "the identity of the Church and her mission" and, recalling the liturgy of ancient Israel, he "unveils his idea of the Church," in which "the clear distinction between the laity and the hierarchy does not mean conflict but the organic interconnection of a body, an organism with various functions."

For this Apostolic Father, the Pope went on, "the Church is not a place of confusion and anarchy," but "an organized structure in which each member undertakes his or her mission according to their vocation. ... St. Clement highlights how the Church has a sacramental and not a political structure. The action of God, which we draw near to in the liturgy, precedes our own decisions and our own ideas."

Pacifists, Ecologists and Ecumenists: Antichrist at Work

Catholic Culture
by Dr. Jeff Mirus
March 5, 2007

The retired Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, says the Antichrist presents himself as a “pacifist, ecologist, and ecumenist.” He said this in the Lenten Retreat he finished preaching on March 3rd to Benedict XVI and the leaders of the Roman Curia. After the final session, the Pope praised the Cardinal, saying he had delivered a “very accurate and precise diagnosis of our situation today.” What can this mean?
Biffi’s Point

Cardinal Biffi’s assertion is drawn from the work of the Russian philosopher Vladimir Soloviev. Following Soloviev, Biffi wanted to put both the Pope and the Curia on guard against being weakened by the spirit of the age. His point is that in every age huge numbers of people adopt various “enthusiasms” which they invest with a noble aura. But, Biffi warned, the anti-Christ is in these enthusiasms insofar as they distract us from Christ who must be kept at the center of all our work.

“Today,” said the Cardinal, “we run the risk of having a Christianity that puts aside Jesus, the Cross, and the Resurrection” and replaces it with “a mere set of values”. In Soloviev’s portrait, Biffi pointed out, the Antichrist dilutes the truths of the faith, accommodating every interest, and becoming more and more popular. But those who are not fooled hold out to the end: “You have given us everything except the one thing that we want: Jesus Christ.”

Isms, Isms, Everywhere, and not a Thought to Think

It is the essence of an “ism” that it attempts to explain reality in terms of a single idea. It is the nature of an “ist” that he finds his identity in that idea and believes himself to be serving the common good by promoting that idea in a kind of vacuum, without regard for the network of principles and values of which it forms but a part. As such, “isms” and “ists” are invariably as popular as they are simplistic, as exciting as they are inadequate. Such are the enthusiasms of every age. They give the illusion of moral purpose while distracting man from the rigorous integrating principles on which he ought to build his life.

Among many possibilities, the three modern enthusiasms Cardinal Biffi selected to make his point were, again, pacifism, environmentalism (ecologism) and ecumenism. There is, of course, nothing wrong with working for unity among Christians, or with improving our stewardship over the environment, or with choosing (in the face of threats to oneself) never to shed blood. On the contrary, all of these are good. But it is precisely when each is elevated to an “ism” that the trouble begins. The more popular the “ism”, the greater the harm it causes.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist one week away, Vatican announces

Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2007 / 11:17 am (CNA).- After over a year of work, the Holy See will release the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, titled “Sacramentum Caritatis,” on Tuesday, March 13th. The document, which flows from the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held in October of 2005, has been highly anticipated in ecclesiastical circles.

A press conference for the document’s release will be held in the Press Office of the Holy See, led by Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice and relator general of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

The document is rumored to be a profound reflection on the Sacrament of the Eucharist and may call for a proposal and plan for liturgical reforms, including a greater use of the Latin language, Gregorian chant, classical polyphonic music. According to one source, the document may also call for “more decorum and liturgical sobriety in the celebration of the Eucharist, excluding dance and, as much as possible, applause.”

Monday, March 05, 2007

Benedict XVI Pays Tribute to Paul VI; Says He Was a Prudent Helmsman

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 5, 2007 ( Benedict XVI paid tribute to Pope Paul VI, saying he was a protagonist in a difficult historical period.

The Holy Father said this on Saturday, when receiving members of the Paul VI Institute, a Brescia, Italy-based organization which collects documentation and promotes the thought of Giovanni Battista Montini, who was Bishop of Rome from 1963 to 1978.

Benedict XVI mentioned some personal memories of this Pope, who appointed him archbishop of Munich in March 1977 and elevated him to cardinal three months later.

"He was called by divine providence to pilot Peter's boat during a historical period characterized by many challenges and problems," Benedict XVI said.

Paul VI was the first modern Pope to journey to the Holy Land, on the occasion of the historic meeting with Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem in January 1964, nine centuries after the schism between the Churches of the East and West.

That visit "had a clear symbolic meaning" and "indicated to the Church that the path of its mission consists in reiterating the footsteps of Christ," the German Pope said in his tribute.

He added: "The secret of the pastoral action carried out by Paul VI with tireless dedication, adopting on occasions difficult and unpopular decisions," lies in his love of Christ and his total dedication to Jesus, as well as in "a missionary tension nourished by the sincere desire for dialogue with humanity."

In the period after the Second Vatican Council, which Paul VI closed, he "did not let himself be conditioned by misunderstandings and criticisms, though at times he had to endure suffering and violent attacks," Benedict XVI said, "but in all circumstances he was a firm and prudent helmsman of Peter's boat."

The Paul VI Institute arose in 1979. In addition to archives, it has a 30,000-volume library, including 10,000 books from Paul VI's personal library.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Prayer a question of “life or death,” Pope Benedict says

Sunday Angelus

Vatican City, Mar 4, 2007 / 12:37 pm (CNA).- Speaking from his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square this Sunday. Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the tremendous importance of prayer in the life of Christians, especially in light of today's Gospel readings.

"The evangelist Luke underlines that Jesus went up the mountain 'to pray' (9,28) with the Apostles Peter, James and John." According to Benedict, "For the three Apostles, going up the mountain means being involved in the prayer of Jesus."

Unlike the other times Jesus goes away to pray, "only this time, on the mountain, does He manifest His interior light to his friends."

The Pope drew attention to another important detail in the account, something "that deserves to be underlined: the indication of the topic of the conversation between Jesus, Moses and Elias." According to the Gospel, "They were speaking about his ‘exodus,’ that would take place in Jerusalem" (9,31).

"Thus," continued His Holiness, "Jesus is listening to the Law and the Prophets speaking about His death and resurrection." By embracing the Father's Will "with His entire person," Jesus shows us that "true prayer consists of the union of our will with God's Will." As a result, "for a Christian, praying is not avoiding reality and responsibility."

The Pope then drew the conclusion that "the transfiguration, paradoxically, is truly verified in the agony in Gethsemane." This is because "in His immense passion, Jesus experienced anguish and entrusted Himself to the Divine Will."

Friday, March 02, 2007

Pope to meet leading Islamic cleric who criticised his remarks

AFP via Yahoo! News - Mar 02 10:36 AM

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI will this month meet the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, the leading Islamic cleric who publicly criticised his controversial remarks last year about Islam, the Vatican said Friday.

The Cairo-based Grand Imam, the foremost authority on Sunni Islam, was scheduled to meet the pontiff in the Vatican on March 22, said Cardinal Paul Poupard, chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The pope's invitation was delivered to Sheikh Tantawi by Poupard last month during a visit to Cairo for talks with the country's religious authorities.

The pope in February called for more dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims. His remarks came some five months after he sparked outrage in the Muslim world with remarks that were seen as linking Islam with violence.

Sheikh Tantawi was one of the leading Muslim religious leaders to respond most critically at the time to Pope Benedict's remarks.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Retreatants Hear of Guises of the Antichrist

Preacher Draws On Work of V.S. Solovyov

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2007 ( The Antichrist is the reduction of Christianity to an ideology, instead of a personal encounter with the Savior, says the cardinal directing the retreat which Benedict XVI is attending.

Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, retired archbishop of Bologna, delivered that message during a meditation Tuesday, drawing on the work of Russian philosopher Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov.

The cardinal's meditation came during the weeklong Spiritual Exercises being attended by the Pope and members of the Roman Curia. The retreat ends this Saturday. The Holy Father suspended his usual meetings, including the general audience, in these days.

According to Vatican Radio's summary of his preaching, the cardinal explained that "the teaching that the great Russian philosopher left us is that Christianity cannot be reduced to a set of values. At the center of being a Christian is, in fact, the personal encounter with Jesus Christ."

Quoting the work "Three Dialogues on War, Progress and the End of History," Cardinal Biffi told his listeners that "the Antichrist presents himself as pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist."

"He will convoke an ecumenical council and will seek the consensus of all the Christian confessions, granting something to each one. The masses will follow him, with the exception of small groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants," he said.