Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pope Grabs a Pizza

Neapolitan restaurant invents a pizza in honor of Pope Benedict XVI

A Neapolitan pizza-maker unveils his latest creation in honor of Pope Benedict XVIth, who visits the city this Sunday. Its flavors are said to taste "heavenly". (Ansa)

ABC News
ROME, Oct 18, 2007

The pope is about to get a little saucy.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to have some fun -- and get some attention -- Naples' world-class pizza makers have invented a pontiff's pizza.

Pope Benedict XVI travels to Naples Sunday for a one-day visit to celebrate Mass and attend an interreligious meeting.

In honor of his visit, one of Naples' most famous restaurants, the bastion of Neapolitan cooking Ciro a Santa Brigida, has come up with this latest addition to the endless list of pizzas available in the city that invented the original fast food.

Ciro a Santa Brigida owner Carmine Stendardo described his creation to ABC News in a phone interview: "We see this as a red circle with a center made with corn and mozzarella; yellow and white, the Vatican colors," he said gleefully. "We have created this pizza as a gift to the pope as we do for every famous person who comes to Naples. It fills us with pride that the Pope is coming to Naples. It's a historic moment, a lovely moment, an important moment for us!"

Sunday evening before leaving for the Vatican, the pope will pray and venerate the famous relics of Naples' patron saint, St. Gennaro, in the chapel dedicated to him. San Gennaro's dried blood, which is kept in glass vials in the church and is said to liquefy miraculously twice a year, is still the focus of great religious devotion in the city.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

On St. Eusebius of Vercelli

"He Governed the Church With the Austerity of Fasting"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on St. Eusebius of Vercelli. After the discourse, the Pope announced the names of 23 who will be made cardinals in a consistory Nov. 24.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

This morning I invite you to reflect on St. Eusebius of Vercelli, the first bishop of northern Italy of whom we have sure knowledge. Born in Sardinia at the beginning of the fourth century, at a young age he transferred to Rome with his family. Later he was instituted as a lector: In this way he came to form part of the clergy of Urbe, during the time that the Church was suffering the difficult test of the Arian heresy.

The great esteem that many had for Eusebius explains his election, in 345, as the bishop of Vercelli. The new bishop immediately began an intense program of evangelization in a territory that was still to a large extent pagan, especially in the rural areas.

Inspired by St. Athanasius -- who had written "The Life of St. Anthony," founder of Eastern monasticism -- founded in Vercelli a community of priests, similar to a monastic community. This monastery gave to the clergy of northern Italy a significant character of apostolic sanctity, and inspired important bishops such as Limenio and Honoratus, successors of Eusebius in Vercelli, Gaudentius in Novara, Exuperantius in Tortona, Eustasius in Aosta, Eulogius in Ivrea, Maximus in Turin, all venerated by the Church as saints.

Solidly formed in the faith of the Council of Nicaea, Eusebius defended with all his strength the full divinity of Jesus Christ, defined by the Nicene Creed as "of the same nature" as the Father. With this objective he allied himself with the great fathers of the fourth century, above all St. Athanasius, the herald of the Nicene orthodoxy, against the pro-Arian politics of the emperor.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI calls for food to recognized as a universal human right

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2007 / 09:39 am (CNA).- Tonight 854 million people will go to bed with an empty stomach even though enough food was produced to feed everyone. Aware of this sad reality, Pope Benedict XVI marked today’s World Food Day by urging all countries to recognize food as a universal human right.

In his message, the Pope noted that the right to food was enshrined in the Universal of Declaration of Human Rights, a document adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

Yet, Benedict challenged, the international community to face up to one of the most serious challenges of our time: freeing from hunger millions of human beings, whose lives are in danger because of a lack of daily bread."

Despite food being made a right, all of the efforts made so far to guarantee the right to food throughout the world had failed to significantly reduce the number of hungry, Benedict said.

"A sense of solidarity, in which food is considered a universal right without distinction or discrimination, must develop in all the countries of the world," the pontiff said.

He noted that the main causes of food shortages could be traced back to "human behaviour", such as wars and "a general economic and social deterioration".

Benedict's message was read out during World Food Day celebrations held at the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ANSA reported.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Catholic-Orthodox dialogue draws to a close, theme for next meeting is the role of the Pope

Ravenna, Oct 15, 2007 / 12:13 pm (CNA).- The 10th plenary assembly of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, held in the Italian city of Ravenna last week, came to an end yesterday.

During the gathering, the Catholic and Orthodox members of the commission turned their attention to the theme of "the ecclesiological and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church - conciliarity and sinodality in the Church," and approved a joint document.

The commission also confirmed that the Russian Orthodox delegation withdrew from the meeting because of the presence of the Church of Estonia.

The Church of Estonia has been declared 'autonomous' by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a status not recognized by the Patriarchate of Moscow." This happened "despite the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with the agreement of all the Orthodox members present, had offered a compromise solution, that of recording the non-recognition by the Patriarchate of Moscow of the autonomous Church of Estonia."

The theme of the next plenary session, the date and location of which are shortly to be decided, is: "The role of the bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church in the first millennium."

Benedict XVI Calls Sin a Disfiguring Illness

Comments on Gospel Passage of 10 Lepers

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2007 ( Benedict XVI says that the illness that truly disfigures the person and society is sin, and that only God can heal this infirmity.

The Pope said that Sunday in St. Peter's Square, addressing thousands who had gathered to pray the midday Angelus.

Commenting on Sunday's Gospel passage about the healing of the 10 lepers, the Holy Father said, "This Gospel passage invites us to a double reflection. Above all, it makes us think of two levels of healing: one that is more superficial, affecting the body; another, more profound, reaching the depths of a person, that which the Bible calls the 'heart,' and from there, irradiating to all of existence."

The Pontiff continued: "Jesus uses the expression, 'Your faith has saved you.' Faith saves the human person, re-establishing him in his profound relationship with God, with himself, and with others. And faith is expressed with appreciation. He who, like the healed Samaritan, knows how to give thanks, shows that he does not consider everything as something which is merited, but instead as a gift that, even if it comes through people or through nature, in the end, comes from God.

"Faith involves, then, the openness of the person to the grace of the Lord; to recognize that all is gift, all is grace. What a treasure is hidden in the little phrase: 'thank you!'"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pope urges Iraqi priests' release

The Pope said violence was no way of resolving tensions

BBC News
Last Updated: Sunday, 14 October 2007, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK

Pope Benedict XVI has called for the release of two priests kidnapped in Iraq during his prayers on Sunday.

The two clerics of the Syrian-Catholic diocese of Mosul were kidnapped while attending a funeral on Saturday.

Pope Benedict, speaking in Italian outside the Vatican, asked that they "quickly let the two religious men go".

He said the news from Iraq "rattles the consciences of all those for whom the good of the country and peace in the region is held dear".

The pontiff was speaking during his traditional Sunday Angelus blessing to pilgrims and tourists at St Peter's Square in Rome.

"I learned today that two priests from the archdiocese of Mosul were kidnapped and threatened with death," Pope Benedict said.

"I call on the abductors to rapidly liberate the two clerics and I reiterate that violence does not resolve the tensions," he said.

Friday, October 12, 2007

AP - Fri Oct 12, 9:20 AM ET

In this photo released by the L'Osservatore Romano Vatican newspaper, Pope Benedict XVI, at left, blesses the restored Apostolic Palace bronze portal at the Vatican, Friday Oct. 12, 2007. The pontiff Friday blessed the newly restored Bronze Door, the main entrance to the Apostolic Palace and the papal apartments that by tradition is closed upon the death of a pontiff. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, HO)
Enlarge photo...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

No cost is too high to pay for remaining faithful to the truth, proclaims the Pope

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2007 / 09:10 am (CNA).- Today Pope Benedict XVI received the letters of credence of South Korea’s new ambassador to the Holy See. The Holy Father took the opportunity to praise the witness of the many Korean martyrs by saying, "Their sacrifice reminds us that no cost is too great for persevering in fidelity to the truth.”

Benedict XVI spoke to the Korean diplomat in English, telling him that, “Regrettably, in our contemporary pluralist world some people question or even deny the importance of truth. Yet objective truth remains the only sure basis for social cohesion. Truth is not dependent upon consensus but precedes it and makes it possible, generating authentic human solidarity.”

The pontiff noted that in the midst of this societal uncertainty about the truth, the bold witness of those Koreans who laid down their lives for the truth has brought “remarkable growth of the Catholic Church in Korea.”

"Their sacrifice," he added, "reminds us that no cost is too great for persevering in fidelity to the truth.

"The Church - always mindful of the truth's power to unite people, and ever attentive to mankind's irrepressible desire for peaceful coexistence - eagerly strives to strengthen concord and social harmony both in ecclesial life and civic life, proclaiming the truth about the human person as known by natural reason and fully manifested through divine revelation."

Don't use embryos in stem cell research, Pope says

Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:10am EDT

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict appealed to scientists on Thursday to stop using human embryos in stem cell research, saying it violated "the dignity of human life".

The Vatican is a proponent of stem cell research as long as it does not harm human embryos, which the Catholic Church holds are humans from the moment of conception.

"The destruction of human embryos, whether to acquire stem cells or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers, legislators and public health officials to promote human welfare," the Pontiff said.

The Church supports research on adult cells and even promising alternatives to embryonic research, like the use of amniotic fluid protecting fetuses in the uterus.

The Pope said such research methods "harmonize with the aforementioned intent (to promote human welfare) by respecting the life of the human being at every stage of his or her existence".

The Pontiff made his statements in a letter to South Korea's new ambassador to the Holy See.

Reuters - Thu Oct 11, 1:30 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI holds a balloon at the end of his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican October 10, 2007. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Enlarge photo...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"The way of Christ is open for all, but it requires conversion," says Pope Benedict

An ancient mosaic of St. Hilary of Poitiers

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2007 / 08:42 am (CNA).- During his Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father held up St. Hilary of Poitiers as someone who battled against the Arian heresy that Jesus is not divine. Through his teaching, Hilary shows us that “the path to Christ is open to everyone ... although it always requires individual conversion."

After a long journey towards the faith, by seeking truth, Hilary (born in 310) was baptized in 345 and elected bishop of Poitiers in 353. His first work, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, is the oldest surviving Latin commentary on that Gospel.

Hilary had many great qualities, among which the Holy Father noted: his “spirit of conciliation that seeks to understand those who have not already arrived and helps them, with great theological knowledge, to reach the full faith in the true divinity of Jesus Christ.”

Along with this, Hilary had another ‘great gift’: “to join strength in the faith and meekness in his relations with others.”

Hilary was exiled to Phrygia in Turkey in 356, by Arian bishops at the so called “synod of false apostles” by order of the emperor Constantius who had aligned himself with the decisions at the synod. Following the emperor's death in 361 Hilary returned to Poitiers where he remained until his own demise six years later.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Leader of World Jewish Congress Thanks Pope

Notes 4 Decades of Progress in Relationship

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2007 ( The president of the World Jewish Congress thanked Benedict XVI for everything he has done for the Jewish people over the past decades.

Ronald Lauder met with the Pope on Monday, accompanied by Michael Schneider, secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress.

The Jewish leaders' talk with the Holy Father focused on "interreligious dialogue and on anti-Semitism in a number of European countries," according to a press release issued by the congress. The Pontiff said that the issue of Catholic-Jewish relations was very close to his heart.

According to the press release, "Lauder said that the repeated anti-Semitic statements by the Polish priest Tadeusz Rydzyk, owner of the ultraconservative Catholic station Radio Maryja, should not be tolerated any more."

Lauder, the son of Estée Lauder and a former U.S. ambassador to Austria, called on the Pontiff to take strong action against those in the Church who want to do damage to what the press release called a "close and positive relationship between Christians and Jews."

The Secret Angelus Messages of Pope Benedict


They're secret in the sense that the media ignore them for what they mainly are: the explanation of the Gospel of that day's Mass. Apart from those present, almost no one knows this. Here is a sample of them: the last seven "little homilies" from the pope on Sundays at noon

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, October 8, 2007 – The words that Benedict XVI speaks every Sunday at midday, before and after the Angelus – the "Regina Coeli" during the Easter season – are among those most closely followed by the media.

But the media almost always reproduce only those words of the pope that pertain to situations or events in the news, especially when these are political.

For example, on Sunday, September 30, it was Burma, the two Koreas, and sub-Saharan Africa. The Sunday before that, it was his views on capitalism and the "logic of profit." And the Sunday before that, the Montreal protocol on the hole in the ozone layer...

What the media say and write gives listeners and readers the impression that the pope dedicated his entire message to the topic cited.

But that's not the case. It is almost always during the greetings in various languages, which he extends to the faithful after the praying of the Angelus, that Benedict XVI dedicates to current issues just a few brief remarks that are then emphasized by the media.

The real and proper message comes before the prayer. And it is – with rare exceptions – a brief homily on the Gospel and the other readings of that day's Mass.

This little homily is most of what is heard by the great numbers of faithful who come to each Sunday noontime encounter with the pope, at Saint Peter's Square in Rome and at Castel Gandolfo in the summer.

These are texts unmistakably conceived and written by pope Joseph Ratzinger. In some cases, it is easy to note similarities with his book "Jesus of Nazareth," in the places where he discusses the same passage from the Gospel.

As in the Wednesday catecheses Benedict XVI is gradually recounting the life of the Church from the Apostles to the Fathers, so in the Sunday Angelus he is presenting to the faithful the figure of Jesus.

But there's more. The path that the pope takes to get to Jesus each week is the same one that every member of the Catholic faithful travels in participating at Mass that same Sunday.

This is clearly a deliberate decision, and one typical of this pope's vision. The Gospel upon which Benedict XVI comments at the Angelus is not "sola Scriptura," it is not a bare book. It is the Word that becomes flesh – the body and blood of Jesus – in the liturgy of the day.

Monday, October 08, 2007

World Jewish Congress officials, pope meet

Updated: 2 hours, 2 minutes ago

VATICAN CITY - Top officials from the World Jewish Congress said they met Monday with Pope Benedict XVI, voicing their concern about Iran and anti-Semitism in Europe and encouraging interfaith dialogue with moderate Muslims.

WJC President Ronald Lauder and the group’s new secretary general, Michael Schneider, met with Benedict in a private audience at the Vatican.

Schneider said the delegation thanked the pope for his work supporting interfaith relations and invited him to meet with senior Jewish leaders during his planned trip to New York next year.

“We mentioned our extreme anxiety over the Iran situation, not just because of the Jewish angle but because it was a threat to world stability,” Schneider said in a telephone interview. “We were extremely anxious to find some way to be helpful in pushing the Iranians to some kind of sensibility.”

He said the delegation also repeated the WJC’s proposal to reach out to the moderate Muslim world “to establish a dialogue among moderates and to try to reach some common ground.” The WJC has previously proposed expanding the Vatican-Jewish dialogue to include moderate Muslims.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

October: A time to recall the blessings of Jesus and be dedicated to spreading the Gospel, says Pope

Vatican City, Oct 7, 2007 / 12:11 pm (CNA).- Marking the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary today, Pope Benedict XVI took the occasion to reflect on how “the Rosary is a means gifted by the Virgin Mary to contemplate Jesus and by meditating on his life to follow him and love him more faithfully.”

The Pope recalled that the month of October is dedicated to Mary and that during the month, we should “ponder with Mary the mysteries of our salvation and we ask the Lord, to help us grow in our understanding of the marvelous things that He has done for us.”

The Holy Father also noted how the month of October is dedicated to the missions. The highpoint of the month will be the World Day for Missionaries, which will be celebrated on Oct. 21.

Pope Benedict emphasized that, “the commitment to peace should be a mark of missionary work because true peace is spread where men and institutions open themselves to the Gospel,” and that “[t]he missionary aspect must be alive in every community.” The Pontiff finished his address by saying that this month gives Christians the opportunity to support all those who work on the Church’s missionary frontiers.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sales of pope's book on Jesus hits 2 million copies worldwide

By Catholic News Service
October 5, 2007

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Two million copies of Pope Benedict XVI's book, "Jesus of Nazareth," have been sold worldwide.

The first volume of the book was published in German, Polish and Italian in mid-April, and in English in May followed by dozens of other translations.

The book, Pope Benedict's first as pope, highlights what the Bible says about Jesus, what the moral implications of his teachings are and how reading the Scriptures can lead to a real relationship with Jesus.

The 400-page book has been the number one book on the Catholic Best-Sellers List for the past three months, according to the Catholic Book Publishers Association. It shot to the top slot starting with the association's August list, which reflected June sales.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Without the Church, Europe would be missing its heart, says Hungarian cardinal

Rome, Oct 5, 2007 / 09:36 am (CNA).- Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest and President of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, said this week, “As Christians we have much to offer to the building of a common European home. Without the Church, Europe would be missing its heart.”

The cardinal was in Fatima, Portugal, for the Plenary Assembly of the Council. During a press conference in Lisbon, he noted, “The Christian roots in Europe are not separated from Europe’s identity and therefore from the testimony of living and visible Christianity.” This testimony is lived out especially in marriage, he said, which “young people perceive as one of the great values which they desire and consider one of the foundations of the family.”

Speaking to Vatican Radio, the cardinal also stated that the Council was meeting in Fatima to mark “the 90th anniversary of the apparitions. The proposal to pray together for Europe, to consecrate Europe to the heart of the Virgin Mary and to the heart of Jesus is completely natural,” he said.

“There are many other issues in today’s world that we must confront,” the cardinal said, including the “state of the institution of marriage in Europe.” “The issue of marriage and the family is fundamental,” he added.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pope's story through eyes of cat

The book tells Josef Ratzinger's life from childhood onwards

BBC News
By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Rome

The book tells Josef Ratzinger's life from childhood onwards

The Pope has given his consent to a new children's book that tells the story of his life through the eyes of his cat.

The book, called Joseph and Chico, has been written by an author from Milan.

Who could have a more personal insight into the life of the Holy Father than his favourite cat Chico, a nine-year-old ginger tom?

In 44 pages Chico recounts his memories of the young Joseph Ratzinger, growing up in a Bavarian family in Nazi Germany.

It follows his early years as a priest and ends with his election as leader of the Church in April 2005.

It has been written by an Italian author, Jeanne Perego, who has never met the Pope.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Chico the cat pens Pope's biography

Daily Telegraph
By Malcolm Moore in Rome
Last Updated: 6:35pm BST 03/10/2007

Pope Benedict XVI’s childhood has been revealed in an authorised biography narrated by his favourite cat, Chico.

The nine-year-old ginger tabby lives next door to the Pope’s holiday home in the small Bavarian village of Panting, and used to spend time with the Pope as he read or played the piano.

The Pope’s love for cats is well known, and he used to feed hordes of strays that congregated outside his apartment when he was a Cardinal.

The biography, Joseph and Chico, is aimed at children and is introduced by Father Georg Gänswein, Benedict’s private secretary, who wrote that “everything in the book is true and interesting”.

He wrote: “Here, dear children, you will find a different sort of biography, because it is told by a cat, and it does not happen every day that a cat considers the Holy Father to be his friend. They have known each other for a long time.”

He added: “The Pope of course loves cats and all animals because they are creatures of God, and often, like Chico, they have lessons for us that are worth learning.”

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Vatican: John Paul II Was Not Euthanized

The Christian Post
By Katherine T. Phan
Christian Post Reporter
Tue, Oct. 02 2007 01:35 PM ET

Vatican officials have denied charges made by a doctor who alleges that Pope John Paul II’s death was caused by euthanasia since he was not fitted earlier with a feeding tube.

In an article in the Italian magazine, Micromega, Dr. Lina Pavanelli, an anesthesiologist, argues that the late pontiff should have been fitted with a feeding tube earlier than March 30, 2005 – three days before his death – when the Vatican announced that he had been fitted with a nasal feeding tube. The delayed insertion of the feeding tube deprived him of necessary medical care that could have prolonged his life, thereby violating the church teachings on euthanasia, according to Pavenelli.

She also postulates in the article that it was probably John Paul who refused the feeding tube even though pope’s physicians may have explained the situation to him.

“When the patient knowingly refuses a life-saving therapy, his action together with the remissive or omissive behavior of doctors, must be considered euthanasia, or more precisely, assisted suicide,” concludes Pavenelli.

The Vatican immediately dismissed the charges made by the doctor, saying last Wednesday that the tube had been inserted well before they announced the procedure. Vatican officials also said Pavenelli based her accusations on news release and press reports since she did not have access to John Paul’s medical records.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for the month of October

Vatican City, Oct 1, 2007 / 09:09 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict's intentions for the month of October are focused on the theme of bearing witness. They are as follows:

General prayer intention for October is: "That the Christians who are in minority situations may have the strength and courage to live their faith and persevere in bearing witness to it."

His mission intention is: "That Missionary Day may be a propitious occasion for kindling an ever greater missionary awareness in every baptized person."