Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pope’s prayer intentions for August released

Vatican City, Jul 31, 2008 / 09:29 am (CNA).- The Vatican's Press Office released the Holy Father's prayer intentions for the month of August today.

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for is: "That the human family may know how to respect God's design for the world and thus become ever more aware of the great gift of God which Creation represents for us."

His mission intention is: "That the answer of the entire people of God to the common vocation to sanctity and mission may be promoted and fostered, with careful discernment of the charisms and a constant commitment to spiritual and cultural formation."

Desecration of Host Not Seen as Free Speech

Confraternity Proposes Prayer Day in Reparation

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, JULY 30, 2008 ( The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy is proposing Friday as a national day of prayer and fasting in the wake of the desecration of the Eucharist by a Minnesota professor.

Father John Trigilio, Jr., the president of the confraternity, a U.S. association of 600 priests and deacons, sent a statement this week asking Catholics "to join in a day of prayer and fasting that such offenses never happen again."

Paul Myers, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota at Morris, says he desecrated the Eucharist by piercing it with a rusty nail, then he threw it into the trash.

The self-professed atheist wrote about the incident on his blog and posted a photo of the desecrated host.

The statement of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy said it found the actions of Myers "reprehensible, inexcusable, and unconstitutional. His flagrant display of irreverence by profaning a consecrated Host from a Catholic Church goes beyond the limit of academic freedom and free speech."

"Attacking the most sacred elements of a religion is not free speech anymore than would be perjury in a court or libel in a newspaper," added the text.

Father Trigilio told ZENIT that the congregation is asking the faithful to make a holy hour before the Eucharist on Aug. 1, the feast of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, and to fast in "reparation for the sacrilegious desecration of the Holy Eucharist."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pope resting and studying at Bressanone seminary

Rome, Jul 30, 2008 / 11:28 am (CNA).- During the second day of his vacation at the historic Seminary of Bressanone in northern Italy, Pope Benedict XVI spent his time resting and studying at the famous seminary library.

As he did on his first day of vacation, the Holy Father again preferred to remain indoors at the 400 year-old building—a living museum of sorts—instead of spending time in the gardens outside.

Meanwhile in Bresssanone, where the German-speaking population is celebrating the presence of the Holy Father, a new CD is set to be released which includes conferences from a 1990 congress in Bressanone on Choral and Polyphonic Music. The congress was inaugurated by then Cardinal Raztinger, and the CD is part of the “Brixner Initiative on Music and the Church.” It will be presented to reporters covering the Pope’s vacation on Thursday.

St. Francis of Assisi and Great Pardon known as the Portiuncula Indulgence

Beginning on Friday, August 1st, the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels, to August 2, is the Portiuncula Indulgence. The usual requirements for gaining an indulgence apply.

Spirit Daily
by Susan Tassone

The Portiuncula (small portion) refers to the land in Assisi, Italy, that belonged to the Benedictines.

On this land was an old church dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God but abandoned.

The great St. Francis had great devotion to the queen of the world and when he saw that the church was deserted, he began to live there constantly and repair it. He heard that the angels often visited it, so that it was called St. Mary of the Angels.

The Benedictines wanted to give Francis the church but in order to remain faithful to Lady Poverty, Francis rented it from them with the annual compensation of a basket of fish from the Tescio river.

Here is where Francis began his service to Christ and His Church. Here Francis founded his Order, received Clare as his spiritual daughter, and where he died commending this spot above all others to the friars.

St. Francis had great love and compassion for everyone.

On a night of July, 1216, Francis was praying in the little church of the Portiuncula devoured by love for God and a thirst to save souls. He prayed for the forgiveness of sins of mankind.

Suddenly a brilliant light shone all around. In great splendor Jesus and Mary appeared in the midst of a dazzling cloud surrounded by a multitude of radiant angels.

Out of fear and reverence, St. Francis adored Our Lord prostrate upon the ground.

Then Jesus said to him: “Francis you are very zealous for the good of souls. Ask me what you want for their salvation.” St. Francis was rapt in ecstasy before Jesus.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pope Benedict begins his vacation in northern Italy

Vatican City, Jul 28, 2008 / 11:50 am (CNA).- On Monday morning, Pope Benedict XVI flew from Rome to northern Italy to begin a two week vacation in the town of Bressanone. The Vatican also announced the Pope’s schedule for the rest of summer today.

After landing in Bolzano, Italy at the "Dolomitas" airport the Pope took a car to Bressanone, a German-speaking town, where he will remain until August 11.

Pope Benedict will be staying in the seminary of Bressanone, a small city in which he has spent his vacation at numerous times between 1970 and 2004. He will be accompanied by his brother Georg Ratzinger, who is also a priest.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Associated Press Sun Jul 27, 8:57 AM ET
Enlarge photo...

Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges faithful from his window of his summer residence of Castelgandolfo on the outskirts of Rome on the occasion of his Angelus prayer, Sunday, July 27, 2008. The pontiff leaves on Monday for a three-week period of rest in Bressanone, near Bolzano, in the northern Italian Dolomite Alps.
(AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)

Pope says Australia trip 'extraordinary'

The West Australian
27th July 2008, 21:33 WST

Pope Benedict XVI described his trip to Australia for World Youth Day as "an extraordinary experience" which demonstrated the youthful face of the Roman Catholic Church.

Speaking before the weekly Angelus prayer at his summer residence outside Rome, he paid tribute to "the multicoloured mosaic created by the boys and girls from every part of the earth, all reunited by one faith in Jesus Christ".

"I still have in my eyes and in my heart this extraordinary experience, in which I was able to meet the youthful face of the Church," the pope said.

Pope Benedict thanked the church and civil authorities in Australia for their cooperation in organising World Youth Day, which brings together young Catholics from across the world every two or three years.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including about 135,000 young people, attended a mass on July 20 marking the end of the events in Sydney, and the pope, in Australia since July 12, returned home the following day.

The next World Youth Day will be held in Madrid in 2011.

The pope also announced he would be going on holiday to Bressanone in northern Italy, where he would stay until August before returning to Castel Gandolfo and beginning preparations for a September trip to France.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

'A greater sense of the sacred'

With pope's blessing, Latin masses reborn in Rome, drawing pilgrims anew

Chicago Tribune
By Christine Spolar | Chicago Tribune correspondent
10:27 AM CDT, July 13, 2008

ROME — In the cool recesses of Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini church, a Roman Catholic rite steeped in Latin has been reborn in this country.

Three priests, garbed in lace-trimmed white and golden robes, take to the altar as a band of brothers every Sunday, their backs to worshipers, their eyes on the mass at hand.

Dozens of people dutifully follow a service studded with long silences and soaring choral song. Many women have pinned lace mantillas to their hair. When parishioners, young or old, seek the sacrament of communion, they move quickly to kneel, with mouths humbly open.

A celebration at Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini is a visit to your grandfather's mass—and that is exactly the chain of devotion that Pope Benedict XVI wants honored and maintained.

Related linksThe 16th Century church, located near the lively Campo dei Fiori in Rome's historic district, was built about the same time that Latin liturgy was formalized. It now bears the distinction of being the first large parish in Rome to be granted free rein to celebrate the long-gone liturgy known as the Tridentine rite.

Pope Benedict's role

Pope Benedict signaled last year that he was loosening restrictions on the Latin mass, which had essentially been swept away with the 1960s reforms of Vatican II. His desire, church officials said, was to give "greater access" to all the church's traditions.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Holy Father meets with prime minister of Iraq

Pope Benedict receives PM Nouri Al-Maliki

Vatican City, Jul 25, 2008 / 10:31 am (CNA).- Today at Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father met with Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri Kamel Al-Maliki. During the course of their meeting, Pope Benedict stressed the need to end violence in the country, and received an invitation to visit Iraq.

According to a press release from the Vatican, their discussion, “provided an opportunity to examine a number of fundamental aspects of the situation in Iraq,” and its surrounding region.

The heads of stated focused on the struggles of the “many Iraqi refugees, both inside and outside the country, who are in need of assistance, also with a view to their hoped-for return.”

“Renewed condemnation was expressed for the violence that continues to hit various parts of the country almost daily, not sparing the Christian communities which strongly feel the need for greater security.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Italy: Iraqi PM to meet Pope on official visit

Rome, 23 July (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI will meet Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki on Friday for the first time during his official visit to Italy.

Al-Maliki is due to arrive in Rome on Thursday to meet his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi on the second leg of his European visit after talks with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin on Tuesday.

The Iraqi prime minister will meet the Pope at the pontiff's summer residence at Castelgandolfo, outside Rome.

He will then hold separate talks with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state.

Iraq is home to the Chaldean Catholic Church, one of the oldest Christian churches in the world, and al-Maliki's visit comes at a time when Iraqi Christians are exposed to grave risks.

Hundreds and thousands of Christians have been forced to leave Iraq to flee the violence and the economic crisis caused by the war.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Papal Audience Tickets Available by Fax

VATICAN CITY, JULY 23, 2008 ( Visitors to the Vatican can now make reservations for papal audiences by fax.

A service provided by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household enables pilgrims to make reservations weeks or days before their trip to Rome for activities such as Wednesday audiences or Masses celebrated by the Pontiff at St. Peter's. The tickets are free.

By downloading and faxing a document available on the Web page, pilgrims can make the reservations. The tickets can be retrieved at the ticket office located just inside the Bronze Door (by the right colonnade of St. Peter’s Square).

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On the Net:

Prefecture of the Pontifical Household:

Iraqi PM to discuss Christian situation with Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Jul 23, 2008 / 10:10 am (CNA).- As part of an effort to bolster Iraq’s diplomatic relations in Europe, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is making stops in Germany and Italy this week. On Friday he will pay a visit to Pope Benedict XVI to brief him on efforts to protect the Christian community in Iraq and to promote values of equality, justice and reconciliation.

Al-Maliki began his stop-over in Germany on Monday by meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and German business leaders. At a press conference, the Iraqi leader addressed the plight of Iraqi Christians saying, "there is no discrimination between Christians and Muslims" and said that "we will do our best so that Christians also return to Iraq."

On Thursday, Al-Maliki will travel to Italy to meet with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Friday will see the Iraqi PM head south of Rome to speak with Pope Benedict XVI. According to Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabagh, Al-Maliki will update the Pope on “the steps taken by the Iraqi government to spread the values of tolerance, equality, justice, and national reconciliation among all Iraqis and its efforts to build a democratic Iraq.”

A meeting with the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, will also take place following the audience with the Pope.

Iraq is home to the Chaldean Catholic Church, which is part of the Eastern Rite. The Chaldean Church is one of the oldest Christian Churches in the world.

Pope rests at Castel Gandolfo after WYD

The West Australian
23rd July 2008, 4:49 WST

Pope Benedict XVI has retired to Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence near Rome, to spend a few days recuperating from his nine-day Australian tour, the Vatican says.

During his visit to Australia, the 81-year-old pontiff attended World Youth Day events and made a historic apology to victims of sexual abuse by priests in the country.

The trip to Australia was the farthest and longest taken by the pope, according to the Vatican press office.

The pope on Sunday wrapped up a week of festivities with a mass delivered to 400,000 pilgrims.

First launched in 1986 by late pope John Paul II, the six-day youth festival aims to make the Roman Catholic Church more popular among young people.

The pope will resume official engagements Friday, when he is set to receive Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at Castel Gandolfo.

World Youth Day 2011 will be hosted in Madrid.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pope Receives Jewish Welcome

Totally Jewish
by Justin Cohen - Monday 21st July 2008

Australia’s most senior rabbi has praised the Vatican for its part in helping create a better world after the horrors of the Holocaust, insisting that Benedict XVI’s meeting with Jewish and other faith leaders last week emphasised his “commitment to our ongoing dialogue”.

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence’s comments came as he welcomed the Pope on behalf of the city’s Jewish community to a historic gathering at St Mary’s Cathedral last Thursday, part of the Pope’s first visit to the country since taking office.

The senior rabbi of Sydney's Great Synagogue said that through such encounters “the positives of faith are emphasised over the disagreements. Our shared concerns for the environment, for the preservation of our climate and biodiversity...Our reverence for the sanctity of life, for the dignity of humankind in the home and in the workplace; for social justice, freedom from oppression, discrimination or persecution”.

Judaism and Christianity, he said, "revere that moment almost 3,500 years ago, when the people of Israel heard the voice of God at Sinai.

“There, he entrusted us with the mission and the message of holy living and the celebration of God in all aspects of our lives and to share it with our world. Though we may differ profoundly in the details or interpretations, our shared points of origin should bind us together with an amity which is greater than the discord from our point of departure and our points of disagreement.”

Saying that there is “delight” in any such encounter with a person of the Pope's stature, he added: “On a personal level, I am bound to reflect that my grandparents, who were born in Berlin had to flee from there, just 70 years ago. Their parents, grandparents and siblings perished. When I am asked what it means for me to participate in this historic event, my very first reaction is that for them, and for their generation, such an encounter as today’s would have been unthinkable; it would be quite beyond their imagination.”

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sydney farewells Pope Benedict

TVNZ - Jul 21 12:55 AM
Jul 21, 2008 7:49 PM

Pope Benedict XVI farewelled Australians with "deep gratitude", before boarding a Qantas charter flight bound for Rome at the end of his hectic World Youth Day tour.

The 81-year-old pontiff took off from Sydney airport, having closed the six-day WYD celebrations with a huge open air mass before 400,000 people on Sunday.

"Dear friends, as I depart from Sydney, I ask God to look down lovingly on this city, this country and all its inhabitants," he said.

"And as I bid you farewell with deep gratitude in my heart, I say once again, may God bless the people of Australia."

From a small dais in front of his plane at Sydney airport's Hangar 96, the Pope thanked Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Governor General Major General Michael Jeffery, the federal and NSW governments, the business community and the people of Australia.

"In characteristic Australian style you have extended a warm welcome to me and to countless pilgrims who have flocked here from every corner of the globe," he told the crowd.

"You have opened your doors and your hearts to the world's youth and on their behalf I thank you."

He also thanked more than 200,000 pilgrims for making the journey to Sydney, saying it was "them who have made this a global event".

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Final Mass was largest gathering of people in Australia’s history

Sydney, Jul 20, 2008 / 02:14 am (CNA).- The Final Mass concluding World Youth Day celebrations contained a number of distinctive features. First and foremost among the highlights is that it was the largest gathering of people in the history of Australia.

This Mass was the grandest and most significant one in Australia’s history, attended by twenty-six cardinals, 420 bishops and thousands of priests and religious.

Another extraordinary occurrence was the Confirmation of 24 people, including fourteen Australians and Juan Martinez from the U.S.A.
It was a momentous task to distribute Communion to the masses, which involved 1,300 priests, Acolytes and Extraordinary Ministers.

“This whole week has just been a magnificent eye-opener to how faith and God is alive among young people and the Church in Australia,” said Fr. Mark Podesta WYD08 spokesman.

“Never before has Australia and Sydney seen such a mass gathering of happy and exuberant young people- it completely transformed our city!”

Tomorrow, the Holy Father will thank the 8,000 volunteers at a special farewell party in the Domain beginning at 8:00 a.m.

The final farewell of the Holy Father will be at Sydney Airport when he boards his Qantas flight to Rome at 10:00 a.m. on Monday.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pope celebrates mass in 'great south land'

Papal address: Senior bishops sit and listen during the final World Youth Day mass (AAP: Dean Lewins)

ABC News
Posted 3 hours 35 minutes ago
Updated 24 minutes ago

Pope Benedict XVI has celebrated mass with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims at the culmination of World Youth Day events in Sydney.

The 81-year-old pontiff was given a rapturous reception by hundreds of thousands of worshippers, many of whom slept out overnight at Randwick racecourse.

He said his trip to Australia had been an unforgettable experience but warned that a "spiritual desert" was spreading in the modern world.

"Here in Australia, this 'great south land of the Holy Spirit', all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spirit's presence and power in the beauty of nature," he said.

The Pope urged the young pilgrims who travelled to Australia from all over the world to become "messengers of love".

"The world needs this renewal," he said. "In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading, an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair."

Organisers said they expected up to 500,000 people to attend the mass, which ended with communion being offered to the crowd by 4,000 priests, acolytes and extraordinary ministers.

Pope Benedict XVI calls for unity at vigil

ABC News
Posted Sat Jul 19, 2008 9:13pm AEST
Updated Sat Jul 19, 2008 10:29pm AEST

The Pope warned against the temptation to "go it alone". (AAP: Paul Miller)

Pope Benedict XVI has called for unity in faith in a divided world and told tens of thousands of Catholic pilgrims that growing secularism is fragmenting society.

Addressing around 200,000 pilgrims at a candlelit vigil at Sydney's Randwick Racecourse, the Pope said the world was a fragile place, citing the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur as evidence.

At the vigil - part of Catholic Church's World Youth Day - the Pope called unity the "essence of the church" and telling the faithful to "resist any temptation to walk away" from it.

He warned against the temptation to "go it alone".

"You are already well aware that our Christian witness is offered to a world which in many ways is fragile," the Pope told the crowd.

"From the forlorn child in a Darfur camp, or a troubled teenager, or an anxious parent in any suburb, or perhaps even now, from the depth of your own heart, there emerges the same human cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity."

Evening Vigil with The Holy Father - WYD 2008

July 19, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pope apologizes to victims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in Australia

Pope at Mass with Australian Bishops, seminarians and novices

Sydney, Jul 18, 2008 / 11:59 pm (CNA).- At the consecration of the altar at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney this morning, Pope Benedict XVI issued an anticipated formal apology to people who experienced sexual abuse by clergy of the Australian Catholic Church.

During his message to 3,400 of Australia’s bishops, seminarians and novices the Pope paused to address the issue that attracted significant media interest in light of World Youth Day held in Sydney.

“Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country.”

“These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation.”

“They have caused great pain, they have damaged the church’s witness.”
The Holy Father then urged the religious members of the Church who were present, to work together in “combating this evil.”

“Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.”

“It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people.”

Papal Address at Ecumenical Meeting

"The Ecumenical Movement Has Reached a Critical Juncture"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 17, 2008 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Friday morning local time at an ecumenical meeting in Sydney. The Pope is in Australia for the 23rd World Youth Day, under way through Sunday.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I give heartfelt thanks to God for this opportunity to meet and pray with all of you who have come here representing various Christian communities in Australia. Grateful for Bishop Forsyth's and Cardinal Pell's words of welcome, I joyfully greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus, the "cornerstone" of the "household of God" (Eph 2:19-20).

I would like to offer a particular greeting to Cardinal Edward Cassidy, former President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who, due to ill health, could not be with us today. I recall with gratitude his steadfast dedication to improving mutual understanding among all Christians, and I would ask all of you to join me in praying for his speedy recovery.

Australia is a country marked by much ethnic and religious diversity. Immigrants arrive on the shores of this majestic land hoping to find happiness and opportunities for employment. Yours, too, is a nation which recognizes the importance of religious freedom. This is a fundamental right which, when respected, allows citizens to act upon values which are rooted in their deepest beliefs, contributing thus to the well-being of society. In this way, Christians cooperate, together with members of other religions, for the promotion of human dignity and for fellowship among all nations. Australians cherish cordial and frank discussion. This has served the ecumenical movement well. An example would be the Covenant signed in 2004 by the members of the National Council of Churches in Australia. This document recognizes a common commitment, sets out goals, and acknowledges points of convergence without glossing over differences.

AFP Fri Jul 18, 4:20 AM ET
Enlarge photo...

Pope Benedict XVI (C) takes part in the ecumenical meeting at St. Mary's Cathedral Crypt in Sydney on July 18. The pontiff, in Australia for World Youth Day which has united hundreds of thousands of Catholic pilgrims in a show of spiritual force, called on around 50 Christian leaders to fight for unity within the broader faith.
(AFP/Vincenzo Pinto)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pope Warns Of Earth's Squandered Resources

Pope Benedict XVI gestures to the thousands of pilgrims that gathered to welcome him at Bangaroo for his official World Youth Day welcome in Sydney, Australia, July 17, 2008. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, HO)

Benedict XVI Also Chastises TV, Internet For Glamorizing "Poisons" Of Drugs, Violence

CBS News
SYDNEY, Australia, July 17, 2008

(AP) The world's natural resources are being squandered in the pursuit of "insatiable consumption," Pope Benedict XVI warned in a speech Thursday that also slammed television and the Internet for exalting violence as entertainment.

In a major address before more than 200,000 people gathered in Sydney for the Roman Catholic Church's youth festival, the pope urged his more than 1 billion followers worldwide to resist various types of "poison" that are corroding society, and to care more for the environment.

"The concerns for nonviolence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity," Benedict told the crowd massed on an unused wharf in Sydney. They regularly erupted in cheers, giving the event a football-match feel.

The pontiff emerged from three days at a secluded vacation spot to engage in a busy round of events for World Youth Day, a six-day festival held every few years to inspire new generations of Roman Catholics.

He received a series of welcomes: an official one from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a traditional one from pelt-clad Aboriginal dancers, and finally a rapturous one from pilgrims who journeyed to Sydney from more than 160 countries to attend. He toured the harbor by boat, cruising past Sydney's twin landmarks - its white-shelled opera house and the bridge nicknamed "the coat hanger" because of its shape.

Associated Press Thu Jul 17, 4:26 AM ET
Enlarge photo...

A crowd of over 200,000 watch Pope Benedict XVI, seen on screen at right, give an address at Bangaroo during his official welcome ceremony at World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, July 17, 2008.
(AP Photo/Rick Rycroftl)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spokesman: Pope Ready for Youth Day

Sends 2nd Text Message to Pilgrims

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 16, 2008 ( Benedict XVI is rested and ready to preside at the World Youth Day events this week in Sydney, says a Vatican Spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told a press conference today that the Pope is well rested, and that the objective of the three days of rest in the center has been achieved.

The Pontiff left the Kenthurst Study Center in Sydney where he spent the first days of his trip to Australia resting.

From the center the Pope was taken by car to St. Mary's Cathedral House in Sydney, his residence until the end of his apostolic visit, which officially begins tomorrow with the welcoming ceremony at the Government House.

The Holy Father will preside over the events of World Youth Day in Sydney this week. The international gathering will culminate Sunday with an open-air Mass at Randwick Racecourse.

Before leaving the Kenthurst center, the Pontiff thanked the directors and staff with a farewell gift of a replica of the mosaic "Mater Ecclesiae." He also blessed the cornerstone of the Kenthurst youth center.

The Pope meets the serpent ... and the koala and the parrot
Last updated at 09:45am on 16.07.08

The image was practically Biblical: Pope Benedict XVI face to face with a serpent.

But the hint of a good vs evil face-off dissipated when the pontiff next squared up against a koala - and, smiling, gave the fuzzy furball a little scratch behind the ears.

The Pope was meeting native Australian animals during the World Youth Day celebration in Australia, where young Roman Catholic pilgrims attended religious classes then chowed down on sausages at barbecues.

That's the spot: Even the Pope can't resist giving this adorable furball a scratch behind the ears

Only if I have to: Perhaps understandably, the Pope appears less enthusiastic as he meets the snake

The second day of the celebration offered a relaxed schedule, beginning with "time for silence for reflection," according to the pilgrims' official handbook. Afternoon events include a pilgrimage walk to the downtown St. Mary's Cathedral, barbecues at hundreds of venues around the city and a beach party at Sydney's famous Bondi Beach featuring a rapping American priest.

Pilgrims also received the second of daily mobile phone text messages from Pope Benedict: "The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles and gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! - BXVI."

The pope, enjoying a final day of rest before joining the events tomorrow, held prayers at a private retreat today, then viewed some native Australian animals brought to him by wildlife officers, including a kangaroo, a baby crocodile and a spiky echidna.

Pilgrims treated to a 'Great Australian Barbeque'

Pilgrims from the Cayman Islands enjoying the Barbeque

Sydney, Jul 16, 2008 / 03:53 am (CNA).- Around Sydney, pilgrims were given a taste of Australian culture with the WYD Big Aussie BBQ. Taking place at more than 200 venues, over 220,000 slices of Tip Top “Daily Bread” were served with sausages and tomato sauce.

World Youth Day ambassador Jared Crouch grabbed the tongs today and served up sausages to pilgrims at the University of Notre Dame, Broadway.

According to World Youth Day organisers, if all the 220,000 slices of bread were lined up end to end they would cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge 21 times.

“I came for a different experience and to meet youth from all over the World,” said Sydney, who was fittingly named, and was amongst the pilgrims at the BBQ with 150 other pilgrims from New York. They came from Chaminade High School and Kellenberg High School, both on Long Island, and had arrived on Monday after visiting Australia’s tropical north for two days.

“Meeting all the people and being around everyone, I found it really fun,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to see the Pope. It’s going to be really awesome."

“The most striking thing I took from the catechesis is the message that we are chosen to love,” said Alexandra Smith, a student who travelled from Quinnipiac University, New York. “I’ve never left America before, and last night’s Mass was the most beautiful thing to see people from all over the world waving their flags.”

Associated Press Wed Jul 16, 10:00 AM ET
Enlarge photo...

In this photo released by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI wears an Australian police cap during his meeting with a former Australian Police officer at the Kenthurst Study Center in Sydney, Wednesday, July 16, 2008.
(AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, HO)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cardinal Pell tells young pilgrims to ‘be open to the power of the Holy Spirit’

Sydney, Jul 15, 2008 / 04:11 pm (CNA).- During the opening Mass for World Youth Day on Tuesday, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia reminded the youth in his homily, to be open to the Holy Spirit and willing to “take the next step” to follow Christ.

The prelate opened the homily by welcoming the excited, young pilgrims, but especially those suffering and in need of Christ’s healing grace.

“I begin by welcoming and encouraging anyone, anywhere who regards himself or herself as lost, in deep distress, with hope diminished or even exhausted.”

“Young or old, woman or man, Christ is still calling those who are suffering to come to him for healing, as he has for two thousand years. The causes of the wounds are quite secondary, whether they be drugs or alcohol, family breakups, the lusts of the flesh, loneliness or a death. Perhaps even the emptiness of success.”

He continued by emphasizing the importance of reaching out to those who do not turn to Christ in times of need. “Christ’s call is to all who are suffering, not just to Catholics or other Christians, but especially to those without religion. Christ is calling you home; to love, healing and community,” he said.

Cardinal Pell then reflected on the Mass’ readings saying that all members of the faithful must believe in the power of God to convert the hearts of people in the world today.

World's biggest Christian festival launched with Sydney mass

World Youth Day opening mass on the shores of Sydney Harbour July 15
Posted: 15 July 2008 1659 hrs

SYDNEY : The world's biggest Christian festival opened Tuesday with a spectacular harbour side mass for thousands of pilgrims taking part in World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney headed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a committed Anglican, made a surprise appearance at the start of the open-air service to welcome more than 200,000 pilgrims from around the world to the week-long celebration.

Rudd, taking to the stage alongside Darling Harbour after a stirring traditional welcome dance by Aborigines, described Catholic World Youth Day as a great celebration of life and faith.

"Too often in the history of the world, when young people travel in great number to other parts of the world, they do so in the cause of war, but you are here as pilgrims of peace," he said.

"Some say there is no place for faith in the 21st century, I say they are wrong.

"Some say that faith is the enemy of reason, I say also they are wrong," Rudd told the pilgrims, welcoming them in several languages, including German, Italian, French, Korean and Bahasa Indonesia.

The mass -- celebrated by the leader of Australia's Catholics, Cardinal George Pell -- attracted an estimated 150,000 people, including 26 cardinals, 400 bishops and 3,000 to 4,000 priests, said spokesman Bishop Anthony Fisher.

"That will make it the biggest mass we've ever celebrated in Australia, the grandest mass in Australia," Fisher said ahead of the service.

The record will not last long, however, with 500,000 people expected to attend the closing World Youth Day mass on Sunday, led by Pope Benedict.

Pope welcomes World Youth Day pilgrims in video message

Sydney, Jul 15, 2008 / 03:12 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in his video message to World Youth Day pilgrims shortly before the commencement of the event, said he looked forward to the upcoming opportunities for prayer and reflection with young people from around the world. Saying that the goals truly worth living for are found in Jesus Christ, he asked for prayers for the success of his mission and for the spiritual growth of World Youth Day pilgrims during their time in Australia, which he called the great “southern land of the Holy Spirit.”

The Pope thanked the Australian government and the government of New South Wales, the organizers of World Youth Day, and the event’s sponsors. He further expressed gratitude to those who are hosting pilgrims.

“Many of the young people have made great sacrifices in order to undertake the journey to Australia, and I pray that they will be rewarded abundantly,” he noted. “The parishes, schools and host families have been most generous in welcoming these young visitors, and they too deserve our thanks and our appreciation.”

Referencing the theme of World Youth Day, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8), Pope Benedict said:

“How much our world needs a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit! There are still many who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, while many others, for whatever reason, have not recognized in this Good News the saving truth that alone can satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Papal Comments Aboard Flight to Sydney

"I Am Going With Sentiments of Great Joy to Australia"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 14, 2008 ( Here is a translation of the Vatican transcription of Benedict XVI's comments to journalists aboard the papal plane en route to Sydney.

One hour after taking off from Rome on Saturday, the Pope answered five questions.

* * *

[Translation from Italian]

Q: Holiness, this is your second World Youth Day, the first -- let's say -- that is entirely yours. With what sentiments are you ready to live it and what is the principal message you wish to give young people? Then, do you think the World Youth Day has a profound influence on the life of the Church that hosts it? And finally, do you think that the formula of these mass gatherings of young people is still up-to-date?

Benedict XVI: I am going with sentiments of great joy to Australia. I have beautiful memories of the World Youth Day of Cologne. It was not simply a mass event. Above all, it was a great celebration of the faith, a human encounter of communion in Christ. We saw how the faith opens borders and there was truly a capacity of union between the different cultures, and it created joy.

And I hope the same thing will now happen in Australia. So I am happy to see many young people, and to see them united in their desire for God and for a truly human world. The principal message is indicated by the words that make up the slogan of this World Youth Day: we speak of the Holy Spirit that makes us witness of Christ.

Therefore, I would like to focus my message precisely on this reality of the Holy Spirit, who appears in different dimensions: He is the Spirit operating in creation. The dimension of creation is very present, because the Spirit is creator. It seems to me to be a very important topic at our present moment.

WYD countdown continues as final preparations are made

From catholicnewsagency

Pope Benedict XVI given kitten as holiday pal

Khaleej Times Online >> News >> THE WORLD
14 July 2008

SYDNEY - Cat-loving Pope Benedict XVI has been given a kitten to keep him company while he relaxes and plays piano ahead World Youth Day in Australia, church insiders told AFP on Monday.

The pontiff, an avid feline fan whose home in Germany is reportedly filled with the animals and is guarded by a cat statue, was given an 11-month-old tabby named Bella by his followers.

"Some of the faithful brought Bella into the Pope's retreat to keep him company while he plays the piano," a World Youth Day source who declined to be identified said.

"He is well known for his love of cats and the piano and we wanted to make him feel at home," the source added.

The Pope, who flew into Sydney on Sunday ahead of the start of World Youth Day celebrations, was holed up in an Opus Dei retreat outside Sydney where he is taking a four-day holiday following his 20-hour flight from Rome.

Bella, a tabby with thick grey fur, is "very playful", a "little bit camera shy and loves cat food," sources said.

EWTN---World Youth Day 2008 Central

Along with detailed coverage of WYD 2008 at World Youth Day 2008 Central, EWTN posted the instructions for gaining an indulgence:

Plenary Indulgence for World Youth Day 2008
Cardinal James Francis Stafford
Major Penitentiary

The plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who, on the occasion of the "Twenty-third World Youth Day", will gather at Sydney in the spirit of pilgrimage; all those who, wherever they are, will pray for the spiritual goals of this Meeting and for its happy outcome can also gain the partial indulgence.

The Youth Meeting held in the year 2005 in Cologne, offered the Apostolic Penitentiary an opportune occasion, with the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, to open wide to youth the spiritual treasures of the Church, with the aim of gathering singular fruits of sanctification.

Hence, this year, from 15 to 20 July, in Sydney, "in the great southern land of the Holy Spirit" (according to the expression of John Paul II), will celebrate the "Twenty-third World Youth Day", with the theme: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8).

Indeed, young people gathered around the Vicar of Christ will participate in the sacred functions and above all have recourse to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. In the Sacraments received with a sincere and humble heart, they will earnestly desire to strengthen themselves in the Spirit, and, confirmed by the Chrism of salvation, will openly witness the Faith before others even to the ends of the earth. May God grant that the very presence of the Supreme Pontiff among the young people gathered in Sydney express and render it such.

During the Audience the Holy Father granted to the undersigned on 21 June, the Supreme Pontiff has expressly confirmed to the Apostolic Penitentiary the special faculty to declare, through the present Decree, the bestowal of the gift of the Indulgence as follows:

The Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful who will devotedly participate at some sacred function or pious exercise taking place during the "Twenty-third World Youth Day", including its solemn conclusion, so that, having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and being truly repentant, they receive Holy Communion and devoutly pray according to the intentions of His Holiness.

The Partial Indulgence is granted to the faithful, wherever they are during the above-mentioned meeting, if, at least with a contrite spirit, they will raise their prayer to God the Holy Spirit, so that young people are drawn to charity and given the strength to proclaim the Gospel with their life.

Reuters Mon Jul 14, 7:34 AM ET
Enlarge photo...

A night time projection of an image of Pope Benedict XVI illuminates one of the southern pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge July 14, 2008. The Pope arrived in Sydney on Sunday ahead of World Youth Day which begins Tuesday.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pope arrives in Australia

Pope Benedict XVI is welcomed to Australia by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as the pope arrives on Sunday at Richmond Air Base near Sydney. (Dean Lewis/The Associated Press)

International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Published: July 13, 2008

SYDNEY: Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Australia on Sunday, saying he wanted to use his visit to raise awareness about global warming and address the crisis of clergy sexual abuse.

Benedict suggested to reporters on the flight from the Vatican that he would express regret about abuse by priests, though victims' groups are demanding that he go further and make a direct formal apology.

The clergy abuse scandal is a serious note in the pope's 10-day visit to Australia - his first - during which he will join the World Youth Day festival that has attracted more than 200,000 people.

Benedict, 81, flew more than 20 hours from the Vatican to touch down at a military air base on Sydney's outskirts. He waved briefly as he climbed down the plane's stairway and was greeted by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other government and church officials. He was driven to a retreat in Sydney, where he was to stay out of the public eye until the youth festival begins Thursday.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Associated Press Sat Jul 12, 5:31 AM ET
Enlarge photo...

Pope Benedict XVI waves before embarking on a flight to Australia for a 10-day pilgrimage, in Rome's Fiumicino airport, Saturday July 12, 2008. A special Alitalia flight with Benedict, Vatican officials and journalists aboard has departed Saturday for a pilgrimage to Sydney.
(AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

King of Bahrain meets with Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2008 / 10:21 am (CNA).- While at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo this morning, Pope Benedict received the King of the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain. In other discussions with Vatican officials, the king was thanked for the welcome he has given to Christians in his kingdom.

King Hamad Bin Isa Al- Khalifa’s meeting with other Vatican prelates included a discussion with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. Vatican authorities had the opportunity to thank the king for the welcome he has shown to many Christian immigrants.

A press release from the Holy See, "Emphasis was given to the shared commitment in favor of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, and to the importance of collaboration between Christians, Muslims and Jews for the promotion - in the Middle East and throughout the world - of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values.”

During his audience with Pope Benedict, the king extended an invitation to him to visit Bahrain.

The most recent estimate of Bahrain’s population is 718,000, with Christians comprising around 10 percent of its residents.

Anglican Bishop Asks Pope for Magnanimity

Some May Seek Catholicism After "Yes" to Women Bishops

LONDON, JULY 9, 2008 ( Since the Church of England will now allow women bishops, one of its prelates is looking for "magnanimous gestures" from Benedict XVI to facilitate the entrance of Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

In a letter to be published in this week's edition of Britain's Catholic Herald newspaper, Anglican Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet said "traditional Anglo-Catholics" now face the decision of staying in the Church of England in "what, for a while, will be a protected colony -- where the sacramental ministry of women bishops and priests is neither acknowledged nor received -- or to leave."

In a vote Monday, the general synod of the Church of England decided to allow the ordination of women bishops. Though a "code of practice" was discussed for those who do not in conscience accept the ordination of women bishops, it was not clearly defined.

Bishop Burnham acknowledged that the decision is not easy.

"You don't become a Catholic, for instance, because of what is wrong with another denomination or faith," he said. "You become a Catholic because you accept that the Catholic Church is what she says she is and the Catholic faith is what it says it is. In short, some Anglo-Catholics will stay and others will go."

The bishop mentioned the similar decision already faced in 1992, when the Church of England decided to ordain women priests.

"As for those who choose to go, like in the early 1990s these will include some of the finest Anglican clergy," he wrote. "Most of them are not motivated in the least by gender issues but by a keenness to pursue Catholic unity and truth."

"What we must humbly ask for now is for magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends, especially from the Holy Father, who well understands our longing for unity, and from the hierarchy of England and Wales," Bishop Burnham said. "Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Reuters Wed Jul 2, 7:58 AM ET
Enlarge photo...

Faithful wave to Pope Benedict XVI during the weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican July 2, 2008.
REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito (VATICAN

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Benedict will pray for increase in service and World Youth Day in July

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2008 / 09:19 am (CNA).- The Holy See’s Press Office made known on Friday the prayer intentions of Pope Benedict for the month of July . During the coming month the Holy Father will be praying for an increase in volunteerism and for World Youth Day.

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for July is: "That there may be an increase in the number of those who, as volunteers, offer their services to the Christian community with generous and prompt availability."

His mission intention is: "That the World Youth Day held in Sydney, Australia, may awaken the fire of divine love in young people and make them sowers of hope for a new humanity."