Tuesday, June 30, 2009

06/30/2009 - President Meets Pope

Today's Catholic Culture Insights from Jeff Mirus, President, Trinity Communications:

Barack Obama sought a meeting with the Pope and will have that meeting on July 10th. We owe to one of our many CatholicCulture.org users the suggestion that we sponsor another perpetual rosary, this time for the intention that President Obama will be profoundly influenced by his visit with Benedict XVI. Sign up for a time slot here.

It can be surmised that Obama wanted the meeting both as a matter of diplomatic propriety and to further enhance his legitimacy in the eyes of Catholics. The President is well aware of the divisions in the Catholic community, and he has proven himself a master of staffing his administration with Catholics who disregard the Magisterium of the Church.

The degree to which such Catholics have chosen to ally themselves with Obama's programs is well illustrated by a recent feature story in Catholic World Report by Anne Hendershott: Obama and the Alternative Magisterium.

All the more reason, then, to pray that the meeting with the Pope will be a different kind of "Catholic" experience for our President, an experience leading to conversion.

One would also hope that Obama's contact with American bishops would be a catalyst for conversion. Unfortunately, some bishops still get sidetracked into dubious political issues, as when the head of the USCCB's Committee on International Justice and Peace wildly endorsed an enormously expensive piece of legislation designed to reverse global warming: US Catholic hierarchy shows support for legislation requiring massive tax hike.

The reality is that something far worse than global warming is at work in our culture. I refer to continuing moral and spiritual deterioration, which really is the province of the bishops. This deterioration is frequently promoted through the pervasive media influence which shapes us all. Here's a timely reminder of how carefully parents need to control their children's use of new means of social communication: Can Teens Stay Connected Without Losing Touch?

Combating these influences is most successfully done by actually developing a counter-culture. I've been reflecting (again) on what this means. Here are my latest ideas on How Culture Is Done.

Previews of Pope Benedict's social encyclical

Catholic Culture-News Briefs
June 30, 2009

During a Sunday Vespers service closing the Pauline Year, Pope Benedict XVI made a few observations about his forthcoming encyclical Caritatis in Veritate. John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter analyzes the Pope's words for clues about the content of the document, and concludes that one major theme of the encyclical will be that "building a better world requires forming better people."

Michael Novak, writing for First Things, begins his own analysis with a candid statement: "What exactly is in Benedict XVI’s new encyclical on the economy and labor issues is not yet known." He goes on to argue that critics of world capitalism have generally misunderstood the system, and particularly the motivations that drive economic creativity.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

In preview of new encyclical, Benedict reprises 'dictatorship of relativism' speech (National Catholic Reporter)

Economic Heresies of the Left (First Things)

See also, "Pope's social encyclical signed: publication still a week away?"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pope signs new globalization encyclical

AP – Pope Benedict XVI, right, receives assistance while walking down a step, as he leaves with other prelates …

AP via Yahoo! News
Mon Jun 29, 7:29 am ET

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI signed his latest encyclical Monday, a text on ways to make globalization more attentive to meeting the needs of the poor amid the worldwide financial crisis.

The document, entitled "Charity in Truth," is expected to be published soon.

The pope has said his third encyclical will outline the goals and values that the faithful must defend to ensure solidarity among all peoples.

Benedict has frequently spoken out on the financial crisis, urging leaders to ensure the world's poor don't end up bearing the brunt of the downturn even though they are not responsible for it. He has said the downturn shows the need to rethink the whole global financial system.

The pontiff announced he had signed the document Monday, a major Catholic feast day, after celebrating a Mass during which he told new archbishops they must be models for the faithful, guiding them and protecting them as shepherds care for their flock.

Thirty-four new archbishops, including the new archbishop of New York, Monsignor Timothy Dolan, received the pallium, a band of white wool decorated with black crosses that is a sign of pastoral authority and a symbol of the archbishops' bond with the pope.

Benedict said the archbishops should be like Christ "who as a good shepherd carried on his back humanity — the lost sheep — to bring them home."

Benedict has been working on "Caritas in veritate," as the encyclical is known in Latin, since 2007 but held back on issuing it so that he could update it to reflect the global economic crisis.

See also from CNA, "Italian newspaper reveals key paragraphs from Pope's upcoming social encyclical

An encyclical is the most authoritative document a pope can issue. Benedict has written two in his four years as pope: "God is Love" in 2006 and "Saved by Hope" in 2007.

See also from CNA, "Italian newspaper reveals key paragraphs from Pope's upcoming social encyclical."

Pope: no salvation for humanity without the healing of souls

» 06/29/2009 13:50

On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Benedict XVI imposes the pallium on 34 archbishops, three of whom are from Asia. Beyond thinking and talking, we need the experience of faith, of the vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith must not remain theory: it must be life. Obedience to the truth.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The impoverishment" of the soul "not only destroys the individual, but threatens the destiny of humanity as a whole. Without the healing of souls, without the healing of mankind from within, there can be no salvation for humanity. " And to avoid this impoverishment "obedience to the truth" is needed which "often begins with small daily truths, which can often be tiring and painful. This obedience then extends to obedience without reserve in front of the one Truth that is Christ”. This is Benedict XVI’s warning to mankind on a particularly solemn day in which the Church of Rome celebrates its patron saints, Peter and Paul, and in which the newly appointed metropolitan archbishops receive the pallium from the pope, the stole that indicates their special communion with the head of the Catholic Church. On this occasion too, the statue of St. Peter in the basilica is traditionally draped in papal vestments.

The feast of the apostles Peter and Paul sees the presence of a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in St. Peter's, a participation that is acknowledged and returned by Rome during the feast of Saint Andrew, patron saint of the Patriarchate. Recalling this presence, during the Angelus, Benedict XVI expressed the hope that "the common veneration of these martyrs be a pledge towards full communion, increasingly felt among Christians all over the world."

This year there are 34 metropolitan archbishops, from all over the world, upon which the Pope imposed the pallium. Among them, Msgr. Anicetus Bongsu Sinaga Antonius, Archbishop of Medan (Indonesia), Msgr. Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, archbishop of Bangkok (Thailand) and Msgr. Albert Malcolm Patabendige Ranjit Don, Archbishop of Colombo (Sri Lanka).

In his homily, Benedict XVI underlined some passages from the First Letter of Saint Peter, starting with St. Peter's affirmation that Christ is the "Bishop of souls." "If Christ is the bishop of souls - highlighted the Pope - the goal is to prevent the soul’s impoverishment in humans, to ensure that man does not lose his essence, the ability for truth and love. To ensure that he comes to know God, that he is not lost in dead ends, that he is not isolated, but remains open to all. Jesus, the 'bishop of souls', is the prototype for all episcopal and priestly ministry. To this ends being a bishop, being a priest means: taking on the place of Christ. Think, see and act from his elevated position. Starting from Him, be at mankind’s disposal, so they may find life. "

Another sentence of the Petrine letter: "Worship the Lord Christ in your hearts, always ready to answer whoever asks you to account for the hope that is in you" (3:15), was indicated by the Pope as the assertion "The Christian faith is hope. It opens the path to the future. And it is a reasonable hope; we can and we must expose the reason of this hope. Faith – he continued - comes from the eternal Reason, which came into our world and showed us the true God. It goes beyond the capacity of our own reason, just as love sees more than simple intelligence. But faith speaks to reason and in the dialect of discussion can hold it’s own with reason. It does not contradict it, but goes along with it, and at the same time, leads beyond it - introducing us to the greater Reason of God. As pastors of our time, it stands to us first and foremost to understand the reason of faith. Not to simply leave it as a tradition, but to recognize it as the answer to our questions. Faith requires our rational participation, which is deepened and purified by a shared love. It is part of our duties as Pastors to penetrate the faith with our thoughts in order to be able to show the reason for our hope in the disputes of our time. However - thought, alone, is not enough. Just as talk, alone, is not enough”. “Only by tasting will you see. Let us think of the disciples in Emmaus: only in convivial communion with Jesus, only in the breaking of the bread were their eyes opened. Only in truly experienced communion with the Lord did they see. This applies to all of us; beyond thinking and talking, we need the experience of faith, of the vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith must not remain theory: it must be life. If we meet the Lord in the sacrament; if we speak with him in prayer, and if we adhere to Christ in our daily decisions - then we 'see' more and more that He is good. Then we experience that it is good to be with him Only from such an experience of certainty comes the ability to communicate the faith to others in a credible way. The Curé d'Ars was not a great thinker. But he 'tasted' the Lord. He lived with him in the minutiae of his daily life as well as in the larger demands of his pastoral ministry. In this way he became 'one who sees'. He tasted, and so knew that the Lord is good. We pray the Lord grant us to enjoy this so that we can become credible witnesses to the hope that is within us. "

Bone fragments confirmed to be Saint Paul

Fragments of bone which have been kept in an underground sarcophagus for nearly 2,000 years have been identified as the remains of St Paul.

Basilica's Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome hosting a tomb thought to contain the remains of Saint Paul Photo: AFP/GETTY

By Nick Squires in Rome
Published: 2:15PM BST 29 Jun 2009

Pope Benedict XVI said scientific tests confirmed shards found in the underground chamber at the church of St Paul's-Outside-the-Walls in Rome were from the apostle.

Saint Paul was said to have been buried with Saint Peter in a catacomb on the Via Appia, one of the Roman roads which leads out of the city, before being moved to a basilica which was erected in his honour.

For centuries it was believed that his remains were buried beneath the basilica's main altar, which was covered with a slab of marble inscribed in Latin with the words Paulo Apostolo Mart – "Paul, apostle and martyr".

The theory gained credence in 2006, when Vatican archeologists discovered a white marble sarcophagus hidden beneath the floor of the basilica – the largest in Rome after St Peter's at the Vatican – after four years of excavations.

It took three years for archeologists to subject the remains to the first ever scientific tests and establish that they belonged to Saint Paul, a Jewish Roman citizen from Tarsus, in what is now Turkey.

Pope Benedict XVI announced the findings during a service at the basilica, as Rome prepared to celebrate the Feasts of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

'Oldest' image of St Paul discovered

Archaeologists have uncovered a 1,600 year old image of St Paul, the oldest one known of, in a Roman catacomb.

The 4,000 year old Fresco was restored using a laser

By Nick Pisa in Rome
Published: 5:46PM BST 28 Jun 2009

The fresco, which dates back to the 4th Century AD, was discovered during restoration work at the Catacomb of Saint Thekla but was kept secret for ten days.

During that time experts carefully removed centuries of grime from the fresco with a laser, before the news was officially announced through the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

There are more than 40 known Catacombs or underground Christian burial places across Rome and because of their religious significance the Vatican's Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology has jurisdiction over them.

A photograph of the icon shows the thin face of a bearded man with large eyes, sunken nose and face on a red background surrounded with a yellow circle – the classic image of St Paul.

The image was found in the Catacomb of St Thekla, close to the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, which is said to be built on the site where he was buried.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Follow Saint Paul in one’s passion for Christ and the Gospel, says Pope

» 06/28/2009 14:41

Benedict XVI sums up the positive results of the Pauline Year which comes to an end tonight. Saint Paul is also a model for priests in this Year for Priests which just began. The Pontiff greets the parish priest and the faithful from Latakiyah (Syria). Tonight the Pontiff will preside over Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, together with representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – With tonight’s Vespers at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, which bring to a close the Pauline Year, Benedict XVI will sum up this year dedicated to the rediscovery of the Apostle Paul whom he presents as a model for the Year for Priests which just begun. Benedict XVI will preside over Vespers in the basilica, home to the Apostle’s remains, in the presence of representatives of Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

The Pauline Year, which the Pope launched to remember the 2,000 years since the birth of the Apostle of Tarsus, “was a true period of grace in which, through pilgrimages, catecheses, publications and various initiatives, the figure of Saint Paul was offered again to the entire Church. His vibrant message among Christian communities revived everywhere the passion for Christ and the Gospel.”

At the same time the Apostle Paul represents “a splendid model to follow” in the Year for Priests as well, which began on 19 June, a year which can strengthen the latter’s “commitment to inner renewal, making them stronger and more incisive evangelical witness in today’s world.”

See also from CNA, "Pope Benedict sums up Pauline Year as Year for Priests begins"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Pope Benedict XVI: The Pauline Year, a Time of Grace
June 28, 2009

Ark of the Covenant Story was Bad Translating, Hype

Fascinating. How easily facts can be distorted, especially when translation from another language is involved.

The Catholic Key Blog
Friday, June 26, 2009

World Net Daily reported late Wednesday that Patriarch Pauolos of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church would reveal to the world the true Ark of the Covenant today, Friday, June 26. Pauolos is reported to have said in Rome, excerpt:

Abuna Pauolos, in Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, told the news agency, "Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries."

The announcement is expected to be made at 2 p.m. Italian time from the Hotel Aldrovandi in Rome. Pauolos will reportedly be accompanied by Prince Aklile Berhan Makonnen Haile Sellassie and Duke Amedeo D'Acosta.

It is currently about 7:00 p.m. in Rome and no ark.

I've been trying to track down whether and to what extent this is a hoax. The World Net Daily article is based on a report from from a news agency in Italy, Adnkronos. The first problem with the WND report is that what they report as the Patriarch's words is actually only the original Italian article's lede:

Roma, 17 giu. (Adnkronos) - Presto il mondo potrà ammirare l'Arca dell'Alleanza descritta nella Bibbia come il contenitore delle Tavole della Legge che Dio consegnò a Mosè e al centro, nei secoli, di ricerche e studi.

Secondly, the Italian article is dated June 17, so the forthcoming Friday was June 19, not today.

Patriarch Pauolos actually did have a press conference June 19 where according to Adnkronos, he backed off saying:

Non sono qui per dare delle prove che l'Arca sia in Etiopia, ma sono qui per dire quello che ho visto, quello che so e che posso testimoniare. Non ho detto che l'Arca sarà mostrata al mondo. E' un mistero, un oggetto di culto.

Or roughly:

I am not here to give evidence that the Ark is in Ethiopia, but I am here to say what I saw, what I know and I can testify. I did not say that the Ark will be shown to the world. It is a mystery, an object of worship.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hark! Where's the Bible Ark?

Ethiopia's Orthodox patriarch cops out on revealing plan for public viewing

Posted: June 26, 2009
4:16 pm Eastern

© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Sketch of Ark of the Covenant based on a description by the late explorer Ron Wyatt (wyattmuseum.com)

The leader of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church today backed off on a much-anticipated announcement about the Ark of the Covenant -- the ancient container holding the Ten Commandment -- which he claims to have seen.

But no other evidence or, indeed, even any announcement, was made public today when word had been expected.

Ark hunters and Bible enthusiasts have been buzzing for two days on the report from the Italian news agency Adnkronos that Patriarch Abuna Pauolos, in Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, said, "Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries."

He had suggested the possibility the artifact might be viewable in a planned museum.

"I repeat (the Ark of the Covenant) is in Ethiopia and nobody … knows for how much time. Only God knows," he said in the Adnkronos report available online.

The report said Pauolos reported the artifact "is described perfectly in the Bible" and is in good condition.

Fighting hunger, beefing up unions part of pope’s new social encyclical

National Catholic Reporter
by John L Allen Jr on Jun. 27, 2009

In his long-awaited new encyclical on the economy, Pope Benedict XVI appears set to call for new global “synergies” among labor unions in order to resist cuts in social safety nets, stronger efforts to combat world hunger, and greater protections for the “ecological health of the planet.”

Beyond those policy matters, the pontiff also will apparently strike three vintage personal themes:

• Social justice depends upon individual conversion, and the roots of the present crisis are in an “ethical deficit” within economic structures, especially greed;
• The defense of the poor and the defense of unborn life, implying opposition to abortion and artificial birth control, are necessarily linked.
• Preaching Christ is not a distraction from building a better world, but “the principal resource at the service of the true development of every single person and of all humanity.”

Benedict’s new social encyclical, titled Veritas in Caritate (“Truth in Charity”), will likely not be released until early July, but this morning’s Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, carried lengthy extracts.

While the pope has consulted a number of experts, both economists and theologians, the final text of the encyclical appears to be very much his own work. According to the Corriere report, Benedict XVI has been working on the text for months, even correcting a draft during his mid-May trip to the Middle East.

As the title suggests, the idea of “truth” runs through the encyclical like a leitmotif.

“Without truth, without trust and love for the truth, there is no conscience and no sense of social responsibility,” the encyclical will assert, according to the extracts published this morning.

In the absence of respect for truth, Benedict writes, “Social action falls into the hands of private interests and the logic of power, with destabilizing effects on society, all the more so in a society undergoing globalization.”

The pope apparently will invite commercial and political leaders to cultivate a new awareness of “the social responsibility of a business firm in an ample sense, which takes account of all the social effects of its activity.” He will also call for “urgent reforms in order to respond, courageously and without delay, to the great problems of injustice in the development of peoples.”

“Development of peoples,” the pope writes, “depends above all upon the recognition that we’re all part of one family.”

Though the pope takes on complicated questions about international economic structures in Veritas in Caritate, he also writes that the present crisis was born of an “ethical deficit” among individual persons, and that recovery will require a common ethical code founded “at the same time upon faith and reason.”

“Development is impossible without just human beings, without economic and political leaders who live the appeal to the common good strongly in their own consciences,” the pope writes.

Translation problems delay Pope's new encyclical: report

Posted : Sat, 27 Jun 2009 09:05:35 GMT

Rome - Translation problems have delayed the long-awaited publication of a new encyclical from the Pope, Italian media reported Saturday. A ruling from the Vatican of Catholic teaching on "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth) is expected before the G8 summit in Italy next month, and has been in preparation for some two years.

Pope Benedict XVI has indicated he wants the encyclical to encompass the current economic crisis.

But according to La Repubblica, problems have emerged translating the text.

Although English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Chinese have not posed a problem, finding Latin equivalents for "market value" and "tax haven" have proved difficult, the paper reported.

The original publication date was postponed from last year in order to focus on the financial meltdown. Publication is now expected on or around June 29.

Another Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, reported that the message of the encyclical would be that "social conscience and social responsibility are not possible without truth, without trust, and without love for the truth."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Vatican: Report raises questions about John Paul II's beatification

Vatican City, 25 June (AKI) - Internal rivalry at the Vatican may compromise moves to beatify Pope John Paul II, according to a report published in the Italian weekly, Panorama, on Friday. The magazine says a long-running rivalry between former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and the cardinal of Poland, Cardinal Stanislao Dziwisz, has re-emerged. The rivalry "runs the risk" of compromising the beatification of the popular Polish pope.

Sodano is the current dean of the College of Cardinals and was secretary of state from 1990 to 2006, under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow, was personal secretary to John Paul II for 40 years and one of the most powerful people at the Vatican during his papacy.

The Vatican began the process for the beatification of Pope John Paul II shortly after his death in April 2005, waiving the normal five year restriction usually required after a person's death.

There is speculation that his beatification, one of the stages that may lead to sainthood, may be confirmed on the fifth anniversary of John Paul's death in April 2010.

Panorama magazine claimed that the Vatican is beset by a number of internal conflicts that risk paralysing the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.

It says several cardinals in senior positions are divided over issues including dialogue with China, relations with the Jews and the beatification of the late pope.

Inside the Vatican, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Levada, is reported to be in conflict with the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Antonio Canizares.

Another cardinal, Achille Silvestrini, is accused of challenging the power of the Vatican's influential secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone.

According to the magazine article, Pope Benedict has had positive medical tests in recent weeks, including a magnetic resonance test and his heart is said to be functioning well.

However, the article is suggesting that manoeuvres have already begun for the next papal conclave to determine his successor.

See also from AKI, "Vatican: Report raises questions about internal debate"

Jeremiah to today's Israel: No 2-state solution!

An absolutely excellent commentary:

Posted: June 26, 2009
1:00 am Eastern

By Bill Salus
© 2009

Presently, there is an unprecedented push for peace in the Mideast. President Obama, Pope Benedict XVI, along with a significant host of other powerful world leaders, clamor once and for all for a two-state solution. They have heightened concern that the writing is on the 403-mile wall currently protecting Israeli's from Palestinian terror that a Middle East war is imminent.

As the clock rapidly ticks toward what will likely be the prophetic Psalm 83 showdown, Israel circles the wagons in preparation for a multi-front confederate conflict with its ancient enemies, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loosens his grip from the thorny Obama olive branch of "Engagement."

Currently, the international prescription for two states comprised of Jews and Palestinians living autonomously and peacefully side by side requires Israel to destroy outposts, freeze settlements, forfeit land acquired after 1967, divide Jerusalem and allow Palestinian refugees to homestead the Holy Land. These refugees number in the millions, cannot obtain citizenship in the surrounding Arab nations and represent a second-generation population that hates and blames the Jews for their impoverished existence. The ploy of Israel's enemies has been to banner the plight of these Palestinians as the justification for Islamic jihad against Israel and her supporters.

It is quite apparent that the world has become empathetic to the Palestinian plight but apathetic to God's foreign policy contained in Genesis 12:3 and the one-state solution prescribed in Jeremiah 12:14-17. Genesis 12:3 bestows blessings upon those that bless the Israeli descendants of Abraham but conversely must curse those populations that oppose them. Jeremiah 12:15-17 follows stride by declaring that God would have compassion on the pro-Israel populations, but "will utterly pluck up and destroy" Israel's neighbors who fail to operate in compliance with God's roadmap for peace.

God's peace plan

The Bible foretold in Isaiah 11:11, Ezekiel 37:12, Deuteronomy 30:3-5 and elsewhere of a time when the Jews would be brought back into the Promised Land from the nations of the world. This regathering began 61 years ago on May 14, 1948, and is ongoing today. Possessing omniscient foresight, God foreknew that an Arab-Israeli conflict would erupt as a result.

Jeremiah 12:14-17 tells us that as the time drew near for the return of the Jews into Israel the landscape of the Middle East would undergo a geopolitical facelift as God intended to restore Arabs, Persians and Jews back into the historical homes of their ancestral heritages. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1917, we see this turn of geopolitical events take place as one by one the Arab, Persian and Jewish states emerged.

See also:

From Haaretz, "Full text of Netanyahu's foreign policy speech at Bar Ilan"

From Fox News, "White House Calls Netanyahu Speech 'Important Step Forward' in Peace Process"

From the Christian Science Monitor, "Netanyahu's speech prompts anger from Palestinians, praise from the White House"

From the New Republic blog, "The Plank", "Decoding Netanyahu's Speech"

At end of jubilee year, figure of St. Paul stands in clearer focus


By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After 12 months of special liturgies, conferences, Bible reflections, indulgences, concerts and pilgrimages, the Year of St. Paul has left the Apostle a more clearly defined figure on the Catholic landscape.

Even before Pope Benedict XVI led final closing ceremonies in Rome June 29, Vatican officials declared the jubilee year a success.

"The result has been positive, even beyond the most optimistic predictions," Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, said at a Vatican press conference June 26.

At the Pauline basilica, which had often been overlooked by pilgrims to Rome, overflow crowds came to visit and pray at the tomb of the Apostle, the cardinal said. Thanks to some architectural finessing, a portion of the tomb, a rough-hewn marble sarcophagus buried beneath the main altar, was for the first time made visible to visitors.

It was Pope Benedict who almost single-handedly gave the jubilee its content. In weekly talks, homilies and liturgical celebrations, he sketched a detailed portrait of the man considered the model of Christian conversion and the archetypal missionary.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Letter from Rome, #6: Where Is the Ecclesia Dei Document?

insidethevatican - Jun 25, 2009

Another conversation with a Vatican official... Plus, still more on the upcoming encyclical... And, true joy...

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

Today was warmer than yesterday, but it is still quite cool compared to the usual June heat. Perhaps it will stay cool through the weekend, when so many bishops will come to Rome to receive the "pallium" from the Pope on Monday, June 29... Let's hope so.


A very important document was supposed to come out last Friday, June 19.

It didn't come out Friday. Or Saturday. Or Sunday, or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or today.

And behind this delay, there is a story.


What document am I talking about?

Not the long-awaited social encyclical! That is still coming, trundling along, due to be signed June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. This morning, in the press office, I was talking to one of my colleagues, who said she thinks they've already started printing the encyclical.

"Why do you think that?" I asked.

"Well," she said, "yesterday I was in the Vatican to do a bit of shopping at the supermarket. As I came walking out with my bags, I walked by the tipografia (the building of the Vatican printing press). I noticed the machines were humming more than usual, as if there was some big project on the presses.

"I was able to just catch a glimpse of some piles of printed paper on pallets. So I really think some of the editions of the encyclical are finally being printed. I think it is coming.

"But perhaps not the Chinese and Latin editions. I've heard they are having problems finalizing the translations of the Latin and Chinese editions. There aren't as many Latinists of the highest quality as there used to be, nor too many qualified Chinese translators..."

(Her words recalled to my mind the memory of my Latin teacher, Father Reginald Foster, who taught me Latin in the 1980s at the Gregorian, and who worked for 30 years as a papal Latinist, writing the official Latin of papal documents. He has gone back to America — he is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin — and the Eternal City now lacks one of its most colorful characters, and perhaps the greatest teacher I have ever known.)

So the encyclical, which evidently has passed through seven or eight distinct drafts, and was blocked for six months at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith while it was being studied carefully, and which will be the Pope's considered response to the world economic crisis (and so of considerable interest even outside the Church), will be signed June 29, and available to all of us a day or two, or three, after that...

Benedict XVI restates appeal for end to Holy Land conflict

Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Jun 25, 2009 / 10:46 am (CNA).- At a Thursday meeting of organizations dedicated to providing aid to the Eastern Churches, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated his call for an end to war, violence and injustice in the Holy Land and pledged the Church's continued support.

The audience with the Holy Father involved participants in the annual general meeting of the Reunion of Organizations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO). The meeting had focused on the situation in the Holy Land and on the Catholic Church in Bulgaria.

Pope Benedict began his speech to the group by reflecting on charity, which he called “the fertile source of all forms of service to the Church.” Charity is the measure, method and means by which one can verify these services, he said.

The members of ROACO, the Pope said, are able to “continue, even to augment, that 'movement of charity which, by papal mandate, the Congregation supervises so that, in a disciplined and equitable way, the Holy Land and other eastern regions may receive the spiritual and material support necessary for ordinary ecclesial life and for special needs."

Recalling his pilgrimage to the Holy Land this past May, Benedict XVI stated, "I renew my prayer and my appeal for no more war, no more violence, no more injustice.”

See also:

From Zenit, "
Pope: Charity Is the Best Strategy"

VIS press release, "
Continue Supporting Christians in the Holy Land"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel

Benedict XVI repeats call for peace in the Middle East
June 25, 2009

Holy Ark Announcement Due on Friday

Building said to house the Ark

Published: 06/25/09, 6:54 PM

by Hillel Fendel

(IsraelNN.com) Ethiopian church leader says Friday, June 26, marks the right time to unveil the Biblical Ark of the Covenant, which he says has been hidden in his church for centuries.

Abuna Pauolos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, was in Rome this week to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. While there, he told reporters that the time had come to reveal before the world the Holy Ark. He said that the holy container has been in the custody of his church for hundreds of years.

Paulous said he would make the full announcement this Friday, June 26, 2 PM local time (3 PM Israel time, 8 AM New York time) at a press conference in Rome.

The claim that the Biblical Holy Ark has been kept at the Church, in the city of Axum, is an old one, but this is the first time that the Church plans to actually reveal the actual container, or news of it. It is not known whether the Church claims that the actual Tablets of the Law are inside it.

Copies of the alleged Ark are kept in many other churches in Ethiopia.

The news of the impending announcement was first reported by the Italian news agency Adnkronos. Pauolos told the news outlet, "Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that G-d delivered to Moses, and the center of searches and studies for centuries."

Pauolos said "The Ark of the Covenant has been in Ethiopia for many centuries. As Patriarch, I have seen it with my own eyes, and only a few, highly-qualified persons could do the same - until now."

Back to Earth

Stuart Munro-Hay, author of “Quest for the Ark of the Covenant: The True History of the Tablets of Moses,” concluded that the object in question is definitely not the original Holy Ark.

The building of the Ark of the Covenant – also known as the Ark of Testimony and the Ark of G-d’s Covenant – in accordance with Divine instructions is recounted in the Book of Exodus. The Ark held the Tablets of the Law, and traveled with the People of Israel, leading the way into the Promised Land. It was placed first in the Tabernacle in Shilo, and centuries later in the Holy Temple built by King Solomon. Since then, its whereabouts have been unknown, though one popular legend says it was brought to Ethiopia. Alternatively, it could be under the Temple Mount, in a cave at Mt. Nevo in Jordan, in the Vatican, a hideaway in Utah, or elsewhere.

See also:

From World Net Daily, "
'Ark of the Covenant' about to be unveiled?"

From HolyWineOnline, "Ethiopian Orthodox Church set to unveil Arc of the Covenant"

Pope to Publish Encyclical on Economy, Call for New Paradigm

Pope to Publish Encyclical on Economy, Call for New Paradigm

By Flavia Krause-Jackson and Lorenzo Totaro

June 25 (Bloomberg) -- Pope Benedict XVI by the end of June will probably publish his first official document on the economy, including his views on lessons to be learned from the financial crisis.

Entitled “Caritas in Veritate,” which in Latin means “charity in truth,” the encyclical has been two years in the making. Publication was held up when the credit crunch crippled the world economy, and the document may now be released June 29, according to Cardinal Renato Martino. The pontiff has also added reflections on poverty from his first-ever trip to Africa in March.

Earlier this month, Benedict said the financial crisis shows “how the economic and financial paradigms that have been dominant in recent years must be rethought.”

Benedict made his comments in a June 13 speech to members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontice Foundation, set up by Pope John Paul II in 1991 to promote social doctrine. He also said in the speech that his encyclical would “be published soon.” Cardinal Martino told reporters in Rome on June 23 that June 29, which is the feast of St. Peter and Paul and is a holiday in Rome, would probably be the official date. A Vatican spokesman declined to confirm the timing.

Financial ‘Prophecy’

Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti said Nov. 20 that the pope was the first to predict the crisis in the global financial system, referring to a “prophecy” in a paper Benedict wrote when he was a cardinal. German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict in April 2005.

Ratzinger in 1985 presented a paper entitled “Market Economy and Ethics” at a Rome event dedicated to the Church and the economy. He said a decline in ethics “can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse.”

Pope Benedict has made frequent comments on the economy since the beginning of the financial crisis. In an Oct. 7 speech last year he reflected on crashing markets and concluded that “money vanishes, it is nothing” and warned that “the only solid reality is the word of God.”

The Vatican’s official newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano, on the same day criticized the free-market model for having “grown too much and badly in the past two decades.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in Rome at fjackson@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: June 25, 2009 05:22 EDT

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Letter from Rome, #5: "When God Chooses One, It Is Always to Bless All"

insidethevatican - Jun 24, 2009

A conversation with a Vatican monsignor... Plus, more on the upcoming encyclical

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

I rang the bell by the massive double doors. A secretary answered, and buzzed me in.

My friend, a Vatican monsignor, was still working at his computer, his desk piled high with letters and books and news clipping from around the world.

A few minutes later, we were walking down the Borgo Pio to Roberto's restaurant, which many of you reading this will know well, and we took our seats at a table in the corner near the door.

We chatted about many things, and worked through our primo piatto of tomato and mozzarella with basil and olive oil ("un caprese").

Then the monsignor began to talk about Mary.

"You know," he said, "the Lutherans had five main tenets of their new undersatnding of the faith: 1) Solus Deus; 2) Solus Christus; 3) Sola Gratia; 4) Sola Fides; and 5) Sola Scriptura. God alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone. And they were actually very close...

"But they were wrong. This is not Catholic doctrine. These are errors..."

"Why, precisely," I asked. "Where is the error?"

"The error is in simplification, oversimplification. In the end, the error is in misundersatnding the role of Mary.

"There's God, and the world, and God chose the world to have the world collaborate with him in the salvation of mankind." He hesitated, then added. "Especially the world of angels and of men. And he chose that his work of salvation would come about through the collaboration, finally, of a woman.

"And that moment, the moment of the woman's choice to collaborate in that work, was one of the supreme moments of all human history, the greatest, I would say. The angel waited on her response... And Mary accepted.

"God chose her, and she accepted his will. And so she became a blessing for all mankind, as she herself later said: 'All generations shall call me blessed.' And that is why we, too, in our time, call her blessed -- the Blessed Virgin Mary..."

I asked my friend if Pope Benedict XVI has a Marian devotion as profound as that of Pope John Paul II. The monsignor's eyes lit up with excitement.

"I have to tell you, and few people are aware of this, but Benedict XVI is surprising me. He is saying things that as Cardinal Ratzinger he never said and never would have said about Our Lady.

"I am reading everything he says and writes, and I am finding remarkable references in his homilies and addresses regarding Mary's special role in our redemption, not a role which diminishes the central and unique role of Christ, but a profoundly important role nevertheless. He is a Marian Pope, and he is becoming ever more so..."

"And the debate over the proposed dogma of Mary as Co-Redemptrix?" I asked. "It is said John Paul II was considering declaring this teaching formally as a dogma. What does Benedict think on the matter?"

"That is a question I cannot answer," the monsignor said. "But I can tell you this: the Pope is becoming more Marian each year, each month. I am quite amazed, frankly. As Pope, he is changing..."

"There have been many visions and apparitions of Mary in the past," I said. "But are there still such phenomena?"

The monsignor just about jumped out of his chair.

"Of course!" he almost shouted. "Mary is the Mother of the Church. Paul VI made that clear at the end of the third session of the Second Vatican Council. And the Church Fathers state very clearly that until the last of her children enters into the kingdom,

Mary will still actively be working, interceding, encouraging, guiding, supporting, praying for their salvation... She is a mother, and she will work until her maternal work is finished."

I was reminded again of the Pieta, Michelangelo's great sculpture, which I saw a week ago with my son, the sorrow and the serenity of Mary...

The monsignor was very excited.

"Look," he said. "It is a matter of love. No one else ever fell in love with Christ more than she did. After after her, Joseph and John. Mary is totally relative to him. And we are able to understand our own role in dignity through looking at her. We too are invited by the Lord to participate with her, and Him, in the building up of the kingdom, the building up of the body of Christ. If I didn't believe this, I guess..." He paused. "If I didn't believe this, I guess i would just give up."

Obama to meet pope on July 10

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leaves at the end of his general audience is Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican June 24, 2009. The pope was wearing the red 'saturno' to provide some protection from the sun. The hat was so named in Italian because some thought it resembled the planet Saturn.
Photograph by: Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

Canada.com - 1 hour, 4 minutes ago
Agence France-Presse
June 24, 2009 5:01 PM

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Pope Benedict XVI for the first time at the Vatican on July 10, the White House said Wednesday.

Obama, who favors a woman's right to abortion and has taken other measures that the Vatican strongly opposes, will be in Italy from July 8 to July 10 for the Group of Eight industrialized powers' summit.

"On his upcoming trip overseas on Friday, July 10th, the president will visit with the holy father, Pope Benedict the XVI, to discuss a range of issues, including their shared belief in the dignity of all people," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Without confirming the meeting, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi earlier told the ANSA news agency that "the pope was ready to meet the president of the United States, Barack Obama, on the afternoon of July 10."

A Vatican source involved in the preparations told AFP the meeting would take place at 4 pm (1400 GMT).

See also:

From Squamish Chief, "Vatican official says Pope to meet Obama during president's stay in Italy for G-8 summit"

From Fox News, "Obama to Meet With the Pope Next Month"

From MSNBC, "Obama to meet the pope while in Italy for G-8"

From US News & World Report, "Obama's First Meeting With Pope Could Yield Economic Common Ground"

From CWN News Briefs, "Pope Benedict, Obama to meet on July 10"

Pope Benedict, Marilyn Manson, Eminem?

Heidi Schlumpf's blog
by Heidi Schlumpf on Jun. 24, 2009

What do Pope Benedict XVI, Marilyn Manson, Eminem and U2 have in common? They all have record deals with the British music label, Geffen UK.

The pope and Vatican priests will record Christmas music and prayers, according to the UK's Daily Mirror. "Everyone thought it was a wind-up when we got a call from the Vatican. But it was the pope's representative inviting us to Rome. Two senior managers flew out. The pope wasn't there in person, sadly. But we didn't hesitate to offer His Holiness a deal," the newspaper quoted a source at the London-based record label.

No word on whether the pope will go on tour.

Pope Benedict explains why he created Year for Priests

Pope Benedict XVI / St. Jean Vianney

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2009 / 10:19 am (CNA).- During Wednesday's general audience address to 30,000 people in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI focused his remarks on why he initiated the Year for Priests and what it means to be a priest.

"Why a Year for Priests?" the Pope asked. “The aim of this Year for Priests," he said, "is to support each priest's struggle towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of his ministry particularly depends, and to help priests, and with them the entire People of God, to rediscover and revive an awareness of the extraordinary and indispensable gift of Grace which the ordained ministry represents.”

The priesthood is an indispensable gift for “the person who receives it, for the entire Church, and for the world which would be lost without the real presence of Christ," the Pope explained.

"In a world in which the common view of life leaves ever less space for the sacred, in place of which 'functionality' becomes the only decisive category, the Catholic concept of priesthood could risk losing its due regard, sometimes even in the ecclesial conscience," the Holy Father cautioned.

Pope Benedict identified two conceptions of the priesthood: on the one hand, "a social-functional conception which identifies the essence of priesthood with the concept of 'service;'” on the other hand, “a sacramental-ontological conception…as determined by a gift called Sacrament, granted by the Lord through the mediation of the Church."

“Priests are Christ's servants, in the sense that their existence, ontologically configured to Him, has an essentially relational character. The priest is in Christ, for Christ and with Christ at the service of humankind,” the Pontiff explained. “Precisely because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of man."

See also from Asia News, "Pope: "remember in prayer” all the children victims “of violence and weapons"

And today from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Benedict XVI: Priests are a gift of grace

Benedict XVI: Red Cross is a bulwark of humanity

Pope expresses closeness with children in war zones

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Letter from Rome, #4: A Divorce, and a Memory

insidethevatican - Jun 23, 2009

The Vatican archives today presented a facsimile copy of a 500-year-old Appeal of the British Lords to Rome on behalf of Henry VIIIth in his effort to divorce Catherine of Aragorn. And an elderly monsignor remembers Pius XII. Plus, more on the upcoming encyclical...

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

A cool, sunny day in Rome -- and now a cool evening. Hardly like the searing heat of many of the Junes I have known here for the past 25 years...

Centuries ago, history unfolded at a slower pace. Today, news flashes around the world almost instantaneously. But 500 years ago, King Henry VIII took six years from the moment he decided to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragorn, until the moment he actually divorced her and married the fiery Anne Boleyn -- whose execution he ordered a few years later.

This morning, in the Palazzo della Cancelleria, a beautiful palace about a mile from the Vatican which is nevertheless a part of the Vatican's territory in the heart of Rome, a panel of distinguished scholars presented a facsimile edition of one of the most important documents in the history of Great Britain (photo).

In early 1530, 479 years ago, 83 British nobles (about 70% of the House of Lords of that time), including numerous abbots and bishops who were all Roman Catholics and still, like King Henry himself, fully united with Rome, wrote to Pope Clement VII pleading with him to grant Henry's request for a marriage annulment. The document was sealed by each man, and sent to Rome (it took three months to arrive).

And when he received the document, Pope Clement was not moved. He refused to grant the annulment.

Unwilling to accept the decision, Henry VIII — who had been a very strong Catholic, writing a theological treatise in defense of the seven Church sacraments against the Lutherans — decided that he would proclaim himself the head of the Christian Church in England, and Anglicanism began.

In a sense, this document is a the precise mid-point of the 6-year process that led to the schism that divided London from Rome, and so changed world history.

Now, 200 copies of this historic letter with all its seals have been reproduced in exquisite detail by the Vatican in a limited facsimile edition.

The cost: 50,000 euros (£43,000) each.

Each facsimile of the Causa Anglica ("The Anglican Case") as the three-foot-long document is known, took two months to produce. The Vatican hopes that the facsimiles will be bought by museums and national libraries around the world.

The project was timed to coincide with Wednesday's 500th anniversary of Henry's coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1509.

The copies were produced by Scrinium, a specialist publisher linked to the Holy See but based in Venice. Venetian glass workers were employed to reproduce the wax seals in minute detail.

Statue of John Paul II to Adorn Gemelli Hospital

ROME, JUNE 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The hospital that Pope John Paul II jokingly referred to as "Vatican III," the third papal residence, will be decorated with a statue in honor of the Polish Pontiff.

The statue, work of the Tuscan sculptor Stefano Pierotti, will be blessed June 30 by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, John Paul II's longtime personal secretary.

Pierotti has named his work "Be Not Afraid," one of the Pope's most often-expressed exhortations, proclaimed from the very beginning of his pontificate in 1978.

The statue will be placed in the patio near the main entrance of the Gemelli, where John Paul II stayed nine times between May 13, 1981, (the day of the assassination attempt) and March 2005, shortly before his death.

John Paul II looked over this patio when he came to the window of his 10th floor room to pray the Sunday midday Angelus, or bless the faithful. On one of those occasions -- during a stay in 1996 -- he dubbed the hospital Vatican III: the third papal residence after the Apostolic Palace in Rome and the summer home in Castel Gandolfo.

The mayor of Rome is expected to attend the unveiling of the statue.

As Year for Priests begins, Pope prepares to close Pauline Year

Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2009 / 10:21 am (CNA).- Right now the Church is in a period of liturgical overlap, with the Year for Priests having begun last Friday and the Year of St. Paul set to conclude on June 28. The Pope's Office of Liturgical Celebrations announced today that the Holy Father will close the Pauline Year with Vespers next Sunday.

The period of dual celebration is due to Pope Benedict XVI's desire to adhere to the liturgical feasts connected with the two saints associated with the two Years—St. Paul and St. Jean Vianney. The year dedicated to St. Paul is scheduled to conclude on the vigil of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, while the Year for Priests was opened on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Vianney.

The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced on Tuesday that the Year of St. Paul will officially close at 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 28, in the Roman basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls with the celebration of Vespers.

The Office also gave notice that Pope Benedict will preside over a Eucharistic celebration on Monday, June 29, with the new metropolitan archbishops he has named in recent months. The Holy Father will bestow palliums—a circular band about two inches wide and made from the wool of two blessed lambs—on the new archbishops. The pallium signifies the duty of shepherding the universal Church that the archbishops are entrusted with alongside the Pope.

Pope Benedict to meet President Obama July 10

Meeting in evening before Obama flies to Ghana

National Catholic Reporter
Jun. 23, 2009
By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

(composite by NCR from CNS photos)

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI will welcome U.S. President Barack Obama to the Vatican July 10 for an audience scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

Obama will visit Italy July 8-10 to participate in the Group of Eight summit, a meeting of leaders of the world's wealthiest nations. The meeting will be held in L'Aquila, site of a devastating earthquake in April.

After the G-8 summit, the president and his wife, Michelle, are scheduled to fly to Ghana, arriving late July 10.

Although Pope Benedict usually meets heads of state and government in the morning, the Vatican agreed to host Obama's first visit to the papal palace the evening before he flies to Africa.

It is not clear whether Miguel Diaz, a theology professor tapped by Obama to be the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, will be present for the meeting. As of June 23, the Senate hearing for the new ambassador's confirmation was not on the public schedule of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Discussions between popes and U.S. presidents usually focus on common concerns regarding world events and the church's concerns over issues or policies with special moral relevance. So in addition to discussing ongoing tensions in the Middle East, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Iraq, Pope Benedict likely will bring up his concerns regarding abortion policy in the United States and renewed government permission for embryonic stem-cell research.

Yesterday, NCR launched a series of podcast interviews discussing U.S.-Vatican relations. Look at this page for updates over the next several days.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Letter from Rome, #3: The Message in the Bottle

insidethevatican - Jun 22, 2009

The Pope and St. Padre Pio, Lefebvrist ordinations, a summer rainstorm, and the message in the bottle...

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

What does holiness mean? What do we mean by the word "holy"?

It's a serious question, just as serious as saying what do we mean by other words, like rain, or snow, or sunsets, or matter, or energy, or money, or life itself...

For a Christian, for a Catholic, the word "holy" has a central importance; that we know, even if we are at pains to give it a meaning.

The word "holy" is connected with God, with the nature of God, this we know -- in the "Our Father," which was the prayer Jesus himself taught us, the third phrase is "hallowed be the name" or "thy name be made holy" or perhaps even "your name is 'HOLY'."

Someone may contradict me, but it seems to me that this is near to the truth: that God's "name" is to be regarded as holy, and, in fact, is "holy."

So holiness is a quality of divinity, or the essence of divinity, or the nature of divinity. Which is a way of saying that holiness is something important, something truly real, not a dream, or a vision, but a reality connected to the eternal, and not just a word we use in this passing, temporal world.


The odd thing about Padre Pio is that we find it almost redundant to call him "St. Padre Pio."

"Padre Pio" by itself seems sufficient... By this I mean that the fame of sanctity of Padre Pio, who died in 1968 and was canonized on May 2, 1999 -- 10 years ago -- was so great, that his reputation for being close to God was so great, that to say "Padre Pio" was already to say "St. Padre Pio."

Yesterday, on the turning point between spring and summer, Pope Benedict XVI went from Rome across Italy to the little town of San Giovanni Rotondo where Padre Pio, St. Padre Pio, lived, died and is buried.

What was the essence of Benedict's message?

That St. Padre Pio's devotion to the Church's sacraments, thos mysteries of holiness we call the Eucharist and Confession, made him a model for all priests.

The Pope, who has just inaugurated the "Year of the Priest," urged priests around the world to look to St. Padre Pio during this Year for Priests.

Confession, which has become much less common in recent years, whould be renewed in our time, Benedict added (Padre Pio spent many hours each day in hearing confession).

"The sacrament of penance must be valued more highly and priests must never resign themselves to seeing their confessionals deserted, nor limit themselves to noting the faithful's lack of appreciation for this source of serenity and peace," the Pope said.

Off radar: Pope's teaching ministry has little media echo

Word of possible Pope Benedict, President Obama meeting spreading

National Catholic Reporter
Jun. 22, 2009

By John Thavis, Catholic News Service


News coverage of Pope Benedict XVI tends to leap from big event to big event, so perhaps it's no surprise that after his Holy Land pilgrimage last month the German pontiff has fallen off the mainstream media radar.

To cite a single but typical example, in the month following the Holy Land trip the New York Times did not report about any of the pope's activities at the Vatican. Even in Italy, coverage of Pope Benedict has fallen off markedly.

The pope is likely to step back into the spotlight when he meets with President Barack Obama and when he issues his encyclical on social justice -- two major events expected in the first half of July.

But then the pope goes on vacation outside of Rome, and re-emerges only at the end of September with a visit to the Czech Republic. He doesn't completely disappear, of course; he continues to give talks and meet with individuals and groups. But the press will take little notice.

The pattern of media attention -- or lack of it -- has led some Vatican officials to privately lament what they see as a paradox of Pope Benedict's pontificate: the pope's primary focus and greatest talent is teaching, they say, but it's the kind of teaching that rarely breaks into the news cycle.

"You don't get soundbites from this pope, and that is a challenge to journalists. Another challenge is that he often speaks a language that presupposes faith," said one senior Vatican official.

One priest complained that controversies generated by such episodes as the rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop have detracted from the pope's newsmaking capability.

"They're not interested in him. I think part of the reason is that there is a prejudice there now," he said.

Whether or not the whole world is watching, the pope takes his day-to-day ministry seriously. As a sampler, here are four recent talks that received little or no coverage in the mainstream media, but which touched on essential themes of his pontificate:

-- God is love, and can be perceived in the created world. On June 7, the pope delivered another mini-lesson on this favorite topic, saying God can be sensed in the macro-universe of galaxies and planets as well as the micro-universe of cells and genetic material.

Vatican official: Relations with Muslims better, but problems remain

ISLAM-TAURAN Jun-22-2009

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VENICE, Italy (CNS) -- Relations with Muslims have improved significantly in recent years, but problems remain on issues like conversion and freedom of worship, the Vatican's top interreligious dialogue official said.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said one of the biggest challenges was to make sure that the greater openness shown by Muslim leaders -- the "elites" involved in dialogue -- filters down to the average Muslim in the street.

So far, that does not seem to have happened, the cardinal told a conference in Venice June 22.

Cardinal Tauran recounted an episode in Jordan that occurred a week before Pope Benedict XVI arrived to a warm official welcome from government and Islamic officials. A Christian woman fell on a street in Amman and asked passers-by for help; two Muslim women on the scene walked away, saying they could not assist an infidel, he said.

"I don't think that's the reaction of a good Muslim. But this is the reality on the street. On one hand we have the elites, on the other the masses," Cardinal Tauran said.

The cardinal said that at the official level the Vatican's various dialogues with Muslims have attained "a climate of greater trust."

"On the part of our dialogue partners can be seen a desire to give a more positive image of Islam," he said. Christian and Muslim leaders also are increasingly aware that cooperation is needed to remedy secular societies' "deafness" to God and to help build peace in the world, he said.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Love Mary like Padre Pio did, Pope Benedict urges

Pope Benedict XVI / St. Padre Pio

San Giovani Rotundo, Italy, Jun 21, 2009 / 10:29 am (CNA).- During his trip today to the town where St. Padre Pio lived and ministered, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass, visited a house dedicated to caring for the suffering and the tomb of the famous Italian saint. At the tomb of Padre Pio, the Pope recalled the devotion that the Capuchin saint, canonized in 2002, had to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"All his life,“ the Pope said, "his apostolate took place under the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin and by the power of her intercession. Even the House for the Relief of Suffering he considered to be the work of Mary, 'Health of the sick.'"

"To the intercession of Our Lady and St. Pio of Pietrelcina, " he continued, "I would like to entrust the Special Year for Priests, which I opened last Friday on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May it be a privileged opportunity to highlight the value of the mission and holiness of priests, to serve the Church and humanity in the third millennium!"

The Holy Father also briefly recalled the U.N.'s World Day for Refugees, held yesterday.

"There are many people who seek refuge in other countries fleeing from situations of war, persecution and natural disasters, and hosting them poses many difficulties, but is nevertheless necessary,” Benedict XVI stated.

“God grant that, with the commitment of everyone, we do as much as possible to remove the causes of such a sad phenomenon."

See also:

From AP via Yahoo! News, "Pope: refugees must be welcomed despite problems"

From Philippine Daily Inquirer, "Pope says West must welcome refugees"

Pope in San Giovanni Rotondo: For "Year for Priests," Padre Pio--model of sanctity for all priests

REUTERS Sun Jun 21, 8:59 AM ET
Enlarge photo...

Pope Benedict XVI prays in front of the exhumed body of the mystic saint Padre Pio in the crypt of Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni Rotondo, southern Italy June 21, 2009. Padre Pio is one of the Catholic Church's most popular saints and during his lifetime the monk was said to have the stigmata, the wounds of Jesus' crucifixion on his hands and feet.REUTERS/Andreas Solaro/Pool (ITALY RELIGION)

Pope: a life of prayer and charity like Padre Pio, against activism and secularisation

» 06/21/2009 12:38

Benedict XVI visits San Giovanni Rotondo and proposes the characteristics of the Saint from Pietrelcina to capuchin monks, Padre Pio spiritual groups and all faithful. The Pope prays before the body of the saint.

San Giovanni Rotondo (AsiaNews) – “Simplicity”, humility and having been “seized by Christ”, the characteristics of Padre Pio, part of the inheritance he left his brother capuchins, the prayer groups inspired by him and all Christians, to combat secularism and activism: this was the pope's message during his pastoral visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Graces, in San Giovanni Rotondo, the final resting place of the bodily remains of Padre Pio, who was canonized in 2002. At the beginning of the Year for Priests, Benedict XVI has launched another model for all priests showing to all the example of the friar from Pietrelcina: "A simple man of humble origins, 'seized by Christ' (Phil 3:12) ... to make of him an elected instrument of the perennial power of his Cross: the power of love for souls, forgiveness and reconciliation, spiritual fatherhood, effective solidarity with the suffering. The stigmata, that marked his body, closely united him to the Crucified and Risen Christ ".

From the Vatican, the pontiff travelled by plane to the sanctuary. Before the Eucharist, together with hundreds of thousands of faithful from all over the world, the Pope paused for a few minutes in the crypt which houses the body of the saint, lighting two lamps in memory of his visit.

In his homily, Benedict XVI reflected on the Gospel of the day, which recounts the miracle of the clamed storm (Mk 4, 35-41). “The solemn gesture of calming the stormy sea is clearly a sign of the lordship of Christ over the negative powers and it induces us to think of His divinity: "Who is He – ask the disciples in wonder - that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (Mk 4.41). Their faith is not yet steadfast, it is taking shape, is a mixture of fear and trust; rather Jesus trusting abandonment to the Father is full and pure. This is why He sleeps during the storm, completely safe in the arms of God - but there will come a time when Jesus will feel anxiety and fear: When His time comes, He shall feel upon himself the whole weight of the sins of humanity, as a massive swell that is about to fall upon Him. Oh yes, that shall be a terrible storm, not a cosmic one, but a spiritual one. It will be Evil’s last, extreme assault against the Son of God….. In that hour, Jesus was on the one hand entirely One with the Father, fully given over to him – on the other, as in solidarity with sinners, He was separated and He felt abandoned”.

See also:

From "The Star", "Pope urges town to honour mystic monk's faith"

From CNA, "Pope’s visit to Padre Pio will inspire greater closeness to Christ, says Capuchin rector"

U.S. Bishops Approve to add Votive Mass in Thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life

New Liturgical Movement
Sunday, June 21, 2009

by Deborah Morlani

This is wonderful news and, further, perhaps an encouraging sign that the U.S. Bishops are in agreement on the urgency and importance of looking to the sacred liturgy as the central means of conversion and building the culture of life in parishes. Let us pray that other nations will follow the USCCB's lead. The votive Mass could be celebrated on January 22nd, the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade which led to legalized abortion in the U.S. in 1973.

More details from Zenit:

US Bishops Approve Mass for Life

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, JUNE 19, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A text for a Mass in Thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life received overwhelming approval from the U.S. bishops' conference, which also voted to include it in the Roman Missal.

A press release from the conference reported that the Mass received 183 votes, with only three deciding against the text and three abstaining, at a biannual conference meeting taking place in San Antonio.

The U.S. adaptation of the text to the missal was supported by 179 bishops, with one voting against and one abstaining.

The communiqué reported that these items are part of the ongoing adaptation of a new English translation of the Roman Missal. The conclusions of the meeting will be sent to the Vatican for a final approval.

The Mass in Thanksgiving for Life was originally proposed in 1990 by Cardinal John O'Connor of New York, who founded the Sisters of Life and died in 2000.

Related NLM Articles:

The Sacred Liturgy: The Neglected Foundation to Building the Culture of Life

Pro-Life News Site Lists the Liturgy as the First Priority in Building the Culture of Life

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kansas pro-life groups receiving death threats after Tiller's murder

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman

Wichita, Kan., Jun 20, 2009 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Several pro-life groups in Wichita have received death threats after last month’s killing of abortionist George Tiller.

Operation Rescue says they have received various threats over the years, but that number has increased drastically since Tiller’s shooting.

Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told The Wichita Eagle that some of the threats have mentioned the pro-life prayer vigil and memorial scheduled for this each day this weekend. Off-duty officers have been hired to help with security at the weekend’s events.

Of the messages received, some have threatened “vengeance” against the pro-life movement, while others specifically targeted Newman and his family.

Although leaders of the pro-life movement have spoken out against the shooting, some abortion supporters have accused the pro-life movement of encouraging the attack on Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country who provided late-term abortions.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pope: May the pierced heart of Christ inflame the heart of every priest

» 06/19/2009 20:45

Benedict XVI inaugurates the Year for Priests with Vespers of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Chris’s heart contains the revolutionary novelty of Christianity. Priests must contemplate his Heart in order to be his witnesses, and to learn the “pain of sins”. Veneration of the relics of Saint Jean Marie Vianney, the Curè d’Ars, to be imitated this year also in his devotion to Mary.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – With the Vesper prayers, in the presence of priests of all ages and from every corner of the world, Benedict XVI inaugurated the Year for Priests, for the rediscovery of the value and style of vocation to the priesthood, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of Saint Jean Marie Vianney (the Curè d’Ars). “Ours –said the pope – is an indispensable mission for the Church and the world, which requires complete fidelity to Christ and a ceaseless union with Him; it requires that we constantly strive for sainthood as did Saint Jean Marie Vianney”. Ahead of the celebration the pontiff briefly venerated the relics of the Curè d'Ars, in the chapel of the choir of St Peter’s basilica.

The Pope published a letter for the year of the priest (issued yesterday) in which citing the example of the Curè d’Ars, he urges priests to contemplate the Heart of Christ, to pastoral charity and to “give their lives for their flock”. The Pope quotes the saint, “Priesthood is love of the heart of Christ” and adds: “How can we fail to remember that the gift our priestly ministry springs directly from this heart?”.

This was why the Pope had wanted to inaugurate the Year for Priests on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which marks “the mystery of the heart of a God who is moved and pours out his love on all humanity…He does not give up in the face of ingratitude and not even in the face of rejection by the people He has chosen; in fact, with infinite mercy, he sends his Only Son to the world so he will take upon himself the destiny of a destroyed love, defeating the power of death and evil, to restore dignity of children to the humans made slaves by sin. All of this comes at a price: the Only Son of God is immolated on the cross”.

See also:

From Asia News, "Every day I pray for the Christians of Iraq and the Middle East says Pope"

From CWN, "Pope Benedict inaugurates the Year for Priests"