Wednesday, September 30, 2009

'The 13th Day' Film to Debut in Key Cities

Ignatius Press Hosts Simultaneous Screenings on October 13

Contact: Christine Schicker, 404-610-8871, CSchicker@MaximusMG.com

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 30 /Christian Newswire/ -- Based on the memoirs of Sister Maria Lucia de Jesus, and thousands of independent eyewitness accounts, The 13th Day is a dramatic retelling of the supernatural experiences of three shepherd children nearly a century ago. The events depicted in the film transpired between May 13, 1917 and October 13, 1917 in the Cova da Iria (Cove of Irene) region of Fatima, Portugal.

The 13th Day is the first major motion picture by directors Ian and Dominic Higgins. The filmmakers tell an accurate, relevant and artistic story about the Blessed Mother's appearances to Lucia Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. Over six months, Our Lady gave incredible prophecies and warnings to the children that included a harrowing vision of hell, the timing of World War II, the spread of communism and the attempted assassination of a Pope, who later was revealed to be Pope John Paul II.

Ignatius Press is the North American distributor of the film. In cooperation with Catholic Dioceses and organizations, Ignatius will host pre-release screenings of The 13th Day to Catholic leadership on October 13, the anniversary of the final apparition. At release time, the following key cities were secured: Atlanta, GA; New York, NY; Denver, CO; Chicago, IL; Austin and Fort Worth, TX; Oakland, CA and Orlando, FL. If you are a Catholic leader, you can sign-up for a screening in your area by visiting www.catholicscreenings.com.

Stylistically beautiful and technically innovative, the film uses state-of-the-art digital effects to create stunning images of the visions and the final miracle that have never before been fully realized on screen. Shot on location in Portugal and in the UK, the film has a cast of hundreds to re-create the scenes of the 70,000 strong crowds of witnesses, with three young Portuguese actors playing the iconic roles of Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta.

Says Anthony Ryan, Director of Marketing for Ignatius Press, "The 13th Day is an antidote film for our time. It is a reminder that a thin veil exists between our world and the next. The Message of Fatima is a relevant wake-up call to a culture torn apart by abortion, war, and injustice. Every Catholic, perhaps every person, should see this film.

"Ignatius Press is a Catholic publishing house based in San Francisco, California. It was founded in 1978 by Father Joseph Fessio SJ, a Jesuit priest and former pupil of Pope Benedict XVI.

For more information about The 13th Day or to schedule an interview with one of the film spokespersons including Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R and Michael LaCorte of the World Apostolate of Fatima, please contact Christine Schicker with The Maximus Group at 404-610-8871. You may visit the website at www.the13thdaymovie.com.

On the Trip to the Czech Republic

"A People and a Church With Profound Historical and Religious Roots"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address during today's general audience held in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

As is the custom following international apostolic journeys, I shall take advantage of the general audience to speak about the pilgrimage I made these past days to the Czech Republic.

I do this first of all as an act of thanksgiving to God, who enabled me to make this visit and who blessed it abundantly. It was a real pilgrimage and, at the same time, a mission in the heart of Europe: a pilgrimage, because Bohemia and Moravia have been for more than a millennium lands of faith and holiness; a mission, because Europe needs to find God again and in his love, the firm foundation of hope. It is no accident that the holy evangelizers of those peoples, Cyril and Methodius, are co-patrons of Europe together with St. Benedict.

"The Love of Christ Is Our Strength": This was the theme of the journey, an affirmation that echoes the faith of so many heroic witnesses of the distant and recent past -- I am thinking in particular of the past century. But, [also a theme] which above all wishes to interpret the certainty of today's Christians. Yes, our strength is the love of Christ! A strength that inspires and animates true revolutions, peaceful and liberating, and which sustains us in moments of crisis, allowing us to rise again when liberty, arduously recovered, runs the risk of losing itself, [of losing] its own truth.

The welcome I received was cordial. The president of the republic, to whom I renew my gratitude, wished to be present in several moments and received me together with his collaborators in his residence, the historic Castle of the Capital, with great cordiality. The whole of the episcopal conference, in particular the cardinal archbishop of Prague and the bishop of Brno, made me feel, with great warmth, the profound bond that unites the Czech Catholic community with the Successor of St. Peter. I thank them also for having prepared carefully the liturgical celebrations. I also thank the civil and military authorities and all those who in different ways cooperated in the good success of my visit.

The love of Christ began to reveal itself in the face of a Child. Arriving in Prague, in fact, my first stop was in the church of Our Lady Victorious, where the Child Jesus is venerated, known precisely as the "Infant of Prague." This effigy refers to the mystery of God made Man, to the "close God," base of our hope. Before the "Infant of Prague" I prayed for all children, for their parents, and for the future of the family. The real "victory" for which we pray today to Mary, is the victory of love and of life in the family and in society!

The Castle of Prague, extraordinary both at the historical as well as the architectural level, suggests a further more general reflection: It gathers in its very vast space many monuments, realms and institutions, almost representing a polis, in which the cathedral and the palace, the square and the garden, coexist in harmony. Thus, in the same context, my visit was able to touch the civil and religious realm, not juxtaposed, but in harmonious closeness within distinction. Hence, addressing the political and civil authorities and the diplomatic corps, I referred to the indissoluble bond that must always exist between liberty and truth. It is not necessary to fear the truth, because it is the friend of man and of his liberty; on the contrary, only in the sincere search for what is true, good and beautiful, can a future really be offered to young people of today and to future generations. Moreover, what is it that attracts so many people to Prague if not its beauty, a beauty that is not only esthetic, but historical, religious, human in the widest sense? Those who exercise responsibilities in the political and educational field must be able to distill from the light of that truth what is the reflection of the eternal wisdom of the Creator; and they are called to give witness of it themselves with their lives. Only a serious commitment of intellectual and moral uprightness is worthy of the sacrifice of all those who have paid dearly for liberty!

Symbol of this synthesis between truth and beauty is the splendid Cathedral of Prague, dedicated to Sts. Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert, where the celebration of vespers took place with priests, religious, seminarians and a representation of laymen committed to ecclesial associations and movements. This is a difficult moment for the Central Eastern European community: To the consequences of the long winter of atheist totalitarianism, are being added the noxious effects of a certain Western secularism and consumerism. Because of this I have encouraged all to draw new energies from the Risen Lord, to be able to be evangelical leaven in the society and to commit themselves, as is already happening, to charitable activities, and even more so to educational and school activities.

I extended this message of hope, founded on faith in Christ, to all the People of God in the two large Eucharistic celebrations held respectively in Brno, capital of Moravia, and in Stara Boleslav, site of the martyrdom of St. Wenceslaus, the nation's principal patron. Moravia makes us think immediately of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, evangelizers of the Slavic peoples and, hence, of the inexhaustible force of the Gospel that, as a river of healing waters, crosses history and continents, taking life and salvation everywhere. On the portal of the Cathedral of Brno are engraved the words of Christ: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). These same words were echoed last Sunday in the liturgy, resounding the eternal voice of the Savior, hope for people yesterday, today and always. Eloquent sign of the Lordship of Christ, Lordship of grace and mercy, is the existence of the holy patrons of the different Christian nations, such as, precisely, Wenceslaus, young king of Bohemia of the 10th century, who was outstanding for his exemplary Christian witness and who was murdered by his brother. Wenceslaus put the kingdom of heaven before the fascination of earthly power and has remained forever in the heart of the Czech people, as model and protector in the different vicissitudes of history. To the numerous young people present in the Mass of St. Wenceslaus, also from neighboring nations, I addressed the invitation to recognize in Christ their truest friend, who satisfies the most profound aspirations of the human heart.
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Benedict XVI to pray for improved Sunday worship and evangelization efforts

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2009 / 10:29 am (CNA).- During the month of October, Pope Benedict XVI will pray that Sunday is properly celebrated by Christians as the day of Jesus' Resurrection and that they will eagerly embrace their responsibility to share the faith.

The Holy Father's general prayer intention for October is: "That Sunday may be lived as the day on which Christians gather to celebrate the risen Lord, participating in the Eucharist."

His mission intention is: "That the entire People of God, to whom Christ entrusted the mandate to go and preach the Gospel to every creature, may eagerly assume their own missionary responsibility and consider it the highest service they can offer humanity."

Complete human formation is solution to dictatorship of relativism, Pope says

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2009 / 11:07 am (CNA).- With 10,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated Wednesday’s general audience to retracing the stages of his journey to the Czech Republic. The history of the region, the Pope explained, shows us that progress must either be rooted in “integral human formation” or risk falling prey to dictators. In our day, the dictator is relativism, coupled with the dominance of technology.

The journey to the Czech Republic, he said, “was both a true pilgrimage and a mission to the heart of Europe, a pilgrimage, because Bohemia and Moravia have for over one thousand years been territories of faith and holiness, a mission, because Europe needs to find in God and His love the firm foundation of hope.”

"The love of Christ is our strength,” the Pope stated, explaining that it is "a force which inspires and animates real revolution, peaceful and free, and which sustains us in times of crisis, allowing us to rise again when painfully recovered freedom is in danger of being lost, of loosing its true meaning.”
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See also from Asia News, "Pope urges integral human formation against "dictatorship of relativism."

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel
:

Benedict XVI: The love of Christ is our strength
September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pope more popular than expected


The Pope's open-air masses brought out crowds of his loyal supporters. (ČTK)

Prague Daily Monitor
ČTK 29 September 2009

Prague, Sept 28 (CTK) - The interest of believers in two open-air masses during the three-day visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the Czech Republic was beyond the expectations and it was comparable with those served by his predecessor John Paul II in 1997, experts told CTK on Monday.

The time between the two visits has not brought any tangible progress in the problems the state has with Catholic church and highlighted by John Paul II in 1997. Nevertheless, Pope Benedict XVI chose the Czech Republic as the country to visit on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Communist regime, experts said.

The Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe, perhaps leading the field in this respect.

With his speeches, Pope Benedict XVI has made a pleasant surprise, having spoken in a more progressive way than expected, while he eschewed any patronising, Vojtech Elias, a professor of the Catholic faculty of Charles University, said.

"John Paul II was able to open the hearts of other people in an emotive fashion, while Benedict XVI can do so through arguments," said Elias, who noticed Benedict XVI's appeal to Czech church.

"Wait and see what this will do in our society and in church. The Pope seems to have told the church: you live in this society and you, the church, must bring joy and light into it," Elias said.

Priest and author Tomas Halik said he had been impressed by the Pope's behaviour.

"I was greatly impressed by his charisma. He is certainly not a man for the crowds as John Paul Pavel II used to be, but I think that unusual concentration, depth and kindness emanated from him," Halik told CTK.

Halik said the Pope represented "the voice of ethical reason" to over one billion people in the world.

Pope was very satisfied with his visit, although the position of church is still very weak in the Czech Republic, his assistants told journalists.
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Christians must remind Europe of her roots - Pope

Pope Benedict XVI has warned that attempts to marginalise the influence of Christianity upon public life in Europe are “detrimental to the well-being of society”.

Christian Today
by Gretta Curtis, Christian Post
Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2009, 9:47 (BST)


Enlarge this picture

Pope Benedict XVI greets pilgrims as he arrives to celebrate a holy mass in Stara Boleslav, Czech Republic, Monday, Sept. 28, 2009.(AP)

The Pope said that the “timeless saving truths” of the Gospel had shaped Europe and would continue to shape the social and cultural development of the continent.

“Europe continues to undergo many changes. It is hard to believe that only two decades have passed since the collapse of former regimes gave way to a difficult but productive transition towards more participatory political structures," he said.
The Catholic leader was speaking on Sunday to 40 leaders of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic. His three-day visit, which began on Saturday, came as the country prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which ousted the communist regime that had ruthlessly persecuted believers and confiscated church property.

The Pope added that Christians must remind others of Europe's Christians roots in the face of the marginalisation of the faith.

“Attempts to marginalise the influence of Christianity upon public life – sometimes under the pretext that its teachings are detrimental to the well-being of society – are emerging in new forms," he said.

“As Europe listens to the story of Christianity, she hears her own. Her notions of justice, freedom and social responsibility, together with the cultural and legal institutions established to preserve these ideas and hand them on to future generations, are shaped by her Christian inheritance.

"Indeed, her memory of the past animates her aspirations for the future. Christians are obliged to join others in reminding Europe of her roots.”
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Pope John Paul will be named Doctor of the Church, predicts Irish bishop

Catholic Culture-News Briefs
September 29, 2009

Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, who served as secretary to the committee of Irish bishops that organized the details of the 1979 papal visit to Ireland, has predicted that Pope John Paul will be day be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church because of his teaching on human sexuality and the dignity of the human person. The doctors, Bishop Smith explained, have made “an extraordinary contribution to the teaching of the Church and to the interpretation of the words of Christ, and to elaboration of the whole understanding of the Church.”

Bishop Smith also speculated that Pope Benedict XVI might one day also be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.

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

John Paul 'to be more than a saint' (Irish Times)

Benedict XVI announces second book on Jesus could be completed in 2010


Pope Benedict XVI

Aboard the papal plane, Sep 29, 2009 / 10:58 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI said this past weekend that while he has not yet fully recovered from the broken wrist he suffered over the summer, he has been working on the second part of his book on Jesus and that he could complete it by the Spring of 2010.

During a press conference on the way to Prague, the Holy Father told reporters, “The right hand works, and I can do the essential things: I can eat, and above all, I can write. My thought is developed mainly through writing; so for me it was really a burden, a school of patience, not to be able to write for six weeks.”

However, he continued, “I was able to work, to read, to do other things, and I also made a little bit of progress with the book. But I still have much to do. I think that, with the bibliography and everything that is still to be done, 'Deo adjuvante,' it could be finished next spring. But this is a hope!”

Caritas in Veritate

Responding to a question about the impact of his latest encyclical “Caritas in Veritate,” Pope Benedict XVI said, “I am very content that this serious discussion is taking place. This was the aim: to provide incentives and reasons for a discussion on these problems, not to leave things be as they are, but to find new models for a responsible economy, both in individual countries and for the totality of humanity as a whole.”

“It seems to me,” he went on, “that it has really become clear today that ethics is not something outside of the economy, which could work mechanically on its own, but is an inner principle of the economy, which does not work if it does not take into account the human values of solidarity, of reciprocal responsibilities, if it does not integrate ethics into the construction of the economy itself: this is the great challenge of this moment.”
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Newt Gingrich and the Pope



InsideCatholic.com
by Deal W. Hudson
9/28/09

When Newt Gingrich was received into the Church last March, the reactions were predictable. The former Speaker of the House was simultaneously welcomed, jeered, and cynically accused of positioning himself to run for president in 2012.

When I spoke to him last Friday in his Washington, D.C., office, Gingrich was humble and soft-spoken about his new faith. He was also excited about his forthcoming documentary, Nine Days That Changed the World, recounting Pope John Paul II's first trip home to Poland in June 1979 after being elected to the see of St. Peter. Gingrich's wife, Callista, a cradle Catholic, is a co-producer of the film.

The Gingriches first got the idea for the film five years ago on a trip to Rome, where Callista, as part of the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, was making a recording at the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. Conversations during the trip with Msgr. Walter Rossi, pastor of the basilica in D.C., combined with his recent reading of George Weigel's Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism, provoked thoughts about the parallels between Communist-ruled Poland and the growing secularism of the United States.

Gingrich hopes his film will be an "evangelical vehicle" to combat the "secularist moment" in our culture. Telling the story of how John Paul's visit led Poland to overthrow Communism, Gingrich said the film will contain a clear message: "Our true humanness is found only in a relationship with God." Added Gingrich, "I hope people will see the film and think about their relationship to Christ and the importance of courage." The projected release date is November 9, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

There is another Polish connection in the Gingrich family: Callista's grandmother, on her father's side, was from Krakow. Gingrich told me that his wife never pushed her faith on him, but by her example "it was clear it meant a great deal to her." He went to Mass with her at the basilica and wherever they traveled -- including Hawaii, where they were treated to a hula dance. "We've been able to see the extraordinary range of the Church," he told me.

Gingrich explained that his wife "created an environment where I could gradually think and evolve on the issue of faith." Reading and conversations with various friends, primarily Monsignor Rossi, fed that process until the moment of decision arrived.

The moment came when Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States in April 2008. Gingrich was seated in the basilica, where his wife's choir was to sing vespers for the Holy Father, when he was suddenly able to see the pope up close. He recalled, "It was clear he [the pope] was having the time of his life, and the joy in his eyes belied his reputation as an austere German. As he walked past me, I knew I wanted to become a Catholic."

"I knew that I belonged here," he went on. "No -- as a Catholic, I should put it: Here is where I belong." As Gingrich parsed his sentence, his eyes teared up, and he excused himself for getting emotional. He changed the subject, but the emotion remained in his voice as he talked about Benedict's visit to New York City.

"It was extraordinary," he told me; "we were so blessed." As he and Callista tried to get close to the pope's entourage driving up Fifth Avenue, they ended up on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral and were invited to stand at the back for the Mass. Then they were told that the pope would pass by their spot near the rope and bless a young boy in the wheelchair sitting next to them. They were overwhelmed when "Benedict XVI blessed the boy directly in front of us!"
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See also from Catholic Culture-News Briefs, "Gingrich working on documentary on Pope John Paul."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Beyond Left and Right

The Key for Freedom in Europe and America

By Carl Anderson

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, SEPT. 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has long made clear that Christianity does not believe in political messiahs. But again this weekend he reminded us that only faith in the true Messiah -- Jesus Christ -- can allow us to influence politics in a profoundly ethical way.

His words this past weekend in the Czech Republic -- a country celebrating 20 years since the collapse of communism -- have important implications for all of Europe and for the American continent -- two places whose history is inseparable from Christianity.

Speaking in the Czech Republic at an ecumenical meeting Sunday, the Pope noted, “As Europe listens to the story of Christianity, she hears her own. Her notions of justice, freedom and social responsibility, together with the cultural and legal institutions established to preserve these ideas and hand them on to future generations, are shaped by her Christian inheritance.”

And, Pope Benedict explained, Christianity must not be limited to the margins of society. Religious liberty must be protected, and Christianity must have a voice in the public arena, in shaping the conscience of the continent, and in bringing moral consensus.

Speaking to Czech government officials on Saturday, he said, “I wish to underline the irreplaceable role of Christianity for the formation of the conscience of each generation and the promotion of a basic ethical consensus that serves every person who calls this continent, ‘home!’”

And he noted that believers should always come to their politics from the perspective of their Christianity -- and should not subject Christianity to a political interpretation. He said, “Sensibility to universal truth should never be eclipsed by particular interests, important though they may be, for such would lead only to new examples of the social fragmentation or discrimination which those very interest or lobby groups purport to overcome.”
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Czech trip was low-key, but pope is ’very happy’


Photo by AP
Pope Benedict XVI arrives at Ciampino Military airport, near Rome today at the end of his pastoral trip to the Czech Republic.

Boston Herald
By Associated Press
Monday, September 28, 2009 - Added 4h ago

PRAGUE — Pope Benedict XVI wrapped up a low-key pilgrimage to the fiercely secular Czech Republic on Monday, reaching out to nonbelievers and calling on an increasingly diverse Europe to embrace Christian teachings.

Throughout the three-day visit, the crowds were contained, and so was the pope’s rhetoric.

Although he often wades into contentious issues such as abortion or same-sex marriage, this time a conciliatory Benedict — apparently unwilling to antagonize already apathetic Czechs — made no direct mention of either.

But the Vatican pronounced the pontiff’s 13th foreign trip a success. So did President Vaclav Klaus, a non-Catholic, who called it "extraordinarily successful."

Benedict’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the 82-year-old pope was "very happy" with the response in the ex-communist country, one of Europe’s most secular nations.

While acknowledging there is little the Vatican can do to radically change the situation, Lombardi said the church must send a loud and clear appeal as a "minority" and get out its message of love and hope.
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See also from National Catholic Reporter, "A great weekend for affirmative orthodoxy in Prague."

Have courage to prefer holiness to worldly power, Pope tells Czechs

Prague, Czech Republic, Sep 28, 2009 / 11:10 am (CNA).- On Monday morning, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the national feast day of St. Wenceslas, the patron of the Czech Republic.

Contrasting the example of “good King Wenceslas” with the sad history of the the last century, the Pope said that holiness is the only solution to mankind's longing for fulfillment and happiness.

September 28 is the day on which Czechs travel from all parts of the country to the church of St. Wenceslas at Stara Boleslav to celebrate the life and martyrdom of their nation's patron saint.

Wenceslas was born around the year 907 and ascended the throne in 925. According to tradition he was a highly cultured and religious king, a man of justice and a benefactor to the poor. He was killed for political reasons by his brother Boleslav in 935 and in 938 his remains were translated to Prague cathedral. Ever since the tenth century he has been venerated as a saint.

Pope Benedict arrived at the church on Monday morning and was greeted by the religious and civil authorities.

The Pontiff first paused in adoration before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and then descended into the crypt of the Mausoleum of the Czech Nation where the relics of the saint are exposed.
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See also from Asia News, "Pope says those who deny God seem to have an easy life, but are sad and unsatisfied."

See also from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Benedict XVI: The world needs believers with credibility
September 28, 2009

In Czech Republic, Pope Benedict's powerful challenge to secularism

Catholic World News (CWN)
Feature Stories

Sep. 28, 2009 (CWNews.com) -

During a weekend visit to the Czech Republic, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) surveyed the damage done to that nation by generations of Communist rule, and warned the Czech people against socialist materialism with secular materialism. "Man needs to be liberated from material oppressions", the Pontiff insisted.

In an unusual number of public speeches crowded into a 3-day schedule, the Pope repeatedly challenged the people of the Czech Republic to follow the example set by the great saints of their past history, revive a precious Christian heritage, and bring help to a society that is longing for true freedom but does not know how to find it.

The Pope began his trip-- the 13th foreign voyage of his pontificate-- on Saturday morning, and arrived in Prague shortly before noon. He was greeted at the airport by Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

During the welcoming ceremony the Pope outlined the theme that he would continue to develop, from different perspectives, throughout his stay. The Czech Republic, he said, has a deeply rooted Christian culture that can be traced back to the evangelization of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. Their country "has been a meeting point for different peoples, traditions and cultures," and consequently has played an important part in European history-- "sometimes as a battleground, more often as a bridge."

The recent history of the Czech people is clouded by the years of Communist rule, and "the cost of 40 years of political repression is not to be underestimated," the Pope continued. The atheistic regime strove to silence the voice of the Church, but brave Christians "kept the flame of faith alive." Now that religious freedom has been restored, the Church should be a powerful witness in a secular society.

The Pope's challenge was directed at a Czech population that has become thoroughly secularized, with religious influence dwindling in the past generation. But the huge throngs who greeted the Pope demonstrated that the flame of faith is still alive. On Saturday afternoon the Pope visited one of the centers of that enduring faith, the shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague. As he venerated the famous statue the Pope prayed for the welfare of troubled families.

Later in the afternoon the Pontiff traveled to Prague Castle for a formal meeting with President Havel, followed by talks with other political leaders. In an address there the Pope remarked that 20 years have now passed since the "Velvet Revolution" that swept the Communist government from power, and "the process of healing and rebuilding continues." The Czech people still seek true freedom, he said, and that freedom can only be attained through a recognition of truth. The truth about European society, he continued, cannot be understood apart from a recognition of that society's Christian heritage.

Prague, the Pope reminded the Czech political leaders, is often called "the heart of Europe." He asked them to consider how they could understand this "heart," and suggested that "a clue is found in the architectural jewels that adorn this city." The architecture confirms the Christian heritage, he observed. "The creative encounter of the classical tradition and the Gospel gave birth to a vision of man and society attentive to God's presence among us."

On Saturday evening, at he led a Vespers service in the city's cathedral, the Pope delivered the same message in even stronger form. "Society continues to suffer from the wounds caused by atheist ideology, and it is often seduced by the modern mentality of hedonistic consumerism amid a dangerous crisis of human and religious values and a growing drift towards ethical and cultural relativism," he said. Catholics must take the lead in guiding society back toward a model of Christian humanism.

Pope Benedict flew from Prague to Brno on Sunday morning, and celebrated an outdoor Mass there for a congregation of about 120,000. Again he lamented the development of a secular materialism in which Christian faith and hope "have been relegated to the private and other-worldly sphere." An intense public focus on economic and scientific progress has produced very mixed results, he reminded the congregation. Christians must provide the necessary counterpoint, constantly reminding their neighbors that reality is not confined to the visible, material world.

In the afternoon the Pope met with the Czech bishops, and renewed his warning against the forces in society that seek "to marginalize the influence of Christianity upon public life" and the "artificial separation of the Gospel from intellectual and public life." The Church, Pope Benedict said, must show "a spirit of courage to share the timeless saving truths" that bring hope to the world.

Returning to Prague Castle on Sunday evening, the Pope gave an address to Czech university faculty and students, delivering a message that reminded many listeners of the Pontiff's famous lecture at the University of Regensburg. The scholarly world, he reminded his audience, "is directed to the pursuit of truth, and as such gives expression to a tenet of Christianity which in fact gave rise to the university." For decades, the aspirations that fuel university life were suppressed by an ideology that stunted the human spirit. But the quest for truth and for freedom "can never be eliminated, and as history has shown, it is denied at humanity's own peril."

There is still enough risk, the Pope said, that academic life will be stunted by "the temptation to detach reason from the pursuit of truth." A spirit of dogmatic relativism, he said, "provides a dense camouflage behind which new threats to the autonomy of academic institutions can lurk." Again the net result is deadly to the scholarly enterprise, the Pope said: "An understanding of reason that is deaf to the divine and which relegates religions into the realm of subcultures, is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures that our world so urgently needs."
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See also from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Pope: The challenges of our time call for Christian unity
September 28, 2009



Benedict XVI: Integrated education must be regained
September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pope in Brno: Christ is certain hope for the Czech people, Europe and all humanity

» 09/27/2009 14:54
VATICAN – CZECH REPUBLIC

The history of the Czech lands is a symbol for the whole of humanity. Nazism and Communism appear when man “excludes God.” Today, in a society where faith is restricted to the private sphere, “progress is ambiguous”, with possibilities for good as well as evil. The Pontiff offers all Christians the message of hope in the crucified and risen Christ. He remembers John Paul II.

Brno (AsiaNews) – In celebrating a Mass “of hope’ near Brno airport (southern Moravia), Pope Benedict XVI turned his thoughts to “the people of this beloved land as well as Europe and the whole of humanity, thirsting as it does for something on which to base a firm future.” In doing so, he revealed the reasons underlying his trip to the Czech Republic. In his address to almost half a million faithful, in front of cardinals, bishops and priests from across Europe, he spoke to the whole of humanity. He travelled to the heart of Europe to tell the Czech people, Europe and all of humanity that “the only "certain" and "reliable" hope (see Spe Salvi. No. 1) is founded on God.”

Such certainty is self-evident in the past of the Czech lands, which saw the horrors of Nazism and Communism. “History has demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he excludes God from the horizon of his choices and actions, and how hard it is to build a society inspired by the values of goodness, justice and fraternity, because the human being is free and his freedom remains fragile.”

“Freedom,” he said, “has constantly to be won over for the cause of good, and the arduous search for the ‘right way to order human affairs’ is a task that belongs to all generations.”

To the Czech people, which is only 27 per cent Catholic against 57 per cent atheist (or perhaps agnostic), Benedict XVI offers “the message of salvation, ancient and ever new, that the Church proclaims from generation to generation: Christ crucified and risen, the Hope of humanity!”
more...

See also from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Benedict XVI: Christ saves us from the ills of the spirit
September 27, 2009



Pope Benedict XVI: Europe is the spiritual home of liberty
September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Benedict XVI: Europe should recover its Christian traditions

From YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

September 26, 2009



See also today from Zenit:

Pope's Address at Vespers
"Christ Is for Everyone!"

Pope's Discourse to Czech Authorities
"Truth Does Conquer, Not by Force, But by Persuasion"

Benedict XVI's Visit to Infant of Prague
"May Children Always Be Accorded the Respect and Attention That Are Due to Them"

Papal Address at Arriving to Czech Republic
"The Cost of 40 Years of Political Repression Is Not to Be Underestimated"

Pope arrives in Czech Republic for 3-day visit; hopes to revive faith


AFP Sat Sep 26, 3:33 PM ET
Enlarge photo...


Pope Benedict XVI kneels in front of the Holy Child at the Our Lady Victorious cathederal in Prague. The Pope hailed the fall of communism in eastern Europe as he arrived in Prague on Saturday for a three-day visit, his second to eastern Europe.(AFP/POOL/Max Rossi)

Pope: In Prague, now free, Christians make themselves heard to face the Millennium challenges

» 09/26/2009 20:22
VATICAN - CZECH REPUBLIC

During his visit to Prague, Benedict XVI recalls the persecution of Christians during the 40 years of communist regime, that wanted to eliminate the Church, but "without God man does not know where to go and does not even understand who he is." Love and respect that is due to all children.

Prague (AsiaNews) - "Without God, man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is", the phrase from the Caritas in Veritate was repeated today by Benedict XVI on his arrival in Prague, recalling the 40 years of "ruthless attempt" by the communist regime to "silence the voice of the Church." " Now that religious freedom has been restored, I call upon all the citizens of this Republic to rediscover the Christian traditions which have shaped their culture, and I invite the Christian community to continue to make its voice heard as the nation addresses the challenges of the new millennium.”

The thirteenth international journey of Benedict XVI - who will be in the Czech Republic until Monday - began with this speech, defining that nation as "the crossroad between north and south, east and west, meeting place of peoples, traditions and cultures." "From here derives the significant role that the Czech have played in the intellectual, cultural and religious history of Europe, sometimes as a battleground, more often as a bridge."President Václav Klaus welcomed te Pope at the Stará Ruzyně airport in Prague. The Pontiff, during the welcome ceremony, recalled the "indomitable Christian testimony in the face of persecution" given by Cardinal Josef Beran and František Tomášek. He then underlined that the presidential flag standing on the castle of Prague has the motto "Pravda Vít.zí - The Truth wins":”It is my earnest hope – he said - that the light of truth will continue to guide this nation, so blessed throughout its history by the witness of great saints and martyrs." " The authentic progress of humanity is best served by just such a combination of the wisdom of faith and the insights of reason. May the Czech people always enjoy the benefits of that happy synthesis.”

From the airport, Benedict XVI who was joyfully greeted, traveled by car to the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Prague where the Statue of Infant Jesus of Prague is worshipped and which refers to the age old tradition of worshiping Christ’s childhood.

“The figure of the Child Jesus, the tender infant, brings home to us God’s closeness and his love. We come to understand how precious we are in his eyes, because it is through him that we in our turn have become children of God. Every human being is a child of God and therefore our brother or sister, to be welcomed and respected. May our society grasp this truth! Every human person would then be appreciated not for what he has, but for who he is, since in the face of every human being, without distinction of race or culture, God’s image shines forth.”

“This – he continued- is especially true of children. In the Holy Infant of Prague we contemplate the beauty of childhood and the fondness that Jesus Christ has always shown for little ones, as we read in the Gospel (cf. Mk 10:13-16). Yet how many children are neither loved, nor welcomed nor respected! How many of them suffer violence and every kind of exploitation by the unscrupulous! May children always be accorded the respect and attention that are due to them: they are the future and the hope of humanity!”

See also:

From CTV.ca, "
Pope urges aloof Czech Republic to rediscover faith"

From the International Herald Tribune, "
Daunting Task for Pope Among Secular Czechs"

From CBC.ca, "
Pope urges Czech Republic to rediscover faith"

From the National Catholic Reporter, "
In Prague, Benedict XVI offers Erasmus for the 21st Century"

From BBC News, "
In pictures: Pope's Czech visit"

From the Brisbane Times, "
Believers, police in Prague brace for pope visit"

From INO News, "
Pope Urges Czech Republic To Rediscover Its Christian Roots"

From EARTHtimes.org, "
Pope calls on Czechs to rediscover Christian traditions - Summary"

From EuroNews, "
Pope in Prague on mission to revive Czech faith"

From the Boston Herald, "
Pope recalls communist-era evils in Czech visit"

From the National Catholic Reporter, "
Pope delivers upbeat message in ambivalent spot"

From AP via Yahoo! News, "
Pope recalls communist-era evils in Czech visit "

From thewest.com.au, "
Pope hails fall of 'oppressive regimes' in Europe"

From the National Catholic Reporter, "
Religion key to a 'healthy society,' pope tells secular Czechs"

From AP via Yahoo! News, "
Pope visits Czechs - but faith-wise, few are mates"

From Deutsche Welle, "
Pope on first visit to Czech Republic"

From GMA News, "
Pope Benedict XVI visits an increasingly aloof Czech Republic"

From New Kerala, "
Pope Benedict XVI blames TV, cinema for promoting secular lifestyles"

From EARTHtimes.org, "
Pope departs for Czech Republic"

Friday, September 25, 2009

Approach to 'day of atonement' shows differences between Christians, Jews

Catholic Culture-News Briefs
September 25, 2009

After Pope Benedict XVI indicated his intention to visit Rome's synagogue, Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister of L'Espresso recalled the sharp differences between Jewish and Christian thought, illustrated when Rome's Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni and a Cistercian priest, Father Abeynaike, offered reflections for L'Osservatore Romano on how Jews observe Yom Kippur, and Christians see that observance superceded by Christ's Sacrifice on Calvary.

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

The Pope and His Jewish Friends. So Near, and Yet So Far (L'Osservatore Romano)

Benedict XVI one of the smartest Popes in history, former Vatican spokesman says


Pope Benedict / Joaquin Navarro-Valls

Rome, Italy, Sep 25, 2009 / 03:28 pm (CNA).- Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who was the Vatican's official spokesman for 22 years, said in an interview that the Church currently has one of the brightest popes in history, and that one of the most unique aspects of Benedict XVI is his confidence in the rationality of individuals.

Navarro-Valls, who worked for almost two years with Benedict XVI, was interviewed by the Spanish daily El Mundo about his work at the Vatican and some aspects of the two Popes he served under.

Speaking about Benedict XVI, he said he considers him "the Pope with the largest and most brilliant personal bibliography in all of Church history. His conceptual wealth is fascinating. And I think people also outside the Catholic circles are aware of it. "

The former Vatican spokesman does not believe that the Holy Father is a cold person. "I would say the opposite. The manner in which he is moved—which is more frequent than believed—is to not react passionately in response to things,” he said.

He also found that the most unique aspect of his Pontificate is his "confidence in the rationality of people, in their ability to seek the truth," and the great obstacle he faces is, "as he himself said a few days before he was elected pope, the dictatorship of relativism."
more...

Vatican confirms papal trip to Fatima in 2010

Catholic Culture-News Briefs

September 25, 2009

Father Federico Lombardi has confirmed a Portuguese government announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Fatima to join in celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2010.

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

Pope Benedict XVI Plans European Visits (Vatican Radio)

Pope to visit Fatima next year? (CWN, Sep 24)

Love for Pope remains intact, says Czech cardinal on eve of Benedict XVI’s visit

Rome, Italy, Sep 25, 2009 / 05:12 pm (CNA).- On the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Czech Republic this weekend, the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, said Catholics there have been preparing for the important event in faith, hope and love and that day by day the expectations for the visit have been growing.

In an article published by L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal recalled the visit of John Paul II in 1990 after the fall of Communism, and said that the love for the Pope “has remained intact to this day in many of the faithful.”

He went on to explain that the Czech faithful have been preparing for Benedict XVI’s visit “based on three pillars of our faith: faith itself, hope and charity. Each one of us bishops has written pastoral letters that have been read at Sunday Masses. The main themes have also been the subject of reflection by priests in their daily homilies.”
more...

See also:

From Fox News, "Czech Republic Awaits Pope Visit"

From Radio Prague, "Pope Benedict to begin three-day visit to the Czech Republic"

From National Catholic Reporter, "Pope Benedict is visiting Czech Republic"

From Daily Telegraph, "Where religion lies in ruins"

From Bloomberg, "Pope Benedict to Confront Secularism on His First Czech Visit"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Letter #30, from America, Changes

insidethevatican - Sep 24, 2009



New Leadership at Vatican Bank

The Pope has named a new team to oversee the Holy See's financial dealings. Remembering Archbishop Marcinkus, and St. Anselm...

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from America

====================================

When Pope Benedict XVI became Pope at the age of 78 in 2005, some wondered if he would make any substantial changes in the Roman Curia.

At first, the answer was no.

Indeed, following the pattern common in Bavaria, where a new parish priest makes no changes at all for a full year out of respect for the previous pastor, Benedict, born and raised in Bavaria, made very few changes during his first year.

After that, he started making small changes, here and there, generally bringing in men he knew personally to serve as "his" men in the Curia.

And now, after four and half years, he has started to make some serious changes.

Yesterday, it was time for the Vatican bank.

===============================

"No man can serve two masters: Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." —Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of Matthew 6:24, Gospel of Luke 16:13

===============================

It is the first rule of journalism to "follow the money," and there is much to be said for that rule.

Money means all the forms of wealth this world contains.

"Mammon," Jesus called it.

He referred to it as the alternative to God.

He said that human beings often come to a crossroads and must decide whom they will serve, God or Mammon -- and they cannot serve both.

So the handling of the Church's money, the Vatican's money, is not a minor matter.

It is an important matter.

And it is a matter easily mishandled, and it has been mishandled, often, in the past.

================================

Here are excerpts from the Wall Street Journal's report on the story today, with a link to the entire article:

Vatican Revamps Its Bank's Ranks

By Stacy Meichtry

VATICAN CITY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2009 -- The Holy See announced a sweeping overhaul of the Vatican bank's management as part of Pope Benedict XVI's push for greater transparency at one of the world's most secretive financial institutions.

In a statement Wednesday, the Holy See said it had appointed Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who headed an Italian unit of Banco Santander SA, as the new head of the Vatican bank, which is called the Istituto per le Opere di Religione, or IOR. The Holy See also replaced the IOR's management board.

The appointment marks the end of Angelo Caloia's two decades at the helm of the IOR -- a run that made him one of the Vatican's most powerful and deeply entrenched officials. Mr. Caloia, an Italian banker and economist, was the first noncleric to run the IOR...

In his new post, Mr. Gotti Tedeschi will lead the IOR's "management board," a body of laymen who oversee the bank's operations. The Holy See also named new members to the supervisory board, including Carl Anderson, chief executive of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic group based in New Haven, Conn., and a member of several Vatican advisory bodies.

—Davide Berretta contributed to this article.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125373769718835097.html

=====================================

The same story was reported with a slightly different emphasis by Catholic News Service, the news service of the US bishops, which led with the American angle. (I find CNS generally reliable, and read it with great attention, but it sometimes has an "American" slant -- as is natural -- and this story shows that. The story leads with the Anderson appointment, and then mentions the Tedeschi appointment. And it adds a second name not mentioned in the Wall Street Journal report: that of Renaldo Hermann Schmitz):

Knights of Columbus leader named to Vatican bank supervisory panel

By John Thavis, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The head of the Knights of Columbus has been named by Pope Benedict XVI to a five-member council that supervises the activities of the Vatican bank.

Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, who heads the 1.7 million-member fraternal organization, was among three new council members announced by the Vatican Sept. 23...

Leaving his post on the council was Virgil Dechant, who stepped down as head of the Knights of Columbus in 2000.
more...

Pope will visit Rome synagogue

jweekly.com
Thursday, September 24, 2009

Follow j. on Twitter

Pope Benedict XVI said he would visit the main synagogue in Rome after the High Holy Days.

The pope said he looked forward “with joy” to the visit that, he said, was motivated by “my personal nearness and that of the whole Catholic Church” to the Jewish community.

The announcement that the pope was planning to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome was not a surprise. In March, the president of Rome’s Jewish community had said the pope would visit the synagogue this fall.

Benedict has visited synagogues in Germany and the United States as pope, but his visit to the Rome synagogue would be the first papal visit there since the historic visit by Pope John Paul II in 1986. That visit marked the first time a reigning pontiff had entered a synagogue. — jta

Rebirth of a Christian Europe Underway?

By Deacon Keith Fournier
9/24/2009
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

May this visit to England hasten the recovery of a dynamically orthodox Christian witness in that Nation; one which opens up the path to the recovery of a genuinely Christian Europe.


In an age which has witnessed a decline in Christianity on the European continent, Pope Benedict XVI is an ardent evangelizer, calling for a rebirth of Christianity in Europe.

LONDON (Catholic Online) – The London Times has reported that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Britain next year. If this wonderful news is confirmed it will mark the first official visit by a Pope. Pope John Paul II made a pastoral visit in 1982. The Times reports that this historic visit will soon be confirmed by the Vatican. It will take place next September. Further, that “…during his time in the country, expected to take place in September next year, Pope Benedict will have a meeting with the Queen, Supreme Governor of the Church of England and will be accorded the full panoply of a state visit. It is possible the Pope will also stay with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Gordon Brown extended a formal invitation during a private audience in February and preparations have been under way for some time”

Having an apparent access to the itinerary, the Times indicated it will include visits to London, Birmingham, Oxford and Edinburgh. The report has led to rumors that the Holy Father’s visit may indicate that the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman might take place in Birmingham, at the site of the Oratory which was founded by the beloved convert to the Catholic faith. Newman is one of the highest profile converts from Anglican Christianity to the Roman Catholic Church. He is still beloved by the Anglican Christians who maintain their ties to Christian orthodoxy against the decline within their own church. Other details of the itinerary: “The visit is expected to include an invitation to the Pope to address both houses of parliament at Westminster, in the same Westminster Hall where St Thomas More was tried and condemned in 1535 for opposing the Act of Supremacy. This was the act that made King Henry VIII "supreme head" of the emerging new Protestant body, the Church of England, signaling the formal breach with Rome”.

A visit by Pope Benedict to Britain may have implications for those within the Church of England who have witnessed their Church being torn from within over the last few decades. The decline of orthodoxy in that community has reached a critical stage where some observers think it is irreparable. There has been speculation over the plight of some within the broader Anglican community who openly discuss entry into full communion with the Catholic Church. The “Traditional Anglican Communion”, one of many “splinter groups” which have arisen as a direct result of the Church of England’s movement away from classical Christian orthodoxy, has formally requested to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. They have done so with a refreshing humility, agreeing to do whatever it would take. They still await a formal response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith in Rome.
more...

Pope to visit Fatima next year?

Catholic Culture-News Briefs
September 24, 2009

Government officials in Portugal report that Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima next year. The report indicates that the Pope will make the trip in May, to preside at celebrations for the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13. The Vatican-- which ordinarily does not confirm a papal trip until a few weeks before it takes place-- has not commented on the reports.

Pope John Paul II traveled to Fatima on three occasions during his pontificate, making his final trip in 2000 to preside at the beatification of Blessed Jacinta and Franscisco Marto, two of the three children to whom the Blessed Virgin appeared there. (The third Fatima seer, Sister Lucia Santos, died in 2005; a cause for her beatification was opened in 2008, after Pope Benedict waived the rule requiring a 5-year waiting period.) Pope John Paul had a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, crediting her with saving his life when he was shot in St. Peter's Square on her feast day: May 13, 1981.

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

Portugal says Pope Benedict XVI to visit Fatima (AP)

See also:

From BigPond News, "Pope to visit shrine of Fatima"

Be personally responsible for God's gift of creation, Benedict XVI counsels


Pope Benedict XVI

New York City, N.Y., Sep 24, 2009 / 10:35 am (CNA).- Adding his voice to the U.N. Summit on climate change, Pope Benedict XVI sent a video message to the meeting in New York on Tuesday. The Holy Father reminded the participants that "the natural environment is given by God to everyone, and so our use of it entails a personal responsibility towards humanity as a whole."

In his video message, which was made public today, Pope Benedict began by saying that his reflection was based on the "relationship between the Creator and ourselves as guardians of His creation."

"The Earth is indeed a precious gift of the Creator Who, in designing its intrinsic order, has given us guidelines that assist us as stewards of His creation," the Pontiff continued.

This is framework within which the Church sees "that matters concerning the environment and its protection are intimately linked with integral human development," he explained, pointing to his statement in his recent encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," where he said that these issues demonstrate the "'pressing moral need for renewed solidarity' not only between countries but also between individuals."

Because the natural environment is "given by God to everyone," the Holy Father underscored that "our use of it entails a personal responsibility towards humanity as a whole, particularly towards the poor and towards future generations."

The Pope then urged world leaders to speak with a united voice on the issue: "How important it is then, that the international community and individual governments send the right signals to their citizens and succeed in countering harmful ways of treating the environment! The economic and social costs of using up shared resources must be recognized with transparency and borne by those who incur them, and not by other peoples or future generations. The protection of the environment, and the safeguarding of resources and of the climate, oblige all leaders to act jointly, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the world."
more...

See also from Catholic Culture-News Briefs, "Pope voices support for UN effort on climate change."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pope Benedict to arrive next year for grand tour of United Kingdom

Millions will turn out for only second papal visit to Britain since 16th century

Independent
By Andrew Grice and Jerome Taylor
Thursday, 24 September 2009


AP
Negotiations for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI have been underway for nearly three years
Enlarge

Ever since Henry VIII broke with Rome to establish the Church of England in 1534, Britain has often been regarded as something of a rebellious outpost of the Catholic world. Until John Paul II's rapturous six-day visit to the UK in 1982, no pope had set foot on British soil since the Reformation.

Now, Pope Benedict XVI is to follow in his predecessor's footsteps. According to government sources, Gordon Brown has been told that the pontiff has accepted his invitation to visit "all parts of the UK". It is believed the Pope will arrive next autumn and visit England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Queen has been informed.

When John Paul II touched down at Gatwick in 1982 for a six-day pastoral visit, millions flocked to catch a glimpse of him in his Popemobile as he toured the country holding Masses for Britain's four million Catholics.

Negotiations for a papal visit for Benedict have been ongoing for much of the past three years, and in February the Prime Minister extended for the fourth time an official invitation to the Pope to visit the UK.
more...

See also:

From CNA, "British reports of papal visit bring Archbishop Nichols joy"

From the Belfast Telegraph, "Pope Benedict may visit Northern Ireland"

Letter #29, from America, Buckle Up

insidethevatican - Sep 23, 2009



Perfect Storm?

After a quiet summer, clouds gather over Rome...

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from America

A storm is about to be unleashed on the Pope, the Vatican, and, by extension, the Catholic Church.

The first drops of rain have just fallen, with public accusations that the Pope lied this winter in connection with the "Williamson affair." (see below)

============================

What is it about?

Whether this storm will "blow over," or intensify into a "perfect storm," only time will tell.

But whatever happens, there is this to keep in mind: many, inside and outside of the Church, would like the Church's traditional liturgy, known as the Latin Mass -- the old liturgy celebrated up until 1970, and two years ago designated by Pope Benedict XVI as the "extraordinary rite" of the Mass -- to disappear.

And they are irritated that Benedict -- against many and vociferous objections -- "restored" the old liturgy, which many thought had been buried definitively.

As strange as it may seem, this battle is in part about that -- about the survival of the Church's old liturgy -- about her way of worshipping God.

But when I say this, I do not mean to downplay other, quite obvious concerns, for example, the tense situation in the Middle East, or in the world economy.

I mean to say that, on a fundamental level, it is not simply a political or economic battle, as important as political and economic factors are, but a spiritual battle.

===============================

Is Rome alone?

And at a time like this, when many forces in the West (the European Union, the new US administration) seem to be aligning themselves in favor of a thoroughly secularized "new world order," the ally most helpful to Rome may well be the ally who still celebrates a divine liturgy which has not been modernized: the Orthodox.

And the most numerous and powerful of the Orthodox are the Russians.

In this perspective, these attacks on the Pope and the Vatican may drive Rome to ally herself, after a thousand years of separation, with Contantinople, and with Moscow -- reuniting the "three Romes"...

====================================

The allegation this morning is that Vatican officials (but not the Pope) lied when they said this winter that no one in the Vatican knew about Bishop Richard Williamson's views about the Holocaust when the Pope decided to lift his excommication on January 24.

However, this allegation has been exploited by the Church's current antagonist in Italy, Prime Minsiter Silvio Berlusconi, through his media empire, to suggest that the Pope, too, lied.
more...

Love, work, pray and suffer for the Church without ever abandoning or betraying it, Pope says

» 09/23/2009 16:36
VATICAN

In describing the personality of Saint Anselm in his address at the general audience, Benedict XVI stressed that theological research must be grounded in faith. No one who wants to do theology can rely on his intelligence alone.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Saint Anselm gave encouragement but also warned those who want to do theology that they must “love, work, pray and suffer for the Church without ever abandoning or betraying it.” Pope Benedict XVI made these remarks as he spoke to an 8,000-strong crowd in today’s general audience. For the Pontiff, the saint’s teachings are best exemplified by the following words: “I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe,—that unless I believed, I should not understand.”

The Pope noted that the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Anselm stands on Rome’s Aventine Hill, a landmark known today as a “place of prayer, study and government, the three things that ruled the life of Anselm of Aosta”. This year is the 900th anniversary of the saint’s death.

The Aosta-born saint is also known as Anselm of Bec and Anselm of Canterbury, something that connects Italy, France and England to a “theologian, who had an extraordinary power of speculation,” who was “an educator” as well as “a defender of libertas Ecclesiae.”

He was “a mystical soul, founder of scholasticism, described as a magnificent scholar for nurturing a desire to get into the divine mysteries in greater depth knowing that the march of God’s knowledge is never achieved, at least on this earth.”

For the Pontiff, what Saint Anselm said, even today remains “useful for healthy theological research by anyone interested in deeper knowledge.”

“Anyone who wants to do theology must not count on intelligence alone, but on a deep experience of faith as well.” This activity unfolds in three phases: faith as God’s gift, experience (which incarnates the Word in life) and true knowledge (not by reasoning alone).

“I wish to understand, at least to a certain point, your truth [. . .]. Indeed, I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe,—that unless I believed, I should not understand,” the saint wrote.

Anselm was born in Aosta in 1033 in noble family, the Pope said. His father was “harsh, dedicated to the pleasures of life, who squandered the family’s wealth.” His mother was very religious and took care of his education, which was later entrusted with the Benedictines of Aosta.
more...

See also:

From CNA, "Pope encourages Christians to love the truth and thirst for God"

VIS-Press release, "Anselm: Theologian and Defender of Church Freedom"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Benedict XVI: Love the Church without ever betraying her
September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Benedict XVI to Tell Czechs: Christ Is Our Strength

Spokesman Says He Will Encourage Church in Secularized Society

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's trip to the Czech Republic this weekend will "encourage the Church to offer a contribution of vitality, hope and charity to the secularized society in which it finds itself," according to a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi affirmed this today during a meeting with journalists to give details on the Pope's Saturday through Monday trip, which has the theme "The Love of Christ Is Our Strength." This is the 13th time the Holy Father will make an apostolic journey outside of Italy.

According to Father Lombardi, this trip, during which the Pontiff will celebrate the nation's patron, St. Wenceslaus, is framed in the historical context of the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism. It will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the canonization of St. Agnes of Prague.

The spokesman recalled that when John Paul II traveled to this country in 1990, he was visiting a nation of the former Communist bloc for the first time after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The Polish Pope went on to visit the Czech Republic twice more, in 1995 and 1997.

Benedict XVI's first stop in the nation will be to pay a visit to the image of the Infant Jesus of Prague. Over the course of the three-day trip, he will also meet with priests and religious, academics, youth and officials from the government. There will also be an ecumenical gathering.
more...

Date, Theme OK'd for Eucharistic Congress

Dublin Readies for 2012 Event

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI approved the date and theme for the next International Eucharistic Congress, to focus on the Eucharist as communion with Christ and with one another.

The Vatican press office reported today that the Pope approved the June 10-17, 2012, conference theme. The event will be held in Dublin, Ireland.

A communiqué explained that the theme is inspired in No. 7 of "Lumen Gentium": "Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another. 'Because the bread is one, we though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread' (1 Corinthians 10:17). In this way all of us are made members of His Body, (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27) 'but severally members one of another' (Romans 12:5)."

In fact, this 50th Eucharistic congress will take place precisely on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, which, according to Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, was "a moment of renewal and further reflection on the teaching of the Church and of her self-understanding as Body of Christ and People of God."

Preparations

The Archdiocese of Dublin has already begun preparations, establishing a local committee that will be headed by its archbishop. Its secretary will be Father Kevin Doran, a consultor of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
more...

CNA » Columns » In Good Company

September 22, 2009
With Benedict, We’re In Good Company
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti *





Have you met the Pope? I’ve had only the jumbotron introduction, having attended the Mass he celebrated at Nationals Stadium in April, 2008. Apart from that, the closest I’ve come is two degrees of separation. The friend of a friend once had the experience of recognizing then-Cardinal Ratzinger in St. Peter’s Square. Approached to ask for a picture, the future Pope did not understand that he was a celebrity being asked to pose, and instead tried to take my friend’s picture as any tourist might have asked of any passer-by!

Limited brushes with greatness can’t paint a full portrait. Still, I feel I know the man through his writing and preaching. He is, in spite of his reputed introversion, remarkably candid and personal –much more so than his predecessor, I think. (I say this by way of comparison, not as criticism.)

In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, when John Paul the Great is asked about his prayer life, the lovely, edifying response comes in the third person. He’s teaching us about the office of Pope. When Cardinal Ratzinger is asked a similar question in God and the World, he responds not with a lesson, but with a window into his own life of prayer. We learn that he’s restless in prayer: that he loves the rosary, but rarely prays more than two decades at a time, preferring to punctuate his day with a few decades here and there.

Though not a prankster (we can’t imagine Benedict XVI mugging for the camera as John Paul sometimes did to please crowds of youth), he delights in word play, gentle situational humor and irony. He created the moniker “the German Shepherd” for himself, in an audience with Bavarian pilgrims. He affectionately “blames” his guardian angel for not preventing the fall that broke his wrist this summer. In Benedict of Bavaria, Brennan Purcell recalls the Pope’s response when a journalist asked why his memoir didn’t mention women or romantic relationships. “I had to keep the manuscript to 100 pages” came the deadpan reply.

Arguably the most erudite figure of our time, a charming simplicity shines through his speeches and homilies. Without sacrificing his authority, there’s an unmistakable, “let’s look at this together” tone in his homilies, and he is capable of wonder at simple things: music, time spent outdoors, friendship.

More notably, he is disarmingly simple and realistic in acknowledging the difficulties posed by faith. In a recent Q& A with priests, for example, while encouraging them to see the supernatural value of suffering, he didn’t pretend the attitude came easily:

“It is always difficult to suffer. I remember Cardinal Mayer's sister. She was seriously ill and when she became impatient he said to her: "You see, now you are with the Lord." And she answered him: "It is easy for you to say so because you are healthy, but I am suffering my "passion'.”

Here again we see the Pope’s humor; I imagine everyone laughed at that anecdote, but he continued, more seriously: “It is true, in a true "passion" it becomes ever more difficult to be truly united with the Lord and to maintain this disposition of union with the suffering Lord. Let us therefore pray for all who are suffering and do our utmost to help them, to show our gratitude for their suffering and be present to them as much as we can, to the very end.”

His homilies are easy to read and understand, and never shy away from the toughest questions of faith. “Why does this matter?” “How is this relevant?” “Why do we bother with this?” There’s no objection a skeptic can raise that this Pope doesn’t himself raise first. We get the distinct impression he’s wrestled with these very questions and is passing along something he has lived.

In his first homily as Pope he dared to ask, “If we open ourselves totally to [Christ], are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? … Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom?” Because he is fearless and understands our interior battles so well, he convinces us when he answers, “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything.”

On the journey of faith, Benedict XVI is good company.

* Rebecca Ryskind Teti is a Catholic wife, mother, and contributing editor to Faith & Family magazine. Follow her daily at http://www.faithandfamilylive.com/.