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4/6/2011 2:29 AM
 
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See preceding page for earlier entries on 4/5/11.

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A few days late, but I just saw this item with photos and a few more details about the audience granted by thE Holy Fzather on April to the Ordinary of the first Personal Ordinariate for returning Anglicans... From the site of the Ordina5iate
www.ordinariate.org.uk/index.htm


Mons. Newton meets
with Pope Benedict XVI

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1st April 2011

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Cardinal Levada presents Mons. Newton to the Pope.

Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, was received in a private audience on April 1 y His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

During a scheduled visit to the Holy See, Mgr Newton met with the Holy Father and presented him a collection of the photographs of the Ordinariate groups which have been published on this website and the first ordinations.

Mons. Newton was accompanied by Bishop Alan Hopes,the Episcopal Delegate of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales for the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, and the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, William Cardinal Levada.

Monsignors Newton and Hope also presented the Pope with a copy of Fr Michael Rear's new book about pilgrimage to Walsingham, and an image of Our Lady of Walsingham.

It was the first time that Mons. Newton had met with the Holy Father since his nomination as Ordinary of the first Personal Ordinariate in January this year.

During his time in Rome, Mgr Newton has been attending meetings and engagements to aid the ongoing establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

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[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/6/2011 9:44 PM]
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4/6/2011 12:57 PM
 
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How and why we must
get to know Jesus of Nazareth

by Mons. Mariano Crociata
Translated from the 4/6/11 issue of
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Editor's Note: We publish almost in full the text of the intervention made by Mons. Mariano Crociata, secretary general of the Italian bishops' conference, in presenting Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth - Volume II at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan yesterday, April 5.


Without being a formal act of the Magisterium, the second part of JESUS OF NAZARETH by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is a happy and mature synthesis of a long and fruitful theological reflection which the author brings even to the exercise of his Petrine ministry.

The criteria that this reflection presupposes found exemplary expression in the intervention the Pope made on October 14, 2008, at the Ordinary General Assembly of the Bishops' Synod.

On that occasion, he affirmed the need for the historico-critical method that rests on the mystery of the Incarnation itself.

"The historical fact", he said, "is a constitutive dimension of the Christian faith. The history of salvation is not a myth, but true history and must therefore be studied with the methods of serious historical research". But it is special because it is a story open to divine action, which was also at work in the process of formation of Sacred Scripture itself.

In being both the divine Word and human words at the same time, the Bible demands that it be "read and interpreted with the same Spirit in which it was written" (Dei Verbum, No. 12), thus "following a fundamental rule in every interpretation of a literary text" (Benedict XVI, intervention cit.).

The three methodological elements which must guide this interpretation are therefore, the unity of all Scripture, which gives rise to canonical exegesis; the living Tradition of the Church; and the analogy of faith, namely, the organic consistency of all the content of our faith.

The absence of any of these elements would make Scripture 'just a book about the past' leading to a secularized hermeneutic based on 'the conviction that the Divine does not appear in human history', which creates 'a profound gap between scientific exegesis and lectio divina' (ibid.).

The work which we present rtoday affirms and overcomes the separation between scientific exegesis and the hermeneutic of faith, namely, the believer's interpretation of Sacred Scripture, arriving thus at a complete theological exegesis.

In this perspective, the author takes account of the most up-to-date exegetical and theological research, but also draws on all Tradition with special attention to the Fathers of the Church.

The basic reason for elaborating this synthesis is to to be found first of all in the need to know 'the real Jesus' as Benedict XVI calls him (Jesus of Nazareth, II, p. 6). - an expression that is best understood in comparison with and distinct from 'the historical Jesus', the term used by historical researchers to the Jesus known on the basis of applying the historico-critical method to Scriptural texts.

To get to know the real Jesus is inseparable from the constitutive dimension of his identity and experience, and therefore, of his personal and unique relationship with God the Father.

This relationship can be discerned only in the light of faith - outside of this perspective, it would be hard to make sense of it. But on the other hand, the original and generative dimension of the person of Jesus is altogether a historical event, and doing without it would irremediably preclude any possibility of gaining any access to the historical reality of the man of Nazareth.

The reservations that could be raised in this respect dissolve in the face of the consideration that faith is not without reason, much less against reason. Rather, reason constitutes the vaster horizon within which faith can be freely and critically exercised in penetrating the mystery of Jesus's reality.

The other face of this consideration has to do with our approach to Jesus of Nazareth. The question of 'how' to get to know him is woven with the question of 'why' to get to know him. If faith is the indispensable condition towards a knowledge of his personal and historical reality, then there can be no knowledge of him without a relationship with him, just as only communion with him allowed his disciples to have access to his reality and then bear witness to him.

Anyone can get to know Jesus of Nazareth, but one will truly encounter and know him if one accepts the secret spring of his person from his being the eternal Son of the Father, and therefore enters into a relationship of faith and love with him, experiencing 'intimate friendship with Christ, on which everything depends" (I, p.8).

In the horizon of faith, historical knowledge of Jesus loses nothing of intellectual honesty or critical rigor, but is consolidated and widened by his identity and by personal encounter with him that the most scrupulous historiographic accuracy cannot assure.

A look at the Pontificate of Benedict XVI from the perspective of his book on Jesus confirms the intuition that has only gained ground since his first encyclical, Deus caritas est. There is a message in his choice and development of themes - a message that indicates for the Church of our time the urgency of getting back to the essentials, to the center of the faith, and therefore, safeguarding and transmitting the integral patrimony of the faith we have received.

In the encyclical, it was God-Love; here, it is Jesus of Nazareth, eternal Son and Savior, about whom this second volume highlights his Paschal mystery. We are invited to look at him with renewed attention (Guardare Cristo [Looking at Christ] is the title of a series of spiritual exercises held by Joseph Ratzinger in 1986 and published in Italy in 1989) - all of us, bishops and priests, all believers, you who study in a Catholic university whose name itself is a reference to Jesus.

The message of this work by the Pope is a task for you: to give rise, from thinking made fruitful by the presence of Christ, to a culture and a scientific competence that is able to renew the human being in the context of his rediscovered relationship with God.

The second part of JESUS OF NAZARETH reviews the events of the last days in his earthly existence of Jesus to his Resurrection and Ascension, following step by step the thread of the New Testament in its multiple interweavings, internally and with the Old Testament, through a penetrating look that goes beneath the text to the events themselves and their significance.

From the beginning, the reader gets the impression that in the details as well as in the general picture, the author illuminates Scriptural text with a clarity that renders the explanation convincing and even fulfilling, responding perfectly to one's expectations of intelligibility.

It is the effect produced by an opus rotundum, a work that is well proportioned and complete in its overall articulation, in its contents, and in its attention to detail.

It asks us, above all, to enter ever more deeply into a contemplation and assimilation of the mystery of Christ, in a loving knowledge, and in an intelligent relationship of love with him as he is presented in this book.

In this sense, the two categories which are introduced to interpret Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles - a sacrament ad exemplum (by example) - assume a paradigmatic value in reference to all the actions of Jesus in his paschal mystery.

Let us listen to what the Pope writes in this regard:

By sacramentum they [the Fathers of the Church] mean, not any particular sacrament, but rather the entire mystery of Christ — his life and death — in which he draws close to us, enters us through his Spirit, and transforms us. But precisely because this sacramentum truly “cleanses” us, renewing us from within, it also unleashes a dynamic of new life. The command to do as Jesus did is no mere moral appendix to the mystery...It follows from the inner dynamic of gift with which the Lord renews us and draws us into what is his. This essential dynamic of gift, through which he now acts in us and our action becomes one with his...Jesus’s action becomes ours, because he is acting in us. (II, pp 61-62, English ed.)


One of the reflections that we can spontaneously grasp from this renewed look at Christ is doubtless the appeal to Christian responsibility in our time, and with it, our pastoral task. Among other possible points, I would like to cite three in this sense.

First of all, the eschatological dimension of Christian life, starting with the resurrection, about which we read:

...The essence of the Resurrection (is) precisely to burst open history and usher in a new dimension commonly described as eschatological. The Resurrection opens up the new space that transcends history and creates the definitive" (II, p. 275, English ed.).

The Ascension of Jesus means that

Through Baptism, our life is already hidden with Christ in God — in our current existence we are already “raised” with him at the Father’s right hand (cf. Col 3:1–3). If we enter fully into the essence of our Christian life, then we really do touch the risen Lord, then we really do become fully ourselves. [ibid., p. 286, English ed.).

This new condition confers a special character to awaiting the return of the Lord during what we might call the 'interim time'. "Christian prayer for the Lord’s return always includes the experience of his presence... He is with us now.." (ibid., p. 289, English ed.).

We must speak, as St. Bernard did, of an adventus medius, of a coming of Jesus between the first and the last, abd therefore, of "an eschatology of the present... (since) the interim time is not empty... This anticipatory presence is an essential element
in Christian eschatology, in Christian life" (ibid., p. 291, English ed.).

To this one can link the theme of the time of the Gentiles with the t time of the Church "the message given by Jesus to his disciples
before his Passion. The time of the Gentiles — 'the time
of the Church' — proclaimed in all the Gospels, constitutes an essential element of Jesus’s eschatological message" (ibid., p. 44, English ed.).

In an eschatological horizon that is thus understood, which encompasses the time of Christian existence, two tasks face us which Christ's sacramentum and exemplum demand andd make possible.

The first refers to our personal dimension as it emerges in the prayer of Jesus at Gethsemane, in which he experiences that deeply intimate conflict between the human will and God'ss that has afflicted the human condition since the original sin.

He overcomes this conflict in himself since the will of his divine person encompasses the will of his human nature.

And this is possible without annihilating the specifically human element, because the human will, as created by God, is ordered to the divine will. In becoming attuned to the divine will, it experiences its fulfillment, not its annihilation"(ibid., p. 158, English ed.).

And even if, after sin, man's orientation towards cooperating with God was transformed to opposition,

The obstinacy of us all, the whole of our opposition to God is present, and in his struggle, Jesus elevates our recalcitrant nature to become its real self. (ibid., p 160, English ed.).

The second task derives from the trial of Jesus and the reason for his being condemned to death. The trial in fact brings out the political concerns that were at the origin of the proceedings against Jesus by a priestly aristocracy and the Pharisees who were united in this instance.

Yet this political interpretation of the figure of Jesus and his ministry caused them to miss completely what was most characteristic and new in Jesus: Through the message that he proclaimed, Jesus had actually achieved a separation of the religious from the political, thereby changing the world: this is what truly marks the essence of his new path (ibid., p. 168, English ed.).

In how the events developed, the divine plan emerged which, beyond the reasons that had led to the death sentence on Jesus, was fulfilled on the basis of human decisions. This demonstrates how the separation of politics and faith could only take place through the Cross.

Only through the total loss of all external power, through the radical stripping away that led to the Cross, could this new world come into being. Only through faith in the Crucified One, in him who was robbed of all worldly power and thereby exalted, does the new community arise, the new manner of God’s dominion in the world (ibid., pp. 170-171, English ed.).

In front of Pilate, Jesus acknowledges his kingship, but as an absolutely new concept, structurally linked to the power of truth. God is the measure of being. In this sense, truth is the real 'king' which gives light and grandeur to everything.

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4/6/2011 1:26 PM
 
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Wednesday, April 6, Fourth Week in Lent
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ST. CRESCENZIA HOESS (Germany, 1662-1744), Franciscan Nun
She was a weaver's daughter in Augsburg who showed remarkable piety that even as a child she
was called 'little angel'. She was refused admission to the novitiate by the Franciscans because
she had no dowry, but four years later, she was admitted with help from a philanthropist. However,
she was discriminated against and given menial jobs. Later, under a new supervisor, she became
mistress of novices and financial manager. She not only improved the convent's finances and its
spiritual level. but she soon started attracting people, including cardinals and princes, who came
to her for spiritual advice. Always afflicted with one illness or another, she was crippled towards
the end of her life, with a condition that led her to be curved permanently in a fetal position. She
was beatified in 1980 and canonized in 2001.
Readings for today's Mass: www.usccb.org/nab/readings/040611.shtml



OR today.
Two articles in this issue on JON-2, one on Page 1 is an essay about truth in Christ's dialog with Pontius Pilate, and the text of Mons. Mariano Crociata, CEI secretary-general, in presenting JON-2 at the Universita Cattolica di Sacro Cuore. Page 1 international news: As his artillery continues to pound revel positions and he threatens to cut off teh water supply to the rebel-held city of Benghazi, Qaddafi offers 'free elections and political reforms'; defiant ex-president Ngagbo's troops attack UN headquarters in the Ivory Coast capital as an act of reprisal, as they mount a last-ditch stand against advancing forces supporting President-elect Ouattara; and Moody's brings down Portugal's credit rating.


AT THE VATICAN TODAY

General Audience today - The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), the last and youngest of the 33 Doctors of the Church so far, proclaimed by John Paul II in 1997. The Pope also made an appeal for an end to the continuing violence in Libya and the Ivory Coast.

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4/6/2011 2:00 PM
 
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GENERAL AUDIENCE TODAY
Catechesis on St. Therese of Lisieux
(1873-1897)
Doctor of the Church



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With this catechesis today, the Holy Father has completed his presentation of the 33 Doctors of the Church - saints recognized by the Church for the outstanding importance and quality of their teachings to the life of the Church. Most of them he had introduced in earlier catechetical cycles on the great figures in Church history after the Apostles - from the 4th-century Fathers of the Church, through the great medieval saints and teachers.

in his latest catechetical cycle, he presented the eight remaining Doctors, starting with the saints of the Counter-Reformation to St. Alphonsus Liguori and now, St Therese of Lisieux. Here is how he synthesized today's lesson in English:


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Our catechesis today deals with Saint Theresa of Lisieux, the young Carmelite nun whose teaching of the “little way” of holiness has been so influential in our time.

Born and raised in a devout French family, Theresa received permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux at the tender age of fifteen.

Her name in religion – Sister Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face – expresses the heart of her spirituality, centred on the contemplation of God’s love revealed in the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption.

In imitation of Christ, Theresa sought to be little in all things and to seek the salvation of the world. Taken ill in her twenty-third year, she endured great physical suffering in union with the crucified Lord; she also experienced a painful testing of faith which she offered for the salvation of those who deny God.

By striving to embody God’s love in the smallest things of life, Theresa found her vocation to be “love in the heart of the Church”. May her example and prayers help us to follow “the little way of trust and love” in spiritual childhood, abandoning ourselves completely to the love of God and the good of souls”.



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Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis:


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Today, I wish to speak to you about St. Therese of Lisieux, Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, who lived in this world for only 24 years towards the end of the 19th century, leading a life that was very simple and hidden, but who, after her death and the publication of her writings, has become one of the best-known and best-loved of saints.

The little Therese has never stopped helping simpler folk, the little ones, the poor and the suffering who pray to her, but also illuminates the Church with her profound spiritual doctrine, such that the Venerable John Paul II, in 1997, gave her the title Doctor of the Church, in addition to that of Patroness of Missions conferred on her by Pius XI in 1939.

My beloved predecessor called her 'an expert in the science of love'
(Novo Millennio ineunte, 27). This knowledge, which sees all the truth of the faith resplendent in love, was expressed by Therese primarily in the story of her life, published one year after her death under the title The Story of a Soul.

It was a book that immediately had enormous success, and was translated into many languages and sold around the world. I invite you to rediscover this small but great treasure, this luminous commentary on a Gospel that was fully lived.

The Story of a Soul is, in fact, a marvelous story of love, told with such authenticity, simplicity and freshness that the reader can only be fascinated!

But what is this love that filled all of Therese's life, from infancy to her death? Dear friends, this Love has a Face, it has a Name, and it is Jesus! The saint speaks continually of Jesus. Let us then trace the major stages of her life to enter into the core of her doctrine.

Therese was born on January 2, 1873 in Alençon, a city in Normandy, France. She was the last child of Louis and Zelie Martin, exemplary spouses and parents who were beatified together on October 19, 2008. They had nine children, of whom four died very young. They were left with five daughters who all became nuns.

Therese, at age 4, was profoundly marked by the death of her mother
(Ms A, 13r). The father moved his family to the city of Lisieux where the saint would live the rest of her brief life. Much later, Therese was afflicted with a severe neurological illness, but was healed by divine grace, which she herself called 'the smile of the Madonna' (ibid., 29v-30v). She then received her First Communion, which she lived intensely (ibid., 35r), placing the Eucharist in the center of her existence.

The 'Christmas grace' of 1886 marked the great turning point, that she called her 'complete conversion'
(ibid., 44v-45r). In fact, she was cured of her infantile hypersensitivity and started her 'gigantic course'.

At age 14, Therese grew even closer, with great faith, to the Crucified Jesus, and took very much to hear the case of a criminal who was condemned to death but impenitent
(ibid., 45v-46v).

"I wanted at any cost to keep him from falling into Hell", she wrote, with the certainty that her prayers would bring him in contact with the redeeming Blood of Jesus. It was her first and fundamental experience of spiritual maternity.

"I had so much faith in the Infinite Mercy of Jesus," she wrote. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, the young Therese loved, believed and hoped with 'a mother's heart'
(cfr PR 6/10r).

In November 1887, Therese went on a pilgrimage to Rome with her father and sister Celine (ibid., 55v-67r). For them, the peak moment was their audience with Pope Leo XIII, whom she requested for permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux though she was only 15.

One year later, her desire was realized - she became a Carmelite "to save souls and pray for priests"
(ibid., 69v). At the same time, however, the painful and humiliating mental illness of her father began. He suffered greatly, which led Therese to contemplate the Face of Jesus in his Passion (ibid., 71rv).

Thus her religious name - Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face - expresses the program of her whole life, in communion with the central mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption.

Her profession of vows, on the feast of Mary's Nativity on September 8, 1990, was for her a true spiritual matrimony in evangelical 'smallness', symbolized by the flower: "What a beautiful feast of Mary's Nativity to become the spouse of Jesus!", she wrote. "It was the Blessed Virgin who presented her little flower to the Baby Jesus"
(ibid., 77r). For Therese, to be nun meant being the spouse of Jesus and mother of souls (cfr Ms B, 2v).

The same day, the saint wrote a prayer that indicates the entire orientation of her life: She asked Jesus for the gift of his infinite love, to be the littlest one, and above all, she asked for the salvation of all men: "Let no soul be damned today" (Pr 2).

Of great importance was her offeromg of Merciful Love, on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity in 1895 (Ms A, 83v-84r; Pr 6)- an offer that she immediately shared with her fellow nuns, since she was by now mistress of novices.

Ten years after her 'Christmas grace', in 1896, came her "Easter grace', which opened the last period of her life, with the start of her passion in profound union with the Passion of Jesus.

It was the suffering of the body, with the illness that would lead her to death with great suffering, but above all, it was a passion of the soul, with a most sorrowful trial of her faith
(Ms C, 4v-7v).

Alongside Mary at the foot of the Cross, Therese lived her faith most heroically, as a light in a soul invaded by darkness. The Carmelite nun felt that she was experiencing this great trial for the salvatio.n of all atheists in the modern world, whom she called 'brothers'

She experienced fraternal love even more intensely
(8r-33v): towards the sisters of her community, towards two spiritual brothers who were missionaries, towards priests and towards all men, especially those who were most distant. She truly became a 'universal sister'.

Her loving and smiling charity was the expression of the profound joy whose secret she reveals to us: "Jesus, my joy is loving you".
(P 45/7). In the context of her suffering, experiencing the greatest love in the smallest things of daily life, the saint fulfilled her vocation to be Love in the heart of the Church (cfr Ms B, 3v).

Therese died on the evening of September 30, 1897, saying the simple words, "My God, I love you", looking at the Crucifix that she gripped in her hands. These last words of the saint are the key to her whole doctrine, of her interpretation of the Gospel.

The profession of love, expressed with her last breath, was like the continuing breath of her soul and the beating of her heart. The simple words, "Jesus, I love you" are at the center of all her writings.

The profession of love for Jesus immersed her in the Most Holy Trinity. She wrote, "Oh, you know, Divine Jesus, that I love you/ The Spirit of Love sets me ablaze with its fire/ It is in loving you that I draw close to the Father"
(P 17/2).

Dear friends, we too, with St. Therese of the Child Jesus, should be able to repeat every day to the Lord that we want to live with love for him and for everyone, to learn from the school of saints how to love in an authentic and total way.

Therese was one of the 'little ones' of the Gospel who let themselves be led by God to the depth of his mystery. A guide for everyone, especially for those who, among the People of God, carry out the ministry of theologians.

With humility and charity, faith and hope, Therese enters continually into the heart of Sacred Scripture which encloses the mystery of Christ. Such a reading of the Bible, nourished by the science of love, is not in opposition to academic science.

Indeed, the science of the saints, of which she herself speaks on the last page of her Story of a Soul, is the highest science: "All the saints have understood it, especially those who fill the universe with the irradiation of their evangelical doctrine. Was it not perhaps from prayer that Saints Paul, Augustine, John of the Cross, Thomas Aquinas, Francis, Dominic and so many other illustrious friends of God that drew this divine science that has fascinated the greatest geniuses?"
(Ms C, 36r).

Inseparable from the Gospel, the Eucharist was, for Therese, the Sacrament of Divine Love who had abased himself to the extreme in order to raise us up to him. In her last letter, on an image that represents the Child Jesus in a consecrated Host, the saint wrote these simple words: "I cannot fear a God who made himself so small for me!... I love him! Indeed, he is nothing other than Love and Mercy (LT 266).

In the Gospel, Therese discovers above all the mercy of Jesus, to the point of saying: "He has given me his infinite mercy through which I contemplate and adore all other divine perfections!... Therefore, everything seems to me to be radiant with love - Justice itself (perhaps more than any other) seems to me to be clothed in love" (Ms A, 84r).

And so she writes in the last lines of the Story of a Soul: "As soon as I look at the Holy Gospel, I immediately breathe the perfumes of the life of Jesus and I know which way to run to... I am headed not to the first place but to the last... Yes, I feel that even if I had all the sins that I could commit on my conscience, I would go, with my heart broken with repentance, to throw myself into the arms of Jesus, because I know how much he loves the prodigal child who returns to him" (Ms C, 36v-37r).

"Trust and love' are therefore the final points in her narrative of her life, two words which had illuminated her journey like two beacons in order that she could lead others on her same 'little way of trust and love', of spiritual infancy (cf Ms C, 2v-3r; LT 226).

Trust as that of the baby who abandons himself in the hands of God, inseparable from the strong and radical commitment of true love, which is the total gift of oneself, for always, as the saint says, contemplating Mary: "To love is to give everything, to give oneself" (Why I love you, O Mary. {P 54/22).

Thus, Therese shows everyone that Christian life consists in fully living the grace of Baptism in the total gift of oneself to the Love of the Father, in order to live like Christ, in the fire of the Holy Spirit, the same love that he has for everybody".



Pope appeals for Libya and Ivory Coast:
Violence and hatred are always a defeat

Adapted from
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April 6, 2011

At the end of the General Audience, the Holy Father made yet another statement about continuing bloody conflicts in Africa:

I continue to follow the dramatic events that the dear people of Ivory Coast and Libya are experiencing in these days with great concern. I also hope that Cardinal Turkson, whom I sent as my envoy to Ivory Coast to express my solidarity, will soon be able to enter the country.

I pray for the victims and am close to all those who are suffering. Violence and hatred are always a defeat! For this I offer a new and urgent appeal to all involved to start the work of peace and dialogue and to avoid further bloodshed.

For the third time in as many weeks Pope Benedict XVI urged the international community to return to the path of dialogue and ensure the security and safety of the civilian populations of both countries.

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[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/7/2011 2:34 AM]
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Slain Pakistani minister's
brother meets the Pope:
'Love and forgiveness
must prevail over hatred'

Translated from the Italian service of
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April 6, 2011

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At the end of today's General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI greeted Paul Bhatti. older brother of slain Pakistan's Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who has been named by the Pakistani government to be an adviser on minority affairs to the Prime Minister.

Bhatti was accompanied by Mons. Joseph Coutts, Bishop of Faisalabad (home diocese of the Bhattis) and Syed Muhammad Abudl Khabir Azad, Grand Imam of the Bahahahi Mosque in Lahore.

Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated a month ago by Islamic extremists for his open support of amendment to Pakistan's anti-blasphemy law which criminalizes any word or gesture interpreted to be anti-Islam or anti-Mohammed.

At a meeting yesterday organized by the Sant'Egidio community, Paul Bhatti, who until recently, had worked for years as an emergency-room doctor in Italy, said he has pardoned his brother's assassins. Francesca Sabatinelli interviewed him:

BHATTI: Our brother Shabazz was Christian, and the Christian faith teaches forgiveness, and therefore our family has decided to forgive his assassins. But at the same time, we do want to find out who exactly were behind this crime.

You have said that as the older brother, you had always sought to protect him. But now, you are following his footsteps...
When I was merely advising him, I looked at my brother purely with fraternal love. I had not really considered the activities that he was undertaking nor the responsibility that he had taken on. Now, living in his situation, seeing all the people who perhaps need someone to lead them, observing all who are marginalized, I feel the need to continue his work.

And what fears do you have today?
I do have fears, because some people act according to the logic of hat and terrorism, and perhaps they feel hatred towards our family and will act accordingly. I am aware this can happen.

The raw nerve caused by the anti-blasphemy law is the way it is interpreted...
Yes, I believe so. This law was originally an English law when they ruled India [at which time, the eastern and western parts of the Indian subcontinent, now Bangladesh and Pakistan, respectively, were all part of the territory called India under British rule. Oakistan broke away after independence in 1949, and many eyars later, Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan.]

However, in Pakistan, it has been used and interpreted subjectively for personal motivations. For instance, Aasia Bibi - a woman from a socio-cultural class that is considered very low, and who is very poor - had absolutely no thought of insulting Mohammed. It was obvious that they created a situation to punish her for what she is, and perhaps due to some personal rancor against her.

What are the primary challenges that face you now?
The first is this religious discrimination which is growing daily. Not because people of different faiths are incapable of living together but because there is a hate campaign created by a terrorist base which continues to use religion improperly. We should fight against such hatred. If we don't, there will always be victims.

It hasn't only been my brother. In Pakistan, bombs are going off every day somewhere and killing people. So this is the first challenge.

You have thanked the international community and Benedict XVI for their support after your brother's assassination. Do you have support in your own country?
Yes, we have the support of the present government. The fact that they asked me to carry on my brother's work, in some way, is a proof of their attitude, because so many other people wanted this post. But the government has given me the task to continue the work and has expressed full support for what we can do to prevent these things from happening again.

Your favorite memory of your brother?
As a brother I have excellent memories of him, as our parents have of him as a son. He was an exceptional person. I never saw him get angry. If, for whatever reason, he might be angry with someone, he would first seek to make peace. And whenever he was home, everything was serene. Now, of course, we do not have the same serenity.

Mons. Joseph Coutts, Bishop of Faisalabad, celebrated the funeral Mass for Shahbaz Bhatti, and knew him well as a member of his diocese. Today, speaking of Bhatti's sacrifice, he compared him to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Archbishop Oscar Romero of Nicaragua:

MONS COUTTS: I remember Shahbaz as a very sincere young man, not as a politician. When he became a federal minister, he remained very humble, with a tremendous sense of responsibility, always thinking in terms of "What can I do?" He was always very positive.

Do you think his death has weakened the hopes of Pakistani Catholics?
He was a diehard Catholic but he was minister for all religious minorities, so his death was a blow for Pakistan in general.

What are the challenges related to the anti-blasphemy law?
So many problems! Our government is a coalition but there is no strong opposition, and the extremists are exploiting this situation and have become very strong. They are well armed, they are well-versed in waging terrorism, and it is not easy for the Pakistani military to control all their activities.

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[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/7/2011 4:30 AM]
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Aggressive secular campaign
in Spain will ramp up
as WYD approaches

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April 6, 2011 -

In the fall of 2007, I spent a week in Spain, giving lectures, meeting with Spanish Catholic leaders, and making a hair-raising climb up several hundred scaffolding stairs to the top of Antoni Gaudi’s Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona—preceded by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul II’s longtime secretary, who was doing the trip in a cassock (after confessing to me, sotto voce, that he wasn’t too fond of heights)! [That's strange for someone born in the Polish highlands and a skier!]

Over the course of numerous conversations in those days, it became clear that the government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, in power since April 2004, was not simply secular in character but aggressively secularist.

- Textbooks were being re-written to enforce the government’s leftist view of modern Spanish history.
- Students aiming for admission to prestigious universities would be required to give the “correct” answers about such traumas as the Spanish civil war in order to pass their entrance exams.
- Street names were being changed to eradicate the memory of the politically disfavored from Spain’s past.
- Marriage had been legislatively redefined so that any two people, of whatever gender, could be civilly “married.”

(Shortly after I left the country, another law enabled a Spaniard to enter a civil registry office and “change” his or her sex simply by making a declaration to a government bureaucrat that she was now he, or vice versa. Some things are so absurd that they compel ridicule, and this one prompted me to a knockoff from “My Fair Lady”: “The dame in Spain is mainly in the name.”)

In interviews with the Spanish press, I suggested that the 20th century had a name for a political program that tried to re-manufacture human nature while re-writing history: the name was “Stalinism,” which used to be considered a hateful thing.

Zapatero’s Spain was not, of course, Stalin’s Soviet Union in the latter’s most brutal manifestations. Nor was the current Spanish government as crudely malevolent as the Spanish Stalinists of the late 1930s who, during the Spanish Civil War, murdered tens of thousands of priests and religious, often sadistically.

The Zapatero government, I suggested, was far more clever. It would impose a hard-left agenda on Spain through legislation, step by step, rather like the frog being slowly boiled in a pot of water who doesn’t realize that death is at hand until it’s too late.

Recent events in Spain have done nothing to persuade me that these judgments were excessively harsh.

Pope Benedict XVI visited Spain last November, gave two spectacular homilies at Santiago de Compostela (on the Christian roots of Europe) and at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (on beauty as a pathway to God).

Prime Minister Zapatero did not attend either event and spent the three days after the Pope’s departure denouncing Benedict XVI while campaigning in Catalonia.

In March, dozens of secularist student gangsters, armed with a megaphone and defamatory posters, crashed into the chapel of Madrid’s Complutense University while Catholic students were at prayer.

The radicals shouted deprecations of the Church, Pope Benedict, and the Catholic clergy; several of their number, women, stood on the altar and undressed from the waste up; two of the striptease artists boasted of their lesbianism.

This obscene spectacle in the Spanish capital came shortly after several Spanish churches throughout the country had been trashed.

All of which suggests that Spain is now Ground Zero in the European contest between Catholicism and the dictatorship of relativism.

And the latter is precisely what the secularist radicals of Spain are up to: imposing their concept of freedom-as-license through coercive state power and intimidation-through-violence.

Bizarre legislation that rewrites history and redefines human nature is the first half of the equation; gang violence is its new and ominous complement. A different kind of war has been declared on the Church.

It hardly seems accidental that these attacks against Catholic facilities have come in the months before World Youth Day 2011, which will be held in Madrid from Aug. 16 through Aug. 21.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. A tremendous turnout at Madrid in five months will demonstrate that the challenge has been accepted.



We should not doubt the turnout, because it has been impressive, usually about a million local residents turning up for the annual March for Life held at the New Year in Madrid, driven no doubt by the increasingly outrageous ultra-liberal legislation passed by the Zapatero government.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/6/2011 5:45 PM]
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If only Catholic media and commentators had made this distinction clear from the start instead of getting tied up into disputes over whether the obvious failures during a Pontificate, which was also marked with great successes, should not disqualify - or at the very least, raise questions about - the beatification of John Paul II, and that therefore, the supposed 'rush to judgment' by the Church is uncalled for. Now that Cardinal Amato has done so, a Vaticanista like Paolo Rodari has picked it up, and brings up other pertinent considerations...


The Church is beatifying
Karol Wojtyla for his personal holiness
not for his Pontificate

by Paolo Rodari
Translated from
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April 6, 2011

As the date for the beatification of John Paul II approaches, the Vatican wants the world to be clear that Karol Wojtyla is being beatified, not his Pontificate.

It is a distinction made by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, at a news conference in teh Pontifical University of Santa Croce [and in an article in L'Osservatore Romano] earlier this week.

"The cause for beatification did not get to this point because of the impact of his Pontificate on history but for the virtues of faith, hope and charity that characterized the life of Karol Wojtyla".

He also pointed out that in agreeing to the request made by then Cardinal Vicar Camillo Ruini of Rome to waive the usual five-year waiting period to begin the beatification process for the late Pope in May 2005, one month after he died, Benedict XVI was responding to a widespread popular acclamation of John Paul's saintliness [not to mention a letter signed by several cardinals before the 2005 Conclave to the same effect].

As for his Pontificate and its problems, that is a different matter. So much so that one could even read Joseph Ratzinger's Pontificate as an attempt to set straight a certain disorder that had been left behind by his predecessor.

[Rodari should have been much more explicit: His Pontificate and its problems, indicating his shortcomings as an administrator and probably some errors in judging others, have nothing to do with John Paul's personal holiness. If he had never become Pope, he would most likely now be a candidate saint nonetheless. History will judge his Pontificate, not the Congregation for Saints.

However towering their achievements as Pope, Leo the Great and Gregory the Great would never have been proclaimed saints if each had not been, above all, a model of Christian living, and, as Benedict XVI said Sunday of John Paul II, "a great witness for Christ'.]


Controversies about John Paul II's Pontificate are not few, some of the criticism coming from the Roman Curia and other ranking prelates.

It is known for instance that Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini refused to make a deposition to the Congregation of saints in his behalf because he had been a critic of his international travels, claiming they meant great sacrifice for the host churches.

Likewise, Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Leonardo Sandri had both initially refused to present their own written depositions, because they were not in favor of the time waiver granted to the process.

In the Roman Curia, there is strong partisan feeling among the Pacellians - those who think that Pius XII deserved beatification ahead of John Paul II. [Really? Where have they been all these years with all the attacks against Pius XII? To my knowledge only Benedict XVI has and Pius XII's postulator have ever spoken up! And I, too, pray that the possible 'beatification miracle' for Pius XII reported by Andrea Tornielli last year will soon be certified. In this respect, it must be noted that it took Benedict XVI to advance the cause of Pius XII's beatification in 2009 even if it had been first proposed by Paul VI in 1965. By all accounts, Pius XII's personal holiness was unassailable, and yes, he deserves beatification ASAP so the cause for his canonization can proceed.]

Among the cardinals away from Rome, a critical voice has been that of Cardinal Godfreed Danneels, former Primate of Belgium. In an interview with the magazine 3O GIORNI, he said: "I think the normal processes should have been followed. If the process itself proceeds expeditiously, then fine. But sainthood does not need preferential treatment. The process should take all the time needed, without making exceptions. The Pope is a baptized one like every other Christian. Therefore the process should follow the same course as for all baptized Catholics. I was not happy about the shouts of 'Santo subito' in St. Peter's Square on the day of the funeral. It was inappropriate. There was even talk that it had been organized - and that is unacceptable. To create a beatification by acclamation which was not spontaneous is unacceptable".

First, I wish Rodari had chosen some other person to say the above. Danneels has not exactly come out smelling of roses and incense for his virtual inaction on sex abuses by priests during his two decades as head of the Church in Belgium.

Second, did he make this objection about Mother Teresa in her time? If he did not, then he is 'in estoppel' from saying this about John Paul II.

Third, it is true that the Focolari movement in Rome had come to the funeral Mass with streamers reading SANTO SUBITO, but when they started to shout out the slogan, most Italians in the crowd took it up. Crowd psychology maybe, but a spontaneous reaction to the initiative nonetheless.

Leaving aside the objections to this beatification, and/or the speed of it (none of which seriously question the late Pope's personal holiness, which is what saintliness is about), we can be sure that Benedict XVI - who is calmly methodical and rational in everything he does - prayed sufficiently over his decision to waive the waiting period, and I have no reason to think he mistook the devil for the Holy Spirit in making his decision.


Danneels goes on: "The Pope with whom I felt the greatest affinity was Paul VI, who named me a cardinal. With him, I felt at home. Benedict XVI has the same qualities: he does not shout, he proposes things quietly but with confidence. He is not an athletic model like Papa Wojtyla who was a different kind of Pope. Of course, he was important. But different from Paul VI." [More gratuitous remarks by Danneels. John Paul II may have been 'an athletic model' but that does not mean he imposed his views on anyone. His power of communication was obviously far more physical than verbal, whereas Benedict XVI, despite his modesty, strikes an excellent balance between the impression of his very presence - warm. friendly and spiritual - and the power of his words and thought.]

No one in the Church doubts the holiness of John Paul II. Yesterday, Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini praised him for having taught everyone how to die, and therefore, how to live".

The critics have focused on some aspects of his Pontificate, with two dominating issues: A kind of defensive ditch that was dug when cases of priest abuses started coming out, and the often murky activities of the Vatican bank.

These are two issues that Benedict XVI has been working with great commitment to resolve, despite the difficulties. Issues that the Vatican believes have nothing to do with the cause for John Paul II's beatification and eventual canonization.



And there are three issues about which militantly vocal Catholic 'conservatives' have been exercising themselves these days to show that they are, if not holier, than more Catholic than the Pope]: John Paul II's beatification, the Assisi meeting, and the forthcoming Instruction on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum. In all three issues, unwarranted, almost offensive, presumption is ostentatiously displated by otherwise intelligent people who somehow think that Benedict XVI is too dense or naive to see what they themselves see.

Their well-intentioned but no-less sanctimonious huffing and puffing has obviously been in vain - in the first case, because it's a done dea:, John Paul II will be beatified, not because Benedict XVI has decided so, but because the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood has done its work, found no impediments, and certified a miracle.

In the other two cases, Assisi and the SP Instruction, the 'conscientious objectors' simply assumed the worst - ignoring everything known about Benedict XVI and his record - to raise all-hands-on-deck alarums and to actually address written appeals to the Pope to drop the Assisi project and not to 'water down' his own Motu Proprio!

Other than blind ego, it's hard to see what motivates their sanctimonious frenzy. Surely they should have more trust in the Pope as defender of the faith, not to mention his plain common sense! Certainly, Joseph Ratzinger ought to be the last person they must lecture about how to be Catholic! Go figure...




[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/7/2011 9:27 PM]
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As it happens, William Oddie sounds off today on the unwarranted alarms regarding Assisi 2011....

To say that Assisi 2011
is a betrayal of the faith
is an utter absurdity

by William Oddie
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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The forthcoming “meeting” (the word is chosen with probably deliberate care) of the Pope with followers of other faiths and none at Assisi has reduced many traditionalists to apoplectic fury at this supposed betrayal of the Catholic religion, according to which it is only in the Church that the fullness of faith is to be found, so everyone else, to the extent they disagree with us, is just wrong.

Well, that’s what I think too, about the Church, that is. I yield to nobody in my suspicion of “interfaith dialogue”, if that means negotiating what we might accept in each other’s religions, noting that nobody in other religions (especially Islam) is prepared to accept that we have anything right at all, and that if you deny the Incarnation and the Trinity, you have denied the very basis of everything we believe, so what’s the point?

The recent decision of certain “top Muslim scholars” in Egypt to suspend all dialogue with the Vatican in protest against Pope Benedict XVI’s condemnation of anti-Christian violence in that country, as I wrote at the time, was “depressing”, but only to be expected.

But why was I depressed, I ask myself, if it was so inevitable? I suppose because such “dialogue” at least implies good will: and in the world we are living in, good will is beyond the price of rubies (and sometimes as rare). If we all agreed, of course, we wouldn’t go to war with one another, would we?

But actually, good will has far more to do with that than holding the same religion: Colonel Gaddafi and the opposition in Libya, so far as I am aware, hold exactly the same religious beliefs: what’s missing in spades is good will.

I am vividly aware, when I look at some of the comments under my blogs, that even towards my co-religionists, and even if theologically you couldn’t slip a cigarette paper between us, good will is on occasion notably lacking, for a time at least.

The Pope doesn’t believe that he will be giving an inch towards the beliefs of those he will be meeting in Assisi: nor will he be. Look, he’s even invited atheists – that in a sense proves my contention.

When our new nuncio announced that he intends to open dialogue with non-believers, did anyone really suppose that he seriously intends to consider whether they might be right about the non-existence of God? “Dialogue” is just as likely to be a means of proselytising for the faith as a negotiation between systems of belief.

As a convinced schoolboy atheist, it was only when I watched a TV debate between the atheist philosopher Professor Bernard Williams (for whom of course I was rooting) and Cardinal Heenan that it began to occur to me to that there might be something in all this stuff: I couldn’t put my finger on it, but Heenan (what a great apologist he was, how lucidly intelligent; who is there like him today?) was somehow just more convincing, more reasonable, even about original sin and the real presence, both of which I naturally thought were absurdities.

Afterwards, I still thought they were untrue; but that first cold little sliver of doubt had been introduced into my certainties. It was many years before I became a Christian (13 years later), let alone a Catholic (30 years later), but that was without any doubt, for me, the beginning.

We have to talk to people, for God’s sake (literally; that’s not just an expletive). Because 50 years ago Cardinal Heenan entered into dialogue with the atheist Bernard Williams I am a Catholic today.

The Vatican has this week made it absolutely clear what the parameters of the Assisi meeting will be:

Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness. Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism.

To the extent that the pilgrimage of truth is authentically lived, it opens the path to dialogue with the other, it excludes no one and it commits everyone to be a builder of fraternity and peace. These are the elements that the Holy Father wishes to place at the centre of reflection.

For this reason, as well as representatives of Christian communities and of the principal religious traditions, some figures from the world of culture and science will be invited to share the journey – people who, while not professing to be religious, regard themselves as seekers of the truth and are conscious of a shared responsibility for the cause of justice and peace in this world of ours.

To assert that that is a betrayal of the Catholic faith is an absurdity hardly worth discussing. So why am I discussing it? Because, I suppose, I feel an irrational fondness (fraternity and peace?) for one or two of those who assert it (you can’t always, thank God, be entirely rational).
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/7/2011 1:18 PM]
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Andrea Riccardi (born 1960), who founded the Sant'Egidio Community when he was a high-school teenager, is professor of contemporary history at Universita di Roma-3, and has written 21 books so far about the Church in today's world. Two of them were about Pius XII and one about Paul VI. he has now written a biography of John Paul II.


In a new biography of John Paul II,
Benedict XVI speaks about him

by Salvatore Izzo
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Riccardi with John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger in the 1990s.

Vatican City, April 6 (Translated from AGI) - "he carried on his shoulders, which had become frail, the weight of his ministry. His life, in its final years, was a true catechesis of pain".

Words used by Benedict XVI in talking about John Paul II to Andrea Riccardi for his book on the late Pope. speaking as a privileged witness and participant throughout most of the long Pontificate of Karol Wojtyla, who described his Prefect for the Doctrine of teh Faith in one of his books as 'his trusted friend'.

Riccardi's book, which fist came out in March, was presented tonight by Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

Benedict XVI recalls that "At the time of his (Wojtyla's) election, the real problem was to emerge from the crisis of the Church in those years. There was a need to observe what Vatican II taught with maximum fidelity. The very way the Council was received by the Church had to be purified. It was not a structural reform that was necessary but rather a profound spiritual reform".

Papa Ratzinger describes particularly an episode in which he was a protagonist: the 'correction' that the Vatican had to impose on liberation theology.

"John Paul II," says his successor, "insisted that one should consider teh positive aspects of liberation theology after having clarified its negative aspects and its improper admixtures. I am not sure how much we succeeded in reformulating it positively.

"However, our second Instruction on liberation theology was clearly along this line, touching on a problem [poverty] and a perspective that are very real and felt deeply by John Paul II".

About his predecessor's administrative style, he said the Pope greatly esteemed the work of his Secretariat of State and his co-workers in teh Roman Curia.

"He had a view of mankind that enabled him to grasp certain problems acutely. He thought about ways of intervening that included his own direct and personal participation."

He also noted that in the relationship between John Paul II and the Church as institution, "between his own personal feelings and the need to administer, perhaps his approach was different from Paul VI or Pius XII who had spent most of their life working in the Vatican and the Secretariat of State".

But Benedict XVI's most touching words had to do with the John Paul II and his illness.

"At the time, it was probably reasonable to ask whether it was possible to govern the Church in a similar state of health. Now, looking back, we can better understand the weight and significance of those years. And that yes, it is possible to govern even with so much personal sufffering.It was certainly something extraordinary. After such a long Pontificate that had been marked by such an active life, his time of suffering was very eloquent".

In describing the personage of Karol Wojtyla, who was one of the great figures of the 20th century and the dawn of the third millennium, Riccardi brings us to the heart of events which changed history, and recalls the immense spiritual energy of his person and his ministry, along with the tremendous impact he had on the Church and on the world.

But among all the witnesses he quotes and the documents he presents, his conversation with Benedict XVI stands out.

A significant story Riccardi recounts from the October 1978 Conclave is likewise striking.

"During the general congregations of the cardinals before the Conclave, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Wyszynski, made an address about the difficulties of Catholicism in eastern Europe but cited the growth of vocations as a sign of hope. He believed it meant that young people looked to the Gospel and expected much of it.

"At the same time, he pointed out that Communism was apparently in crisis, and that the assumption that its progress in the world was irreversible probably needed to be verified. Especially, since, he said, Communism appeared to be in retreat, increasingly failing at every level - ideological, social and economic."

Riccardi notes, "It seemed nothing but the wishful thinking of an old visionary. But it would all become reality with John Paul II".

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[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/7/2011 12:33 AM]
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4/7/2011 1:09 PM
 
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Dr. Mirus adds another to his previous two reviews of JON-2 (posted earlier on Page 198 of this thread)...


A crescendo of understanding:
Finishing Benedict's 'Jesus'

By Dr. Jeff Mirus
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April 06, 2011

I have already noted that the great gift of Benedict�s two volume study, Jesus of Nazareth, is his ability to teach us something about the combination of intelligent investigation and deep faith which can enable us to open Scripture to our thirsty souls Now, having completed a close reading of the entire second volume, I�d like to offer a few more observations, in the hope that you�ll read both books yourself.

First, immediately following my earlier remarks I entered into the chapter on the Last Supper (chapter 5), which could actually stand alone as a kind of proof of Benedict�s great gift. In this chapter the Pope sets himself the task of shedding light on four exegetical difficulties which surround the Last Supper. He covers:

- The problem of the Passover chronology (the Last Supper appears in some accounts to be a Passover meal but did not apparently take place on Passover);
- The institution of the Eucharist (which embodies the idea of expiation from first to last, and so undermines later interpretive attempts to cast Jesus as either a �friendly rabbi� or a �revolutionary�);
- The theology of the words of institution (which suggest that God is now confronting evil directly because man is incapable of doing so);
- The transition and connections between the Last Supper and the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday (arising from Christ�s command of commemoration and its association with the Resurrection).

After we leave these fascinating perplexities and developments behind, the book becomes more and more moving. The sixth chapter on Gethsemane, the seventh on the trial of Jesus, the eight on His crucifixion and burial, and the ninth on His Resurrection necessarily seek to penetrate the depths of Who Jesus is, what sort of life He possesses, the precise nature of His mission, and its nearly unfathomable success in the midst of what appears to be failure.

Benedict is particularly adept at explaining how Our Lord located His own saving actions in the context of the Old Testament tradition, and how the New Testament writers were awakened by the undeniable facts of crucifixion and resurrection to read the Old Testament books anew and interpret them in a new light. Thus, for example, do the evangelists portray the passion with an interweaving of Old Testament references, especially from Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

The book is very quotable, too, as the Pope goes effortlessly to the heart of great matters even when they are contained in only the briefest of inspired texts. Consider, for example, his comments on the significance of this passage in the first letter of John: �This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood� (see 5:6-8). Benedict asks:

What does the author mean by this insistence that Jesus came not with water only but also with blood? We may assume that he is alluding to a tendency to place all the emphasis on Jesus� baptism while setting the Cross aside. And this probably also meant that only the word, the doctrine, the message was held to be important, but not �the flesh�, the living body of Christ that bled on the Cross; it probably meant an attempt to create a Christianity of thoughts and ideas, divorced from the reality of the flesh�sacrifice and sacrament. (225-6)

Jesus of Nazareth is full of such gems, of which I would like to place in evidence only one more.

In explaining the expiatory character of the crucifixion, Benedict bumps up against those exegetes who want nothing to do with expiation: �Again and again people say: It must be a cruel God who demands infinite atonement. Is this not a notion unworthy of God? Must we not give up the idea of atonement in order to maintain the purity of our image of God?�

But Benedict notices that St. Paul refers to the crucified Jesus as �hilasterion�, the name given to the covering of the Ark of the Covenant, on which the expiatory blood was sprinkled on the great Day of Atonement. And he answers:

In the use of the term �hilasterion� with reference to Jesus, it becomes evident that the real forgiveness accomplished on the Cross functions in exactly the opposite direction. The reality of evil and injustice that disfigures the world and at the same time distorts the image of God�this reality exists, through our sin. It cannot simply be ignored; it must be addressed.

But here it is not a case of a cruel God demanding the infinite. It is exactly the opposite: God himself becomes the locus of reconciliation, and in the person of his Son takes the suffering upon himself.

God himself grants his infinite purity to the world. God himself �drinks the cup� of every horror to the dregs and thereby restores justice through the greatness of his love, which, through suffering, transforms the darkness. (232)

I have said that the book becomes increasingly moving as it draws to a close, but this does not happen through the emotional climax and catharsis of a dramatic tale.

Rather, the reader is moved by an ever-increasing understanding of key elements of the Faith. Benedict�s style is never bombastic; it is always gentle and precise. In this sense it is a quiet book, an unpretentious book. Yet it exercises a steadily growing power. It is the power of illumination. It is the power of the Light.


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From the Ignatius Press blog on JON-2, here's a good 'introductory' review of JON-2 for those who have not yet read it, written by a Jesuit who taches at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome.


JON-2;
'Intellectually satisfying,
spiritually fulfilling - and
a complement to Benedict's
book on the liturgy'

By Fr. Joseph Carola, S.J.
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In Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, Pope Benedict XVI builds upon insights gained from historical-critical studies in order to probe the theological depths of the revealed Word of God.

He successfully combines an historical hermeneutic with a faith hermeneutic, imitating the Church Fathers whose exegetical insights, he hopes, will “yield their fruit once more in a new context” (p. xv).

Ratzinger puts into practice the methodological principle found in Dei Verbum 12. He reads and interprets the Scripture “in the sacred spirit in which it was written” (DV 12). While Ratzinger’s study presupposes historical-critical exegesis and makes use of its discoveries, “it seeks to transcend this method and to arrive at a genuinely theological interpretation of the scriptural text” (p. 295).

Ratzinger insists that by attentively listening to the Jesus of the Gospels and through a collective listening with the disciples of every age, that is, through the authentic witness of Scripture and Tradition, one “can indeed attain to sure knowledge of the real historical figure of Jesus” (p. xvii).

Ratzinger does not trouble his reader by unnecessarily descending into exegetical details pertinent primarily to biblical scholars. He avoids such details especially when, forming “[a] dense undergrowth of mutually contradictory hypotheses” (p. 104), they threaten to impede one from encountering Jesus.

Ratzinger assures his reader, nonetheless, that in communion with the Church’s living Tradition and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit “we can serenely examine exegetical hypotheses that all too often make exaggerated claims to certainty, claims that are already undermined by the existence of diametrically opposed positions put forward with an equal claim to scientific certainty” (p. 105).

Alternatively, he proposes Jesus himself as a model for the contemporary exegete and the modern theologian. For Jesus “acts and lives within the word of God, not according to projects and wishes of his own” (p. 5).

Similarly, we, who study the Gospels, should possess “a readiness not only to form a ‘critical’ assessment of the New Testament, but also to learn from it and to let ourselves be led by it: not to dismantle the texts according to our preconceived ideas, but to let our own ideas be purified and deepened by his word” (p. 120).

Otherwise, our experience risks remaining that of Saint Paul prior to his conversion: a real expert on the Scriptures, yet ignorant of their true meaning.

“This combination of expert knowledge and deep ignorance,” Ratzinger observes, “causes us to ponder. It reveals the whole problem of knowledge that remains self-sufficient and so does not arrive at Truth itself, which ought to transform man” (p. 207).

Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week addresses various issues significant for modern theology and the world today.

When properly understood in the context of the Mosaic Law, Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple provides no justification for religiously motivated violence. To kill others in the God’s name is not the way of Jesus.

At the same time, the ruthless destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman legions in 70 AD — “all too typical of countless tragedies throughout history” (p. 31) — confronts us with the mystery of evil which God tolerates to a degree that may indeed dumbfound us.

Judas’s betrayal of Jesus is fundamentally a breach of friendship which, Pope Benedict sadly observes, “extends into the sacramental community of the Church, where people continue to take ‘his bread’ and to betray him” (p. 68).

Peter’s insistence at the Last Supper that he would spare Jesus his passion and death reveals a perennial temptation for Christians and the Church, that is, “to seek victory without the Cross” (p. 151) —a common, even if unspoken, theme of the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ preached today by various Christian communities.

In contrast, Ratzinger elaborates in evangelical terms the doctrine of atonement, revealing at once God’s serious appraisal of sin and the depths of his mercy. While some modern theologians would prefer to set aside all notions of expiation, Ratzinger appeals to the mystery of the Cross in the lives of the saints and concludes that “ [t]he mystery of atonement is not to be sacrificed on the altar of overweening rationalism” (p. 240).

Finally, Pope Benedict states with great clarity that the Jewish people are not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. Rather, his accusers were the first-century Temple authorities and the ‘crowd’ of Barabbas’s supporters.

Moreover, the blood of Jesus called down upon the Jewish people in Matthew 27:25 is not the blood of Abel which cries out for vengeance and punishment, but rather the Blood of the New Covenant which heals and brings reconciliation.

Pope Benedict’s eagerly awaited volume should be seen not only as the second part of his exegetical-theological study of the figure of Jesus in the Gospels, but also as the necessary complement to his book The Spirit of the Liturgy.

The volume presently under review addresses directly the question of the new and true worship which Jesus inaugurated upon the Cross. Jesus came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. His death upon the Cross is the saving reality once prefigured by animal sacrifices in the Temple which have been surpassed.

For this reason among others, Ratzinger favors the Johannine chronology for the events of Jesus’s passion. He was crucified on the ‘Day of Preparation’ for the Passover at the moment when the lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple for the evening meal.

Therefore, the Last Supper, while celebrated in the context of the Jewish Passover festivities, was most likely not the Passover meal itself. At the Last Supper Jesus celebrated his own Passover and ushered in a new worship — true spiritual worship which opens for all men and women a pathway to God.

This new worship draws mankind into Jesus’s vicarious obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus’s obedience unto death upon the Cross has restored mankind’s obedience and made man’s spiritual self-offering again possible.

True worship is the offering of our own living bodies as a spiritual worship truly pleasing to God. The new Temple of our self-offering is Jesus’s Risen Body into which the Christian is incorporated by Baptism and of which he partakes in the Eucharist.

In his previous study, The Spirit of the Liturgy, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger insisted that the priestly posture ad orientem is an essential element of the Church’s Eucharistic celebration. That posture opens up the Eucharistic celebration and orients it toward the Risen Christ who will come again — the Oriens ex alto.

“The turning of the priest toward the people,” Ratzinger notes, “turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 80).

In this light Ratzinger’s use of the word ‘open’ in its various grammatical forms throughout Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, especially in reference to the new worship which Jesus inaugurates, is not without significance.

Ratzinger explains in effectively liturgical terms the interpretation which Jesus himself gives for his cleansing of the Temple. Jesus understood his act “to remove whatever obstacles there may be to the common recognition and worship of God—and thereby to open up a space for common worship” (p. 18).

The Temple veil torn in two at the moment of Jesus’ death reveals that “the pathway to God is now open” (p. 209; also see The Spirit of the Liturgy,"p. 83-84). Prayer, the heart of true worship, is “the self-opening of the human spirit to God” (p. 233).

Jesus’s incarnate obedience, which is the new sacrifice itself, opens a space “into which we are admitted and through which our lives find a new context” (p. 236).

Jesus’s Resurrection from the dead is not a matter of mere resuscitation, but rather it is “about breaking out into an entirely new form of life…a life that opens up a new dimension of human existence” (p. 244). The Resurrection bursts open history. While its origins lie within history, it points beyond history (cf. p. 275).

Ratzinger describes in similar terms Jesus’s Ascension into heaven: “he, who has eternally opened up within God a space for humanity, now calls the whole world into this open space” (p. 287). The ascending Christ’s hands raised in blessing “are a gesture of opening up, tearing the world open so that heaven may enter in, may become ‘present’ within it” (p. 293).

“In departing,” Ratzinger concludes, “[Jesus] comes to us [especially in his Eucharistic Presence], in order to raise us up above ourselves and to open up the world to God” (p. 293).

In sum, even without making explicit reference to liturgical orientation, Ratzinger’s study of the Holy Week mysteries provides evidence for and confirmation of his insistence upon the essential nature of the ad orientem posture during the Eucharistic liturgy.

These and many other insights await the reader in Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week. The book does not disappoint. It is at once intellectually satisfying and spiritually enriching — a worthy mediation upon the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; a mediation which will bear much fruit in the lives of the faithful for many years to come.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/7/2011 3:12 PM]
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4/7/2011 2:20 PM
 
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Thursday, April 7, Fourth Week in Lent
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ST. JEAN-BAPTISTE DE LA SALLE (France, 1651-1719)
Priest, Founder of Christian Brothers, Patron Saint of Teachers
A member of the nobility, De La Salle started preparing for the priesthood when he was ll, but the early death
of his parents delayed his training because he took care of his younger siblings. He was finally ordained when
he was 27, pursuing further theological studies in Paris. A chance involvement with a friend's plan to set up
a school for poor boys led him to realize that this was his particular mission. He left his position as Canon
of Rheims Cathedral, gave away his fortune, and dedicated himself to that mission. In 1681, he founded the
Institute of Brothers of the Christian School to propagate this mission. In addition to schools for boys, he set
up the first normal school (training school especially for teachers) to institute his teaching methods, and also
became the first to divide pupils into grades. Throughout all this, he encountered difficulties with defections
from his disciples, the opposition of secular schoolmasters who resented his more successful teaching methods,
and the hostility of the Jansenists with their moral rigidity and pessimism. Today, the La Salle Brothers have
quality schools in 84 countries around the world. De La Salle was canonized in 1900, and in 1950, Pius XII
named him patron of schoolteachers.
Readings for today's Mass:
www.usccb.org/nab/readings/040711.shtml



OR today.
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Illustration, extreme right: The Prophet Elias, 17th-cent. icon, Aleppo, Syria.
At the General Audience, Benedict XVI speaks of St. Therese of Lisieux and her 'little way'
and expresses concern for continuing conflicts in Libya and the Ivory Coast:
'Violence and hate constitute a defeat'
After the General Audience, the Holy Father met Paul Bhatti, brother of slain Pakistani minister Shahbaz Bhatti and the Imam of Lahore (center photo). Page 1 items: An editorial on the continuing emergency of Africans fleeing Africa to come to Europe on boats across the Mediterranean, as a boatload of some 300 Somalis and Eritreans capsizes off Malta and only 40 are saved; in the Ivory Coast, defiant ex-President Ngagbo holds out in a bunker in the Ivory Coast capital as his forces try to keep back forces of elected President Ouattara; the UN says 1.5 million civilian Libyans have been displaced by fighting in that country. The Elias icon on Page 1 is a teaser for an essay on the Byzantine liturgy introducing a new book with the OR's series on the feasts of the liturgical year as observed in the Byzantine rite.


AT THE VATICAN TODAY

The Holy Father met with

- Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima (Peru)

- Six bishops from the Syro-Malabar Church of India (Group 4) on ad limina visit. Individual meetings.

- All the Syro-Malabar bishops on ad limina visit. Address in English.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/7/2011 2:22 PM]
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4/7/2011 5:32 PM
 
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'Modern world opposes
Christian view of marriage',
Pope tells Indian bishops

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"Unfortunately, the Church can no longer count on the support of society at large to promote the Christian understanding of marriage as a permanent and indissoluble union ordered to procreation and the sanctification of the spouses", said Pope Benedict XVI Thursday in his address to Bishops from India's Syro-Malabar Church, who are completing their ad limina visit to Rome.

Here is the complete text of the address delivered to them by the Pope in English:

Dear Brother Bishops,

I offer you a warm fraternal welcome on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum a moment which is now sadly marked by the death of Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil. Before you all, I wish again to give thanks to God for his able and willing service over many years to the whole of the Church in India. May our loving Saviour welcome his noble soul into paradise, and may he rest in peace in communion with all the saints.

Thank you for the sentiments of respect and esteem offered by Mar Bosco Puthur on your behalf and in the name of those whom you shepherd. Your presence is an eloquent expression of the deep spiritual bonds which unite the Syro-Malabar Church to the Church universal, in fidelity to Christ’s prayer for all his disciples
(cf. Jn 17:21).

You bring to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul the joys and hopes of the entire Syro-Malabar Church, which my predecessor the Venerable John Paul II happily raised to the status of a Major-Archiepiscopal Church in 1992.

My greetings go to the priests, the women and men religious, the members of the lay movements, the families and in particular the young people who are the hope of the Church.

The Second Vatican Council taught that "Bishops have been designated by the Holy Spirit to take the place of the Apostles as pastors of souls and, together with the Supreme Pontiff and subject to his authority, they are commissioned to perpetuate the work of Christ, the eternal Pastor"
(Christus Dominus, 1).

Today’s encounter thus forms an essential part of your pilgrimage ad Limina Apostolorum; it is also an occasion to intensify the awareness of the divine gift and responsibility received in the ordination by which you became members of the College of Bishops.

I join you in seeking the intercession of the Apostles for your ministry. They, who were the first to receive the charge of caring for Christ’s flock, continue to guide and watch over the Church from their place in heaven and remain a model and inspiration to all Bishops by their holiness of life, teaching and example.

Your visit also provides a precious opportunity to give thanks to God for the gift of communion in the apostolic faith and in the life of the Spirit which unites you among yourselves and with your people. With divine inspiration and grace on the one hand, and with humble prayers and efforts on the other, this precious gift of fellowship with the Triune God and with one another will grow ever richer and deeper.

Each Bishop, for his part, is called to be a minister of unity (cf. ibid., 6) in his particular church and within the universal Church. This responsibility is of special importance in a country like India where the unity of the Church is reflected in the rich diversity of her rites and traditions.

I encourage you to do all you can to continue to foster the communion between yourselves and all Catholic Bishops throughout the world, and to be the living expression of that fellowship among your priests and faithful.

Let the gentle command of Saint Paul continue to guide your hearts and your apostolic endeavours: "Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good, love one another with brotherly affection, outdo one another in showing honour. Live in harmony with one another"
(Rom 12:9-10,16).

Thus will the unity of the Triune God be proclaimed and lived in the world, and thus will our new life in Christ be experienced always more profoundly, to the benefit of the entire Catholic Church.

Within this mystery of loving communion, a privileged expression of sharing in the divine life is through sacramental marriage and family life.

The rapid and dramatic changes which are a part of contemporary society throughout the world bring with them not only serious challenges, but new possibilities to proclaim the liberating truth of the Gospel message to transform and elevate all human relationships.

Your support, dear Brother Bishops, and that of your priests and communities for the sound and integral education of young people in the ways of chastity and responsibility will not only enable them to embrace the true nature of marriage, but will also benefit Indian culture as a whole.

Unfortunately, the Church can no longer count on the support of society at large to promote the Christian understanding of marriage as a permanent and indissoluble union ordered to procreation and the sanctification of the spouses.

Have your families look to the Lord and his saving word for a complete and truly positive vision of life and marital relations, so necessary for the good of the whole human family. Let your preaching and catechesis in this field be patient and constant.

At the heart of many of the works of education and charity exercised in your Eparchies are the various communities of men and women religious who devote themselves to the service of God and their neighbour.

I wish to express the Church’s appreciation for the charity, faith and hard work of these religious, who by professing and living the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience offer an example of complete devotion to the divine Master and thus help considerably to equip your faithful for every good work
(cf. 2 Tim 3:17).

The vocation to religious life and the pursuit of perfect charity is attractive in every age, but it should be nourished by a constant spiritual renewal which is to be fostered by superiors who devote great care to the human, intellectual and spiritual formation of their fellow religious (cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 11).

The Church insists that preparation for religious profession is to be marked by long and careful discernment with the goal of ensuring, before final vows are made, that each candidate is firmly rooted in Christ, solid in his or her capacity for genuine commitment and joyful in the gift of self to Jesus Christ and his Church.

Furthermore, by its nature, formation is never completed, but is ongoing and must be an integral part of the daily life of each individual and community. Much needs to be done in this area, utilizing the many resources available in your Church, above all through deeper training in the practice of prayer, the particular spiritual and liturgical traditions of the Syro-Malabar rite, and the intellectual demands of a solid pastoral practice.

I encourage you, in close collaboration with religious superiors, to plan effectively for such a solid ongoing formation, so that religious men and women continue to be powerful witnesses to the presence of God in the world and to our eternal destiny, so that the complete gift of self to God through religious life may shine with all its beauty and purity before men.

With these thoughts, dear Brother Bishops, I once again express my fraternal affection and esteem. Commending you to the intercession of Saint Thomas, Apostle of India, I assure you of my prayers for you and for those entrusted to your pastoral care. To all I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.


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The Syro-Malabar Church is an Oriental (Eastern Rite) Catholic Church, in full communion with the Church of Rome with some 3.9 million members. It is the second largest of the 21 Oriental Catholic Churches, after the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church which has about 4.5 million believers.

It is one of the three Major Archiepiscopal Churches, along with the Syro-Malankara Church and the Ukrainian Church. It now has 27 bishops, corresponding to the 16 eparchies in India's Kerala state, its major territory, and 11 eparchies in other parts of India and an eparchy in Chicago.

The Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankar Catholics make up the so-called St Thomas Christians, who trace their origins and their faith to the missionary efforts of St Thomas the Apostle who landed at Kodungallur in Kerala in AD 52. The Syro-Malabar community is much larger than the Syro-Malankars.

The term Syro-Malabar is a reference to the East Syrian (Chaldean) tradition the Church has followed and to the Malabar Coast where St Thomas the Apostle landed.

St. Alphonsa, India's first woman saint, was canonized by Benedict XVI in 2008. the Church also has four Blesseds (two men and two women), two beatified under John Paul II, two under Benedict XVI, and he recently proclaimed the heoric virtues of another Syro-Malabar priest.



Syro-Malabar bishop tells Pope
his church is treated unjustly

By Cindy Wooden
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VATICAN CITY, April 7 (CNS) -- The Vatican and many of the Latin-rite bishops of India are not treating the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church with justice, and that makes the Church look bad, Auxiliary Bishop Bosco Puthur of Ernakulam-Angamaly told Pope Benedict XVI.

While other Christians and other religions enjoy the freedom to build churches and conduct services anywhere in India, the Eastern Catholic churches "are denied it, paradoxically not by the state, but by our own ecclesiastical authorities," the bishop said.

Bishop Puthur, administrator of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, made his remarks to Pope Benedict April 7 at the end of the Syro-Malabar bishops' ad-limina visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses.

Generally, the leaders of the Eastern Catholic churches such as the Syro-Malabar church enjoy full freedom to elect bishops and erect dioceses only in their church's traditional territory; otherwise, the responsibility is left to the Pope, often in consultation with the Latin-rite bishops of the region concerned.

In the case of the Syro-Malabar church, Bishop Puthur told Pope Benedict that its traditional territory was all of India until Latin-rite missionaries arrived in the 15th century. Now any of its faithful living outside Kerala state are subject to the authority of the local Latin-rite bishop.

"We are convinced that it is the credibility of the Apostolic See that is at stake if this jurisdictional right is not restored to its pristine status," the bishop said.

Bishop Puthur presented five requests to Pope Benedict: the restoration of "all-India jurisdiction" to the Syro-Malabar Church; permission to establish dioceses throughout India; permission to set up archdioceses in Delhi and other large cities; the establishment of a special jurisdiction for the Persian Gulf states, in order to serve the tens of thousands of Syro-Malabar Catholics from India working in the region; action to improve the pastoral care of Syro-Malabar Catholics in Europe, Australia and other parts of the world.

The Syro-Malabar leader thanked the Latin-rite bishops of the United States and Canada for supporting the appointment in 2001 of a Chicago-based bishop for his Church's faithful in North America.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has about 3.7 million members around the world, Bishop Puthur said. Currently, there are 29 dioceses served by: 32,855 women religious; 3,987 diocesan priests; 3,133 religious order priests; and 745 religious brothers, he said.

[The rest of teh story quotes from the Holy Fahter's address to the Syro-Malabar bishops.]
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2011 5:48 PM]
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4/7/2011 8:48 PM
 
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Who knew? Cardinal Kasper appears to be much more orthodox than suggested by his earlier reputation as among the liberal German bishops ranged against Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the 1990s! It's the second time he has spoken up since his retirement to express orthodox views - the first time was on priestly celibacy recently, when the German media tried to make much of a letter that he and then Prof. Joseph Ratzinger were supposed to have signed in 1970, which suggested that German bishops start a discussion on the issue of priestly celibacy. Now it's the liturgy....

Cardinal Kasper urges
'reform of the liturgical reform'

Translated from the website of the Diocese of Muenster
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VALLENDER, Germany - Cardinal Walter Kasper is advocating 'a renewal of liturgical-sacramental culture in the Church'.

"One cannot be forever tinkering with the liturgy," said the emeritus President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, speaking in Vallender, in the diocese of Muenster, on Monday, April 4.

Rather, what is needed, he said is "a deep reform of the (post Vatican II) liturgical reform".

He spoke on the first day of a symposium entitled "Liturgy in the Church' sponsored by the Walter Kasper Institute for Theology, Ecumenism and Spirituality, which has its headquarters in the Philosophical and Theological Institute of Vallender.

He warned that liturgy must not be desacralzied and robbed of its grandeur, stressing that liturgy is worship of God, and never just a community celebration.

Precisely in s secular culture which tends to level off everything and is empty within, Kasper said, the experience of the sacred - its majesty and fascination - could be healing.



By coincidence, Scottish composer-conductor James MacMIllan describes his personal experience with the traditional Mass in - of all places - Amsterdam, on his Telegraph blog...


Traditional Mass in Amsterdam:
'Much more inspiring than
the usual trendy rubbish'

By James MacMillan
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April 6th, 2011

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Mass at the Sint-Agneskerk.

I was in Amsterdam last week, conducting at the Concertgebouw. I found out that the FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of St Peter) have a thriving parish there, in the Sint-Agneskerk. I went along on Sunday for their beautiful Extraordinary Form liturgy.

The Dutch Church is a wasteland/joke/disaster area because of 30 years of liberalism. Basically there are no Catholics left here! Or so it seems sometimes, thanks to the usual rubbish. Thankfully there are some younger, faithful Catholics willing to swim against the tide.

I’m still a bit of a novice when it comes to the EF – Sunday’s was my third – but I am struck each time by just how devotional the atmosphere is, even on entering the church. Everything seems focused on the tabernacle.

There is a palpable presence of God, which tends to be missing from a lot of churches now, which feel more like Glasgow Central station than a house of prayer.

In the FSSP’s Amsterdam church there was a veritable tsunami of mantillas on display! There is a liberal argument in Holland which is opposing the government’s crackdown on Islamic women wearing the hijab/niqab/burka. Those same liberals who would have a fit if they saw a mantilla in a Catholic church, no doubt!

I certainly got the impression that the people present on Sunday were being helped enormously in their faith, much of which has been swept away in Holland. Many ethnic/immigrant faces in evidence. It reminded me of the Newman Beatification Mass at Cofton Park.

Compared to this, the anti-Pope demonstrations in London looked terribly white and middle-class. Just like most opponents of Rome, outside and inside the Church.

“Ah, but we can’t go back to the past,” we hear the usual ageing handwringers cry. But the past is the past, and has no bearing any more on the new impetus to sort out the liturgy. Latin Mass can be in the EF and the Novus Ordo – that’s the beauty of Latin, and that’s why the Devil (let alone the Tabletistas) hates it!

“Oh but where is the active participation in the Latin Mass?” cry the liberal killjoys. But lay involvement is clearly possible to the fullest extent in the EF or Latin Novus Ordo.

In the three EF liturgies I have attended in the last year, the assembly sang much, much more than one ever sees or hears in a Glasgow “Mass-for-Daily-Record-Man” or its depressing equivalent up and down the country.

Everything from the Asperges Me, through the Kyrie, Sanctus and all the Dominus vobiscum/et cum spiritu tuos – sung by EVERYBODY.

There is no point in using the past, pre-Vatican II practice as a weapon against the inevitable. None of the young Catholics now committed to good liturgy have any idea what the old curmudgeons are going on about when they moan about the bad old days. Their bad memories are irrelevant and have no bearing at all on the push for improvements. And these improvements will have a bearing on both forms the Mass, especially the English vernacular, I’m sure.

Even the readings – chanted in Latin – were understood by everyone, because we had the translations in Dutch and English in our bulletins. I have never felt so participatory...

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James MacMillan is a Scottish composer whose symphonies, concertos, operas, sacred music and many orchestral and instrumental works are strongly influenced by his Catholic faith. His St John Passion was premiered by Sir Colin Davis and the LSO in 2008. His specially commissioned congregational Mass was performed when Pope Benedict XVI beatified Cardinal Newman during his visit to Britain in September. He and his wife are lay Dominicans and live in Glasgow. He also blogs at jamesmacmillaninscotland.com.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/7/2011 9:16 PM]
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4/8/2011 12:11 AM
 
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The island of Lampedusa is Italy's southernmost point and is closer to Tunisia (70 miles) than it is to Sicily (1207 miles). Along with Malta, it is the nearest landfall for 'boat people' fleeing Tunisia and Libya.


Pope offers prayers after
the latest tragedy involving
African refugees off Lampedusa

Translated from the 4/8/11 issue of
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Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican press director, gave this statement Thursday in response to questions from newsmen:

The Holy Father is profoundly stricken by the deaths at sea for a great number of migrants from the North African coast who have been trying to reach Europe. He has been following the events of these migrants during this tragic period.

The Holy Father and the whole church remember with prayers all the victims of whatever nationality and culture, men women and children, who have lost their lives on a dangerous voyage trying to flee situations of poverty or injustice or violence that afflict them at home, and in search of protection, hospitality and more human living conditions.

Let us not forget that among the victims of this latest tragedy in the Mediterranean are migrant Eritrean Catholics from Libya who took part in the activity of the Catholic community there.


[On Wednesday, a boat with at least 300 Eritrean and Somali refugees from Libya foundered off Malta. More than 200 are still missing.

Since the late 1990s. Lampedusa has been the destination for many illegal immigrants from Africa, but under an agreement between the Italian government and Qaddafi in 2004, Libya agreed to take back illegal immigrants sent back by Italy, Nonetheless, Italy set up a refugee center on Lampedusa as temporary shelter for the illegals until they could be processed.

Since the troubles began in Tunisia in January, spreading to Egypt and Libya, thousands have arrived on the island, which has a population of only 4,000, making severe demands on the local community and the Italian government.]



Vatican cardinal in charge of ministry
to migrants appeals for European
solidarity with African boat refugees

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Rome, Italy, Apr 7, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News).- As thousands of refugees flee the unrest in North Africa for the more peaceful shores of Europe, the Vatican is urging Europeans to welcome them and show concern for their plight.

The small but inhabited Italian island of Lampedusa has become a gateway to Europe for North Africans fleeing unrest. It is one of the primary entryways to Europe for Libyans, Tunisians and Eritreans, who have been arriving in hordes in recent days.

Depending on the weather, the voyage can be rife with danger. On April 5, seas swollen by high winds rocked flimsy boats with 10-foot waves, sinking one craft that carried an estimated 250 people. More than 50 people have been rescued, but many have died and 150 remain unaccounted for.

The disaster prompted a response from Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, who said that the situation has prompted concern and prayer from Pope Benedict XVI, who is “deeply troubled” by the events.

Of the more than 20,000 refugees and migrants who have made it to the coasts of the Italian island since January of this year, around 2,000 landed last week alone.

The numbers quickly overwhelmed systems designed to receive refugees, creating a documentation and processing bottleneck and bringing day-to-day life on the island to a halt.

Protests by the island's residents calling for more effective government intervention earned it a visit from the nation's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Because of the huge influx, the Italian government made the decision to grant new arrivals a three-month temporary permit before facing the prospect of repatriation or applying for an extended permit.

According Church leaders in Italy and the Vatican, the rest of Europe also needs to realize what is at stake and take a greater responsibility in the process.

One Sicilian bishop told Vatican Radio on April 7 that for the dead it’s “indifference,” not rough seas, that is to blame for the difficulties of migrants and refugees.

Europe needs to think seriously about what it means for refugees to remain in the region from which they are fleeing, Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio told Vatican Radio.

Archbishop Veglio is the president of the Vatican's Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and is well versed in situations involving cross-border movement.

For Libyan refugees in particular, "Europe must take its responsibilities to fulfill its obligations of protecting refugees and demonstrating the true meaning of solidarity and sharing,” the archbishop said.

Some Italian regions have been adamant about not accepting refugees for economic reasons, but, according to Archbishop Veglio, the southern European nation can handle the influx. In 2010, he said, the much smaller country of the Netherlands received twice as many refugees as Italy.

There should be no question about accepting Libyans, who are now fleeing a U.N.-certified "war zone," he said. He also noted that Tunisians may deserve refugee status depending on their individual situations.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/8/2011 4:22 PM]
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4/8/2011 12:37 PM
 
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Friday, April 8, Fourth Week in Lent
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ST. JULIE BILLIART (b France 1751, d Belgium 1816)
Nun, Founder of the Sisters of Notre Dame
A farmer's daughter, Julie showed early signs of holiness, which found practical expression in making
laces and linens for her parish church and being a catechist to children and to farm laborers. At age
30, she was paralyzed by a mysterious illness, which did not keep her from continuing with her work
as catechist nor from dispensing spiritual advice for which she soon gained quite a reputation. During
the years following the French Revolution, she had to be taken from place to place to avoid getting
caught in the murderous wave of anti-Catholicism. In Amiens, she was sheltered by an aristocrat,
Francoise Blin de Bourdon, who came to admire Julie for her spiritual gifts. Eventually, they decided
to start a community dedicated to educating Christian girls and training catechists, which was to
become the Institute of Notre Dame. Julie, Francoise and two of their proteges professed their vows
in 1804, at which time, Julie was miraculously healed of of her paralysis, and was able to walk again
after 22 years. She travelled throughout France and Belgium establishing schools and convents. In
1809, she moved the motherhouse from Amiens to Namur in Belgium, when a new bishop wished to
impose rules to bring the congregation in line with ancient monastic orders. From 1804-1816, Julie
founded 15 convents, made 120 journeys, and carried on correspondence with her sisters now kept in
the convent at Namur. After her death, many miracles were attributed to her. A canonization process
was started in 1881, and she was beatified in 1906. She was finally canonized in 1969.
Readings for today's Mass: www.usccb.org/nab/readings/040811.shtml



OR today.

Two papal stories today: The Pope's sorrow over the latest deaths at sea of boat people fleeing Africa for Europe,
and his address to the bishops of India's Syro-Malabar Church at the end of their ad limina visit. Page 1 international
news: The UN asks the Libyan government for a ceasefire in Misurata due to heavy civilian casualties; Abidjan, the most
important city in the Ivory Coast, has become a battlefield between forces loyal to defiant ex-president Ngagbo and
those supporting President-elect Ouattara; Haiti still prostrate from the earthquake catastrophe of 15 months ago
(in contrast, a story in the inside pages tells of the recovery of Italy's L'Aquila region from a major earthquake
two years ago).



AT THE VATICAN TODAY

The Holy Father attended the third Lenten sermon by the Pontifical Preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa,
at the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

After that, he met with

- Four more Syro-Malabar bishops (Group 5) on ad limina visit, including the Eparch of Chicago. Individual meetings.

- Participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Address in Spanish.

- Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


START THE NOVENA FOR
THE POPE'S BIRTHDAY TODAY -
AND DON'T FORGET HIS
SIXTH ANNIVERSARY AS POPE


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The prayers were provided by the PRAY A NOVENA initiative
entitled 84,000 NOVENAS FOR THE POPE'S 84TH BIRTHDAY.
www.praymorenovenas.com/novenas/84000-novenas-for-pope

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In connection with ANNIVERSARY #6 of Benedict XVI’s Pontificate, which inaugurates his seventh year as Pope, this brief news item from KIPA-APIC news agency today.

Italian President to offer
anniversary concert for the Pope


ROME, April 8 (Translated from APIC) – On the occasion of the sixth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s Pontificate, the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitnao, will offer a concert in honor of the Pope on May 5 at the Vatican’s Aula Paolo VI.

The Orchestra and Choir of the Rome Opera, under the direction of Spanish conductor Jesus Lopez Cobos, will perform Antonio Vivald's Gloria and Gioacchino Rissini’s Stabat mater.

[Since he became President, Napolitano has presented a concert in honor of the Pope at least once a year, in some years even twice, to mark his birthday and/or the anniversary of the Pontificate.]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/8/2011 9:06 PM]
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4/8/2011 3:46 PM
 
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This time last year, the posts on this thread were dominated by articles and commentaries in support of Pope Benedict XVI against a massive assault by the MSM. They not only blamed him, most unfairly and contrary to facts, for the pedophile priest scandal and its cover-up by some bishops that had re-erupted eight years after it peaked in 2002 with the US cases, but also sought to show that he himself had been personally involved in condoning one such offense when he was Archbishop of Munich.

This time, the attacks against the Pope are from Catholics in the United States and in Italy who have access to the media and who think they are more Catholic than the Pope, and who are criticizing him, less virulently but just as unfairly and fallaciously, for his interpretation of Vatican II, for the 'fast track' beatification of John Paul II, and for the Assisi meeting in October.

In his www.chiesa entry today, Sandro Magister tackles the criticisms about Vatican II and Assisi
chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1347420?eng=y
But I think Magister is giving too much 'weight' to the critics he cites - obvious from his title "High up, let down by Benedict XVI" (What makes them 'high up', anyway, and are they really preaching to anyone other than the choir they are singing with?) - whose views are argued with ideological frenzy rather than with objectivity.

Equally disturbing though for different reasons is an interview by Edward Pentin in the National Catholic Register
www.ncregister.com/site/article/vatican-pr-solutions/
with an Italian journalist, Massimo Franco, who has written a book describing what he calls a 'decline of the Vatican' under Benedict XVI in moral and strategic terms.

I do not question that Pentin gives Franco an outlet to express his views - even if I think these views are thoroughly muddled by Franco trying to shape facts according to some obviously preposterous and hopelessly biased theory that he puts forward.

But I do question the fact that someone like Pentin simply accepts Franco's statements a-critically and fails to challenge them at all even when they are so patently absurd or even false. This has become a deplorable habit in the Catholic media. Not to challenge and even respond to such views while helping to propagate them is a double disservice to the Church.

No matter how courteous one is to an interview-subject, freedom of expression does not mean allowing one side to have it say without responding to it immediately and responsibly when warranted!

I am not posting either article for now, because they do require a great deal of fisking! Not at all the kind of articles one can merely read and pass on without comment, much less without reacting vehemently...

P.S. The following news item is very apropos, but I think that the professional journalists now working in the Catholic media should be invited as well, or should have a separate occasion to be convoked to call attention to counter-productive practices as cited above.


Vatican calls Catholic bloggers
to a conference after May 1 rites

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April 8, 2011

A meeting for Catholic bloggers will take place in Rome on the afternoon of Monday, May 2, the day after the Beatification of Pope John Paul II in order to take advantage of the likely presence in Rome of many bloggers.

The invitation is open to all, but bloggers who wish to attend need to apply by emailing and sending a link to their blog.

The aim of the meeting, which is being organised by the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications, is to allow for a dialogue between bloggers and Church representatives, to listen to the experiences of those who are actively involved in this arena, and to achieve a greater understanding of the needs of that community.

The meeting will also allow for a presentation of some of the initiatives taken by the Church to engage with new media practitioners, in Rome and at the local level.

In two panels, speakers will open up some of the key issues in order to set up a more general discussion open to all participants. The first panel will involve 5 bloggers chosen to represent different language groups and each will address a specific theme of general relevance.

The second panel will draw on people involved in the Church’s communications outreach – they will speak of their experiences in working with new media and initiatives aimed at ensuring an effective engagement by the Church with bloggers.

Among those participating at the meeting will be Cardinal Ravasi of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Celli of thePontifical Council for Social Communications and Father Lombardi of the Vatican’s Press Office and Vatican Radio.

An important dimension of the meeting is that it will allow an informal exchange and contact among the participants, with a view to opening further avenues of interaction.

As space is limited to 150 seats, and in order to represent the Catholic blogosphere appropriately, passes and further details will be distributed with a view to the diversity of language and geography, typology of blogs (institutional or private, multivoice or personal), subjects of blogs, and timeliness of request.

Simultaneous translation will be provided for Italian, English, French, Polish and Spanish.

The venue is the Palazzo San Pio X, on via della Conciliazione, 5.


Vatican invites Catholic bloggers to dialogue
by Cindy Wooden
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VATICAN CITY, April 8 — The Vatican is opening a new avenue for dialogue, this time with Catholic bloggers.

The pontifical councils for culture and for social communications are inviting bloggers to the Vatican May 2 so the Vatican can “listen to the experiences of those who are actively involved in this arena” and “achieve a greater understanding of the needs of that community,” said a press release sent out this morning.

The meeting is pretty much open to any Catholic blogger, but the fact that there are only 150 seats in the conference hall and that the Vatican is looking for a mix of languages means the Vatican will be making some choices.

The press release said the Vatican also wants a geographical mix and diversity based on the kinds of blogs out there: institutional and private, multi-voice and personal.

Those who want to attend must apply by sending an email to blogmeet@pccs.it and including a link to their blog. The press release also said that those who apply first will be given priority.

The pontifical councils chose the day after Pope John Paul II’s beatification because they assume many of the bloggers will already be in Rome and wouldn’t have to make a special trip. Simultaneous translation will be provided in Italian, English, French, Polish and Spanish.


Obviously, not every blogger is equal. Even if you did nothing all day but surf the Web, it is also phyically impossible to keep track of everyone who blogs - even if you only limited yourself to reading Catholic blogs.

But if, as I do, you further narrow down the monitoring to those bloggers
- who have knowledge of the Church and the faith, as well as of what used to be called 'the humanities' (a fundamental acquaintance with philosophy, history, literature, art and music);
- who are orthodox in their faith and not cafeteria Catholics;
- who are willing to research independently and do not simply quote what the secular media say;
- who blog on the basis of objective fact and not merely out of personal whim and preference -
then that makes it far more manageable and practical bnecause it limits the field substantially!


Personally, and for purposes of picking up leads and ideas for this Forum, I add one more qualification to the blogs I follow regularly: they must themselves comment regularly on what is happening in the Church and in the Papacy, and not just spout off occasionally on these matters as a corollary to their more personal interests even if these are still spiritual or Church-centered.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/8/2011 9:43 PM]
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Nun gives voice to the abused
in 2011 Via Crucis meditations

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VATICAN CITY, April 8 (CNS) -- The cloistered Augustine nun who has written the meditations for Pope Benedict XVI's Way of the Cross service said she strived for simplicity to give a voice to children who have been abused in the Church and beyond.

Mother Maria Rita Piccione, president of the Italian Federation of Augustinian Nuns, told Vatican Radio that she wanted "to give space in this prayer of the church to the voice of children and teens, who sometimes are offended, injured and exploited. Here I am referring not just to the cases of abuse that have been talked about so much, because the problem is much vaster and regards all humanity."

Pope Benedict chose the Augustinian to write the meditations and prayers that will be read Good Friday, April 22, as he leads the Stations of the Cross at Rome's Colosseum.

Mother Piccione told Vatican Radio April 5 that she tried to reflect on each station of Jesus's passion from the point of view "not only of believers, but of every person. My gaze, my listening stopped at this level: the level of the human heart ... because it is like a laboratory where the fate of what happens on a global scale is decided."

She said she hoped that through her meditations, the hearts of all who listen will be touched and they will recognize not only their responsibility for their sins, but how much God offers each person through Jesus.

In a separate interview with L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, she said that while she was writing the meditations, she kept looking at a wooden owl she keeps on her desk.

"Looking at that owl, thinking about its ability to see in the dark, I found what I hope is the right key for the meditations I am proposing. If it represents the night, then it is necessary to seek the face of God who enlightens even the thickest darkness," she said.

I was meaning to translate the longer interview Sr. Maria Rita gave to OR two days ago, but did not get around to doing it. I will post is as soon as I can.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/8/2011 8:50 PM]
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Pope Benedict on popular piety
and the new evangelization
in Latin America

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April 8, 2011


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Pope Benedict XVI received the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America at the Vatican today.

The commission held its anual assembly in Rome to discuss the impact of popular piety in the process of evangelization of Latin America – a theme Pope Benedict said directly addresses one of the most important aspects for the missionary task to which Latin American local churches are committed.

Here is a translation of his address which the Pope delivered in Spanish:


Dear Cardinals,
Beloved brothers in the Episcopate:

1. I affectionately greet the advisers and members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America who have met in Rome for your Plenary Assembly.

I especially greet Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of this Commission, and thank him sincerely for the words he addressed to me in your behalf and for presenting the results of your days of study and reflection.

2. The theme chosen for this meeting, “The incidence of popular piety in the process of evangelization in Latin America”, directly addresses one of the most important aspects in the missionary task undertaken by the local churches in that great continent.

The bishops who met in Aparecida for the Fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, which I had the pleasure of opening during my visit to Brazil in May 2007, presented popular piety as a space for encounter with Jesus Christ and a form of expressing the faith.

Therefore, it cannot be considered as something secondary in Christian life because that would be “to forget the primacy of the action of the Spirit and the freely given initiative of God’s love"
(Concluding Document, Aparecida, n. 263).

This simple expression of the faith has its roots at the very start of evangelization in those lands. In effect, to the degree that the saving message of Christ was illuminating and inspiring the cultures of the continent, a rich and profound popular religiosity was being woven which characterizes the liveliness of the faith among Latin American peoples, which, as I said in the inaugural address to the Aparecida conference, constitutes “the precious treasure of the Catholic Church in Latin America, which she should protect, promote, and where necessary, purify” (No. 1).

3. To achieve the new evangelization in Latin America, within a process that permeates the entire being and doing of Christians, one cannot set aside the multiple demonstrations of popular piety. All of them, well-channelled and appropriately accompanied, favor a fruitful encounter with God, an intense veneration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, an appealing devotion to the Virgin Mary, a cultivation of affection for the Successor of Peter, and an awareness of belonging to the Church.

May all of this also serve to evangelize, to communicate the faith, to bring the faithful closer to the Sacraments, to strengthen the bonds of friendship and of familial as well as communitarian union, and to increase solidarity and the practice of charity.

Consequently, the faith must be the principal source of popular piety so that it does not get reduced to the mere cultural expression of a given region. Furthermore, it must be in close relation to sacred liturgy, which cannot be replaced by any other form of religious expression.

In this respect, it must not be forgotten what the Directory on popular piety and liturgy says, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, that
Liturgy and popular piety are two expressions of worship (cultual) that must be in a mutual and fruitful relationship: in any case, the Liturgy must constitute the reference point for ‘channelling with lucidity and prudence the (popular) yearning for prayer and for a charismatic life'.

For its part, popular piety, with its symbolic and expressive values, can contribute some references to Liturgy for a genuine inculturation as well as stimuli for creative and effective dynamism”
(No. 58).

4. In popular piety we encounter many expressions of faith linked to the major celebrations of the liturgical year, by which the simple folk reaffirm the love they feel for Jesus Christ, in whom they encounter the manifestation of God’s closeness, his compassion and mercy.

There are countless shrines dedicated to the contemplation of the infancy, Passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, to which multitudes come to place their joys and sufferings in the hands of the Lord, while asking him for copious graces and imploring forgiveness for their sins.

Also intimately bound to Jesus is the devotion of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. From the dawn of evangelization, she has accompanied her Son in that land, and has been, for her peoples, an inexhaustible spring of hope. That is why they go to her as Mother of the Savior to feel her loving protection constantly under so many different advocations.

Likewise, the saints have been like luminous stars in the hearts of the faithful of those lands, edifying them with their example and protecting them with their intercession.

5. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that there are certain deviant forms of popular religiosity that, far from promoting active participation in the Church, create confusion, and could lead to religious practice that is merely external and detached from a faith that is well rooted and alive interiorly.

In this respect, I wish to recall what I wrote to seminarians last year: “Certainly, popular piety tends towards the irrational, and can at times be somewhat superficial. Yet it would be quite wrong to dismiss it. Through that piety, the faith has entered human hearts and become part of the common patrimony of sentiments and customs, shaping the life and emotions of the community. Popular piety is thus one of the Church’s great treasures. The faith has taken on flesh and blood. Certainly popular piety always needs to be purified and refocused, yet it is worthy of our love and it truly makes us into the “People of God”
(Letter to seminarians, Oct. 18, 2010, No. 4).

6. During the meetings I have had in the past few years on the occasion of their ad limina visits, the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean have kept me abreast of what is happening in their respective ecclesiastical jurisdictions in order to promote and encourage the continental mission with which the Latin-American episcopate had wished to re-launch the new evangelization after the Aparecida conference, inviting all the members of the Church to place themselves in a permanent state of mission.

It is an option of great transcendent significance, because it aims to return to a fundamental aspect of the Church’s work, namely, to give primacy to the Word of God so it may be permanent nourishment for Christian life and the axis of all pastoral activity.

This encounter with the divine Word should lead to a profound life change, to a radical identification with the Lord and his Gospel, to be fully aware that it is necessary to be solidly bound to Christ, in the knowledge that “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction
(Deus caritas est, No. 1).

In this sense, I am glad to learn that in Latin America, the practice of lectio divina has been growing in the parishes and small church communities, as a regular way to nourish prayer, and thus give solidity to the spiritual life of the faithful, since “in the words of the Bible, popular piety will find an inexhaustible source of inspiration, insurpassable models of prayer, and fruitful proposals on different topics” (Directory on popular piety and liturgy, No. 87).

7. Dear brothers, I thank you for your valuable contributions to protect, promote and purify everything that is related to the expressions of popular piety in Latin America. To achieve this objective, it will be of great value to continue energizing the continental mission, within which there must be a space fir everything that refers to this pastoral sector, which constitutes a special way for the faith to be welcomed and to dwell in the heart of the people, to touch the most profound human sentiments, and to be manifested vigorously through charity (cf Gal 5,6).

8. At the conclusion of this joyful encounter, as I invoke the gracious name of the Most Blessed Mary, perfect disciple and pedagogue of evangelization, I impart the Apostolic Blessing from the heart, as a token of divine goodness.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/9/2011 12:19 AM]
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And where is God in all this????

As a journalist and as a Catholic, my major problem with this interview as it is presented is that it comes with absolutely no commentary by the interviewer on the answers he elicits from his subject – answers that cry out to be challenged and confronted on the spot, which Pentin, a veteran Vaticanista, does not even attempt to do.

I recognize that it is perfectly legitimate for a Catholic publication like National Catholic Register to publish views that are contrary to the position of the Church or that are critical of the Church, but if the criticism is unfounded, fallacious and even downright untrue, then it is a double disservice to the Church to publish it unchallenged and, as it were, a-critically….

My fisking comments are necessarily lengthier than the statements being commented on, because I can and do marshal objective facts, as well as common-sense opinion, to contradict the interviewee's brazen and mostly unfounded allegations.



Vatican PR solutions
Interview by Edward Pentin
Rome Correspondent
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Editor’s Introduction:

The Vatican has been criticized for its so-called PR “gaffes” in recent years, but what lies at the heart of these errors, and how can they be corrected?

Massimo Franco, a veteran political correspondent for Italy’s daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, tries to get to the bottom of the problems in a new book called C’era Una Volta Un Vaticano (Once Upon a Time, There Was a Vatican).

[Already the book title betrays the author’s orientation: he is peddling a myth, as though in 2000 years, the Vatican has not had its high points and low points, and that even the particularly low point which the public perceives it is at today is minor compared to other low points that the Church has undergone in its history. ]

Although a former columnist for the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, Avvenire, he gives more of a political take on the Vatican than perhaps one of faith [Perhaps? There is nothing about the faith at all in Franco's views. His prism is exclusively political, which is not a valid way at all to look at the Vatican!]

But his views could be useful when it comes to possible — and what some say is much needed — reform of the Roman Curia. Franco spoke with Rome correspondent Edward Pentin March 15 in Rome.

[How useful can such views be when they have an obvious 'faith-less' bias and when the author appears to consider the Vatican as nothing more or better than a multinational corporation or a political party, neither of which it is not? Besides, the Register falls into his trap by framing the interview as being about the Vatican’s ‘PR problems’ when Franco himself says these problems are merely a sign of the ‘decline of the Vatican’ in ‘strategic and moral terms’. Especially since Franco’s time reference for such a decline appears to be circumscribed to the Pontificate of Benedict XVI!]


Could you tell us more about the essence of your new book concerning the Vatican and its internal governance?
I think there has been a problem of a lack of strategy since the very beginning of this pontificate, because everyone in the conclave was overwhelmed by the figure of John Paul II. When Benedict XVI was elected, the fact that it was a very quick election, and that he felt himself to be old, meant there couldn’t be any strategy in building up a new system of governance in the Vatican.

[#1 What special qualification does Franco have to be judge, jury and executioner about the ‘internal governance’ of the Vatican? I am almost sure his book abundantly cites those never-named ‘authoritative Vatican sources’ for many of
His allegations, but we all know how self-serving, unreliable and often untrue such references are!

#2 The Conclave was not so ’overwhelmed by the figure of John Paul II’ because they had the common sense to elect4ct the one man who, by their consensus, was the only one who could authoritatively fill the Shoes of the Fisherman with his outstanding qualifications and personal holiness, even following a giant like John Paul II, and even if public opinion had dismissed him because he was not thought to be ‘charismatic’ as his predecessor is.

#3 Franco obviously was not paying attention when, in his homily at the Mass that formally installed him as Pope, Benedict XVI said: “My real programme of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history.”

#4 Popes are not like Presidents or Prime Ministers and do not come to Peter’s Chair strategizing what to do. The Church has had only one strategy in its 2,000-year existence: to do anything that will promote the propagation of Christ and his Gospel. To do that, Popes must respond to problems at hand in order that such problems may not hamper the mission. Even the most political Popes of modern times – Pius IX and Pius XII – did not have any so-called ‘strategy’.]


This [reform] has also proved to be quite difficult because the whole [Vatican] structure was shaped by the Cold War. And yet, during the first years of Benedict XVI and in the last years of John Paul II, the world profoundly changed, and all the framework of the Cold War was over. So there was a disconnect between the new world paradigm — a cultural and geopolitical paradigm — and the way the Vatican went on operating.

[#1 Benedict XVI has always said that no structural reform will make anything better unless there is spiritual reform first among the men who make up the structure!

#2 The ‘Vatican structure’ was not shaped by the Cold War, even if the Vatican did adapt its diplomacy during those years to avoid any further persecution that that already wrought by the Communist regimes on Catholics. The Curia exists basically as it has been for centuries to help the Pope administer a universal Church, and as the world grew more complex and the Church became numerically bigger and more far-flung, offices were added to address new specific functions. Yet for all that, the entire Vatican bureaucracy today does not number more than 2,500 for a church of 1.2 billion members.

#3 The Cold War effectively ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Franco certainly cannot claim that John Paul II, whose ‘political agenda’, if one might call it that, in the first 12 years of his Pontificate, was to help bring down Communism, did not change his agenda after that! The task of Vatican diplomacy thereafter was necessarily no longer about the Cold War but was primarily dedicated to advocating peace at any cost rather than violence, no matter how well-intentioned the use of arms.

#4 Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI was actively analyzing and interpreting the new ‘world paradigm’ far in advance and more consistently than anyone on the public scene, and as Pope, he – and the people under him - have been functioning on the basis of that new paradigm, as a glance at his consistent and insistent extra-ecclesial concerns will show. In addition to advocating dialog as the way to resolve conflicts,as John Paul did, this include:
o Religious freedom as a path to peace
o Condemnation of violence in the name of God
o The defense of life, human dignity, and the institutions of marriage and the family
o Denouncing the increasing gap between rich and poor favored by increasing globalization
which marginalizes the poorer and weaker countries
o Genuinely human-centered development schemes
o Man’s duty to protect and conserve the environment
o Productive inter-religious dialog that is oriented towards the positive things that believers
and even non-believers can do together, and not on the impossible goal of arriving
at any common theology
o A courageous appeal for Islam to re-examine its faith in the light of reason
So where is the ‘disconnect between the new world paradigm and the way the Vatican functions’ that Franco so blithely and wrongly claims?]


You mention in the book that a kind of “implosion” of the Vatican has been taking place. What do you mean by that?
It is an implosion of a Vatican, not of the Vatican. It’s the implosion of the kind of governance that used to exist. For example, when the Berlin Wall fell, you had Western secret services, and maybe Russian as well, prepared to deal with and cope with a certain kind of world. When this world wasn’t there any more, they went on operating in the same way as in the past. And yet the world had moved on. The same is true of the Vatican.

For instance, what happened with the [sexual-abuse] scandal: It wasn’t caused by Vatican problems; it’s the consequence of the fact that the situation has changed. In the past, during the Cold War, sex-abuse scandals were perceived as a possible sin, but not a crime. But if there is a “secularization of sin,” it becomes a crime. So public opinion in the West cannot tolerate the fact that the Church deals with these things as though they are just sins. They are crimes, and so Western public opinion wants them to react in that way.


[Does Franco know what ‘implosion’ means? It is the shattering of a structure as a result of internal rather than external factors. Nothing has imploded at the Vatican, despite all the attempts by MSM to make it appear that the overhyped sex-abuse scandal ’damaged’ the Church. Its temporal reputation and temporarily, yes, not the Church itself.

The Pope and the Church stood up very well against an unprecedented and concerted assault by all the secular agencies that shape and influence public opinion. The Pope considered it an opportunity for the Church to renew and purify itself, and in the process, to strengthen itself. It’s not all a done deal yet with everyone concerned, but the Church will always have sinners.

Who recalls today that a year ago, much of MSM was calling on the Pope to resign because they claimed he had shamed the Church or was unfit and unworthy to lead it? Even that assault could not last more than weeks at the most, because there was nothing behind it. They could only tell so many lies and manufacture so many distortions that did not have true legs to stand on, so the critics could not keep it up.]


For instance, what happened with the [sexual-abuse] scandal: It wasn’t caused by Vatican problems; it’s the consequence of the fact that the situation has changed. In the past, during the Cold War, sex-abuse scandals were perceived as a possible sin, but not a crime. But if there is a “secularization of sin,” it becomes a crime. So public opinion in the West cannot tolerate the fact that the Church deals with these things as though they are just sins. They are crimes, and so Western public opinion wants them to react in that way.

[Franco is truly muddled in his thinking.:
#1 The sex-abuse scandals were the result of individual personal acts by priests who betrayed their vocation, and by some of their superiors who chose to cover up for them and completely ignored their victims. The offenses in both cases were the result of personal choices made by those concerned, and were not institutional, whatever the critics may say.

#2 Sin is always sin, and many mortal sins are also crimes. Cold War or not, the Church has never failed to call out crimes for what they are. In fact, even the documents which her critics most frequently cite – ignorantly – as their ‘proof’ that the Church ordered its bishops to cover up for priest offenders, refers to the grave offenses using the Latin word for ‘crime’.

#3 The Cold War had nothing to do with the sex abuse scandals. The peak incidence of these offenses were in the 1970s-1980s, coinciding with the end of the Second Vatican Council and the progressivist interpretation of it that dominated the Church, aggravated by the so-called sexual revolution introduced by the anything-goes counterculture of 1968 which advocated total sexual license and irresponsibility.

This ultra-liberal climate encouraged psychologists and psychiatrists to consider pedophilia and all other sexual perversions as diseases that could be cured, not as punishable crimes. This is an excuse that some bishops have used to justify their failure to punish their criminal priests.

#4 It was only when the pedophile priest scandal first erupted in the United States that the very same ultra-liberals who promoted ( and in many ways, continue to promote) deviant sex suddenly turned prudishly sanctimonious, not so much out of genuine concern for the victims, but because it was a golden opportunity to paint the Church black.

If the scandal had been about Muslim imams or Jewish rabbis, they would probably have rushed to defend them and mitigate their crimes citing their permissive psychologists and psychiatrists.

Is anyone aware that anybody in MSM, or in secular institutions, has done anything to help the victims of abuse other than Catholic institutions themselves? MSM can say they have tirelessly and generously promoted the statements and activities of victim-advocacy groups, but the activities of the latter are so obviously self-serving, and in a way, crassly mercenary, because they encourage victims to sue the Church for everything they can get. Perhaps this inherent dishonesty is the reason they have never been able to come up with more than a few dozen demonstrators even for their best-publicized ‘events’.]


In this way, you see how the Vatican lags behind, because its first reaction was very slow and very confused. There wasn’t a strategy because they couldn’t understand what was going on. It’s the same with the so-called gaffes of the Vatican.

[Once again, Franco just ignores history and objective facts, and Pentin lets him. What was ‘very slow’ and ‘very confused’ about the Vatican reaction?

#1 Except for some cases in Ireland which took place up to 2004, the overwhelming bulk of all the allegations uncovered in 2009-2010 were cases from earlier decades,. – in other words, from the years of inaction, when local bishops simply hushed up the crimes, and victims were generally unwilling to make it known that they had been violated. The prevailing culture worked negatively both ways.

#2 Since 2001, when John Paul II was confronted with the enormous implications of the sex scandal in the US, he gave the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger the primary responsibility for looking into accusations of sex offenses by priests instead of the local bishops or religious superiors as before.

#3 No one, as far as I know, among the critics of the Church has ever brought up a single case of any allegation brought before the CDF that was ignored or mishandled. That speaks for itself.

#4 Meanwhile, the secular media – and even much of the Catholic media – have simply ignored the other positive and concrete consequences of these offenses coming to light, such as the work done since 2002 by the bishops of the USA and of England and Wales for the protection of children and youth in any Catholic environment, That’s eight years of exemplary work which, unfortunately, other bishops’ conferences afflicted by pedophile priests are just now waking up to.]


The gaffes are not due to problems of external communications. They come from within, from the fact that the information chain inside the Vatican doesn’t work anymore because there is a sort of short-circuiting. Regarding [SSPX bishop] Williamson, the Pope had to admit he didn’t have enough information about him. That was paradoxical.

[#1 Short-circuiting of information within the Vatican was not a factor in the sex-abuse scandal. Until 2000-2002, the information hardly ever reached the Vatican, because local bishops had the competence to deal with it, and those who faced the problem of pedophile priests chose to hush up.

Of course, there was the singular aberration of the eventually disgraced Bishop of Milwaukee who suddenly decided to refer to the CDF a 24-year-old case regarding a priest against whom dozens of accusations had been made, who had been investigated by the police in 1970 and was forced, rightly, to retire at the time although the police found nothing actionable against him (which of course does not mean that he was innocent).

#2 In the cases that MSM keep hammering at as major ‘PR gaffes’ , only two had to do with faulty or deficient information given to the Pope. In both cases, the responsibility is easy to pin.

For the botched nomination of Mons, Wielgus as Archbishop of Poland, the Secretariat of State whose nuncios have the primary responsibility to vet candidate bishops and then make their recommendations to the Vatican, and the Congregation for Bishops who should further vet these candidates so they can make the proper recommendation to the Pope.

For the failure to inform the Pope about Mons. Williamson’s offensive negationist views: Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who was the Vatican’s liaison with the FSSPX for two decades, and once again, the Congregation for Bishops which, after all, had to issue the decree lifting the excommunication from the FSSPX bishops.

Even if knowing about it beforehasnd would not have affected lifting the excommunications, since Williamson’s personal views, as offensive and wrong as they are, had nothing to do with why he was excommunicated, it would have been possible for the Vatican to cushion the announcement by explaining all about excommunications and its technical meaning as against the general perception of it – which they needed to do anyway, regardless, before, not after the fact!

#3 This is a cheap shot, I admit, but what is ‘paradoxical’ about the Pope admitting he did not get enough information when Franco has just pronounced that there is an ‘information short-circuit’ in the Vatican? Is it likely he does not know what paradoxical means either?]


And, yet, the Vatican has operated like this for a long time — and until recently, it didn't have so many perceived gaffes. What has changed? [What a naive question, playing right into Franco’s hand! At least Pentin used the adjective ‘perceived’ for the so-called gaffes. The obvious change is that Benedict XVI is now Pope, fair game and open season all the time for everyone in the MSM – and for some on the Catholic extreme right and left. Benedict’s media critics have not changed their portrayal of him as a villain according to the Black Myth they created when he was cardinal and took the heat for defending the faith, which was his duty, specifically for proclaiming Catholic teaching that all the Popes, including the scoundrel Popes, have always proclaimed. But they trained their guns on him and not on John Paul II, who said exactly the same things, because he was the 'convenient villain' to serve as a foil and surrogate target for the 'untouchable' megastar Pope.

The Vatican has to rethink the internal processes of information. The first one, the most superficial, is an incapacity to convey the right message. But there is a deeper problem, which is elaboration of the message. I mean that the problem is not just the way you communicate but what you communicate. And I think there is a cultural confusion on themes like pedophilia or power struggles inside the Curia. You never saw cardinals pointing at each other [publicly] like Cardinals Schönborn and Sodano did last year. So this is very confusing and astonishing for Catholic public opinion — and not only for them.

[#1 Incapacity to convey the right message? Has the Church ever had a better, clearer, more consistent and more authoritative bearer/teacher of the Christian message in modern times than Benedict XVI? Franco keeps mistaking the tree in his tunnel vision – i.e., PR gaffes - for the forest.

If Franco means the communications deficiencies of the Vatican Press Office, it may have its deficiencies, but outside of the Wielgus and Williamson cases, what has it really botched? And it certainly is not conveying the wrong message because it faithfully transmits the teaching of the Pope.

And yet, the Press Office is not the whole of Vatican communications. Vatican Radio is its most immediate and by far most efficient communications medium, if anyone in the hoity-toity MSM would just take the trouble to listen to what they do on their 24-hour broadcasts, or failing that, check out what they post online of their broadcast content.

#2 Franco is exaggerating his account of the Schoenborn-Sodano episode, first because, the accusation was one-sided: Sodano had the grace not to take Schoenborn’s bait and respond – it would have been unseemly for the Dean of Cardinals, who nonetheless, has been retired from the Roman Curia since 2006.

#3 No Curial power struggle was involved here because neither Schoenborn nor Sodano are in the Curia.

#4 It was hardly the first nor will it be the last time that there are feuding cardinals in the long history of the Church! Besides, who among the vast Catholic population but people who work in Catholic media and Vatican news junkies would have been aware of the episode, much less for it to be ”confusing and astonishing for Catholic public opinion’????]


In the book you link the problems facing the Vatican with the global economic crisis, which began in the United States. Is there really a connection?

I don’t know if there’s a connection, but there is a very strange and striking coincidence, because if we think of Sept. 11 and the financial bubble of Wall Street of 2008, we can see a strange coincidence between that explosion and the explosion of the sex-abuse scandal. I think we can say, therefore, that, as we have seen that the U.S. unipolarism, in terms of military strategy and the economy, is over, so we could say that the moral unipolarism of the Vatican on ethics is also over. These two collapses correspond to one another. So, I think it’s a reflection of the decline of the West, the primacy of the West, both on a strategic and moral level.

[More muddlement!
#1 The sex scandal really erupted in 2000-2002, and 2009-2010 was just a reprisal. So to find a ‘coincidence’ between that 'repeat' and the 2008 financial scandal that hit Wall Street is truly stretching! i

#2 Franco is enamored of his neologism, ‘unipolarism’, which is not analogous in the examples he cites. What he calls ‘US unipolarism’ in temporal affairs means that the US had been the only superpower since the end of the Cold War – and it is now increasingly challenged by China both in economic and military terms.

But ‘Vatican unipolarism on ethics' has never been challenged in modern times, for the simple reason that it has remained the only institution that has been steadfast about its ethical values and which is the only universally recognized moral authority even by those who disagree with Church teachings. That is not ‘over’ at all! Otherwise, the secular news agencies would stop reporting anything the Pope says that has to do with international affairs or events on the world scene.

#3 There is therefore absolutely no 'coincidence' nor analogy at all because Vatican morals have not collapsed.

#4 Since Catholic morality has not collapsed despite widespread dissent from the secular world and from many Catholics in the West, the Vatican and the Church are certainly not a part of the moral decline of the West!


But the Vatican isn’t just the West. It represents the central governance of the universal Church. [Pentin's one feeble attempt to challenge Franco!]
The Vatican is not the West, but it has represented the values of the West throughout the world. [/COLORE][NOT AT ALL! It has represented the values of Christianity throughout the world, And until the past few decades, those values were also the prevailing values of the West, but not anymore. And the Church has certainly not been remiss about denouncing the un-Christian values that the secular West now promotes!]

Of course, it’s also true that the United States is not the West either, and yet it has wanted to shape democracy all over the world. But, in the same way, and not by chance,] [????] the Pope created a pontifical council to re-evangelize the West; he took the name of Benedict because of a very deep perception that the crisis starts from the West and victory will be either won or lost in the West.

[Why does Franco insist on making analogies between the temporal strategic objectives of the United States and the divine mission of the Church? The Pope’s decision to re-evangelize the West did not require ‘very deep perception’ on his part – it is obvious to anyone who keeps abreast of the news – that the crisis starts from the West’!

He created the new council because two after decades that the Church has been speaking of ‘new evangelization’ since John Paul II launched the idea, it was time to institutionalize it. And the main object for ‘new evangelization’ has always been the Western secularized lands that have to be re-Christianized.]


So there is a coincidence, a strategic unipolarism. There’s a financial unipolarism which explodes and a moral unipolarism that explodes with the sex-abuse scandals. [UGHHHH! Such forced, fallacious and ultimately meaningless analogies!]

So you see the international prestige of the Vatican in some ways declining?
The Vatican’s international agenda is very much a focus of discussion. It’s not as focused as it was just 10 to 15 years ago.

I had a very strange experience recently. I met about 30 ambassadors accredited to the Holy See from all over the world in order to discuss the Vatican in international politics. And during these discussions, some of them admitted that they didn’t know if, in 10 years’ time, there would still be an embassy to the Holy See for their countries because the Vatican doesn’t transmit an international agenda anymore.

One of them told me he felt as if he were the last ambassador in Venice in 1797 — the time when the city was occupied and destroyed by Napoleon. So there is a perception that the Vatican, on the international level, is losing influence
.


[#1 In the face of all objective fact, and on the basis of an anecdote that is merely anecdotal and does not even sound plausible, Franco claims that the Vatican’s international agenda is not as focused as it was 10-15 years ago! That would take us to 1995-2000. What was the focus of the agenda then, and what is it now?

Earlier, I listed down the issues that have been central to Benedict’s concerns in international affairs. The world does not just have a single overriding problem. That the Pope manages to pay attention to all his major concerns is not lack of focus – it’s called looking at the big picture instead of having tunnel vision.

#2 Franco takes the purported opinion of one ambassador to mean that the Vatican is losing influence on the international level. Obviously, neither he nor his putative ambassador ever read the Wikileaks cables about how the United Sates, at least, appreciates the Vatican’s influence.

It’s not as if that influence ever meant that it could make nations do things their government leaders don’t want to do. Vatican influence has always meant that you can’t count out the Pope and what he says because, like it or not, he has a moral authority that no one else possesses, and he leads 1.2 billion faithful. And that is why secular news agency report it every time the Pope says something that touches on the international scene, even if he can only speak in the most general terms.]


But could this simply be part of what Benedict XVI has described as the Church becoming made up of “creative minorities”?
Benedict XVI deserves a lot of credit for this — he foresaw what was going to happen, and he created this expression “creative minority.” The problem is that, so far, first of all in the West, not many people see Catholicism as a minority — although, actually, it is. Secondly, “creative minority” is a good phrase, but, so far, it’s just a minority. So it’s a big question if it can become a creative minority.

[Oops! I cannot believe that Franco does not know where the term ‘creative minority’ comes from. When Cardinal Ratiznger first used it, he appropriately said he was using a term from historian Arnold Toynbee!

Franco obviously misunderstands thoroughly what the term means. Cardinal Ratzinger did not intend it to mean the European Catholics as they are today. He was referring to a foreseeble future where rampant secularization could conceivablty reduce them to small communities that would then have all the more incentive to be ‘creative minorities’. Here is how he ended his analysis, in the essay ‘Europe and its discontents’, which was included in the book Without Roots:

Here we must agree with Toynbee, that the fate of a society always depends on its creative minorities. Christian believers should look upon themselves as just such a creative minority, helping Europe to reclaim what is best in its heritage and thereby to place itself at the service of all humankind.

But Franco is also so short-sighted or willfully blind that he does not recognize ‘creative minorities’ that already exist in the secular wilderness – lay groups like Opus Dei, C&L, and the Focolari, and the unsung communities of religious men and women who continue to be creative wielders of the medieval ‘ora et labora’ that saved Western civilization in the Dark Ages.

Can this be applied to the Vatican?
The Vatican is very much looking inward. There is a strong Curia and a sort of disconnect between the Curia, Rome and the national conferences of bishops.

[None of the above makes sense. Obviously, the Vatican is not just looking inwards – and its ‘looking inward’ under Benedict XVI is an examination of the Church itself with a view to working a genuine interior renewal.

And the ‘disconnects’ in the Church are between those prelates who look on the Church as Franco does, namely, nothing but a temporal career choice, and the true men of God who seek to live the Gospel message.

The over-rated bishops’ conferences are very much a case in point – they have tended to become dubious power bases for the bishops instead of pastoral instruments to promote the spiritual good of their people, and as Cardinal Ratzinger previously pointed out, a protective umbrella under which to shirk individual responsibility.]


Some have said there’s too much patronage in the Curia, too many favors given to friends and associates, rather than based on merit. Is this a major part of the problem? [What is Pentin’s basis for saying this? How many favors and patronage can any Curia head dispense, seeing as there are only so many posts available? Other than the Propaganda Fide, no dicastery is in any position to hand out any material benefits!]]

There are two problems at the moment. The first is that the Church is split, so it’s as though the conclave never finished. Under the leadership of Benedict XVI, factions have fought each other very strongly, compared to the past.

[No! The difference from the past is that under Benedict XVI, there was finally some spine to oppose the progressivists who had managed to dominate the Church during four decades when ‘conservative’ was considered anthema. And lo and behold, for a change, Catholic orthodoxy has managed to re-establish itself as a force within the Church, and by all accounts, the progressivists and spiritists are fighting a rearguard action.]

Secondly, there is a problem of patronage. For instance, during the last consistory, it was very Eurocentric and Curiacentric: The new cardinals were friends of friends, and that’s because of a lack of strategy.

{Eurocentric and Curiacentric! This issue was brought up briefly by the usual suspects and easily dismissed last November.

#1 Recently appointed Curial heads whose positions traditionally come with a cardinalate were made cardinal. Benedict XVI would not have appointed them to head their respective dicasteries to begin with, if they were not qualified, not just for the office, but also as potential cardinals. There were relatively many of them this time because Benedict XVI had just completed the change-over from the last of the Wojtyla Curial appointees to retire.

#2 No Third World prelate with the right qualifications was passed over.

#3 For some time more, perhaps another 10 years, it is likely that there will be more European candidates for cardinal than friom the Third World, for the simple reason that they have had the longest tradition and therefore, still have a deeper bench of candidates by training.

#4 Franco’s catch-all diagnosis, ‘lack of strategy’, has nothing to do with how cardinals are chosen, because it would be wrong to choose new cardinals on the basis of ‘strategic utility’ rather than merit. And which among those new cardinals became cardinal because they were ‘friends of friends’. Friends of whose friends? Benedict’s? ]


The Pope likes to choose friends, as they are people he already knows and trusts.
Yes, this Pope is an intellectual, a very respected man, but he sees that there isn’t much time to go forward. He believes he was forced to choose people he knew, on whom he could rely. And that is not exactly the best way to deal with as complex an organization as the Vatican, in this period of speed and precision.

[Excuse me! Because the Pope chooses people to work with who think like he does and whom he can rely on - he would be foolish to choose anyone he cannot rely on - does not mean that the people he chooses are unqualified for what they have to do. What matters is that he can work with them and they do what they have to do,]

So what is the way forward? Should the Curia become more international, for example?
The Curia is already internationalized. The problem is a change of mentality, not the national identity of the officials. I think the Church will be forced to change. Indeed, the risk could be not that a Vatican is over, but that the Vatican could face big difficulties.

I cannot believe the banality and senselessness of this last answer, and yet it perfelctly epitomizes the banality and senselessness of Franco’s views.

By the way, back to my question at the head of this post: Does Franco ever mention Christ or God in his book? He never once mentions those words in this interview. And Pentin is too awed? cowed? stultified? by his subject not to bring it up either!]


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/9/2011 4:58 PM]
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4/9/2011 5:16 PM
 
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Saturday, April 9, Fourth Week of Lent
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ST. CASILDA DE TOLEDO (Spain, 950?-1050)
She was the daughter of the Muslim king Al-Mamun of Toledo, at the height of Moorish dominance in Spain. She is one
of the earliest saints of whom a version of the following legend is told: Casilda used to bring bread to Christian
prisoners in secret; one day, caught by her father sneaking out, he challenged her to show what she was carrying in
her basket. She did - and there were roses instead of bread. Later she fell ill with what is now believed to have been
uterine cancer; she went to the healing waters at a shrine to St. Vincent the martyr in Burgos province, where she
was baptized. She stayed on in the area living a life of solitude and penance. and was said to have lived to age 100.
Readings for today's Mass:
www.usccb.org/nab/readings/040911.shtml



OR today.

No papal stories on Page 1, and for some reason the OR did not even post online the text of the Holy Father's
address yesterday to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Page 1 news: A UN food aid ship reaches
the Libyan port of Misurata, as Turkey proposes a peace plan; Japan's nightmare continues - the latest
earthquake aftershock was 7.6 on the Richter scale and killed 4, wounding more than a hundred, and little
progress is noted at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant; the Ivory Coast port city of Abidjan may be
the scene of the final battle between President-elect Ouattara's forces and defiant ex-President Ngagbo, holed
up with a thousand mercenaries in a bunker; and an essay about a recent Hollywood movie, The Back-Up Plan,
that has to do with the use of donor sperm in an IVF procedure, claiming that Hollywood appears to be re-
examining the ethical questions connected with assisted reproduction.



AT THE VATICAN TODAY

The Holy Father met with

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (weekly meeting)

- Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, emeritus Archbishop of Milan.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/9/2011 5:42 PM]
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