Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, ..., 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, [132], 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, ..., 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314
TERESA BENEDETTA
Saturday, March 26, 2011 1:02 PM
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In the face of Promethean/Sisyphean weakness,
criticism of contemporary relativism in JON-2:

Excerpts from the presentation of
Mons. Gerhard Ludwig Mueller
Bishop of Regensburg
Translated from the 3/24/11 issue of
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Editor's Note: Here are excerpts from the lecture given by the Bishop of Regensburg at the presentation Thursday night of JESUS OF NAZARETH Vol II at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in the 'Dialoghi nella Cattedrale' series presented by the Diocese of Rome.


In the sixth year of the Pontificate of His Holiness Benedict XVI, the second of his three volumes dedicated to the figure of Jesus has been published. The first part of the trilogy was dedicated to the period "from the baptism on the Jordan to the Transfiguration'. and teh second one which came out earlier this month, is subtitled "From the entry into Jerusalem to the Resurrection".

In nine chapters, the Holy Father elaborates the great scenes of the Passion of Christ. These are key scenes to understand the person of Jesus and his mission: Who is Jesus with respect to God his Father? And what does he mean to us?

The author reflects and explains in detail the sense and the significance of the entry into Jerusalem and of the purification of the Temple; followed by the eschatological discourse on the end of the Temple and the advent of the pagan era; the washing of the feet; the priestly prayer; the Last Supper with the institution of the Eucharist, as the central sacrament of the Church; the trial of Jesus; his crucifixion, the deposition in the tomb and his subsequent resurrection; and finally, an analysis of the pronouncement in the Credo: "He ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again in glory".

It is an imposing work of admirable commitment, which the Pope wished to assume alongside his already enormous incumbencies and responsibilities for the universal Church - and despite his venerable age.

Some may ask whether the Pontiff would have done better to leave a work of strictly scientific character in the hands of professors of exegesis and history who are much younger and, according to them, more competent.

Shouldn't he better face far more important tasks at a time when the boat of Peter is at the mercy of growing tides of secularism and when, in order to deal with the increasingly violent anti-clerical waves, the Church needs all of the attention of its helmsman?

To such objections, I counter: Is it not precisely the task of St. Peter to call general attention to the only one who is able to arrest wind and wave, and to bring the boat of his Church to the secure port of eternity?

To make the figure of Jesus accessible to men who are at risk of being carried away by the tempests of time and history, is undoubtedly an undertaking that goes far beyond the passion of an ex-professor of theology whose preferred occupation is writing books.

Because this is not just one more book about Jesus. That the entire world would not suffice to contain all the books that one could write about Jesus was already apparent to the evangelist St. John in the first century (cfr Jn 21,22).

Instead, the Pope has concerned himself directly with Jesus, and through him, our relationship with God.

Despite the enormous importance of the Bible in the life of the Church, Christianity is not a religion of the book. Christian faith is an encounter with a person. And the totally unique thing about Jesus is that by getting close to him, I am dealing with God himself. At the same time, I know that I am perfectly understood and sustained by him in my own existential affairs, in my sufferings, hopes and fears.

Jesus is decisive for the success or failure of my life. Jesus is true God, the Son in the trinitarian communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But Jesus is also, through the Incarnation of the divine Word, a man like me, up to the death that he suffered on the cross to guarantee to us the prospect of eternal life.

In the Gospel of John, it is stressed that the book was not written as a historical biography to inform us, with the aid of sociology and psychology, about the life and destiny of a historical personage, but rather "so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God, and because, by believing, you may have eternal life in his name" (Jn 20,31).

Thus, even Pope Benedict XVI, in an era of growing doubts, of uncertainties on how to transmit the faith in a Europe that is so profoundly confused over its own Christian identity - without a measuring standard or a goal, without an origin or a future, in a situation of the general crisis of mankind - has also written this book so that men may orient themselves anew towards Jesus.

Because only an orientation towards God-Man can save us, not becoming hardened in an ideology, in a mental construction with a human matrix, in a pax sovietica, pax americana or pax cinese, what have you, or a model of society that is purely economic and scientific.

Indeed, however valuable the human intellect is, and however fides et ratio, like a couple of lovers, can be of no use to each other in a theory and practice of a world cut off from knowing God - with philosophy and ethics alone, we can never reach an absolute knowledge of the reality of the world and of man, nor lift ourselves enough to be our own redeemers.

Fundamentalism and relativism are the twin brothers of subjectivism - faith as opinion or discretional decision of the subject - while the Christian profession is based on reality established by God himself, by the Son of God who became man; "There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved" (Acts 4,12).

Christianity is substantially and essentially a relationship between persons, not between a person and an idea or a moral law, or the objective spirit of law, or science, religion, culture and philosophy.

Faith is the relationship of man with Jesus, and through him, with God, and as such, is a communion of life with God and a communion of life with all those who belong to him in the Church, as a communion of faith, hope and charity.

My personality develops in relationship to my parents, my brothers and sisters, friends and teachers, and not to the idea of genitoriality, to the functional plane of teaching, to the structures of the educational system or the academic-university system. The relationship between persons is always preeminent with respect to the material sphere or factual elements, and this avoids that man 'loses his own soul'.

As pastor of souls, the Holy Father wishes to encourage the doubters and reinforce all his brothers and sisters in their faith (cfr Luke 22,32). In fact, we can, with tranquillity, subject the Christian faith, Biblical witness, and the entire apostolic tradition and magisterium of the Catholic Church to the thorniest interrogation in history and to philosophical skepticism.

This decantation by the Enlightenment and criticism of religion has highlighted in a more manifest and convincing manner that our faith is due to the real self-revelation of God and that our relationship with Jesus rests on a firm historical foundation.

Critical philosophy and historico-critical methodology in Biblical exegesis, placed at the service of the science of faith, can confirm the historicity of Revelation and the reliability of the Gospels as the testimony of persons and of the story of Jesus, if they accept liberating themselves from the unfounded and a priori conviction that man is incapable of transcending his humanity.

Our relationship with Jesus is a relationship of acknowledging his person under the sign of love: love not understood, obviously, as mere sentiment alongside a rational confrontation with historical sources.

Love in this case means accepting any other person without reservation and to experience at the same time that the other acknowledges and accepts us perfectly. Even now Jesus remains for many persons a model in the moral and humanitarian sense, and many identify themselves with him.

But this unilateral identification with another does not yet signify friendship and love. It could still be simple narcissism, if I limit myself to instrumentalizing the other as a model for myself. In theological terms: Jesus is for us not just an exemplum, he is also donum.

He gives himself to me as a divine presence in my heart and in my existential affairs and in the entire history of mankind. We live in God to the degree that he lives in us. Thus the encounter of love with Jesus is redemption and God's Shalom, not just because I as a a creature seek to identify myself with God, but because God identifies himself with his creature, and he loved us even when we were sinners (1Jn 4, 10-16).

The risen Lord asks Peter, "Do you love me more than the others?" And three times Peter, acknowledging with full remorse his own betrayal of Jesus, responds, "You know that I love you". And Jesus entrusts his lambs and his sheep to him (cfr Jn 21m15-19).

It is therefore supremely opportune that today, in Rome, glorious site of his martyrdom, Peter, together with Paul, gives witness anew of our desire to glorify God, working for his Kingdom unto death.

The Successor of Peter, despite his advanced age, took on the labor on a trilogy which will amount to about a thousand pages, so that we may recognize the glory and freedom of children of God who, in Jesus, gave himself to us to a degree that transcends every human dimension, and so that we can identify the meaning of our life in Jesus's exhortation to follow him.

Neither Prometheus-Hegel nor Sisyphus-Marx have been able to subject the world to the power of man. Their interpretations of history and of man cannot determine nor modify our life, because they have failed to recognize man in his being. Being is indisposable, and this goes back to God as the origin of a love that enlarges itself without limitations and without ever claiming anything in return: "You were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb" (1Pt 18-19).

But the Savior and Redeemer does not make his apparition on the pages of the daily newspapers' cultural supplements and in consumerism with all its superficiality. All of man's attempts at self-redemption without cost are rooted in an abyss of crime and violence, spiritual emptiness and mortal tedium. The rejection of a God who acts in history and gives his revelation to man inevitably leads to the desperation of having to remain unredeemed.

The will for salvation is manifested and becomes reality only in the kenosia [emptying himself] of the Son of God (Phil 2,5-11) for he]im who trusts with faith and love in the person of the Son sent by the Father to become man.

To face the apparently invincible Goliath of relativism - intellectually and politically made militant and potentiated by the media - David, shepherd of the People of God, forges ahead, without weapons but full of imperturbable truct in God "in the name of the Lord' (1 Sam 17,45).

The language and the reasoning of Benedict XVI have a simple and modest tone, like Paul's. It is not about assering himself in brilliant discourses, nor abandoning himself to the intellectual pleasure of reflection, but of disseminating the announcement of God.

Our respect for a mankind that is vacillating, skeptical, agnostic, disillusioned, is modelled after the love with which Jesus looked at the young man who asked him what he had to do to obtain eternal life (cfr Mt 19,16).

And Paul suggests to witnesses and preachers of the Gospel the method for their mission: "My message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God" (1Cor 4,ff).

It has been customary to categorize the attitude of young people, but even of intellectuals in the Christiasn coutnries of Europe, into problem and crisis. In broad terms, this is a precise valuation. Notwithstanding, we continue to see the miracle of young people who emerge undamaged from the omnipotent mainstreaming of anti-Christian idolatry and, perfectly lucid in mind and with hearts full of love, ask, "Show us Jesus".

Indeed, all of us must ask ourselves what we think of the Son of man. "You are Christ, son of the living God", Peter professed (Mt 16,16). In Peter, not only the mission of the evangelical announcement has been transferred to the Church, but he assures that to the end of time, he will firmly resist all the pressing attacks from the gates of hell.

Let us thank the Holy Father tonight for his book. It is a testimonial rendered to Jesus, author and perfector of our faith (Heb 12,2). whom we shall greet anew with jubilation this Easter.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Saturday, March 26, 2011 2:15 PM
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Saturday, March 26, Second Week in Lent
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Second from right: San Diego Jose's image borne in a feastday procession in Cadiz.
BLESSED DIEGO JOSE (Didacus Joseph) OF CADIZ (Spain 1743-1801)
Capuchin, Preacher and Mystic, Apostle of the Trinity
As a Capuchin, Joseph was assigned to preach, which he did all over Andalusia (southern Spain),
very effectively. His reputation was such that persons listening to his sermons would seek to tear
off pieces of his habit to keep as a relic. Legend says that on occasion, he was seen to levitate
while preaching. The most famous story is that a child, seeing a dove perched on the priest's shoulder
while he was preaching on the Trinity said, "I could preach that well, too, if I had a dove telling me what
to say!" Although he was unlearned, his wisdom and reputation led him to be named external consultor
and synodal examiner in almost all the dioceses of Spain, as well as honorary doctorates from several
universities. His sermons were later published in 8 volumes, along with various letters he wrote on
significant events in the Church. He was beatified in 1894 and is greatly venerated in Spain,
particularly in his home city.
Readings for today's Mass: www.usccb.org/nab/readings/032611.shtml



OR today.
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This issue reports on the Pope's two audiences yesterday - with the Siro-Malankar bishops of India, and with 700 priests who took part in this year's course at the Apostolic Penitentiary on the examination of conscience before confession. Page 1 international news: Compromise allows NATO to take control of 'no-fly zone' military action against Libya, but questions about Libya's immediate future; more alarm now on failure to contain damage in Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, as radioactive contamination becomes more widespread; In he inside pages, China's 2011-2015 economic plan aims for a more ecology-responsible economy; the president of Italy's Jewish communities welcomes a draft law in the Italian parliament that would penalize negationism of the Holocaust; and Christians in Spain and Latin America plan massive pro-life marches today and tomorrow to mark the World Day for Life.


AT THE VATICAN TODAY

The Holy Father met today with

- Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (regular meeting)

- Four more Siro-Malnkar bishops from India (Group 3) on ad limina visit. Individual meetings.

- Pilgrims from the Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia (Italy). Address in Italian.

The Vatican also said that yesterday, the Pope met with Bishop Gerhard Mueller of Regensburg
who was in Rome to present the Pope's new book at a Lateran event Thursday night.


This time last year...

The New York Times launched its scurrilous story accusing Cardinal Ratzinger of having failed to discipline a Milwaukee priest who committed hundreds of sex abuses against deaf children in his care in the 1960s and 1970s, and whom the diocese forced into retirement in 1972. When the diocese decided to place him on canonical trial in 1996, more than 20 years later, the CDF through its then-secretary, Mons Tarcisio Bertone, approved the canonical trial but also mentioned the priest's request to be spared the trial because the charges had been previously investigated by the police before his retirement and were found not to be sustainable, and also because he was dying. In fact he died two months after Bertone's letter to the diocese.

The hue and cry falsely raised by the Times was particularly and deliberately malicious because all this happened before the CDF was given specific jurisdiction over sex abuses, and because the diocese never informed the CDF about the case until 24 years after the priest's retirement. It was made even more outrageous because the facts themselves from the documents that the Times posted online clearly contradicted the narrative put forward by their news report. (The Times actually believed no one would bother to check out the documents they posted so ostentatiously to 'prove' their good faith - in a shameless act of bad faith!)

The day after they broke the Milwaukee story, the Times followed with a report from Munich alleging that Cardinal Ratzinger, as Archbishop of Munich-Freising had in fact known that a priest from another diocese who was undergoing therapy in Munich for sexual misconduct was given a pastoral assignment not long after he got to Munich in 1991. The cardinal's Munich vicar at the time had previously stated he alone had been responsible for making the assignment.

Despite the hue and cry over both stories, they both proved to be fleeting media sensations, collapsing into dust from the weight of truth against their trial by innuendo.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Saturday, March 26, 2011 4:20 PM
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Pope stresses importance
of safety in workplace

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March 26, 2011

[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2011-1/110326-TERNIPILGRIMS-0.jpg[/IMG]Diocesan poster for the pilgrimage; right, B16 adds a hardhat from the Terni steelworkers to his collection of headgear.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday addressed pilgrims of Italy’s diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit to the “Steel City”.

The southern Umbrian town of Terni is home to Italy’s first steel plant which was visited by Pope John Paul II on March 19th 1981: St. Joseph’s Day.

Speaking to pilgrims in the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy Father recalled how the late Pope presented himself at the plant as a “humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard” and reminded all workers to trust in the protection of St Joseph.

Pope Benedict went on to discuss how the current economic crisis is putting stress on the city, its workers and their families. He reiterated the words of Terni’s bishop, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, saying that in times of hardship, one should turn to the Sunday Eucharist as a source of joy, faith and passion to improve the world

Work, the Pope said, helps us be closer to God and to others.

The Holy Father also spoke about the importance of safety in the workplace, saying that every measure should be taken to avoid accidents and preventable deaths.

In his concluding remarks, the Pope said the Church encourages all efforts towards safe, dignified and stable work, and expressed his closeness to the families of Terni.


NB: The diocesan site says a record 8,000 pilgrims joined this year's pilgrimage to Rome. Similar visits were made by the diocese earlier to Benedict XVI in 2005 and 2007.

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The patron saint of Terni is San Valentino, the bishop-martyr executed in Rome in the third century, and who is most associated with the feastday of several saints named Valentino on February 14, date of the bishop's martyrdom in 273.

Valentino, born around 176 had been consecrated Bishop of Terni when he was only 21. In 270, he went to Rome on the invitation of the philosopher Crato who wanted him to preach the Gospel. His activity earned him martyrdom under Aurelian, who had him decapitated.

Tradition says his remains were brought to Terni by three disciples who buried him on a hill, where a church was built in his honor as early as the 4th century. In the 7th century, excavations on the hill yielded a sarcophagus with remains that were recognized to be those of the martyr, and a basilica was built on the spot.

The removal of Valentine from the list of saints commemorated universally by the Church in 1969 (because of doubts and confusion about the basic facts of their lives) has obviously not affected the local devotion to him. In view of his subsequent worldwide fame as 'patron of lovers', the diocese and the basilica have incorporated hearts into their sites about the saint and his church.

The diocesan gift to the Pope today was an icon of San Valentino./DIM]

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Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words to the pilgrims:


Dear brothers and sisters,

I am very happy to welcome you this morning and to extend my greetings to the authorities present, to the workers, and all of you who have come as pilgrims to Peter's See.

A special greeting to your bishop, Mons. Vincenzo Paglia, whom I thank for the words he addressed to me in you e behalf.

You have come in a great number to this meeting - and I am sorry that some have not been able to be accommodated here inside - on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of John Paul II's visit to Terni.

Today, we remember him especially for the love that he had for the world of labor. We can almost hear him repeat the first words which he said upon arriving in Terni 30 years ago: "The principal purpose of this visit - which takes place on the feast day of St. Joseph - is to bring a word of encouragement to all workers and to express my solidarity with them, my friendship, and my affection"
(Address to authorities, Terni, March 19, 1981).

I make those sentiments mine, and in my heart, I embrace all of you and your families. On the day I was elected, I, too, presented myself with conviction as a 'humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord", and today, together with you, I wish to remind all workers to entrust themselves to the protection of St. Joseph the worker.

Terni is distinguished by the presence of one of the largest steel industries in Italy, which has contributed to the growth of significant workers' reality. It has been an experience marked by good times, but also by difficult moments as those we are living through these days.

The crisis of the industrial sector has been a difficult trial for the life of your city, which now has to rethink its future. And all this concerns your life as workers and that of your families. In the words of your bishop, I heard the echo of the concerns that you carry in your hearts.

I know that the diocesan Church makes them her concerns and feels the responsibility of being close to you in order to communicate the hope that is in the Gospel and the strength to build a society that is more just and more worthy of man.

And this is done by starting from the source, from the Eucharist. In his first pastoral letter entitled 'The Eucharist saves the world', your bishop has indicated to you this spring from which to draw and to which to return always, in order to live the joy of the faith and the passion for making the world a better place.

Thus, the Sunday Eucharist has become the fulcrum of the diocese's pastoral activity. It is a choice that has already borne fruit: participation in Sunday Mass has grown, and from this, the diocese draws a greater commitment for the course your land will take.

Indeed, from the Eucharist, in which Christ makes himself present in his supreme act of love for all of us, we learn to live as Christians in society, to make it more welcoming, more fraternal, more attentive to the needs of everyone, especially the weakest, more rich in love.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr, defined Christians as those 'who live according to Sunday' (iuxta domenicum viventes), namely, those who live according to the Eucharist.

To live in a eucharistic way means to live as one Body, one family, a society held together by love. The exhortation to be 'eucharistic' is not a simple moral invitation addressed to single individuals, but is so much more: it is an exhortation to participate in the dynamism of Jesus himself who offers his life for others so that all may be one.

The subject of work that so preoccupies you now, with all its problems, especially that of unemployment, fits into this context. It is important to keep in mind that work is one of the fundamental elements of the human being as well as of society.

The difficult or precarious conditions of work make the conditions of society itself difficult and precarious, those conditions necesssaary for an life ordered according to the demands of the common good.

In the encyclical Caritas in veritate - as Mons. Paglia recalled - I exhorted not to stop 'pursuing as a priority the objective of access to work for all and keeping it"
(No. 32).

I also wish to bring up the problem of safety at work. I know that you have had to face this tragic reality many times. Every effort must be made to break the chain of deaths and work accidents.

And what can we say about the uncertainty of work, especially for the younger people? It is something that creates anguish in many families.

Your bishop has also referred to be difficult situation of the chemical industry in your city, as well as in the steel industry itself.

I feel particularly close to you, and place in God's hands all of your anxieties and concerns, with the wish that, through the logic of free giving and of solidarity, you may overcome these difficulties and be assured of work that is safe, dignified and stable.

Work, dear friends, can help us be closer to God and to others. Jesus himself was a laborer - indeed, he spent most of his earthly life in Nazareth, working in Joseph's carpentry shop. The evangelist Matthew records that the people of Nazareth spoke of Jesus as 'the carpenter's son'
(Mt 13,55), and John Paul II in Terni spoke of the 'gospel of work', saying "it had been written, above all, because of the fact that the Son of God, in becoming man, worked with his hands. Indeed, his work, which was actual physical labor, occupied the greater part of his life on this earth, before he entered into the work of redeeming man and the world" (Address to laborers, Terni, March 19, 1981).

This in itself speaks to us of the dignity of labor, the specific dignity of human labor which played a role in the mystery of redemption. It is important to understand it in this Christian perspective.

Often, however, it is merely seen as an instrument for profit, if not, as in many parts of the world, as a means of exploitation that is an offense to human dignity itself.

I wish to speak, too, about the problem of working on Sundays. Unfortunately, in our society, the rhythm of consumption threatens to rob us of the sense of holiday and of Sunday as the day for the Lord and for the community.

Dear workers, dear friends, I wish to end my brief remarks by telling you that the Church supports, comforts and encourages every direct effort to guarantee work that is safe, dignified and stable for everyone.

The Pope is close to you, to your families, your children, your young people and your aged, and in his heart he takes you all before God.

May the Lord bless you, your work and your future. Thank you.




The Pope gets a hardhat
and a football jersey


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Apparently, the first hat was merely to try out for size:
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...because afterwards, he is wearing one with his name written on the side:
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TERESA BENEDETTA
Saturday, March 26, 2011 5:35 PM
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Pope to visit Roman memorial
to victims of 1944 Nazi massacre

Adapted from 2/24/11 post in
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Tomorrow, March 27, the Holy Father will visit the national memorial to the 1944 Fosse Ardeatine massacre of Romans by German occupation troops, at the invitation of the Italian association of families with members who died for the homeland.

The occasion is the 67th anniversary of the massacre on March 22, 1944, which was a Nazi reprisal for a partisan attack on some German troops the day before in Rome.

Partisans of the Patriotic Action Group ignited a bomb as a column of German policemen marched through central Rome on Via Rasella. Thirty-three Germans died and Adolf Hitler approved a proposal that 10 Italians should be killed for each German casualty, ordering the reprisal to be carried out within 24 hours.

A total of 335 Italians hastily rounded up were killed - composed of civilians, Italian prisoners of war (up to General rank), previously captured partisans, some inmates from Roman prisons and 75 Jews - in the tunnels of the old Ardeatine quarry in the suburbs of Rome.

Both Paul VI and John Paul II visited the Fosse Ardeatine memorial, which has come to symbolize all the civilian killings perpetrated by the Nazis against Italians in World War II.

Earlier, the Chief Rabbi of Rome said he will be present at the Memorial for the Pope's visit.

One of those killed in the Fosse Ardeatine was Col. Giuseppe Cordero Lanza de Montezemolo, father of Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza de Montezemolo, emeritus Arch-Priest of the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura, who was 19 years old at the time. The cardinal will join the Pope in the visit tomorrow.


The following is a long but very unusually interesting interview with Cardinal Montezemolo, to whom the Fosse Ardeatine massacre was a singular tragedy for him and his family.


Remembering the Fosse Ardeatine massacre
Interview with Cardinal Montezemolo

by GIAMPAOLO MATTEI
Translated from the 3/27/11 issue of
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On March 27, one of those who will be with Benedict XVI on his visit to the national memorial at Fosse Ardeatine will be Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo (born 1925).

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Right photo: Note dated April 5, 1944 from the German police informing the Montezemolos that Giuseppe Montezemolo died on March 24, 1944, and
that the personal belongings he left could be picked up from the German police station on Via Tasso
.

His father, Giuseppe, then a colonel in the Italian armed forces, was among the 335 victims of the massacre carried out by the Germans on March 24, 1944.

At age 19, Andrea was among the first who began digging in the crumbly volcanic tuff of the long-abandoned Ardeatine quarries which the Germans had blown up after the massacre in order to leave no immediately visible evidence of the killings.

Andrea and the others dug out the bodies of the victims and took part in the sad task of identifying them.

In this interview, the cardinal opens up his most intimate memories to relive those days that are so crucial in the history of Italy. He has words of forgiveness for the authors of the massacre and 'a message of hope that such beastly crimes may never again be repeated".


What was your first thought when you learned that the Pope would be visiting the Fosse Ardeatine where your father was killed and subsequently buried?
Surprise, commotion, gratitude. Surprise because, I must confess, I had not expected it. Commotion because the Fosse Ardeatine is an important page in my personal story as well as of all Italy.

Surprise and commotion turned into being thankful to the Pope for having decided to make the visit. It is a great gesture. Basically, it will also be a first time for me. I was serving abroad in the Vatican foreign service at the time that Paul VI in 1965 and John Paul II in 1982 made their visits.

You were only 19 when your father was killed. What are your lasting memories of that time?
I often live those days, moment by moment. As if it was now. My family, after September 8, 1943, had been forced to go underground. it was a complicated life, when we lived with bated breath. In all that fear, trepidation and pain, we never lost hope of living in a better time, when there would be no war.

You had to go underground because of the leading role your father played?
The Germans knew my father well. He had been in the supreme command of the Italian armed forces, and then at the front. The events that followed July 25, 1943, [when Benito Mussolini was forced from office after 21 years as Italy's dictator], changed everything. General Badoglio, the new head of government, asked my father to be the head of his personal secretariat. Then on September 8, another upsetting event. General Giorgio di Bergolo had constituted the command for the Rome as an open city, and named my father to administer it. He was part of the delegation that negotiated a ceasefire with the Germans. But a few days later, the Germans began imprisoning all the Italian authorities. Calvi had asked my father to accompany him to Germany, but he preferred to remain in Rome. He went underground in order to continue trying to contribute towards the liberation of Italy.

So you all went underground in September 1943...
Yes, my father had established the clandestine military front. He was the representative of the southern command of occupied Italy. Not at all easy, since all the work had to be in secret. Our family was warned to be vigilant at every step. But soon we had to leave our home in via Vico and we got dispersed to various places in Rome. My mother and three sisters were given refuge at the college of Trinita dei Monti. My older brother and I frequently changed our hiding place in order not to be captured. For some time, I lived at the Pontifical Ukrainian College on the Janiculum.

On January 25, 1944, your father was arrested and jailed in the notorious prison on Via Tasso.
He was arrested in circumstances which have never been cleared. He had false papers, but his face was too well known. At the time, he was posing as an engineer or as a professor. We tried to keep track of him when he was in jail, but he sent us word many times not to risk being caught because they would use us as hostages. We managed to exchange notes through the clean laundry that an old lady took to him in jail - my mother sewed notes into the shirt collars.

Then the partisan attack against the German patrol on Via Rasella on March 23, 1944, sent up everything in smoke. including attempts to free him...
The Germans carried out their reprisal within 24 hours after three members of their patrol were killed in the attack. In just a few hours, they managed to assemble prisoners from the jails in Via Tasso and in Regina Coeli along with many Jews. The rest is history.

Your father, as a clandestine military commander, had requested expressly all anti-German forces to avoid attacks like those on Via Rasella, especially in the large cities, because he said that the reprisal would certainly involve civilians...
His specific order said "In the major cities, the gravity of consequent reprisals prevents us from conducting guerrilla activities". Among his priorities was to protect civilians. He was sure that attacks against German forces in Rome would merely lead to useless deaths from German reprisals.

You only confirmed the death of your father at Fosse Ardeatine when you recovered his corpse in July 1944...
Yes, but all the circumstances make us believe that he was among those killed in Fosse Ardeatine. On March 24, the clean laundry sent to him was refused with the dry statement, "Col. Montezemolo is dead".

The particulars of the massacre only came out much later. There were many confused rumors. The exact extent of the tragedy was not immediately perceived because the Germans were still in control. So in those days, communications were catch as catch can.

You were among the first to dig among the ruins of teh explosion caused by the Germans in order to hide all the corpses of their victims...
I experienced it all first hand, during the summer of 1944 - the recovery and identification of the victims. It was very intensive labor that saw exceptional participation. It is true that the Germans had set off two bombs to close up the entrance to the quarry and thus hide the place of the massacre.

But by patient digging, we found exactly where the victims were killed. It was not easy to extract the bodies, both physically as well as emotionally. To see all those murdered bodies brought a sense of horror and sorrow beyond imagination that even after all these years, has remained in me.

How were the bodies identified?.
The work was very careful, delicate and competent - and it was carried out by a medico-legal expert, a Jew. He was able to identify practically all the 335 victims, even if they were already in advanced decomposition. I went everyday to follow the work and contribute what I could.

Each family who thought they may have had a relative among the victims was asked to fill out a form giving us all the information that might be useful for identifying them. I identified my father from the shirt that my mother told me would have his initials sewn on the breast pocket - and by his wedding ring.

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Extreme right: Photo of the last note Col. Montezemolo was able to send his wife - kept at the War Memorial ARchives.

How do you remember your father?
His character, I feel, is outlined in the last note that he managed to send us from his cell in Via Tasso. He wrote tender words to my mother: "I did not know how much I love you, and all I regret is not being with you and our children... I trust in God. But we must help ourselves. I can only resist and endure. And I will do so as far as it is humanly possible."

He was only 43 when he was killed....
Yes, he was born in 1901. He served as a volunteer with the Alpine forces in World War I, then he became a civil engineer, before undertaking a military career successfully.

I remember most his idealism and gentility. He was a man who strove for equilibrium, values, wisdom, which he lived with a certain rigidity despite his affability. It was a burden for him that he had to live away from his family in those difficult years of political tension and war which took him away. And when he was home, we saw him mostly during meals. But he was always very concerned about how we were doing in school.

And to continue with your father's service, you decided to volunteer in the war for liberation...
I believed it was only right to give what I could for the good of the homeland. So, for a few months, I was with a military group that happened to have named itself in honor of my father.

Meanwhile, I enrolled in the faculty of architecture, and after the war, I graduated and practised the profession for ten years. Then I was surprised by that mysterious reality which is a vocation for the priesthood.

Insofar as my experience as a volunteer in the war for liberation, before deciding to be an architect, I had wanted to pursue a military career which was almost obligatory in my family. In 1942, my brother entered the military academy and became an official. It was supposed to be my turn the following year. On that morning of September 8, 1943, when we had to go into hiding, I was supposed to leave for Modena to undergo the physical examination for admission to the academy. But I remember that my father had been telling me for several days not to leave Rome under any circumstances. I could not understand why he was so adamant on this. I was angry, saying it would make me lose one year. But he would not be moved. Later, it came to me that at age 19, I was still incapable of fully evaluating reality.

You also worked with Pierluigi Nervi [famous Italian contemporary architect and structural engineer, who designed, among other things, the Aula Paolo VI, many landmark sports palaces in Rome, and the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.] What do you think of the monument at the Fosse Ardeatine mausoleum?
I think it is a work that was well executed and which has the right equilibrium, giving a sense of spirituality. Shortly after the war ended, the Commune of Rome launched a competition for a design to set up the Fosse Ardeatine memorial and construct an appropriate monument, It was the first architectural competition in postwar Italy. Unfortunately, I was too young to take part and I had not even graduated.

The winner was asked to design the construction of the mausoleum where the victims are now entombed individually, the design of the piazza in front of the quarry, and rebuilding the galleries that the Germans had blown up after the massacre. The memorial was inaugurated on March 25, 1949.

What do you think of the way the tombs are lined up, and all under one huge cement canopy which makes it into a common mausoleum?
It is an excellent arrangement because it gives the impression of brotherhood. The basic idea, very simple but eloquent, was to have just one gravestone, without any celebratory emphasis, but solemn, and silently expressive. This large tombstone is able to highlight the significance of the event and the place.

As for the access galleries, they happen to be of crumbly not compact volcanic tuff like the catacombs nearby. So they are fairly precarious and the work had to to anticipate the risk of collapse.

This is a memorial that brings everyone into agreement: Christians and Jews, believers and non-believers.
The memorial conveys the sense of brotherhood even in death. There has only been reciprocal respect, and never any room for vengeful thoughts or religious conflict. Memorial events have been organized without any problem, in full solidarity and collaboration.

Death really brought diverse people together and made even the living brothers. I remember that during the recovery and identification process, a Catholic priest as well as a rabbi were with us to give the blessings.

About Pius XII - what do you think of the controversy that has surrounded him? What did Romans think of the Pope during the time you had to live in hiding?
No doubt the controversy has set into motion enormous speculation. Just as there is no doubt at all that Pius XII worked, above and beyond any mistrust, in behalf of all who were persecuted. It is right that the historians have their say. But I think that the most serious and extensive studies undertaken so far confirm what the direct witnesses have always said and known.

What do you feel about the authors of the Fosse Ardeatine massacre? Is forgiveness possible?
In the Christian view, there is only forgiveness. Which does not mean that it leads to forgetting or to justifying any wrong done, for that matter. Of course, justice should take its course. But it is humanly useless to continue to persecute those who have committed such serious crimes. For the Christian, forgiveness is an act of love that does not expect anything in return.

Did you ever meet Erich Probke, who was the principal executor of the massacre, along with Herbert Kappler? Now, at 98, he lives in Rome under permanent house arrest.
Personally no. The incident has made us take widely divergent roads. But one of my sisters exchanged letters with Priebke to make him know that the death of our father will always be a wound for us.

Actually, it's an amputation. A wound heals; an amputation remains. But as a family, we have always considered it useless to rage against my father's killers. We chose forgiveness, not revenge.

Do you see a link between Benedict XVI's visit tomorrow and his visit to Auschwitz in 2006?
At Fosse Ardeatine, the Pope will be making a private visit, without any special message other than the fundamental values of Christian love which transcends nationality and religion. It will be an act of homage to a historical event, to persons who must never be forgotten. More generally, an embrace in prayer for all the victims of all wars.

His presence will be a new consolation to the families of the victims and will confirm for them that their sacrifice was not useless.

How were the ceremonies last March 24 on the actual anniversary?
I saw President Napolitano. He was genuinely moved. It was a good idea to have schoolchildren from various parts of Italy take part. The rites were simple. The names of all the victims were read. Christian and Jewish prayers were said .

There is a significant coincidence of dates which concerns you personally. In 2006, on March 24, 62 years after the massacre, you were made a cardinal by Benedict XVI. What did you feel that day in St. Peter's?
For me, a truly impressive coincidence. Since 1945, I join my family and we go to the Fosse Ardeatine to pray. Now, there are so many of us - my brother, three sisters, 16 nieces and nephews, 20 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

In 2006, we had made our usual plans for March 24 when I was informed of my nomination. That day at St. Peter's, when I was dressed in cardinal red - the color of blood to symbolize martyrdom - I carried within me the sacrifice of my father. It is one more reason for me to be grateful to Benedict XVI.

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Right photo, Cardinal Montezemolo at a 2009 news conference to describe the findings of a probe into the sarcophagus of St. Paul. He could not have thought in 1944 that 64 years after he helped excavate the remains of the Fosse Ardeatine victims, he would be a protagonist in an even more historic excavation - the verification of the tomb of the Apostle Paul under the main altar of San Paolo fuori le Mure.
TERESA BENEDETTA
Saturday, March 26, 2011 9:18 PM
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Still in the absence of a English-language report on the Court of the Gentiles launch - available French reports right come from the organizers and are necessarily too lengthy to be translated on the run - here at least is the editorial in tomorrow's issue of OR which accompanies the text of the Holy Father's video message last night. OR itself does not have a summary of the two-day launch in Paris.

From Jerusalem to Paris:
Benedict XVI's Court of the Gentiles

Editorial
by Giovanni Maria Vian
Translated from the 3/27/11 issue of
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Benedict XVI's intuition of a new space where laymen and non-believers could be welcomed with friendship to share the quest for God with believers is taking shape.

In the Pope's vision, this initiative was represented by the image of the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus - where, precisely, pagans attracted in some way or curious about Judaism were welcome.

The initiative is being carried out now by the Pontifical Council for Culture with creative originality.

Highly symbolic was the choice of Paris - the City of Light, which has been emblematic of the contradictory and dramatic modernity born our of the ideals and errors of the French REvolution - to launch the initiative.

Doubtless, this has been one of the most important decisions made by a Pope who is as gentle as he is courageous - a man of faith and profound theologian, who has been accustomed since his youth to the confrontation of ideas, especially in the university world, even with those who are outside the visible confines of the Catholic world.

Habitually expressing himself in words understandable to all, Benedict XVI wished to be present in Paris with a video message to young people who had been gathered in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, in the square before it, which is as open as the external court of the Temple in Jerusalem had been open to non-Jews. Even if they remained excluded from the great shrine of a Judaism that was then increasingly characterized by universal aspirations.

Everything changed with the coming of Christ, the light. as seen by the evangelist John, who illumines every human being and who broke down the 'wall of separation' between Jews and Gentiles, and consequently, every division, including believers from non-believers.

In order that the space reserved for the Gentiles next to the Temple would accommodate those for whom it was meant, Jesus chased out those who used the space instead to do profitable business. For this, too, Benedict XVI has made himself understood in many ways, as his last two books have demonstrated in different ways but with extraordinary effectiveness.

Thus his words to the youth assembled at Notre Dame last night resounded to both believers and non-believers, and more generally, to all men and women today.

The Pope renewed the invitation which in the course of centuries and to the end of time, the Church of Christ has never tired and will never tire to extend: Not to be afraid to open up our hearts and society itself to God.

Without fear even of repeating the slogan 'liberty, fraternity, equality' that summarized the ideals of the French Revolution - even if this was subsequently brandished harshly to attack the Church and Christianity, forgetting that these words had been born from Christianity.

Believers and non-believers hold many aspirations in common to build "a world that is new and more free, more just and more fraternal, more peaceful and more happy".

Thus, Benedict XVI urged, in such reciprocal recognition, all mistrust must be dropped by both believers and non-believers: God is not a danger to society and to human life, nor is reason, as long as it does not yield to special interests and to 'utility' as often happens.

Thus, too, Benedict XVI invited the gathered youth, without distinguishing between believers and non-believers, not to linger in the courtyard but to enter the Cathedral where, like incense, the prayers and songs of a Vespers service were raised to God.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Sunday, March 27, 2011 5:04 PM
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March 27, Third Sunday in Lent
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BLESSED FRANCESCO FAA DI BRUNO (Italy, 1825-1888), Soldier, Mathematician, Priest
He was one of the many sainted figures like Don Bosco who emerged in late 19th century
Turin. Son of a marquis, he was well educated and a trained officer in the Sardinian Army
around the time of Italian reunification. He caught the attention of King Vittorio Emanuele
who wanted him to tutor his two young sons. However, the King withdrew the offer because
of strong anti-Catholic feeling at that time. Francesco went to Paris to study astronomy and
mathematics, which was to be his lifelong passion. He studied with the two French scientists
who discovered the planet Neptune. Returning to Italy, he taught math at the University of
Turin but did significant charitable work on the side. Notably, he founded the Society of
St. Zita, originally to assist domestic servants and later, unwed ,others as well. He set up
a hostel for the aged and raised funds for a church to honor soldiers who died in the wars
of reunification. He obtained an age dispensation from Pius IX to study for the priesthood
and was ordained at age 51. He continued to teach but he also shared his inheritance with
the poor and set up a hostel for prostitutes. He published numerous articles on mathematical
theory for leading scientific journals and developed the Faa di Bruno mathematical formula
for the derivative of composite functions in calculus. He was beatified in 1988.
Readings for today's Mass: www.usccb.org/nab/readings/032711.shtml



OR today.
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In video-message to Paris, Benedict XVI addresses youth
to close the two-day events inaugurating the Court of the Gentiles:
'Room for dialog and brotherhood between believers and non-believers'
A front-page editorial accompanies the main story (translated in the post above). Other papal news: The Holy Father addresses 8,000 pilgrims from Terni, a steel and chemical manufacturing center now gravely stricken by the economic crisis. Page 1 international news: Rebels regain some lost ground in Libya helped by the allied no-fly zone; street protests spread to Syria where government forces fire on protesters; and still no prospects for resolving the nuclear reactor problems in Fukushima. In the inside pages, OR's interview with Cardinal Montezemolo as a 19-year-old whose father was one of the 355 murdered by the Nazis in a reprisal massacre at Rome's Fosse Ardeatine in 1944 (also translated and posted above), on the eve of the Pope's visit to the memorial today.


THE POPE'S DAY

Visit to the Fosse Ardeatine mausoleum and memorial. Address in Italian.

Sunday Angelus - The Holy Father reflects on today's Gospel of the Samaritan woman.e encounter with Jesus at the well.
After the prayers, he reiterates his concern over the situation in Libya and the rest of the Middle East, appealing
yet again for dialog in place of arms and violence.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Sunday, March 27, 2011 6:48 PM
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THE POPE AT FOSSE ARDEATINE

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At Fosse Ardeatine:
Pope recalls horror
of wars, past and present

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March 27, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI, visiting the site of a World War II massacre, remembered the “abhorrent effects” of war, of violence on man by man, and at the Angelus later, he reiterated his continuing appeal for an end to the use of weapons and space for dialogue in the conflicts that are currently raging in Libya and the North African region.

Poignantly underscoring this renewed Papal appeal, were the images of Pope Benedict Sunday morning, as he walked among the tombs of 335 Italians massacred in the Fosse Ardeatine, (Ardeatine caes, formerly quarries), during the Nazi Occupation on March 24, 1944, in retaliation for a partisan attack on Nazi troops in central Rome a day earlier.

Adolf Hitler himself ordered the execution within 24 hours of ten Italians for every one German killed in that attack. 335 Italians, most of them priners in two of the Nazi prisons in centrla Rome, were rounded up and transported to the old quarry site on Via Ardeatine, brought into the caves and, one by one, shot dead at point blank range.

The victims included Italian army officers, resistance fighters, innocent civilians and 75 members of the city’s Jewish community. The youngest victim was 15 years old.

On Sunday, accompanied by Rome’s Chief Rabbi Riccardo Segni, and Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, emeritus Archpriest of St Paul’s outside the Walls, the Pope laid a basket of red roses at the feet of the plaque commemorating the victims.

He then entered the cavern containing the tombs, pausing before three; the first, that of Cardinal Montezemolo’s father, who was a colonel in the Italian army and a resistance leader. The second, that of Don Pietro Pappagallo a priest of the Roman diocese proclaimed a XX century martyr by John Paul II, for his self sacrifice in helping those persecuted under the Fascist and Nazi regimes; and finally that of Alberto Funaro, a Jew, whose nephew, a Rabbi of the same name, stood alongside the Pope as he prayed.

Emerging from the darkened crypt, Pope Benedict addressed a gathering of families and relatives of the Ardeatine victims, and said:

“What happened here March 24, 1944 is a most grave offense against God, because it is the deliberate violence of man by man. It is the most abhorrent effect of war, any war, while God is life, peace, communion...

Like my predecessors, I have come here to pray and renew the memory. I have come to invoke Divine mercy, which alone can fill the void, the abyss opened by men who, when driven by blind violence, deny their dignity as children of God and brotherhood with each other...

Yes, wherever he is, on every continent, in every nation, man is the son of that Father in heaven, he is brother to all humanity. But this being the son and brother is not a given.

Unfortunately, this is revealed by the Ardeatine Caves themselves. We must want it, we must say yes to good and no to evil. We must believe in the God of love and life, and reject any false image of God, that betrays His holy name and thus betrays man, made in His image.

Therefore, in this place, a painful reminder of the most horrendous evil, the real answer is to join hands as brothers, and say: Our Father, we believe in You, and with the strength of Your love we desire to walk together in Peace, in Rome, Italy, in Europe, throughout the world.

Before taking his leave, in the book of witness at the entrance to the cave, Pope Benedict wrote:' Non timebo quia Tu mecum es' - I shall fear no evil, because You are with me.

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Here is the full text of the Pope's address, in a translation provided by Vatican Radio:

Dear brothers and sisters!

I very gladly accepted the invitation of the “National Association of Italian families of the martyrs who died for the freedom of the Fatherland" to make a pilgrimage to this shrine, dear to all Italians, particularly the Roman people.

I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Chief Rabbi, the President of the Association, the Commissioner General, the Director of the Mausoleum and, especially, the families of victims as well as all those present.

"I believe in God and in Italy / I believe in the resurrection / of the martyrs and heroes / I believe in rebirth / and in my homeland / in the freedom of the people."

These words were engraved on the wall of a torture cell, in Via Tasso in Rome during the Nazi occupation. It is the testimony of an unknown person, who was imprisoned in that cell, and demonstrates that the human spirit remains free even in the harshest conditions.

"I believe in God and in Italy": these words struck me because this year marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, but mainly because it affirms the primacy of faith, from which to draw confidence and hope for Italy and its future.

What happened here March 24, 1944 is a most grave offense against God, because it is the deliberate violence of man against man. It is the most odious effect of war, any war, while God is life, peace, communion.

Like my predecessors, I have come here to pray and renew the memory. I have come to invoke Divine mercy, which alone can fill the void, the abyss opened by men who, when driven by blind violence, deny their dignity as children of God and brotherhood with each other.

I, too, as Bishop of Rome, a city consecrated by the blood of the martyrs of the Gospel of Love, I come to pay homage to these brothers, who were killed not far from the ancient catacombs.

"I believe in God and in Italy." In this testimony etched in a place of violence and death, the link between faith and love of country appears in all its purity, without any rhetoric.

Whoever wrote those words did so only for personal conviction, as his last testimony to the truth he believed, which renders the human spirit regal even at its extreme abasement. Every man is called to achieve their own dignity in this way, testifying to that truth which he recognizes with his own conscience.

Another testimony struck me, and this was found here in the Ardeatine Caves. A sheet of paper on which a victim had written: "God my great Father, we pray so that you can protect Jews from the barbaric persecution. 1 Pater Noster, Ave Maria 10, 1 Gloria Patri."

At that moment so tragic, so inhuman, in the heart of that person was the highest prayer, "God my great Father." Father of all! Just as on the lips of Jesus, dying on the cross: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."

In that name, "Father", is the sure guarantee of hope, the possibility of a different future, free from hatred and revenge, a future of freedom and fraternity, for Rome, Italy, Europe and the world.

Yes, wherever he is, on every continent, in every nation, man is the son of that Father in heaven, he is brother to all humanity. But son and brother is not a given. Unfortunately, this is revealed by the Ardeatine Caves themselves. We must want it, we must say yes to good and no to evil.

We must believe in the God of love and life, and reject any false image of God, that betrays His holy name and thus betrays man, made in His image.

Therefore, in this place, a painful memorial of the most horrendous evil, the real answer is to join hands as brothers, and say: Our Father, we believe in You, and with the strength of Your love we desire to walk together in Peace, in Rome, Italy, in Europe, throughout the world. Amen.


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Pope visits Roman site
of 1944 Nazi atrocity

By FRANCES D'EMILIO
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ROME, March 27 (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday prayed at the memorial to victims of a 1944 massacre that was one of the worst atrocities by German occupiers in Italy during World War II and denounced what he called the "abominable" legacy of violence unleashed during war.

The visit won Jewish praise that Benedict had taken yet another step to heal centuries of painful Vatican-Jewish relations.

The German-born Pontiff visited the Ardeatine Caves on the outskirts of Rome to mark the anniversary of the killings of 335 civilians in Rome to avenge an attack by resistance fighters that killed 33 members of a Nazi military police unit.

Among those in attendance were children and other relatives of the victims, with some of the elderly family members weeping at the memory of their loss and clutching flowers.

"What happened here on March 24, 1944, is a very grave offense to God, because it is violence perpetrated by man upon man," the pope said in speech at the simple memorial fashioned out of the walls of the caves. "It is the most abominable effect of the war, of every war," the Pontiff said.

The wounds are still fresh for Rome's tiny Jewish community. Many of them expressed outrage last fall when former SS Capt. Erich Priebke, 97, was allowed to go shopping and to church in Rome. Priebke was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the massacre but later given house arrest due to his age.

Elan Steinberg, a leader of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, praised the Pontiff for paying "moving homage to the victims of this Nazi crime — Catholic and Jew."

"Coming on the heels of his strong pronouncement exonerating Jews in the death of Jesus, this latest gesture by the German-born Benedict is a further dramatic step in binding the wounds that have disturbed Vatican-Jewish relations in recent years," Steinberg said in a statement.

The landmark exoneration came in the Pope's new book, Jesus of Nazareth-Part II, in which Benedict lays out biblical and theological reasons why there is no basis in Scripture for the argument that Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus' crucifixion. Interpretations to the contrary have been used for centuries to justify the persecution of Jews.

Steinberg also voiced the "shock and disbelief" of Holocaust survivors that Priebke "is allowed shopping trips and other excursions," and appealed to Italian legal authorities to "put an end to this perversion of justice.'"

In 1994, Priebke was extradited to Italy from Argentina, where he had lived for years, and put on trial. The Germans had ordered 10 Italians to be executed for each of the 33 Nazis killed by resistance forces in Rome a day earlier. Priebke admitted shooting two people and rounding up victims, but insisted he was only following orders.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Sunday, March 27, 2011 7:56 PM
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ANGELUS TODAY

The Holy Father today reflected on the Gospel narration about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. After the Angelus prayers, he made a strong appeal for an end to the use of weapons in Libya.

Here is how he synthesized his Gospel reflection for the English-speaking faithful:

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to the Samaritan women of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the water which wells up to confer eternal life in those who believe.

Through our Lenten observance may all of us be renewed in the grace of our Baptism and prepare with hearts renewed to celebrate the gift of new life at Easter. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!


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Here is a translation of the Pope's words at Angelus today:


Dear brothers and sisters:

This third Sunday in Lent is characterized by the famous dialog of Jesus with the Samaritan woman, narrated by the evangelist John.

The woman came every day to draw water from an ancient well from the time of the patriarch Jacob, and that day, she found Jesus, seated, "tired from his journey"
(Jn 4,6).

St. Augustine comments, "Of course, Jesus was tired...You created the strength of Christ, you have re-created the weaknesses of Christ"... With your power you created us, with your weaknesss, you have come to search for us" (Ioh. Ev., 15, 2).

Jesus's weariness, a sign of his true humanity, can be seen as a prelude to his passion, with which he would bring to fulfillment the work of our redemption.

In particular, in his meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well, the theme of Christ's 'thirst' emerges, that which culminated in his cry from the Cross: "I thirst"
(Jn 19, 28).

Certainly, this thirst, like his weariness, has a physical basis. But Jesus, as Augustine also notes, "was thirsting for the faith of that woman" (In Ioh. Ev. 15, 11), as he thirsts for the faith of us all. The omnipotence of Love always respects man's freedom; it knocks on his heart and patiently awaits a response.

The meeting with the Samaritan woman brings to the foreground the symbol of water, which alludes clearly to the Sacrament of Baptism, source of a new life of faith in the grace of God.

Indeed, this Gospel, as I recalled in the catechesis on Ash Wednesday, is part of the ancient itinerary of preparing the catechumens for Christian initiation, which took place on the great vigil on Easter eve.

"Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life"
(Jn 4,14).

This water represents the Holy Spirit, the 'gift' par excellence that Jesus came to bring us from God the Father. He who is reborn in water and the Holy Spirit, namely, in Baptism, enters into a real relationship with God, a filial relation, and can adore him "in spirit and truth" (Jn 4,23-24), as Jesus tells the Samaritan woman.

Thanks to the encounter with Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, man's faith achieves fulfillment in response to the fullness of God's revelation.

Each of us can emulate the Samaritan woman: Jesus awaits us, especially in this season of Lent, to speak to our hearts, to my heart. Let us pause a moment in silence, in our room, or in a church, or in a place apart. Let us listen to his voice which tells us, "If you would only know the gift of God..."

May the Virgin Mary help us not to miss such occasions on which our true happiness may depend.


Pope launches urgent appeal for
an end to use of weapons in Libya

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March 27, 2011

Following the midday Angelus prayer this Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI launched the following urgent appeal:


Faced with the increasingly tragic reports from Libya, my trepidation for the safety and security of civilians and my concern for the unfolding situation, currently marked by the use of arms, is growing.

In times of greatest tension, the need to put to use all means available to diplomacy becomes increasingly urgent and to support even the weakest signs of openness and willingness on both sides involved, for reconciliation in search of peaceful and lasting solutions.

In view of this, as I lift my prayer to the Lord for a return to harmony in Libya and the entire North African region, I also appeal to the international bodies and all those in positions of military and political responsibility, for the immediate start of dialogue and the suspension of the use of weapons.

Finally, my thoughts turn to the authorities and citizens of the Middle East, where in recent days there have been several incidents of violence, so that the path of dialogue and reconciliation be privileged in the search for a just and brotherly co-existence.


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TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, March 28, 2011 4:25 AM
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In December 2005, to open a thread called IN HIS OWN WORDS in the PRF, on articles and interview with Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope, my first post was a translation of excerpts from an interview with Cardinal Ratzinger published by La Repubblica published on May 13, 2005, to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Council in 1965. In turn, Repubblica had taken the excerpts from the transcript of an interview done by Pasquale Chessa and Francesco Villari for the Archivio delle Memorie project of RAI, the Italian state broadcasting agency [no information when they did the interview), which was published in the Italian magazine RESET. I have since been unable to find anything about it by Googling RESET or RAI.

Much later, in February 2008, Gemma posted the full excerpts printed by Repubblica on Lella's blog, and I translated the entire thing on Page 3 of IN HIS OWN WORDS freeforumzone.leonardo.it/discussione.aspx?idd=354533&p=3

I thought about this last week when I posted the excerpts by the French magazine LA VIE from a new book called MON CONCILE VATICAN, which assembles various writings by Prof. Joseph Ratzinger in 1962-1967 about the Council (Page 194 of this thread), but did not re-post it. It very much deserves a re-post - after all, this is another forum - as the Italian account is a more intimate account, whereas the excerpts from the French book are more 'substantial' ...



My experience of Vatican II
by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Translated from
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At the time of the Vatican Council, I was a young professor at the University of Bonn. The Archbishop who had jurisdiction over this university was Cardinal Frings of Cologne. I had given a lecture on the theology of the Council which the Cardinal attended; he appreciated it and invited me to join him in the Council.

Before that, he had already asked me to prepare an address for him to deliver in Genoa, at the invitation of Cardinal Siri, about the problems to be dealt with in the Council.

Apparently, Pope John XXIII liked the address very much - it might have been considered not exactly revolutionary but rather audacious – and embracing Frings, he had told him, “These were precisely my intentions in calling the Council.” [Take note, 'spiritists'. No less than John XXIII gave the imprimatur to Joseph Ratzinger's pre-Council hermeneutic!]

To see the Church alive in the Council, with 3000 bishops present, was truly an exceptional event: rarely in history could one see the Church in that way, to grasp its universality, at a time of a grand new realization of its mission.

Living in Rome
Along with the Cardinal, I lived in the Collegio dell’Anima on Via della Pace – it was an Austrian institution with a very pleasant atmosphere.

Cardinal Frings gathered all the German-speaking bishops at the College and assigned me to give an overview of the Council agenda to the German episcopate.

I was 32 years old and had just started to teach at University, so for me it was a daunting thing, a heavy charge to take on. In effect, the responsibility for charting the course which the German bishops were to follow during the Council fell on my shoulders.

On the one hand, I felt great joy that I was really taking part in the work of the Council, and on the other hand, I felt the weight of my responsibility to God and to history.

The Council was a historic event, even for me personally. I found myself thrown together with so many persons I had only known before through books.

For a young professor who until then had only known the academic world, even simply taking part in Roman life was a completely new reality. To go out for coffee and get to know Roman life – so different from the life I knew at university – left me with many impressions that have marked my life.

The death of John XXIII
And then, Pope John XXIII died. I remember the great sorrow that was felt even in Germany. My country is usually not known to be close to Popes, but this time, the whole country suffered for the dying Pope who was very much loved.

It was incredible to see how this man had been able to unite everyone in extraordinary love for him, drawing everyone closer to the Papacy.

Then of course, there was the matter of the succession. As an academic, I had no role in the Conclave. Cardinal Frings and I did not even talk about it.

But we all thought that the Archbishop of Milan (Giovanni Battista Montini) should be the next Pope – he became prominent when he was deputy Secretary of State at the Vatican, so that even in 1958, when Pope Pius XII died, the consensus had been, “Too bad Montini is not yet a Cardinal, he deserves to be Pope one day.”

So it was no surprise when we learned that this time, Archbishop Montini had in fact been elected Pope. For us, it meant a guarantee of continuity for the Council in the spirit of Pope John, who himself had let it be known that he wished the Archbishop of Milan to succeed him. The new Pope was welcomed as a bearer of hope.

The two Popes
So the Council was a basic experience, even for marking the transition between two Popes, who shared the same fundamental intentions although with completely different personalities.

Roncalli and Montini – alike and yet so different.

It was interesting to have seen Pope John, totally charismatic, who lived in the inspiration of the moment and intimacy with the public, while on the other hand, Pope Paul was an intellectual who reflected on everything with incredible seriousness.

In the case of Montini, I remember, for example, the time when there was a difficult point to make in the Constitution on Revelation - there was resistance to giving the appropriate space to Tradition, which was a very important point.

Pope Paul, with great sensitivity and respect for the bishops and for the theologians, on one hand, but also conscious of his responsibility as guarantor of Tradition, gave us, I think, 18 versions, 18 different ways of how we might treat the point in question, allowing maximum freedom but also safeguarding important doctrinal points.

His sensitivity was, for me, the image of his personality: his consideration for others, respecting collegiality and freedom, but at the same time, maintaining his responsibility for continuity in the life of the Church. He was punctilious in everything he did.

And no, during the Council, I never once met the Archbishop of Cracow [Karol Wojtyla, who, like Ratzinger, had attended all four sessions of Vatican-II, but as a Council Father, since he was already an archbishop. In fact, they met each other for the first time only much later, in the pre-Conclave days after Pope Paul’s death in 1978.]

Encounter with other theologians
As a consultant, I sat in the section assigned to us, and I was therefore able to follow the Council. In the first two months of the Council, I was not an official 'expert' (peritus), just the Cardinal’s private consultant. In November, I was named an official 'expert' by the Pope and from that moment, I participated officially in all the sessions.

Initially, I could participate in all the work behind the scenes, but not regularly at all the sessions. In these circumstances, it was a great thing for me to see all the experts, great personalities whom I had known through studying their books: Henri De Lubac, Jean Danielou (1905-1974), Yves Congar (1904-1995), Marie-Dominique Chenu (1895-1990) and other big names.

It was extraordinary to meet all these venerated figures because they were persons I admired. It was similarly a great thing to see the representatives from other Churches and Christian confessions. And then, of course, the Pope himself (John XXIII).

I had (first) seen him at Easter, during an audience at St. Peter's, during which he spoke of questions like "What is meditation?", "What is prayer?" - and he developed his answers with Patristic quotations which showed that he was a man of profound theological culture, but at the same time, a man who spoke for the simple people and made himself understood by them.

With the official position I now had, it was an even greater event to be a witness to historic moments. But one thing that remains unforgettable for me was that famous night of the torchlight procession under the moon, when the Pope told the mothers present: “Kiss your children tonight and tell them the kiss comes from the Pope.”

And all this was for me an experience that was doubly new because I was unfamiliar with Roman life....

Salvation for all?
Not just inter-religious dialog, which was not yet very much in sight, but the problem of salvation for non-Christians was very deeply felt. Because non-Christians were not confined to Asia or Africa, but our own society was starting to feel the weight of non-believers, of non-Christians. If there was salvation even outside the Church, then what was the function of the Church in the world?

Another sector that concerned us was exegesis and the reading of
Sacred Scripture. What was desired was a Christianity that would once again be directly nourished by Scripture, but also a greater freedom for the scientific interpretation of it.

To better understand what revelation is, why it is both Scripture and Tradition - these issues were at the center of the dialog with the Protestants.

In Germany, the general problem was that of emerging from a certain closedness of the Catholic world, to open it up to communion with others. At the time, it was, above all, a French problem, whereas the dominant issue for the American bishops was religious freedom.

Rediscovering the weight
of the 'world' in theology

At the time of the Council, I was a typical German universitarian. We did theology but we also took note of the political world and global problems, of Kennedy, Khrushchev, etc. Even so, these were two different worlds, and in the German manner, we did not want to mix political problems with our scientific work.

Only during the Council did we appreciate how all the problems of the world enter into the work of theology: that dialog with the major world views, even the anti-Christian, like Communism, is nevertheless constitutive for true theological work; that one must defend not only the possibility of being Christian, but also demonstrate that this is the best choice, and therefore, enter into a true confrontation with the views of others; and to integrate the problems of anti-Christian world views into our theological work - this, for me, was a lesson to learn.

Relations with the Jews
As I said, the problem of other religions at the time of the Council was not yet very actual in Germany. For us, the problem was the salvation of everyone. And yet, we had to dialog with the Jews, clarify our relations with them, above all, the events of Nazism and resistance to Christianity, which were still actual.

To re-establish relationships with the Jewish world was, for us, a priority, from the beginning. A new reading of the Old Testament had begun: We share with the Jews the greater part of the Bible, therefore the foundations of our faith, because the New Testament always refers back to the Old and cannot be read without it. In addition, friendly conversations had been started with Jews representing various currents of Judaism.

The priority, then was to re-establish a new relationship with the Jewish people: on the one hand, to express our friendship but even our regret for the negative facts in 2000 years of history; and on the other hand, without offending the Jews, to affirm our Christian identity.

…And relations with Islam
and other world religions

The Arab bishops were not against a document about the Jews but they also pointed out: “If you wish to speak about renewing relations with the Jews, do so, but in that case, you also need to speak to the Islamic world”.

At that point, we said to ourselves, “If we must talk about Islam, then let us talk of the other major religions as well”. We had to consider the problem more deeply: What are the religions of the world? Are there existing typologies for them? What is their theological and human impact? How do we relate to these religions now?

Thus, the document that was to become Nostra aetate widened as we confronted concrete situations of dialog with other religions. At that time, however, the document was considered rather secondary, whereas now we see it as one of the fundamental documents of Vatican II, which has opened the door for a new study of how the Christian faith relates to the other world religions.

A big problem for us in Germany at the time, and also in France, was a reform of the liturgy. The new liturgical movement had been strong in both countries since the 1920s, even as liturgy was seen to be increasingly determinative for the Church, so the desire to restitute the organic form of the liturgy was great. [Unfortunately, the 'spiritists' hijacked Vatican II in the immediate post-Conciliar period, and the resulting Novus Ordo hardly 'restituted the organic form of the liturgy' - it simply re-invented it. Rather than being organic, it was constructed by committee and imposed on the universal Church literally overnight in 1970!]

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I lifted these two pics from the German edition of Milestones and are captioned, respectively, (on the left), As consultant to Cardinal Frings during Vatican-II (Autumn 1964); (left photo), with Alois Grillmeier, S,J, (made a cardinal by John Paul II in 1994) on the closing day of the Council, 12/8/05.[/DIM} [Forgive the lines of print on the left photo because they show up when the tiny photo from the book is blown up - both photos appear to have been lifted from newspapers. I could clean it from the background but not from his face, unfortunately. I just got the Corel PhotoPro, and haven't had time to familiarize myself with its features - if it's the tool called 'clone brush' that will do the trick (take away the unwanted marks), I can't develop the skill to use it overnight!] Below is what the simple scan from the book looks like, slightly enlarged. The photo on the right is undated but it was probably taken in the mid-60s, too.]
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TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, March 28, 2011 5:23 PM
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Monday, March 28, Third Week in Lent
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ST. HESYCHIUS OF JERUSALEM (d ca. 450), Presbyter, Theologian and Exegete
Not much is known about him, not even his birth year, but it is known that he was a prolific writer through accounts
handed down after his death. He was known to have written a history of the Church, as well as the issues it faced
in this era, including the Nestorian and Arian heresies. Some of his commentaries on the books of the Bible as well,
along with meditations on the prophets and homilies on the Blessed Virgin Mary, still survive. It is believed he
delivered Easter homilies in the basilica built on the site of the crucifixion. His words on the Eucharist speak to us
today: "Keep yourselves free from sin so that every day you may share in the mystic meal; by doing so our bodies
become the body of Christ." He is particularly venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church.
Readings for today's Mass:http://www.usccb.org/nab/readings/032811.shtml



AT THE VATICAN TODAY

The Holy Father met with

- Seven bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church in India, on ad limina visit. Individual meetings.
{NB: Last week, he met with the Syro-Malankar bishops, another Eastern-rite Church in India.]

- His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of New Justinian and all Cyprus, and Primate of
the Cyprus Orthodox Church, and his delegation.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, March 28, 2011 6:24 PM
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See preceding page for earlier entries today.

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Pope and Cyprus Orthodox Primate
meet for the third time

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March 28, 2011

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The head of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, met with Pope Benedict in the Vatican on Monday to discuss relations between the two Churches and the difficulties facing Christians across the Middle East.

A brief statement from the Vatican press office after the private meeting said the two leaders also discussed the question of religious freedom on the Mediterranean island, which has been divided since Turkish troops invaded the north following a coup by the Greek Cypriot national guard in 1974.

Pope Benedict was welcomed by the Orthodox Archbishop during his pastoral visit to the island last June and the archbishop also came to the Vatican for the signing of a joint declaration in 2007, less than a year after his enthronement in November 2006.

During this three-day trip to Rome, the Archbishop is also holding talks with top Vatican officials and visiting a number of projects run by the Sant'Egidio lay community.

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TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, March 28, 2011 11:29 PM
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The Pope at Fosse Ardeatine:
'A reminder of the abyss of evil'

Editorial
by Giovanni Maria Vian
Translated from the 3/28-3/29/11 issue of
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Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to the Fosse Ardeatine - as the Pope himself defined it - to pay homage to the vitims of the horrible massacre which remains among the most indelibe of the numerous horros during World War II, did not find much coverage in the media. Perhaps this was also due to the urgent succession of tragic news on the international scene.

And yet Benedict XVI's visit to this shrine 'dear to all Italians' - in continuity with those by Paul VI and John Paul II, for the purpose of prayer and a 'renewal of memory' - has a special significance that is enduring.

Their successor has, in fact, taken yet another step in recomposing the memory of that conflict which contributed to plunge the 20th century into the abyss of evil. Just as Benedict XVI himself had said ne year after his election as Pope, when reflecting on recent Popes.

One must consider, he said, that "on Peter's Chair, after a Polish Pope, the succesion passed on to a citizen of that land, Germany, whose Nazi regime asserted itself with great virulence, attacking its neighboring nations, including Poland in particular." He continued:

"Both these Popes, in their youth - a;though on opposite sides and in different situations - knew firsthand the barbarisms of the Second World War and the senseless violence of men against men, of peoples against other peoples".

In the presence of the Chief Rabbi of the oldest community in teh Western Diaspora, which was ferociously struck by racial persecution even at the Fosse Ardeatine, the Bishop of Rome - 'city consecrated by the blood of martyrs' - wished to meet and spend some time with the families of the victims, Catholics and Jews together, at this modern shrine not far from the catacombs of ancient Rome.

Once more, Psalms were heard, words that Jews and Christians have raised through the centuries to the one God. The God to whom, at the moment of death, two of the victims, like so many others in those days, called on, one to affirm his faith "in God and in Italy', the other, to ask the Father to protect the Jews 'from barbaric persecutions'.

Benedict XVI cited their words, recalling the 150th anniversary pf Italian unity this year, and repeating that in the Father of all, a different future is possible, in which no offense will be done to the holy name of God and to the human being he created in his image.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:36 AM
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Since St. Thomas Aquinas enunciated his reasoning for when and why 'just war' can be waged - and what a 'just war' is - volumes have been written about how to interpret the phrase. More reams have come out recently in view of the UN resolution authorizing a group of Western nations to enforce a 'no- fly zone' over Libya with the primary purpose of keeping Libyan leader Qaddafi from using his armed forces against the civilian population.

Qaddafi's armed might has been significantly reduced, but he is still in power, the 'no-fly' coalition is divided over their actual goals and who gets to command what, and even whether their military action can be considered war.



Nuncio in London to represent
Holy See at Libya conference

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Mons. Mennini presented his credentials to Queen Elizabeth on March 2, and was honored at a welcome Mass in Westminster Cathedral.

LONDON, March 28 (SIR) - “It will be very important if the parties concerned will listen to or at least will act with the same spirit as that with which the Pontiff spoke yesterday, to ‘support even the weakest sign of openness and reconciliation between all Parties concerned in the search for peaceful, lasting and fair solutions”.

Thus spoke the apostolic nuncio to Great Britain, mgr. Antonio Mennini to SIR today, after the Vatican spokesman, father Federico Lombardi, announced that the Holy See, through Mons. Mennini, will take part in the World Conference on Libya tomorrow as an observer.

“It will be important," the Nuncio said, "for the suffering population of Libya to have security and wellbeing again and for the parties concerned to take up even the ‘weakest sign of openness and intention of reconciliation' as wished for by the Pope”.

About the option of a political solution in Libya, the Nuncio hopes that “even the so-called Italo-German project that is being rumoured about and that I have learnt about from radio and TV will be supported by the others for a shared quest, for getting out of this conflict, not just because of unpredictable consequences if it should last too long, but above all to restore security and peace to that long-suffering region”.

Commenting on Benedict XVI's words at the Angelus yesterday. Mons, Mennini said they "properly show concern for the civilian population and confirm the specific call of the Holy See, and first and foremost of the Pope, giving voice to the deepest aspirations of the human family, to find unity based on peace, justice and friendly, brotherly relations”.

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In announcing the conference, the British Foreign Minister said this:

At the conference we will discuss the situation in Libya with our allies and partners and take stock of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 (2011).

We will consider the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people and identify ways to support the people of Libya in their aspirations for a better future. A wide and inclusive range of countries will be invited, particularly from the region.

It is critical that the international community continues to take united and coordinated action in response to the unfolding crisis. The meeting will form a contact group of nations to take forward this work.

More than 40 Foreign Ministers and representatives from key regional organisations are expected to attend.

These include the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the Chairman of the African Union Dr Jean Ping, OIC Secretary General Dr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Prime Minister of Qatar, Foreign Ministers from key regional countries including Iraq, Jordan, UAE, and Morocco, Secretary Clinton, and Foreign Ministers from across Europe and NATO members, along with Secretary General Rasmussen. The Arab League, Lebanon and Tunisia will also be represented.

In the run-up to the Conference, the UK and others are co-ordinating closely with the key Libyan opposition figures including the Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) which the British Foreign Office described as "a legitimate political partner and who alongside civil society leaders could help to begin a national political dialogue, leading to a representative process of transition, constitutional reform and preparation for free and fair elections".

Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy issued a joint statement today explaining the aims of the conference.


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Meanwhile, here are two views on whether the current situation in Libya is a 'just war':

What does Catholic teaching
on just war say about Libya?

By Fr. Robert Barron
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March 28, 2011

Why, in God’s name, are we entering a third war in the Middle East? America finds itself embroiled already in armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now we have rained missiles down on Libya.

When President Obama was asked about the Libyan incursion during a press conference in El Salvador, his answers were distressingly vague.

As to the direction of the endeavor, the President said, “NATO is meeting today…to work out the mechanisms for command and control. I expect that over the next several days you will have clarity and a meeting of the minds of all those who are participating in the process.”

One might be forgiven for wondering why greater clarity hadn’t been achieved prior to the dropping of bombs. And after assuring the gathered reporters that the mission in Libya was clearly defined as humanitarian assistance to the Libyan people and that our involvement would be a “matter of days and not weeks,” Obama admitted that as long as Gaddafi remains in power he will always pose a threat to his own people.

In other words, the mission isn’t that clearly defined and the time of our involvement is more or less open-ended.

Are we there to help the rebels? To protect innocent lives? To get rid of Gaddafi? To establish political stability in Libya? To assure that a democratic polity is established there? I’m not the least bit convinced that the administration knows, and if they don’t know, they won’t know when to declare victory and go home.

Lest this discussion move exclusively in a “political” ambit, I would like to analyze the incursion into Libya in light of the Catholic just war theory.

According to the Catholic social teaching tradition, going to war can be undertaken morally only when definite criteria are met. These are 1) declaration by a competent authority, 2) the presence of a just cause, 3) some proportion between the good to be achieved and the negativity of the war, 4) right intention on the part of those engaged in the conflict, and 5) a reasonable hope of success.

One might argue that the first criterion has been met, since the President sanctioned our involvement upon the resolution of the United Nations to offer humanitarian aid to Libya.

In regard to the second standard, things get a good deal murkier. Traditionally, legitimating causes included the repulsing of an unjust aggression against one’s nation as well as the righting of wrongs in other nations or cities.

Thus, in accord with that second specification, Thomas Aquinas said that a nation could go to war to punish a wicked king. Here we might see a ground for our pre-emptive moves against both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qadaffi. Also, it would seem to provide a justification for sending troops into, say, Rwanda while the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents was proceeding there without any interference.

On the other hand, the Popes of the twentieth century, taking into account the terribly destructive nature of modern warfare, have ruled out the righting of wrongs criterion and have accepted only the repulsing of unjust aggression as a legitimating cause.

In applying the third criterion to the Libya situation, a good deal of ambiguity remains. No one doubts that Gaddafi, like Saddam Hussein, is a wicked man who has done terrible things to his own people, but one might well wonder whether the employment of the blunt instrument of the American military is in proportion to the achievement of the end of removing Gaddafi?

The issue becomes even more complicated when we think of the long-term effects of invading a third Muslim country at a time when relations between our country and the Islamic world are already so strained.

This was a major concern of Pope John Paul II at the time of our invasion of Iraq in 2003: How would the American attack on Iraq affect, not only the Iraqis, but the nearly one billion Muslims around the world? [In hindsight, it seems the Iraq experience has emboldened and 'inspired' the wave of anti-dictatorship that has now swept the Arab world in a way no one had expected or predicted!]

In regard to the fourth criterion — the right intention of the belligerents — I think that we can assume the American soldiers, for the most part, are going about their work responsibly and with a sense of moral purpose and proportion.

When we apply the fifth and final criterion, we come perhaps to greatest clarity. The Catholic just war tradition teaches that a war can be legitimately waged if and only if there is a reasonable hope of success on the part of the government that authorizes the fighting.

For example, a war fought against an overwhelmingly more powerful opponent might be noble and brave, but it wouldn’t be just. But another reason for questioning the reasonable hope of success is the absence of a clearly defined mission and purpose.

As I stated above, if we don’t know precisely what it is that we’re fighting for, we cannot, even in principle, determine when and whether we’ve won.

A poorly-defined war is one that enjoys no reasonable hope of success. I believe that the strict application of this final criterion would render our action in Libya unjust.

I have found that a principle formulated by Gen. Colin Powell is both wise and congruent with the intentions of the Catholic just war tradition. Gen. Powell said that the American military should be unleashed only when three criteria are met: there is a defined objective, massive force can be brought to bear, and a clear exit strategy is in place.

If any one of these factors is missing, the blunt instrument of the military should not be used. As far as I am concerned, none of Gen. Powell’s criteria are met in the current Libyan situation.

I am not a pacifist. I do think that sometimes, in our finite and conflictual world, violence has to be used in defense of certain basic goods.

However, I believe that the criteria provided by the just war theory should be strictly rather than loosely applied. And I believe that such a strict application would rule out what our government is currently sanctioning in Libya.


The air strikes over Libya undoubtedly
meet St Thomas’s conditions for a just war

This is a risky venture: but the risk
of doing nothing was much greater

By William Oddie
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Monday, 28 March 2011

Mary Kenny asks in this week’s Catholic Herald whether St Thomas Aquinas would have backed the NATO operation to install a no-fly zone over Libya and to take “all necessary measures” to defend civilians from their own government’s bloodthirsty behaviour.

It is true that we don’t actually know what the final outcome of all this will be. But that can’t surely affect the question of the morality of this military operation, even if, as some claim, it actually, in effect, tacitly includes the ambition of “regime change” – the ousting of the Gaddafi family from power – since it is difficult to imagine how else the Libyan population is ultimately to be defended.

As for unpredictable outcomes – the question “what happens then”, which Mary says makes the NATO operation, from the point of view of “the Aquinas conditions”, borderline – they surely can’t come under the just war criteria.

There were originally only three conditions laid down by St Thomas himself:

1) The war must be started and controlled by the due authority of state or ruler – in other words, it can’t be a civil war or a rebellion. This rules out the war being waged by the Libyan rebels, but not the military intervention of the NATO forces, since that was indeed started by the due authority, not of one nation, but of the United Nations itself.

2) There must be a just cause. This wouldn’t include, say, a war for territory, but it would include the protection of a civil population, self-defence and the prevention of a worse evil. The UN resolution emphatically fulfils that condition.

3) The war must be for good, or against evil. Think what Gaddafi said when he thought his tanks were about to roll virtually unopposed into Benghazi: that he would go “from alley to alley, from house to house, from room to room” and that he would show “no mercy”. Thousands would have died. Without any doubt, the airstrikes have been against a very great evil indeed.

The Church later added two more rules, though St Thomas usually gets the credit for them (and why not?).

The first is that the conflict must be a last resort. In other words, every other option must be tried first. In this case they had been. Sanctions, diplomacy, phone calls from Tony Blair to his pal Muammar, freezing of assets, the lot. None of it had any effect. The UN military measures were not only a last resort, they were employed only at the last possible moment, just in the nick of time.

Lastly, the war must be fought proportionally. This means that more force than necessary must not be used, nor must the action kill more civilians than necessary. Enormous pains are being taken to fulfil this condition, too.

The supposed “smart bombs” they talked about in the first Gulf war (which constantly missed their targets and killed large numbers of civilians) appear to have been in the last 20 years perfected in the most remarkable way, so that tanks can be taken out surgically even inside urban areas without damage to their surroundings (special missiles are used, with a considerably reduced explosive charge).

I know that some Catholics with whom I am usually prone to agree are strongly against the whole thing. “Bang, crash, wallop,” writes Stuart Reid this week in his Charterhouse column,

“Here we go again. Which of the western allies will be the first to bomb an aspirin factory or an orphanage?… We have been in Afghanistan for almost 10 years and in Iraq for eight and all we have to show for all that innocent blood and treasure – and for all those innocent victims – is two failed states and a world that is more dangerous than ever.”

But the whole point is that we are extremely unlikely this time to bomb any orphanages. (My readers will undoubtedly hold that against me if I’m proved wrong). And this is emphatically not Afghanistan, and it is not Iraq.

Here we do not go again. There will be “no boots on the ground”, this time. That’s the most unshakeable condition of all. And as for innocent victims: this action will save them – has already saved them – in their thousands from a merciless tyrant bent on a bloody revenge.

So, here we all are, whether we like it or not. Maybe I will come to regret sticking my neck out so publicly: but I think that Parliament was right, this time, to give such overwhelming support to a military venture.

Of course, we cannot watch what is going on without great anxiety. It was risky: but there was an even greater risk in doing nothing. There is much more to be said, of course. But for the moment, perhaps, it would be better leave it at that: this is not a subject, I fear, that is going to go away soon.


While I love Pope Benedict dearly, it is difficult to see how dialog can work in the Libyan situation. Who is there to talk to? If the other side of the dialog is Qaddafi and his sons, they have already made it clear they will fight to the last Libyan, even if that means themselves!...

On the other hand, if the transitional Libyan Council in London represents the rebels who are now fighting to get to Tripoli again, then that is where dialog can begin, while everyone prays that Qaddafi somehow some time in the few days or weeks will leave the scene, and the transitional Council has a country to go home to and lead... That's a lot of if's. Let us all pray.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 3:56 AM
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Cardinal Bagnasco gets a chance to comment on national and international issues, other than the state of the Church in Italy, at least three times during the year - at the yearly general assembly of the Italian bishops' conference (CEI) which he leads, and during the twice-yearly meetings of the CEI Permanent Council, whose spring meeting opened Monday evening in Rome... Tomorrow's issue of OR carries generous excerpts from his address, but meanwhile, here is a summary report from the English service fo SIR, teh news agency of the CEI.

Praise for the Japanese and
their 'discipline of suffering'

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ROME, March 28 (SIR) - “In their darkest hour, the people of Japan have given the world a supreme lesson of composure, determination and strength. This is what has been effectively called ‘the discipline of suffering’”.

With these words, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), began his opening speech to the spring meeting of the CEI's Permanent Episcopal Council this evening in Rome, pointing to the powerful witness shown by the Japanese people to the world these days.

In the face of an enormous natural catastrophe and an exceptional and possibly worsening radioactive threat, he said “we should all rediscover the sense of our innate limitedness, of the intrinsic fragility of things, and thus, feel more humble, closer and more generous”.

The cardinal discussed various subjects in his speech: Lent and the need for personal conversion; the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification; events in North Africa and the military intervention by Western nations in Libya; the “European emergency” in which Italy has seen boatloads of North African refugees and fugitives arriving on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa; terrorist attacks and persecutions against Christians in several countries; poverty in Italy; the north-south gap in the country; and pending laws governing 'end of life' issues and the family.

On the African crisis, the Cardinal expressed the hope that “this bloody phase may end immediately” and that Libyans may have “access to the necessary humanitarian aid, in a framework of justice”.

He went on to say that the North AFrican emergency is ‘European’, due to the thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe by boat. He called for “the generous help of each Region” as well as “for a concerted response by the European Union”.

With thousands arriving in Lampedusa, he said “the working activities of the small community run the risk of being seriously jeopardized, to the growing concern of the residents”.

He described serious threats to, and attacks on, religious freedom, especially towards Christians in several countries, recalling in particular the sassassinated Pakistani minister Bhatti, whom he called 'a martyr'.

Finally, commenting on the final judgement of the European Court of Human Rights that displaying the crucifix in Italian schools was not a violation of human rights, he said it was a religious symbol that
is “an integral part of Italian culture, and now, at this point, even European”.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:19 PM
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Tuesday, March 29, Third Week in Lent
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BLESSED LODOVICO DA CASORIA (Italy, 1814-1885)
Franciscan, Founder of Gray Brothers and Gray Sisters
Born Arcangelo Palmentieri near Naples, he was a cabinet-maker before
he joined the Franciscan Friars Minor in 1832. His first assignment was
to teach chemistry, physics and math in Franciscan schools. In 1847,
he underwent a mystical experience which he called 'a cleansing', after
which he dedicated himself to charitable work with such energy that one
biography calls him 'a cyclone of charity'. Specifically he set up schools
and institutions to serve the poor, children and the elderly. In 1859, he
set up the Gray Brothers (Frati Bigi) from members of the Franciscan Third
Order to carry out this work, and a few years later, the Gray Sisters (Suore
Bigie). He was beatified in 1993.
Readings for today's Mass: www.usccb.org/nab/readings/032911.shtml



OR for 3/28-3/29/11:
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This double issue reports on the Holy Father's visit to the Fosse Ardeatine on Sunday, with an editorial (translated and posted earlier on this page); his Angelus appeal for an end to the use of arms in Libya; and the audience yesterday morning for Chrysostomos II, Orthodox Primate of Cyprus. Page 1 international news: Radioactivity from Fukushima continues to increase; the Syrian government promises to end 50-year 'state of emergency' but street protests continue; Turkey proposes to mediate in Libya. In the inside pages, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union has its third regional electoral defeat this year in Baden-Wuerttemberg where the anti-nuclear energy Green Party for the first time gains 25% of teh vote, topping the socialists; and major excerpts from Cardinal Bagnasco's opening address to the spring meeting of the Italian bishops' Permanent Council in Rome.


AT THE VATICAN TODAY

- No events announced for the Holy Father.

- The Vatican released the text of the Pope's letter to Latin American and Caribbean bishops meeting in Bogota
this week to discuss pastoral ministry in defense of life and the family.

- The Press Office announced a news conference on April 5 led by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini,
to discuss the preparations and program for the beatification of John Paul II.


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Oregon Jesuit province to pay
$166 million to abuse victims


PORTLAND, Ore., March 28 (CNS) -- The Oregon province of the Society of Jesus has agreed to pay $166.1 million to about 500 people abused by Jesuit priests at schools in the Pacific Northwest in past decades. Most of the abuse took place from the 1950s to the 1980s, but some of the cases date back to the late 1940s.

The claims were primarily from Alaska natives and Native Americans who said they were abused as children by priests at the order's schools in remote Alaskan villages and U.S. Indian reservations. The Portland-based province serves Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

The settlement, which is part of the Oregon province's Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, was announced March 25 in Portland. The province also agreed to publicize the names of the abusers, issue a written apology to victims, and provide personal and medical records of about 140 priests and brothers accused.

Under the terms of the settlement, the province will pay $48.1 million. The order's insurer will pay $118 million and about $6 million will be reserved for any future claims.

Jesuit Father Patrick Lee, provincial superior, said in a March 25 statement that because of the province's current bankruptcy status and "out of respect for the judicial process and all involved," he would not comment on the settlement announcement. "The province continues to work with the creditors committee to conclude the bankruptcy process as promptly as possible," he said.


Oh how the hoity-toity have fallen! Although I had personal experience of many excellent Jesuits in my hometown where they ran the school my brother attended, as well as at university where my Student Catholic Action chaplains were Jesuits, I have always resented the holier-even-than-the-Pope attitude that many Jesuits worldwide have arrogantly propagated in the years since Vatican-II, exemplified by the Jesuits who run Georgetown University and America and Commonweal magazines, and many more questionable 'Catholic' institutions of learning in the US. Thank God for the 'good Jesuits' like Fathers Schall, Fessio and Oakes!...

When the current Jesuit superior-general was installed 2-3 years ago, the burden of his inaugural addrtess was that his long experience in Japan, in effect, equipped him better to deal with the problems of teh Church than the Vatican... In short, I resent and regret all the indications of how prominent contemporary Jesuits have been betraying the ideals of their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, oarticularly the fourth vow he added of 'obedience to the Supreme Pontiff. - even if it specifies "in all matters regarding missions" - and more so, the saint's 18 rules for 'thinking with the Church' (sentire cum ecclesia) in his Spiritual Exercises, which were intended for all Christians, not just the Jesuits.

Particularly apropos with respect to Jesuit progresive dissent is Rule #13:

That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black. For we must undoubtedly believe, that the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of the Orthodox Church His Spouse, by which Spirit we are governed and directed to Salvation, is the same...
-Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises



TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:42 PM
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Missionary Pope launches 'Court of the Gentiles'
for dialogue with non-believers
:
Another Benedict is here
to lead a new missionary age.

By Deacon Keith Fournier
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3/29/2011


The God Whom believers learn to know invites you to discover Him and to live in Him. Do not be afraid! On your journey together towards a new world, seek the Absolute, seek God, even those of you for whom He is an unknown God.

May He Who loves each and every one of you bless and protect you. He relies on you to show concern for others and for the future, and you can always rely on Him!

- Benedict XVI
Videomessage to Paris, March 25, 2011



CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - This past February Pope Benedict XVI ordained five priests to the office of Bishop. He called them to an "ecclesial existence" proclaiming "The harvest is great but the laborers are few! Pray then to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers for his harvest!" (Luke 10:2).

The Lord sends you, Dear Friends, to his harvest. Precisely in this hour working in God's fields is especially urgent and precisely in this hour the truth of Jesus's words -- "The laborers are few" -- weighs painfully upon us.

Set out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. You are called to cast the net into the troubled sea of our time to bring men to follow Christ; to draw them out, so to speak, of the salty waters of death and darkness into which the light of heaven does not penetrate. You must bring them to the shore of life, into communion with Jesus Christ."

Missionary zeal has characterized this Pontificate. When Benedict XVI succeeded John Paul II few expected it. I was numbered among those who did.

But his choice of the name Benedict, the Monk whose movement reclaimed Europe for the Church in the last millennium, signaled a prophetic papacy. I recalled a passage from Alasdair MacIntyre's (British philosopher, born 1929) After Virtue (written in 1981) wherein he opined on the decline of the West.

It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the Epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages.

Nonetheless, certain parallels there are. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another-- doubtless very different-- St. Benedict.

[NB: Shortly after the April 2005 Conclave, a couple of other Catholic writers immediately recalled MacIntyre's oddly prophetic words, written in the third year of John Paul II's Pontificate. With his systematic and tireless ways of calling attention to the Christian message in all his actions and words, Benedict XVI more than makes up in missionary ardor for the physical impossibility of emulating his predecessor's prodigious missionary travels.]

What I suggested was that another Benedict was here to lead the recovery and reform of the Church and summon her into this new missionary age. I reaffirm that assertion today.

The Church is Christ's plan for the entire world. The early Fathers called her the "world reconciled", a term embraced by the Catechism of the Catholic Church which, citing St Augustine, declares "To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church.

The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood." (CCC #845)

The contemporary culture has thrown off almost every remnant of Christian influence and embraced a new paganism. What Pope Benedict calls the "dictatorship of relativism" is the bad fruit of a rejection of the very existence of truth. Given the current state of moral decline we need to see the West as ripe for the New Evangelization.

We are all called to be "fishers of men in the ocean of our time." We are living in "the time of mission." Another Benedict is here, leading us into a new missionary age of the Church.

In his very first homily he referred to Christian unity as his impelling duty and he has acted upon it with extraordinary conviction and bold initiatives.

His are the modern missionary journeys of the Vicar of Christ. They are chosen strategically, led by the Holy Spirit and have a prophetic purpose as part of a missionary plan. His "Encyclical" (circulating) letters contain wisdom from heaven which can help to heal and rebuild the Church - and through her the world.

His work to restore the Catholic unity of the Church - including the bold overture toward Anglican Christians which birthed the Anglican Ordinariate, his pastoral efforts with the SSPX, and his humble rapprochement with our Orthodox brethren shows his dedication to healing the divisions within the Church.

His continual encouragement to the ecclesial movements are part of a blueprint to resuscitate the Church as one New Man, breathing with both lungs, East and West, in a new Christian missionary age.

His erection of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization charged with evangelizing countries where the Gospel was announced centuries ago but where its presence in peoples' daily life seems to be all but lost shows his missionary intention to re-evangelize Europe and the West.

His continual exhortations to the faithful to live at the heart of the Church for the sake of the world reveal a missionary plan and methodology.

Playing off of the title of Dr. Thomas Woods's book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, I believe the Catholic Church will rebuild Western Civilization as she comes back together again in the fullness of Christian communion under the leadership of this Pope.

This missionary Pope now continues this momentum, by reaching out now to non-believers. He has instituted a "Court of the Gentiles" through the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Two days of meetings occurred in Paris, France, on March 24th and 25th as the beginning of this initiative. The Vatican released the complete text of the Holy Father's video message to participants in the "Courtyard of the Gentiles" which closed in Paris at the courtyard in front of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame where the Pope's message was broadcast on giant screens [after which participants could take part in a Vesper service inside the Cathedral prepared by the Taize community].

[Fournier then reprints the Pope's videmessage.]


Sandro Magister today also has an article about the Paris events
chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1347285?eng=y
which adds little to the sparse facts we have but does include two interviews conducted by Avvenire with Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and with Bulgarian-born French philosopher-sociologist Julia Kristeva, who took part in one of the dialogues in Paris. I will post after I have compared the available English translations with the originals
.




Atheists and Catholics in Paris
examine the question of God

By Alan Holdren
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Paris, France, Mar 28, 2011 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI called for a greater sense of brotherhood in the world as the first official modern forum for dialogue between believers and non-believers was inaugurated last week in Paris.

“Religions cannot be afraid of a just secularism, a secularism that is open and allows individuals to live according to what they believe in their own consciences,” he said.

“If we are to build a world of freedom, equality and fraternity, believers and non-believers should feel themselves to be free, with equal rights to live their individual and community lives in accordance with their own convictions; and they must be brothers to one another.”

The Vatican's first-ever “Courtyard of the Gentiles” event was held in Paris, France from March 24-25. [Actually it was not. The Paris events marked the international launch, but a significant pre-launch was held - fittingly at the world's oldest university 0 in Bologna last March 12, as posted in a few reports on this Forum.]

The Pontifical Council for Culture, led by president Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, organized the two-day discussion between believers and non-believers in historically important cultural sites in the French capital.

The Courtyard was formed by the Vatican's culture department after the Pope hoped for such a forum to foster dialogue on religion in a Dec. 2009 speech.

Catholics and atheists examined themes of enlightenment, religion and shared reason during gatherings at the offices of the UNESCO, the Sorbonne University and the French Academy during the inaugural event.

The evening of the second day was capped off with a large gathering at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. The Taize community held a prayer service inside the Church as people gathered for music and mixed in the square outside. A light show beamed onto the cathedral facade was part of the festivities.

In a pre-recorded message addressed to youth in the square, Pope Benedict XVI said that the “question of God” must not be absent from contemporary discussion. He called all young people - believers and non-believers - to “rediscover the path of dialogue” in Europe.

Dialogue, he said, will help both to overcome fears of the unknown.

The Courtyard project, he said, “is to foster such feelings of fraternity, over and above individual beliefs but without denying differences and, even more profoundly, recognizing that only God, in Christ, gives us inner freedom and the possibility of truly coming together as brothers.”

He told the youth not to be afraid. “On your journey together towards a new world, seek the absolute, seek God, even those of you for whom he is an unknown God.”

For his part, Cardinal Ravasi was pleased with the product of months of preparation. He went through highlights of the inaugural event with Vatican Radio.

The cardinal found “a particular attention and sensitivity” in the city of Paris, historically "the city of secularism, ... liberty, independence between Church and State."

The subjects of discussion, he said, were chosen "with much passion" and he came away with the sensation that the Parisian encounter could be a model for others.

For the future, he said, Courtyard activities may aim not only to engage atheism and non-believers, but "superficiality and the absence of questions towards faith that are often noted at the lowest levels."

He noted that there was an unexpected result to the encounter. Non-believing philosopher Luc Ferry asked him to collaborate in writing a book on the Gospel of St. John.

Tirana, the capital of Albania, is slated to host a similar Vatican-sponsored event for dialogue in October. [The venue is significant. Albania was the last holdout of Stalinist Communism/atheism in Europe, but it has since become a parliamentary democracy. with a population that the CIA Factbook estimates is roughly 70% Muslim, 20% Orthodox and 10% Catholic. However, freethinkers abound from the decades under Communism, and CIA also notes that actual religious observance comes to only about 35-40%.]

Stockholm, Prague and Florence will also see individualized events in coming years, each tailored to the city and culture that surrounds them. Interest has also been expressed for hosting Courtyard events in cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C, but also Moscow, Russia and Geneva, Switzerland.

Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, commented during his weekly television editorial on Vatican Television that the Pope has emphasized since the first day of his pontificate that the "question of God" is the most important one for all for all people.

The Courtyard, he said, is "an optimal point of departure" for deepening the study of such questions together.


I think it is a shame that the Anglophone Catholic media failed to provide the coverage that the two-day launch in Paris demanded. The Vatican newspaper itself, apart from reprinting the text of the Pope's message, had no news summary about it.

Emblematic of this neglect is that I have not yet seen a single picture taken at Notre-Dame showing the Pope addressing the youth assembly from a jumbo screen, though it was the first thing I looked for after it took place last Saturday. Shouldn't OR have assigned at least a photographer to document the events in Paris which were, after all, historic and not just for this Ponitifcate?

Avvenire ran a special, I now see, so I have to look through their material to see what must be translated.

I understand now why AFP, the premier French inernational news agency, said not a word about it, because apparently, even the French secular media did not condescend to acknowledge the event.

When leading French intellectuals - almost the prototype for 'non-believers' - take part in discussions at the UNESCO, the Sorbonne, the Institut Francais and the College des Bernardins about the question of God, in general, it is almost criminal for the Catholic media, at least, not to pay attention. Surely, they have journalists who speak French...


TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 4:09 PM
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Pope to Latin American bishops on pastoral
ministry to defend life and the family

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March 29, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI sent a message today to the participants in a meeting of the heads of the Bishops’ Commissions for the Family and Life in Latin America and the Caribbean, underway in Bogotá, Colombia.

In his message, the Holy Father says family ministry has a prominent place in the evangelizing action of every local Church.He also discusses the need for social engagement in order to promote the culture of life and defend the rights of families.

He said that the Church cannot be indifferent to the adversity facing many households as a result of rapid cultural changes, social instability, immigration, poverty, and especially so-called “education” programs that trivialize sexuality and advance false ideologies.

“We can not remain indifferent to these challenges,” writes Pope Benedict, adding that Christ's grace encourages us to work diligently and enthusiastically in favour of the plan of love that God has for human beings.

The Pope’s Message goes on to say that every effort is praiseworthy, which promotes the family based on the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, and "helps each such family to carry out its mission of being a living cell of society, the seedbed of virtue, a school of peaceful and constructive coexistence, and a privileged environment in which human life is welcomed joyously and responsibly, and protected from its beginning until its natural end".


Here is a translation of the message from the Holy Father, written in Spanish, to the Latin American bishops meeting in Bogota, Colombia this week, through Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family:


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To my venerated brother
Cardinal Ennio Antonelli
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family

I am pleased to greet Your Eminence and the other cardinals, bishops and priests participating in the meeting of bishops responsible for the Episcopal Commissions for the Family and Life in Latin America and the Caribbean, now taking place in Bogotá.

As the Fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops reiterated, the family is the most cherished value for the peoples of those noble lands. For this reason, pastoral ministry for families has an outstanding place in the evangelizing activities of each of the local Churches in the area, promoting the culture of life and working so that the rights of families my be recognized and respected.

Nonetheless, it must be noted sadly how homes increasingly suffer adverse situations, provoked by rapid cultural changes, social instability, migratory currents, poverty, educational programs that banalize sexuality, and false ideologies. We cannot be indifferent in the face of these challenges.

In the Gospel, we find the light to respond to them without being discouraged. Christ with his grace urges us to work with diligence and enthusiasm so as to lead each family member to discover the project of love that God has for the human being.

No effort will be useless to promote whatever contributes so that each family, founded on the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, can carry out its mission to be a living cell of society, sower of virtues, school of constructive and peaceful coexistence, instrument of concord, and the privileged environment in which, joyfully and responsibly, human life is welcomed and protected, from its beginning to its natural end.

It is likewise worthwhile to continue motivating parents in their fundamental right and obligation to educate the new generations in the faith and in the values that dignify human existence.

I have no doubt that the continental mission promoted in Aparecida, and which is raising so many hopes everywhere, will serve to give new life to the pastoral ministry for marriage and the family in the beloved nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Church counts on Christian homes, calling on them to be the true subject of evangelization and apostolate, and inviting them to be conscious of their valiant mission in the world.

I therefore encourage all the participants in this significant meeting to develop the major pastoral lines drawn by the bishops assembled in Aparecida, with which families may experience a profound encounter with Christ through listening to his Word, prayer, the sacramental life, and the exercise of charity.

In this way, they will help put into practice a solid spirituality that inspires in all family members a decided aspiration for holiness, without fear of demonstrating the beauty of high ideals and the moral and ethical demands of a life in Christ.

In order to promote this, it is necessary to improve the formation of all those who, in some way, are dedicated to the evangelization of families.

Likewise, it is important to find ways of collaboration with all men and women of good will in order to be able to continue intensely protecting human life, marriage and the family in the entire region.

I conclude by expressing my affection and solidarity with all the families of Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly those who are in difficult situations.

As I commend to the powerful protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary the fruits of your praiseworthy initiative, I impart to you from the heart the Apostolic Blessing you wished, which I gladly extend to all who are committed to the evangelization of families and promoting their wellbeing.

From the Vatican
March 28, 2011[/DIM}

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TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 6:46 PM
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A timely new look at the 'Holy Face of Manoppello'. which has figured in Benedict XVI's 'personal search for the face of God', by the German journalist who first called his attention to it... In this interview, Badde links the tesimony of the Veil of Manoppello to the Pope's account of the Resurreciton in JON-2.


'Manoppello veil illustrates
the Resurrection of Christ'

Interview with Paul Badde
By Genevieve Pollock
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MANOPPELLO, Italy, MARCH 28, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A veil in Manoppello, kept in secret for centuries and only recently reemerging, illustrates Christ's resurrection in a way that will change the world, says Paul Badde.

Badde, author of The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus (Ignatius Press), explained to ZENIT how this veil features "uncountable" images of the Risen Christ.

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The journalist and historian, an editor for the German newspaper Die Welt [and its longtime Vatican correspondent], noted that the veil also illustrates much of what Benedict XVI wrote about in his newest book, Jesus of Nazareth Part II: Holy Week -- From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection .

In fact, the Pope visited the shrine at Manoppello as one of the first trips of his pontificate, reflecting his decades-long interest in the meditation on the face of God, the author noted.

In this interview with ZENIT, Badde explained some of the conclusions of his research on this veil, and why he thinks it is bound to change the world.

Some have referred to the Veil of Manoppello as belonging to Veronica, and having the image of Jesus' face from before the Crucifixion. Your investigation, however, led you to a different conclusion. Could you clarify what this veil is?
This veil has had many names in the last 2000 years -- maintaining only its unique character in the same time.

It is, in fact, "the napkin" or "handkerchief" (in Greek: soudarion), to which St. John the Evangelist is referring in his report of the discovery of the empty tomb by St. Peter and himself, that they saw "apart" from the cloths (including the burial shroud of Joseph from Arimathea) in which Jesus had been buried.

This napkin, St. John says, had been laid upon the Face of Jesus [in accordance with Jewish burial tradition].

This veil had to be kept completely secret right away -- together with (what is now called) the Shroud of Turin -- in the first community of the Apostles in Jerusalem due to the ritual impurity in Judaism of everything stemming from a grave. And it remained secret for many centuries.

This explains why it has borne many different names in the course of history after it firt appeared in public some hundred years later in the Anatolian town of Edessa for the first time.

Among all these different names are for instance: The Edessa Veil, The Image or Letter of King Abgar, The Camuliana Veil, The Mandylion, The Image Not Made by Man's Hand (in Greek: acheiropoieton), The Fourfolded Veil (in Greek: tetradiplon) or -- today -- The Holy Face (Il Volto Santo). The "Veil of Veronica" is just another name for what has gone by many names but is most likely this very veil in Manoppello.

The famous Veronica herself, though, who allegedly had wiped Jesus' Face on his way to Calvary, does not appear in the Gospels. It is not until the Middle Ages, around the 12th century, that she was mentioned for the first time in pious tales and traditions. The name Veronica, however, is an angram for one of the real and true names of this veil, in a Latin and Greek mixture: Vera Ikon, or True Icon.

Why do you think Benedict XVI chose to visit the shrine at Manoppello as one of the first trips of his pontificate?
He chose to travel there immediately after he had read my book, of which I had sent my very first copy to him on October 1, 2005.

This book triggered his decision to go there as soon as it became possible when he was Pope - added to the fact, of course, that he had been meditating on the face of God for decades already.

A complete book could and should be published of all the occasions and sentences in which he reflected and meditated on Jesus's Face as the true face of God that he sees -- together with Dante -- in the center of paradise and the universe.

Everything I wrote in my book fit perfectly into this conviction -- after learning the exciting news of the survival and rediscovery of the True Image in a remote little town in the Abruzzi Mountains.

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When Benedict XVI visited Manoppello he encouraged the contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus as a way of meditating on the mystery of divine love. Could you describe some of the characteristics of the face on the veil that contribute to this meditation?
Everything of the Holy Face is most precious and as inexplicable as any good and true miracle.

The fabric (byssos -- fabric made from mussel silk), for instance, is the most precious fabric you can imagine -- and it is absolutely a fabric that cannot be painted on. [Byssos is woven from fibers of the 'muscle' that opens and closes the vales of the mussel shell.]

It shows a beautiful portrait of Jesus -- but with no traces of colors or blood.

It seems to be painted with light somehow and is therefore changing from every angle, in every different light, in different seasons, daytimes, etc.

It is in fact not one image of Jesus therefore -- it is an uncountable number of images of the Risen Christ.

When laid upon the face of the Shroud of Turin they both form a perfect match -- of one living face upon a dead face of the very same person: Jesus Christ.

All these qualifications seem to be only technical details, however, compared to the deep impression one has when standing in front of this image for the first time - one feels an ocean of mercy and compassion from the image in Manoppello.

How can the contemplation of the face on this veil help people to deepen in the meditation of the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord, especially during Lent and Easter?
The veil shows, in one single look, not everything, but a great deal of what Pope Benedict XVI says in Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, his recent, beautiful and wise book in which he writes about the resurrection of Christ.

It adds something else though, which is yet to dawn fully upon Christianity in our days for the first time in history. And this couldn't be better expressed, I think, than by a letter I received the other day by a certain Mother Columba from a French monastery, who is an Orthodox nun and an icon-painter. She wrote:

Each one of us who read 'The Face of God' was profoundly affected, Through this lively, simple and unaffected account, something gripped us that was far beyond and above the book itself, I would say, infinitely beyond. And I am convinced it is because the face of him who is both natural and above-nature is hiding behind the lines, shining through.

This undeniable effect on each one of us who read the book is enough in itself to convince me of the authenticity of the image of Manoppello. God has left an image of his Face on earth!

As Orthodox we are very much centered on Christian personalism: The mystery of the person, of which the face is the manifestation 'par excellence.' He who is at the center of all, the Alpha and the Omega, and in whose Face, as Dante said, our own faces are painted (or written) -- it is only when we shall fully behold the Face of him whose name is I Am that we, too, shall be able to say,"Nnow, in him, I am".


What is the significance of the rediscovery of this veil with its image at this moment in history?
This answer is one that only God fully knows.

What I know, however, is this: It is going to change the face of the world as soon as Christianity realizes fully that God has indeed left not only the testimony of a good number of reliable witnesses (in the Gospels for instance) but also a material image of himself on earth.

It will change the world sooner rather than later -- at least in a way that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has changed the map and history in Mexico after she had appeared and left her image there on December 12, 1531.

This image of her Son, however, has reappeared at the brink of the digital revolution -- and at the brink of the "Iconic turn."

I believe we are going to see a dramatic shift in the way we communicate -- a world where communication will be more visual rather than intellectual.

It is in these very days that we come to realize for the first time what Mother Columba said in her letter from France: "God has left an image of his Face on earth!"


Since I first read Badde's account in DIE WELT of the Veil of Manopello back in 2005 - an item I translated for the RFC Forum at the time - I have followed every report about Manoppello closely. I put together the major articles when the Holy Father visited Manopello in 2006, and they may be found on the following page of the PASTORAL VISITS IN ITALY thread at the PRF.
freeforumzone.leonardo.it/discussione.aspx?idd=6675691
The account of the Pope's visit itself in that section includes more articles about the Veil and the current scientific efforts to show its uniqueness and to prove a definitive correlation to the Face depicted in the Shroud of Turn.

I posted Ignatius Pres's promotional announcement for the book THE FACE OF GOD in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread last October.

benedettoxviforum.freeforumzone.leonardo.it/discussione.aspx?idd=8593...


TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 7:02 PM
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JON-2 moves up to #5
on NYT bestseller list

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The NYT best-seller list comes with its Sunday issue, so this list will come out this weekend... What does it say of US society when
the #1 non-fiction bestseller on the book's first week out is the autobiography of a member of a rock group?
????



SAN FRANCISCO, March 28, 2011 – After debuting as an instant bestseller, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week has moved to No. 5 on the April 3 New York Times bestseller list for hardcover non-fiction. The book also made the Top 10 in the bestseller lists published by The Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.

Pope Benedict XVI’s second volume on Christ’s life was released worldwide March 10 and covers the last week of Jesus’s earthly life – from his entrance into Jerusalem to his resurrection and appearances to his apostles and other followers.

“It’s great to see Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week move toward No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list,” said Ignatius Press President Mark Brumley. “This book presents Jesus in a powerful way, so we’re excited that so many people are getting the book and getting to know Jesus Christ better through it. During Lent, this is especially important for believers. But it’s also important for nonbelievers and seekers to encounter the real Jesus.”

I must confess that in 2007, I did not bother to check on JON-1's placement in the NYT lists after it came in below #10 (I think around #18) the week it was released. It's not that easy to check back now how it did.

What surfaced first in Goigling it was its third week on the NYT list on June 17, 2007, where it was #8, having been #7 the previous week, and, I now see, it had debuted at #6 on June 3 (what I dimly remember as below #10 would have been after it came down from the top 10. I haven't been able to find out yet how long it stayed on the list and whether that first week's #6 was the highest ranking it received.

The interesting thing about its Week 3 was that Christopher Hitchens's atheist rant God is not great, which came out two weeks before JON-1, was #3 on the list, up one notch from the previous week, and on its 5th week. It was made #1 on the list the week JON-1 came out, and obbviously slipped after that, but it was quite a long-seller. Again, what do best-sellers say about a society that more people seemed to be interested in an atheist anthem than in reading about Christ?

Sidelight: John Paul II's interview-book with Vittorio Messori, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, debuted at #2 on the NYT list in November 1994 and climbed to #1 on its second week. I do not yet know how long it stayed on the Top 10....

While doing random searches on the above, I came across the blurb quoting Cardinal Ratxinger and used for Jacob Neusner's A Rabbi Talks to Jesus in 1993:

By far, the most important book for the Jewish-Christian dialogue in the last decade. The absolute honesty, the precision of analysis, the union of respect for the other party with carefully grounded loyalty to one’s own position characterize the book and make it a challenge especially to Christians, who will have to ponder the analysis of the contrast between Moses and Jesus.

In other words, the cardinal saw in Neusner's book the very essence of inter-religious dialog that he has always promoted, especially now that he is Pope, and that is found in his own writings.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 9:39 PM
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A report from a newspaper in Cyprus...

Chrysostomos seeks Pope's help
about fee charged by Turkish Cypriots
to visit a Greek Orthodox monastery
in Turkish-occupied north Cyprus

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Mar 29, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI has assured the primate of the Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II that he will help in any way possible to reverse a Turkish Cypriot demand for an admission fee to enter a Greek Orthodox monastery, in Turkish-occupied north Cyprus.

The illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, which no country except Turkey recognises, imposes an admission fee on pilgrims who visit the Apostle Andrew's Monastery in the Karpass peninsula.

Archbishop Chrysostomos met the Pope on Monday in the Vatican and they also discussed the restoration of religious monuments and sites in the occupied areas of Cyprus.

“I have asked the Pope to work along with the powerful nations of Europe - Germany, Italy, France and Poland - who are also Catholic, in order to exert pressure on Turkey to terminate the pillage of our religious monuments in the occupied areas”, the Archbishop noted, adding that “I was very impressed because the Pope was aware of the situation in occupied Cyprus and knew all the details about the monastery".


Paolo Rodari has a story in today's Il Foglio, of what Chrysostomos II told Italian reporters after meeting the Pope. The Archbishop has always been known as very militant in defense of the rights of Greek Christians and Greek Cypriots in general, and he never misses an occasion to speak his mind.]


Cyprus Patriarch cites Regensburg lecture:
'If he could, Benedict XVI would
speak out against the tragedy in Cyprus'

by Paolo Rodari
Translated from
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March 29, 2011

His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Primate of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus (which was founded by the apostle Barnabas and is considered the second most ancient Christian community after Jerusalem)[????]* spoke to newsmen shortly after visiting Benedict XVI at the Vatican yesterday and said:

"The reason for my visit was one thing alone: to ask for help from the Pope - and through him, from the European community - so that something may be done for Christians like us and elsewhere in the Middle East, who are forced to live under military regimes which, under the cloak of apparent democracy, merely intend to Islamize everything".

In 1974, Cyprus was invaded by Turkey, which subsequently occupied northern Cyprus and proclaimed it a sovereign country. Since then, the Greek Cypriots claim, the Turkish government has populated northern Cyprus with 'illegal' colonists on lands and property formerly belonging to Greek Cypriots who had to flee to the Greek part of the island in 1974.

Chrysostomos said: "In Europe there are those who think Turkey is a democratic country, which has been seeking to enter the European Union. I tell them: open your eyes. Come to Cyprus and see our churches destroyed [in north Cyprus] and reduced to pig sties, where no one can say Mass. No one among the Greek Cypriots is free to return to their own homes in north Cyprus. Is this democracy?"

The Primate said that Benedict XVI is very much abreast of the situation in Cyprus and the plight of Christian Cypriots. "If he could, he would raise his voice... (but) he realizes that fiery declarations will not serve anything. He knows that he cannot always publicly say what he wants to say [without fear of worse consequences for the very people concerned] [I would call this the Pius XII dilemma!]... So he will help us in ways that he can."

He continued: "In 2006, in Regensburg, he was very clear: Islam should renounce violence, it must renounce using the name of God to justify religious hatred. I have met all the leaders of the Islamic Middle Eastern countries, and most of them have common sense. But are they capable of marginalizing extremist violence? Are they capable of holding down the preachers of hate who do form part of their communities?"

Commenting on the military action in Libya, he said:
"Often, the Western nations launch military actions in the name of defending human rights, as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet, without having to resort to arms, why don't these countries - who say they want to spread democracy - try to get Turkey to change? Why can they not make Turkey adopt a lifestyle that is truly modern and European?" [Because, for strategic interests, NATO finds Turkey useful as a member and ally, and the Western world considers Turkey's government sufficiently democratic. However, Turkey's failure to guarantee religious freedom in Turkey itself has been one of the obstacles to its admission to the EU. If it cannot even give a juridical status to bartholomew I's Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate in Turkey, what will make it relent on its anti-Christian policy in Cyprus?]

Going on about the Cyprus situation, he observed: "In Italy, right now, you are rightly concerned about the arrival of thousands of refugees from Libya. But you can decide which strategy to take - to welcome them all or to send them back if the situation becomes unsustainable.

"But we have no choice. We cannot do anything. The Turks have occupied our houses and violated the places where our forefathers lived. The colonists from Turkey have occupied everything, including the houses of those Turkish Cypriots who were allowed to remain in their homes after the 1974 occupation.

"This is a grave injustice about which Islam should undertake an examination of conscience. As Islam advances, it takes more territory. In Cyprus, we are more directly exposed to this problem than the rest of Europe, but this is a problem that concerns all of Europe".

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TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 10:40 PM
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Sandro Magister has posted a lengthy article today about what he calls 'the April revolution' in Vatican finance - well backgrounded as he usually does - but I have no time just now to check out the English translation, which may be read here:http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1347168?eng=y

[Sorry I am not comfortable about the work of Magister's English translator. It's so much easier for me to translate Magister directly from the Italian, instead of trying to tweak a translation I find painful at times.]

TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 11:38 PM
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How did the estimates change from 2 million a few weeks ago to 300,000 today????

Rome expecting at least 300,000
pilgrims for John Paul's beatification

by Cindy Wooden
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ROME, March 29 (CNS) -- Church and local government organizers are planning to accommodate at least 300,000 people in St. Peter's Square and the surrounding area for Pope John Paul II's beatification Mass May 1.

Msgr. Liberio Andreatta, head of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, the Vatican-related pilgrimage agency, told reporters March 29, "Rome is ready to welcome every pilgrim who wants to come. Earlier, newspapers published megalithic numbers and said every hotel is booked. That's not true."

Father Cesare Atuire of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi said as soon as Pope Benedict XVI announced the beatification date, travel agents and others booked large blocks of hotel rooms.

Now that the beatification is just a month away, they have a more precise idea of how many rooms they will need and so they are freeing up the extras.

In addition, he said, two campgrounds outside of Rome will be reserved for pilgrims who want to keep their costs to a minimum. The commuter trains, which usually do not run on weekends, will be on a special schedule to get them to the prayer vigil April 30 in Rome's Circus Maximus and to the Mass the next morning.

Because the Pope is the bishop of Rome and the pilgrims will spend most of their time in Rome, not at the Vatican, the Diocese of Rome is responsible for much of the cost of the event, Msgr. Andreatta said. [The more important reason is that the Diocese of Rome is the official presentor of the late Pope's entire cause for canonization rather than his home dicoese of Cracow, precisely because as Pope, he was Bishop of Rome. For this reason, too, the Diocese has long has its website for the cause of canonization.]

The diocese is passing the collection basket to large Italian companies to come up with at least $1.7 million to cover the costs of handling 300,000 pilgrims for the beatification, Msgr. Andreatta said.

Although the city of Rome and its hotels, restaurants and shops will benefit financially from the pilgrims, Msgr. Andreatta said the financial crisis still weighing on Italy made the diocese look to donors instead of the local government for funding.

The money will cover building a stage and installing a sound system and lighting at the Circus Maximus, running extra buses, covering the cost of the bus and subway tickets included in the pilgrim's package, renting and erecting crowd-control barriers and renting dozens of large video screens.

The screens will be placed in the squares around the Vatican and in most of the churches in the historic center of Rome so that people who cannot get close to St. Peter's Square or would prefer to stay away from the crowds can still follow the Mass, he said.

An Italian beverage company has donated 1 million bottles of mineral water, he said, and a restaurant chain has donated the ingredients for thousands of box lunches.

Father Atuire said that as of March 29, the largest numbers of pilgrims were coming from Italy, then Pope John Paul's native Poland, followed by Spain and the United States.

Opera Romano Pellegrinaggi has launched a special website -- www.jpiibeatus.org -- to assist pilgrims with reservations and information. The information is available in five languages, including English.

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TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 1:23 AM
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On Page 194 of this thread, I posted my translation of the editorial from a recent issue of the French Catholic magazine LA VIE, which dedicated the cover and a number of articles to the subject of Benedict XVI as the writer-Pope. But except for the editorial - and the excerpts from the new book MON CONCILE VATICAN, which I also translated - the other articles were not posted online. As I thought she would, Beatrice on her admirable site
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posted three articles she scanned from the paper issue, by three prominent French writers/journalists writing about Benedict XVI as a writer in general but particularly, in the context of JON-2.



THE WRITER-POPE:
'I enjoy his conceptual dexterity
and his discreet poetics'

by Denis Tillinac

Tillinac (born 1947) is a prize-winning author of at least 19 books (novels, essays, biography), including one entitled Le Dieu de nos pères, défense du catholicisme (God of our fathers: A defense of Catholicism)(Bayard, 2004), as well as long experience as magazine editor, columnist and journalist.

A writer assembles the dispersed fragments of his subjectivity to make into a shield, a battle standard, or some sort of fortress. In any case, as an outlet for misfortune. Whereas the faith of Benedict XVI, illuminating his reason, dictates his approach to reality and assigns a finality to the act of writing.

In itself, literature does not aim for any end, though it fills a lack for the blind. Our Pope is a theologian, a dialectician, an incomparable philologue - perhaps not a ‘writer’ as we have understood the word commonly since the Romantic era.

But in reading the second part of the Pope's JESUS OF NAZARETH, I felt as i did in reading his other books, his great lectures (Bernardins, Regensburg, etc), and his Wednesday catecheses on the great figures of the Church, a tone that distinguishes him from any other author.

More than a tone, a music even, - that of his spirit, of his very soul - which reminds me that he loves Mozart and plays the piano.

His way of wandering between the Gospels and the Old Testament - especially the Psalms and the Prophets - to return to Christ via St. Paul, and set down, in a single pen stroke, the destiny of the Church, bears witness at once to his near-scientific concern to explore the profound sense of Scriptures and to a very personal sensibility.

If the art of choosing the right word to portray a historical setting and to draw the reader into the intimacy of a spiritual quest describes what a writer is, then Benedict XVI is one, and a very fine one.

Like everyone else, I had read the Gospels, and I believed I had more or less understood its message. Yet, his approach to the last days of Jesus on earth - his trial, his crucifixion and entombment, his Resurrection - has upturned all my views (summary and confused) on the Passion and eternal life.

Because with simple words, he has been able to transmit to me his spiritual intelligence - indeed, I have profited from this good deed from each of his writings. His prose - tight, precise, at times emotional - has nothing to do with clerical discourse. And he knows how atheists, agnostics, and the undecided think.

His prodigious erudition is not mobilized to obscure a discussion but to explore all its hypotheses. Certainly, deep down, faith and reason are complicit, which one expects from a theologian marked by Thomas Aquinas.

In his criticisms of the novels of Mauriac, Sartre opposed the artist to the believer in the name of a 'freedom' which according to him was incompatible with submission to the Creator. He was wrong, as usual.

Benedict XVI is an artist of theology, and in reading him, beyond what I learn from him, I enjoy his conceptual dexterity and his discreet poetics.

It doesn't matter if one calls him a writer or not: his books - including the last one just published - are by far the most enriching that I have read in ages.

I believe that their time has come - to defeat this nauseating disarray in which we are floundering, and which explain his analysis of contemporary 'relativism'.

Decidedly, the last Conclave was well-inspired by the Holy Spirit: He is the Pope we need, hic et nunc, here and now.


THE WRITER-POPE:
'He brings us an interior
experience of faith'

by Philippe Sollers

Sollers (born 1936) is a novelist and critic who was at the heart of the 1960s-1970s Paris intellectual scene, among with his friends Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes (who wrote a book about him). Since 1958, he has written 24 novels and 21 books of essays. Jesuit-educated, his Catholicism has been likened to that of James Joyce, whose innovative use of language he also shares. Since 1967 he has been married to the Bulgarian-born philosopher Julia Kristeva, a non-believer.

The second part of JESUS OF NAZARETH is an exciting lesson in reading. An invitation to the essentials through the details of the Scriptures.

Why did the Pope decide to describe the progress of Jesus Christ towards his death and resurrection? Doubtless it is because ignorance on this subject is considerable, even among Catholics.

The resurrection has become a shameful subject, one that is suppressed, and yet without this event, the faith is nothing.

Do you know Jesus? Do you know what he did? Was it all nonsense, an invention of truth itself?

Benedict XVI has done enormous work. He is a great reader who has cited Dante’s Paradiso many times, a reference that is hardly usual for a Pope.

Formally, his writings are very correct and always very well-informed. He himself is at the level of the texts he comments upon.

Here, he goes back to the Gospels with great rigor, taking care to refer back its episodes to Jewish history as recorded in the Old Testament. He follows the thread of this chilling history [of Jesus’s Passion], almost a police novel that is among the most extraordinary ever written.

We are immersed in its political context, we follow the Lord’s traitor, his trial, the Cross, the resurrection, the women at the tomb, the apparitions of the Risen Christ, who is not immediately recognized by the disciples at Emmaus nor by the apostles at sea.

A Pope is not meant to be a writer but to occupy Peter’s Chair. Yet this Pope had to deal with actual testimony to see if the accounts hold up in the historic-salvific scheme. And he gives us a living lesson in how to read – by giving us an interior experience which comes from his faith.

With him, we enter into the heart of this affair. It’s the opposite of cinema, of any spectacle. The Pope draws us into grasping the events in their invisibility – but as though we are witnessing them and are co-actors in them.

This is not past history that he is commemorating. It is happening now, at every moment.


THE WRITER-POPE:
'I am struck by the clarity of style
and the vigor and rigor of his reasoning'

by Patrick Kéchichian

The writer (born 1951) was literary critic of Le Monde from 1985 till recently, now writing for La Croix. He has not written as many books as Tillinac or Sollers, but the few he has written are religious in nature - including a book on spiritual exercises (2001) on the conversion of St. Paul in (also in 2001), and Petit eloge de catholicisme (2009). [It makes me wonder that a Catholic like him could have been literary critic at Le Monde for more than two decades!]

I had read several works by Joseph Ratzinger before he became Benedict XVI, then his three encyclicals, various addresses, and finally, the first volume of his JESUS OF NAZARETH.

And I have just started to read Part 2 with the same interest, the same admiration. I have drawn great profit from these readings. I have been struck, each time, by the intelligence of his propositions, the clarity of style, the vigor and rigor of his reasoning.

But at no time did I think I was reading ‘literature’. The call on the Pope’s books and addresses is to teach, or that which one no longer dares to call ‘edification’. In reading him, I progress in my faith. Thanks to his words, I feel that can better comprehend and better understand the original words, those of Sacred Scripture.

The role of the Church, and therefore, of its leader, is to bring to all Christians equally this spiritual nourishment which allows them to grow, to develop.

What about literature, you may ask. It is probably not, per se, the Holy Father’s concern. Literature consists – to put it briefly – in giving voice to one’s subjectivity. It is attending to the beauty of form and content, to their maximal harmony, as in all arts. It is to speak and write in one’s own name. Finally, it means searching for an audience, soliciting readers.

To illustrate: It is impossible to place on the same plane the epistles of St. Paul, admirable for their powerful breath placed at the service of a nascent Church, and a great Christian work like that of Paul Claudel, for instance. In the latter case, you have the literary genius of a remarkable writer illumined by his faith; on the other, the founding universal words of an Apostle whose ambition was to efface himself in the face of an Object that far surpasses him.

The words and writings of the Pope, like those of all great theologians, with all the necessary humility, evidently fall into this second category, which is therefore not that of literature. And so, Benedict XVI has not made of Jesus’s life a novel, which would have been grotesque, and most especially, out of place.

One other point. If the Pope says “I”, it is never to display his own person or his state of mind. And this point radically and definitively distinguishes him from writers who are narcissistic and full of themselves, who dream they are prophets – even of misfortune, like Celine! – in their country, the Republic of Letters, a principality right out of an operetta.


Apropos Kechichian's definition of literature, I prefer a broader definition that includes anything well-written, with harmonious beauty of content and form, as, for instance, Winston Churchill's massive History of the Second World War, which deservedly won the Nobel Prize for Literature. And as I once commented on this Forum at the time Caritas in veritate came out and a British economist suggested that the Pope deserved a Nobel Prize in Economics for it, he should seriously be considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature for his body of work. (In the same way, IMHO, I think Sigmund Freud should have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his remarkable writings, regardless of what you think about his science.)

Literature does not have to be fiction, drama or formal poetry, works of the imagination. As we well know from the entire range of the history of ideas - from the ancient philosophers, to the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and many of the great readable figures of the Enlightenment and someone like John Henry Newman! Not forgetting the Bible itself.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 11:59 AM
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Wednesday, March 30, Third Week in Lent
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ST. PEDRO REGALADO (Spain, 1390-1456), Franciscan, Reformer, Mystic
He lived at a time of great historical transitions: In 1418, the Council of Constance settled the Great Western
Schism and ended the Avignon papacy; France and England were fighting the Hundred Years' War; the Muslim
Turks finally ended the Byzantine Empire in 1453, Gutenberg had just invented the printing press, and
the century would end with Columbus reaching America. In Villadolid, Spain, young Pedro entered the Order
of the Franciscans, went on to became superior of a convent, actively engaged in reform of the Franciscan
order, and by 1442, was head of the Reformed Franciscans in Spain. His charism was in service to the poor,
and tradition says that when he fed them, he never ran out of food to share. He was immediately the object
of a cult after his death, and 36 years later, when Spain's 'Catholic Queen' Isabella ordered his body
exhumed to be transferred to a better tomb, the body was found to be incorrupt. He was canonized in 1746.
Readings for today's Mass:
www.usccb.org/nab/readings/033010.shtml



OR today.
Two papal stories in this issue: the Holy Father's message to the Latin American and Caribbean bishops meeting in Bogota to discuss pastoral ministry for the defense of life and the family; and a new Vatican law intended to protect against unauthorized commercial use of papal photos and texts. Page 1 international news: London conference aims to define Libya's future without Qaddafi, as his forces manage to stop the rebel advance towards Tripoli in Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte; in Fukushima, levels of plutonium (a degradation product of uranium) indicate that nuclear fission had taken place in one of the damaged reactors, as the government considers nationalizing the entire energy industry; and the story, 'Flower in the midst of desolation', about a Japanese doctor, convert to Catholicism who had known Maximilian Kolbe in Japan, and his life of dedication to caring for survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb that took the life of his own wife.


AT THE VATICAN TODAY

General Audience - The Holy Father's catechesis was dedicated to St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787), bishop, spiritual writer, philosopher and theologian, who founded the Redemptorist order and was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pius IX in 1871. With St. Alphonsus, the Pope has only one more Doctor of the Church to present in his catecheses - St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), the most recently proclaimed, by John Paul II in 1997, a century after her death.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:49 PM
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This is potentially great news of far-reaching significance. Coming shortly after the release of JON-2, it seems providential... BBC does a great job with this first report...

They could well be
the earliest-known Christian writings

By Robert Pigott
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March 29, 2011

They could be the earliest Christian writing in existence, surviving almost 2,000 years in a Jordanian cave. They could, just possibly, change our understanding of how Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and how Christianity was born.

A group of 70 or so "books", each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007.

The books, or "codices", were apparently cast in lead, before being bound by lead rings.

Their leaves - which are mostly about the size of a credit card - contain text in Ancient Hebrew, most of which is in code.

A flash flood had exposed two niches inside the cave, one of them marked with a menorah or candlestick, the ancient Jewish religious symbol.

A Jordanian Bedouin opened these plugs, and what he found inside might constitute extremely rare relics of early Christianity.

That is certainly the view of the Jordanian government, which claims they were smuggled into Israel by another Bedouin.

The Israeli Bedouin who currently holds the books has denied smuggling them out of Jordan, and claims they have been in his family for 100 years.

Jordan says it will "exert all efforts at every level" to get the relics repatriated.

The director of the Jordan's Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, says the books might have been made by followers of Jesus in the few decades immediately following his crucifixion.

"They will really match, and perhaps be more significant than, the Dead Sea Scrolls
," says Mr Saad.

"Maybe it will lead to further interpretation and authenticity checks of the material, but the initial information is very encouraging, and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology."

The texts might have been written in the decades following the crucifixion They seem almost incredible claims - so what is the evidence?

If the relics are of early Christian origin rather than Jewish, then they are of huge significance.

One of the few people to see the collection is David Elkington, a scholar of ancient religious archaeology who is heading a British team trying to get the lead books safely into a Jordanian museum.

He says they could be "the major discovery of Christian history", adding: "It's a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church."

He believes the most telling evidence for an early Christian origin lies in the images decorating the covers of the books and some of the pages of those which have so far been opened.

Mr Elkington says the relics feature signs that early Christians would have interpreted as indicating Jesus, shown side-by-side with others they would have regarded as representing the presence of God.

"It's talking about the coming of the messiah," he says.

"In the upper square [of one of the book covers] we have the seven-branch menorah, which Jews were utterly forbidden to represent because it resided in the holiest place in the Temple in the presence of God.

"So we have the coming of the messiah to approach the holy of holies, in other words to get legitimacy from God."


Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies at Sheffield University, says the most powerful evidence for a Christian origin lies in plates cast into a picture map of the holy city of Jerusalem.

"As soon as I saw that, I was dumbstruck. That struck me as so obviously a Christian image," he says.

"There is a cross in the foreground, and behind it is what has to be the tomb [of Jesus], a small building with an opening, and behind that the walls of the city. There are walls depicted on other pages of these books too and they almost certainly refer to Jerusalem."

The books were bound by lead rings It is the cross that is the most telling feature, in the shape of a capital T, as the crosses used by Romans for crucifixion were.

"It is a Christian crucifixion taking place outside the city walls
," says Mr Davies.

Margaret Barker, an authority on New Testament history, points to the location of the reported discovery as evidence of Christian, rather than purely Jewish, origin.

"We do know that on two occasions groups of refugees from the troubles in Jerusalem fled east, they crossed the Jordan near Jericho and then they fled east to very approximately where these books were said to have been found," she says.

"[Another] one of the things that is most likely pointing towards a Christian provenance, is that these are not scrolls but books. The Christians were particularly associated with writing in a book form rather than scroll form, and sealed books in particular as part of the secret tradition of early Christianity."

The Book of Revelation refers to such sealed texts.

Another potential link with the Bible is contained in one of the few fragments of text from the collection to have been translated.

It appears with the image of the menorah and reads "I shall walk uprightly", a sentence that also appears in the Book of Revelation.

While it could be simply a sentiment common in Judaism, it could here be designed to refer to the resurrection.

It is by no means certain that all of the artefacts in the collection are from the same period.

But tests by metallurgists on the badly corroded lead suggest that the books were not made recently.

The archaeology of early Christianity is particularly sparse.

Little is known of the movement after Jesus's crucifixion until the letters of Paul several decades later, and they illuminate the westward spread of Christianity outside the Jewish world.

Never has there been a discovery of relics on this scale from the early Christian movement, in its homeland and so early in its history.
TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 1:24 PM
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Ratzinger’s gift:
Faith-filled exegesis

by Dr. Jeff Mirus
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March 29, 2011

Perhaps the most important thing about Pope Benedict XVI’s second volume, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, is that it raises the bar for Biblical exegesis. Scholars may be shocked by this statement, but I’ll say it again. Benedict XVI is giving us a remarkable example of how reading, reflecting and commenting on Sacred Scripture should be done.

Before explaining exactly what I mean, it may be helpful to review the Magisterial status of the book. Simply stated, this is not an act of the Magisterium. It possesses no ecclesiastical authority.

As Benedict himself said in the foreword to the first volume: “It goes without saying that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search ‘for the face of the Lord’ (cf. Ps 27:8). Everyone is free, then, to contradict me” (pp. xxiii-xxiv).

Whatever impact the grace of office has on Benedict the writer, it is not the impact of Authority. That is why I have entitled this essay “Ratzinger’s Gift”.

But it is precisely this raising of the bar in Scriptural exegesis that constitutes Ratzinger’s great gift. Some have suggested that the Pope has revived “lectio divina”, the traditional habit of reading Scripture prayerfully to seek the joy and nourishment of God’s presence in His word.

But when you or I engage in lectio divina, it does not generally involve attention to the original languages, a study of what other great commentators have written, and the deliberate unraveling of obscure and possibly even disputed themes. These things are the work of exegesis (the critical explanation or interpretation of a text).

However, one of the problems that has afflicted Scripture studies during the intense and progressive secularization of academia over the past two hundred years is that exegesis has been so frequently set against lectio divina.

Whereas the Fathers of the Church seemed to be able to combine the two, modern figures have found this exceedingly difficult. The difference, in most cases, has been a matter of both faith and professionalism.

Many commentators have not approached the Bible with any significant faith in its Divine inspiration; and even believers have been constrained by their professional “duties” to ignore the enormous benefits of faith in their studies.

The result has been the dissociation of scholarship from lectio divina, as if the two are incompatible or even opposed. One of Joseph Ratzinger’s greatest gifts to the Church is his demonstration that this is not the case, to show that a genuine scholarly inquiry under the light of Faith yields abundant fruit in an understanding of the text that is at once more thorough and more profound.

Benedict’s new volume demonstrates this achievement repeatedly. In Chapter 1, he explores textual and historical data to penetrate the episode of the cleansing of the Temple (Mark 11), and to demonstrate how Jesus has become the new Temple.

In Chapter 2, he carries this theme forward, incorporating the work of historians and exegetes to show that the Christian community was so reoriented to Christ as the foundation of its relationship with God that it was unfazed by the destruction of the Temple in AD 70—a destruction which fundamentally altered Judaism. Also in this chapter is a deep examination of the so-called eschatological discourse, the meaning of the end times and the intervening “time of the Gentiles.”

In Chapter 3, the Pope explores the washing of the feet. In the context of ancient philosophy, he explains how Christ’s self-giving marks a new kind of descent from the Divine to the human. Unlike the Divine emanations of the philosophers, which return to God by shedding the material, Christ both embraces and purifies human nature. Thus the way of self-emptying and martyrdom is a way not of escaping creation but of restoring all of creation to the Father.

And in Chapter 4, Benedict examines the specific wording of the high-priestly prayer of Christ, explicating through its long exegetical history key themes of eternal life, sanctification in truth, and making God’s name known, so that all may be one. His exploration of this oneness as rooted in truth and mission leads inevitably to apostolic succession, Scripture, and the Creed — that is, to the constitutive elements of the visible Church.

Throughout these rich treatments we find that Benedict must unlock a layered text in which Our Lord frequently expresses Himself in Old Testament figures, images and even quotations. This fact alone gives new relevance to the history of the Jewish people, to an analysis of the OT texts, and to the trajectory of the Divine Plan over time.

My point is that at every turn Benedict pulls in whatever is relevant. It might be linguistic analysis or the redaction of the early texts; it might be ancient history or the teaching of various philosophical schools; it might be seminal insights from past commentators, both Catholic and Protestant.

Always there will be a close reading of the text itself in light of its antecedents in the Old Testament, and of its thematic resonance in other portions of the New.

And in the background, we see Benedict’s judgments silently illuminated by the analogy of Faith — the fact that Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church are all informed by the same Holy Spirit, and so must point together to the same Truth.

Many of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church have addressed Scripture in this way as well, not because they were professional exegetes, but because they were learned persons, often even scholars, who brought whatever they knew to bear on improving our understanding of Christ and of the Scriptures which speak of Him.

Benedict not only recognizes this great tradition but alludes to its necessity in the foreword to the second volume when he explains that God works through an entire community, looking backward and forward, in inspiring the full meaning of the Biblical text (see my earlier comments, Benedict’s Second Volume and the Historical Critical Method).

Ratzinger’s gift is to show how even modern scholars (of which Pope Benedict XVI is obviously one) can fruitfully explore everything that relates to the text in a way that is not only compatible with but actually inspired by their Faith.

In the Pope's own words, he has attempted “to develop a way of observing and listening to the Jesus of the Gospels that can indeed lead to a personal encounter and that, through a collective listening with Jesus’ disciples across the ages, can indeed attain sure knowledge of the real historical figure of Jesus” (vol II, Foreword, p. xvii).

I missed Dr. Mirus's first essay on JON-2 when it came out last week, so here it is:

Benedict’s second volume on Jesus
and the historical-critical method

by Dr. Jeff Mirus
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March 24, 2011

Jesus of Nazareth Part II is out, and I’m working my way through it, not only to pass along the highlights but for spiritual reading. The Pope’s first volume (see Benedict’s New Book, The “Our Father” according to Benedict, and A Final Note on Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth) was a luminous and spiritually rich commentary on the person of Christ. This second volume focuses on Our Lord’s salvific mission from His entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection: in other words, Holy Week.

But the very first nugget which caught my attention in a book sure to be characterized by a rich vein of gold is the Pope’s comments on historical criticism in his Foreword.

After all, the Pope’s project in this two-volume work is to recover a full awareness of the person of Jesus, a project necessitated in part by the mangled and fragmented portrait left over after the historical-critical method of Scriptural exegesis that has dominated the past two hundred years. Indeed, in the Foreword to the first volume, Benedict had written:

Historical-critical interpretation of a text seeks to discover the precise sense the words intended to convey at their time and place of origin…. [But] it is important to keep in mind that any human utterance of a certain weight contains more than the author may have been immediately aware of at the time….

At this point we get a glimmer, even on the historical level, of what inspiration means: The author does not speak as a private, self-contained subject. He speaks in a living community…. which is led forward by a greater power that is at work….

Neither the individual books of Holy Scripture nor the Scripture as a whole are simply a piece of literature. The Scripture emerged from within the heart of a living subject — the pilgrim People of God — and lives within this same subject…. [And] likewise, this people does not exist alone; rather, it knows that it is led, and spoken to, by God himself, who—through men and their humanity — is at the deepest level the one speaking.

I’ve risked a long quotation here — though vastly condensed from the original, as suggested by the ellipses — because it sets the stage so beautifully for what the Pope says in the Foreword of his second volume.

I’ll get to that in just a moment, but first let’s take a brief look at what the reign of historical criticism has meant. We’ll do this by taking just one example.

Recently most right-thinking Catholics (by which of course I mean Catholics whose conclusions mirror my own!) were annoyed to learn that the latest translation of the New American Bible has replaced the word “virgin” with “young woman” in Isaiah 7:14: “The virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” The passage is cited in St. Matthew in reference to the virgin birth of Our Lord (Mt 1:23).

Now there is some grounds for this change. The word “almah” in Hebrew can mean a young, unmarried woman in a rather generic sense, or it can mean more specifically a virgin. But generally in the Old Testament, when “virgin” is unambiguously intended, a different and more precise word is used, such as “betulah”.

The exegete who approaches this text exclusively from the historical-critical point of view argues that Isaiah, in his own time and place, could not have had the birth of Christ in mind. Rather, the problem with which he was directly concerned was the siege of Jerusalem by the combined armies of Syria and the Northern Kingdom around 735 BC. The conception of a child by a young woman was to be a sign that the siege would be lifted and Jerusalem would continue to flourish.

And that’s as far as the historical-critical method can take us, working alone and in isolation from other interpretive insights. So those who rely exclusively on this method assert that this text of Isaiah was fulfilled over seven hundred years before the birth of Christ and has nothing to do with Our Lord at all. Moreover, St. Matthew was clearly wrong, on the basis of the historical-critical method, to appropriate the text as he did.

You can see, therefore, why in his first volume, in discussing his own exegetical methods, Pope Benedict stresses that each portion of Scripture must be read in the context of the whole, and that each Scriptural passage is pregnant with meaning because its authorship is rooted in a community actively inspired and led by God according to His own Providential plan.

Thus an early prophecy by Isaiah can operate at multiple levels, with one clear application in Isaiah’s own time, and another that becomes clear only later. And St. Matthew is perfectly justified in appropriating this more distant and deeper meaning to Christ, in whom all of Scripture finds its goal and unity.

What, then, does historical criticism do for us? Does it have any value at all? Actually, yes, because the more we know about the circumstances in which a particular passage was written, and about the immediate application of that passage, the richer is our understanding of the many ways in which that particular set of circumstances suggests a moral or a spiritual lesson, or foreshadows later developments, or otherwise illuminates God’s saving action at multiple levels throughout history.

To understand the historical context of Isaiah’s utterance is to understand more thoroughly God’s salvific power — His ability to prefigure the work of His Son not only in words but in historical events — just as the historical details of the Exodus foreshadow and enrich our understanding of what it means for Christ to save us from sin.

But to lock ourselves within the historical-critical method, as if each passage must be limited to what was naturally evident at the time it was recorded, is to deny not only the implications of the Sacred text in the communitarian tradition but also the revelatory presence of God in the life of the community, as well as the supernatural agency at work in Biblical inspiration.

To put this in a single word, an excessive reliance on historical criticism denies not only the importance but the very existence of theology.

Benedict himself explores a variety of exegetical insights starting in the very first chapter of his new volume, when he unpacks the meaning of the cleansing of the Temple.

In so doing, he begins immediately to reveal the great depth of his appreciation of the person of Christ as Savior. He explores the historical situation, and finds that it resonates with other elements in the history of the Jewish people, elements which already invest the text with a power beyond its literal meaning.

But the Pope is always open as well to the presence of God in this history, and of course to God fulfilling this history in the work of His only begotten Son.

All of this provides the context for the very first gold nugget Benedict offers in the Foreword to the second volume, where he continues the comments on the historical-critical method quoted above:

One thing is clear to me: in two hundred years of exegetical work, historical-critical exegesis has already yielded its essential fruit. If scholarly exegesis is not to exhaust itself in constantly new hypotheses, becoming theologically irrelevant, it must take a methodological step forward and see itself once again as a theological discipline, without abandoning its historical character.

It must learn that the positivistic hermeneutic on which it has been based does not constitute the only valid and definitively evolved rational approach; rather, it constitutes a specific and historically conditioned form of rationality that is both open to correction and completion and in need of it.

Following this comment, Benedict mentions that a particular Catholic theologian (whose unfortunate name the Pope kindly omits) labeled his book a Christology from above, “not without issuing a warning about the dangers inherent in such an approach.”

But it is precisely Benedict’s point that God works in and through a community, so that His presence and His action is not only above, but below and even within, a presence which cannot be ignored without reducing the Biblical text to something less than it really is.

What the Pope calls for is “a properly developed faith-hermeneutic” as “appropriate to the text”, which “can be combined with a historical hermeneutic, aware of its limits, so as to form a methodological whole.”

He states that this is “an art that needs to be constantly remastered”, and he does not “presume to claim that this combination of the two hermeneutics is already fully accomplished in my book.” Rather, he hopes his book is a significant step in the right direction. He concludes on this important point:

Fundamentally this is a matter of finally putting into practice the methodological principles formulated for exegesis by the Second Vatican Council (in Dei Verbum 12), a task that unfortunately has scarcely been attempted thus far.

Those who follow Pope Benedict’s lead in this — and there is growing evidence of such a movement already in progress —will effect a true renaissance in the study of the Word of God. In this way, Scripture will live once again as the living text of the people of God — that is, it will become once again what it was always intended by God to be, the Book of the Church.


One must appreciate Dr. Mirus's focus on the methodology of the Holy Father's work in the JESUS OF NAZARETH books, who makes them read so 'easily' - provided one does so undistracted and focused - that one might tend to forget the enormous work it took to distill all of his research and study into the final, literally- delightful product of a mind that harmonizes faith, science and reason so naturally. Reading and re-reading the JESUS books, I find myself mentally intoning all the time, "Thanks and praise be to God" for giving us Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, a mantra that only heightens the incomparable euphoria of the experience.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 4:29 PM
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Pope sends Cardinal Turkson as
papal envoy to strife-torn Ivory Coast

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March 30, 2011

At his General Audience today,, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he has sent Cardinal Peter Turkson as his envoy to the Ivory Coast, the crisis-gripped former French colony in West Africa,

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Former President Laurent Ngagbo, who was first elected in 2000, has refused to concede his electoral loss to Alessane Ouattara last December, and his forces have kept the latter - recognized as victor by the UN and independent international organizations - from assumming the Presidency.

Speaking in French to the thousands gathered beneath a warm Spring sun in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father launched the following appeal:

For some time now, my thoughts have often turned to the people of Ivory Coast, traumatized by painful internal strife and serious social and political tensions. While I express my closeness to all those who have lost a loved one and suffer from violence, I urgently appeal a process of constructive dialogue be undertaken as soon as possible for the common good".

The tragic conflict makes the restoration of respect and peaceful coexistence more urgent. No effort should be spared in this regard. With these sentiments, I have decided to send Cardinal Peter Turkson Kodwo, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to this noble country, to express my solidarity and that of the universal Church to victims of conflict and to promote reconciliation and peace.

The violent dispute over last November's presidential election in the West African nation, that U.N.-certified results showed Alasanne Ouattara won, but which incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refuses to concede, has reignited the civil war the ballot was meant to end.

[Cote d'Ivoire, the French name by which it is officially known, became independent of France in 1960. Its present population is about 21.5 million. It is the world's leading producer of cocoa (from the cacao plant).]
TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 6:02 PM
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GENERAL AUDIENCE TODAY
Catechesis on St. Alphonsus Liguori
(1696-1787)
Doctor of the Church


At the General Audience today, The Holy Father devoted his catechesis to St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, now the 32nd of the 33 Doctors of the Church that he has spoken about in his Wednesday audiences - most of them in his earlier catechetical cycles about the great Christian figures from early Christianity to the Middle Ages.

He went on to complete the presentation with the Doctors of the Counter-Reformation - Terssa of Avila, Peter Canisius, John of the Cross, Ronert Bellarmine, Francis de Sales and Lawrence of Brindisi. St. Alphonsus Liguori in the 18th century and St. Therese of Lisieux in the 19th century complete the roster of the Doctors of the Church so far.

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Pope calls for
caring, faithful confessors

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March 30, 2011

Continuing his cycle of lessons on the Doctors of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI told believers Wednesday that prayer and confession are the best antidotes to our era marked by “signs of loss of conscience and morality”.

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Outlining the legacy of an 18th century Neapolitan Saint, Alphonsus Liguori, during his Wednesday catechesis, the Holy Father spoke of the obvious “lack of esteem” for the sacrament of confession among Catholics today and urged priests to adopt a more “charitable, understanding and gentle attitude” towards penitents while always remaining faithful to Catholic moral teaching.

Here is how he synthesized the catechesis in English:

Our catechesis today deals with Saint Alphonsus Liguori, an outstanding eighteenth-century preacher, scholar and Doctor of the Church. Alphonsus left a brilliant career as a lawyer to become a priest, and greatly contributed to the renewal of the Church in his native Naples.

He began as a missionary among the urban poor, gathering small groups for prayer and instruction in the faith. Broadening his pastoral outreach, he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer – the Redemptorists – as a group of itinerant missionaries.

Alphonsus’s pastoral zeal also found expression in his moral teaching, which emphasized divine mercy and the relationship between God’s law and our deepest human needs and aspirations. His many spiritual writings, marked by a deep Christological and Marian piety, stressed the practice of prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament.

May this great Doctor of the Church, venerated also as the patron of moral theologians, help us to respond ever more fully to God’s call to grow in holiness, and inspire in priests, religious and laity a firm commitment to the new evangelization.


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Here is a full translation of today's catechesis:


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Third from left; The saint's founder statue in St. Peter's Basilica.

Today, I wish to present to you the figure of a Saint and Doctor of the Church to whom we are much indebted because he was a distinguished moral theologian and a teacher of spiritual life for all, especially for the simple folk. He is also the author of the lyrics and music for one of the most popular Christmas carols in Italy: 'Tu scendi dalle stelle' {You have descended from the stars).

Born to a noble and rich Neapolitan family, Alfonso Maria de' Liguori was born in 1696. Endowed with outstanding intellectual qualities, he obtained a degree in civil and canon law at age 16. He became the most brilliant attorney in the courts of Naples: for eight years, he won all the cases he defended.

However, in a soul thirsting for God and desirous of perfection, the Lord led him to understand that he was called to another vocation. And indeed, in 1723, indignant at the corruption and injustice which polluted the courts, he abandoned his profession - and with it, wealth and success - deciding to become a priest, despite his father's opposition.

He had the best teachers, who introduced him to the study of Sacred Scripture, the history of the Church, and mysticism. He acquired vast theological culture, which he put to fruitful results years later when he would begin to write.

He was ordained a priest in 1726, and for the exercise of his ministry, he joined the diocesan Congregation for Apostolic Missions. Alfonso began evangelizing and catechetical activity among the most humble strata of Neapolitan society, to whom he loved to preach, and whom he instructed in the essential truths of the faith.

Not a few of these persons, poor or of modest means, to whom he addressed himself, had been dedicated to vice or had been involved in criminal activity. Patiently, he taught them to pray, encouraging them to change their way of life for the better.

Alfonso obtained excellent results: in the poorest neighborhoods of the city, many groups of persons gathered every evening in private homes or shops to pray and to meditate on the Word of God, under the guidance of catechists who had been trained by Alfonso and other priests, who also regularly visited these prayer groups.

When, at the request of the Archbishop of Naples, these prayer meetings started to be held in the chapels of the city, they came to be known as 'cappelle serotine' (evening chapels). These were a true and proper source of moral education, social healing, and reciprocal aid among the poor. Robberies, duels and prostitution almost disappeared.

Even if the social and religious context of St. Alfonso's time was very different from ours, the evening chapels seem to be a model of missionary activity which can inspire us even now for a 'new evangelization', particularly among the poorest, and to build human coexistence that is more just and more fraternally supportive.

Priests are entrusted with the task of spiritual ministry, while well-trained laymen can be effective Christian animators, authentic evangelical yeast in the bosom of society.

After having considered leaving to evangelize pagan peoples, Alfonso, at age 35, made contact with the peasants and shepherds in the inner regions of the Kingdom of Naples. Struck by their religious ignorance and the state of abandonment towards which they were headed, he decided to leave the capital and dedicate himself to these persons who were spiritually and materially poor.

In 1732, he founded the religious Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, which he placed under the protection of Bishop Tomaso Falcoia, and of which he subsequently became Superior-General.

These religious, led by Alfonso, were authentic itinerant missionaries, who reached the remotest villages to exhort the faithful to conversion and to perseverance in Christian life, especially through prayer.

Even today, the Redemptorists, who are found all over the world, continue this mission of evangelization. I think of them with gratitude, exhorting them to always remain faithful to the example of their sainted founder.

Esteemed for his goodness and pastoral zeal, in 1762, Alfonso was named bishop of Sant'Agat dei Goti, a ministry which, with the concession of Pope Pius VI, he left in 1787, because of the many illnesses that afflicted him.

The same Pope, upon learning of Alfonso's death following many sufferings, exclaimed, "He was a saint!" He was not wrong. Alfonso was canonized in 1839, and in 1871, he was declared a Doctor of the Church, a title given to him for many reasons.

First of all, because he had offered a wealth of teaching in moral theology, which adequately expresses the Catholic faith, to the point that he was later proclaimed by Pope Pius XII as the 'Patron of all confessors and moralists'.

In his time, a very rigorist interpretation of moral life was widespread, because of the influence of Jansenist mentality which, instead of nourishing trust and hope in God's mercy, fomented fear and presented a God who was harsh and severe, far from the face that Jesus had revealed to us.

St. Alfonso, especially in his major work entitled Teologia Morale, proposed a balanced and convincing synthesis between the demands of the law of God, which are carved into our hearts, fully revealed by Christ, and authoritatively interpreted by the Church, and the dynamism of man's conscience and freedom, which in adhering to truth and goodness, allows personal maturation and realization.

To the pastors of souls and confessors, Alfonso urged faithfulness to Catholic moral doctrine, while assuming a charitable, understanding and tender attitude, so that penitents can feel themselves accompanied, sustained, and encouraged in their path of faith and Christian living.

St. Alfonso never tired of repeating that priests are a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God, who forgives and enlightens the mind and the heart of the sinner so that he repents and changes his life.

In our time, when there are clear signs of loss of moral conscience - we must acknowledge this - and of a certain lack of esteem for the Sacrament of Confession, St. Alfonso's teaching continues to be greatly relevant.

Along with his works of theology, St. Alfonso composed many other writings, intended for the religious formation of the people. His style is simple ans pleasant. Read and translated into many languages, the works of St. Alfonso have contributed to shape popular spirituality in the last two centuries.

Some of them are texts that should be read today with great profit, such as Eternal maxims, The glory of Mary, The practice of loving Jesus Christ, this last representing the synthesis of his thought, and his masterwork.

He insisted very much on the need for prayer which allows us to be open to divine grace so we may comply daily with the will of God and achieve our own sanctification.

About prayer, he wrote: "God does not deny anyone the grace of prayer, with which one obtains the help to conquer every concupiscence and temptation. I say, I reply and will always reply as long as I have life, that all our salvation lies in prayer".

From this, his famous axiom: "He who prays will be saved"
(Del gran mezzo della preghiera e opuscoli affini. Opere ascetiche II, Roma 1962, p. 171).

In this regard, I am reminded of an exhortation by my predecessor, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II: "Our Christian communities should become schools of prayer... Therefore, education in prayer must become a required activity in every pastoral program" (Apost. Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, 33,34).

Among the forms of prayer fervently urged by St. Alfonso, he highlighted visits to the Blessed Sacrament, or Adoration, as we call it today - brief or prolonged, personal or communitarian - before the Eucharist.

"Certainly", Alfonso wrote, "among all the devotions, the act of adoring Jesus in the Sacrament is the first after the Sacraments which is dearest to God, and the most useful for us... Oh, what a beautiful delight it is to be in front of an altar with faith...and to present our own needs, as a friend does to another in whom he has full trust!"
C](Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Most Blessed Mary for every day of the month - Introduction).

Alfonsian spirituality is, in fact, eminently Christological, centered on Christ and his Gospel. Meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation and the Passion of Christ was a frequent subject of his preaching - the events in which Redemption is offered 'copiously' to all men.

And precisely because it was Christologic, Alfonso's piety was also exquisitely Marian. Most devoted to Mary, he illustrates her role in the story of salvation: partner in the Redemption and Mediatrix of grace, Mother, Advocate and Queen.

Moreover, St. Alfonso affirmed that devotion to Mary would be of great help to us at the moment of death. He was convinced that meditation on our own eternal destiny, on our calling to participate for always in the beatitude of God, as also in the tragic possibility of damnation, contributes so that we may live with serenity and commitment, and face the reality of death while always keeping our full confidence on the goodness of God.

St. Alfonso Maria de' Liguori is an example of the zealous pastor, who won over souls by preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, combined with a way of action marked by gentle goodness, born out of his intense relationship with God, who is Infinite Goodness.

He had a realistically optimistic view of the resources for good that the Lord gives every man, and he gave importance to the affections and sentiments of the heart, besides the mind, in order to love God and one's neighbor.

In conclusion, I wish to recall that our saint, like St. Francis de Sales, of whom I spoke a few weeks ago, insisted on saying that holiness is accessible to every Christian - to "...the religious as religious, the layman as layman, the priest as priest, the spouse spouse, the merchant as merchant, the soldier as soldier, and so on, with every other state"
(Pratica di amare Gesù Cristo. Opere ascetiche I, Roma 1933, p. 79).

Let us thank the Lord who, in his Providence, raises saints and doctors of the Church, in different times and places, who speak the same language to invite us to grow in faith and to live with love and joy our being Christians in the simple actions of everyday, in order to walk along the road of holiness, on the road towards God and towards true joy. Thank you.


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TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 9:31 PM
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[Sorry for the delay in posting this, as the material is from yesterday. I have adapted the text for reading without the video, since the TV agency's online report transcribes the audio that accompanies the video clips.]


Arturo Mari's favorite photo
from 26 years of covering John Paul II

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March 29, 2011

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One of the men who spent some of the most time with John Paul II was Arturo Mari, the veteran Vatican photographer who was, in effect, the Pope's personal photographer, as he had been for Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and now Benedict XVI. He has no doubt about which of his photographs is his favorite.

Mari recalls of John Paul II: "He would arrive every morning at 6.20 am at his apartment and would work all day, until 8, 9, 10 or 11 at night." Such, he says, was the energy of the Pope and his closest associates. They had an enthusiasm that was maintained until the last minute.

Arturo Mari could see first hand how John Paul II changed the world, as he accompanied him on all the meetings, hearings and trips he made in his 26 year pontificate.

"We will remember John Paul II as the man who changed the world. It's something you can see from the first trip to the last. Everyone who heard him witnessed his teaching and his message being carried to all to the countries of the world, from North to South, East and West."

Arturo Mari has worked more than 53 years as a papal photographer. But the photographer of the Popes has no doubt about which of his photographs is his favorite.

It was taken at the time of the last Holy Week of John Paul II's reign, during the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. The Pope, because of his illness, could no longer be present at the Colosseum, but followed the ceremony on TV from his private chapel.

Mari was able to photograph a historic moment during the fourteenth station, the burial of Jesus.

"The Holy Father asked Father Stanislao Dziwisz to give him the cross. For a split second, the Pope took the crucifix, gave it a kiss, and embraced it. He put it close to his heart. Nobody else saw this, because it was for just a second," Mari says.

It is a photo that has been seen around the world and that shows graphically the affliction of John Paul II's final years - an image that captures his holiness, through the lens of one of those who knew him best.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 10:09 PM
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Update on pastoral visit
to Lamezia Terma-San Bruno


The Diocese of Lamezia has opened the official site for the Holy Father's autumn visit to that diocese in southwestern Italy.

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The logo for the visit:
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The image is of the paralytic whom Peter cured outside the temple of Jerusalem with the words, "In the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, arise and walk", whence the slogan for the visit.

The nun who designed the logo explains the major image thus: "The paralytic, crippled from birth, had always been near the Temple - represented here by the dome of the Cathedral of Lamezia - where he heard the Word of God announced by Peter, who said to him: 'I have neither gold nor silver, but what I have, I will give you: in the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, arise and walk'. And so he is healed. But more than healing, it is a resurrection.

This man, because he was crippled, lived under the malediction of David (2Sam 5,8) which prohibited him from entering the temple to take part in liturgical celebrations. And so he could only get as far as the Beautiful Gate, between the Court of the Gentiles and the Court of Women. In healing the cripple, Peter, like Christ before him, took away the barriers to a universal assembly that is open to all. He acts in the name of Christ and knows that what he gives does not come from him, that the gift of physical health is the sign and earnest of complete health, that which is eschatological".

In other news from the diocese:

New school for sacred music
to be named after Benedict XVI


Under an agreement between the Diocese and the Tschaikovsky Institute for Higher Musical Studies of Nocera Terinese, also in Calabria, a Schola Cantorum will be established in Lamezia Terme to be named after Benedict XVI.

The music school will offer two curricula: one for a Level I Academic Diploma in Music, and another, a course for singers of sacred and liturgical music as a basis for further professional studies in music or liturgy.

The Italian bishops' conference (CEI) has approved this initiative and has granted its patronage.

On Benedict XVI's one-day pastoral visit to Lamezia, he will say Mass and Angelus in Lamezia in the morning, and in the afternoon visit the nearby 11th century convent of San Bruno (established by the German-born saint who founded the Carthusian order and where he spent his final years}. The Pope will celebrate Vespers with the Carthusian community.

Lamezia Terme is a city in the region of Calabria on the southwestern side of the Italian peninsula.

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