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TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, December 26, 2008 2:22 AM
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PAPA RATZINGER'S CHRISTMASES PAST


A little retrospective exercise.


CHRISTMAS 2005
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CHRISTMAS 2006
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CHRISTMAS 2007
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CHRISTMAS 2008
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TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, December 26, 2008 5:06 AM
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Not my idea of Christmas Day reading, but there's more like it - and worse - where it comes from. The reporting in the United States has been based entirely so far on the perception such as encapsulated in the sub-head for this item:

Pope Benedict XVI: Gay and lesbian families a lethal threat to all humankind.(Source:Associated Press)

This article comes from a Boston-based online site, with bureaus in many major US cities, that describes itself this way: "EDGE is the largest network of local Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) news and entertainment portals in the world, serving a quarter of a million dedicated readers from a variety of metropolitan areas around the United States."


Religious conservatives defend
Pope’s anti-gay message

by Kilian Melloy
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Wednesday Dec 24, 2008


Catholic publications have rushed to the defense of Pope Benedict XVI’s comments that the human race is as imperiled by gay and lesbian families as by the wanton destruction of the rain forests.

Saying that the "order of creation" must be respected, the Pope claimed for the Catholic church a privileged place of instruction and authority over humanity [since when has the Church done so? It proposes its dostrine to those who are willing to listen and reason declaring that the church "must defend not only the earth, the water and the air as gifts of creation belonging to everyone, but it must also protect mankind against the destruction of itself. The tropical forests deserve our protection, but man as a creature deserves it no less."

The Pope also denounced families that do not consist of a man, a woman, and children, saying that recognition of family structures other than that constitute an "auto-destruction of mankind."

The Pope made his remarks as part of his annual Christmas Message, which he delivered on Dec. 22. [It is not, of course, his 'annual Christmas message' - it his annual message to the Roman Curia, the internal 'government' of the universal Church,]

Catholic Online in a Dec. 24 article, instantly grouped homosexuality with "promiscuity, pornography, [and] adultery" and declared that all those things are "hurting [gays] physically, psychologically, but most importantly--hurting them spiritually." [I have not seen the Catholic Online piece, but sometimes, a 'defense of the Pope can backfire - never mind what you say and how you say it, the reaction from those who feel they are being wronged will always react by simple hostile reflex.]

Catholic Online slammed Pink News for posting the headline, "Pope Benedict learnt nothing from his time in the Hitler Youth," and denounced headlines in the San Francisco Chronicle ("Pope Benedict at Christmas: Preaching bigotry disguised as compassion") and the Times of London ("Christmas was never meant to be about this").

The article defended Pope Benedict on the grounds that he had not used the world "homosexual," though he had made his meaning explicitly clear by talking about a divine plan for families to consist of one man, one woman, and children.

Read the Catholic Online article, "In this respect, he spoke not only to the problem of homosexual acts but also other sexual aberrations such as sex outside of marriage, adultery, pornography, and even contraceptive sex."

Added the Catholic Online item, "This is borne out by the fact, unreported by the mainstream media, that within the speech he urged the faithful to re-read the encyclical Humanae Vitae - known most for its prohibition of contraception."

Continued the article, "Trust me, the Pope is not going on about such matters to be popular, not because he has some vendetta against gays.

"He is preaching the truth out of love; love for God and his Truth, love for mankind as a whole, but specifically love for his fellow human beings who are hurting themselves with destructive sexual lifestyles."

Added the article, "The Pope has sounded the alarm on rejecting God’s plan for human sexuality and pointed to the dangers for those involved and society in general of fostering such behavior.

"He is now experiencing the backlash, but like any good parent, he will weather it in patience and love, knowing that one day, his aberrant children will come to their senses or at the very least that he has tried his best to get them to do so."

The article went on to appropriate a quote from Penn Jillette, the comedian who, along with partner Raymond Teller, has hosted a documentary series titled "Bullshit!" devoted to debunking myths and superstitions.

Noting that Jillette is an atheist, the article quoted him as saying, "If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell... how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them that?"

Meantime, at right-wing Christian site CNS, conservative author Ben Shapiro wrote a Dec. 24 op-ed piece titled, "Gay Community is Intolerant, Too," in which Shapiro did not deny that religious conservatives are intolerant of gays, but cast that intolerance in the form of a competition of ideas, declaring that, "There’s intolerance on both sides. But someone has to win...The people should decide who wins."

[It sure doesn't help when a Catholic writer explicitly says Catholics are 'intolerant of gays' - the Catholic objection is not to persons, but to the 'unnatural' physical relationship of homosexuals - unnatural because because nature did not intend creatures of the same sex to 'conjugate': nature provides for sexual differentiation primarily to enable the species to reproduce.

The Catholic objection extends to same-sex unions because these would institutionalize an unnatural arrangement and equiparate it to the natural order of heterosexual coupling, and to marriage, its corresponding social and sacramental order.]


Shapiro mentioned both Pope Benedict’s Dec. 22 comments, and selected recent remarks of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, who has been in the news lately due to having been selected by President-Elect Barack Obama to deliver the invocation at next month’s inaugural ceremonies.

Shapiro quoted Warren as saying, "I’m opposed to the redefinition of a 5,000-year definition of marriage.

"I’m opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage.

"I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage.

"I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."

Those comments, as well as Warren’s having worked for the passage of California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that revoked the right of gay and lesbian families to marry in that state, have contributed to the GLBT community’s denunciation of the Obama pick.

Saying that Benedict and Warren were merely "articulating the same traditional Judeo-Christian perspective that has been a moral standard for thousands of years," Shapiro queried, "So why the hubbub?

"Warren is not stating that he wants to criminalize homosexuality. And the Pope is merely suggesting that sexuality may be flexible, and that sexual behavior can be changed. Where’s the big threat to the gay community?"

Added Shapiro, "The gay community constantly asks: If we want to marry, how does it hurt you?

"Here’s a similar question: If religious people don’t approve of homosexual behavior, how does it hurt you?"

Shapiro went on to claim, "We’re not advocating violence against gays and lesbians--far from it."

Added the author, "We’re just saying we don’t approve of your behavior. It’s that simple."

Acknowledged Shapiro, "The fact is, of course, that a religious standard of marriage does hurt gay people."

Added the writer, "The gay community wishes to hijack marriage and use it as a shield to legitimize traditionally immoral behavior.

"By opposing gay marriage, traditionally moral folks prevent the gay community from having its way."

Claimed Shapiro, "But by the same exact standard, the gay community’s insistence that homosexuality be respected - their insistence that figures from Pope Benedict to Rick Warren treat homosexuality as a perfectly acceptable way of life - hurts religious people."

Explained Shapiro, "By opposing religious people’s freedom to articulate their view on homosexuality, they encroach on religious freedom."

Noted Shapiro, "Someone’s standard has to win. If the Pope and Warren have their way, traditional morality will remain the standard and the gay community will feel left out.

"If the gay community has its way, traditional morality will be discarded and the religious community will feel left out."

Noting that whenever gay and lesbian equality has been put up to a popular vote, gays and lesbians have lost, Shapiro suggested that all such questions be put to the ballot, writing, "the systemic answer is simple: Let the people decide."

Added Shapiro, "The gay community has won its victories in the courtroom, calling on elitist judges to twist the words of state constitutions.

"It’s illegitimate, and it cuts against the most basic American value: the right of the people to decide how to regulate their communities."

Wrote Shapiro, "The gay community has every right to oppose the Pope and Warren. And the pope and Warren have every right to blast the gay community. [Why the verb distinction ' gays 'oppose' the Pope, but the Pope 'blasts' gays?]

"That’s freedom of religion and freedom of speech."

Not all GLBT people have condemned Obama’s pick of Warren to deliver the invocation. Popular lesbian singer Melissa Etheridge and her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels, both wrote op-ed pieces in which they defended Warren and contradicted the claim that the pastor is anti-gay.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, December 26, 2008 11:04 AM
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There have actually been reactions to the Pope's Curia speech of December 22 that saw beyond the controversial statements about the need for a human ecology (to save man from self-destructing).


THE SOUND OF MYSTERY
by Gianni Baget Bozzo
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Dec. 23, 2008

As usual, one of my favorite Italian commentators, the 84-year-old theologian and ex-politician Gianni Baget Bozzo chimes in with fresh insight, but what spoils this piece for me is that he starts with a near-explicit comparison between the public style and language of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, which is not only unnecessary - almost four years now into this Pontificate - but also gives the wrong impression that the difference between the two necessarily gives one an advantage in some way. The piece would be much better without the first two paragraphs.


Pope Benedict has a style different from his great predecessor who was in element in stadiums and spoke to young people in their language.

But if that was the only language possible, or at least, a necessary element for communication, then profound words would have no meaning, and the difference between words and sounds would not be seen in their reality.

For this Pope, the words used make a difference and can matter because of their content, not for their fire and flash.

And he believes his words can make a difference because he addresses himself first and foremost to Christians rather than to the general public. His aim is to build up the Church not to make news.

It is a style which seduces believers who want to remain such and truly rejoice in their Christian difference, who rejoice at words that are not 'images' but symbols that touch the heart and may not necessarily caress the ear. He addresses the individual who is everyman and not the mass which is no one.

Pope Benedict also wants his public events to be liturgies and thus place the image of the Church as a sacred institution even in the public square, to highlight the Christian distinction in the world, and in his capacity as Peter's Successor, to express the very essence of Catholicism.

In this way, Papa Ratzinger uses his own distinct personality, obliging the entire Church, bishops and faithful alike, to speak the language of mystery and liturgy, to pass from the language of the world to that of the singular entity that the Church is.

Benedict has carried out what is necessary to restore to the term 'Catholic' its sense of difference, of a significant difference:
this is his charism and his language.


In the same issue of La Stampa, another commentator picks up on Benedict's emphasis on the mystery of the faith.


The lack of communication
amid the din of everyday

by Franco Garelli
Translated from
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Dec. 23, 2008


What might have led Benedict XVI to 'make an accounting' of World Youth Day during his Christmas message this year to the Roman Curia?
To deviate a bit from the mystery of Christmas in order to call attention to the fact that even in the Catholic world, there are those who see the spectacle but not the faith, the singer not the song, in the whole concept of WYD?

Perhaps for the Pope, Christmas today and an event like WYD are not that different - that they are two faces of the same coin. In both cases, the dominant culture of image rather than substance only looks at the superficial aspects of faith rather than its profundity.

Mystery is lost in the liturgy when its participants lose the capacity to see the reality of the Other, because they are so wrapped up in their daily environment so as not to see the horizon of the transcendent.

Benedict XVI said religious events should not be likened to a rock festival, and the Pope is not a star.

These are blunt words that are intended to recover for the public a sense of sacredness, shake up even church circles that have lost this sense, and indirectly distinguish the style of this Pontificate from his predecessor's.

He is asking the faithful to leave the din of everyday and rediscover the sense of mystery that should touch their life in its depth.

But we must ask whether and how it is possible today - for the Church and for the Pope - to widen and deepen the dimensions of faith among Catholics. It was the same problem faced by Jesus in his earthly life in trying to counter human expectations that were blind to his proposition of salvation.

Is it possible to inspire the faithful to new paths of spiritual commitment using the language of today - often spurious and ambivalent - and necessarily anchored only to actual material needs?


An editorial writer in Avvenire has a different thrust.


The Pope is not a moralist
despite what critics say

by MARINA CORRADI
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December 25, 2008


There was a line last week in Benedict XVI's catecheses on Advent that was singularly noteworthy.

The Pope started by recalling that the core message of Christmas is in John's Gospel - "Verbum caro factum est", The Word was made flesh. He points out that 'verbum' also means sense or meaning - the meaning of life, incarnated in a baby born in Bethlehem as 'a Word addressed to us", in Benedict's words.

Not a law, he said, but 'a Person who is interested in each and every human being", that is, in the life of every single being.

What was striking was not so much this fresh affirmation of Christian faith as the Pope's comment right after: "To many," he said, "this might seem to beautiful to be true".

'Too beautiful to be true': namely, the extraordinary promise of Christmas, too often forgotten by too many, a promise now interred in mere habit, from the splendid realization of the prophecy - "and a Son was given to us" - of the advent on earth of a God born as man who defeated the forces of darkness.

'Too beautiful to be true'. In this phrase, one perceives that this Pope is very much aware of the spiritual poverty of the daily life of Christians, their difficulty in truly believing in the salvation promised to them, while the rest of the world scoffs endlessly at Christian hope as being absurd and irrational, a myth that originated twenty remote centuries before our time.

And yet, a God who is not law but a person, was born of a woman, and born in order to love us and to save us. How many among us, believers corroded by a modernity that derides our faith, do believe in our hearts that the Christian promise is indeed 'too beautiful to be true'?

But Benedict XVI, with the authoritativeness of the Successor of Peter, immediately refutes this radical doubt: "Yes, there is a a meaning to life, and this meaning is not just an impotent protest against the absurd."

He responds with the sovereign calmness of a man who possesses a sure and tempered faith. But beyond this hope - so solid as to be almost tangible - there is the Pope's presence itself, who places himself alongside the faithful who may be distracted or vacillating or isolated. He understands their silent difficulties, and he walks among us along our daily journeys to remind us of he whom he represents on earth.

As the universal Pastor, he understands that we need to hear again and again, if need be, that what was true 2000 years ago continues to be true now and for always.

"God always speaks to the present," Benedict XVI told the Roman Curia, but at the same time, how much man today needs a face to go with the words!

In the media, this Pope has often been portrayed as authoritarian, inclined mostly to say NO, dogmatic, and offensive to the freedom of believers.

The other day an editorial in La Repubblica on the 'statolatry' denounced by the Church in Spain suggested that in fact, the Church is harboring the same idea but in the sense of a 'Christian state', which means a 'confessional' or faith-based state, and therefore, an unfree state.

The accusation by secularists against the the Church and those who lead it has always been this: that it wants to coerce consciences, that it negates human freedom.

But if one ignores what the newspapers say in their headlines and in their reporting - and reads directly what the Pope really says, which is always advisable to avoid misrepresentation - one cannot fail to note his profound identification with the faithful, and his desire to arouse and confirm their faith with full respect for their authentic freedom.

And he does this not with the moralism of someone who would reduce God to a law, but with the lovingness reflecting a God who is both Meaning and Person.

"God freely became man in order to make us truly free," the Pope observed during one of his Advent catecheses. To whoever has 'the ears of the heart' to listen to a promise that is, yes, 'too beautiful', but also true.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, December 26, 2008 1:33 PM
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ANGELUS TODAY

The Holy Father delivered an Angelus homily today on the occasion of the Feast of St. Stephen.

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'Martyrdom of St. Stephen', A. Caracci, 1610, Oil on canvas, 64x150 cm. National Gallery, London.
Saul, later the Apostle Paul, is shown at left.



Here is what he said in English:

In this Christmas season, we rejoice that "the grace of God has appeared!" (Tit 2:11); his mercy and love have been revealed in the face of the Christ-child born in Bethlehem!

Today’s feast of Saint Stephen reminds us that we are also called to follow Jesus to the Cross: though suffering is a part of life, a God who personally enters history has the power to save us through it.

With our eyes fixed on heaven, let us therefore "endure to the end", so that we might gaze upon his face for all eternity (cf. Mt 10:22). God bless you all!


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

Dear brothers and sisters!

The feast today of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, takes place in the spiritual light of Christ's Nativity.

Stephen, a young man 'full of grace and the Holy Spirit', as he is described in the Acts of the Apostles (6,5), was ordained a deacon in the first Community at Jerusalem, and because of his ardent and courageous preaching, he was arrested and stoned to death.

There is a detail, in the account of his martyrdom, which deserves to be highlighted in this Pauline Year, and that is the remark that "the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul" (Acts 7,58).

St. Paul appears [in the NewTtestament] for the first time, under his Jewish name Saul, as a zealous persecutor of the Church (cfr Phil 3,6), which at the time he considered a duty and cause for pride.

In hindsight, one might say that the testimony of Stephen was decisive for his conversion. Let us see how.

Shortly after Stephen's martyrdom, Saul, still impelled by his zeal against Christians, went to Damascus to arrest those whom he would find there. It was while approaching the city that 'lightning struck' - that singular experience in which the Risen Jesus appeared to him, spoke to him and changed his life (Acts 9,1-9).

When Saul, who had fallen to the ground, heard his name called by a mysterious voice, he asked, "Who are you, Lord?", and he heard the response, "I am Jesus whom you persecuted" (Acts 9,5).

Saul had persecuted the Church and had collaborated at the stoning of Stephen. He saw him die under the hail of stones, and above all, he saw how Stephen died: like Christ in everything, that is, praying, and forgiving his killers (cfr Acts 7,59-60).

On the road to Damascus, Saul came to understand that in persecuting the Church, he had been persecuting Jesus who had died and was truly resurrected - Jesus living in his Church, living in Stephen too, who had seen him die, but who now certainly was with his resurrected Lord.

We can almost say that in the voice of Christ, Saul heard that of Stephen, and that by the intercession of the latter, divine grace had touched his heart.

And that is how Paul's life changed radically. From that time on, Jesus became his 'righteousness, sanctification, and redemption' (cfr 1 Cor 1,30), his everything. And one day, he too would follow in Stephen's footsteps, to shed his own blood, in witness to the Gospel, here in Rome.

Dear brothers and sisters, in St. Stephen, we see the realization of the first fruits of salvation that the Nativity of Christ brought to mankind: the victory of life over death, of love over hate, of the light of truth over the shadows of deceit.

Let us praise God and may this victory allow Christians even today not to answer evil with evil, but with the power of truth and love.

May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Martyrs, obtain that all believers may courageously follow the same path.


After the Angelus prayers, he had these special messages on the international situation:

In the Christmas atmosphere, one feels concern more strongly for those who are in situations of suffering and grave difficulties.

My thoughts go, among others, to the two Italian consecrated sisters, Maria Teresa Oliviero and Caterina Giraudo, of the contemplative missionary order of Fr. de Foucauld, who were kidnapped more than a month a and a half ago, along with some of their local co-workers, from the village of El Waq in northern Kenya.

I would like them to feel the solidarity of the Pope and the whole Church behind them. May the Lord, who in being born as man came to make us a gift of his love, touch the hearts of their abductors, and grant that our sisters may be released soon so they may continue with their disinterested service to their poorer brothers.

For this, dear brothers and sisters, I invite everyone to pray, without forgetting the numerous other persons held captive in other parts of the world, about whom we are not always able to get clear information. I think of the captives for political or other reasons in Latin America, in the Middle East and in Africa.

May our fraternal prayers be of intimate spiritual assistance to all of them.


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No OR today.
The next issue will be that for Dec. 27-28,
to be posted online on Saturday afternoon.



maryjos
Friday, December 26, 2008 8:40 PM
That address to the curia
news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7796663.stm

Go to the link above to see how the BBC reported the address which was supposed to be "homophobic". I don't know who the Rev. Sharon Ferguson is, but she obviously doesn't know the Bible! Why on earth quote a lady vicar [priestess!]? So, you see what it's like in England. Very little, if any, support for the Pope from the bishops of England and Wales!
TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, December 26, 2008 10:56 PM
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The Pope and the accusation
of homophobia: Why his Christmas message
to the Roman Curia caused an outcry

by PAUL BADDE
Translated from
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Dec. 23, 2008

Here is a translation of the item syndicated by Kathnews that Heike/Cowgirl called attention to on Christmas Eve.


VATICAN CITY - "Perish the day on which I was born," cries Job despairingly in the Bible, "the night when they said, 'The child is a boy!'"

This dismaying drama is about 2500 years old, but the cry (Job 3,3) also contains another acknowledgment about a fact whose age goes back to the beginnings of the human story, namely, the original sex identification of a human being as he is at the moment of birth.

That is the difference by which every midwife, even in the darkest night when she cannot see, would recognize by touch whether the new baby is a boy or a girl.

This basic difference is an anthropological constant in all world religions - and belongs to the Christian image of man. But the time is past when this image of the human being can be considered obvious or binding.

At the time of the United Nations world conference on women held in Beijing in 1995, an artificial human image was consecrated that has since become the centerpiece of a global civilian religion.

It's no longer a penis and a vagina, or a beard and breasts, that determine the sex of a human being, but his own feelings and free choice.

The core value of this world view is equality - which is the wonder tool with which any improper treatment of a woman (and every man who feels he is a woman) can be met head-on, de facto and de iure.

While male and female are traditionally not identical - or worse yet, considered 'not equal' - then from now on, an objective difference can no longer be the criterion for determining one's sex, but only one's own subjective and free choice.

Thus, to the fundamental rights of man, it is proposed to add also his freedom to choose his gender and sexual orientation, to decide whether he/she/it will be man or woman, or homo-, bi- or trans-sexual.

From hereon, the concept of 'gender' would differentiate a person's social sex from his/her biological sex. And such differences must, of course, be treated with utmost sensitivity.

Such a reconstruction of the human image according to these premises naturally has no less powerful implications as the erstwhile Communist attempt to create a new man, as shown by the consequences of so-called 'gender mainstreaming' (since 1999, an official 'leading principle and cross-sectional task' of German policy).

The equiparation of so called 'gay marriage' with a normal marriage between man and woman also belongs unconditionally to this new concept of human 'nature', along with full and unconditional freedom of abortion at any time during a pregnancy - in which abortion is considered a human right.

And therefore, naturally, an embryo cannot be considered a person. And so on....



Here is how one Italian Vaticanista reported the 'controversial' part of the Pope's Curia address - in full good faith, and without the explicit extrapolations tuncalled-for that much of MSM media gave it:


Papa Ratzinger's ecologism
and a hymn to 'Humanae vitae'
(and against gender ideology)

by Paolo Rodari
Translated from
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Dec. 23, 2008


Well-informed sources say that Benedict XVI's trip to Brazil in May 2007 had a profound effect on the Pope. That it was where the Pope understood with abundant proof that today, he Church must fight to defend man as a creature of God, in the same way that Paul VI defended human life in the unforgettable encyclical Humanae vitae.

That the profound problems of Brazil, and South America in general, do not reside primarily in the deplorable attack on the environment, specifically in the vast Amazon rainforest, but that there, as in other parts of the world, the problem is the increasing loss of faith which lays the foundation for man's responsibility towards the environment.

It was not by chance that yesterday morning, Benedict XVI mentioned the tropical rainforests, in stating one of the principle points of his Christmas address to the Roman Curia - his call for respect of the natural order of creation which, if unheeded, would lead to man's self-destruction.

He said that "the tropical rain forests deserve our protection, yes, but man does not deserve it less as a Creature of the Spirit himself, in whom is inscribed a message that does not mean a contradiction of human freedom but its condition".

Thus, the Pope synthesized what he means by the term 'an ecology of man': to respect man means to respect nature, the human being created as man and woman. Not to respect this natural order (and there are various ways of doing so) leads to man's self-destruction.

And that to live by emancipating oneself from the natural order is wrong. "That which has come to be expressed and understood with the term 'gender' effectively results in man's self-emancipation from Creation (nature) and from the Creator".

In this way, he said, "man wants to do everything by himself" but this means "to live against truth, to live against the Spirit Creator".

There was much of Pius XII in this papal address by Benedict XVI - the Pontiff who, more than any other, has spoken frequently of a 'healthy ecologism' that man must learn to practise.

There is, obviously, Humanae vitae, with which Paul VI had defended "love against consumer sex, the future against the exclusive claim of the moment, and human nature against manipulation."

And then, there were the Pope's notes from his Brazil visit: not just the huge crowds, and enthusiasm to high heavens, but the increasingly widespread incapacity of man to recognize himself as 'designed by God'.


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A comment about speaking up for the Pope over this latest outcry: so far, I have not read any bishop speak up - so the bishops of Wales and England are not an exception on this.

The closest I have read is from Father Lombardi's weekly editorial on Vatican Radio, in which he praises the beautiful things that the Pope actually said in the address to the Roman Curia - man's wonder and joy in a world designed to be deciphered by man himself in its physical structure. Fr. Lombardi only indirectly refers to the misplaced outcry of homosexuals and others who do not classify themselves as male or female, by saying:

"The wonder continues in recognizing the beauty of the creation of the human being as man and woman. Adam's cry of surprise and joy when God presented him with a woman echoes from the very first page of Scripture. The anthropological confusion that obscures the significance of that encounter risks extinguishing the very source of that joy."

Probably the relative discretion from the Church hierarchy is a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that so far, there have been no attacks on the Pope to be taken seriously, apart from the malicious newspaper headlines, tendentious reporting, and pushbutton commentaries by the gender ideologues - all of which have been totally predictable and par for the course.

Of course, this is not to say that their predictability reduces their annoyance factor (or worse) in any way, but after all, the Lord himself warned that following him would always be 'a sign of contradiction' to and in the world.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Saturday, December 27, 2008 12:33 AM
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Top 10 neglected Catholic stories of 2008
All Things Catholic
by John L. Allen, Jr.
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Friday, December 26, 2008




For most media outlets in the United States, there were really only two big Catholic stories in 2008: Pope Benedict XVI’s April 15-20 visit to Washington and New York, and the fate of the “Catholic vote” in the November elections.

Both, of course, were important tales to tell, and for the most part Church officials have no right to complain. Saturation coverage of the Pope’s trip alone probably meant the Catholic Church drew more positive notice in ’08 than in most years, especially recently.

Yet inevitably, plenty of other important Catholic stories flew below the radar. To remedy that, here’s a rundown of the “Top Ten Neglected Catholic Stories of the Year.”


10. Benedict’s “Second Act” in France

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While the pope’s trip to America drew bell-to-bell coverage, his Sept. 12-15 visit to France might as well have been on the dark side of the moon in terms of American media interest.

That’s too bad, because it offered “volume II” of Benedict’s reflections on Church/State relations. In the States, Benedict praised a model of Church/State separation that, in his view, means freedom for religion rather than freedom from religion.

In France, he closed the loop by challenging their model of laïcité (secularity), which the Pope sees as exiling religion from public life. That’s likely to be a battleground for some time to come, since laïcité is more or less presupposed by the architects of the new Europe.


9. O’Brien and the Legionaries of Christ
In June, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore demanded greater transparency from the Legionaries of Christ and their lay arm, Regnum Christi, and barred them from one-on-one spiritual direction with anyone under 18.

The fact that O’Brien, who is no one’s idea of a doctrinal liberal, took those steps suggested that controversy surrounding the Legionaries is not merely about the usual left/right tensions.

The story raised larger questions about how to balance the zeal and missionary spirit of some of the “new movements” against the need for proper oversight and accountability.


8. The Bishops and Immigration
Amid suggestions that the American bishops had a single-issue focus on abortion, their outspoken approach to immigration sometimes got lost.

In September, the bishops called upon the Department of Homeland Security to halt immigration raids, asserting that the “humanitarian cost” was “unacceptable in a civilized society.”

Over the summer, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles asserted that “a human being’s worth is defined by their God-given dignity, not by what papers they carry.”

That position brought blowback; an invitation to generosity by Benedict XVI during his visit, for example, caused CNN’s Lou Dobbs to fume, and some conservatives threatened to challenge the church’s tax exemptions if it pushes a pro-immigrant line.

While the election of Barack Obama augurs battles over the “life issues,” immigration reform may be an area where the bishops and the new administration can do business.


7. Ups and Downs in Dialogue

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In November, a new “Catholic/Muslim Forum,” meeting in Rome, symbolized commitment to dialogue in the wake of Benedict’s controversial citation two years ago of a Byzantine emperor to the effect that Muhammad brought things “only evil and inhuman.”

The forum concluded with a statement recognizing a right to religious freedom. It will meet again in 2010, in a Muslim nation.

Meanwhile, Catholic/Jewish ties saw new flashpoints. The year began with fallout from revival of the old Latin liturgy, including a Good Friday prayer for conversion of Jews. The prayer was amended by the Vatican, though not to everyone’s satisfaction.

In June, the U.S. bishops deleted a line from their catechism that said the Mosaic covenant “remains eternally valid.” (The bishops said the line wasn’t wrong, just misunderstood.)

In September, Benedict praised Pope Pius XII, whom some Jews fault for alleged “silence” on the Holocaust. Despite these tensions, most experts say Catholic/Jewish relations remain sound, and Benedict’s visit to the Park East Synagogue in New York reaffirmed his desire for “bridges of friendship.”


6. Benedict’s Unique Shade of Green

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Throughout ’08, the Pope continued to craft his distinct form of Christian environmentalism, in a way seemingly destined to give everybody heartburn. To conservatives, Benedict insisted that the doctrine of creation requires engagement from the church on issues such as the rainforests or climate change, whatever fears they may have about baptizing Greenpeace; for liberals, Benedict asserted that ecology cannot be separated from the church’s defense of other aspects of creation, such as unborn life and marriage.

One sign that this budding environmentalism has made some people nervous is that Benedict felt compelled to lay it out one more time in his year-end address to the Roman Curia, where Popes often try to reassure their lieutenants about aspects of their activity which have raised eyebrows in the Vatican.


5. Changing of the Guard at the CTSA
Fairly or unfairly, the Catholic Theological Society of America has long been seen as the leading forum for the church’s “loyal opposition.”

The group’s June meeting in Miami, however, was devoted to the theme of “generations,” and it gave voice to a rising cohort of younger theologians -- at least some of whom appear less interested in challenging the Church than secular culture, and for whom the traditional polarization between left and right doesn’t hold much appeal.

What that might mean for the future of Catholic theology in America will be a fascinating trend to track.


4. The Synod on the Bible

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Synods of Bishops in Rome are easy to write off as expensive talk-shops, but for those with ears to hear, they offer a unique sounding board for currents in the global church.

The Oct. 5-26 synod dedicated to the Bible offered a case in point; among other things, contributions from bishops from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and other parts of the world suggested that the struggle against secularism is to some extent a Western preoccupation.

In the end, a basically moderate line seemed to prevail; in their final propositions, the bishops called for admitting women to the ministry of lector, and gave a strong thumbs-up for lay-led liturgies of the Word and for small ecclesial communities.


3. Identity Pressures on Catholic Charities
Efforts to assert a strong sense of traditional Catholic identity represent a leading “mega-trend” in the church these days, and in 2008 those efforts reached down into Catholic charities.

In January, Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, the Vatican’s top official for charitable activity, endorsed Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput’s threat to shut down church-run charities if the state barred them from hiring on the basis of religious affiliation.

Later in the year, Catholic Relief Services faced criticism that some of its HIV/AIDS prevention materials promoted condoms, and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development came under fire for its links to the controversial community organizing network ACORN.

Collectively, all this suggests that charitable agencies will face growing pressure to be sure that they consistently “think with the church.”


2. The Jesuits Come in from the Cold
The John Paul years were occasionally marked by tension between the Society of Jesus and the papacy -- which, to the outside world, offered a symbol of the alienation of moderate-to-progressive Catholics from the church’s leadership.

The election of a new Jesuit superior in January created a chance for Benedict XVI and the Jesuits to turn a new page, and by most accounts, it worked. Some Jesuits said they actually wept with joy after a Feb. 21 audience when Benedict told them, “The church needs you, counts on you, and continues to turn to you with confidence.”

Benedict has also put his money where his mouth is, naming Jesuits to key posts such as Vatican spokesperson and secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

While this rapprochement doesn’t mean everything is sweetness and light, it at least suggests that the order is back on good speaking terms with the Shepherd-in-Chief.


1. The Crisis in India

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The anti-Christian violence that broke out in India over the summer was hardly just a Catholic story, but Catholics were dramatically affected: A lay Catholic missionary was burnt alive as she tried to rescue children from a church-run orphanage; a young nun was raped; parishes, convents, hospitals and schools were sacked.

Beyond the human toll, the crisis offered an important wake-up call. India is a rising power, but it also faces a rapidly metastasizing form of Hindu extremism.

If things break the wrong way, the Indian subcontinent could become the new Middle East -- a perpetually destabilized region whose animosities seed conflict around the world, radicalizing a global Hindu diaspora.

India is also a great 20th century Catholic success story. The Church exploded from less than two million faithful to 18 million, and by 2050 there could be almost 30 million Indian Catholics.

It’s an inspiring social as well as spiritual triumph; some 60 to 75 percent of Indian Catholics are either from rural tribes or the “untouchable” caste, and both groups experience the faith as a liberating force from oppression. All of that, however, could be at risk if India can’t resolve its cultural and religious tensions.

American Catholics may be in a special position to help, given that improving relations with India has been one of the few foreign policy success stories of the Bush administration.

NanMN
Saturday, December 27, 2008 6:38 AM
[SM=g27823] [SM=g27823] [SM=g27823] Nope, the person at Christmas Eve mass was not me. I was enjoying the evening with family... my 9 month old great-nephew's first Christmas. Hope everyone had a Christmas full of peace and joy (no... peez und choy) [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828]
benefan
Saturday, December 27, 2008 5:03 PM

Thwarted Benaddict


Here is the inevitable You Tube video of the person in red (it does look like a woman) running at Papa as he processes out of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The action is on the extreme right side of the picture.

And yes, Nan, we can see enough of the action to determine that it wasn't you.


www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9lL0c2oL8w


TERESA BENEDETTA
Sunday, December 28, 2008 2:59 PM
TERESA BENEDETTA
Sunday, December 28, 2008 3:48 PM
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OR for 12/27-12/28:
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Adoration of the Shepherds, N. Poussin, 1650s?.
In his Christmas message 'Urbi et Orbi', Benedict XVI stresses the urgency for peace and brotherhood:
'The world goes to ruin if everyone thinks only of himself'
Because it has not published since Christmas Day, this double issue contains the texts of the Holy
Father's Christmas Mass homily, the Urbi et Orbi message and the St. Stephen's Day Angelus homily .
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Other Page 1 stories: massive Israeli air attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza cause hundreds of deaths; and India and
Pakistan mass troops across each other on the border near Lahore.



THE POPE'S DAY
On the Feast of the Holy Family today, the Holy Father led noontime Angelus prayers at St. Peter's Square
and addressed part of his message to a Family Day gathering in Madrid organized by the Spanish bishops
conference. After the prayers, he delivered an impassioned appeal about the new violence in Gaza.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Sunday, December 28, 2008 3:53 PM
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ANGELUS TODAY

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On the Feast of the Holy Family today, the Holy Father led noontime Angelus prayers at St. Peter's Square and addressed part of his message to a Family Day gathering in Madrid organized by the Spanish bishops conference.

After the prayers, he delivered an impassioned appeal about the new violence in Gaza, calling for an immediate truce.

He also recalled the Christmas Eve Mass celebrated by Pope Paul VI in Taranto, southern Italy, in 1968, commemorated today in that city by Mons. Benigno Papa; and the centenary of the devastating earthquake that levelled the city of Messina, and how St. Pius X led the nation in assisting the victims.

In English, he said:

Today we recall how Mary and Joseph, after presenting Jesus in the temple, took the child to Nazareth and began their life as a family.

May all families strive to imitate their faith, hope and charity, so as to bear greater witness to the singular importance of the "domestic church" for the life of the universal Church and for society.

God bless you all!


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Pope calls for truce in Gaza Strip
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VATICAN CITY, Dec. 28 (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday decried the "endless" bloodshed in the Holy Land and urged all sides to end violence as Israel continued its deadly assault on Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Benedict told pilgrims in St. Peter's Square he feels deep sorrow for "the dead, wounded, property damage, suffering and tears of the populations who are victims of this tragic succession of attacks and retaliation."

The Pontiff condemned the attacks and renewed his Christmas Day appeal that negotiations replace "the perverse logic of clashes and violence."

Israeli warplanes dropped bombs and missiles Sunday on dozens of targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in continuing attacks that a Gaza health official says have killed 280 Palestinians and wounded 600 others.

"The homeland of Jesus cannot continue to be witness to so much bloodshed, which repeats itself endlessly," Benedict said from his studio window overlooking the square.

"I implore an end to that violence, which must be condemned in all its manifestations, and the restoration of the truce in the Gaza Strip," the Pontiff said.

He also called for a show of "humanity and wisdom in all those who wield responsibility in the situation" and called on the international community "not to leave anything untried to help the Israelis and Palestinians exit from this dead end" of violence.

On Saturday, Benedict's spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told Vatican Radio that while Israel's offensive could deal a "very serious blow" to the Islamic militant group Hamas it could also damage peace prospects in the Holy Land.

Benedict is expected to visit the Holy Land in May. It would be the first papal pilgrimage to Israel and the Palestinian territories since his predecessor, John Paul II, traveled to the Holy Land in 2000.


Here's an initial story about the pro-family Mass and rally in Madrid that the Pope addressed by satellite broadcast today. A preliminary story about this was posted by Benefan yesterday in NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH:


Big pro-family rally in Madrid
By DANIEL WOOLLS
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MADRID, Spain, Dec. 28 (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people attended a Mass in central Madrid on Sunday designed to promote traditional family values in a predominantly Roman Catholic country that has legalized gay marriage and made it easier for people to divorce.

The service started with a message from Pope Benedict XVI, who urged Spanish Catholics to keep their families strong.

"Dear families, do not let love, openness to life and the incomparable links that join your homes weaken," the pope said in a message read out in Madrid. "The Pope is by your side," the Pontiff added.

The archbishop of Madrid, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, added: "the future of humanity depends on the family, the Christian family."

"It is possible to conceive, organize and live marriage and family in a very different way from what is in fashion in so many areas of our society," he said in a homily.

Neither police nor city officials would give an estimate of how many people attended, but the crowd appeared to number in the hundreds of thousands. In chilly, overcast weather, the faithful packed downtown Plaza de Colon and spilled out into streets running off from it in four directions.

Maria Rosa de la Cierva, leader of a church association representing Catholics in Madrid province, predicted before the Mass began that up to a million people would attend.

Spain's Socialist government has angered the church by legalizing gay marriage, making it easy for people to divorce and instituting a public school course in which children learn about homosexuality and same-sex marriages. It is also considering easing Spain's restrictive abortion law.

Rouco Varela called abortion one of the worst "scourges" of modern times. He concelebrated the Mass along with five other archbishops, 22 bishops and more than 300 priests.

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Plaza Colon rally on 12/31/07.

A similar Mass and rally were held at this time last year in the same square, and organizers put attendance at well over a million. Then, bishops criticized the Spanish government over its social policies but this time there were no such remarks.



Huge Catholic mass in Madrid
seeks to promote family values

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AFP so far has filed the only two photos (above) of today's rally. Cardinal Rouco Varela is shown in the left photo.

MADRID, Dec. 28 (AFP) — Hundreds of thousands of people Sunday attended an open-air Catholic mass in Madrid designed to promote family values in a country where the Socialist government has undertaken sweeping social reforms.

Pope Benedict XVI addressed the faithful from Rome on giant screens set up in the Plaza Colon.

"Dear families, don't allow love, the opening to life and the incomparable links that unite our family to become distorted," the Pope said in his Sunday Angelus prayer.

The Archbishop of Madrid, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, issued an appeal against "the shocking cruelty" of abortion, calling on families to overcome the "culture of death."

Spain's Socialist government has said it plans to introduce a new law that would offer greater legal protection for women who wish to have an abortion and doctors who carry out the procedure.

Since first coming to office in 2004, the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has moved to transform Spanish society with a series of liberal social reforms, including same-sex marriages and fast-track divorce, which have enraged the Roman Catholic Church.

The bishop of Bilbao, Ricardo Blazquez, Sunday condemned any move "to call marriage the union of two people of the same sex" when a "normal family" is made up of "a stable union... between a man and a woman."

A huge Catholic mass in Madrid a year ago provoked tensions between the Church and the government after bishops criticised Zapatero's social policies, less than three months before general elections in which the Socialists were re-elected.



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Here is how Vatican Radio's English service introduced its report today on the Pope's Angelus messages:

Artic winds gripped St Peter’s Square this Sunday, the first Sunday after Christmas, but the winds of war took pride of place in the Pope Benedict’s concerns as he greeted hundreds of fathers and mothers huddled with their children beneath scarves and umbrellas to pray the Angelus with the Pope and hear his address.

Here is a full translation of the Holy Father's words at the Angelus today:

ANGELUS OF 12/28/08
FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY



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The Holy Family, N. Poussin, 1641. Oil on canvas.
The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, USA
.



Dear brothers and sisters!

On this Sunday after the Nativity of the Lord, we celebrate the joy of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

The context is most appropriate because Christmas is, par excellence, the feast of the family. This is shown by so many social customs and traditions, especially that of family reunions for festive meals and the exchange of gifts and best wishes.

But how can we not also highlight that these circumstances amplify the inconveniences and the pain caused by certain family wounds?

Jesus was born and grew up in a human family: The Virgin Mary was his mother, and Joseph became a father to him. They raised and educated him with immense love.

The family of Jesus truly deserves to be called 'holy' because it was entirely gripped by the desire to do the will of God, incarnated in the adorable presence of Jesus.

On the one hand, it was a family like any other, and as such, is a model of conjugal love, of collaboration, of sacrifice, of trust in divine Providence, of industry and solidarity - in short, of all those values that a family protects and promotes, contributing in a primary way to forming the fabric of every society.

At the same time, the Family of Nazareth is unique, different from all other families, because of its singular calling linked to the mission of the Son of God.

Precisely because of this uniqueness, it shows to every family, primarily Christian families, the horizon of God, the kind but demanding primacy of his will, the prospect of heaven for which we are destined.

For all this, let us give thanks to God, but also to the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, who, with such faith and willingness, cooperated in the Lord's plan of salvation.

In order to express the beauty and the value of the family, thousands of families have gathered in Madrid today, and I wish to address them now in Spanish:


I extend a heartfelt greeting to the participants gathered together in Madrid on this intimate holiday, in order to pray for the family and to commit yourselves to work for its sake with fortitude and hope.

The family is certainly a grace from God which allows what he is - Love - to shine through. A love that is completely free, which supports fidelity without limits, even in moments of difficulty or dejection.

These qualities are embodied eminently in the Holy Family, through which Jesus came to the world and 'grew in wisdom', under the exquisite care of Mary and the fathful protection of St. Joseph.

Dear families, do not allow that love, openness to life, and the incomparable links that hold your homes together, be devalued.

Ask the Lord constantly, praying together, so that your plans may be illumined by faith and exalted by divine grace on the path to holiness.

In this way, with the joy of sharing everything in love, you will be giving the world a beautiful testimonial of how important the family is to the human being and to society.

The Pope is by your side, imploring the Lord especially for those who most need health, employment, comfort and companionship. At this Angelus prayer, I commend you all to our Mother in heaven, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.


He concluded in Italian:

Dear brothers and sisters, in speaking of the family, I cannot fail to remind you that from January 14-18, 2009, the VI World Encounter of Families will take place in Mexico City.

Let us pray for this important Church event, and entrust every family to the Lord, especially those who are most tried by the difficulties of life and by the wounds of imcomprehension and divisions.

May the Redeemer, born in Bethlehem, give everyone the serenity and the strength to walk together on the path of goodness.


After the prayers, he said:

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Holy Land, which in this Christmas season is at the center of the thoughts and affections of all the faithful in every part of the world, is once again enveloped in an explosion of unprecedented violence.

I am profoundly pained by the deaths, the injuries, the material damage, the sufferings and the tears of the peoples who have been victims of this tragic sequence of attacks and reprisals.

The earthly homeland of Jesus cannot continue to witness such bloodshed repeated endlessly! I implore for an end to such violence, which is to be condemned in every manifestation, and for the resumption of the truce in the Gaza Strip.

I ask for an impulse of humanity and wisdom from all those who have a responsibility for this situation, and I ask the international community to leave nothing undone to help Israelis and Palestinians come out of this dead end, and not to be resigned, as I said two days ago in the message Urbi et Orbi - to the perverse logic of encounter and violence but to take the road of dialog and negotiation.

Let us entrust to Jesus, Prince of Peace, our fervent prayer for these intentions, and to him, to Mary and Joseph, we pray: "Holy Family of Nazareth, trained to suffer, give peace to the world". And give it today, above all, to the Holy Land.

On Christmas Eve in 1968, Pope Paul VI celebrated Holy Mass at the (steel) plant of Italsider, now ILVA, in Taranto. To commemorate that event, the Archbishop of Taranto, Mons. Benigno Papa, presided this morning at a Eucharistic Celebration in that same place.

To him and to all the workers, I address a warm greeting. I take the occasion to express my concern for the increase in the forms of dangerous working conditions, and I make an appeal that working conditions should always be worthy for all.


Finally, in his greeting to Italians, he said:

Today is the centenary of the tragic earthquake that struck Messina, razing it almost completely to the ground and reaping thousands of victims. But the people of Messina did not allow themselves to be defeated and, sustained by extraordinary solidarity, raised themselves again.

My predecessor, St. Pius X, who would have wanted to go to Messina himself, sent the people of Messina enormous amounts of aid and took in their seminarians in Rome.

At a distance of a hundred years, I wish to send all the people of Messina an affectionate thought with the wish that Christian hope may always burn in their hearts.



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benefan
Sunday, December 28, 2008 8:47 PM
This presents an interesting but a bit confused point of view about Benedict's speech to the curia and his views on homosexuality.


Critics of Benedict misheard the Pope

by John Heard
The Australian
December 29, 2008

WHEN Adele Horin encouraged gay Catholics, especially younger people, to sing out about our experiences in the church (The Sydney Morning Herald, December 27), she probably expected a chorus of protest.

Certainly millions of same-sex attracted Catholics were shocked by reports that Pope Benedict XVI had described homosexuals as a threat to mankind. Some groups said they were completely outraged.

Opinion writers in Fairfax papers in Sydney, and in Melbourne and in many other media markets across the world expressed dismay.

Some went further. Horin suggested that homosexuals should leave the church. Gay Catholics, she wrote, should not even try to "get in the door" of a nasty, bigots' club such as the Catholic Church. Rather, we should "cease defending the indefensible" and give up the faith.

Fair enough. Horin and the others were probably right to be incensed. I've spent a good deal of my time defending the Catholic teaching on human sexuality and, reading those headlines, I thought that the Pope had lost his way.

Certainly if the Pope had said anything resembling what he was reported to have said about homosexuals and rainforests, and even if he had only implied that homosexuals are, by virtue of being inclined to homosexual acts, a threat to mankind, then any humane individual would have had good cause to be outraged. Same-sex attracted Catholics, in particular, would be deeply wounded by such statements. Someone like me might start to wonder: why even bother with such a rotten bunch?

Those same-sex attracted Catholics who actually read the Pope's address to the Roman Curia on December 22, however, might have come to a different conclusion about his intentions, and I certainly have a different take on what it was that the Pope said. For, putting to one side all of the sensational headlines, the Pope's comments were not outrageous and they did not offend me.

Nor should they offend other homosexual Catholics.


Indeed, in his annual comments to the gathered heads of various Vatican departments, the Pope spoke of many things, including the success of the World Youth Day events in Sydney, but he did not mention homosexuals.

That fact is worth repeating. The Pope did not compare homosexuals with the destruction of the planet. He did not say homosexuals were a threat to mankind. He didn't even mention homosexuality.

While he made some strident statements about gender and God's plan for man and woman, he didn't cite any of the documents the Vatican has issued on homosexual acts, and Vatican-watchers are generally of the opinion that most of the sensational headlines completely missed the Pope's point.

So, what are gay Catholics to make of the headlines, and what have we got to say to people such as Horin, who wonder why we stay?

The best place to start might be to explain that, for Catholics, what the Pope said was about as offensive as the rest of the Catholic teaching on human sexuality. Those who find they cannot publicly support the church's teachings on condoms, premarital sex and sodomy are unlikely to welcome anything the Pope says on these matters. This latest statement was no different.

But faithful Catholics, including same-sex attracted Catholics and young people such as me, those who accept the church's teachings, can forgo the outrage. Certainly, we can avoid the suffering.

Simply by tuning into what the Pope has said, by reading and listening with the church, and by refusing to accept glib mischaracterisations of papal statements, same-sex attracted men and women everywhere can come to a deeper appreciation of Catholic teaching.

By listening to the Pope, rather than to any mass media paraphrase, we will learn, indeed, that ours is a church that welcomes us. The Pope does not come with easy ideas and platitudes; he offers believers an intellectually robust, morally challenging, beautiful alternative to materialism.

He points the way out of a hyper-sexualised gay lifestyle.


That message is worth hearing first hand, and it is worth transmitting transparently. Not least, to save gay Catholics the heartache of a garbled sound bite.

John Heard, a Melbourne writer, is preparing a book on homosexual acts and Catholic teaching.


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Very happy to learn this article by Heard was published in [IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii232/TERESA7_album/FORUM-2/AUSTRALIAN.jpg[/IMG]

I have posted a couple of items by Heard before from his blog DREADNOUGHT - first, his reaction to the election of Benedict XVI, and later, his thoughts about how it is possible to be Catholic and gay ,and still live according to the Church's teaching, as he has committed to do. He is a 27-year-old graduate of philosophy and law (though I gather he does not practice law).

But I do not find his thoughts confused about the issue, nor about the way he reacted to the Pope's speech to the Curia. In fact, his blog was among those I checked out in the days following the address to the Curia, and this was his first reaction, none of it the least bit confused
:

Thursday, December 25, 2008
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DREADCLARITY:
Pope Benedict XVI, Homosexuality, Ecology,
Homosexuals, Rainforests, Curia, Gender
& What He Really Said - A New Controversy



Various homo-activist groups have expressed outrage at comments reportedly made by Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia gathered in Rome on December 22, 2008. Some wild headlines even claimed that the Pope had compared the need to save rainforests with a need to protect humanity from homosexuality.

What the Pope Really Said
The full text of the Pope's statement is now available (English translation via Rocco, and Lifesite). [I made a mental note to inform Dreadnought that PRF published the first full translation before two days before the translation made by a British priest that Rocco posted on his blog; and also to note that Fr. Finigan in his blog HERMENEUTIC OF CONTINUITY cites the PRF translation not the later one.]

As DREADNOUGHTERS will note, the Pope did not mention homosexuals. He did not mention homosexuality. He spoke, in fact, about "gender", pneumatology, World Youth Day 2008, and St Paul, as well as making a number of other points.

The Truth
The outrage was, therefore, manufactured. The wild headlines were misleading. Even some of the more measured claims, like Andrew Sullivan's statement that the Pope indicated that he now views "same sex sexual and emotional attraction...[as]...a divine error" missed the mark. Certainly, Sullivan's comment about the Pope's "binary Thomist vision" fits uneasily alongside what we know of Benedict's distinctly Augustinian formation, and emphases. St Augustine had much to say about the potential goodness of/in same sex friendship/s.*

The Act / Orientation & Distinction
DREADNOUGHT began as an exercise in careful reading. I wanted to parse what the Popes, the Vatican, and the Church actually said/wrote about same sex attraction, and homosexual acts.

What was evident, first, was a general confusion occasioned (in many instances) by the difference between the authentic Catholic teaching on homosexual acts, and a broader secular idea about homosexuality as a fixed, constitutive sexual orientation.

One Cannot Serve Two Masters
It became increasingly obvious that those (seekers, homoactivists, dissenting Catholics - and DREADNOUGHT in some of my earlier, less considered attitudes) who might believe that sodomy, and other homogenital acts can be constitutive of something like a third gender, that such acts are on par with procreative acts within marriage, and that any Christian teaching (no matter how constant, rational, or Scripturally mandated) to the contrary must be wrong; were - perhaps unknowingly - departing from the deposit of faith.

When it seemed that I was breaking away from the constant moral teaching of the Church, and serving some other idea of human nature, there was no contest.

Moral Clarity
Certainly, DREADNOUGHT witnesses to the fact that when one takes the Church's teachings against homosexual acts seriously, the teaching is revealed as true, beautiful, and good.

Free from the noise and distortion of the pundits/activists, and at a deliberate remove from the secular news media, the correct (in)formation helps one understand those comments and documents that are routinely mischaracterised.

The Upshot
This insight completely changed my life. Thousands of DREADNOUGHTERS, all over the world, now attempt to read with the Church (sentire cum ecclesia). The Catholic teaching on sex is magnificent, and it will transform our culture.



If anyone is aware of any other Catholic gay writer who has written about this issue with the same commitment to being faithful to the Church, please share the information on this Forum. Thank you.


TERESA

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The following article isn't exactly what I had in mind, but it shows the point of view of the science editor of The Times of London. Beware, however, what he says despite the apparent - and ultimately condescending - partial 'agreement' with the Pope.

While he agrees with the Pope's implicit judgment that 'gender theory is built on sand', on the one hand, he then goes on to argue that the Pope has 'no time' for the 'implications of sexual orientation' - a rather unscientific observation, to say the least, and also, almost a total disregard for the fact that the whole underpinning for advocacy of homosexual rights across the board to include matrimonial and parental rights is a cultural trend actively promoted by Western liberals in the past few decades. In other words - precisely what the writer of the following item calls 'the implications of sexual orientation' which are necessarily cultural and cannot be biological.




Why the Pope is right - and wrong
by Mark Henderson
Science Editor
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Dec. 24, 2008


It's not often that a science writer gets to say this, but the Pope is right. It's not as if he's always right: where scientific matters are concerned, Benedict XVI has displayed precious little infallibility. [Not that he professes infallibility on science, only on preaching the doctrine of the Church! But not that he is a scientific illiterate either, as the statement implies rather nakedly.]

He has shown a disquieting sympathy for the rebranded creationism of intelligent design [Says who? That is such a blatant misrepresentation of his views and the position of the Church, which he has made abundantly clear!], and his views on embryonic stem cells, IVF and contraception are inimical to medical progress. [How can ethical objection to certain scientific practices - which the Church as a religion is dutybound to express - be called 'inimical' to medical progress? As though 'scientific progress' - medical and otherwise - would be hindered, or has shown any signs of being hindered - by the teaching of the Catholic Church! Of course, such a statement also acknowledges the potential influence of what the Church says - if it were not influential at all, it wouldn't be the obvious 'pinata' for all dissenters to hit on at every opportunity. ]

But in attacking the notion that sex roles are invariably ordained by culture and not biology, the Holy Father has said something that needed saying.

As the Pope is finding out, anyone who criticises this “gender theory” invites vitriol from its liberal champions. Scientists such as Simon Baron-Cohen and Steven Pinker, who suggest that differences between typical male and female behaviour may be biologically influenced, have been accused of rationalising patriarchy and discrimination.

The work of these researchers and others shows that gender theory is built on sand. Anatomical variations between the sexes are not the only ones with natural roots.

Women tend to be better at empathising, while men are more likely to excel at understanding systems from motorbike engines to offside laws, and there is growing evidence that these traits are influenced by testosterone exposure in the womb.

They may also be linked to the recent discovery of hundreds of variations in the way that genes are switched on and off in male and female brains.

If social factors are important in shaping gender roles, it is increasingly apparent that biology matters too, and recognising this in no way justifies sexism. Sex differences in behaviour apply only on average, across populations, and people should be considered as individuals.

It is refreshing to see the Pope taking the right side in this argument - not least as it bucks the Jesuit maxim of “give me the child and I'll show you the man”. This shouldn't be taken, though, as a sign of new-found pontifical respect for the latest science. It is better seen as fresh proof that even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. [Don't you just want to smash that sneer off Henderson's face?]

The reason is that while the Pope is willing to allow nature a role in shaping the sexes, and in requiring respect for the idiosyncracies of each, he has no time for its implications for sexual orientation. [But those implications - concrete, practical and day to day - are precisely what the Church objects to.]

Religious groups who object to homosexuality, including the Roman Catholic Church, like to present it as a moral choice that lies outside the norms of human behaviour. In October, a senior Vatican official described it as “a deviation, an irregularity, a wound”, and the Pope's remarks betray similar sentiments.

There was a time when mainstream science would have agreed. Homosexuality, after all, was removed from the American Psychiatric Association's list of disorders only in 1973.

The Pope would be hard-pressed, though, to find a respected modern expert who thinks it is an irregularity, still less a wound. [Henderson ignores the point that the criteria of religion are not identical to the criteria of science!]
For evidence is mounting that it is at least as strongly guided by biology as gender roles are.

Homosexuality is natural, occurring across the animal kingdom. It is well documented in more than 450 species, from rams to swans and dolphins to giraffes. In humans, it is seen in every known culture.

Identical twins are more likely than fraternal sets to share a sexual orientation - a firm sign that genes are involved. The search for “gay genes” has so far drawn a blank, and there is certainly no gene that invariably makes people homosexual.

But a consensus is building that genetic factors may predispose people to such preferences, in concert with environmental triggers. There are even good explanations for how such genes could have survived the obvious evolutionary drawbacks of gay sex. A genetic variation that promotes homosexuality in men, but makes their mothers and sisters more fertile, could easily thrive and spread. [Wishful thinking - even if entirely possible - to counter the argument that widespread homosexuality (if it ever came to that) would contribute further to demographic decline.]

The natural history of homosexuality, too, goes beyond genetics. Birth order, for example, is known to exert an effect. A man's chances of being gay grow with every older brother he has, probably because successive male pregnancies affect the hormonal balance in the womb. The effect does not apply to men with older adoptive or stepbrothers, which implicates biology and not family circumstance. It would be mischievous to suggest that this might have affected the historical practice of youngest sons making a career in the Church.

Homosexuality is not biologically determined - almost no human behaviours are. But it almost certainly begins with a delicate combination of genetic, gestational, environmental and social cues, which together forge a person's sexual orientation.

Few gay men and women feel they have chosen a way of life, and the science is with them. Their preferences are as much a part of normal human variation as traits such as height or intelligence, to which nature and nurture also both contribute.

In his address to Vatican staff, Benedict XVI declared the Church's belief in a natural order of men and women, and asked “that this order, set down by creation, be respected”.

Science has made it clear that homosexuality is part of the rich diversity of that creation. That is something we should all respect - the Pope included. [But that's a fallacious conclusion. Homosexuality may well be part of the diversity of creation, but it is not its natural order!

I have to look up references for many of the scientific claims Henderson makes in this tendentious article, but even if, as he claims, homosexuality has been amply documented in animals, the occurences, even in humans, are still deviations from the norm, therefore 'unnatural' or 'abnormal', to use a less judgmental term.

Even science cannot dispute that the primary object of sexual differentiation - whether in the scientific sense or in the religious sense - is reproduction of the species, which no amount of homosexual activity can do
!]



**********************************************************************


What Henderson also misrepresents, by glibly 'marshalling' scientific, or supposedly scientific, arguments, is that scientists who want to advocate certain viewpoints or ideologies have now come to use genetics as a convenient cover-all argument - the idea that eventually, it will be possible to isolate a gene that will account for each and every human attitude or tendency.

All the facts so far suggest that while specific physical traits like eye color or hair color are generally traceable to a single corresponding gene, even something like weight or height can be the composite result of multiple genes. Even disease genes are not all monogenic (caused by the defect, absence or superfluous copies of a single specific gene) - most diseases are not only multigenic but also multi-factorial [explainable by factors other than genetics].

More importantly, other than certain disease genes whose phenotype [the physical manifestation of the gene] also includes certain characteristics like mental retardation or aggression], basic attitudes and 'moods' are more generally and easily explained by biochemical changes in the human being, which are taking place all the time, which is why drug treatment of many psychological conditions is now possible.

A human being is an extremely dynamic organism producing a multitude of biochemical factors (hormones are among them) that account for both pathologic as well as psychologic conditions. Even those 'switches' Henderson refers to that can turn genes on and off are biochemical factors produced or not produced by the body, in excess or in deficiency, that determine whether a gene is 'expressed' [perceptibly manifested] or not, and to what extent, limited or excessive.

The human biochemical 'factory' can be so exquisitely sensitive that it can respond to the most subtle changes. Blood tests easily identify which factors are at abnormal levels (too little, too much or absent), and such abnormalities are corrected by providing the appropriate drug to normalize them. This is the basis for most therapy by medication, which will never be replaced totally by gene therapy, which sounds exciting but has its limitations [i.e., practicable so far only for monogenic diseases).

Therefore, homosexuality being in itself a spectrum of manifestations in different individuals, it is a product of both 'nature (biology) and nurture (cultural environment )'. Unfortunately, contemporary society actively nurtures the 'nurture' part of that formula!]




Here's a defense of the Pope's statement from an Anglican prelate who, however, also uses it as an occasion to criticize the Archbishop of Canterbury.:



Traditionalist Anglican defends
Pope’s homosexual comments

by Jennifer Gold
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The general secretary of a traditionalist Anglican group has defended an attack by the Pope earlier in the week on homosexual and transsexual behaviour.

In an end-of-year address to prelates in the Vatican, the Pope said that saving mankind from homosexual and transsexual behaviour was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction[This quotes the Reuters paraphrase of what the Pope said, and since Reuters was the first and, for hours, the only Anglophone report on the Pope's Curia address, it has come to be the most widely cited 'direct attribution' to the Pope, unfortunately!] and that the Catholic Church had a responsibility to “protect man from the destruction of himself”.

The Rev Geoffrey Kirk, General Secretary of Forward in Faith, contrasted the Pope’s clarity with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, who has faced criticism for his handling of a dispute in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality.

"It should not be a surprise that the Pope is a Catholic and makes clear statements supporting Catholic teaching,” he was quoted by The Telegraph as saying.

"If there is confusion about what he said it is not because he is not clear it will be because people chose not to listen to what he said.

“If there is confusion about what Rowan Williams says it is because he is not clear.

“We are in such a mess in the Anglican Church, clarity on sexual morality is now impossible."

Rev Kirk predicted that the Pope’s comments would not prompt the Archbishop of Canterbury to issue fresh statements on homosexuality.

“Rowan will not be any clearer on the issue,” he said, according to the newspaper. “He is an Anglican.”

The Pope told the Curia, or the Vatican’s central administration, on Monday that non-heterosexual relationships were a “destruction of God’s work”.

"The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less,” he said.

“It's not simply an outdated metaphysics if the Church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected."

[At least, this report finally quotes what the Pope really said.]

TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, December 29, 2008 3:40 PM
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On Benedict XVI's 'look' and liturgy:
Interview with Mons. Guido Marini

Translated from
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Dec. 28, 2008


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The Pope on Christmas Day from the central loggia of St. Peter's was in choir dress, mozzetta and stole. Without the cope, miter and pastoral staff of previous years. Dressed for a solemn benediction [as at any Pope's first presentation to the world as Pope] that is not part of a liturgical rite.

Was this done out of moderation and stripping down to essentials? No, simply to impose a consistent order even in papal vestments, especially in the age of global mediatization.

[One assumes that wearing cope, miter and staff for the Urbi et Orbi blessings at Christmas, New Year and Easter during the first three years of Benedict's pontificate was a carry-over from the Wojtyla years - and we have to check back how it was with Paul VI and John XXIII. But the rationale for the less elaborate vestments seems obvious once it is pointed out.

The immediate post-'Habemus papam' appearance is the most obvious comparison, since like the Urbi et Orbi blessing, it takes place on the central loggia. But the Pope is also in choir dress, mozzetta and stole for other non-liturgical appearances, such as when he addresses a crowd at St. Peter's Basilica after a Mass celebrated by someone else, when he goes to Piazza Spagna for the homage to the Immaculate Conception, or in other churches when he leads the rosary (as he did in Pompeii and in Santa Maria Maggiore earlier this year.]


Benedict XVI obviously pays attention to details, and in the case of liturgies, he wishes to avoid confusion and above all, not to 'water down' the sense of mystery and celebration of the sacraments in a laissez-faire of images.

He has gradually introduced modifications in liturgical rubrics, for instance. At the Christmas midnight Mass - the traditional Kalenda chant at the end of the pre-Mass vigil rather than within the Mass; the now obligatory silences after the homily and after communion; kneeling down for Communion and receiving the host on the tongue, for those who present themselves to the Holy Father for communion; the children's floral homage to the Baby Jesus transferred to the end of the Mass [when the Pope brings the figurine to lay it at the manger of the Nativity scene inside the Basilica].

For 14 months now, Benedict XVI has had the 43-year-old Mons. Guido Marini as his master of liturgical ceremonies, who took over from Archbishop Piero Marini, John Paul II's liturgical MC for over 20 years.

The younger Mons Marini, 43, is a shy and timid Genoese ex-professor of canon law, who has clear ideas about the liturgy. He is pious, gentle and possessed of a disarming smile which immediately makes him likable. This is one of the rare interviews he has given [outside of L'Osservatore Romano].


Mons. Marini, who were your teachers?
When I entered the seminary, Cardinal Giuseppe Siri was archbishop of Genoa. I was ordained a priest by Cardinal Canestri, whom I served seven years as secretary. This was followed by another seven years as secretary to Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi [now Archbishop of Milan].

When Cardinal Bertone succeeded him as Archbishop of Genoa, he put me in charge of the educational office of the archdiocese and spiritual director at the seminary where I taught canon law, later, as chancellor of the archdiocesan Curia and prefect of the Cathedral of Genoa [which includes being master of liturgical ceremonies].

But I began my first steps as 'cerimoniere' with Cardinal Tettamanzi.


Benedict XVI has called liturgy "the peak of Church life, the time and place for a profound relationship with God". In your case, how did you develop your inclination to the liturgy?
From my youth, insofar as my vocation has its roots in liturgy - because love for the Lord also means love for liturgy as the occasion for encounter with the Lord. Besides, there has always been an important liturgical movement in Genoa. [For decades, this was promoted by Cardinal Siri himself, a tradition-honoring conservative.]


I would imagine it was Cardinal Bertone, having become Secretary of State to Benedict XVI, who proposed your name for your present position.
Yes, the offer came to me through Cardinal Bertone who said, "The Pope is considering you."


With Benedict XVI, are we witnessing a liturgical 're-styling' or something more profound?
It is more profound in the sense of underlining continuity with tradition, instead of rupture. In the sense of development within tradition.


Since you arrived, there have been changes and corrections - some imperceptible, some quite obvious.
The changes have been diversified. For instance, placing the Crucifix on the altar, at the center, to indicate that the celebrant and the faithful are looking not at each other, but both looking toward the Lord, who is the center of their common prayer.

Then there is giving Communion on the tongue with the communicant kneeling. This highlights the mystery of Jesus's real presence in the Holy Eucharist. Even posture is important in this way because it promotes the attitude of adoration and devotion.


Benedict XVI is the first Pope not to use the papal tiara on his coat of arms. He has also changed the form of the pallium from when he began his Pontificate, as well as the pastoral staff created by the sculptor Scorzelli and first donated by the people of Milan to Paul VI but also carried on in the same form by John Paul I and John Paul II. In its place, Pope Benedict has chosen a ferula, a simple Cross.
As you pointed out, the papal staff is now a ferula - the cross, not a crucifix, which makes it more usual and customary rather than extraordinary. Besides, there was a practical consideration: the Pope needed a lighter staff, and we found it in the sacristy museum [it was Pius IX's pastoral staff, which is a hollow gold-plated Cross].


We mentioned the introduction of the obligatory 'silences' during the Mass. In Rome, the center of Christianity, liturgies are seen in their splendid solemnity. And Latin is always used in some way within the Mass. Now, there is talk of transferring the Sign of Peace to an earlier part of the Mass, and new formulas for the concluding words of the Mass have been approved. The intention is to fully recover the non-arbitrary nature of liturgy, to discourage misplaced creativity and spontaneity, which are seen as threats.
I would not say it so drastically, and I also disagree with an expression I read elsewhere about 'liturgical restoration'. We are simply carrying on from what was done over so many years by my predecessor.

About transferring the Sign of Peace and any other changes in the liturgy itself are not within my competence. That belongs alone to the Congregation for Divine Worship which is now under a new Prefect, Cardinal Canizares.

My responsibility is to bring out the unity and catholicity in the papal celebrations of liturgy.


When will we see Pope Benedict celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass? Personally, I thought the motu proprio was truly an act of liberalization and openness, certainly not of closed thinking.
I do not know. The Pope will decide what the right occasion will be. Meanwhile, many faithful around the world have availed of the new possibility.


In the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, Papa Ratzinger dwelt on so many aspects of the liturgy. Among this is celebrating the mass ad Orientem, in the direction of Jerusalem. Last year, he celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel with his back turned to the assembly. Who proposed it?
I did. The Sistine Chapel is a treasure chest. It seemed to be a violation of its architectural beauty and harmony to have a temporary 'stage' set up within it.

And even in the ordinary rite, what you call celebrating 'with the priest's back turned to the assembly' is an allowed modality [as it has been done in churches that do not have a Novus Ordo altar, for instance, in the side chapels of St. Peter's Basilica and many other churches with side chapels where Mass is celebrated].

But I must emphasize that is is not about the priest turning his back to the assembly - it is about the celebrant and the faithful both turned towards the only point that counts - the Crucified Lord.


L'Osservatore Romano once headlined an article 'The Pope wears Christ not Prada'. Benedict XVI's 'look' is striking and intriguing. His vestments, his pectoral crosses, the chairs he uses at liturgies, his mozzettas and stoles - he comes across as an elegant Pope. Is that a journalistic concept?
The very use of the word 'elegant' in the language of today would seem to tag him as a Pope who likes exterior, worldly aspects. But the more attentive observers would see that it is his way of trying to wed tradition and modernity.

This is far from an improbable return to the past but rather a re-equilibration of past and present. One might say, the search for a harmony and beauty that reveal the mystery of God.


What will we see in Cameroon and Angola? African liturgies are picturesque with their populist elements, a totality that is expressed also through dances and drums. It will be quite a test for you...
[He laughs]. We are now preparing for the trip. We will certainly try to put together something from local traditions that is also valid for everyone.

With his very presence, the Pope represents the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. so we will find a unifying synthesis between the Roman rite and typical aspects according to local cultural sensibilities. Inculturation of faith and liturgy is a universal dimension of the Church.


Liturgy is a residual millennial patrimony of the Church. The missal is woven from citations from the Bible and the Fathers of the Church, both Oriental and occidental, along with psalms, prayers and collects, and the sacramental rite that is the central part of the Mass. In a way, it is meant to be an 'untouchable' patrimony - something that must be respected. But every time there is a celebration, do you have to consult the Pope? If so, how do you do this?
Very simply. The Pope is consulted on everything that is relevant, and before any celebration, he gets all the proposed texts. Usually, we send it to him with some notes, and he always answers back, with notations written in his own hand.


This has to be an extraordinary experience for you. Which episodes have moved you?
Ys, it certainly has been quite an experience. What has struck me most so far was the Holy Father's visit to the United States. Since it was my first international trip with him, it was a novelty. But it was also very emotional, for the affection and warmth with which he was welcomed, and for the spiritual climate.

I was also struck by the imposition of the pallium last June on the new metropolitan bishops. Especially when one of them, while kneeling in front of the Pope said, "Holy Father, I come from a diocese where my predecessor suffered a martyrdom of faith. Please pray for me that I too can be a martyr for the faith". That impressed me even more with what it means to be in the Church.


Is there a great 'feeling' of sympathy between you and the Pope?
On my part - absolutely!


How would you describe Benedict XVI - you who have the good fortune to be quite close to him?
That he unites exceptional intellectual elevation with great simplicity and gentleness, which is characteristic of his human and spiritual personality, and a reality that I can verify and touch first hand.

The very fact of being near a Pope, this Pope, is a tremendous grace for my own priesthood.



TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, December 29, 2008 4:25 PM
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No OR today.

No papal events scheduled today.


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Statistics for 2008:
Attendance at papal events
in the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo

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The prefecture of the Pontifical Household released today its statistics on attendance at the papal events held at the Vatican and in Castel Gandolfo in 2008, up to the Angelus yesterday.

The Holy Father has one more public event before the end of the year - the Vespers and Te Deum on New Year's Eve at St. Peter's Basilica.

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The total is 2,215,000.


Here is how CNS reported these figures:

Vatican figures show number
of people at papal events leveling off

By Cindy Wooden
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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The number of pilgrims and visitors coming to Rome to see the "new" pope appears to be leveling off.

In 2008, more than 2.21 million people saw Pope Benedict XVI in person at the Vatican or the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo, attending his weekly general audience, a special audience with him, a liturgy he celebrated or his Sunday Angelus address, according to figures released by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household Dec. 29.

The total figure for 2007 was more than 2.8 million pilgrims and visitors, while in 2006 -- his first full calendar year as pope -- the total was more than 3.2 million.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II's last full calendar year as pope, the Vatican said the number of people who attended a papal event was 2.23 million.

According to the 2008 statistics, a total of 534,500 people attended one of Pope Benedict's 42 weekly general audiences. Another 226,500 people were part of groups that had a special audience with the pope. Pope Benedict's Masses and prayer services drew 324,000 people and his Sunday and holy day recitation of the Angelus brought 1.13 million people to St. Peter's Square or to the courtyard of the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

*********************************************************************

What stories like this miss is plausible explanations for the lower figures. Quite apart from the fact that there were less papal audiences held this year than in the two previous years (and that a few of them were held in Castel Gandolfo where the courtyard can only accommodate 3,000-4,000), what most of the reporters fail to note is that 2005 and 2006 included mega-gatherings with attendance far in excess of 100,000 at each event (like Benedict's inaugural Mass in 2005, the big youth rallies at St. Peter's Square, the Mass for his birthday in 2006, just to mention those that come to mind right away) - and there just was not any single event of that magnitude in 2008.

The biggest monthly attendance for special audiences in 2008 was May when the single mega-event of 2008 that drew at least 100,000 participants to St. Peter's Square was an encounter with representatives of Italian Catholic Action from all over Italy.

The one other month that registered a figure larger than 100,000 was March, for its liturgical celebrations that included Palm Sunday, and all the Holy Week liturgies including Easter Sunday.

With the global financial crisis, visitors to Rome may well be reduced in 2009 compared to previous years
.




TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, December 29, 2008 7:00 PM
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Premature speculation about
canceling Pope’s Israel trip

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ROME, Dec. 29 (JTA) -- Media speculation that Pope Benedict XVI is rethinking a trip to the Holy Land because of the current violence is "premature," a Vatican spokesman said.

"It's clear that (the Vatican) is following the situation, but it seems premature to say this incident is a determining or definitive factor," Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told Reuters.

But, he said, "The Pope wants to make this trip" and contacts have been made to establish a draft program.

There has been no official announcement of a papal trip to the region, but reports in Israel and the Vatican said it would take place in May.

Meanwhile, the Pope renewed calls for a truce. "The native land of Jesus cannot continue to be witness to so much bloodshed, repeating itself without end. I implore an end to that violence ... and for a renewal of the truce in the Gaza Strip," he told crowds in St. Peter's Square on Sunday.

Benedict had already issued an appeal for peace in his Christmas message to the world.



TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, December 29, 2008 9:00 PM
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Collages by Gloria on Beatrice's site www.benoit-et-moi.fr


2008: The year in the Church
Interview with Father Lombardi

Translated from
the Italian service of

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December 29, 2008


The year that is about to end saw Benedict XVI engaged on many fronts: from pastoral visits in Italy and abroad, to ecumenical and inter-religious dialog; from the defense of persecuted Christians, to calling attention to basic values against the excesses that have led to the grave economic crisis that has hit the entire planet.

The director of the Vatican Press Office, and Vatican Radio's own director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, draws up an 'accounting' of these past 12 months, with a look ahead to what the Church expects in 2009:


FR. LOMBARDI: I would say that the Pontificate has perfectly found its fit in proclaiming the Christian message, with a Magisterium of extraordinary level which is also an affirmation of essential values for the good of mankind today and tomorrow. It is a positive message that is presented to the world today without any timidity, and I think that the Pope's international trips, particularly this year, have been a great manifestation of this.

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OR special commemorative issues on the Holy Father's trips abroad in 2008.

What 'ideograms' could we take away from the trips to the United States, the visit to the United Nations, World Youth Day in Sydney, and the visit to Paris and Lourdes?
What stands out, certainly, is Benedict XVI's address to the UN General Assembly, and his prayer at Ground Zero, which is perhaps what most Americans found most touching.

As for World Youth Day, there were all those great moments uniting the Holy Father with that splendid joyous gathering of young people.

And in France, the Pope was able to present his Magisterium in a positive way that gained the attention not only of the Church but also of the French world of culture, achieving the desired purpose of dialog between the Church and the contemporary world.


In the field of ecumenism and dialog with Islam, 2008 represents some important steps...
Yes. In ecumenism, perhaps the most enduring image is Bartholomew I's speech to the Bishops' Synod, when the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed in such intense images the love for the Word of God in the Orthodox tradition. What can unite us better than looking together into the common roots of our faith?

As for inter-religious dialog, probably the most significant event in the relationship with Islam was the recent seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, whose Final Declaration showed that human rights and religious freedom were confronted with honesty and clarity, the very points which are crucial in relations with Islam.


2008 also marked the beginning of the Pauline Year, and for several months now, Benedict XVI has been dedicating his Wednesday catecheses to the Apostle of the Gentiles. What does the Holy Father expect from this yearlong celebration which will continue to June of the coming year?
While the Pauline Year has not been highlighted enough by the international secular media, it is obviously very important in the life of the Church. And for this, the Pope's catecheses are a very important aspect of his service, in which he is truly putting to work the great profundity of his theological culture and his great spirituality.

It is a way to help Christians rediscover - in the impassioned figure of the Apostle Paul - the attitude of mission, the desire to announce to everyone the gift of faith that we have received.

The Pauline Year is also very important in the ecumenical sense. It is very interesting, for instance, how the Orthodox Christians, in particular, have espoused it as one of the keys to their pastoral ministry this year.


The Church event that was most significant this year was the general assembly of the Bishops' Synod on the Word of God last October. Was it a sign of the relevance that Pope Benedict attributes to this subject as fundamental for the life of the Church and of the individual Christian?
It was a particularly happy experience. The atmosphere was extremely serene, and that was very important because there are many disputable issues on this subject - on exegesis, on the historico-critical method, etc.

But what was experienced and brought to light was how the Church community is sufficiently mature to consider the Word of God as nourishment and foundation for Christian life, even taking into account all the critical and cultural dimensions possible in reading Scriptures.

I would say that the Pope had contributed beforehand to this with his book on Jesus, which is exemplary as a spiritual and theological reading of Scriptures and how to communicate such a reading to others.


Benedict XVI also showed, on several occasions, a great attention and concern for the world economic crisis. Anticipating his social encyclical, the Pope has re-emphasized the necessary centrality of man even in economic relationships....
Of course. One thing I thought significant was that everyone, believers and non-believers alike, understand quite easily that there are ethical components behind the kind of economic crisis that we are experiencing. There has been a drive for profit through financial operations that have been uncoupled from economic production, from actual productivity - and this is the reckoning.

The fact that the Pope has made this point repeatedly indicates not only his participation in the sufferings and difficulties undergone by so many persons as a consequence of the crisis, but also his appeal that in order to get out of the crisis - to reconstruct a world economy that is more worthy of man and more fraternal, more responsive to the needs of the human being and his dignity - a new world economy must be based on fundamental values that can assure equitable, fraternal and just development for everyone.


Another subject that characterized 2008 for the Church was the persecution of Christians in various parts of the world, particularly in the Indian state of Orissa. In this, Benedict XVI has never failed to give voice to those who have no voice...
Yes, In particular, the situation in India, and even, in some aspects, that in the Middle East, are connected to the fact that, unfortunately, in today's world, religious fundamentalism is on the rise, and this leads to a denial of respect for the beliefs of others, to marginalize and use violence against those who profess a different faith. It is a very serious problem.

And what's happening in India also takes place in the Middle East. The fact that so many Christians have been forced to emigrate, that those who are left behind have to live in very difficult conditions - is a sign that the civilized balance, the living side by side, that has been possible for centuries, even with some notable exceptions, has become questionable.

And for us, as religious persons, one of the most tragic facts of life today is that the name of God and religion itself have become an occasion for tension and violence, instead of bringing harmony, love for one's neighbor, and peace. We can only be always vigilant about this and not let our guard down.


2009 is at hand, and we now know some of the trips the Pope will be making, including a possible visit to the Holy Land. But 2009 will also see a special Bishops' Synod on Africa which will be preceded by Benedict XVI's trip to Cameroon and Angola in March. Then, there is his expected third encyclical. What other plans are there for 2009?
Evidently, there are some expectations about which some aspects are still problematic. We must be prudent about our expectations.

However, one clear thing is the attention to Africa, where some nations are undergoing grave sufferings - horrific massacres of helpless civilians, widespread hunger, such as that in Zimbabwe these days....

The question is what can the Church do so that these tragic situations can be not only overcome and ultimately averted, but also that a continent of such immense potential - with its material resources and more importantly, its human resources - may realize this potential for its own people and as a contribution to mankind, and to the Church today and tomorrow.

The Pope's commitment to Africa sets an example, but we should all pay greater attention to that continent.



Here is a more conventional but surprisingly incomplete media year-ender from CNS.


For Benedict and the Vatican,
2008 was an important interfaith year

By John Thavis
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VATICAN CITY, Dec. 29 (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will look back on 2008 as an important year for inte-rreligious dialogue, with the inauguration of a major Catholic-Muslim forum, notable meetings with Jews in the United States, and the opening of ecology as a new terrain for interfaith cooperation.

At the same time, discrimination and violence against minority Christian communities in Asia and the Middle East clouded the interfaith horizon and pushed human rights to the top of the Vatican's dialogue agenda.

The initial meeting at the Vatican of the Catholic-Muslim Forum in November was a milestone in relations between the two faiths, and represented a remarkable turnaround after a low point in dialogue two years earlier.

The theme of the encounter was love of God and neighbor, and the Vatican representatives made sure to highlight respect for human rights -- including the rights of minority faith communities -- as an essential area of cooperation.

Pope Benedict addressed the 56 forum participants and emphasized the need for believers to show each other mutual respect and guarantee the right to freely profess and practice their faith.

In December, another major Catholic-Muslim session took place at the Vatican, this one involving representatives of the World Islamic Call Society. The discussion theme of the three-day meeting was the responsibility of religious leaders in times of crisis.

In April, an Iranian Muslim delegation arrived for talks at the Vatican, and participants said in a final statement that "faith and reason are intrinsically nonviolent."

That was a key point raised by Pope Benedict in a 2006 speech in Regensburg, Germany, which prompted Muslim protests because it appeared to challenge Islam on the issue of violence.

The Pope was at the center of another interfaith episode when, at a Holy Saturday liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica, he baptized a Muslim-born journalist, Magdi Allam. The Vatican downplayed its significance, but Allam did not; he issued an open letter that described Islam as inherently linked to terrorism and critiqued the Vatican's own policy of dialogue with Muslims.

Worsening violence and intimidation against Iraqi Christians by Muslim extremists prompted a number of papal appeals during the year, and the Pope also condemned the violence against minority Christians by Hindu gangs in India. The Vatican's annual message to Hindus emphasized the Hindu tradition of nonviolence and warned that religion today is sometimes manipulated in support of violent acts.

Visiting the United States in April, the Pope met with about 200 representatives of Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. Five young people presented the Pontiff with symbols representing peace from various faiths.

The Pope told the gathering that, in their attempt to discover common ground, religious leaders perhaps "have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity." Interfaith dialogue, he said, should not stop at identifying a common set of values, but go on to probe their "ultimate foundation," the truth.

Catholic-Jewish relations came under strain early in 2008 when the Vatican published Pope Benedict's revised prayer for the Jews for use in Tridentine-rite Good Friday liturgies. The new prayer removed old language referring to the "blindness" of the Jews, but it prays that Jews will recognize Jesus, the savior, and that "all Israel may be saved."

The Vatican sought to reassure Jews that the prayer, used in very limited circumstances, did not represent a step back from the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. Church officials said the new wording referred to salvation at the end of time and was not a call for a missionary effort among the Jews.

While in the United States, the Pope added two significant events with Jewish audiences. In Washington, he met separately with Jewish representatives and told them Catholics and Jews share a special bond, and he reaffirmed the church's 40-year commitment to dialogue. In New York, he attended a prayer service at a synagogue and encouraged the building of "bridges of friendship" between religions; it was only the third time a modern Pope had visited a Jewish place of worship. [And the last two were by Benedict XVI.]

Later in the year, the long-standing controversy over the sainthood cause of Pope Pius XII surfaced once again. Celebrating a memorial Mass Oct. 9 to mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius's death, Pope Benedict defended the late Pope's actions during World War II, saying he had acted "secretly and silently" to help save the greatest possible number of Jews.

At the same time, the Vatican said Pope Benedict had decided to delay his decision on Pope Pius's sainthood cause during a "period of reflection." A Vatican spokesman later asked both supporters and opponents of the cause to stop pressuring the Pope on the issue.

On a more personal note, Pope Benedict said in November that he still felt sorrow when he recalled the night in 1938 when Nazi mobs rampaged against Jews in his native Germany. The event became known as Kristallnacht, German for 'Night of Broken Glass'.

"I still feel pain for what happened in that tragic circumstance, whose memory must serve to ensure that similar horrors are never repeated again and that we commit ourselves, at every level, to fighting anti-Semitism and discrimination, especially by educating the younger generations in respect and mutual acceptance," the Pope said.

Throughout the year, Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials spoke about protecting the environment as a cause where members of various faiths could find common ground. In its annual message to the world's Buddhists in April, the Vatican said Christians and Buddhists should work together to promote respect for the earth and a safe, clean environment.

It said people need to understand that environmental protection will succeed when people understand the relationship between "the divine Creator" and the created world.



I don't know if Thavis intends to limit his year-end review only to the narrow prism of interfaith relations, because he is thereby ignoring the three major trips abroad by the Pope (mentioning the US trip only for the interfaith meetings) the Bishops' Synod and the Pauline Year! [Or he could insert a statement to the effect that in his Christmas address to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict himself has summarized what was important to the Church in 2008.]

I also think that a major element in any year-end review about the Pope and the Church should include the major - and for the most part, manufactured - controversies that MSM itself creates on these subjects.



TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 2:12 PM
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OR for 12/29-12/30:
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At the Sunday Angelus, the Pope calls on Israelis and Palestinians
to leave the dead end of violence for negotiations and appeals for -
'An impulse of humanity to put an end to unprecedented violence'
Page 1 also devotes an editorial to the Gaza violence entitled "The risk of reaching a point
of no return'; a comprehensive news item as Israeli air raids to retaliate for Hamas rocket
attacks reach their third day; and the Patriarch of Jerusalem decries military retaliation by Israel.
The other papal story on Page 1 is the Pope's Angelus homily on the Feast of the Holy Family and
his message to the pro-family rally which drew a million Spaniards in Madrid for the second year
in a row.



The Holy Father has no events scheduled today.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 3:28 PM
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Another article that starts out deceptively and ends just as fallaciously.

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Gays, Galileo, and the message of the manger
Posted at: 2008-12-24
by Austen Ivereigh
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The BBC has the correct headline on Pope Benedict's curial speech story. "Pope attacks blurring of gender" is far more accurate than all those headlines claiming that "saving gay people is as important as saving the rainforests", and similar riffs on Reuters' misleading interpretation. [I'm glad I'm not the only one ripping Reuters for its almost predictable ploy of the inflammatory paraphrase - which, much more predictably, worked what they hoped it would: MSM have been reporting and commenting on the Reuters headline rather than what the Pope really said.]

The essential theological point in the Pope's intriguing address is that going green while erasing God from Creation is a contradiction. Nature, he says is "the gift of the Creator, with certain intrinsic rules that offer us an orientation we must respect as administrators of creation.”

And he goes on: "That which is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ in the end amounts to the self-emancipation of the human person from creation and from the Creator. Human beings want to do everything by themselves, and to control exclusively everything that regards them. But in this way, the human person lives against the truth, against the Creator Spirit.”

It's worth placing this papal observation alongside the tribute Benedict XVI paid last Sunday to Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) on the 400th anniversary of the condemned astronomer's telescope.

Galileo, you will recall, was declared a heretic by the seventeenth-century Church for supporting Nicholas Copernicus' discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun (church teaching at the time placed the Earth at the centre of the universe). For centuries the Galileo condemnation has been used by secularists as a symbol of all that is incompatible between faith and science.

Last weekend, the Vatican sought to reverse that symbolism, building on Pope John Paul II's 1992 apology and dusting off Galileo as a shining representative of faith and reason working together.

(Ma non troppo. According to this interesting AP report, the Vatican turned down the offer of a statue, to be located inside the Vatican gardens, donated by the Italian aerospace giant Finmeccanica SpA).

Galileo and other scientists had helped people better understand and "contemplate with gratitude the Lord's works", Pope Benedict said.

The astronomer is not a bad poster boy for the marriage of faith and reason: he was devout, as well as being a brave scientist. He looked through his telescope and saw the glory of God behind the amazing architecture of the universe -- as did Jesuit astronomers at the time and continue to today. That is a very different way of looking through a telescope to that of the nineteenth-century atheists, who used it to declare the non-existence of angels.

Only, I can't help but spot an irony.

Galileo was condemned, at the time, because he was held to subvert the God-ordained nature of things. One can imagine Pope Urban VIII in 1633 using words similar to Pope Benedict's to the Curia: that nature has "certain intrinsic rules that offer us an orientation we must respect as administrators of creation.”

But it wasn't long before the "intrinsic rules" were overturned by the evidence. It turned out that putting the Earth at the centre of the universe was not God's plan at all.

Mark Dowd, gay ex-Dominican and strategist for the Christian environmental group Operation Noah, is widely quoted in UK press reports as saying that in his curial speech Benedict XVI betrayed "a lack of openness to the complexity of creation" -- in other words, that papal faith in the fixity of male-female gender roles may be misplaced. [The Pope in this case is not arguing gender roles so much as plain biological fact!]

At the moment, there seems little room in the Catholic Church's "human ecology" for a possible divine purpose for homosexuality -- just as in the seventeenth century there wasn't much space for the idea that God has arranged the universe with the sun at its centre. It would be syllogistic to suggest that because the Church was wrong on the second it will turn out to be wrong on the first.

But it's striking how the homosexual orientation appears in church teaching as "intrinsically disordered" -- in other words, as contrary to the way God arranged the universe -- in the same way as the Copernican view appeared in the seventeenth century.

And it isn't a bad thought, at Christmas, to remember that the Creator of the Universe is capable of subverting its laws for the sake of His creatures.

Things are never so finally fixed that God can't rearrange it all. The arrogance of scientists, of clergy, of the wise, our own arrogance -- all get dethroned tonight by the Great Event: the manger-child, born of a refugee couple and the Holy Spirit, in a cave, in a place somewhere off the map, to where the centre of the Universe quietly relocates. Happy Christmas.


**********************************************************************


Hmmm. Very Jesuitic argument, exemplarily so! But it is as fallacious as that of the science editor of the Times of London.

The arcane laws of the cosmos are far from the stuff that every human being can experience directly in the day to day. Without telescopes and the advance in scientific thought, man would keep thinking the earth is the center of the universe.

But the natural and normal order of male and female has been evident - without need at all of scientific knowledge or validation - through all of man's recorded history and in the collective memory.

And no amount of rationalization will make homosexuality 'normal' - i.e., the norm or standard in anthropological and biological terms - because it counters the propagation of the human species; nor in social and cultural terms, because heterosexuals clearly outnumber them overwhelmingly.

But alas, the dominant liberal culture of political correctness is, among other things, about sanctioning the tyranny of the strident minority, the tail wagging the dog.

And the 'divine purpose for homosexuality', as Ivereigh terms it, is the divine purpose for any other abnormality in creation, in fact, for creation in general. Ivereigh's postulate is like asking what is the divine purpose for having sick people, or any other abnormal (not necessarily bad or unpleasant) thing you can think of! So Jesuitic, I tell you.



TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 4:18 AM
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Benedict XVI and hope:
Who can help us to live

Editorial
by CARLO DI CICCO
Deputy Editor
Translated from
the 12/31/08 issue of

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In the midst of an economic crisis of devastating dimensions for most of the world, acute and persistent conflicts continue to take place in various parts of the world.

Most recently, dense with unknown factors and not unexpected, Israel's reprisals [for persistent Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns]] in the Gaza Strip.

The New Year is coming in with all the many problems that remained unresolved in the year now ending. And as the world blindly navigates through such an obstacle course, against the involution of hope that now armors the heart of many, Benedict XVI has something significant to say.

Difficult times underscore the intensity of his reflections on faith - never banal, never presumptuous. He is a Pope of peace in a time of wars, in an era - like ours - when controversy rules, along with incomprehensions that find recourse in armed conflict instead of in truth and in human rights.

For Papa Ratzinger, in fact, faith is a a discourse on hope which leads to that on the sense of existence itself. Who can help man to live? This is the question that runs through Benedict XVI's entire Christian reflection.

It is a question he appears to ask himself as much as he asks it of the Church and of every man and woman. It is an existential perspective, embodied in the life of every day, which for many, for too many, is nothing but travail.

It is a dialog about life and its vicissitudes that the Pope holds open to anyone. Without secret motives or a desire for hegemony. If one looks back at what he said when he began his Petrine ministry, we find a clear and exacting definition of all - with the Successor of Peter up front - who are called on to announce the Gospel: "We exist in order to show God to men."

It is not an easy task especially since it is not always understood in those terms. To be concerned with God means to redefine the rules of the game in everything. It is like starting a game of chess all over: strategies change because there is a new illumination.

Papa Ratzinger has said that we should present our day-to-day life to God who is the only one capable of bringing lasting joy.

Rather than intransigent, Benedict XVI is exigent, starting with his Church, because the duty to place God in the center requires conversion - of men and of structures.

He is, of course, equally exigent on the matter of using faith and reason together because of the very importance of such a dialog. When the need for such a dialog becomes necessary - and it will always be - then every diversion may be convenient to the point of putting one's interlocutor in the position of an accused person. And that is why Popes often find themselves the object of prejudicial accusations of all sorts.

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Ratzinger, Joseph.
Chi ci aiuta a vivere? Su Dio e l'uomo.
(Who can help us to live? On God and man)
Ed. G. Francesconi
Queriniana, 2006. 182 pp.

The question is: who can help us be human beings in an authentic and profound manner? The answer is in the decision - free and conscious - to entrust our entire human condition to God. This is the nucleus of a collection of some of the most illuminating pages on spirituality found in the theological works of Joseph Ratzinger
.

"Whoever examines the life and work of Joseph Ratzinger", one reads in this respect, in the editor's afterword to the book Chi ci aiuta a vivere?, "will meet an intelligent and wise thinker, whose judgments may be controversial, but are always finely articulated and well founded.

"One comes to know a pastor who grasps with sensitivity the concerns and needs of man today and seeks to give answers which can serve to orient him.

"One sees a man of the Church who diagnoses with clear eyes the problems of the Church and the world, who examines the causes for these problems and looks for possible solutions.

"And one is brought alongside a man of prayer who, in his confident faith in the spring which is the source of Life, is leading others to this source."

Indeed, his teachings make it evident that the Pope is most concerned with affirming a spiritual life in the Church and in the world. Just think of his two encyclicals on love and on hope.

The second one, which came out towards the end of last year, is a reading of history in terms of the Christian promise of a future life. Without this horizon, not even the Church can be understood properly.

Reading Spe salvi after a year, it helps us to grasp what is really Benedict XVI's deepest desire, the interior conversion that he asks of every believer, the divine truths that can have universal resonance, which are always relevant to every generation, and which should engage the thoughts of everyone.

The center of Christian hope is Christ, who will judge man according to the degree of love they show, in Joseph Ratzinger's thinking. It is an optimistic view of the future: "At the moment of judgement we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy".

From the great final perspective of history, the present Pope has chosen to work for peace, as an anticipation of the Kingdom of God. It is from looking at the present in the light of the end of times that he chose the name Benedict and that he preaches reconciliation.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 2:47 PM
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OR today.
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Except for an editorial on Benedict XVI and his message of hope (translated in the post above), the Page 1 stories today are about
the raging conflict in the Gaza Strip, while Israel authorizes passage of vehicles carrying UN and Red Cross humanitarian aid;
and in the other Asian hotspot, Pakistan and India continue dialog while their troops are at standoff on their northern border.

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Ecumenism is a focus in the inside pages, where there is a lengthy interview with Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council
for Promoting Christian Unity, a brief review of the ecumenical highlights of 2008, including Patriarch Bartholomew's address to
the Bishops' Synod last October (right photo), and most unusually, the text of Bartholomew's Christmas message to his Orthodox flock.




THE POPE'S DAY

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Dec. 31, Wednesday
18:00, St. Peter's Basilica
First Vespers and Thanksgiving for 2008


Reminder on the first Papal liturgies in the New Year:


JANUARY 2009

Jan. 1, Thursday
Solemnity of the Most Holy Mother of God
XLII World Day of Peace
10:00, St. Peter's Basilica
CAPPELLA PAPALE
Holy Mass

Jan. 6, Tuesday
Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany
10:00, St. Peter's Basilica
Holy Mass

Jan. 11, Sunday
Feast of the Baptism of our Lord
10:00 Sistine Chapel
Holy Mass and Baptism of Babies

Jan. 25, Sunday
Solemnity of the Conversion of St.Paul
17:30 Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls
Celebration of Vespers




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It's already 2009 in the southern hemisphere, and Sydney is always the first major city to welcome the New Year.
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A greeting from Indian schoolchildren.
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TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 4:21 PM
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The following article is based on Cardinal Kasper's response to the last question in the interview that appears in L'Osservatore Romano today, which I hope to be able to translate in full later today.


Cardinal Kasper says
Pope's trip to Holy Land
can aid Jewish ties

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VATICAN CITY, Dec. 31 (Reuters) - A trip to the Holy Land by Pope Benedict could help overcome "prejudice and incomprehension" marking Catholic-Jewish relations, a senior Vatican official said.

The Vatican is exploring the possibility of Benedict making his first trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories since his election in 2005. The Vatican has said the visit is still possible, despite the latest violence in Gaza.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, in charge of relations with Jews, acknowledged that "problems haven't been lacking" in Catholic-Jewish ties, including outrage over a prayer that some saw as calling for the conversion of Jews.

He also pointed to recent tensions over the role of wartime Pope Pius XII, who some Jews have accused of turning a blind eye to the Holocaust.

"I'm convinced then that the Pope's hoped-for trip to the Holy Land would be decisive to overcome prejudice and incomprehension that mark our relations with Judaism," Kasper told Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

The Church says Pius worked quietly behind the scenes to help Jews during the Holocaust and that the re-introduction of the prayer in question did not indicate a change in the Church's high regard for Jews or its contempt for anti-Semitism.

"The Jewish world has understood and accepted that beatification is an internal process of the Catholic Church," Kasper said.

Many Jewish groups have called on Benedict to freeze the process that could one day make Pius a saint until more Vatican archives on the wartime period are opened.

"We trust now that historic research will bring even more clarity about the Pius XII's work to help Jews during the years in question," Kasper said.



1/1/2009
I have now posted a translation of Cardinal Kasper's full interview in NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH.



TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 8:23 PM
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VESPERS OF THANKSGIVING,
TE DEUM AND ADORATION


Pope Benedict XVI presided this evening at his last liturgy for 2008. Celebrating the Vespers on the vigil of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in thanksgiving for graces received in 2008, the Pope also provided at an Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament followed by a Eucharistic Benediction and a Te Deum.

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THE HOLY FATHER'S HOMILY

Dear brothers and sisters!

The year that is closing and that which is on the horizon are both under the consecrating gaze of the Most Holy Mother of God.

We are reminded of her maternal presence even by the polychrome wooden sculpture placed here next to the altar, which shows her on a throne holding the Baby Jesus who is giving his blessing.

We celebrate the first Vespers of this Marian solemnity with its numerous liturgical references to the divine motherhood of the Virgin.

"O admirabile commercium!" - A wonderful exchange - Thus starts the antiphon of the first Psalm which then proceeds: "The creator has taken body and soul - he is born of a virgin".

"When in a unique way you were born of the Virgin, you fulfilled the Scriptures" proclaims the antiphon of the second Psalm, echoed by the antiphon which introduced us to the canticle taken from Paul's Letter to the Ephesians: "Your virginity is intact, Mother of God: we praise you, pray for us".

The divine maternity of Mary is also underscored in the Reading that was just proclaimed, of the well-known verses from the Letter to the Galatians: "When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons" (Gal 4,4-5).

And once again, in the traditional Te Deum, which we shall offer at the end of our celebration before the Most Blessed Sacrament solemnly exposed for our adoration, we will sing: "Tu, ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum" - "You, O Christ, were born of the Virgin Mary for the salvation of man".

Thus everything this evening invites us to turn our attention to her who "welcomed in her heart and her body the Word of God and brought life to the world" and because of this, the Second Vatican Council reminded us - "she is recognized and honored as the true Mother of God" (Const. Lumen gentium, 53).

The Nativity of Christ, which we commemorate in these days, is entirely suffused by the light of Mary, and while we pause at the Creche to contemplate the Baby, our attention cannot but turn in acknowledgment to Mary who, with her Yes, made possible the gift of redemption.

This is why the season of the Nativity carries with it a profound Marian connotation. The birth of Jesus, man-God, and the divine maternity of Mary are two realities which are inseparable: the mystery of Mary and the mystery of the only-begotten Son of God who became man, together form a single mystery, in which one helps to better understand the other.

Mary, Mother of God - Theotokos, Dei Genetrix. Since antiquity, our Lady was honored with this title. In the West, however, for centuries there was no specific feast dedicated to the divine motherhood of Mary. Pope Pius XI introduced it into the Latin Church in 1931, on the 15th centenary of the Council of Ephesus, and it was celebrated on October 11. It was on that day that the Second Vatican Council began in 1962.

Then it was the Servant of God Paul VI who, in 1968, reviving an ancient tradition, fixed the solemnity for the first day of January. In the Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus of February 2, 1974, he explained his decision and its connection with the World Day for Peace.

"In the revised arrangement of the Christmas season," he wrote, "we should all turn with one mind to the restored Solemnity of the Mother of God... to honor the role of Mary in the mystery of salvation and at the same time to sing the praises of the unique dignity thus coming to the Holy Mother... (It) also offers an excellent opportunity to renew the adoration rightfully to be shown to the newborn Prince of Peace, as we once again hear the good tidings of great joy (cfr Lk 2,14) and pray to God, through the intercession of the Queen of Peace, for the priceless gift of peace." (No. 5, Teachings of Paul VI, XII 1974, pp. 105–106).

This evening, we wish to place into the hands of the heavenly Mother of God our choral hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord for the benefits that he has amply granted us in the course of the past 12 months.

The first sentiment that spontaneously rises from the heart this evening is precisely that of praise and thanksgiving to him who makes us a gift of time, a precious opportunity to do good; but we must also add a request for forgiveness for perhaps not always putting it to good use.

I am happy to share this act of gratitude with you, dear brothers and sisters who represent our entire diocesan community, to whom I extend my heartfelt greetings, as well as to all the residents of Rome.

I address a special greeting to the Cardinal Vicar and to the Mayor, both of whom started their different missions this year - one spiritual and religious, the other civilian and administrative - in the service of our city.

I likewise greet the Auxiliary Bishops, the priests, the religious and all the many lay faithful who have gathered here, as well as all the authorities present.

In coming to the world, the eternal Word of God Revealed to us the closeness of God and the ultimate truth about man and his eternal destiny. He came to stay with us to be our irreplaceable support, especially in the inevitable difficulties of everyday.

This evening, the Virgin herself reminds us what a great gift Jesus made us with his birth, what a precious 'treasure' the Incarnation is for us. With his birth, Jesus came to offer his light as a lamp to guide our steps. He came to offer himself; and from him, our certain hope, we must learn to give reason to our daily life, knowing that "only in the mystery of the Word incarnate does the mystery of man find true light" (Gaudium et spes, 22).

The presence of Christ is a gift that we must learn to share with everyone. This is the aim of the efforts of the diocesan community towards the formation of pastoral workers so that they may be able to respond to the challenges posed by modern culture to the Christian faith.

The presence of numerous and qualified academic institutions in Rome and all the initiatives promoted by the parishes make us look confidently ahead towards the future of Christianity in this city.

The encounter with Christ, you know very well, renews personal existence and helps us contribute to building a just and fraternal society. That is how, as believers, one can make a significant contribution even in overcoming the present educative emergency.

How much more useful it is that the synergy grows among families, schools and parishes for a profound evangelization and for courageous human promotion, able to communicate the possibilities of the richness that comes from an encounter with Christ.

That is why I encourage every component of our diocese to follow the path they have undertaken, while carrying out the program for this year's pastoral activities, which is intended precisely "to educate us in hope through prayer, action and suffering".

In these times, marked by uncertainty and concern for the future, it is necessary to experience the living presence of Christ. Mary, Star of hope, leads us to him. It is she with her maternal love who can lead to Jesus especially the young people, who carry in their hearts the irrepressible question on the sense of human existence.

I know that various parent groups have been meeting to examine their calling more deeply, seeking new ways to help their own children respond to the great existential questions.

I exhort them fullheartedly, and with them, the entire Christian community, to bear witness to the new generations of the joy that comes from an encounter with Jesus who, in being born in Bethlehem, did not come to take anything from us but to give us everything.

On Christmas Eve, I had a special thought for children. Tonight, I wish to turn my attention to young people.

Dear young people, who are responsible for the future of our city, do not be afraid of the apostolic task that the Lord entrusts to you. Do not hesitate to choose a lifestyle that does not follow the current hedonistic current.

The Holy Spirit will assure you of the necessary strength to testify to the joy of the faith and the beauty of being Christian. The growing need for evangelization demands numerous workers in the vineyard of the Lord. Do not hesitate to respond promptly if he calls you.

Society needs citizens who are concerned not only with their own interests, because, as I noted on Christmas Day, "the world would go to ruin if everyone only thought of himself".

Dear brothers and sisters, this year closes with an awareness of the growing social and economic crisis that now involves the entire world. It is a crisis that asks of everyone more moderation and solidarity to come to the aid specially of those persons and families in the most serious difficulties.

The Christian community is already doing this, and I know that the diocesan Caritas and other beneficent organizations are doing what they can, but the collaboration of everyone is necessary because no one can think of constructing his own happiness by himself.

Even if not a few shadows are looming on the horizon of our future, we should not be afraid. Our great hope as believers is eternal life in communion with Christ and the entire family of God.

This great hope gives us the strength to face and to overcome the difficulties of life in this world. The maternal presence of Mary assures us tonight that God never abandons us if we entrust ourselves to him and follow his teachings.

To Mary then, with filial affection and trust, let us present our expectations and hopes, as well as the fears and difficulties which inhabit our heart as we take leave of 2008 and prepare to welcome 2009.

She, the Virgin Mary, offers us the Baby who lies in the manger as our certain hope. Full of confidence, we can sing at the end of the Te Deum: "In te, Domine,speravi: non confundar in aeternum" – You, Lord, are our hope - we will never be confounded!"

Yes, Lord, we hope in you, now and for always. You are our hope. Amen.




After the services, the Holy Father made a brief visit to the Nativity Scene on St. Peter's Square.


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Thanks again to Simone for her two wonderful video-captures used above.


AP took brief note of tonight's services:



Pope calls for moderation
and solidarity in 2009

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VATICAN CITY, Dec. 31 (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI is calling for "sobriety and solidarity" in 2009 as the world struggles with economic and social woes.

His appeal was made amid the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica during a New Year’s Eve vespers service on Wednesday.

Benedict described these times as being "marked by uncertainty and worry for the future" but told the faithful not to be afraid. He urged governments to help families in difficulty and said Catholic charities are doing as much as possible to help out.

A choir sang during the service, attended by cardinals, other clergy, pilgrims and tourists.


Here is Corriere della Sera's report:


Pope Benedict XVI:
'Shadows on 2009, but
we must all work together
and not be afraid'

Translated from
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Dec. 31, 2008


VATICAN CITY - "The gathering shadows' over the future of mankind in 2009 and the growing social and economic crises around the world demand 'moderation and solidarity' on the part of everyone, Pope Benedict XVI said this evening in his homily at solemn Vespers in
St. Peter's Basilica.

Addressing himself primarily to young people, the Holy Father said, "Society needs citizens that are not concerned only about their own interests, because, as I noted on Christmas Day, the world will go to ruin if everyone only thinks of himself."

The Pope called the gift of time "a precious opportunity to do good", and so he exhorted the faithful: "Let us also beg forgiveness for perhaps not always having used it well".

Before an assembly that included the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, and the Pope's vicar for Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Benedict XVI pressed once again for a head-on approach to the educative emergency.

But his strongest words were used to describe the present time, "marked by uncertainties and deep concerns for the future". The world goes into 2009 from 2008, he said, full of 'expectations and hopes' along with its 'fears and difficulties'.

"Dear brothers and sisters," he said, "this year closes with the awareness of a growing social and economic crisis which now involves the entire world - a crisis which asks moderation and solidarity from everyone in order to come to the aid of persons and families in the most serious difficulties".

"The Christian community," he pointed out, "is committed to this, and I know that the diocesan Caritas branches and other charitable organizations are doing what they can, but the collaboration of everyone is necessary, because no one can think of creating happiness by himself.... Even if not a few shadows are looming on the horizon over our future, we should not be afraid."


benefan
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 8:29 PM
Writer defends Pope over falling papal audience figures

A Catholic writer close to Pope Benedict XVI comes to pontiff's defence over falling papal audience figures saying that "religious tourism" is not a true "measure of faith"

Richard Owen in Rome
From Times Online
December 31, 2008

A Catholic writer close to Pope Benedict XVI has come to the defence of the pontiff over falling papal audience figures, saying that "religious tourism" is not a true "measure of faith".

In 2008 the number of pilgrims seeing the Pope at St Peter's or the papal summer residence at Castelgandolfo fell for the second year running, with 2.2 million people attending his weekly general audience, a special audience or liturgy or the regular Sunday Angelus address, according to figures released by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household.

In 2007 the number of pilgrims was 2.8 million, in itself a drop from 2006 -- Benedict's first full calendar year as Pope -- when the total was more than 3.2 million. Some Vatican observers saw this as the "knock on effect" of the global media interest in the death and funeral of John Paul II in 2005 and the election of the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as his successor, boosted by an influx of well wishers from the new Pope's native Germany.

However Vittorio Messori, who has co-authored books with both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, said "the Pope represents Jesus Christ, and Christ cannot be measured by indications of popularity. In fact you could say that the more a Pope pleases the crowds, the less he is an authentic icon of Christ. Applause is not everything: it was the crowd after all which saved Barabbas and crucified Jesus".

Mr Messori said he had no wish to see St Peter's Suare deserted, but equally he was not excited at seeing it overflowing. There was a risk of seeing the number of people at papal audiences as a tourist phenomenon. "It would be absurd to use the crowds in the square as a measurement of faith".

He said both John Paul and Benedict were "united in the same project - the restoration of Catholicism". Pope Benedict however had less time for "nineteen sixties student and youth culture". Vito Mancuso, professor of theology at the San Raffaele University in Milan, said: "Just because a square is packed does not necessarily mean the pontiff is able to interpret the real problems of the world, any more than the reverse is true if the square is empty."

Professor Mancuso told Corriere della Sera that Pope Benedict had a more "professorial" style than John Paul II, and lacked his predecessor's "charisma". He also however conveyed a more "negative image". "The way out is not simply and always to say "No." Where the role of women is concerned, sexuality, bioethics, the Church should show itself more humble and more open to doubt, without becoming relativist".

According to the 2008 statistics, 534,500 people attended Pope Benedict's 42 weekly general audiences while 226,500 people were part of groups that had a special audience with the Pope. His masses and prayer services drew 324,000 people, and the Sunday Angelus brought 1.13 million people to St. Peter's Square or Castelgandolfo.

Vatican officials point out that the 2008 total of 2.2 million more or less matches the number that attended appearances by Pope John Paul in 2004, the last full year of his pontificate, indicating that audience figures are not "falling" but rather returning to normal. The decline may also reflect a general drop in tourism to Rome as a result of the global credit crunch.

*********************************************************************

I object, of course, to Richard Owen's use of the word 'defend' and 'defense' to characterize Messori's observations. What is there to defend? That the attendance figures are less? One doesn't have to, but surely, it can be explained plausibly and objectively, as I tried to point out when I commented on the CNS report.

I do appreciate Messori's comments about 'religious tourism' not being a measure of faith. Nonetheless, it is a measure of popular interest and practical considerations (such as whether more people can afrord to travel) - for which reason unless there are mega-gatherings planned in St. Peter's Square for 2009, the figures in the coming year cannot be expected to be record-setting!

And Owen's unwitting readers may not realize that the Vito Mancuso he cites is a lay theologian who has been setting himself up as the one-man wonder who aims to overturn many basic concepts of Catholic doctrine overnight!

TERESA


Speaking of Messori, I 'owe' him at least a couple of translations - reviews of his book PERCHE CREDO (Why I believe) that I took note of in a brief post in NOTABLES at the time it came out last month and have not found the time since to translate some reviews about it.
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The pictures show Messori and Il Giornale's Andrea Tornielli meeting the Pope after the audience on November 20, at which they presented him with a copy of the book, which is structured as an interview book, with, this time, Messori as the subject and Tornielli as the interviewer.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 11:46 PM
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POPE PRAYS AT
THE NATIVITY SCENE



After the services at St. Peter's Basilica this evening, the Holy Father formally visited the Nativity Scene on St. Peter's Square, arriving there by Popemobile for the benefit of pilgrims present.

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Meanwhile, tomorrow, New Year's Day, is also the World Day for Peace. The Holy Father's message for the occasion was released earlier, of course, and it deserves re-reading.
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www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20081208_xlii-world-day-peace...



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As it is still New Year's Eve where I am, let me add a note about December 31. In Catholic Europe, it is celebrated as St. Sylvester's Day, and New Year's Eve festivities are usually called St. Sylvester's celebrations.

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Pope Saint Sylvester I devotedly governed the Church for many years during the time when Constantine the Great built the venerable basilicas St. Peter's and St. John Lateran), and the Nicene Council proclaimed Christ to be the Son of God.




TERESA BENEDETTA
Thursday, January 01, 2009 4:00 AM
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PAPAL AND HOLY SEE ACTIVITIES
IN AUGUST-DECEMBER 2008

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Here's a useful summary from VIS. I did not see the ones that preceded this. As we approach the fifth year of Benedict XVI's Pontificate, it becomes increasingly important to have a quick reference to run to when necessary. I'll go back and see if they published anything similar for January-July 2008 and earlier.

Of course, the best and most complete guide would still be the monthly index of Press Office bulletins, except it does not include non-Papal events and only some of the major Vatican statements that do not originate with the Pope.
.



VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Following is the biannual report of the major events related to the activities of the Holy Father Benedict XVI and the Holy See from August to December of 2008.

AUGUST

- 19: The Holy Father appointed Daniel Rudolf Anrig as commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard with the rank of Colonel.

- 23: The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, as special secretary of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held in the Vatican from 5 to 26 October on the theme "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church". He substituted Bishop Wilhelm Emil Egger, O.F.M. Cap., who had recently passed away.

SEPTEMBER

- 5: On the liturgical memory of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Italian Episcopal Conference joined with Pope Benedict XVI in calling upon all Italian dioceses to observe a day of prayer and fasting for Christians in India.

- 6: Audience with the prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua on the completion of their "ad limina" visit.

- 6: Audience with Traian Basescu, President of Romania.

- 6: Cardinal Antonio Innocenti, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy and president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church and of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" died at the age of 93.

- 7: The Holy Father made a pastoral visit to Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy.

- 8: On the Feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, the Holy Father sent an SMS to the youth who had participated in this year's World Youth Day in July in Sydney, Australia.

- 9: A letter from the Holy Father Benedict XVI to Bishop Luciano Monari of Brescia, Italy, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI was published.

- 12-15: The Holy Father made an apostolic visit to France, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes.

- 21: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time: at 9:00am: the Pope celebrated Mass and dedicated a new altar at the cathedral of San Pancrazio in Albano, Italy.

- 21: Beatification of the Servant of God Vincenza Maria Poloni, Italian foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy, at Verona, Italy.

- 26: Audience with prelates from the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference, at the conclusion of their five-yearly "ad limina" visit:

- 27: Audience with Pavel Vosalik, new Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Holy See, on the presentation of his Letters of Credence.

- 28: Beatification of the Servant of God Michael Sopocko, Polish priest and founder of the Congregation of Sisters of Merciful Jesus, in the square in front of the Divine Mercy Church of Bialystok, Poland.

OCTOBER

- 3: International congress organized jointly by the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and Sacred Heart Catholic University in Rome to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the publication of Paul VI's Encyclical "Humanae vitae".

- 4: Beatification of the Servant of God Francesco Pianzola, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Queen of Peace, in the cathedral of Vigevano, Italy.

- 4: Beatification of the Servant of God Francesco Giovanni Bonifacio, Italian priest and martyr, in the cathedral of Trieste, Italy.

- 4: The Holy Father Benedict XVI made an official visit to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinal Palace, Italy's official presidential residence, returning the visit to the Vatican made by the president on 20 November 2006.

- 5: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time: the Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with the Synod Fathers in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls for the opening of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will be meeting to consider the theme: "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church".

- 9: The Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with cardinals in the Vatican Basilica at 11:30 a.m. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Pope Pius XII.

- 12: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Pope celebrated the Eucharist in St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m., during which he canonised the Blesseds Gaetano Errico, Maria Bernarda Butler, Alfonsa of the Immaculate Conception (Anna Muttathupadathu), and Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran.

- 18: The Holy Father presided over the celebration of first Vespers of the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Sistine Chapel, marking the participation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople in the work of the current Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

- 19: Beatification of the Servants of God Louis Martin and Maria Zelia Guerin, lay persons, married couple, and parents of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, in Lisieux, France.

19: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Benedict XVI made a pastoral visit to the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary at Pompeii, Italy. At 10:00 a.m. he celebrated the Eucharist and offered the traditional supplication to the Virgin of Pompeii, and at 5:00 p.m. prayed the Holy Rosary with the gathered faithful.

26: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: The closure of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican Basilica.

27: The Pope announced his intention to make an apostolic visit to Cameroon in March 2009 to entrust the working document of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops to representatives of the episcopal conferences of Africa and to Angola to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of that country.

NOVEMBER

7: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Vytautas Alisauskas, new Ambassador of Lithuania to the Holy See

8: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Wang Larry Yu-yuan, new Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Holy See.

13: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Sante Canducci, new Ambassador of the Republic of San Marino to the Holy See.

13: Audience with Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

17: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Georges Chakib El Khoury, the Ambassador of Lebanon to the Holy See.

23-27: His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians, whose See is located in the Lebanese town of Antelias, made an official visit to the Pope and the Church of Rome.

24: Beatification of the Servants of God Peter Kibe Kasui, Japanese priest of the Company of Jesus, and his 187 companions, killed in Japan between 1603 and 1639, at noon in the Nagasaki Big N. Stadium, Japan.

29: Beatification of the Servant of God Jose Olallo Valdes, Cuban professed religious of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God (1820-1889) in Plaza de la Caridad of Camaguey, Cuba.

30: First Sunday of Advent: Pastoral visit to the Roman basilica of San Lorenzo for the 1,750th anniversary of the martyrdom of the deacon saint as part of the Holy Father's annual visits to Roman parishes.

DECEMBER

1: Audience with Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

4: Audience with prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Chile at the conclusion of their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

5: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Juan Pablo Cafiero, new Ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See

5: The Holy Father sent a telegram of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on the death of His Holiness Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and of All the Russias at the age of 79.

12: Audience with prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Taiwan at the conclusion of their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

12: Presentation of the Instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "'Dignitas Personae': On Certain Bioethical Questions", published in seven languages.

12: United States Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. died at the age of 90.

13: Visit to the Italian Embassy to the Holy See, housed in the Borromeo Palace.

18: Audience with 11 new ambassadors to the Holy See to receive their Letters of Credence: Isaac Chikwekwere Lamba (Malawi), Perols Ulla Birgitta Gudmundson (Sweden), Christian Sheka Kargbo (Sierra Leon), Elin Flygenring (Iceland), Paul Duhr (Luxembourg), Rajaonarivony Narisoa (Madagascar), Oscar Ayuso (Belize), Rafiaa Limam Baouendi (Tunisia), Amanzhol Zhankuliyev (Kazakhstan), Naser Muhamed Youssef Al Belooshi (Bahrain), and Pio Bosco Tikoisuva (Fiji Islands).

18: Audience with staff members, contributors, and advisors of Vatican Television (CTV) on the occasion of the celebration of CTV's 25th anniversary this year.

19: Audience with Graziano Luigi Triboldi, new ambassador of the Seychelles to the Holy See, on the presentation of his Letters of Credence.

19: Audience with members of the Labor Office of the Apostolic See (ULSA), which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its establishment by John Paul II this coming 1 January.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Thursday, January 01, 2009 5:10 AM
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Thursday, January 1, 2009
Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God


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No papal news in this issue other than the Rinunce e Nomine from 12/31. The Vespers and te Deum last night took place after the newspaper went to press. The conflict in Gaza is still the main news, but since the paper went to press, Israel has decided it cannot afford to call a truce with Palestinian rockets continuing to hit Israeli settlements, now reaching as far as Beersheba. The World Health organization calls for assistance in Gaza. There is an editorial commentary on how to diagnose the world financial crisis properly. And the feature story, "The mystery of a mother who nurses her Creator", by Mons. Gianfranco Ravasi, has to do with today's religious feast celebrating Mary, Mother of God. The top photo is Jan van Eyck's 'Madonna Lactans'(1436); I have not been able to trace the identity of the bottom left icon, but I have added my favorite 'nursing Madonna' (below, right), Leonardo's Litta Madonna (1490-1491), found at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
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THE POPE'S DAY

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Jan. 1, Thursday
Solemnity of the Most Holy Mother of God
XLII World Day of Peace
10:00, St. Peter's Basilica
CAPPELLA PAPALE
Holy Mass

12:00 Angelus


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www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20081208_xlii-world-day-peace...



THE POPE'S PRAYER INTENTIONS
FOR JANUARY 2009


The general prayer intention:
"That the family may become more and more a place of training in charity, personal growth and transmission of the faith".

The mission intention:
"That the different Christian confessions, aware of the need for a new evangelization in this period of profound transformations, may be committed to announcing the Good News and moving towards the full unity of all Christians in order to offer a more credible testimony of the Gospel".





TERESA BENEDETTA
Thursday, January 01, 2009 12:33 PM
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Liturgically, it is still the Christmas season.


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MASS ON THE SOLEMNITY
OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD


At 10 o'clock today, the Holy Father presided at the Eucharistic Celebration in St. Peter's Basilica of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, in the Octave of Christmas, and the 43rd World Day of Peace, under the theme "Fight poverty, build the peace".

Concelebrating with the Pope were Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State; Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, and for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants; Mons. Fernando Filoni, Deputy Secretary of State for internal affairs; Mons. Dominique Mamberti, deputy Secretary of State for relations with other states; and Mons. Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.


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THE HOLY FATHER'S HOMILY


Venerated Brothers,
Distinguished ambassadors,
Dear brothers and sisters!

On the first day of the year, divine Providence has assembled us for a celebration that always moves us because of the wealth and beauty of its correspondences: the civilian New Year takes place at the end of the Christmas Octave, on which we celebrate the Divine Motherhood of Mary, a coincidence that finds a happy synthesis in the World
Day for Peace.

In the light of Christ's Nativity, I am happy to extend my best wishes to everyone for the year that has just begun.

I address my greeting, in particular, to Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and his co-workers in the Pontifical Council for Justice and peace, with a special acknowledgment for their precious service.

I address it as well to the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and to the entire Secretariat of State, and with heartfelt wishes, to the many ambassadors who are present today.

My wishes echo that which the Lord has just addressed to us in the Liturgy of the Word. A Word, starting from the event in Bethlehem, which evoked in its historical concreteness in the Gospel of Luke (2,16-21), and re-read in all its salvific importance by the apostle Paul (Gal 4,4=7), that becomes a benediction for the people of God and all mankind.

Thus is fulfilled the old Jewish tradition of benediction (Nm 6,232-27): the priests of Israel blessed the people "placing upon them" the name of the Lord. With a ternary formula - found in the first Reading - the sacred Name is invoked three times by the faithful as a wish for grace and peace.

This remote custom takes us back to an essential reality: in order to walk on the path of peace, men and peoples need to be illuminated by the 'face' of God and to be blessed by his 'name'. This is exactly what happened in the Incarnation: the coming of the Son of God into human flesh and into history brought an irrevocable blessing, a light that cannot be extinguished, and which offers to believers and men of good will the possibility of building a civilization of love and peace.

The Second Vatican Council said, in this regard, that "with the Incarnation, the Son of God is in some way united to every man" (Gaudium et spes, 22). This union confirms the original design of mankind created in the 'image and likeness' of God.

In fact, the incarnated Word is the only perfect and consubstantial image of the invisible God. Jesus Christ is the perfect man.

"In him," the Council notes, "human nature was assumed... therefore, that nature is elevated to a sublime dignity even in us" (ibid). That is why the earthly story of Jesus, which culminates in the Paschal mystery, is the beginning of a new world, because he truly inaugurated a new humanity, capable - always and only with the grace of God - of effecting a peaceful 'revolution'.

The revolution is not ideological but spiritual, not utopian but realistic, and therefore it requires infinite patience, extended time, avoiding any shortcuts and taking the most difficult road - that of the maturation of responsibility in consciences.

Dear friends, this is the evangelical path to peace, the path which even the Bishop of Rome is called on to re-propose constantly every time that he gives the annual message on the World Day for Peace.

Taking this way often means going back to aspects and problems that have already been met before, but which are so important as to always require new attention. And that is the case with the theme that I chose for the Message this year: 'Fight poverty, build peace'.

It is a theme that lends itself to a double order of considerations which I can only indicate briefly at this time. On the one hand, the poverty chosen and proposed by Jesus; on the other, the poverty that must be fought in order to make the world more just and fraternal.

The first aspect finds its ideal context in these days, the season of Christmas. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem tells us that God chose poverty for himself in coming to our midst.

The scene that the shepherds saw first, which confirmed the announcement made to them by the angel, was the stall where Mary and Joseph had found refuge, and the manger on which the Virgin had laid her newborn son wrapped in swaddling clothes (cfr Lk 2,7.12.16).

God chose this poverty. He wanted to be born that way. But we can also add: he wanted to live as well as to die that way. Why?

It is explained in popular terms by St. Alphonse of Liguori in a Christmas carol known to all Italians: "You, who are Creator of the world, lacked clothes and heat, O my Lord. Dear elected little child, how much this poverty makes me love you more because you made yourself poor out of love".

There is the answer: love for us made Jesus not only become man, but also to make himself poor. Along this same line, we can cite what St. Paul wrote in the second Letter to the Corinthians: "For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (8,9).

An exemplary witness of this poverty chosen out of love is St. Francis of Assisi. Franciscanism, in the history of the Church and of Christian civilization, constitutes a widespread current of evangelical poverty that has done so much good and continues to do so for the Church and for the human family.

Going back to St. Paul's amazing synthesis about Jesus, it is significant - even for our reflection today - that the Apostle was inspired to it while he was exhorting the Christians of Corinth to be generous in their collections for the poor. He explains: "Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but as a matter of equality" (8,13).

This is a decisive point, which leads to the second aspect: there is a poverty, an indigence, that God does not desire and which must be 'fought' - as the theme for today's World Day of Peace says.

It is the poverty that keeps persons and families from living in accordance with their dignity. A poverty that offends justice and equality and, as such, threatens peaceful living together.

These negative connotations also include all the non-material forms of poverty which can be found even in rich and progressive societies: marginalization, a relational, moral and spiritual poverty (cfr, Message for the World Day of Peace, 2009, No. 2).

In my message I wished once again - in the wake of my predecessors - to consider attentively the complex phenomenon of globalization in order to evaluate its relationship with poverty on a large scale.

In the face of widespread scourges such as pandemic diseases (ivi, 4), the poverty of children (ivi, 5), and the food crisis (ivi, 7), I had to denounce again the unacceptable arms race.

On the one hand, we celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and on the other, military spending is on the rise, violating the Charter of the United Nations itself, which commits its member states to reduce arms spending to the minimum (cfr Art. 26).

Moreover, globalization eliminates some barriers but it can also raise new ones (Message, cit., 8), so it is necessary that the international community and single states should always be vigilant. It is necessary that they never let their guard down with respect to the danger of conflicts, indeed, that they commit themselves to keep the level of solidarity high.

The present global economic crisis should be seen in this sense as a test bed: Are we ready to read it. in its complexity, as a challenge for the future, and not only as an emergency to be answered with short-term measures?

Are we willing to work together to profoundly revise the dominant model of development, to correct it in a concerted, farsighted manner?

This is demanded of us, more than by immediate financial difficulties, by the planet's state of ecological health, and above all, by the cultural and social crisis whose symptoms have been evident for some time in every part of the world.

Therefore, we must seek to establish a 'virtuous cycle' between poverty 'to be chosen' and poverty 'to be fought'. This opens a way that can be very fruitful for the present and the future of mankind that may be summarized thus: In order to fight iniquitous poverty, which oppresses so many men and women and threatens the peace for everyone, we must rediscover moderation and solidarity as values that are evangelical as well as universal.

More concretely, one cannot effectively fight poverty without doing what St. Paul suggested to the Corinthians, namely, unless one seeks to 'make equal', reducing the disparity between those who waste the superfluous and those who lack even the essential.

This involves choices of justice and moderation, choices that are obliged by the demand to administer wisely the earth's limited resources.

When he says that Jesus Christ enriches us with his poverty, St. Paul offers an important indication not only on the theological level but also on the sociological. Not in the sense that poverty is a value in itself, but because it is a condition for realizing the solidarity of brotherhood.

When Francis of Assisi stripped himself of all his earthly possessions, he chose a form of witness directly inspired by God but which at the same time showed to everyone the way of trust in Providence.

Thus, in the Church, the vow of poverty taken by some reminds everyone of the (virtue of) detachment from material goods and the primacy of spiritual riches.

Therefore, this is the message we must glean today: The poverty of Christ's birth in Bethlehem, beyond being an object of adoration for Christians, is also a school of life for every man. It teaches us that to fight poverty, material as well as spiritual, the way to follow is that of brotherhood, which led Jesus to share our human condition.

Dear brothers and sisters, I think that the Virgin Mary must have asked herself this question more than once: Why did Jesus want to be born to a simple and humble girl like me? And why then did he want to come into the world in an animal stall and to have the shepherds of Bethlehem as his first visitors?

Mary found the answer fully at the end, after she had laid down the body of Jesus, dead and wrapped in burial clothes, into the sepulchre (cfr Lk 23,53). Then she fully understood the mystery of the poverty of God. She understood that God became poor for us, to enrich us with his poverty full of love, to exhort us to rein in the insatiable greed that gives rise to struggles and divisions, to invite us to moderate our obsession to possess, and thus be open to sharing and reciprocal acceptance.

To Mary, Mother of the Son of God who made himself our brother, let us confidently address our prayers that she may help us to follow in his footsteps, to fight and conquer poverty, to construct true peace, which is opus iustitiae, the work of justice.

To her, let us entrust the profound desire to live in peace which comes from the heart of the great majority of the Israeli and Palestinian populations, who are once more placed under great danger through the massive violence that has erupted in the Gaza Strip in response to other violences.

Even violence, hate and distrust are forms of poverty - perhaps the worst - that must be 'fought'. May they not prevail! In this sense, the Pastors of the (local) Churches have made themselves heard. Together with them and their beloved flocks, above all that of the small but fervent parish of Gaza, let us lay at Mary's feet our concerns for the present and our fears for the future, and with these, our well-founded hope that, with the wise and farsighted contribution of everyone, it will not be impossible to listen to each other and come together to give concrete answers to the widespread aspiration to live in peace, in security and in dignity.

We say to Mary: Be with us, heavenly Mother of the Redeemer, throughout all of the year which begins today, and obtain from God the gift of peace for the Holy Land and for all of mankind. Holy Mother of God, pray for us. Amen.




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Pope denounces violence and hatred,
prays for peace in Gaza

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VATICAN CITY, Jan. 1, 2009 (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday said he hoped "violence, hatred and mistrust" would not prevail in the world in 2009, notably in the Middle East.

"Violence, hatred and mistrust are also forms of poverty -- perhaps the greatest -- that must be fought," the Pope said during a Mass marking the Roman Catholic Church's traditional January 1 World Day of Peace, on the theme of fighting poverty and building peace.

Benedict had on Sunday denounced the violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, calling on the international community to help both sides abandon "this dead-end road".

The death toll from Israel's blitz on Hamas in Gaza rose to 400 on Thursday, the sixth day of its biggest military operation against the Palestinian territory in decades. Hamas also fired rockets into Israel as international efforts to secure a truce foundered.

In Thursday's homily the Pope said: "The deep desire to live in peace ... rises in the hearts of the great majority of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, once more placed in danger by the massive violence that has broken out in the Gaza Strip in response to other violence."

"May this not prevail," he urged during the Mass in St Peter's Basilica.

The head of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics said poverty "prevents people and families from living in dignity ... offends justice and equality (and) threatens peaceful coexistence."

The Vatican has yet to confirm that the Pope will visit Israel and the occupied territories, reportedly set for May 8-15.

Last month a spokesman for Israeli President Shimon Peres said a Vatican delegation had come to Israel to discuss preparations for a possible visit.


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TERESA BENEDETTA
Thursday, January 01, 2009 4:31 PM
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ANGELUS TODAY

After the Mass at St. Peter's Basilica this morning, the Holy Father led the noontime Angelus from his study window, addressing a packed St. Peter's Square, which included members of the Sant'Egidio Community who held a March for Peace despite a very wet morning.

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Peace Marchers representing Israel and Gaza are among the Angelus crowd.

This is the message he delivered in English after the prayers:

I am very pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Angelus, and I wish you all a happy New Year!

I pray that Christians everywhere, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, will be filled with spiritual joy. During this year, may all who believe in Christ promote justice and charity, and bear constant witness to forgiveness, reconciliation and peace!

May the Lord bless you and keep you!



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Here is a full translation of his Angelus message.



THE POPE'S WORDS AT ANGELUS

Dear brothers and sisters:

On this first day of the year, I am glad to address to all of you who are here in St. Peter's Square, and to all those who are with us through radio and television, my warmest wishes for peace and everything good.

These are wishes that the Christian faith makes, so to speak, 'reliable', being anchored in the event which we are celebrating these days: the Incarnation of the Word of God, born of the Virgin Mary.

In effect, with the grace of the Lord - and only with it - we can always hope anew that the future will be better than the past. Indeed, it is not a question of trusting in more favorable luck, or in the modern interlocking of the market and finance, but to try ourselves to be more 'good' and more responsible so we may count on the benevolence of the Lord.

This is always possible because "God has spoken to us through his Son" (Heb 1,2) and continues to talk to us, through the preaching of the Gospel and the voice of our own conscience.

In Jesus Christ, all men were shown the way of salvation, which is first of all, a spiritual redemption, but which involves the human being totally, including his social and historical dimension.

Therefore, while the Church celebrates the divine Motherhood of the Most Blessed Mary, she also calls the attention of everyone on this day, as it has for more than 40 years, that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace.

According to the tradition begun by the Servant of God Paul VI, I wrote for this occasion a special message, choosing the theme 'Fight poverty, build peace".

In this way, I wish to place myself once more in dialog with the responsible authorities of nations and international organizations, offering the contribution of the Catholic Church for the promotion of a world order worthy of man.

At the beginning of a new year, my first objective is to invite everyone - governing powers as well as simple citizens - not to be discouraged in the face of difficulties and failures, but to renew their commitment and efforts.

The second half of 2008 saw the emergence of an economic crisis of vast proportions. This crisis must be read in its profundity, as a grave symptom that requires intervention into its causes.

It is not enough, as Jesus would say, to place new patches on old clothes (cfr Mk 2, 21). To place the poor in first place means to move decisively towards that global brotherhood that John Paul II had said was necessary, bringing together the potentials of the market with those of civilian society (cfr Message, 3), in constant respect of legality, and always aiming for the common good.

Jesus Christ did not organize campaigns against poverty but he announced the Gospel to the poor, towards an integral rescue from material and moral poverty. The Church does the same thing, with its incessant work of evangelization and human promotion.

Let us invoke the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, so that she may help all men to walk together along the path of peace.


After the prayers, he said:

I wish to thank everyone who have sent their best wishes for the New Year. In particular, I express my gratitude to the President of the Italian Republic, and from my heart, I renew to him and to the Italian nation my best wishes for peace and prosperity.

I greet with joy the participants in the 'Pacem in terris' March promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome and in 70 countries around the world.

I express my appreciation for the numerous initiatives of prayer and reflection for peace, among them that of the Italian bishops' conference which took place last night in Palermo.

Thus the new year begins with steps taken by peacemakers. I thank you for all these gestures. May the Lord help us and grant us peace!

Finally, in Italian, he addressed special words to "the families of the Movimento dell'Amore Familale, who held a prayer vigil overnight in St. Peter's Square to pray for peace in men's hearts, in families adn among peoples".

He also greeted the youth of the Opera Don Orione who took part in an 'Alternative New Year's Eve', and students and teachers belonging to Comunione e Liberazione.


[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii232/TERESA7_album/0101-ANGELUS-2.jpg[/IMG]


Here is what the AP and Reuters took from the Pope's words:


Pope seeks major changes
to financial system

[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii232/TERESA7_album/FORUM-2/AP.jpg[/IMG]



VATICAN CITY, Jan. 1 (AP) -- Pope Benedict is challenging world leaders to make major changes to the global financial system.

In his New Year's Day blessing, the Pope said short-term answers to the financial crisis aren't enough. Paraphrasing Jesus, Benedict said it's “not enough” to “put patches on an old suit.”

Thousands of people huddled under umbrellas in a rain-soaked St. Peter's Square to hear the Pope's message.

The Pope echoed a similar theme in his New Year's Day homily, saying the crisis should be seen as a test-case about the future of globalization.

Benedict has spoken out frequently about the financial crisis. He used the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, celebrated every Jan. 1, to emphasize his belief that the meltdown shows the need for greater solidarity with the poor.


Pope says economic crisis
needs more than quick fix

[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii232/TERESA7_album/FORUM-2/REUTERS1.jpg [/IMG]


VATICAN CITY, Jan. 1 (Reuters) – Pope Benedict ushered in the New Year on Thursday by appealing for solidarity worldwide to fight global poverty made worse by the financial crisis.

The Pontiff, delivering a traditional New Year prayer for peace, said the economic downturn needed more than quick fixes and should be regarded as an opportunity to narrow the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

"This crisis needs to be looked at in depth, as a grave symptom that requires intervention on its causes," the Pope told crowds gathered in a rainy St. Peter's Square.

"It is not enough -- as Jesus would say -- to put a few new patches on an old garment," the Pope said, adding that the world's poor and their needs must become a priority.

In recent months, the German-born Benedict has sharply criticized the global financial system, branding it as self-centered, short-sighted and lacking in concern for the destitute.

Speaking earlier on Thursday at St. Peter's Basilica, the leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics called for a new virtuous cycle of solidarity and sobriety, saying poverty threatened peace the world over.

"The current global economic crisis must also be viewed as a test: are we ready to look at it, in all its complexity, as a challenge for the future and not just as an emergency that needs short-lived responses?" the Pope said.

"Are we prepared for a deep revision of the dominant development model to correct it in a concerted and far-sighted fashion?

"The state of the planet's environment and above all the cultural and moral crisis ... are demanding this, even more than the immediate financial problems," he added.

During mass at the Basilica, Benedict reiterated his appeal for an end to the conflict in the Gaza Strip, saying that violence was also a form of poverty and that a large majority of Israelis and Palestinians wanted peace.


benefan
Thursday, January 01, 2009 9:19 PM
The Woman in Red at Midnight Mass

Remember the mysterious woman in red who jumped over the barricade and was wrestled to the ground by security right in front of Papa as he processed out of Midnight Mass in St. Peters? Here is a link to a story that appeared in several German newspapers about the woman's intent.

www.welt.de/politik/article2947895/Geistig-verwirrte-Frau-wollte-Benedikt-XVI-beis...

Unfortunately, the story is in German which I can't translate but basically it says that she was upset with Papa's so-called comments about homosexuals and planned to hug him and bite him on the neck in retaliation.

I believe I mentioned earlier in a discussion about the media's attempts to portray Papa as viciously homophobic, that they were pouring gasoline on fire which could cause a dangerous situation. This crazy woman is one example of how that comes to pass.


********************************************************************


Here's a quick translation:


Disturbed woman meant
to bite Benedict

Translated from
[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii232/TERESA7_album/FORUM-3%20052208/FORUM-5%20LOGOSBANNERS/DIE-WELT.jpg[/IMG]
Dec. 29, 2008


A psychologically unstable woman tried on Chtristmas Eve to bite the Pope on the neck. This was reported by the Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten online citing a report from a Swiss Guard. The woman reportedly wished to avenge herself on the Pope for his statements about homosexuality.

The woman is reportedly Italian but lives in Switzerland where she is under psychiatric treatment. She was immediately subdued by the Pope's security men when she tried to approach him after the Midnight Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve. She reportedly carried no weapons, and remained under police custody.

In 2007 a 27-year-old German man jumped over a police barrier to approach the Popemobile after a general audience in St. Peter's Square. He too was subdued instantaneously by the Pope's security.


The Reuters reporter (and his editors) who started it all by blatantly claiming the Pope said saving mankind from homosexuals was just as important as saving the rainforests should be tarred and quartered. It was this poisonous and flagrantly false paraphrase that most people, including other media, have been reacting to, not what the Pope really said, which his critics, of course, have no intention or desire to check out. Such media pandering really caters to borderline lunatics.

Here is what I commented when I posted the report on Dec. 22:

But this late in the year, Reuters perhaps takes the prize for wilfully skewing its news for maximum headline 'sensation'. From a 5-page speech, this is what its Vatican reporter chose to report first, and unfortunately, the headline is all that anti-Church critics will need - or read - to start anti-Pope lynch mobs in defense of homosexuals.

Pope likens 'saving' gays
to saving the rainforest

[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii232/TERESA7_album/FORUM-2/REUTERS1.jpg[/IMG]
...

subsequently perpetrated in all the media worldwide, the way even supposedly 'reputable' [ which no longer necessarily means 'responsible'] outlets like TIME did: TIME:

Pope Benedict XVI has said that saving humanity from transsexual behavior
is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

By Jeff Israely
[IMG]http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/4627/enuslogotimehl9.gif[/IMG]
Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008

with the predictable results. The only thing we cna be thankful for is that homosexual activists and their advocates do not number anywhere near the 1.2 billion Muslims who were the potential tinder for the Regensburg misrepresentation.


The more I think about it, the more worked up I get about irresponsible journalists. The crazy woman gives me an idea of what to compare them to - vampires, who feed on innocent blood and would suck their victims dry if they could.

TERESA

***************************************

Thanks for the translation, Teresa. I get worked up about the irresponsible media too and even more so about any threat to our beloved Papa. To think a woman would try something so bizarre and awful.... She has to be loony. Most sane women are benaddicts.

benefan



I did not , of course, mean to imply in any way that I was not concerned about the Holy Father's safety! We all are about anything that concerns him - his health, his security, his well-being, his happiness, his life.

But his security arrangements appear to be more than adequate so far, and there will be crazies anywhere any time, who can and will act with or without provocation. That is why in this case, my outrage is all directed at the irresponsible media.


TERESA








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