Wednesday, May 09, 2012 2:33 PM
Audience: Praying for Peter and the Church
May 9, 2012
The story of the Lord’s liberation of Peter from prison tells us that the Church, each one of us, “goes through a night of trial”, but that it is the unceasing vigilance of prayer that sustains us, said Pope Benedict Wednesday as he continued his lessons on the power of prayer as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.
In a very personnel comment on the narrative, the Pope who is the 264th Successor of St Peter, told the thousands who crammed into St Peter’s Square for the Wednesday audience: “I, too, from the first moment of my election as the Successor of St. Peter, I have always felt supported by the prayers of you all, by the prayer of the Church, especially by your prayers, especially during difficult times. Thank you from my heart”. Applause greeted the Holy Father’s words.
He continued “With constant and trusting prayer the Lord frees us from the chains, guides us through every night of captivity that can gnaw at our hearts, gives us the peace of heart to face the difficulties of life, even rejection, opposition, persecution”.
But this only if "the whole community together speaks with God, truly praying assiduously and unanimously. Even the discourse on God, in fact, may lose its inner strength and witness dries up if they are not animated, supported and accompanied by prayer, by the continuity of a living dialogue with the Lord. An important reminder for us and for our communities, both small ones such as the family, as well as more extensive ones such as the parish, the diocese, the whole Church. It makes me think that they prayed in this community of James, but prayed badly, only for their own passions[…]. We must continually learn to pray well, really pray, directed towards God and not towards our own good".
Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s catechesis this Wednesday:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today I will touch on the last episode in the life of St. Peter as told in the Acts of the Apostles: his imprisonment by order of Herod Agrippa and his release through the miraculous intervention of the Angel of the Lord, on the eve of his trial in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 12.1 to 17).
The story is once again marked by the prayer of the Church. St. Luke, in fact, writes: "Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf" (Acts 12.5). And, after miraculously walking out of prison, on the occasion of his visit to the house of Mary, the mother of John, Mark, states that "many people gathered in prayer" (Acts 12:12). Between these two important records that show the attitude of the Christian community in the face of danger and persecution, the detention and liberation of Peter is narrated, which comprises all night. The strength of the unceasing prayer of the Church rises to God and the Lord hears and carries out an unthinkable and un-hoped for deliverance, sending His Angel.
The story recalls the great elements of the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, the Passover. As was essential in that event, here too the main action is accomplished by the Angel of the Lord who frees Peter. And the same actions of the Apostle - who is asked to stand up quickly, to put on his belt and sandals - these events are based on those of the elected people on the night of deliverance from God's intervention when they were invited to eat the lamb in a hurry with their loins girded, sandals on their feet, stick in hand, ready to leave the country (cf. Ex 12:11). Thus, Peter can exclaim: "Now I really know that the Lord sent His Angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod" (Acts 12:11). But the Angel not only recalls the liberation of Israel from Egypt, but also that of the Resurrection of Christ. The Acts of the Apostles tells us so: “Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him"(Acts 12.7). The light that fills the room of the prison, the very act of arousing the Apostle, refers to the liberating light of the Passover of the Lord that overcomes the darkness of the night and evil. The invitation, finally, “Put on your cloak and follow me" (Acts 12.8), echoes in our hearts the words of the initial call of Jesus (cf. Mk 1.17), repeated after the resurrection of the lake of Tiberias, where the Lord says twice to Peter, "Follow me" (Jn 21, 19.22). It is a pressing invitation to follow him: only by coming out of yourself in order to start walking with the Lord and doing His will, will you experience true freedom.
I would like to emphasize another aspect of the attitude of Peter in prison; we note, in fact, that while the Christian community prays earnestly for him, Peter, "was asleep" (Acts 12.6) so says St. Luke. In such a critical situation of serious danger, this attitude may seem odd, but it denotes trust and confidence, he trusts in God, he knows he is surrounded by the solidarity and prayer and abandons himself totally in the hands of Lord. So must be our prayer, assiduous, in solidarity with others, fully trusting that God knows us deeply and takes care of us to the point that – as Jesus says - "the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid ... "(Mt 10, 30-31). Peter lives the night of his captivity and liberation from prison as a follower of the Lord, who overcomes the darkness of the night and frees from the chains of slavery and the danger of death. His release is prodigious, marked by several carefully described steps: guided by the Angel, despite the surveillance of the guards, through the first and second guard post, until the iron door leading into the city: and the door opens on its own in front of them (cf. Acts 12.10). Peter and the Angel of the Lord, travel a stretch of road together until, returning to himself, the Apostle realizes that the Lord has truly freed him and, after some thought, he went into the house of Mary, the mother of Mark where many disciples were gathered in prayer; once again the community's response to difficulty and danger is to rely on God, strengthening the relationship with Him.
Here it seems useful to recall another difficult situation that the first Christian community experienced. St. James speaks of it in his letter. It is a community in crisis, in difficulty, not because of persecution but because there are jealousies and contentions inside (cf. Jas 3.14 to 16). And the Apostle ponders the reason for this situation. And he finds two principal reasons: the first is allowing oneself to be dominated by passions, by the dictatorship of their own desires, egoism (cf. Jas 4.1-2a), the second is lack of prayer - " you do not ask," he says (James 4.2 b) - You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." (James 4.3). This situation would change, according to St. James, if the whole community together speaks with God, truly praying assiduously and unanimously. Even the discourse on God, in fact, may lose its inner strength and testimony dries up if they are not animated, supported and accompanied by prayer, by the continuity of a living dialogue with the Lord. An important reminder for us and for our communities, both small ones such as the family, as well as more extensive ones such as the parish, the diocese, the whole Church. It makes me think that they prayed in this community of James, but prayed badly, only for their own passions[…]. We must continually learn to pray well, really pray, directed towards God and not towards our own good.
The community, however, that accompanies the imprisonment of Peter is a community that really prays, all night long, deeply united. And it is a sheer joy that fills the hearts of all when the Apostle knocks at the door unexpectedly. It is joy and amazement at the action of God who listens. So from the Church rises the prayer for Peter and he returns to the Church to tell "how the Lord had brought him out of prison" (Acts 12:17). To the Church where he is placed as a rock (cf. Mt 16:18), Peter tells of the "Passover" of his liberation: he experiences that true freedom is in following Jesus, it is surrounded by the radiant light of the Resurrection, and for this he is able to witness to the point of martyrdom that the Lord is Risen, and "for certain that [the] Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod" (Acts 12:11). The martyrdom he goes on to suffer in Rome will join him permanently to Christ, who told him: when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God (cf. Jn 21.18-19).
Dear brothers and sisters, the story of the liberation of Peter as told by Luke tells us that the Church, each of us, goes through the night of trial, but it is the unceasing vigilance of prayer that sustains us. I, too, from the first moment of my election as the Successor of St. Peter, I have always felt supported by the prayers of you all, by the prayer of the Church, especially by your prayers, especially during difficult times thank you from my heart. With constant and trusting prayer the Lord frees us from the chains, guides us through every night of captivity that can gnaw at our hearts, gives us the peace of heart to face the difficulties of life, even rejection, opposition, persecution. The episode of Peter shows this power of prayer. And the Apostle, though in chains, feels confident in the certainty of never being alone: the community is praying for him, the Lord is near, even he knows that "the strength of Christ is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12.9). Unanimous and constant prayer is a precious instrument in overcoming all of the trials that may arise in the path of life, because it is our being deeply united with God that allows us to also be deeply united to others. Thank you.
* * * * *
I offer a warm welcome to the participants in the Conference on Combating Human Trafficking hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. My greeting also goes to the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce from New York. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.
Saturday, May 12, 2012 6:45 AM
Pope to create Australian ordinariate for Anglicans
Vatican City, May 11, 2012 / 04:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI will continue the expansion of the new Catholic Church structure created for former Anglicans by launching an ordinariate for Australia on June 15.
“I am confident that those former Anglicans who have made a journey in faith that has led them to the Catholic Church will find a ready welcome,” said Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, who serves as president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Australia’s Anglican ordinariate will be called the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, under the patronage of St. Augustine of Canterbury. It will have the status of a diocese.
The ordinariate is intended for Anglicans and former Anglicans who wish to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining some of their customs and liturgical traditions.
The Australian bishops have put in place procedures to help Anglican clergy and laity join the Catholic Church through the ordinariate, the bishops said May 11.
The ordinariate for England and Wales launched in 2011, while the U.S. ordinariate launched on January 1, 2012.
In England and Wales there are at least 40 ordinariate groups with 60 priests, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham magazine The Portal reports. Several of its members are former Anglican bishops.
As of January, 1,400 individuals from 22 communities have expressed interest in joining, the U.S. ordinariate. About 60 current or former Anglican priests are preparing to be ordained Catholic priests for it, according to the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
The U.S. ordinariate will open its first parish in Scranton, Pa. this August.
Saturday, May 12, 2012 6:50 AM
Traditionalist leader says group could divide over unity with Rome
By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service
May 11, 2012
MENZINGEN, Switzerland (CNS) -- The leader of a breakaway group of traditionalist Catholics spoke in unusually hopeful terms about a possible reconciliation with Rome, but acknowledged significant internal resistance to such a move, which he said might lead to the group splitting apart.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, spoke to Catholic News Service May 11 at the society's headquarters in Switzerland about the latest events in more than two years of efforts at reconciliation with the Vatican.
The society effectively broke with Rome in 1988, when its founder, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops without the permission of Blessed John Paul II in a protest against modernizing changes that followed the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.
In April the society responded to a "doctrinal preamble" stipulating the group's assent to certain church teachings, presumably including elements of the teaching of Vatican II, as a prerequisite for reconciliation. The Vatican has yet to respond, but the director of the Vatican press office initially described the latest position as a "step forward."
The society is hardly united behind its leader's position, however. In April, according to a letter which surfaced on the Internet May 10, the society's other three bishops warned Bishop Fellay that the Vatican's apparent offer to establish the group as a personal prelature -- a status currently held only by Opus Dei -- constituted a "trap," and urged him to say no.
"There are some discrepancies in the society," Bishop Fellay told CNS. "I cannot exclude that there might be a split."
But the bishop defended his generally favorable stance toward the Vatican's offer against the objections of his peers.
"I think that the move of the Holy Father -- because it really comes from him -- is genuine. There doesn't seem to be any trap," he said. "So we have to look into it very closely and if possible move ahead."
He cautioned, however, that the two sides still have not arrived at an agreement, and that unspecified guarantees from the Vatican are still pending. He said the guarantees are related to the society's traditional liturgical practices and teachings, among other areas.
"The thing is not yet done," the bishop said. "We need some reasonable understanding that the proposed structure and conditions are workable. We are not going to do suicide there, that's very clear."
Bishop Fellay insisted the impetus for a resolution comes from Pope Benedict XVI.
"Personally, I would have wished to wait for some more time to see things clearer," he said, "but once again it really appears that the Holy Father wants it to happen now."
Bishop Fellay spoke appreciatively of what he characterized as the pope's efforts to correct "progressive" deviations from Catholic teaching and tradition since Vatican II. "Very, very delicately -- he tries not to break things -- but tries also to put in some important corrections," the bishop said.
Although he stopped short of endorsing Pope Benedict's interpretation of Vatican II as essentially in continuity with the church's tradition -- a position which many in the society have vocally disputed -- Bishop Fellay spoke about the idea in strikingly sympathetic terms.
"I would hope so," he said, when asked if Vatican II itself belongs to Catholic tradition.
"The pope says that ... the council must be put within the great tradition of the church, must be understood in accordance with it. These are statements we fully agree with, totally, absolutely," the bishop said. "The problem might be in the application, that is: is what happens really in coherence or in harmony with tradition?"
Insisting that "we don't want to be aggressive, we don't want to be provocative," Bishop Fellay said the Society of St. Pius X has served as a "sign of contradiction" during a period of increasing progressive influence in the church. He also allowed for the possibility that the group would continue to play such a role even after reconciliation with Rome.
"People welcome us now, people will, and others won't," he said. "If we see some discrepancies within the society, definitely there are also (divisions) in the Catholic Church."
"But we are not alone" in working to "defend the faith," the bishop said. "It's the pope himself who does it; that's his job. And if we are called to help the Holy Father in that, so be it."
Saturday, May 12, 2012 5:04 PM
Pope attends concert at Vatican
May 12, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI attended a concert yesterday evening in the Paul VI Hall here at the Vatican, offered by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, in honour of the Holy Father, to whom President Napolitano also gave gifts of a prestigious violin and an antique score to Zimmerman’s Missa solemnis from the first half of the 19th century.
The concert Friday evening featured sacred music by the Italian composers Antonio Vivaldi and Giuseppe Verdi.
Speaking at the end of the concert, Pope Benedict thanked President Napolitano, the featured soloists, the performers of the Rome Opera, orchestra conductor Maestro Riccardo Muti – whom Benedict decorated with a Papal knighthood: the Grand Cross of St Gregory the Great - and all those who had a part in organizing the event. “Let us pray,” said Pope Benedict, that, after hearing the evening’s music, “we might be able ourselves to say to God: ‘In you, O Lord, I place with joy my hope. Make it so that I might love you as your Holy Mother, so that my soul, at the end of the journey, might be given the glory of Paradise’.”
The Concert followed a private meeting between the Pope and the President.
A statement from the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, reports that the meeting between Pope Benedict and President Napolitano was a cordial one that lasted 20 minutes, during which they expressed a common concern for peace, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East.
The statement goes on to say that the Holy Father expressed his personal gratitude to the President for the concert given in his honour, and renewed promises of his love for Italy and his closeness to all citizens of the Italian Republic, assuring the President of his continuing prayers in this difficult and challenging time for the country.
Saturday, May 12, 2012 5:06 PM
Peace building Rondine Community prepares to greet Pope in Arezzo
May 12, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI travels to the Italian region of Tuscany Sunday May 13th, where he will make a one day visit to Arezzo, La Verna and Sansepolcro, three towns with a long history of monasticism and contemplative life.
Travelling by helicopter first to Arezzo, the Pope will celebrate Mass there and lunch with the bishops of the Tuscany region before continuing his trip with a short flight to La Verna.
There he will visit the Chapel of the Wounds, the location where St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata in the year 1224. He will also meet with Franciscan friars and Poor Clare nuns. A final leg of the trip will take him to Sansepolcro, and the cathedral that is home to the famous crucifix known as the Santo Volto (Holy Face). He will return to the Vatican later Sunday evening.
Among those who will be greeting the Pope in Arezzo are staff and students of the lay community “Rondine, Cittadella della Pace” which supports young people from war-torn countries through conflict resolution and peace building programs while they live together in community and further their education in Italy.
The community, located in the village of Rondine, Arezzo, was first established in the late 1970s by a number of Italians who belonged to a small church group in Arezzo intent on helping families in need.
In the late 80’s, the Rondine Community travelled to Russia where they presented a Musical based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, making a series of contacts and friendships that were to endure through ensuing years of conflict in the region and beyond.
Rondine Educational Coordinator, Ursula Armstrong recalls what she describes as the turning point for the Community at the height of the war in Chechnya in the 1990s. The Community was asked to host Chechen students whose university had been destroyed. The community accepted on the condition that Russian students would also be allowed to participate.
Speaking to Tracey McClure, Ursula says “That was the spark that set off the whole development of the association,” and she explains, acknowledging that the first steps towards making friends out of enemies were “a bit rocky.”
She says “Talking about living together with your so-called enemy is easy using words. Yes, we’re all for peace,’ you know, it's fairly easy. But when it comes to having to share the same spaces, share the same fridge, share the same washing machine, it wasn’t always so easy in the beginning.”
Though it still isn’t easy some twenty years on, the Community chooses from a range of candidates from varying backgrounds to ensure that each group compliments the others. With funding from Italian and EU authorities, the Church and private donors, the association takes 12-15 students each year for a minimum stay of one and a half years. They come from war-torn countries in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel, India and Pakistan and many others. The aim, Armstrong says, is to overturn stereotypes and misconceptions and build lasting friendships between young people who in different circumstances might remain enemies. A lesson in peace to take back home…
Sunday, May 13, 2012 2:31 PM
Pope: Through Mary, reacting to the temptation of discouragement in the face of economic crisis
May 13, 2012
Benedict XVI, on a pastoral visit to Arezzo, calls on the city and the Italian society to gain strength from faith and love in the Christian and humanist tradition to address the challenges and difficulties experienced by families, poor and young. Along with prayer and solidarity, the need to change lifestyles "going against an ephemeral culture "and “beyond purely materialistic ideologies that often mark our age and end up clouding our sense of solidarity and charity ".
Arezzo (AsiaNews) - "Through Mary, we ask God for the moral comfort, so that the community Arezzo, and the whole of Italy, react to the temptation of discouragement, and strengthened by s great humanist tradition, decidedly resume the path of spiritual and ethical renewal, which alone can lead to a genuine improvement of social and civic life": this Benedict XVI's prayer at the Regina Caeli today, held in Arezzo, where he is on a pastoral visit. The words of the pope, at the end of the Mass celebrated in the city's "Il Prato" Park, offer a way to react to the economic crisis that marks the city, Italy and the world.
Recalling the image of Our Lady of Consolation, which is kept in the cathedral, the pope said: "Mary always wants to comfort her children in times of difficulty and suffering. And this city has experienced its mother's rescue many times. Therefore also today, we entrust to her intercession all the individuals and families in your community who are in situations of great need. "
Benedict XVI had already touched on the economic crisis earlier in his homily during the Mass: "The complexity of problems - he said - makes it difficult to find quick and effective solutions to come out of the present situation which affects the weakest elements especially and greatly worries young people". The Pope's proposal was to rediscover the Christian and humanist values, characteristic of culture Arezzo: "The Word of God we have heard is a powerful invitation to live God's love towards all, and, among its distinctive values, the culture of this land includes solidarity, attention to the weak, respect for the dignity of all. Your capacity to welcome those who have come here recently in search of freedom and work, is well known. Showing solidarity with the poor, means recognizing the plan of God the Creator, who made us all one family".
The pope recalled that in the history of the city there are great Renaissance cultural figures like Francesco Petrarch and the Giulio Vasari; Popes such as Gregory X, "confronted the great problems of his time by calling the Council of Lyon; attention to the Holy Land; peace and relations among peoples - he was the first person in the West to exchange ambassadors with Kublai Khan in China." He hoped "that the City is always able to bring to fruition this precious heritage." At the same time, he asked for a conversion of lifestyles: " Since the remotest times, attention to others has moved the Church to show concrete signs of solidarity with those in need, sharing resources, promoting simpler lifestyles, going against an ephemeral culture which has disappointed many and determined a profound spiritual crisis. May this Diocesan Church, enriched by the shining witness of St Francis of Assisi, continue to be caring and attentive towards those in need, and may it teach how to go beyond purely materialistic ideologies that often mark our age and end up clouding our sense of solidarity and charity.Witnessing to the love of God by caring for the weakest is tied to the defence of human life, from its beginning to its natural end. In your Region, ensuring everyone dignity, health and fundamental rights, is justly considered an indispensable good. The defence of the family, through laws that are just and protect the weakest elements, is always an important point that keeps the fabric of society strong and offers hope for the future. "
The Pope ended his homily with an invitation: "Continue serving God and man according to the teaching of Jesus, the shining example of your saints and the tradition of your people. May the maternal protection of Our Lady of Comfort, whom you love and venerate, accompany and sustain you in this task. Amen. "
Following Mass, the Pope went to the cathedral to venerate the image of Our Lady of Consolation and a meeting with the Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of Santa Teresa Margaret Redi. After lunch with the bishops of Tuscany, in the afternoon he visits the Franciscan sanctuary of La Verna.
Pope calls on Catholics to take part in new Renaissance
Florence, Italy, May 13, 2012 / 11:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI went to the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance to call upon every Catholic to once again play a full part in renewing today’s culture.
“Be ferment in society, be present as Christians, be active and coherent,” said the Pope during morning Mass in the town of Arezzo in the region of Tuscany May 13.
“The whole Church is sent out into the world to preach the Gospel and salvation. But it is always God’s initiative; he calls us to different ministries, so that each one plays his proper role for the common good.”
Pope Benedict was making a one day visit to the Tuscan towns of Arezzo, La Verna and Sansepolcro. In Arezzo he offered Mass in a local park before a congregation numbering in the tens of thousands.
The Pope noted that the area was the birthplace of “great Renaissance personalities” such as the poet Petrarch and painter and architect Varasi. Such men had played “an active role in affirming that concept of man which left its mark on the history of Europe, drawing strength from Christian values.”
Given these historical precedents, the Pope asked, “what vision of man are we proposing to new generations?” He suggested that an invitation to live God’s love towards all people should see a new Christian culture embody “distinctive values” including “solidarity, attention to the weak, respect for the dignity of all.”
This is particularly manifested, he said, in the “defense of human life, from its beginning to its natural end” and “the defense of the family, through laws that are just and protect the weakest elements.”
Later in the day the Pope travelled on to the town of La Verna to visit the Chapel of the Wounds. It was there that St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata in the year 1224.
With Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in the congregation at morning Mass, the Pope offered the “shining witness of St. Francis” as a guide to how Christians should cope with the current economic downturn in Italy and beyond.
“Since the remotest times, attention to others has moved the Church to show concrete signs of solidarity with those in need, sharing resources, promoting simpler lifestyles, going against an ephemeral culture which has disappointed many and determined a profound spiritual crisis,” he said.
At the conclusion of Mass the Pope led the congregation in the Eastertide Marian prayer, the Regina Coeli. He prayed that each pilgrim would “continue serving God and man according to the teaching of Jesus, the shining example of your saints and the tradition of your people” and he commended them to the “maternal protection of Our Lady of Comfort, whom you love and venerate, accompany and sustain you in this task.”
The Pope’s final stop in the day was the town of Sansepolcro to make a pilgrimage to the famous crucifix known as the Santo Volto or Holy Face which resides in the local cathedral. The artwork is an unusual carved wooden crucifix made from a single walnut log between the eighth and ninth centuries.
Pope Benedict XVI will return to the Vatican later Sunday evening.
HONESTY AND DISINTERESTED ALTRUISM MUST GIVE NEW FLAVOUR TO CIVIL SOCIETY
Vatican City, 13 May 2012 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. today the Holy Father arrived by helicopter at the town of Sansepolcro which is currently celebrating the thousandth year of its foundation. Before going there he had been due to travel to the shrine of La Verna but because of bad weather and in particular fog, he was unable to do so and his visit to Sansepolcro was brought forward. There he met with local citizens in the Piazza Torre di Berta which for the occasion had been decorated with more than 300 standards.
Before meeting the locals, Benedict XVI visited the cathedral of St. John the Baptist where he paused in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and venerated a famous crucifix known as the "Santo Volto" (Holy Face), considered to be one of the oldest images of the the clothed and crucified Christ.
In his address to the citizenry the Pope recalled how a thousand years ago the pilgrim saints Arcano and Egidio, "in the midst of the great transformations of their time, set out for the Holy Land to discover truth and the meaning of life. On their return, not only did they bring stones they had gathered on Mount Sion, but also an idea they had matured in the Land of Jesus: constructing in the upper reaches of the Tiber valley a 'civitas hominis' in the image of Jerusalem which, in its very name, evokes justice and peace". Arcano and Egidio "imagined a complex model city full of hope for the future, in which Christ's disciples were called to be a motor of society, promoting peace through the practice of justice". Their idea became reality "thanks to the support first of the Benedictine then of the Camaldolese charism, and continued for generations. Great commitment was needed to found a monastic community and later, around their church, your town", the Holy Father said.
That church, he went on, is "a point of reference which everyone can use as guidance for their journey, and especially for their lives. It is a powerful invitation to look to heaven, to rise above daily life ... in a constant striving towards spiritual vales and communion with God, which do not alienate us from daily life but orient it and enable us to experience it more intensely. This also holds true today, helping us to rediscover the search for 'truth', to perceive life as a journey which brings us towards the 'true' and the 'right'".
"Today it is particularly important for the Church’s service to the world to be expressed through illuminated lay men and women, who are able to work inside the city of man, moved by a desire to serve which goes beyond private interests and partisan concerns. The common good is more important than the good of the individual, and Christians too must contribute to the growth of a new public ethic. ... Christians, and especially the young, are called to counterpoise widespread misgivings about political and social activism with commitment and love for responsibility, animated by evangelical charity which requires us not to remain closed in ourselves but to take responsibility for others. I invite young people to think big: Have the courage to dare. Be ready to give new flavour to civil society, with the salt of honesty and disinterested altruism".
One of the main challenges facing the ancient town of Sansepolcro is "harmonising a rediscovery of its own centuries-old identity with welcoming and incorporating other cultures and sensibilities", the Pope observed. "St. Paul teaches us that the Church and the whole of society are like a human body in which each part is different from the others, but all work together for the good of the organism".
Finally Benedict XVI recalled that the basilica "is the seat of rediscovered harmony between worship and civic life, the point of reference for the pacification of souls. Just as your forefathers were able to build a splendid church of stone as a sign of communion of life, so it is up to you to make the meaning of this sacred building visible and credible, living in peace in the ecclesial and civil communities. ... Look to your rich cultural heritage and be a living Church at the service of the Gospel. A hospitable and generous Church which with her witness brings the love of God to all human beings, especially those who suffer and are in need".
Following his address and after greeting the local authorities, the Holy Father began his return journey to Rome.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 2:13 PM
Fellay visits Rome ahead of cardinals’ decision on proposed modifications to doctrinal preamble
The Superior of the Society of St. Pius X was received by the Ecclesia Dei commission last weekend
May 14, 2012
One more step has been taken towards a resolution of the crisis, which the Pope has been pushing for. Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior of the Society of St. Pius X was in Rome this weekend, for a meeting with Pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei. Vatican Insider has learnt that during the meeting, attendees discussed some of the modifications Fellay had proposed for the doctrinal preamble.
The outcome seems to have been positive. In the morning of Wednesday 16 May, the Feria Quarta meeting will be held in the Palace of the Holy Office. The Feria Quarta is a meeting between cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who have been called to express their views on the modifications to the text that was sent to the Lefebvrian superior. The result of the discussions will be communicated to the Pope a few days later. The meeting will be attended by cardinals and bishops of the Roman Curia and from important dioceses, including Cardinals Jean-Pierre Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux and Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna.
The Prefect of the Congregation, William Levada, who has reached the end of his mandate, will deliver the opinions expressed by each one of the fathers of the Feria Quarta, to Benedict XVI by hand. The Pope will then be able to assess not only the outcome of the final vote, but each individual’s decision as well, in order to make a completely independent decision. Apparently, the modifications proposed by Mgr. Fellay stress the importance of tradition as a stable element. The preamble, which was the starting point for the discussions, formed the core part of the doctrinal aspect of the agreement that was signed in 1988 by Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre. Lefebvre said he “accepted the doctrine contained in point No.25 of the Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, on the teachings of the Church and the compulsory compliance to these teachings.” With regard to the disagreement over some conciliar passages, he stated: “In terms of certain points taught by the Second Vatican Council or which regard subsequent liturgical and law reforms that do not seem to correspond with tradition; we strive to adopt a positive and communicative attitude towards the Apostolic See, avoiding any disputes.”
Last minute surprises are always possible, but judging by the last Feria Quarta meeting on this issue, and the opinions expressed by bishops and cardinals, there is a good chance that the outcome will be positive. Fellay’s recent meeting with Ecclesia Dei is said to have contributed to this likelihood.
What concerned the Vatican, was the content of the letter sent a month ago to Lefebvrian Superior Fellay by bishops Tissier de Mallerays, de Gallareta and Williamson. It was a tough letter which showed aversion to an agreement. Fellay replied to this letter with an important missive in which he outlined the reasons for his decision, in response to the Pope’s personal appeal. The publication of the confidential correspondence exchanged between Fellay and the three bishops caused a great deal of concern within the Holy See because it brought to light the existence of considerable opposition to the Fraternity’s return to full communion with Rome not by individual priests but by as many as three of the four bishops ordained by Lefebvre in 1988. The very bishops whose excommunication was revoked by Benedict XVI in January 2009.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 2:39 PM
POPE TO VISIT MILAN FOR WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES
Vatican City, 15 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father will visit the archdiocese of Milan on the occasion of the 7th World Meeting of Families to take place in that Italian city.
Benedict XVI will depart from Rome's Ciampino Airport on 1 June at 4:00pm and will arrive an hour later in Milan. At 5:30pm he will address those gathered in the Piazza del Duomo and, at 7:30pm, will attend a concert in his honour and that of the official delegations to the World Meeting of Families at the Scala Theatre.
On Saturday, 2 June, at 10:00am, the Pope will participate in the "Hora Media" at the cathedral. He will read the meditation and will venerate the relics of St. Charles Borromeo. At 11:15am in Meazza Stadium, he will greet children who are being confirmed and will then give a speech and pray the Angelus. At 5:00pm in the Throne Room of the bishop's palace he will meet with civil authorities and, at 8:30pm, will address the participants of the "Celebration of Witnesses" that will take place in the metropolitan park of Bresso.
On Sunday, 3 June, at 10:00am in Bresso's park, he will celebrate Holy Mass and will pray the Angelus. At 1:15pm, after lunch in the bishop's palace with cardinals, bishops, and some families, he will greet members of the Family Foundation 2012 and the organizers of the visit.
Benedict XVI's return flight to Rome will arrive at Ciampino Airport at 5:30pm, from where he will travel by helicopter to the Vatican heliport where he is expected to arrive at 6:45pm.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 2:43 PM
Pope: No human cry that God does not hear
May 16, 2012
Continuing his catechesis on Christian prayer, this Wednesday Pope Benedict turned to the teaching of the Apostle Paul, whose letters show us that “in reality there is no human cry that is not heard by God” and that “prayer does not exempt us from trial and suffering”, “but allows us to live and cope with a new force, with the same confidence of Jesus”.
Below a Vatican Radio translation of the original catechesis in Italian
Dear brothers and sisters,
in the last catechesis we reflected on prayer in the Acts of the Apostles, today I would like to begin to talk about prayer in the Letters of St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. I would first like to note that it is no accident that his letters are introduced by and conclude with expressions of prayer: they begin with thanksgiving and praise, and end with the hope that the grace of God guide the path of the communities to which they are addressed. Among the opening salutations: “First, I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ" (Rom. 1.8), and the final wish: "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" (1 Cor 16:23), the contents of the Letters of the Apostle are developed. That of St. Paul is a prayer that is manifested in a wealth of forms, ranging from thanksgiving to blessing, praise to the request and intercession, from hymn to supplication: a variety of expressions that demonstrates how prayer involves and penetrates all situations of life, both personal and community life.
One element that the Apostle would have us understand is that prayer should not be seen simply as a good work done by us towards God, as our own action. It is above all a gift, the fruit of the living, real, life-giving presence of the Father and Jesus Christ in us. In his Letter to the Romans he writes: "In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings" (Rom 8.26). And we know that is true when the apostle says we do not know how to pray as we ought to pray, we want to pray, but God is far away, we do not have the words, the language to talk with God, not even the thought. We can only open ourselves up, make time available for God; wait for Him to help us truly enter into dialogue. And the Apostle says this lack of words, this absence of words, but this desire to communicate with God is prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but it brings, interprets before God. This weakness before God through the Holy Spirit becomes real prayer, real contact with God. The Holy Spirit is the interpreter that helps us understand, God understand, what we mean”.
In prayer we experience, more than in other dimensions of existence, our weakness, our poverty, our being creatures, because we are faced with the omnipotence and transcendence of God. The more we progress in 'listening and in dialogue with God, so that prayer becomes the daily breath of our soul, the more we perceive the sense of our limitations, not only before concrete every day situations, but also in our relationship with the Lord. Thus the need grows within us to increasingly entrust ourselves to and rely on Him; we understand - as the Apostle says - that “we do not know how to pray as we ought “(Rom. 8.26). It is the Holy Spirit who helps our inability, enlightens our minds and warms our hearts, guiding our turning to God. For St. Paul prayer is above all the work of the Holy Spirit in our humanity, who takes on our weakness and transforms from men bound to the material things to spiritual men: in the First Letter to the Corinthians he says, "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms"(2:12-13). Through his living in our human frailty, the Holy Spirit changes us, intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings and leads us to the heights of God (cf. Rom 8.26).
With this presence of the Holy Spirit our union with Christ is realised, since it is the Spirit of the Son of God, in which we become children. St. Paul speaks of the Spirit of Christ (cf. Rom 8.9) and not only the Spirit of God. It is obvious that if Christ is the son of God, his spirit is also the spirit of God, and so if the spirit of God, the spirit of Christ, it becomes very close to us in the Son of God and Son of Man, the Holy Spirit of God becomes human and touches us. We can enter into the communion of the Spirit. It is like saying that not only God the Father made himself visible in the Incarnation of the Son, but the Spirit of God is manifested in the life and work of Jesus Christ who lived, was crucified, died and resurrected. The Apostle reminds us that “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 12.3). So the Spirit directs our hearts to Jesus Christ, so that "we no longer live, but Christ lives in us" (cf. Gal 2.20). In his Catechesis on the Sacraments, reflecting on the Eucharist, St. Ambrose states: "Who is inebriated by the Spirit is rooted in Christ" (5, 3, 17: PL 16, 450).
I would now like to highlight three consequences in our Christian life when we allow not the spirit of the world to operate in us, but the Spirit of Christ as an inner principle of all our actions.
First of all, with prayer animated by the Spirit we are enabled to abandon and overcome every form of fear or slavery, experiencing the true freedom of the children of God. Without the prayer that nourishes our being in Christ every day, in an intimacy that steadily grows, we are in the condition described by St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans Chapter 7: For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. (cf. Rom 7:19). This is the expression of the alienation of human beings, the destruction of our freedom for our being, for original sin. We want good, we do not do it and we do what we do not want, evil. The Apostle would have us understand that it is not above all our will that frees us from this condition, nor the law, but the Holy Spirit. And since "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17), in prayer we experience the freedom bestowed by the Spirit: an authentic freedom which is freedom from evil and sin for good and for life, for God. The Spirit of freedom, St. Paul continues, is never identified either with licentiousness, or with the possibility of choosing evil, but with the "fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. "(Gal 5.22). This is true freedom, to really follow our desire for good, the true joy of communion with God and not be overwhelmed by the circumstances that lead us in other directions.
A second consequence that occurs in our lives when we allow the Spirit of Christ operate in us is that our relationship with God becomes so deep that it is not be impacted by any reality or situation. We understand that with prayer we are not freed from trial or suffering, but we can live them in union with Christ, his sufferings, with a view to participating in his glory (cf. Rom 8.17). Many times, in our prayer, we ask God for deliverance from spiritual and physical evil, and do so with great confidence. However, we often have the impression of not being listened to and then we risk losing heart and perseverance. In reality there is no human cry that is not heard by God, and in constant and faithful prayer we understand with St. Paul that "the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us" (Romans 8:18). Prayer does not exempt us from trial and suffering, indeed - as Saint Paul says - " we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom. 8, 23), but allows us to live and cope with a new force, with the same confidence of Jesus, who - according to the Letter to the Hebrews - "in the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his reverence "(5.7). The response of God the Father to the Son and his loud cries and tears was not the immediate release from suffering, from the cross, from death, but it was a much greater fulfilment, a much deeper response, through the cross and death God has answered with the resurrection of the Son, with new life. Prayer animated by the Holy Spirit also leads us to live the journey of life each day with its trials and sufferings, in the full hope and trust in God who answers just as he answered his Son.
And the third. Finally, the prayer of the believer is also open to the dimensions of humanity and all of creation, "for creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God;” (Rom 8.19). This means that prayer, sustained by the Spirit of Christ which speaks in the depths of our being, never stays closed in on itself, is never only pray for oneself, but is open to sharing the sufferings of our time, of others. It becomes intercession for others, and so deliverance from oneself, a channel of hope for all creation, an expression of that love of God that is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (cf. Rom 5.5). This is the sign of true prayer which is not for oneself, but open to others. And thus it frees us, thus it helps redeem the world.
Dear brothers and sisters, St. Paul teaches us that in our prayer, we must open ourselves to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, who prays in us with inexpressible groanings, to bring us to adhere to God with our whole heart and with all our being. The Spirit of Christ becomes the strength of our "weak" prayer, the light of our “dimmed” prayer, the focus of our "dry" prayer, giving us true inner freedom, teaching us to live by facing our trials, in the certainty we are not alone, opening us up to the horizons of humanity and creation "that is groaning in labour pains even until now" (Rom. 8:22). Thank you.
Prayer in the Letters of St. Paul
Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - After having examined prayer in the Acts of the Apostles, Benedict XVI announced that he will dedicate his next series of catechesis to prayer in the Letters of St. Paul, which always begin and end with an expression of prayer and which have given us a rich range of forms of prayer.
In Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square before more than 11,000 people, the Pope explained that the Apostle to the Gentiles wants us to understand that prayer "should not be seen as a simple good deed made to God, an action of our own. It is above all a gift, fruit of the living [and] revitalizing presence of the Father and of Jesus Christ in us".
When we pray we feel "our weakness ... our creatureliness, because we find ourselves before God's omnipotence and transcendence ... and we perceive our limitations ... and the necessity to trust ever more in Him". This then is when "the Holy Spirit helps us in our incapacity ... and guides us to turn toward God". Prayer, therefore, is mainly "the action of the Holy Spirit in our humanity that takes charge of our weakness and transforms us from persons who are bound to material reality into spiritual persons".
Among the effects of the action of the Spirit of Christ as the internal principle of all our acts, the Holy Father observed first that "prayer inspired by the Spirit gives us the possibility to abandon and overcome all forms of fear or slavery, living the true freedom of the children of God". Another consequence is that "our relationship with God becomes so deep that it is no longer affected by deeds or situations. We understand that prayer doesn't free us from trials or tribulations but we can live them in union with Christ, with His suffering, in view of also participating in His glory".
THERE IS NO HUMAN CRY THAT GOD DOES NOT HEAR
"Many times", the Pope said, "we ask God to deliver us from physical and spiritual evil ... however, we often have the impression that He doesn't hear us and we run the risk of becoming discouraged and of not persevering. In reality, there is no human cry that God does not hear. ... God the Father's answer to His son was not the immediate freedom from suffering, from the cross, or from death: through the cross and His death, God answered with the Resurrection".
Finally, "a believer's prayer, if open to the human dimension and to creation as a whole ...does not remain locked in on itself. It opens itself to share in the suffering of our time. It is thus converted into ... the channel of hope for all of creation and an expression of God's love that is poured into our hearts by means of the Spirit".
The apostle, the Holy Father concluded, teaches us that when we pray "we have to open ourselves to the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit ... in order to turn ourselves to God with our whole heart and our whole being. Christ's Spirit becomes the strength of our our 'weak' prayer, the light of our 'dim' prayer, ... teaching us to live while facing the trials of existence, in the certainty that we are not alone, opening ourselves to the horizons of humanity and the creation that 'is groaning in labour pains'".
Benedict XVI:Work Should not be an Obstacle to the Family
Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - "Work should not be an obstacle to the family, but should rather sustain and unite it", affirmed Benedict XVI in an appeal made at the end of today's general audience.
After recalling that yesterday was the celebration of the International Day of Families that the UN dedicated this year to the relationship between family and work, the Pope noted that work should favour the family, "helping it to be open to life and to enter into relationship with society and with the Church". At the same time, the pontiff expressed his wish that Sunday, "the Lord's day and a weekly Easter, be a day of rest and an occasion to strengthen family ties".
Also during the traditional greetings in different languages to the more than 11,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI highlighted that tomorrow celebrates the Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension. This feastday "invites us to look to Jesus who, ascending to heaven, entrusts the apostles with the mandate of carrying His message of salvation to the entire world... The Lord has prepared a place for each of us and it is waiting for us. May our thoughts and our deeds be directed toward our heavenly homeland".
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 2:56 PM
Looks like a decided split.
Communique on the Society of St. Pius X
Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - Early this afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued the following communique regarding the Society of St. Pius X:
"As reported by news agencies, today, 16 May 2012, an Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met to discuss the question of the Society of St. Pius X.
In particular, the text of the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, received on 17 April, 2012, was examined and some observations, which will be considered in further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, were formulated.
Regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly".
Lefebvrians. The debate isn’t over
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith examined Fellay’s latest reply and the positions of the Society of St. Pius X. In the next few days the Congregation’s report will reach the pope
May 16, 2012
Does what happened this morning during the meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith represent a stumble in the journey of negotiation with the Society of St. Pius X? Apparently not, even though the path seems full of new obstacles each day. The cardinals of the Congregation were struck by the publication of the correspondence between Mgr. Fellay and three other bishops
The members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who usually meet on a Wednesday, otherwise known as Feria Quarta, decided to extract the opinions of the three which will be dealt with “individually and separately”. In those letters the bishops clearly put on paper their belief that “it is impossible to come to an agreement with the Rome of today” because after “The Second Vatican Council the Church’s official authorities broke apart from the Catholic truth”. The publication of the letters, probably orchestrated by someone opposed to the return to full communion with Rome, caused repercussions.
In this morning’s meeting Fellay’s requests for explanations and the changes to the final ‘doctrinal preamble’ were discussed. Some cardinals, who preferred the text as originally drafted by the Congregation, expressed their worries and gave their votes conditionally. The result of this complex discussion will probably be given to Benedict XVI the day after tomorrow by cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation. The body’s judgment is not binding, the pope will be able to examine each member’s opinion and decide freely.
The cardinals’ considerations will be passed onto Fellay for the preparation of the final text of the ‘doctrinal preamble’. Once signed, the Superior of the Society of Pius X and the priests who will follow him will officially be reunited with the Catholic Church. The ratification might be imminent even though there are still obstacles to overcome. It will take time before the pope’s final decision is announced. In the last hours a story began to spread blog.messainlatino.it/
According to this rumour, Benedict XVI already knew of the requests for changes to the ‘doctrinal preamble’ and apparently Fellay himself sent them to the pope unofficially. This supposed informal contact would have reassured the Lefebvrian leader of Ratzinger’s support in essence and would have been the reason behind Fellay’s recent public and private declarations, in which the bishop mentioned more than once the importance of the appeal to the pope.
Thursday, May 17, 2012 2:41 PM
Hmm, he didn't say whether he liked the film.
Pope watches film on Mary of Nazareth
May 17, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI viewed a screening of a film on the life of the Mother of God Wednesday evening at the Vatican. Following the screening, the Holy Father thanked the producers of the film – an international collaborative effort titled, Mary of Nazareth.
In his remarks, Pope Benedict pointed out that “it is not easy to characterize the figure of any mother, because the riches of the maternal life are difficult to describe, but this is even more challenging when it comes to the Mary of Nazareth, who is the mother of Jesus, the Son of God made man.”
The film touches on the lives of three women of the New Testament: Herodias, the wife of Herod Antipas, Mary Magdalene, and the protagonist of the film, Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
“She is a mother who desired to keep her Son with her, but she knows he is God,” said the Pope. “Her faith and love are so great, she accepts her part in His mission. Mary is saying ‘Here I am, Lord’ from the Annunciation to the Cross.”
The Pope said this ‘Here I am, Lord!’ is a paradigm for how to order our lives.
“Mary of Nazareth is the woman of 'Here I am’, giving herself completely over to the Divine Will,” the Holy Father said. “In this ‘yes’, which is repeated even as she suffers the loss of her Son, she finds an overwhelming and profound happiness.”
Friday, May 18, 2012 2:52 PM
LOCAL CHURCHES MUST INCORPORATE THE PATRIMONY OF FAITH AND CULTURE OF CATHOLIC IMMIGRANTS
Vatican City, 18 May 2012 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received the final group from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose prelates have been travelling to Rome over the past six months on their quinquennial "ad limina Apostolorum" visits.
In previous meetings, different groups of bishops emphasized the importance of preserving and fostering the gift of Catholic unity as an essential condition for the fulfilment of the Church’s mission in their country. Responding to this concern, Benedict XVI focused his address this morning on the need to incorporate the rich patrimony of faith and culture contributed by the many Catholic immigrants into the Church in America.
The Pope began by praising the work carried out by the Church in America, to respond to the phenomenon of immigration: "The Catholic community in the United States continues, with great generosity, to welcome waves of new immigrants, to provide them with pastoral care and charitable assistance, and to support ways of regularizing their situation, especially with regard to the unification of families. A particular sign of this is the long-standing commitment of the American Bishops to immigration reform. ... It is ... of profound concern to the Church, since it involves ensuring the just treatment and the defence of the human dignity of immigrants".
The Church in America, the Pope said to the bishops, "is called to embrace, incorporate and cultivate the rich patrimony of faith and culture present in America's many immigrant groups, including ... the swelling numbers of Hispanic, Asian and African Catholics. The demanding pastoral task of fostering a communion of cultures within your local churches must be considered of particular importance in the exercise of your ministry at the service of unity. This diaconia of communion entails more than simply respecting linguistic diversity, promoting sound traditions, and providing much-needed social programs and services. It also calls for a commitment to ongoing preaching, catechesis and pastoral activity aimed at inspiring in all the faithful a deeper sense of their communion in the apostolic faith and their responsibility for the Church's mission in the United States. ... the immense promise and the vibrant energies of a new generation of Catholics are waiting to be tapped for the renewal of the Church’s life and the rebuilding of the fabric of American society".
In this context, Benedict XVI emphasized the role of the consecrated life: "The urgent need in our own time for credible and attractive witnesses to the redemptive and transformative power of the Gospel makes it essential to recapture a sense of the sublime dignity and beauty of the consecrated life". We must, therefore, "pray for religious vocations and promote them actively, while strengthening existing channels for communication and cooperation" present in each diocese.
In conclusion, the Pope expressed his hope that the Year of Faith, which will begin in October, "will awaken a desire on the part of the entire Catholic community in America to reappropriate with joy and gratitude the priceless treasure of our faith. With the progressive weakening of traditional Christian values, and the threat of a season in which our fidelity to the Gospel may cost us dearly, the truth of Christ needs not only to be understood, articulated, and defended, but to be proposed joyfully and confidently as the key to authentic human fulfilment and to the welfare of society as a whole".
Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:28 AM
Pope praying for renewal of US women religious
Vatican City, May 18, 2012 / 04:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI says he is praying that a renewal of female religious life in the United States will “recapture a sense of the sublime dignity and beauty of the consecrated life.”
“I wish to reaffirm my deep gratitude for the example of fidelity and self-sacrifice given by many consecrated women in your country, and to join them in praying that this moment of discernment will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the revitalization and strengthening of their communities in fidelity to Christ and the Church, as well as to their founding charisms,” the Pope said on May 18.
He made his comments to a delegation of U.S. bishops from the Eastern Catholic churches that is currently in Rome on a May 15-19 “ad limina” pilgrimage.
Last month the Vatican called for a reform of the Maryland-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), after concluding there was a “crisis” of belief throughout its ranks. It also appointed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead the renewal efforts.
During his May 18 address, Pope Benedict asked the bishops to promote and pray for new religious vocations, since there is an “urgent need in our own time for credible and attractive witnesses to the redemptive and transformative power of the Gospel.”
He also called for a “strengthening of the existing channels for communication and cooperation” between dioceses and the individual religious communities within their territory.
The Vatican’s decision to reform the LCWR followed a four-year audit of the group by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Among its key findings, the assessment documented serious theological and doctrinal errors in presentations at the conference’s annual assemblies in recent years.
Several speakers depicted a vision of religious life that is incompatible with the Catholic faith, the assessment said, with some attempting to justify dissent from Church teaching and showing “scant regard for the role of the Magisterium.”
Pope Benedict’s audience with the leaders of the Eastern Catholic churches marks the conclusion of several months of “ad limina” visits by U.S. bishops.
The Pope said he hoped that the forthcoming Year of Faith, which begins in October, will “awaken a desire on the part of the entire Catholic community in America to re-appropriate with joy and gratitude the priceless treasure of our faith.”
“With the progressive weakening of traditional Christian values, and the threat of a season in which our fidelity to the Gospel may cost us dearly,” he warned, “the truth of Christ needs not only to be understood, articulated and defended, but to be proposed joyfully and confidently as the key to authentic human fulfillment and to the welfare of society as a whole.”
Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:26 PM
Pope: True giving is at the heart of being Christian
May 19, 2012
The Ecclesial Movement of Cultural Engagement, the Federation of Christian Organizations for International Voluntary Service and the Movement of Christian Workers are a group of Italian based lay associations founded between 1932 and 1972. Their mission is to spread the Gospel through voluntary work which includes aiding those in need both in Italy and in other countries throughout the world, as well as defending human rights, promoting social justice and education.
Speaking to the three Associations gathered on the occasion of their respective anniversaries, Pope Benedict underlined that fact that their establishment can be attributed to the inspiration of Pope Paul the VI who as a priest and then Pope had been a vocal supporter of ecclesial associations such as these.
The Holy Father stressed the importance of the laity to the church in both the private and public sphere of society, adding that their selfless contribution was vital in the promotion of cultural action, human dignity and aiding those in need.
The Pope also told those present volunteering in whatever field it may be, was an irreplaceable resource and the true meaning of being Christian.
True giving, said Pope Benedict, is not something laid down by law or an economic acquisition.
In fact, the Holy Father explained it is the economy, and politics that is in need of people capable of mutual giving
In concluding remarks the Pope urged that the Associations present to look to young people, who he said are seeking more than ever ways of engagement that combine idealism and practicality.
Sunday, May 20, 2012 2:24 PM
Pope: Support the Church in China
May 20, 2012
This Sunday Pope Benedict XVI called on Catholics worldwide to join in prayer with the Church in China, so that believers of the great nation may become ever more consistent in their witness to the faith.
In a series of appeals following the midday recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer, the Holy Father also strongly condemned a bomb attack on a high school in southern Italy Saturday that left one young student dead and others seriously wounded and called for prayers for the victims of a magnitude 5.9 earthquake that struck the north-east region of Emilia Romagna early Sunday morning.
Despite the threat of rain St Peter’s Square was thronged with pilgrims and visitors this Sunday, which for many parishes worldwide marks the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. In his reflections before the Marian prayer, Pope Benedict spoke to all those gathered about this mystery, the fulfilment of mankind’s salvation:
Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict’s Regina Caeli address and appeals
Dear brothers and sisters!
Forty days after the Resurrection – according to the Acts of the Apostles - Jesus ascended to heaven, that is he returned to the Father, from whom he was sent into the world. In many countries, this mystery is not celebrated on Thursday, but today, the following Sunday. The Ascension of Our Lord marks the fulfilment of salvation which began with the Incarnation. After having instructed his disciples for the last time, Jesus ascended into heaven (cf. Mk 16.19). He, however, "did not separate himself from our condition" (cf. Prefazio), in fact, in his humanity, he took mankind with him in the intimacy of the Father, and so has revealed the final destination of our earthly pilgrimage. Just as he came down from heaven for us, and for us suffered and died on the cross, so for us he rose again and ascended to God, who therefore is no longer distant, but "Our God", "Our Father" (cf. Jn 20:17).
The Ascension is the ultimate act of our deliverance from the yoke of sin, as the Apostle Paul writes: "He ascended on high, and took prisoners captive" (Eph. 4.8). St. Leo the Great says that with this mystery " not only is the immortality of the soul proclaimed, but also that of the flesh. Today, in fact, not only are we confirmed possessors of paradise, but in Christ we also penetrated the heights of heaven "(De Ascension Domains, Tractatus 73, 2.4: CCL 138 A, 451,453). For this, the disciples, when they saw the Master rise from the ground towards the heavens, they were not overwhelmed by dejection, indeed, they felt great joy and compelled to proclaim the victory of Christ over death (cf. Mk 16:20) . And the Risen Lord worked with them, distributing to each a their own charism, so that the Christian community as a whole, would reflect the harmonious richness of Heaven. St. Paul writes: "He gave gifts to men ... And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ"(Eph 4,8.11-13).
Dear friends, the Ascension tells us that in Christ, our humanity is brought to the heights of God, so every time we pray, the earth joins with Heaven. And like burning incense, its fragrant smoke reaches on high, so that when we raise our fervent and trusting prayer in Christ to the Lord, it crosses the heavens and reaches the Throne of God, it is heard by Him and answered. In the famous work of St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, we read that "to see realized the desires of our heart, there is no better way than placing the power of our prayer in what is most pleasing to God. Thus, He will not give us only what we ask of him, salvation, but also what He sees as both convenient and good for us, even if we do not ask this of Him "(Book III, ch. 44, 2, Rome 1991, 335).
Let us beseech the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the heavenly things, which the Lord promises us, and become more credible witnesses of divine life.
After the Regina Caeli
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today we celebrate the World Day of Social Communications, on the theme "Silence and the Word: the process of evangelization." Silence is an integral part of communication, it is a privileged place of encounter with the Word of God and our brothers and sisters. I invite all to pray so that communications, in all forms, always serves to establish a genuine dialogue with others, founded on mutual respect, listening and sharing.
Thursday, May 24, is a day dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, venerated with great devotion at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai: we join in prayer with all Catholics who are in China, so that they may announce with humility and joy the Risen Christ, be faithful to his Church and the Successor of Peter and live their daily life in a manner consistent with the faith we profess. Mary, Virgin most faithful, support the path of Chinese Catholics, render their prayer them ever more intense and precious in the eyes of the Lord, and advance the affection and the participation of the universal Church in the journey of the Church in China.
I address a cordial greeting to the thousands of members of the Italian Movement for Life, meeting in Paul VI Hall. Dear friends, your movement has always been committed to defending human life, according to the teachings of the Church. In this line you have announced a new initiative called "One of us," to uphold the dignity and rights of every human being from conception. I encourage and urge you to always be witnesses and builders of a culture of life.
Greetings in Italian
I greet the various school students present, and here today unfortunately I have to remember the girls and boys of the school in Brindisi, who yesterday were involved in a cowardly attack. Let us pray together for the wounded, some very seriously, especially for young Melissa, an innocent victim of brutal violence and for her family, who are in pain. My affectionate thoughts go also to the dear people of Emilia Romagna affected by an earthquake a few hours ago. I am spiritually close to those who are suffering from this calamity: we implore God's mercy for those who are dead and relief from suffering for the wounded.
I wish everyone a good Sunday.
Monday, May 21, 2012 2:57 PM
The Vatican must adopt anti-leaks systems
GREATER PROTECTION MEASURES FOR POPE AND ECCLESIASTICAL DOCUMENTS?
The need to deal with cases and problems managing media pressure with absolute transparency
May 20, 2012
Mass-media are understandably saturated with news about the Vatican documents which could have been leaked by a single source, or not. Meanwhile, other less sensational news stories which are, however, more meaningful for the life of the Church, take second stage. But they are in fact not entirely unrelated to the first; both cases represent a situation that Benedict XVI is trying his best to straighten out, modify and correct. We have noticed three in the last week. Here they are.
A Catholic bishop has been demoted to a lay state because he was accused of importing paedo-pornographic material to Canada. Raymond Lahey, Bishop of Antagonish, cannot operate as presbyter, nor preside over religious ceremonies or administer sacraments. In recent years, it is the first time that a punishment of this sort is inflicted upon a prelate at the end of a canonical trial. In January, Lahey was condemned to fifteen months in prison because the Ottawa airport police found hundreds of pornographic photographs of adolescents on his computer. Lahey was released on parole at the end of the trial.
On another continent, the head of the Episcopal Conference was removed and replaced. It is the Central African Republic, where, on 14 May, Benedict XVI appointed new bishops. Three years after the inquiry that in May 2009 caused the early resignations of 54-year-old archbishop Paulin Pomodino of Bangui and of Bishop François-Xavier Yombandje, who retired at the age of 52. An inquiry lead by the then archbishop, now cardinal, Robert Sarah found that Pomodino adopted “a moral attitude not always in conformity with his commitment to follow Christ in chastity, poverty and obedience.” The inquiry also uncovered the fact that many among the local clergy had children. Last 14 May Benedict XVI appointed 45-year-old Fr. Dieudonné Nzapalainga as archbishop of Bangui. Up to then, the clergyman had worked as an apostolic Administrator, and 42-year-old Fr. Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia, Father Superior of the Society of African Missions in Strasburg, France, as bishop of Bossangoa.
On the other side of the world, the announcement that the Australian dissident bishop William Morris was substituted ended a ten-year battle between him and the Vatican. The prelate, who was asked to resign before the dismissal, held and expressed ideas contrasting with those of the magisterium in matter of confession, general absolution of sins and female ordination. When asked to come to Rome to discuss the situation, the bishop, who certainly seems a little eccentric (among other things, he dresses as a lay person and wears a necktie embroidered with his Episcopal coat of arms) answered that he had pastoral engagements that prevented him from going. An inquiry lead by the American bishop Charles Chaput resulted in a request for his resignations, to which Morris seemed to consent after an encounter with the Pope in Australia. But, after some time, he wrote saying that he did not feel like resigning. In the last few days his successor has been named: Mgr. Robert McGuckin, already President of the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand.
In the last few years there have been similar episodes, also more or less ignored by the media, except at the local level: arranged premature resignations, discreet exits from the scene. Benedict XVI grinds slowly perhaps, but he grinds finely. He touches feelings, friendships, ties and self-esteem; or he frustrates possibly legitimate hopes and ambitions that should yield to different and higher sentiments.
Perhaps it is also because of this that we have document leaks. Unfortunately, they do not seem to come from nowhere, but from very nearby offices, perhaps in the Loggia itself, from the apartment of the Pontiff. Until now, the response from the head of the Secretary of State has been weak, to use a euphemism. So the classified opinion of experts in the field is that, considering the situation, it is necessary to accept the fact that not all those who work near the Pope are loyal; and to adopt procedures and systems, also of a technological nature, that are used in many countries to protect “sensitive” areas and documents. In reality, the specialists displayed a certain astonishment at the absence of these precautions to fend off internal as well as external enemies, who in this case were surely less dangerous. The Pope and a billion and two-hundred-million Catholics have a right to it. Once upon a time faith was enough. Not anymore.
Monday, May 21, 2012 5:42 PM
In his seven years as pope, Benedict has really selected some strong leaders to be bishops for the church in the US and has encouraged them to stand up for Catholic principles no matter what. Here is their latest effort.
Catholics nationwide preparing Fortnight for Freedom events
Washington D.C., May 20, 2012 / 05:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Various initiatives are planned throughout the country in response to the U.S. bishops’ call for a “Fortnight for Freedom” June 21-July 4 to encourage prayer, education and public action about religious freedom.
The initiative was created in response to several moves by the Obama administration that are threatening the Church’s religious freedom. The most well-known action is the Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to cover birth control and other services that Catholics and other believers find morally objectionable.
At Baltimore’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Archbishop William E. Lori will offer a special June 21 Mass at 7 p.m. to open the fortnight. June 21 is the vigil Mass for the feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More.
The close of the two-week observance will feature a July 4 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which will be concelebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. Archbishop Chaput will serve as the homilist at the 12:10 p.m. liturgy.
Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine will celebrate a July 2 Mass at Portland’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or to pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can continue to make our contribution to the common good of all Americans without violating our deeply-held moral beliefs,” Bishop Malone said. “This issue affects all Americans — it is not a Catholic issue, a Jewish issue, an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.”
In Arlington, Va. Bishop Paul S. Loverde will celebrate a Holy Hour for Religious Freedom at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More on June 21 at 7:30 p.m.
“In many ways, this struggle is more a marathon than a sprint. I ask you to join me and prayerfully embrace this challenge not only as a vital struggle over Catholics’ right to full citizenship in this great country but as a teaching moment for us all,” Bishop Loverde said in a May 2 letter to his diocese’s priests.
Bishop Loverde has encouraged Arlington priests to host talks on religious freedom, educate the faithful on the issues at stake, and urge them to pray a Novena for religious freedom.
Priests should provide a “tangible focal point” for the faithful to learn about religious freedom, he said. He advised a place near the sanctuary entrance where parishioners can obtain prayer cards and educational materials.
“With God’s grace, much good will come of this,” the bishop said.
In the Archdiocese of Denver, archdiocesan administrator Bishop James D. Conley will ask Catholics to fast and pray on each of the fortnight’s two Fridays. Parishes have been invited to hold Holy Hours for religious liberty.
“The most important thing is the invitation to Catholics to pray and fast for religious liberty,” archdiocesan chancellor J.D. Flynn told CNA May 18.
The archdiocese has invited political science professor Robert Kraynak of Colgate University to speak about religious liberty on June 21 and 22.
An essay contest on religious liberty for high school students, with a scholarship as a prize, is also in the works.
Other events in the Denver archdiocese include gatherings for college-age students at St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish in Boulder and Bl. John XXIII Parish in Fort Collins, and an event for Hispanic Catholics at the archdiocese’s Centro Juan Diego.
The Archdiocese of Louisville has encouraged parishes to incorporate a prayer for religious liberty at “liturgically appropriate” times on the weekends of the fortnight. The archdiocese is planning a package of electronic resources for parishes to publish on their websites.
In an April 12 statement, the U.S. bishops’ ad hoc committee for religious liberty called for a “fortnight of freedom” from June 21 to July 4. The period includes a series of feasts of “great martyrs” who faced political oppression.
Their statement was an “urgent summons” to U.S. Catholics, stressing the need for prayer, fasting, and public action for religious freedom.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 2:18 PM
Papa continues to clean house.
Pope removes Italian bishop amid fraud accusations
Rome, Italy, May 22, 2012 / 02:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI has removed an Italian bishop from ministry following the launch of a police investigation into alleged financial corruption within his Sicily diocese.
The Vatican’s official bulletin on May 19 announced that the Pope relieved the Diocese of Trapani from the “pastoral care” of Bishop Francesco Miccichè.
Bishop Miccichè, 69, had been in charge of the diocese on the Island of Sicily for the past 14 years. Since last year, however, Italy’s financial police have been investigating the disappearance of over one million euros (approximately $1,275,000) from two charitable foundations operated by the diocese.
In June 2011 the Vatican asked a fellow Sicilian prelate, Bishop Domenico Mogavero of Mazara del Vallo, to investigate the situation in the Diocese of Trapani on their behalf. The result is Bishop Miccichè dismissal this weekend.
“It is clear that my superiors were unable or unwilling to understand what was going on in this diocese, leaving the clergy and especially the people of God at the mercy of petty slander” said Bishop Miccichè in response to the news May 19.
He strenuously denied any wrongdoing and described his dismissal as “an extreme measure” which he neither agreed with nor understood. However, out of “loyalty to the Pope and the Church,” he said he has committed himself to accepting the verdict “in a spirit of obedience.”
He also suggested that the decision is the result of “a conspiracy bore in and outside the Church” by those who do not like his vocal opposition to both Freemasonry and Mafia-sponsored crime.
Bishop Miccichè dismissal is the second time in two years that Pope Benedict XVI has removed an active bishop from ministry. In May 2011, the Pope axed Bishop William Morris from his post in Australian Diocese of Toowoomba. The move followed years of fruitless negotiations aimed at correcting the bishop’s abuses of Church doctrine, governance and liturgy.
The emeritus archbishop of Pisa, Archbishop Alessandro Plotti, will now act as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Trapani until a new bishop is appointed.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 1:30 AM
Pope Benedict thanks God for dark nights in his life
Vatican City, May 22, 2012 / 05:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI has revealed to his closest collaborators in the Sacred College of Cardinals how the “dark nights” of his life have brought him closer to Christ.
“In this moment my words can only be a word of thanks; firstly gratitude to the Lord for giving me so many years; years with many days of joy, wonderful times, but also dark nights,” he said May 21.
“But in retrospect one realizes that even the nights were necessary and good, a cause for thanksgiving.”
Pope Benedict made his unscripted remarks at a private lunch at the Vatican with several dozen cardinals. The gathering was held to mark the 7th anniversary of his pontificate and also his 85th birthday. The comments were only officially released to the media May 22.
During lunch, the Pope told the cardinals that “we see how evil wants to dominate in the world and that it is necessary to enter into the fight against evil.”
He added that although the term “the Church Militant” is deemed “a bit out of fashion” these days, it is actually the phrase that best “possesses the truth.”
This evil, he said, manifests itself in many obvious ways through “different forms of violence” but, more subtly, it can also be found “masquerading as goodness, and thus destroying the moral foundations of society.”
Pope Benedict reminded the cardinals of St. Augustine’s maxim that “all of history is a struggle between two loves.” Either we love of ourselves and have contempt for God or we love God and have contempt for ourselves in martyrdom.
“We are in this fight and in this struggle it is very important to have friends,” he told them before thanking them personally for their friendship over the past seven years.
“Thank you for the communion of joys and sorrows. Let us go forward,” said the Pope, reminding them of the Christ’s promise “Courage, I have overcome the world.”
“We are in the Lord’s team, therefore in the winning team,” he concluded before proposing a toast.
Yesterday’s remarks are in keeping with several recent comments by the Pope in which he has alluded to the difficulties he has faced during his pontificate.
Earlier this month he used a Wednesday General Audience to thank people for their prayers and support since he election as Successor of Peter in 2005.
“From the first moment of my election as the Successor of St. Peter, I have always felt supported by the prayers of you all, by the prayer of the Church, especially by your prayers at moments of greatest difficulty, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he told pilgrims in St. Peters Square May 9.
“Unanimous and constant prayer is a precious instrument in overcoming all of the trials that may arise in the path of life, because it is our being deeply united with God that allows us to also be deeply united to others,” the Pope said, before thanking everyone again.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 2:23 PM
EACH HUMAN BEING IS A MIRACLE OF GOD
Vatican City, 23 May 2012 (VIS) - "God is our Father because He is our Creator. Each one of us, each man and each woman, is a miracle of God, desired by Him and known personally by Him. ... For Him we are not anonymous and impersonal, we have a name. The Holy Spirit, which speaks within us and says 'Abba! Father!', leads us to this truth, communicating it to the most intimate depths of our being and filling our prayer with serenity and joy". These words were pronounced this morning by the Holy Father to more than 20,000 faithful filling St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience.
The Holy Father focused his catechesis on two passages from the Letters of St. Paul, wherein the Apostle speaks of the power of the Holy Spirit which enables us to call God "Abba", our Father. The Pope explained that "that great master of prayer which is the Holy Spirit teaches us to address God with the affectionate terms of children, calling Him 'Abba, Father'. This is what Jesus did, even at the most dramatic moment of His earthly life. He never lost faith in the Father and always invoked Him with the intimacy of a beloved Son".
The Holy Spirit, gift of the risen Christ, "places us in a filial relationship with God, a relationship of profound trust, like that of children; a filial relationship analogous to that of Jesus though different in origin and importance. Jesus is the eternal Son of God Who became flesh, while we become God's children in time through faith in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation".
The Holy Father went on: "Perhaps mankind today does not perceive the beauty, greatness and profound consultation contained in the word 'Father' with which we can address God in prayer, because often the paternal figure is not sufficiently present or positive in daily life". Yet, the Pope explained, "the love of Jesus, the only-begotten Son Who even gave Himself on the cross, reveals the true nature of the Father: He is Love".
In his Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul tells us that the the Spirit cries out within us saying 'Abba! Father!', while in his Letter to the Romans he writes that we ourselves make this cry in the Spirit. The Apostle, Benedict XVI explained, "wants us to understand that Christian prayer is never unidirectional, from us to God. ... Rather, it is an expression of a reciprocal relationship in which it is always God Who acts first. It is the Spirit which cries within us, and we too can cry out because the impulse comes from the Holy Spirit. ... This presence opens our prayers and our lives to the horizons of the Trinity and the Church".
"When we address the Father in our hearts, in silence and meditation, we are never alone. ... We are within the great prayer of the Church, we are part of a great symphony which the Christian community in all places and times raises to God. ... Prayer guided by the Spirit causes us to cry out 'Abba! Father!' with Christ and in Christ. It makes us part of the great mosaic of the family of God, in which everyone has an important place and role, profoundly united to all things".
The Pope concluded his catechesis by exhorting the faithful: "When we pray, let us learn to appreciate the beauty of being friends, or rather children, of God, invoking Him with the confidence and trust of a child addressing his parents who love him. Let us open our prayers to the action of the Holy Spirit, that it may cry out within us: 'Abba! Father!'".
MAY THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT SUPPORT THE FAITH OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
Vatican City, 23 May 2012 (VIS) - Following his catechesis in this morning's general audience, Benedict XVI pronounced greetings in various languages to the more than 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Speaking Polish, he recalled that next Sunday marks the Solemnity of Pentecost. "Together with Mary and the Apostles, let us persevere in prayer", he said. "With Christ, let us ask our Father God for His Spirit to permeate our thoughts and actions, that we may become increasingly worthy of the dignity of children of God".
In other languages the Holy Father said "Let us pray to God to send the Holy Spirit with abundance of gifts that we may become courageous witnesses of Christ. ... May the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost always support and nourish the life of faith of the Christian community. Dear young people, place the search for God above all other things. ... Dear sick people, may the Spirit be a help and comfort in your moment of greatest need".
Thursday, May 24, 2012 2:31 PM
Pope: God and wounded Europe
May 24, 2012
If the Church in Europe wants to reverse the decline in religious practise, particularly visible in Mass attendance and confession, then it needs to start again from God, it needs to start celebrating God, professing God and witnessing to God in the midst of a “wounded Europe”. This was Pope Benedict XVI’s message Thursday to the Italian Bishops Conference gathered in Plenary Assembly this week here at the Vatican on the theme “Mature in faith and witnesses of humanity”.
In order to start again from God, however, the Church needs people who know about their faith, for if “many of the baptized have lost their identity and affiliation” with the Church, it is because “they do not know the essential content of faith, or they think they can nourish it independently of the Church”.
“In a time in which for many God has become the Great Unknown and Jesus reduced to a great historical figure” people will only be attracted to an encounter with Christ by men and women who have a “deep experience of God”, because the “first condition to speak about God is to speak with God, becoming more and more men of God, nourished by an intense life of prayer and shaped by his Grace”.
In short, “there will be no revival of missionary action without the renewal of the quality of our faith and our prayer”.
Below Vatican Radio translation of excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI’s address
“Scientific rationale and technical culture, in fact, not only tend to make the world more uniform, but often they go beyond their specific areas, and claim to delineate the perimeter of the certainties of reason by the single empirical criterion of their conquests. Thus the power of human ability is ultimately the measure of action, free from all moral norms. Precisely in this context, a unique and growing demand for spirituality and the supernatural re-emerges, sometimes in a confused way, as a sign of restlessness that dwells in the heart of man who is not open the horizon of the transcendent God. This situation of secularism above all characterizes traditionally Christian societies and erodes the cultural fabric that until the recent past, was a unifying reference, capable of embracing the whole of human existence and articulating its most significant moments, from birth to our passing to eternal life. The spiritual and moral patrimony which is the roots and lifeblood of the West is no longer understood in its profound value, to the point that it is no longer the arbiter of truth. Even a fertile land thus risks becoming barren desert and the good seed of being suffocated, trampled on and lost”.
This is reflected in the decline of religious practice, visible in participation in the Liturgy of the Eucharist and, more importantly, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many of the baptized have lost their identity and affiliation: they do not know the essential content of faith, or they think they can nourish it independently of the Church's mediation. And while many look doubtfully at the truths taught by the Church, others reduce the Kingdom of God to a few great values, which certainly have something to do with the Gospel, but which still do not regard the core of Christian faith. The Kingdom of God is a gift that transcends us. As stated by the Blessed John Paul II, " The kingdom of God is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but it is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God " ( Redemptoris Missio, 18). Unfortunately, God Himself is excluded from the horizon by many people, and when he does not meet with indifference, closure or refusal, talk of God is still relegated to the subjective sphere, reduced to a private and intimate fact, marginalized from public consciousness. The very heart of the spiritual and moral crisis that is wounding Europe passes through this abandonment, this lack of openness to the Transcendent: man claims to have an identity that is simply finite in itself.
In this context, how can we live up to the responsibilities entrusted to us by the Lord? How can we spread the Word of God with confidence, so that everyone can find the truth about himself, his authenticity and hope? We understand that new ways of proclaiming the Gospel or pastoral action are not enough to ensure that the Christian proposal find a greater welcome and adhesion. In preparing for Vatican II, the prevailing question and the one that the Council Sessions wanted an answer to was: "Church, what do you say about yourself? '. Deepening this question, the Council Fathers were, so to speak, brought back to the heart of the answer: it meant starting again from God, celebrated, professed and witnessed. Not by chance, in fact, the first constitution to be approved was the one on the Sacred Liturgy: divine worship directs man towards the future City and restores primacy to God; it forms the Church, constantly called by the Word, and shows the world the fruitfulness of our encounter with God. In turn, while we must cultivate gratefulness for the growth of good grain in often arid land, we feel that our situation calls for a renewed impetus, which points to what is essential in Christian faith and life. In a time in which for many God has become the Great Unknown and Jesus reduced to a great historical figure, there will be no revival of missionary action without the renewal of the quality of our faith and our prayer; we will not be able to offer adequate answers without a new welcome of the gift of Grace; we will not know how to win souls for the Gospel if not by returning ourselves first to a deep experience of God
Dear Brothers, our first, true and only task is to commit our lives to what is true and permanent, to what is really trustworthy, necessary and ultimate. Man lives for God, for whom he often unconsciously or tentatively searches to give full meaning to life: we have the task of proclaiming Him, showing Him, of leading people to an encounter with Him. But it is always important to remember that the first condition to speak about God is to speak with God, becoming more and more men of God nourished by an intense life of prayer and shaped by his Grace. St. Augustine, after an exhausting but sincere journey in search of the Truth, had finally come to find it in God. He then realized that a unique aspect of wonder and joy filled his heart: he understood that throughout his journey it was the Truth that was looking for him and that found him. I would like to say to each one of you: Let us allow ourselves to be found and grasped by God, to help everyone we meet be reached by the Truth. It is through our relationship with Him that our communion is born and our ecclesial community generated which embraces all times and places to build the one People of God.
For this reason I decided to hold a Year of Faith, which begins on 11 October, to rediscover and gather once more this precious gift that is faith, to deepen our knowledge of the truths that are the lifeblood of our lives, to guide mankind today, often distracted, to a renewed encounter with Jesus Christ "way, truth and life."
In the midst of transformations which affected large sections of mankind, Servant of God Paul VI stated clearly that the Church's task to affect and as it were upset, “through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation "(Evangelii nuntiandi, 19). Here I would recall how, during the first visit as pontiff to his homeland, Blessed John Paul II visited an industrial district of Krakow conceived as a sort of "city without God." Only the stubbornness of the workers had led to first a cross being erected, then a church. In these signs, the Pope recognized the beginning of what he, for the first time, called the "new evangelization", explaining that "the evangelization of the new millennium must refer to the doctrine of Vatican II. It must be, as this Council teaches, the common work of bishops, priests, religious and laity, the work of parents and young people. “He concluded, "You have built the church; now build your life with the Gospel" (Homily at the Shrine of the Holy Cross, Mogila, June 9, 1979).
Dear Brothers, the ancient and new mission that lies before us is to introduce the men and women of our time to a relationship with God, helping them to open their minds and hearts to the God who seeks them out and wants to get close to them, guide them to understanding that accomplishing his will is not a limit to freedom, but to be truly free, to realize the true good of life. God is the guarantor, not the competitor, for our happiness, and where the Gospel - and friendship of Christ – is welcomed there the man experiences being the object of a love that cleanses, renews and warms, and makes us capable of loving and serving humanity with divine love.
As the theme of this Assembly highlights, new evangelization needs adults who are "mature in faith and witnesses of humanity." Attention to the adult world shows your awareness of the role of those called, in various spheres of life, to assume responsibility as educators of new generations. Continue to follow and work so that the community knows how to train adults in the Christian faith because they have met Jesus Christ, who has become the fundamental reference point of their lives, because people who know him because they love him and love him because they have encountered him, people who are able to offer robust and credible reasons for life. In this formation the Catechism of the Catholic Church is particularly important - twenty years after its publication – as a valuable support for a complete and organic knowledge of the content of the faith and to guide people towards an encounter with Christ.
Saturday, May 26, 2012 2:47 AM
What a shame this would be if it were indeed the butler, a trusted member of the pope's household.
Police arrest suspect in Vatileaks case
Vatican City, May 25, 2012 / 09:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A person suspected of leaking sensitive internal Vatican documents has been arrested and is currently being detained “in a secure room” by the Vatican police.
“The investigation initiated by the Gendarmerie under instructions received by the Commission of Cardinals and under the direction of the Promoter of Justice, has identified a person in possession of confidential documents,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the media May 25.
Italian media reports are naming the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, as the person being held by police. Gabriele's position would have allowed him access to the Pope's quarters and a search of his apartment has allegedly revealed a cache of confidential documents.
The arrest follows several months of so-called “Vatileaks” in which numerous documents about the internal workings of the Vatican were passed on to the Italian media.
Last week, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi released a new book entitled “Sua Santita” (His Holiness), which contained a series of leaked letters addressed personally to Pope Benedict.
In it he gives his mole the codename “Maria,” although he also claims to have more than one source of information inside the Vatican.
Earlier this year the same journalist also revealed confidential correspondence sent to Pope Benedict by the current Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.
In those letters, Archbishop Vigano pleaded to remain in his previous post as Secretary of the Vatican City’s government. He also claimed to be the victim of a smear campaign by those aggrieved at his reforms of the Vatican’s purchasing procedures.
In response to the spate of leaks, Pope Benedict established in April a special commission of three cardinals, chaired by the Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, to investigate their source.
Cardinal Herranz told CNA on the evening of May 24 that the leaks were “confusing souls and also giving the Church and the Holy See a completely unfair image.”
The case of the suspect arrested today is being dealt with by the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, Nicola Picardi, who is the chief prosecutor for the Vatican City State.
It is unclear at present whether any potential prosecution would be dealt with by Vatican or Italian courts. The 1929 Lateran Treaty between the two states does make provision for crimes within the Vatican City State to be dealt with through the Italian legal system, with the Vatican picking up the cost for any trial or imprisonment.
All Hell breaks loose in the Holy See
by John L Allen Jr
National Catholic Reporter
May 25, 2012
To say that the Vatican seems in turmoil would be putting things mildly, with two stunners in the arc of twenty-fours: Yesterday’s announcement that the president of the Vatican Bank has been unceremoniously fired, and today’s revelation that a longtime personal servant of Benedict XVI has been identified as the alleged “deep throat” behind the torrid Vatican leaks scandal.
Perhaps it would be more accurate, albeit a bit crude, to say that all Hell is breaking loose in the Holy See.
Earlier today the Vatican spokesperson, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, announced that the Vatican’s security forces had identified an individual as a source for the recent avalanche of leaks, but didn’t provide the name. Various Italian news outlets, however, are reporting that the suspect is Paolo Gabriele, a layman who has worked for many years in the papal apartments as a butler and waiter for the pope.
According to reports, Gabriele is now being interrogated by the promoter of justice for the Vatican City-State, Nicola Picardi.
The accusation against Gabriele comes on the heels of release of a sensational new book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, titled His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, collecting recently leaked documents and adding some new ones.
Materials in the book include confidential information about Vatican finances, reports from the Vatican security services (including a write-up of an incident in which a car belonging to the security service was riddled with bullets outside a Roman restaurant), memoranda documenting internal power struggles, correspondence from prominent Italian personalities requesting personal favors, even the notes of a private meeting between the pope and the Italian president.
Already, some commentators are openly wondering if Gabriele is being served up as a “scapegoat” to disguise the complicity of more senior figures. Veteran Italian writer Andrea Tornielli wrote today that the leaks scandal seems to have been orchestrated by “a refined mind, who knows church politics,” casting doubt on whether a layman working as a papal butler truly fits that profile.
Meanwhile, the move against the president of the Institute for the Works of Religion, the so-called “Vatican Bank,” has raised new questions about the direction of Vatican efforts at financial reform and transparency.
When prominent Italian economist and banker Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was named the institute’s president in 2009, he was touted as the new captain of Benedict XVI’s financial glasnost. Among other things, Gotti Tedeschi had been a contributor to the pope’s 2009 encyclical on the economy, Caritas in Veritate, and an internationally popular speaker on ethics in the economy.
Yesterday, however, the Vatican announced that Gotti Tedeschi had been given a vote of no-confidence by the institute’s supervisory council. By the usual standards of Vatican communiqués, the statement was remarkable for its lack of face-saving finesse.
The council, the statement bluntly reported, has long felt “growing concern” about governance, and “despite repeated communications in that sense” with Gotti Tedeschi, “the situation recently has deteriorated further.” As a result, the statement said, the council “unanimously adopted a vote of no confidence.” (Technically that may not be correct, given that the institute’s president is a member of the council, and presumably Gotti Tedeschi didn’t vote against himself. The upshot is that the other four members were on the same page.)
“The members of the council regret the events that led to the vote of no confidence,” the statement said, “but believe that this action is important to maintain the vitality of the institute.”
The members of the supervisory council who adopted the vote of no-confidence are:
Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, German, former executive director of Deutsche Bank
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus
Manuel Soto Serrano, a Spanish banker and accounting professional
Giovanni De Censi, an Italian banker and businessman
Ultimately, control over the Institute for the Works of Religion rests with a five-member Commission of Cardinals, which is meeting today. There seems little to reason to believe, however, that they will overrule the decision of the supervisory council – if that were in the cards, it’s unlikely the Vatican would have released yesterday’s statement, which was dispatched to journalists via an e-mail alert.
So far, Gotti Tedeschi has not commented at any length, although one news agency quoted him as saying that he's torn between a desire to "explain the truth" and a desire not "disturb the pope" with further polemics.
Today’s Italian papers are full of different, and contradictory, reconstructions of the events that led to Gotti Tedeschi’s downfall. At least four different versions have been floated in the early coverage:
Theory #1: Gotti Tedeschi was suspected of being another one of the moles behind the Vatican leaks scandal, and thus his removal was a form of punishment.
Theory #2: Gotti Tedeschi ran afoul of the Vatican’s powerful Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, partly over the fate of a large Italian Catholic hospital system which Bertone wanted to control, partly over revisions to the Vatican’s anti-money laundering norms.
Theory #3: Gotti Tedeschi got the axe because of internal resistance to his policy of transparency, including his willingness to give testimony to Italian authorities investigating suspect transactions without waiting for formal requests to move through diplomatic channels.
Theory #4: Gotti Tedechi never took his role at the Institute for the Works of Religion seriously, devoting the lion’s share of his time and energy to his work with Italian banks and his own speaking and writing. (By his own admission to Italian investigators, he only showed up two days a week). Internally, this version holds, Gotti Tedeschi was more an obstacle to reform rather than an agent of it – in part because of inattention, in part because he didn’t support the efforts of the institute’s director, Paolo Cipriani, and his staff to bring things up to snuff.
In coming days I’ll file a report sorthing through these accounts. We should get a sense fairly soon of how outside experts are reacting to the shake-up, since European regulators evaluating the Vatican’s efforts to comply with international anti-money laundering standards are due to render a preliminary judgment in July.
Various Vatican officials have insisted that Gotti Tedeschi’s removal does not signal any retreat from efforts at satisfying international standards of transparency.
According to the most commonly cited figures, the Institute for the Works of Religion has roughly 33,000 clients, most of them clergy and religious orders. The majority is located in Europe, though some 3,000 are in Africa and South America. All told, the value of its holdings, known as its “patrimony,” is estimated at roughly $6.5 billion.
Vatican Authorities Arrest Pope’s Butler on Suspicion of ‘Vatileaks’
Paolo Gabriele, being held for further questioning, has been a member of the papal household since 2006.
BY EDWARD PENTIN
National Catholic Register
Posted 5/25/12 at 1:44 PM
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s law enforcement bureau arrested Pope Benedict XVI’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, on suspicion of leaking a series of confidential Vatican documents and letters to the media.
The Holy See Press Office's director, Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters May 25 that investigations initiated by Vatican police to discover the source of the leaks have identified a person “in illegal possession of such material.” Independent Vatican reports confirmed it was Gabriele.
A series of confidential documents and letters began appearing in the Italian media at the beginning of the year, each describing alleged corruption, mismanagement and internal conflicts within the Holy See.
One contained personal letters to Pope Benedict XVI alleging corruption and written last year by the current apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, when he was deputy head of Vatican city state. The allegations of mismanagement and cronyism were firmly denied by Archbishop Viganò’s superior at the time, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo.
Gabriele is being held for further questioning.
The Italian news agency AGI claimed that “a large number of confidential documents” were found in a Vatican apartment close to the Vatican walls where Gabriele lives with his wife and three children. The butler, thought to be in his early 40s, has worked as a member of the Pontifical Family since 2006, having previously served under American Archbishop James Harvey in the Pontifical Household.
Father Lombardi stressed to the Register that he “did not mention any names” in his statement to reporters earlier today, but reiterated that “he is under arrest, and he is not an ecclesiastic.”
If charged, the suspect will be subject to three sets of proceedings and appear before the Apostolic Tribunal — something that has not happened for many years, according to canon lawyers.
The Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio, which was the first to reveal Gabriele as the suspect, reported this afternoon that “many authoritative Vatican representatives” have said his arrest was “implausible,” given that he is known to be a man of faith and has a devotion to St. Faustina Kowalska. The paper therefore asserted he was probably a scapegoat. But AGI reported his arrest “would not have been made lightly,” given that he belongs to the Pope’s inner circle.
The suspect was taken in for questioning May 24, and the arrest was made May 25 on the instructions of the Commission of Cardinals set up to discover the person responsible, under the direction of a “Promoter of Justice.”
The commission, made up of three retired cardinals — Julian Herranz, Josef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi — was established by Pope Benedict in the wake of recent leaks of reserved and confidential documents on television, in newspapers and in other communications media.
The investigations were given added urgency after excerpts of further revelations appeared in a supplement of the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera last week. In response, the Vatican issued a statement May 19 saying the leaking of the latest documents “no longer appears as a questionable — though obviously defamatory — journalistic initiative, but clearly assumes the characteristics of a criminal act.”
The statement added that the Holy See would take the necessary steps to ensure that those responsible “answer to justice for their acts.”
The excerpts in question were taken from His Holiness, a new book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, which contains confidential documents and private letters to the Pope, as well as details of internal Vatican conflicts. In particular, it contains confidential documents on the management of the Institute for Works of Religion, better known as the Vatican Bank.
The arrest comes just a day after the president of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was ousted by its supervisory board in a vote of no confidence. The official reason for his departure was his failure to fulfill the “primary functions of his office,” but according to reports in the Italian media, again citing “well-informed sources,” the Italian financier was also suspected of being involved in the leaking of the documents.
The Vatican said it was “saddened by the events which led to this vote of no confidence,” but added that it believes the action was “important in order to maintain the vitality of the institute.”
Observers noticed the statement did not contain any word of thanks to Gotti Tedeschi, who had served as president of the Vatican Bank since 2009.
Under Pope Benedict’s instruction, he was reportedly engaged in making the institute’s finances more transparent so they could come in line with international rules against money-laundering.
In comments to the Register, Father Lombardi stressed he had “not made any connection” between the leaks and Gotti Tedeschi and that “these situations are entirely different.”
Vatican announces it has caught poison pen letter writer
CHAOS EXPLODES IN THE VATICAN
The culprit is allegedly the Pope's butler, a layman. But doubts are growing in the Holy See.
May 25, 2012
The Vatican Gendarmerie’s inquiry into the publication of secret documents “has allowed us to identify one person in possession of confidential documents.” Fr. Federico Lombardi stated this, explaining that this person “is now at the Vatican magistrate’s disposal for further questioning.”
The Vatican Gendarmerie, led by general Domenico Giani has allegedly identified the poison pen letter writer, who Italian newspaper Il Foglio has revealed is the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele: a layman working in Benedict XVI’s apartment, who had previously worked in the Pope’s anteroomfor for a number of years. He is currently undergoing a legal process.
The Vatican Gendarmerie found large wad of confidential documents in an apartment in Via di Porta Angelica, in Rome, where the Pope’s butler Paolo Gabriele lives with his wife and three children. This just over 40 year old man from Rome has been working in the Pope’s apartment since 2006, entering the Pope’s Family after a period serving Mgr. James Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household.
But is he really a poison pen letter writer or just a scapegoat to save the skin of someone higher up? This is the question many in the Vatican are asking since rumours have been spreading regarding the inquiries into the leaked documents. The butler is in fact considered by many in the Holy See as a simple, good person who is devoted to the Pope.
Behind the document leak is a refined mind who is au fait with ecclesiastical policy. It was particularly strange how he conserved “confidential documents” after months of controversies surrounding the Vatileaks that were passed on to the press. In less that 24 hours, the Vatican seems to have caught at least two poison pen letter writers, allowing news about them to filter through: one was the President of the IOR Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and the other, the Pope’s butler. Both of them laymen.
Gotti Tedeschi has been accused of being careless enough to allow the leak of a document sent to him by e-mail, without even deleting his e-mail address. The former president of the IOR has announced he will take legal action against anyone who tries to link him to the poison pen letter writer. Meanwhile, the Pope’s butler allegedly held on to “confidential documents” for months after the Vatileaks scandal broke out, before letting them out into the open.
Saturday, May 26, 2012 3:49 PM
Pope greets members of Holy Spirit Renewal
May 26, 2012
About thirty thousand people attended Holy Mass in Saint Peter’s Square Saturday morning to commemorate forty years since the founding of the Holy Spirit Renewal in Italy. The Archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, was the main celebrant. The celebration was immediately followed by a special audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who addressed the representatives of the Holy Spirit Renewal.
“In your pilgrimage,” the Holy Father said, “where you have the opportunity to spend time in prayer before the tomb of Saint Peter, may you reinvigorate your faith, grow in the Christian witness, and confront without fear, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the challenging tasks of the new evangelization.”
“Dear friends of the Holy Spirit Renewal! Never tire of turning towards heaven: the world is in need of prayer. Be of service to those men and women who feel drawn towards Heaven in their lives, giving praise to the Lord through a new way of life. And may you be joyful Christians!
“I entrust each and every one of you,” he concluded, “to the most Holy Mary, who was present at the Last Supper and the event of Pentecost. Persevere with her in prayer, go forward guided by the light of the Holy Spirit, living and proclaiming the announcement of Christ.”
The Holy Father concluded by imparting his Apostolic Blessing upon those who were present and their families.
Saturday, May 26, 2012 5:11 PM
The mainstream media, which has been ignoring all things papal except scandals, has now seized on the butler story.
Pope's butler arrested over Vatican documents leak
By Barbie Nadeau
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Sat May 26, 2012
Rome (CNN) -- Pope Benedict's butler has been arrested on suspicion of leaking confidential documents to an Italian journalist, the Vatican said Saturday.
Paolo Gabriele, 46, was arrested Wednesday for illegal possession of confidential documents, found in his apartment in Vatican territory, the Vatican said in a statement Saturday.
Gabriele, who has worked as the papal butler since 2006, is one of only a handful of people with access to the pontiff's private desk.
His job included handing out rosaries to dignitaries and riding in the front seat of the "Popemobile," a vehicle used for public papal appearances, as seen in many photographs showing Gabriele with the pope.
Last month, the Vatican gave Cardinal Julian Herranz a "pontifical mandate" to uncover the source of hundreds of personal letters and confidential documents that have been released to Gianluigi Nuzzi, an Italian journalist and author of "Sua Santita" or "His Holiness" in which he published the documents.
Nuzzi would not confirm the identity of his sources, but he told CNN that his primary source, who he referred to as "Maria" in his book, "risked life and limb" if ever found out.
Nuzzi will not identify the gender or ages of his sources, but he told CNN that they worked inside the Vatican. He would not confirm if they were clergy or not.
Nuzzi told CNN that he has not been questioned in connection with the arrest. The Vatican called the publication of his book "criminal" when it was released last Saturday in Italian.
It has risen to number 1 in Italian book sales, according to Feltrenelli and Mondadori booksellers.
Nuzzi's book highlights an internal power struggle within the Vatican through numerous documents including faxes, personal letters and inter-Vatican memos. He told CNN that he received the documents during a year of private meetings in secret locations.
The documents show that the allegations of corruption and money laundering were a concern for a number of high ranking prelates, including Carlo Maria Vigano, who is now the Papal Nuncio in Washington, DC.
Vigano wrote in a series of letters to the pope that he was concerned about the spread of corruption and that his move to Washington would stir speculation.
"Holy Father, my transfer at this time would provoke much disorientation and discouragement in those who have believed it was possible to clean up so many situations of corruption and abuse of power that have been rooted in the management of so many departments," according to his letter which was published in the book.
The Vatican has not denied the authenticity of the documents, but instead says the breach of privacy is a criminal act.
The Vatican has its own judicial system, separate from the Italian judicial system.
Gabriele is being held in a special cell within the Vatican City, a walled enclave within Rome, according to Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.
Lombardi said the pope was "saddened and shocked" at the arrest.
The Vatican said the first phase of its preliminary investigation, under chief prosecutor Nicola Picardi, had now ended. An investigating judge, Piero Antonio Bonnet, is leading the next stage of the investigation, which could lead to a trial or acquittal.
Gabriele has appointed two lawyers of his choice to act at the Vatican Tribunal, and has had a chance to meet them, the Vatican statement said.
"He enjoys all the legal guarantees provided by the criminal code and criminal procedure in force in the State of Vatican City," it added.
Sunday, May 27, 2012 4:01 AM
Vatican leak inquiry: Confessor defends Pope’s butler
The confessor of the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, springs to his defence: “He is in love with the Church and adores the Pope”
May 26, 2012
The voice of the elderly priest - who wished to remain anonymous - sounded broken from all the crying, as he spoke to Italian newspaper La Stampa, from his home in the Vatican. During the telephone interview he described what he knew about Benedict XVI’s 46 year old butler, Paolo Gabriele, husband and father of three, who was arrested after he was found in “illegal possession of confidential documents.” Like many in the Holy See, the monsignor is scared and still in shock after yesterday’s events.
“I have known Paolo for many years; - he confided – if the accusations against him prove to be true, there will be no one left to trust any more. I still remember when, some years back, he used to arrive at the Secretariat of State’s offices with his black apron, to clean the floors.”
The prelate recounted how at one time he had been the confessor of this man who eventually left his clearing apron behind, replacing it with an immaculate black suit as he went on to become the papal butler, the lay person closet to the Pope, the man who serves the Pope at his table every day. “I was his confessor at one time and I can say in all faith that the impression he has always given me is that of a man who is in love with the Church and deeply devoted to the Pope, first to John Paul II and now to Benedict XVI,” he added. The person who helped the young “Paoletto” to enter to serve in the Vatican is the rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia, just a stone throw away from Via della Conciliazione and St. Peter’s Square. The Church is dedicated to the worship of the Divine Mercy of St. Faustina Kowalska and is very dear to the Poles.”
“I find what is going on incomprehensible - the monsignor went on to say – because Paolo was thought very highly of in the Vatican. I have never heard anyone speak ill of him or spread any rumours about him: and believe me this is rare, because unfortunately ours is a world where nasty things are often said and heard.” The monsignor also shared an important piece of information on the alleged poison pen letter writer who was arrested this morning by the papal Gendarmerie, led by General Domenico Giani. “Paolo always listened to those who wanted to speak with him; he was always kind and smiley with everyone. He never backed away when someone needed his help, when someone needed his support, and I know this from personal experience.” So many of the Vatican’s lay employees confided in him.
But even thought he monsignor fears that the Pope’s butler will end up being used as a scapegoat, he cannot say that the arrest was made lightly - Fr. Lombardi said - because Paolo Gabriele was found in possession of confidential documents. “Knowing how simple and naïve he is, he does not strike me as the kind of person who would be capable of planning such an operation, unless he has a schizophrenic personality. And why would he do such a thing anyway?” A good question indeed and one that is on everyone’s lips in the Holy See. “We must recall that he is married, has three children and a beautiful family. He came to live in the Vatican about a year ago and spends his free time with his children, helping them with their homework. I cannot imagine what motive he would have to throw all the good things and the life he had built down the drain, betraying the Pope’s trust committing an offense as serious as leaking the documents published in [Italian journalist] Nuzzi’s book. I simply cannot believe it and I hope that he manages to prove his innocence. I remember how devoted he was to the Virgin Mary and how faithful he was to the Eucharist.”
The prelate remained silent for a long while, as if he wanted to chase away a thought that had suddenly entered his mind. “I remember that after gaining the trust of so many in the Vatican, he ended up coming head to head with someone very powerful here…” Suspicions, resentments and above all, so many unanswered questions.
Sunday, May 27, 2012 2:26 PM
Pope: Pentecost is a feast of unity, understanding and sharing
May 27, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday morning celebrated Pentecost Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
Here is Vatican Radio's translation of the Pope's homily for the occasion.
Dear brothers and sisters
I am happy to celebrate this Holy Mass with you – a Mass animated by the Choir of the Academy of Santa Cecilia and by the Youth Orchestra, which I thank – on this Feast of Pentecost. This mystery constitutes the baptism of the Church, it is an event that gave the Church the initial shape and thrust of its mission, so to speak. This shape and thrust are always valid, always timely, and they are renewed through the actions of the liturgy, especially.
This morning I want to reflect on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost, which maintains all its importance in our own day as well. Pentecost is the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing.We can all see how in our world, despite us being closer to one another through developments in communications, with geographical distances seeming to disappear – understanding and sharing among people is often superfical and difficult. There are imbalances that frequently lead to conflicts; dialogue between generations is hard and differences sometimes prevail; we witness daily events where people appear to be growing more aggressive and belligerent; understanding one another takes too much effort and people prefer to remain inside their own sphere, cultivating their own interests. In this situation, can we really discover and experience the unity we so need?
The account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, which we heard in the first reading, is set against a background that contains one of the last great frescoes of the Old Testament: the ancient story of the construction of the Tower of Babel. But what is Babel? It is the description of a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much power they think they no longer need depend on a God who is far away. They believe they are so powerful they can build their own way to heaven in order to open the gates and put themselves in God's place. But it's precisely at this moment that something strange and unusual happens. While they are working to build the tower, they suddenly realise they are working against one another. While trying to be like God, they run the risk of not even being human – because they've lost an essential element of being human: the ability to agree, to understand one another and to work together.
This biblical story contains an eternal truth: we see this truth throughout history and in our own time as well. Progress and science have given us the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to reproduce living things, almost to the point of manufacturing humans themselves. In this situation, praying to God appears outmoded, pointless, because we can build and create whatever we want. We don't realise we are reliving the same experience as Babel. It's true, we have multiplied the possibilities of communicating, of possessing information, of transmitting news – but can we say our ability to understand each other has increased? Or, paradoxically, do we understand each other even less? Doesn't it seem like feelings of mistrust, suspicion and mutual fear have insinuated themselves into human relationships to the point where one person can even pose a threat to another? Let's go back to the initial question: can unity and harmony really exist? How?
The answer lies in Sacred Scripture: unity can only exist as a gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost. On that morning, fifty days after Easter, a powerful wind blew over Jerusalem and the flame of the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered disciples. It came to rest upon the head of each of them and ignited in them a divine fire, a fire of love, capable of transforming things. Their fear disappeared, their hearts were filled with new strength, their tongues were loosened and they began to speak freely, in such a way that everyone could understand the news that Jesus Christ had died and was risen. On Pentecost, where there was division and incomprehension, unity and understanding were born.
But let's look at today's Gospel in which Jesus affirms: “When he comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to the whole truth”. Speaking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus is explaining to us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be herself, to be the place of unity and comunion in Truth; he tells us that acting like Christians means not being closed inside our own spheres, but opening ourselves towards others; it means welcoming the whole Church within ourselves or, better still, allowing the Church to welcome us. So, when I speak, think and act like a Christian, I don't stay closed off within myself – but I do so in everything and starting from everything: thus the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and truth, can continue to resonate in people's hearts and minds, encouraging them to meet and welcome one another. Precisely because it acts in this way, the Spirit introduces us to the whole truth, who is Jesus, and guides us to examine and understand it. We do not grow in understanding by closing ourselves off inside ourselves, but only by becoming capable of listening and sharing, in the “ourselves” of the Church, with an attitude of deep personal humility. Now it's clearer why Babel is Babel and Pentecost is Pentecost. Where people want to become God, they succeed only in pitting themselves against each other. Where they place themselves within the Lord's truth, on the other hand, they open themselves to the action of his Spirit which supports and unites them.
The contrast between Babel and Pentecost returns in the second reading, where the Apostle Paul says: “Walk according to the Spirit and you will not be brought to satisfy the desires of the flesh”. St Paul tells us that our personal life is marked by interior conflict and division, between impulses that come from the flesh and those that come from the Spirit: and we cannot follow all of them. We cannot be both selfish and generous, we cannot follow the tendency to dominate others and experience the joy of disinterested service. We have to choose which impulse to follow and we can do so authentically only with the help of the Spirit of Christ. St Paul lists the works of the flesh: they are the sins of selfishness and violence, like hostility, discord, jealousy, dissent. These are thoughts and actions that do not allow us to live in a truly human and Christian way, in love. This direction leads to us losing our life. The Holy Spirit, though, guides us towards the heights of God, so that, on this earth, we can already experience the seed of divine life that is within us.
St Paul confirms: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace”. We note how the Apostle uses the plural to describe the works of the flesh that provoke the loss of our humanity – while he uses the singular to define the action of the Spirit, speaking of “the fruit”, in the same way as the dispersion of Babel contrasts with the unity of Pentecost.
Dear friends, we must live according to the Spirit of unity and truth, and this is why we must pray for the Spirit to enlighten and guide us to overcome the temptation to follow our own truths, and to welcome the truth of Christ transmitted in the Church. Luke's account of Pentecost tells us that, before rising to heaven, Jesus asked the Apostles to stay together and to prepare themselves to receive the Holy Spirit. And they gathered together in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room and awaited the promised event.
Like when it was born, today the Church still gathers with Mary and prays: “Veni Sancte Spiritus! - Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!”. Amen.
Sunday, May 27, 2012 2:27 PM
Regina Coeli: Jesus sends His Spirit to the Church
May 27, 2012
In his Regina Coeli address, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about today’s feast of Pentecost, “which completes the Easter season.”
“This feast reminds us and experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other disciples gathered in prayer to the Virgin Mary in the Upper Room,” the Pope said. “Jesus, risen and ascended into heaven, sends His Spirit to the Church, so that all Christians can share in His divine life and become His effective witness in the world.”
Noting that the Holy Spirit “continues to inspire women and men who engage in the pursuit of truth” Pope Benedict announced that on October 7, at the beginning of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, he would proclaim St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Church. “These two great witnesses of the faith lived in very different historical periods and came from different cultural backgrounds,” he said. “But the sanctity of life and depth of teaching makes them perpetually present: the grace of the Holy Spirit, in fact, projected them into that experience of penetrating understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with the world that constitutes the horizon of permanent life and action of the Church.”
“Especially in light of the project of the New Evangelization, to which the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be dedicated, and on the vigil of the Year of Faith, these two figures of saints and doctors are of considerable importance and relevance.”
Pope Benedict then invited the tens of thousands of pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square to join him in saying the Regina Coeli, praying that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Church might “be powerfully animated by the Holy Spirit to witness Christ's Gospel with boldness and ever more open to the fullness of truth.”
After the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In his remarks in English, he said “I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Regina Caeli on the Solemnity of Pentecost. Next Friday, I will go to Milan to be with families from all over the world celebrating the Seventh World Meeting of Families. I ask you to join me in praying for the success of this important event, and that families may be filled with the Holy Spirit, rediscover the joy of their vocation in the Church and the world, and bear loving witness to the faith. Upon all of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!”
Sunday, May 27, 2012 4:36 PM
“The usual nest of vipers, but today the real problem is rampant mediocrity”
This is the opinion of Vittorio Messori, the most widely-read Catholic author in the world
May 26, 2012
“I’ve spent my life studying the history of the Church and attending Church, though more sparingly. I’m hardly going to be shocked.” Vittorio Messori is in the abbey of Maguzzano, a wonder nestled between the Moraine hills and Garda Lake, a place that the history of the Church has crisscrossed for 15 centuries, from St. Benedict to St John Calabria. Here, Messori has set up a study where he can take refuge when he is under pressure: like now, when he has only a few weeks before he has to deliver a book on Lourdes to Italian publisher Mondadori, a project that is very dear to his heart. Its title is Bernadette did not deceive us.
Is someone in the Vatican deceiving us instead? I ask Messori what a practicing Catholic may feel when hearing of how cardinals fight each other tooth and nail, when hearing of files slipped to journalists, of letters stolen from the Pope, of bank intrigues, murderers buried with state honours. “The Roman Curia,” he answers, “has always been a viper’s nest. However, in the past at least, it was the most efficient state organisation in the world. It ran an empire the sun never set on and it had an unparalleled diplomatic corps. What is left of that today?”
Strolling along the cloisters and then among the olive trees, this is how Messori describes the decadence: “The priests in the Roman Curia used to enlist the best people from all the dioceses in the world. Bishops had plenty of clergy around them and had no problem letting them go. Today seminaries have either closed or they’re half empty. So if a bishop has a good priest to hand, he keeps hold of him. And the Pope is like Charles V, who had to run a vast empire and cried out in a depopulated Spain: ‘Give me men’.” But in Africa, I try to object... “The boom in vocations? I’m not kidding myself. In Africa men enter the seminary for the same reasons they did here when we were dying of hunger. It’s a way of making a living. And apart from that, celibacy is incomprehensible for African culture so the Church – let’s put it this way – turns a blind eye. Many priests have wives and children. What are you going to do, send them to Rome? To be bishops?”
He adds: “The decline in quality is obvious. There aren’t even any Latin speakers that are up to the job any more. When Luciani was elected Pope, they were even forced to stop the press at L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy See's newspaper because there was a mistake in the Latin on the front page headline. Even John Paul II’s last encyclicals had Latin mistakes, imagine that.”
In short, the man who wrote two books with the last two popes feels that “the way the Church is limping along is down to the mediocrity of its personnel.” However, is it simply a question of ineptitude? We seem to be faced with resentment, rivalry, greed, maliciousness and infidelity. “Malicious pettiness is often a characteristic of mediocre personalities. Talented people don’t need to stab others in the back.”
The scandal remains and Jesus said beware of those who sow discord. Could one lose one’s faith over it? “No, Christians know well the distinction that Maritain used to make between the Person of the Church, which is sacred, and the people of the Church who, as in any human institution, are bounded by limits, by the sin that is in each of us. The important thing is that the Church must announce the Gospel. If the person then announcing it is holy, then thank God Almighty. If he is a rogue, never mind: he is nevertheless a keeper of Grace.” However aren’t the rogues too many and too powerful today? “The clergy of the Dark Ages, the Renaissance or that of the powdered bishops of the eighteenth century were much worse. And let us not forget one thing: today the clergy is second-rate, however the quality at the top has never been so high. From the Napoleonic era on, every pontiff has either been canonised or was worthy of it. That hasn’t always been the case.”
He leaves me with these words to explain his calm: “Jesus had predicted that the Son of Man would be handed over to men who would do what they wanted with him. He said this at the Last Supper, but many Bible commentators and many mystics see these words as a prophecy not only of the Passion, but of what was to happen later. That’s why scandals don’t surprise me. The Christian God wished to need Mankind, with all the consequences that come with this.”
Sunday, May 27, 2012 6:10 PM
The intrigue continues....
Voices of new suspects beyond the Tevere; now the hunt is on for the masterminds
ON THE POPEMOBILE A NEW POLICEMAN HAS REPLACED GABRIELE
A lay functionary under scrutiny: he could be arrested
May 27, 2012
Interrogations of the lay officials of the Secretariat of State, a hunt for the possible mastermind behind the infiltrators, internal 'governance' in anguish. Scandals even graver than this (such as the Calvi case) occurred in the Wotyla papcy, but today the media coverage is multiplied. Vatican investigators seek evidence, proof, and possible "higher level" accomplices, in fact, Vatican public prosecutor Nicola Picardi's "initial investigation" has already been closed, and the phase of "formal investigation", conducted by Judge Piero Antonio Bonnet, has already begun.
Yesterday the Pope mentioned the Gospel: “the wind shakes the House of God, but it does not fall”. No direct reference to the Vatileaks scandal, though the reference does mention clouds that are gathering of the skies of the present. The transition to the formal stage, said spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, has made it possible to officially release the name of the arrested individual; furthermore, it involves a real arrest to all effects, given that in the Vatican, the practice taking a suspect into "custody" does not exist. The investigation has been proceeding swiftly thanks to the fact that it's entirely within the Vatican's jurisdiction: Gabriele is a Vatican citizen, and lives next to the Gendarmerie, and it was in his home were the "confidential documents were discovered." Full-court investigations, which don't exclude "other acts"; for this reason, the length of the investigation could even lengthen. Again in the afternoon, Fr. Lombardi intervened to explain that "the judiciary has now charged Paolo Gabriele simply with the crime of aggravated theft: we are at a very early stage of criminal proceedings, therefore the high estimates regarding an eventual prison sentence printed by some newspapers have absolutely no justification”. A clarification with respect to some reports, according to which Gabriele would have been charged with crimes such as a violation of the correspondence of a head of state, and thus an attack on state security, with a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.
But these accusations have not been formalized by the state. After the search warrant that allowed them to find at the home of one of the people closest to Benedict XVI documents to which only a small group of employees could have access, the severity of the offense and the need to protect the Pope and the image of the Holy See are not hindering the use of any means of investigation, including cell phone records and bank records. There are hopes, moreover, to obtain further material for investigation from the persons being questioned.
For investigators, moreover, the chapter on possible motives is still open. The primary motive seems to be that of money, but many exclude it because the devout Gabriele "is not the type", some underline: "he would never pry", assure those who know him, "into the Pope's fax documents for money." "Ideological" reasons, then: for instance, observes one who hypothesizes this as the motive, the "Crow" named "Mary" in the book by Gianluigi Nuzzi is described as a Christian who loves the Church, and is disgusted by the feuds and wars of power. In this case, a faithful person could have naively fallen victim of their good intentions and the hypothesis of a "higher level" in the leaking of documents would be strengthened.
Regardless of possible levels, the investigators have not overlooked the possibility that there may be accomplices. An additional arrest in the next few hours is a possibility. "The work is only just beginning," they assure. "We live in a precarious situation, characterized by insecurity and the fragmentary nature of choices."There is a lack of valid points of references to look to as inspiration for one's life. "And the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it was founded upon a rock," the Pope points out. Therefore, "it becomes increasingly important to build the edifice of life and the complex of social relations on the stable rock of the Word of God, guided by the Magisterium of the Church."
Sunday, May 27, 2012 6:13 PM
Someone persuaded him to keep those papers
A source close to the butler “ He has either gone crazy or has been framed”
May 27, 2012
“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock”. Benedict XVI exhausted, grieved, but still smiling yesterday reminded believers of Rinnovamento dello Spirito (Renewal of the Spirit) of Jesus’ words. Even though the Vatican was founded on the rock, its foundations keep shaking after the unexpected turn of events with the arrest of Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s butler, on suspicion of leaking hundred of confidential documents which he would have taken from the pope’s private desk.
In the Sacred palaces, yesterday morning, there was a sense of annoyance for the articles spreading doubts over the accusations and describing the shock of many people in the Vatican at the possibility that someone like ‘little Paolo’ could be a mole. “ the documents that were found in his possession and which he should not have had are incontrovertible evidence of his guilt” said the Secretariat of State.
After the disbelief and shock, faced with the fact that the pope’s butler was illegally in possession of various documents, many in and outside the Vatican pondered about the butler’s motives and the people behind him.
An old priest with a long experience of vatican trials invited people to be cautious “ The arrest took place Wednesday evening, the butler’s home was searched in that occasion and the documents were found. But a serious enquiry, worthy of its name, before labelling him a ‘mole’ would have to find elements proving how those documents exchanged hands”. The cleric added “ we all feel embarassed and sad, Paolo’s family is crushed. Whoever pushed him to do such things is guiltier than him, because he used a naive person…”
These feelings are shared by many in the Vatican’s staff who know and have been friends with Paolo Gabriele for many years. “ Few remember that ‘little Paolo’ has been part of the papal household since 1998 and it was John Paul II’s Secretary, the current cardinal of Krakow, Stanislaw Dziwisz who appointed him. A position had bexome vacant and there were interviews. As usual there were lots and lots of applicants. It is understandable” said a friend of Paolo’s “ that is a place where everyone would like to work, you are settled for life if you work there… Gabriele did not even want to attend the interview, he was persuaded and was chosen by Dziwisz, who was struck by his deep faith and spontaneity. I remember that when John Paul II saw Paolo, he used wave his staff, he called him ‘Paulus’”.
But what about the documents that he was found with, the evidence that sealed his arrest? The man, who does not deny his friendship with the butler, thought about it and then in a small voice said “The man I know would not do this, he either went suddenly crazy, or was framed. Someone important might have asked him to keep those papers”.
The simplest theory, the clearer and most probable according to the results of the investigation so far confirmed by Fr. Federico Lombardi, is that of betrayal. Even though there is hardly anyone who believes that Paolo Gabriele might have been the only and main culprit, able to organize and manage the leaks. Another Vatican’s employee friend of the butler said to Vatican Insider“ I haven't been able to sleep for two nights. Little Paolo talked with me on Monday evening, he was sad because he had been informed a few hours before that he was suspected. He was bitter because all the people above him had lost faith in him. But I also found him calm. Basically he did not seem like someone hiding anything”.
We replied “and the evidence?” “ it’s a fact” said the man in a dark suit “ I have been wondering about that ever since he was arrested. Why would he not get rid of those documents, if he had them when he was warned that he was suspected”.
The Vatican employees asked to remain anonymous, they fear being investigated, they speak in hushed tones. Another acquaintance of Paolo Gabriele’s told a significant story “ he made a few mistakes, some years ago, when he was accosted by people who wanted to denounce to the pope some serious issues. For a sense of justice he collaborated, but he shouldn’t have and did things that went beyond his duties”.
The reasons for his involvement in the vatileaks are, said a Vatican source “ money, or the conviction of being part of a’transparency’ operation”. We will have to wait to hear what he has to say and the results of the enquiry. In the meantime there is still an atmosphere of suspicion in the Vatican . The investigation carries on. Apparently there is another lay man in the firing line. To find the person behind it all, which might not even be possible, it will take time.