Sunday, December 25, 2005

Pope's First Christmas Homily Encourages Openness to Receiving God's Word

Pope Benedict XVI, in his first Christmas homily since becoming the Holy Father, delivered a homily at the Christmas vigil mass in which he reflected on the readiness of the shepherds to receive God's Word:

They were people who were watchful. This was chiefly true in a superficial way: they kept watch over their flocks by night. But it was also true in a deeper way: they were ready to receive God's word. Their life was not closed in on itself; their hearts were open. In some way, deep down, they were waiting for him.

The Pope continued with his thoughts on Jesus leaving us His peace:

Christ gives himself to us and, in doing so, gives us his peace. He gives it to us so that we can carry the light of peace within and give it to others. He gives it to us so that we can become peacemakers and builders of peace in the world.

From all of us at the Pope Blog, have a very merry Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Rome to Ban Those with 'Deep-seated Homosexual Tendencies' from Seminaries -- Tomorrow

We've all heard reports of a Vatican document which will prevent those "who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called 'gay culture' " from entering the seminary. Apparently, the document will be released tomorrow. From The New York Times:

The long-awaited document, which has leaked out in sections over the last few months, was published Tuesday in Italian by an Italian Catholic Web site,

The document appears to allow ordination only for candidates who experienced "transitory" homosexual tendencies that were "clearly overcome" at least three years before ordination as a deacon, the last step before priesthood. It does not define "overcome."

...Vatican spokesmen refused to comment Tuesday, saying the document would be published on Nov. 29

A bigger question, perhaps, is will the directive be fully implemented? Will it be enforced?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Pope: Don't Fear Death

Today, on All Hallows Eve, Pope Benedict XVI said that the November 1 feast of All Saints and the November 2 feast of All Souls encourage Christians to offer prayers for their departed loved ones and can also help them "think of the mystery of death without fear."

"New life, received through baptism, is not subject to the corruption and power of death," he said.

For Christians, "death is a gateway from the earthly pilgrimage to the home of heaven, where the Father welcomes all his children of every nation, race, people and tongue," he said.

Read more: Pope tells Christians to think of "death without fear"

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Help Hurricane Katrina Victims

Pope Benedict XVI has expressed his condolences to victims of hurricane Katrina. In a telegram message sent yesterday from the Vatican, the Pope said that he was "deeply saddened" and promised his prayers for all those affected by the storm that violently struck the southeastern United States beginning Monday morning. He also encouraged relief workers to "persevere in their efforts to bring relief and support."

If you are interested in helping the victims of hurricane Katrina, visit or call the Red Cross at 1-800-HELP-NOW.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pope Reflects on WYD

Pope Benedict XVI reflected on his recent four-day trip to Cologne, Germany for World Youth Day from Castel Gandolfo:

"It really was an extraordinary ecclesial experience at Cologne last week," Benedict told pilgrims and tourists at the papal summer palace. The pontiff said that the young participants left the city "animated by a great hope without, nonetheless, losing sight of the not few difficulties, the obstacles and the problems that in our time accompany the authentic search for Christ and faithful adhesion to his Gospel."

Read more: Pope exalts aftermath of World Youth Day

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Pope Prepares for World Youth Day

On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI will depart Rome for Cologne, Germany to join the World Youth Day festivities. The celebration will conclude on Sunday with a Mass at which the Pope will preside.

On August 16, the first day of the WYD festivities, Pope Benedict XVI conducted the first formal interview of his Pontificate with Vatican Radio. He said that he hopes World Youth Day will spark "a wave of new faith among young people, especially in the young people of Germany and Europe." According to Catholic World News:

Young people are always "full of problems, but also full of hope," the Pontiff observed. They want to learn about life for themselves, rather than have others "regurgitate it for them." He said that he wants to convey the vigor and beauty of Christian thought, so that they realize that "wisdom is not something stale."

Read more: Pope gives rare radio interview

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Petition for Peace in Northern Uganda

Loyal Pope Blog readers, today's post is an invitation to take action to help the people of northern Uganda. Pope John Paul II himself spoke out against the evils of using children as soldiers:

"For more than 18 years, northern Uganda is troubled by an inhumane conflict which involves millions of persons, including children. Many of them, gripped by fear and deprived of any future, feel forced to become soldiers," John Paul said. He urged the international community and national political leaders to end the conflict and "offer real prospects of peace to the entire Ugandan nation."

Take action by signing the petition for peace in northern Uganda at the Uganda-CAN Web site.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Latin & Gregorian Chant to Make Comeback

Exciting news: details from the working version of "The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the church." From Yahoo! News:
[The paper] suggests, for example, that Latin be used during international liturgical gatherings so all priests involved can understand the proceedings, and it suggests that parishes consider using more Gregorian chants to prevent more "profane" types of music from being played.

It calls for priests not to be "showmen" who draw attention to themselves and says lay people can have an important but "minimal" presence in Masses. It says the tabernacle — which holds the bread and wine held by Catholics to be the body and blood of Christ — should have a prominent place in the church and not be shunted off to a corner.

Excellent! Read more: Vatican Criticizes Catholics on Communion

Friday, July 01, 2005


I suppose that Boney owes loyal Pope Blog readers an explanation as to the low volume of posts lately. I can tell you it's mainly due to two things:

-His recent relocation to Cincinnati to work for Text Link Ads
-His time commitment to a movement called the Uganda Conflict Action Network

Uganda-CAN is a campaign of ordinary, outraged citizens working together to combat the unnecessary human suffering of the 19-year-old war in northern Uganda and contribute to healing and renewal in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Boney's role: he's helping to develop the Web site and get it lots of traffic.

Friends, if you could, please check out the Uganda-CAN Web site, and if you approve of our mission, a link to our site from your blog would be much appreciated!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Pope: Sunday Mass a "Need and Joy" for Catholics

At today's Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the crowd in Vatican City by speaking to them about Sunday Mass. The Holy Father said that participation in Sunday Mass should not be seen by Catholics as an imposition or weight, "but as a need and joy." According to Zenit via Catholic Online:

Pope John Paul II had convoked the Year of the Eucharist "to reawaken ever more, in the consciences of believers, wonder toward this great Sacrament," said Benedict XVI, eliciting applause from his listeners several times.

"In this singular Eucharistic time, one of the recurring topics is Sunday, the Day of the Lord, a topic that was also at the center of the recent Italian Eucharistic Congress, held in Bari," he said.

Read more: Sunday Mass Should Be Seen as a Joy, Says Pope

Happy birthday, Pope Blog!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI Urges for Reconciliation in Rwanda

From AP (via Yahoo! News):
Pope Benedict XVI met with bishops from Rwanda on Saturday and called for peace and reconciliation in the African country.

The pope, in an audience with the bishops, recalled the 1994 Rwandan genocide and urged priests and faithful to "remain firm in the faith, to persevere in hope" and to overcome "all temptations of discouragement."

..."Work restlessly so that the gospel can penetrate more and more deeply in the hearts and lives of the believers, inviting the faithful to take on their responsibilities in society, especially in the fields of economy and politics," Benedict told the bishops.
Read more: Pope Calls for Reconciliation in Rwanda

And if you haven't yet seen Hotel Rwanda, I suggest that you do.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Benedict XVI Condemns Nazism and Atheist Communism

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - Yesterday evening, the Holy Father attended a showing of the film: "Karol un uomo diventato Papa" (Karol, A Man Who Became Pope) which was screened in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of several thousand people. Based on a script written by Italian journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, the film covers the life of John Paul II until his election as bishop of Rome.

In an address following the showing, the Pope pointed out how the first half of the film "highlighted what happened in Poland under Nazi occupation," and he referred to the "repression of the Polish people and the genocide of the Jews. These were atrocious crimes which demonstrate all the evil contained in Nazi ideology. Shaken by so much pain and so much violence, the young Karol decided to transform his own life, responding to the divine call to the priesthood."

Benedict XVI indicated that the film contained scenes that, "in their crudity, give rise to an instinctive feeling of horror in viewers, bringing them to reflect on the depths of iniquity that can be hidden in the human soul. At the same time, evoking such aberrations cannot but give rise in all right-thinking people to a commitment to do all they can to ensure that such acts of inhuman barbarity are never repeated again."

"May 8, 1945 marked the end of that immense tragedy that sowed destruction and death in Europe and the world at a level never known before. ... Every time a totalitarian ideology crushes man underfoot, all humanity is seriously threatened.

"Memories must not pale with the passing of time," said the Pope, "rather they should remain as a strict lesson for our own and future generations. We have the duty to remind ourselves and others, especially the young, what forms of unprecedented violence can be reached by scorn for human beings and violation of their rights."

How, Benedict asked, can we not see "a providential divine plan in the fact that on the Chair of Peter a Polish Pope was succeeded by a citizen of Germany, where the Nazi regime affirmed itself with particular virulence, before attacking its neighbors, in particular Poland? Both these Popes in their youth - though on different sides and in different situations - were forced to experience the barbarism of the Second World War and the senseless violence of man against man, of peoples against peoples."

The Pope stressed how "nothing can improve in the world, if evil is not overcome; and evil can be overcome only through forgiveness. May the shared and sincere condemnation of Nazism and of atheist Communism serve as a commitment for everyone in building reconciliation and peace on the basis of forgiveness."

Prior to the screening of the film, Pope Benedict had participated in a ceremony in which his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, was decorated by Helmut Turk, Austrian ambassador to the Holy See, with the "Osterreichisches Ehrenkreuz fur Wissenschaft und Kunst, Erste Klasse" (Austrian First Class Cross of Honor for Science and Art). The medal was assigned to him on December 7, 2004 by Heinz Fischer, president of Austria, for his close cultural and priestly ties with the Republic of Austria.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Benedict Names Levada Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith

Last Friday, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop William Joseph Levada of San Francisco, California as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the office that Ratzinger held before being elected Pope last month. A biography of Levada is available here.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Francis Cardinal Arinze and Boney Graduate from the University of Notre Dame

On this blog, we usually confine our posts only to matters specifically regarding the Pope. But, on this occasion, being the Notre Dame alumnus that I am, I have decided to deviate just a bit. :)

Later this afternoon, my esteemed colleague Boney, aka Andy Hagans, the founder of the Pope Blog, will graduate from the University of Notre Dame. One of our favorite papabile of last month's conclave, Francis Cardinal Arinze, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, is also among the ND class of 2005, for he is being awarded an honorary doctorate from the university.

Boney has informed me that during Saturday's Baccalaureate Mass, he tried his best to receive a communion blessing from Cardinal Arinze by ditching his own communion line and making a sprint for Arinze's line on the other side of the aisle. He was however thwarted by two ushers who tackled him to the ground and forced him to get back in his own line to receive communion from a "normal" priest. Better luck next time, Boney.

The final blessing of this Mass was delivered by Bishop John Darcy of the diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend, Indiana. Prior to giving the blessing, Darcy recalled a memory of the late Pope John Paul II. Said the late Pope in Darcy's presence many years ago, "Notre Dame - a great Catholic university." After recalling this, Darcy then spoke directly to Arinze in front of the thousands of people gathered for the Mass. He asked the cardinal, the next time he was in Rome, to tell our new Pope Bendict XVI that the city of South Bend and the University of Notre Dame sends to him their love and obedience.

Finally, to my guy Boney, I congratulate you. Godspeed, buddy!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Benedict XVI Announces Cause of Beatification of John Paul II

VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2005 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today announced the opening of the cause of beatification of John Paul II, waiving the normal waiting period of five years after the death of a Servant of God. The Pope made the announcement in the course of a meeting with the Roman clergy in the basilica of St. John Lateran.

The rescript - or document authorizing the act - is dated May 9, 2005 and is signed by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins and Archbishop Edward Nowak, respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

This morning, after traveling by car to the Vicariate of Rome, the Pope, in a ceremony in the Hall of Conciliation, greeted the staff who work there and visited the pontifical apartments.

Benedict XVI then went to the basilica of St. John Lateran where he met the clergy of his diocese. After a brief greeting pronounced by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, the Pope delivered his address.

He said that "the extraordinary experience of faith that we experienced with the death of our much-loved Pope John Paul II, has shown us a Roman Church profoundly united, full of life and rich in enthusiasm; all this is the fruit of your prayers and your apostolate."

After underlining the need "to always go back to the roots of our priestly calling," in other words, "Jesus Christ, the Lord," Benedict XVI pointed out that as priests "we are charged not to say many words, but rather to echo and to be bearers of a single 'Word,' that is the Word of God, made flesh for our salvation. ... We have to be His true friends, to share His feelings, to want what He wants and not want what He does not want."

The Pope invited the priests to make their own these words of John Paul II: "Mass is, in an absolute way, the center of my life and of each of my days." Speaking of obedience to Christ, he recalled that this "takes concrete form in ecclesial obedience, which for a priest is, in everyday practice, above all obedience to his bishop."

Benedict XVI also recalled what he had said in his homily prior to the conclave, when he referred to "holy restlessness; a restlessness to bring everyone the gift of faith." After highlighting that Christ "calls us to be His witnesses," the Pope mentioned the necessity of "being with God," of seeking "intimate communion with Christ," in order "not to give in to fatigue, but to resist and, even more so, to grow as people and as priests."

"Time to be in the presence of God is a true pastoral priority," he continued, "in the final analysis, the most important priority. John Paul II demonstrated this to us in the most tangible and luminous of ways in all the circumstances of his life and his ministry."

The Holy Father affirmed that "our personal response to the call of sanctity is fundamental and decisive. This condition is essential, not only for our personal apostolate to be fruitful but also, and more broadly, for the Church's face to reflect the light of Christ."

"My ministry as bishop of Rome follows in the footsteps of my predecessors, in particular taking up the precious heritage left by John Paul II. Dear priests and deacons, let us walk together along this path with serenity and trust."

After his address, Benedict XVI listened attentively to questions and reflections presented by various priests and religious, and thanked them for the remarks. He then returned to the Vatican by car.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI Charges Ahead, Despite Health Concerns

Our new pontiff appears to be upholding the breathtaking pace of his predecessor. Pope Benedict XVI has been so tireless, in fact, that some in the press are stirring up concerns over his health. According to AP (via Yahoo! News):

Benedict's brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, has been quoted in several German media outlets about his younger brother's health, including an interview April 24 with the German television station TDF in which he said Benedict had suffered two strokes.

...Given the pope's calendar, it appears such [health] concerns have been brushed aside. Still, Benedict told the cardinals soon after he accepted their decision that his would be a "short reign," several cardinals have said.

Read more: Benedict Presses Ahead With Busy Schedule

Friday, May 06, 2005

Vatican Web Site Features Coat of Arms

In recent weeks, much debate has arisen over the authenticity of Pope Benedict XVI's new coat of arms. Finally it looks like our questions have been answered, as the official Vatican Web site is now featuring the new coat of arms on this page. It looks just like the Wikipedia graphic that I posted about last week - mitre (not tiara), crossed keys, crowned Ethiopian, St. Corbinian's bear, shell, and pallium (although with red crosses, not black).

Monday, May 02, 2005

Benedict Marks Anniversary of John Paul's Death

It was one month ago, on April 2, that Pope John Paul II passed away. Pope Benedict XVI today marked the one-month anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death by celebrating mass in memory of him at 7:30 a.m. CET in his private chapel. Tonight at 7:00 p.m. CET (1:00 p.m. EDT), the Pope will privately visit the Vatican Grottoes so that he may pray at his predecessor's tomb.

Pope Greets Faithful from Apartment Window

VATICAN CITY, MAY 1, 2005 (VIS) - Today at noon, for the first time since his election to the papacy on April 19, Pope Benedict XVI appeared at the window of the study of the papal apartment to recite the Regina Coeli and address the tens of thousands of faithful that filled St. Peter's Square. The Pope had been living in the Vatican's St. Martha Residence since his election and moved into the apartment on Saturday.

"I address you for the first time from this window that the beloved figure of my predecessor made familiar to countless people throughout the world. From Sunday to Sunday, John Paul II, faithful to an appointment which had become a pleasant custom, accompanied for over a quarter of a century the history of the Church and the world and we continue to feel him more than ever close to us."

The Holy Father greeted "with special affection the Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Orthodox Churches that today celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. To these dear brothers and sisters of ours, I address the traditional announcement of joy: 'Christos anesti!' Christ is Risen!" He said he hoped that Easter will be for these Churches " a choral prayer of faith and praise to the One Who is our common Lord, and Who calls us to walk decisively on the path towards full communion."

"Today we begin the month of May with a liturgical memory so dear to Christians, that of St. Joseph the Worker." He then added, to the applause of the faithful: "You know that my name is also Joseph!" Noting that this feast was instituted 50 years ago by Pius XII "to underline the importance of work and of the presence of Christ and the Church in the world of work," the Pope said he hoped that everyone, especially young people, would have work "and that working conditions are ever more respectful of the dignity of the human person." He had special words for the groups present in St. Peter's Square, including ACLI, the Christian Associations of Italian Workers which this year celebrates the 60th anniversary of its founding.

Turning his thoughts to Mary, to whom the month of May is dedicated, Benedict XVI remarked how, "through words, and even more by example, John Paul II taught us to contemplate Christ with the eyes of Mary."

Following the Regina Coeli prayer, the Holy Father said that in recent days he has been thinking "of all people who suffer because of war, illness and poverty. In particular, today I am close to the people of Togo, upset by painful internal struggles. For all these nations I implore the gift of harmony and peace."

- V.I.S.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Pope's First Pilgrimage: Bari on May 29

Pope Benedict XVI will make his first papal trip outside Rome on May 29, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, when he will travel to Bari, Italy for the closing of the 24th National Eucharistic Conference.

Read more: First papal trip: Italy's Eucharistic Congress

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ratzinger's Car for Sale on eBay

A 1999 Volkswagon Golf that was previously registered under the name "Josef Kardinal Ratzinger" is up for auction on the German eBay site. It was originally put on sale yesterday with a starting bid of €9,999.00. But today, the bidding had exceeded €1 million with the auction not set to end until May 5. The seller has been identified as 21-year-old Benjamin Halbe, who claims to have bought the car from a dealer in Germany's Sauerland region in January.

Auction: PAPST GOLF !!! KULTAUTO !!! ( Ratzinger , Benedikt )

From ABC News: Popemobile for Sale? Bids Top $1 Mln on EBay

Papal Coat of Arms Update

Some have doubted the authenticity of the papal coat of arms that was released by the diocese of Munich and Freising earlier this week, wondering why, if it was the true coat of arms, the Vatican hadn't released it instead. Well, earlier today, L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican City, published an article "Lo Stemma di Papa Benedetto XVI" with a graphic of the same coat of arms released by Ratzinger's former Bavarian diocese:

È tradizione, da almeno otto secoli, che i Papi abbiano un proprio stemma personale. Anche il Cardinale Joseph Ratzinger, eletto Papa ed assumendo il nome di Benedetto XVI, ha scelto uno stemma ricco di simbolismi e di significati, per affidare alla storia la sua personalità ed il suo Pontificato.

I would post a link to that article here, but unfortunately since I found it, the newspaper has updated its site with the April 29 edition and it appears that they do not make available old stories in an accessible archive. A higher quality color image of Pope Benedict XVI's coat of arms is available from the Wikipedia here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pope Tells Why He Chose 'Benedict'

In his first general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 15,000 people, the Pope again gave thanks to God for having elected him as Peter's successor, and explained why he chose the name of Benedict.

The Holy Father spoke of the feelings he was experiencing at the beginning of his ministry: "awe and gratitude to God, Who surprised me more than anyone in calling me to succeed the Apostle Peter; and interior trepidation before the greatness of the task and the responsibilities which have been entrusted to me. However, I draw serenity and joy from the certainty of God's help, that of His most Holy Mother the Virgin Mary, and of the patron saints. I also feel supported by the spiritual closeness of all the people of God whom, as I repeated last Sunday, I continue to ask to accompany me with persistent prayer."

"Resuming the Wednesday general audiences," he went on, "I wish to speak of the name I chose on becoming bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal Church. I chose to call myself Benedict XVI ideally as a link to the venerated Pontiff, Benedict XV, who guided the Church through the turbulent times of the First World War. He was a true and courageous prophet of peace who struggled strenuously and bravely, first to avoid the drama of war and then to limit its terrible consequences. In his footsteps I place my ministry, in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples, profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is above all a gift of God, a fragile and precious gift to be invoked, safeguarded and constructed, day after day and with everyone's contribution.

"The name Benedict also evokes the extraordinary figure of the great 'patriarch of western monasticism,' St. Benedict of Norcia, co-patron of Europe with Cyril and Methodius. The progressive expansion of the Benedictine Order which he founded exercised an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the European continent. For this reason, St. Benedict is much venerated in Germany, and especially in Bavaria, my own land of origin; he constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization."

The Pope appealed to St. Benedict for help "to hold firm Christ's central position in our lives. May he always be first in our thoughts and in all our activities!"

Before concluding, Benedict XVI announced that, just as at the beginning of his pontificate John Paul II had continued the reflections on Christian virtues begun by Pope John Paul I, in coming weekly audiences he would resume "the comments prepared by John Paul II on the second part of the Psalms and Canticles, which are part of Vespers. From next Wednesday, I will begin precisely from where his catechesis was interrupted after the general audience of January 26."

The Holy Father read out brief summaries of his catechesis, which he had delivered in Italian, in various other languages: English, French, Spanish and German. He then gave brief greetings to various groups in Croatian, Slovenian and Polish and concluded by addressing the 1,000 faithful from the archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, Italy, who were accompanied by Archbishop Riccardo Fontana.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI's Coat of Arms

The new coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI has been released by the Bavarian diocese of Munich and Freising, of which Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was once archbishop. The three-sectored shield contains a crowned Ethiopian, a bear, and a mussel. View the new coat of arms (Wikipedia). According to the Associated Press via Newsday:
The bear, which is saddled with heavy packs, symbolizes the weight of the papal office, the diocese said in a statement.

It has its origins in a Bavarian legend concerning the diocese's patron, Korbinian, who encountered the animal while on a trip to Rome. The bear ate Korbinian's mule, and God saddled it with the mule's packs.

The mussel dates back to a parable by St. Augustine -- about whose works the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote his final thesis -- and symbolizes "diving into the groundless sea of God," the diocese said.

Read more: Pope's Coat of Arms Has Bavarian Elements

Pope Benedict XVI to Germans: Pray for Me, Walk with Me, Have Faith in Me

A smiling Pope Benedict XVI entered the Paul VI Hall yesterday morning for a meeting with thousands of his fellow Germans, shaking hands with many of them as he walked down the center aisle before taking his seat. His brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, was also present at this audience, as were many German seminarians, priests, religious and lay faithful who shouted his name, first in Italian and then in German, and "Viva il Papa! Long Live the Pope."

In both his prepared speech and off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope asked his countrymen, to forgive him for being late, stating he knew that punctuality was a hallmark of Germans but adding that he had, however, lived in Italy for 23 years and had perhaps "become Italianized." In a reference to his origins, he said that, although he is now the bishop of Rome, he remains "a Bavarian" at heart. He highlighted in his speech the ties that have linked Bavaria and Rome over the centuries.

Benedict XVI then spoke of the conclave that elected him as the 264th Successor to Peter. "Without violating the oath of secrecy," he said, "I never thought I would be elected, nor did I do anything to promote this." When it became clear that he would be the new Pope, he said, he recalled a letter from a cardinal who reminded him that the theme of his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul came from the Lord's call to His disciples: "Follow me." And the then Cardinal Ratzinger had added, "when the Lord calls, we must answer." "The ways of the Lord," said the Holy Father, "are not easy, but we are not made for an easy life and therefore I could only say 'yes'."

He repeated what he said at the April 24 Mass to inaugurate his pontificate, namely that the Church "is not old but young." He added, to great applause, that he would indeed be in Cologne, Germany with young people in August for World Youth Day.

At the end of his speech, Pope Benedict XVI asked his fellow countrymen to walk together with him, to pray for him and to have faith in him. -V.I.S.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Pope Highlights Ecumenism, Dialogue With Non-Christians

At 11 this morning in the Clementine Hall, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed members of Christian Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as those of non-Christian religions who had come to Rome for the Mass yesterday to inaugurate his pontificate.

In greeting the delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the ecclesial communities of the West, he noted how "welcome" their presence was both yesterday in St. Peter's and in the days of mourning for and the funeral of Pope John Paul II. He told them their tribute at that time "went well beyond a simple act of ecclesial courtesy. ... Your participation in the mourning of the Catholic Church for his death showed how true and how great is the common passion for unity."

"In greeting you, I would like to thank the Lord," said the Pope, "Who has blessed us with His mercy and has infused in us a sincere disposition to make His prayer - 'ut unum sint' - our prayer."

Speaking French, Benedict XVI called this morning's meeting "significant as it permits the new bishop of Rome, pastor of the Catholic Church, to repeat to you, with simplicity, 'Duc in altum' (Put out into the deep)." He added that he wished to "reaffirm the irreversible commitment" undertaken at Vatican Council II, and since then, to stay "on the path towards full unity desired by Jesus for His disciples. ... Your presence, dear brothers in Christ, beyond what divides us and throws shadows over our full and visible communion, is a sign of sharing and support for the bishop of Rome, who can count on your support to follow" this path.

"I turn now to you, dear friends from different religious traditions," said the Holy Father in English, "and I thank you sincerely for your presence at the solemn inauguration of my pontificate. ... I am particularly grateful for the presence in our midst of members of the Muslim community, and I express my appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians, both at the local and international level. I assure you that the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole.

"The world in which we live is often marked by conflicts, violence and war, but it earnestly longs for peace, peace which is above all a gift from God, peace for which we must pray without ceasing. Yet peace is also a duty to which all peoples must be committed, especially those who profess to belong to religious traditions. Our efforts to come together and foster dialogue are a valuable contribution to building peace on solid foundations."

Benedict XVI concluded by inviting all present "to become together artisans of peace, of a reciprocal commitment to understanding, respect and love." -V.I.S.

Pope Benedict XVI Is "Old School" (D'uh)

Boney has collected a few bits of evidence that our new supreme pontiff is in fact "old school."

1) Today he plans to visit the tomb of St. Paul the Apostle, a older tradition which also was not observed by John Paul II.

2) He said the liturgical parts of his inaugural mass in Latin.

3) In his first significant address as pope (a speech in Latin to the cardinals last Wednesday), he used the 'Royal We' rather than 'I', which John Paul II used.

Boney loves it. Otherwise why did he take 4 years of Latin?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI Inauguration Mass Homily

Today's Gospel from St. John (read in both Latin and Greek during today's Mass) recalls when Jesus said to Peter: "Feed my sheep" (Jn 21:17). In the same way, the Catholic Church today looks to Pope Benedict XVI to feed his sheep, the followers of that Church that Christ built on St. Peter. What follows are some excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI's homily during this inauguration Mass. The homily was delivered in Italian. This is my unofficial transcription of the CNN translation into English. During his homily, the Holy Father made a plea for ecumenism, citing the desire to gather one flock, one shepherd. He also urged young people to be open to Jesus Christ.

"Your Eminences, my dear brother bishops and priests, distinguished authorities and members of the diplomatic corps, dear brothers and sisters.

During these days of great intensity, we have chanted the litany of the saints on three different occasions: at the funeral of our Holy Father John Paul II; as the cardinals entered the conclave; and again today, when we sang it with the response: 'Tu illum adiuva' - sustain the new Successor of Saint Peter. On each occasion, in a particular way, I found great consolation in listening to this prayerful chant. How alone we all felt after the passing of John Paul II - the Pope who for over twenty-six years had been our shepherd and guide on our journey through life! He crossed the threshold of the next life, entering into the mystery of God. But he did not take this step alone. Those who believe are never alone - neither in life nor in death. At that moment, we could call upon the Saints from every age - his friends, his brothers and sisters in the faith - knowing that they would form a living procession to accompany him into the next world, into the glory of God. We knew that his arrival was awaited. Now we know that he is among his own and is truly at home.

"We were also consoled as we made our solemn entrance into conclave, to elect the one whom the Lord had chosen. How would we be able to discern his name? How could 115 bishops, from every culture and every country, discover the one on whom the Lord wished to confer the mission of binding and loosing? Once again, we knew that we were not alone, we knew that we were surrounded, led and guided by the friends of God. And now, at this moment, weak servant of God that I am, I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity. How can I do this? How will I be able to do it? All of you, my dear friends, have just invoked the entire host of saints, represented by some of the great names in the history of God's dealings with mankind. In this way, I too can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the Saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me. Indeed, the communion of saints consists not only of the great men and women who went before us and whose names we know. All of us belong to the communion of saints, we who have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we who draw life from the gift of Christ's Body and Blood, through which He transforms us and makes us like Himself.

"Yes, the Church is alive - this is the wonderful experience of these days. During those sad days of the Pope's illness and death, it became wonderfully evident to us that the Church is alive. And the Church is young. She holds within herself the future of the world and therefore shows each of us the way towards the future. The Church is alive and we are seeing it: we are experiencing the joy that the Risen Lord promised His followers. The Church is alive - she is alive because Christ is alive, because He is truly risen. In the suffering that we saw on the Holy Father's face in those days of Easter, we contemplated the mystery of Christ's Passion and we touched His wounds. But throughout these days we have also been able, in a profound sense, to touch the Risen One. We have been able to experience the joy that He promised, after a brief period of darkness, as the fruit of His resurrection.

"The Church is alive - with these words, I greet with great joy and gratitude all of you gathered here, my venerable brother cardinals and bishops, my dear priests, deacons, Church workers, catechists. I greet you, men and women religious, witnesses of the transfiguring presence of God. I greet you, members of the lay faithful, immersed in the great task of building up the Kingdom of God which spreads throughout the world, in every area of life. With great affection I also greet all those who have been reborn in the Sacrament of Baptism but are not yet in full communion with us; and you, my brothers and sisters of the Jewish people, to whom we are joined by a great shared spiritual heritage, one rooted in God's irrevocable promises. Finally, like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and non-believers alike.

"Dear friends! At this moment there is no need for me to present a program of governance. I was able to give an indication of what I see as my task in my Message of Wednesday April 20, and there will be other opportunities to do so. My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He Himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history. Instead of putting forward a program, I should simply like to comment on the two liturgical symbols which represent the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry; both these symbols, moreover, reflect clearly what we heard proclaimed in today's readings.

"The first symbol is the pallium, woven in pure wool, which will be placed on my shoulders. This ancient sign, which the bishops of Rome have worn since the fourth century, may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ, which the bishop of this city, the Servant of the Servants of God, takes upon his shoulders. God's yoke is God's will, which we accept. And this will does not weigh down on us, oppressing us and taking away our freedom. To know what God wants, to know where the path of life is found - this was Israel's joy, this was her great privilege. It is also our joy: God's will does not alienate us, it purifies us - even if this can be painful - and so it leads us to ourselves. In this way, we serve not only Him, but the salvation of the whole world, of all history.

"The symbolism of the pallium is even more concrete: the lamb's wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life. For the Fathers of the Church, the parable of the lost sheep, which the shepherd seeks in the desert, was an image of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The human race - every one of us - is the sheep lost in the desert which no longer knows the way. The Son of God will not let this happen; He cannot abandon humanity in so wretched a condition. He leaps to his feet and abandons the glory of heaven, in order to go in search of the sheep and pursue it, all the way to the Cross. He takes it upon His shoulders and carries our humanity; He carries us all - He is the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. What the pallium indicates first and foremost is that we are all carried by Christ. But at the same time it invites us to carry one another. Hence the pallium becomes a symbol of the shepherd's mission, of which the second reading and the Gospel speak. The pastor must be inspired by Christ's holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God's darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth's treasures no longer serve to build God's garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction. The Church as a whole and all her pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.

"The symbol of the lamb also has a deeper meaning. In the ancient Near East, it was customary for kings to style themselves shepherds of their people. This was an image of their power, a cynical image: to them their subjects were like sheep, which the shepherd could dispose of as he wished. When the shepherd of all humanity, the living God, Himself became a lamb, He stood on the side of the lambs, with those who are downtrodden and killed. This is how He reveals Himself to be the true shepherd: 'I am the Good Shepherd . . . I lay down my life for the sheep,' Jesus says of Himself (Jn 10:14ff). It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God's sign: He Himself is love. How often we wish that God would make show Himself stronger, that He would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God's patience. And yet, we need His patience. God, Who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified Him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.

"One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. 'Feed my sheep.' says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, He says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God's truth, of God's word, the nourishment of His presence, which He gives us in the blessed Sacrament. My dear friends - at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love His flock more and more - in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.

"The second symbol used in today's liturgy to express the inauguration of the Petrine ministry is the presentation of the fisherman's ring. Peter's call to be a shepherd, which we heard in the Gospel, comes after the account of a miraculous catch of fish: after a night in which the disciples had let down their nets without success, they see the Risen Lord on the shore. He tells them to let down their nets once more, and the nets become so full that they can hardly pull them in; 153 large fish: 'and although there were so many, the net was not torn' (Jn 21:11). This account, coming at the end of Jesus' earthly journey with His disciples, corresponds to an account found at the beginning: there too, the disciples had caught nothing the entire night; there too, Jesus had invited Simon once more to put out into the deep. And Simon, who was not yet called Peter, gave the wonderful reply: 'Master, at your word I will let down the nets.' And then came the conferral of his mission: 'Do not be afraid. Henceforth you will be catching men' (Lk 5:1-11). Today too the Church and the successors of the Apostles are told to put out into the deep sea of history and to let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel - to God, to Christ, to true life. The Fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendor of God's light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God.

"It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God's joy which longs to break into the world.

"Here I want to add something: both the image of the shepherd and that of the fisherman issue an explicit call to unity. 'I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd' (Jn 10:16); these are the words of Jesus at the end of His discourse on the Good Shepherd. And the account of the 153 large fish ends with the joyful statement: 'although there were so many, the net was not torn' (Jn 21:11). Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn! But no - we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of Your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity You have promised. Let us remember it in our prayer to the Lord, as we plead with Him: yes, Lord, remember Your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow Your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!

"At this point, my mind goes back to October 22 1978, when Pope John Paul II began his ministry here in Saint Peter's Square. His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: 'Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!' The Pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let Him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free. Yes, He would certainly have taken something away from them: the dominion of corruption, the manipulation of law and the freedom to do as they pleased. But He would not have taken away anything that pertains to human freedom or dignity, or to the building of a just society. The Pope was also speaking to everyone, especially the young. Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to Him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and He gives you everything. When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundred-fold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ - and you will find true life. Amen."

Pope Receives Pallium, Fisherman's Ring

The Mass to install Pope Benedict XVI is underway and the Pope has had bestowed upon him two ancient traditions of the authority of the Bishop of Rome—the pallium and the Fisherman's Ring. The Pope uses his ring to officially seal any documents he writes.

In past installation ceremonies, all of the cardinals present have sworn their allegiance to the new Pontiff. But this time, only 12 people swore their allegiance—three cardinals, a bishop, a priest, a deacon, a married couple, a nun, a religious brother and two youths who have received the sacrament of confirmation.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Inauguration Mass for Pope Benedict XVI

The mass to inaugurate the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI will be celebrated at St. Peter's Square at 10:00 a.m. CET (4:00 a.m. EDT). Jimbo will be standing by to give updates.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pope's Email Address

I was quite surprised to see an email address listed for the Holy Father at the official Vatican Web site. I'm serious--see for yourself.

Send emails to Pope Benedict XVI at:

Pope Benedict XVI Retains Top Vatican Officials

The Holy Father:

- Appointed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, titular of the suburbicarian church of Albano, as secretary of State.

- Confirmed "donec aliter provideatur" the cardinals and archbishops who head dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and the president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.

- Confirmed Archbishop Leonardo Sandri as substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.

- Confirmed Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo as secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.

- Confirmed the current secretaries of dicasteries of the Roman Curia for the current five-year period. -V.I.S.

Thus it seems Benedict XVI is ensuring a smooth transition by retaining those officials whom John Paul II appointed.

Pope to Cardinals: May Your Support For Me Never Fail

This morning, the Pope received the cardinals currently in Rome, telling them that "to the intense emotions I experienced on the occasion of the death of my venerated predecessor John Paul II and then during the conclave, especially its outcome, can be added an intimate desire for silence and two complementary feelings: a deep and heartfelt gratitude and a sense of human impotence in the face of the exalted task that awaits me."

"In the first place," he affirmed, "I feel the need to give thanks to God Who, despite my human frailty, elected me as Successor to the Apostle Peter and entrusted me with the task of supporting and guiding the Church, that in the world she may become a sacrament of unity for the entire human race."

Benedict XVI emphasized how "truly emotional" the first meeting with the faithful two days ago in St Peter's Square had been. "May my most heartfelt thanks reach everyone: bishops, priests, male and female religious, young and old alike, for their spiritual solidarity."

The Pope thanked all members of the College of Cardinals, especially Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano and the camerlengo Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, for "the active collaboration they gave to running the Church during the period of vacant see. With special affection, I would like to greet those cardinals who, for reasons of age or ill health, did not participate in the conclave."

The Pope extended his personal thanks to the cardinals "for the trust you have placed in me by electing me as bishop of Rome and pastor of the Universal Church. It was an act of faith that constitutes an encouragement to undertake this new mission with greater serenity, because I am convinced that I can count on both the indispensable help of God and your generous collaboration. I pray that your support for me may never fail!"

The Holy Father recalled his predecessors, Blessed John XXIII, Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul I, and especially John Paul II, "whose witness over the last days supported us more than ever, and whose ever-living presence we continue to feel." He went on: "The light and the strength of the Risen Christ radiated in the Church by that kind of 'last Mass' that (John Paul II) celebrated in his agony, culminating in the 'Amen' of a life entirely offered, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the salvation of the world."

"For me, your spiritual closeness, your enlightened counsel and your effective cooperation will be a gift for which I will be ever grateful and a stimulus to carry out the mandate entrusted to me with total faithfulness and dedication." -V.I.S.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cardinal Mahony on Pope Benedict XVI

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger earned a repuation as being the strict enforcer of Church teachings, the Vatican's watchdog of orthodoxy. Some have been quick to characterize this man as ultraconservative and feel that, as Pope Benedict XVI, his hard-line stance will divide the Church. Many American Catholics, especially, fear that Pope Benedict XVI will ignore the problems of the Church in the U.S. But these thoughts are terribly premature. We have not even celebrated the Inauguration Mass, and some who may have formed a bias against Cardinal Ratzinger are already rushing to judgement of the new Papacy.

Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles (which happens to be my hometown), was one of a few cardinals who sat at the same breakfast table as Cardinal Ratzinger on Tuesday morning, just hours before he was elected Pope. An article in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times offers Mahony's insights on the new Pontiff, specifically how his reputation of being a stubborn hard-liner may give way to a gentler man once he is able to more fully step into his role as Pope. Here are some of his remarks:

On his transition from enforcer of doctrine to Pope: "I think what you're going to see and hear is a very pastoral, spiritual dimension. Remember, he's no longer the chief theologian of the church in that same sense.... He is the chief theologian as being pope."

On why he selected the name Benedict, there are two reasons: "He said, 'I'm going to take Benedict XVI,' but then he went on to explain why, which is very interesting." 1) His namesake, Pope Benedict XV, reigned during World War I. And at the time, "It was the worst scourge of war ever known on the face of the Earth. So he said we still need to be working at peacemaking, reconciliation and harmony around the world." 2) St. Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order, said, "Jesus Christ is first and foremost. Everything else is secondary."

On Ratzinger's theological writings: "He's obviously an extremely intelligent man, renowned theologian, an author who has written books and articles. His spiritual writings you never hear about, but I think you're going to see a lot of that now with him as pope."

On the problems facing the Church in the U.S.: "We, as American Catholics, have to be a little bit more patient, and we have to know the rest of the church better. We really are isolated."

On Pope Benedict XVI's openness to dialog: "[He likes] to listen to other points of view. That's the role of a theologian — to hear other points of view. Those don't frighten him or turn him off.... As a good theologian, if he disagrees with you, he does so in a very pleasant way."

More from the Los Angeles Times:
Mahony acknowledged that Ratzinger had a reputation as uncompromising when it came to adherence to church doctrine. "Everyone who's a public figure in some way always carries a reputation or baggage," Mahony said.

The Los Angeles cardinal said the "spiritual, pastoral side" of the new pope could be revealed to the world as soon as Sunday, when he is to give his first homily as the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

Read more (subscription required): Mahony Says the World Soon Will See Pontiff's Pastoral Side

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Why the Pope Chose 'Benedict'

We've had many readers ask us if we knew why the Pope chose the name 'Benedict'. Cardinals are saying that he chose the name to honor Benedict XV's commitment to peace. According to AP (via Yahoo! News):

Ratzinger told cardinals he wanted to pay homage to Benedict XV, known for tireless efforts to help refugees and reunite a world divided by what was then known as the Great War, an archbishop said.

The new pontiff, Benedict XVI, felt his namesake "had done much for reconciliation among peoples," Berlin Cardinal Georg Maximilian Sterzinsky told reporters Tuesday after attending the conclave.

Read more: New Pope Inspired by Anti-War Pontiff

Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates First Mass as Pope

Beginning at 9:00 a.m. CET (3:00 a.m. EDT), Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his first Mass as Supreme Pontiff in the Sistine Chapel with the College of Cardinals who elected him. During his homily, he called on the Church and all Catholics to pursue ecumenism and continue an open dialog with other relgions. He delivered the homily in Latin. The following are some excerpts from my unofficial transcription of the CNN translation of Latin into English. The official full text of the homily will hopefully be available later this morning. We'll let you know as soon as we get it. In the meantime, this will have to suffice.

(UPDATE 4/21: The Vatican has still not posted the official translation to their website, but thanks go out to Manuel Quezon, who pointed out in the comments section that Inside the Vatican has a complete English translation.)

There needs to be a purification of memory, something John Paul II called for so many times, which can only predispose ourselves to the Truth of Christ. Each one of us must be fully aware that the time will come when we will have to account for what we have done or not done in the light of the great gift that He has given to us, through his disciples.


This Successor of Peter would like to say that he will do all that is in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. Following his predecessor, he will promote contacts and understandings of the various Christian communities. To them, I also send on this occasion, the most cordial greetings of Christ who is the Lord of all.


I turn to the unforgettable memory of the experience of the death and requiem funeral of John Paul II, my predecessor. I turn to his mortal remains, now buried in the earth. He was called head of the nations. The whole world looked to him with trust. It seemed to many people that his participation in many countries and commitment to social problems in life, seemed to make himself a part of all of humanity.


Now the Church must be asking itself questions about its future. The Church must revive itself of the full task of presenting the Words of Him so that we will not walk in darkness, but have life. In undertaking the new ministry, the new Pope knows that his task is to make the Light of Christ shine before men and women of the world. Not his own light, but the Light of Christ.


On ecumenism: We will not spare our forces to pursue the dialogs opened by my predecessor. With mutual understandings, we will lay down a foundation for a better future.


"Remain with us, oh Lord." This was the dominant theme of the apostolic letter of John Paul II on the Eucharist. And at this time, when I begin the ministry to which Christ has called me — Remain with me, oh Lord. As Peter, I also renew in Him my promise of total faithfulness. He alone do I intend to serve, totally dedicated to the service of His Church. And in support of this promise, I ask for the eternal intercession of the Most Holy Mother, in whom I place the future of the Church. May she intercede with Peter, the apostles, and all the saints. With these thoughts, I impart to you, my dear brothers and sisters, and to those who are participating in this service on television, I would like to give you a special blessing. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The conclusion of the homily was greeted with applause by the College of Cardinals.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

April 24, Mass to Inaugurate Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI

This evening, immediately after the election of the new Pontiff, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who took the name of Benedict XVI, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement to journalists:

"The conclave having ended, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has decided to eat this evening with all the other cardinals in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he will also spend the night.

"Tomorrow morning at 9, the Pope will preside the Eucharistic Celebration with the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel and will deliver the homily in Latin.

"The Mass for the solemn inauguration of the pontificate will be celebrated at St. Peter's on Sunday, April 24 at 10 a.m." -V.I.S.

Biography of Pope Benedict XVI

Following is the official biography of the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission, Dean of the College of Cardinals, was born on April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany. He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1951.

His father, a police officer, came from a traditional family of farmers from Lower Bavaria. He spent his adolescent years in Traunstein, and was called into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service in the last months of World War II. From 1946 to 1951, the year in which he was ordained a priest and began to teach, he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher school in Freising. In 1953 he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled: "The People and House of God in St. Augustine's doctrine of the Church." Four years later, he qualified as a university teacher. He then taught dogma and fundamental theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising, in Bonn from 1959 to 1969, in Munster from 1963 to 1966, and in Tubinga from 1966 to 1969. From 1969, he was professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg and vice president of the same university.

He was already well known in 1962 when, at Vatican Council II at the age of 35, he became a consultor to Cardinal Joseph Frings, archbishop of Cologne. Among his numerous publications, a particular post belongs to the "Introduction to Christianity," a collection of university lessons on the profession of apostolic faith, published in 1968; and to "Dogma and Revelation" an anthology of essays, sermons and reflections dedicated to the pastoral ministry, published in 1973.

In March 1977, Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Munich and Freising and on May 28, 1977 he was consecrated - the first diocesan priest after 80 years to take over the pastoral ministry of this large Bavarian diocese.

Created and proclaimed cardinal by Paul VI in the consistory of June 27, 1977, he assumed the titles of the suburbicarian Church of Velletri-Segni (April 5, 1993) and of the suburbicarian Church of Ostia (November 30, 2002).

On November 25, 1981 he was nominated by John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and as president of the Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission.

He was relator of the 5th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1980).
He was president delegate to the 6th Synodal Assembly (1983).

Elected vice dean of the College of Cardinals November 6, 1998, the Holy Father approved his election, by the order of cardinal bishops, as dean of the College of Cardinals on November 30, 2002.

As President of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, after 6 years of work (1986-92) he presented the New Catechism to the Holy Father.

He received an honoris causa degree in jurisprudence from the Free University of Maria Santissima Assunta on November 10. 1999.
He became an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, November 13, 2000.

Curial Membership:

- Secretariat of State (second section).
- Oriental Churches, Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Bishops, Evangelization of Peoples, Catholic Education (congregations).
- Christian Unity (council).
- Latin America, Ecclesia Dei (commissions). -V.I.S.

Tu es Petrus (You are Peter)

After Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Supreme Pontiff, he took the name Pope Benedict XVI. He is the 265th Pope, the 264th Successor of the original Fisherman of the Church, St. Peter. Therefore, Pope Benedict XVI is now charged with the duty of being the shepherd of the flock that is the Roman Catholic Church. He is Peter. Following his acceptance of being elevated to Pope, the cardinals most likely read to him the passage from the St. Matthew's Gospel when Jesus Christ says to Peter:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mt 16:18-19)

In Latin: Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam. This is the phrase that now appears at the top of our blog. Pope Benedict XVI, truly you are Peter. Guide the Church in faith and with strength.

Pope Benedict XVI Addresses Crowd

Update 1:11 PM EST (via The New York Times)

The following is the transcript of remarks delivered by Pope Benedict XVI as provided by CQ Transcriptions, Inc.

POPE BENEDICT XVI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Dear brothers and sisters, after our great pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in God's vineyard.

I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with insufficient tools, and I especially trust in your prayers.

In the joy of the resurrected Lord, trustful of his permanent help, we go ahead, sure that God will help, and Mary, his most beloved mother, stands on our side.

Thank you.


(UNKNOWN): Long live the pope!


Let us proceed with the blessing.

Holy apostles, Peter and Paul, we trust in your power and in your authority. Please bless us through Lord Jesus, our lord, amen.

Through the prayers and intercession of our lady, blessed John Baptist and all the apostles, Peter and Paul, and all the saints, omnipotent God, have mercy on us, and please remit all our sins with the blessing of Jesus Christ, and lead us into the eternal life. Amen.

May there be indulgence and absolution and the remission of all your sins. After having repented duly, and may your life be blessed, and may you have the consolation of the grace of the Holy Spirit. And may, through your perseverance and your good works, the Lord, in his omnipotence and in his mercy, forgive you. Amen.

And I bless, through the Lord omnipotent, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. May the blessing be upon you and always be with you.


Pope Benedict XVI

The crowd in St. Peter's Square rejoiced as Pope Benedict XVI (formerly Cardinal Ratzinger) was announced as the new pontiff!

If you need a primer on the "Panzer Cardinal," see the Wikipedia.

We Have a Pope!

Apparently, the smoke was indeed white. The bells are now tolling across the Vatican and throughout the city of Rome, as we celebrate the election of our new Pope! In about one-half hour, he will be introduced to the world from the front balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Before that happens, however, he will don his new papal vestments. The Cardinals not elected will then swear their allegiance to the new Pope one by one before the rest of the world sees him for the first time.

Could it Be White?

The smoke is looking much whiter now, and as we reported earlier, Sky Italia is reporting that it is indeed white, and that we have a new Pope. The fact that the smoke is coming this early indicates that only one voting session of the afternoon has concluded. Smoke wasn't expected until after the second voting session, but of course, the second session may not have been neccessary. Therefore, seeing smoke now seems to indicate that it is white. To further confuse matters, the 9 o'clock bells are about to ring.

Sky Italia: White Smoke

Vatican Radio is reporting black, but Sky Italia is reporting white. Still no bells. More to come.

More Black Smoke

More black smoke is rising after the first voting session of the afternoon. And this time, the smoke is unmistakeably black!

Don't Be Fooled: It's Black

The crowds are now emptying out of St. Peter's Square after the smoke seen rising from the Sistine Chapel chimney pipe was apparently black. Yesterday's smoke appeared much darker black than today's (greyish in color), which caused a moment of hesitation among the crowd and with the American cable news networks. Had the two-thirds majority been reached? No one could be certain. But after many moments had passed with no ringing of the bells, it was clear that no new Pope had been elected.

But minutes later, more confusion occurred: the clock struck noon and the Basilica bells rung out, causing many in the crowd to cheer wildly for about a minute, as they confused the bells announcing the hour with bells announcing a new Pope. The chimney then began again to pour out more smoke (much blacker the second time around), thus subsiding any hopes of the crowd. This morning's two votes brings the total tally to three. Another round of two ballots will occur this afternoon beginning at 4:00 p.m. CET (10:00 a.m. EDT). Smoke is expected at roughly 7:00 p.m. CET (1:00 p.m. EDT).


Smoke is pouring from the chimney pipe, but no one is quite sure what color it is. But, so far no bells are ringing.

Conclave: Day Two

Yesterday, after one vote, black smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, thus announcing to the world that no new Pope had been elected. Beginning today and continuing each morning until a new Pope is elected, at 7:30 a.m. CET (1:30 a.m. EDT) the Cardinals will meet for Mass in their living quarters at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. At approximately 9:00 a.m. they will convene in the Sistine Chapel for two rounds of balloting, which will conclude with the burning of the ballots at approximately noon. If necessary, the Cardinals will also hold an afternoon session of two votes, commencing at approximately 4:00 p.m. and concluding around 7:00 p.m.

Read more from CNN: Four votes set as conclave resumes

Monday, April 18, 2005

Black Smoke

Black smoke is currently rising from the Sistine Chapel chimney. The first vote of the first conclave of the third millenium has been conducted and no single candidate garnered a two-thirds majority.

The Cardinal Princes of the Church will now retire for the evening. They will reconvene in the Sistine Chapel tomorrow morning. If needed, two morning ballots will be held and then there could also be two afternoon ballots.

Extra Omnes

The doors of the Sistine Chapel have been shut and the cardinals have begun the conclave.

Smoke Cam

Update 12 March 2013: Click here for live streaming video of the 2013 Papal Conclave or click here if you just want to watch the 2013 "smoke cam", which is simply video from a camera trained on the Sistine Chapel chimney 24/7.

Conclave Poem: Roman Triptych Meditations

The following is an excerpt from the epilogue of Pope John Paul II's Roman Triptych Meditations:

The colors of the Sistine will then speak the word of the Lord:
Tu es Petrus—once heard by Simon, son of John.
'To you I will give the keys of the Kingdom.'
Those entrusted with the legacy of the keys
gather here, letting themselves be enfolded by the Sistine's colors,
by the vision left to us by Michelangelo—
So it was in August, and again in October,
in the memorable year of the two Conclaves,
and so it will be once more, when the time comes,
after my death.
Michelangelo's vision must speak to them.
'Con-clave': a shared concern for the legacy of the keys,
the keys of the Kingdom.
Lo, they see themselves in the midst of the
Beginning and the End,
between the Day of Creation and the Day of Judgment...
It is granted man once to die, and thereafter, the Judgment!
Final transparency and light.
The clarity of the events—
the clarity of consciences—
During the conclave Michelangelo must teach them—
Do not forget: All is laid bare and revealed before His eyes (Heb 4:13).
You who see all, point to him!
He will point him out...

Cardinals Swear Secrecy Oath in Sistine Chapel

The College of Cardinals is currenly gathered in the Sistine Chapel, beneath the Michelangelo's frescoes taking the oath of secrecy by placing their hands on the Gospel. Following this, the cardinals will decide whether or not a vote will take place today.

Conclave Begins at 4:30 p.m. CET

As I write, the College of Cardinals is gathered in St. Peter's Basilica to concelebrate the pre-conclave "Pro eligendo Pontifice" Holy Mass, which started at 10 a.m. CET, and to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit during the voting process. Today at 4:30 p.m. CET (10:30 a.m. EDT), the conclave to elect the 264th Successor of St. Peter will commence. When the last cardinal swears his oath, the papal master of ceremonies Archbishop Piero Marini will announce, "Extra omnes" (Latin for "everyone out"). Then the 115 cardinal electors gathered in the Vatican City will be locked in the Sistine Chapel to begin the process of ushering in a new Papacy.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Sistine Chapel Chimney Erected

In preparation for the start of the conclave, workers at the Vatican have attached to the roof of the Sistine Chapel the chimney pipe that the world will watch anxiously beginning Monday. The smoke that comes from the chimney will signal the end of each balloting session by the College of Cardinals, when the ballots themselves are thrown into the fireplace within the chapel. Black smoke rising from the chimney indicates that the vote did not result in an election; but when white smoke puffs out, the world will know that a new Pope has been elected.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Papal Tailor Displays Next Pope's Cassock

Currenly on display in the window of Gammarelli Ecclesiastical Tailoring are three brand new cassocks, one in each size, small, medium, and large. When the next Pope is elected, one of his first duties as Pontiff will be to pick out one of the three cassocks and change into it before being introduced in St. Peter's Square. Filippo Gammarelli is the head tailor of the shop owned by his family, which has been making clothes for popes since 1798. According to the New York Times:
Gammarelli tailors have prepared six white papal cassocks in all, wool and silk versions of the three floor-brushing sizes. On Friday or Saturday, Filippo Gammarelli or Annibale, his brother, will drive the cassocks in boxes to the Vatican. After the new pope is elected, he will be taken to a nearby chamber, often called the Room of Tears. There he will be presented with one of the Gammarelli cassocks, slip it on and step out onto the balcony of St. Peter's for all the world to see.

Read more: Style Secrets of the Pope's Tailor

Thursday, April 14, 2005

British Bookies Favor Arinze, Lustiger and Ratzinger

Greetings Pope Blog readers. The following is pure speculation, so please take it with a grain of salt.

AFP has released an article detailing British bookies' current odds of papabili (see it here via Yahoo! News). The top three candidates (averaged from different bookies) are Arinze, Ratzinger and Lustiger. Althought I didn't list Ratzinger as papabile in my article (I consider him a grand elector instead), one reader made some good points on why he may in fact be electable anyway (check the comments).

It's been heard in the rumor mill that Ratzinger has already secured 50 votes. Meanwhile both he and Lustiger are 78. In my own not-so-humble opinion, in this specific conclave, old age may increase a cardinal's electibility, after a celebrated but long papacy of Pope John Paul II. Arinze is 72, so he would seem to fit that pattern. What do yah'll think?

Update 7:12 PM: Jimbo has informed Boney that this post is "trashy." Again, please take this "trashy" post with a grain of salt (and a sense of humor!). For the record, The Pope Blog is of the opinion that the next pope will be chosen by (gasp!) the cardinals themselves, with the influence of the Holy Spirit*--not bookmakers or the media :)

*Thanks for the correction, Thomas

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Cardinals Conclude Ninth General Congregation

Today, at the end of the Ninth General Congregation of Cardinals in the period of the vacant see, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following statement to journalists:

"The ninth General Congregation of cardinals began at 9 this morning in the New Synod Hall in the presence of 140 cardinals.

"The cardinals discussed several articles of Chapter IV of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici gregis'. (Chapter IV: Faculties of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia during the vacancy of the Apostolic See)

"The assembly continued their exchange of ideas on the situation of the Church and the world.

"The cardinals received condolences from the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

"Following the speech by Ambassador Giovanni Galassi of the Republic of San Marino, dean of the diplomatic corps, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, thanked the chiefs of mission, asking them to express the gratitude of the Sacred College to the authorities and the peoples whom they represent.

"Joining the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in greeting the diplomatic corps were Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, camerlengo of Holy Roman Church, the vice dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the senior cardinal of the Order of Priests, Eugenio de Araujo Sales and the cardinal proto-deacon, Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez.

"At the end of this morning's ninth congregation, the cardinals were given the series of 'sede vacante' stamps issued by the Philatelic Office of Vatican City.

"The recitation of the Regina Coeli concluded the meeting." -V.I.S.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Cardinals to Pray at Pope's Tomb

Following their concelebration in the Bovendiale Cathedral this evening, the College of Cardinals will pray at the tomb of Pope John Paul II in the Vatican grottoes. The mass will be presided over by Cardinal Eugenio Sales de Araujo, Protopresbiterian of the College.

Tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. CET, the general public will be allowed to visit the Pope's tomb.

Read more from the Agenzia Giornalistica Italia: This Evening Cardinals to Pray at Pope's Tomb

Mass for Election of Pope and Start of Conclave

In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 18, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside at a Mass "for the election of the Roman Pontiff," which will be concelebrated by the other cardinal electors.

A note from the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff states that, "in order to show communion in prayer on the part of the entire Church at such an important moment, cardinal non-electors, bishops, priests, deacons, and members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life are also earnestly invited to participate in the celebration, as are the lay faithful of all God's people present in Rome."

"The entire Church, spiritually united with Mary Mother of Jesus, and called to persevere unanimously in prayer following the example of the first Christian community, lifts humble and insistent prayers to the Lord, that He may illuminate the minds of the electors and bring them to agreement, in order to obtain a prompt and unanimous election of the new Pope."

At 4.30 p.m. on Monday, April 18 the entry into conclave and the oath for the election of the new Roman Pontiff will take place in keeping with the norms laid down by the "Ordo Rituum Conclavis." The cardinal electors, preceded by the Cross and the Book of the Gospels, and accompanied by the singing of the Litany of the Saints, will enter in procession from the Hall of Blessings to the Sistine Chapel where, after singing "Veni Creator," they will pronounce the prescribed oath.

In addition to the cardinal electors, others participating in the procession include the secretary of the conclave, the master of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the secretary of the cardinal dean, the ecclesiastic who will preach the meditation, masters of ceremonies, the dean, ministrants, and the "Cappella Musicale Pontificia."

At 4 p.m., the note concludes, the following people may access the Sistine Chapel: the substitute of the Secretariat of State, the secretary for Relations with States, the prefect of the Pontifical Household, the two religious who supervise the sacristy, the priests charged with hearing confessions and the commander of the Swiss Guard. There will also be authorized personnel from the Swiss Guard, the healthcare authorities, the floreria (a Vatican office in charge of furnishings), photographers, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Television Center, and the Holy See Press Office. -V.I.S.

Sede Vacante Stamps Issuance Today

The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican City will begin issuing special stamps today to indicate that the Holy See is vacant. The stamps will be printed with the phrase "Sede Vacante 2005" and will also contain the crossed keys surmounted by the pavilion, the coat of arms used by the Vatican during the interregnum. The sede vacante stamps are only valid for use while the Holy See is vacant.

Read more from the Agence France-Presse via ABC Online: Vatican to issue rare stamps for papal vacancy

Monday, April 11, 2005

Faithful May Visit John Paul's Grave Starting April 13

Today, at the end of the Seventh General Congregation of Cardinals in the period of the vacant see, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following statement to journalists:

"The 134 cardinals present, after the opening prayer and after the three newly arrived cardinals swore their oath, proceeded to the designation, through choosing lots, of the three new cardinal assistants who, together with the camerlengo, compose the Particular Congregation (cf. Universi Dominici gregis, no 7). They are: Cardinals Angelo Sodano for the Order of Bishops, Polycarp Pengo for the Order of Priests and Walter Kasper for the Order of Deacons.

"The cardinals recommend to the bishops and priests of the Church to use the formula of the Mass 'pro eligendo Summo Pontifice' which is found in the edizione tipica (Latin edition) of the Roman Missal. In this sense the cardinals renewed with insistence their exhortation to all the People of God to accompany with intense prayers these days of preparation for the Conclave so that the Holy Spirit may assist the cardinal electors.

"Several cardinals will lead special prayers and Eucharistic celebrations in their titular churches in Rome.

"The General Congregation began to examine the expenses that must be incurred during the period of the vacant see and also examined the time of the General Congregations that, from now on, will begin at 9 a.m.

"I can add that the Vatican Grottoes will be open to the faithful starting on Wednesday April 13, at 7 a.m." -V.I.S.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Cardinals to Avoid Media; 2 Cardinals Unable to Come to Rome

Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following statement yesterday afternoon to journalists:

..."The cardinals, after the funeral Mass of the Holy Father, began a more intense period of silence and prayer, in view of the conclave. They unanimously decided to avoid interviews and encounters with the media. Journalists are therefore courteously invited to abstain from asking the cardinals for interviews or any other comments. This invitation should not be seen as an attitude of discourtesy or disinterest with regards to the media - in fact the cardinals wish to thank them for the enormous interest with which they are following events in this period - but rather as a gesture of great responsibility.

..."Two cardinals have communicated that they will be unable to attend for reasons of health: Jaime L. Sin, archbishop emeritus of Manila, the Philippines, and Adolfo Antonio Suarez Rivera, archbishop emeritus of Monterrey, Mexico."

...He also said that he had received countless questions about the beatification process for John Paul II and noted that this is entirely up to the new Supreme Pontiff. -V.I.S.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Pope Did NOT Consider Resigning; Mainstream Media Gets It Wrong Yet Again

After reading in the news media for the past 24 hours that the Pope had once considered resigning in 2000, I re-read the part of his spiritual testament where he supposedly indicated such a consideration. An Associated Press article reports:

In the final entry, he appeared to consider stepping aside. "Now, in the year during which my age reaches 80 years, it is necessary to ask if it is not the time to repeat the words of the biblical Simeon, 'Nunc Dimittis.'" The reference is to the passage, "Now Master you may let your servant go."

Taken out of context, certainly it looks like the Pope is considering resignation as he writes this in March 2000. The Latin "Nunc dimittis" translates into English as "now you are dismissing" and does indeed refer to Simeon saying, "Now Master you may let your servant go," as the AP reports. The UK's Daily Mirror strips out mention of the biblical Simeon, assuming that it has no deeper meaning, and instead simply says:

He wrote: "I have to ask myself if it is not the time to say it's over."

But is the Pope really considering "dismissing" himself from the office of Supreme Pontiff? Is he contemplating whether his time as Pope might be over? Or has his spiritual testament been misinterpreted?

Putting this excerpt from his testament back into the original context, these questions cannot be answered so readily. Recall in chapter two of St. Luke's Gospel that Simeon had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until seeing the Messiah. Later, when Jesus is brought before him in the temple, Simeon proclaims, "Nunc dimittis." The full Canticle of Simeon to which John Paul II refers in his spiritual testament follows:

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel. (Lk 2:29-32)

It is crucial for us to remember, however, that this canticle is preceded by mention of when Simeon's death will come. In my opinion, this is how John Paul II wanted us to read this part of his testament: the Latin phrase becomes related to Simeon's death and so too should become related to his own. When the Pope refers to "Nunc dimittis," he is not considering being "dismissed," as the literal translation would lead one to believe. Rather, he is contemplating how near he may be to death.

After all, as surrounding text supports, he recalls that he is already 80 years old and has lived through a "difficult century," in which he was nearly assassinated. These events made him realize more than ever, that his life and death are truly in the Hands of God. Finally, he concludes this thought with, "I ask him to call me back when He Himself wishes."

Admittedly, the Pope's language is ambiguous and no interpretation can be certain; therefore, it does not call for the sensational headlines we've seen lately in the newspapers to the effect of "Pope considered resigning." Simply put, Popes do not resign. While canon law provides for a Pope to step down if necessary, no Pope has willingly resigned since Celestine V did so in the 13th century. To me, the Pope's recollection of the biblical Simeon is a celebration of the former's longevity in the face of peril, not a consideration of resignation. If he is contemplating anything, it is his own life and death and how near he may be to the latter. Humbly, the Pope acknowledges that it is not up to him to decide when his Papacy, or life, ends, but rather that God alone must decide his fate.

The Papabile

There have been many articles written on the papabili. The following is my own roundup of the papabili, with a link for each if you want to find more information. My personal favorites are italicized and on top.

Please note that it is very likely our next pope will not enter the conclave as a papabile. John Paul II himself never appeared on anyone's list (correction 4/14/2005: he appeared on one list, according to one of our readers)! As the old saying goes, "He who enters the conclave as pope, leaves it as a cardinal."

Update 4/14/2004: I have been informed by a reader that the correct plural of papabile is papabili, so I've corrected that everywhere except the title (I can't change the title, because that would change the URL).

Cláudio Hummes, Archbishop of São Paulo (Age 70) - Wikipedia

Miloslav Vlk, Archbishop of Prague (Age 72) - Wikipedia

Ivan Dias, Archbishop of Mumbai (Age 69) - Wikipedia

Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament (Age 72) - Wikipedia

Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Archbishop of Salvador, Brazil (Age 71) - Wikipedia

Godfried Danneels, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels (Age 72) - Wikipedia

Giovanni Battista Re, Cardinal Bishop, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (Age 71) -

Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan (Age 71) - Wikipedia

Oscar Andrés Rodríguez, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras (Age 62) - Wikipedia

Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna (Age 60) - Wikipedia

Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice (Age 63) - Wikipedia

Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast (Age 56) - Wikipedia

Angelo Sodano, Cardinal Bishop, Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals (Age 77) - Wikipedia

Alfonso López Trujillo, Cardinal Bishop, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family (Age 69) - Wikipedia

Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City (Age 62) - Wikipedia

Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster (Age 72) - Wikipedia

Lubomyr Husar, Ukrainian Rite Major-Archbishop of Lviv (Age 72) - Wikipedia

Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa (Age 70) - Wikipedia

Dario Castrillón Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (Age 75) - Wikipedia

Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Age 61) - Interview @NCR

Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (Age 72) - Wikipedia

Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima (Age 61) - Wikipedia

José da Cruz Policarpo, Patriarch of Lisbon (Age 69) - Wikipedia

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Age 68) - Outside the Beltway