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.