Sunday, April 22, 2007

More about the Pope's Shoes

Pope visits Italy's "Shoe City", gets 15,001 pairs
Reuters - Sat Apr 21, 2007

Pope Benedict got 15,001 pairs of shoes on Saturday. During a visit to this northern city known as Italy's shoe capital, a local consortium gave one pair for himself and 15,000 more pairs for the needy around the world.

The Pope was given red loafers designed and manufactured by the Moreschi firm and made from kangaroo hide.

Those destined for the poor include boots and other types of footwear. Local industrialists are due to send them directly to charities chosen by the Vatican.

Pope Benedict last year made headlines in the fashion media after reports that some of his shoes were designed and donated by top Italian fashion houses such as Prada but the Vatican has never confirmed this.

The Pope's footwear, usually red or burgundy, is called the "shoes of the fisherman" since popes are the successors of St Peter the Apostle, who was a fisherman.

Shoe manufacturing is a vital part of Vigevano's economy. It boasts a shoe museum illustrating the centuries of shoe making in the area, which began in small shops in the 16th century and grew to industrial scale in the 19th century.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

You can bet I'll be doing some book
shopping on May 15th!!

Pope's Book A Hit On First Day

"Pope Benedict XVI's new book sold more than 50,000 copies on its first day on sale Monday - the pontiff's 80th birthday - said the Italian publisher Rizzoli, which has decided on another printing. Rizzoli said yesterday the new edition would bring the printing to 420,000 copies. The 448-page book was published in German, Italian and Polish. An English-language edition is due on May 15 and translations are planned for 16 other languages."

from The Guardian (UK)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

80th birthday bash - Huge crowd in attendance at St. Peter's Square as Pope Benedict gives thanks for 'not brief' life

Pope Benedict XVI is driven through the crowd at the end of his birthday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sunday.

AP Angelo Carconi

By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict gave thanks for his 80 years of life dedicated to the church with a special Sunday Mass, a celebration tinged with nostalgia which drew a huge crowd to St. Peter’s Square.

The Vatican had invited rank-and-file faithful to the late-morning Mass on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica to help the pontiff celebrate both his 80th birthday today and the anniversary of his April 19, 2005, election to the pontificate.

Joseph Ratzinger, who would take the name of Benedict as pontiff, was born April 16, 1927, in Marktl Am Inn, a riverside town in the Bavaria region of Germany.

Thousands of pilgrims from Bavaria attended the Mass, and German echoed in the ancient alleys leading to the Vatican as groups streamed to the square. Some of his fellow countrymen and women wore traditional dress, including feather-trimmed hats; others waved German flags.

Benedict told the crowd they were joining him in a reflection of his “not brief” life.

Acknowledging their participation, the pope said he was extending, “my most sincere thanks, from the depth of my heart, to the entire church, which, like a true family, especially in these days, surrounds me with its affection.”

Benedict’s reserved, almost shy style, came through in his homily. In contrast to his late predecessor, John Paul II, who would often speak informally of his youth in Poland, Benedict sounded almost apologetic that he was striking a personal note, however brief, in a religious service.

“The liturgy should not serve to talk about one’s ego, of one’s self,” Benedict said.

He thanked his late sister, Maria, and his retired choirmaster brother, Georg, for being steadfastly close to him.

“I give thanks in a special way because, from the first day, I was able to enter and grow in the great community of believers” in God, Benedict said. He noted that he was born at Easter time, when Christians celebrate in joy their belief in Christ’s resurrection.

Benedict appears to carry his years well. He walks briskly, stands through long public ceremonies, and his first book written as pontiff goes on sale today.

Right after Benedict’s election as pope, his brother expressed worry about the toll that the burdens of the papacy might take on his brother’s health. But Benedict’s stamina seems to be holding up despite his rigorous schedule.

On Wednesday, he will receive U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Vatican, and next weekend he will make an overnight pilgrimage to northern Italy. In early May, he will travel to Brazil, where the traditionally strong Catholic Church is losing some faithful to Protestant evangelical churches.

While there are no indications that Benedict suffers from any serious or chronic medical problems, there have been ailments in the past – including a 1991 hemorrhagic stroke.

Among the pope’s birthday presents was a Gospel holder decorated with gold and precious stones from Munich-Freising Cardinal Friedrich Wetter and a more secular gift – 80 bottles of specially brewed Bavarian dark beer and an equal number of steins, carried in the luggage of another bishop from the diocese on a train filled with German pilgrims.

The pope smiled as he gazed across the sea of faithful gathered under brilliant sunshine.

Yellow and white are the official Vatican colors, and yellow pansies were lined up in perfect order across the basilica’s steps. Clusters of yellow daffodils brightened the gray cobblestones elsewhere in the square.

The future pope spent most of his earlier years studying and teaching theology in Germany and later trying to ensure that Catholics kept to doctrinal correctness in two decades as a top aide to John Paul II.

In his first two years as pope, Benedict has waged a vigorous church campaign against same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia. He has cracked down on church clerics whose writings were found not to correctly reflect Vatican teaching. Benedict also has called for the use of more Latin in the church, including some prayers by the faithful.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Faith, Reason, Evolution, and Creation
Pope Benedict 'believes in evolution'

Pope Benedict has aired his views on evolution fo the first time - and says he partially believes Darwin's theories.

The Pontiff said science had narrowed the way life's origins are understood and said Christians should take a broader approach to the question.

However, he did not adopt a strictly scientific view of the origins if life, believing instead that God created life through evolution.

He said he "would not depend on faith alone to explain the whole picture".

As well as praising scientific progress, the Pope's views, published in a new book 'Schoepfung unt Evolution' (Creation and Evolution), did not endorse the creationist, or 'intelligent design' view of life's origins.

Those arguments, proposed mostly by conservative Protestants and derided by scientists, have stoked recurring battles over the teaching of evolution in the US. Some European Christians and Turkish Muslims have recently echoed these views.
Pope Benedict, a former theology professor, is quoted in the book as saying: "Science has opened up large dimensions of reason...and thus brought us new insights.
"But in the joy at the extent of its discoveries, it tends to take away from us dimensions of reason that we still need.

"Its results lead to questions that go beyond its methodical canon and cannot be answered within it."

"The issue is reclaiming a dimension of reason we have lost," he said, adding that the evolution debate was actually about "the great fundamental questions of philosophy - where man and the world came from and where they are going."

Speculation about Pope Benedict's views on evolution have been rife ever since a former student and close advisor, Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, published an article in 2005 that seemed to align the Church with the 'intelligent design' view.
Intelligent design argues that some forms of life are too complex to have evolved randomly, as Charles Darwin proposed in his 1859 book The Origin of Species.
It says a higher intelligence must have done this but does not name it as God.
Scientists denounce this as a disguised form of creationism, the view that God created the world just as the Bible says.

US courts have ruled both creationism and Intelligent Design are religious views that cannot be taught in public school science classes there.

In the book, Benedict defended what is known as 'theistic evolution', the view held by Roman Catholic, Orthodox and mainline Protestant churches, that God created life through evolution and religion and science need not clash over this.

"I would not depend on faith alone to explain the whole picture," he remarked during the discussion held at the papal summer palace in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome.
He also denied using a 'God-of-the-gaps' argument that sees divine intervention whenever science cannot explain something.

"It's not as if I wanted to stuff the dear God into these gaps - he is too great to fit into such gaps," he said in the book that publisher Sankt Ulrich Verlag in Augsburg said would later be translated into other languages.

Schoenborn, who published his own book on evolution last month, has said he and the German-born Pontiff addressed these issues now because many scientists use Darwin's theory to argue the random nature of evolution negated any role for God.
That is a philosophical or ideological conclusion not supported by facts, they say, because science cannot prove who or what originally created the universe and life in it.

"Both popular and scientific texts about evolution often say that 'nature' or 'evolution' has done this or that," Benedict said in the book which included lectures from theologian Schoenborn, two philosophers and a chemistry professor.
"Just who is this 'nature' or 'evolution' as (an active) subject? It doesn't exist at all!" the Pope said.

Benedict argued that evolution had a rationality that the theory of purely random selection could not explain.

"The process itself is rational despite the mistakes and confusion as it goes through a narrow corridor choosing a few positive mutations and using low probability," he said.

"This...inevitably leads to a question that goes beyond science...where did this rationality come from?"

Answering his own question, he said it came from the "creative reason" of God.
More about Faith and Reason and Evolution and Creation

Evolution can't be proven: Pope Benedict
Associated Press Wed. Apr. 11 2007

BERLIN — Benedict XVI, in his first extended reflections on evolution published as pope, says that Darwin's theory cannot be finally proven and that science has unnecessarily narrowed humanity's view of creation.

In a new book, "Creation and Evolution," published Wednesday in German, the pope praised progress gained by science, but cautioned that evolution raises philosophical questions science alone cannot answer.

"The question is not to either make a decision for a creationism that fundamentally excludes science, or for an evolutionary theory that covers over its own gaps and does not want to see the questions that reach beyond the methodological possibilities of natural science," the pope said.
He stopped short of endorsing intelligent design, but said scientific and philosophical reason must work together in a way that does not exclude faith.

"I find it important to underline that the theory of evolution implies questions that must be assigned to philosophy and which themselves lead beyond the realms of science," the pope was quoted as saying in the book, which records a meeting with fellow theologians the pope has known for years.

In the book, Benedict reflected on a 1996 comment of his predecessor, John Paul II, who said that Charles Darwin's theories on evolution were sound, as long as they took into account that creation was the work of God, and that Darwin's theory of evolution was "more than a hypothesis."

"The pope (John Paul) had his reasons for saying this," Benedict said. "But it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory."

Benedict added that the immense time span that evolution covers made it impossible to conduct experiments in a controlled environment to finally verify or disprove the theory.
"We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory," he said.

Evolution has come under fire in recent years by proponents -- mostly conservative Protestants -- of "intelligent design," who believe that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by a higher force rather than evolving from more primitive forms.

The book, which was released by the Sankt Ulrich publishing house, includes reflections of the pope and others who attended a meeting of theological scholars at the papal summer estate in Castel Gandolfo in early September.

The pope's remarks were consistent with one of his most important themes, that faith and reason are interdependent.

"Science has opened up large dimensions of reason ... and thus brought us new insights," the pope wrote. "But in the joy at the extent of its discoveries, it tends to take away from us dimensions of reason that we still need.

"Its results lead to questions that go beyond its methodical canon and cannot be answered within it," he said

Monday, April 09, 2007

Text of Pope Benedict's Easter speech

By The Associated PressSun Apr 8, 4:54 PM ET

The Vatican's official English-language translation of Pope Benedict XVI's "Urbi et Orbi" Easter Day address, delivered in Italian from the balcony in St. Peter's Basilica.


Dear Brothers and Sisters throughout the world,

Men and women of good will!

Christ is risen! Peace to you! Today we celebrate the great mystery, the foundation of Christian faith and hope: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, has risen from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. We listen today with renewed emotion to the announcement proclaimed by the angels on the dawn of the first day after the Sabbath, to Mary of Magdala and to the women at the sepulcher: "Why do you search among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here, he is risen!" (Luke 24:5-6)

It is not difficult to imagine the feelings of these women at that moment: feelings of sadness and dismay at the death of their Lord, feelings of disbelief and amazement before a fact too astonishing to be true. But the tomb was open and empty: the body was no longer there. Peter and John, having been informed of this by the women, ran to the sepulcher and found that they were right. The faith of the Apostles in Jesus, the expected Messiah, had been submitted to a severe trial by the scandal of the cross. At his arrest, his condemnation and death, they were dispersed. Now they are together again, perplexed and bewildered. But the Risen One himself comes in response to their thirst for greater certainty. This encounter was not a dream or an illusion or a subjective imagination; it was a real experience, even if unexpected, and all the more striking for that reason. "Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, peace be with you!" (John 20:19)

At these words their faith, which was almost spent within them, was rekindled. The Apostles told Thomas who had been absent from that first extraordinary encounter: Yes, the Lord has fulfilled all that he foretold; he is truly risen and we have seen and touched him! Thomas however remained doubtful and perplexed. When Jesus came for a second time, eight days later in the Upper Room, he said to him: "Put your finger here and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing!" The Apostles response is a moving profession of faith: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:27-28)

"My Lord and my God!" We too renew that profession of faith of Thomas. I have chosen these words for my Easter greetings this year, because humanity today expects from Christians a renewed witness to the resurrection of Christ; it needs to encounter him and to know him as true God and true man. If we can recognize in this Apostle the doubts and uncertainties of so many Christians today, the fears and disappointments of many of our contemporaries, with him we can also rediscover with renewed conviction, faith in Christ dead and risen for us. This faith, handed down through the centuries by the successors of the Apostles, continues on because the Risen Lord dies no more. He lives in the Church and guides it firmly toward the fulfillment of his eternal design of salvation.

We may all be tempted by the disbelief of Thomas. Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test? Paradoxically the disbelief of Thomas is most valuable to us in these cases because it helps to purify all false concepts of God and leads us to discover his true face: the face of a God who, in Christ, has taken upon himself the wounds of injured humanity. Thomas has received from the Lord, and has in turn transmitted to the Church, the gift of a faith put to the test by the passion and death of Jesus and confirmed by meeting him risen. His faith was almost dead but was born again thanks to his touching the wounds of Christ, those wounds that the Risen One did not hide but showed, and continues to point out to us in the trials and sufferings of every human being.

"By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24). This is the message Peter addressed to the early converts. Those wounds that, in the beginning were an obstacle for Thomas' faith, being a sign of Jesus apparent failure, those same wounds have become in his encounter with the Risen One, signs of a victorious love. These wounds that Christ has received for love of us help us to understand who God is and to repeat: "My Lord and my God!" Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our wounds and our pain, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of faith.

How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world! Natural calamities and human tragedies that cause innumerable victims and enormous material destruction are not lacking. My thoughts go to recent events in Madagascar, in the Solomon Islands, in Latin America and in other regions of the world. I am thinking of the scourge of hunger, of incurable diseases, of terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence, which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons. I look with apprehension at the conditions prevailing in several regions of Africa. In Darfur and in the neighboring countries there is a catastrophic, and sadly to say underestimated, humanitarian situation. In Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the violence and looting of the past weeks raises fears for the future of the Congolese democratic process and the reconstruction of the country. In Somalia the renewed fighting has driven away the prospect of peace and worsened a regional crisis, especially with regard to the displacement of populations and the traffic of arms. Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grievous crisis and for this reason the Bishops of that country in a recent document indicated prayer and a shared commitment for the common good as the only way forward.

Likewise the population of East Timor stands in need of reconciliation and peace as it prepares to hold important elections. Elsewhere, too, peace is sorely needed: in Sri Lanka only a negotiated solution can put an end to the conflict that causes so much bloodshed; Afghanistan is marked by growing unrest and instability; in the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees. In Lebanon the paralysis of the country's political institutions threatens the role that the country is called to play in the Middle East and puts its future seriously in jeopardy. Finally, I cannot forget the difficulties faced daily by the Christian communities and the exodus of Christians from that blessed Land which is the cradle of our faith. I affectionately renew to these populations the expression of my spiritual closeness.

Dear brothers and sisters, through the wounds of the Risen Christ we can see the evils which afflict humanity with the eyes of hope. In fact, by his rising the Lord has not taken away suffering and evil from the world but has vanquished them at their roots by the superabundance of his grace. He has countered the arrogance of evil with the supremacy of his love. He has left us the love that does not fear death, as the way to peace and joy. "Even as I have loved you he said to his disciples before his death so you must also love one another" (cf. John 13:34).

Brothers and sisters in faith, who are listening to me from every part of the world, Christ is risen and he is alive among us. It is he who is the hope of a better future. As we say with Thomas: "My Lord and my God!" May we hear again in our hearts the beautiful yet demanding words of the Lord: "If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:26). United to him and ready to offer our lives for our brothers (cf. 1 John 3:16), let us become apostles of peace, messengers of a joy that do not fear pain, the joy of the Resurrection. May Mary, Mother of the Risen Christ, obtain for us this Easter gift. Happy Easter to you all.


Copyright Vatican Publishing House

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I am stunned. I have been nominated AGAIN for a Thinking Blog Award, this time for my Benedict Notes. It is Autrice who did the deed. This particular blog is more for me than anyone else. I leave it open for any who might find their way here.

A few days ago my primary blog was nominated and for any who find their way here, I invite you to there. I'm taking a short break right now as I have things on my mind that need attention.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I found this short article interesting because of my son's trip to east Russia a few years ago. The relationship between the Roman church and Orthodox church was very toxic. It was reassuring to see this.

Talks with Pope possible after rifts with Vatican healed -
Alexy II MOSCOW. April 3 (Interfax)

Orthodox believers and Catholics share many positions and a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in the future should not be ruled out, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia said.

"I have not lost hope that relations between our churches will improve. I welcome Pope Benedict's statements about the desire to promote relations with the Orthodox Church made on any occasions following his election as head of the Roman Catholic Church," Alexy II said in an interview published by the Izvestia newspaper on Thursday. We have a common position "on many problems facing the world today. We can and must speak jointly to the world about Christian values. But prior to this, we must resolve problems that exist between us. This, I hope, will open the door to a meeting between the leaders of the two
churches," he said.

A meeting with the late Pope John Paul II was due to be held in 1997 in Graz, Austria, at which a joint statement was to be signed "condemning proselytism and rejecting the Uniate church as a way towards the churches' unification." "The Catholic side's abrupt renunciation of these provisions made the meeting senseless," Alexy II said.