Thursday, January 29, 2009

Text of Podcast from Holy Father

Before greeting the Italian pilgrims, I still have three announcements.

The first: I have learned with great joy the election of Metropolitan Kirill as new Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias. I invoke upon him the light of the Holy Ghost for a generous service to the Russian Orthodox Church, trusting him to the special protection of the Mother of God.

The second. In the homily pronounced on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of my Pontificate, I said that it is the "explicit" duty of the Pastor "the call to unity", and, commenting upon the Gospel words regarding the miraculous catch of fish, I said, "although there were so many, the net was not torn"; I continued after these Gospel words, "Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn!". And I continued, "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.

Precisely in the accomplishment of this service of unity, which qualifies, in a specific way, my ministry as Successor of Peter, I decided, a few days ago, to grant the remission of the excommunication in which the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, without pontifical mandate, had incurred. I fulfilled this act of fatherly mercy because those prelates repeatedly manifested to me their deep suffering for the situation in which they found themselves. I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by the solicitous effort by them to accomplish the ulterior steps necessary to accomplish full communion with the Church, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council.

The third announcement. While I renew with affection the expression of my full and unquestionable solidarity with our brothers receivers of the First Covenant, I hope that the memory of the Shoah leads mankind to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man.

May the Shoah be for all a warning against forgetfulness, against denial or reductionism, because the violence against a single human being is violence against all. No man is an island, a famous poet write. The Shoah particularly teaches, both old an the new generations, that only the tiresome path of listening and dialogue, of love and of forgiveness lead the peoples, the cultures, and the religions of the world to the hoped-for goal of fraternity and peace in truth. May violence never again crush the dignity of man!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Called to imitate Christ in peaceful coexistence and active dialogue
On Sunday, 18 January, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, prior to leading the Angelus the Holy Father spoke on the Church's mission in the globalized world. The following is a translation of the Pope's Reflection, given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Since the Pauline Year is being celebrated this year, thinking precisely of St Paul as the great itinerant missionary of the Gospel, I have chosen the theme: "St Paul migrant, "Apostle of the peoples'".
Saul this was his Hebrew name was born into a family of Jews that had emigrated to Tarsus, an important city in Cilicia, and he grew up with three cultures Hebrew, Hellenistic and Roman and a cosmopolitan mentality. When he converted from being a persecutor of Christians to an apostle of the Gospel, Paul became an "ambassador" of the Risen Christ to make him known to all, in the conviction that in him all peoples are called to form the great family of God's children.
This is also the Church's mission, particularly in our time of globalization. As Christians, we cannot fail to feel the need to transmit the message of the love of Jesus, especially to those who do not know him, or rather who are in difficult or grevious situations.
Today I am thinking of migrants in particular. Their actual situation is undoubtedly varied: in some cases, thank God, it is serene and well integrated; at other times, unfortunately, it is painful, difficult and sometimes even dramatic.
I would like to assure you that the Christian community looks at each person and each family with attention, and asks St Paul for the strength for a renewed effort to favour peaceful coexistence among men and women of different races, cultures and religions in every part of the world.
The Apostle tells us what the secret of his new life was: "I", he writes, "have been grasped by Christ Jesus" (Phil 3: 12); and he adds: "Be imitators of me" (Phil 3: 17). Yes, each one of us, according to his/her own vocation and the place where one lives and works, is called to witness to the Gospel, with greater concern for those brothers and sisters who, from other countries and for various reasons, have come to live among us, thus turning the phenomenon of migration into an opportunity for encounter among civilizations.
Let us pray and act so that this may occur in an ever more peaceful and constructive way, in respect and in dialogue, averting every temptation of conflict and oppression.
I would like to add a special word for seafarers and fishermen who have been living for some time in great hardship. In addition to the usual difficulties, their freedom to go ashore and bring chaplains on board is restricted, and they also risk piracy and the damage of illegal fishing. I express my closeness to them and the wish that their generosity, in sea rescue operations, may be rewarded by greater consideration.
am thinking, lastly, of the World Meeting of Families that is drawing to a close in Mexico City, and of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that begins precisely today. Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to pray for all of these intentions, invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.
With deep apprehension I am following the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Today let us also remember before the Lord the hundreds of children, the elderly, women, innocent victims of the unheard of violence, the injured, those who are mourning their dear ones and those who have lost their possessions.
I invite you, at the same time, to accompany with prayer the efforts that many people of good will are making to stop the tragedy. I ardently hope that they will be able to wisely avail themselves of the openings that are appearing in order to restore the truce and to move towards peaceful and lasting solutions.
In this sense, I renew my encouragement to those on the one side as on the other who believe that in the Holy Land there is room for all, so that they may help their people to recover from the wreckage and terror and, courageously resume the path of dialogue in justice and truth. This is the only path that can effectively safeguard a future of peace for the children of that dear region!
After the Angelus the Pope said:
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that will conclude next Sunday, 25 January, begins today. In the southern hemisphere, in the wake of the novena recommended by Pope Leo xiii at the end of the 19th century, the prayer for Christian Unity will take place between the Ascension and Pentecost. The biblical theme, instead, is common to all. This year it has been suggested by an ecumenical group from Korea and it is taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel: "That they may become one in your hand" (37: 17).
May we welcome this invitation too and pray with greater intensity that Christians may walk resolutely towards full communion among themselves. I address particularly Catholics scattered throughout the world so that, united in prayer, they do not tire of working to overcome the obstacles that still impede full communion among all Christ's disciples. The ecumenical commitment is even more urgent today, to give to our society, marked by tragic conflicts and lacerating divisions, a sign of and an incentive for reconciliation and peace.
We shall conclude this Week of Prayer in the Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls with the celebration of Vespers, next Sunday, recalling the Conversion of St Paul, who has made the unity of the body of Christ an essential nucleus of his preaching.

Papal Telegram to President Obama

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House, Washington, DC
On the occasion of your inauguration as the forty-fourth President of the United States of America I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities. Under your leadership may the American people continue to find in their impressive religious and political heritage the spiritual values and ethical principles needed to cooperate in the building of a truly just and free society, marked by respect for the dignity, equality and rights of each of its members, especially the poor, the outcast and those who have no voice. At a time when so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world yearn for liberation from the scourge of poverty, hunger and violence, I pray that you will be confirmed in your resolve to promote understanding, cooperation and peace among the nations, so that all may share in the banquet of life which God wills to set for the whole human family (cf. Isaiah 25: 6-7). Upon you and your family, and upon all the American people, I willingly invoke the Lord's blessings of joy and peace.

Pope says Vatican II 'providential'

Sun Jan 25, 1:42 pm ET
ROME – Pope Benedict XVI has praised as "providential" the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that led to liberalizing reforms in the Church.

Benedict spoke at a prayer service Sunday marking the 50th anniversary of the announcement convening Vatican II, which led to reforms such as Mass being celebrated in local languages rather than Latin.

The anniversary came just days after Benedict rehabilitated four traditionalist bishops who were deeply opposed to Vatican II's reforms. The four were excommunicated after being consecrated by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal consent.

Benedict has said Vatican II was not the rupture with the past that liberals say it was, but rather a "continuity" of church history

Conversion is trusting in Christs forgiveness

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vatican reveals Pope's YouTube channel
Agence France-
VATICAN CITY--The Vatican will publish a report on Friday detailing the launch of Pope Benedict XVI's own dedicated channel on YouTube, the Osservatore Romano newspaper said.

The deal with search engine giant Google, which owns the video sharing website, aims to "secure the Pope's presence on the web," the Vatican paper said Thursday, adding that Benedict has always had been "fond of new technologies."

The report will be published when the German-born pontiff will officially launch his YouTube channel.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Vatican's communications department, told the paper the pope hopes to reach out to "the digital generation.

Reports: Pope to lift excommunications
VATICAN CITY – Two newspapers say Pope Benedict XVI has decided to lift the excommunications of four bishops consecrated 20 years ago by the late French ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Lefebvre rebelled against the Vatican's modernizing reforms of the 1960s, including replacing Latin with local languages at Mass.

Benedict has already reached out to the rebels in the hopes of bringing them back into the Church by making it the old Mass more readily available.

The Italian newspapers Il Giornale and Il Riformista said Thursday that Benedict has now decided to meet their demand that the excommunications be lifted. The newspapers said, without citing sources, that Benedict has already signed the decrees and that they will be made public soon.

The Vatican declined comment on the reports.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI in a telegram on Tuesday offered US president-elect Barack Obama prayers that God may grant him "unfailing wisdom and strength" in carrying out his new responsibilities. "Under your leadership may the American people continue to find in their impressive religious and political heritage the spiritual values and ethical principles needed to cooperate in the building of a truly just and free society," Benedict told Obama just a few hours before the inauguration ceremonies.

Benedict said such qualities were needed of the US leader particularly: "At a time when so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world yearn for liberation from the scourge of poverty, hunger and violence."

"Upon you and your family, and upon all the American people, I willingly invoke the Lord's blessing of joy and peace," the pontiff concluded.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Color me HAPPY

Pope to have own Google channel
VATICAN CITY (AP) – The Vatican says Pope Benedict XVI is getting his own channel on Google. It says the Vatican TV Center and Vatican Radio are collaborating with Google on the project. The Vatican's press office said Saturday that texts and video of the pope's speeches as well as news about the pontiff would be posted directly onto the channel. It says more information will be given next week. The Vatican began using its Web site widely to publish teachings and pronouncements under the late Pope John Paul II.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

'Manipulative' reports of Pope's message disappoint Archbishop
Christian Peregin

Archbishop Paul Cremona commented on Pope Benedict's controversial Christmas message, which was described by news organisations and gay activists as homophobic and insulting.
The Pope's address, part of which can be seen below, was interpreted by big news organisations like BBC and Reuters as meaning that the world needs to protect itself from homosexuality and non-traditional gender roles in the same way it needs to protect the rainforests for man's own survival.

Answering questions by The Times, Mgr Cremona said he was extremely disappointed by the "manipulative" reports of both the local and foreign media. Many things were falsely attributed to the Pope, whose message should be published in full in order to be understood.

Mgr Cremona added that the teachings of the Church on "homosexual acts" are consistent with those of heterosexual acts, in that sexuality must be a donation of two persons to each other: "Reciprocally, totally and forever, in marriage, in mutual love and help, as well as for the procreation and upbringing of offspring.

"When society does not follow this plan, it damages the institution of marriage and the family, which is the primary cell of society."

Reacting to the Curia's comments, Marisa Xuereb, a spokesman for the Malta Gay Rights Movement said the Pope's message was interpreted within the context of all that has been said about homosexuality throughout the years.

"The truth is, people are always wary of what the Church says (and does not say) about homosexuality because the message, whether explicit or implied, is typically negative," she said, pointing out that while the Vatican and the Maltese Curia rebutted these latest comments on its message as manipulative interpretation, they stopped short of coming out with a clear statement about the role of homosexuality in the ecology of man.

The spokesman also criticised the Church's insistence on separating homosexuality from the homosexual person, saying it is widely acknowledged that sexuality is an integral part of the human personality.

The point was echoed by former Alternattiva Demokratika candidate Patrick Attard who on Saturday excommunicated himself from the Church because of the Pope's words: "It is like accepting a left-handed person as long as he writes with his right hand or accepting a bird as long as it does not fly.

"I do not expect them to say they agree with gay marriage. I expect them to be more specific. Should I be able to visit my sick partner in hospital? Do I have the right to organise his funeral if he dies? Do I have the right to bereavement leave or urgent family leave if my partner is sick or dying? What if I have a homophobic boss who does not allow it? Do I have to end up unemployed over and above these problems?"

Columnist Kenneth Zammit Tabona said that because of the Pope's ill-advised utterances, the media and the gay community were trying to force the Catholic Church into a position it could not take.

Instead, he said, those who want a more liberal society in Malta should tackle the government led by Lawrence Gonzi not the Church.

"The Church cannot declare that gay marriage or homosexual acts are correct, especially in an official statement. For the Church, all sex outside the sanctity of marriage is sinful," he said.
"By attacking the Church with regard to divorce, abortion, bioethics, euthanasia, same-sex partnerships etc, we are allowing the government to hide behind ecclesiastical petticoats. The irony is that the Archbishop has several times told the government quite plainly that it should legislate as is necessary for the country."

Moreover, he said that there is a good chance the Pope was misinterpreted because of the convoluted and obscure language in which the message was couched.

Since the Pope's messages are addressed to millions of Catholics around the world, Mr Zammit Tabona strongly feels that simpler and more direct declarations should be made by the Pope in order for this not to happen again.

"It's high time the Vatican threw this high flown theological mumbo-jumbo out of the window and, like Jesus himself, started speaking the everyday language of normal human beings. Why does the Pope have to speak in riddles?"

Fr Joe Borg, an outspoken priest and blogger for, recently wrote about the issue. He said the Church's teachings were not discriminatory towards gay people.

"The Church does not condemn only homosexual acts but it also condemns sexual acts of heterosexuals outside of marriage. There are heterosexuals who disagree with the teaching of the Church on pre-marital and extramarital sex as there are homosexuals who disagree with the teaching of the Church on homosexual acts. Should a heterosexual feel offended when the Church condemns heterosexual acts outside of marriage and says that these undermine marriage and the family and as a consequence undermine society?"

He said the Pope's comparison of the protection of the rainforest and the protection of marriage between man and woman is good and intelligent "but perhaps not very media savvy and friendly".

Mario Gerada, a member of Drachma, the gay Catholics group, said he hopes the incident will be turned into an opportunity for dialogue between the gay community and the Church, which both have a lot to offer each other.

"The Vatican and the LGBT community need to utilise this opportunity to actually realise how important each other's voice is. Both reacted strongly to each other's voice but both have a lot to say and learn!"

The Pope's message can be read in full on the Vatican's website: