Saturday, March 28, 2009

India's Bishops Make Appeal on Pope's Behalf

Call Recent Attacks "Irresponsible and Offensive"
NEW DELHI, MARCH 27, 2009 (

India's bishops have called recent media attacks on Benedict XVI as "irresponsible," and appealed for more "respect" for the Pope.

In statement published Tuesday, the nation's episcopal conference called the Holy Father "one of the greatest intellectuals of modern times," and highlighted his lucidity on moral and social issues, reported the news agency Eglises d'Asie.

The attacks came earlier this month after the Holy Father said during a press conference on the plane en route to Cameroon that condoms are not the solution for AIDS.

Signed by Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes of Gandhinagar, secretary-general of the conference, the note affirmed that Benedict XVI is "loved and respected by the entire world," and that the bishops judged the attacks to be "gravely irresponsible and offensive."

"He invites the whole world to go forward, with the Spirit of God, to build a society based on moral values and respect for life," the episcopal body continued.

"This is the moral role of the Pope, to direct and guide consciences, the conscience of humanity in general and of Catholics in particular." The Holy Father "is perfectly informed on the present tendencies that show the moral degradation of humanity," affirmed the statement.

The bishops' text ends by appealing to Catholics and non-Catholics to "beware of making ill-considered statements" against Benedict XVI, who "has always worked for peace, reconciliation, fraternity, unity and attention to the poorest and most abandoned."

Africa: Opinion

While the Western media, predictably, has been obsessing on Holy Father's statement about condom use and HIV/AIDS, a media voice out of Africa takes a look at why he was really there and what he hopes to accomplish.

Africa: Opinion - Pope Benedict Championed Social Justice in Africa
Peter Henriot SJ
27 March 2009

Amidst all the media coverage about tribunals in Zambia, coups in Madagascar and disputes in FIFA, there have been in the past week some very important news coming out of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Africa. And the most important elements in that news, in my opinion, have been about social justice.

What do I mean? Well, I believe that a fair analysis of the Pope's messages over the past few days shows some really strong calls for greater commitment to democracy, development, concern for the poor and respect for African values.

Benedict made some powerful speeches in the two countries he visited, Cameroon and Angola. They were speeches before crowds of thousands in churches and public arenas, speeches to leaders of the Catholic Church and other churches, and speeches to government heads and politicians. In addition, he released a major document for discussion at an up-coming meeting in Rome later this year, the so-called "Second African Synod."

The topic of the synod is "The Church in Africa in Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace." You can readily see from the topic how timely and relevant it is to Zambia and to all of Africa. That's why I think that we are in for some very lively debates over the next several months about the relationship of Church and State and about the proper political role that the Church should play in our country.

Prophetic role
It is clear from Benedict's speeches and from the Synod document that the Catholic Church simply rejects out of hand any theology or political philosophy that would demand that the Church be quiet about the misery of the people (e.g., poverty conditions) and the mismanagement of government (e.g., corruption). According to the Synod document, "the church ought not to retire into herself." I take that to mean that it is never the role of the church to "stay in the sacristy," as some Zambian politicians like to demand whenever a Pastoral Letter comes out to challenge the situation in the country!

The March 1 Pastoral Letter of the Zambian Catholic Bishops is well backed up by the Synod document's call for a "more prophetic role" of the Church in the social and political life of the African Continent. And in the Cameroon last week, Benedict stated quite bluntly, "In the face of suffering or violence, poverty or hunger, corruption or abuse of power, a Christian can never remain silent." And he said, "The bishop's mission leads him to be the defender of the rights of the poor ."

Benedict has a strong view about the responsibility of Christian lay people to be actively engaged in political affairs in order to promote social justice. "So it is the duty of Christians," he declared in Yaoundé, "particularly lay people with social, economic and political responsibilities, to be guided by the Church's social teaching, in order to contribute to the building up of a more just world where everyone can live with dignity." Certainly Catholics active in political life in Zambia should pay heed to these words.

While in Angola, he urged the government to do more to fight poverty, corruption and uphold human rights. In a nationally televised speech, he made a strong plea to Africans to make the changes needed to improve people's lives. He called for a transformation of the Continent, "freeing people from the whip of greed, violence, disorder and guiding it through the path of those principles that are indispensable to any modern democracy."

Those principles, he said, included respect, transparent governance, freedom of the press, health care and adequate schooling as well as the promotion of human rights. Africans needed "a firm determination to change hearts and finally put a stop, once and for all, to corruption."

Cultural values
Respect for traditional African values is particularly noteworthy in Benedict's speeches and in the Synod document. This document sums up these values as expressing "a respect for elders; a respect for women as mothers; a culture of solidarity, mutual aid, hospitality and unity; a respect for life, honesty, truth, keeping one's word...." These values are seen to be threatened by an aggressive globalization that pushes cultural values and practices foreign to Africa.
In Angola, Benedict called attention to the abuse of women. "Particularly disturbing is the crushing yoke of discrimination that women and girls so often endure, not to mention the unspeakable practice of sexual violence and exploitation which causes such humiliation and trauma."

He also addressed the challenge of witchcraft, encouraging Christians to offer hope "to the many who live in the fear of spirits, of evil powers by whom they feel threatened, disoriented, even reaching the point of condemning street children and even the most elderly because - they say - they are sorcerers."

Relevant challenges
But it is in the Synod document launched by Benedict that I find some of the most challenging statements about linking authentic faith and social justice. Some of the critics of the Church's activism here in Zambia will not be pleased by the document's analysis of several burning issues such as failures by political leaders, exploitation by mining companies and misuse of the media.
In reading the document, I was struck by its immediate relevance in addressing two current issues in Zambia. First, it speaks favourably of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) that "seeks to identify the forms and causes of the corruption which rages on the Continent and goes unpunished." Would that we now take up the APRM as an effective anti-corruption tool in this country!

Second, it sounds a clear and cogent warning about the risk of giving into the campaign for GMOs, which purports to assure food security. This campaign, according to the document, "should not overlook the true problems of agriculture in Africa: the lack of cultivatable land, water, energy, access to credit, agricultural training, local markets, road infrastructures, etc." Again, words very relevant to Zambia!

I want to say that I was very pleased by Benedict's strong social justice emphasis during his first visit to Africa. His speeches also touched on very serious spiritual and pastoral issues. But the social justice emphasis was clear enough to challenge those who want to opt for a church that distances itself from the real life, day to day struggles of its members. And the Synod document opens up very promising lines of action to promote a Church "in service to reconciliation, justice and peace." We can be strengthened by this leadership role encouraged by Pope Benedict.

[Peter Henriot is director of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, Zambia]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another sane voice who will be ignored

Cardinal: Criticisms of Pope Have Gone Too Far
Archbishop of Genoa Laments Recent Accusations
ROME, MARCH 24, 2009 ( Attacks directed toward Benedict XVI have gone too far, and Catholics won't go along with it, says the president of Italy's episcopal conference.Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the archbishop of Genoa, said this Monday at the inaugural session of the conference's permanent episcopal council, under way in Rome.

Referring to the recent controversies regarding the lifting of the excommunication of four bishops of the St. Pius X Society, and comments the Pontiff made about condoms on his trip to Africa, the cardinal said "the harshest criticisms to our beloved Pope -- from Italy and above all from abroad -- have gone beyond good sense."

Not wanting to dedicate too much time on the "clumsy accusations," Cardinal Bagnasco directed his comments toward the letter Benedict XVI sent earlier this month to the bishops of the world, in which he explained the reasons for lifting the excommunication of the four Lefebvrite prelates, who had been unlawfully ordained in 1988 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

The letter "immediately attracted wide consensus," the cardinal noted. He described it as an appeal to the whole Church for genuine reconciliation.

Nevertheless, the cardinal expressed a "severe judgment" regarding the "postures and words that led to a situation which should never have come about, fueling systematic alarmist interpretations and conduct that is mistrustful toward the hierarchy."


Regarding Benedict XVI's trip to Cameroon and Angola last week, Cardinal Bagnasco noted that "from the beginning, [it] was diverted from Westerners' attention by a controversy -- on condoms -- which, frankly, was unwarranted."

"It is no accident that Africa's own media showed no interest in the subject, were it not for the damaging insistence of international agencies, and for the statements of some European political leaders and supranational organizations," affirmed the cardinal.

The archbishop of Genoa lamented that the media, governments and international institutions did not "limit themselves to dissent freely, but reached an ostracism that goes beyond secular canons themselves. In any case, derision and vulgarity will never be part of civilized language, and fatally fall on those who practice it."

Furthermore, the cardinal said the Holy Father's comments on the issue have been confirmed by those who work in the fields of health and education in Africa.

Africa needs to focus more on promoting greater access to education and medical care, as well as the "effective promotion of women," Cardinal Bagnasco continued.

He appealed to governments "to keep their commitments," to go beyond "demagogy and the neo-colonial logic of control."

The cardinal also noted that bishops and the faithful will not accept that the Pope is laughed at or insulted, as "the best tradition of our Catholicism is to be with the Pope always and unconditionally."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pope: Women Crucial to Upholding Human Rights

Affirms Power of New Feminism to Transform Culture
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is affirming the unique capacity of women to safeguard life and human rights, and to imbue society with the joy and freedom of Christian values.

The Pope said this in a message sent to participants in an international congress on the theme "Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights," which took place Friday and Saturday in the Vatican. The conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, with the cooperation of the World Women's Alliance for Life and Family, the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations and other associations.

The Pontiff called the congress "an exemplary response" to Pope John Paul II's "call for a 'new feminism' with the power to transform culture, imbuing it with a decisive respect for life."

Faced to the many ways in which life is compromised, especially in "its most vulnerable stages," he said, there must be a "positive and proactive response."

He continued: "The recognition and appreciation of God's plan for women in the transmission of life and "The nurturing of children is a constructive step in this direction," he added.

"Beyond this, and given the distinctive influence of women in society, they must be encouraged to embrace the opportunity to uphold the dignity of life through their involvement in education and their participation in political and civic life."

The Holy Father asserted that "because they have been gifted by the Creator with a unique 'capacity for the other,' women have a crucial part to play in the promotion of human rights, for without their voice the social fabric of society would be weakened."

Free love

He invited the congress participants to "keep in mind a task to which I have drawn attention on several occasions: namely, to correct any misconception that Christianity is simply a collection of commandments and prohibitions."

He explained: "The Gospel is a message of joy which encourages men and women to delight in spousal love; far from stifling it, Christian faith and ethics make it healthy, strong and truly free.

In this light, he added, the Ten Commandments are seen, not as a series of no's but rather as a "great 'yes' to love and to life." Benedict XVI expressed the hope that the congress will "translate into concrete initiatives that safeguard the indispensable role of the family in the integral development of the human person and of society as a whole."

"The genius of women to mobilize and organize endows them with the skills and motivation to develop ever-expanding networks for sharing experiences and generating new ideas," he affirmed. The Pope concluded, "May the sphere of your influence continue to grow at regional, national and international levels for the advancement of human rights based on the strong foundation of marriage and family."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Benedict XVI's Homily at Mass in Cimangola

"Begin Today to Grow in Your Friendship With Jesus"

LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 22, 2009 ( Here is the homily Benedict XVI gave today to at a Mass he presided over with bishops of the IMBISA (Interregional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa), held in Cimangola, on the outskirts of Luanda.
* * *
Dear Cardinals, Brother Bishops and Priests, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16). These words fill us with joy and hope, as we await the fulfillment of God's promises! Today it is my particular joy, as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, to celebrate this Mass with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ from throughout Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe, and so many other countries. With great affection in the Lord I greet the Catholic communities from Luanda, Bengo, Cabinda, Benguela, Huambo, Huìla, Kuàndo Kubàngo, Kunène, North Kwanza, South Kwanza, North Lunda, South Lunda, Malanje, Namibe, Moxico, Uíje and Zàire.

In a special way, I greet my brother Bishops, the members of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa, assembled around this altar of the Lord's sacrifice. I thank the President of CEAST, Archbishop Damião Franklin, for his kind words of welcome, and, in the person of their Pastors, I greet all the faithful in the nations of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Today's first reading has a particular resonance for God's people in Angola. It is a message of hope addressed to the Chosen People in the land of their Exile, a summons to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Lord's Temple. Its vivid description of the destruction and ruin caused by war echoes the personal experience of so many people in this country amid the terrible ravages of the civil war. How true it is that war can "destroy everything of value" (cf. 2 Chr 36:19): families, whole communities, the fruit of men's labor, the hopes which guide and sustain their lives and work! This experience is all too familiar to Africa as a whole: the destructive power of civil strife, the descent into a maelstrom of hatred and revenge, the squandering of the efforts of generations of good people. When God's word -- a word meant to build up individuals, communities and the whole human family -- is neglected, and when God's law is "ridiculed, despised, laughed at" (ibid., v. 16), the result can only be destruction and injustice: the abasement of our common humanity and the betrayal of our vocation to be sons and daughters of a merciful Father, brothers and sisters of his beloved Son.

So let us draw comfort from the consoling words which we have heard in the first reading! The call to return and rebuild God's Temple has a particular meaning for each of us. Saint Paul, the two thousandth anniversary of whose birth we celebrate this year, tells us that "we are the temple of the living God" (2 Cor 6:16). God dwells, we know, in the hearts of all who put their faith in Christ, who are reborn in Baptism and are made temples of the Holy Spirit. Even now, in the unity of the Body of Christ which is the Church, God is calling us to acknowledge the power of his presence within us, to reappropriate the gift of his love and forgiveness, and to become messengers of that merciful love within our families and communities, at school and in the workplace, in every sector of social and political life.

Here in Angola, this Sunday has been set aside as a day of prayer and sacrifice for national reconciliation. The Gospel teaches us that reconciliation, true reconciliation, can only be the fruit of conversion, a change of heart, a new way of thinking. It teaches us that only the power of God's love can change our hearts and make us triumph over the power of sin and division. When we were "dead through our sins" (Eph 2:5), his love and mercy brought us reconciliation and new life in Christ. This is the heart of the Apostle Paul's teaching, and it is important for us to remind ourselves: only God's grace can create a new heart in us! Only his love can change our "hearts of stone" (cf. Ezek 11:19) and enable us to build up, rather than tear down. Only God can make all things new!

It is to preach this message of forgiveness, hope and new life in Christ that I have come to Africa. Three days ago, in Yaoundé, I had the joy of promulgating the Instrumentum Laboris for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which will be devoted to the theme: The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. I ask you today, in union with all our brothers and sisters throughout Africa, to pray for this intention: that every Christian on this great continent will experience the healing touch of God's merciful love, and that the Church in Africa will become "for all, through the witness borne by its sons and daughters, a place of true reconciliation" (Ecclesia in Africa, 79).

Dear friends, this is the message that the Pope is bringing to you and your children. You have received power from the Holy Spirit to be the builders of a better tomorrow for your beloved country. In Baptism you were given the Spirit in order to be heralds of God's Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace (cf. Roman Missal, Preface of Christ the King). On the day of your Baptism you received the light of Christ. Be faithful to that gift! Be confident that the Gospel can affirm, purify and ennoble the profound human values present in your native culture and traditions: your strong families, your deep religious sense, your joyful celebration of the gift of life, your appreciation of the wisdom of the elderly and the aspirations of the young. Be grateful, then, for the light of Christ! Be grateful for those who brought it, the generations of missionaries who contributed -- and continue to contribute -- so much to this country's human and spiritual development. Be grateful for the witness of so many Christian parents, teachers, catechists, priests and religious, who made personal sacrifices in order to pass this precious treasure down to you! And take up the challenge which this great legacy sets before you. Realize that the Church, in Angola and throughout Africa, is meant to be a sign before the world of that unity to which the whole human family is called, through faith in Christ the Redeemer.

The words which Jesus speaks in today's Gospel are quite striking: He tells us that God's sentence has already been pronounced upon this world (cf. Jn 3:19ff). The light has already come into the world. Yet men preferred the darkness to the light, because their deeds were evil. How much darkness there is in so many parts of our world! Tragically, the clouds of evil have also overshadowed Africa, including this beloved nation of Angola. We think of the evil of war, the murderous fruits of tribalism and ethnic rivalry, the greed which corrupts men's hearts, enslaves the poor, and robs future generations of the resources they need to create a more equitable and just society -- a society truly and authentically African in its genius and values. And what of that insidious spirit of selfishness which closes individuals in upon themselves, breaks up families, and, by supplanting the great ideals of generosity and self-sacrifice, inevitably leads to hedonism, the escape into false utopias through drug use, sexual irresponsibility, the weakening of the marriage bond and the break-up of families, and the pressure to destroy innocent human life through abortion?

Yet the word of God is a word of unbounded hope. "God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son ... so that through him, the world might be saved" (Jn 3:16-17). God does not give up on us! He continues to lift our eyes to a future of hope, and he promises us the strength to accomplish it. As Saint Paul tells us in today's second reading, God created us in Christ Jesus "to live the good life", a life of good deeds, in accordance with his will (cf. Eph 2:10). He gave us his commandments, not as a burden, but as a source of freedom: the freedom to become men and women of wisdom, teachers of justice and peace, people who believe in others and seek their authentic good. God created us to live in the light, and to be light for the world around us! This is what Jesus tells us in today's Gospel: "The man who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God" (Jn 3:21).

"Live", then, "by the truth!" Radiate the light of faith, hope and love in your families and communities! Be witnesses of the holy truth that sets men and women free! You know from bitter experience that, in comparison with the sudden, destructive fury of evil, the work of rebuilding is painfully slow and arduous. Living by the truth takes time, effort and perseverance: it has to begin in our own hearts, in the small daily sacrifices required if we are to be faithful to God's law, in the little acts by which we demonstrate that we love our neighbors, all our neighbors, regardless of race, ethnicity or language, and by our readiness to work with them to build together on foundations that will endure. Let your parishes become communities where the light of God's truth and the power of Christ's reconciling love are not only celebrated, but proclaimed in concrete works of charity. And do not be afraid! Even if it means being a "sign of contradiction" (Lk 2:34) in the face of hardened attitudes and a mentality that sees others as a means to be used, rather than as brothers and sisters to be loved, cherished and helped along the path of freedom, life and hope.

Let me close by addressing a special word to the young people of Angola, and to all young people throughout Africa. Dear young friends: you are the hope of your country's future, the promise of a better tomorrow! Begin today to grow in your friendship with Jesus, who is "the way, and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6): a friendship nurtured and deepened by humble and persevering prayer. Seek his will for you by listening to his word daily, and by allowing his law to shape your lives and your relationships. In this way you will become wise and generous prophets of God's saving love. Become evangelizers of your own peers, leading them by your own example to an appreciation of the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and the hope of a future shaped by the values of God's Kingdom. The Church needs your witness! Do not be afraid to respond generously to God's call, whether it be to serve him as a priest or a religious, as a Christian parent, or in the many forms of service to others which the Church sets before you.

Dear brothers and sisters! At the end of today's first reading, Cyrus, King of Persia, inspired by God, calls the Chosen People to return to their beloved land and to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. May his words be a summons to all God's People in Angola and throughout Southern Africa: Arise! Ponde-vos a caminho! (cf. 2 Chr 36:23) Look to the future with hope, trust in God's promises, and live in his truth. In this way, you will build something destined to endure, and leave to future generations a lasting inheritance of reconciliation, justice and peace. Amen.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Friday, March 20, 2009

Papal Address to Angolan Politicians

"The Time Has Come for Africa to Be the Continent of Hope"

LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 20, 2009

Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today upon visiting President José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, along with political and civil authorities and the diplomatic corps, at the presidential palace.* * *

Mr President,Your Excellencies, Dear Brother Bishops, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a kind gesture of hospitality President José Eduardo dos Santos has welcomed us here to his residence. In so doing he has enabled me to greet you all with great joy and to wish you every success in the formidable responsibilities you bear in serving society and the whole human family in the civic, political and the diplomatic sectors. Mr President, thank you for your welcome, for the kind words of esteem you have just addressed to me as the Successor of Peter, and for your appreciation of the work of the Catholic Church for this beloved nation.

Friends, you are the protagonists and witnesses of an Angola which is on the road to recovery. In the wake of the twenty-seven-year civil war that ravaged this country, peace has begun to take root, bringing with it the fruits of stability and freedom. The Government’s tangible efforts to establish an infrastructure and to rebuild the institutions fundamental to development and the well-being of society have begun to foster hope among the nation’s citizens. Multilateral agencies too have made their contribution, determined to overcome particular interests in order to work for the common good. There is also the example of those honest teachers, medical workers, and civil servants who, on meagre wages, serve their communities with integrity and compassion, and there are countless others who selflessly undertake voluntary work at the service of the most needy. May God bless them abundantly! May their charity multiply!

Angola knows that the time has come for Africa to be the Continent of Hope! All upright human conduct is hope in action. Our actions are never indifferent before God. Nor are they indifferent for the unfolding of history. Friends, armed with integrity, magnanimity and compassion, you can transform this continent, freeing your people from the scourges of greed, violence and unrest and leading them along the path marked with the principles indispensable to every modern civic democracy: respect and promotion of human rights, transparent governance, an independent judiciary, a free press, a civil service of integrity, a properly functioning network of schools and hospitals, and – most pressing – a determination born from the conversion of hearts to excise corruption once and for all.

In my Message for the World Day of Peace this year, I drew particular attention to the need for an ethical approach to development. In fact, the peoples of this continent are rightly calling out, not simply for more programmes and protocols, but for a deep-seated, lasting conversion of hearts to sincere solidarity. Their plea to those serving in politics, public service, international agencies, and multinational companies is simply this: stand alongside us in a profoundly human way; accompany us, and our families and our communities.

Social and economic development in Africa bring into partnership national leadership together with regional initiatives and international resolve. Such partnerships require that African nations be seen not simply as the receivers of others’ plans and solutions. African men and women themselves, working together for the good of their communities, should be the primary agents of their own development.

In this regard, there are a growing number of effective initiatives which merit support. Among them are: the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Pact on Security, Stability, and Development in the Great Lakes Region, together with the "Kimberley Process", the "Publish What You Pay Coalition" and the "Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative". Their common goal is to promote transparency, honest business practice and good governance.

In regard to the international community as a whole, of pressing importance are co-ordinated efforts to address the issue of climate change, the full and fair implementation of the development commitments of the Doha round and likewise the implementation of the oft-repeated promise by developed countries to commit 0.7% of their Gross National Product for official development assistance. This undertaking is all the more necessary in view of the world’s current financial turmoil, and must not become one of its casualties.

Friends, I wish to say that my visit to Cameroon and to Angola has stirred within me that profound human delight at being among families. Indeed I think that those who come from other continents can learn afresh from Africa that "the family is the foundation on which the social edifice is built" (Ecclesia in Africa, 80). Yet the strains upon families, as we all know, are many indeed: anxiety and ignominy caused by poverty, unemployment, disease and displacement, to mention but a few.

Particularly disturbing is the crushing yoke of discrimination that women and girls so often endure, not to mention the unspeakable practice of sexual violence and exploitation which causes such humiliation and trauma. I must also mention a further area of grave concern: the policies of those who, claiming to improve the "social edifice", threaten its very foundations. How bitter the irony of those who promote abortion as a form of "maternal" healthcare! How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health (cf. Maputo Protocol, art. 14)!

The Church, in accordance with the will of her divine founder, you will always find standing alongside the poorest of this continent. I wish to assure each of you that for her part, through diocesan initiatives, through the innumerable educational, healthcare and social works of Religious Orders, and through the development programmes of Caritas and other agencies, the Church will continue to do all she can to support families - including those suffering the harrowing effects of HIV/Aids - and to uphold the equal dignity of women and men, realized in harmonious complementarity. The Christian spiritual journey is one of daily conversion. To this the Church invites all leaders so that the path opened for all humanity will be one of truth, integrity, respect and compassion.

Mr President, I wish to express once again my sincere thanks for welcoming us here to your home. I thank all of you here assembled for your gracious presence and your attention. Be assured of my prayers for you and your families and for all the men, women and children of majestic Africa!
God bless you all!© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pope to Visit Rome's Synagogue Next Fall

Chief Rabbi Calls It an "Important Gesture"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 13, 2009 ( Benedict XVI will visit Rome's main synagogue this fall, confirms a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Jesuit Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said Thursday that the visit is scheduled for the fall, but the exact date has yet to be determined.Benedict XVI will be the second Pope to visit that temple in the history of Vatican-Jewish relations.

Pope John Paul II visited Rome's synagogue in 1986.The current Pope has visited two other synagogues as Pope. The first was during the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, German, and the second was the synagogue of New York in 2008.

Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, told Vatican Radio that the planned visit is "an important gesture that confirms the will to continue an attitude of respect and friendship."He said John Paul II's visit to the synagogue of Rome "opened a new era" of Vatican-Jewish relations.

The rabbi also spoke positively of Benedict XVI's scheduled trip to the Holy Land. He called it a gesture of "attention" and "respect."Di Segni admitted there are "many problems" in relation
s between Jews and Christians -- "theological, historical, delicate problems that separate us."

While admitting some differences will never be resolved, he acknowledged that the two traditions share many common values: "If the conflictive elements are taken away, everything that follows can be a great fruit and a great good for all."

The rabbi added that relations between Jews and the Vatican have calmed down this week: "Many of the clouds that had gathered have disappeared. A climate of good will prevails, and that is very important."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pius X Society Response to Benedict XVI

"We Fully Share His Utmost Concern for Preaching to Our Age"

MENZINGEN, Switzerland, MARCH 13, 2009 ( Here is the communiqué released Thursday by the superior-general of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, which responds to the March 10 letter sent by the Pope on the situation regarding the society.* * *
Pope Benedict XVI addressed a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, dated March 10, 2009, in which he made them aware of the intentions which guided him in this important step which is the Decree of Jan. 21, 2009.

After "an avalanche of protests was unleashed" recently, we greatly thank the Holy Father for having placed the debate at the level on which it should take place, that of the faith. We fully share his utmost concern for preaching to "our age, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel."

The Church lives, in fact, through a major crisis which cannot be solved other than by an integral return to the purity of the faith. With St. Athanasius, we profess that "Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the Catholic faith: Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally." (Quicumque Creed)

Far from wanting to stop Tradition in 1962, we wish to consider the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar magisterium in the light of this Tradition which St. Vincent of Lérins defined as that "which has been believed everywhere, always, by all" (Commonitorium), without rupture and in a perfectly homogeneous development.

It is thus that we will be able to contribute efficaciously to the evangelization asked for by the Savior (cf. Matthew, 28,19-20). The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X assures Benedict XVI of its will to address the doctrinal discussions considered "necessary" by the Decree of Jan. 21, with the desire of serving the revealed Truth which is the first charity to be shown towards all men, Christian or not.

It assures him of its prayers so that his faith may not fail and that he may confirm all his brethren (cf. Luke 22 32).

We place these doctrinal discussions under the protection of Our Lady of Trust, with the assurance that she will obtain for us the grace of faithfully delivering that which we received, "tradidi quod et accepi" (I Cor. 15,3).

Menzingen, March 12, 2009+ Bernard Fellay

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pope Benedict sent a letter to all the bishops explaining his reasons for lifting the excommunications. He talks about the huge erruption that followed in its wake and defends the action.
He is also incredibly pastoral toward the bishops, the faithful, SSPXers and especially the priests in the SSPX. He is also very straight forward no BS about the whole thing. Fr. Z gives good commentary and has some good closing comments.
Don't take your information from what the secular media might write. They will have their slant and it definitely will not be spiritual. So, before reading anything else about this go to Fr. Z's blog:

Monday, March 09, 2009

Things might get very interesting

Pope makes waves in Westminster
By Jerome Taylor and Simon Caldwell

Conservative candidates tipped as Benedict attempts to stamp his authority on Roman Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XVI will appoint a new leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales this week, sources at the Vatican have said.

The identity of the successor to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as the next Archbishop of Westminster is being kept secret – but it could be announced as early as today.

Insiders say the Vatican is likely to pursue one of two possible options. The first would be to appoint someone from within the Church's current hierarchy, a centre-right bishop with a more conservative outlook than Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, but someone who can nonetheless appeal to liberals.

The second – and much more controversial – option would be to appoint a little known conservative from outside the current hierarchy; one who could reform the Church along radically orthodox lines and break up the liberal consensus among the English bishops. If the Vatican appoints a traditionalist outsider, it would be a clear indication that Pope Benedict aims to install conservative prelates in the traditionally liberal bishoprics of western Europe.

Until recently, speculation as to who would succeed Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, 76, centred on Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Birmingham, Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Cardiff, and Malcolm McMahon, the Bishop of Nottingham. But, in recent weeks, a number of radical outsiders are thought to have been considered by the Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican body responsible for the appointment of new bishops.

The man tipped as the leading outsider is Father Allan White, a little-known Oxford University-educated Dominican monk. Father White, who is in his 50s and comes from London, was formerly the head of the Dominican order in Britain and now serves as assistant to the order's Master General in Rome.

He has a reputation as a persuasive preacher and is "very orthodox", according to one priest close to Rome. "They [the Vatican] want their own man in Westminster," the priest said.
If appointed, Father White would be the second monk since the Reformation to occupy the most senior position in the English and Welsh Church. He would follow in the footsteps of Cardinal Basil Hume, an obscure Benedictine monk who was appointed to Westminster in 1976 against the expectations of the English bishops.

Other potential successors from beyond the mainstream hierarchy include Dom Aidan Bellenger, the Abbot of Downside Benedictine monastery, and Bernard Longley, an auxiliary Bishop of Westminster who holds strong evangelical views.

Since his election to the Papacy in April 2005, Pope Benedict has taken the Roman Catholic Church in a much more theologically conservative direction than his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

But recent high appointments suggest the Vatican currently favours assigning bishops with a conservative track record, rather than introducing radical outsiders. John Allen, a Vatican commentator, has described these preferred candidates as "centre-right with a human face". Last month, the Pope made Timothy Dolan, formerly the Archbishop of Milwaukee, the Archbishop of New York, the most prominent position in the American Catholic Church. A theological orthodox who is close to the Pope, Archbishop Dolan is an outspoken opponent of abortion and gay marriage, but has an easy demeanour and is good with the press.

Gerry Noel, a former editor of The Catholic Herald newspaper and a close friend of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, said: "Most people believe that Vincent Nichols is the obvious frontrunner. He's an extremely experienced administrator and is very good at dealing with both the everyday questions and the more controversial issues, such as reports of abuse."

Archbishop Nichols, 64, is extremely popular within his diocese and has won support from Rome with his campaign to have Cardinal Newman, Britain's most famous Catholic convert, canonised. Mr Noel believes that a cleric like Archbishop Nichols would avoid alienating Britain's comparatively liberal Catholics while simultaneously appealing to conservatives in the Vatican.

"I think what most British Catholics want is a middle-of- the-road man, someone who will work with up-to-date principles and support the reforms of the Second Vatican Council," he said. "They want an open-minded bishop who will continue a good relationship with the Anglican Church."

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor will retire to a six-bedroom house in Chiswick, west London, once his successor is consecrated archbishop. He will continue to sit on Vatican committees and until he is 80 can vote in a conclave to choose the next Pope. His successor is unlikely to be made a cardinal for at least three years.

As long as the Vatican approves, Cardinal Murphy O'Connor also looks set to become the first Catholic Bishop to sit in the House of Lords since the 16th century. Last month, Gordon Brown confirmed the Cardinal's elevation to the Lords would be discussed at a later date. But his ennoblement would require consent from Rome, as clergy are generally banned from occupying any political office.

Archbishop of Westminster: The favourites

*Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham
Nichols, a football-mad 64-year-old, was passed over by the Vatican last time around, largely because Rome considered him too liberal. Since then, he has emerged as a more orthodox defender of the Church, regularly appearing on TV to answer criticism of clerical paedophile abuse, as well as supporting adoption agencies that refuse to place children with same-sex couples. Some suggest he is the obvious front-runner but he is not the bookies favourite.

*Peter Smith, Archbishop of Cardiff

Formerly the bookies' favourite, Battersea-born Smith was the Papal nuncio's first choice but many in the Vatican may regard him as being too liberal. Pope John Paul II made Smith the Bishop of East Anglia in 1995. The 65-year-old was sent to Cardiff in 2001 following the resignation of his predecessor amid a controversy about paedophile priests in the archdiocese. He is widely thought to have done a good job there.

*Malcolm McMahon, Bishop of Nottingham

A left-wing Dominican in favour of the Latin Mass, McMahon was recently summoned to Rome and, alongside Smith and Nichols, is thought to be one of the three names on the "terna" list drawn up for the Papal nuncio. Courted controversy last year when he suggested there was no doctrinal reason why Catholic priests should not marry. In January Paddy Power suspended betting on McMahon after a surge of late bets.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Pope Underlines Need for Reflection on God's Love
Encourages Lenten Prayer Time, Retreat for Spiritual Growth


Benedict XVI is emphasizing the need for prayer as a means of spiritual growth, to unite one's will with God and immerse oneself in his love.

The Pope affirmed this today in an address to those gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus.

He spoke about his retreat last week, noting that "it was a week of silence and prayer: the mind and heart were able to dedicate themselves entirely to God, to listening to his Word, to meditation on the mysteries of Christ."

The Pontiff likened his retreat experience to that of the apostles who saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain. He explained, "Jesus wanted his disciples, especially those who would have the responsibility of leading the newborn Church, to directly experience his divine glory, to be able to face the scandal of the cross."

They needed this prayer to help them in the difficult moments, he said, like in Gethsemane when they realized that they needed "the grace of Christ" to "sustain them and help them to believe in the resurrection."

The Holy Father emphasized, "Jesus' transfiguration was essentially an experience of prayer."
Union with God

He continued: "Prayer, in fact, reaches its culmination -- and thus becomes the source of interior light -- when the spirit of man adheres to that of God and their wills join almost to form a single will.

"When Jesus ascends the mountain he immerses himself in the contemplation of the Father's plan of love, who sent him into the world to save humanity."

Benedict XVI affirmed that in the moment "Jesus sees the cross outlined before him, the extreme sacrifice necessary to liberate us from the reign of sin and death, [...] in his heart he once again repeats his 'Amen.'"

"He says yes, here I am, let your will of love be done, Father," the Pope noted.
He said, "Together with fasting and works of mercy, prayer forms the essential structure of our spiritual life."

The Pontiff exhorted his listeners to "find in this time of Lent moments of prolonged silence, perhaps a retreat, to reflect again on your life in the light of heavenly Father's plan of love."
He continued: "Let the Virgin Mary, teacher and model of prayer, be your guide in this more intense listening to God."

Friday, March 06, 2009

Traditional Anglicans want to join Catholic Church
Associated Press

VATICAN CITY The Vatican is considering welcoming into the Roman Catholic Church a group of traditional Anglicans who broke away from the global Anglican Communion nearly two decades ago over women's ordination and other issues, officials say.

Vatican officials stress that no decision has been made and no announcement is imminent. Still, Anglicans across the spectrum of belief are closely watching for any signs of movement.

Absorbing the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion would be a small but notable victory for Pope Benedict XVI, who has made unifying Christians a goal of his papacy.

At the same time, any invitation by the Vatican is likely to upset leaders of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and would hurt the Vatican's decades-long efforts to strengthen ties with that fellowship of churches. Anglicans split with Rome in 1534 when English King Henry VIII was refused a marriage annulment.

The Traditional Anglican Communion formed in 1990 as an association of orthodox Anglicans concerned about what they considered the liberal tilt in Anglican churches, including the ordination of women. Members of the group are generally Anglo-Catholic, emphasizing continuity with Catholic tradition and the importance of the sacraments. The fellowship says it has spread to 41 countries and has 400,000 members, although only about half are regular churchgoers.

The traditional group aims to unify the Anglican and Catholic churches, according to Archbishop John Hepworth of Australia, who is the leader, or primate, of the Traditional Anglican Communion. They have accepted the ministry of the pope, but also want to maintain their Anglican traditions one of several potential impediments to unification.

"We seek a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See," the group wrote, in a letter Hepworth presented two years ago to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The head of that Vatican office, Cardinal William Levada, wrote Hepworth in July 2008, saying he was giving "serious attention" to the Traditional Anglicans' proposal. But he noted that the situation within the broader Anglican Communion, with which the Vatican has an official dialogue, had "become markedly more complex." The Anglican Communion is on the brink of schism because of internal rifts over how it should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships and other issues.

Hepworth has called the letter a sign of "warmth and encouragement," and the traditional Anglicans posted the note on their Web site. But Monsignor Marc Langham, who is in charge of Anglican relations at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, said that Levada's letter was a "standard Vatican holding letter" and suggested interpreting it with caution.
"It's very easy to turn expectation and hope into hard fact," Langham said in a recent phone interview.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the traditional Anglican group and the Vatican have been in contact for some time and would continue to talk.
"Their request has been taken into consideration," he said. But he dismissed as "absolutely unfounded" reports in the Australian media that a decision on welcoming the Traditional Anglicans was near.

Benedict's recent efforts to bring together Christians has hit many obstacles.
In January, he lifted the excommunications of four bishops of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which broke from Rome because of its opposition to the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. That decision sparked a public outcry since one of the four bishops denied that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Separately, progress between the Vatican and the Anglican Communion has stalled because of the same issues that have fractured the fellowship itself: women priests and bishops, the ordination of bishops in same-sex relationships and the recognition of same-sex unions.
The Traditional Anglican Communion opposes those trends as well.

Still, Langham, of the Vatican, said it was "unlikely" that there would be a mass conversion of traditional Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

"Conversion is an individual process," he said. "In our congregation, we would have trouble with that concept."

As an example of the many outstanding unresolved issues, he noted that Hepworth, a bishop, has been married. "There are various problems with this, not least the tradition of married bishops is alien to the Latin rite," he said.

Yet, the Vatican has made no secret of its willingness to welcome into its fold Anglicans who want to convert, even married Anglican priests. After the Church of England voted to ordain women in 1992, several hundred Anglican priests defected to Catholicism.

"Rome will continue talking, it's not going to turn anybody away," noted Simon Barrow, co-director of the British-based religion think tank Ekklesia. "But on the other hand it's going to be extremely cautious about a group of people who want to enter but with reservations."

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