Friday, September 29, 2006

Fr. Groeschel to Visit Fall River Diocese

I have just found out that Fr. Benedict Groeschel, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, will be visiting LaSalette Shrine in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Beginning at 6:30 there will be Mass, Adoration, prayer and preaching by Fr. Groeschel.

I am planning on attending. Sorry about the late notice, but I hope someone is able to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Milingo Excommunicated

It's official. Archbishop Milingo is excommunicated. In response to the Archbishop's "ordaining" of four "bishops" last weekend the Holy See has released the following:

"With great concern, the Holy See has followed the recent activities of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia, with his new association of married priests, spreading division and confusion among the faithful.

"Church representatives of various levels have tried in vain to contact Archbishop Milingo in order to dissuade him from persisting in actions that provoke scandal, especially among the faithful who followed his pastoral ministry in favor of the poor and the sick.

"Bearing in mind the understanding shown, also recently, by Peter's Successor towards this aged pastor of the Church, the Holy See has awaited with vigilant patience the evolution of events which, unfortunately, have led Archbishop Milingo to a position of irregularity and of progressively open rupture of communion with the Church, first with his attempted marriage and then with the ordination of four bishops on Sunday, September 24, in Washington D.C., U.S.A.

"For this public act both Archbishop Milingo and the four ordinands have incurred excommunication 'latae sententiae,' as laid down in Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law. Moreover, the Church does not recognize, nor does she intend to recognize in the future, these ordinations and all ordinations deriving from them; and she considers the canonical status of the four supposed-bishops as being that they held prior to this ordination.

The Apostolic See, attentive to the unity and peace of the flock of Christ, had hoped that the fraternal influence of people close to Archbishop Milingo would cause him to rethink and return to full communion with the Pope. Unfortunately the latest developments have made these hopes more unlikely.

"At times of ecclesial suffering such as these, may prayers intensify among all the community of the faithful."

In my opinion, what took so long? This should have happened a long time ago.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Holy Father's Address to the Muslim Leaders

Dear Cardinal Poupard,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Muslim Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to this gathering that I wanted to arrange in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world. I thank Cardinal Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, for the words that he has just addressed to me, and I thank all of you for responding to my invitation.

The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known. I have already had occasion to dwell upon them in the course of the past week. In this particular context, I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers, calling to mind the words of the Second Vatican Council which for the Catholic Church are the Magna Carta of Muslim-Christian dialogue: "The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves whole-heartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God" (Declaration Nostra Aetate, 3). Placing myself firmly within this perspective, I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians (cf. Address to the Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, 25 April 2005). As I underlined at Cologne last year, "Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends" (Meeting with Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005). In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation, to overcome all the tensions together. Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue, based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences.

Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will. In this area, our contemporaries expect from us an eloquent witness to show all people the value of the religious dimension of life. Likewise, faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence; as for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction. Indeed, "although considerable dissensions and enmities between Christians and Muslims may have arisen in the course of the centuries, the Council urges all parties that, forgetting past things, they train themselves towards sincere mutual understanding and together maintain and promote social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all people" (Declaration, Nostra Aetate, 3). The lessons of the past must therefore help us to seek paths of reconciliation, in order to live with respect for the identity and freedom of each individual, with a view to fruitful co-operation in the service of all humanity. As Pope John Paul II said in his memorable speech to young people at Casablanca in Morocco, "Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favour peace and agreement between peoples" (no. 5).

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defence and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them.

Dear friends, I pray with my whole heart that the merciful God will guide our steps along the paths of an ever more authentic mutual understanding. At this time when for Muslims the spiritual journey of the month of Ramadan is beginning, I address to all of them my cordial good wishes, praying that the Almighty may grant them serene and peaceful lives. May the God of peace fill you with the abundance of his Blessings, together with the communities that you represent!

Pope Benedict Calls for Dialogue

This morning in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and representatives from Muslim-majority countries that maintain diplomatic links with the Holy See.

Participating in the meeting were heads of mission from Kuwait, Jordan, Pakistan, Qatar, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, Albania, the Arab League, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Iran and Azerbaijan. Also present were 14 members of the Islamic Council of Italy and representatives from the Italian Islamic Cultural Center and the Office of the World Muslim League.

Following a brief greeting by Cardinal Poupard, Benedict XVI explained how he had called the meeting "in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world."

"I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers," he continued in his French-language address.

"I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians."

"In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful cooperation, to overcome all the tensions together.

"Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor Pope John Paul II," he added, "I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue, based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences.

"Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue," the Pope continued, "is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will. In this area, our contemporaries expect from us an eloquent witness to show all people the value of the religious dimension of life.

"Likewise, faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence. As for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction."

Benedict XVI then highlighted how "the lessons of the past" must "help us to seek paths of reconciliation, in order to live with respect for the identity and freedom of each individual, with a view to fruitful co-operation in the service of all humanity. As Pope John Paul II said in his memorable speech to young people at Casablanca in Morocco: 'Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favor peace and agreement between peoples'."

The Holy Father concluded his address by expressing his profound conviction "that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defense and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, Who wishes all people to live in the dignity that He has bestowed upon them."


The Logic of Christianity

The "logic of Christianity" was the central theme of Benedict XVI's reflections before praying the Angelus yesterday with pilgrims gathered in the internal courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo.

The Holy Father quoted Sunday's Gospel reading in which Jesus announces to His disciples, for the second time, His passion, death and resurrection. The evangelist Mark, said the Pope, "highlights the strong contrast between Jesus' mentality and that of the twelve Apostles, who not only do not understand the Master's words and refuse the idea that He may die, but discuss among themselves which of them is 'the greatest.'

"Jesus patiently explains His logic to them," the Holy Father added, "the logic of love that is service even unto the giving of self. ... This is the logic of Christianity, which responds to the truth of man created in God' image, and at the same time contrasts man's egoism, a consequence of original sin. All human beings are attracted by love - which in the final analysis is God Himself - but often mistake the concrete ways to express that love. And thus from a tendency that in its origins is positive, though polluted by sin, evil intentions and actions can arise."

Pope Benedict went on to recall the words of the Letter of James: "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy. ... And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

He concluded: "these words make us think of the witness of so many Christians who ... dedicate their lives to the service of others for the sake of the Lord Jesus, working as servants of love and ... 'artisans' of peace. Sometimes, some of them are asked for the supreme witness of blood, as happened a few days ago to the Italian religious, Sr. Leonella Sgorbati, who fell a victim to violence. This sister, who for many years had worked serving the poor and defenseless of Somalia, died pronouncing the word 'forgiveness.' This is the most authentic Christian witness, a peaceful sign marking the victory of love over hatred and evil."


Pope Meets With Bishops

Saturday morning in Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father received 98 bishops from 44 countries on four continents. The prelates have been participating a course of "aggiornamento" organized annually by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the prefect of which is Cardinal Ivan Dias.

In his address, the Pope dwelt upon the efforts that have to be made to ensure that the announcement of the Gospel reaches everyone, and upon the need to evangelize cultures and "encourage sincere and open dialogue with one and all, so that together we can build a more fraternal and united humanity.

"Only when driven by the love of Christ," he added, "is it possible to bring to completion this apostolic labor, which demands the intrepid courage of those who, for the Lord's sake, do not fear even persecution and death." On this subject, he recalled the "heroic witnesses to the Gospel" of previous centuries, as well as the recent sacrifice of "Sr. Leonella Sgorbati, missionary sister of the Consolata, barbarously murdered in Mogadishu, Somalia," on September 17.

Benedict XVI told his audience that in order to be good pastors, they had to set an example in all fields of life. It is likewise vital, he said, "that you give primary importance in your episcopal ministry to prayer and to the incessant striving for sanctity. It is also important that you concern yourselves with the serious formation of seminarians and with the permanent 'aggiornamento' of priests and catechists."

He went on: "Maintaining the unity of the faith in the diversity of its cultural expressions is another precious service required of you. ... This means that you must remain united to your flock, following the example of Christ the Good Shepherd, and that the flock must always remain united to you. As sentinels of the People of God, avoid divisions with firmness and courage, especially when they are due to ethnic or socio-cultural reasons. They damage the unity of the faith and undermine the announcement and witness of the Gospel of Christ."

After expressing his joy at "the continual flowering of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life," in many of their churches, the Pope called on the prelates to ensure that seminaries have "a sufficient number of formators, chosen and trained with care, who must first and foremost be examples and models for the seminarians. ... It is upon the training of future priests and of all other pastoral care workers, especially catechists, that the future of your communities and of the Universal Church depends."


Pope Pius XII Was Not Hitler's Pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Documents now available from the Vatican Secret Archives will allow scholars to rewrite history and erase claims the church was not a staunch opponent of Nazism, fascism and other forms of totalitarianism, said a Jesuit historian.

Jesuit Father Giovanni Sale, historian of the Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica, said documents relating to the 1922-1939 pontificate of Pope Pius XI will have an impact on political and religious history.

What emerges is an even clearer picture of the church as being "steadfast in the fight against totalitarianism, against fascism, against Nazism, but also against communism," he said in a Sept. 18 interview with Vatican Radio.

Read the complete article here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Blog Anniversary

It's been a year! When I started this blog, I wondered if anyone would bother reading it, but I have been pleasantly surprised. People are reading it and even better, they read it and come back. My readers come from all over the world and once I even had a reader on a computer somewhere within Vatican City.

I want to thank all my readers. Those who check in daily, weekly and those who stumble across these pages while searching for something. You inspire me to keep posting.

The Christ-centered Parish

This morning in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, the Pope received participants in the 22nd plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, which is presided by Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko. The theme of the gathering is: "The Parish Rediscovered. Paths for Renewal."

"During my years of service in the Roman Curia, I have had the opportunity of witnessing the growing importance of the Pontifical Council for the Laity within the Church," said the Holy Father. He then went on to mention some of the events promoted by the council which he had presided as pope, such as the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, or this year's meeting with ecclesial movements and new communities held in St. Peter's Square on the eve of Pentecost.

Going on to consider the work of participants in the 22nd plenary assembly, Benedict XVI recalled how, having analyzed "in your last meeting the theological and pastoral nature of the parish community, ... you are now pondering the question from an operational point of view, seeking elements useful towards favoring authentic parish renewal."

"Indeed," he continued, "theological-pastoral aspects and operational aspects cannot be disassociated from one another if we wish to understand the mystery of communion, of which the parish is called to be an ever greater sign and instrument." He then outlined certain "essential criteria" for "understanding the nature of Christian communion and, therefore, of each parish," referring to the first Christian community of Jerusalem, which was "devoted to listening to the teaching of the Apostles, to fraternal union, to the 'breaking of bread' and to prayer, a welcoming and united community, even to the point of sharing everything they had.

"The parish can relive this experience, and grow in understanding and fraternal cohesion through prayer ... and listening to the Word of God, especially if it participates with faith in the celebration of the Eucharist presided by a priest. ... The hoped-for renewal of the parish cannot, then, arise only from pastoral initiatives, useful though they are, nor from programs worked out at a theoretical level.

"Drawing inspiration from the apostolic model," the Pope added, "the parish 'rediscovers' itself in the encounter with Christ. ... Nourished by the Eucharistic bread, it grows in Catholic communion and walks in complete faithfulness to the Magisterium," while "the constant union with Christ gives it the strength to commit itself ... to serving our brothers, especially the poorest for which its often the primary point of reference."

The Pope concluded his address expressing the hope that the work of the plenary assembly may contribute "to making the lay faithful ever more aware of their mission in the Church, especially within the parish community, which is a 'family' of Christian families."


The Second Post

In Cardinal Sean's second post, the cardinal I know and love shines through. Posted about an hour ago, he tells the story of his flight and his plans for the next few days, as well as a few interesting tidbits. He is even catching on to the online lingo.

While walking through the never ending terminal in Frankfurt….I thought we were going to walk to Rome after what seemed like a three mile journey from our arrival gate to our new departure gate….as a young seminarian I was in Germany for a couple of months studying German.

I have many fond memories of those days in the early 1960’s. I will share with you, believe it or not, that I and everyone else were wearing lederhosen in those days…but, do not try to find those pictures because I assure you that the negatives have been destroyed….LOL!

Writing about his upcoming trip to San Giovanni Rotundo, Cardinal Sean says:
I should also let you know that this will be my first time visiting the Shrine. I never had the opportunity and honor to meet Padre Pio in person because like all Cappuchin friars we were asked not to visit because so many would havd overwhelmed the Friary.I will share the homily that I have written for this special Mass with you tomorrow….It’s theme is Prayer, Charity and the Joy of Forgiveness.

I think this blog is a great idea. He is shining through and I am looking forward to reading his homily. He is an excellent homilist, so I have no doubt this homily will be memorable.

Read the entire post here.

I couldn't leave this post without a link to Jeff Miller's post on ecclesiastical acronyms. I particularly like LMZO. (Laughing My Zuchetto Off.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Cardinal's First Post

Cardinal Sean has posted his first blog entry. In this post, he writes about his day: celebrating Mass and attending meetings.
He also writes about preparing for his flight to Rome saying,

While I am not looking forward to the many many hours of travel that we are facing, I am looking forward to the opportunity to quietly read, prepare for Rome and hopefully catch a few winks of sleep. Our itinerary says that we will be flying for almost nine hours total and shortly after our arrival at the Vatican we will be traveling immediately to San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio’s Shrine is located. I’ve heard so much about San Giovanni Rotondo and I am so excited to finally visit.

I think I’m taking more books than I can possibly read - my carry-on bag will be bursting at the seams….hopefully security lets me through the gates.

I think we can all relate to his words.

You can read the rest here.

He ends his blog with a wonderful slideshow of photos from the Consistory. (I am in more than a few of the pictures) This slideshow will be familiar to my loyal readers, as I posted the link here several months ago.

Cardinal Sean, welcome to blogging. I hope you stay.
You are well loved over here and you are always in my prayers.

A Cardinal Blogs

The Archdiocese of Boston has announced that Sean Cardinal O'Malley will take formal possession of his titular church, Santa Maria Della Vitoria on October 1. He is scheduled to arrive in Rome today and will report the details of his trip on his new blog.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley will travel to Rome, Italy tomorrow, Thursday, September 21st, six months after his elevation to Cardinal, to formally take possession of Boston's Titular Church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, conduct Archdiocesan business and serve as the honored celebrant of the Padre Pio Mass at the Shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo.
Cardinal Sean will share his experiences with Catholics across the Archdiocese of Boston during his upcoming trip to Rome on a personal blog, The Cardinal is scheduled to begin posting on his blog tomorrow afternoon, prior to his flight to Rome. He is expected to update the blog frequently during his time in Italy.
On Saturday, September 23rd Cardinal Seán will be the honored celebrant for the famed Padre Pio Mass on the occasion of the anniversary of the Capuchin Saint's 1968 passing. Tens-of thousands of Catholics and Padre Pio devotees from across the world are expected to attend the Mass being held at the Shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. The shrine is the second most visited Catholic Shrine in the world and is home to the tomb of Padre Pio, who was canonized and made a Saint by Pope John Paul II in June 2002. Over seven million pilgrims visit Padre Pio's Shrine each year.
Cardinal Seán will formally take possession of Boston's Titular Church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, in Rome on October 1st during an evening ceremony and mass at the noted church. During the March Consistory, and following Church tradition, Pope Benedict XVI announced the assignment of Santa Maria della Vittoria to Cardinal Seán. While the formal titular ceremony will not be marked with the festive "high-Church" ritual of the Consistory events, it will nonetheless be a joyous occasion for the Cardinal, administrators and parishioners of Santa Maria della Vittoria and especially for the Carmelite Order, whose Discalced Carmelite Friars have maintained the church since they built it during the 1600's. Boston's titular church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, is dedicate to the Blessed Virgin and is well known for its spectacular artwork, particularly for Bernini's Ecstasy of St Teresa of Avila.
"It is always joyous and spiritually energizing to return to Rome and the Eternal City," said Cardinal Seán. "I am looking forward to the ceremony and mass at Santa Maria della Vittoria and I am humbled by the honor of celebrating mass for Padre Pio at his Shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo. As a Capuchin and a Catholic, I have the highest admiration for Padre Pio and I am looking forward to taking part in the anniversary mass in his honor.
I am also looking forward to a new opportunity to communicate directly with Catholics of the Archdiocese through my own blog. While this is a new venture for me, and for the Archdiocese, I am eager to take advantage of the latest technology and mode of communication to share with Catholics of the Archdiocese my experiences as I return to Rome and more importantly, to share with everyone a sense of what it is that Boston's Archbishop does on business in Rome representing the people of the Archdiocese."

Welcome to the blogosphere, Cardinal Sean !

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Joncas Lecture - Part 1

I attended today's lecture at Stonehill College which was given by Fr. Jan Michael Joncas. I know that a lot of people don't like his music, but I think he has some very good music. There is also some music of questionable quality, but that is a matter for a different post. He is also a very nice person who I have been personally aquainted with for several years.

While the topics of today's lecture were advertised as being: How is God speaking to us during this time of change in the Church? What will we retain and let go of on the way? What wisdom will we offer the next generation as we evolve from the church we know, into the one we want to become?, Fr. Joncas spoke about the various stages of transition from the viewpoint of illness (specifically, his own battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome) and how the psalms can be forms of prayer during those times.

He described five stages of transition:
1) Chaos and Confusion
2) Diagnosis
3) Suffering
4) a - Therapy
b - Decline
5) a - Return
b - Death and Eternal Life

Fr. Joncas played the piano and lead the singing with the assistance of a small choir. The congregation of approximately 60 people also joined in singing all the hymns. All the music, except for one, was composed by Fr. Joncas. The one exception was "Shepherd Me O God" by Marty Haugen. The lecture ended with the singing of "On Eagle's Wings".

Speaking of his recent illness, Fr. Joncas said that the most devastating part was the inability to celebrate Mass and to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. He said the celebration of the Eucharist was the center of his prayer life and "the joy of his ministry".

At one point, Fr. Joncas mentioned that many people do not like a lot of contemporary liturgical music and attributed it to people's not understanding the ambiguity of the lyrics. He said that liturgical music must have an element of ambiguity.

Tomorrow's lecture is about choosing appropriate music for the various parts of the Mass and for various occasions. He will also introduce some new music which has not yet been released.

Where are Kerry and Kennedy?

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, longtime foes in American politics, forcefully defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday against a wave of Muslim criticism over a speech last week.

When asked about the controversy prior to her speech at an
American Cancer Society' event, Clinton, D-N.Y., said the pope's follow-up statement should have been enough to settle the matter.
"It's just outrageous and offensive that people would be threatening violence against him based on what he said, especially when there is so much they should be working on together," Clinton said.

Read the rest here.

Mehmet Ali Agca Warns Against Visit to Turkey

Pope Benedict faces a growing chorus of demands to make an unequivocal apology for remarks seen as portraying Islam as a violent faith, despite attempts by Western leaders and churchmen to defuse the crisis.
The calls came as it emerged papal hitman Mehmet Ali Agca, who is serving a life sentence for the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in May 1981, has written to Pope Benedict XVI from jail, warning him not to go to Turkey as planned in November in the light of his remarks.
Agca, a Turk gave his ominous warning in a letter to an Italian daily newspaper.
For many Muslims, the Pope's attempt to explain himself on Sunday did not go far enough and observers were waiting to see if he would speak about it again at his general audience at the Vatican.
The Pope enraged Muslims in a speech a week ago in Germany quoting 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said everything the Prophet Mohammad brought was evil "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".
The leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics said on Sunday he was 'deeply sorry' for the reaction caused - but stopped short of apologising for his words or retracting them.

Read the rest here.

He is Theologian, not a Diplomat

Sandro Magister has an interesting article on the events which transpired in Regensburg.

Less diplomacy and more Gospel: this is the course that Joseph Ratzinger is setting for the Church’s central governance. Even in the choice of archbishop Mamberti as foreign minister, what the pope kept in mind even more than his diplomatic competency was his direct familiarity with the Muslim world and with the related questions of faith and civilization. Born in Marakesh, with French citizenship via Corsica, Mamberti was a pontifical representative in Chile and to the United Nations, but also in Algeria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and most recently in Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia.

And it was again this criterion – less diplomacy and more Gospel – that led the pope, in the course of his trip to Germany, to say such politically incorrect, and such potentially explosive, words.

Anyone who is an expert in the art of diplomacy and a proponent of “realism” in international relations would certainly have censured as inopportune and dangerous many passages of the homilies and speeches delivered by Benedict XVI in Germany.

But this is not a pope who submits himself to such censorship or self-censorship, which he sees as being inopportune and dangerous indeed when it concerns the pillars of his preaching. His goal on his trip to Germany was to illuminate before modern man – whether Christian, agnostic, or of another faith; from Europe, Africa, or Asia – that simple and supreme truth that is the other side of the truth to which he dedicated the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est.” God is love, but he is also reason, he is the “Logos.” And so when reason separates itself from God, it closes in upon itself. And likewise, faith in an “irrational” God, an absolute, unbridled will, can become the seed of violence. Every religion, culture, and civilization is exposed to this twofold error – not only Islam, but also Christianity, toward which the pope directed almost the entirety of his preaching.

Two days before the lecture at the University of Regensburg against which Muslim government officials and opinion makers launched their protests, Benedict XVI had exposed this truth in the homily for the Mass on Sunday, September 10 in Munich, with connotations that had even let him pass as pro-Islamic in some media commentaries.

The pope had said:

“People in Africa and Asia admire, indeed, the scientific and technical prowess of the West, but they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason, and one to be taught to their cultures too. They do not see the real threat to their identity in the Christian faith, but in the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom and that holds up utility as the supreme criterion for the future of scientific research. Dear friends, this cynicism is not the kind of tolerance and cultural openness that the world's peoples are looking for and that all of us want! The tolerance which we urgently need includes the fear of God – respect for what others hold sacred. This respect for what others hold sacred demands that we ourselves learn once more the fear of God. But this sense of respect can be reborn in the Western world only if faith in God is reborn, if God become once more present to us and in us. We don't impose our faith on anyone...”

Read the rest here.

From Today's Audience

As he announced in last Sunday's Angelus, Benedict XVI dedicated his general audience today to commenting upon his recent apostolic trip to Bavaria. The audience, held in St. Peter's Square, was attended by more than 40,000 people.

The Pope affirmed how his journey to the land of his birth had been not just "a simple return to the past, but also a providential opportunity to look with hope to the future. The motto of my visit, 'those who believe are never alone,' was meant as an invitation to reflect upon the involvement of all the baptized in the one Church of Christ, within which we are never alone but in constant communion with God and with all the faithful."

After recalling his stay in Munich, where he used to be archbishop, and his visit to the Marian shrine of Altotting, the Holy Father went on to refer to his meeting with students and professors of the University of Regensburg.

"I chose the theme," he said, "of the relationship between faith and reason. In order to introduce my audience to the dramatic nature and current importance of the subject, I quoted some words from a Christian-Muslim dialogue from the 14th century in which the Christian - the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus - presented to his Muslim interlocutor, in a manner we find incomprehensibly brusque, the problem of the relationship between faith and violence.

"This quotation, unfortunately, has lent itself to misunderstandings. However, to an attentive reader of my text it is clear that in no way did I wish to make my own the negative words pronounced by the medieval emperor, and that their polemical content does not express my personal convictions. My intentions were quite otherwise: on the basis of what Manuel II subsequently said in a positive sense ... concerning the reason that must guide us in transmitting the faith, I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together.

"The theme of my talk was, then, the relationship between faith and reason," he added. "I wished to call for a dialogue of the Christian faith with the modern world and for dialogue between all cultures and religions. I hope that at various moments of my visit - when, for example, in Munich I underlined how it important it is to respect what is sacred for others - what emerged was my deep respect for all the great religions, and in particular for Muslims who 'worship the one God,' and with whom we are committed to promoting 'peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity.'

"I trust, therefore, that following the initial reactions, my words at the University of Regensburg may constitute an impulse and encouragement towards positive, even self-critical, dialogue both among religions and between modern reason and Christian faith."

Benedict concluded his reminiscences of his Bavarian trip by recalling his meeting with clergy in the cathedral of Freising, where he was ordained a priest.


Video From World Meeting of Families

VALENCIA, Spain, SEPT. 18, 2006 ( More than 20 videos available online capture key moments of Benedict XVI's trip to Spain for the 5th World Meeting of Families.

About 1.5 million people attended that event in Valencia last July, which focused on the theme "The Transmission of the Faith in the Family."

The multimedia home page set by the event's organizers,, makes it possible now to visualize the papal visit step by step, reported the Avan agency of the Valencia Archdiocese.

The Web enables one to follow Benedict XVI through the streets of Valencia, the events over which he presided at the World Meeting, and to hear the messages he delivered.

The papal addresses may also be downloaded, in full, in written form.

Among other things, Internet users may also download photographs and desktop resources with images of the Holy Father's visit.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pope Benedict on Murder of Sr. Leonella

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – May the blood of Sister Leonella, the missionary killed in Mogadishu, “become the seed of hope for building authentic brotherhood among people in the reciprocal respect for the religious convictions of all.” This is the hope expressed by Benedict XVI in a telegram of condolences, for the death of Sr Leonella Sgorbati, sent by the Pope to the superior general of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, through Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
“Having learned of the tragic death of Sr Leonella Sgorbati,” the message reads, “who was savagely killed in Mogadishu, the Supreme Pontiff wishes to express his closeness to Consolata Missionary congregation, as well as to the relatives of the lamented nun who joyfully worked at the service of the Somali population especially in favour of new life and in the area of health training. In reaffirming steadfast disapproval of all forms of violence,” the telegram goes to say, “His Holiness hopes that the blood spilt by such a faithful disciple of the Gospel becomes the seed of hope for building authentic brotherhood among peoples in reciprocal respect for the religious convictions of all and, in raising fervent prayers of suffrage for this meritorious missionary, imparts his apostolic blessing to her religious sisters and to all those who are mourning her violent death.”
Sr Leonella, born 65 years ago in Piacenza, Italy, and who spent the last 16 years working in Africa, was killed Sunday in Mogadishu by, reports say, two armed men in a paediatric hospital run by Austrian NGO “S.O.S.”. According to her sister nuns, her last words were “I forgive”, which she repeated 3 times. Sr Leonella’s work had been to train nurses for the “S.O.S.” paediatric hospital.

Interwiew With Msgr. Ratzinger

Deutche Welle has published an interview with Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, Pope Benedict's brother.

Here are a few excerpts.

Have you talked to your brother since his return to Rome?

We have talked on the phone.

Has he talked to you about the controversy surrounding his speech at the University of Regensburg?

He mentioned it briefly. Of course he regrets that Muslims have reacted like that and have completely misunderstood him. It's not his opinion. He would never hold such a view. It's the quote of a man, who lived 500 years ago. Naturally, it's a grotesque misunderstanding that it was taken out of context and presented as if it were his opinion. But he hopes that it will be sorted out and understood when he explains the situation correctly -- and that it won't have consequences for mutual relations.

Read the complete article here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fr. Joncas to Speak at Stonehill College

Rev. Jan Michael Joncas will be presenting two lectures at Stonehill College in Easton, MA.

The first lecture, "Spiritual Resources for Engaging Change and Transition:
Psalms of Praise, Lament, and Wisdom" will be held this Wednesday, September 20 at 7 p.m.

In this lecture, Fr. Joncas will speak on the following topics:
How does God speaking to us during this time of change in the Church?
What will we retain and let go of on the way?
What wisdom will we offer the next generation as we evolve from the church we know, into the one we want to become?

The second lecture, "Church Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs: Pastoral Choices According to Music in Catholic Worship" will be held on Thursday, September 21 at 7 p.m.
The topics addressed will include:
Why do some psalm settings accommodate the response between the reading and why do others serve best as Communion songs?
How do liturgical musicians choose the settings of songs, hymns and psalms that best suit their communities?
What guidelines best serve us as we choose assembly song?

These lectures are free and open to the public.

There are Reasonable Muslims

Beirut (AsiaNews) – “Let us first read what the Pope actually said,” urged Ali el-Amin, Shia mufti of Tyre. Such a view of the controversy that surrounds Benedict XVI’s Regensburg speech reflects the prevailing attitude in multi-faith Lebanon. Even Hezbollah has limited itself so far to express surprise for remarks that “are contrary to the reality of the Muslim religion”, whereas the deputy chairman of the Higher Shia Islamic Council has called for dialogue and the rejection of violence.
In Christian quarters, reactions in the Muslim world are seen as politically motivated. For Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir the Pope’s remarks have been misunderstood. “The motivations behind the criticism are political,” he said. Benedict XVI “did not directly talk about Islam. “Christians and Muslims have an interest of working together, especially in Lebanon”.
In his Sunday’s homily, Cardinal Sfeir reiterated remarks made a Vatican spokesman according to which the Pope did not express his opinion on Islam, which was not an issue in his address. Instead, the Holy Father respects Islam and rejects religious motivations of violence.
The Patriarch also mentioned that in the conciliar document Nostra Aetate, the Church held Muslims in “esteem” for they “adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men.”
From the same document, he said: “Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.”
“It was an affront to the Pope for some Muslim religious dignitaries and political leaders to ask him to apologise,” said Mgr Béchara Rai, bishop of Jbeilm.
In an interview with the Voix du Liban, the bishop emphasised the need to read the Pope’s statements before making false interpretations.
“Under normal circumstances, when you have a problem, you go back to the text,” he said. “That is what I did. I read the lecture the Pope gave to a German Theology Faculty on the relationship between faith and reason. It’s deplorable that so many people reacted without having read the text. This no longer belongs to the realm of reason, but to that emotion.”
Bishop Rai added that he hoped Muslim religious leaders “would read the conference [paper] and express their opinion about the issues raised by the Pope.”
Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan, deputy chairman of the Higher Shia Islamic Council, also urged people to engage in dialogue and reject violence. He expressed “respect for everyone, those who retracted, those who deplored and those who apologised for the accusation made against them.”
In a final appeal to reject violence, Mufti Ali el-Amin called on people to read what the Pope said with “calm and serenity”, and avoid “impulsive and irrational reactions as well as street language.”

Marini Visits Istanbul - The Trip is On

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The bishops of Turkey today followed Ankara’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdullah Gul, in confirming that the visit of Benedict XVI will take place as planned, from 28 November to 1 December, according to the set itinerary.
Turkish dailies are debating whether the pope’s words yesterday at Castel Gandolfo – carried by all newspapers – could pass for a public apology. There are those who claim to be satisfied, seeing the pope’s statement as a sign that he withdrew what he said, but others are still not happy. Also reported was the unequivocal declaration by Foreign Minister Gul yesterday: “Certainly the pope’s comments were really unfortunate, not only for Muslims but for the whole world, including Christians. But they do not interfere with the trip of Benedict XVI, which has been already organized for the end of November. A change in programme is out of the question for us right now. Much has been said about the matter but I hope all this will not impact on his visit to Turkey.”
And this morning, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, as planned, met in Istanbul to discuss details of the trip’s itinerary. They were joined by Mgr Piero Marini, head of the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. They share the view that at this point, there is no reason to call off the visit and in fact, after reading together the statement of clarification by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the bishops turned their attention to details of the trip set to take place as scheduled from 28 November to 1 December.
There are three stages in the visit: Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul, where the pope will meet Turkish civil authorities as well as Christian religious representatives – first and foremost the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II – and the small Catholic community in Turkey.
So unless events to the contrary take over, the trip will be held as planned.
In the hope that the dialogue opened on Islam may proceed through placid and reasoned dialogue.
In early October, the bishops plan to meet again for latest developments.

Stem Cell Research

Saturday morning at Castelgandolfo, the Pope received participants in a congress being promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life and by the International Federation of Catholic Doctors' Associations, which is meeting to consider the theme: "Stem cells, what future for therapy?"

Benedict XVI began his remarks by observing how "research into somatic stem cells merits approval and encouragement when it brings together scientific knowledge, the most advanced technology in the field of biology, and the ethic that postulates respect for human beings at every stage of their existence." In this context, he mentioned the promising horizons being opened in the cure of illnesses involving "the degeneration of tissues with consequent risks of invalidity and death for those affected."

The Holy Father encouraged those working in Catholic-inspired scientific institutions to increase research in this field and "to establish closer contact among themselves and with others who seek, using appropriate methods, to relieve human suffering.

"In the face of the frequent and unjust accusations of insensitivity directed against the Church," he added, "I would like to underline the constant support she has given over the course of her two thousand-year history to research aimed at the cure of illnesses and at the good of humanity. If there has been - and there still is - resistance, it was and is against those forms of research that involve the planned suppression of human beings who are already alive, though they may not yet have been born."

The Pope then highlighted how history "has condemned such science in the past, and will condemn it in the future, not only because it is devoid of the light of God, but also because it is devoid of humanity."

"In the face of the direct suppression of human beings," he continued, "there can be no compromise or prevarication; it is inconceivable for a society to fight crime effectively when it itself legalizes crime in the field of nascent life."

The fact that the congress has expressed commitment to and hope of "achieving new therapeutic results by using cells from the adult body without having to suppress newly-conceived human beings, and the fact that your work is being rewarded with results, confirm the validity of the Church's constant call for full respect for human beings from the moment of conception. ... A good end," he concluded, "can never justify intrinsically illicit means."


Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Holy Father's Own Words

At today's Angelus blessing, the Holy Father addressed the furor what has arisen over his comments regarding Islam. I have highlighted the passage.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Pastoral Visit which I recently made to Bavaria was a deep spiritual experience, bringing together personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives towards an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today. I thank God for the interior joy which he made possible, and I am also grateful to all those who worked hard for the success of this Pastoral Visit. As is the custom, I will speak more of this during next Wednesday’s General Audience. At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bertone Wastes No Time

Less than one day on the job and Cardinal Bertone has already performed his first official public function. He has released an official statement regarding the Holy Father's lecture in Regensburg.

Given the reaction in Muslim quarters to certain passages of the Holy Father's address at the University of Regensburg, and the clarifications and explanations already presented through the Director of the Holy See Press Office, I would like to add the following:

- The position of the Pope concerning Islam is unequivocally that expressed by the conciliar document Nostra Aetate: "The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting" (no. 3).

- The Pope's option in favor of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is equally unequivocal. In his meeting with representatives of Muslim communities in Cologne, Germany, on 20 August 2005, he said that such dialogue between Christians and Muslims "cannot be reduced to an optional extra," adding: "The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other's identity".

- As for the opinion of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus which he quoted during his Regensburg talk, the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way. He simply used it as a means to undertake - in an academic context, and as is evident from a complete and attentive reading of the text - certain reflections on the theme of the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come. On this point, it is worth recalling what Benedict XVI himself recently affirmed in his commemorative Message for the 20th anniversary of the Inter-religious Meeting of Prayer for Peace, initiated by his predecessor John Paul II at Assisi in October 1986: " ... demonstrations of violence cannot be attributed to religion as such but to the cultural limitations with which it is lived and develops in time. ... In fact, attestations of the close bond that exists between the relationship with God and the ethics of love are recorded in all great religious traditions".

- The Holy Father thus sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful, and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions. Indeed it was he who, before the religious fervor of Muslim believers, warned secularized Western culture to guard against "the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom".

- In reiterating his respect and esteem for those who profess Islam, he hopes they will be helped to understand the correct meaning of his words so that, quickly surmounting this present uneasy moment, witness to the "Creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men" may be reinforced, and collaboration may intensify "to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom" (Nostra Aetate no. 3).

Friday, September 15, 2006

What Would Happen If This Was a Play About A Muslim Leader?

DULUTH, Minnesota, September 13, 2006 ( - “It is easy for a rich church to rage against abortion when millions are born into poverty, and become victims of the drug trade, from which people under the Vatican’s protection can fill their pockets,” says the University of Minnesota’s (U of M) department of theatre in a summary for a play it plans to produce next year and describes as “a wild send-up of Catholicism”.

“The Pope and the Witch”, which will debut at U of M, March 1, 2007 has provoked outrage from the Catholic League for its sacrilegious and bigoted display, which Newsday describes as starring “a heroin-addicted, paranoid Pope called John Paul II, along with scheming priests, bumbling nuns and monks.” The play also describes “thousands of hungry children, the fruits of the Pope’s birth control doctrine” crying for food – an irony, since the rejection by many European Catholic countries of the Church’s teaching on contraception has produced a severe dearth of children and a looming de-population catastrophe.

In a press release, Catholic League president Bill Donahue said he had written to U of M president Robert Bruininks to cancel the play, which Donahue described as “pure hate speech” mentioning that playwright Dario Fo is “a well-known Stalinist and anti-Catholic bigot.”

Although Bruininks is aware that Catholics find the play a bigoted disparagement of their religion, he responded to the Catholic League that he has no intention of canceling the Catholic hate play.

“In response to my letter, president Bruininks offered that the University of Minnesota hosts hundreds of events every year, bringing together all kinds of scholars, artists, politicians and others who ‘represent a broad and diverse range of opinions and viewpoints,’ said Donahue.

Donahue then quoted an excerpt of Bruno’s letter that indicates the U of M president has advocated a double standard of tolerance when it comes to discrimination against Catholics.

“The University of Minnesota is committed to establishing and nurturing an environment that actively acknowledges and values a very broad diversity of points of view that are free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice, intolerance and harassment,” wrote Bruininks (emphasis added).

“Obviously, president Bruininks either doesn’t mean what he says or he thinks that anti-Catholicism is one form of prejudice that the University of Minnesota is prepared to tolerate. Even fund,” said Donahue. “And who’s paying for this? Catholics in Minnesota, among others. It’s up to them to rebel.”

See promotion page for play

To respectfully contact U of M President Robert Bruininks:
phone: 612-626-1616
fax: 612-625-3875

See Board of Trustees of University of Minnesota Foundation

To respectfully contact the chair of the Board of Trustees:
Fred R. Friswold, CEO
Tonka Equipment Company
13305 Watertower Circle
Plymouth, Minnesota 55441

Tel: (763) 559-2837
Fax: (763) 559-1979

On another note, this is my 400th post!

Vatican to Offer Tours of Newly Discovered Necropolis

Vatican City, Sep. 15, 2006 (CNA) - Vatican Museum archaeologists will unveil a necropolis next month, including a section discovered three years ago during the construction of a parking lot in Vatican City.

The Vatican Museums said the dig had revealed several burial structures and sarcophagi, along with tomb decorations including frescoes, mosaic floors, and inscriptions. Most of the tombs are well-preserved and date from between the era of Augustus (23 B.C. to 14 A.D.) to Constantine (306-337), reported The Associated Press.

Guided visits to the newly discovered necropolis will be part of celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the Vatican Museums.

The Vatican has said the necropolis is only second in importance to the one underneath St. Peter's Basilica.

How is the Outrage Displayed?

Yes, Muslims in India are burning the Pope in effigy.
Does this look like a peaceful protest?

No further comment from this corner.

H/T to Gerald.

More on Regensburg Lecture

Asia News has an interesting commentary on the Holy Father's lecture at the University of Regensburg.
Negative reactions in the Arab and Muslim world to the remarks made by Benedict XVI at Regensburg University are exaggerated and misplaced. Protest marches are being organised everywhere in ways that bring to mind what happened in the wake of the publication of the blasphemous Muhammad cartoons. But one thing is clear. No one, and I mean NO ONE, has fully read what the Pope said.
An English translation of the speech, which was in German, was released yesterday, a French version is not yet ready, and no translation has been made in any Eastern language. Therefore, all the attacks so far are based on a few quotes and excerpts liberally taken by Western news agencies on what the Pope said about Islam, which was only ten per cent of his speech. But this ten per cent must be understood against the whole thing.
The Pope’s speech was a prolusion, an inaugural speech, delivered to an assembly of faculty and students at the beginning of the new academic year. By definition, it was an academic exercise, interdisciplinary, and the eyes and ears of scholars and would-be scholars. Moreover, the full text of the speech released by the Vatican Press Office does not have any notes, which will be supplied at a later date.
It is necessary to keep in mind that what the Pope did was prepare and deliver a speech as an academic, a philosopher, a top theologian whose arguments and fine points may not be easily grasped.
The media—which should indulge in some self-criticism of its own—picked out those remarks from the speech that it could immediately use and superimposed them on the current international political context, on the ongoing confrontation between the West and the Muslim world, taking a step back into what Samuel Huntington called a ‘Clash of civilisations’. In reality, in his speech the Pope outlined a path that runs contrary to this view. The goal he has in mind is actually to engage others in a dialogue and of the most beautiful kind.
Initial reactions in the Muslim world showed that the Pope’s was misunderstood. Some reports actually said that at Regensburg University the Pope had delivered a lecture on ‘technology’ rather than ‘theology’ (evidently something got lost in the English translation). Even though newspapers eventually printed corrections, it was the following day. All in all, it goes to show how no one really understood what he said.
Comments made by Western Muslims were superficial and fed the circus-like criticism. In a phone-in programme on al-Jazeera yesterday, many viewers called in to criticise the Pope but no one knew about what. These were just emotional outbursts in response to hearsay concerning the Pope talking about jihad and criticising Islam, when in fact all that is false. Let me say why.

Read the rest of the article here.

Another Papal Trip?

Rome, Sep. 15, 2006 (CNA) - The Czech Bishops’ Conference announced Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted an invitation by the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, to visit the Czech Republic in 2007.

Quoting the bishops’ spokeswoman, Katerina Rozova, the Efe news agency reported, “They both agreed that such a visit could take place during the first half of September” next year.According to Rozova, the Czech cardinal “invited the Holy Father during a private conversation in Bavaria.” However, she noted, “the official protocols have not taken place yet; rather, it was only accepted privately.”

Rozova also explained that there was no special reason occasion for the visit, but that the cardinal invited him “because he is the new Pope.”Pope John Paul II visited Czechoslovakia in April of 1990 and the Czech Republic twice, in May of 1995 and April of 1997.

The Holy See has yet to confirm the announcement

Cardinal Sodano Retires

This morning, during a ceremony held in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father welcomed the staff of the Secretariat of State for the occasion of the appointment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., archbishop of Genoa, Italy, as new secretary of State. He succeeds in that role Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Cardinal Sodano - who was appointed as secretary of State by John Paul II on December 1, 1990, succeeding Cardinal Agostino Casaroli - pronounced some words during the ceremony.

"Today," he said addressing the Holy Father, "thanks should be given not so much to me as to those who helped me over the years. Particularly precious to me was the collaboration of successive substitutes for General Affairs: Archbishops Re and Sandri, and of secretaries for Relations with States: Archbishops Tauran and Lajolo. All together, we have managed to work as a team, with a great ecclesial sense that united us in service, first around the venerated John Paul II and now around you."

Cardinal Sodano concluded his remarks by thanking his helpers in the Secretariat of State and members of pontifical representations in countries all over the world.

In a brief greeting addressed to the Holy Father, Cardinal Bertone expressed the hope that his past experience would help him "to carry out the task I take on today. I am aware of the heavy responsibility that this brings, and of the gravity and complexity of the questions which, every day, I will have to face. My only ambition is that of putting into practice the motto of my episcopal service: 'fidem custodire, concordiam servare'."

"The profound communion that binds us together in the shared commitment of service to the Church - and consequently to human dignity and peaceful coexistence between people - cannot but translate into loyal and faithful collaboration, reinforced for many of us by the priestly spirit and the pastoral charity that must always inspire us in our activities."

Benedict XVI also read out the text of his own Letter to Cardinal Angelo Sodano for the occasion of his resignation from the office of secretary of State.

"When the Lord called me to assume the mandate of supreme pastor of the People of God," said the Holy Father reading from his Letter, "I felt it appropriate to ask you, Cardinal Sodano, to continue to lend me your assistance as my direct collaborator, sharing my daily cares in governing the Universal Church. For this reason I confirmed you in the office of secretary of State, a role which to this day you have carried out with generous dedication and competence."

Referring then to the fact that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is now succeeding Cardinal Sodano in the role of secretary of State, Benedict XVI explained how "in such significant circumstances, I feel the need to renew to you my most heartfelt thanks for the faithfulness and enlightened competency, the dedication and love you have shown in working for the good of the Church alongside various Successors of the Apostle Peter."

The Pope went on to enumerate the different stages of Cardinal Sodano's service to the Holy See, which began in 1961 under Blessed John XXIII, recalling his work in the pontifical representations in Ecuador, Uruguay and Chile, and in the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, his appointment as apostolic nuncio to Chile and later as secretary of the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, until his designation as pro-secretary of State in December 1990.

"In these first months of my pontificate," said Benedict XVI, "I too have been able to appreciate the gifts of your pastor's spirit, ... the dedication with which you followed the daily activities of the secretariat of State and of pontifical representations in various parts of the world," and "the solicitude you showed towards your staff."

"Apart from expressing my own gratitude, I also wish to convey that of the people who, in the course of the years, have known you and admired the good sense, prudent wisdom and tireless zeal with which ... you have carried out your mission with single-minded concern for the supreme good of the Church.

"The Holy See will continue in the future to benefit from your contribution - and for this too I am grateful - because with the same enthusiasm and generosity you will work in the important role of dean of the College of Cardinals and as a member of various dicasteries of the Roman Curia and of the Governorate of Vatican City State."

The Pope concluded by asking God for "physical health" and "joy and serenity" for Cardinal Sodano, entrusting his person to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

The Uproar and the Response

Pope Benedict's quoting of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus during his lecture at the University of Regensburg has caused a great deal of controversy among the members of the Islamic faith.

The Holy Father said:

"In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

There have been several calls from those in the Islamic world for Pope Benedict to apologize for his statements. However, he never claimed these were his words.

Yesterday the following statement was released from the Holy See Press Office.
"Concerning the reaction of Muslim leaders to certain passages of the Holy Father's address at the University of Regensburg, it should be noted that what the Holy Father has to heart - and which emerges from an attentive reading of the text - is a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence.

"It was certainly not the intention of the Holy Father to undertake a comprehensive study of the jihad and of Muslim ideas on the subject, still less to offend the sensibilities of Muslim faithful.

"Quite the contrary, what emerges clearly from the Holy Father's discourses is a warning, addressed to Western culture, to avoid 'the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom.' A just consideration of the religious dimension is, in fact, an essential premise for fruitful dialogue with the great cultures and religions of the world. And indeed, in concluding his address in Regensburg, Benedict XVI affirmed how 'the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.'

"What is clear then, is the Holy Father's desire to cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue towards other religions and cultures, including, of course, Islam."

The Pope's Farewell

Following this yesterday's meeting with priests and permanent deacons in the cathedral of Freising, the Pope travelled by car to Munich's Franz Joseph Strauss international airport, where he departed by plane to Rome.

In his farewell address prior to departure, the Holy Father explained how during his time in Germany, "I was able to see how many people in Bavaria still today are endeavoring to journey in communion with their bishops along the paths of God and, in today's secularized world, to testify to their faith."

He expressed his recognition for the "the tireless efforts of the organizers," and for everyone's "attention and care which touched me deeply. .... To all of you I offer heartfelt thanks and the assurance of a special remembrance in my prayers.

"I came to Germany," he added, "to bring once more to my fellow citizens the eternal truths of the Gospel and to confirm believers in their fidelity to Christ, the Son of God, Who became man for the salvation of the world. I am convinced, in faith, that in Christ, in His Word, we find the way not only to eternal happiness, but also to the building of a humane future even now, here on earth."

Benedict XVI then went on to recall that today, September 14, marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical 'Laborem Exercens,' in which the "great Pope John Paul II called work 'a fundamental dimension of man's existence on earth,' and insisted that 'the primary basis of the value of work is man himself.' Work, he observed, is therefore 'something good for man,' because with it 'man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but also achieves fulfillment as a human being, and, in a certain sense, becomes more human'."

Pope Benedict continued: "On the basis of this profound intuition, Pope John Paul offered in his Encyclical some guidelines which are still helpful today. That text was not lacking in prophetic value, and I would like to recommend it to the people of my native land. I am certain that its concrete application would prove very beneficial in Germany's present situation."

The Holy Father concluded his remarks by entrusting "the present and future of Bavaria and of Germany to the intercession of all those saints who lived in German territory, faithfully serving Christ and experiencing in their lives the truth expressed in the words which have been like a leitmotif during the various parts of my visit: 'Those who believe are never alone'."

The Pope's plane took off at 1 p.m. and landed at Rome's Ciampino airport at 2.30 p.m. From there he travelled by car to his summer residence at Castelgandolfo.

At the Cathedral of Sts. Mary and Corbinian

Yesterday morning, the Holy Father left Regensburg and travelled by helicopter to the city of Freising which, in the past, was a trading center for the whole of central Europe, and today it is an important hub for agriculture and the food industry. It has a famous university and holds the administrative offices of the archdiocese of Munich and Freising. The archiepiscopal see is in Munich itself.

Benedict XVI's papal coat-of-arms contains three references to Bavaria, of which two to Freising: a Moor's head, the traditional symbol of the diocese of Freising, and a bear with a pack saddle, a reference to the bear of St. Corbinian, the eighth-century bishop of Freising who tamed the beast after it attacked him. The pack saddle is meant to represent the burden of the episcopate.

From the heliport of Freising, the Holy Father travelled by car to the city cathedral, built in 1205 and dedicated to Sts. Mary and Corbinian, where he met with priests and permanent deacons. It was here, on June 29, 1951, that Joseph Ratzinger was ordained a priest. He later taught theology in the diocesan seminary. The meeting with clergy was attended by 30 priests ordained the same day as the pontiff.

The Pope, putting aside the text of his prepared address, limited himself to commenting that text in off-the-cuff remarks.

"This is my last meeting before taking leave of my beloved Bavaria, and I am pleased that it is taking place with you, the priests and permanent deacons, the living and chosen stones of the Church," reads the text of the Pope's prepared address. "When I look around this magnificent cathedral of Freising, so many memories come back to me of the years when my journey to the priesthood and the exercise of my ministry were linked to this place."

The central theme of the Pope's remarks was the Gospel of St. Matthew, where "Jesus sees in the people gathered around Him the 'harvest' of God the Father, ready for reaping."

"Christ sees the world as 'God's field,' in which a rich harvest is growing and there is need of reapers. ... The fundamental approach of Jesus ... is one of optimism, based on confidence in the power of the Father, the 'Lord of the harvest.' Jesus' confidence becomes for us a source of hope."

"A priest's life and the real nature of his vocation and ministry are contained in the worldview revealed to us by Jesus. This same worldview moved the Lord to go from village to village, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom and healing the sick."

Underlying the generosity of Christ, Pope Benedict's prepared address continues, "is a confidence in the power of the Father. ... By his progressive assimilation to the sentiments of the Teacher, the priest will come to share in His confident approach. By entering more and more deeply into Jesus' own way of seeing things, he learns to see all around him as the 'harvest of God'."

"Nevertheless, we must always keep in mind the words of our biblical text: it is the 'Lord of the harvest' who 'sends' laborers into His harvest. Jesus did not give His disciples the task of calling other volunteers or organizing promotional campaigns aimed at gathering new members; He told them to pray to God."

This does not mean, the Holy Father's text specifies, that "our vocational work [must] limit itself to prayer. ... 'Pray to the Lord of the harvest' means something more profound: only by remaining in intimate communion with the Lord of the harvest, by living immersed as it were in His heart full of love and compassion for humanity, can we bring other laborers to share in the work of the Kingdom of God.

"Ours is not a mindset of numbers and efficiency," he adds, "but one of gratuity and self-giving. ... The laborers in God's harvest are those who follow in the footsteps of Christ. This requires self-detachment and being fully 'attuned' to His will."

To this end, we must "undertake an Easter journey of death and resurrection. On this journey Christ has not only gone before us, but He accompanies us," as he did with Peter who "began to sink while attempting to walk to Jesus on the waters. As long as Peter returned Jesus' gaze, he was able to walk on the troubled waters of the Sea of Galilee, remaining so to speak within the gravitational field of His grace."

"Through this Easter journey, the disciple becomes a true witness of the Lord," writes the Pope, pointing out how St. Augustine "tried to explain the essence of the ordained minister's task by means of two definitions ... 'servus Christi' and 'vox Christi'."

"The term 'servant' implies a concept of relation: to be a servant is to be in relation to a master. To describe the priest as 'servus Christi' is to emphasize that his life has an essential 'relational connotation:' with every fiber of his being he is in relation to Christ. ... By virtue of the sacramental character received at ordination, he belongs to Christ and shares His unreserved dedication to the 'body' of the Church."

As "vox Christi," a priest "stands in relation to the 'Word' who is Christ. The greatness and the humility of the ordained ministry are here revealed. Like St. John the Baptist, the priest and the deacon are merely the precursors, the servants of the Word. It is not they who are at the center, but Christ, Whose 'voice' they must be with their whole existence.

"It is from this reflection that the answer emerges to a question that no responsible pastor of souls can fail to ask himself, especially in the current situation of an increasing shortage of priests: how to preserve interior unity amid the often frenetic activity of ministry? The way towards a solution to this problem lies in intimate communion with Christ. ... From this emerges a new vision of priestly asceticism. ... This asceticism of service, service itself as the true asceticism of my life, is undoubtedly a most important motive that nevertheless requires a constant interior reinterpretation of action based upon being.

"Even if the priest seeks to live out his service as asceticism and his sacramental activity as personal encounter with Christ," the text of the Pope's address concludes, "he will still need moments to catch his breath. ... Generous self-giving for others is impossible without discipline and constant recovery of true faith-filled interior life. ...The time spent in direct encounter with God in prayer can rightly be described as the pastoral priority par excellence: it is the soul's breath."


Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Truth About Brother Roger

This doesn't exactly make sense, but here is the story.

In an article concerning Brother Roger, the French daily Le Monde of Sept. 6, 2006, gave credence to and reproduced the claims of a small newsletter issued by Catholic traditionalist circles that misrepresents his true intentions and defames his memory. A document of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in Rome is used to support the thesis of a "conversion" undertaken by Brother Roger, although the text says nothing of the kind. As for the bishop emeritus of Autun, Raymond Seguy, he has already qualified his words. Rejecting the term "conversion," he declared to France Presse: "I did not say that Brother Roger abjured Protestantism, but he showed that he subscribed fully to the Catholic faith." From a Protestant background, Brother Roger undertook a step that was without precedent since the Reformation: entering progressively into a full communion with the faith of the Catholic Church without a "conversion" that would imply a break with his origins. In 1972, the bishop of Autun at the time, Armand Le Bourgeois, simply gave him Communion for the first time, without requiring any other profession of faith from him besides the creed recited during the Eucharist, which is held in common by all Christians. Several witnesses were present and can attest to this. Whoever speaks of "conversion" in this respect has not grasped the originality of Brother Roger's search. There was never anything hidden about this undertaking of Brother Roger's. In 1980, during a European meeting in Rome, he spoke these words publicly in St. Peter's Basilica, in the presence of Pope John Paul II: "I have found my own identity as a Christian by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the mystery of the Catholic faith, without breaking fellowship with anyone." Brother Roger's step was not understood by all but it was welcomed by many: by Pope John Paul II, by Catholic bishops and theologians who celebrated the Eucharist in Taizé, as well as by Protestant and Orthodox Church leaders with whom Brother Roger patiently built up trust in the course of many years. Those who at all costs want the Christian denominations each to find their own identity in opposition to the others can naturally not grasp Brother Roger's aims. He was a man of communion, and that is perhaps the most difficult thing for some people to understand.

What does that mean? Either one is Catholic or not.

Simply Beautiful!

PENTLING, Germany (CNS) -- Barriers holding back crowds of well-wishers in front of Pope Benedict XVI's Pentling home opened upon orders given from inside the pope's house.

Suddenly, everyone was allowed on the street just outside the pope's house, and only minutes later Pope Benedict emerged, thanking the crowd for coming and waiting for him Sept. 13.

"May God bless you all," he said, adding the Bavarian phrase "Vergelt's Gott," which means "May God repay you for your kindness."

"I want to thank you for your good neighborhood spirit; in our thoughts we will always remain connected," he said.

Then he walked out among the crowd, separated from the people only by a thin plastic band.

A police officer told Catholic News Service, "In Pentling, nobody is going to harm him."We do what he asks us to do, and this is what was being asked for, that his people could get really close to him," said the police officer.

Pope Benedict also met privately with his immediate neighbors.

Farsad Samitt, a pharmacist, and his wife, Anita Penzenstadler, have been living next door to Pope Benedict's house for 16 years. Penzenstadler said Pope Benedict took a lot of time to speak with them and asked about their baby."

Our daughter, Sara, is now 11 months old, and he wanted to meet her. He was ever so happy when I showed her to him, congratulated us on our wonderful child and blessed her," she told CNS.

"Then he took my hands into his and just looked at me intently," she said. "It was as though he did not look at me, he looked right through me and into my heart. ... He has really blessed me, and the faith that went forth from his kind eyes was enormous."

Another neighbor, Therese Hofbauer, said when the pope walked into his garden he profusely thanked her and her husband, Rupert, for how well they kept it.

The Hofbauers gave the pope honey from bees that live in his garden.

"The fountain was decorated with sunflowers, and at the side stood the jars with honey from his own bees and from his own garden," said Therese Hofbauer. "He saw that little surprise gift we had prepared for him and was so happy about it. When he left, he took it with him.

"She said when she spoke with Pope Benedict she asked him to pray for a friend who was there on a stretcher; when she told the pope how sick her friend was, "he immediately went up to her, and he blessed her."

Carmelite Sister Emmanuel Hofbauer of St. Joseph Carmelite Monastery in Shoreline, Wash., a German-born nun who had traveled to Pentling especially to meet Pope Benedict and who had been staying with the Hofbauers at their home, said she was overjoyed at seeing the pope. Sister Emmanuel is not related to the pope's neighbors.

Sister Emmanuel, who for two decades has corresponded with the pope and his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, said, "When he saw me, he came up and said, 'Ah, the sister is here to visit, welcome.'"Sister Emmanuel told CNS that she spoke to Msgr. Ratzinger after Pope Benedict left.

"They (the pope and his brother) spent hours together in the house, just the two of them," she said. "He (Msgr. Ratzinger) was so happy that it had worked out for them to walk around their house and in the garden together as they had always done in the past. He was just so full of joy, and my heart really went out to him."

When I saw them walking around the garden, I could see the joy on both their faces; they were really, really happy," she said.

"If this had been a movie, this would have been the part where I would have broken out in tears, at the sight of these two old brothers being reunited and walking around the house. It was an immensely moving moment that I cannot put into words," added Sister Emmanuel.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

They Met Where?

With all of the speeches and homily Pope Benedict has given over the past few days, what has the media grasped onto?

The Pope's parents met through an advertisement was one of the headlines on the local newscast yesterday afternoon. Not a word about anything the Pope said and only a brief mention, almost an afterthought, was given to his trip to Bavaria.

It seems people are either fascinated that a Pope can be the fruit of a seemingly ordinary union or they are attempting to make his seem somehow less holy because of it. Anyway, I am very dissapointed that some in the media think this is the most important news of the Papal trip. Of course, it is probably the least threatening to our modern culture because it doesn't cause any examination of morality or culture...or does it?

London, Sep. 11, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI and his brother, Fr. Georg Ratzinger, 82, were surprised to learn this week that their parents, Joseph and Maria, met through a singles ad their father had placed in local Catholic weekly, Liebfraubote.

The disclosure came at the outset of the Pope’s return to his native Bavaria, where he intends to visit his parents’ grave and the village of Marktl am Inn, where he was born, reported the London Times.

The July 1920 ad was found in the Bavarian state archives by a researcher for the tabloid Bild. According to the report, the ad read: “Middle-ranking civil servant, single, Catholic, 43, immaculate past, from the country, is looking for a good Catholic, pure girl who can cook well, tackle all household chores, with a talent for sewing and homemaking with a view to marriage as soon as possible. Fortune desirable but not a precondition.”

Maria Peintner, 36, an illegitimate baker’s daughter and a trained cook, replied. She did not have a fortune, but they married four months later.

The Pope said he remembers his father as “strict but fair” and his mother as warm and open-hearted,” reported the Times.

While the article gets several things wrong, the Pope and his brother were both aware of the circumstances of his parents meeting. In fact, I read about it several months ago in a book. Unfortunately I don't remember the title.

The ad doesn't sound like the personal ads we see today. Mr. Ratzinger seems to be focusing on the proper aspects of a person. He does not describe himself in terms of physical attributes, rather he describes himself in words that speak to his morality and and work ethic. He likewise uses similar language to describe the attributes he would like in a wife.

Even in this story there is a serious message. Unfortunately, most people are missing it.

The Organ as a Reminder of the Magnificence of God

The majesty of the organ is well known to organists, such as myself, but it is nice to see it proclaimed in such an eloquent way by the Holy Father. Just the fact that he thought it important enough to bless an organ shows the important place in which he holds liturgical music. Particularly good liturgical music.

As the Holy Father said, "Music and song are more than an embellishment of worship, they are themselves part of the liturgical action."

I think more liturgical musicians and liturgists need to be reminded of that. Cantors and organists are not on stage putting on a show.

Here is the article from the Catholic News Agency.

Regensburg, Sep. 13, 2006 (CNA) - Speaking of the tremendous value of the organ as a liturgical instrument, the Pope reminded a group of his native Bavarians today that music and song are “themselves part of the liturgical action,” which makes us more capable, “of transforming the world.”

On what has been called his “private” day, Pope Benedict XVI remained in the town of Regensburg to take part in a brief ceremony to bless the refurbished organ of the historic Alte Kapelle. Earlier in the day, the 79 year old Pope had celebrated a private Mass at the city’s Seminary of St. Wolfgang.

Alte Kapelle, which literally means “Old Chapel,” is also known as The Collegiate Basilica Church of Our Lady and is home to a massive organ now known as the Pope Benedict Organ. The church, built around the year 1000, occupies the entire southern end of the city's old wheat market square and was originally the chapel of the ducal palace.

Arriving at the Minor Basilica, Pope Benedict was greeted by the throngs of admirers and applause which have followed him throughout his five days in Germany. Seated in the magnificent sanctuary of Alte Kapelle, the Holy Father was officially welcomed with words of appreciation and praise. The Pope was told that this organ was deemed a gift from heaven and that from this day forth it shall bear his name.

Benedict, a piano player himself, has been vocal about his deep appreciation for music, particularly sacred liturgical music. After a brief description of the process of restoration, which took eight years and almost one million dollars to complete, the Holy Father arose and spoke to the importance of music in the liturgies of the Church emphasizing the “king of musical instruments,” the organ."

Music and song are more than an embellishment of worship," said the Pope, "they are themselves part of the liturgical action."

The organ, "transcending the merely human sphere, as all music of quality does, evokes the divine. ... It is capable of echoing and expressing all the experiences of human life. The manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God."

Pope Benedict continued, offering an analogy between the organ and the Church itself explaining, “Just as in an organ an expert hand must constantly bring disharmony back to consonance, so we in the Church, in the variety of our gifts and charisms, always need to find anew, through our communion in faith, harmony in the praise of God and in fraternal love.”

“The more we allow ourselves, through the liturgy, to be transformed in Christ, the more we will be capable of transforming the world, radiating Christ's goodness, His mercy and His love for others.”

Concluding his speech, the Holy Father proclaimed with a hopeful sentiment, “May all those who enter this splendid Basilica, experiencing the magnificence of its architecture and its liturgy, enriched by solemn song and the harmony of this new organ, be brought to the joy of faith.”

Following his reflection the Holy Father formally blessed the organ. Moments after the Pope Benedict Organ was sprinkled with holy water, music burst forth from the many precisely crafted pipes above the church’s entrance.

Following the ceremony, Pope Benedict walked to the house of his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, where he had lunch. The Pope will continue his “private” day with his brother and some close friends, visiting the house he lived in as a professor and praying at the tomb of his mother and father.

Read the complete text of the Holy Father's address here.