Pope Benedict met with priests and bishops participating in an international theological convention on Friday and spoke with them on the importance of understanding what it means to be a priest. This awareness of their identity is all the more important as secularism advances and some try to reduce the priesthood to being almost a ‘social worker.’Speaking of priestly identity in the modern “policentric” context, which often fades our idea of identity, “it is important clearly to bear in mind the theological specificity of ordained ministry, in order not to surrender to the temptation of reducing it to predominant cultural models,” the Pope began.
In the presence of “widespread secularization which progressively tends to exclude God from the public sphere and from the shared social conscience, the priest often appears ‘removed’ from common sense,” Pope Benedict said, adding that it’s often a result of “the most fundamental aspects of his ministry.”
For this reason, he explained, “it is important to avoid a dangerous reductionism which, over recent decades… has presented the priest almost as a ‘social worker,’ with the risk of betraying the very Priesthood of Christ.” read more
Spain Prepares for Papal Visit in November
The mayor of Santiago de Compostela in Spain is affirming that his city is enthusiastically preparing for the upcoming visit of Benedict XVI.
The Pope recently announced that he will be visiting that city in November. Mayor Xosé Sanchez Bugallo spoke with ZENIT while in Rome for a promotional trip to motivate pilgrims to visit the shrine of St. James during the Jacobeo Holy Year.
The mayor affirmed that his city received the news of the papal visit as “a great stimulus and support for this year.” read more
Letters of Imprisoned Priest An Example for Clergy
Benedict XVI was presented with a volume that compiles, for the first time in Italian, the correspondence of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, a Croatian cardinal martyred in 1960.
The Pope received this Italian-language volume, “Lettere dal martirio quotidiano” (Letters of Daily Martyrdom), Wednesday during the general audience.
The Pontiff called the initiative “extraordinary” as he received the book containing 180 letters written during the period of the cardinal’s imprisonment by the Communist authorities in former Yugoslavia. read more
2nd Part to “Jesus of Nazareth” Coming This Spring
The document highlights how Jesus is the sole Redeemer, the prelate affirmed, and defines as “contrary to the Catholic faith” the idea that the revelation of Jesus Christ must be completed with the doctrines of other religions, as some relativistic ideologies indicate.
The cardinal noted that the critical question behind this declaration is the one Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do the people say that I am?” (Luke 9:18).
He asserted that Jesus Christ is not “what men say, which gives way to so many interpretations and different opinions.” read more
Benedict to Not Vacation in the Alp this Year
(Courtesy of Zenit)
Benedict XVI is planning on spending the entire summer at Castel Gandolfo this year, rather than taking a few days to vacation in the Alps.
“Next summer, the Holy Father will travel directly from Rome to Castel Gandolfo to spend there the entire summer period,” a statement from the Vatican press office announced Thursday.
The communiqué adds that the Pope is appreciative of the invitations that have come this year to spend time in various mountain regions, “and has sincerely thanked the bishops that have made [these invitations].”
“But this year,” the statement reports, “he prefers to quickly begin the summer season of rest and study without taking on more travels.”
Schedule for Papal Visit to Turin Announced
The Archdiocese of Turin has published the program for its most high-profile visitor to the Holy Shroud exposition: the Pope will spend May 2 in the Italian city.
The shroud — believed to be the cloth in which Christ was buried — will be on display April 10 to May 23 at the Turin Cathedral. The last time it was displayed was 10 years ago.
Cardinal Severino Poletto, Turin’s archbishop, affirmed Tuesday his certainty that “Benedict XVI’s pastoral visit to our city and diocese will mark a new glorious page in the already rich history of faith of our Church in Turin.”
The cardinal exhorted his faithful to show their “affection and sincere communion with his Person and his magisterium.” read more
Since I am a great enthusiast for all things Cold War, I find this article from Catholic Exchange quite interesting in its balanced perspective on Gorbachev’s role in the break down of the USSR.
This brings me to Gorbachev. Liberals in the West woefully exaggerated Gorbachev’s positions and role in ending the Cold War. Their misunderstandings and misrepresentations were based on a fatal combination of wishful thinking, partisan politics, and blind adherence to ideology—an irrepressible desire to credit Gorbachev at the expense of Ronald Reagan.
The reality is that both men—Gorbachev and Reagan—were critical to ending the Cold War, along with Pope John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher, Lech Walesa, and Vaclav Havel, to name a few.
The most important thing that liberals got wrong—even as Gorbachev himself reiterated it a thousand times—was their failure to understand that Gorbachev’s first priority, from the outset, had been to save and sustain the USSR, not to mention the entirety of the Soviet Bloc in Eastern Europe, to the point where he even initially opposed taking down the Berlin Wall. This fact is undeniable, as Gorbachev emphasized in his best-selling 1987 book Perestroika. To this day, he calls the breakup of the USSR his greatest regret. (See, for instance, “Soviet Union ‘should have been preserved,’” interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, USA Today, April 6, 2006.)
At the same time, however, Gorbachev also sought to create a peaceful USSR. He vigorously opposed totalitarianism. To get there—and here’s where conservatives need adjustments in their understanding—Gorbachev took several monumental steps that, unwittingly, led to the implosion of the USSR and the Soviet Bloc. These ranged from freedom of press, speech, assembly, and religion, to the introduction of political pluralism (democracy) by formally ending the Soviet Community Party’s constitutional monopoly on power. These were wonderful feats. read more
After media outlets misinterpreted an article by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn to say that he is questioning the Church’s rule of priestly celibacy, several high ranking churchmen have spoken out in praise of celibacy as a gift. They also dismissed the idea that celibacy is connected to pedophilia.Greeting participants and introducing the sessions for the international theological conference taking place at the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome on Thursday, Cardinal Claudio Hummes called the celibacy of priests “a gift of the Holy Spirit.” Other cardinals have also weighed in on the role of celibacy in recent days.
“Priestly celibacy is a gift of the Holy Spirit that asks to be understood and lived with fullness of meaning and joy, in total rapport with the Lord,” said Cardinal Hummes, the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, according to ASCA news of Italy.
“This unique and privileged relationship with God makes the priest the true witness of a singular spiritual paternity …” continued Cardinal Hummes. read more
A statement has been released clarifying an earlier report that a French Nun, who attributes her cure from Parkinson’s disease to the intercession of John Paul II, has relapsed.
Some media reports claimed that the nun, Sister Marie Simon Pierre, who was cured from Parkinson’s disease, is ill again. In this way they assert that the “cure” is false.
The communiqué stated, however, that these reports are wrong, and that the alleged miracle is still being studied by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.
Father Lalanne affirmed, “On behalf of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood and of the archbishopric of Aix-en-Provence, I categorically deny this rumor.”
“Sister Marie Simon Pierre continues to be at this time in a perfect state of health,” he stated.
People who work with the 48-year-old nun in a maternity ward in Paris affirmed that she is well. read more
An inspiring excerpt by Madeleine Delbrel courtesy of The Anchoress over at First Things. Beautiful!:
What we are trying to do is realize that, while we are on earth, faith places us in the heat of battle, a permanent struggle, a constant choice between Jesus Christ and that which in the world remains hostile to God; to do so is to accomplish within ourselves the Church’s own vocation.
On the earth, the Church is made for fighting; by vocation, she wages war against evil; by mission, she stands on the front lines of evil; by office, she delivers from evil.
The Church’s combat will never cease to be bloody: the frontiers she defends will never cease being attacked and the liberation she fights for is always violent. A realistic love for the Church necessarily entails taking your blows and living with bruises. Now, what gives the Church’s combat meaning, what outlines the meaning of her history is hope.
To march ahead, to multiply, to liberate, the Church must fight, with her eyes and her heart set on God’s promises. Locally -or we could say physically- the frontier of the Church passes directly through each one of us. This is the line that divides good and evil; it si the line that separates the “with God” from the “without God,” the “for God” from the “against God.”
The place that Christian hope assigns to us is that narrow ridge, that borderline, at which our vocation requires that we choose, every day and every hour, to be faithful to God’s faithfulness to us. While we are on earth, this choice cannot help but tear us in two. But hope never allows us therefore to fall to self-pitying. It is the suffering of the woman who is bringing a child into the world. Each time we are thus torn apart, we become as it were breaches in the world’s resistance. We open up space for God’s life to pass through. Nothing can carry us more deeply into the inner reality of the Church.