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Secular Take on Pius XII

11. March 2010
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An excellently researched article from a secular view on the truth about Pope Pius XII and the question of whether he did enough to fight against the Nazis in WWII.

Then there is an irony here: If you’re the church, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Moderns lament those medieval days when popes and prelates melded with princes and politics, but then turn about and say that the church didn’t do “enough” to stop the owners of arguably the most powerful military on Earth. But while nothing is ever enough to one bent on criticism, the days of a pope summoning Crusader armies to vanquish the barbarians du jour are long gone.

This brings us back to quiet heroism and Oskar Schindler. Krupp has pointed out that in Judaism “the highest form of charity is anonymous charity,” and he says that this is what Pius is “guilty” of. Yet anonymous help is sometimes driven by necessity as much as nobility. Sure, we often like our heroes spitting in the eye of 1,000 devils while dodging 1,000 bullets, but bravery that kills innocents is no virtue. Many have observed that whenever the church spoke out, reprisals against Christians and Jews alike intensified. And this could only be observed because the church did speak out. This — and the fact that a dead savior saves no one — is the reason why, like Schindler, Pius had to work his miracles in secret. Unlike Schindler, though, who is admired for using a pretense of friendship with Nazis to save 1,200 lives, Pius is condemned for using an occasional pretense of neutrality to save the better part of one million. read more

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Shroud on Tour

11. March 2010
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The celebrated Shroud of Turin will once more be on display this year, fifteen years earlier than had been expected.

Prior to June 2, 2008, the next scheduled exhibition of the Shroud of Turin was to occur in the year 2025. However, after receiving the Archbishop of Turin´s request, Pope Benedict XVI agreed that the exhibition date should be moved ahead. As a result, the Shroud of Turin will be displayed from April 10 through May 23, 2010, in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist—its first public exposition in 10 years.

The Shroud is permanently stored in a climate controlled, lighted case, which was built by the Italian aerospace company Alenia Spazio. The upper surface is made of bullet-proof glass, and weighs about 1,000 kg. The cloth is surrounded inside the case by a mixture of 99.5% argon and 0.5% oxygen in order to preserve the Shroud and protect it from aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. When the Shroud is not on display, the case is stored in an alcove of the Cathedral where the faithful may pray and venerate this most well known relic. read more

New Interactive Bible for Children

11. March 2010
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A popular interactive German-language Bible developed in Austria is about to become available in English.  I tend to prefer the “old school” way of introducing things to children through books, but this CD-Rom program does seem promising in an ever increasingly technological world.

The three CD-ROMs each contain a 20-minute cartoon movie by Graz-based painter Tom Klengel, with a toolbar that can be accessed at any time. The toolbar features background info, maps and a big illustrated children’s Bible encyclopaedia with 200 items.

The corresponding Bible passages are included in their original version, a version for kids from eight to 11 and one for small children that is read by a narrator.

The interactive Bible also includes small educational games. In “Loading the Donkey” the child has to choose only objects that already existed in biblical times to put on the donkey. There is also a memory game, as well as a quiz, a puzzle and painting templates.

Angerer said: “The project has been approved by Catholic, Protestant and Greek orthodox dignitaries. To me it is important that Christians connect with each other; that’s why I am especially proud that the project is supported by all three denominations.” read more

Shipwrecked!

11. March 2010
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At least a dozen ships were discovered on the floor of the Baltic Sea during the laying of a gas pipe line between Europe and Russia.  With many of the hulls still intact who knows what ancient treasures may be uncovered?

Some of the wrecks are thought to be more than 1,000 years old, according to the Swedish National Heritage Board. “We have manage to identify 12 shipwrecks, and nine of them are considered to be fairly old,” Peter Norman, a senior advisor with the heritage board says. “This discovery offers enormous culture-historical value.” read more

Black Madonna of Poland

11. March 2010
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I first heard of this icon of great devotion in the Michael Palin travel series (which I highly recommend) and I hope one day to take a trip to Poland and see it in person.

The shrine of Czestochowa is found in the heart of Poland. A highlight of Marian devotion, it attracts four to five million pilgrims each year from 80 countries worldwide.

The icon of the Black Madonna and Child goes back to medieval tradition. According to historians, the painting follows the model of Byzantine iconography: it is an “Odigitria” icon, that is to say, the image of “one that points out and guides all along the path”.

A legend attributes the creation of this painting to St. Luke, who was a contemporary of Mary, and so could reproduce her true image. In 1382 the icon was brought to the hill of Jasna Gora, which means “Bright Mountain” in Polish and overlooks Czestochowa. At Prince Władysław of Opole’s initiative, a hilltop monastery was built for the Pauline monks. read more

10. March 2010

11. March 2010
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Churches Prepare for 2012 Olympics

“at least three thousand churches across the United Kingdom will mobilize with the work of More Than Gold to help best serve the nations of the world as they arrive on our shores.”

The More Than Gold brand has been used by Christian churches in various countries who have come together to serve athletes and visitors at major international events such as the Commonwealth, Pan Am, and Winter and Summer Olympic Games.

It was first used by the groups who united to plan projects for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. It aims to mobilize Christians for service projects and to motivate them to witness to Gospel virtues, which are many times also underlined as sporting values. read more

Celebration of St. Benedict Days Begins

Today Benedict XVI blessed a torch in honor of his namesake, which will be brought to Cassino for the weeklong celebration of Europe’s patron.

The torch of St. Benedict of Nursia was lit Feb. 27 in the cathedral of Cologne, Germany, and is traveling toward Cassino, Italy, for the celebrations in honor of the saint. It is due to arrive Saturday, and the festivities will begin the next day. read more

Focus on Persons Will Solve Economic Problems

“The focus of concern in the reform of the financial system, and the economic models that are operative in government programs and corporate policies, should shift from goods and services to the persons who are recipients of these services,” he added; “in this way, they have access to the resources to improve their position in life and thus place their talents at the service of their local community and the universal common good.” read more

Carmelite Nuns Fight Against Cheaper Secular Business

For many of France’s 36 religious communities who make 140 million host wafers every year, and the additional 30 groups who live off the dwindling sales, the income is vital for their survival, the report said. read more

1 Million Protest New Pro-Abortion Laws in Spain

Nearly one million Spaniards marched in cities across the country on March 7 defending the right to life of the unborn and demanding that the government revoke Spain’s new law on abortion recently passed by the Senate and signed by King Juan Carlos.Over 300 pro-life organizations collaborated in the “International March for Life 2010,” which was held last Sunday in numerous cities across Spain. read more

Pope Pius XII Was An Enemy of Nazi Regime According to Jewish Author

6. March 2010
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As a trained academic historian of 20th-century Germany and a Catholic I am always glad to find primary source documents from the period of WWII stating the strength of Pope Pius XII against the Nazi regime.

Joseph Roth was a famous novelist and Austrian Jewish journalist who produced most of his works in exile due to the Nazi invasion of his country. Days after the inauguration of Pius XII as Pontiff, Roth praised his election and remarked that the new Pope was an “enemy of the pre-apocalyptic beasts” of Nazism that were governing Germany.On Wednesday, L’Osservatore Romano (LOR) published text by Roth written in March 1939 for the “Österreichische Post,” the Austro-Hungarian monarchy’s newspaper that was printed in Paris.

The article recounted Roth’s experience of being in St. Peter’s Square on March 12 for the papal inauguration. “The new Pope has been crowned and thus in the middle of the year, a new year, a new decade begins. Judging by his physical characteristics and posture … this Pope seems to represent, with a zeal that has self-renunciation as its bastion, and a capacity to renounce what is a given, one of the oldest ideals of the Church, the diplomatic spirit, which can never be abdicated,” Roth wrote.

In the same article, the Jewish writer, who in his younger years signed his work as “Joseph the Red,” for his closeness with Communism said, “The (Nazi) pre-apocalyptic beasts who now dominate politics are already alluding to their true motives for persecuting the Church. He (Pius XII) is the only one who really hurts them. What’s more, those who were not afraid of the Pope before are now afraid of this one.” read more