BISHOP FOLEY, KEEN INTELLECT, PASTORAL SENSITIVITY, POWERFUL PREACHING – VATICAN REPORTEDLY REJECTS GERMAN BISHOPS’ PROPOSAL FOR INTERCOMMUNION OF SPOUSES – “BENEDICT XVI: IN HONOR OF TRUTH” :WHY HE REALLY RESIGNED

The unrelenting pace I have kept since March 29 when I flew to New York finally caught up with me, as it always does. I had a dinner party Monday night for Michael Warsaw of EWTN, the latest on a merry-go-round of events, invitations, hosting friends, attending meetings, researching, writing, editing and trying to memorize and then filming new episodes of Joan’s Rome videos, etc. etc.

Michael is in town for the annual three-day communications conference hosted by the Pontifical University of Holy Cross as EWTN this year is the principal sponsor of the event. I was there this morning for Michael’s talk entitled “Religious Information in a ‘fake news’ Society.”

I felt a cold coming on Monday, found the strength to continue activities and appointments but it hit me with a bang yesterday, the morning I was to do the commentary for the Pope’s weekly general audience. I asked the Holy Sprit to be with me for at least an hour and to make sure I could stop sneezing and coughing so that I could actually speak and do the commentary. I spoke to the right person and for an hour was fine (although there were microphone issues in Alabama for a short period of time). In any event, I came home, everything hit me and I spent the rest of the day in bed, except for my usual Wednesday appearance on Catholic Connection, Teresa Tomeo’s radio show.

I wanted to be in fine fettle for Michael’s talk today and a parish council meeting this evening, then dinner with priest friends from Chicago.

I was sorry to hear of Bishop Foley’s death but knew he had been suffering. Even more than that, he was totally ready to meet the Lord. Below is Michael Warsaw’s message.

On the other hand, I was delighted to hear what seems to be good news from the CDF – Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

And I was truly delighted to hear of the documentary about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI that explains “the truth about his resignation.” It is the same truth, the same story I have been telling people since the day Benedict resigned on February 11, 2013. I have written about it and have talked about the “real reason” on TV and radio. In fact, my first TV appearance on February 11, 2013 was with Shep Smith on FoxNews: “So, Joan, tell us why Pope Benedict really resigned.” My answer – and a bit more – could have been summed up in the piece you’ll read below.

BISHOP FOLEY, KEEN INTELLECT, PASTORAL SENSITIVITY, POWERFUL PREACHING

Michael Warsaw, CEO of EWTN network, issued the following statement on the death Tuesday night of Bishop emeritus Foley of Birmingham, AL:

“All of us at EWTN are saddened by the death of The Most Reverend David Foley who served the Diocese of Birmingham as Bishop for over a decade. I had the privilege of first knowing Bishop Foley thirty years ago when he was a pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington. Throughout his life and wherever his service to the Church took him, he was always known for his keen intellect, pastoral sensitivity and powerful preaching.

During his time as Bishop of Birmingham, he served as a member of the EWTN Board of Governors. He also took great joy in hosting “Pillars of Faith”, a weekly live call-in television program that examined the Catechism of the Catholic Church from cover to cover.

Despite their occasional disagreements, when Mother Angelica suffered her stroke and brain hemorrhage in 2001, Bishop Foley was one of the first to be at her bedside and he remained a frequent visitor to pray for her. He never waivered in his respect for all that Mother had accomplished and was always supportive of the Network she founded.

May God reward him for his life of service to the church, and may he rest in peace.”

VATICAN REPORTEDLY REJECTS GERMAN BISHOPS’ PROPOSAL FOR INTERCOMMUNION OF SPOUSES

(CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has reportedly rejected a planned proposal by the German bishops’ conference to publish guidelines permitting non-Catholic spouses of Catholics to receive the Eucharist in some limited circumstances.

Austrian news site kath.net has reported that Vatican sources say the CDF, with papal approval, has suspended the German bishops’ proposal, and sources close to the congregation have confirmed this to CNA.

It is not clear whether the Vatican has asked the bishops’ conference to modify the contents of the draft guidelines, whether they have suspended the development of a draft while the matter is considered further, or whether it has been entirely rejected.

In February, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising announced that the German bishops’ conference would publish a pastoral handout for married couples that allows Protestant spouses of Catholics “in individual cases” and “under certain conditions” to receive Holy Communion, provided they “affirm the Catholic faith in the Eucharist”.

The announcement was made “after intensive debate” at the conclusion of the general assembly of the German bishops’ conference, which was held Feb. 19 – 22 in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt, and attended by 62 members of the bishops’ conference under the leadership of conference chairman Cardinal Marx.

Last month, seven German bishops sent a letter to the CDF and to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity asking for clarification on the matter. The signatories did not consult beforehand with Cardinal Marx.

The seven bishops asked whether the question of Holy Communion for Protestant spouses in interdenominational marriages can be decided on the level of a national bishops’ conference, or if rather, “a decision of the Universal Church” is required in the matter.

The letter was signed by Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne, Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Bishop Gregor Hanke of Eichstätt, Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, and Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz.

“From the view of the signatories, the goal in a question of such centrality to the Faith and the unity of the Church must be to avoid separate national paths and arrive at a globally unified, workable solution by way of an ecumenical dialogue,” the Archdiocese of Cologne told CNA Deutsch April 4.

The Code of Canon Law already provides that in the danger of death or if “some other grave necessity urges it,” Catholic ministers licitly administer penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to Protestants “who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.”

“BENEDICT XVI: IN HONOR OF TRUTH” – WHY HE REALLY RESIGNED

His closest collaborators deny that the cause was the leaking of documents to the press or the issue of sexual abuse (From a story on Aleteia by Sylvia Costantini)

It was February 11, 2013, when Benedict XVI communicated to the world his decision to resign from the exercise of the papal ministry. This historic event has left many open questions.

Five years later, on the occasion of the Pope Emeritus’ 91st birthday, a documentary has been presented in the Vatican, called “Benedict XVI: in Honor of Truth,” precisely in order to clarify the reasons for that decision.

Some of the people closest to Joseph Ratzinger relive that moment—including his brother, Georg; Fr. Federico Lombardi, former spokesman of the Holy See; and the Prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who was his personal secretary for years.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna and one of the theological disciples of Professor Joseph Ratzinger, is visibly moved when he shares some of his memories.

Cardinal Schönborn, remembering the Pope’s deceased sister, Maria, who was particularly beloved by the Pope Emeritus, reveals: “The day after the conclave [in which he was elected Pope], when he entered the Casa Santa Marta for breakfast, in the morning, dressed in white… —our beloved professor, our friend, yes, dressed in white…—he greeted each one of us personally, and I said to him, ‘Holy Father, yesterday, during your election, I thought about your sister, Maria, and I asked myself if she had said to the Lord, “take my life, but leave my brother here.”‘ And he answered me, ‘I think so.’”

One decisive moment of the documentary helps us to understand Ratzinger’s decision to retire. It is explained by Stephan Horn, who had been his assistant at the University of Regensburg, and is his disciple and friend: “The doctor had told him he wouldn’t be able to travel to Brazil to participate in the World Youth Day. So, he decided to resign before the event.”

Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, describes the impressive responsibility proper to a Pope, and the daily marathon of commitments, both public and private, that characterize it (liturgical ceremonies, journeys, long meetings, audiences…). Pope Ratzinger would not have been able to face such exertion, with his inexorable natural loss of strength due to age. According to the Jesuit priest, it is clear that this was the true motive for Benedict’s resignation.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein categorically denies that the motive for Pope Benedict’s resignation was the leak to the press by his butler (the famous “Vatileaks”), a betrayal which caused his heart profound suffering, or the burden of having to face the crisis caused by sexual abuse by Church representatives.

The documentary, which is 48 minutes long, was produced by the Rome Reports television agency, in collaboration with the Italian episcopate’s television channel, TV2000, and the Joseph Ratzinger Foundation of the Vatican, thanks to the patronage of the Doctor Ramón Tallaj Foundation.
During the presentation of the documentary at the Vatican Film Library in the presence of Archbishop Gänswein, Dr. Ramón Tallaj—president of SOMOS, a network of doctors in the New York area particularly committed to humanitarian causes—emphasized the continuity between the pontificate of Pope Benedict and that of Pope Francis, at the service of the Church and of humanity.

Gänswein confirmed that Pope Benedict retains all his intellectual lucidity, and acknowledged the gradual loss of his physical strength. He underlined the peacefulness of the Pope Emeritus’ life in retirement, spent with the small community of the monastery where he lives in the Vatican.

The documentary “Benedict XVI: In Honor of Truth” was produced in English, Spanish, and Italian, and will now be distributed around the world.

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FRANCIS VISITS POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI – PASCHAL TRIDUUM IS CENTER OF OUR FAITH AND VOCATION – FROM THE PASSION TO PENTECOST AND BEYOND, CHRIST’S MISSIONARIES OF HIS WORD

I learned something new and interesting a few years ago when a priest friend, having read my column about Holy Week in Rome, asked me if I knew what the other name was for Wednesday of Holy Week. I did not know and looked it up and learned the answer was Spy Wednesday.

As I looked it up in the EWTN Q&A area, I found this from Father John Echert: “Spy Wednesday is the name given to Wednesday of Holy Week, marking the fact that on this day, Judas agreed with Jewish officials to betray our Lord, for the price of 30 pieces of silver. And while we do not give much attention to this in our own Country, in Poland there is a tradition by which an effigy of Judas is cast down from a height, dragged through the streets while being stoned, and then “drown” in a river or pond.”

This column will be silent for a few days as I celebrate Holy Week liturgies in New York, arriving in the Big Apple early afternoon tomorrow. However, I’ll be back on these pages after Easter. EWTN allows its staff time off during these days so that we can participate in Holy Week liturgies.

I hope you all have a beautiful and Blessed Easter and that you feel renewed in your spiritual life and in your knowledge of God’s love for you!

Just a quick note: No guest this weekend in the interview segment of VATICAN INSIDER. Rather, I bring you a special that is about facts and figures, monuments and moments, things to see and do, places to visit in and around the Vatican. Some fun trivia as well!

FRANCIS VISITS POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI

Tuesday afternoon, Pope Francis met Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at his Mater Ecclesiae Monastery residence in the Vatican and offered him best wishes for Easter.


Earlier Tuesday, he visited the Vatican Secretariat of State where some 300 persons are employed. In particular, he visited and blessed the offices of the new Third Section, which was set up in November for the diplomatic personnel of the Holy See. He then personally greeted all the officials and employees, wishing them Happy Easter and thanking them for their work. The last time Pope Francis met the officials and staff of the Secretariat was in April 2013.

PASCHAL TRIDUUM IS CENTER OF OUR FAITH AND VOCATION

The Holy Father presided at the weekly general audience today in St. Peter’s Square and dedicated his catechesis to the upcoming Easter celebrations. “Tomorrow,” he said, “begins the Church’s celebration of the Paschal Triduum, in which we re-live the great mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection. It is thus the center of our faith and vocation.”

The Triduum – meaning “three days” – begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening and ends on Easter Sunday. The Holy Father said Christians are called to live the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection as “the matrix of their personal and communitarian lives.”

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began Francis. “The Gospel message that Jesus died for our sins and rose to new life is a source of joy and hope for all the world. At the same time, it is a summons to our responsibility and mission as the Lord’s followers to proclaim the victory of the Risen Jesus by our lives.

Francis explained that, “in Baptism, we were given a share in Christ’s passover from death to life. Each of us has been called to live fully this new life in union with him and in imitation of his loving concern for the least of our brothers and sisters. In the poor, the suffering, the lonely and all those in need, we are asked to see the face of Jesus, and to become, in him, a means of redemption and hope, life and resurrection for our world.”

The Holy Father prayed, “May Mary, who knew both the sufferings of the cross and the joy of the resurrection, obtain for us the grace to be united ever more fully to the Risen Lord and to reflect in our lives the reconciling and transforming power of his divine love.

In language greetings after the catechesis in Italian and summaries in seven languages, the Pope said, “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, particularly those from England, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Ghana, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the delegates taking part in the Seminar organized by the Vatican Observatory in preparation for the forthcoming UNISPACE+50 Conference. May this Holy Week lead all of us to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with hearts purified and renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. God bless you!”

Click here and scroll down to see Vatican media images from today’s general audience:
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-03/pope-general-audience-easter-triduum-catechesis.html

FROM THE PASSION TO PENTECOST AND BEYOND, CHRIST’S MISSIONARIES OF HIS WORD

Following is the homily given yesterday afternoon by Cardinal Edwin O’Brien in St. Peter’s basilica at the Mass marking the second anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica.

He offered some reflections on Holy Week, starting with the sadness of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, and, noting that, “In every age and culture Christ’s disciples have preached the word, often at critical times for his Church,” Cardinal O’Brien moved on to reflections about the life and work of Mother Angelica.

Here is that homily:

The Liturgy of this solemn Tuesday of Holy Week focuses upon the tragic betrayal of Judas as the Church moves closer to the Passion and Death of Jesus. The sad event begins the spiral of the disciples into confusion and despondency as the capture and trial of Jesus immediately follow.

There is a light of hope, however, to balance the Gospel’s foreboding and we find it in the first reading.

The Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people has come to an end, and Isaiah is speaking in the name of the newly liberated Jews. Israel and her every member has from of old been called to be a prophetic people, commissioned by Yahweh to spread the Word of God.

While for all these years of captivity, and before, God’s eternal word – God’s sharp edged sword and polished arrow have been concealed, mute and ineffective. Now, Israel is inspired by new strength as she hears the Lord’s promise: Not only, will I grace you with my word to revive my despondent nation. “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

And Pentecost was the answer: From the Cenacle, God’s eternal word speaks in the language of every nation: the throng were all amazed and bewildered because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

In every age and culture Christ’s disciples have preached the word, often at critical times for his Church. Think of Augustine of Canterbury, Cyril and Methodius, Francis and Dominic, Loyola and Xavier, John Paul II, surprising and often unexpected missionaries of the word.

And when we speak of the millions who hear his eternal word, might not Canton Ohio’s Rita Antoinette Rizzo come to mind! A worldly-wise contemplative, a handicapped hobbler, an unsophisticated, but highly intelligent charismatic voice still touching the hearts of millions around the world, Mother Mary Angelica would surely be an unexpected choice to enable God’s word to reach to the ends of the earth.

Some years ago, Time magazine profile called her “an improbable superstar of religious broadcasting and arguably the most influential Roman Catholic woman of America.”

Started with $200 in 1981, the Eternal World Television Network now transmits to more than 261 million homes in 150 countries, energizing 400 dedicated lay workers. Not to mention Mother’s founding along the way of communities of men and women religious, two shrines of the Blessed Sacrament visited annually by tens of thousands of pilgrims at the very heart of Baptist country.

Her accomplishments could go on-and-on. But did I say “her accomplishments”? In saying that, I fear I’d be victim of one of her patented scowls – and rightly so! All this, she insists has not been her work. “This network doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to God.”

Her every living moment was spent in a scrupulous discernment of God’s will in her life – an active life of contemplation guided by the Eucharist and that well-worn Bible always clutched in her arms.

Throughout her life Mother suffered greatly – physically, for sure, but also what she called interior suffering, a sometimes greater cross. Her steel-willed, tenacious determination resulted in amazing achievements but could bring about a confrontation or two which could go too far. She once admitted: Lord, there were people in my path who touched off painful weaknesses in my soul – weaknesses I did not want to see…. Give to those I have offended many graces; make them holy. Bless those who have offended me and forgive them.”

But of all the trials this active contemplative experienced, the most difficult challenge was yet to come. A series of serious strokes left her physically powerless the last 15 years of her life and, more frustrating for this great communicator, speechless. As never before she now realized the life of a true contemplative. Now, words written earlier for others’ inspiration resonated in her very own mind and heart:

“Love speaks loudly in silence and that silence touches our souls. The Voice of Jesus sounds in our hearts like the voice of mighty waters, cleansing the debris collected during the storms of life. Our parched souls, tired of the journey, find refreshment in the living water flowing from the tabernacle… His silent presence hidden in the tabernacle, says to each of us, Come to me all you who labor and I will refresh you.”

Can we doubt that Jesus would have abandoned this faithful servant of his without strong graces of perseverance and insights into the Cross of his suffering and death for the sake of the world! And we can but imagine what graces which those years of silent suffering have won for the spread of the eternal word, even as we speak.

For that we give thanks to the Lord as we continue to commend her soul to God’s mercy.

THE “LETTERGATE” PLOT THICKENS: A NEW PARAGRAPH SURFACES IN BENEDICT XVI’S LETTER

THE “LETTERGATE” PLOT THICKENS: A NEW PARAGRAPH SURFACES IN BENEDICT XVI’S LETTER

The SPC – Secretariat for Communications – this afternoon issued an unsigned communiqué concerning the letter that Pope Benedict wrote on February 7 to Msgr. Dario Vigano in response to Vigano’s January 12 invitation to the Pope emeritus asking if he would critique, “with a brief and dense theological page,” a collection of 11 small volumes about Pope Francis’ theology.

At the March 12 presentation of the collection, Msgr. Vigano, prefect of the SPC, read a few, but not all, of the paragraphs of Benedict XVI’s response. Vaticannews.va released a story about the book presentation, including a photo of Benedict XVI’s letter to Vigano with several lines intentionally blurred.

That photo, and what was deemed to be a missing part of the letter, caused quite a firestorm and the ensuing case has even been called ”Lettergate.”

A day later, vaticanista Sandro Magister published what he said was the entire letter, including a translation of the blurred lines, adding a heretofore unknown paragraph.

Here is today’s communiqué from the SPC:

“On the occasion of the March 12 presentation of the book collection, “The theology of Pope Francis,” edited by the Vatican Publishing House, a letter from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI was made public.

“Many polemics followed about an alleged manipulation for censorship purposes of the photograph distributed together with the collection.

“Because of the reserved nature of the letter, only those parts were read that were considered opportune and relative to the presentation and, in particular, what the Pope emeritus stated concerning the philosophical and theological formation of the current Pontiff and the interior union between the two pontificates, omitting notes about the contributors to the volumes.

“The choice was motivated by the reserved nature of the letter and not by any intent to censor. To dispel any doubt it has been decided to publish the letter in its entirety.”

And today, because they released the entire letter, we have yet another “heretofore unknown paragraph” AND a very different closing sentence by Pope emeritus Benedict!

Here is the missing paragraph:

“In the margin, I would like to note my surprise for the fact that among the authors there is professor Hunermann who, during my pontificate came to light for having led anti-papal initiatives. He participated in a relevant measure in the release of the “Kolner Erklarung” that, in relation to the encyclical “Veritatis splendor,” attacked in a virulent way the magisterial authority of the Pope, especially on questions of moral theology. And the “Europaische Theologengesellschaft” that he founded, was initially intended by him to be an organization in opposition to the papal Magisterium. Afterwards, the ecclesial feeling of many theologians prevented this orientation, making that organization a normal instrument of encounter among theologians.

I am certain you will understand my refusal, and I greet you cordially.
Yours,
Benedict XVI

Thus, here is the now complete, unvarnished letter (my translation) sent by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to Msgr. Vigano:

Benedict XVI
Pope Emeritus

Rev. Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano
Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication
Vatican City

7 February 2018

Most Rev. Monsignor,

I thank you for your courteous letter of January 12 and for the attached gift of the 11 small volumes edited by Robert Repole.

I applaud this initiative that wishes to contradict the foolish prejudice of those for whom Pope Francis would be a man lacking a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theoretician of theology who understood little of the concrete lives of today’s Christian. These small volumes demonstrate, rightly so, that Pope Francis is a man of deep philosophical and theological formation and they help us therefore to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

In any case, I do not feel like writing about (these volumes) a brief or even dense theological page because, throughout my whole life, it has always been clear that I would have written or would have expressed myself only about books that I have truly read. Unfortunately, also for physical reasons, I am not able to read these eleven little volumes in the near future, and even more so because other commitments that I have already made await me.

“In the margin, I would like to note my surprise for the fact that among the authors there is professor Hunermann who, during my pontificate came to light for having led anti-papal initiatives. He participated in a relevant measure in the release of the “Kolner Erklarung” that, in relation to the encyclical “Veritatis splendor,” attacked in a virulent way the magisterial authority of the Pope, especially on questions of moral theology. And the “Europaische Theologengesellschaft” that he founded, was initially intended by him to be an organization in opposition to the papal Magisterium. Afterwards, the ecclesial feeling of many theologians prevented this orientation, making that organization a normal instrument of encounter among theologians.

I am certain you will understand my refusal, and I greet you cordially.
Yours,
Benedict XVI

BENEDICT XVI ON “INTERIOR CONTINUITY” OF TWO PONTIFICATES

BENEDICT XVI ON “INTERIOR CONTINUITY” OF TWO PONTIFICATES

You saw the March 12 story from Vaticannews.va that I posted on Facebook about a letter from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to Msgr. Dario Eduardo Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communication in which the former Pope indicates an “interior continuity” between his pontificate and that of Francis.

Msgr. Vigano read two paragraphs of the papal letter to the guests present for the presentation of 11 small volumes entitled “The Theology of Pope Francis.”

The February 7 letter from Benedict XVI was in response to a letter sent to him by Msgr. Vigano on January 12,

That vaticannews.va story cited only two paragraphs of Benedict XVI’s response to Msgr. Vigano:

“I applaud this initiative,” writes Pope Benedict. “It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.”

“The Pope Emeritus writes that he is grateful to have received the set of 11 books edited by Roberto Repole, President of the Italian Theological Association. Pope Benedict XVI adds that these volumes “reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

Vaticanista Sandro Magister notes in Italian in his blog post today, Settimo Cielo, that this exchange of letters was only made public on the vigil of the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election “as if it was a grade, a good one” for his successor’s pontificate. He said people can “read into it what they want” about the unpublished fourth and final paragraph of Benedict’s letter.

Magister published the entire letter and the following is my translation from the Italian:

Benedict XVI
Pope Emeritus
Rev. Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano
Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication
Vatican City
7 February 2018

Most Rev. Monsignor,

I thank you for your courteous letter of January 12 and for the attached gift of the 11 small volumes edited by Robert Repole.

I applaud this initiative that wishes to contradict the foolish prejudice of those for whom Pope Francis would be a man lacking a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theoretician of theology who understood little of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.

These small volumes demonstrate, rightly so, that Pope Francis is a man of deep philosophical and theological formation and they help us therefore to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

In any case, I do not feel like writing about (these volumes) a brief or even dense theological page because, throughout my whole life, it has always been clear that I would have written or would have expressed myself only about books that I have truly read. Unfortunately, also for physical reasons, I am not able to read these eleven little volumes in the near future, and even more so because other commitments that I have already made await me.

I am certain you will understand, and I greet you cordially,

Yours,
Benedict XVI

A PAPACY ENDS

A PAPACY ENDS

The following is EWTN’s coverage of the final hours in Vatican City of Pope Benedict on February 28, 2013. We see him take leave of the Apostolic Palace and staff of the Roman Curia and then, in one of the more moving moments of perhaps any live event we’ve seen on television, we follow the helicopter that takes the Pope to Castelgandolfo as it flies over Vatican City and its gardens, St. Peter’s Basilica, ancient Rome, the Colosseum, St. John Lateran Basilica (the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope) and the Italian countryside, including ancient Roman aqueducts (one of which still works!) to the peaceful, small Roman hill town of Castelgandolfo

Towards the end of the video, we can see a sign in Castelgandolfo as Benedict arrives: “Your humility has made me greater! Thank you, Pope Benedict”

Get out the handkerchiefs!

And this is the video of literally the final moments of the Benedict papacy as the doors of the apostolic palace of Castelgandolfo close at precisely 8 pm!

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AD MULTOS ANNOS, BENEDICT XVI! – THE 11TH HOUR OF THE 11TH DAY….A LOOK BACK: POPE BENEDICT STUNS THE WORLD WITH HIS RESIGNATION

AD MULTOS ANNOS, BENEDICT XVI!

Today, February 11 is a twofold holiday here as Vatican City State celebrates the 89th anniversary of its institution as a sovereign state after signing a treaty with Italy on that date in 1929, and the Church also marks the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick.

And, while not a holiday, the Church also marks the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s resignation as Supreme Pontiff!

Normally, the Roman Curia and Vatican City personnel have the day off, but that holiday this year falls on a Sunday, a normal day off.

It was a Monday five years ago when the Holy Father, in the course of a morning meeting that had been on his agenda for sometime, stunned the world with the announcement of his resignation! No matter where we were when we heard the news – in the Vatican, on vacation, at home or in the office somewhere on this great planet – we had a collective intake of breath and knew intuitively that we were living a moment in history.

That moment of history became a week, a month, and now five years of history as Benedict ended his eight-year reign as pontiff, cardinals gathered for the conclave and a Latin American, a Jesuit and the first-ever Pope to take the name Francis, ascended to the Chair of Peter.

It was a surprise five years ago, a shock actually, and it has been a surprise-a-day time since then.

How do I feel today?

I look back at February 11, 2013 with amazement, with gratitude for being here during an historical period, with awe at the events of the months that followed, and once again with gratitude for a Church that could so beautifully transition from one papacy to another.

I look back at the courage and humility and love of the Church that prompted Pope Benedict to resign as he feared, sensed, realized he could not serve the Church he loved as she deserved.

Benedict XVI had become a role model for so many people, for millions of Catholics – and others – who miss him terribly today and wish him well and pray for him on a daily basis. I know because, throughout these five years, and in a special way, in recent days, I receive so many letters to this effect!

I vividly remember telling FoxNews the very night of Benedict’s announcement that Pope John Paul II, in his long suffering, taught us how to die and Pope Benedict, in his humility, courage and love, was teaching us how to live!

What did I mean? Too often we live and make decisions based on what others might think of us. We want to “look good,” we need approval before we act. We rarely look inside ourselves to see – even pray – what is the right thing to do. That is what Benedict XVI did. He looked inside himself and, with great honesty, unbelievable courage and his noted humility, he knew he had to leave the papacy.

In my mind’s eye today I’ve relived every encounter I had with Pope Benedict over the years – the brief exchanges, his soft smile, his wonderful blue eyes, his total sincerity. My Mass intention today was for Benedict, out of love, respect and gratitude.

I end today’s “Joan’s Rome” with the very column I wrote one year ago – an amazing look back!

THE 11TH HOUR OF THE 11TH DAY….A LOOK BACK: POPE BENEDICT STUNS THE WORLD WITH HIS RESIGNATION

(February 11, 2013) – Where does one start to write about a day that is historical, stunning, amazing, sad – there are so many reactions and emotions. Having lived in Rome for over 30 years (this very month) and having worked for or covered the Vatican and the papacy for all but two of those years, all of the above emotions have been part of my day.

Over the years, from my first visit to Rome as a college student to this very day, I have met or been in the presence of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and have actually spoken to the last three.

The whole world knew that the death of a Pope was the only way the papacy was vacated, that there could be a “sede vacante,” literally, a vacant chair.

No one is alive on this earth today who ever heard a Pope say what Pope Benedict XVI did this morning: “…Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”

The idea that by Easter we will have a new Pope AND the former Pope will be alive and living in a monastery in Vatican City is something I am still trying to wrap my mind around, as I am sure everyone is.

Today’s stunning announcement caught everyone by surprise – a lightning bolt out of the blue! No one knew. It may have been the best-kept secret of the century! Everyone, from members of the College of Cardinals to members of the Roman Curia to the papal spokesman was caught off guard.

The last such well-kept secret of this Holy Father was his announcement of six new cardinals last October with the consistory a month later. And now those six cardinals will enter into conclave next month, including the two youngest in the College of Cardinals (of the 117 electors who will go into conclave) – Cardinals Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, the Philippines (born June 1957) and His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal of India (born June 1959).

We do not know today but will soon know the date of the start of the conclave. Pope John Paul, in his 1996 Apostolic Constitution “’Universi Dominici Gregis,’ On the Vacancy of the Apostolic See and the Election of the Roman Pontiff,” predicated most of the time frame for a conclave on the fact it would follow a pontiff’s death, and would include the preparation for a funeral and the novendiales (9 days of Masses of mourning). Assuredly there will be no such period this time: cardinals will gather in Rome, there will be some preparation and they will enter into conclave.

We are all in a new learning curve – the media, the Vatican, the College of Cardinals, the protocol and liturgical offices, etc. This is a new experience for everyone and decisions will be made, slowly but surely, in the usual manner of the Apostolic See.

Did Benedict – in his extraordinarily surprising announcement that left the very cardinals who heard the news so astonished they could not speak – do a favor for the cardinals? When a Pope dies, cardinals have to suddenly drop everything and rush to Rome to enter into conclave and start thinking about a successor. Will the cardinals, though astonished by the Pope’s move, now have more time to think about a successor?

What questions will the cardinal electors have? Surely, they will talk about age, a papabile’s health, his language skills, his teachings and writings and orthodoxy, his life as a man of prayer and deep spiritual values. He will have to be energetic and will be expected to travel widely, meet countless groups, write speeches and encyclicals and so many other documents. Oh yes, and tweet!!

A thousand things went through my head upon hearing the news. As a journalist covering the Vatican, responsible for getting the story out – the truth, not the spins or rumors – that challenge is greatly multiplied. I spent the day, either commenting on radio or TV or preparing for it and researching like mad.

I will be on “The World Over” at 2 a.m. Rome time with Raymond Arroyo and I was on FoxNews this morning and was interviewed for “Special Report” tonight.
When I first heard the news, my visceral reaction was the same shock I felt on May 13, 1981 when I was entered St. Peter’s Square just minutes after 5 pm. for the weekly general audience and I heard a person shout in Italian, “they’ve shot the Pope!” My mind was paralyzed, my feet were as nailed to the sidewalk. In such moments, the brain has an electrical short and cannot process such contradictory words. Today was like that.

I had intended to devote today’s column to a very happy, historic and uplifting event that took place this weekend in Rome and at the Vatican to which I had been invited – the 900th anniversary of the Order of Malta. I will bring you that story and those photos some day as it was an important occasion for the Knights and Dames of the Order, as well as for the thousands of volunteers, doctors, etc who are associated with the Order.

I did post a number of videos on YouTube – including several with the Holy Father – so do visit that page.

As I work through this momentous day I am constantly making notes and I’ll eventually bring you those thoughts and observations and analyses. Questions such as canon law on a Pope’s resignation, how would I address Pope Benedict were I to meet him on March 1st?

It struck me this morning that Pope Benedict made this announcement on a date that has three meanings for the Church. It is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (and 155 years since the first apparition to Bernadette Soubirous), it is the 84th anniversary of the Lateran Treaty that created an independent Vatican City State and – most significantly for me – it is the World Day of the Sick.

Did Benedict XVI have this day in mind when he wrote: “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” No indication was given by the pontiff of a specific illness – just the fatigue of his years – but I was impressed that he chose this day to announce his resignation.

His act was one of courage and extraordinary humility.

All day I have pondered the thought that Blessed John Paul, in the very visible throes of an agonizing and prolonged illness, taught the world how to die. And now I think: Surely Pope Benedict, in the humility of his self-revelation, is teaching us how to live!

Two magnificent pontiffs – two beautiful lessons about life.

Lots more to come tomorrow so stay here for news, commentary and analysis.

Following is today’s edition of the Vatican Information Service, which includes the Pope’s words this morning:

(VIS) – The Holy Father, at the end of today’s consistory for causes for canonization, announced his resignation from ministry as Bishop of Rome to the College of Cardinals. Following is the Holy Father’s complete declaration, which he read in Latin:

“I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”

“Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”