BENEDICT XVI PAYS A SURPRISE VISIT TO CASTELGANDOLFO

It fills my heart with joy to report this story!

BENEDICT XVI PAYS A SURPRISE VISIT TO CASTELGANDOLFO

Local media today reported on the surprise visit last evening of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to the famed Castelli Romani hills towns, including the papal palace at Castelgandolfo, one of his favorite spots to vacation. Castelgandolfo, in fact, has been a favorite spot for Popes over the centuries, especially in the summer as the Castelli hill towns often have cooler temperatures than Rome.

The citizens were thrilled to learn that the Pope emeritus would once again grace their small, enchanting town overlooking picturesque Lake Albano, site of an extinct volcano.

They loved it when Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI stayed weeks or months in the papal palace. Not only did they cherish the person of the Pope but also the fact that a Pope in residence drew visitors to the town, helping restaurants and other businesses to flourish.

All that changed with the election of Pope Francis who, as is well known, prefers working vacations in the Santa Marta residence to spending time at Castegandolfo. The townspeople not only miss having “their Pope” in residence, they miss the visitors and tourists that a pontifical presence attracts.

Yesterday was the first time in four years that Benedict had gone to Castelgandolfo. He had been invited by Pope Francis to spend some time in the palace in the summer of 2015.

Benedict arrived in a Mercedes Benz sedan with darkened windows, accompanied by his dear friend, personal secretary and prefect of the papal household, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein. Castelgandolfo was the first of three stops yesterday afternoon. Benedict first spent 90 minutes in the papal palace, even briefly visiting the gardens he so loved to walk in and pray the rosary. (file photo – public domain)


Afterwards he visited the shrine of the Madonna del Tufo in Rocca di Papa and then on to Frascati, another beautiful castelli romani hill town. Here he was welcomed by Bishop Raffaello Martinelli for a short private visit and light supper.

Everyone will remember how Benedict XVI travelled by helicopter from Vatican City to Castelgandolfo the evening of February 28, 2013, to spend a few months in the papal summer residence before retiring to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in Vatican City.

Upon his arrival that late February afternoon, he went to the palace balcony overlooking the town’s main square and spoke his last public words as Supreme Pontiff: “Thank you. Thank you all. Dear Friends, I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your kindness, which does me so much good. Thank you for your friendship and your affection. You know that this day is different for me from the preceding ones. I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still, thank you, I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity. I feel greatly supported by your kindness. Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. Thank you. I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing. May Almighty God bless us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!

POPE DELIVERS FINAL CATECHESIS ON THE “OUR FATHER” – POPE FRANCIS SENDS GREETINGS AND A BLESSING TO CHINESE CATHOLICS

POPE DELIVERS FINAL CATECHESIS ON THE “OUR FATHER”

In a (finally) sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience and began by noting, “Today we conclude our catechesis on the ‘Our Father’.”

He said, “Jesus has revealed to us that Christian prayer begins with the audacity to call God ‘Father’. Indeed, each of the expressions that our Lord himself uses in prayer brings to mind the text of the ‘Our Father’.

“Throughout the New Testament,” continued Francis, “it is clear that the first principle of every prayer is the Holy Spirit, who breathes into the hearts of the disciples. Herein lies the mystery of Christian prayer: that by grace we are drawn into the Holy Trinity’s dialogue of love. On the cross Jesus cries out: ‘My God, my God’, and we see here the fulcrum of his relationship with the Father. This also reflects the heart of our own trust and prayer.

The Holy Father said in conclusion, “At the end of this catechesis, let us repeat this prayer of Jesus: ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children’.”

In the multi-lingual greetings that follow the audience catechesis and summaries in seven languages, Francis, through an English-speaking monsignor from the Secretariat of State, greeted the “English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from England, Belgium, Tanzania, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!”

In greetings to French pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of a murdered missionary sister, whose body was found in the Central African Republic on the same day a missionary priest was killed in Mozambique. He called the Spanish missionary “a woman who has given her life for Jesus in the service of the poor.”

Sister Inés Nieves Sancho, 77, was found murdered near her home in the Central African Republic on Monday morning. Her body was found horribly mutilated at her workshop in the village of Nola, which is part of the Diocese of Berberati, according to the Osservatore Romano. At some point during the night between Sunday and Monday, unknown assailants entered Sister Inés’ home and forcibly took her to the workshop where she regularly held sewing lessons for local girls to help improve their lives. There her attackers decapitated her and mutilated her body.

There was a new language in the papal greetings today. Added to French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Polish and Italian, Francis greeted pilgrims in Ukrainian: “I cordially greet the Ukrainian pilgrims, especially the group of soldiers who participated in the annual National Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes. I continually pray to the Risen Lord, so that he fills the hearts of the Ukrainians with love and serenity and gives his peace to the whole country. God bless you all!”

After the general audience was over and Catholic prelates and several others lined up to meet the Pope, the Holy Father greeted Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. (source: vaticannews)

POPE FRANCIS SENDS GREETINGS AND A BLESSING TO CHINESE CATHOLICS

At the end of today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis, in a reference to the upcoming feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, expressed his “special closeness and affection to all the Catholics in China who, among daily labors and trials, continue to believe, to hope, and to love.”

Speaking directly to the faithful in China, the Holy Father said, “May our Mother of Heaven help you all to be witnesses of charity and fraternity, always remaining united in the communion of the universal Church.”

Francis then assured the Chinese faithful of his own prayers and his blessing, before leading the pilgrims at the audience in praying the Hail Mary for Chinese Catholics.

An image of Our Lady, Help of Christians, is found in the Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai, and is an object of special devotion to the faithful in China.

In May of 2007, in his Letter to Chinese Catholics, Benedict XVI asked that the May 24 feast of Mary, Help of Christians be celebrated as a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. The following prayer, published in 2008, was composed by Pope Benedict for the occasion:

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians”,
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!
(source: vaticannews)

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES THE “NOTES” OF POPE BENEDICT, “MARTYR FOR THE TRUTH”

More piercingly insightful words from the ever clear and insightful Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, as he cites the clear teaching of Pope emeritus Benedict on the sex abuse crisis:

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES THE “NOTES” OF POPE BENEDICT, “MARTYR FOR THE TRUTH”

– Sandro Magister

Cardinal Robert Sarah took everyone by surprise on the evening of May 14 in Rome, in the auditorium of the cultural center of the church of St. Louis of the French, when everyone was expecting him to present his latest book, entitled “Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse,” on the Church’s crisis of faith and the decline of the West.

SARAH

Because instead, the cardinal said right away, “this evening I will not talk about this book at all.” And the reason – he explained – is that “the fundamental ideas that I develop in it were illustrated, presented, and demonstrated brilliantly last April by Pope Benedict XVI in the ‘notes’ that he had composed in view of the summit of the presidents of the episcopal conferences on sexual abuse convened in Rome by Pope Francis from February 21 to 24.”

Cardinal Sarah continued:
“His reflection has revealed itself to be a true source of light in the night of faith that touches the whole Church. It has prompted reactions that at times have bordered on intellectual hysteria. I have felt personally struck by the wretchedness and coarseness of several comments. We must be convinced that once again the theologian Ratzinger, whose stature is that of a true father and doctor of the Church, has seen correctly and has touched the deepest heart of the Church’s crisis.

“I would therefore like us this evening to allow ourselves to be enlightened by this demanding and luminous thought of his. How could we summarize the thesis of Benedict XVI? Allow me to simply cite him: ‘Why has pedophilia reached such proportions? In the final analysis, the reason is the absence of God.’ This is the architectonic principle of the entire reflection of the pope emeritus. This is the conclusion of his long argumentation. This must be the starting point of every investigation of the scandal of sexual abuse committed by priests, in order to propose an effective solution.

“The crisis of pedophilia in the Church, the scandalous and distressing multiplication of abuse has one and only one ultimate cause: the absence of God. Benedict XVI summarizes it in another formula that is also clear. I quote: ‘It is only where faith no longer determines the actions of man that such crimes are possible.’

“The theological genius of Joseph Ratzinger here touches not only upon his experience as pastor of souls and as bishop, as father of his priests, but also upon his personal, spiritual, and mystical experience. He goes back to the fundamental cause, he allows us to understand what the only way can be for getting out of the frightening and humiliating scandal of pedophilia. The crisis of sexual abuse is the symptom of a deeper crisis: the crisis of faith, the crisis of the sense of God.”

TO READ FURTHER: http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2019/05/20/cardinal-sarah-endorses-the-“notes”-of-pope-benedict-“martyr-for-the-truth”/

ITALY CELEBRATES PASQUETTA, LITTLE EASTER – POPE AT REGINA COELI: “THE RISEN JESUS WALKS BESIDE US”

ITALY CELEBRATES PASQUETTA, LITTLE EASTER

Today is Easter Monday – Little Easter or Pasquetta – and is also known here as Monday of the Angel, a big holiday in Italy. This day recalls the meeting between the women who went to Jesus’ tomb, sad to see it empty but then rejoicing when an angel comforted them, saying the Savior had risen!

Italians typically dedicate Easter Monday to family outings, most often celebrating a picnic meal at midday. If you google Pasquetta or Little Easter, chances are you’ll find more menus for picnics than you will information on its history! By the way, the noon prayer in this post-Easter time is the Regina Coeli, not the Angelus.

Those who work for the Vatican and Roman Curia began their Easter vacation on Holy Thursday and return to work only this coming Wednesday for a total of 6 days off. Some of the Italian employees will probably ask for another day off – Thursday April 25, Liberation Day, a national holiday.

Wednesday, May 1, Labor Day and the feast of St. Joseph, is also a big national holiday. Who knows how many Italians will take April 25 and May 1 – and the days in between – as a mini-vacation! The in between days are known as ponte, bridge – so April 25-May 1 is a very long ponte!

Allow me to offer some beautiful words pronounced by Pope Benedict on Easter Monday 2012, his last pasquetta as pontiff, that have always been seared into my mind and heart: He noted that the Gospel writers do not describe the Resurrection itself. “That event remains mysterious – not as something unreal, but as something beyond the reach of our knowledge – as a light so bright the eyes cannot bear it.”

Benedict said, “the Gospel narration begins with the morning after the sabbath when the women run to the sepulchre, find it empty and hear an angel tell them the Lord has risen. As they run in turn to tell the disciples, they meet Jesus….”

“In those days in Israel,” said Benedict, “women’s testimony could have no official legal value. Nevertheless, women have experienced a special bond with the Lord, that is fundamental to the day-to-day life of the Christian community, and this is always true, in every age, not only at the beginning of the Church’s pilgrim journey.”

The Pope emeritus stressed how, “in all the Gospels, women play a big role in the stories of the appearance of the resurrected Jesus, and also in the passion and death of Jesus.”

POPE AT REGINA COELI: “THE RISEN JESUS WALKS BESIDE US”

Pope Francis prayed the Regina Coeli in St. Peter’s Square on Easter Monday and reflected on the Gospel of St. Matthew that describes the women meeting Jesus at the empty tomb.

Women the first witnesses
“The women, full of awe and joy, are leaving in a hurry to go and bring the news to the disciples; and at that moment Jesus presents Himself before them,” said Pope Francis. The Lord tells them not to be afraid and encourages them to go and announce to their friends what has happened.

“All the Gospels emphasize the role of women, Mary of Magdala and the others, as the first witnesses of the resurrection,” he said. They were the first to meet the Risen Christ “and to bring the message that He was alive.”

We too are called to be witnesses
Pope Francis said the words of Jesus addressed to the women resound for us today too: “Do not be afraid; go and proclaim…We too are called to meet Him personally and to become His heralds and witnesses. The risen Jesus walks beside us. He manifests Himself to those who call on Him and who love Him. We meet Jesus, first of all, in prayer, but also in simple joys lived with faith and gratitude,” sharing moments of friendship and welcome, or even contemplating nature.

The words of the Angels
Pope Francis reminded us of the words spoken to the women by the Angels at the empty tomb on that first day after the Sabbath: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, He is risen.”

Christ’s resurrection was “humanly unthinkable,” said Francis, describing it as “the most shocking event in human history.”

But the Resurrection of Jesus is also proof of the victory of God’s Love over sin and death, he said. It is what gives our hope of life “a rock-sold foundation”.

POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT: DIALOGUE WITH THE JEWS, NOT MISSION – VATICAN TO HOST CONFERENCE ON ADDICTIONS

In the OOPS column: The Vatican news site today announced the Pope’s appointment of a new bishop for Monterey, California, stating: “Bishop Daniel Garcia, Auxiliary Bishop of Austin, Texas since 1915, has been appointed by Pope Francis as the Bishop of Monterey in California. Bishop Garcia was born in Cameron, Texas in 1960.” I’m sure you saw the error: apparently he has been a bishop long before his own birth and before the Pope who named him was born!

In the GOOD NEWS column: I’m delighted to bring you the first story below – some words from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. It is always great to hear from this wonderful, gentlemanly, erudite, holy man!

POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT: DIALOGUE WITH THE JEWS, NOT MISSION

The Pope emeritus “corrects” an article by theologian Michael Böhnke and rejects as “absolutely false” the insinuation that Benedict has called into question the foundations of Jewish-Christian dialogue.
By Vatican News

In a “correction” sent to the German monthly Herder Korrespondenz, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI affirmed that Christians are called to a “dialogue” with the Jews, rather than a “mission.” The Pope emeritus was responding to an article by theologian Michael Böhnke of Wuppertal. In the September issue of the journal, Böhnke had commented disapprovingly on statements made by Benedict concerning the relationship between Jews and Christians.

A completely false insinuation
Judaism and Christianity, said Benedict, are “two ways of interpreting the Scriptures.” For Christians, the promises made to Israel are the hope of the Church, and “those who abide by it are in no way questioning the foundations of the Jewish-Christian dialogue.” The accusation contained in the article, he continued, is “grotesque nonsense and has nothing to do with what I said about it. I therefore reject his article as a completely false insinuation.”

Böhnke had argued that Benedict XVI, in an article for the theological journal Communio, had demonstrated a problematic understanding of Judaism, and had ignored the suffering Christians had inflicted upon Jews.

Not “mission,” but “dialogue”
In his “correction,” Benedict also addressed – among other theological issues – the delicate question of the “mission” to the Jews; that is, the question of whether the Church should proclaim the Good News of Christ to the Jews. Benedict wrote: “A mission to the Jews is not foreseen and not necessary.” At the same time, it is true that Christ gave His disciples a mission to all peoples and all cultures. For this reason, Benedict affirms, “the missionary mandate is universal – with one exception: a mission to the Jews was not foreseen and not necessary because they alone, among all peoples, knew the ‘unknown God’.”

For Israel, then, it was not a mission, but a dialogue about whether Jesus of Nazareth was “the Son of God, the Logos,” for whom, according to the promises made to His people, Israel, and the whole world without knowing it, was waiting. Taking up this dialogue anew, Benedict said, is “the duty given us at this time.”

Benedict’s “correction” appeared in the December issue of Herder Korrespondenz, and was signed “Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI.”

Reflecting on Relations with the Jews
The original article in Communio, critiqued by Böhnke, was intended as an in-depth study of a document published in 2015 by the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, entitled, “The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable (Rom 11:29): A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic– Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of ‘Nostra aetate’ (no.4).”

The sixth heading of that document, “The Church’s mandate to evangelize in relation to Judaism” deals precisely with the questions raised by Böhnke:

“It is easy to understand that the so–called ‘mission to the Jews’ is a very delicate and sensitive matter for Jews because, in their eyes, it involves the very existence of the Jewish people. This question also proves to be awkward for Christians, because for them the universal salvific significance of Jesus Christ and consequently the universal mission of the Church are of fundamental importance. The Church is therefore obliged to view evangelisation to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views. In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews. While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah.”

VATICAN TO HOST CONFERENCE ON ADDICTIONS

A two-day conference in the Vatican will examine different aspects of addictions as well as possible treatments and prevention techniques.
By John Waters (vaticannews)

The Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human development will host a conference entitled “Drugs and Addictions, an obstacle to Integral Human development” from 29 November to 1 December in the Vatican’s Synod Hall.

Presentations will be given on a number of subjects and areas of concern, especially addictions to drugs, gambling, sex and pornography as well as best practices for treatment and prevention

When announcing the conference, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human development quoted Pope Francis’ address to drug enforcement officers in 2015. The Pope described the spread of drugs as being driven by a “shameful market that crosses national and international borders.” The Dicastery went on to detail the alarming statistic that almost 5% of the world’s population have, at some point, taken drugs. Of those 5%, “29.6 million of those users suffer from drug disorders. This means that their drug taking is harmful to the point that they experience drug dependence and require treatment.”

Another cause for alarm is the fact that many drugs are now perceived by society as a form of leisure, recreational activity or even as a sign of wealth and status.
During the discussions and presentations the spotlight will also be on the implications of legalizing various substances. Noting that a number of countries have recently legalized cannabis use, the conference organisers point out that this solution may, ultimately, cause further problems.

“Internet addiction, pornography and sex addiction, as well as pathological gambling, or ludopathy, have for some time been a rampant scourge that further diversify addictions. The legalization of gambling, even when it is supported by the intention of unmasking its criminal management, exponentially increases the number of pathological players.”

Speakers at the conference will include Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Italian Health Minister Giulia Grillo. There will also be representatives from the World Federation against Drugs, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the carabinieri, one of Italy’s police forces.

On Friday 30 November, conference participants will take part in an evening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. On 1 December the conference will conclude with an audience with Pope Francis.

POPE BENEDICT, HIS FINAL ENCOUNTER WITH CARDINALS: HEART SPEAKS TO HEART

POPE BENEDICT, HIS FINAL ENCOUNTER WITH CARDINALS: HEART SPEAKS TO HEART

Thursday, February 28, 201

Venerable and Dear Brothers,

I welcome you with great joy and I offer each one of you my most cordial greeting. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano who, as always, interpreted the sentiments of the entire College: Cor ad cor loquitur [heart speaks to heart] I warmly thank you, Your Eminence. And I would like to say — taking up your reference to the disciples of Emmaus — that for me too it has been a joy to walk with you in these years, in the light of the presence of the Risen Lord.

EWTN’s coverage of this final morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUp0aTMJ3RU

As I said yesterday to the thousands of faithful who filled St Peter’s Square, your closeness and your advice have been of great help to me in my ministry. In these eight years we have lived with faith very beautiful moments of radiant light on the Church’s journey, as well as moments when several clouds gathered in the sky. We sought to serve Christ and his Church with profound and total love, which is the heart and soul of our ministry. We gave hope, the hope that comes to us from Christ, which alone can give light to us on our journey. Together we may thank the Lord who has enabled us to grow in communion and, together, pray him to help us to grow even more in this profound unity, so that the College of Cardinals may be like an orchestra where differences — an expression of the universal Church — contribute to a superior and harmonious concord.

I would like to leave you a simple thought, which is deep in my heart: a thought about the Church, about her mystery, that constitutes for us all — we can say — the reason and passion for life.

I will allow a sentence of Romano Guardini to help me. It was written in the very same year that the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen Gentium, in his last book, which also a personal dedication to me — which makes the words of this book particularly dear to me. Guardini says the Church “is not an institution conceived and built in theory… but a living reality…. She lives through the course of time, in becoming, like every living being, in undergoing change…. And yet in her nature she remains ever the same and her heart is Christ”.

It seems to me that this was our experience yesterday in the Square: seeing that the Church is a living body, enlivened by the Holy Spirit and which is really brought to life by God’s power. She is in the world but not of the world: she is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit. We saw this yesterday. That is why Guardini’s other famous saying is both true and eloquent: “The Church is reawakened in souls”. The Church is alive, she grows and is reawakened in souls who — like the Virgin Mary — welcome the Word of God and conceive it through the action of the Holy Spirit; they offer to God their own flesh. It is precisely in their poverty and humility that they become capable of begetting Christ in the world today. Through the Church, the Mystery of the Incarnation lives on for ever. Christ continues to walk through the epochs and in all places.
Let us stay united, dear Brothers, in this Mystery: in prayer, especially in the daily Eucharist, and in this way we shall serve the Church and the whole of humanity. This is our joy that no one can take from us.

Before I say goodbye to each one of you personally, I would like to tell you that I shall continue to be close to you with my prayers, especially in these coming days, that you may be completely docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new pope. May the Lord show you the one whom he wants. And among you, in the College of Cardinals, there is also the future pope to whom today I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience. For this reason, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart to you the Apostolic Blessing.