The Vatican today, in what I saw as a stunning announcement, said that “Pope Francis will make a pastoral visit to L’Aquila on 28 August for the annual ‘Celebration of Forgiveness’, held in the city in the central Italian region of Abruzzo which was devastated by a massive earthquake in 2009.” *

Several important things: August 28 is supposed to be the first of two days of meetings with the entire College of Cardinals, meetings announced by Pope Francis at the Regina Coeli on May 29, along with the names of the 21 men who will become cardinals on August 27.

The impression given was that the cardinals and the Pope together would discuss Praedicate Evangelium, the constitution on the Roman Curia, that tomorrow, June 5, Pentecost, goes into full effect. For now, we can only presume the Pope will attend the afternoon session of the day he goes to L’Aquila.

There is a rather important – and very interesting – fact that the Vatican story failed to mention, as I write below: In 1294, Celestine was elected Pope in the Catholic Church’s last non-conclave papal election, ending a two year impasse. Among the only surviving edicts he issued as Pope, was the confirmation of the right of the Pope to abdicate.

In fact, Pope Celestine V reigned for only five months from July 5 to December 13, 1294 when he resigned. His tomb is in the Basilica of Santa Maria de Collemaggio in L’Aquila. Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at 10 am on August 28 on the forecourt of the basilica.

Only one Pope has resigned in the 719 years since 1294: Benedict XVI.

In fact, he announced on February 11, 2013 that he would resign the papacy just weeks later on February 28. He visited Celestine’s tomb in 2009 and left his pallium on the saint’s tomb. (see video below).

St. Celestine V, was born Pietro Angelerio.  He was a monk and hermit who founded the Order of the Celestines.  In 1294, he was elected Pope in the Catholic Church’s last non-conclave papal election, ending a two year impasse.**  Among the only surviving edicts he issued as Pope, was the confirmation of the right of the Pope to abdicate.  All of his other official acts were annulled by his successor, Pope Boniface VIII.  Celestine resigned stating his desire to return to his humble, pre-papal life.  On December 13, 1294, he announced his resignation.  He was then imprisoned by Pope Boniface VIII, in the castle of Fumone in the Campagna region, where he died after nine months of being held prisoner.  He was canonized in 1313, and no other Pope has taken the name “Celestine”. (Saint Celestine V | Newman Ministry)

On April 29, 2009, after the earthquake, Benedict XVI stopped off in L’Aquila, Italy, and visited the tomb of a medieval Pope named St. Celestine V (1215-1296). After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb. (13) April 2009, symbolic gesture? Pope Benedict XVI leaving his pallium at the tomb of Pope Celestine V – YouTube

After a mere five months in office, Celestine V issued a solemn decree declaring it permissible for a pope to resign and then promptly did so himself, citing “the desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his own physical strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, his longing for the tranquility of his former life”.

Yesterday, the Vatican published the liturgical and travel agenda for Pope Francis for June and July: Saturday, June 25, at 5:15, Mass to conclude the World Meeting of Families in St. Peter’s Square: Wednesday, June 29, feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, at 9:30 in St. Peter’s Basilica, Mass and blessing of the palliums to be given to new metropolitan archbishops. The Pope will travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan July 2 to 7 and to Canada from July 24 to 30.

With his ongoing knee problem, one can only deduce that a number of alterations to the travel schedule will have to be made, given that the Pope has, for the past month, been confined to a wheel chair. He was first seen publicly in a wheel chair on May 5. No further word of medical treatment for that knee problem has been given by the press office.

Is there more we should know?

* Full details here: Pope to make brief visit to Italian city of L’Aquila in August – Vatican News

** elected (in Perugia 2 years and 3 months after the death of Nicholas IV)




I want to join the countless number of people throughout the world who today are wishing Pope emeritus Benedict XVI a wonderful, happy, serene 95th birthday!

A very special memory for me….

The birthday of a pope is always a special occasion in the Vatican but for years the April 16th birthday of Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI – was also – and is today! – a special occasion for me.

Many of you may have read my blog post, “A Chalice Goes Home,” where I recount how, on this very same day, 95 years ago, my paternal grandparents gave a chalice to a new priest, Fr. Leo Raphael Toohey. When Fr. Toohey died, the chalice went back to my grandparents and I eventually inherited it.

My dream? To do what my grandparents did…

That chalice went “back home” 94 years and one month later when, on May 15, 2021, Fr. Ryan Brady was ordained to the priesthood in Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral and, a day later, said his first Mass using that chalice. By the way, Pope emeritus Benedict said Mass with that chalice on October 19, 2013!





The Vatican today released a summary of Pope emeritus Benedict’s Letter on the Munich Report (Abuse, Ratzinger: ‘Shame, sorrow, heartfelt request for forgiveness’ – Vatican News). The Munich Report, a study on abuse on Germany over a period of 74 years, was commissioned by the German bishops of an independent group, and the nearly 2,000 page report was released January 20. In part, it suggested cover-up by Joseph Ratzinger in the almost five years he was archbishop of Munich.

On January 24, Abp. Georg Gaenswein, personal secretary to Benedict XVI noted that “Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has had at his disposal the expert report of the Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, presented the same day (Jan 20), as a PDF file. Currently, he is carefully reading the statements made there, which fill him with shame and sorrow for the suffering that was inflicted on the victims. Although he strives to read the report quickly, he asks for your understanding that it will take time to read it in its entirety because of his age and health, but also because of its large volume. There will be a statement on the expert report.” (Vatican media photo)

Today, the full “Letter of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI regarding the Report on Abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising” can be found here: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2022/02/08/220208b.html

Also: the Vatican released in English a 3-page appendix, “Analysis of the facts by the collaborators of Benedict XVI: Prof. Dr. Stefan Mückl – Rome (Canon Law);   Prof. em. Dr. Dr. Mag. Helmuth Pree – “Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität” of Munich (Canon Law): Dr. Stefan Korta – Buchloe (Church Law); and Lawyer Dr. Carsten Brennecke – Cologne (Right to freedom of expression):

Here is that full text:

In the report on abuses in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising it is stated that: Joseph Ratzinger, contrary to what he claimed in the memorandum drafted in response to the experts, was present at the meeting of the Ordinariate on January 15, 1980, in which Priest X. was discussed. And it is claimed that Cardinal Ratzinger had employed this priest in pastoral activity, even though he was aware of the abuses committed by him, and thus would have covered up his sexual abuses.

This does not correspond to the truth, according to our verifications: Joseph Ratzinger was neither aware that Priest X. was an abuser, nor that he was included in pastoral activity. The records show that at the meeting of the Ordinariate on January 15, 1980, it was not decided to engage Priest X. in pastoral activity. The records also show that the meeting in question did not discuss the fact that the priest had committed sexual abuse. It was exclusively a question of the accommodation of the young Priest X. in Munich because he had to undergo therapy there. This request was complied with. During the meeting the reason for the therapy was not mentioned. It was therefore not decided at the meeting to engage the abuser in pastoral work.

In the abuse report of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising it is stated that: With regard to his presence at the meeting of the Ordinariate on January 15, 1980, Benedict XVI would have knowingly perjured himself, would have lied.

This is not true, in fact: The affirmation contained in Benedict XVI’s memoir that he did not take part in the meeting of the Ordinariate on January 15, 1980 is indeed incorrect. And yet Benedict XVI did not lie or knowingly make a false statement:

In drafting the memoir, Benedict XVI was supported by a group of collaborators. It consisted of the lawyer Dr. Carsten Brennecke (Cologne) and the collaborators for ecclesiastical law: Prof. Dr. Stefan Mückl (Rome), who at the behest of Benedict XVI examined the documents, Prof. Dr. Helmuth Pree and Dr. Stefan Korta. The collaborators were called in because Benedict XVI could not analyze the mass of issues on his own in a short period of time and because the law firm in charge of the expert report asked questions that referred to canon law, so that a framework in canon law was necessary for the answer. Only Prof. Mückl was allowed to view the documents electronically, and he was not allowed to store, print or photocopy any documents. No other collaborators were allowed to view the documents. After Prof. Mückl had examined the digital documents (8,000 pages) and analyzed them, a further processing step was carried out by Dr. Korta, who inadvertently made a transcription error. Dr. Korta mistakenly noted that Joseph Ratzinger was not present at the meeting of the Ordinariate on January 15, 1980. The collaborators missed this erroneous entry of an absence that had not occurred. They relied on the false indication erroneously inserted by failing to expressly ask Benedict XVI if he had been present at that meeting. On the basis of the erroneous transcription of the minutes, it was assumed instead that Joseph Ratzinger had not been present. Benedict XVI, due to the great haste with which he had to verify his memory in a few days, given the time limits imposed by the experts, did not notice the error, but trusted the alleged transcription of his absence.

One cannot impute this transcription error to Benedict XVI as a conscious false statement or “lie”.

Moreover, it would have made no sense for Benedict to intentionally deny his presence at the meeting: in fact, the minutes of the meeting report statements made by Joseph Ratzinger. The presence of Joseph Ratzinger was therefore evident. Moreover, in 2010 several press articles report – without later denial – the presence of Cardinal Ratzinger at the meeting. Similarly, a biography of Benedict XVI published in 2020 states: “As a bishop, during a meeting of the Ordinariate in 1980, he had only agreed that the priest in question could come to Munich to undergo psychotherapy” (Peter Seewald, Benedikt XVI., Droemer Verlag 2020, p. 938).

The report argues that: The expert report also charges Benedict XVI with misbehavior in three other cases. In fact, even in these cases he would have known that the priests were abusers.

This does not correspond to the truth, according to our verifications, in fact: In none of the cases analyzed by the expert report was Joseph Ratzinger aware of sexual abuse committed or suspicion of sexual abuse committed by priests. The expert report provides no evidence to the contrary.

Regarding the case of the Priest X. that was publicly discussed in the meeting of the Ordinariate in 1980 regarding the accommodation to be given to him for therapy, the same expert – in the press conference of 20.01.2022 on the occasion of the presentation of the abuse report – stated that there is no evidence that Joseph Ratzinger was aware of it. To the subsequent question of a journalist whether the experts were able to prove that Joseph Ratzinger had been aware that Priest X. had committed sexual abuse, the expert clearly stated that there is no evidence that Joseph Ratzinger had knowledge. Only in the subjective opinion of the expert witnesses would it be “more likely”.

The press conference is available at the following link: https://vimeo.com/668314410

At minute 2:03:46 the journalist’s question can be found: “My question also still refers to the case of Priest X. Can the law firm prove that Cardinal Ratzinger was then aware that Priest X. was an abuser? What does ‘most likely’ mean in this context?” […]

An expert responds, “[…] More likely means that we assume it with a higher probability. […]”.

The expert report contains no evidence for an allegation of misconduct or conspiracy in any cover-up.

As an archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger was not involved in any cover-up of acts of abuse.

The report alleges that: In his memoir, Benedict XVI allegedly downplayed acts of exhibitionism. As evidence for this assertion the following indication contained in the memoir is reported: “Parish priest X. was noted as an exhibitionist, but not as an abuser in the proper sense”.

This does not correspond to the truth, in fact: In his memoir Benedict XVI did not minimize the exhibitionist behavior, but expressly condemned it. The phrase used as alleged evidence of minimizing exhibitionism is taken out of context.

In the memoir, in fact, Benedict XVI says with the utmost clarity that abuses, including exhibitionism, are “terrible”, “sinful”, “morally reprehensible” and “irreparable”. In the canonical evaluation of the event, inserted into the memoir by us the collaborators and expressed according to our judgment, there was only a desire to recall that according to the canon law then in force, exhibitionism was not a crime in the restricted sense, because the relevant penal norm did not include in the case in point behavior of that type.

Thus, the memoir of Benedict XVI did not minimize exhibitionism, but clearly and explicitly condemned it.

This fact-check was drafted by the collaborators in German. Should there be any linguistic discrepancies in the course of translation, the German version shall prevail. Prof. Dr. Stefan Mückl – Rome (Canon Law) Prof. em. Dr. Dr. Mag. Helmuth Pree – “Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität” of Munich (Canon Law) Dr. Stefan Korta – Buchloe (Church Law) Lawyer Dr. Carsten Brennecke – Cologne (Right to freedom of expression)



Following the publication of the investigation*,  the years of the Pope Emeritus’ Bavarian episcopate are in the spotlight. It’s only fair to remember Benedict XVI’s fight against clerical paedophilia during his pontificate and his willingness to meet and listen to the victims, asking them for forgiveness.

By Andrea Tornielli **

The words that were used during the press conference to present the report on abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich, as well as the seventy-two pages of the document dedicated to the brief Bavarian episcopate of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, have filled the newspapers in the past week and have triggered some very strong comments. The Pope emeritus, with the help of his collaborators, did not evade the questions of the law firm commissioned by the Archdiocese of Munich to draw up a report that examines a very long span of time, from the episcopate of Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber to that of the current Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Benedict XVI provided an 82-page response, after having been able to examine some of the documentation in the diocesan archives. Predictably, it was Ratzinger’s four and a half years at the helm of the Bavarian diocese that monopolized the attention of commentators. (photo Munich cathedral)

Some of the accusations have been known for more than ten years and had already been published by important international media. Today, there are four cases being contested against Ratzinger, and his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, has announced that the Pope Emeritus will issue a detailed statement after he has finished examining the report. In the meantime, however, the reiterated condemnation of these crimes by Benedict XVI can be forcefully repeated, and the steps taken by the Church in recent years, starting from his pontificate, can be retraced.

Child abuse is a horrendous crime. The abuse committed against minors by clerics is possibly an even more revolting crime, and this has been tirelessly repeated by the last two Popes: it’s a sin that cries out vengeance before God that little ones suffer violence on the part of priests or religious to whom their parents have entrusted them to be educated in the faith. It is unacceptable that they become victims of sexual predators hiding in ecclesiastical garb. The most eloquent words on this subject remain those pronounced by Jesus: those who scandalize the little ones would do better to hang a millstone around their necks and throw themselves into the sea.

It cannot be forgotten that Ratzinger, who as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had already fought the phenomenon in the last phase of the pontificate of St. John Paul II, with whom he had been a close collaborator, and once he became Pope, promulgated very harsh norms against clerical abusers, special laws to combat paedophilia. What’s more, with his concrete example, Benedict XVI testified to the urgency of that change of mentality that is so important to counter the phenomenon of abuse: listening and closeness to the victims to whom forgiveness must always be asked. For too long abused children and their relatives, instead of being considered wounded persons to be welcomed and accompanied on the path of healing, have been kept at a distance. Unfortunately, they have often been distanced and even pointed to as “enemies” of the Church and its good name.

It was Joseph Ratzinger, the first Pope to meet several times with victims of abuse during his apostolic journeys. It was Benedict XVI, even against the opinion of many self-styled “Ratzingerians”, who upheld, in the midst of the storm of scandals in Ireland and Germany, the face of a penitential Church, which humbles itself in asking for forgiveness, which feels dismay, remorse, pain, compassion and closeness.

It is precisely in this penitential image that the heart of Benedict’s message lies. The Church is not a business, it is not saved only by good practices or by the application, even if indispensable, of strict and effective norms. The Church needs to ask for forgiveness, help and salvation from the Only One who can give them, from the Crucified One who has always been on the side of the victims and never of the executioners.

With extreme lucidity, on the flight that took him to Lisbon in May 2010, Benedict XVI recognized that “the sufferings of the Church come precisely from the inside of the Church, from the sin that exists within the Church. We have always been aware of this, but now we do see it in a truly appalling way: that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from the external enemies, but is born of sin within the Church, and that the Church needs deeply to learn repentance again, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on one side and the need for justice on the other. Forgiveness does not replace justice.” These words were preceded and followed by concrete facts in the fight against the scourge of clerical paedophilia. All this can neither be forgotten nor erased.

The reconstructions contained in the Munich report – which, it must be remembered, is not a judicial inquiry nor a final sentence – will help to combat paedophilia in the Church if they are not reduced to the search for easy scapegoats and summary judgments. Only by avoiding these risks will they be able to contribute to the search for justice in truth and to a collective examination of conscience on the errors of the past.

* Munich Report on sex abuse in Germany

**editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication since December 2018.



By CNA Staff – Munich, Germany, Jan 24, 2022 /

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has apologized for mistakenly saying that he did not attend a disputed meeting in 1980 while serving as archbishop of Munich and Freising.

In a statement published in the German Catholic weekly Die Tagepost on Jan. 24, the 94-year-old retired pope said that the mistake was the result of an editing error, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. Benedict XVI initially told investigators that he was not present at a meeting of archdiocesan officials on Jan. 15, 1980.

But in the statement, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict XVI’s private secretary, said that the pope emeritus “would now like to make it clear that, contrary to what was stated during the hearing, he took part in the ordinariate meeting on Jan. 15, 1980.”

“The statement to the contrary was therefore objectively incorrect,” he said.

“He would like to emphasize that this was not done out of bad faith, but was the result of an error in the editing of his statement. He will explain how this came about in the pending statement. He is very sorry for this mistake and asks for this mistake to be excused.”

A more than 1,000-page report *** on the handling of abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, issued on Jan. 20, accused the retired pope of mishandling four cases during his tenure as archbishop from 1977 to 1982.

Benedict XVI, who strongly denies cover-up allegations, sent 82 pages of observations to researchers compiling the report.

One of the four cases related to a priest named Father Peter Hullermann, who is accused of abusing at least 23 boys aged eight to 16 between 1973 and 1996.

The case was first highlighted by the media in 2010, when Benedict XVI was pope, and again earlier this month.

*** I have learned that the report mentioned in this story is actually well over 1,600 pages



Thursday morning, upon receiving the German report of over 1,000 pages on sex abuse cases in that country, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni told reporters: “The Holy See believes it must give due attention to the document, whose content it does not currently know. In the next few days, following its publication, the Holy See will examine it and thus be able to appropriately examine the details. In reiterating the sense of shame and remorse for the abuse of minors committed by clerics, the Holy See ensures closeness to all victims and confirms the path taken to protect the little ones by guaranteeing them safe environments.”

Following Matteo Bruni’s declaration, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, personal secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict, released the following statement to reporters: “Until this afternoon, Benedict XVI had not known the report of the Westpfahl-Spilker-Wastl law firm, over 1,000 pages in length. In coming days, he will examine the text with the necessary attention. The Pope Emeritus, as he has already repeated several times during the years of his pontificate, expresses his dismay and shame at the abuse of minors committed by clerics, and manifests his personal closeness and his prayers for all the victims, some of whom he met on the occasion of his apostolic journeys.”

For more on German document: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/250153/report-on-handling-of-abuse-cases-in-germany-s-munich-archdiocese-released



Pope emeritus Benedict XVI yesterday, September 2, became the oldest pontiff in history, surpassing Pope Leo XIII who lived to be 93 years and 140 days. Leo was born on March 2, 1810 and died July 20, 1903. Benedict XVI was born April 16, 1927. One Rome newspaper calculated that yesterday was, in fact, the 34,109th day of his life.


In a telegram addressed to the current Archbishop of Utrecht, Pope Francis offers his condolences on the death of Cardinal Adrianus Johannes Simonis.

By Vatican News

Pope Francis has sent condolences to Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, the current Archbishop of Utrecht, in the Netherlands on the death of his predecessor, Cardinal Adrianus Johannes Simonis. “Commending his soul to the loving mercy of Jesus the Good Shepherd,” the Pope said, “I join you in giving thanks to Almighty God for the late Cardinal’s faithful witness to the Gospel, his years of devoted episcopal ministry to the Churches of Rotterdam and Utrecht, and his valued efforts in the service of ecclesial communion.”

The Holy Father then extended his Apostolic Blessing “to all who mourn Cardinal Simonis in the sure hope of the Resurrection… as a pledge of consolation and peace in the risen Lord.”

Cardinal Simonis served from 1970 to 1983 as Bishop of Rotterdam and as Archbishop of Utrecht from 1983 to 2007. He was created Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1985.

Cardinal Simonis died on September 2 at a care centre in the Netherlands. He was 88 years old.

With the death of Cardinal Simonis, there are currently 220 living Cardinals, of whom 122 are under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave.



(franciscanmedia.org) – Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate, and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome.

Ordained a priest, Gregory became one of the pope’s seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, but at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome.

Gregory was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, and for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of “Gregorian” chant is disputed.

Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king.

His book, Pastoral Care, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily Gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called “the Great,” Gregory has been given a place with Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.

An Anglican historian has written: “It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great.”

Gregory was content to be a monk, but he willingly served the Church in other ways when asked. He sacrificed his own preferences in many ways, especially when he was called to be Bishop of Rome. Once he was called to public service, Gregory gave his considerable energies completely to this work. Gregory’s description of bishops as physicians fits in well with Pope Francis’ description of the Church as a “field hospital.”


I am so happy to share the lovely news of the two Ratzinger brothers – Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Msgr. Georg – saying mass together in Regensburg, Germany. And this just days before the June 29 anniversary of their priestly ordination in the cathedral of Freising on that day in 1951!

Msgr. Georg lives in this building on Luzengasse in Regensburg.

I took this photo in September 2006 when Benedict made a visit to his beloved Bavaria. Wednesday, September 13, was set aside as a day for the two brothers to spend together – no public activities for Benedict XVI – and the Munich Tourism Office offered several possible day or half-day trips for the media. I signed up for a trip to visit all the places of the pope’s childhood and youth and to this very day, it was one of the best travel memories I ever had in Germany.

When I returned to Rome I bought a photo printer, took perhaps 24 of the best photos I had taken during my trip and made copies from the memory card. I bought a beautiful photo album, put one picture on each page with a one-word description of each place (not that I thought it would be necessary!) and gave that album to Pope Benedict!

Maybe some day I’ll do a slideshow of some of the enchanting places associated with the pope’s childhood and youth.


As you know, because of the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions imposed on and by people for in person interviews – at least up to now – in recent weeks I have filled what is normally the interview segment of Vatican Insider with Specials. So far, I’ve explored 6 of the 7 Roman basilicas known as the Pilgrim Basilicas – St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, St. Paul’s outside the Walls, Holy Cross in Jerusalem, and St. Lawrence al Verano. Come with me this weekend as we go to the basilica of St. Sebastian that was built above the catacombs of the same name and is dedicated to the third-century saint who was twice martyred.

So tune in for some fascinating facts and when you come to Rome, you’ll have this podcast as your guide to St. Sebastian!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


The brothers celebrated Mass together at the house in Regensburg and the pope emeritus then travelled to the diocesan seminary in the afternoon to rest.

Catholic News Agency

REGENSBURG, Germany — Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass with his ailing brother on the feast of the Sacred Heart during his first full day in Germany Friday.

A June 19 statement from the Diocese of Regensburg said that after Pope Benedict XVI arrived from Rome at noon on Thursday he immediately visited his 96-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

The brothers celebrated Mass together at the house in Regensburg and the pope emeritus then travelled to the diocesan seminary in the afternoon to rest. In the evening, he returned to see his brother.

The diocese said: “For the first morning in his old homeland, an authentic Bavarian breakfast awaited the pope emeritus in the seminary. There were pretzels, which Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who accompanied him, was also pleased about.”

“In the course of the morning the two brothers will celebrate together a high mass for today’s feast of the Sacred Heart.”

The diocese added that “afterwards there will be apple strudel,” a popular pastry in Bavaria and Austria.

FOR MORE: https://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-benedict-xvi-celebrates-mass-with-his-ill-brother-on-feast-of-the-sacr




From AciStampa:

A state flight from Ciampino airport brought Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to Munich and then to Regensburg this morning. The Pope Emeritus joined his seriously ill brother Georg with a decision that once again surprises everyone.

Around 12.30 Benedict landed in Munich and then went to his brother’s residence.  Before getting into the car to get to the diocesan seminary where the Pope emeritus is staying, he blessed little Kostantin, two weeks old. Despite his 93 years the Pope emeritus was in good shape and energy.

Monsignor Ratzinger is 96 years old and the bond between the two brothers has always been very strong. The Pope Emeritus was accompanied by Archbishop Gänswein, his personal secretary.

The decision was made quickly after his brother’s health had rapidly deteriorated in recent days, although he remained in his residence.  Because of the pandemic, Monsignor Georg had not been able to be in the Vatican as always at Easter.

Benedict was received by Bishop Georg Bätzing. Prior to his departure Benedict received a visit from Pope Francis.




“John Paul II, a sign for us of hope and confidence”

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI sent a letter to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, retired archbishop of Krakow, Poland and secretary for 40 years to Karol Wojtyla – Pope John Paul II – on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Paul on May 18.

He looks at the late Pope’s life, papacy and death, with attention to two words attributed to John Paul II, “saint” and “great,” noting that, “the word ‘saint’ indicates God’s sphere and the word ‘great’ the human dimension.”

Titled “For the Centennial of the Birth of Saint Pope John Paul II on May 18, 2020,” the letter was dated May 4, 2020 from Vatican City and is signed Benedict XVI. It was made public in Poland today at 11 am.

Following is the entire English translation of that letter:

100 years ago, on May 18th, Pope John Paul II was born in the small Polish town of Wadowice.

After having been divided for over 100 years by three neighboring major powers of Prussia, Russia, and Austria, Poland regained Her independence at the end of the First World War. It was a historic event that gave birth to great hope; but it also demanded much hardship as the new State, in the process of Her reorganization, continued to feel the pressure of the two Powers of Germany and Russia. In this situation of oppression, but above all in this situation marked by hope, young Karol Wojtyła grew up. He lost his mother and his brother quite early and, in the end, his father as well, from whom he gained deep and warm piety. The young Karol was particularly drawn by literature and theater. After passing his final secondary school exam, he chose to study these subjects.

“In order to avoid the deportation, in the fall of 1940 he went to work in a quarry of the Solvay chemical plant.” (cf. Gift and Mystery). “In the fall of 1942, he made the final decision to enter the Seminary of Kraków, which Kraków’s Archbishop Sapieha had secretly established in his residence. As a factory worker, Karol already started studying theology in old textbooks; and so, on 1 November 1946, he could be ordained a priest.” (cf. Ibid.) Of course, Karol not only studied theology in books but also through his experience of the difficult situation that he and his Country found itself in. This is somewhat a characteristic of his whole life and work. He studied books but the questions that they posed became the reality that he profoundly experienced and lived. As a young Bishop – as an Auxiliary Bishop since 1958 and then Archbishop of Kraków from 1964 – the Second Vatican Council became the school of his entire life and work. The important questions that appeared, especially in connection with the so-called Schema 13 which would subsequently become the Constitution Gaudium et Spes, were questions that were also his own. The answers developed by the Council would pave the way for his mission as Bishop and, later, as Pope.

When Cardinal Wojtyła was elected Successor of St. Peter on 16 October 1978, the Church was in a dramatic situation. The deliberations of the Council had been presented to the public as a dispute over the Faith itself, which seemed to deprive the Council of its infallible and unwavering sureness. A Bavarian parish priest, for example, commented on the situation by saying, “In the end, we fell into the wrong faith.” This feeling that nothing was no longer certain, that everything was questioned, was kindled even more by the method of implementation of liturgical reform. In the end, it almost seemed that the liturgy could be created of itself. Paul VI brought the Council to an end with energy and determination, but after its conclusion, he faced ever more pressing problems that ultimately questioned the existence of the Church Herself. At that time, sociologists compared the Church’s situation to the situation of the Soviet Union under the rule of Gorbachev, during which the powerful structure of the Soviet State collapsed under the process of its reform.

Therefore, in essence, an almost impossible task was awaiting the new Pope. Yet, from the first moment on, John Paul II aroused new enthusiasm for Christ and his Church. His words from the sermon at the inauguration of his pontificate: “Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors for Christ!” This call and tone would characterize his entire pontificate and made him a liberating restorer of the Church. This was conditioned by the fact that the new Pope came from a country where the Council’s reception had been positive: one of a joyful renewal of everything rather than an attitude of doubt and uncertainty in all.

The Pope traveled the world, having made 104 pastoral voyages, proclaiming the Gospel wherever he went as a message of joy, explaining in this way the obligation to defend what is Good and to be for Christ.

In his 14 Encyclicals, he comprehensively presented the faith of the Church and its teaching in a human way. By doing this, he inevitably sparked contradiction in Church of the West, clouded by doubt and uncertainty.

It seems important today to define the true centre, from the perspective of which we can read the message contained in the various texts. We could have noticed it at the hour of his death. Pope John Paul II died in the first moments of the newly established Feast of Divine Mercy. Let me first add a brief personal remark that seems an important aspect of the Pope’s nature and work. From the very beginning, John Paul II was deeply touched by the message of Faustina Kowalska, a nun from Kraków, who emphasized Divine Mercy as an essential center of the Christian faith. She had hoped for the establishment of such a feast day. After consultation, the Pope chose the Second Sunday of Easter. However, before the final decision was made, he asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to express its view on the appropriateness of this date. We responded negatively because such an ancient, traditional and meaningful date like the Sunday “in Albis” concluding the Octave of Easter should not be burdened with modern ideas. It was certainly not easy for the Holy Father to accept our reply. Yet, he did so with great humility and accepted our negative response a second time. Finally, he formulated a proposal that left the Second Sunday of Easter in its historical form but included Divine Mercy in its original message. There have often been similar cases in which I was impressed by the humility of this great Pope, who abandoned ideas he cherished because he could not find the approval of the official organs that must be asked according established norms.

When John Paul II took his last breaths on this world, the prayer of the First Vespers of the Feast of Divine Mercy had just ended. This illuminated the hour of his death: the light of God’s mercy stands as a comforting message over his death. In his last book Memory and Identity, which was published on the eve of his death, the Pope once again summarized the message of Divine Mercy. He pointed out that Sister Faustina died before the horrors of the Second World War but already gave the Lord’s answer to all this unbearable strife. It was as if Christ wanted to say through Faustina: “Evil will not get the final victory. The mystery of Easter affirms that good will ultimately be victorious, that life will triumph over death, and that love will overcome hatred”.

Throughout his life, the Pope sought to subjectively appropriate the objective center of Christian faith, the doctrine of salvation, and to help others to make it theirs. Through the resurrected Christ, God’s mercy is intended for every individual. Although this center of Christian existence is given to us only in faith, it is also philosophically significant, because if God’s mercy were not a fact, then we would have to find our way in a world where the ultimate power of good against evil is not recognizable. It is finally, beyond this objective historical significance, indispensable for everyone to know that in the end God’s mercy is stronger than our weakness. Moreover, at this point, the inner unity of the message of John Paul II and the basic intentions of Pope Francis can also be found: John Paul II is not the moral rigorist as some have partially portrayed him. With the centrality of divine mercy, he gives us the opportunity to accept moral requirement for man, even if we can never fully meet it. Besides, our moral endeavors are made in the light of divine mercy, which proves to be a force that heals for our weakness.

While Pope John Paul II was dying, St. Peter’s Square was filled with people, especially many young people, who wanted to meet their Pope one last time. I cannot forget the moment when Archbishop Sandri announced the message of the Pope’s departure. Above all, the moment when the great bell of St. Peter’s took up this message remains unforgettable. On the day of his funeral, there were many posters with the words “Santo subito!” It was a cry that rose from the encounter with John Paul II from all sides. Not from the square but also in different intellectual circles the idea of giving John Paul II the title “the Great” was discussed.

The word “saint” indicates God’s sphere and the word “great” the human dimension. According to the Church’s standards, sanctity can be recognized by two criteria: heroic virtues and a miracle. These two standards are closely related. Since the word “heroic virtue” does not mean a kind of Olympic achievement but rather that something becomes visible in and through a person that is not his own but God’s work which becomes recognizable in and through him. This is not a kind of moral competition, but the result of renouncing one’s own greatness. The point is that a person lets God work on him, and so God’s work and power become visible through him.

The same applies to the criterion of the miracle: here too, what counts is not that something sensational happening but the visible revelation of God’s healing goodness, which transcends all merely human possibilities. A saint is the man who is open to God and permeated by God. A holy man is the one who leads away from himself and lets us see and recognize God. Checking this juridically, as far as possible, is the purpose of the two processes for beatification and canonization. In the case of John Paul II, both were carried out strictly according to the applicable rules. So, now he stands before us as the Father, who makes God’s mercy and kindness visible to us.

It is more difficult to correctly define the term “great.” In the course of the almost 2,000-year long history of the papacy, the title “the Great” has been maintained only for two popes: Leo I (440 – 461) and Gregory I (590 – 604). In the case of both, the word “great” has a political connotation, but precisely because something of the mystery of God himself becomes visible through their political success. Through dialog, Leo the Great was able to convince Attila, the Prince of Huns, to spare Rome – the city of the Apostolic Princes Peter and Paul. Without weapons, without military or political power, through the power of his conviction for his faith, he was able to convince the feared tyrant to spare Rome. In the struggle between the spirit and power, the spirit proved stronger.

Gregory I’s success was not as spectacular, but he was repeatedly able to protect Rome against the Lombard – here too, by opposing the spirit against power and winning the victory of the spirit.

If we compare both stories with that of John Paul II, the similarity is unmistakable. John Paul II also had no military or political power. During the discussion about the future shape of Europe and Germany in February 1945, it was said that the Pope’s reaction should also be taken into account. Stalin then asked: “How many divisions does the Pope have?” Well, he had no available division. However, the power of faith turned out to be a force that finally unhinged the Soviet power system in 1989 and made a new beginning possible. Undisputedly, the Pope’s faith was an essential element in the collapse of the powers. And so, the greatness that appeared in Leo I and Gregory I is certainly also visible here.

Let us leave open the question of whether the epithet “the great” will prevail or not. It is true that God’s power and goodness have become visible to all of us in John Paul II. In a time when the Church is again suffering from the oppression of evil, he is for us a sign of hope and confidence.

Dear Saint John Paul II, Pray for us!

Benedict XVI