Rorate Caeli

Ranjith: no official communication

On an interview related to another matter -the manner of reception of Holy Communion by the leader of the Neocatechumenal Way, Kiko Argüello -, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, answered a different question (Petrus):

...Cardinal Arinze should be about to leave the helm of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In a first moment, it seemed that you were the favorite for his succession, the arrival of Archbishop Angelo Amato and your return to Sri Lanka were mentioned. What can you tell us?

"I have not received any official communications, but so many untrue things have been written in the newspapers. As for myself, I submit myself obediently to the decisions of the Holy Father. "

When Don Camillo prevented the removal of an Altar

Giovannino Guareschi spent the last two decades of his life dedicated to his bestselling novels on life in the Little World of Don Camillo. Yet Guareschi continued his intense work as a journalist and as a polemicist (including harsh criticism of clerics who wished to subvert the Church in the Conciliar and post-Conciliar years).

This was the case in several of his last books in the series, such as "Don Camillo e i giovani d'oggi", published soon after Guareschi's death.

...two days later, the Bishop's secretary plunged into Don Camillo's office. The young priest, like all the progressive priests of the Aggiornamento, despised and detested all parish priests...

"Reverend Father!" he ranted. "Is it possible that you lie in wait for opportunities to show your obtuseness as regards political and social matters involving the Church? What is the meaning of this latest sideshow of yours? Quite rightly Mayor Botazzi intends to encourage tourism and adapt the town to the needs of the motorized times --- and to do this he wants to create an ample parking lot here in the square. How can you have the arrogance to oppose this project?"

"No arrogance at all: I'm simply preventing the destruction of Church property."

"What Church property! You can't clutter half a town square with useless columns. Don't you understand what an advantage it will be to you? Aren't you aware that many people don't come to Mass because they can't find a place to park their cars?"

"Certainly I know that," Don Camillo answered calmly. "However, I don't believe the mission of a pastor of souls should be to organize parking lots and rock Masses to provide the public with a religion complete with all the modern conveniences. The Christian religion is not, and should not be, either comfortable or amusing."

His point of view was a bit hackneyed and it caused the Bishop's priest to explode. "My dear Father, you appear not to have grasped that the Church must attempt to bring itself up to date, and it should be helping progress, not blocking it!"
There was no point in arguing with such an old fossil, so the secretary wound up the discussion. "Don Camillo, are you saying that you refuse to obey?"

"No, if his excellency the Bishop orders us to transform the colonnade into a parking lot, we will do so, even though the Council has reasserted that the Church of Christ is the Church of the poor people and consequently should not have to worry about the cars of the faithful."
"Comrade Mayor," the priest explained humbly, "we have noted that for quite a few years now your Party has involved itself with enormous love and devotion in the major and minor problems of the Church. We would simply like to request that you and several of your comrades be present at the farewell ceremony for our precious crucifix, which after three hundred and fifty years of honorable service to our town is being moved to the city to a fine new home in the Bishop's palace."

Peppone leapt out of his chair. "You're out of your mind, Father! That crucifix is a work of art, and it belongs to this town! And it stays in this town!"

Don Camillo spread out his arms. "I know, Mr. Mayor. The problem is, however, that I have to answer to my Bishop, and not to your Party. Therefore I will have to hand the crucifix and altar over to the Bishop's secretary. I'm well aware that the Christ is a major part of the artistic and spiritual heritage of the town and that it's place should always be the one it's occupied for the last three hundred and fifty years --- on top of that altar in front of which you and so many others took Holy Communion and were united in Holy Matrimony, in front of which your mother prayed while you were fighting in the war --- your poor old parish priest understands all this, but all h can do is obey orders. And he will obey them unless of course he is threatened with violence. Because threatened with violence, what can a poor old parish priest do? Comrade Mayor, I beg of you, explain my plight to your superiors, and remember my position yourself, and realize that nobody could be more distressed at what I must do than I am."

"Father," Peppone shouted, "if you think I'm going to sit still for this, you're out of your mind!"

Peppone was serious and the next morning the town walls were papered with mammoth posters denouncing the planned abduction and ending in two lines of big, bold lettering:


Towards midday Don Camillo, who wasn't the slightest bit disturbed by the position Peppone had taken, calmly pedaled off to the private chapel in the old manor house lost in the countryside --- and there a rude surprise awaited him. The toughest of Peppone's thugs were camping out in his garden full of weeds, passing the time pulling them up.

"You realize this is private property and I could have you prosecuted for trespassing?" Don Camillo said... .

"Oh yes, father."

"May I go inside to wrap up the Christ and the pieces of the altar?" Don Camillo asked.

"You can go inside, but you're not wrapping up anything. You're a priest, not a freight despatcher."

"Well, I certainly don't want to break union rules," said Don Camillo, bicycling off towards town.
A committee comprised of representatives from all the political parties and associations traveled to the city and made the Bishop give them an audience, during which Peppone voiced the respectful but adamant protest of the town's citizens. The Bishop heard all he had to say and then held out his hands smiling.

"But this is all a misunderstanding," he said. "There is nothing to prevent the altar returning to the place it has always been. The Mass can be celebrated in the new way in front of it, and the townspeople will have the additional inspiration of its exceptional artistic and spiritual merits. That is, provided that the parish priest has no valid reasons to oppose the restitution of the altar. The decision rests entirely with him."

When the committee went to tell Don Camillo what the Bishop had decreed, Don Camillo answered humbly: "We are fully prepared to carry out the wishes of our Bishop."
(Transl. L. K. Conrad)

Transalpine Redemptorists to establish contact with Rome

The Congregation of Transalpine Redemptorists, a community of Traditional priests historically linked to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) and whose main house is in the island of Papa Stronsay, Scotland, declares that it is willing to discuss with the Holy See, considering the new situation created with the advent of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Can we choose to remain where we are under these circumstances? We have argued for years now of our "state of necessity" and of the resulting supplied jurisdiction that the Church supplies to us. But can we continue to argue this when ordinary jurisdiction is offered to us without any compromise in the Faith? Can we choose freely to remain in this irregular canonical situation where we are? In other words, can a state of necessity be the object of a choice without moral fault? Clearly not And on the other hand: are the authorities ready to accord us regular faculties? If the answer to this second question is affirmative, then we are no longer in the same case of necessity!

All these serious considerations, dear friends, move us to go and see what Rome has to say. Let not our contacts with Rome be understood as meaning that we will break off our friendship with the Society of Saint Pius X and the other traditionalist organisations around the world. On the contrary, we positively want with all our hearts to remain in contact, sharing all that we may learn with Bishop Fellay and the other heads of traditional orders for the good of tradition as a whole.

Only time will tell if the moment has come for an agreement with Rome. Prudence requires of us to proceed slowly and cautiously, reflecting well at each step of the discussions. In this, we will rely on the continued support and advice of our traditionalist friends. Our agreement must be founded upon the fundamental principles of the Church and the safeguarding of the Faith.

While asking for your prayers for this matter, we place ourselves under the patronage and protection of our Mother of Perpetual Succour, She ‘who by Herself has crushed all the heresies in the whole world’ qui cunctas haereses interemit. May She, whom St Alphonsus ever invoked as the Mother of Good Counsel, teach us to be "wise as serpents and simple as doves", while showing us how to "generously open our hearts to make room for everything that the Faith itself allows."

In the octave of Our Lady of Good Counsel
28 April, 2008

Fr Michael Mary, C.SS.R.
Fr Anthony Mary, C.SS.R.
Most relevant excerpt (read full letter).

'I will not die even if they kill me'

One of the most significant Italian writers of the 20th Century - and certainly one of the most underrated - was Giovanni Guareschi, better known as "Giovannino" Guareschi, born on May 1, 1908, 100 years ago.

Few contemporary European writers had so much authentic Catholic sensibility embedded in their works as Guareschi, whose masterpiece was the series of works, the Mondo Piccolo (Little World), in which the great struggle of his and of our age - the war between Faith and Reason (Logos), on one side, and Socialist barbarianism and relativism, of either "left" or "right", on the other, with many indifferent or lukewarm spectators in the middle - played itself out in a small village in the Italian countryside.

Don Camillo Tarocci, a parish priest in a village of Emilia, was the literary expression of that Church which would not yield, the Church of Pius IX, of Pius X, of Pius XI, of Pius XII - but also the Church of Humanae Vitae, of Evangelium Vitae, of Summorum Pontificum. A Church which is the ardent bearer of all the goods of Civilization, and Reason, and Morals, both in the real world, and in the Little World of Don Camillo.

Giovannino Guareschi, a proud son of the Church, described himself and his world in his introduction to the seventh edition of "Mondo Piccolo: Don Camillo", first released in 1948:


My life began on the 1st of May 1908, and between one thing and another, it still goes on.

When I was born my mother had been teaching in the elementary school for nine years and she continued to teach until the end of 1949. In recognition of her work, the parish priest of the village presented her with an alarm clock in the name of all the people, and after fifty years of teaching in schools where there was no electric light or water but, in compensation, an abundant supply of cockroaches, flies, and mosquitoes, my mother now passes her time waiting for the government to consider her request for a pension and listening to the tick-tock of the alarm clock given her by the village.

At the time when I was born, my father was interested in all kinds of machines, from harvesters to gramophones, and he possessed an enormous moustache, very similar to the one I wear under my nose. He still has the splendid moustache, but for some time he has not been interested in much of anything, and he passes his time reading the newspapers. He also reads what I write, but he does not like my way of writing and thinking.
For reasons entirely beyond my control, the war broke out and one day in 1942 I went on a terrible bout of drinking because my brother was lost in Russia and I couldn't find anything about him. That night I went up and down the streets of Milan shouting things which filled several sheets of legal-sized paper - as I found out the next day when I was arrested by the political police. Then a lot of people worried about me and they finally got me released. However, the political police wanted me out of circulation and so had me called into the army, and on the 9th of September 1943, with the fall of Fascism, I was taken prisoner again, this time at Alessandria, in Northern Italy, by the Germans. Since I did not want to work for the Germans, I was sent to a Polish concentration camp. I was in various concentration camps until April 1945, when my camp was taken over by the English and after five months I was sent back to Italy.

The period I spent in prison was the most intensely active of my life. In fact I had to do everything to stay alive and succeeded almost completely by dedicating myself to a precise programme which is summarized in my slogan 'I will not die even if they kill me'.

A few months ago the leader of the Italian Communists, Mr. Palmiro Togliatti, made a speech in which he lost his temper and called the Milanese journalist who invented the character with the triple nostrils 'a triple idiot'. The threefold idiot is me and this was for me the most prized recognition of my work as a political journalist. The man with three nostrils is now famous in Italy, and it was I who created him. I must admit that I am proud because to succeed in characterizing a Communist with a stroke of the pen (that is, putting under the nose three, instead of two, nostrils) is not a bad idea, and it worked very well.

And why should I be modest? The other things that I wrote and drew during the days before the election [of 1948, in which the Italian Communist Party was unexpectedly defeated] also worked very well; to prove it I have in my attic a sack full of newspaper clippings which malign me; whoever wants to know more can come and read them.

The stories in The Little World of Don Camillo were very successful in Italy, and this book, which collects the first series of these stories, is already in its seventh edition. Many people people have written long articles on The Little World of Don Camillo and many people have written me letters about this or that story, and so now I am a little confused, and I would find myself rather embarrassed if I had to make any judgement of The Little World of Don Camillo. The background of these stories is my home, Parma, the Emilian Plain along the Po where political passion often reaches a disturbing intensity, and yet these people are attractive and hospitable and generous and have a highly developed sense of humor. It must be the sun, a terrible sun which beats on their brains during the summer, or perhaps it is the fog, a heavy fog which oppresses them during the winter.

The people in these stories are true to life and the stories are so true that more that once, after I had written a story, the thing actually happened and one read it in the news.

In fact the truth surpasses the imagination. I once wrote a story about the Communist, Peppone, who was annoyed during a political meeting by an airplane which threw down pamphlets of the opposition. Peppone took up a machine-gun, but he could not bring himself to fire on the plane. When I wrote this I said to myself, 'This is too fantastic.' Some months later, at Spilimbergo [Northern Italy], not only did the Communists fire on an airplane that distributed anti-Communist pamphlets, but they shot it down.

I have nothing more to say about The Little World of Don Camillo. You can't expect that, after a poor fellow has written a book, he should also understand it.

I am 5 feet 10 inches high and I have written eight books in all. I have also done a movie which is called People Like This, now being distributed throughout Italy. Many people like the movie; others do not like it. As far as I am concerned, the movie leaves me indifferent. Many things in life me indifferent now, but that is not my fault. It is the fault of the war. The war destroyed a lot of things we had within us. We have seen too many dead and too many living. In addition to 5 feet 10 inches, I have all my hair.

(Introduction to the Seventh Italian Edition; Transl. by Una Vincenzo Troubridge, with minor corrections)

A Catholic George W. Bush?
President to announce conversion at the end of his term

Could the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, be the next new Catholic convert? Ignazio Ingrao, religion journalist of Italian weekly Panorama, reports:

After Tony Blair, it could be the turn of George W. Bush. According to Washington rumors, the President, a Methodist Christian, would be in the process of converting to Catholicism, as the Anglican Blair. The prayer which the Pope and the Bush family prayed together in the Oval Office of the White House might be the sign of the already accomplished conversion, which the President of the United States could expect to make public at the end of his term. Also Jeb, George's younger brother, entered the Catholic faith years ago, thanks to his Mexican wife Columba.

Christos Anesti! Christos Voskrese!

Even if it's a bit late...a blessed and joyous Pascha to our Eastern Catholic brethren and other Christians who observe the Queen of Feasts according to the Julian Calendar

The man who will not go away

Main excerpts of the interview granted by the President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, Archbishop Piero Marini, to the official Vatican daily, L'Osservatore Romano (permanent link):

The debate on the liturgical reform effected by the Council seems today to have become again of current interest. How do you judge the path accomplished in over forty years?

I followed, from the end of the Vatican II period, the implementation of the liturgical reform for around 22 years, first in the Consilium ad exsequendam constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, and then in the Congregation for Divine Worship. Afterwards, for over twenty years, I was able to celebrate the liturgy willed by the Council in over one hundred nations, on the voyages of Pope Wojtyla. I have thus organized with local experts countless celebrations of the Eucharist, of the Liturgy of the Hours, of the Word of God, of sacraments, Ecumenical celebrations in so many languages and cultures. The liturgy willed by the Council was celebrated everywhere with lively participation and enthusiasm. Everyone understood the liturgy as specific to their local Church and, at the same time, as expression of the universal Church. The celebratory praxis has confirmed that the liturgical reform was necessary because it was based upon sound theological principles of perennial value. It is, therefore, an irreversible path.

The Conciliar Fathers and the Roman Pontiff, making the words of Pius XII their own, defined the renewal of the liturgy, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, as a movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The meaning of this affirmation is thus part of the tissue of contemporary ecclesial faith.

The celebration of the liturgy cannot, therefore, be separated from the life of the Church. And the Church that lives - I quote Paul VI - is the Church of today, not the Church of yesterday or the Church of tomorrow.

This is the reason for which the Council concerned itself, first of all, with the liturgy. For the Council, the renewal of the Church, Ecumenism, and missionary action depend on the way in which the liturgy is lived. Yet, celebrating the liturgy of the Council, as Pope Montini affirmed, is not an easy matter, as it is not easy living the life of the Church. Rather, celebrating the liturgy of the Council is a difficult and delicate matter. It demands direct and methodical interest, it requires patience, perseverance, personal and loving effort, and so much pastoral charity. All this is necessary, however, if we wish that the life of the Church to be renewed, and that all may feel called to salvation. Liturgical pastoral [care] is an always permanent effort.

Let us, therefore, be guided by the Holy Spirit who inspired the liturgical movement, Paul VI, and the Conciliar Fathers, and let us continue to bring forward, with renewed effort and enthusiasm, the liturgical ministry in our ecclesial communities.

Many have interpreted "
Summorum Pontificum" as a full stop in this path of action [of Conciliar Reform]. What is your though regarding this event?

The text of the motu proprio is to be read in the context in which the Pope placed it. "Today - the Pope says in the accompanying letter addressed to the Bishops - an obligation is imposed upon us: to make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew." For us, Catholics, the Pope is the visible sign of unity in the Church, he is the Bishop of the Church of Rome called to preside over all the other Churches in charity. The Pope was called by the Lord to exercise the Petrine ministry , to make every effort so that the Church shall remain whole. He has therefore the right and the duty to provide unity to the Church. Who can deny him this duty or this obligation? The Liturgy itself, for those who live it with authenticity, is a school which shapes the very meaning of the Church in the respect of the different competences and ministries and in obedience to the one who presides it.

Finally, it should be remembered that the motu proprio does not intend to introduce modification in the current Roman Missal nor to express a negative judgment on the liturgical reform willed by the Council: the Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the "law of prayer"' the Missal promulgated by Saint Pius V must be considered as the extraordinary expression of the same "law of prayer" . With this new disposition, Benedict XVI does not wish that "the authority of the Council be attacked" or that "the liturgical reforb be put in doubt". On the contrary, the Pope's decision has not entailed, up to now, any change in the celebratory praxis of our ecclesial communities. His gesture has been solely in the service of unity. Let us look forward, then, and let us continue with enthusiasm on the path carried out by the Council.

"This man's religion is in vain"

Dearly beloved, Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass: for he beheld himself and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work: this man shall be blessed in his deed. And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is in vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation, and to keep one's self unspotted from this world. (Epistle for the Fifth Sunday after Easter - Saint James, i, 22-27)

It may be said in all truth that the Church, like Christ, goes through the centuries doing good to all. There would be today neither Socialism nor Communism if the rulers of the nations had not scorned the teachings and maternal warnings of the Church. On the bases of liberalism and laicism they wished to build other social edifices which, powerful and imposing as they seemed at first, all too soon revealed the weakness of their foundations, and today are crumbling one after another before our eyes, as everything must crumble that is not grounded on the one corner stone which is Christ Jesus.

This, Venerable Brethren, is the doctrine of the Church, which alone in the social as in all other fields can offer real light and assure salvation in the face of Communistic ideology. But this doctrine must be consistently reduced to practice in every-day life, according to the admonition of St. .James the Apostle: "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

The most urgent need of the present day is therefore the energetic and timely application of remedies which will effectively ward off the catastrophe that daily grows more threatening. We cherish the firm hope that the fanaticism with which the sons of darkness work day and night at their materialistic and atheistic propaganda will at least serve the holy purpose of stimulating the sons of light to a like and even greater zeal for the honor of the Divine Majesty.

Even in Catholic countries there are still too many who are Catholics hardly more than in name. There are too many who fulfill more or less faithfully the more essential obligations of the religion they boast of professing, but have no desire of knowing it better, of deepening their inward conviction, and still less of bringing into conformity with the external gloss the inner splendor of a right and unsullied conscience, that recognizes and performs all its duties under the eye of God.

We know how much Our Divine Savior detested this empty pharisaic show, He Who wished that all should adore the Father "in spirit and in truth." The Catholic who does not live really and sincerely according to the Faith he professes will not long be master of himself in these days when the winds of strife and persecution blow so fiercely, but will be swept away defenseless in this new deluge which threatens the world. And thus, while he is preparing his own ruin, he is exposing to ridicule the very name of Christian.
Pius XI
Divini Redemptoris

¿Pueblo de Dios?

[Chávez] described the arrival of [Bishop] Lugo at the Presidency of the Paraguayan nation as "an extraordinary triumph which fills us with optimism."
"We have Fidel [Castro, of Cuba], a guerrilla; myself, a soldier from the barracks; [Rafael] Correa [of Ecuador], a Harvard economist; Evo [Morales, of Bolivia], an Indian; Lula [da Silva, of Brazil], a worker; Cristina [Kirchner, of Argentina],a nationalist, patriotic woman; a physician, Tabaré [Vázquez, of Uruguay]. A priest was missing," he underlined.


24 April 2008

* Westminster bishop to confer Traditional Latin Rite Confirmations

Bishop George Stack, auxiliary bishop in Westminster, will administer Confirmations in the Traditional Latin Rite at St James’s Church, Spanish Place, London W1 on Saturday, 15 November at 11.00 am at the request of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster. This will be the fifth consecutive year that Westminster auxiliary bishops will have conferred Confirmation in the Traditional Rite. Last year in November 2007, a record 54 candidates received the sacrament at the hands of Bishop John Arnold – 50 children and 4 adults.

Also in November 2007, Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton became the first diocesan bishop of England and Wales to administer Traditional Rite Confirmations when he confirmed 7 candidates during a pastoral visit to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church, Chesham Bois, Bucks on Sunday 18 November 2007. Bishop Doyle also celebrated Sunday Mass in the Traditional Rite on that occasion.

John Medlin, General Manager of the Latin Mass Society, said, “There is no sign of slackening of demand for Traditional Rite Confirmations – in fact the opposite. The numbers are increasing every year and I expect this trend to continue after Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio. We hope it will not be long before bishops all over England and Wales respond to pastoral demand for Mass and the Sacraments in the Traditional Rite. Those attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite are very grateful to Cardinal Cormac and the Westminster auxiliary bishops for making provision for the Traditional Mass and Sacraments.”

At St James’s, Spanish Place, in November 2007, a packed congregation of 600 family and friends were led by the St James’s choir in singing the Veni Creator Spiritus and other traditional hymns. During the anointing, the choir sang polyphony and plain chant. After the anointing, Bishop Arnold led the congregation in the Divine Praises and then conferred Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

After the Confirmations, at a reception, Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, thanked Bishop Arnold for his pastoral concern and led the assembly in a traditional roof-raising round of applause. Bishop Arnold then spoke informally and cut the special Confirmation cake with many parents taking photographs. Later, the bishop mixed with the parents and children whilst everyone enjoyed the refreshments provided by the LMS.


Parents who require Traditional Confirmation for their children in November 2008 should contact the LMS office for full details of how to register.


Silence and Signs

April 24 is a special day for Catholic converts from Protestantism: it is the feast of a great martyr, Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, the missionary killed by Protestants in Seewis, Switzerland.

It is also the feastday of a famous 20th-Century convert from Lutheranism, Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad. Mother Elizabeth only knew one kind of Ecumenism - that of conversion to the one true Faith:

Arriving in New York on July 9, 1888, [Elizabeth] entered a school for nurses at Roosevelt Hospital. She often took care of workers injured on the building site of the future Saint Patrick's Cathedral. One day, she heard an injured Irishman repeat in his sufferings: «Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!» This invocation seemed improper to her. She wrote, «He shouldn't speak like that; it's not Christian… Catholics have strange expressions.» One night, she ventured out alone in a terrible storm to call a priest to see a dying Catholic who wished to be reconciled with God. «May God bless you, dear little sister, for your attention and zeal,» said the priest to Elizabeth. «Unfortunately, you cannot yet understand what a marvelous service you render to so many people… One day, you will understand; you will find the way.» In her search for the Church of Christ, Elizabeth visited many sanctuaries of all creeds. She loved the silence of the Catholic churches — but why do the faithful there genuflect so often, why do they make so many signs of the cross? Is it really necessary to express one's faith exteriorly? In keeping with her convictions at that time, she thought that faith, in order to be pure, must be kept secret.
In Brussels, Elizabeth accompanied her friends, fervent Catholics, to the Corpus Christi procession of the Blessed Sacrament, which was held at Saint Gudule Cathedral. In her personal notes, she wrote, «I didn't know that the bishop was carrying something… Seeing my two friends and many other people kneel, I moved back behind the large portal so as not to offend those around me by staying standing. I thought, 'Before You alone, Lord, I kneel; not here!' At this moment, the bishop who was carrying the monstrance reached the portal. My anxious soul was suddenly filled with gentleness and I heard a voice, which seemed to come at the same time from outside and from the bottom of my heart, tell me, 'I am the One you seek.' I fell to my knees… There, behind the church door, I made my first adoration before our Divine Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament.»

After the ceremony, Elizabeth hastened to tell her friends about the grace received. From this day on, although suffering sometimes serious doubts and marked by interior struggles, she became ever closer to the Catholic Church. [Source: Spiritual Newsletter - Abbaye Saint-Joseph de Clairval]

Catholics and Politics
Papal Reminders: Immigration - II

Now, among the rights of a human person there must be included that by which a man may enter a political community where he hopes he can more fittingly provide a future for himself and his dependents. Wherefore, as far as the common good rightly understood permits, it is the duty of that State to accept such immigrants and to help to integrate them into itself as new members.

Wherefore, on this occasion, We publicly approve and commend every undertaking, founded on the principles of human solidarity and Christian charity, which aims at making migration of persons from one country to another less painful.
Blessed John XXIII
Pacem in Terris

In its history, America has experienced many immigrations, as waves of men and women came to its various regions in the hope of a better future. The phenomenon continues even today, especially with many people and families from Latin American countries who have moved to the northern parts of the continent, to the point where in some cases they constitute a substantial part of the population. They often bring with them a cultural and religious heritage which is rich in Christian elements. The Church is well aware of the problems created by this situation and is committed to spare no effort in developing her own pastoral strategy among these immigrant people, in order to help them settle in their new land and to foster a welcoming attitude among the local population, in the belief that a mutual openness will bring enrichment to all.

Church communities will not fail to see in this phenomenon a specific call to live an evangelical fraternity and at the same time a summons to strengthen their own religious spirit with a view to a more penetrating evangelization. With this in mind, the Synod Fathers recalled that “the Church in America must be a vigilant advocate, defending against any unjust restriction the natural right of individual persons to move freely within their own nation and from one nation to another. Attention must be called to the rights of migrants and their families and to respect for their human dignity, even in cases of non-legal immigration”. ... The Church in America must be constantly concerned to provide for the effective evangelization of those recent arrivals who do not yet know Christ.

Many of the people to whom John Carroll and his fellow Bishops were ministering two centuries ago had travelled from distant lands. The diversity of their origins is reflected in the rich variety of ecclesial life in present-day America. Brother Bishops, I want to encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home. This, indeed, is what your fellow countrymen have done for generations. From the beginning, they have opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (cf. Sonnet inscribed on the Statue of Liberty). These are the people whom America has made her own.

EU refuses help to Christians in Iraq

On Friday, the Slovenian presidency of the European Union rejected a proposal by Germany to give preferential treatment to requests for asylums by Iraqi Christians.

"I think that the right of asylum should be granted regardless of religion or race," said Dragutin Mate, Slovenian Minister of the Interior upon his arrival in Luxembourg where he was to chair a meeting of his counterparts from the European Union. "It seems to me to be difficult to work in this direction" (of preferential treatment), he added. The German Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble, had announced his intention to seek the endorsement of the Member States for facilitating the acceptance of asylum applications submitted by Christians in Iraq, whom he considers to be threatened by sectarian violence within their country. The Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, Mgr Rahou Faraj, was abducted and killed on March 29. The Chaldeans, Eastern Rite Catholics, are the main Christian community in Iraq and one of the oldest Christian churches. Before the American invasion of 2003, the Christian community in the country had approximately 800,000 members, or about 3% of the majority Muslim population. A large part of them have fled the country or have settled in Iraqi Kurdistan. More than 4,000 applications for asylum have been introduced in Germany by Iraqi refugees in 2007, according to the Interior Ministry, which did not specify their religion.

From Journal Chrétien

The Triumph of Liberation Theology

The dream of Liberation Theology priests everywhere has come true this Sunday as Bishop Fernando Lugo (Emeritus of San Pedro) was elected the new President of the Republic of Paraguay.

In early 2007, the Holy See had made clear that Lugo had been suspended, but not released from his episcopal dignity (Document in Spanish). That was completely irrelevant to Lugo, who pressed on with his candidacy in favor of his vision of "Cambio" ("Change").

Lugo presented what he means by change in a political conference in Ecuador last August, concluding his speech with these words:

We are attempting to build the Socialism of the 21st Century, a fresh and new Socialism, a legitimized pact, impelling participatory democracy, that is, real democracy. With our attitude.
There will be no Socialism without economic transformation, there will be no Socialism without participatory democracy, with emphasis in economic [matters], there will be no Socialism without Socialist ethics; love, solidarity, equality among all men and women, among all, are the fundamental elements of Socialism and of ordinary people.

Fernando Lugo was named Bishop of San Pedro by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

RIP: Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo

Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo was, without doubt, one of the Church's greatest defenders of human life and of doctrinal and moral orthodoxy. As Archbishop of Medellin, he cleared the seminary library shelves of all works of liberation theology and of liberal theologians, and led the fight within Latin America against liberationists. As Cardinal, he was one of the faces of the Catholic Church's campaign against the culture of death. He dies as Paraguay falls into the hands of a liberationist and Socialist bishop; now, the fight against the theology of liberation as well as against anti-life initiatives may have gained a new intercessor in heaven.

Colombian Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, Vatican family expert, dies at 72

ROME (CNS) -- Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, died April 19 at Rome's Pius XI clinic, where he had been hospitalized since early April with a respiratory infection. He was 72.

The Colombian-born cardinal, who served as archbishop of Medellin from 1979 to 1991, had been president of the family council at the Vatican for nearly 18 years.

But even before taking up the Vatican post, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo's influence was felt throughout Latin America and beyond because of his work as general secretary and later president of the Latin American bishops' council, known as CELAM.

His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 195 members, 118 of whom are under the age of 80 and, therefore, eligible to vote in a conclave.

As president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo denounced proposals in several countries that would authorize same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

He helped local churches oppose legislation to legalize abortion or make it easier to obtain and called promotion of contraceptives a form of "biological colonialism" by drug companies and wealthy nations. He described drug addiction as a modern "form of slavery that oppresses the whole world."

In 2004, he went on British television to warn that condoms were not an effective barrier against the AIDS virus and suggested condom packets should carry a warning to that effect.Cardinal Lopez Trujillo was convinced that the family risks destruction and that the church must lead an "evangelical struggle" to defend it."

People don't realize the human tragedy they are preparing," Cardinal Lopez Trujillo said in a 2006 interview with Catholic News Service.

"If you look at Europe or the Americas, there's not a parliament where these issues are not being debated. I think it's providential to have a pope who speaks with courage and clarity -- and to have a curial agency to lend help when needed," he said.At the Synod of Bishops in October 2005, he urged a firmer line on the issue of Communion, politics and abortion. In his view, he said, politicians who promote unjust legislation must "remedy the evil committed" before they receive Communion.

When Spain approved gay marriage in 2005, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo said Catholic civil officials should conscientiously object to taking part in such ceremonies, even if they lose their jobs as a result.

On several occasions, he praised the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush for its opposition to abortion and its positions on a range of pro-life and family issues. In the CNS interview, the cardinal freely acknowledged that his council engages in political questions. But he said that while Pope Benedict XVI has cautioned church leaders against involvement in partisan politics, the council is simply "enlightening politicians and saying what the values are ... as a service to society."

"It's a different kind of politics," he said. "Those who are afraid of this are mistaken."

Born Nov. 8, 1935, in Villahermosa, Colombia, he moved with his family to Bogota as a young boy.

After studies at the local archdiocesan major seminary, he went to Rome for studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum, where he earned his doctorate in philosophy. He also took courses in theology, sociology and Marxism.

Ordained a priest Nov. 13, 1960, then-Father Lopez Trujillo continued his studies in Rome for two more years before returning to Bogota.

He taught philosophy for four years at the local major seminary and developed a course -- taught throughout Colombia -- on Pope Paul VI's 1967 encyclical, "Populorum Progressio" ("The Progress of Peoples"). He participated as an expert in the second general conference of Latin American bishops, held in Medellin in 1968.

On Feb. 25, 1971, Pope Paul named him an auxiliary bishop of Bogota, and he was ordained a bishop March 25, 1971. The next year he was elected CELAM general secretary, continuing to serve in that post through his May 22, 1978, appointment as coadjutor archbishop of Medellin, his June 2, 1979, succession as archbishop and the 1979 third general conference of CELAM, held in Puebla, Mexico, with the participation of Pope John Paul II.

Then-Archbishop Lopez Trujillo was elected president of CELAM at the Puebla meeting, serving until 1983, when he was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul. He was president of the Colombian bishops' conference, 1987-1990.Pope John Paul named Cardinal Lopez Trujillo president of the Pontifical Council for the Family Nov. 8, 1990. The Colombian prelate formally resigned as Medellin archbishop Jan. 9, 1991.

"May God bless America!"

My visit this morning to Ground Zero will remain firmly etched in my memory, as I continue to pray for those who died and for all who suffer in consequence of the tragedy that occurred there in 2001. For all the people of America, and indeed throughout the world, I pray that the future will bring increased fraternity and solidarity, a growth in mutual respect, and a renewed trust and confidence in God, our heavenly Father.

With these words, I take my leave, I ask you to remember me in your prayers, and I assure you of my affection and friendship in the Lord. May God bless America!
Benedict XVI
Farewell Address
April 20, 2008

The First Vatican Council and the Conversion of Israel

“We congratulate you, dear sons, for this, that transferred to the light and kingdom of God and admitted to the heritage of the Lord, you dedicate the power of Christian charity deposited in you to bringing about the salvation of those with whom you once lived in darkness . . . We ask God for this, that just as his grace has already shone for you, likewise, by your zeal and work, it may enlighten the mind of your brethren and lead all of them, as soon as possible, before us, so that at last there may be only one flock and one shepherd.” Letter of Blessed Pope Pius IX, Gratulamur vobis, February 8, 1865, to Fathers Augustin and Joseph Lémann, two of the most illustrious French Jewish converts of the nineteenth century, who dedicated their lives to the conversion of their people.

During the First Vatican Council, the brothers Lémann obtained 510 signatures of bishops for a petition asking the Holy Father and the Council to issue a general invitation to the Jewish people to believe in Jesus Christ. They stopped gathering signatures at 510, although they believed they could have gathered more, out of deference for the dogma of papal infallibility, the petition for which had gathered 518 signatures. Not a single nation present at the Council in the person of its bishops was absent from the petition to solemnly call Israel to faith in Jesus Christ (except Poland whose bishops the Czar had prevented from attending).

Pius IX accepted the request with joy—it was similar to his universal public appeal to non-Catholic Christians to return to the Catholic Church—and he promised that it would be placed on the Council’s agenda for its next session, foreseen for October or November 1870. Although this session was never held due to the final seizure of Rome by the liberal Kingdom of Italy in the same year, the bishops’ signing of the petition for an appeal to the Jewish people for their conversion was one of the most unanimous activities they did during the Council as the two brothers visited them personally to solicit signatures. Bishop Dupanloup of Orléans, one of the leaders of the minority opposed to defining papal infallibility, deliberately placed his signature under that of Louis Pie of Poitiers, renowned proponent of the definition.

From the text of the petition signed by the bishops: “The undersigned Fathers . . . ask the holy ecumenical Council of the Vatican to deign to give their solicitous attention and admonishment, by a most paternal invitation, to the most unfortunate nation of Israel too . . . [T]hat it express the wish, that fatigued by a wait as fruitless as it has been long, the Israelites hurry to recognize the Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ, truly promised to Abraham and announced by Moses: thus completing and in this way crowning the Mosaic religion without changing it.

“On the one hand, the undersigned Fathers have the most firm confidence that the Holy Council will have compassion on the Israelites, because they are still most dear to God on account of their Fathers, and because it is from them that Christ was born according to the flesh.

“On the other hand, the same Fathers share the sweet and intimate hope that this address of tenderness and honor will, with the help of the Holy Spirit, be welcomed by many of the children of Abraham, because the obstacles which stopped them until this day seem to disappear more and more since the ancient wall of separation fell down.

“May Heaven therefore be pleased to bring it about that as soon as possible they acclaim Christ, telling him, Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

“May Heaven make them run to throw themselves in the arms of the Immaculate Virgin Mary who, already their sister according to the flesh, also wants to be their mother according to grace, as she is ours!”

To take a single example of the attitude of many bishops, we can read what the brothers Lémann reported of the words and reaction of the bishop of Bayonne, France: “We others, descendants of the pagan Gentiles, were the wild tree, but your brothers, for their part, were the sweetness of the olive. Grafted on the olive tree which is our Lord Jesus Christ, how could we not give all our attention to the beneficial branches, the poor Jews, in order to restore to them the sweetness of the olive.” For a moment the bishop was unable to find his inkpot and exclaimed, “If I don’t have any ink, I will find the blood in my veins in order to sign.”

Summarized and quoted from Théotime DE SAINT JUST, [Capuchin],
Les frères Lémann. Juifs Convertis, Paris, 1937.

Hasten the coming of God's Kingdom in this land!

...the Church's unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. All external signs of identity, all structures, associations and programs, valuable or even essential as they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper unity which, in Christ, is God's indefectible gift to his Church. ...

...the Church's unity is "apostolic". It is a visible unity, grounded in the Apostles whom Christ chose and appointed as witnesses to his resurrection, and it is born of what the Scriptures call "the obedience of faith".

"Authority", "obedience". To be frank, these are not easy words to speak nowadays. Words like these represent a "stumbling stone" for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ - "the way and the truth and the life" - we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves. True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. "In his will is our peace".
Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. ... It means working to enrich American society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives.

And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor of Saint Peter sets before you today. As "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation", follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God's Kingdom in this land!
May you find the courage to proclaim Christ, "the same, yesterday, and today and for ever" and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in him. These are the truths that set us free! They are the truths which alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world - including the most defenseless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother's womb.

Benedict XVI
Homily - New York
April 20, 2008

Fellay: SSPX "cannot sign an agreement"

The Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, signed his latest Letter to Friends and Benefactors last Monday - and it was published in the current edition of the official newsletter of the Fraternity, DICI (alternative link) made available today.

This is the heart of the letter:

The Motu Proprio which introduced a hope of change for the better at the liturgical level is not accompanied by logically co-related measures in the other areas of the life of the Church. All changes introduced at the Council and in the post-Conciliar reforms which we denounce, because the Church has already condemned them, are confirmed. With the difference that, from now on, it is said, at the same time, that the Church does not change…[sic], which means that these changes are perfectly in the line of Catholic Tradition.

The disruption at the level of concepts, together with the reminder that the Church must remain faithful to her Tradition, may trouble some. Since facts do not corroborate the new attitude [lit.: affirmation], it is necessary to conclude that nothing [sic] has changed in the will of Rome to follow the Conciliar orientations, despite forty years of crisis, despite the deserted convents, the abandoned rectories, the empty churches. The Catholic universities persist in their ramblings, the teaching of the Catechism remains unknown at the same time that the Catholic school does not exist anymore as particularly Catholic: it has become an extinct species… [sic]

This is why the Fraternity of Saint Pius X cannot "sign an agreement" [ne peut pas "signer d'accord"]. It openly rejoices on the papal desire to reintroduce the ancient and venerable rite of the Holy Mass, but it also discovers the resistance, at times brutal, of whole episcopates. Without despairing, without impatience, we observe that the time for an agreement has not yet come. This does not prevent us from continuing to wait, from continuing on the path defined in the year 2000. We continue to ask the Holy Father for the repeal of the decree of excommunication of 1988, because we are persuaded that that would do much good to the Church and we encourage you to pray that it may take place.

But it would be very imprudent and hasty to thrust ourselves unwisely in pursuit of a practical agreement which would not be founded upon the fundamental principles of the Church, particularly on the faith.

+ Bernard Fellay
Menzingen, April 14, 2008

Truth is a Person: Jesus Christ

Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth's place or better said its absence an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a freedom which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ's very being for others.
Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.
Friends, again I ask you, what about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ.

"One of the great disappointments which followed the ...Council...
has been division."

I am particularly happy that we have gathered in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Perhaps more than any other church in the United States, this place is known and loved as “a house of prayer for all peoples” (cf. Is 56:7; Mk 11:17). Each day thousands of men, women and children enter its doors and find peace within its walls. ... I would like to draw your attention to a few aspects of this beautiful structure which I think can serve as a starting point for a reflection on our particular vocations within the unity of the Mystical Body.

The first has to do with the stained glass windows, which flood the interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendor. Many writers – here in America we can think of Nathaniel Hawthorne – have used the image of stained glass to illustrate the mystery of the Church herself. It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.

Like all Gothic cathedrals, it is a highly complex structure, whose exact and harmonious proportions symbolize the unity of God’s creation. Medieval artists often portrayed Christ, the creative Word of God, as a heavenly “geometer”, compass in hand, who orders the cosmos with infinite wisdom and purpose. Does this not bring to mind our need to see all things with the eyes of faith, and thus to grasp them in their truest perspective, in the unity of God’s eternal plan? This requires, as we know, constant conversion, and a commitment to acquiring “a fresh, spiritual way of thinking” (cf. Eph 4:23). It also calls for the cultivation of those virtues which enable each of us to grow in holiness and to bear spiritual fruit within our particular state of life. Is not this ongoing “intellectual” conversion as necessary as “moral” conversion for our own growth in faith, our discernment of the signs of the times, and our personal contribution to the Church’s life and mission?

For all of us, I think, one of the great disappointments which followed the Second Vatican Council, with its call for a greater engagement in the Church’s mission to the world, has been the experience of division between different groups, different generations, different members of the same religious family. We can only move forward if we turn our gaze together to Christ! In the light of faith, we will then discover the wisdom and strength needed to open ourselves to points of view which may not necessarily conform to our own ideas or assumptions. Thus we can value the perspectives of others, be they younger or older than ourselves, and ultimately hear “what the Spirit is saying” to us and to the Church (cf. Rev 2:7). In this way, we will move together towards that true spiritual renewal desired by the Council, a renewal which can only strengthen the Church in that holiness and unity indispensable for the effective proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world.

...The unity of a Gothic cathedral, we know, is not the static unity of a classical temple, but a unity born of the dynamic tension of diverse forces which impel the architecture upward, pointing it to heaven. Here too, we can see a symbol of the Church’s unity, which is the unity – as Saint Paul has told us – of a living body composed of many different members, each with its own role and purpose.
So let us lift our gaze upward! And with great humility and confidence, let us ask the Spirit to enable us each day to grow in the holiness that will make us living stones in the temple which he is even now raising up in the midst of our world. If we are to be true forces of unity, let us be the first to seek inner reconciliation through penance. Let us forgive the wrongs we have suffered and put aside all anger and contention. Let us be the first to demonstrate the humility and purity of heart which are required to approach the splendor of God’s truth. In fidelity to the deposit of faith entrusted to the Apostles (cf. 1 Tim 6:20), let us be joyful witnesses of the transforming power of the Gospel!
Benedict XVI
Homily - Saint Patrick's Cathedral
April 19, 2008

The true Catholic Fire
and the Masonic flame of the Olympic Games

The Olympic Fire and the Fire of Jesus Christ

by Father Nicola Bux and Father Salvatore Vitiello

The human longing for brotherhood has taken another hard blow: not even the Olympic Torch is above protest. Yet, if it is to be a symbol of something which can be achieved, at least there where the Olympic Games are held, and not a utopia, it should not be contradicted; but that fire has been extinguished many times.

The Masonic plan to revive the flame of the gods of Olympus in order to attain the unification of humanity and install universal peace - a poorly disguised imitation of catholic Christianity -, reveals its inconsistency. Like all those statements about values which never indicate the roots from which those values come.
The ancient Greeks saw fire as a symbol of the deity, a power jealously guarded in the heavens, while man was left on earth in the cold. Prometheus tries to steal it but is chained to a rock where his regenerating liver is eaten daily by a vulture; a metaphor of the ever present human longing to have God on earth. So the Olympic Games in the ancient times were an emulation of man's “recurrent struggle” to steal something from the gods. Jacob struggled with Gabriel “strength of God”: and he won at the price of a dislocation, which he never forgot (cfr Gen 32,33), the limit of the demand to see God. But Jesus came and He showed us God, announcing in Perea, where many Greeks lived: “I have come to bring fire on earth; and how I wish it were blazing already!” (Lk 12,49); but He the new Prometheus, subjected himself to the humility of the Cross.

For a Christian, the Fire of [ancient] Olympia is a premonition of something, the impatience for the new world, which grows only with patience, the patience of God, who endures the cross and renounces all triumphalism. Instead,
those who invented the modern Olympic Games thought perhaps: “we now do things, we have found our way, and on this path we will find the new world” (Benedict XVI, addressing the clergy of the dioceses of Belluno-Feltre-Treviso, 24 July 2007). This temptation must be resisted by the Church of Christ which must remain humble and therefore great and filled with great joy. Humanity of heart grows with humility not with spectacular deeds, which instead produce passion and pride. This is the true hope of the world.

Sport is not our deity. The Church, as a communion of brothers and sisters, is reborn and grows day by day: this is a real contribution to the development of society and the world. Only if we draw, with a humble and confident heart, from the fire of God's love, can we kindle the fire of charity among all men and women on earth: contemplative prayer “Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love”(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2717). The Easter Vigil Liturgy blesses the new fire, symbol of the glory of the Father who sent His Son on earth: to kindle desire for heaven and to lead us renewed in the Spirit to heaven. This cosmic element is therefore seen by faith as the symbol of God's greatness and closeness and the power of his Holy Spirit.

The ideal of the Olympic Games to create a world of unity and “catholicity” reveals itself once again to be utopian, in the face of mankind's longing for freedom, in the face of anyone who senses that freedom can never be suppressed, since it is an essential trait of the image and likeness of God, who is Freedom.

The Church, always countered by the great powers of the Anti-Church, as Christ is by the Anti-Christ, knows that only through the permanent scars of the Risen Lord blows the Spirit, in humility and in silence, renewing her in all her fragility and the world in all its contradiction. In this lies true joy: to “race in the stadium” to win the prize, not fleeting, of eternal life and to implore: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love”.


New winds must be blowing in a Vatican in which such words are not only tolerated once more, but published by the official news agency of Propaganda Fide. Thank you, o Lord, for the third anniversary of the Pontificate of our gloriously reigning Pope.

An impressive ecumenical breakthrough
Reject false "prophetic actions"
Hold fast to sound teaching

The Pope's most impressive speech so far in his Apostolic Voyage to the United States, with many links to his epoch-making address to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005, as the Successor of Peter professes his "faithful witness to the Gospel" and his fidelity to "the Church of every age":

Globalization has humanity poised between two poles. On the one hand, there is a growing sense of interconnectedness and interdependency between peoples even when - geographically and culturally speaking - they are far apart. ...The expanding use of electronic communications has in some cases paradoxically resulted in greater isolation. ... Also of grave concern is the spread of a secularist ideology that undermines or even rejects transcendent truth. The very possibility of divine revelation, and therefore of Christian faith, is often placed into question by cultural trends widely present in academia, the mass media and public debate. For these reasons, a faithful witness to the Gospel is as urgent as ever. Christians are challenged to give a clear account of the hope that they hold.

Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called "prophetic actions" that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of "local options". Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia - communion with the Church in every age - is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel.
Throughout the New Testament, we find that the Apostles were repeatedly called to give an account for their faith to both Gentiles and Jews. The core of their argument was always the historical fact of Jesus's bodily resurrection from the tomb. The ultimate effectiveness of their preaching did not depend on "lofty words" or "human wisdom", but rather on the work of the Spirit who confirmed the authoritative witness of the Apostles.

...the power of the kerygma has lost none of its internal dynamism. Yet we must ask ourselves whether its full force has not been attenuated by a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine similar to that found in secular ideologies, which, in alleging that science alone is "objective", relegate religion entirely to the subjective sphere of individual feeling. Scientific discoveries, and their application through human ingenuity, undoubtedly offer new possibilities for the betterment of humankind. This does not mean, however, that the "knowable" is limited to the empirically verifiable, nor religion restricted to the shifting realm of "personal experience".

For Christians to accept this faulty line of reasoning would lead to the notion that there is little need to emphasize objective truth in the presentation of the Christian faith, for one need but follow his or her own conscience and choose a community that best suits his or her individual tastes. The result is seen in the continual proliferation of communities which often eschew institutional structures and minimize the importance of doctrinal content for Christian living.

Even within the ecumenical movement, Christians may be reluctant to assert the role of doctrine for fear that it would only exacerbate rather than heal the wounds of division. Yet a clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus has to be based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching: a teaching which indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental life of Christians today.

Only by "holding fast" to sound teaching will we be able to respond to the challenges that confront us in an evolving world. Only in this way will we give unambiguous testimony to the truth of the Gospel and its moral teaching. This is the message which the world is waiting to hear from us. Like the early Christians, we have a responsibility to give transparent witness to the "reasons for our hope", so that the eyes of all men and women of goodwill may be opened to see that God has shown us his face and granted us access to his divine life through Jesus Christ.

He alone is our hope!

God has revealed his love for all peoples through the mystery of his Son's passion and death, and has called us to proclaim that he is indeed risen, has taken his place at the right hand of the Father, and "will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead" (Nicene Creed).
Benedict XVI
Address in Ecumenical Prayer Service
April 18, 2008

"...hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus Christ"

The United Nations remains a privileged setting in which the Church is committed to contributing her experience "of humanity", developed over the centuries among peoples of every race and culture, and placing it at the disposal of all members of the international community. This experience and activity, directed towards attaining freedom for every believer, seeks also to increase the protection given to the rights of the person. Those rights are grounded and shaped by the transcendent nature of the person, which permits men and women to pursue their journey of faith and their search for God in this world.

In my recent Encyclical, Spe Salvi, I indicated that "every generation has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs" (no. 25). For Christians, this task is motivated by the hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus Christ. That is why the Church is happy to be associated with the activity of this distinguished Organization, charged with the responsibility of promoting peace and good will throughout the earth.

Salvation comes from the Jews

My dear friends,

I extend special greetings of peace to the Jewish community in the United States and throughout the world as you prepare to celebrate the annual feast of Pesah. My visit to this country has coincided with this feast, allowing me to meet with you personally and to assure you of my prayers as you recall the signs and wonders God performed in liberating his chosen people. Motivated by our common spiritual heritage, I am pleased to entrust to you this message as a testimony to our hope centered on the Almighty and his mercy.

* * *

To the Jewish community on the Feast of Pesah

My visit to the United States offers me the occasion to extend a warm and heartfelt greeting to my Jewish brothers and sisters in this country and throughout the world. A greeting that is all the more spiritually intense because the great feast of Pesah is approaching. "This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever" (Exodus 12: 14). While the Christian celebration of Easter differs in many ways from your celebration of Pesah, we understand and experience it in continuation with the biblical narrative of the mighty works which the Lord accomplished for his people.

At this time of your most solemn celebration, I feel particularly close, precisely because of what Nostra Aetate calls Christians to remember always: that the Church "received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles" (Nostra Aetate, 4). In addressing myself to you I wish to re-affirm the Second Vatican Council's teaching on Catholic-Jewish relations and reiterate the Church's commitment to the dialogue that in the past forty years has fundamentally changed our relationship for the better.

Because of that growth in trust and friendship, Christians and Jews can rejoice together in the deep spiritual ethos of the Passover, a memorial (zikkarôn) of freedom and redemption. Each year, when we listen to the Passover story we return to that blessed night of liberation. This holy time of the year should be a call to both our communities to pursue justice, mercy, solidarity with the stranger in the land, with the widow and orphan, as Moses commanded: "But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this" (Deuteronomy 24: 18).

At the Passover Sèder you recall the holy patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the holy women of Israel, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachael and Leah, the beginning of the long line of sons and daughters of the Covenant. With the passing of time the Covenant assumes an ever more universal value, as the promise made to Abraham takes form: "I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing... All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you" (Genesis 12: 2-3). Indeed, according to the prophet Isaiah, the hope of redemption extends to the whole of humanity: "Many peoples will come and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths'" (Isaiah 2: 3). Within this eschatological horizon is offered a real prospect of universal brotherhood on the path of justice and peace, preparing the way of the Lord (cf. Isaiah 62: 10).

Christians and Jews share this hope; we are in fact, as the prophets say, "prisoners of hope" (Zachariah 9: 12). This bond permits us Christians to celebrate alongside you, though in our own way, the Passover of Christ's death and resurrection, which we see as inseparable from your own, for Jesus himself said: "salvation is from the Jews" (John 4: 22). Our Easter and your Pesah, while distinct and different, unite us in our common hope centered on God and his mercy. They urge us to cooperate with each other and with all men and women of goodwill to make this a better world for all as we await the fulfillment of God's promises.

With respect and friendship, I therefore ask the Jewish community to accept my Pesah greeting in a spirit of openness to the real possibilities of cooperation which we see before us as we contemplate the urgent needs of our world, and as we look with compassion upon the sufferings of millions of our brothers and sisters everywhere. Naturally, our shared hope for peace in the world embraces the Middle East and the Holy Land in particular. May the memory of God's mercies, which Jews and Christians celebrate at this festive time, inspire all those responsible for the future of that region-where the events surrounding God's revelation actually took place-to new efforts, and especially to new attitudes and a new purification of hearts!

In my heart I repeat with you the psalm of the paschal Hallel (Psalm 118: 1-4), invoking abundant divine blessings upon you: "O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever. Let Israel say, 'His steadfast love endures forever.' . . . Let those who fear the Lord say, 'His steadfast love endures forever'."

From the Vatican, 14 April 2008