Pope Benedict in the News
During his May 23, 2007 general audience, Pope Benedict reflected on the highlights of his trip to Brazil, recalling especially his “meeting with the young people, hope not only of the future, but a vital force for the Church and society of today,” the canonization of Friar Anthony of St Anne Galvãoand, the first native-born Saint of Brazil, and the culmination of the visit, “the inauguration of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops’ Conferences in the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida.”
In his general audience, Benedict also took the opportunity to correct the record on colonization of Latin America”. John Allen, Jr. reports:
In apparent response to criticism of his May 13 speech in Brazil in which the pope asserted Christianity was not an “imposition of a foreign culture” on indigenous peoples of the New World, Benedict XVI today acknowledged “the shadows that accompanied the evangelization of the Latin American continent.”
The pope said “the sufferings and the injustices inflicted by the colonizers on the indigenous populations, who often saw their fundamental human rights trampled upon,” cannot be forgotten.
Last Sunday, in an address to the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in Aparecida, Brazil, for their Fifth General Conference, Benedict argued that Christianity was not imposed upon native peoples, but rather it was the fulfillment to which their religious experience pointed.
“The Utopia of going back to breathe life into the pre-Columbian religions, separating them from Christ and from the universal Church, would not be a step forward,” Benedict said in Aparecida.”Indeed, it would be a step back. In reality, it would be a retreat towards a stage in history anchored in the past.”
Afterwards, spokespersons for indigenous groups complained that the pope appeared to be denying the troubled history of European colonization. . . .
Benedict clarified his position on the subject as follows:
Certainly, the memory of a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows that accompany the work of evangelization of the Latin American Continent: it is not possible, in fact, to forget the suffering and the injustice inflicted by colonizers on the indigenous populations, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled upon.
But the obligation to recall such unjustifiable crimes – crimes, however, already condemned at the time by missionaries like Bartolomé de Las Casas and by theologians like Francisco de Vitoria of the University of Salamanca – must not prevent noting with gratitude the wonderful works accomplished by divine grace among those populations in the course of these centuries.
The Gospel has thus become on the Continent the supporting element of a dynamic synthesis which, with various facets and according to the different nations, nonetheless expresses the identity of the Latin American People.
Today, in the age of globalization, this Catholic identity is still present as the most adequate response, provided that it is animated by a serious spiritual formation and by the principles of the social doctrine of the Church.
- On April 27, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Benedict will visit the United Nations:
Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the Holy Father has accepted the invitation that was extended to him by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, who met with the Pope at the Vatican on April 18.
For now “there is no date or program” for the Pope’s trip, Father Lombardi said.
- On May 29th, 2007, Pope Benedict stressed the call to evangelization to which all Christians are beckoned, urging that every baptized person must become active in the Church’s missionary activity:
This appeal was made in the Pope’s message for the 81st World Mission Day, which will be celebrated on Oct. 21 with the theme: “All the Churches for All the World.”
In the text, the Holy Father “invites local Churches on all continents to a joint awareness of the urgent need to relaunch missionary activity to meet the many grave challenges of our time.” [. . .]
“Faced with an increasingly secularized culture, which seems to be penetrating Western societies more and more, in light of the crisis of the family, the lack of vocations and a progressively aging clergy,” the Pope explained, these ancient Churches “run the risk of closing in on themselves, of looking to the future with reduced hope and of lessening their missionary efforts.”
“Yet this is precisely the moment to open trustingly to the providence of God, who never abandons his people and who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, guides them towards the accomplishment of his eternal plan of salvation,” the Holy Father said.
- Continuing his reflections on the early fathers of the Christian Church, Pope Benedict turned his attention to the teachings of Tertullian:
He started the use of theology in Latin. His work brought decisive benefits which it would be unforgivable to underestimate. His influence covered different areas: linguistically, from the use of language and the recovery of classical culture, to singling out a common “Christian soul” in the world and in the formulation of new proposals of human coexistence. . . .
His apologetic writings are above all the most famous. They manifest two key intentions: to refute the grave accusations that pagans directed against the new religion; and, more propositional and missionary, to proclaim the Gospel message in dialogue with the culture of the time.
His writings are important as they also show the practical trends in the Christian community regarding Mary Most Holy, the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Matrimony and Reconciliation, Petrine primacy, prayer…. In a special way, in those times of persecution when Christians seemed to be a lost minority, the Apologist exhorted them to hope, which in his treatises is not simply a virtue in itself, but something that involves every aspect of Christian existence. . . .
In his famous affirmation according to which our soul “is naturally Christian” (Apologeticus 17: 6), Tertullian evokes the perennial continuity between authentic human values and Christian ones. Also in his other reflection borrowed directly from the Gospel, according to which “the Christian cannot hate, not even his enemies” (cf. Apologeticus 37), is found the unavoidable moral resolve, the choice of faith which proposes “non-violence” as the rule of life. Indeed, no one can escape the dramatic aptness of this teaching, also in light of the heated debate on religions.
- In an interview with the Catholic newspaper Avvenire, Vatican Secretary of State Cardianal Tarcisio Bertone addressed some controversial issues that occupied the press during Benedict XVI’s trip to Brazil Zenit News Service. June 4, 2007:
Cardinal Bertone: There is nothing scandalous in the fact that the Pontiff’s press conference was transcribed in a slightly different version from the original. Even the texts of the Wednesday audiences are sometimes published after an accurate revision.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, too, in its definitive edition, the “editio typica” of 1997, differs in many points from the first edition published in 1992. Those who read the recent document on limbo of the International Theological Commission can see that the “editio typica” of an encyclical — in this instance, Pope John Paul II’s “Evangelium Vitae” — presents a different and more precise formulation on a certain point than the version that was originally published.
Q: What can you say about the excommunication of legislators who have approved abortion?
Cardinal Bertone: It seems clear to me that the Pope recalled that it is the responsibility of individual bishops to decide whether and when to excommunicate, that it is a penalty foreseen in the Code of Canon Law, and in this case it is a matter of “ferendae sententiae” [a non-automatic excommunication].
Q: And in regard to the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero? Why does the published text not mention the fact that the Pope said he has no doubts that Archbishop Romero merits beatification?
Cardinal Bertone: It is evident that the Pope wants to be very respectful of the work of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the prefect of which was also present on the Pope’s flight.
Q: After this experience, do you think it is likely that there will be other press conferences with the Pope?
Cardinal Bertone: That is for the Pope to decide. But everyone knows that Cardinal Ratzinger never had any fear of the press and he always kindly offered answers to journalists who stopped him on the street.
- On June 6, 2007, A man leaped over security barricades after the general audience and briefly held on to the popemobile before security guards restrained him.:
he Pope, in fact, did not seem to notice the activity, as everything happened behind his back as he greeted the people.
The Vatican later clarified that the 27-year-old man, of German nationality, suffers from a mental disability and was not trying to harm the Holy Father, but just wanted to attract attention.
The episode lasted only a few seconds, . . .
The offender was hospitalized at the Vatican’s request to “undergo mandatory treatment in a specialized and protected center.”
Liveleak has video footage of the incident, and Father Z has a good post on the new security problems faced by Pope Benedict’s popularity (Things are Hopping in Rome What Does Prayer Really Say June 6, 2007). See also Cool under pressure: Papal guards handle many pilgrims discreetly, by John Thavis. Catholic News Service. June 7, 2007, on the variety of papal security from Italian police agents to the Vatican’s Swiss Guard to Vatican gendarme corps and even sharpshooters positioned from Vatican rooftops. As one might expect, “the biggest problem facing the pope’s ‘guardian angels’ is distinguishing a real threat from a pilgrim’s overexuberance.”
Writings and Commentary about Pope Benedict XVI