[I have not blogged a “papal roundup” in quite some time — January 2008, in fact. What follows is a compilation of news, stories and commentary which caught my eye over the past several months. Enjoy!]
- Ratzinger’s Thesis Seen as Key to Understanding His Papacy: Translation of ’57 Work on Bonaventure Published:
To understand the papacy of Benedict XVI, one should become familiar with his formation as a theologian, affirmed the publishers of Father Joseph Ratzinger’s thesis on St. Bonaventure.
This month in the Antonianum Pontifical University, an Italian translation of young Father Ratzinger’s study of St. Bonaventure’s theology of history, published in 1957 as part of the priest’s preparation for becoming a professor, will be presented by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
Father Pietro Messa, director of the Antonian’s faculty of medieval and Franciscan studies, which collaborated in the publication of the translation, explained to ZENIT that current interest in this study is motivated by a desire to understand the thought of the man who is now Pope.
Cardinal Ratzinger himself discussed his thesis in a Nov. 13, 2000, address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, saying his study of the 13th century theologian uncovered untold aspects about the relationship of the saint “with a new idea of history.” … (Read more).
- Spe Salvi and Vatican II, by Brian A. Graebe. Homiletic & Pastoral Review March 2008:
For all of Spe Salvi’s theological depth, however, it is what the encyclical does not say that has engendered no small amount of controversy. As numerous commentators quickly recognized, Spe Salvi contains not a single reference to any of the documents from the Second Vatican Council. Moreover, for one of the four major constitutions of the council, the very title of which contains the word hope (Gaudium et Spes), to be entirely absent from an encyclical devoted to hope begs consideration. Indeed, the omission is glaring: since the close of Vatican II, the four encyclicals of Pope Paul VI and all fourteen encyclicals of Pope John Paul II cite the conciliar documents in abundance. A brief look at the statistical compilation underscores the uniqueness of this omission. …
- Exclusive: The Words that Benedict XVI Adds Spontaneously, When He Preaches to the Faithful, by Sandro Magister. http://www.Chiesa. March 11, 2008. “Textual analyses of five of his most recent Wednesday catechesis, on Saint Augustine. The words that the pope added spontaneously, beyond the written text, are underlined. They’re on the themes closest to his heart.”
- “Summorum Pontificum” in the Seminary: Cardinal Rigali on Introducing Seminarians to the 1962 Missal March 14, 2008. Since Benedict XVI has said that the Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII should be available to those who prefer it, seminarians should be taught to say it, says Cardinal Justin Rigali. To learn what some bishops are doing to implement the document in seminaries, ZENIT spoke with Cardinal Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, about his plans to introduce seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to the extraordinary form of the Mass.
- Holy Week: The Hidden Homilies of Pope Benedict http://www.Chiesa March 26, 2008. Hidden, except for those who were able to listen to them in person: a few thousand out of 1.2 billion Catholics in the world. Here are the complete texts. Required reading for understanding this pontificate.
- When Your Little Brother Is the Pope Part I of an exclusive interview by Robert Rauhut with Pope Benedict XVI’s brother, Georg Ratzinger. National Catholic Register April 15, 2008. “My Brother, The Pope”, Part II. May 6, 2008.
- What do Joseph Ratzinger, Walter Kasper, and Hans Küng have in common?”
If you said, “They’re all German,” you’d be wrong: Küng is Swiss. All three, of course, are Catholic theologians and priests. But, to the point: all three also had Dr. Thomas Loome as a student some forty years ago. In an article posted by Press Publications, Dr. Loome—who holds a doctorate in Philosophical Theology from the University of Tübingen, Germany—talks about studying under Fr. Ratzinger …
Carl Olson @ Insight Scoop has the story.
- Pope’s Opposition to Euthanasia is Personal: Cousin had Down’s and Was Taken by the Nazis LifeSiteNews. April 11, 2008:
NORTH HAVEN, Connecticut, April 11, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Many people are expecting Pope Benedict XVI to speak out in defense of human life and against abortion during his visit to the United States next week. What few people realize, however, is that the pope knows first-hand what happens when a society refuses to defend the most defenseless of its citizens.
As a boy of fourteen, Joseph Ratzinger had a cousin who had been born with Down’s Syndrome, only a bit younger than himself. In 1941, German state “therapists” came to the boy’s house and probably informed the parents of the government regulation that prohibited mentally handicapped children from remaining in their parents’ home. In spite of the family’s pleas, the representatives of the Nazi state took the child away. The Ratzinger family never saw him again. Later the family learned that he had “died,” most likely murdered, for being “undesirable,” a blemish in the race and a drain on the productivity of the nation. This was Joseph Ratzinger’s first experience of a murderous philosophy that asserts that some people are disposable.
- “Teacher and Witness”: Benedict XVI and the United Nations, by John F. Cullinan (National Review April 28, 2008):
So far most attention has rightly been paid to Benedict’s words and gestures in support of American Catholicsdeeply troubled by the legacy of the sexual abuse crisis and the reality of uncertain episcopal leadership. His pastoral remarks — simple, direct, and accessible — bear his characteristically forthright intellectual and moral imprint. Agree with him or not, there’s no doubt where Benedict stands.
Benedict’s remarks to the U.N. General Assembly belong to an entirely different genre. His purpose was to explore and develop the first principles that underlie state sovereignty and the international system as a whole. It’s tempting to view these remarks merely as an academic lecture, given Benedict’s long career as a professor and theologian, but it’s more helpful to see his words as a kind of final exam for practitioners of statecraft. For it’s above all an invitation to think through his recommended first principles, apply them to specific cases, and draw appropriate conclusions regarding the proper shape of international order, law, and institutions today. And it’s especially relevant for Americans considering how best to reconcile interests and ideals in U.S. foreign policy.
In a nutshell, Benedict sketches a familiar natural-law argument that unexpectedly points to some novel and potentiallycontroversial conclusions….READ MORE
- Deus Caritas Est entrusted to pastors Zenit News. May 1, 2008:
There is no doubt that “Deus Caritas Est” directs itself to various groups in the Church. Nevertheless, the main burden of responsibility for its implementation in dioceses and parishes is placed squarely on the shoulders of the bishops. It is not only the pastoral realism of the Pope, but also theological reasons that make the ordained pastors the principal target group for the encyclical.
An excerpt of the April 7 address given by Cardinal Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, to the spring meeting of the bishops’ council of England and Wales. The talk titled “‘Deus Caritas Est’: The Splendor of Charity” is available in its entirety here.
- Lessons to learn from the papal trip, by John Allen Jr. An address given at the annual World Communications Day luncheon of the Diocese of Brooklyn, hosted by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, in which the veteran Vatican reporter was asked to ruminate on lessons to be learned from the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States:
At the end of the day, it wasn’t stagecraft or slick PR strategies that made the trip a success. It was the gut-level impression of kindness and candor that radiated from the pope. If Catholicism hopes to gain a sympathetic hearing, its capacity to project those two qualities loom as the essential prerequisite.
Here’s the thing, however: It’s not enough merely to project kindness and candor. We actually have to be kind and candid — and that, as any spiritual guide will tell you, is never a “once and for all” deal. It requires daily resolve. Living up to that standard, personally and institutionally, represents perhaps the most lasting challenge left behind by Benedict XVI’s six days in America.
- America magazine reports on Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the ailing Cardinal Avery Dulles (“In All Things” May 16, 2008). The meeting took place in Cardinal Egan’s suite in St. Joseph’s Seminary, after the Pope’s meeting with disabled children. The following account is taken from the New York Jesuits’ newsletter, written by Anne Marie Kirmse, O.P., Cardinal Dulles’s longtime assistant:
“The Pope literally bounded into the room with a big smile on his face. He went directly to where Avery was sitting, saying, ‘Eminenza, Eminenza, I recall the work you did for the International Theological Committee in the 1990’s.’ Avery kissed the papal ring and smiled back at the Pope. Then the Pope looked at the people in the room who had accompanied Avery to the Seminary: Fr. Tom Marciniak, who served as Cardinal Dulles’s priest-chaplain for the meeting; Sr. Anne-Marie Kirmse, O.P.; and Francine Messiah and Oslyn Fergus of the [Jesuit infirmary’s] medical staff. After this warm and friendly exchange of greetings, the Pope sat down next to Avery to hear the remarks that Avery had prepared and which were read for him by Fr. Tom Marciniak. During the presentation, Fr. Tom handed the Pope a copy of Avery’s latest book, Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007, which was published earlier this month by Fordham University Press. The Pope expressed great interest in the book, and even interrupted the reading of the remarks to ask again when the book had been published. He eagerly looked through it, and was touched by Avery’s inscription to him. Before leaving, the Pope blessed Avery, assuring him of his prayers, and encouraging him in his sufferings. He then said good-bye in turn to each of the four persons who accompanied Avery.”
- Atheist scholar is ally (with reservations) in Benedict’s fight against relativism National Catholic Reporter May 16, 2008:
Ever since his famous warning about a “dictatorship of relativism” shortly before his election three years ago, Pope Benedict XVI has been trying to kick-start a global conversation about truth. In particular, Benedict yearns for a new look at truth within the Western secular academy, that exotic region where Jacques Derrida’s relativist maxim “there is nothing outside the text” has, ironically, achieved the status of a near-absolute.
This weekend, in the enchanting Alpine setting of Lugano, Switzerland, a cross-section of prominent Western intellectuals is taking up the papal challenge. Organized by the Balzan Foundation, which each year awards the Swiss-Italian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, this unique gathering of scientists, philosophers, and eggheads of all stripes, most of them without any specific religious conviction, is titled, simply, “The Truth.”
I’m in Lugano covering the event. …
- The Pope and the Press: Is the Love Affair Here to Stay?” asks Lisa Tomeo (Zenit News May 23, 2008):
Whether it was HBO’s Bill Maher’s irreverent and downright sacrilegious remarks calling Benedict XVI a Nazi, and referring to the Catholic Church as a cult that houses and protects child molesters — which he did later apologize for — or the major broadcast networks of ABC, NBC and CBS referring to the Pope as a conservative, hardliner and traditionalist, the view from the media front did not look good.
That was, of course, until the Holy Father himself hit the media with a very pro-active one-two punch. Not only was it the Pope who first addressed the fallout from the priest sex abuse scandal here in the United States, but he did it before even landing on American soil. He discussed the sensitive and embarrassing issue during a question-and-answer session with reporters on Shepherd One. And then later in the week he met privately with several victims of the sexual abuse scandal.
Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the Media Research Center, explains it was the Pontiff’s humility and directness concerning the biggest white elephant in the room that may have forced the press to take a closer look at this Pope and make at least some effort to cover him more fairly and at least a bit more gently. …
- Ten texts help crack pope’s pontificate, mission, ministry, by John Thavis. Catholic News Service:
The collected talks are now being read and pondered by Catholics across the country who want to delve a little more deeply into the pope’s message during his April visit.
But what about the rest of his pontificate? What about the hundreds of speeches, homilies, encyclicals, messages, prayers and letters that he’s produced during the first three years as pope?
For those unable to keep up with everything Pope Benedict does and says, here is a starting point: a list of 10 fundamental texts that can help people understand the man, his thought and his ministry.
One caveat: The list makes no claim to be a “top 10,” just a useful anthology. And where the works are particularly lengthy, this list indicates specific chapters or passages. …
- The Vatican has created an anti-terrorist unit in order to guard the Holy See and the pope from a possible attack, reports the London Telegraph:
Vatican security forces now include an anti-bomb squad and a rapid response team, according to Domenico Giani, the head of the Holy See’s 130-man gendarmerie [in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper].
“The rapid response team will carry out investigations across the spread of information channels and will be supported by a sophisticated technical team. It will be able to intervene immediately in case of danger,” said Mr Gianni.
“The second group is made up of highly-specialised experts, armed with sophisticated and innovative technology,” he added.
He said the two teams would not be confined to the Vatican, but would also travel with the pope.
The Swiss Guards have also been given anti-terrorism training, and now carry SIG P75 pistols and Heckler-Koch MP5 sub-machine guns, as well as their traditional halberds.
An unfortunate “sign of the times.” Via A Catholic View).
- President George W. Bush paid a visit to the Vatican to see Pope Benedict during his European tour. (Video). To demonstrate his appreciation for the birthday party at the White House, the Pope received the President in the medieval Saint John’s Tower, followed by a stroll through the Vatican gardens.
The Pope and President Bush gave each other the same gift: a framed photograph of the Pope’s visit to the White House.
According to the Vatican, the two discussed the Middle East peace process, the food crisis and other international issues, the Vatican said. The pontiff also thanked Bush for his “commitment in defence of fundamental moral values.”
World Youth Day 2008
- A website for international pilgrims has been launched as Sydney nears the 50-day mark in the countdown to World Youth Day:
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, has launched the site http://www.ybenedict.org which will release news in English and Spanish.
The website is a project of Towards 2008 – the national student and young adult campaign for WYD2008.
World Youth Day, which will include a visit by Pope Benedict XVI Joseph Ratzinger, will be held from July 15-20.
Organisers are expecting around 125,000 registered pilgrims from overseas, plus a further 100,000 from all parts of Australia, to converge on Sydney for the six-day Catholic event.
- XT3 is the official “social networking” site for World Youth Day Sydney and Beyond – Attention Catholic youth! “Xt3.com is a site to help you connect with other young people interested in knowing more about the Catholic faith, to plug in to the Church and get to know what’s going on in your area. If you are going to WYD use Xt3 to connect with millions, make new friends, and keep in touch with those you meet there.” Kind of like Facebook, only without the trash.
The Pope’s Third Encyclical
The tentative title of the Pope’s third encyclical is “Caritas in Veritate,” “Love In Truth”, reports La Repubblica. It’s focus will be on Catholic social teaching, touching on issues as varied as poverty, peace, wars, international cooperation, energy sources, and globalization.
In his encyclical, the cardinal said, “[Pope Benedict] does not want to repeat obvious truths of Catholic social teaching,” but will apply Church teachings to contemporary problems.
Il Giornale‘s Andrea Tornielli reported last week that the committee working with the Pope on the encyclical includes the Pope’s recently named successor as archbishop of Munich and Freising, Reinhard Marx, a specialist in Catholic social teaching, the top two officials of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, and Stefano Zamagni, a lay Italian economist.
- “Oompah bands, Lederhosen, fine sausages, oversized pretzels “ – That, at least, is how Rich Leonardi titles Brennan Pursell’s Benedict of Bavaria An Intimate Portrait of the Pope and His Homeland Circle Press (March 31, 2008)Spero News interviews author Brennan Pursell on the motivation for writing Benedict in Bavaria:
Why do you think the Pope’s early life and his cultural background are often mischaracterized?
There are a number of reasons for this nasty tendency, none of them pleasant. First of all, in America today most people still immediately associate Germany with Nazism, World War II, and the Holocaust, or, if one is feeling charitable, with Martin Luther.
The weight of evil in Germany’s past is still a very real burden, as it ought to be, but people really should acknowledge that there is more to Germany than all that. Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, is no exception.
In his case the mischaracterization is even worse because of his two decades as head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, commonly referred to as the living ancestor of the Inquisition, something which we in American automatically loathe.
What inspired you to write this particular perspective on the Pope?
Mainly the problem described above. Besides, through my own research and personal experience, I know there is more to Germany than its worst crimes against humanity. Also, Pope Benedict is a first-class, bona fide genius, and most people have no idea about how smart he is.
He is a world-class intellectual, and one who can talk to anybody and make himself understood. Too often we hear people saying that he seems cold or distant. He’s the opposite of that, actually.
- Two editions of Pope Benedict’s addresses during his Apostolic Visit to the United States will be published shortly — Pope Benedict In America: The Full Texts of Papal Talks Given During His Apostolic Visit to the United States from Ignatius Press, with an introduction by Fr. James V. Schall; Christ Our Hope: The Papal Addresses of the Apostolic Journey to the United States. It is not certain whether the Ignatius version contains the in-flight interview of the Holy Father aboard ‘Shepherd One’, en route to the USA — otherwise they appear to be the same in content.
- “A surprising Cat-holic bestseller!” – Carl Olson (Insight Scoop) talks about Ignatius Press’ children’s book: Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat,. The Holy Father’s fondness for the superior species was covered as well by the New York Times (Cat Lovers Appreciate Soul Mate in Vatican April 28, 2008).
- The Lyceum Society of Vermont is set to host a luncheon and symposium on Pope Benedict XVI. On August 16, 2008 the Society will host “The Christian Humanism of Pope Benedict XVI” at the Hoehl Center at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. The event is set to feature Dr. John P. Kenney of Saint Michael’s College, Dr. Thomas Albert Howard of the Jerusalem and Athens Forum at Gordon College, and Dr. Jeffrey O. Nelson, President of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (Dr. Nelson is a son-in-law to the late great traditionalist scholar and social critic Russell Kirk).
On a Lighter Note…
- Pope loves kosher cake March 26, 2008:
A famous kosher Italian bakery has an important local patron: Pope Benedict XVI.
Wilma Limentani, the owner of the Boccione bakery in Rome’s ancient ghetto, said she recently received a letter of thanks from the Vatican revealing the pope’s love for her biscotti and an almond-and-raisin confection dubbed “Jewish pizza.”
One of the pope’s doctors — a Jew who stopped by the 453-year-old bakery en route to administering a routine checkup of the pontiff — introduced the pastries to Benedict.