Sunday, April 15, 2007

Happy Birthday (and Second Anniversary) to Pope Benedict XVI

Joseph Ratzinger was born on April 16, Holy Saturday in Marktl am Inn, and was baptized the same day. Reflecting on this experience in his memoirs, he recalls:
To be the first person baptized with the new water was seen as a significant act of Providence. I have always been filled with thanksgiving for having had my life immersed in this way in the Easter Mystery . . . the more I reflect on it, the more this seems fitting for the nature of our human life: we are still waiting for Easter; we are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust. [p. 8, Milestones]
On Sunday April 16, Joseph Ratzinger will celebrate his 80th birthday.
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  • Stamps issued by Germany in honor of Benedict's birthday. Hat tip Amy Welborn.
    Pope’s 80th birthday: “A particularly happy day,” says Cardinal Ruini Catholic News Agency April 13, 2007:
    Vatican City, Apr 13, 2007 / 11:55 am (CNA).- In a letter the faithful of Rome regarding the celebration of the Pope’s 80th birthday and the second anniversary of his pontificate, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar of the Diocese of Rome, said the Pope’s birthday would be “a particularly happy day in which we will thank the Lord for the gift of our bishop and Pope Benedict XVI.”

    It will also be a day in which we will pray with the Pope and for the Pope, imploring an abundance of divine blessings upon him, to sustain him and comfort him in spirit and body, so that he can be our model and sure guide in the faith,” the cardinal said.

    This Sunday, he continued, “dedicated to the Divine Mercy, we will also pray with the Pope for our Church in Rome, that she will bear witness with generosity to the joy of the faith and strive to educate the young generations and promote Christian love, life and the family.”

    He invited the faithful of Rome to pray for the Pope, especially on April 19, when he celebrates the second anniversary of his pontificate.

  • "Pope Benedict at 80: Blowing on the coals of faith", John Thavis Catholic News Service. April 13, 2007:
    "When Pope John Paul II turned 80 in 2000, it fueled yet another round of speculation about whether the ailing pontiff might break with tradition and resign.

    In contrast, Pope Benedict XVI's 80th birthday April 16 finds him with the wind in his sails. . . ."

  • Mass for the Pope's 80th birthday - Closed Cafeteria April 15, 2007. Gerald Augustinus was there, and has plenty of photos.

  • Send an E-Birthday Card to the Holy Father courtesy of the Vatican.

A Second Anniversary

On April 19th, Pope Benedict will also mark the second anniversary of his pontificate as Pope Benedict XVI, and appraisals of his pontificate -- some laudable, some laughable -- are flowing in from the press . . .

  • Benedict at 80: Truth, Love and Liturgy: The Surprising Pontificate of the Man Who Was Ratzinger, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register April 15-21, 2007 Issue:
    The Holy Father has already made his mark, powerfully reminding the world in his first encyclical that Christianity is primarily about God’s love, reaching out to a spiritually stricken Europe and Islam, and taking careful but firm steps toward Christian unity.

  • Benedict puts conservative stamp on his papacy International Herald Tribune April 5, 2007 - The Associated Press greets Benedict's 80th with a litany of complaints about his "conservatism":
    With his 80th birthday and the second anniversary of his election as pope approaching this month, he has rebuffed calls — including by bishops in his native Germany — to let divorced Catholics who remarry participate fully in the Church. He has warned Catholic politicians who must decide on such issues as abortion, euthanasia and marriage that Catholic values are "not negotiable." And he has closed the door on any relaxation of the celibacy requirement for priests.
    Truly, a Pope who knows how to Pope.

  • The Missing Pope: Benedict has been almost invisible in the places he's needed most, by Joseph Contreras. Newsweek April 16, 2007. Lecturing Benedict on his lack of style, Newsweek dredges up a disgruntled Milanese housewife Maria Novella Dall'Aglio ("Ratzinger is getting too intrusive on [subjects] such as civil rights for unwed couples and is too out of date") and David Gibson ("author of an acclaimed 2006 biography of the pope"):
    "He's an old-fashioned guy who wants to go back to what [the church] was before," says David Gibson, the author of an acclaimed 2006 biography of the pope.

    The problem, according to Gibson, is that Benedict "doesn't seem to realize that he's a world leader and not an academic."

    (Hat tip: the ever-sharp Curt Jester).

  • A Step Backward for Pope Benedict?, by Jeff Israeli (Time April 13, 2007):
    Two years into his papacy, Benedict XVI may be about to reclaim his reputation as a no-holds-barred traditionalist. Thanks to Benedict's thoughtful manner, Church progressives had believed that the man who was once the hard-line Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would cut some slack on areas of doctrinal contention — using his intellectual heft and traditional credentials as necessary cover. But as Benedict turns 80 on April 16 and marks two years as Pope on April 19, the once hopeful progressives have all but given up their fantasy of Benedict the Reformer.

    Carl Olson @ Insight Scoop responds:

    If only the Pope would read (nay, study!) The New Yorker, pursue a policy of indifferentism and relativism, and follow the lead of hip and happening Anglican divines, the world would be a much better place."

    The New Republic's Marty Peretz didn't like it much either ("It gives off the unsettling aura of term-paper research.")

  • Keeping the Faith, by Russel Shorto. New York Times Magazine April 8, 2007: "Pope Benedict XVI says he believes that the Roman Catholic Church in Europe faces a dire threat in secularism and that re-Christianizing the Continent is critical not only to the fate of the church but to the fate of Europe itself." A fairly long (8,294 word) and suprisingly substantial piece on the Holy Father from the Times.

    Good enough at least to merit a commendation from GetReligion.org ("better than, well, the average New York Times Sunday Magazine author"); and Amy Welborn sez "It's not horrible -- There are a few big holes in it, reflective of both blind spots and an not-surprisingly shallow Rolodex pool, but I'd say it's as good a long-form treatment of Benedict as we've seen in the mainstream secular media."

    See also Robert Araujo 's analysis @ Mirror of Justice).

  • Celebrating two years as pontiff, Benedict XVI assumes new role by Ann Rodgers. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sunday, April 15, 2007.
  • Benedict's Magnificat - Wheat & Weeds blogs on Benedict's birthday homily and responds to the naysayers:
    Basic facts force the conclusion that Benedict is in fact quite popular and reaching many people. But that doesn't exactly fit the aloof-scholar- out-of-touch-with-the-world trope. In any case, no reporters ever open their minds for two seconds to consider that that Benedict XVI is neither a prude nor a disciplinarian, but a servant.


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