- From Zenit News, the report that "Some 2.2 million people gathered last year with Benedict XVI in his public audiences and liturgical celebrations held in the Vatican or the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo."
- The Rome Jewish Community confirmed that a visit to the capital's synagogue by Pope Benedict XVI will go ahead as planned, despite the controversy surrounding his proclaiming as "venerable" Pope Pius X.
- St. Peter's Basilica now safer for Pope following Christmas security breach (Catholic News Agency):
Changes have been made at St. Peter's Basilica after a security breach on Christmas Eve that left the Pope on the floor and a cardinal hospitalized. A meeting was held between heads of security and the Vatican Secretary of State in the days following the incident and at least one visible measure has been taken to prevent similar disturbances in the future.
According to Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale, the obvious modification is a widening of the aisle in which the Pontiff, concelebrants and accompanying servers process to the altar. Barriers that before separated Pope Benedict from attendees by a couple of steps have been moved farther outwards to expand the procession space.
- Responding to Pope Benedict XVI's "World Day of Peace" message (and its theme of protecting the environment), PETA’s Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, Bruce Friedrich, took the opportunity to ask him to serve only vegan meals at the Vatican.
- "Inside and outside the Vatican, 2009 was busy year for the Pope," says Jon Thavis (Catholic News Service) in a look back at 2009:
The Year of St. Paul. The Year for Priests. A major social encyclical. A Holy Land pilgrimage. A first meeting with President Obama. Ten new saints. An African trip and an African synod. A Facebook debut. A controversial concession to Catholic traditionalists. An unexpected overture to disaffected Anglicans.
And those are just the highlights, of course.
On the horizon for the next 12 months are four papal trips; a Middle East Synod of Bishops; the expected publication of a document on the Bible and the second volume of "Jesus of Nazareth;" a major gathering of the world's priests; a pilgrimage to the Shroud of Turin; a probable consistory and several likely canonizations and beatifications -- including that of Pope John Paul II.On that note, check out Luke Coppen's "The 10 most important Catholic moments of the decade" (Catholic Herald) and John Allen, Jr.'s The biggest Vatican stories of the decade (National Catholic Reporter).
In April Pope Benedict marks five years in office, and the event will no doubt be marked by modest festivities and lots of analysis on the accomplishments and priorities of the German pontiff, who turns 83 the same month. [More]
- "The Vatican vs. Copenhagen" (Carl Olson, Insight Scoop) | "Cultivate Creation": Benedict's Green Revolution (Sandro Magister, Chiesa) -- on those who "have attempted, either through misunderstanding or misrepresentation, to portray Benedict as a thoroughgoing environmentalist in the mold of Al Gore and Co."
- David Schütz (Sentire Cum Ecclesia), on Ratzinger's "Mustard Seed":
At the time of the Holy Father’s election (in fact, even before it in this remarkable reading of the cards by Spengler) many speculated that this would become a key theme of his pontificate. In fact, this has not been so. Perhaps, as with so many other of Cardinal Ratzinger’s well known ideas, the idea has become transmuted with his changing role in the Church, for since his election, Pope Benedict has not returned to this theme – at least not in exactly this same guise. He has mentioned the “mustard seed” parable a couple of times ... but not with quite the same application. Except for the last example above (which is addressed to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and is in reference to the dwindling size of the Christian population in the Holy Land), since his election as Supreme Pontiff he seems to use the image more as an encouragement for Christian witness and evangelisation – with the implication that the little things we do will bear great fruit.
- Reading Peter Seewald's interview with then-Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, Julie D (Happy Catholic) discovers "the thoughtfulness of Pope Benedict XVI".