Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pope Benedict Roundup!

  • In a symbolic gesture, the Holy Father went to the mountains to pray on the Feast of the Transfiguration - Catholic News Agency reports:
    There were no public events on Pope Benedict's unannounced Aug. 6 tour, although, as Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio, despite its private nature he was able to greet some surely surprised people in the course of the day.

    The Pope left the bounds of Castel Gandolfo in the morning to pay a visit to the "Madonna dei Bisognosi" Sanctuary for the Feast of the Transfiguration, according to the Holy See's Press Office.

    During the Lord's Transfiguration, as recounted in the synoptic gospels, Jesus led Peter, James and John to a high mountain where he changed in appearance before them and was surrounded by a glorious light.

    Marking this feast also in a mountain setting, the Pope prayed with those who accompanied him in the Marian sanctuary located in Italy's Abruzzo region at an altitude of over 3,000 ft.

    During his excursion, the Pope visited a religious community in the nearby town of Carsoli and the city of Rocca di Mezzo, where he "visited St. Leucio's parish where he prayed for those affected by the earthquake that rocked the region in April of last year."

  • Sandro Magister highlights the role of the Transfiguration in Benedict's series on Jesus of Nazareth:
    It is important to emphasize that the Transfiguration of Jesus has a central place in the entire work. It is the endpoint for the first volume, and the starting point for the second, which is centered on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

    In the Transfiguration, in fact – Benedict XVI wrote in the first volume – "Jesus' divinity belongs with the cross." Jesus speaks with Moses and Elijah about the "necessity" of his passion. That mystery "which God predetermined before the ages" (1 Corinthians 2:7) is revealed in the crucified Christ....

    In addition to being the center of the evangelical narrative, therefore, the Transfiguration is also necessarily the focal point of any form of the theology that intends to explore the mystery of Christ.

  • The second volume of Jesus of Nazareth will be published on March 13, 2011 -- the first Sunday of Lent, according to Rome Reports.

  • James V. Schall on "The Challenge of Jesus of Nazareth" (Ignatius Insight August 11, 2010):
    Ignatius Press announced recently that it will publish the English version of the second volume of Benedict's book on Jesus of Nazareth in the coming spring. In lieu of the fact that Schall has no advanced text or a copy of the Italian translation, it seems worth while again to take a second look at the first volume. This volume, I must confess, left an indelible impression on my soul. I found it frankly breath-taking in its implications, yet it was presented so calmly and clearly.

    Jesus of Nazareth was nothing less than a challenge thrown down to our times. But our times take special care not to listen, never really to consider what Benedict is saying. It is too dangerous to the culture to do so, and not just Western culture. Not considering or denying its pertinence is the protection which modern men must have to continue to do what they are doing. That they "will not listen" is, indeed, their only defense. ... [more]

  • A Look at Benedict XVI's Words on Faith. In anticipation of an alleged fourth encyclical from the Holy Father, reportedly on the subject of faith, Kevin M. Clarke "at what the Pontiff has already spoken concerning faith in his previous encyclicals - "Deus Caritas Est", "Spe Salvi" and "Caritas in Veritate." (Zenit, July 30, 2010).

  • Pope Benedict XVI is meeting his former doctoral students this weekend to discuss how best to interpret the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. The Catholic Herald August 27, 2010:
    The yearly closed-door seminar, dubbed the “Ratzinger-Schülekreis”, or “Ratzinger Student-Circle”, will be addressed by Archbishop Kurt Koch.

    Archbishop Koch’s talk is entitled “The Second Vatican Council, Between Tradition and Innovation”. He will also speak on the Vatican Council’s document on the liturgy and the liturgical reforms following the Council. ...

    The talks will be followed by a discussion by the participants, the Pope included. The Holy Father will celebrate Mass for the group on Sunday morning, before having breakfast with them. The group will then join the Pope in his recitation of the Angelus.

    The Schülerkreis has met annually since the 1970s, when the Pope was professor of theology at Regensburg University, and has continued to meet since Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope.

    This year's meeting will bring over 300 scholars, including Cardinal Cristoph Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. Carl Olson (Insight Scoop) reports that Fr. Joseph Fessio will also be in attendance.

    According to Father Stephan Horn, president of the Ratzinger Study Circle (by way of Zenit News), the topic and main speaker were chosen by the Pope from among a series of proposals.

    In 2005, they reflected on the question of Islam; in 2006 and 2007, on creation and evolution theories; in 2008, the topic was the historical Jesus and his passion; and in 2009, mission and dialogue with religions and cultures.

  • According to the Christian Science Monitor, the career of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI is characterized by "a 30 year campaign to reassert conservative Catholicism", and that "to understand Pope Benedict's past, present, and perhaps future responses to the sexual abuse crisis, one must examine the arc of his religious life." Catholic Culture's Diogenes critiques The Christian Science Monitor's flight of fancy:
    Let’s concede that from the editorial perspective of the Christian Science Monitor, any authentic form of Catholicism will look like “conservative” Catholicism. Yes, Pope Ratzinger has been working to reassert that faith. It’s not too tough to demonstrate that proposition. So it’s all the more remarkable that in developing the argument, the Monitor commits these whoppers ...
    Read the rest.

  • it was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's dream to leave the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to retire and become a librarian. That's the story according to Cardinal Raffaele Farina, interviewed recently by Inside The Vatican magazine. (As we know, the Holy Spirit had other plans).

  • 'Attack on Ratzinger': Italian book assesses Benedict's papacy -- John Allen Jr. (National Catholic Reporter August 27, 2010):
    Friends and foes alike of Pope Benedict XVI concur that he's got an image problem. Where they place the blame for it may differ, but the fact itself seems clear: From a PR point of view, this is a pontificate defined by its train wrecks.

    Cataloguing those train wrecks is the burden of a new book by two of the best Italian vaticanisti going: Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale and Paolo Rodari of Il Foglio, titled Attacco a Ratzinger: Accuse e scandali, profezie e complotti ("Attack on Ratzinger: Accusations and Scandals, Prophecies and Plots"), published in Italian by Piemme.

    While the sexual abuse crisis has occasioned the most serious criticism of Benedict XVI, it's hardly an isolated case. Tornielli and Rodari treat a long list of other controversies and PR debacles ...

    On the crises they do examine, Rodari and Tornielli's work has two principal merits.

    First, they strike the right balance between insider and outsider approaches. Readers who did not follow these episodes closely will find the main twists and turns ably summarized, while even devotees will learn things they didn't know. (More on those revelations in a moment.)

    Second, Rodari and Tornielli present a diverse sampling of theories to explain the negative public image of this papacy, surveying what the authors describe as the "most qualified observers" in Europe and the United States. ...

    One thing everyone seems to agree on is that the Vatican's PR strategy is often deficient. Commenting on the conventional wisdom that Joaquin Navarro-Valls, John Paul's spokesperson, brought Vatican communications into the 20th century, George Weigel quips, "Yeah … the first half of the 20th century." Today, he said, things actually seem to be moving backward.

    Read the rest of John Allen Jr.'s review.

  • In a unique effort to help promote Christian unity, the pope’s shoemaker has made the same pair of shoes for both Pope Benedict XVI and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. (Catholic News Service August 25, 2010).

  • Lastly, a reminder to check our special blog Pope Benedict in the UK for weekly roundups of news, commentary and information on preparations for his September 16-19 visit to England / Scotland.