Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pope Benedict Roundup!

In the News

Anticipating Benedict's Visit to Mexico and Cuba

Commentary

  • Back in October 2011, concerns were raised when Pope Benedict XVI was pulled down the aisle of St. Peter’s basilica on a rolling platform before he celebrated Mass -- the same platform used by Pope John Paul II in his later years. Similar to his predecessor, provoking observations from the press on how "tired, weak and worn out" the Pope appeared and even speculations of retirement. Fr. Federico Lombardi at the time dismissed concerns, asserting that no medical condition prompted the decision to use the moving platform in St. Peter's; "the sole purpose is to ease the effort of the Holy Father, to reduce the fatigue."

    On November 9, 2011, Andrea Tornielli (La Stampa's "Vatican Insider") makes he claim that "Pope Benedict suffers from arthrosis, a degenerative condition in the joints of his legs ... [making] it painful for the Pope to walk long distances." Phil Lawler of Catholic Culture comments on the peculiar silence of the Vatican:

    A degenerative joint condition can be quite painful. But it is not a life-threatening condition. Nor is there any shame involved. We all know that age is taking its toll on the Pope’s physical condition, and aching joints are a common complaint among men of his years. There is abundant evidence that the Holy Father can no longer walk without difficulty. Eyewitnesses notice that his stride is labored; his right leg seems gimpy. In past years he vacationed in the Italian Alps, where he could take long walks; this year he opted instead for a few quiet weeks at Castel Gandolfo, where he could relax, play the piano, and stay off his feet.

    So why not tell the whole truth?

  • The Pope’s Life of Jesus - Anglican Bishop and biblical scholar N.T. Wright reviews Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. (Times Literary Supplement December 14, 2011).

  • The perils of a 'part-time pope' John Allen Jr. reviews Joseph Ratzinger: Crisis of a Papacy, a critical review of Benedict's pontificate by a veteran Italian journalist and commentator Marco Politi:
    I've known Politi for two decades, covering Vatican happenings with him and reading his stuff. Whatever one makes of his big-picture perspective, he's an astute observer, and there's always something to learn from what he has to say. (Proof that Politi is taken seriously in the Vatican is that Gian Maria Vian, editor of L'Osservatore Romano, was among the panelists at a Nov. 16 presentation of the book in Rome -- even though Vian said he came as a "devil's advocate" to argue that the book "shouldn't be canonized.")

    Politi's core thesis is expressed in the provocative assertion that Benedict XVI is a "part-time pope."

    As Politi sees it, Benedict dips in to running the church or acting as a global leader only when circumstances require it. His passion, however, is focused on his private theological studies and his own writings.

  • Benedict’s Christocentrism: Realities of a Primary Order, by Elizabeth Scalia. (First Things "On the Square" December 20, 2011):
    Pope Benedict has served Christ and the Church for very nearly his whole life, and it seems that even in the infancy of his ministry he was called to deliver a clear and unambiguous message against relativism, which he many decades later famously (and rightly) referred to as a “dictatorship.”

    Perhaps the Holy Spirit understands more than those worrying about a “governance gap” that while we watch governments and nations founder and fail in the fogs of their own contrived and faulty gospels, the pope we need right now is the one who will keep reminding us that there is only one truth, and one constant reality.

  • Pope Benedict's 'State of the World' address - summary and detailed analysis from Catholic World News of Pope Benedict's annual address to the Vatican's diplomatic corps, noting with respect to the varied reactions from the press that Reuters "devoted most of its analysis to the question of same-sex marriage: a topic that the Pope did not mention." (Here is the full text of the Pope's address to the diplomatic corps of the Holy See).

Upcoming Books

Joseph Ratzinger: Fundamental Speeches from Five Decades Joseph Ratzinger: Fundamental Speeches from Five Decades
Ignatius Press (March 2012)

While a professor of theology and throughout his rise in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Joseph Ratzinger again and again delivered important speeches over the course of five decades at the Catholic Academy of Bavaria (1963-2004). The broad spectrum of topics from the primacy of the papacy to the moral foundations of western society demonstrated not only his breadth of knowledge but also his prescience, for these issues remain important for both the Church and modern man.

The fundamental speeches in this volume are arranged thematically. And before each one is a brief introduction written by Dr. Florian Schuller, the director of the Catholic Academy of Bavaria in Munich, who also contributed the foreword.

Holy Men and Women Of the Middle Ages and Beyond Holy Men and Women Of the Middle Ages and Beyond
Ignatius Press (March 2012)

While a professor of theology and throughout his rise in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Joseph Ratzinger again and again delivered important speeches over the course of five decades at the Catholic Academy of Bavaria (1963-2004). The broad spectrum of topics from the primacy of the papacy to the moral foundations of western society demonstrated not only his breadth of knowledge but also his prescience, for these issues remain important for both the Church and modern man.

The fundamental speeches in this volume are arranged thematically. And before each one is a brief introduction written by Dr. Florian Schuller, the director of the Catholic Academy of Bavaria in Munich, who also contributed the foreword.

My Brother, The Pope My Brother, the Pope
Ignatius Press (March 2012)

It wasn't always the case that Msgr. Georg Ratzinger lived in the shadow of his younger brother, Joseph. Georg was an accomplished musician, who for over 30 years directed the Regensburger Domspatzchor, the world-famous boys choir of the Regensburg cathedral. Brother Joseph was a brilliant young professor, but mostly known in German academic circles.

Now Georg writes about the close friendship that has united these two brothers for more than 80 years. This book is a unique window on an extraordinary family that lived through the difficult period of National Socialism in Germany. Those interested in knowing more about the early life of Benedict XVI will not be disappointed. They will also learn of the admirable character and inspiring example of the parents, and see how the Catholic faith can shape not just a family, but an entire culture-in this case, that of Bavaria.

Georg's reminiscences are detailed, intimate, and warm. And while they begin with the earliest years of the Ratzinger family, they continue right up to the present day.

Benedict XVI's Reform: The Liturgy Between Innovation and Tradition Benedict XVI's Reform: The Liturgy Between Innovation and Tradition
Ignatius Press (April 2012)

When Benedict XVI reestablished the celebration of the older Latin Mass, voices of protest rose up from many sides. The widespread fear was-and is-that the Pope had revealed himself as the reactionary defender of tradition that many have accused him of being since he was the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the former Holy Office.

Defenders of Benedict XVI have responded to these objections by explaining that the use of the Tridentine Rite is not a "step backward" to pre-Vatican II times, but rather a step forward. Now the Church can see what the older rite offered in terms of beauty, reverence, and meaning and perhaps desire more of those elements in the ordinary form of the Mass.

A professor of theology and liturgy, the author of this book explains the motives behind the Pope's decision to allow two forms of the Mass. He does this by turning to the Pope's own theological and liturgical writings, but he also draws from his experiences on various Church commissions and in offices of the Roman Curia.


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