Sunday, December 09, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI Roundup!

  • On October 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in St Peter's Basilica. "It was a splendid day," recalls Pope Benedict XVI. L'Osservatore Romano publishes Benedict's reflections on the Second Vatican Council.

  • On November 12, 2012, by the Motu Proprio "Latina lingua," Benedict XVI has established the Pontifical Academy for Latin, which will be part of the Pontifical Council for Culture (Vatican Information Service):
    "... in contemporary culture, within the context of a generalised deterioration in humanistic studies, we see the danger of an increasingly superficial knowledge of Latin, which may also be detected in the philosophical and theological studies of future priests. On the other hand, in our world in which science and technology are so prominent, we also find renewed interest in the Latin language and culture, and not only in those continents with Greco-Roman cultural roots. This interest seems particularly significant inasmuch as it is present not only in academic and institutional environments, but also involves young people and scholars from very different nations and traditions.

    "There is therefore an apparent pressing need to encourage commitment to a greater knowledge and more competent use of Latin, in the ecclesial environment as well as in the world of culture at large. To give prominence and resonance to this effort, it is important to adopt teaching methods adapted to contemporary conditions, and to promote a network of relationships between academic institutions and among scholars with the aim of promoting the rich and varied heritage of Latin civilisation".

  • On November 13, Pope Benedict visited the "Viva Gli Anziani" Retirement home for the elderly yesterday in Rome, saying that he came not only as Bishop of Rome, but as well as "an elderly man visiting his peers.":
    "I well know the difficulties and limitations of age, and am aware that for many people these difficulties are aggravated by the economic crisis," said the Holy Father.

    "At times", he continued, "at a certain age, one turns to the past with regret for the loss of youth, its energy and plans for the future. At times our perspective is veiled with sadness, as we consider this phase as the twilight of life. This morning, ideally addressing all the elderly and aware of the difficulties that our age brings, I would like to say to you with profound conviction: it is good to be elderly! At every age it is necessary to know how to discover the presence and the blessing of the Lord, and the richness that this brings. We must not allow ourselves to be imprisoned by sadness! We have received the gift of long life. To live is beautiful, even at our age and despite infirmities or limitations. Let our faces always reflect the joy of being loved by God, and never sadness".

    The Holy Father recalled that in the Bible, "longevity is considered as a blessing from God; today this blessing is widespread and must be seen as a gift to appreciate and value. Yet often society, dominated by the logic of efficiency and profit, does not welcome it as such; on the contrary, it often rejects it, considering the elderly as unproductive and useless". However, the Pope observed, the elderly are a source of wisdom and "a great resource. The quality of a society, of a civilisation, may also be judged by how it treats its elderly and by the place reserved for them in communal life. To give space to the elderly is to give space to life!"

  • On November 16, the Vatican released the Holy Father's Message for the twenty-eighth World Youth Day 2013. The event will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2013. (Click the link for excerpts of the text in English).

  • On November 24, Pope Benedict XVI created six new cardinals from four different continents, representing the Latin rite of the Catholic Church as well as two Eastern Catholic Churches (Catholic News Service):
    The churchmen who joined the College of Cardinals Nov. 24 were U.S. Archbishop James M. Harvey, 63, former prefect of the papal household; Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, 72; Indian Archbishop Baselio Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan , 68, of Abuja; Colombian Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, 70, of Bogota; and Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle, 55, of Manila.

  • On December 7, Pope Benedict named Monsignor Georg Gänswein, personal secretary of the Holy Father, as Prefect of the Pontifical Household, at the same time elevating him to the titular see of Urbisaglia with the title of Archbishop (Zenit News Service).

  • In internet news, Pope Benedict XVI now has his own personal Twitter account: On December 3rd, a press conference was held to explain the Pope's participation in the new media:
    "The Pope's presence on Twitter is a concrete expression of his conviction that the Church must be present in the digital arena. ... The Pope's presence on Twitter can be seen as the 'tip of the iceberg' that is the Church's presence in the world of new media. The Church is already richly present in this environment – there exist a whole range of initiatives from the official websites of various institutions and communities to the personal sites, blogs and micro-blogs of public church figures and of individual believers. The Pope's presence on Twitter is ultimately an endorsement of the efforts of these 'early adapters' to ensure that the Good News of Jesus Christ and the teaching of his Church is permeating the forum of exchange and dialogue that is being created by social media. His presence is intended to be an encouragement to all Church institutions and people of faith to be attentive to develop an appropriate profile for themselves and their convictions in the 'digital continent'. The Pope's tweets will be available to believers and non-believers to share, discuss and to encourage dialogue. It is hoped that the Pope's short messages, and the fuller messages that they seek to encapsulate, will give rise to questions for people from different countries, languages and cultures".

    "Part of the challenge for the Church in the area of new media is to establish a networked or capillary presence that can effectively engage the debates, discussions and dialogues that are facilitated by social media and that invite direct, personal and timely responses of a type that are not so easily achieved by centralized institutions. Moreover, such a networked or capillary structure reflects the truth of the Church as a community of communities which is alive both universally and locally. The Pope's presence on Twitter will represent his voice as a voice of unity and leadership for the Church but it will also be a powerful invitation to all believers to express their 'voices', to engage their 'followers' and 'friends' and to share with them the hope of the Gospel that speaks of God’s unconditional love for all men and women".

    "In addition to the direct engagement with the questions, debates and discussions of people that is facilitated by new media, the Church recognizes the importance of new media as an environment that allows to teach the truth that the Lord has passed to His Church, to listen to others, to learn about their cares and concerns, to understand who they are and for what they are searching. ... It is for this reason that it has been decided to launch the Pope's Twitter channel with a formal question and answer format. This launch is also an indication of the importance that the Church gives to listening and is a warranty of its ongoing attentiveness to the conversations, commentaries and trends that express so spontaneously and insistently the preoccupations and hopes of people".

    According to the VIS, the first tweets from the Pope's handle on Twitter will be given on 12 December, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    More from the Catholic Information Service on the logistics of Papal-Twittering:

    The handle "Pontifex" was chosen because it means "pope and bridge builder," said Greg Burke, media adviser for the Vatican's Secretariat of State. The name suggests "reaching out" and bringing unity not just of Catholics "but all men and women of good will," he said. …

    The pope's first tweets from the new accounts will be responses to four or five questions about the Catholic faith sent to the pope on Twitter via the hashtag #askpontifex …

    The pope will personally send the inaugural tweets around noon Dec. 12 at the end of his general audience. …

    The Q&A exchange will be offered just that one time, and the rest of the papal news feeds will be excerpts from his general audience talks, Angelus addresses or other important speeches …

    Each tweet will be crafted by a Vatican official and the pope will review and approve each one before it is sent from the Vatican Secretariat of State's offices . . . The papal tweets will be posted with some regularity but won't be too frequent given the time constraints of the pope and that each tweet needs his approval.

    Like the prophet Daniel into the lion's den. As Twitchy observes, in what is shameful-yet-typical behavior, Pope Benedict joins Twitter and the vile hate has started to spew before his first "tweet".

    Also released by the Vatican is the "Pope App" - a new app that provides live streaming of papal events and video feeds from the Vatican's six webcams. The app should be available Dec. 10 for iPhone and iPad while an Android version is due out in January. (Catholic Information Service).

    Lastly, according to David Gibson, "the focus on the pope’s personal entry into social media ... is really a subplot to a larger, behind-the-scenes effort by the Roman curia to overhaul the Vatican’s notoriously byzantine communications apparatus and head off problems that can’t be glossed over by even the most appealing papal tweets."

  • From the Office of Liturgical Celebrations, the calendar of celebrations to be presided over by the Holy Father between November 2012 and January 2013.


  • "There goes that sexist, woman-hating Catholic Church again…" - Greg Chandra (Deacon's Bench) on the fact that, of the 45 experts and 49 observers nominated by Pope Benedict XVI to attend the Synod of Bishops contains "the largest bloc of women — 10 experts and 19 observers — ever to participate in a Vatican synod."

  • The Pope, the Blind Man, and the New Evangelization, a reflection by James V. Schall on a homily given by the Holy Father at the close of the Synod of Bishops.

  • Benedict XVI and the Pathologies of Religion, by Dr. Samuel Gregg. Crisis November 7, 2012:
    It passed almost unnoticed, but last month Benedict XVI significantly upped the ante in an argument he’s made one of his pontificate’s centerpieces. To the horror, one suspects, of some professional interfaith dialoguers and wishful-thinkers more generally, the pope indicated the Church should recognize that some types of religion are in fact “sick and distorted.”

  • Sandro Magister runs a column on a a collective of intellectuals dubbed "The Ratzingerian Marxists":
    One of these converts, Pietro Barcellona, is also the author, together with three other post-Marxist thinkers, of a manifesto on "the anthropological emergency" that has met with great astonishment.

    And this is the second noteworthy fact. The other three authors of the manifesto are the professors Giuseppe Vacca, an historian; Mario Tronti, a philosopher and political scientist; and Paolo Sorbi, a sociologist. The last of these is Catholic, the other two are not. All four were activists in the Partito comunista, and today are part of the Partito democratico, the main party of the Italian left. Vacca is the director of the Istituto Gramsci. Tronti is president of the Centro per la riforma dello Stato, and was the leading Italian theoretician of operaismo, but also has always shown strong interest in the political theology of Carl Schmitt and frequented the intellectual cenacle of the Catholic magazine "Bailamme" and the Camaldolese monastery of Monte Giove.

    All four have been called "Ratzingerian Marxists." . . . Their manifesto is, in effect, an explicit declaration of appreciation of the vision of Pope Benedict XVI.

    The "Ratzingerian Marxists" charge the left in Italy and the West with having given in to "falsely libertarian cultures, for which there exists no right other than the right of the individual."

    In order to rebuild the foundations of the human community, the four identify therefore the decisive interlocutor with whom the left should engage not as some "borderline" theologian, but as Benedict XVI, the highest and most authoritative expression of the Catholic vision, in particular on "two fundamental themes of his magisterium: the rejection of ethical relativism and the concept of non-negotiable values."

    To this end, the authors of the manifesto have already announced that they will organize in 2013 a major conference precisely on the anthropological vision of Benedict XVI, between believers and nonbelievers.

    The blog Caelum et Terra posts “Ratzingerian Marxist Manifesto” in English.