- The day after Christmas, Pope Benedict will host a Vatican lunch for the poor and to visit children in a Rome hospital. The Catholic News Service blogs:
On Dec. 26, the feast of St. Stephen, people served by shelters run by the Missionaries of Charity will join the pope for lunch in the atrium of the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.The event commemorates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity.
- The Pope's Christmas card this year is a picture of the Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí (RomeReports.com - see link for video):
Benedict XVI visited Barcelona on November 7 and consecrated the basilica of the Sagrada Familia. He said that the spectacular basilica is “a praise to God in stone.”
He liked it so much that he's sending it as a greeting card to the world. It includes the papal coat of arms, his signature and the Latin words “Verbum caro factum est,” “the Son of God became man.”
- On December 16th the Vatican released the text of Benedict XVI's message for the 44th World Day of Peace, which will be observed Jan. 1. The theme for the day will be: "Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace." As the Holy Father observed, "the year now ending has again been marked by persecution, discrimination, terrible acts of violence and religious intolerance" and asserted:
Religious freedom expresses what is unique about the human person, for it allows us to direct our personal and social life to God, in whose light the identity, meaning and purpose of the person are fully understood. To deny or arbitrarily restrict this freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family.David Schütz (Sentire Cum Ecclesia) provides good analysis and key points of the Pope's 2011 World Day of Peace message.
For this reason, I implore all men and women of good will to renew their commitment to building a world where all are free to profess their religion or faith, and to express their love of God with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their mind (cf. Mt 22:37). This is the sentiment which inspires and directs this Message for the XLIV World Day of Peace, devoted to the theme: Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace.
- On December 3rd, Pope Benedict met with Iraqi Christians injured during the Oct. 31 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad (Catholic News Agency):
All 26 were able to make the trip to Rome with assistance from the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Vatican. The survivors of the attack—three children, 16 women and seven men—received medical treatment at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.For more, see In Baghdad, an Encore of "Murder in the Cathedral", by Sandro Magister. (Chiesa, 12/07/10).
During their exchange with the Holy Father, they thanked him for the medical attention they received and for his words of comfort. They also shared photos of loved ones who lost their lives in the massacre that killed 58.
- Continuing with his series of reflections on women saints of the Church, Pope Benedict proposed the writings of St. Veronica Giulian, an 18th century mystic as a guide for going deeper into Scripture. December 15th marked the 350th anniversary of her birth. You can read the full text of the Holy Father's remarks here.
- Already in 1988, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was seeking to minimize the "complexity of the penal process" to deal with priests guilty of "grave and scandalous conduct". His actions in 1988 and the years following were detailed in an article by Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Zenit news has the story; for the full text, see "Cardinal Ratzinger and the Revision of Canonical Penal Law" Vatican Information Service (12/02/10).
- Pope Benedict delivered an address to members of the International Theological Commission, at the close of the commission's plenary assembly on December 3rd. Zenit has the full text.
- Pope Benedict XVI’s travel schedule for 2011 is quickly getting booked up, reports the Salt + Light blog, with announcements of his attendance of World Youth Day in Madrid, a firs visit to Croatia in June 11, a third visit to Germany, and a second visit to Africa. (11/29/10)
“The German Bundestag is justifiably cautious when inviting a foreign head of state,” Beck told the German daily Die Welt. “Firstly the pope is the head of a religion and secondly the head of a state.” [...]
Germany’s Christian Social Union — the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats — said that Beck’s opposition was simply opposition grandstanding. Bavaria, a Catholic stronghold, is also where the pope was raised and served as an archbishop in Munich.
- Documents from Wikileaks reveal that Benedict's election was a complete surprise for the United States - "Apparently not even the sophisticated US intelligence service was able to penetrate the walls of the Sistine Chapel." (Catholic Herald 11/29/10).
- From Catholic News Agency / Vatican Radio, the English translation of Pope Benedict XVI's prayer for the unborn, given for the protection of life and the family at the conclusion of the Prayer Vigil for the Unborn on Nov. 27, 2010.
- On Tuesday, November 23rd, Manuela Camagni, an assistant who formed part of a team of women who look after the papal apartments, was killed in an auto accident."The Holy Father was informed of the sad event before celebrating his morning Mass and he prayed for the repose of the soul of the deceased," reported Vatican Radio on Wednesday. You can read more about Ms. Camagni here.
- In 2010, pope faced tough challenges inside and outside the church - John Thavis takes a look back at key events in the pontificate of Benedict XVI over the past year. (Catholic News Service 12/17/10).
- "A World Existing Independently From Us": On the Pope and the Scientific Method, by Fr. James V. Schall. (11/29/10)
- "Remember this?" - Amy Welborn examines the "condom controversy" in light of the Pope's earlier remarks to journalists on the flight to Africa March, 2009, in which he declared: "the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it."
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger on the term "People of God" and the real meaning and purpose of "hierarchy" - An excerpt from Salt of the Earth, courtesy of Carl Olson (Insight Scoop).
On a lighter note ...
- Pope’s Summer Home to Be Heated by Horse Flatulence, Joe Carter. First Things' "First Thoughts", on recent innovations at the Vatican (crowned the ‘Greenest State In the World’ by the Vatican's own newspaper).
- Fr. John Zuhisdorf discovers "huge global pope news of great importance and meaningfulness" within the pages of Light of the World:
Keep in mind, folks, that the whole Condom Conundrum, is energy-consuming frivolity compared to this bombshell.
The German interviewer asked Pope Benedict about the significance of use of the camauro.