Les anglonautes

About | Search | Grammar | Vocapedia | Learning | News podcasts | Videos | History | Arts | Science | Translate and listen

 Previous Home Up Next


Vocapedia > Religions > Christians > Popes


Benedict XVI's Papacy    2005-2013





Peter Brookes

editorial cartoon

The Times

March 21, 2009



Pope Benedict XVI




















Rob Rogers

editorial cartoon

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



2 December 2010


Pope Benedict XVI


















Under the crucifix that was carried before him,

Pope Benedict XVI, "a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard,"

blessed pilgrims from his balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square.

19 April 2005


Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters


Benedict XVI, 78,

Was John Paul II's Strict Defender of the Faith


Published: April 20, 2005



























































Pope Benedict XVI        UK / USA


Joseph Ratzinger,

the 265th leader of 1.1 billion Roman Catholics

































































































































































cartoons > Cagle > Pope Benedict resigns        February 2013        USA










Pope calls for an end

to violence in Syria in his Christmas Day message        December 2011        UK

Benedict XVI asks for God's help

in countries hit by war and natural disasters

in his traditional 'Urbi et Orbi' speech










Pope decries commercial glitter of Christmas        December 2011        UK


Pontiff's Christmas Eve address laments

that message of Christ's birth

is obscured by a celebration of consumerism










homily        UK / USA












Christmas Day message        2010        UK










Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Britain        September 2010        UK / USA







































































































































Pope Benedict XVI and the sexual abuse scandal        UK / USA






















https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125311240 - March 29, 2010



















Cagle cartoons > Pope hates condoms        2009










Pope says

condoms are not the solution to Aids - they make it worse        March 2009










Pope Benedict XVI's letter

to the Bishops of the Catholic Church

concerning the remission of the excommunication

of the four Bishops consecrated

by Archbishop Lefebvre        March 2009


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5897021.ece - broken URL








Pope Benedict in Australia        July 2008














Pope Benedict in America / visits the USA        April 2008














































cartoons > Cagle > Pope Benedict in America / visits the USA        April 2008        USA












L'Osservatore Romano - Vatican newspaper        UK












Tensions Linger

Between Pope and Anglicans


September 21, 2010
The New York Times


LONDON — The pope and the archbishop prayed together last weekend, a rare event at Westminster Abbey meant to show the fundamental closeness of Catholics and Anglicans, their churches separated in doctrine by few degrees and each battered by secularism and division. The signal sent was that, someday, a more formal union would strengthen both.

But beyond the smiles, the prayers and the self-conscious focus on the things the two spiritual leaders share, Benedict XVI’s four-day visit to Britain was more than a moment of reconciliation, underscoring that the two churches that split during the Reformation over issues of papal authority are as divided as ever.

Everyone was polite, including the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, not allowing the dissent to show much publicly. Still, it did not go unnoticed that Benedict broke his own rules and personally presided on Sunday over the beatification Mass of Cardinal John Henry Newman, a 19th-century thinker and writer who left the Church of England to convert to Catholicism. He had said earlier in his papacy that he would celebrate Mass only for canonization, the final step of sainthood.

The beatification came a year after the Vatican angered many Anglicans, not least Archbishop Williams, when it announced that it would facilitate the conversion of groups of traditionalist Anglicans. This again pointed up differences and accusations that the Roman Catholic Church was aiming to lure away those no longer comfortable in a church that ordains female and gay priests — something the Catholic Church does not allow.

For its part, the Vatican has said it created the new rite, which would allow Anglicans to preserve some liturgy and traditions, including married clergymen, after joining the Roman Catholic Church, in response to repeated requests from a handful of groups of traditionalist Anglicans.

Benedict made a rare acknowledgment of the tensions on Friday, telling Archbishop Williams that he had not come to visit the headquarters of the Church of England — becoming the first pope to do so — “to speak of the difficulties that the ecumenical path has encountered and continues to encounter.”

In the service at Westminster Abbey on Friday, Benedict smiled when Archbishop Williams, with devastating understatement, said that “Christians have very diverse views about the nature of the vocation that belongs to the See of Rome.”

Tapping into longstanding, vexed questions of papal authority, the pope further stirred the waters two days later, telling the Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland that they should regard the conversion offer as “a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics.”

“It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion,” he added.

Yet reality might not be on the pope’s side. Both Anglicans and Catholics say that dialogue aimed at full communion — in which the two churches work toward mending the rift of the Reformation — has grown nearly impossible since the Church of England opened the way for female bishops. It first ordained women as priests in 1994.

“Full communion was and still remains the goal,” said Christopher Hill, the Anglican bishop of Guildford, who has been involved in Catholic-Anglican dialogue. “How distant the goal is another matter.”

Full communion would mean that Anglican and Catholic clergy members could administer the sacraments — like the Eucharist, marriage and baptism — in one another’s churches without being reordained, and that parishioners could receive them in each church without formally converting.

In the coming years, the Church of England is on track to ordain the first female bishops, a move that is expected to divide the Anglican Communion even further, including pitting more liberal communities in England and elsewhere against more traditional ones in Africa.

Once women become bishops, more Anglican traditionalists are widely expected to leave — although it remains to be seen whether they will join the Roman Catholic Church, which recently ruled that ordaining women as Catholic priests is a crime against the faith, punishable by excommunication.

So far, Anglican and Catholic officials say few have shown interest in the Vatican’s conversion offer, which seems to have raised more tensions than it has converts. “We don’t expect it to be very many at all,” said Marie Papworth, a spokeswoman for the archbishop of Canterbury.

Takers include the Traditional Anglican Communion in Australia and the Anglican Church in America, traditionalist groups that have already split from the Anglican Communion or have never been part of it, meaning that they adhere to the Anglican traditions without having a formal relationship with the See of Canterbury.

Some traditionalists are drawn to the Roman Catholic Church’s top-down model. “The trouble with the Anglican Church is that it has adopted a parliamentary model and one that presumes change and presumes everyone can have a say,” said the Rev. John Broadhurst, a traditionalist Anglican. “I think it’s become a kind of fascist democracy.”

Father Broadhurst works closely with Britain’s three so-called flying bishops, Anglican bishops appointed to minister to Anglican communities not comfortable with women as priests. He said he would neither confirm nor deny reports that he and the flying bishops had been in talks with the Vatican about converting.

The Rev. Geoffrey Kirk, the parish priest of St. Stephen’s Church in Lewisham, in South London, said that he and his parish hoped to move to the Catholic Church for reasons “related to the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate,” but also out of “a sense that the Church of England is moving in a direction of liberal theology in all sorts of areas that we think is unfaithful to the Gospel basically.”

Father Kirk, who is also the national secretary of Forward in Faith, a traditionalist group, said that his Sunday parish of 150 largely consisted of West African and West Indian members. “We are eagerly awaiting the details of the announcement and we hope to take advantage of the pope’s generosity,” he added.

Many questions remain about the new rite, not least what becomes of Anglican parish members who do not want to join Rome, and the role of laity, or nonclergy, in the new structure.

Because of the open questions, “Even those who are taking it seriously are taking their time,” Bishop Hill added.

For his part, Father Kirk said that the Vatican’s offer of fast-track conversion had revealed the “latent anti-Catholic sentiment” among “some quite distinguished Anglicans.”

“We are a country of Protestant atheists,” he added. “Most people don’t take religion very seriously. The one thing they do take seriously is how dreadful the Catholic Church is.”

Tensions Linger Between Pope and Anglicans, NYT, 21.9.2010,






Pope Reinstates

Four Excommunicated Bishops


January 25, 2009
The New York Times


VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI, reaching out to the far-right of the Roman Catholic Church, revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage.

The decision provided fresh fuel for critics who charge that Benedict’s four-year-old papacy has increasingly moved in line with traditionalists who are hostile to the sweeping reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that sought to create a more modern and open church.

A theologian who has grappled with the church’s diminished status in a secular world, Benedict has sought to foster a more ardent, if smaller, church over one with looser faith.

But while the revocation may heal one internal rift, it may also open a broader wound, alienating the church’s more liberal adherents and jeoparding 50 years of Vatican efforts to ease tensions with Jewish groups.

Among the men reinstated Saturday was Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers. He has also given interviews saying that the United States government staged the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan.

The four reinstated men are members of the Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by a French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, in 1970 as a protest against the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, also called Vatican II. Archbishop Lefebvre made the men bishops in unsanctioned consecrations in Switzerland in 1988, prompting the immediate excommunication of all five by Pope John Paul II.

Later that year, Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, sought to regularize the church’s relationship with the society. And as pope, he has made reinstating the Lefebvrists an important personal cause.

Indeed, even though the Society has given no public signs that it would reverse its rejection of Vatican II, one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Saturday because talks were continuing, said that the Vatican was willing to discuss making the group a personal prelature. Pope John Paul II did the same with another conservative group, Opus Dei.

In a public statement Saturday, the Vatican said that the pope would reconsider whether to formally affirm the four men as full bishops, but it referred to the men by that title. It said talks would seek to resolve the “open questions” in the church’s relationship with the society.

In recent years, Benedict has made other concessions to the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre, who died in 1991. The overtures including allowing the broader recitation of the Latin Mass, which was made optional in the 1960s and includes a Good Friday prayer calling for the conversion of Jews.

Chester Gillis, who holds the Amaturo chair in Catholic studies at Georgetown University, said that both Benedict and John Paul II before him had tried for years to bring these traditionalists back into the church, partly out of concern that their movement might grow and create an entrenched parallel church.

“I don’t think the Vatican doesn’t care about Jewish-Christian relations, but at least it appears that internal church matters trump external relations,” he said. “They’re thinking, let’s heal our own house, whatever the consequences are externally.”

The recent comments by Bishop Williamson, who led a seminary in Ridgefield, Conn., in the 1980s and later moved to a seminary in Argentina, inevitably overshadowed the debate about traditional and liberal strains in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a November interview broadcast on Swedish television last week and widely available on the Internet, the bishop said that he believed that “the historical evidence” was strongly against the conclusion that millions of Jews had been “deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.”

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Saturday that Bishop Williamson’s comments had nothing to do with the pope’s decision to welcome the schismatic bishops back into the fold. He added, “These are declarations that we don’t share in any way.”

Father Lombardi called the revocation of the excommunications a fundamental step toward the unity of the church, after two decades of rift. “We have to consider it very positive news,” he said. He said that Benedict had “greatly suffered” at the group’s excommunication and had long been “a protagonist in relations with Lefebvre.”

Jewish groups criticized the decision to reinstate the men on Saturday, and the decision is sure to complicate talks between the Vatican and Israeli officials about a proposed papal trip to the Holy Land this year.

In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League said that lifting Bishop Williamson’s excommunication “undermines the strong relationship between Catholics and Jews that flourished under Pope John Paul II and which Pope Benedict XVI said he would continue when he came into his papacy.”

Abraham Foxman, the A.D.L.’s national director, added that the decree “sends a terrible message to Catholics around the world that there is room in the church for those who would undermine the church’s teachings and who would foster disdain and contempt for other religions, particularly Judaism. Given the centuries-long history of anti-Semitism in the church, this is a most troubling setback.”

In a statement released Friday, Rabbi David Rosen, the director of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, said, “We urgently call on the Vatican to reiterate its unqualified repudiation and condemnation of all and any Holocaust denial.”

In revoking the excommunications, the Vatican said it was responding to a letter sent in December by the director of the Society of Pius X, in which the bishops said they were “firmly determined to remain Catholic and to put all our efforts to the service of the church.”

The letter appeared to stop short of saying that the society would embrace, or even accept, the reforms of Vatican II.

“This is certainly a major concession to the traditionalists, part of a long effort by Rome to heal the only formal schism after Vatican II,” said John L. Allen Jr., a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. “Politically, this certainly emboldens the conservative reading of the council and emphasizes what Benedict XVI has repeatedly called the ‘continuity’ of Vatican II with earlier periods of church history.”

In a letter sent to followers on Saturday, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the director of the Society of St. Pius X and one of the four reinstated, said: “Thanks to this gesture, Catholics attached to tradition throughout the world will no longer be unjustly stigmatized and condemned for having kept the faith of their fathers.”

He added that the society welcomed an opportunity to talk with the Vatican “to explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the church.”

George Weigel, a biographer of John Paul II, said he was troubled by Bishop Fellay’s implication in his letter that the schismatic group represented the tradition, while “the rest of us are, somehow, the true schismatics.”

He added: “It is not easy to see how the unity of the Church will be enhanced unless the Lefebvrists accept Vatican II’s teaching on the nature of the Church, on religious freedom, and on the evil of anti-Semitism, explicitly and without qualification; otherwise, you get cafeteria Catholicism on the far right, as we already have on the left.”


Laurie Goodstein contributed reporting from New York.

    Pope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops, NYT, 25.1.2009,






Obama Meets With Pope Benedict

at Vatican


July 10, 2009
Filed at 10:58 a.m. ET
The New York Times


VATICAN CITY (AP) -- President Barack Obama sat down with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Friday for a meeting in which frank but constructive talks were expected between two men who agree on helping the poor but disagree on abortion and stem cell research.

''It's a great honor,'' Obama said as he greeted the pope, thanking him for the meeting. They sat down at the pontiff's desk and exchanged pleasantries before reporters and photographers were ushered out of the ornate room.

The pope was heard asking about the Group of Eight summit, the meeting of developed nations that concluded before Obama's arrival at Vatican City. Obama said it ''was very productive.''

With some Catholic activists and American bishops outspoken in their criticism of Obama, even as polls have shown he received a majority of Catholic votes, the audience was much awaited.

Obama's election presented a challenge for the Vatican after eight years of common ground with President George W. Bush in opposing abortion, an issue that drew them together despite the Vatican's opposition to the war in Iraq.

But the Vatican has been openly interested in Obama's views and scheduled an unusual afternoon meeting to accommodate him at the end of his Italian stay for a G-8 summit meeting in the earthquake-stricken city of L'Aquila and just before he leaves for Ghana.

In the tradition-conscious Vatican, most such meetings are held at midday. The Vatican has also arranged live TV coverage of the open session of the meeting after their private talks.

''I think there will be frank discussion,'' White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said earlier this week. ''I think that there's a lot that they agree on that they'll get a chance to discuss.''

''We know the pope has been keenly aware of the president's outreach to the Muslim world. The pope shares the president's view on reducing the number of nuclear weapons. So I think there's certainly a lot of common ground.''

Benedict broke Vatican protocol the day after Obama was elected by sending a personal note of congratulations rather than waiting and sending the usual brief telegram on Inauguration Day.

''I've had a wonderful conversation with the pope over the phone right after the election,'' Obama told a group of Catholic journalists in Washington before he left for Europe. ''And in some ways we see this as a meeting with any other government -- the government of the Holy See. There are going to be some areas where we've got deep agreements; there are going to be some areas where we've got some disagreements.''

But he acknowledged the pope is more than a government head, saying the church ''has such profound influence worldwide and in our country.''

L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's daily newspaper, gave Obama a positive review after his first 100 days in office. In a front-page editorial, it said that even on ethical questions Obama hadn't confirmed the ''radical'' direction he discussed during the campaign.

Tensions grew when Obama was invited to receive an honorary degree at the leading U.S. Catholic university, Notre Dame. Dozens of U.S. bishops denounced the university and the local bishop boycotted the ceremony.

Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who now heads a Vatican tribunal, accused Obama of pursuing anti-life and antifamily agendas. He called it a ''scandal'' that Notre Dame had invited him to speak.

Yet L'Osservatore concluded that Obama was looking for some common ground with his speech, noting he asked Americans to work together to reduce the number of abortions.

Some conservative American Catholics criticized the Vatican newspaper for its accommodating stance.

This week, Cardinal Justin Rigali, who heads the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, complained that the final guidelines of the National Institutes of Health for human embryonic stem cell research are broader than the draft guidelines.

As a child in Indonesia, Obama's Muslim father enrolled him in Catholic school for a few years. The president is a Protestant who says he is taking his time picking a church because his choice will undergo political scrutiny.

Obama left the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church in Chicago after incendiary sermons were made public and their relationship became a political liability for him as a presidential candidate.

White House national security aide Denis McDonough, speaking to reporters Thursday on the influence of Catholic social teaching on Obama, said the president ''expresses many things that many Catholics recognize as fundamental to our teaching.''

Obama ''often refers to the fundamental belief that each person is endowed with dignity ... The dignity of people is a driving goal in what we hope to accomplish in development policy, for example, and in foreign policy,'' McDonough said.

In the interview with Catholic journalists, Obama said he would tell the pope of his concern that the world financial crisis is not ''borne disproportionally by the most poor and vulnerable countries.''

Just this week, Benedict issued a major document calling for a new world financial order guided by ethics and the search for the common good, denouncing the profit-at-all-cost mentality blamed for bringing about the global financial meltdown.

As Obama has pledged to step-up efforts for Middle East peace through a two-state solution, Benedict made a similar appeal during a trip in May to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. He issued the Vatican's strongest call yet for a Palestinian state.

Obama met first with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, before meeting Benedict in the pope's study.

Obama's wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, were joining him at the end of his meeting with Benedict.

Obama Meets With Pope Benedict at Vatican, NYT, 10.7.2009,






Pope OKs Miracle

to Beatify UK Cardinal Newman


July 3, 2009
Filed at 11:09 a.m. ET
The New York Times


VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI placed Cardinal John Henry Newman, an influential 19th-century Anglican convert, on the path to possible sainthood Friday by approving a miracle attributed to his intercession.

Newman, a hero to many Anglicans and Roman Catholics alike, can now be beatified. A second miracle is necessary for him to be declared a saint -- an event which, if it happens, would make him the first English-born saint since the Reformation.

Newman, who lived from 1801 to 1890, was one of the founders of the so-called Oxford Movement of the 1830s, which sought to revive certain Roman Catholic doctrines in the Church of England. Anglicans split from Rome in 1534 when English King Henry VIII was refused a marriage annulment.

In 1841, Newman published a paper demonstrating that the Thirty-Nine Articles, the doctrinal statements of the Church of England, were consistent with Catholicism. Amid the outcry from Anglicans, Newman retired, and in 1845 joined the Roman Catholic Church. A year later he was ordained a Catholic priest.

Monsignor Mark Langham, the Vatican official in charge of relations with Anglicans, said Newman was a ''key figure'' for both Roman Catholics and Anglicans today, responsible for having revived the rich tradition of Anglicanism that stressed the continuity with the old church.

For Catholics, Langham said, Newman represents someone who anticipated by some 100 years the ideas about the Catholic Church's place in the world that were articulated during the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that brought many liberalizing reforms to the church.

''Because so many of his ideas anticipate Vatican II, he is seen as something of a trailblazer in opening up the Roman Catholic Church to the world and the wider sense of its obligations to other Christians,'' Langham told The Associated Press.

Many theologians, Benedict chief among them, ''hold him in very high esteem as one of the great minds,'' he added.

The miracle approved Friday by the pope concerns the medically inexplicable cure of a Boston-area resident, John Sullivan, who suffered from debilitating back pain for years but was cured after praying to Newman. Calls seeking comment Friday from Sullivan weren't immediately successful.

No date has been set for the beatification ceremony.

    Pope OKs Miracle to Beatify UK Cardinal Newman, NYT, 3.7.2009,






Op-Ed Contributor

The Pope vs. the Pill


July 27, 2008
The New York Times


FORTY years ago last week, Pope Paul VI provoked the greatest uproar against a papal edict in the long history of the Roman Catholic Church when he reiterated the church’s ban on artificial birth control by issuing the encyclical “Humanae Vitae.” At the time, commentators predicted that not only would the teaching collapse under its own weight, but it might well bring the “monarchical papacy” down with it.

Those forecasts badly underestimated the capacity of the Catholic Church to resist change and to stand its ground.

Down the centuries, Catholics have frequently groused about papal rulings. Usually they channeled that dissent into blithe disobedience, though occasionally a Roman mob would run the Successor of Peter out of town on a rail just to make a point. In 1848, Pope Pius IX was driven into exile by Romans incensed at his refusal to embrace Italy’s unification.

Never before July 25, 1968, however, had opposition been so immediate, so public and so widespread. World-famous theologians called press conferences to rebut the pope’s reasoning. Conferences of Catholic bishops issued statements that all but licensed churchgoers to ignore the encyclical. Pastors openly criticized “Humanae Vitae” from the pulpit.

In a nutshell, “Humanae Vitae” held that the twin functions of marriage — to foster love between the partners and to be open to children — are so closely related as to be inseparable. In practice, that meant a resounding no to the pill.

The encyclical quickly became seen, both in the secular world and in liberal Catholic circles, as the papacy’s Waterloo. It was so out of sync with the hopes and desires of the Catholic rank and file that it simply could not stand.

And in some ways, it didn’t. Today polls show that Catholics, at least in the West, dissent from the teaching on birth control, often by majorities exceeding 80 percent.

But at the official level, Catholicism’s commitment to “Humanae Vitae” is more solid than ever.

During his almost 27-year papacy, John Paul II provided a deeper theoretical basis for traditional Catholic sexual morality through his “theology of the body.” In brief, the late pope’s argument was that human sexuality is an image of the creative love among the three persons of the Trinity, as well as God’s love for humanity. Birth control “changes the language” of sexuality, because it prevents life-giving love.

That’s a claim many Catholics might dispute, but the reading groups and seminars devoted to contemplating John Paul’s “theology of the body” mean that Catholics disposed to defend the church’s teaching now have a more formidable set of resources than they did when Paul VI wrote “Humanae Vitae.”

In addition, three decades of bishops’ appointments by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both unambiguously committed to “Humanae Vitae,” mean that senior leaders in Catholicism these days are far less inclined than they were in 1968 to distance themselves from the ban on birth control, or to soft-pedal it. A striking number of Catholic bishops have recently brought out documents of their own defending “Humanae Vitae.”

Advocates of the encyclical draw assurance from the declining fertility rates across the developed world, especially in Europe. No country in Europe has a fertility rate above 2.1, the number of children each woman needs to have by the end of her child-bearing years to keep a population stable.

Even with increasing immigration, Europe is projected to suffer a population loss in the 21st century that will rival the impact of the Black Death, leading some to talk about the continent’s “demographic suicide.”

Not coincidentally, Europe is also the most secular region of the world, where the use of artificial contraception is utterly unproblematic. Among those committed to Catholic teaching, the obvious question becomes: What more clear proof of the folly of separating sex and child-bearing could one want?

So the future of “Humanae Vitae” as the teaching of the Catholic Church seems secure, even if it will also continue to be the most widely flouted injunction of the church at the level of practice.

The encyclical’s surprising resilience is a reminder that forecasting the Catholic future in moments of crisis is always a dangerous enterprise — a point with relevance to a more recent Catholic predicament. Many critics believe that the church has not yet responded adequately to the recent sex-abuse scandals, leading to predictions that the church will “have to” become more accountable, more participatory and more democratic.

While those steps may appear inevitable today, it seemed unthinkable to many observers 40 years ago that “Humanae Vitae” would still be in vigor well into the 21st century.

Catholicism can and does change, but trying to guess how and when is almost always a fool’s errand.

John L. Allen Jr. is the senior correspondent

for The National Catholic Reporter and the author

of “The Rise of Benedict XVI.”

    The Pope vs. the Pill, NYT, 27.7.2008,






FACTBOX: Who is Pope Benedict?


Tue Apr 15, 2008
9:11am EDT


(Reuters) - Pope Benedict, who begins his first trip to the United States as pontiff on Tuesday, is only the third head of the Roman Catholic Church to visit the country.

Here are a few facts about the pontiff:



* Joseph Ratzinger was born in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany, on April 16, 1927. The son of a police chief, he spent most of his childhood in Traunstein, where he attended secondary school.

* During the early 1940's, Ratzinger was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth. A 1999 article in the National Catholic Reporter said Ratzinger was an assistant on an anti-aircraft battery guarding a BMW plant in 1943, then sent to the Austria-Hungary border to erect tank traps. After returning to Bavaria, he deserted. At the end of World War Two, he was an American prisoner of war.



* From 1946 to 1951, he studied at theological college in Freising and then at the University of Munich before being ordained as a priest. He received a doctorate in theology in 1957 and became a professor at Freising college in 1958.

* Ratzinger was a liberal theological adviser at the Second Vatican Council, but became more conservative after the 1968 student movement prompted him to defend the faith against secularism.

* He was archbishop of Munich before taking over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981, becoming the Roman Catholic Church's chief ideologue.

* In 2000, he branded other Christian churches as deficient -- shocking Anglicans, Lutherans and other Protestants who had been in ecumenical dialogue with Rome for years.



* Ratzinger succeeded Pope John Paul II in April 2005. His first trip abroad as pontiff was to his homeland, Germany, in August 2005.

* Last month Vatican and Muslim leaders agreed to establish a permanent official dialogue to improve often difficult relations and heal wounds still open from a controversial papal speech in 2006.

-- Catholic-Muslim relations nosedived in 2006 after Benedict delivered a lecture in Regensburg, Germany, taken by Muslims as implying that Islam was violent and irrational.

-- Although Benedict repeatedly expressed regret for the reaction to his speech, he stopped short of a clear apology sought by Muslims.


(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit,

editing by Patricia Zengerle)

    FACTBOX: Who is Pope Benedict?, R, 15.4.2008,






TIMELINE: Pope Benedict as pontiff


Tue Apr 15, 2008
9:11am EDT


(Reuters) - Pope Benedict lands in Washington on Tuesday to begin a six-day visit to the United States, his first as pontiff.

Here is a chronology of major events since Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19, 2005.

April 24, 2005 - Benedict is installed as leader of the Roman Catholic Church at an inaugural Mass.

June 10 - Pope attacks the use of condoms to fight HIV/AIDS in his first comments on the disease, saying the Church is leading the battle against AIDS by teaching chastity.

November 29 - In a first major ruling of Benedict's reign, the Vatican imposes restrictions on homosexuals becoming priests.

December 25 - Benedict, in his first "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and World) message and blessing, urges humanity to unite against terrorism, poverty and environmental blight.

January 25, 2006 - Pope releases first encyclical, called "Deus Caritas Est" (God is Love).

September 12 - Benedict sparks protests from the Muslim world with a speech Muslims say portrayed Islam as a religion tainted by violence and irrationality.

September 17 - Benedict tries to calm Muslim anger over his lecture, saying he was "deeply sorry" about the reaction and that the medieval quotes he used on holy war did not reflect his personal views.

September 25 - Benedict expresses his "esteem and profound respect" for Muslims in a speech to envoys from 20 Muslim countries.

December 1 - Pope ends a sensitive, fence-mending visit to Turkey, praised for visiting Istanbul's famed Blue Mosque and praying there facing toward Mecca "like Muslims."

February 24, 2007 - Benedict condemns genetic engineering and other scientific practices that allow people screen babies for defects.

April 13 - Benedict, in his first book since becoming pontiff, releases "Jesus of Nazareth," a theological treatise on Christ as both God and man.

May 9 - Benedict delivers a strong anti-abortion message to Brazilians at the start of his first visit to Latin America.

June 30 - Benedict calls on China to lift restrictions on religious freedom that "suffocate" the Church and sow divisions among Catholics.

October 11 - Benedict appeals to scientists to stop using human embryos in stem cell research, saying it violates "the dignity of human life."

Feb 5. 2008 - The pope orders changes to a Latin prayer for Jews at Good Friday services by traditionalist Catholics, deleting a reference to their "blindness" over Christ.

March 23 - The pope baptizes Magdi Allam, a well-known Egyptian-born journalist and outspoken critic of radical Islamism, at an Easter Vigil service.

(Writing by David Cutler

London Editorial Reference Unit;

editing by Patricia Zengerle)

    TIMELINE: Pope Benedict as pontiff, R, 15.4.2008,






Introducing Pope Benedict XVI


March 31, 2008
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — When Pope Benedict XVI makes his first papal trip to the United States in April, he will be guided by a seasoned Vatican ambassador who sees the visit as an opportunity to introduce a little-known pope to a complex set of audiences: American Catholics, Americans in general and global opinion leaders.

“The image of Benedict XVI is not only not well known, but it is badly known,” said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who, as apostolic nuncio, is the Vatican’s top diplomat in the United States.

“He is known as an intransigent man, almost an inhuman man,” the archbishop said of Pope Benedict in an interview at the Vatican Embassy in Washington. “It will be enough to listen to him to change completely the idea of this tough, this inhuman person.”

The pope’s visit, from April 15 to 20, will draw Catholics from around the country for Masses at Nationals Park in Washington and Yankee Stadium in New York. He will meet President Bush at the White House and talk to Catholic educators at Catholic University of America in Washington, pray at ground zero in Lower Manhattan and address the United Nations.

Benedict, a former professor, is a pope who cultivates words more than dramatic gestures — in contrast to his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. The key to this trip, Archbishop Sambi said, will be to listen to Benedict’s speeches in their entirety.

“He is not a man of blah, blah, blah,” the archbishop said. “He’s a thinker, and before speaking, he thinks. And he prays a lot.”

As the archbishop spoke on a recent weekday, workers were polishing the floors of the Vatican Embassy in preparation for the pope, who will stay there on the first three days of his visit. On the morning of April 16, his 81st birthday, the pope will say Mass in the embassy’s small chapel with embassy staff and have a celebratory breakfast before heading to the White House.

Archbishop Sambi is an old hand at hosting papal visits. An Italian, he represented the Holy See in Jerusalem for seven years and served before that in Indonesia, Cyprus and Burundi. He arrived in Washington in 2005, as the church was struggling to recover from the scandal over sexual abuse by priests and the nation was mired in a war in Iraq that the Vatican had opposed.

The United States will be only the seventh country Pope Benedict has visited since he was elected three years ago. The timing, Archbishop Sambi said, is intended to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the dioceses of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Bardstown, Ky. (the seat of the first inland diocese). It is also 200 years since the nation’s first Catholic diocese, Baltimore, was elevated to an archdiocese.

Although the pope is arriving in the midst of a presidential election, Archbishop Sambi said: “I can assure you that the pope will not at all interfere with the electoral process. He will not meet with any of the candidates.”

But it is likely that Pope Benedict will touch on issues germane to the election: poverty, the war in Iraq, abortion and euthanasia, gay marriage, environmental degradation and illegal immigration. (Some of these issues will probably arise in his address to the United Nations on April 18. Abortion is expected to come up when he meets with young Catholics, some severely disabled, at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y.) Pope Benedict has spoken before on how Catholic teaching applies to all of these issues.

“The Pope will speak about the doctrine of the Church, which has been established 2,000 years ago, much before there was any Democratic or Republican Party of the United States,” Archbishop Sambi said.

But the pope’s primary purpose is to tend to his flock. The Roman Catholic Church in the United States is in flux. Demographic changes, along with a shortage of priests and financial pressures, have led dioceses to close urban schools and parishes and open ones in suburbs and exurbs. Hispanic immigrants are flocking to parishes, and the church is scrambling to meet their spiritual and material needs.

This is the first papal visit to the United States since the abuse scandal revealed thousands of victims and left families and parishes devastated. There was speculation when the American trip was announced that the pope might travel to Boston, where the scandal erupted in 2002, but to do so would have put the scandal front and center. Yet Archbishop Sambi said he was confident that Pope Benedict would address the scandal during his visit.

In an acknowledgment of America’s religious diversity, Benedict will meet in Washington with Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and the leaders of other faiths. Catholic officials want to avoid the kind of contretemps that occurred in Germany, in 2006, when the pope offended Muslims by quoting a 14th century slur on Islam, and in Brazil last year, when a line in a speech infuriated indigenous people.

Archbishop Sambi demurred when asked whether the Pope’s speeches would be vetted, and if so, by whom, saying, “All this is an internal matter.”

    Introducing Pope Benedict XVI, NYT, 31.3.2008,






Vatican Beatifies 498 Martyrs


October 28, 2007
Filed at 7:39 a.m. ET
The New York Times


VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican on Sunday staged its largest mass beatification ceremony ever, putting 498 victims of religious persecution before and during Spain's civil war on the path to possible sainthood.

Seventy-one bishops from Spain, a host of Spanish politicians and Spanish pilgrims massed in St. Peter's Square for the ceremony, which came at a particularly delicate time for Spain as it takes an unprecedented look at its past.

Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, declared the 498 beatified after reading out their names from the steps of St. Peter's Basilica at the start of the Mass.

Spanish flags waved in the piazza as the crowd broke into applause.

Spain's 1936-69 civil war pitted an elected, leftist government against rightwing forces that rose up under Gen. Francisco Franco, who went on to win and presided over a nearly 40-year dictatorship staunchly supported by the Roman Catholic Church.

Violence against clergy had been simmering since 1931, with leftist forces targeting the institution they saw as a symbol of wealth, repression and inequality. Their attacks against the clergy gave Franco a pretext for launching his rebellion.

The church estimates that nearly 7,000 clergy were killed in Spain from 1931 to 1939.

The 498 people beatified on Sunday were killed in 1934, 1936 and 1937. They are comprised of two bishops, 24 priests and 462 members of religious orders, as well as a deacon, a subdeacon, a seminary student and seven lay Catholics.

By declaring the 498 martyrs, the Vatican could proceed with beatification without having to confirm a miracle attributed to the intercession of each of the victims. A miracle is necessary for any of them to be declared a saint.

Some in Spain have questioned the timing of the ceremony, coming three days before Parliament is to pass a Socialist-sponsored law seeking to make symbolic amends to victims of the war and of the Franco dictatorship.

The bill mentions people persecuted for their religious beliefs, but for the most part it is an unprecedented, formal condemnation of the Franco regime.

Critics say the Vatican, which since the late 1980s has beatified nearly 500 other clergy killed in the war, is acting with political motivation and is hitting back at the government by choosing now to beatify nearly another 500 all at once.

The church says the ceremony is being held now because Pope Benedict XVI finished signing the decrees only two months ago.

    Vatican Beatifies 498 Martyrs, NYT, 28.10.2007,






Catholic Church

Beatifies WWII Objector


October 26, 2007
Filed at 10:15 a.m. ET
The New York Times


VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- A devout and defiant Austrian farmer beheaded by the Nazis in 1943 for deserting Hitler's army was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church on Friday in the last major step before possible sainthood.

Franz Jaegerstaetter, an avowed conscientious objector, was executed outside Berlin on Aug. 9, 1943 for treason after his request to be excused from regular army service for religious reasons was denied. The married father of four was posthumously exonerated in 1997 by a Berlin court.

About 5,000 faithful and 27 crimson-robed cardinals and bishops from Austria and abroad joined Jaegerstaetter's 94-year-old widow, Franziska, at Friday's ceremony in the northwestern city of Linz, which was broadcast live on national television.

''I always prayed to the Lord God that he would let me live to experience this day,'' she said, surrounded by several dozen family members in a cathedral where a giant black and white portrait of Jaegerstaetter hung over the altar.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over the ceremony for Jaegerstaetter, whom Pope Benedict XVI declared a martyr in June.

The beatification gave Austrians a new opportunity to examine ''our own wartime past: the war generation, inhumanity, and the terror of the Nazis,'' Austrian bishops Ludwig Schwarz and Manfred Scheuer said in a statement.

''He is a shining example in his fidelity to the claims of his conscience -- an advocate of nonviolence and peace,'' they said, praising Jaegerstaetter for standing up to ''the inhuman and godless system of Nazism.''

''He gave up his life in magnanimous self-denial,'' the pope wrote in a letter read out by Saraiva Martins.

The beatification was held on Austria's National Day holiday, which marks the anniversary of a 1955 law declaring the country to be neutral.

In its official biography of Jaegerstaetter, the Diocese of Linz says he had a dream in 1938 warning of the horrors of Hitler's regime to come.

''In it, he saw a train carrying innumerable people to perdition, and its meaning was unveiled to him as representing the Nazis,'' it says.

After World War II, two Franciscan nuns brought an urn containing Jaegerstaetter's ashes back to the province of Upper Austria, where he had long been celebrated as a martyr -- meaning he died for the church.

Before he can be canonized, or named a saint, a miracle attributed to Jaegerstaetter still must be confirmed. The process is complicated and usually takes decades, sometimes centuries.


On the Net:

Franz Jaegerstaetter, http://www.jaegerstaetter.at

Catholic Church Beatifies WWII Objector, NYT, 26.10.2007,






Pope Changes Rules

for Papal Elections


June 26, 2007
Filed at 8:07 a.m. ET
The New York Times


VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI has changed the rules for electing a new pope, returning to the traditional requirement that two-thirds of the cardinals in the conclave agree on a new pontiff, the Vatican said Tuesday.

Pope John Paul II had altered the voting process in 1996, allowing the pope to be chosen by an absolute majority if the cardinals were unable to agree after several days of balloting in which a two-thirds majority was needed.

In a document released Tuesday, Benedict said he was returning to the traditional voting norm, essentially reversing John Paul's revision of the centuries-old process.

The brief document, written in Latin, was issued June 11, 2007 and signed by Benedict.

Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was elected pope on April 19, 2005 in one of the fastest conclaves in modern history. He reportedly was elected after four ballots, with 84 of the 115 votes.


This is a breaking news update.

Check back soon for further information.

AP's earlier story is below.

Pope Changes Rules for Papal Elections,
NYT, 26.6.2007,
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Pope-Elections.html - broken link










Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia


religion / faith,

abuse, sexual abuse, violence, extremism,

secularism, atheism



time > Christmas > Nativity story



time > Christmas



time > Christmas > Ornaments / crèches / presents / tree










home Up