Saturday, 28 April 2007


VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. announced that Benedict XVI has accepted the invitation presented recently by Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, to visit the headquarters of that organization in New York.
"The Pope," said Fr. Lombardi, "has accepted the invitation in general terms, and has expressed his willingness to visit the U.N. headquarters, although as yet there is no date or program for the trip."
Servant of God John Paul II visited the U.N. headquarters in 1979, and again in 1995 for the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the organization.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007


VATICAN CITY, APR 24, 2007 (VIS) - Late this morning, the Holy See Press Office published the following communique on the Pope's audience with Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), president of the Palestinian Authority.
"This morning, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, accompanied by his entourage. President Abbas then went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
"In the course of the cordial discussions, attention turned to the situation in the Middle East. Particular appreciation was expressed for the commitment - thanks also to the help of the international community - to relaunch the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Talks also dwelt upon the internal Palestinian situation with reference, among other things, to the difficulties faced by Catholics, and the value of their contribution to that society."

Friday, 20 April 2007

Gift Fit for a Pope: the Bodmer Papyrus

Bodmer Papyrus Is Connection With 1st Christians

By Irene Lagan

ROME, APRIL 19, 2007 ( As one might imagine, Benedict XVI receives gifts regularly, and not only on his birthday or on the anniversary of his papal election.

While the Holy Father undoubtedly appreciates the gestures, few have been as universally and personally significant as the gift of the Bodmer Papyrus 14-15 (P75).

The Bodmer Papyrus, dated around the year 175, is the oldest extant copy of parts of the Gospels of John and Luke. Discovered in Egypt in the early 1950s, the papyrus influenced the course of biblical scholarship.

When scholars saw such remarkable agreement between the texts, they had to acknowledge that the fourth-century Codex Vaticanus, the oldest complete version of the Gospel, was indeed authentic.

The papyrus came into the hands of Frank Hanna III, a businessman from Atlanta, Georgia. Through what Hanna called a convoluted but remarkable series of events, he was able to purchase the papyrus before it was auctioned, and present it in January to the Holy Father as a gift for the Church.

The Bodmer Papyrus is tangible evidence that the Gospel that circulated among the early Christian communities was set down well before the fourth century and handed down in the form we now know.

In short, Hanna said, "this papyrus helps us authenticate our Christian Bible. So we have the Church itself built over the bones of Peter, and then we have right next door in the Vatican Library an early text of the Word of God, which authenticates what we have always known to be true."

Moreover, it is one of the earliest known codices, or bound volumes, and is believed to have been used for liturgy, giving Catholics another concrete connection to the early Church.

I spoke with Hanna in Jerusalem, where he described his own discovery of the Bodmer Papyrus and its ongoing significance for his faith.

"This whole adventure has been a wonderful blessing for me and my family, and like so many blessings from God, it came out of nowhere," Hanna said.

He continued: "Prior to getting a phone call in May of last year I hardly knew what a papyrus was, and I had certainly never heard of the Bodmer Papyrus.

"So, just one of the benefits of this experience is how much I have learned about Scripture."

Hanna said that he "received a call from Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio to the United States, who emphasized the Church's interest in this papyrus. He also emphasized the personal interest it held for Benedict XVI, who is an incredible scholar and knew about the papyrus."

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican archivist and librarian, presented a page of the papyrus to the Holy Father last January after Hanna presented his gift.

Notably, it was a middle page marking the end of Luke's Gospel and the prologue to the Gospel of John, showing the order of the texts already in place in the early Christian communities.

"Benedict XVI is especially devoted to the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John, as well as the explication of God's word. So this page held special significance," Hanna said.

He continued: "It was wonderful to see the very evident joy on Benedict XVI's face when he received this. The text is so clearly preserved that if you know how to read biblical Greek, you can read it like you are reading a newspaper.

"So, the Pope asked for his glasses and began reading with a smile on his lips. You could see that he was really able to enjoy the text."

Among the many blessings, said Hanna, was the unfolding of so many events, including the fact that his 16-year-old daughter Elizabeth was able to witness all of it transpire.

He said: "When my daughter was 10, we memorized the prologue to John's Gospel and recited it together on the way to school. She also has an unusually strong devotion to the Nativity.

"After we dedicated the trust to Mary, I learned that Luke's Gospel is often referred to as Mary's Gospel or the Nativity Gospel."

All of these things, Hanna said, were blessings that he could never have known to ask for.

During a Holy Week visit to Jerusalem, Hanna said that he came to appreciate the papyrus even more.

He said: "Rome and Jerusalem are the two centers of the Church. The fact is that however much we Christians want to focus on our spiritual nature, we cling to all of this physical evidence.

"Here in the place Jesus lived, we see that when we talk about Jesus we are not talking about a legendary figure like Paul Bunyan or Zeus hurling his thunderbolts.

"Christ was a real man who was born in a little town called Bethlehem, who grew up in Nazareth and lived in Capernaum and walked these roads."

Hanna continued: "Last night I had the privilege to be in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and in the early morning of Good Friday, to place my hand where the cross was and to be in the tomb.

"But at some point, Christ swung his feet around as if getting out of bed and put his feet on the ground. These physical pieces of faith have an impact that can be really unexpected.

"Being able to have those tangible manifestations should not be seen as a crutch. They are an enhancement of our faith.

"Clinging to these things is like clinging to physical affection of a loved one. It is part and parcel of what makes us human beings."

Benedict XVI Marks 2nd Anniversary as Pope

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 19, 2007 - In the second year of Benedict XVI's pontificate, some 3.3 million people participated in his Vatican encounters with the public.

Today marks the second anniversary of his election. On this occasion, the Pontifical Household published statistics about his papal audiences.

In the last 12 months, 1,026,600 people have participated in Wednesday audiences, 351,620 have participated in special audiences, 536,000 have participated in liturgical celebrations and 1, 460,000 have participated in the midday Sunday addresses.

The total number of participants in the papal audiences in the Vatican was 3,374,000.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Vatican Statement on Ban Ki-moon's Visit to Pope

Secretary-General Invited Benedict XVI to the U.N.

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the statement released by the Vatican press office today, after a meeting between Benedict XVI and U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

* * *

This afternoon, His Holiness Benedict XVI has received in audience the secretary-general of the United Nations Organization, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. The audience falls in the series of previous encounters that Popes, and particularly John Paul II, have offered to secretaries-general of the U.N., as a sign, among other things, of the appreciation which the Holy See has for the central role carried out by the organization in maintaining peace in the world and promoting the development of peoples.

Mr. Ban Ki-moon has wanted to visit the Holy Father in the course of his first trips taken to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, shortly after taking on his new post last Jan. 1, so as to officially invite him to visit the see of the United Nations.

His Holiness and Mr. Ban Ki-moon have discussed themes of common interest, for example, the restoration of trust in multilateral relations and the strengthening of dialogue between cultures, not failing to mention the international situations that merit particular attention.

It has been recalled, furthermore, the contribution that the Catholic Church and the Holy See can make -- maintaining its identity and with the means proper to it -- to the action of the United Nations in resolving current conflicts and reaching understanding between nations.

The pontifical audience was followed by a fruitful conversation between the secretary-general and the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was accompanied by the secretary of relations with states, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

Pope's Book Already a Big Seller

ROME, APRIL 18, 2007 - Benedict XVI's book "Jesus of Nazareth" sold 50,000 copies in Italy in one day and its publisher has called it "already an extraordinary editorial success."

The publishing house Rizzoli has decided to print more copies, bringing the total printing to 420,000 copies.

"The book by Benedict XVI, out in Italian bookstores on April 16, 2007, the day of the Pontiff's 80th birthday, is already an extraordinary editorial success," a statement from the publisher said.

"Jesus of Nazareth" will be published in English on May 15 by Doubleday in North America and by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom.

Ban Ki-Moon Invites Benedict XVI to the United Nations.

Pope and Secretary-General Discuss World Peace

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2007 ( Ban Ki-moon has officially invited Benedict XVI to visit the United Nations, after a meeting between the two leaders in Rome.

The Vatican press office reported that the Pope and the U.N. secretary-general met today, and Ban extended the invitation, but details of when the visit could take place were not given.

According to the Vatican statement, the Holy Father and Ban "have discussed themes of common interest, for example, the restoration of trust in multilateral relations and the strengthening of dialogue between cultures, not failing to mention the international situations that merit particular attention."

The statement further noted that during the meeting, which lasted some 20 minutes, mention was made of "the contribution that the Catholic Church and the Holy See can make -- maintaining its identity and with the means proper to it -- to the action of the United Nations in resolving current conflicts and reaching understanding between nations."

The Vatican asserted that the visit of Ban is a sign of the Holy See's appreciation of "the central role carried out by the organization in maintaining peace in the world and promoting the development of peoples."

At the same time, the statement added, the secretary-general "has wanted to visit the Holy Father in the course of his first visits to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, shortly after taking on his new post last Jan. 1, so as to officially invite [the Pope] to visit the see of the United Nations."

Following the audience with Benedict XVI, Ban met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, who was accompanied by the secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Pope to Receive Former Iranian President

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2007 ( Benedict XVI will receive in audience the former president of Iran, Mohammad Khatami.

The director of the Vatican press office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, confirmed Saturday that the former president will visit the Vatican on May 4.

The politician from Tehran will be in Rome to participate in the meeting "Intercultural Dialogue: A Challenge for Peace." The event is organized by the Anastasis Association, an international association for Christian art and intercultural dialogue, and in collaboration with the Pontifical Gregorian University and Iran's Embassy to the Holy See.

Khatami, a strong promoter of Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey last November, saw the trip as an opportunity to promote dialogue between Muslims and Christians.

Khatami served two terms as president, spanning the years 1997 to 2005. He is also the president of the Foundation for the Dialogue Between Civilizations.

Bush to Visit Vatican in June

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2007 ( Benedict XVI will receive in audience for the first time U.S. President George Bush in June, a Vatican official said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said Saturday that Bush will visit the Pope on June 9 or 10, after participating in the G8 meeting in Germany from June 6 to 8.

Bush, together with his wife Laura, met Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then dean of the College of Cardinals, on the occasion of the funeral for Pope John Paul II in April 2005.

Laura Bush was received in a private audience by Benedict XVI in February 2006 while she was passing through Rome.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Synopsis of Pope's Book "Jesus of Nazareth"

ROME, APRIL 15, 2007 - Here is the synopsis of Benedict XVI's book "Jesus of Nazareth," released by the Italian publisher Rizzoli, which has handled worldwide sale of the rights to the work.

The Italian edition will be in bookstores Monday, and the English-language edition will be made available May 15 by Doubleday in North America, and by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom.

* * *

The Pope's Path to Jesus
A personal meditation, not an exercise of the magisterium

This book is the first part of a work, the writing of which, as its author states, was preceded by a "long gestation" (Page xi). It reflects Joseph Ratzinger's personal search for the "face of the Lord" and is not intended to be a document forming part of the magisterium (Page xxiii).

"Everyone is free, then, to contradict me," the Pontiff stresses in the foreword (Page xxiv). The main purpose of the work is "to help foster [in the reader] the growth of a living re¬lationship" with Jesus Christ (Page xxiv). In an expected second volume the Pope hopes "also to be able to include the chapter on the [infancy] narratives" con¬cerning the birth of Jesus and to consider the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection.

It is primarily, therefore, a pastoral book. But it is also the work of a rigorous theologian, who justifies his assertions based on exhaustive knowledge of sacred texts and critical literature. He underlines the indispen¬sability of a historical-critical method for serious exegesis, but also highlights its limits: "Admittedly, to believe that, as man, he [Jesus] truly was God exceeds the scope of the historical method" (Page xxiii).

And yet, "Without an¬choring in God, the person of Jesus remains shadowy, unreal, and unexplainable" (Schnackenburg, "Freundschaft mit Jesus," Page 322). In confirming this conclu¬sion of a notable Roman Catholic representative of historical-critical exegesis, the Pope states that his book "sees Jesus in light of his communion with the Father" (Page xiv).

In addition, based on "reading the individual texts of the Bible in the context of the whole" -- a reading that "does not contradict historical-critical interpretation, but carries it forward in an organic way toward becoming theology in the proper sense" (Page xix) -- the author presents "the Jesus of the Gospels as the real, 'historical' Jesus," underlining "that this figure is much more logical and, historically speaking, much more intelligible than the reconstructions we have been presented with in the last decades" (Page xxii).

For Benedict XVI, one finds in the Scriptures the compelling elements to be able to assert that the historical personage, Jesus Christ, is also the Son of God who came to Earth to save humanity. In page after page, he exam¬ines these one by one, guiding and challenging the reader -- the believer but also the nonbeliever -- by way of an enthralling intellectual adventure.

Grounding his core premise on the fact of the intimate unity between the Old and the New Testament, and drawing on the Christological herme¬neutics that see in Jesus Christ the key to the entire Bible, Benedict XVI presents the Jesus of the Gospels as the "new Moses" who fulfills Israel's an¬cient expectations (Page 1). This new Moses must lead the people of God to true and definitive freedom. He does so in a sequence of actions that, how¬ever, always allow God's plan to be anticipated in its entirety.

The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan is "an acceptance of death for the sins of humanity, and the voice that calls out, 'This is my beloved Son,' over the baptismal waters is an antici¬patory reference to the Resurrection" (Page 18). Jesus' immersion in the waters of the River Jordan is a symbol of his death and of his descent into hell -- a reality present, however, throughout his life.

To save humanity "He must recapitulate the whole of history from its beginnings" (Page 26), he must conquer the principal temptations that, in various forms, threaten men in all ages and, transforming them into obedience, reopen the road toward God (Chapter 2), toward the true Promised Land, which is the "Kingdom of God" (Page 44). This term, which can be interpreted in its Christological, mystical or even ecclesiastical dimension, ultimately means "the divine lordship, God's do¬minion over the world and over history, [which] transcends the moment, indeed transcends and reaches beyond the whole of history. And yet it is at the same time something belonging absolutely to the present" (Page 57). Indeed, through Jesus' presence and activity "God has here and now entered actively into history in a wholly new way." In Jesus "God ... draws near to us ... rules in a divine way, without worldly power, rules through the love that reaches 'to the end'" (Pages 60-61; John 13:1).

The theme of the "Kingdom of God" (Chapter 3), which pervades the whole of Jesus' preaching, is developed in further depth in the reflection on the "Sermon on the Mount" (Chapter 4). In the Sermon Jesus clearly appears as the "new Moses" who brings the new Torah or, rather, returns to Moses' Torah and, activating the intrinsic rhythms of its structure, fulfills it (Page 65).

The Sermon on the Mount, in which the beatitudes are the cardi¬nal points of the law and, at one and the same time, a self-portrait of Jesus, demonstrates that this law is not just the result of a "face-to-face" talk with God but embodies the plenitude that comes from the intimate union of Jesus with the Father (Page 66). Jesus is the Son of God, the Word of God in person. "Jesus understands himself as the Torah" (Page 110). "This is the point that demands a decision [...] and consequently this is the point that leads to the Cross and the Resurrection" (Page 63).

The exodus toward the true "Promised Land," toward true freedom, requires the sequel of Christ. The believer has to enter the same communion of the Son with the Father. Only in this way can Man "fulfill" himself, because his innermost nature is oriented toward the relationship with God. This means that a fundamental element of his life is talking to God and listening to God. Because of this, Benedict XVI dedicates an entire chapter to prayer, explaining the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus himself taught us (Chapter 5).

Man's profound contact with God the Father through Jesus in the Holy Spirit gathers them together in the "we and us" of a new family that, via the choice of the Twelve Disciples, recalls the origins of Israel (the twelve Patri¬archs) and, at the same time, opens the vision toward the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-14) -- the ultimate destination of the whole story -- of the new Exodus under the guidance of the "new Moses."

With Jesus, the Twelve Disciples "have to pass from outward to inward communion with Jesus," so as then to be able to testify to his oneness with the Father and "become Jesus' envoys ¬-- 'apostles,' no less -- who bring his message to the world" (Page 172). Albeit in its extremely variegated composition, the new family of Jesus, the Church of all ages, finds in him its unifying core and the will to live the universal character of his teaching (Chapter 6).

To make his message easier to understand and indeed to incorporate that message into daily living, Jesus uses the form of the parable. He comports the substance of what he intends to communicate -- ultimately he is always talking about his mystery -- attuned to the listener's comprehension using the bridge of imagery grounded in realities very familiar and accessible to that listener. Alongside this human aspect, however, there is an exquisitely theological explanation of the parables' sense, which Joseph Ratzinger high¬lights in an analysis of rare depth. He then comments more specifically on three parables, via which he illustrates the endless resources of Jesus' message and its perennial actuality (Chapter 7).

The next chapter also centers round the images used by Jesus to explain his mystery: They are the great images of John's Gospel. Before analyzing them, the Pope presents a very interesting summary of the various results of scientific research into who the apostle John was. With this, as also in his explanation of the images, he opens up new horizons for the reader that re¬veal Jesus with ever-increasing clarity as the "Word of God" (Page 317), who became man for our salvation as the "Son of God" (Page 304), coming to redirect humanity toward unity with the Father -- the reality personified by Moses (Chapter 8).

This vision is further expanded in the last two chapters. "The account of the Transfiguration of Jesus [...] interprets Peter's confession and takes it deeper, while at the same time connecting it with the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection" (Pages 287-¬288). Both events -- the transfiguration and the confession -- are decisive moments for the earthly Jesus as they are for his disciples.

The true mission of the Messiah of God and the destiny of those who want to follow him are now definitively established. Both events become comprehensible to their full extent only if based on an organic view of the Old and New Testament. Jesus, the living Son of God, is the Messiah awaited by Israel who, through the scandal of the Cross, leads humanity into the "Kingdom of God" (Page 317) and to ultimate freedom (Chapter 9).

The Pope's book ends with an in-depth analysis of the titles that, according to the Gospels, Jesus used for himself (Chapter 10). Once again it becomes evident that only through reading the Scriptures as a united whole is one able to reveal the meaning of the three terms "Son of Man," "Son," and "I Am." This latter term is the mysterious name with which God re¬vealed himself to Moses in the burning bush. This name now allows it to be seen that Jesus is that same God. In all three titles "Jesus at once conceals and reveals the mystery of his person. [...] All three of these terms demonstrate how deeply rooted he is in the Word of God, Israel's Bible, the Old Testament. And yet all these terms receive their full meaning only in him -- it is as if they had been waiting for him" (Page 354).

Together with the man of faith, who seeks to explain the divine mystery above all to himself; together with the extremely refined theologian, who ranges effortlessly from the results of modern doctrinal analyses to those of their ancient precursors, the book also reveals the pastor, who truly succeeds in his attempt "to help foster [in the reader] the growth of a living relationship" with Jesus Christ (Page xxiv), almost irresistibly drawing him into his own personal friendship with the Lord.

In this perspective the Pontiff is not afraid to denounce a world that, by excluding God and clinging only to visible and tangible realities, risks destroying itself in a self-centered quest for purely material well-being -- becoming deaf to the real call to the human being to become, through the Son, a son of God, and thereby to reach true freedom in the "Promised Land" of the "Kingdom of God."

* * *

The page numbers refer to the U.S. edition of the book, which will be published by Doubleday.

Benedict turns 80

As Germans and other pilgrims flocked to the Vatican to pay tribute to Pope Benedict as he turns 80, the pontiff has thanked God's "divine mercy" for sustaining him in his "weakness".

The UK Telegraph reports that faithful from Benedict's native Germany were arriving bearing gifts including bone china and teddy bears dressed in papal garb.

Many more from around the world also joined a special Mass yesterday for the pope who also attended a birthday concert of the music of Mozart and Dvorak at the Vatican on the eve of his actual birthday today.

Speaking at the Mass yesterday, Pope Benedict thanked the entire Church and his guests but above all he gave thanks to God's divine mercy, which accompanies and sustains him in his "weaknesses", AsiaNews reports.

The "wounded God" ask us in turn "to let ourselves be wounded for Him", Benedict said.

"The liturgy should not be used to speak about oneself, however ones life may be used to announce God's Divine mercy," he added.

Among the guests the pope thanked a special envoy from Bartholomew I, voicing his "appreciation for the kind gesture and his hope that the Catholic - Orthodox theological dialogue may continue with renewed vigour".

Dr Joaquin Navarro-Valls, a key member of the late pope's stunningly successful papacy and the head of the Vatican's communications department for 22 years, led the tributes yesterday to Benedict, describing him as a man of "elevated, perhaps even unreachable, composure: discreet, alert and Roman".

His words formed part of a growing chorus of praise for the Pope, who has surprised almost everyone with his firm but gentle leadership.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

President Bush to visit Pope Benedict

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Bush will meet the Pope on June 9 or 10 after attending a Group of Eight summit in Germany.

Saturday, 14 April 2007


VATICAN CITY, APR 13, 2007 (VIS) - "Jesus of Nazareth," a book written by Benedict XVI will be on sale in Italian, German, and Polish bookshops from Monday, April 16, which is also the Pope's 80th birthday. The volume, 448 pages long, is to be translated into 20 languages.

The Italian publishing house, Rizzoli, entrusted by the Vatican Publishing House with the sale of the rights of the book throughout the world, today released a press communique stating that "'Jesus of Nazareth' is the first part of a two-volume work examining Jesus' public life from His Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration."

"On the one hand," the communique continues, "this is a pastoral narrative ... offering an introduction to the principles of Christianity. ... On the other, the text is an essay that maintains the strict academic discipline that distinguish the writings and talks of the theologian Joseph Ratzinger.

"The pastoral concerns of the Pope," it adds, "and his exceptional theological doctrine, come together to focus on the central theme of the work: the conviction that, in order to understand the figure of Jesus Christ, it is necessary to start from His union with the Father.

"A historical-critical methodology is indispensable for serious exegesis." Such a methodology "has granted access to a great quantity of material and knowledge that enable us to reconstruct the figure of Jesus with a profundity unimaginable a few decades ago. Nonetheless, only faith can lead to the understanding that Jesus is God; and if in the light of this conviction the sacred texts are read with the instruments of modern historical-critical methodology, ... they reveal ... a figure worthy of faith.

"For Joseph Ratzinger, faith and critical research are complementary, not antagonistic, and the Jesus of the Gospels is the historical Jesus," the communique concludes.

A synopsis of the new volume, entitled "the Pope's path towards Jesus," makes it clear that this book "reflects the personal search by Joseph Ratzinger for the 'face of Jesus,' and is not a document of the Magisterium."

"For Benedict XVI, the biblical text contains all the elements to affirm that the historical figure of Jesus Christ is also in fact the Son of God, Who came to earth to save humankind."

"Based on the intimate unity between the Old and New Testament, and employing Christological hermeneutics which see in Jesus Christ to the key to the entire Bible, Joseph Ratzinger presents the Jesus of the Gospels as the 'new Moses' Who fulfills the ancient expectations of Israel. This new and true Moses must lead the people of God to real and definitive freedom. He does so through successive steps which, nonetheless, always allow God's plan to be seen in its entirety."

In this light, "the immersion of Jesus in the waters of the Jordan is the symbol of His death and descent into hell, a reality that accompanied Him throughout His life. In order to save humanity, ... He had to overcome the principal temptations that in different forms threaten mankind of all times and, transforming them into obedience, reopen the way towards God, towards the Promised Land which is the Kingdom of God."

"The theme of the 'Kingdom of God' which runs throughout Jesus' announcement is given deeper consideration in the Pope's reflection on the Sermon on the Mount, ... in which the Beatitudes constitute the main points of the new Law and, at the same time, represent a self-portrait of Jesus." The Sermon "shows that this Law is not just, as in Moses' case, the result of a 'face to face' meeting with God, but carries in itself the fullness that arises from Jesus' intimate union with the Father."

Hence, a "fundamental element" of man's life is "talking and listening to God. And for this reason Benedict XVI has dedicated an entire chapter to prayer, explaining the Our Father that Jesus Himself taught us."

The synopsis continues: "The profound contact of men and women with God the Father through Jesus in the Holy Spirit brings them together in the 'us' of a new family which, with the choosing of the Twelve, recalls the origins of Israel. ... Even in its highly varied composition, the new family of Jesus, the Church of all times, finds in Him the unifying center and the guidance to live the universal nature of His Gospel.

"In order to make the content of His message more accessible and to turn it into a form of practical guidance, Jesus used parables. ... However, there is also a purely theological explanation of the meaning of the parables, and Joseph Ratzinger highlights this in a singularly profound analysis."

The Holy Father's book then goes on to consider "the metaphors used by Jesus to explain His mystery." These are "the great images of St. John," but "before analyzing them the Pope presents a very interesting summary of the various results of academic research into who John the Evangelist was," and "opens new horizons for readers, revealing Jesus ever Justify Fullmore clearly as the 'Word of God'."

"This point of view is broadened further in the last two chapters of the book ... where the true mission of the Messiah of God and the destiny of those who follow Him is definitively established." Finally "an in-depth analysis of the titles which, according to the Gospels, Jesus used for Himself, concludes the Pontiff's book."

"Alongside the man of faith, ... alongside the highly sophisticated theologian, ... what also emerges from this book is the pastor who truly manages to 'encourage in readers the growth of a living relationship' with Jesus Christ. ... In this light," the synopsis concludes, "the Pontiff is not afraid to tell the world that, by excluding God and clinging only to visible and material reality, we risk self destruction in the selfish search for a purely material wellbeing," while renouncing the possibility "of achieving true freedom in the 'Promised Land,' the 'Kingdom of God'."

Pope Benedict to insist on religious freedom

The Pope's imminent letter to Catholics in China is to emphasize the importance of religious freedom, thus supporting the right of Chinese Catholics to offer allegiance to the Vatican, according to Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, writes Ellen Teague.
The cardinal said that the Pope was unlikely to sacrifice "real religious freedom" in order to facilitate diplomatic relations, according to the Catholic Hong Kong paper, the Sunday Examiner. The letter is expected to address the prospect of restoring diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Beijing's Communist Government, and will call for reconciliation between members of the state-recognised Catholic Patriotic Association and "underground" Catholics loyal to Rome.

Thursday, 12 April 2007


Justify Full
VATICAN CITY, APR 10, 2007 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today released a communique announcing that, at 10 a.m. on Sunday April 15, Divine Mercy Sunday, the Holy Father will preside at a Eucharistic celebration to mark his 80th birthday, which falls the following day, April 16.
Cardinals, archbishops and bishops of the Roman Curia, as well as auxiliary bishops and a representative of the priests of the diocese of Rome, will all concelebrate with the Pope.
"The Church in Rome and in the various parts of the world" the communique reads, "is invited to join the Holy Father Benedict XVI in raising to God the Father an intense prayer of thanksgiving for his 80th birthday and for the second anniversary of his election."

Pope Benedict backs "theistic evolution"

In remarks published in a new book yesterday, Pope Benedict refused to endorse "intelligent design" theories, instead backing "theistic evolution" which considers that God created life through evolution with no clash between religion and science.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Pope Benedict says science has narrowed the way life's origins are understood and Christians should take a broader approach to the question.

The Pope also says the Darwinist theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory.

But Benedict, whose remarks were published yesterday in Germany in the book Schoepfung und Evolution (Creation and Evolution), praised scientific progress and did not endorse creationist or "intelligent design" views about life's origins, the Herald says.

"Science has opened up large dimensions of reason ... and thus brought us new insights," Benedict, a former theology professor, said at the closed-door seminar with his former doctoral students last September that the book documents.

"But in the joy at the extent of its discoveries, it tends to take away from us dimensions of reason that we still need. Its results lead to questions that go beyond its methodical canon and cannot be answered within it," he said.

"The issue is reclaiming a dimension of reason we have lost," he said, adding that the evolution debate was actually about "the great fundamental questions of philosophy - where man and the world came from and where they are going".

"Both popular and scientific texts about evolution often say that nature or evolution has done this or that," Benedict said in the book, which included lectures from theologian Schoenborn, two philosophers and a chemistry professor.

"Just who is this nature or evolution as (an active) subject? It doesn't exist at all!" the Pope said.

Benedict argued that evolution had a rationality that the theory of purely random selection could not explain.

"The process itself is rational despite the mistakes and confusion as it goes through a narrow corridor choosing a few positive mutations and using low probability," he said.

"This ... inevitably leads to a question that goes beyond science ... where did this rationality come from?" he asked. Answering his own question, he said it came from the "creative reason" of God.

Speculation about Benedict's views on evolution have been rife ever since a former student and close adviser, Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, published an article in 2005 that seemed to align the Church with the intelligent design view.

Friday, 6 April 2007

A point in the Pope's new book: Rich nations plundered the world

By Philip Pullella in Vatican City
RICH countries bent on power and profit have mercilessly "plundered and sacked" Africa and other poor regions and exported to them the "cynicism of a world without God", Pope Benedict writes in his new book.
The Pope also condemns drug trafficking and sexual tourism, saying they are signs of a world brimming with "people who are empty" yet living among abundant material goods.
One section of the book was printed in Wednesday's Corriere Della Sera daily before publication later this month by Italian publisher Rizzoli, which owns the newspaper.
A Rizzoli spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the excerpts.
In the 400-page book, called Jesus of Nazareth, the Pope offers a modern application of Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan, who stopped to help a man who had been robbed by thieves when others, including a priest, had not.
"The current relevance of the parable is obvious," the Pope writes.
"If we apply it to the dimensions of globalised society today, we see how the populations of Africa have been plundered and sacked and this concerns us intimately," the Pope says in his book, which comes out on April 16, his 80th birthday.
He drew a link between the lifestyle of people in the developed world and the dire conditions of people in Africa.
"We see how our lifestyle, the history that involved us, has stripped them naked and continues to strip them naked," he writes.
The German Pope, who has condemned the effects of colonialism before, said rich countries had also hurt poor countries spiritually by belittling or trying to wipe out their own cultural and spiritual traditions.
"Instead of giving them God, the God close to us in Christ, and welcoming in their traditions all that is precious and great ... we have brought them the cynicism of a world without God, where only power and profit count...," he writes.
The Pope says his comments were valid for other regions apart from Africa.
In what could be seen as a strong self-criticism of the Roman Catholic Church, whose missionary activities often went hand-in-glove with colonialism, the Pope writes:
"We destroyed (their) moral criteria to the point that corruption and a lust for power devoid of scruples have become obvious."

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Benedict XVI's Book covers Christ's Baptism to His Transfiguration

Benedict XVI's Book Will Be Out Next Week

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 4, 2007 ( Benedict XVI's book on Jesus of Nazareth will be presented to the public on Friday, April 13.

It will be presented in the Vatican's Synod Hall at 4 p.m., local time.

The volume will be on sale in bookshops on Monday, April 16, in its Italian, German and Polish editions.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna; Daniele Garrone, dean of the Waldensian Faculty of Theology in Rome; and Massimo Cacciari, professor of aesthetics at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, will present the volume. Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi will lead the presentation.

The then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger began the book during his vacation in 2003. After having been elected Bishop of Rome, as revealed in the text, he took advantage of every free moment to complete it.

In the Preface, the Pope writes that this work "is not a magisterial act, but solely an expression of my personal search for the face of the Lord. Therefore, all are free to contradict me."

He explained: "Because I do not know how much time I am left and how much strength I will be given, now I have decided to publish the first 10 chapters as a first part of my book, which go from the Baptism in the Jordan to the confession of Peter and the Transfiguration."

There are plans for nine other chapters to be published later.


VATICAN CITY, APR 4, 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican's Synod Hall at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 13, the presentation will take place of the book by Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, "Jesus of Nazareth." The volume will be on sale in bookshops from Monday, April 16 in its Italian, German and Polish editions, published respectively by: Rizzoli, Herder and Wydawnictwo M.
Participating in the presentation will be Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria; Daniele Garrone, dean of the Waldensian faculty of theology in Rome; and Massimo Cacciari, professor of aesthetics at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, Italy. The conference will be presented by Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office.