Vatican City, Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday morning, a visibly joyful Pope Benedict XVI met with thousands of his German countrymen telling them that although he is now the Bishop of Rome, he would always be “a Bavarian” at heart.
The Holy Father was joined in the Paul VI Hall by his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, along with a throng of German seminarians, priests, religious, and lay faithful shouting, "Viva il Papa! Long Live the Pope."
The new Pope asked the group to forgive him for being late, noting that while punctuality was a hallmark of Germans, he had lived in Italy for 23 years and had perhaps "become Italianized." Nevertheless, he highlighted in his speech his own origins and the ties that have linked Bavaria and Rome over the centuries.
Speaking of the conclave that elected him as the 264th Successor to Peter, Pope Benedict said that, "Without violating the oath of secrecy, I never thought I would be elected, nor did I do anything to promote this."
He said that when it became clear that he would be the new Pope he recalled a letter from a cardinal who reminded him that the theme of his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul II came from Jesus’ call to His disciples: "Follow me."
He had added in the homily, "When the Lord calls, we must answer."
He told the group that, "The ways of the Lord are not easy, but we are not made for an easy life and therefore I could only say 'yes'."
Pope Benedict echoed the words of his April 24 Inauguration Mass, saying that the Church "is not old but young." He told the excited crowd that he would indeed be in Cologne, Germany with young people for August’s World Youth Day.
In conclusion, the Pope implored his fellow Germans to walk together with him, to pray for him and to have faith in him.
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - In his homily yesterday evening at the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his desire to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor John Paul II who made the missionary mandate of the Church a cornerstone of his pontificate.
Thirty-five cardinals and representatives from other Christian confessions were present for this, Pope Benedict’s first official trip outside the Vatican in which he greeted and blessed the thousands present, pausing to kiss a number of children.
After venerating the tomb of St. Paul, and recalling his words in the letter to the Romans, the Holy Father noted that his visit represented "a much longed-for pilgrimage, a gesture of faith that I undertake in my own name, but also in the name of the dear diocese of Rome, of which the Lord has made me bishop and pastor, and in that of the Universal Church which is entrusted to my pastoral care.”
He called it “A pilgrimage, so to speak, at the roots of the mission, the mission that the risen Christ entrusted to Peter, to the Apostles, and in a particular way also to Paul, urging him to announce the Gospel to the people until he reached this city where, after having long preached the Kingdom of God, he gave with his own blood the final witness to the Lord, who had 'conquered' and sent him."
Pope Benedict pointed out that as Peter's successor, he had come to the basilica "to revitalize in faith this 'grace of the apostolate'," about which St. Paul speaks.
He likewise recalled the example of John Paul II, "a missionary Pope, whose intense activity, as witnessed by more than 100 apostolic trips outside Italy, is truly inimitable.”
“What impelled him to such dynamism”, the Pope asked, “if not that same love of Christ that transformed the existence of St Paul?”
“May the Lord also nourish such a love in me, that I do not hold back before the urgent need of announcing the Gospel in the world today. The Church is missionary by nature, her primary task is evangelization."
He said that, "At the beginning of the third millennium the Church feels with renewed vitality that Christ's missionary mandate is more imperative than ever," and recalled the motto used by his namesake, St. Benedict in his Rule, who exhorted his monks "to put nothing before the love of Christ."
The Holy Father emphasized that, "the passion for Christ brought [St. Paul] to preach the Gospel not only with words but with life itself, ever more conformed to his Lord. In the end St. Paul announced Christ through martyrdom, and with his blood - together with that of St. Peter and of so many other witnesses to the Gospel - he bathed this land and made fruitful the Church of Rome, which presides over the universal communion of charity."
“The twentieth century”, Pope Benedict stressed, “was a time of martyrdom.”
“This”, he said, “was much emphasized by Pope John Paul II who asked the Church 'to update the Martyrologium,' and who canonized and beatified numerous martyrs of modern history.”
“If then, the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians, at the beginning of the third millennium we may expect a new flowering of the Church, especially where she suffered most for the faith and the witness of the Gospel."
He concluded, saying that, "We entrust this desire to the intercession of St. Paul. May he obtain for the Church of Rome - especially her new bishop and all the people of God - the joy of announcing and bearing witness to the Good News of Christ the Savior."
Thousands gathered outside the church to greet the new pontiff, some commenting that they were impressed by his charisma and human touch.
The Pope also met with his German compatriots in a separate audience. (See following story.)
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - Unlike the stern image portrayed in the media of Pope Benedict XVI in the days following his election, the German-born pontiff demonstrated a very different portrait of himself during a meeting with his fellow countrymen Monday.
Upon his arrival, he shook hands with pilgrims and blessed a child handed to him, reported the Associated Press. He arrived to the meeting late and apologized, explaining that the meeting with religious leaders had run over. "The Germans are used to punctuality," he joked. "I'm already very Italian."
Benedict was reportedly interrupted several times by applause and cheers. "Benedict sent from God!" they chanted. In German, the chant rhymes: "Benedikt Gott Geschickt."
He recounted to the pilgims the feelings and thoughts that ran through him during the conclave at the realization that God might be calling him to something,which Benedict felt, was beyond his abilities.
"As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that — in a manner of speaking the guillotine would fall on me — I started to feel quite dizzy," the 78-year-old pope said in German, smiling and chuckling. "I thought that I had done my life's work and could now hope to live out my days in peace.
"I told the Lord with deep conviction, 'Don't do this to me. You have younger and better [candidates] who could take up this great task with a totally different energy and with different strength.'"
"Evidently, this time he didn't listen to me," Benedict joked.
He said that during the conclave, a cardinal wrote him a note, which read: “If the Lord should now tell you, 'Follow me,' then remember what you preached. Do not refuse. Be obedient.”
“This touched my heart,” Benedict told his audience. “The ways of the Lord are not comfortable, but we were not created for comfort, but for greatness, for good.
"So in the end, all I could do was say yes,” he said. “I am trusting in God, and I am trusting in you, dear friends."
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI’s schedule was packed with meetings Monday, the first day after his inauguration. He began his busy day with the many Christian and Muslim leaders, who had attended the inaugural mass Sunday.
He repeated his intention to work for Christian unity and told Muslim representatives in particular that he wanted to continue building "bridges of friendship," which he said could foster peace in the world.
People who belong to religious traditions have a duty to work together for peace, he said.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said afterward that he was "encouraged by the way Pope Benedict went out of his way to underline the commitment to ecumenism."
Later, Benedict visited St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. There, he read from an Epistle of Paul to the Romans and prayed by St. Paul’s tomb.
Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - Amid concerns that the new Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI is out of touch with the modern Church, especially its youth, one university is welcoming the new pontiff with open arms.
On April 18th, as white smoke poured out of a chimney on the Sistine Chapel, over 500 students gathered around television sets in the J.C. Williams Student Center on the campus of Ohio’s Franciscan University with baited breath.
As students cheered and applauded the news of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s election as Pope, university president, Fr. Terrance Henry T.O.R. said, “I’m very excited for the Church. I’m so grateful to the Lord for sending the Holy Spirit to guide the cardinals in their decision to elect Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy.”
Fr. Henry, donning the traditional Franciscan robe, added that, in his view, “Cardinal Ratzinger is one of the great intellects of the Catholic Church. He will be both a promoter and a defender of the faith.”
“Having worked so closely with Pope John Paul II, he has an excellent grasp of the opportunity before us as the body of Christ and the challenges that confront us in relation to the culture of death. We can look forward to some deep and profound encyclicals from him.”
Students at the university are currently compiling a ‘spiritual bouquet’ of handwritten messages and prayers that they will send to the new Pope.
Rome, Italy, Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - In addition to visiting Germany in August for the 2005 World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI may also travel to the Polish city of Krakow and the Fatima Shrine in Portugal.
A few days ago the Holy Father confirmed he would be present at World Youth Day in his country of origin and on Sunday he promised Governor Edmund Stoiber of Bavaria that he wishes to visit the German state where he was born “soon.”
According the Italian press, a visit to Krakow, where Pope John Paul II was archbishop, on the way to Cologne is under consideration. For his part the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, suggested that the Pontiff could visit Fatima in 2006 to canonize Marian visionaries Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
The cardinal said the visit was possible and that he would do “everything possible to make it happen,” although he acknowledged that “these things are the exclusive responsibility of the Holy Father.”
Cardinal Saraiva Martins said the cause of the Fatima children has always been a subject “much appreciated by the Holy See” and also by Benedict XVI who, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “presided at the May 13, 1996 pilgrimage in Fatima, at which he was impressed by the devotion and faith of the Portuguese people.”
Cardinal Camerlengo calls on Spanish King and government to conserve dignity of the family
ROME – On the heels of the approval by Spain’s Congress of homosexual unions, the Cardinal Camerlengo, Eduardo Martinez Somalo, called on the Spanish royal family and members of the government to conserve and advance the dignity of the person and the family in Spain.
During a dinner held at the residence of the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See, the cardinal demanded the conservation of “the patrimony of personal, familiar, and social human dignity, authentic natural and religious ethic values that belong to the very essence of the person and derive from our genuine human roots and spiritual experiences.”
“There cannot be authentic integral progress if the material is not stimulated and vivified by the spiritual,” Cardinal Martinez said. “Whoever tries to build a world without God—as John Paul II said so many times—ends up building a world against man,” the cardinal added.
In addition to the King and Queen of Spain, top political leaders also attended the dinner.
During his remarks, Cardinal Martinez thanked the Spanish King and Queen for their presence both at the funeral of John Paul II and at the installation Mass of Benedict XVI.
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - During a Mass offered for the beginning of the pontificate of Benedict XVI at the Basilica of Guadalupe, Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia and vice president of the Mexican Bishops Conference said the quick election of the Holy Father was a clear manifestation “of the will of God for His Church.”
During the Mass, which was concelebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, and 16 other Mexican bishops, Archbishop Suarez said the election of the Pontiff is a gift from God and he acknowledged that “the swiftness of the election surprised us. We thank God for what this consensus has meant, this clear and sharp manifestation of the will of God for His Church.”
The archbishop told the faithful gathered in the Basilica that “the electors are men of faith and they were accompanied in their decision by the prayer of the whole Church. The Conclave, then, was not a matter of just a few.”
Archbishop Suarez noted that the cardinals gathered in the Conclave were of the same mind as the Apostles in their search for men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and wisdom in order to entrust to one of them the ministry of the Church.
Referring to the qualities of the Holy Father, the archbishop emphasized his humility, simplicity, austerity, kindness and wisdom. “Very soon the prejudices and clichés that have been pinned on him will fade away.”
Likewise Archbishop Suarez recalled the commitment of the bishops to maintain and strengthen their communion with the Pontiff, and they exhorted the faithful “to lift up with Peter the Church of Christ, to live as community opening our spirit to the truth and cooperating in fraternal love.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - The chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, said this week many of the attacks and criticisms against the new Pontiff are due to fear in some circles of the mass support for John Paul II and Benedict XVI evident during recent weeks.
The Argentinean archbishop said the media could not understand how the former Pope and the current one brought together millions of people. “They are attacking because they don’t want him to continue winning people over,” he told Radio 10.
Referring to what some people think of Benedict XVI, he noted that, “The problem with revolutionary and conservative is that he is supposed to be one way for some things and another way for others.”
Ratzinger the cardinal “had a very tough ministry” as he had to “put questions of faith and ideas in order,” and for this reason he is known as “conservative.” “But he had to do things that were not only his own opinion, but also that of the Pope and of the cardinals with whom he consulted,” Archbishop Sanchez said.
He also noted that, “Upon becoming Pope, there is a jump in quality, in magnitude,” because in this role “he must announce and bring the message,” and not just mark out the boundaries of doctrine, “and this implies a synthesis of perspectives.”
Washington D.C., Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - Senator Hillary Clinton has declined to meet with a coalition of pro-life organizations for the last two months.
The Christian Defense Coalition says it is very disappointed since the senator had publicly stated a few months ago that she was interested in finding common ground and opening dialogue with people who oppose abortion.
“It now seems that the statements Senator Clinton made, concerning finding common ground on abortion, were politically motivated and not sincere,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition.
Mahoney charges that she made these statements with the political race to the White House in mind.
Boston, Mass., Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston launched the annual Catholic Appeal yesterday. The goal is $12 million and the archbishop is optimistic that the Catholics of Boston will come through. The campaign funds more than 80 programs in the local Church.
The archbishop said things are starting to get better for the archdiocese after some difficult years when angry parishioners cut their donations because of the priest sex-abuse scandal and parish closures, reported the Boston Channel. He said more than 20 percent of parishioners who had stopped giving are now making donations again.
The campaign may also be affected by Pope John Paul II’s death and the election of Pope Benedict XVI have led some people to reflect more on their identity as Catholics, the archbishop told the Boston Channel.
Parishioners will receive campaign information in their churches this weekend. The appeal will run until the end of the year.
Flemington, N.J., Apr 26, 2005 (CNA) - A very large number of Catholic physicians morally support several medical and ethical issues, which are contrary to Church teaching and which have been the source of debate in the United States, says a new study released last week.
According to the survey, 87 percent of Catholic doctors said they would "prescribe birth control pills to any adult patients that request them and for whom they are medically appropriate." Of the doctors who were surveyed, 93 percent said they agreed.
As well, 90 percent of the Catholic doctors surveyed support the promotion and use of condoms to protect against HIV-AIDS in developing countries. More than any other Christian denomination, 49 percent of Catholic physicians supported the statement, "Do you feel homosexuality is morally acceptable as a lifestyle choice?"
The only place that Catholics differed from most doctors was on the issue of embyronic stem-cell research. While 49 percent of all of the doctors surveyed said they approved of it, only 27 percent of Catholic doctors approved.
Doctors of all religions overwhelmingly approved research of non-embryonic sources of stem cells, such as cord blood and placental blood, as well as from tissue of living humans.
The survey was conducted by HCD Research and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion April 21-23. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent with a confidence level of 95 per cent. It was conducted among 1,536 U.S. physicians.