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Feb 26 16 7:41 AM
A dialogue between Benedict XVI and children receiving their First CommunionThe book of Francis' answers to children's questions is part of a journey: from St. Pius X, who taught the catechism to children in the courtyard of San Damaso, to Ratzinger In the early twentieth century, Pius X did not want to give up his role as a catechist and so he taught children in the courtyard of San Damaso, at the Vatican, every Sunday. Twice during the Wednesday general audience Pope John Paul I enlisted the help of the young people in the first row, calling them next to him and talking with them. John Paul II gave us a famous spontaneous and improvised 'interview' with a group of children in Australia, who questioned him about everything. Pope Francis' dialogues with children and young people follows this path. Starting from the dialogue with Jesuit students that occurred a few months after his June 2013 election to the long-distance dialogue with children and young people who sent him their questions and drawings that are now published in the book L'amore prima del mondo [Love before the world] edited by Father Antonio Spadaro and released in various countries accompanied by a promotional video aired last night by the American network ABC. One of the most beautiful (and least publicized) moments of the pontificate of Benedict XVI also revolved around a meeting with children. It was October 15th, 2005, and Pope Benedict was meeting in St. Peter's Square with children who had received their first communion that year. First in the diocese of Rome, but also in other Italian dioceses. The theologian Pope answered in a simple and direct way.Livia asked him if it was necessary to continue to go confession even when we commit the same sins ("I noticed that they are always the same ones") and the Pope replied to her: "It is true, our sins are always the same, but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen but it builds up. Something similar can be said about the soul, for me myself: if I never go to confession, my soul is neglected and in the end I am always pleased with myself and no longer understand that I must always work hard to improve, that I must make progress. And this cleansing of the soul which Jesus gives us in the Sacrament of Confession helps us to make our consciences more alert, more open, and hence, it also helps us to mature spiritually and as humans. Therefore, two things: confession is only necessary in the case of a serious sin, but it is very helpful to confess regularly in order to foster the cleanliness and beauty of the soul and to mature day by day in life." Another child, Andrea, asked how it is possible that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, because he cannot be seen. Benedict XVI replied with a comparison that could be immediately understood by children: "No, we cannot see him, but there are many things that we do not see but they exist and are essential. For example: we do not see our reason, yet we have reason. We do not see our intelligence and we have it. In a word: we do not see our soul and yet it exists and we see its effects, because we can speak, think and make decisions, etc. Nor do we see an electric current, for example, yet we see that it exists; we see this microphone, that it is working, and we see lights. Therefore, we do not see the very deepest things, those that really sustain life and the world, but we can see and feel their effects. This is also true for electricity; we do not see the electric current but we see the light. And so on. So it is with the Risen Lord: we do not see him with our eyes but we see that wherever Jesus is, people change, they improve. A greater capacity for peace, for reconciliation, etc., is created. Therefore, we do not see the Lord himself but we see the effects of the Lord: so we can understand that Jesus is present. And as I said, it is precisely the invisible things that are the most profound, the most important. So let us go to meet this invisible but powerful Lord who helps us to live well."
Feb 28 16 2:31 AM
Feb 28 16 6:01 AM
Feb 29 16 11:52 AM
St Mary’s University Twickenham has established a “Benedict XVI Centre” for research into religion and social sciences.On its website St Mary’s said the centre was an “international hub for research and engagement activities in the area of religion and the social sciences (primarily economics, sociology, and political science).” Its director is Dr Stephen Bullivant, who is also a contributing editor of the Catholic Herald.The university said that the name of the centre had been approved by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.The Pope Emeritus visited the university in 2010, leading a “Big Assembly” with 3,500 school children and meeting leaders of different religions.St Mary’s has also established the “Benedict XVI House”, where a lay community made up of staff and full-time students pursue a life focused on prayer.The new Benedict XVI centre, according to the website, was “founded upon the conviction that interdisciplinary research, in which the sciences are brought into direct engagement with theology and ethics, is central to the life of a Catholic university (cf. Pope St John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 46).”One of its first projects is to mark the 50th anniversary of Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae with a book that draws together scholars from different disciplines.Founded in 1850, St Mary’s was granted the title of university in 2014
May 6 16 2:50 AM
May 10 16 1:16 AM
No Catholic who wants to take an in-depth look into the faith and the reality of the Church of our time can skip the works of the “Theologian Pope”, Benedict XVI. To really deepen one’s knowledge, or to literally become an expert in all things Joseph Ratzinger, one can begin a new master’s program which began in February of this year. During two semesters at the Patristic Institute Augustinianum in Rome, the program, “Joseph Ratzinger: Studies and Spirituality,” teaches in eight parts the works and spirituality of the emeritus Pope. The program is offered in English and Italian, and one of its professors is Monsignor Florian Kolfhaus, who spoke with CNA about the program.Msgr. Kolfhaus, you teach students in the Master of Ratzinger Studies program. How did that come about?Since I was a student in Rome, I’ve known Joseph Ratzinger, and still to this day my contact with him has not broken, but has actually intensified compared to the time of his pontificate, during which I met with him maybe only once a year. I know the person whose theology this master’s program presents. Furthermore, I have focused on Mariology (not one of Ratzinger's priorities as a theologian) for many years, which unfortunately has too few theologians devoted to it in the German-speaking world. I think that both are reasons why the Augustinianum – the institute for patristic studies in Rome – asked me to present Ratzinger’s thoughts on Mary. Furthermore another topic is: the Spirit, charisms, and the Church.For whom is this program intended? Who would enjoy it, or benefit from it?The program is pertinent to anyone interested in studying theology – regardless of which author someone especially admires. It’s not a “Ratzinger Fan Club,” but rather about joy in the “sacred discipline” that makes an offer to the mind to better understand the faith. Just as there are many spiritualities, so too are there many theologies. Insofar as they don’t contradict doctrine, they are legitimate. The theological “menu” should be abundant, and Joseph Ratzinger can’t be missing from it. The master’s program has proven to be popular among European and American students, but unfortunately there are no German students.What do the students expect?The expectations are as varied as the countries of origin and vocations of the students. It is an international program with priests, seminarians, sisters, and laity. They all know that one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century became Pope. They know the documents and speeches from Benedict XVI, but are now interested in what he thought, said, and wrote as a scholar in the decades prior to his papacy. Many search for a solid theology and discover with Ratzinger not only his “favorites” – Augustine and Bonaventure – but also Thomas Aquinas and other great classics. Ratzinger is a brilliant starting point for them.How is the response thus far? Is the offer catching on?The offer has been so well received that the lecture hall is filled to the last seat. There are actually two programs – one in English and another in Italian. Both are, so to say, “booked up.” The students want good theology, and “hunger” for texts that offer more than an information-rich, historical-critical analysis. So there is a true “Ratzinger renaissance,” still in the lifetime of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. (The use of the grans title is mandatory for anyone needing to please the manager) Only a few years after his resignation, not only are important topics being discussed but also theological methods – like the allegorical or typological interpretation of Sacred Scripture – are being enthusiastically rediscovered. I am sure that this master’s program has a future and I would hope that other universities would adopt this program’s curriculum.For someone who does not want to start a master’s now, but is interested in studying the most important works of Joseph Ratzinger, what works would you recommend?As a Mariologist, I would of course recommend Daughter Zion. This short work is about the mother of Jesus, but at the same time it is also about the Church. In Mary, the Church can view herself – like looking in a mirror – in order to understand more deeply who she is. The Church is the important theme of Ratzinger, and he always shows that this mystery leads in turn to Christ, whose body is His people on earth. Ratzinger shows in all of his works that no mystery of the faith is isolated from another.
Everything forms a harmonious unity, a nexus mysteriorum. Whoever pulls a book with his works off the shelf finds his way from page to page deeper and deeper into the manifold mysterium of the one faith. I also want to recommend the many lectures of Ratzinger, which are relatively short yet all the more dense, as an introduction to the reading.What meaning does Joseph Ratzinger have for the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council?Pope Benedict XVI coined the term “hermeneutic of continuity,” which has since been essential for the interpretation of Vatican II. ( For conservatives like this man who cling to this phrase like drowning men to a raft) He himself took part in the Council as a theological advisor and knows not only the texts but also their history of development. In his speech to the Chilean bishops in 1988, which is not yet published in the Opera Omnia, he already said that the last council is no “superdogma” that placed everything preceding it in the shadows. How different is the widespread characterization of the council documents as milestones of a “Copernican Revolution.” For decades, an interpretation of the Council as a fraction in the Church has reigned in many places, which has allowed a new chronology beginning with the Council to come into existence. It is one of Ratzinger’s great merits for this to not be followed in the mainstream. That also earned him – as we know – not only friends, but also enemies. (Is Kolfhaus a friend or an enemy of his successor? And was it really Ratzinger's views on VII - much simplified here - that made him "enemies"? Unlikely!)You are a Mariologist. Is Joseph Ratzinger Marian?Mariology as such is a minor topic in Joseph Ratzinger’s theology. Yet he is absolutely Marian. In his private chapel, there is a wonderful life-size statue of the Patroness of Bavaria, before whom a candle always burns. He once said to the sodality of the Regensburg congregation, “Being Catholic means being Marian.” ( He had to dig deep to find that quote)
May 15 16 12:33 AM
With all the hand-wringing this week about women deacons, one significant change to canon law has been largely overlooked.It happened in 2009, when Pope Benedict issued a brief Motu Proprio that clarified the different roles of the three levels of clergy.The pertinent text: Having heard the views of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and after inquiry among my venerable brethren, the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church in charge of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, I decree the following:Art. 1. The text of can. 1008 of the Code of Canon Law is modified so that hereafter it will read:“By divine institution, some of the Christian faithful are marked with an indelible character and constituted as sacred ministers by the sacrament of holy orders. They are thus consecrated and deputed so that, each according to his own grade, they may serve the People of God by a new and specific title”;Art 2. Henceforth can. 1009 of the Code of Canon Law will have three paragraphs. In the first and the second of these, the text of the canon presently in force are to be retained, whereas the new text of the third paragraph is to be worded so that can. 1009 § 3 will read:“Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity”.I posted it on my blog back then, and cited this story from Catholic News Agency: This morning the Vatican published a Motu Proprio from Pope Benedict called “Omnium in Mentem” and dated October 26. According to J.D. Flynn, a canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Denver, the new document clarifies the nature of a deacon’s orders and the impact of defections from Catholicism on the validity of a marriage.“Omnium in Mentum,” roughly translated as “Everything in Mind,” deals with two unrelated topics, a fact that caused Flynn to observe that it’s probably easier to publish one Motu Propio than two.The first issue addressed by the Motu Propio is the role of the diaconate.Part of the current canon “describes sacred orders as participating in the headship of Christ,” Flynn explained. “The Motu Proprio clarifies that priests and bishops participate in the headship of Christ ‘in persona Christi,’ whereas deacons serve the Church, the people of God, through the ministry, services, or ‘diaconias’ of liturgy, word, and charity.” Thus, Flynn said, the document emphasizes that there is a “clear distinction between the diaconate and the presbyterate.”“The distinction is between the deacon who acts “in imago Dei” and the priest who acts ‘in persona Christi,’” Flynn explained.What this means in layman’s terms is that “we see the diaconate as a unique ministry unto itself and not simply a step along the way to the priesthood,” he added.Deacon William Ditewig at the time offered this analysis: From my non-canonical perspective, it seems that what is happening with this motu proprio is that the teaching of the Catechism is now being translated into the law itself. It was major point of my own doctoral dissertation that the theological and canonical language developed to describe ordained ministry over the last millennium or so has really been language related to the sacerdotal orders of bishop and presbyter, and since there were no “permanent” deacons of theological significance, to apply such language (such as “in persona Christi”, or to refer to “sacra potestas” (sacred power) can be problematic when applied uncritically to the diaconate; that since we are NOT sacerdotal, a specifically diaconal theological language should be explored and developed. It seems to me that the kinds of distinctions being offered, first in the Catechism and now in the law itself, will ultimately help in this process.The problem, of course, is that this is rather new territory and the language being used does not have a long history of interpretation like the sacerdotal terms have. The classic problem, which the International Theological Commission attempted to describe, is between seeing the overall UNITY of the three orders of ordained ministry (how we are all united in a single sacrament of Holy Order), as well as recognizing the very real distinctions between them at the same time. Bishops, for example, are MORE than just presbyters who have been given greater jurisdiction; it has a sacramental identity in its own right. This was a major development at the Second Vatican Council. And, of course, deacons are not priests: we never serve — and cannot serve — in offices that require priesthood: diocesan bishop, for example, or pastor, or judicial vicar. With the renewal of a permanent diaconate at Vatican II, the millennium-long paradigm of “ordination-means-priesthood” was broken. We’re now trying to describe and define what that change actually means.I’ve already had several e-mails from people suggesting that perhaps this opens the door to ordaining women as deacons. Certainly this becomes much more imaginable if the church adopts a more “each-order-is distinct” approach over the “all-orders-are-essentially-one” approach. Of course, as with most (all?) Catholic theology, we generally adopt a “both-and” approach: there is both unity AND diversity within the relationships of Orders. Whether this means that we might open the door to ordaining women as deacons (because deacons are not priests) remains to be seen.Another interesting wrinkle: the phrase about priests and bishops “acting in the person of Christ the head” can be interpreted as gender-specific, since Christ is male; the distinction relating to deacons, however, more broadly refers to simply serving the “people of God.”
Having heard the views of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and after inquiry among my venerable brethren, the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church in charge of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, I decree the following:Art. 1. The text of can. 1008 of the Code of Canon Law is modified so that hereafter it will read:“By divine institution, some of the Christian faithful are marked with an indelible character and constituted as sacred ministers by the sacrament of holy orders. They are thus consecrated and deputed so that, each according to his own grade, they may serve the People of God by a new and specific title”;Art 2. Henceforth can. 1009 of the Code of Canon Law will have three paragraphs. In the first and the second of these, the text of the canon presently in force are to be retained, whereas the new text of the third paragraph is to be worded so that can. 1009 § 3 will read:“Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity”.
This morning the Vatican published a Motu Proprio from Pope Benedict called “Omnium in Mentem” and dated October 26. According to J.D. Flynn, a canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Denver, the new document clarifies the nature of a deacon’s orders and the impact of defections from Catholicism on the validity of a marriage.“Omnium in Mentum,” roughly translated as “Everything in Mind,” deals with two unrelated topics, a fact that caused Flynn to observe that it’s probably easier to publish one Motu Propio than two.The first issue addressed by the Motu Propio is the role of the diaconate.Part of the current canon “describes sacred orders as participating in the headship of Christ,” Flynn explained. “The Motu Proprio clarifies that priests and bishops participate in the headship of Christ ‘in persona Christi,’ whereas deacons serve the Church, the people of God, through the ministry, services, or ‘diaconias’ of liturgy, word, and charity.” Thus, Flynn said, the document emphasizes that there is a “clear distinction between the diaconate and the presbyterate.”“The distinction is between the deacon who acts “in imago Dei” and the priest who acts ‘in persona Christi,’” Flynn explained.What this means in layman’s terms is that “we see the diaconate as a unique ministry unto itself and not simply a step along the way to the priesthood,” he added.
From my non-canonical perspective, it seems that what is happening with this motu proprio is that the teaching of the Catechism is now being translated into the law itself. It was major point of my own doctoral dissertation that the theological and canonical language developed to describe ordained ministry over the last millennium or so has really been language related to the sacerdotal orders of bishop and presbyter, and since there were no “permanent” deacons of theological significance, to apply such language (such as “in persona Christi”, or to refer to “sacra potestas” (sacred power) can be problematic when applied uncritically to the diaconate; that since we are NOT sacerdotal, a specifically diaconal theological language should be explored and developed. It seems to me that the kinds of distinctions being offered, first in the Catechism and now in the law itself, will ultimately help in this process.The problem, of course, is that this is rather new territory and the language being used does not have a long history of interpretation like the sacerdotal terms have. The classic problem, which the International Theological Commission attempted to describe, is between seeing the overall UNITY of the three orders of ordained ministry (how we are all united in a single sacrament of Holy Order), as well as recognizing the very real distinctions between them at the same time. Bishops, for example, are MORE than just presbyters who have been given greater jurisdiction; it has a sacramental identity in its own right. This was a major development at the Second Vatican Council. And, of course, deacons are not priests: we never serve — and cannot serve — in offices that require priesthood: diocesan bishop, for example, or pastor, or judicial vicar. With the renewal of a permanent diaconate at Vatican II, the millennium-long paradigm of “ordination-means-priesthood” was broken. We’re now trying to describe and define what that change actually means.I’ve already had several e-mails from people suggesting that perhaps this opens the door to ordaining women as deacons. Certainly this becomes much more imaginable if the church adopts a more “each-order-is distinct” approach over the “all-orders-are-essentially-one” approach. Of course, as with most (all?) Catholic theology, we generally adopt a “both-and” approach: there is both unity AND diversity within the relationships of Orders. Whether this means that we might open the door to ordaining women as deacons (because deacons are not priests) remains to be seen.
May 15 16 6:14 AM
May 15 16 2:57 PM
The Pope Francis effect?Some express hope, others dread, still more argue that day-to-day church life is business-as- usual, with little change.But Sulpician Fr. Phillip J. Brown, rector of the Theological College, the national diocesan seminary of the Catholic University of America in Washington, said the Francis effect is alive and well, and growing, at least among seminarians. It's been a sudden development.Last fall, asked by reporters about the impact of Francis on the seminary, which educates and forms 84 men sponsored by dioceses across the U.S., the rector said it was too early to gauge. That's not true anymore, he told NCR in a recent interview.A message the seminary always taught, he said, is catching on. "You are not a priest to be a policeman. You are to be a pastor. That's the message of Francis," he said.The numbers have remained steady, but the attitudes of newer arrivals has begun to transform the place, he said. That transformation will be felt soon at a parish near you.The subject of change in the attitudes of seminarians is "a delicate situation for me as a seminary rector," acknowledged Brown, who will be moving on to a similar position at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore later this year."Our basic approach to formation would have always been congenial to Pope Francis," he said, noting in particular the requirement that seminarians engage in direct service to the poor, an opportunity readily available in the nation's capital. He's aware of complaints from some U.S. Catholics that sometimes the newly-ordained come into parishes intent on forcing changes of a more traditional view in liturgy and the role of clergy.That view is "contrary to how we form seminarians," he said. "We would always say to go in for a year or so and see where the parish is at. Then gain people's confidence if you want to make changes."He's seeing a shift in attitudes among seminarians particularly in the areas of:View of church tradition. "They are more open to diversity," he said, noting that there is less of an embrace of apologetics -- the view that church teaching should be preached to a secular culture that often ignores it -- and more of an embrace of the view, echoing Francis, "to get in with people and see where they are ... The guys coming in now are more curious, ready to apply the teaching to people's real lives."There's less focus on the sacerdotal nature of priesthood -- the view that priests are men set aside with particular sacramental powers -- and more on how a priest can work among people, what Francis has described as being a shepherd who smells like the sheep.There is less of an emphasis on signs and symbols indicating traditionalism. They can seem like small things: the wearing of cassocks, Communion only on the tongue and not in the hand, to name two. But in recent years these symbols became what Brown described "as markers of orthodoxy" with an indication that those who didn't follow such practices were suspect."I don't see that now," he said.The newer seminarians have a more Francis-like, some would say Vatican II, view that the church should engage the culture and not see itself as a community set apart. Previously, seminarians were keenly aware that they were different from their peers in the wider culture of the millennial generation. They are now more likely to see themselves as very much like their peers in the wider world, with the goal of transforming the culture with the message of the Gospel.More impressions from the seminary rector, who has been at the Theological College for the past five years:Seminarians are more inclined to move from what Brown called a Calvinistic, rule-based view of moral theology, to a more nuanced understanding of the role of church teaching in people's lives. They are less likely to view psychological counseling with suspicion. The Francis message on the environment is also catching on, he said.Those who see this change as good news can take heart, said Brown. The impact of Francis' teachings is not only affecting new seminarians beginning studies early in his pontificate. It is also seeping into the culture of the entire system.Parishioners, he said, should be seeing its impact in the ministry of newly-ordained priests within a few short years.
Dec 6 16 3:44 AM
Dec 19 16 9:38 AM
Joseph Ratzinger saw the Second Vatican Council as destiny. As theological advisor to Cardinal Frings, Joseph Ratzinger experienced first-hand the breathtaking pace at which initiatives, work sessions, brainstorming and document preparation took place in the four sessions of that great adventure, during which he worked closely with prominent bishops and theologians of the 20th century, from Congar to Rahner, from Frings to Volk, from De Lubak to Danièlou. As Prefect of the former Holy Office, he played a major part in shaping the Catechism of the Catholic Church that was published in 1992, systematically presenting the depositum fidei in light of the Second Vatican Council. As Pope he tried to heal the schism with Lefebvrian traditionalists, which led to him being accused of opening up to the “’anti-conciliar’ Church”. Once Ratzinger, a keen advocate of conciliar reform, became the Successor of Peter, he also defended an appropriate “hermeneutics” of Vatican II, stressing that the reform did not change the Church’s genetics in any way. But the central focus which Joseph Ratzinger gave Vatican II in his work became something of an enigma that had to be decoded. Many over the years have strived to scrutinise the “coherence” of Ratzinger’s approach, possibly seeking to make an embarrassing revelation about a change of sides that could demonstrate that he became an informer late in the day. On the opposite front, there have been those who have insinuated a “modernist” tendency that remained alive like burning embers beneath the troubled moves that were made when he was the guardian of Catholic orthodoxy. The first volume of Joseph Ratzinger’s writings at and on Vatican II has now been published in Italy, by the Vatican Publishing House. The 7th volume of Ratzinger’s Opera Omnia without footnotes, allows the reader to feel the intensity with which the Council and its consequences were experienced - 726 pages of suggestions for today’s Church. What makes Joseph Ratzinger’s texts so comfortingly current is the underlying links between the intuitions and enthusiasm of the then young theology professor and the sensus Ecclesiae of the octogenarian Pope Francis. The freshness and current relevance of the content come from what Ratzinger already pointed to as the genuine source of conciliar reform. The same source feeds the “pastoral conversion” advocated by the Successor of Peter today and is still met with resistance and organised sabotage attempts. In one of the passages of the recently published texts on the Council, Ratzinger captures and describes the reality of the Council in a clear and very current way. The dynamics he outlined then are very similar to the dynamics that shape today’s Church. His intuition shines again in his description of the third conciliar phase, in the pages he devotes to the “previous explanatory note”, the text signed by Cardinal Pericle Felici, which explains the criteria for interpreting the passages on episcopal collegiality contained in the Apostolic Constitution Lumen Gentium: the ones the conciliar minority incessantly contested, pointing to them as a factor that could potentially weaken papal authority. The way Ratzinger sees it, the previous Note – which he did not appreciate at all – had led to the emergence, between the lines, of two fundamental options at loggerheads in the Council: on the one hand there was one school of thought that takes the vastness of the Christian Tradition as the starting point and seeks to describe the constant breadth of ecclesial possibilities based on this. On the other hand, we find a purely systematic school of thought, which only admits the current legal form of the Church as a criterion for its reflections and therefore necessarily fears that any action that strays from this will lead nowhere. Ratzinger holds that the “conservatism” of the second option was rooted “in its detachment from history and therefore in an underlying “lack” of Tradition, in other words openness towards Christian history as a whole”. Already then, Ratzinger’s factual description overturned the pre-packaged framework, which the Council was describing in its meetings as a conflict between “conservatives” who were concerned about potential “deviations” from Tradition and “progressivists” who were driven by modernist impulses. The exact opposite was the truth, Ratzinger explained. “It was those who were labelled “progressivists” or at least “most of them”, who were striving to achieve a “return to the breadth and richness of what had been passed down”. They saw the source of the renewal they sought, in the “intrinsic broad-mindedness of the Church”. It is still the case today that those who uphold the doctrine and Tradition of the Catholic Church in a grossly exaggerated way, are the very ones who stand in the way of the Church proceeding in the simplicity of Tradition. The leitmotif in all of Ratzinger’s contributions and interventions in the vast work done by the Council, is the desire to return to the original source in order to make the most of the entire “breadth and richness of everything that was passed down”: from his writings on the Divine Revelation to those regarding the mission, from his critical comments on the “optimistic” undertones of the Gaudium et Spes Constitution on the Church today to his incredibly profound reflections on the “crucial battle” over episcopal collegiality in the Church, all of which aim to attest and document the fact that the doctrine of collegiality is not theological neophilia but is part of Tradition. In response to those who claimed that the terms College and collegiality are not found in the Gospel, Ratzinger, together with his theologian colleagues Karl Rahner and Gustave Martelet pointed out that the same could be said about the terms “Primate” and “Infallibility”. “Tradition and the magisterium,” the future Pope Benedict wrote at the time, “must always develop the seed contained in the Scripture”. Because the Church, Christ’s Bride, is not a self-sufficient holy entity that exists outside time and space and must be defended at all costs from any kind of criticism. It recognises itself as a reality that remains dependant on Christ’s active grace as it journeys through history, “constantly in need of renewal,” “characterised by weakness and sin” and therefore “always in need of the tenderness of a forgiving God”.
Jan 8 17 5:49 AM
I bumped into a fellow parishioner when I was lighting candles after Mass on New Year’s Day. He wished me a “Happy New Year” and then mentioned his fears about several potential political crises in the world in 2017. I reminded him (I hope I didn’t sound smug or naively optimistic) that as Christians our hope has to be in Christ who has said “Do not be afraid; I have overcome the world.” The fellow parishioner looked slightly startled; after all, Catholics never mention what they believe, especially straight after Mass.I mention this encounter partly because I am trying to cure myself from the (very English) habit I have referred to above – perhaps it should be my New Year’s resolution? – and partly because I was reminded by this man’s very natural, human anxieties of the profound words of the then Professor Ratzinger, first published in the book Faith and the Future (Ignatius Press, 2009.)Delivered in June 1970 in a lecture in Munich entitled “Why I am still in the Church today”, which I read recently in Father Benedict: The Spiritual and Intellectual Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI, by James Day (Sophia Press), it is worth quoting these words in full:“From today’s crisis will emerge a church that has lost a great deal. It will no longer have use of the structures it built in its years of prosperity. The reduction in the number of faithful will lead to it losing an important part of its social privileges. It will become small and will have to start pretty much over again. It will be a more spiritual church and will not claim a political mandate flirting with the Right one minute and the Left the next. It will be poor and will become the Church of the destitute.”Professor Ratzinger was speaking before the abuse scandal rocked the Church, when it was still prosperous and respected. The numbers of practising Catholics in the West had begun to decline, certainly, but the stark prophetic aspect of his words is only obvious in retrospect, as we look back over the last fifty years.Perhaps we have needed the election of Pope Francis to remind us that “Lady Poverty”, along with humility and service, is not meant to be the special charism of a medieval saint but the hallmark of the institution as a whole.After all, Christ did not promise his followers worldly power, prestige, political influence or wealth. He simply promised them salvation – and the Cross. I foresee a further serious conversation with my fellow-parishioner when I am next lighting candles after Mass.
Feb 10 17 3:44 PM
Feb 13 17 1:41 PM
Mar 22 17 7:21 AM
The world was shocked when Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was abdicating the seat of Peter on February 11, 2013. The Catholic community and many outside of it took a collective breath wandering what this meant for the Church and the world. Four years later we now know that the beloved Pope Benedict has committed himself to prayer in service to the Church and her faithful. The story of this humble man who now simply wishes to be called Father Benedict is told by James Day in his new book from Sophia Institute Press Father Benedict: The Spiritual and Intellectual Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI.The introduction of the book opens with a scene that was a turning point for Pope Benedict on March 25, 2015. The location is Leon, Mexico and the pope fell, slamming his head which caused a bleeding wound. “That night in Mexico, a month shy of eighty-five, and having steered the barque of Peter for seven years under a hostile antipathy toward the Church, a drained Benedict XVI knew that his last gift to give was possibly his greatest – and most unexpected. Just as no Jesuit becomes pope, no pope leaves the office alive. Yet both things happened in 2013.”What follows in the book is an easily approachable read on the man whom many consider to be the greatest theologian of our time. This is not an easy task but James Day pulls it off incredibly well. He unpacks the massive tome of writings of Benedict showing readers just how they provide the answers we need today to combat the many ills the Church and society as a whole today. Benedict provides the answers to face individualism, materialism, secularism, and godlessness. These “-isms” threaten to tear our society apart at the seams. Pope Benedict spent much of his pontificate and the years leading up to it, fighting these “-isms” in both spoken and written word.This is where James steps in to help readers discover these hidden gems. There is no doubt that volumes of text had come from the pen of our beloved Pope Benedict during his time as Pope when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. This does not include the many audiences and speeches he gave. For the common layman, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to read. I consider this book to be a great beginner’s introduction to the thought and writings of Pope Benedict XVI. Even seasoned Benedict readers will find some hidden gems about Benedict.Pope Benedict XVI will undoubtedly one day be considered one of the greatest thinkers of the Church, many believing he could be named a Doctor of the Church. The key to Benedict, however, is his humility. In his years as pontiff, Benedict steered the church with a firm but steady hand. He put catechesis of his flock at the forefront of his mission. He taught us how to withstand the constant assailing of the “-isms” of this world. James Day guides us through the many written, spoken, and published works of Benedict to lead us to a firmer resolve as Catholics. Let us thank Father Benedict for his work and James Day for his guidance.
Apr 8 17 2:24 AM
Priests and theologians, bishops and ambassadors, nuns and scholars braved a spring deluge on April 6 to attend the presentation of a new book dedicated to the life’s work of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum of Rome.Interest in the retired pope shows no sign of slowing down as his essential contributions to the Church and theology continue to be relevant today.Three new biographies on the German pontiff have been published in Italy this week alone. Three collections of essays by the pope emeritus are also in the works. Italy’s public television, Rai, will air two one-hour documentaries on Benedict celebrating his life.Enthusiasm over the figure of Benedict XVI is not limited to Italy. All over the world symposiums, meetings and events take place focusing on the pope’s legacy.At the Augustinianum, the Vatican publishing house and the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation unveiled Cooperatores Veritatis (Co-workers of the truth), a collection of essays by all 13 winners of the Ratzinger prize analyzing the fundamental contributions by Benedict’s life work.The Ratzinger prize, established in 2010 by Benedict to serve as the premier international prize in theology, is given to those performing scholarly research in Sacred Scripture, patristics, and fundamental theology.“I have witnessed while working on this project […] the vibrant interest that there is for the figure and work of Ratzinger as a theologian and as a pastor. It is not an interest that diminishes with time but rather increases with time,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, president of the Ratzinger foundation, while presenting the book.Pope Benedict’s popularity holds its own considering his pontificate fell between two of the most popular popes of all time. In April 2008 a Pew Research Center study found that 83 percent of United States citizens had a favorable view of the pope following his visit. A Pew study also found that Benedict was the main newsmaker in 32 percent of all religion stories studied from July 2007 through May 2012.The pope’s popularity continues to be felt today even as he has retired to live privately within the walls of Vatican City. On the eve of his 90th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI can still pack an auditorium, be it rain or shine.The book sets out to show Benedict’s relevance today and offers a glimpse into the reason why he has earned a special place in the hearts of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The Ratzinger prizewinners hail from 11 different countries and though the majority are Catholic, some profess other religions and beliefs.“Regardless of the little time available - from December to early April - all 13 (Ratzinger prizewinners) responded with enthusiasm and attention and sent their contribution to this volume,” Lombardi said.The essays are written in their original language to honor Benedict XVI a well-known polyglot, though a second edition is already in the works providing translations. Each scholar wrote an essay based on their specific fields and specialization, highlighting the influence that the pope emeritus had in their work.The topics in the book vary but they all have in common the emphasis on Benedict’s unique approach. From the relationship between Jews and Catholics, to the connection between reason and faith (a stronghold of the pope’s theological contribution) to the consequences and relevance of Vatican II, all are drenched in Benedict’s vision for the Catholic Church.“At an international and global level Pope Benedict’s message will certainly continue to be of interest for many years and its richness will be distributed from editor to editor,” Don Giuseppe Costa, Director of the Vatican Publishing House, said at the event.The emeritus pope has already left a lasting footprint, both at the theological and at the pastoral level, which is destined to have an impact on Christianity and the world in the years to come. This latest 460-page commemorative volume is one of many efforts to ensure the legacy of Benedict’s teachings.As proven by the large number of volumes and publications on Pope Benedict XVI that are being distributed right now, publishing houses are tapping into a growing demand. Even when covering the Vatican in the media, it is known that generally articles with Benedict XVI in the title produce good traffic.During his presentation Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, narrowed in on the reasons Benedict XVI still inspires such devotion to this day.First of all there is Benedict’s love-based vision of Christianity. Benedict viewed Christianity as “the religion of love not only due to its origin but also in its deepest nature,” Koch said. “Christianity derives from the love of God, who loves us and guides us men to love and that we gift back to God and consequentially share amongst each other.”Secondly Koch described the “democratic” approach to faith by Pope Benedict, viewing his role as that of an interpreter and catalyst for the faith of the ‘little man.’ The mixture of these two ingredients is the secret to the infectious popularity still held today by the retired pope.As the hundreds of participants at the book presentation made their way out into the pouring rain and flashing lightning above St. Peter’s square, one thing was clear: The teachings by Pope Benedict XVI are here to stay.
Apr 8 17 6:03 AM
Birthday book: Scholars offer Pope Benedict traditional German tributeVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once wrote that he was grateful for being born on a day that fell during the church's most intense liturgical season.Born and baptized on April 16, 1927, which was Holy Saturday that year, "my life from the beginning was immersed in the paschal mystery, which could not be anything other than a blessing," he wrote in his book, "Milestones."This year, the retired German pope turns 90 on Easter Sunday -- and like many past birthdays, it will be very low-key with a few visitors and a decidedly "Bavarian" touch, according to Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household and personal secretary to the retired pope. (The next time an important anniversary for Padre Benedetto comes around, I hope the world will hear from him directly, and not from the gatekeeper - who never seems to miss an opportunity presented by his association to the retired Pope to speak to the media.)"This is the only thing he accepted," the longtime aide told the Italian weekly television talk show, Matrix, "because he doesn't want a big party."Cards and letters have been pouring in, the German archbishop added, and certainly there will be some presents, including a "Festschrift" -- a collection of essays celebrating the work of a well-known scholar on an important occasion -- in this case Pope Benedict and his 90th birthday.Creating a commemorative volume is a popular German tradition among academics and one that the pope is very familiar with. He has received them before, including one from the University of Notre Dame in 2012 for his 85th birthday, which featured essays by theologians and scholars who reflected on the past 60 years of Joseph Ratzinger's theology, writings and teachings.This year, the Vatican publishing house and the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation pieced together a "Festschrift" titled after the pope's episcopal motto, "Cooperatores Veritatis" (Co-workers of the truth).It was written by all 13 winners to date of the "Ratzinger Prize," an award to distinguished scholars in theology or related studies. They are an Anglican Biblicist, an Ambrosian priest; a French philosopher, a Polish theologian, a U.S. Jesuit, a Brazilian Jesuit, a Spanish theologian, a Cistercian abbot in Austria, a Lebanese scholar, a Greek Orthodox theologian, a French theologian, a German theologian and an Italian historian.From 11 different countries and diverse religious and scholarly backgrounds, the Ratzinger laureates "promptly and enthusiastically" participated, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said in the book's introduction. (Thank God that the Introduction was authored by Fr. Lombardi, and not the gatekeeper.)The essays, published in their original language, cover a wide range of topics such as the pope's contributions to: understanding the church's relationship with Judaism; seeing Christian-Islamic dialogue in light of Vatican II; Christianity and culture; and understanding Jesus of Nazareth through his trilogy -- the first volume of which was released in 2007 on the pope's 80th birthday.While each author focused on a topic related to his or her specialized research, they folded in the impact or implications Ratzinger-Benedict's teachings have had on their work.One legacy the authors highlighted was how Joseph Ratzinger -- the professor-theologian-Christian, and Benedict, the pope, sought to embrace and harmonize so many artificially divorced aspects of human existence: theory and practice; words and deeds; faith and reason; intelligence and feeling; science and religion; the material world and the transcendent; subjective experience and objective truth."Even with his shyness," wrote Jesuit Father Mario De Franca Miranda, he showed the way toward "the realization of this difficult synthesis."Pope Benedict demonstrated that reason needs faith if questions about life and human existence are ever going to have a meaningful response and avoid irrational or fanatical beliefs, wrote the Brazilian theologian, who worked with Cardinal Ratzinger with the International Theological Commission.Faith, too, demands reason because faith in God is always a free, rational, conscious response to experiencing God's loving presence, he added.Love is always the great mover and shaker, the priest wrote.Love, not blind obedience, is what motivates an authentic desire to seek out and follow God, and reach out to one's neighbor because it draws people out of their shells and changes them from within, letting them see the world with new eyes, he added.That is why Pope Benedict always insisted evangelization is about attraction. Realizing God is love is attractive and it opens the heart up to faith -- a trusting surrender to someone "who loves me and wants me to be happy."U.S. Jesuit Father Brian E. Daley, a patristics expert and professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, looked at a topic near to Pope Benedict's heart: what the church fathers said about faith and reason, and the role of love.St. Augustine taught that authentic faith isn't found in a "heavy tome," but is accessed when one's heart is set on fire with love, he wrote."Faith is not a blind surrender to the irrational," rather it is the quest for true meaning, the "logos" and truth itself, the U.S. Jesuit said.The 460-page commemorative volume gathers just a slice of the kind of rigorous research still being done today "in the light of faith," and in the footsteps of a 90-year-old pope.They are presented as fellow "co-workers of the truth," whose widely diverse contributions, Father Lombardi wrote, "appear like so many arrows loosed from different vantage points, but all aimed at a single target" -- experiencing the embrace of truth and love.
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