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Aug 13 08 7:07 PM
The Army of Guardian Angels
BRESSANONE. - "Only now do I see this army of guardian angels that allowed me to enjoy my vacation in this island of peace. Thank you from my
It is with a voice that was moved that the Holy Father expressed this in the garden of the Seminary: before him, hundreds of law enforcement workers, civil
defense volunteers, collaborators of the Comune, and a small delegation from the world of mass media.
A ceremony was staged yesterday morning, a few hours before the Pope left, in what - until yesterday evening - was Vatican territory. The first
representatives of the law enforcement had already arrived at the via Ponte Widmann at around 10:00. Squadrons from the various departments of the
carabinieri, the police, customs, the air force, the army and the Vatican police; then the agents of the municipal police, the firefighters and volunteers of
the various rescue corps. An hour later, it was the Prefect of the Vatican, Festa, then of the Province, Testi, together with Police Commissioner Innocenti,
to manage the entry into the gates, and in that moment, the garden of the institute was colored by the uniforms of the men lined up in front of the red
shelf: officers, noncoms, and soldiers, all lined up awaiting the arrival of the Pope.
Then, at noon, the command of "Attention!" pierced the silence of the park, and the Holy Father reached the microphone. "Only now do I see how
many you are," he admitted, visibly moved after a moment's pause that allowed him to observe all the men who are in the service of the public order.
"A small army of guardian angels," he continued, "that allowed me to live these two weeks of vacation in my little oasis of peace, who made it
possible for me to enjoy nature, with the security that many people ensured for me. Thank you." A gratitude deeply felt, such that the Holy Father
admitted to being unable to find the right way to express it: "I have no words to express my gratitude," he explained, "and I hope that you
have also been able to enjoy the beauty of this city; a country rich in history and at present a very lively one. I hope that this day will remain in your
memory always, and that it may have given you the stimulus to always have more confidence in the future."
And after the blessing, before the Pope came, in turns, the heads of the armed forces, the civil defense, and the representatives of the mass media, for the
rite of the baciamano. An unforgettable day for everyone, which will surely reward the hard work and the efforts
carried out in the last two weeks.
Aug 14 08 10:11 AM
Aug 19 08 2:54 AM
Aug 21 08 11:40 AM
Aug 23 08 8:20 AM
Aug 25 08 11:38 PM
Bressanone have said farewell to a dearly loved pastor, teacher and friend. They now wait for their Pope to choose his successor.
Aug 27 08 7:27 AM
Aug 27 08 12:36 PM
Aug 28 08 12:58 AM
[Bishop] Egger, who died last week, said the work had ''shocked'' many visitors to the museum.
Sep 2 08 6:59 PM
Everyone who could approach the cardinal, our current Benedict XVI, to take pictures, to interview him, or shake his hand, talk with him or exchange views,
were struck by his simplicity, his presence, his vigilant attention and his cordial warmth, his communicative sympathy.
Concelebrating with me (at the Mass) were Cardinal Ratzinger, Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux, and the Apostolic Nuncio to France: an American, a German, a
Frenchman, an Italian. The faith is not only the same; it is universal. We came together around the altar, to make Christ's self-sacrifice present in the
context of the sacrifice of the thousands of soldiers buried where they had fallen.
In this hour, we bow in respect to the dead of the Second World War," Ratzinger said. "We remember the many young people from our homeland whose
futures and hopes were destroyed in the bloody slaughter of the war. As Germans, we cannot help but be painfully moved to realize that their idealism and
their obedience to the state were misused by an unjust government." Ratzinger regretted that Pflicht--the blind and unquestioning obedience to duty, a
distinctly Germanic quality--had been exploited for evil purposes, but he insisted that this had in no way dishonoured the service and sacrifice rendered to
the fatherland. "They simply tried to do their duty--even if beset by terrible inner conflicts, doubts, and questions," Ratzinger said. He made no
mention of the Waffen S.S., but said that it was not within his spiritual commission to judge the fallen of La Cambe, "into whose conscience only God
…he spoke in German to forty or so French men and women and several Germans who happened to be present. In recounting the origins of the Second World War, he
blamed the Allies, particularly the French, for driving the Germans into the twelve-year nightmare of Nazi rule. "Animosity and bitterness remained
between the combatant nations after the First World War, especially between the Germans and the French, resulting in a poisoning of the nations'
souls," Ratzinger said. "The Treaty of Versailles was deliberately intended to humiliate Germany and to burden the country with so much debt that
it radicalized the people, thereby opening the door to dictatorship, and to belief in its deceptive promises of the return of freedom, honour, and might to
Germany." The German people, he said, had been doubly victimized: humiliated by their French neighbours; seduced and deceived by Nazi leaders. National
pride had been wounded; collective humiliation had been exploited. War and destruction were the outcome. "'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a
tooth'--that does not lead to peace," he said. "We have seen the results." It seemed, in Ratzinger's view, that the Allies had learned
a lesson. "Thank God the same thing was not repeated after the Second World War," he said. "The Americans generously helped us Germans with
their Marshall Plan, helped us rebuild our country, and made prosperity and freedom possible." He praised post-war reconciliation efforts, and credited
Europe's Christian traditions with the ensuing healing process.
In Germany, the Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost reprinted the text of his speech. The Berliner Zeitung made only passing reference to Ratzinger's La
Cambe appearance. One newspaper that has paid careful attention to his remarks in Normandy is the National Zeitung, a radical right-wing weekly sold at
kiosks and railroad stations across Germany. In a recent review of a collection of Ratzinger's speeches, the paper criticized him for describing the
Second World War as a bellum justum (a "just war") during the main Normandy celebrations, but applauded the fact that, as at La Cambe,
"whenever he speaks about the National Socialist regime he directs his comments toward the leadership at the time, never toward the 'German
After the official ceremonies, he found himself hemmed in at the site and unable to enter the cathedral of Bayeux for the ecumenical concelebration; so, he
placed himself at the disposal of the young. A class of students from the Alsace questioned him vigorously about the color of his vestments and their
meaning. Other youths wanted to know more about his responsibilities, his work, his knowledge of languages. Many young people were literally reduced to
silence and stupefied by the four or five languages he used to answer their questions. The cardinal did not appear to be surprised at having been forgotten
by the official organizers. Protocol did not appear to interest him. He enjoyed himself. The youth were present. They questioned him and he responded. We
were almost living in a scene from the gospels. Benedict XVI revealed himself from beneath the character of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith.
The anniversary celebrations reawakened memories of a dark time in the history of Europe and the world, a time when the forces of totalitarian barbarism
assailed civilization in the name of a social order which claimed to be the wave of the future. In no way did this D-Day celebration glorify war or seek to
obscure its brutal horror. Rather, the participants expressed the will to do everything possible so that armed conflict would be excluded from the family of
Sep 3 08 1:23 AM
Standing in that cemetery, on a cold and grey day, one could only think how appalling it was that those young men were sent by a crazed dictator to die far
from home for an indefensible ideology; appalling that the Allies had to die to break his evil hold over Europe. It is in places like Arromanches and Omaha,
La Cambe and Colleville, that one realizes the horror of war. I can't say the futility of war, because in that instance we had to fight to free Europe
and to stop that evil regime reaching the shores of England and beyond. But the waste of promising young lives is unspeakably tragic. I hope this will never,
ever happen again in Europe and that we have seen an end of war cemeteries and monuments to destruction.
This was not my war, or my parent's war, and even my grandparents were, like Joseph Ratzinger, very young at that time. Even so, in these cemeteries and
on these beaches, I felt for the people who fought in it and for their families. We who have been fortunate enough to live in peace should still be mindful
of the sacrifice of those who paid so high a price for our freedom. We forget too easily.
Sep 3 08 2:47 AM
Sep 3 08 1:51 PM
Oct 13 08 12:23 PM
Southern Bavaria is outstandingly beautiful and I am surprised how few foreigners visit it. Even without the Ratzinger connection this lovely country would be
worthy of many visits.
Oct 13 08 1:07 PM
Oct 15 08 9:21 PM
Oct 20 08 1:41 AM
... no poem from me anywhere near that peak, I must say.
Oct 31 08 9:58 AM
Feb 23 09 3:57 PM
May 22 09 6:25 PM
"Monte Cassino, early in the year. The road snaking up to the Abbey of St Benedict was steep and narrow, and the higher we climbed, the colder the air
became. No one said anything, not even Alfredo, the Cardinal's chauffeur... winter was definitely past, but somehow we seemed to be worrying about the
cold nights that were still to come....
When Cardinal Ratzinger, one of the Church's great wise men, sat opposite me in the Abbey and patiently recounted to me the Gospel and the belief of
Christendom from the beginning of the world to its end, something of the mystery that holds the world together became more tangible. 'Creation
itself', he said, 'bears within itself an ordered pattern from which we can understand the ideas of God-and even the right way to live.' "
Peter Seewald - Preface to God and the World
Three cells had been put at our disposal: two for sleeping, and in the middle one was a workroom. As with the first conversation, the sessions were timed to
the minute. We doggedly ignored the wake-up call for the monks, which sounded at 4.15 - quite some feat in view of the almost infernal racket made by a kind
of school bell in the wide corridor.
Together with the monks we celebrated the Conventual Mass and recited the daily offices... At midday we enjoyed plain Italian cooking and in the afternoon
tea and cakes were brought out. In the refectory the Cardinal sat at a tiny "table of honour". As is the custom with Benedictines there was no
talking. Only on the commemoration of Saint Scholastica, which fell during our stay, was an exception made. There was a celebratory roast and thick cakes,
and to honour the day, the Cardinal, whether he wanted to or not, had to drink a tiny glass of sparkling wine, which went straight to his head.
In the monastery we were high up, sometimes even above the clouds. In the distance you could hear the muted ringing of cowbells and also the noise of the
world, which rose up to us from below like the dull rumbling of the freeway. The Cardinal had been afraid of the cold, but in the end the problem was the
heater, which not only hummed noisily, but also at times turned the cell where we were holding the interviews into a sauna. For these we sat opposite each
other at a little table; I prepared my tape recorders, the prelate had crossed his feet one over the other and waited patiently for my question, usually
introducing his reply then with a long-drawn-out "Jaaa"
"Have you seen?"
"Yes, I have", I sad discontentedly, because I was afraid of losing more time. For the abbot, to our surprise, had put up posters announcing that
His Eminence, Professor Dr Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger would be the guest preacher at the Mass on St Scholastica's day. Unfortunately he had forgotten to
inform the Cardinal.
"What shall I do?" he pondered.
In the end he had someone bring him a copy of the New Testament and a missal, and a short time later in the marvellous basilica of the abbey, dressed up with
mitre and crosier, he gave a moving sermon.... you could have heard the proverbial pin drop, it had become so silent when the German from Rome began to
interpret for them, with the dignity and authority proper to him,, the word of God."
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