"Furthermore, We declare, We proclaim, We define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."- Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An apology

Dear reader you must please forgive my inactivity of late. I am back in France, and so unable to get to a computer as often as I would like, to keep this blog updated. Please bear with me, and thank you for your patience thus far.

God bless,


Very interesting...


Friday, January 15, 2010

Pope on the SSPX and Anglicans

VATICAN CITY, 15 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Participants in the annual plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the president of which is Cardinal William Joseph Levada, were received this morning by the Holy Father. In his address to them he highlighted the fact that their dicastery "participates in the ministry of unity" which is primarily entrusted to the Pope through his "commitment to doctrinal fidelity.

"Unity", he added, "is first and foremost unity of faith, upheld by the sacred tradition of which Peter's Successor is the primary custodian and defender. ... This is an indispensable service upon which depends the effectiveness of the Church's evangelising activity unto the end of time.

"The Bishop of Rome", the Pope explained, "must constantly proclaim that ... Jesus is Lord". The Roman Pontiff's "potestas docendi" requires "obedience to the faith, so that the Truth that is Christ may continue to shine forth in all its grandeur, ... and that there may be a single flock gathered around a single Shepherd".

The goal of a shared witness of faith among all Christians "represents, then, a priority for the Church in all periods of history. ... In this spirit, I trust particularly in your dicastery's commitment to overcoming the doctrinal problems that still persist in achieving the full communion of the Society of St. Pius X with the Church".

Benedict XVI then went on to thank the members of the congregation for their efforts towards "the full integration of groups and individuals of former Anglican faithful into the life of the Catholic Church, in accordance with the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution 'Anglicanorum coetibus'. The faithful adherence of these groups to the truth received from Christ and presented in the Magisterium of the Church is in no way contrary to the ecumenical movement", he said, "rather, it reveals the ultimate aim thereof, which is the realisation of the full and visible communion of the disciples of the Lord".

The Pope then turned his attention to the Instruction "Dignitas Personae" concerning certain bioethical questions, which was published by the congregation in 2008. "It represents", he said, "a new milestone in the announcement of the Gospel, in full continuity with the Instruction 'Donum vitae' published by the dicastery in 1987. In such delicate and pressing questions as those that concern procreation and the new therapeutic advances involving the manipulation of the embryo and the human genetic patrimony, ... the Magisterium of the Church seeks to offer its own contribution to the formation of consciences, not only the consciences of believers but of everyone who seeks the truth and is willing to listen to arguments that arise not only from the faith, but also from reason itself".

"Christian faith also makes its truthful contribution in the field of ethics and philosophy, not supplying prefabricated solutions to real problems such as biomedical research and experimentation, put presenting moral standpoints within which human reason can seek and find appropriate solutions", said the Pope.

And he went on: "There are, in fact, certain aspects of Christian revelation that throw light on the problems of bioethics. ... These aspects, inscribed in the heart of man, are also understandable in rational terms as elements of natural moral law, and may find acceptance even among people who do not recognise themselves in the Christian faith".

"Rooted in human nature and accessible to all creatures possessing reason, natural moral law constitutes the foundation for opening a dialogue with all men and women who seek the truth and, more generally, with civil and secular society", said Pope Benedict. And he concluded: "This law, inscribed in the heart of all human beings, touches an essential aspect of legal theory and appeals to legislators' consciences and sense of responsibility".
See also:
Benedict XVI
Address to the Plenary Session of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
(Full address, in Italian)

Taken from Rorate Caeli

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pope meets and forgives Christmas Eve Mass attack woman

Pope Benedict XVI has had a meeting with the mentally disturbed woman who knocked him over at Mass on Christmas Eve, and has forgiven her.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the woman, Susanna Maiolo, told the Pope she was sorry for what had happened.

Father Lombardi added that the Pope expressed "his interest and best wishes" for her health.
The Vatican is continuing a legal case against Ms Maiolo.

She and her family met Pope Benedict in a private audience at the end of his general audience, Father Lombardi said in a statement.

The Pope inquired about Ms Maiolo's health and "wanted to demonstrate his forgiveness".
The Vatican said no photographs or video would be released of the meeting.

The Roman Catholic world was shocked by the attack, in which Ms Maiolo leapt over a barrier at St Peter's Basilica and brought the 82-year-old Pope to the ground at the beginning of the Mass.
She was quickly overpowered and Pope Benedict, who was not injured, proceeded with the service.

Ms Maiolo was treated at a psychiatric clinic outside Rome after the incident, and was released on Saturday.

Taken from BBC News

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pope laments Haiti's 'tragic situation'

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday urged a generous response to the "tragic situation" in Haiti where hundreds are feared dead following a massive earthquake.

The Pope lamented Haiti's "tragic situation (involving) huge loss of human life, a great number of homeless and missing and considerable material damage."

"I appeal to the generosity of all to ensure our concrete solidarity and the effective support of the international community for these brothers and sisters who are living a time of need and suffering," the Pontiff said at the end of his weekly general audience. - AFP

Taken from here.

Pius' 'silence' saved more Jews in WWII

Taken from The Philadelphia Inquirer

Last Tuesday's commentary "Church's misguided honor: Moving to canonize a World War II-era Pope amounts to an attack on Jews" could not have been more flawed, judgmental, and historically erroneous.

The historical record suggests that the alleged "silence" of Pius XII had everything to do with his capacity to intervene and save as many of Hitler's victims as possible and nothing to do with indifference to the great suffering around him in Nazi-dominated Europe, as his critics assert.

Why would anyone assume that the Pope saying more would have saved more? And why single out Pius XII? He may not have publicly denounced Hitler, which would have pleased the Allied governments at the time and greatly bolstered the Pope's reputation. But the Pope surely realized that such an action would have been a noble failure and would certainly have cost more lives. In order to save Jews from Hitler it was necessary for the Church to maintain lines of communication with those who had the power of life and death.

It is simply historically inaccurate to scapegoat the man responsible for saving an enormous number of Jews from the clutches of the Third Reich for his "silence." There are a great many Jews alive today either because they, or their parents or grandparents, were saved by the Catholic Church at the Pope's direction during the Holocaust.

The fact that Pope Pius XII hid thousands of Jews on his own property at Castel Gandolfo to save them from almost certain death speaks volumes. Could there be more eloquent testimony to Pius XII's opposition to Hitler and all he stood for?

John H. Ahtes III

Professor of Church history

St. Charles Borromeo Seminary

Professor of History, Immaculata University

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Too soon for Orthodox, Catholic Church heads to meet

Ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican have improved in recent years, but the time has not come for a historic meeting of their leaders, a senior Russian bishop said on Tuesday.

"Dialog with the Roman Catholic Church has been intensified," said Archbishop Ilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Moscow Patriarchy's foreign Church relations. "We have been working to resolve problems that hinder a breakthrough in our relations."

He told a news conference it was too early to talk about "an exact date and venue" for a meeting of Russian Patriarch Kirill and Pope Benedict XVI as their meeting "should still be thoroughly prepared."

Ilarion again cited problems in western Ukraine, where hundreds of Orthodox Churches were handed over to Greek-Catholic parishes after the atheist Soviet regime collapsed in the 1990s.

The Archbishop said the Russian Church expects the Vatican to step in and make up for the loss for Orthodox believers in the region.

Catholic proselytism has been cited by Russian Church officials as the main obstacle to moves to bridge the 1054 schism that divided the Christian Churches and resulted in political and theological differences. The Vatican has denied the proselytism accusations.

However, high-level visits between the Churches have become more frequent under Benedict and Kirill, who took office in February, with both Churches pledging to improve their relations.
Moscow and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations late last year, and Russia will now have an embassy instead of a representative office in the Vatican. The Russian Church and the Holy See both hailed the move as a sign of further improvement in their relations.

The Vatican's representative in Moscow attended Patriarch Kirill's Orthodox Christmas service at Christ the Savior Cathedral last Thursday.

Ilarion said the now late Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Alexy II were to meet in 1997, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute as the sides realized that consensus could not be reached.

MOSCOW, January 12 (RIA Novosti)

Pope ad orientem

Friday, January 8, 2010

The sedia gestatoria would protect the Pope

Article taken from The Catholic Herald

Security expert Dominic Scarborough urges the Vatican to draw on tradition to prevent a repeat of the Midnight Mass attack on Benedict XVI

8 January 2010

Many years ago there was a joke doing the rounds of the pubs and clubs about two Irishmen on pilgrimage in Rome who ask at a bar near the Vatican what the Pope likes to drink. Upon being told he likes Crème de Menthe the two intrepid drinkers order two pints of the stuff.

Several hours and a lot of pints later both are lying comatose in the street. When they eventually come around one says to the other: "No wonder they carry him around in a chair!"

On a more serious note, the attack on Pope Benedict during the entrance procession of Midnight Mass by Susanna Maiolo, a mentally ill woman who once again, as she did last year, vaulted over the barriers before lunging at the Pope, poses serious questions about the Holy Father's safety.

Since 1970 alone there have been three documented attempted assassinations of the Pope. In 1970 Pope Paul VI was attacked by a man with a knife at Manila Airport, in 1981 there was the shooting of Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square and only a year later, when the same Pope visited Fatima to give thanks for his survival, he was attacked yet again by a deranged knife-wielding priest.

Aside from Pope Benedict's annual Christmas encounters with Miss Maiolo there was the attempt by a German man to get into his Popemobile during an audience in 2007. After these incidents and the rise of Islamic terrorism since 9/11 there have been many noticeable changes to the security surrounding the Pontiff.

Long gone are the days when it was deemed enough for Archbishop Marcinkus to stand next to the Pope as a kind of clerical "heavy". On all his travels around the world now the Pope is accompanied by armed close-protection officers from the 130-strong Vatican Corps of Gendarmes who accompany him and work with the close-protection teams afforded by the Italian state and the particular host country. His Popemobile is fitted with bullet-resistant glass and his movements by limousine are handled in exactly the same way as any head of state, with armed officers travelling with him and in a support vehicle. When the Pope visited Turkey he was even asked to wear body armour under his overcoat.

At every papal ceremony in St Peter's when the Pope is required to walk through the crowded basilica to reach the sanctuary it is possible to see not only his personal protection officer Domenico Giani, (who has been Inspector General of the Corpo della Gendarmeria since 2006), walking nearby but also other black-suited, close-protection officers walking at the sides of the procession. Indeed, the Pope's close-protection team are to be congratulated that one of their number seized Miss Maiolo as she leapt the barrier but the distance between the barrier and the Pope was so small that, ironically, it was the force of this officer tackling her at the very moment she grabbed at the Pope's vestments that actually brought the Pontiff crashing to the floor.

For these protection officers the security of their principal can never be guaranteed particularly when, like the Pope, he wants to be visible to the crowds who have turned out to see him and a degree of compromise is always required. Unlike a president or prime minister whose close-protection officers are usually found within an arm's reach of their principal, as any press photograph taken during a walkabout will show, the Pope is frequently engaged in liturgical acts which have no rubrical provision for an armed suited man wearing an ear-piece to be in the midst of things. That said, as with much of this pontificate the answer to this particular problem might just be found from recovering something from the past.

One only has to look at old black and white footage of pontiffs prior to Paul VI to see how popes always used to enter the basilica being carried shoulder high in the sedia gestatoria. Not only that, but there was always a throng of people around the chair, not only the actual bearers but numerous chamberlains and nobility and a large number of guards: Swiss Guards, uniformed Gendarmes, the Palatine Guard and Noble Guard. These comprised the old papal court which Pope Paul VI abolished and which formed a kind of buffer zone between the Pope and the crowds, no doubt as much a practical defence measure as a piece of ceremony.

The use of the sedia continued until very recently and many are unaware that the last pope to use the sedia was actually Pope John Paul I. While the abolition of this ancient form of transport may have since been considered appropriate in the context of the late 20th century and the need to democratise the appearance of papal ceremonies, the reality has left the Pope an isolated and vulnerable figure separated from the deacons ahead and the MCs behind, one who appears all too often like the figure in the Third Secret of Fatima: a victim walking alone simply waiting to be attacked.

While there are bound to be some who would see the return of the sedia as yet another example of this Pope "turning the clock back", in fact not only would it save an elderly man's tired legs but it would allow more of the crowd to see him. Most importantly, it would actually insulate him from the kind of physical assault we saw at Christmas by virtue of the mob of people surrounding it (who could these days be swelled by Swiss Guards and the gendarme officers in suitably formal garb) to work alongside the suited officers at the perimeter.

Naturally, the risk of attack from a gunman or explosive device would still be present and indeed potentially magnified by the sedia but the use of X-ray machines at the entrance to the basilica and physical searches of congregants should by now be mandatory at such events to confront these risks which are no more heightened by the Pope presiding at Mass from an elevated platform, as he does, than from being carried in a chair.

It was being reported earlier in the year on several Catholic blogs that the Vatican was actively considering a return for the sedia gestatoria for ceremonies in St Peter's, more because of the Pope's age than as a protection against attack. Perhaps the latest incident will persuade them that what tradition hands down frequently has a practical origin beyond merely the visually impressive spectacle that to sceptical modern eyes it had appeared to have become.

Dominic Scarborough is a regular commentator in the press and internet on Catholic affairs. His company, Proteus Risk, advises companies on security issues

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Venerable Pius XII, ora pro nobis!

"Ok, I know I have been posting a lot of stuff with regards to Venerable Pius XII lately, however I believe it is necessary to spread the truth as much as possible. This saintly Pope is being attacked, slandered, and falsely accused from all sides. The truth of this Pontiff's courage is there for all to see. I wish to do all in my power to see that others see this Pope the way he was, a true servant and Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ!"-Ashley

Pius defender responds to ADL
By Ami Eden · January 6, 2010

We recently cited a column in The New York Post by Gary Krupp of the Pave the Way Foundation defending defending the World War II-era record of Pope Pius XII and the rebuttal from the Anti-Defamation League.

Now the foundation has sent in a response to the ADL's response:

"Pave the Way foundation is Saddened by the Recent Attack on our Work by Abe Foxman Executive Director of the ADL.

Pave the Way Foundation, is a non-sectarian organization, which sought to bring this 46 year old negativity between Jews and Catholics concerning the papacy of Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) to a public forum. To correct Foxman’s fallacious statements, we held our symposium in Rome in September 2008 not 2009. All of the Holocaust institutions and the critics (including Prof. Paul O’Shea) were invited to attend. We hoped to open an exchange of information in order to reveal newly discovered documents and eye witness testimonies. All of the critics declined our invitation since they didn’t consider it a scholarly forum and it was going to be open to a public group of Rabbis and Jewish leaders. These same critics claimed that the symposium was one sided, which is comical since their refusal to participate created that impression.

The documents, Foxman is referring to, were only recently discovered in Campagna and only showed that there are thousands of Vatican WWII documents that are available for study by those who wish to simply look. To correct Foxman again, according to the report Prof. Paul O’Shea sent to me, the Campagna documents did in fact show how Pius XII directed efforts to send financial aid specifically for care of the Jews. This was in one small diocese in Italy. Just like General Eisenhower, Pius XII had his army of trusted clergy to carry out his instructions and verbal orders. He physically couldn’t do everything as Foxman seems to demand as proof of his benevolence. He acted to save Jews when no one else would. He did this, according to our original documents, fully expecting a full scale invasion of the Vatican where he would have be kidnapped and the clergy would be killed.

The significant evidence that we have gathered is from many other countries. More importantly the testimony from eye witnesses who describe the secret actions that they were ordered to take by the Vatican to save Jewish lives. Pius XII took these actions with German guns 200 yards under his very windows when he expected the imminent attack on the Vatican. He still managed to save more Jews than all of the world’s religious and political leaders combined. Pacelli acted directly to stop the arrest of the Roman Jews 2 PM on the day it began October 16, 1943 and managed to hide over 7000 Jews in just one day. He accomplished all of this anonymously (this is our highest form of charity).

Foxman is calling for the Vatican Archives to be opened when curiously just over 2 years ago Pope Benedict XVI ordered the opening of the archives up to 1939 along with the documents of the Inter Arma Caritas up to 1947. According to the sign in sheets in Rome, none of the recognized critics or institutions showed up to study this material. What should be questioned is why did virtually every Jewish organization, (including the ADL), every major Jewish religious personality and Israeli leader of that era, who lived through the war, praise Pius XII unreservedly? What happened? What smoking gun? What documents were discovered to change this?

I Invite Foxman and all others to devote 56 minutes to view a narrated power point illustrating just a small part of the evidence we discovered, then you be the judge. Additional documented proof and video testimonies can be viewed on http://www.ptwf.org/. I further challenge the ADL to host its own open forum on this subject and, like in our cherished jury system, allow the public to decide whether Eugenio Pacelli is guilty of these charges. "

The ADL shows no signs of backing down. In fact, it's stepping things up, with a lengthy report attempt at rebutting the documents that Krupp has taken to citing.

See also:

Catholic league: Attack on Pius XII is Unseemly

Pius XII did help the Jews

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pope of Reason

Millions of faithful see Benedict XVI in 2009

Vatican City, Jan 5, 2010 / 11:17 am (CNA).- The Prefecture of the Pontifical House released statistics today detailing the estimated numbers of faithful able to attend public events with the Pope in 2009. Estimates reach well over two million people just at the Papal residences.

Between events at the sites of Pope Benedict XVI's living quarters at the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo, he was seen by nearly 2,250,000 million people in the year 2009, the Holy See's Prefecture of the Pontifical House reported on Tuesday.

The final numbers were reached by combining the monthly attendance estimates for general and special audiences with the Pontiff, liturgical celebrations and the Sunday Angelus.

Benedict XVI was seen by almost exactly half of the total at the Sunday Angelus. The weekly event involves the Holy Father appearing in the window of the Vatican Palace to recite the Angelus prayer to Mary and greet the crowds that gather in St. Peter's Square.

The busiest months for the Pope were January and December, when he was visited by 180,000 people, while the "slowest" months were April and September, when there were "only" 8,000 privileged to be in his company.

The statistics did not take into acount the Holy Father's five pastoral visits within Italy, his stops at local Roman parishes or the three trips he made abroad. On March 24 alone, it was estimated that there were one million people in attendance for Pope Benedict's celebration of a Mass in Angola, Africa.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pope's security boosted


Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI's security has been reinforced, including by widening his safety cordon, after a woman knocked him to the ground at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, media reported on Tuesday.

Illustrating the changes, Il Giornale daily published images of the Pope as he walked through St Peter's Basilica prior to the Christmas attack and images of him within the Church with the new security measures in place.

They show the cordon around him enlarged by about a metre on all sides.

The larger space would give security services more time to react if someone tried to approach the 82-year-old Pontiff, and more space in which to intervene if necessary, the paper said.
The photos also show that the Pope escorted by four security agents rather than two as in the past.

The Pope was unhurt in the assault by 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo's assault, but French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray fell and fractured the top of his femur. Il Giornale said he had been jumped on by a security agent trying to intervene.

Etchegaray underwent a hip replacement operation a few days later.

According to the religious information agency i.media, there will be also be more security personnel along the path the Pope takes as he moves through St Peter's.

Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi would not comment about the report.

After Maiolo's assault, Vatican authorities said it would be impossible to entirely protect the Pope without putting a wall between him and the masses who come to see him.

That would be unthinkable and "like stopping him from breathing", Lombardi has said.

The Pope's security detail is made up of about 350 people: 110 from the Swiss Guard, about 100 from the Vatican police and 140 Italian police.

Maiolo, who has Swiss and Italian nationality, has been in a psychiatric hospital since the attack and has been described as mentally unbalanced. She had also lunged at the Pope at the 2008 Midnight Mass.

She has reportedly told doctors that she "did not want to hurt the Pope, just ask him to help the weak".

But Vatican sources cited by said i.media said the young woman had confessed last year to wanting to scratch the Pontiff's face.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Queen Mary's letter is revealed

Pope Sixtus V

Mary, Queen of Scots

Published Date: 04 January 2010

Northampton Chronicle

A letter written from Mary Queen of Scots' Northamptonshire prison cell three months before she was executed has been released from the Vatican's 'secret archive'.

The letter to Pope Sixtus V sees the well known figure ask forgiveness for her sins.

In the letter, she also warns the pope of treacherous cardinals.

It was written by Mary Queen of Scots on November 23, 1586 from her prison cell at Fotheringay Castle in the north of Northamptonshire.

The letter has been published as part of a new book called The Vatican Secret Archives.

The book collects together 105 documents from the Vatican's archives, 19 of which have never been seen before in public.

Mary Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay Castle, near Oundle, at 8am on February 8, 1587 because of the threat she posed to Queen Elizabeth I as she was considered the rightful ruler of England by many Catholics.

Mary had fled to England after an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne in Scotland.

She initially sought protection from Queen Elizabeth, but because of the perceived threat she posed was instead imprisoned before being tried and executed for treason.

As well as the Fotheringhay letter, the book of Vatican documents also includes letters written to Hitler by Pope Pius XI in 1934 and one received by his controversial (Not true-Ashley) successor, Pius XII, from Japan's Emperor Hirohito.

There is also an entreaty to Rome written on birch bark by a tribe of North American Indians.

The Vatican's 'secret archive' currently occupies a total of 85 kilometres of bookshelves but it is constantly growing.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Today in history...

His Holiness Pope Leo X

Today is the 3 January. On this day in 1521, His Holiness Pope Leo X excommunicated the wretched Martin Luther from the Most Holy Roman Catholic Church. To read Pope Leo's Bull of Excommunication, entitled "Exsurge Domine" click here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pope Planning an Intense 2010

Calendar Filling up With 4 International Trips and Mideast Synod

By Jesús Colina

ROME, JAN. 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The year beginning today promises to be the busiest yet for Benedict XVI's pontificate, as the almost-83-year-old-Pope is planning four international trips and a synod on the Middle East.

The year 2010 looks to be one of the most intense of his five years in the Chair of Peter. The Pope will turn 83 on April 16, but this does not affect how quickly his calendar fills up.
The Holy Father will visit Malta, Portugal, Cyprus and the United Kingdom during 2010. He will also preside over the first synod on the Middle East, and his several pilgrimages within Italy will include celebrations as momentous as a visit to the Shroud of Turin.

It also promises to be a year when the expected will come to pass: Pope John Paul II might be beatified (though the Vatican has repeatedly reiterated that his cause must follow the normal path leading to beatification), and the second part of Benedict XVI's bestseller "Jesus of Nazareth" could be published. As well, his apostolic exhortation taking up the conclusions of the 2008 synod on the Word of God could be released.

The year beginning today is also expected to bring forward causes that the German Pope has made a priority: advances in Christian unity, and unity with other religions, particularly Islam and Judaism.

In fact, one of the most symbolic events of the year will be his Jan. 17 visit to the Synagogue of Rome. That trip will take place just weeks after some Jews have protested the Holy Father's official recognition of the heroic virtues of his predecessor, Pope Pius XII.

In reviewing 2009 with the Roman Curia, Benedict XVI observed that last year developed in the light of Africa. The synod on Africa in Rome and the Holy Father's first trip to the continent as Pontiff marked 2009. In this regard, 2010 will be a year in the light of the Middle East, given that the synod to discuss that region is scheduled for Oct. 10-24.

The Pope will officially present the working document for the synod during his visit to Cyprus from June 4 to 6.

That trip is symbolic for other reasons because it will bring to light certain central themes of the pontificate, such as dialogue with the local Orthodox Church. That Church, since the 2006 election of Chrysostomos II, has become a leader in ecumenical efforts, as well as a promoter of interreligious dialogue with Islam, due to Turkish presence on the divided island.

Benedict XVI's first 2010 trip out of Italy will bring him to Malta, April 17-18. The visit will mark the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck there, which tradition holds to have taken place in A.D. 60. Paul was headed to Rome, but instead was welcomed by the local population and spent three months evangelizing the archipelago, which is still majority Catholic.

Then the Pontiff will head to Portugal in May, a visit that includes a pilgrimage to Lourdes (I think it is supposed to be Fatima?-Ashley) -- one more stop on what has become his world tour of Marian shrines including Loreto, Italy; Altötting, Germany; Mariazell, Austria; Aparecida, Brazil; Lourdes, France; Mvolye, Cameroon; and Pompeii, Italy.

The fourth international trip will bring the Pope to the United Kingdom. Though the dates have not been officially announced, it is expected that he will be in England between the 17th and 19th of September.

While there, it is expected that the Pontiff will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), an intellectual Anglican convert. That visit will obviously have decisive ecumenical repercussions in light of last year's Oct. 20 announcement that paves the way for Anglicans to come to full communion with the Holy See in groups.

There are also four apostolic trips within Italy already on the papal agenda. The first is to Turin on May 2, during the extraordinary exposition of the Shroud that will take place from April 10 to May 23. In July, the Holy Father will visit the region affected by last April's earthquake. That visit will mark the 800th anniversary of the birth of Pope Celestine V (who died in 1296), one of the few popes to abdicate.

In September, Benedict XVI will visit Carpineto Romano, a small town of the Roman province, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Pope Leo XIII.

And finally, in October, the Holy Father will visit Palermo to participate in meetings with families and youth.

Not to be overlooked in 2010 is the closing of the Year for Priests, with June 9-11 events in Rome. The Holy Father has invited the priests of the world to participate in the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney. But he has also asked the faithful of every walk of life to include themselves in the celebrations by expressing the Church's love for its priests.

Friday, January 1, 2010



1. At the beginning of this New Year, I wish to offer heartfelt greetings of peace to all Christian communities, international leaders, and people of good will throughout the world. For this XLIII World Day of Peace I have chosen the theme: If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation. Respect for creation is of immense consequence, not least because “creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works”,[1] and its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind. Man’s inhumanity to man has given rise to numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development – wars, international and regional conflicts, acts of terrorism, and violations of human rights. Yet no less troubling are the threats arising from the neglect – if not downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen “that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying”.[2]

2. In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I noted that integral human development is closely linked to the obligations which flow from man’s relationship with the natural environment. The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations. I also observed that whenever nature, and human beings in particular, are seen merely as products of chance or an evolutionary determinism, our overall sense of responsibility wanes.[3] On the other hand, seeing creation as God’s gift to humanity helps us understand our vocation and worth as human beings. With the Psalmist, we can exclaim with wonder: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you have established; what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:4-5). Contemplating the beauty of creation inspires us to recognize the love of the Creator, that Love which “moves the sun and the other stars”.[4]

3. Twenty years ago, Pope John Paul II devoted his Message for the World Day of Peace to the theme: Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation. He emphasized our relationship, as God’s creatures, with the universe all around us. “In our day”, he wrote, “there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened … also by a lack of due respect for nature”. He added that “ecological awareness, rather than being downplayed, needs to be helped to develop and mature, and find fitting expression in concrete programmes and initiatives”.[5] Previous Popes had spoken of the relationship between human beings and the environment. In 1971, for example, on the eightieth anniversary of Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum Novarum, Paul VI pointed out that “by an ill-considered exploitation of nature (man) risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation”. He added that “not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace – pollution and refuse, new illnesses and absolute destructive capacity – but the human framework is no longer under man’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family”.[6]

4. Without entering into the merit of specific technical solutions, the Church is nonetheless concerned, as an “expert in humanity”, to call attention to the relationship between the Creator, human beings and the created order. In 1990 John Paul II had spoken of an “ecological crisis” and, in highlighting its primarily ethical character, pointed to the “urgent moral need for a new solidarity”.[7] His appeal is all the more pressing today, in the face of signs of a growing crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously. Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees”, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development.

5. It should be evident that the ecological crisis cannot be viewed in isolation from other related questions, since it is closely linked to the notion of development itself and our understanding of man in his relationship to others and to the rest of creation. Prudence would thus dictate a profound, long-term review of our model of development, one which would take into consideration the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplications. The ecological health of the planet calls for this, but it is also demanded by the cultural and moral crisis of humanity whose symptoms have for some time been evident in every part of the world.[8] Humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all. Our present crises – be they economic, food-related, environmental or social – are ultimately also moral crises, and all of them are interrelated. They require us to rethink the path which we are travelling together. Specifically, they call for a lifestyle marked by sobriety and solidarity, with new rules and forms of engagement, one which focuses confidently and courageously on strategies that actually work, while decisively rejecting those that have failed. Only in this way can the current crisis become an opportunity for discernment and new strategic planning.

6. Is it not true that what we call “nature” in a cosmic sense has its origin in “a plan of love and truth”? The world “is not the product of any necessity whatsoever, nor of blind fate or chance… The world proceeds from the free will of God; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, in his intelligence, and in his goodness”.[9] The Book of Genesis, in its very first pages, points to the wise design of the cosmos: it comes forth from God’s mind and finds its culmination in man and woman, made in the image and likeness of the Creator to “fill the earth” and to “have dominion over” it as “stewards” of God himself (cf. Gen 1:28). The harmony between the Creator, mankind and the created world, as described by Sacred Scripture, was disrupted by the sin of Adam and Eve, by man and woman, who wanted to take the place of God and refused to acknowledge that they were his creatures. As a result, the work of “exercising dominion” over the earth, “tilling it and keeping it”, was also disrupted, and conflict arose within and between mankind and the rest of creation (cf. Gen 3:17-19). Human beings let themselves be mastered by selfishness; they misunderstood the meaning of God’s command and exploited creation out of a desire to exercise absolute domination over it. But the true meaning of God’s original command, as the Book of Genesis clearly shows, was not a simple conferral of authority, but rather a summons to responsibility. The wisdom of the ancients had recognized that nature is not at our disposal as “a heap of scattered refuse”.[10] Biblical Revelation made us see that nature is a gift of the Creator, who gave it an inbuilt order and enabled man to draw from it the principles needed to “till it and keep it” (cf. Gen. 2:15).[11] Everything that exists belongs to God, who has entrusted it to man, albeit not for his arbitrary use. Once man, instead of acting as God’s co-worker, sets himself up in place of God, he ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, “which is more tyrannized than governed by him”.[12] Man thus has a duty to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, to care for it and to cultivate it.[13]

7. Sad to say, it is all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminded us that “God has destined the earth and everything it contains for all peoples and nations”.[14] The goods of creation belong to humanity as a whole. Yet the current pace of environmental exploitation is seriously endangering the supply of certain natural resources not only for the present generation, but above all for generations yet to come.[15] It is not hard to see that environmental degradation is often due to the lack of far-sighted official policies or to the pursuit of myopic economic interests, which then, tragically, become a serious threat to creation. To combat this phenomenon, economic activity needs to consider the fact that “every economic decision has a moral consequence” [16] and thus show increased respect for the environment. When making use of natural resources, we should be concerned for their protection and consider the cost entailed – environmentally and socially – as an essential part of the overall expenses incurred. The international community and national governments are responsible for sending the right signals in order to combat effectively the misuse of the environment. To protect the environment, and to safeguard natural resources and the climate, there is a need to act in accordance with clearly-defined rules, also from the juridical and economic standpoint, while at the same time taking into due account the solidarity we owe to those living in the poorer areas of our world and to future generations.

8. A greater sense of intergenerational solidarity is urgently needed. Future generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resources. “We have inherited from past generations, and we have benefited from the work of our contemporaries; for this reason we have obligations towards all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves in those who will come after us, to enlarge the human family. Universal solidarity represents a benefit as well as a duty. This is a responsibility that present generations have towards those of the future, a responsibility that also concerns individual States and the international community”.[17] Natural resources should be used in such a way that immediate benefits do not have a negative impact on living creatures, human and not, present and future; that the protection of private property does not conflict with the universal destination of goods;[18] that human activity does not compromise the fruitfulness of the earth, for the benefit of people now and in the future. In addition to a fairer sense of intergenerational solidarity there is also an urgent moral need for a renewed sense of intragenerational solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and highly industrialized countries: “the international community has an urgent duty to find institutional means of regulating the exploitation of non-renewable resources, involving poor countries in the process, in order to plan together for the future”.[19] The ecological crisis shows the urgency of a solidarity which embraces time and space. It is important to acknowledge that among the causes of the present ecological crisis is the historical responsibility of the industrialized countries. Yet the less developed countries, and emerging countries in particular, are not exempt from their own responsibilities with regard to creation, for the duty of gradually adopting effective environmental measures and policies is incumbent upon all. This would be accomplished more easily if self-interest played a lesser role in the granting of aid and the sharing of knowledge and cleaner technologies.

9. To be sure, among the basic problems which the international community has to address is that of energy resources and the development of joint and sustainable strategies to satisfy the energy needs of the present and future generations. This means that technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency. At the same time there is a need to encourage research into, and utilization of, forms of energy with lower impact on the environment and “a world-wide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them”.[20] The ecological crisis offers an historic opportunity to develop a common plan of action aimed at orienting the model of global development towards greater respect for creation and for an integral human development inspired by the values proper to charity in truth. I would advocate the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion and sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on a realization of our need for a changed life-style, and on prudence, the virtue which tells us what needs to be done today in view of what might happen tomorrow.[21]

10. A sustainable comprehensive management of the environment and the resources of the planet demands that human intelligence be directed to technological and scientific research and its practical applications. The “new solidarity” for which John Paul II called in his Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace [22] and the “global solidarity” for which I myself appealed in my Message for the 2009 World Day of Peace [23] are essential attitudes in shaping our efforts to protect creation through a better internationally-coordinated management of the earth’s resources, particularly today, when there is an increasingly clear link between combatting environmental degradation and promoting an integral human development. These two realities are inseparable, since “the integral development of individuals necessarily entails a joint effort for the development of humanity as a whole”.[24] At present there are a number of scientific developments and innovative approaches which promise to provide satisfactory and balanced solutions to the problem of our relationship to the environment. Encouragement needs to be given, for example, to research into effective ways of exploiting the immense potential of solar energy. Similar attention also needs to be paid to the world-wide problem of water and to the global water cycle system, which is of prime importance for life on earth and whose stability could be seriously jeopardized by climate change. Suitable strategies for rural development centred on small farmers and their families should be explored, as well as the implementation of appropriate policies for the management of forests, for waste disposal and for strengthening the linkage between combatting climate change and overcoming poverty. Ambitious national policies are required, together with a necessary international commitment which will offer important benefits especially in the medium and long term. There is a need, in effect, to move beyond a purely consumerist mentality in order to promote forms of agricultural and industrial production capable of respecting creation and satisfying the primary needs of all. The ecological problem must be dealt with not only because of the chilling prospects of environmental degradation on the horizon; the real motivation must be the quest for authentic world-wide solidarity inspired by the values of charity, justice and the common good. For that matter, as I have stated elsewhere, “technology is never merely technology. It reveals man and his aspirations towards development; it expresses the inner tension that impels him gradually to overcome material limitations. Technology in this sense is a response to God’s command to till and keep the land (cf. Gen 2:15) that he has entrusted to humanity, and it must serve to reinforce the covenant between human beings and the environment, a covenant that should mirror God’s creative love”.[25]

11. It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life-style and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view. We can no longer do without a real change of outlook which will result in new life-styles, “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments”.[26] Education for peace must increasingly begin with far-reaching decisions on the part of individuals, families, communities and states. We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity it is important for everyone to be committed at his or her proper level, working to overcome the prevalence of particular interests. A special role in raising awareness and in formation belongs to the different groups present in civil society and to the non-governmental organizations which work with determination and generosity for the spread of ecological responsibility, responsibility which should be ever more deeply anchored in respect for “human ecology”. The media also have a responsibility in this regard to offer positive and inspiring models. In a word, concern for the environment calls for a broad global vision of the world; a responsible common effort to move beyond approaches based on selfish nationalistic interests towards a vision constantly open to the needs of all peoples. We cannot remain indifferent to what is happening around us, for the deterioration of any one part of the planet affects us all. Relationships between individuals, social groups and states, like those between human beings and the environment, must be marked by respect and “charity in truth”. In this broader context one can only encourage the efforts of the international community to ensure progressive disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons, whose presence alone threatens the life of the planet and the ongoing integral development of the present generation and of generations yet to come.

12. The Church has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life, in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction. The degradation of nature is closely linked to the cultural models shaping human coexistence: consequently, “when ‘human ecology’ is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits”.[27] Young people cannot be asked to respect the environment if they are not helped, within families and society as a whole, to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible; it includes not only the environment but also individual, family and social ethics.[28] Our duties towards the environment flow from our duties towards the person, considered both individually and in relation to others.

Hence I readily encourage efforts to promote a greater sense of ecological responsibility which, as I indicated in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, would safeguard an authentic “human ecology” and thus forcefully reaffirm the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbour and respect for nature.[29] There is a need to safeguard the human patrimony of society. This patrimony of values originates in and is part of the natural moral law, which is the foundation of respect for the human person and creation.

13. Nor must we forget the very significant fact that many people experience peace and tranquillity, renewal and reinvigoration, when they come into close contact with the beauty and harmony of nature. There exists a certain reciprocity: as we care for creation, we realize that God, through creation, cares for us. On the other hand, a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church’s magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things. In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the “dignity” of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms. The Church, for her part, is concerned that the question be approached in a balanced way, with respect for the “grammar” which the Creator has inscribed in his handiwork by giving man the role of a steward and administrator with responsibility over creation, a role which man must certainly not abuse, but also one which he may not abdicate. In the same way, the opposite position, which would absolutize technology and human power, results in a grave assault not only on nature, but also on human dignity itself.[30]

14. If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation. The quest for peace by people of good will surely would become easier if all acknowledge the indivisible relationship between God, human beings and the whole of creation. In the light of divine Revelation and in fidelity to the Church’s Tradition, Christians have their own contribution to make. They contemplate the cosmos and its marvels in light of the creative work of the Father and the redemptive work of Christ, who by his death and resurrection has reconciled with God “all things, whether on earth or in heaven” (Col 1:20). Christ, crucified and risen, has bestowed his Spirit of holiness upon mankind, to guide the course of history in anticipation of that day when, with the glorious return of the Saviour, there will be “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pet 3:13), in which justice and peace will dwell for ever. Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to be faced with renewed and concerted commitment; it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to coming generations the prospect of a better future for all. May this be clear to world leaders and to those at every level who are concerned for the future of humanity: the protection of creation and peacemaking are profoundly linked! For this reason, I invite all believers to raise a fervent prayer to God, the all-powerful Creator and the Father of mercies, so that all men and women may take to heart the urgent appeal: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2009


[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 198.
[2] Benedict XVI, Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace, 7.
[3] Cf. No.48.
[4] Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, XXXIII, 145.
[5] Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 1.
[6] Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, 21.
[7] Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 10.
[8] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 32.
[9] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 295.
[10] Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 B.C.), Fragment 22B124, in H. Diels-W. Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Weidmann, Berlin,1952, 6th ed.
[11] Cf. Benedict XVI,Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 48.
[12] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 37.
[13] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 50.
[14] Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 69.
[15] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 34.
[16] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 37.
[17] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 467; cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 17.
[18] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 30-31, 43
[19] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 49.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas, S. Th., II-II, q. 49, 5.
[22] Cf. No. 9.
[23] Cf. No. 8.
[24] Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 43.
[25] Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 69.
[26] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 36.
[27] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 51.
[28] Cf. ibid., 15, 51.
[29] Cf. ibid., 28, 51, 61; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 38, 39.
[30] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 70.